Older blog entries for mjcox (starting at number 108)

So I nearly missed a staff meeting last week, my iPAQ forgot to remind me. In fact it now doesn't bother reminding me about any appointments. To cut a very long and annoying story short it turns out to be a known problem with Microsoft Pocket PC 2003 where in some circumstances alarms don't work. Hold on, this is a PDA, and isn't one of the main functions of a PDA the ability to keep alarms? I'm glad I didn't sell my Palm vX now, looks like I'll be switching back to it.

As I was commiting the template for this weeks issue of Apache Week I noticed that it has now been exactly eight years since I wrote the first issue. Back then Apache wasn't so popular and the documentation was lacking. Apache Week was designed specifically to give administrators the confidence to try the Apache web server on their machines without having to parse the hundreds of messages each week on the developer mailing list. That first issue was written over a 64k ISDN dial-up line from a computer perched on stark IKEA tabletop. Friday afternoons were spent writing up what had happened during the week. Not much has changed. Actually, I think that IKEA tabletop is still sitting in storage somewhere at Red Hat in Guildford. I wish I'd kept hold of it, it would have been useful for my girlfriends sons train layout.

Over the years there have been many times when we've thought about stopping production, usually when a competitor announced some other Apache magazine that we thought would do a better job than we do. But most of them gave up. They probably realised that there wasn't any money to be made from an Apache httpd journal.

UK Web became C2Net which became Red Hat, and Apache Week is still going strong. We'll have to think of something exciting to do for our tenth birthday.

24 Jan 2004 (updated 24 Jan 2004 at 15:00 UTC) »

I wrote a Windows application last night! Then realised that I'd actually not written any windows stuff for over ten years. The last Windows app I wrote was with Paul Sutton back in 1993 when the Windows Sockets Library had just been brought out. We wrote a winsock Connect-4-type game. When I visited Microsoft whilst working at C2Net I actually met one of the winsock original authors who even remembered using our game. Anyway, Windows applications seem to be a whole different world; with hundreds of web sites trying to sell you utilities. Awful utilities. Things you could do with 3 lines of Perl that the author has made shareware and wants you to pay $15 to unlock.

So to spread some good Karma my OTP OPIE S/KEY client thingy is free, with source. Although I have to admit that it's probably about 40 lines of code linking to existing libraries, and it probably took me longer to write the web page and draw the icon than write the app.

Now I can get back to doing the work on the system that I needed to use the OTP calculator to log into in the first place ;)

Two hours searching the web trying to find a S/KEY OTP or OPIE generator for my new Pocket PC. Another hour trying to get a Java environment running on it and failing to remember how to write Java that doesn't run inside of Applets. Annoyed and frustrated I found the C source to OPIE, grabbed the VC++4.0 embedded studio from Microsoft and within an hour had knocked together a hacky app. It's not pretty (I thought I'd banished such things as CStrings and LPCSTR pointers to the back of my memory) but it works.

I wrote some stuff for Apache Week about the new Apache Planet aggregator, and Joe wrote up the Bugtraq wont-die thread about leaking fds.

Am I expecting too much? I bought a iPAQ h4350 this week to replace my aging Palm Vx. Except I can't replace it yet. My Palm has a cute free application to do memo encryption, a one-time-password generator, a unit converter with every unit you can think of (including knowing that US and UK gallons are different) and even a ssh client. Finding replacements for these is a nightmare. The iPAQ comes with f-secure file crypto, but try to find it on the f-secure site and you get pointed to some new company they sold it to, that doesn't have any upgrades or useful information. The f-secure filecrypto stuff doesn't integrate very well anyway. I bought a drive crypt program from SecureStar. It crashes. Microsoft Money won't sync my foreign currency accounts. People want me to pay USD30 for a silly unit conversion utility, and don't even get me started on ssh or otp/skey programs.

It's been a frustrating week!

Vcard implementing application suck. Over the holidays I decided to unify my contacts, I had different people in different places. When a flight got delayed for 24 hours in New York I was lucky that I had a friend in New York in the right contact database. Anyway I decided to standardise on vcf (vcard) format. One long big text file with entries for all my contacts. Sounds good so far, right? Well it turns out everyone deals with vcf files in a different way. Palm Desktop (win) will import such a file but trashes fields it doesn't understand (which means its a one-way import). Updating entries, even keeping the same serial number, causes it to create a duplicate entry. My T610 phone will happily email me a vcf file and cunningly even embed the photo associated with the contact. But it isn't so happy having vcf's pushed back to it (you have the same duplication issues and it ignores the pictures). Outlook will only import one VCF entry at a time and seems to trash fields it doesn't understand. I can make Outlook express crash badly given a certain VCARD 3.0 format vcf file.

Time to go play with kdepim (although the version I had installed on Red Hat Linux 9 didn't cope with version 3 stuff) and we just issued a kdepim erratum yesterday due to vcard processing vulnerabilieis. Hmmmm.. perhaps it's safer and quicker to just print out my contacts and stick the pages in my Franklin Covey planner.

Noticed my Red Hat home directory had gone over 8Gb so time for some pruning. A single 1Gb file stuck out, my incoming spam folder that I hadn't cleaned in a year. So based on a years worth of spam to my work address:

380 days
116960 messages
so about 307 a day
average 9Kb each
And that isn't even including the couple of dozen a day that make it through the filters.

The t610 says "Optimised Charging" when you plug it in, leaving me to wonder what would cause it to have sub-optimal charging.

Spent some time updating my paper for ApacheCon on Apache security issues, but figured I'd wait until after the conference to make it public (there has to be some incentive for people to actually turn up, right?)

3 Oct 2003 (updated 3 Oct 2003 at 21:57 UTC) »

I just upgraded to a Sony Ericsson t610 so that with the integrated camera I can take pictures and send them back to the house to be displayed on the panels. Not that I'm really ever out of the house. Anyway this thing has polyphonic ring tones but all the sites want to charge you about US$6 per tone - outrageous!

But when playing around I noticed the phone will actually just play standard midi files. So using gnome-bluetooth you can drag and drop standard midi files into the phone and they just work. Free ringtones without any programming effort at all.

Gave a couple of interviews about the recent OpenSSL flaws to reporters from Computerworld and CNet; fortunately these interviews turned out better than the one in a UK weekly journal this week, even though I did make the cover with a cute photo.

I do believe that some of the new security technologies being worked on for Linux will reduce the threat of automated attacks and reduce the risk of some vulnerabilities to users. I also think that it will make writing worms much harder in the future.

But note I always say much harder and never impossible ;-)

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