Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Quickie screen tip: always running screen

It's easy to set screen up so it automatically resumes your last session as soon as you log in. If you don't like to manually type 'screen -<args>' after logging in, and you don't like screen sessions getting stranded by a killed terminal, try the following in your shell's user rc/profile:

if ! echo $STY | cut -d. -f1 | xargs ps -p 2> /dev/null | grep -i screen; then
exec screen -RR

Credit to danieldg on Freenode IRC for this approach.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Thought I'd get this out there, since everyone else will too.

Not that this game was hard, mind you. I solved the whole thing in about an hour. But I like making maps, and inkscape is fun to use, so here you go: (walkthrough below) If you don't see the svg map, try visiting the actual blog, and use firefox 1.5.

  1. use claws (+1), get bone (+2), use bone (+3)
  2. north, get flask
  3. west, look inside log, get coins (+2)
  4. (look inside log, get dank log insides :-)
  5. e, e, talk to man, give coins to man (+2)
  6. w, n, give corn to bird (+2)
  7. n, talk to monk, get stein (+1), s (+3)
  8. s, e, e, s, talk to barkeep, use stein (+2) - remember what Kigalonian looks like!
  9. n, n, talk to kigalonian, choose the correct one (+2)
  10. s, e, knock, ask for ketchup (+3)
  11. w, w, w, w, look scrapbook, talk to hag, use ketchup on head (+2)
  12. talk to hag, answer her questions (hope you read the scrapbook!) (+4)
  13. e, e, s, give bird to troll (+2)
  14. (look stream :-)
  15. s, open door, use glove (+1)
  16. get flask. You know what to do here. (+6).

Monday, April 03, 2006

Nastier Than a Bear Holding a Shark

I have just finished setting up a Windows XP Pro box as a Subversion server.
This is not a fun way to spend an evening. Before you read this let me say
the following things as loudly as possible:


USE LINUX OR, what the hell, OS X would probably be okay too.

I will talk a little about why Windows is so bad later on. However, Windows
is what we had, and we needed a repo up ASAP, so I made do. Fortunately
Subversion keeps a database, and we will be able to copy that database to a
non-toy computer in the future. In the meantime, here's how to make it

Install SSHd

  1. Install Cygwin. Make sure the OpenSSH [1] package is checked. You
    probably want to add a few other things. My list of extras usually
    includes zsh, zip, unzip, gcc-mingw, patch, and
  1. Create local user accounts (or domain user accounts) for all the people
    you want to have making commits. In Windows XP pro, the default
    is accounts with no password. This is dumb. Set passwords on all
    the accounts. You can't log into SSH if you don't have either a password
    on the account or a public/private authorized_key pair on the account.
    Make these accounts local administrators. If you don't think you can do
    that, then don't even bother with the rest of this solution. You want Unix
  2. Launch the Cygwin prompt at least once. Run:
    mkpasswd -l > /etc/passwd; mkgroup -l > /etc/group(In a Windows NT Domain/ADS environment, you probably want -l -D.)
  3. Add C:\cygwin\bin to your global PATH environment variable.
    Yeah, just do it. It's in My Computer > Proprties > Advanced >Environment Variables.
  4. Then run ssh-host-config. You probably want to answer 'yes' to
  5. net start sshd or start the service from the services applet.

Test SSH

I suggest logging in as one of your users using just ssh, and make sure you
see some kind of shell.

Install Subversion and Make svnserve Your Bitch

  1. Install Subversion.
  1. Create a repository somwhere, using svnadmin. Now, there're a couple
    of things that need to be true about this repository.

    • It needs to be owned by the Administrators group, including
    • It needs to be writable by them, including subdirs/folders.

    Both of these things are accessed through the Security Tab, and then the
    Advanced button, when you right-click on the folder. If you don't have a
    security tab, go into Tools>Folder Options>View> and uncheck "Simple
    File Sharing".

