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tramp32123 Below are the 9 most recent journal entries recorded in the "tramp32123" journal:
October 5th, 2013
05:16 pm


There is...
...only so much of a VHS VCR I am willing to disassemble without much, much better instructions than I have. Made the picture output on the Samsung SV5000W a little better for now by flexing around where it apparently loses ground due to cold solder joints.

It may be better to get a different device to get my PAL VHS tapes converted, but for now I can at least do some.

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September 25th, 2013
08:23 pm


In the 'What were they thinking' department
I'm OK with shooting myself in the foot, but I don't need an Operating System to do it for me!

Apple has this neato concept called Time Machine - relatively painless backups. Which are all well and good when your files are backed up. Sadly, Apple quietly and behind the curtains chooses not to back up some files and directories.

It seems that Apple doesn't think that the tabs a user has open in a browser count as user data. Even though Safari provides a setting so you can choose to have your tabs re-opened when Safari restarts. Nice when something goes belly-up. Sadly it doesn't always work - you get the sad message that Safari couldn't open your tabs.

Now, as we all know, session persistence needs to maintain state on some form of persistent storage - generally a file for things like this. So, track down the file, restore from Time Machine and suddenly you have an Uncle called Bob!

Only it's not there. The directory in question is most likely /Users/liam/Library/Saved\ Application\ State/com.apple.Safari.savedState/ - which you won't find in your Time Machine backup.

If you run this command you will see that an application (most likely Safari (yes, the same application that YOU TOLD TO KEEP THE STATE INFORMATION)) has set a flag in the file metadata to not back up this directory:

sudo mdfind "com_apple_backup_excludeItem = 'com.apple.backupd'"|grep Saved

If you see this returned:

/Users/liam/Library/Saved Application State

Then your data is not being backed up.

Mind you, this isn't as bad as the senseless and careless deletion of emails by the configuration of email accounts in IOS - where some random engineer decided it was entirely reasonable in his mind to to set a default delete policy on the Trash mail box. So you get to field cries of 'where's my mail gone' from the people (and there are many of them) who use the Trash mailbox the same way they use their office trash - a place to put things that you probably don't want but that you keep about until spring cleaning just in case you ant to find something.

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August 22nd, 2013
11:36 pm


Got HTTPS and webmail working on the Snow Leopard Server... You'd think the gui tools would let you do so - but no, it's vi and the SquirrelMail config files.

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August 1st, 2013
10:22 am


Interesting iPod observation
If I sync my iPod Color from the firewire port, then plug it into the USB port on the same computer using same library iTunes will claim that my iPod was previously synced to a different iTunes library!

Well, I thought it was interesting... :-)

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July 19th, 2013
04:09 pm


Window activation suckage
Am I the only one that would like the window I am currently typing in to remain the active window? I really don't need the act of putting in a CD to change the focus of my keyboard to iTunes.

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July 15th, 2013
11:16 am


Darn hardware
One of the macbooks has a hardware issue. The MacbookPro5,4 is the first SATA II drive controller from Apple - capable of 3Gbs speed. For all firmwares upto and including 1.6 Apple didn't allow the controller and disk to negotiate beyond 1.5Gbs. When 1.7 came out most 3Gbs disks would now negotiate at 3Gbs, but perform like rubbish. Spinning beachball of doom on every disk operation taking minutes to complete.

There are nominally 3 ways to fix this - first is most limited. Get Apple's disk. It's small and slow though.

Second option is the most black magic - rumour has it that if you replace the sata cable with a blessed one all will be sweetness and light. This requires trying to find the 'right' bit of unmarked ribbon cable from bad photos on ebay, then pray and play.

Third is to get a disk that is modded for this computer. OWC (www.macsales.com) have a 1TB disk with special firmware to work with this model of Macbook Pro with the 1.7 and higher firmware. We went with this option, and it fixed the issue.

Or so it seemed. We have been experiencing weird freezes of the computer requiring a power-off to resolve. This plays merry havoc with the iPhoto database. So on the weekend I started the iPhoto Library Manager rebuild process, which creates a brand new database and migrates all the metadata from the old DB to the new. The iPhoto claimed there were 34,xxx photos in the library, the iPhoto Library Manager thought 35,xxx.

Around the 5,000 photo mark the Macbook froze. Power-off, reboot, let iPhoto recover it's database. Rinse and repeat multiple times. Sometimes it wouldn't get as far as 5,000 but it didn't get any further on any attempt. Got to the point of making sure the AppleTVs were off (so they wouldn't start reading pictures for their slideshows), all the other applications were closed. Still it hung. I was ssh'd in running top at one point, and top was still executing showing that iPhoto and iPhoto Library Manager were still running but not burning any CPU time. Interesting. If I quit top and tried to run any other command the shell would hang. I could ctrl-C and abort the command - so my shell itself was still executing, just couldn't load anything new.

So everything was pointing to the disk going away in some regards. I dug around in my USB key drives pile and found the one with the 1.6 firmware installer and down-reved. It took all day, but after the down rev the rebuild managed to complete all 35,xxx photos - approx 150GB of data copied, metadata created and written etc.

So just have to not let Apple Update upgrade the firmware and live with a 1/2 speed SATA bus. Half speed and reliable better than full-speed to frozen!

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September 14th, 2008
07:44 pm


Because learning is such fun...
Because learning is such fun...

I think I'll go back to Plan B+. That means setting up a DNS server on the Debian box, so that I can do the Standard Install of the Apple Server (which will include moving the DNS off the Debian box, but I might put it on a pfsense box rather than onto the Apple Server). Doing the Advanced Install and turning on each service one at a time has put me in dependency hell, with iCal not even starting. Given that I *can* bend the infrastructure to my bidding easier than I can beat Apple Server over the head - I think I'll go that way.

