Weather Report: “Rain Mist”

Even though it’s usually considered too polite to talk weather, the kind of weather I just passed through on my way to lunch does merit a comment.

Usually when it rains in Sweden it pours down so violently you have 5 cms of water covering the ground, or if the rain has decided to stay the whole day it drizzles, making book reading and Monopoly gaming a viable alternative if you’re a kid and having summer break, oh memories… sorry… well not that we have summer breaks in the autumn, not even in Sweden but we have more or less the same rain in the autumns as in the summer, no hailstorms though.  And colder!

Today was strange though. More of a rain mist than a real rain, and it took me a while to recognize it. It was like someone had placed sprinklers all over the place, and they were set to produce that fine mist of water some sprinklers are capable of.

Strange and unusual experience, and a first for me, ever!

Hacking Windows Remote Connection (MSTSC.EXE)

WARNING: The below tip will kick out one of the already logged in users. This behavior may have been added after I came up with this advice, or I’ve always been the evil person on the block 😀

Ever been turned down by a Windows machine over Remote Desktop because it already had too many connections?

Even though there are no way to connect using the standard remote desktop program you can still “hack” a connection. Sure the limitation exists, probably to sell more licenses or to protect the host server from getting too many connections, but to get past it you do the following:

mstsc /v:myhost.com /F /console

Where myhost.com is the name or ipnumber of the server you are trying to remote to. /F means a full screen connection, /console means to connect to the “console session of the server” (whatever that means, it anyhow results in you getting in although the server would otherwise refuse you).

The full format of the MSTSC command call are:

MSTSC [<Connection File>] [/v:<server[:port]>] [/console] [/f[ullscreen]]
[/w:<width> /h:<height>]

<Connection File> refers to an rdp file to be used with the connection (good if you need to make local drivers or other resources available or set up the connection otherwise).

You can also call MSTSC with the “/edit” switch if you wish to edit a connection file:

MSTSC /edit <Connection File>

Finally you may also migrate files by using the “/migrate” switch (not 100% sure how this is done though since I don’t have an older version file to test with).

Stargate Atlantis: Whispers (4/5)

Episode 7 of Stargate Atlantis season 5 starts on a foggy Gate World planet where two persons, apparently natives make their way through the fog. As they move on they come upon a sitting figure turned with her back at them. They approach and we can all see something bad is going to happen. One of them touch the figure who leaps on her feet, growling. Screaming, running and dying ensues and one of the scarier episodes of Stargate Atlantis starts.

This episodes continues a theme development in Atlantis that at least I noticed already in previous episodes (not sure if it was in the Shrine or Ghost in the Machine I noticed it first…): The use of women not only as bosses or doctors (which to be honest is just a continuation of the age old matriarch and caretaker roles assigned to women). This time we see them as grunts. And although the episode had me biting my nails and turning down the volume (in preparation for the bang-crash- monster-attack- heart-attack sequence of events) none of the women came even close to the classic horror movie almost-naked-blond- running-screaming-through-the-forest- when-she-should-be-home- with-her-door-locked moves.

This fresh and interesting episode only features Joe Flanigan from the permanent cast and I’m giving it an 4 out of 5. Its only demerits would be that it is a rather uncharacteristic Atlantis episode, and that the cast-dynamic suffers a bit from not having any of the other permanent cast members.

Office 2007: Microsoft shoots itself in the foot?

I have the somewhat dubious pleasure of working at a place where the migration from Office 2003 to 2007 is halfway done. Now, usually this should be no problem, but a couple of factors have cooperated to make it one.

Office 2007 uses a new (and improved?) format (they added an x to all their file name extensions, read more about them here). This could be all good and well if it had not been for the fact that new versions of Office now uses these formats per default. Okay, a user a bit savvy might sooner or later notice the “x” at the end of all filenames… but only the users that have disabled the setting in Windows to hide these formats…

This leaves us with senders, running Office 2007, unable to tell if they saved the file in docx or doc format, and the recipients with Office 2003, unable to read these files. Even though there is an update, a lot of users aren’t comfortable with doing that… heck, I’m scared of doing unneccessary stuff to my wobbly M$ installation!

The end result becomes pretty predictable: chaos, disillusioned users, and … a great day to start talking about OpenOffice.org? (even though it does not yet support the Office 2007 format).

