Working with subversion

I’m currently making first steps using Subversion and it’s going quite well. It took some time to get the $Id$ expansion to work though, but this article helped me in the end.

The next thing I’m going to do is trying to migrate a simple project (no braches, no tags) from CVS to subversion. I know there are some tools out there which promise being able to do that for you, so I hope it’ll work.

The final step would be to migrate over PopScan, which has gotten quite complex these days: About 5 branches, countless tags and three years worth of history data. If that too goes well, it’s “welcome subversion” for me. If not, I think, I’ll postphone the migration until the tools get better. I absolutely don’t want to have my code in different source management systems.

I’ll keep you posted.

PHP 5

As you surely know, PHP 5 has been released. Actually, it’s already 5.0.1.

What you also may know is that Gentoo’s dev-php/mod_php package was promoted from -x86 to ~x86. This means from broken to unstable in Gentoo-terms.

This means that I can now make some tests with PHP5 which I already began doing: I’ve upgraded PHP on our developement server to 5.0.1 and it’s working quite well so far. The only problem I’ve come across is this stupid code in a osCommerce installation:

class something{
  function something{
    // do something
   $this = null;
  }
}

New or old object model in PHP: This is just something you don’t do. Not in PHP, and certainly not in any other language. You should not assign anything to this, self or even Me (or whatever the implicit pointer to your own object is called in your language).

My new toy

ipod.png

New year, new iPod. They made so many small usability enhancments with those new models, that you actually ask yourself, whether the predecessors are really made by Apple (because if they would be, there weren’t that many usability flaws in the first place)

  • Playback stops when you plug out the headphones. Oh an speaking of headphones, I’m using these. They are a great compromise between extremely expensive and good-sounding
  • The menu item where the Music is stored is called – surprisingly – Music now. This is much better then the “Browse” in the older models.
  • The click wheel is the best user interface they created so far. I hated those soft keys in the 2nd genration: They were extremely inprecise and fired ofthen when I did not acutally want them to.
  • It’s faster. My old model paused quite a while when entering the artists list. The new model does this instantly.

Convinience-wise, the jump to the third generation of iPods was the biggest step. Thanks, apple.

Oh and the Music I’m playing on the photo is this CD. The music is difficult to describe. A bit jazz-ish, but not really. I really like it – especially as a passionate gamer of the Chrono series and Xenogears, where the music is inspired from. Consider buying it. It’s great!

SSH daemon on installation CD

First, my apologies for not posting for quite some time now, but I have a hell of a lot of things to do. One of those was setting up yet another IBM xSeries 345 Server. And yet again, I deceided to install Gentoo Linux on it and yet again this distribution does not stop to amaze me:

On their current livecd (used for installing the distribution), they have actually installed an OpenSSH-Server ready to be started, allowing you to do the whole installation procedure remotely. This is incredibly nice.

So I could put the server in our basement where its noise did not annoy anyone and still do the installation from my comfortable chair in my office. This is great!

But then I widened my thoughts: Imagine, you modify the CD just a little bit: Preconfigure the network with the IP of your server somewhere in a remote location, set a non-random root password and configure the SSH-daemon to automatically start on boot.

Then configure the server to boot from CD, if one is there.

Now, if your server (somewhere in a remote location where getting into is difficult or at least time-consuming) should crash and fail to come up properly after a reboot, just ask someone at the housing center to insert the CD and reboot. The rescue system from the CD will boot and the SSH daemon will start. Now you can try to fix your system remotely.

When you are finished, your customized reboot-script will eject the CD after unmounting it, allowing the server to reboot normally from it’s (hopefully) fixed installation. This would even allow to completely fresh-install a compromised system remotely, without forcing you to do that on-location.

This is extremely nice and just another reason why I prefer the seemingly simple and anachronistic installation procedure of Gentoo. I mean: Just try doing this with either Fedora or SuSE…

Wrong hand?

wronghand.png

(Taken using Snes9x)

As you may know I really like watching speedruns of video games. And yesterday, when watching the updated Super Metroid movie, I came across this picture in the intro.

