Hello, WP!

Welcome to WordPress. This is my first post with the new system. Things are going to be a little hairy here for the next week or so, as I make things work the way I want them. But the important things are all set.


Yesterday, I passed my Red Hat Certified Engineer exam with flying colors. I’m willing to call it a legitimate certification. The entire test was hands-on troubleshooting (“Here’s a machine that won’t boot. Fix it”) and installation and configuration (“Here’s bare metal, and a four page description of how we want the machine setup. Go”). It’s very indicative of the kind of work I do on a daily basis, so it’s far more useful than a multiple-choice test would have been.

Wiki at work

Today, I gave an intro to wiki class at work. Ever since I moved the Unix group’s home page from a wad of hand-edited HTML files to wiki, it’s been a far bigger hit than I expected. There are now nine teams using wikis for their documentation or interested in migrating, and I expect there are probably a few more that will be converting soon. It’s great to be able to feel that I’m making a bottom-up difference at work, and that open source (not to mention Wikipedia) is touching a few more people who might not otherwise ever feel it.

EXIF tools

Almost all digital cameras (with the notable exception of all but the newest camera phones) support a JPG comment format called Exchangable Image File Format (EXIF). When you take a photo, a lot of nice details about shutter speed and aperture are saved along with the image (and a lot of confusing and technical data, too). Unfortunately, if you take photos with a film camera and scan in the photos, the data is all missing.

Luckily, there are a number of tools made exactly for such a situation. Exifer is a good freeware option, but there’s also MaPiVi, which is open-source and cross-platform. There are a ton of them out there, if you ask the right people.


The “Alt-Tab Replacement” Power Toy never behaved properly with my text editor of choice, EditPad Lite. So yesterday, I set off on a search for a new screenshot-enhanced program switcher for Windows. I came across (and am extremely happy with) TaskSwitchXP. It’s both more configurable and Open Source. Anyone who often has more than 4 or 5 programs running at a time should try this out.

Clipcopy is no more

As of this morning, I am now using Remote Clip to synchronize the clipboards on my SunBlade 100 desktop (running Solaris 10) and my IBM T40 laptop (Windows XP). It’s got exactly the feature set I always wanted in ClipCopy, and since I don’t suffer from NIH syndrome, I have no problems abandoning the latter for the former.

Real without Realplayer

RealPlayer is a steaming pile. I didn’t want to install it on my computer unless I absolutely positively had to, but NPR archives are all in streaming Real audio format. So I set about trying to be able to play Real audio and video with some sort of spamware-, spyware- and uglyware-free solution. Here’s how I did it:

Real Alternative. This contains the codecs needed to decode the Real file formats. If you don’t mind Media Player Classic, make sure you select it during the Real Alternative install, and you’re done.

If you prefer Winamp (like me), don’t install MPC. Get Tara’s Real Audio Plugin for Winamp. You’ll need to close and restart Winamp for it to recognize the new plugin, and it should even prompt you to associate itself with the proper file types.

Photo mosaics howto

How to make your own photo mosaics, courtesy of Engadget.


This is cool: thttpd, a tiny, fast, and simple HTTP server. Traffic throttling, IPv6 support, chroot jails, it’s exactly what I was looking for this morning!

Apache logrotate

You know you’re an obsessive-compulsive standards snob when you get upset at non-standard behaviour of utilities like rotatelogs (included in the Apache web server). It does exactly what it sounds like: rotates your logs after a period of time, however long you define. It names the logs whatever you tell it, even allowing you to use strftime() syntax.

But, it doesnt use the local time to rotate the logs, like a normal sane application would. Oh no, it takes your local time and then MUNGES IT TO FUCKING UTC! You have to tell it how many hours you are from UTC! That means I have to change my httpd.conf next sunday!

I have created a solution though.