Archive for 2011

ה”גבר הישראלי הראשון” וגו’

העיתונות הישראלית בסופ”ש הזה (וכמה ימים לפני וכנראה אחרי) מלאים בסיפור של יובל טופר, תחת הכותרת “הגבר הישראלי הראשון שנכנס להריון” (ראה כתבת התדמית המקיפה של ידיעות אחרונות או לפחות הקישור הזה). אתחיל ואומר שאין לי דבר בעד או נגד הבן-אדם – אני לא שונא אותה או אוהב אותו (בגלל חוסר בשפה העברית בכינויי גוף נטולי מין, ושאינם נתפסים כמבזים כמו “זה”, אני הולך לפתור את הבעיה שלי – זו שאדבר עליה מייד – על ידי זה שאני אשתמש בזכר ונקבה במידה שווה, ובצורה מבלבלת ככל האפשר). ספציפית אין לי שום כוונה שיהיה לי איזה שהוא יחס רגשי ליובל טופר ואני אדיש לחלוטין לאיך אנשים בוחרים להגדיר את עצמם (שום הגדרה עצמית מבחינתי אינה “סטיה חברתית” – או בפראפרזה על מה שידיד שלי אמר, מצידי שיגדיר את עצמו כפודל).

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Mounting SMB shares using URL under GNOME and KDE

As most Linux users are aware, you can access network shares with your file browser of choice (Dolphin, Nautilus and probably others) by writing URLs into the file browser’s “location bar”1.

If you ever had to work with MS-Windows file server, you should know that you can also access SMB file shares using URLs – with the schema “smb”, like this: smb://file-server/share-name.

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  1. and this works just as well with the desktop’s “run dialog” – try holding ALT-F2 and typing something like ftp://ftp.mirrorservice.org/ and up comes your file browser showing the FTP site’s directories. This won’t work for GNOME 3, at least at this time. []

Android, iOS – who stole from who?

The obvious answer is – who cares? But Apple fan-boys seem to like to gloat that any smartphone design (or at least any design moderately successful – nobody is looking at Symbian) is a “rip off” from the iPhone, while Android fan-boys1 point out may cases where iOS designers “shamelessly” “got inspired” by Android features such as the pull-down notifications, seamless multi-tasking, “share” functionality, personal Wi-Fi hotspot, untethered syncing (iCloud in Apple’s lingo) and more.

So everyone copies from everyone else – that’s how a market should behave: if one product comes up with a better idea, then it is only expected that other products can build on that idea – and sometimes do it better. And don’t get me started on the patent thing – patents allow an inventor to protect the technology and implementation of a specific idea, it does not give one a monopoly on ideas (even though many today try to use the patent system like that).

The question that, I think, is more interesting to ask is – who is more willing to play this game and who treats idea as their sole domain and exclusive property?

The answer, not coming as a surprise to anyone, can be found in Apple’s founder new biography: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, as reported by AP review of the book set to be available tomorrow, here are some choice quotes (taken from AP’s review):

Jobs told Isaacson in an expletive-laced rant that Google’s actions amounted to “grand theft.”

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

Jobs told Schmidt [Google’s CEO at the time] … ” I want you to stop using our ideas in Android”

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  1. of whom I am a card carrying member, I’ll admit []

Installing Consolas TrueType Font for Linux

This is a short “how to” article on how to get and install the new Microsoft Consolas Monotype font – this is a very nice programmer font and as described in Dan Benjamin’s “Top 10 Programming Fonts” it is highly recommended for use in your programmer’s editor or IDE (As a side note, his top selection, Inconsolata is also very nice and I highly recommend it if you don’t feel like using Microsoft created software and/or aren’t interested in performing the steps below which may or may not be legally problematic).

The main problem with using Consolas on your Linux workstation, is that this font is provided by Microsoft, and while if you are running MS-Windows (or even Mac OS-X) it may already be installed – as it is bundled with many Microsoft products, us in the Linux world have no easy (and legal) way to get to use Consolas in our code editing. Unlike Microsoft Core Fonts for the Web Consolas is not available for download – probably for the same reason the core fonts packages were pulled. But as Consolas is bundled with many Microsoft products, some are available for free download for anyone, we can use that to get us some nifty Consolas prettiness in our day to day Linux computing.

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Suddenly I’m Less Worried

About my next Android phone: Google Buys Motorola Mobility (for $12.5B).