Have you noticed? Samus is actually giving her left hand to this scientist. I needed quite some time to understand that this was not an error of the artist, but actually just another of those well layed out details: The right arm of Samus’ suit is equipped with her beam weapon, so she obviously can’t use it to shake hands ;-)

And this leads to other conclusions:

  • Her weapon seems hardwired. Else she would have laid it down before delivering the captured Metroid
  • She is right-handed. Because in her missions the beam weapon is quite necessary for her sruvival, she would not want to have it attached to the weaker hand
  • It must be quite difficult to take off this suit. This has the same reason as my first conclusion

It’s funny to see how much those designers seem to have though about all those details – either consciously or not.

Look what I’ve found!

This is great. This makes me incredible happy as it documents quite a relevant part of my live, which I though was long gone. Here is it:

My old webpage

And even more: Fabedit, too is still there.

I took the time to fix all long dead links and the syntax of the navigation tree, so it works in Mozilla (somewhat). Hell, I even fixed those little cgi-scripts.

I first thought, that fabgrats was lost, but I found a copy of it lying somewhere else. This is so incredibly great!

So. What’s the fuss?

In the years 96 till 2000, I was quite active in the web. The freeware tool RasInTask [the page has an usability defficit. There are some deeper links on the right side under “subtopics”] (unfortunately I lost the installer, so you cannot download the tool any more – unless you want to use the source, which is well-conserved) was quite well-known in the net. I actually got quite good reviews in two german magazines and I had quite some fans.

And I did more. I wrote articles, short stories, delphi components and such stuff. All of it, so I do think now, was kind of compensation for what I was not getting in real-life. Respect and a girlfriend. So this old page is not only interesting from a technical standpoint (I think, despite it being a bit amateurish, it was quite good back then [just look at how it’s possible to link directly into the page with an unique url despite frames being used. I did this with the RasInTask link above] – not to speak about RasInTask which I still think is quite good, though no one would use it these times), but also from a psychological.

This relict from old times is quite a good proof that people, extroverted on the web are quite different in the real live. And while I’m still kind of active in the net world, I think I can say about myself, that I’m finally adjusing my real live to what I always was on the net. This is a good thing, it seems.

So, what’s there for you, my fellow reader?

Not much. An old picture of mine, some texts written in quite bad english and this nostalgic flair of a webpage done in the 90ies. The only thing probably useful to you is, unfortunately, lost (and I really don’t think that you can still compile the sourcecode of RasInTask any more)

For me it’s something different. Its a testimonial of who I was and who I’ve become. Yes. Those years between 99 and 02 where great. And quite a lesson for me. It’s good to finally feel grown up after such a long time. And it’s good to see who I was, just to learn, who I really am.

Oh. And I will go back to more technical stuff the next time. I promise

UPDATE: I actually found the RasInTask installer somewhere, so it’s available do download now. But plase note: I know that the code is not very clean. I’m quite convinced that there are some access violations and synchronization errors just waiting to annoy you. So while it’s interesting from a nostalgic point of view, I’d recommend against installing it. Oh! And don’t ask me for support. I have not touched this fo years.

Full text search for outlook

As you may know, we are using Exchange and Outlook for our Email and groupware needs. The thing just works and has some really useful groupware features while – in contrast to all those PHP-solutions – still being well integrated in the usual working area (read: has a windows client). And even better: Using Outlook / Exchange, even synchronizing the PDA works out of the box without that much of tweaking.

But with all this greatness, there are two problems: First, Outlook is not what I’d call a good email client, but it gets near. I still can’t use it for mailinglist consumption (bad threading, no qote highlighting,…), but for the rest it’s usable. The second problem is the search function. It’s so incredibly slow, even when you create a full text index on the Exchange-Server (without it’s even slower). And besides being slow, it looks like it’s searching forwards. When I enter some search term, it walks through the messages from the oldest to the nweset which is quite inpractical

So for reading mailinglists and for searching, I used Thunderbird

Then I found Lookout which was recently bought by Microsoft and released as freeware. This wonderful Outlook Add-In builds a fulltext index of all your Outlook folders and actually uses it (in contrast to outlook and the indexes on the exchange server). Additionally it has quite a powerful query language.

And with “fast” I mean fast: It takes just about 0.1 seconds to search my about 33’000 mails for this one message containing a certain word. This is great.

I’ve actually only two small problems with the tool:

  1. It uses the .NET Framework which must be loaded each time I start Outlook. This increases the already long startup time
  2. It uses it’s own window to display the search result. Outlook’s “Look for” function does this better and reuses the message list.

Besides that: Great tool!