Zoetrope

a blog about web apps, Lisp, Rails and all the REST ...

Installing Parallel Tools in Centos after upgrading to Parallels Desktop 4

After upgrading to Parallels Desktop 4 my CentOS 5 VM couldn't correctly launch its X server anymore. Installing Parallels Tools should fix that and will also enable the Dynamic Resolution switching. This enables you to just drag the righthand corner of your VM in windowed mode and X will automatically switch to the appropriate resolution.

The installer tries to download and install make, gcc and kernel-devel, and failed miserably and even when I installed the packages manually it wouldn't continue. It seems it checks the version number of the kernel you're running. Just yum update to kernel-2.6.18-92.1.22.el5 and run the installer again.

Here's how (from Parallel Desktop User Guide)

To unmount the image, enter:

umount /dev/hdb

Create a folder named Parallels Tools in the /media/ folder (this folder will serve as a mount point).

mkdir /media/Parallels\ Tools

To mount the image, enter:

mount -o exec /dev/hdb /media/Parallels\ Tools

Change the directory to the CD/DVD-ROM directory using

cd /media/Parallels\ Tools/

In the CD/DVD-ROM directory, enter the following to launch Parallels Tools installation:

./install

Change the default schedule of Timemachine

Timemachine is great, but I'm running on empty on my volume and really could do without hourly backups. Timemachine Editor to the rescue, a small app to set your own schedule:

http://timesoftware.free.fr/timemachineeditor/

Centos 5 AMI for Amazon EC2 install script

Excited about the load balancing, auto-scaling and other new features coming to Amazon EC2?

Here's a script to bootstrap a lean 32bit Centos 5 into m1.small AMI-form for use on EC2. I started with the Rightscale scripts and removed the interactivity and RightScale specifics and added some features: it's using a mirror based yum config to do a base install and I added the same scripts you can find on the Fedora AMI from Amazon itself to update the ec2-ami-tools and kernel-modules. I also included a couple of Dag's packages like dstat and others from RPMForge

Insert your AWS specifics in the top of the file, choose a bucket to store the bundles AMI in, and give your image a nice name. To bootstrap just launch a Fedora 8 instance (use ami-2b5fba42), copy over the script, your certificate and key, and run the script. With some luck - and no boobo on my part - you should see this in your terminal at the end:

Done! Put a fork in it!

Baking the AMI can take a while, so be patient. Afterwards you need to register this AMI so it shows up in your ec2-describe-images -o self command:

ec2-register your-bucket-name/image-name.manifest.xml

This is currently for a 32bit m1.small AMI only, I'm hoping to use some kind of template system to be able to bake a similar script for 64bit and 32bit AMI's alike.

The script:

http://zoetrope.s3.amazonaws.com/Centos5_X86_EC2_install.sh

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Mac Pro's could be emitting benzene

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=2319

This is so not funny, my early 2007 Mac Pro has been smelly since day one when it's in sleep mode, it's been to the shop once because of this. Calling AppleCare tomorrow morning. This Apple Discussion could be the place to vent - pun intended!

The Procrastinator

The Procrastinator

From Matt Groenings Mac ad: http://homepage.mac.com/mbishop/PhotoAlbum30.html

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iPhone app store rejections backlash

The game is afoot:

Killing our enthusiasm by Craig Hockenberry, developer on Twitterrific

Engadget Cares: save us from Apple's groundbreaking, developer-shackling App Store on Engadget

Don't drive iPhone developers away, Apple on Macworld

iPhone App Store: Let the market decide by Wil Shipley of Delicious Monster

A Bridge Too Far on Inside iPhone from Oreilly

Android Welcomes App Store's Rejects With Arms Wide Open on Wired.com

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Pimp your iChat using Chax

Awesome plug-in for iChat to get some much-needed functionality that other IM-clients like Adium have had for years including chatlog database, automatic contact list resizing and Growl support: Chax for iChat

Via: The Apple Blog

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A late WWDC08 impression

A very late post since WWDC08 was in June of this year, but better late than never applies. Going to San Francisco solo was quite the experience as you can imagine, but you've got no chance to sit still when you're there. The city is full of life, and the sights are unbelievable. Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge are absolute musts for your tourist itinerary and San Francisco is simply an amazing place to be.

