Archive for the ‘Gripes’ Category

Upgrade to Wordpress 2.5 went more or less to plan

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

I have finally upgraded Wordpress to the latest version after becoming stagnant on some old 1.x version. It’s more or less gone to plan, although for some reason all of my category names have become empty!

The Wordpress administration UI improvements are a welcome and refreshing change but there are still some confusing parts with quite different background colors behind some of the buttons. I can understand why they did it, but for some reason I didn’t even see some of the buttons first time round “where is the Publish button?” Generally the important stuff is much more accessible so great job!

As expected since there is no plug-in management to speak of in Wordpress all of the plug-ins I had were well out of date. I’d really appreciate some form of management for these (similar to the package management on Linux) so I can just be told when there is new stuff and say “yes, please download and update to the latest version, thank-you”. Trawling around the internet to get the latest versions is a bit painful.

Anyway, watch this space for a slowly updating Wordpress theme based on Deliciously Blue, which was curiously based on the previous theme I was using (Glossy Blue). I’m going to try for a strictly gray-scale theme with a splash of two contrasting colors to see what I’ve learned from my typography reading.

Not just ridiculously expensive adhoc internet access but also ridiculously slow

Monday, November 5th, 2007

The ridiculously expensive Wi-Fi internet access at the hotel in Wellington is also ridiculously slow now that it’s reached after hours time.

That’s the problem with Wi-Fi, the more people on an access point, the slower it gets. I almost contemplated not writing this post because it would be too painful.

$25 for 12 hours to get eventually get a connection that slows to less than modem connection speeds is terrible. Bring on free wired internet in hotel rooms!

Adhoc internet access in New Zealand is ridiculously expensive

Monday, November 5th, 2007

How can it possibly cost $25 for 12 hours access to the internet when you are staying at a hotel that charges upwards of $200 a night? That’s just ridiculous!

I’m staying in a hotel in Wellington for a conference. The hotel probably services mainly business guests so I would have thought that internet access would be free of charge. Just throttle the wireless connection speed or cap it somehow to prevent problems with people trying to download the latest episode of Heroes via bittorrent.

The hotel is also in a Telecom Wi-Fi hotspot. That service only charges $10 an hour (charged on a per second basis) for non XTRA customers. Woohoo, sign me up Scotty, NOT!

It only costs me $39.95 a month for “as fast as you can eat” access with a 5Gb limit at home. That XTRA hourly rate is a complete rip-off, as is the rate the hotel charges.

Getting direct rendering to work with Kubuntu Gutsy (7.10) and Intel GMA 950 chipset

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

I spent eons this afternoon trying to get direct rendering to work with Kubuntu Gutsy (7.10) so the recently installed Compiz Fusion visual effects actually look remotely impressive rather than clunky and old skool. I am using AIGLX as opposed to XGL as my Shuttle SD32G2 server has an integrated Intel GMA 950 chipset which AIGLX supports well in Linux.

After much chagrin and reading of numerous bugs and waffly semi-related threads I finally found one page that actually resolved the problem (xserver-xgl on gutsy doesn’t work). I removed the xserver-xgl package from the server and double checked that everything for AIGLX was setup correctly. HOWTO AIGLX contains instructions for configuring AIGLX targeted for Gentoo but should work fine for most Linux distros.

glxinfo | grep direct now returns the much desired direct rendering: Yes output. Wohoo! No longer is scrolling in Firefox and other applications painfully slow and jumpy. The visual effects in Compiz Fusion are also now crisp and smooth as opposed to jagged and choppy. Excellent. Not sure it was worth the hours of what felt like banging of my head against a brick wall though.

It’s unfortunate that the problem may have arisen as I may have installed the xserver-xgl when I first started configuring the server to use XGL for Compiz. Rats!

KDE doesn’t start after upgrading to Kubuntu Gutsy 7.10

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

I can’t believe that the latest release of Kubuntu Gutsy (7.10) has been in beta for so long. The upgrade rendered my system all but useless because KDE wouldn’t start.