I may, of course, revise the plan and the strategy between then and now :-)

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September 13th, 2008
10:07 pm


Learning is good - update...
Learning is good - update...

Well, I am at least 4 installs, and perhaps 5, of Apple Server 10.5 (Leopard). It was indeed DNS, or at least name resolution that has caused more of my hair to turn white.

My current router, a Linksys RV082 (a fine router, BTW) wasn't providing the host name with the static IP address via DHCP. Even though it has a place to put said host name. It ignores what you put in and just puts in static-host. Which would be fine if I wanted a server called static-host. Which I don't, I was hoping to coerce it into being called leather.

Turns out that a software update I did to the router added some split DNS functionality - and that is where you are supposed to put the name. Rather cool, so I did that. Only the Linksys engineers only did 1/2 the job. It didn't handle reverse lookups - and that's what the Apple Server setup software uses to work out the host name.

*(For those who don't know - a DNS name lookup takes a Fully Qualified Domain Name (or FQDN) such as www.google.com and returns an IP address such as Reverse lookups do the reverse - you give it an address such as and it will return the names that belong to that address, in this case py-in-f99.google.com)

After the diversion in discovering the limitations of the RV082 I finally gave in on the Standard Install of Apple Server and did an Advanced Install. The Standard Install auto-magically sets up all the services that I am going to run on the server - only because of the DNS issue sets them up wrong, and there is some fundamental breakage that causes minor inconveniences such as broken authentication, so I can't authenticate to the LDAP server in order to change the things that need to be changed so authentication works.

The Advanced Install doesn't set up any services. Therefore doesn't create breakage. I then enabled the DNS server and configured it*.

< aside >(When I blythly mention 'configure it' I really mean try to work out how the head of the person that created the GUI works, what mind altering substance he/she was on when creating this tool before giving up and searching for a how-to - which is here where Antonio Rocco says:

"You should now be logged into Server Admin. Select the Server name and select Settings and select Services. Enable the DNS Service. This should now be available under the server name in the left hand pane. Select DNS and Select Zones. You should see nothing in the zones. Select Add Primary Zone. As soon as you do this Server Admin will 'helpfully' autofill the top window with a zone name and a Reverse Pointer Setting. These will be defaulted to example.com and ns Select the Zone as well as clicking the disclosure triangle to reveal the Named Server Record (ns). Start with the zone first and edit example.com to read mybusiness.com. The Fully Qualified tick box should be ticked and grayed out. In the Server field, edit the server name to read server. Don't click save yet! Next select the ns record and edit the server name to read server and the IP address to read Now click Save. As soon as you do this the Reverse Pointer field should autofill itself with the relevant information based on what you have already keyed in. Select Settings and key in the Forwarders field your ISP's DNS Server Addresses."

If you are following along at home, you can delete the helpfully(?) provided 10.0.0.in-addr.arpa. zone (unless, of course, you are using the network - in which case it could be useful).)< /aside >

I set up a zone file for our domain, and a zone file for the reverse lookups. Set the forwarders to point to the router, set the network config to resolve DNS from the just set up DNS server and voila!:

leather:~ the_tramp$ sudo changeip -checkhostname

Primary address =

Current HostName = leather.example.com
DNS HostName = leather.example.com

The names match. There is nothing to change.

So now to set up mail, backups (aka Time Machine), file sharing, calendaring etc. The hard one will be getting Gallery up and running.

Not really complaining - if I was doing this on Solaris or Debian or Red Hat or SUSE it would have been easier initially, because I have a lot more familiarity with those platforms. That said, once I found out about the GUI quirks for the DNS service it was a pretty nifty way to set up zone files - and not shoot my self with the syntactic mistake bullet.

Things I really don't like about Apple Server thus far:
  • The remote config tools are limited
  • Had to run Network Preferences to set the DNS servers - I am sure there is a CLI way of doing it, but editing resolv.conf isn't the way.
    There is a way:
    Viewing or Changing DNS Servers
    To view and modify DNS settings, use the serversetup tool.
    To view DNS servers for port en0:
    $ serversetup -getDefaultDNSServer (devicename|"portname")
    To change DNS servers for port en0:
    $ sudo serversetup -setDefaultDNSServer (devicename|"portname") server1
    [server2] [...]
  • Software update hasn't worked well for me from Server Admin - so have Remote Desktop'ed in to run the updates.
  • Standard Install, which is the one that should be the no-brainer for a home or small office stand alone server gets tripped up far too easily and breaks extensively if your DNS isn't perfect. "DNS isn't perfect' describes a large number of sites.
  • Would be nice to find a way to gracefully get the server on it's feet with the borked DNS, then fix the DNS. That is, I'd like the option to tell the install what the DNS will be like when it's all fixed, and for the install to complete while trusting me that what I am telling it is correct, and that the DNS will soon match what I am telling it. As it stands it would be hard to build this in a lab environment then move to production.

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10:05 pm


Learning is good, right?
Learning is good, right?

Working on replacing our Debian based mail/file/web server with Apple Server 10.5.

Part of the reason for doing so is to learn new things... Have installed it twice so far, and at least another one to go. Another reason is to lower power consumption.... will be running it on a Mac Mini :-)

Gotta work out Kerberos, which most likely means I can't be so laissez-faire about our DNS setup. Which may, in turn mean that we might want more static IP addresses, which means more on-going $$$$ to the ISP. So trying to work out a way to avoid that without having a partly borked setup, and without painting myself into some corner.

As part of the project I'm also replacing the router/firewall with pfsense.

Because one might as well replace 100% of one's IT infrastructure as 10%, right?

A geek Sunday.... reading manuals.

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