WWDC08 proved to be very enjoyable and interesting from day one, and never disappointed. I missed access to the keynote because I succumbed to my caffeine addiction at a Starbucks, and had to see it in an overflow room on a video-screen. Apparently you need to get up at 5 o'clock if you want any guarantees that you're gonna see Steve Jobs in person. Too bad, but it was fun nonetheless.

The Mac OS X State Of The Union address by Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, was really cool, showing you all the upcoming technologies and new features in the upcoming version of Mac OS X called Snow Leopard. Regarding features it was revealed that Snow Leopard would be a maintenance release and wouldn't contain a single new feature. Instead Snow Leopard is going to be fully 64-bit and it's focus is going to be stability and performance. Wil Shipley is going to be glad, because I heard him state to an Apple employee he found Leopard to be riddled with bugs on its release last year and he had never seen an OS release from Apple with so many bugs.

The sessions were plentiful,very interesting and a joy to follow. There weren't as much hands-on sessions as other years because of the emphasis on the young iPhone SDK. The sessions would tackle a certain topic at a intro-level at the beginning of the week and more advanced sessions on each topics would be held on thursday and friday. A lunchtime speaker event Small Teams, Complex Pipelines: Writing Software at Pixar was a very interesting look behind the scenes of in-house software development at Pixar Animation Studios. All in all, you couldn't get bored at WWDC even if you tried to!

Each conference room had excellent video-screens and presentation staff on hand to smooth out any problems including large mixing desks in the back of the room to provide crystal clear audio to the masses. People who whine about the entry price for conferences like this should try to organise one and pick up a renting bill for 20+ large Mackie Mixing desks and accessories. And I'm not even considering building and maintaining the conference network infrastructure. Excellent wireless connectivity and ultra-quick wired connections throughout the entire Moscone building, and specially designed websites for your iPhone to keep you up to date with the schedule and events of WWDC08.

A WWDC08 ticket isn't exactly cheap at 829 Euro, but for that price you get a nice breakfast buffet each morning featuring bagels and donuts and all the coffee and juice you can drink, excellent lunch salads and chilled sodas, unlimited coffee and juice all throughout the day, and all the excellent track, labs and sessions of course. If that's not enough, buffets are provided on evenings where there are late tracks or events like the Apple Design Awards which to my surprise featured applications built by Dutch and Belgian companies: Macnification and Checkout!

Speaking of Belgians, I literally bumped into some Belgians at WWDC08 at breakfast. I was minding my business and dressing my warm bagel with some cream cheese and suddenly found out all the people on my table were Belgian.

I also met up with Werner Ramaekers who I had contacted just before I stepped onto a plane to San Francisco and seemed to be attending WWDC08 also. I discovered his Belgian sounding name on the Yahoo Upcoming page for WWDC08. Turned out he not only was an ex-resident of my hometown Tessenderlo but a nephew of my best friend and a basketball fan like myself. No problems finding conversation topics during dinner with the hometown-connection and the 2008 NBA playoffs in full effect during our stay in San Francisco. We attended the Beer Bash at Yerba Buena Gardens and enjoyed beers and food while Phil Schiller introduced the Barenaked Ladies to the stage.

Another example of a stroke of luck: walking into a Borders at Union Square with a shopping list called 'books to buy' containing an entry of Neuromancer by William Gibson to find him signing books on the top floor. At that point I was hoping to walk into Francis Ford Coppola while (finally) buying my copy of Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier ;-)

I'm already looking forward to WWDC 2009 and can't wait to be in San Francisco again.

Check out all my WWDC08 photos on Flickr

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App Store censoring: Murderdrome iPhone comic

It's sad to see Apple using double-standards for the App Store and iTunes store: they banned the Murderdrome digital-comic application while in iTunes they just tag content as explicit. I hope they'll wise-up and start some kind of rating system to solve this.

I'm curious to see how digital-comics will evolve in devices like the iPhone since we're not there yet

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iPhone prices point in Belgium

I've been quite happy with my iPhone since I got it on July 11th. It certainly isn't fault- and controverse-free Testaankoop complaints but I'm hooked nonetheless.

