tempalias – validity limits

I’ve just pushed a small update to tempalias.com that imposes some (generous) limits to the values you can provide for the validity:

  • the maximum amount of days an alias can be valid is now 60 days.
  • the maximum amount of messages that can be sent to an aliases is now set to 100 messages.

I realized that there might be some potential for abusing tempalias.com if the aliases have a practically unlimited duration. Besides, then they wouldn’t be tempaliases any more. Right?

Already generated aliases with longer durations stay valid – true to the spirit of not looking into the data my users provided me with, I’m not going to check the existing aliases.

Ubuntu 8.04

I’m sure that you have heard the news: Ubuntu 8.04 is out.

Congratulations to Canonical and their community for another fine release of a really nice Linux distribution.

What prompted me to write this entry though is the fact that I have updated shion from 7.10 to 8.04 this afternoon. Over a SSH connection.

The whole process took about 10 minutes (including the download time) and was completely flawless. Everything kept working as it was before. After the reboot (which also went flawlessly), even OpenVPN came back up and connected to the office so I could have a look at how the update went.

This is very, very impressive. Updates are tricky. Especially considering that it’s not one application that’s updated, not even one OS. It’s a seemingly random collection of various applications with their interdependencies, making it virtually impossible to test each and every configuration.

This shows that with a good foundation, everything is possible – even when you don’t have the opportunity to test for each and every case.

Congratulations agin, Ubuntu team!

Prewritten content

You may have noticed that last week had postings on nearly every day – and all the postings seem to have happened around 8:30am.

The reason for that is that I had a lot of inspiration on last Monday, allowing me to write two or three entries at once. I made Serendipity queue them up and post one on each day.

And as time progressed, I was adding more entries which I could schedule to the future too, thus keeping the illusion up that I was actually posting at 8:30 in the morning – a thing I’m certainly not thinking about doing.

While I’m awake at 8:30, I am most certainly not in the mood to post anything not to speak about the lack of inspiration due to not having surfed the web yet.

Writing content ahead of time has some advantages like allowing for better editing (much more time to read before the entry is posted) and it helping keeping the blog alive (a post for every day), but it also has some disadvantages: For one, the entries may not be as deep as one I’m writing for the moment.

After writing down an entry or two, I’m feeling a bit of a burnout, which certainly has negative effects on the entries length and depth.

And even worse: s9y insists on sending pings when the entry is submitted – not when it’s published.

This means that I’m sending out pings for non-existing entries (bad thing) or I’m not sending out pings at all (slightly better).

So in retrospect, I’m going to do both: Posting ahead and posting in real-time.

An insider trick to find out if the posting is pre-written or not would be to look at the posting time: If it’s 8:30 in the morning, it’s prewritten.

OS X 10.4.8 – Update gone wrong

Today, Software Update popped up and offered me to upgrade the OS to 10.4.8.

Usually I’m turning down such offers as I don’t want to reboot my system in mid-day, but it felt like a good time to do it none the less. This is why I accepted.

After the installation, the update asked me to reboot which I accepted.

What came afterwards was as scary as it was ironic: The system rebooted into Windows XP.

But not worries: The 10.4.8 update isn’t a windows installation in disguise: The Windows installation that greeted me was the one I have on a second partition – mostly to play WoW (which I don’t any more).

A quick reboot showed me even more trouble: Whenever my MacBook tried to boot from the MacOS partition, it showed the folder-with-question-mark icon for a few seconds and then the EFI BIOS emulation kicked in and booted from the MBR, which is why I was seeing Windows on my screen.

Now, I’d gladly explain here what has gone wrong and how I fixed it, but as I was in a state of panic, so I have not exactly documented my fix and as I tried many steps at once without getting confirmation if the step has fixed the problem, I don’t even know what was wrong (which certainly doesn’t stop me from guessing).

Anyways.

I booted from the MacBook DVD and first selected disk utility in the tools menu and let it check the disk for errors (none found as I have expected) and then let it repair permissions (tons of errors found, but I doubt this was the problem).

Then I quit the disk utility and launched terminal.

Beside the fact that I had some trouble actually entering commands (how do I set the keyboard layout in that pre-install-terminal?), I quickly went to /System/Libary, deleted the Extensions cache (Extensions.kextcache), went to /System/Library/Exentsions and removed all Extensions installed by Parallels (which I suspected being responsible for the problem).

I think the list was vmmain.kext, helper.kext, Pvsnet.kext and hypervisor.kext. You have to remove them with rm -r as they are bundles (directories)

After that, I rebooted the system and the question-mark-on-a-folder disappeared and the updating process completed.

I can’t tell you how scared I was: My OS X installation is tweaked to oblivion and I’d really, really hate to lose all the stuff. Don’t mind the data – it’s configuration files and utilities and of course fink.

*shudder*

As I have not tried to reboot after completing each of the steps above, I’m unable to say what actually caused the problem. I doubt it was Parallels though as I’m currently running 10.4.8 and Parallels (which I had to reinstall of course). I also doubt it was the permissions issue as wrong permissions are unlikely to cause boot-failure.

So it probably was a corrupted Extension cache. Or the update process not able to cope with the Parallels extensions.

Me being in the dark makes me unable to place blame, so you won’t find any statement about how a more or less forced OS update should never cause a failure like this…

For all I know, this could have happened without the update anyways.

The good news on the other hand is that I’m slowly reaching a state where I am as good at fixing macs as I am good at fixing Windows and Linux. Just don’t tell this to my friends who have macs.