When I logged in the only thing that was presented to me was the new Kubuntu background. Nothing more, nothing less.

Starting Kubuntu with the Session in Failsafe mode presented a terminal window with the new Kubuntu background behind it. This was all it did, but I presume this is all that Failsafe mode does.

Starting the X server using startx threw an error about the user not being authorized. I found a few links like X: user not authorized to run the X server, aborting with similar looking problems. This error was resolved using dpkg-reconfigure x11-common and changing Allowed Users to “Anybody” instead of “Console”.

Running startkde then had KDE fire up but then bail back to the login screen. The last thing I saw in the terminal window was

No battery found.
This is not a laptop, quitting…

This had me puzzled for a while since it looked like this might have been the problem. However, it turns out that is simply the output of the guidance-power-manager. Nothing to be concerned with it would seem, just an unfortunate piece of wording in that output.


3 day review of the iPhone

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I’ve been using the iPhone for a little over 3 days now. I’m still in the honeymoon period, but below is a first impression review. I’ll do another post with the bits I really like - there’s too many to list here…

Things that I’ve Missed

Below is the list of stuff that I have actually missed so far. I’ve recently being using a Samsung D900 so unfortunately the bar is quite low and the iPhone surpassed most existing functionality by miles.

A better way to snooze the alarm

I sleep with my phone under my pillow so snooze is within easy reach when the alarm goes off. I want to be able to whack anything on the phone to snooze. My old Samsung D900 was good at this, you could press any of the buttons anywhere (even the volume ones) and it snoozed.

With the iPhone you have to exactly press the Snooze button right in the middle of the screen, which requires you to be at least faintly lucid, of which I never am when the alarm goes off. If I could tap anywhere on the iPhone screen that would probably be better. Since you have to swipe to stop the alarm so you couldn’t accidentally sleep in and then get stuck in traffic.

UPDATE: It seems that I might have been delirious when I first tried to snooze. I tried again this morning and all of the buttons did indeed snooze the alarm. Excellent.


Windows implodes back to Windows 95 look and feel and then back to XP

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

Windows has been running pretty mental on my laptop at home for some time. This morning while downloading the latest and greatest podcasts through iTunes it went into spastic mode again. This is one party trick I haven’t seen before though. Parts of the Window dressing got confused and reverted back to the Windows 95 look and feel. Then it magically went back to XP. All the while consuming ridiculous numbers of CPU cycles.

No operating system should become so unreliable over time. Only iTunes is now stopping me from tossing Windoze out the door. Perhaps I should just buy a Mac. Windoze is normally pathetically slow and when it decides to have one of these fits it invariably wastes five or more minutes of my life.

Getting XBMC MythTV to work with Kubuntu Feisty Fawn (7.04)

Monday, April 30th, 2007

After upgrading to Feisty Fawn (7.04) of Kubuntu I thought I had made all the necessary changes for my XBMC (XBox Media Center) MythTV frontend to talk to the Kubuntu server running the MythTV backend. Part of the Kubuntu upgrade altered the /etc/mysql/my.cnf configuration file for MySQL. This alteration required me to change the bind-address from localhost to the static IP addess of the server.

I thought that this change would be sufficient but it turns out that it wasn’t. The MythTV frontend on my XBox failed to connect to the MySQL database on the MythTV backend for completely non-obvious reasons. If the error output in the MythTV frontend was better I probably would of identified the problem much more quickly. After some hours of looking closely at the MySQL configuration changes and various other network related settings in Kubuntu it looked like it might have something to do with the MySQL password handling.

The old /etc/mysql/my.cnf had a old_passwords = 1 setting in it. The new configuration file did not. In addition, within the newly added configuration import directory /etc/mysql/conf.d there was an old_passwords.cnf file that explicitely set old_passwords = false. This gave me enough clues to see if the MythTV front end for the XBMC was in fact using the old password authentication mechanism (no longer supported by the server with this configuration). I found plenty of references to versions of PHP needing to use the old password authentication mechanism for MySQL and wondered if there was a similar issue with Python (the language used for the MythTV frontend on the XBMC). That information was enough to convince me to try and find out how to configure the server to continue to use the old password mechanism to see if that changed anything.