People often mention the sale price in Belgium as a stumble block compared to the subsidised prices abroad, but if you look at the prices of other unlocked smartphones the point isn't that bad. The new Palm Treo Pro for instance also costs a lot more than other subsidised phones.

I wouldn't mind a law change that legalised subsidised phones in Belgium, but I think the law should enforce the sale of the same phone in an unlocked version. The current situation isn't optimal at all because almost all mobile providers require you to sign up for at least a year if you want to take advantage of the best plan they offer. I currently have a BASE contract I can cancel at any moment, but if I want to change to a better and cheaper plan (e.g. add SMS bundles or more minutes) I need to change to a new contract with BASE and sign up for at least 2 years.

So I'm better of if I switch to Mobistar: same contract length but a lot more minutes, SMS and data included for a competitive price. And that's without the added advantage of 3G versus EDGE-only.

I'm just glad my contract with BASE ran out and I can switch providers AND simcard in my beloved, unlocked iPhone

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Security flaw and fix for passcode-locked iPhones

a Wired blogpost details a security flaw in iPhone OS 2.0.2 where you can access the address book, Safari and Mail through the double-tap shortcut on the home button of passcode-locked iPhones.

Of course, the question remains how many people actually passcode-lock their iPhones. I can't even remember if I've ever enabled automatic passcode-locking on any phone I owned ;-)

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Colored MAN pages

In ~/.bashrc:

export LESS="-R"
export LESS_TERMCAP_mb=$'\E[01;31m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_md=$'\E[01;31m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_me=$'\E[0m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_se=$'\E[0m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_so=$'\E[01;44;33m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_ue=$'\E[0m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_us=$'\E[01;32m'
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UFO: Unidentified Fascist Object

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MobileMe status RSS feed

Because it seems MobileMe is still wet around the ears:

feed://www.apple.com/mobileme/status/mobileme.rss (not available anymore)

Update: Apple is no longer sharing with us through a blog (like they should) and moved MobileMe status to http://www.apple.com/support/mobileme/

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Focusrite LiquidMix on Tiger→Leopard upgrade

Here's how to get your Focusrite LiquidMix running again if you're on a Mac OS X Tiger install that was upgraded to Leopard:

Create textfile /private/etc/sysctl.conf and reboot:

kern.sysv.shmmax=536870912
kern.sysv.shmmin=1
kern.sysv.shmmni=128
kern.sysv.shmseg=128
kern.sysv.shmall=131072

My Focusrite would only work on a virgin Leopard install, now it works without a problem on my Tiger→Leopard upgrades too. Courtesy of a very quick support email to Focusrite.

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INDI Digital TV

I got fed up with the poor reception and eventual analog non-quality on my LCD flatpanel, so when I learned Prime packs are available for INDI since August 08 I rented their HD-recorder package for 10 Euro a month.

The base package is free with 53 channels of digital goodness like Turner Classic Movies. Here you can find their schedule for Belgium. I also subscribed to the extra package which for me is worth it because of BBC 3 (Doctor Who and The Real Hustle) and BBC 4 (the Avengers → Diana Rigg ;-) and the extra Discovery Channels. Prime sport is currently a waste of time for me because of their soccer fetish, but I suspect I'll be an addict when the NBA season starts in October. Prime sport is the only way to watch the NBA in Belgium. The Prime sports package also includes NASN which features College Basketball, the NFL and Baseball.

The difference between analog and digital reception on my LCD is unbelievable. It's a joy to watch BBC again without strange moiré patterns running across the screen, and the recorder functionality is awesome since I'm not a real-time TV consumer. I hate having to schedule your evening just to keep up with a series, since these days they're all spanning 1500 episodes a year and milking the plots across 15 years or something (read: Prison Break). I'm hoping we're going to catch up in the HD department (free HD channels) because for the moment only one channel broadcasts in permanent HD and for free.

The INDI recorder apparently runs on the Osmosys platform (Java) and is not bad at all. The interface (especially the Electronic Programming Guide) can slow down sometimes, but it's never completely unusable. It's nothing like Front Row or the Apple TV but you're spending most of the time watching stuff so that's not that big of a deal.