    You may be scratching your head and thinking "But all your users are
    administrators.. why can't they write to the folder regardless?" You, my
    friend, understand Unix. Unfortunately, you don't understand Windows,
    wherein permissions activate and deactivate apparently at random.

  2. If you've ever configured svn+ssh access to a repository on Unix, you know
    about the umask problem as described in the box at the bottom of this
    svnbook page. There's a different problem on Windows, but it's solved
    the same way, with a very similar shell script.

In Cygwin's sshd, you get a very limited set of directories in your PATH.
It does not match the list in your global environment; it is apparently
compiled into sshd. There are a couple of different ways to modify it, but
they aren't global and/or they don't apply when using ssh to tunnel svn.
The solution is this shell script:

cd /cygdrive/c/Program\ Files/Subversion/bin
# change the following line so that -r points to where you are
# keeping your subversion repositories. This keeps your URLs shorter.
./svnserve -r C:/SUBVERSION "$@"

You need to name this script svnserve with no extension, put this into
your C:\WINDOWS directory, and, using Cygwin,
chmod a+x /cygdrive/c/WINDOWS/svnserve.
What you are doing is routing around the broken PATH and directing svn to
run the binary from its own directory. Note also the argument -rC:/SUBVERSION. That's a FORWARD SLASH. This argument is optional, but
it's extremely handy. Use it when you want shorter URLs.
For example, if you did:

mkdir C:/REPOS
svnadmin create Foostuffs
If you want your url to be svn+ssh://foostuffs.com/Foostuffs, then use
-r C:/REPOS.
  1. Make svnserve.exe in C:\Program Files\Subversion\bin executable by
    everyone. It isn't world executable by default.

Test svn

Try svn co svn+ssh://foostuffs.com/Foostuffs and see what happens. If
you're trying this on a Windows client, you will want to find somebody else's document
on setting up svn+ssh client access from Windows.

Why Windows Sucks

Well, we've already covered the problems with the broken PATH on Windows,
which forces us to use the C:\WINDOWS\svnserve kludge, and the requirement
that your users be local Administrators. In addition to that, this
configuration is just plain flaky and slow. Performance is sluggish or
sometimes just stops altogether, for reasons from the computer going to sleep
(watch out for that) to having the wrong "Optimize for background apps"
setting, to just weird behavior in general. SSH is also slow under Cygwin,
which makes SVN slow.

Tomorrow I'll be setting up Bugzilla on the same box, assuming this pile of
cards hasn't fallen over by then.

[1](Why am I not using conch? Conch doesn't work on Windows. If
you disagree, feel free to send me instructions or patches and I
will try them. Really. I don't like Cygwin sshd.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Quickie setuptools

Here's a one-liner shell script to install PJE's setuptools, for Googling goodness. Nearly everyone, I hope, has wget. (There's also a version that uses only python by importing urllib2. I like this one.)

wget -O - http://peak.telecommunity.com/dist/ez_setup.py | python -

If you're on Windows, you probably then want to do ..

cd c:\python24\scripts
ren easy_install-script.py easy_install.py
exemaker easy_install.py

Look for "easy_install.exe" in the C:\python24\scripts directory if you're on Windows. You probably want to copy it to somewhere in your binary PATH.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Down with the Man

Ringtones are outrageously expensive. My stepdaughter wanted to put some custom ones on her Razr which you might not even be able to download, and I happen to be decent with Audacity. I wanted to put a note on here so the next visitor to google.com would do better than I did.

Make sure your MP3 file is encoded at a 22kHz sample rate.

If you don't do that, you will get the message "File type not recognized" from your Motorola Razr phone.

You will see a lot of stupid nonsense about making an mp3 file and then renaming it to .MID. I didn't do that, I just figured out where the project sample rate button was in Audacity. (Hint: It's in the bottom left corner.) Then export as an MP3, transfer to the phone using one of many methods, and off you go.