Based on instructions in the MySQL reference documentation at Client does not support authentication protocol I first tried to get the MySQL daemon mysqld to start with the --old-passwords parameter so it worked like it would have prior to the upgrade. I couldn’t get this to work (the MySQL documentation is a bit sparse on how to set some of the configuration options) so I tried to set the password for the mythtv user using the OLD_PASSWORD() function instead of the PASSWORD() function. By a stroke of luck that actually worked. That’s where I’m leaving it too.

If it aint broke, don’t fix it.

So, at the moment the MySQL configuration is exactly the same way as it was after upgrading to Kubuntu Feisty Fawn (7.04) apart from the bind-address being set to the static IP address of the server. In addition, the MySQL password for the mythtv user has been reset using the OLD_PASSWORD() function.

  1. Login to MySQL as the root user
  2. mysql -u root -p
  3. SET PASSWORD for mythtv = OLD_PASSWORD('mythtv'); - where ‘mythtv’ is the password that is configured in the MythTV settings on the XBox.
  4. Test the settings in MythTV on the XBox
  5. Pat yourself on the back when it works and then go to bed…

This was pretty frustrating to have to deal with. If the error getting spat out of the MythTV frontend on XBMC was better this problem would have been much easier to find with a bit of searching on Google.

Latest version of Intel PROSet Wireless causes 100% CPU usage

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Last night I had the misfortune of updating to the latest version of the Intel PROSet Wireless application and device drivers ( After updating the machine spins into a 100% CPU gobbling cycle by the ZCfgsvg.exe process. This is related to the Intel PROSet application. Killing the process moves the problem to the iFrmwork.exe process. After faffing around for 30 minutes trying to figure out what was poked I just uninstalled the whole damn thing.

The reason I upgraded was to try and resolve a very bizarre problem I’ve had for some time on my Windows laptop. Every so often the machine will throw a complete hissy fit with fonts not rendering making the machine unusable (even the Windows Start button text goes away). For some time I’ve had my suspicions that it was related to the Intel PROSet Wireless application somehow mangling something in the OS. It’s a pretty far fetched suspicion because no application should be able to prevent the OS from being able to render fonts onto the display. However, more often than not it all went pear shaped after an error box (with nothing in it) was popped up by the Intel PROSet Wireless application.

So, now I may not have the problem with fonts going away but I’m faced with using Windows wireless networking which I never got to really work satisfactorily in the past - why I moved to the native Intel application in the first place. Luckily I found another Windows download that helps resolve some of the problems I was initially having with the Windows wireless management - I’ll cover this in a later post.

Strange iTunes behaviour when configured to automatically sync music to iPod

Monday, December 11th, 2006

In one of my recent posts I thought I had stumbled upon a great way to synchronize all of my podcasts to my iPod and still be able to use smart playlists to listen to them on the iPod.

However, it turns out that when you have your iPod configured to automatically sync with your iTunes library it is not possible to play that music/podcast/whatever from within iTunes. You can play the content without any problems using the iPod directly, but with it connected via iTunes all of the tracks are greyed out and you can’t click on the play button in iTunes (even on the computer you are sync’ing with). This is particularly annoying for me because I have all my music at home and I want to listen to the music on the iPod at work through iTunes.

As of yet there is no iTunes store purchased content on the iPod since the New Zealand store just opened days ago, hoorah! So, it seems pretty weird that I can’t play any of the content via iTunes. Initially I thought that it was because I hadn’t authorized my work computer since I’d just opened an Apple account. It wasn’t though - authorization didn’t do anything. Reading the iTunes help it even mentions:

"To use your iPod with more than one computer, set up iTunes to manage songs manually."

Oh well. The workaround at the moment is to switch between manual synchronization turned on at work, and automatic synchronization at home. A little bit painful but seems to work as needed.