And whoever is responsible for the firmware uploader is clearly a Star Trek fan, hence the LCARS interface:

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Be still my heart

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iPhone 3D(ebacle) TM Belgium

Of course every positive (unlocked iPhone) there's a negative. Especially in Belgium:

The first (local) Mobistar Center I visited did not have any phones in stock, and they advised me to deposit a down-payment to get on the waiting list. So I headed to the larger Mobistar Center in Hasselt, and arrived at 22-minutes after opening. Around 20 people were in a line and were told when they were waiting for the shop to open that they 'had enough iPhones to supply the line'.

So I waited in line, excited that they seemed to have enough stock. After 6 or 7 people got their iPhones, they announced that the 16Gb version was sold-out (especially the white ones). One or 2 people left the store, I guess they really wanted a white one.

Evidently when it was my turn to hand over my hard-earned cash, I had the last iPhone in the store. So they had a stock of 20 iPhones, and all the local Mobistar centers in my area had none.

Other people had an even worse experience: several Mobistar stores only sold iPhones to customers who also agreed to engage in a new Mobistar contract. Remember, this is absolutely illegal in Belgium. It's the reason they have to sell unlocked iPhones over here.

The official Mobistor policy was to no allow pre-orders, and sell the current stock on a first-come first-served basis, but it seems a more liberal policy was applied in some stores. Luckily the Mobistar Center in Hasselt had greate management.

At the night launch in Brussels they evidently had to turn away over 100 people because they ran out of phones:http://www.hbvl.be/nieuws/binnenland/default.asp?art={0BE76C37-4C93-425B-9F19-07A7DF19C0DB}

Anyway, I'm happy I can throw away my old phone and enjoy phone capabilities on top of all the other functionality. I've been using my iPod Touch more than my phone since I got it in January.

Some dutch links with some info about this sad day for those customers hoping to finally snatch a legal iPhone here in Belgium:

http://www.myiphone.be/content/view/298/38/

http://forum.onemorething.nl/viewtopic.php?p=1764908#1764908

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The Wait is over (AppStore launches)

Finally the time has come, the AppStore has launched. I've been running the 2.0 Beta OS ever since my application was accepted during Apple's WWDC. It included the AppStore but the content wasn't there.

After you upgrade to iTunes 7.7 you can browse the store on your Mac, or just do it on your device. Make sure to install Remote so you can navigate and control your iTunes library. Absolutely magnificent IMHO.

The current catalog of apps is really cool, lots of games and contains a lot of free apps. I'm not 100% sure, but it seems you can install (actually: sync) the apps you bought on any number of devices. I'll test that when I get myself the 3G iPhone tomorrow. Oh btw, for once us Belgians have something to envy: unlocked iPhones 3G (although 'expensive')!

The last few weeks I've been ramping up my Cocoa/iPhone development and I have to say that it's really fun. Cocoa has very, very mature API's and excellent design patterns (read: delegates/target-action/datasource) that make GUI programming for Mac OS X/iPhone a lot more fun than spitting thousands of JWhatever components in Swing.

Okay, now back to Xcode!

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The content you are trying to access is only available for download via an ethernet connection

Just an example of how well WWDC08 is organized,I got this message when I tried to download the latest Beta SDK released yesterday (1.9Gb):

The whole event is incredibly well organized, huge breakfast and lunch buffets, coffee carts everywhere, water coolers, stewards to make sure you're entering the right sessions. They've got a dedicated charge-your-battery with quick-charge stations you put your battery in. Hardwired ethernet connections (and power) on the ground floor, and even power-outlets tied to the chairs in most conference halls. I've yet to use my second battery I bought beforehand.

The special website for attendees detects when you're accessing it on an iPhone or iPod Touch and the interface is very nice, and keeps you up-to-date with everything WWDC.

Oh, and why don't they like you downloading big files over the wireless network? It's because they made sure you're going to smile when you're doing it wired:

I'm writing this from the comfort of a leather couch with a nice hot cup of joe on the table in front of me. They really know how to take care of their developer geeks.

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