This deal is very good for me, as a consumer of high-end smart phones, for several reasons: one reason is the more obvious patent issue: the Google smart phone OS has come under fire from competitors (mostly Apple) in a host of patent lawsuits, though none of them actually targeted Google itself: the main advantage of Android is its availability to any small manufacturer – which enabled the amazingly rich ecosystem that is the Android world, but its also its main disadvantage as competitors can target “small fish” for their patent extortion, companies that are too small to afford a real legal battle. Google wasn’t in a good position to help defend their OEMs or developers, and I believe this is what they were trying to do with their Nortel patents bids, that didn’t come through – but they had an ace in their sleeve: even as the Nortel business was going on, Google was probably already deep in negotiation with Motorola Mobility that hold a portfolio of around 18,000 patents and patent applications – compared with Nortel’s paltry 6,000 patents. With this arsenal, and once the deal comes through1, expect Google to come out swinging.

But as I mentioned – this is only part of why I’m happy about this deal. The second, and likely more important reason as I will be looking for a new phone at about early 2012, is that I think Motorola Mobility is one of the best makers of Android running hardware – if not the best. They definitely have the market in keyboard slider phones, which is the kind I’m using. The problem is, I’m a power user – I like to use the latests and best software available and the whole point of having a small computer (read: user programmable device) in your pocket – is the ability to install and upgrade whenever something new comes out (about every couple of months). And this is where Motorola devices fail me: Motorola like to keep a lock down on any user modifications to the phone’s operating system and their devices are notoriously hard to mod – installing a new firmware on a Motorola phone is a dangerous game of “will it brick?”.

Motorola has come out with promises of freeing up the phone “bootloader” (the part of the phone’s firmware that makes sure you don’t install “unauthorized” software) but so far we haven’t see any results. I have hope that under the new ownership, Motorola Mobility developers will find it easier to keep to this promise and allow us power users to buy hardware on which we can run whatever Android-based operating system we want.

  1. supposedly by early 2012 – these things take time []

כך חולפת תהילת עולם

יצא לא להסתכל לאחרונה ב-Google Analytics של הבלוג, ודי חשכו עיני – החודש התעבורה על האתר ירדה בצורה משמעותית ביותר מהחודש שעבר. בירור יותר מדודק הראה שבמאי היה לי שיא תנועה באתר ומאז היתה ירידה:

הדבר הבא לעשות היה לבדוק למה, ומסתבר שרוב התנועה באתר שלי בחודשים האחרונים היתה מחיפושי גוגל שהובילו למאמרים על Ubuntu12, ובהחלט נראה שהתנועה על המאמרים האלה יבשה: בכל יולי היו פחות מ-500 כניסות לכל מאמר.

זה בהחלט סביר, מכיוון שהמאמרים האלה היו על בעיות די זמניות במערכת ההפעלה, אבל בכל זאת – חבל: לקצת זמן היה נראה שלי שהבלוג שלי אינו זוטה 🙂

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  1. MySQL 5.5 on Ubuntu 10.10 []
  2. VirtualBox on Ubuntu 11.04 []

Script Day: automatically locate the next valid transaction in MySQL binlog

Sometimes the MySQL replication breaks due to some corruption in the binary log files1. When your binary log files are corrupted, the only option (other then trying to rebuild a database of hundreds of gigabytes) is to try to skip over the corrupted region and get the slave to pick up from where the transactions are valid.

Locating the correct position in the binary log from which the server can carry on is difficult but can be made easier by the mysqlbinlog utility that can scan the binary log files and show you which position is valid using the --start-position to try random positions in the binary log file and see which position will let you read from the file2.

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  1. I have yet to find a good explanation to why it happens and how to prevent that []
  2. because in the binary log transactions can have any size, so they can end and start at any point []

Mandatory Access Control And Malware

After listening to the virtus/malware discussion on LUG Radio’s new (but apparently one-off) show (check it out at lugradio.org, these guys are hilarious), got me thinking about how much Linux users are exposed to malware.

Lets forget, for the sake of the discussion, the technical attacks1 as these are relatively easy to handle and Linux operating systems are already pretty well protected against such. The main vector of attack for malware these days is Social Engineering anyway – this is how Mac OS-X users get attacked by malware: you browse a web site, and an image that looks like a a blinking dialog box notifies you that your computer has been infected by a virus and prompts you to download this “fix”.

Most of us, technically inclined users, sneer at this type of “threat”, but most people aren’t technically inclined and there are enough people out there that will be fooled by this practice time and time again. Click the image and a binary gets downloaded to your computer and if it is in the correct format it will get executed.

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  1. Such as buffer overflows and such []

In case you’re looking for me on Google+

Using the Google+ Nick service you can now find me at http://gplus.to/guss77.

Just wanted to let everyone know 🙂

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For all the people who have waited patiently, CentOS 6 is here

After a long long time in the making, rumors of abandonment and general discomfort in the community, the CentOS people have finally pulled through and bring you the brand new (though by now several months old) CentOS 6.0.

A lot of system administrators have been waiting for this (me included) so I thought I’d give a heads up 🙂


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