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Archive for December, 2009

Endings And Beginnings

The year 2009 has brought good and bad to our lives, and I’m afraid the new year won’t be that different: Clio, the muse of History,  makes that pretty clear. But nevertheless, dear reader, I wish you a new year with much more good than bad: may health and happiness come your way abundantly!

See you next year.

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The last few days I have been spending many hours playing with my new cell phone, a Nokia E63. Most of it was fun, because Symbian S60 (3rd Ed.) is a powerful platform, but at moments it is frustrating to see that practice and theory do not match. For example: I have everything to transfer my password file to the phone – but to transfer the data file a simple “Send to…” from the Mac over Bluetooth to the phone doesn’t seem to work for me: the file sent ends up in my e-mail inbox, and I can’t find a way to save it to the filing system. Lacking a micro-USB cable I have to juggle micro-SD cards and card readers during my experiments: doable, but not much fun. Another example: both the standard web browser and Opera Mini are quite good, considering the limitations (screen resolution, CPU, etc.) – but being used to the Safari’s and Firefox’es of the desktop world there’s a lot of functionality missing when a site doesn’t behave as expected (when trying to download files, when trying to download an image, etc.). Usually, there’s some way around the obstacle and I get what I want – but it takes much fumbling, swearing and time. Guess I’ll have to build my own apps for this baby, now that I have a Python shell running on it!

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Ten Years Ago…

Ten years ago I started blogging. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was, indeed, the start of my blog.

Ten years ago, just a few days after the launch of the site http://www.editthispage.com, I created an account and launched an experiment called ‘N U K L E O S’. I had been using a copy of Frontier at work, to build a few intranet pages for our team, so when Userland came up with a limited but free version of their Frontier-based web site management tool called Manila I hopped on the bus. And a good ride it was, for many years, even when I had to pay for the site – after all, I did get what I needed for a reasonable price.

Until just a few weeks ago EditThisPage.com / crashed / was shut down / got vaporized (your guess is as good as mine) and I had to find a new spot on the Internet to continue. So that’s why you’re reading this on a WordPress blog rather than on the original site, and that’s also why you won’t find all my blog posts of the past ten years here: I’m still busy copying some 1200 remaining post!

The fact that I can celebrate a complete decade of blogging today is a surprise – even for me. I started out experimenting with what I would later get to know as content management and with all things Internet. While my blog is still mostly a compendium of interesting links, it has grown on me. The copying process makes it clear to me that my opinions, even if nobody is reading them, can be heard loudly  and clearly , and that was not why I started this site. I’m certainly not the first Internetter to find that a site, even if it’s your own, has a life of its own – and that’s also why I think it’s worthwhile to copy what I have written over all these years. Will there ever be an occasion for a new party in ten more years? Who knows…

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What a combination! Just have a look at craigmod‘s GF1 Field Test: 16 Days in The Himalayas: there’s a detailed, practical and well-written review of the Panasonic Lumix GF1 camera I mentioned in September, presented in a simple but elegant web page design, illustrated with pin-sharp, beautiful pictures of people and landscapes alike. This is the Internet at its best! Did I mention that I find the GF1 tempting as well?

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Now that I have found the way to move GNU Keyring passwords from my Palm to my Mac, how about the reverse? After all, it’s easier to manage textual data on a Mac (or even a PC) than on a Palm, and KeepassMobile on the Nokia is read-only. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell at this moment, there seems to be no ready-made way to go from KeepassX to GNU Keyring. A few possibly interesting links on the GNU Keyring pages are broken; I’m guessing that the diminishing popularity and use of PalmOS explain that phenomenon for a large part. So the only solution would be to write my own importer, based on one of the available libraries… but I’m not ready to start that project at this time.

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What’s Up?

What’s up? Well, my “old” blog is back up and running! I’m quite surprised, and I wish I knew what has been going on (or not) at Userland the last few weeks… Woozweb (which monitors my sites) says:

Début de l'alerte : le 22 novembre à 14h21
Fin de l'alerte : le 19 décembre à 09h21
Durée de l'alerte : 26 days, 18:59:39

[Update: as of December 20th, 22h02, EditThisPage.com is down again (or “unresponsive” to be exact…]

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You know how it goes: another mail account, a change of provider, another website that requires registration, another machine with some kind of code, … So I’m happy to tote all them all around with me on my Palm Tungsten E2 – using the Palm version of GNU Keyring. A great little program – I’ll keep my Palm for as long as it runs, even if this is the only program I’ll run on it.

But a single “working copy” of such essential information is just not enough. So what about getting the same info on my mobile phone? Well, it so happens that there is a Symbian version of KeepassMobile, so that runs without a problem on my Nokia. But how do I get my data from Palm to Nokia?

