Older blog entries for jclement (starting at number 17)

I've started using Album for all my photoalbums. It's free, although donation is requested if you like it, and it's very powerful and easily theme-able. I like it because it generates static pages which means I can archive all my albums on a CD and browse them there.

10 Sep 2003 (updated 10 Sep 2003 at 20:24 UTC) »

I'm sure by this point everyone is following the RIAA headlines as the RIAA launches hundreds of lawsuites against P2P users. I do agree that these users are violating the music copyrights by distributing protected music and the RIAA does have the right to protect them. I do not, however, agree with the way in which the RIAA is choosing to protect their property.

The P2P community consists of 10s of millions of users in the United States alone. Do you really think each one of these people wakes up in the morning and cherishes the thought of ripping of the recording industry today (well after this mess they probably do but before this). I doubt it. Sure there are undoubtedly many users who just want to pirate music and will do it regardless of what the RIAA does but are these users really hurting CD sales? Do you think they would by the CD in the first place. No.

What about the other millions of users? Why are they using P2P networks to distribute music? There are a couple answers that come immediately to mind. First is most likely convenience. Who want's to go to a record store to rummage through racks of CDs to find one song they like when you can just type it into a box on your computer and get it in 10minutes? For that matter who want's to pay $20 for a CD that has one song you like and, as I often find the case, seven other songs they do not like. And what of the reliability of the P2P networks. Sure they are more convenient than heading to the store but they still all suck. The amount of crap on those networks, shakey nodes, broken files, etc makes it somewhat of an ordeal to download that song you've been looking for.

So maybe the recording industry should try listening to it's customers. Obviously the demand is there for instant downloads of the songs one likes. Why doesn't the recording industry build their own music distribution network that allows you to download, for a fee, any music you like from a reliable network. I for one would be more than happy to pay something like a dollar for each song I download. Look at the popularity of Apples iTunes. This would allow me to download the music I want, when I want, without all the songs I don't want when I buy a CD.

I haven't bought a CD for probably 5 years now because I'm sick of purchasing albums and paying money for songs I don't want. If the RIAA would give up on this stupid attack of the P2P community and build something better I would be the first to signup.

Anyways I should stop ranting now.

Created a Python script (datedmail.py) for handling time limited e-mail address to help eliminate SPAM. It is designed to integrate very easily with QMail.

2 Sep 2003 (updated 2 Sep 2003 at 17:04 UTC) »

Release version 1.0 of Tiler. It's basically a GUI utility written in Python/wxPython/PIL that is used to tile images for printing by online photo services. Useful for printing wallet size photos on 4x6's and stuff like that.

On the weekend Anji and I purchased a LG DVD recorder. We had several reasons for wanting one:

  • It's cool
  • So we can make family movie DVDs featuring our daughter
  • So I can backup my favorite DVDs to keep with my laptop (I don't want to carry around the originals in case I damage them)
After several hours surfing the Internet for Linux software I realized that was just too much work so I tried for Windows software and struct paydirt. The site doom9.net has tonnes of good documentation / software for freely dealing with DVDs.

I specifically wanted to copy DVD-5 and DVD-9 DVD's to a blank DVD-R. This is really easy for the DVD-5 DVD's but for the double layer ones, not so much. I came across a solution involving ripping the DVD to HDD, recompressing it to fit on 4.7GB, building an ISO and burning it and it actually works. Here is a copy of the instructions and software I finally found that worked (all free stuff).

I wonder how long until we have something similar for Linux. As it is I can burn DVD images using cdrecord-dvdpro, and I believe transcode can do the compression scaling stuff but I have no idea how to put all this together to seemlessly convert DVDs (if you know please let me know) with the menus and whatnot intact.

Alrighty. My server now moved from my crappy Telus ADSL connection where I could get upload speeds of around 50K and download of 150K to a new colo facility in Calgary where I've got 100M link both ways. I tried transfering some files between my machine and sunsite and was getting 4.2MB/s (yeah). So now I'm just waiting for the DNS to propagate and I'll be up and running.

11 Aug 2003 (updated 11 Aug 2003 at 13:48 UTC) »

On the weekend some friends introduced me to a couple of really cool games. Truck Dismount and Stairs Dismount where basically you try and cause as much damage to the crash test dummy as possible. It's unfortunately a Windows game but might run under wine.

1 Aug 2003 (updated 1 Aug 2003 at 17:33 UTC) »

I'm currently working on a fairly large website for a client that's basically a searchable web based cataog and user registration system. The catalog side is reasonably simple since it's just populating some templates from the database but the registration is much more difficult and consists of 100s of fields with fairly complex validation rules. My first version of the site, done under the crunch as usual, was using Python Service Objects (CGI) mainly because it has fairly nice form handling. Unfortunately this didn't work because the load on the site was higher than expected and it bogged down the server. So here comes version 2:

This time around I have several goals:

  • Make the application faster (applet / servlets / etc)
  • Make the application code easier to work with for me and my successor
  • Make the application easier to deploy

This job seems ideally suited to CherryPy, a python based web application development platform. It basically takes python code and bundles it into a standalone server which can run behind Apache and service the requests. The result is that it is really fast. Also it should be easier to deploy since it's really just requiring Python on the target system. There is no reason why the app wouldn't just run happily on Windows servers too.

For the database side of things, the dataset isn't particularly large. I was thinking of moving away from MySQL and using Metakit. Metakit is a nice little embedded relational database I've used in the past and again it makes the application less dependent on the server. I'm wondering how well Metakit handles multiuser load and concurrency. From what I can tell it seems to do it well but it remains to be seen. Here are some links on the topic:

All in all I think this will make for a faster more self contained application which the client can just plug into their website. The tools are different from the norm but I'm confident that any reasonable coder should be able to pick up python and CherryPy with very little effort.

15 Jul 2003 (updated 15 Jul 2003 at 21:09 UTC) »

So for fun today I thought I would phone Telus and have them fix my reverse DNS. I host my own DNS but for some reason Telus prefers to host the reverse DNS (fair enough). They have this little web tool for updating said reverse DNS. But it doesn't work anymore.

So after only about 43min on the phone with Telus I managed to convince their first level "analyst" that their servers were indeed serving my reverse DNS. I think I repeated myself four times and each time he put me on hold for about 10min. He had to speak with the senior analysts to confirm even that. Then he wanted to login and look at my settings for the web based tool for updating reverse DNS and the guy actually asked me for MY password. It seems that Telus tech staff doesn't have access to go in and look at this stuff through some sort of administrative backend.

Anyways. After all that the final decision by the Telus guy was that I only made my changes a week ago and Telus's servers take up to two (2) business days to update. It seems that he couldn't grasp that one week is significantly longer than two business days regardless of whether it was over a weekend or not. I'm so impressed by the quality of the support staff. Grrr. Oh and what's with the two business days. Do the computers need vacation time? Or is some poor tech editing zone files by hand each time we make changes.

What is it with support these days? I remember the old days when you could phone a company and get someone with at least some idea of what was going on.

Nice morning project. Today I setup my PI phone number search engine. It's a rather fast way of finding the first occurence of any seven digit sequence in PI. Unlike my previous PI search engine that search for arbitrary strings in PI, this one is really fast.

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