Tuesday, 21 April 2015

These days are past now ...

Microsoft has introduced thus feature called clutter to Office 365 - basically the system learns what you always ignore or delete, and moves it to a folder called clutter, where you can set up an auto delete rule to get rid of the content after a decent interval.

Anyway, in my clutter folder were a pile of emails from various Jiscmail mailing lists, including a couple of lists I started myself some twenty or so years ago when I worked in the UK and was involved in the support of enduser computing - mainly windows and thin client (remember them?) stuff.

Well, the world has changed immensely since then.

Enduser computing is essentially a commodity - hardware is vastly simplified with no need these days to specify video adapters, network hardware - basically you can go to any of the big box stores and just about anything you can buy will do the job.

Likewise operating systems and network configurations - it's become immensely simple and black arts such as building boot volumes or building network configurations are mostly behind us, and the plethora of file services on offer such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and the rest make network storage provision increasingly irrelevant.

And as these things become simpler I've moved away from enduser support and now work principally in data management and archiving.

So, I dumped out the headers of these mailing lists, found the unsubscribe instructions, and did the necessary.

I did feel a momentary twinge though ...

Friday, 10 April 2015

Microsoft using WindowsUpdate to spruik Windows 10 ...

So Microsoft have decided to use the Windows Update mechanism to sneak adverts for Windows 10 onto PC's worldwide.

This is really bad. Basically it's a Snapfish moment for Windows Update and destroys trust in the update mechanism.

It flushes years of educating users to apply windows updates religiously down the toilet.

Debian anyone ?

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Netflix angst

There's been some angst recently due to the arrival of Netflix and its impact on Australia's shaky internet infrastructure. So far the consensus seems to be that Netflix (and its rivals Stan and Presto) are pushing a shaky house of cards over the edge.

This isn't surprising. For years at Chez Moncur we were troubled by unstable internet and service dropouts. Things got so bad I eventually bought myself a 3G router so that it would fail over to a 3G service whenever the ADSL did a walkabout.

Well that's worked a treat, and, about a month after I set up the 3G router I found an alternative ISP who'd provide us with an ADSL service (quite a few of the major players declined to offer us a service as we lived in an ADSL not-spot),

For whatever reason, our new isp's service has been incredibly stable, if a trifle slow at times. So much so that the router only failed over to 3G three or four times in the whole year.

Then came Netflix and its competitors.

Since then we've had as many flipovers in four weeks as in the previous year, and always in the early evening around six o'clock.

I can't of course prove it's due to Netflix but I'd say it was a reasonable guess.

The autumn school holidays start next week in Canberra - what happens to our link could be interesting ...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

5 years of the iPad ...

Last weekend, as well as being the Easter holiday was the fifth anniversary of the iPad, a device which has undoubtedly changed the world.

The iPad wasn't the first such device - but earlier tablets had been slow, had clumsy stylus based interfaces and the rest - and they'd been heavy and had comparitively short battery life.

The iPad got it right - reasonable battery life, wifi available in lots of places, and suddenly one could carry a single device with all your meeting notes, photographs and the rest.

It could have been a flop. It wasn't. The success (or lack of it) of its various android competitors shows just how effective Apple's marketing was.

The iPad changed things. Finnish paper manufacturers blame the decline of their industry on it. Airlines let you use them to access streaming media on flights.

Things have changed, and the iPad has been one of the engines moving us over into a truly online world ...

Monday, 30 March 2015


Not having a smartphone is apparently a thing.

And of course I'm well known as a luddite when it comes to phones, but I recently bought myself a new phone. Not exactly a smartphone but a bin-end unlocked Nokia Asha 302.

Not as my main phone, but as a phone to use when travelling overseas.

You see, I have one of these travel sims that allow you to make low cost calls and send texts for pennies when overseas without incurring punitive roaming charges. It also doesn't come with a data bundle, although I could add one, but in practice you can get everything you need over wi-fi.

So, the Nokia has:

  • wifi
  • basic browser capability
  • excellent battery life
  • keyboard for ease of texting (like in German to a taxi company)
  • good sound quality
  • lightweight
all in all a very good phone.