Actually, it’s not that complicated – if you can handle a command line of your computer. Here’s what you have to do to prepare for the operation when you’re working on Mac OS X:

  • Create a working directory somewhere; let’s call it ‘work‘ for the sake of this excercise. Make sure that you can start a reasonably fresh version of Java from the command line from within that directory.
  • Download the Saxon XSLT parser from SourceForge: the Java version of the Saxon-B parser will do. Unzip the download, and copy the file ‘saxon9.jar‘ to the directory ‘work‘.
  • Go to this URL: http://github.com/rocketraman/keyring-to-keypassx/blob/master/keyring-to-keypassx.xsl, copy the XSLT code on that page to a text editor and save that as the file ‘keyring-to-keypassx.xsl‘ in the directory ‘work‘.
  • Go to the GNU Keyring conduits page, which is a tool to export Keyring files to XML written by Jochen Hoenicke.
  • Don’t forget to copy the file ‘Keys-Gtkr.pdb‘ (the Palm database containing all your Keyring data) to the directory ‘work‘.

The preparation is done, so you can start a command line (like ‘bash’ on the Mac ;-), set the working directory to ‘work‘, and execute the following commands (replace ‘password’ with the password to open your Keyring database):

java -jar export.jar Keys-Gtkr.pdb password > keyring.xml
java -jar saxon9.jar -xsl:keyring-to-keypassx.xsl -s:keyring.xml -o:keypassx.xml

Now you kan open the ‘keypassx.xml‘ file with the KeepassX application, and save it with the password of your choice. Copy the end result of that save to your Nokia, and off you go!

Having written the whole procedure, I wonder: is this really a blog post or should I give this item a more permanent place on the site?

PS. On 2012-05-19, I have corrected a few mistakes, as mentioned on A New Don

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A Chauvinist, Me?

Can I help that “FASTRA II: the world’s most powerful desktop supercomputer” was designed, developed and used just a few kilometers from my home, at the University of Antwerp?

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Legal Audio

It’s mainly a reminder for myself, but I guess my children should have a look at it as well – they love downloading music as much as singing: “The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads“. I’m certain there are more similar sources, and perhaps I will stumble upon them one day, just as I found Project Orange a few years ago.

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I have played for an hour or so with Google Wave, thanks to an invitation from Bruno – thanks Bruno! But if, like me, you’re just “playing” with what you see when you have just logged in for the first time, then you’re missing a lot. At least, that”s what I gathered from the YouTube video coverage of the Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009, and from the Google Wave: First Impressions and Walkthrough on Bwana TV. The Preview video is a good show before a very enthusiastic audience, and the presenters clearly explain that Wave is so much more than an email replacement. As far as I can tell without extended hands-on experience, Google Wave is in fact a platform upon which to build collaborative applications; these applications can integrate major features from email, wikis, workflows and databases in a very transparent way.

Let me give an example. Yesterday and today I attended a two-day course on the latest version of the in-house IT project development method for the company where I work. Seems well-structured and complete, but: we’re still supposed to use Word and Excel to create documents and the corresponding meta data (which must be included into the documents). SharePoint isn’t much of a help there, at least not in the way it was explained to us. What about integration with bug trackers, or project and budget reporting? Or more importantly: how can you capture all the discussions and collaborative authoring in such a system? I don’t know of many platforms with such capabilities, and Google Wave could well be a strong contender in that area. If I understand everything correctly, Google Wave can be extended with “gadgets” on the client side – so how about a gadget representing a business requirement, or a software artifact, or a trouble ticket, or …? The basic Wave functions would allow us to discuss them, link them, edit them, etc. Add Wave Robots on the server to do translations, reporting, notifications, grouping, exporting, backing up, and so on. When will there be a Google Wave gadgets that serves as a code editor for a few popular programming languages? I’m guessing it won’t be long, so we can add that too… and so on. If – and that’s a big if, of course – the Wave system is sufficiently stable in terms of its underlying data model and its extension mechanisms, then such a system could really grow with the organisation using it. So the question is: am I just dreaming, or is this possible with Wave?

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Vote

Visit http://www.angrymermaid.org and cast your vote for the Angry Mermaid Award to help decide which  company or lobby group is doing most to sabotage effective action on climate change. You can vote until 13 December 2009. The winner of the Angry Mermaid Award will be presented at an Award ceremony in Copenhagen on 15 December.

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Sexy?

ReadWriteWeb discusses Squad, writing: “Sounds sexy indeed! Like a developers-only, less-crowded, actually useful version of Google Wave“. Having just started to try out Google Wave, I’m not exactly ideally placed to comment on Wave, but I’m inclined to give Wave a thumbs-up. So the words “actually useful” seem misguided to me; I can see a lot of practical use for Google Wave, even for developers…

By the way: you can use Squad to edit ColdFusion code – after all, that looks a lot like HTML, isn’t it?

PS. I’ve replaced the original link (which was failing) with a new one, pointing to the original text…

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