It should have email, but Nokia had this system where they collected your mail, stripped, textified, and compressed it for you and then downloaded it to your phone, and Microsoft closed this service when they bought Nokia's phone division.

Tant pis! - the browser still works and is good enough to find an email and get that phone number you're looking for out of an email - and I've got wifi.

It's also got a reasonable camera and bluetooth, so it doesn't lack connectivity. And of course it was considerably cheaper than a smartphone.

The next thing is to see how it works out in practice I guess ...

Friday, 20 March 2015

Upgrading to Omeka 2.3 via the command line

Having got a nicely working omeka install I thought I'd see if I could break it by upgrading to the latest version. I'm glad to say it didn't, here's what I did:
  1. Make sure your system is fully patched

    sudo apt-get upgrade
  2. Backup your mysql database

    mysqldump -h localhost -u db_username -p omeka_db_name > omeka_backup_file.sql
  3. Deactivate any plugins you are using as per the official upgrade instructions

  4. copy db.ini somewhere safe (my omeka install is in /var/www)

    cd /var/www
    mkdir /home/username/omeka_backup
    sudo cp db.ini /home/username/omeka_backup/.
    if you've added any extra plugins you'll also need to back them up. It's a good idea to take a screenshot of the files listings so you remember the permissions.

  5. backup your omeka install just in case

    sudo tar -zcvf /home/username/omeka_backup/omeka_2.gz /var/www

  6. download the updated version of omeka

    cd /home/username
    wget http://omeka.org/files/omeka-2.3.zip
    unzip omeka-2.3.zip

  7. delete the old install - you only need to get rid of the subdirectories, in practice you will overwrite any existing files in the top level directory. Do not remove your files directory - this contains your content. If you have custom plugins or themes you may wish to leave these in place as well.

    cd /var/www
    sudo rm -rf install
    sudo rm -rf plugins
    sudo rm -rf themes
    sudo rm -rf admin
    sudo rm -rf application

  8. then copy the new release in place

    cd /home/username
    sudo mv omkea-2.3/* /var/www/
    sudo mv omeka-2.3/.htaccess /var/www/

  9. make sure that all the permissions are correct

    cd /var/www 
    sudo find . -type d | xargs sudo chmod 775
    sudo find . -type f | xargs sudo chmod 664
    sudo find files -type d | xargs sudo chmod 777
    sudo find files -type f | xargs sudo chmod 666

  10. copy back your db.ini file (and any extras you'd installed)

    cd /var/wwww
    sudo cp /home/username/omeka_backup/db.ini .

  11. restart apache
    sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
Now point your web browser at your site. You may well get a message about the site being unavailable while the upgrade completes. Go to the admin page and click on the database upgrade button.

Once complete, your site should just work. As always your mileage may vary, but this procedure worked well on my test install.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Nixnote 1.6 and an OAuth error

When we go to Europe this winter I'll be taking my newly Xubuntu-ized netbook with me, as well as the usual tablet etc.

Now I've stored copies of the various plane and train dockets in Evernote, so I thought it would make sense to install Nixnote, the third party linux Evernote client that I've reviewed previously.

As always I thought I'd test it by upgrading the version on my work linux machine first to the latest version, version 1.6.

And it broke.

But fortunately there's an easy fix. The summary of what you need to do goes like this:

Download the latest 1.6 stable release from the SourceForge repository.

Install it with the command

sudo dpkg -i ~/Downloads/nixnote-1.6_something.deb

(replace the something with the version for your architecture eg i386)

Then, following the instructions, download the fixed nixnote.jar

Update the nixnote install as follows:

cd /usr/share/nixnote
sudo cp nixnote.jar nixnote.jar.old
sudo cp ~/Downloads/nixnote.jar .
nixnote &

Nixnote should start up and you should be prompted to authenticate against Evernote and authorise the Nixnote app to access your data.

As always your mileage may vary and the location of files, including the download folder may differ on your system.