Open source v.s. Closed source

Working with closed source products (Microsoft Visual Studio, .NET, ASP.NET, SQL Server, and Oracle) while at the same time experimenting with open source products (Eclipse, Java, MySql, and Spring) I am constantly baffled by the persistence of closed source developers and business people in their handling of second grade support, bad information, and lacking products.

Continue reading Open source v.s. Closed source

Badblocks

It took me some time to find out the equivalent of Window’s checkdisk/scandisk/chkdisk on Linux, but trust me, there are several.

For starters I am going to take a look at badblocks, a command that as the name implies, looks for bad blocks.

The basic format of badblocks are:

badblocks [options] device

If you have a fresh drive with no data or data that can be deleted on it you can do:

badblocks -s -w /dev/sdb

Note however, the -w command will erase all existing data on the drive so do not use it for drives with existing file systems on them. You cannot use -w on a mounted drive, unmount it first. The -s flag makes the command show a progress bar. This could come in handy when you are testing larger drives since even the fastest systems will take at least an hour to test an average sized drive (my 400GB took about 2 hours on a SATAII system).

If you want to test the drive without deleting data you can use the -n switch which will use non-destructive write-read mode, however, this switch can, for obvious reasons, not be combined with the -w switch.

badblocks -s -n /dev/sdb

Links:

The mystery of the magic file (or how i invented the .rte and .rtg file formats)

I’m just back from a head spinning experience of extreme Windowsism.  A file that refused to be renamed, or deleted… until ten minutes later…

What happened was that I wanted to rename a file.  Like I usually do, I clicked the file, then pressed F2, got the “editable” view of the file name and started typing.

Nothing happened.

I clicked around, trying to see if the computer was just slow or something like that.  Well… the file explorer did not respond at all…

It was frozen.  So I waited for it to unfreeze.  Which it didn’t.  It apparently had crashed.

I force-quitted.  Restarted and retried.  After all, perhaps it was just a fluke?  Right?

Nope.  Same exact problem.

I scratched my head, thought for a bit and rejected a number of alternative ways to go.  I guessed it was time for the daily reboot… again today.  And rebooted the system.

Once back in the catalogue (five minutes later) I found the same problem persisted.  No rename, no file explorer, nothing but kill the program.

I was able to “solve” the problem however, by copying the file.  Once I had it was in fact possible to rename the copy.  All I had to do now was to remove the old file and, although kind of axy (as in trying to carve an inch high wooden statuette with an axe), the problem would be solved.

The file did not want to be deleted.  However, the file explorer did not freeze this time so chalk one up for windows?  Or not.  Shutting down the file explorer and restarting it did not help either.  It was time to harvest the vast experience of the firm.

I asked around in the office landscape trying to find someone that could help, and I got a number of helpful advice like “have you restarted the file explorer?” or “have you rebooted the machine?”  All of which was rather not what I hadn’t already tried.

Finally someone suggested: “put two files in the same folder where the problematic file is placed, name them so they appear just above and just below the file with the problem, put something like ‘erase me’ at the end of them, wait a week and delete the file then.”

After having hyperventilated for a while to get the whole concept into my head and make it stick long enough to do what the guy had suggested I went ahead.

My magic file was named something like “My document 2.rtf” so after some experimenting with names that would place the file exactly where I wanted them I came up with:

My document 2.rte.delete.me.txt
My document 2.rtf
My document 2.rtg.delete.me.txt

Now for the mind blowing finale.

Once I had the files in place my folder looked like:

My document 2.rte.delete.me.txt
My document 2.rtg.delete.me.txt

The magic file had disappeared!  Finally deleted!!  Only about ten minutes after the button was pressed!!!

That was when I noticed the dialogue boxes saying “The file cannot be renamed, it has disappeared.”  They were, in true windows style hidden under the file explorer window…

Aha, was my first thought, problem solved…  Then I felt a chill going down my spine.  Didn’t I try to rename before I deleted?  Or did I try to delete first and rename later?

No! my mind screamed.  I had a file, whose content was important but whose name was wrong.  So deleting before renaming would be stupid.  And renaming after I’d copied the file and renamed the copy would be equally stupid (not to mention impossible… there was already a file with that name…)

Somehow windows had confused the order of the operations?!  BRRRRR!!!

You might think, hey he was working with a networked drive and the net was having some kind of problem or the order of the packages got confused.  It’s a good idea, it could really happen, even though I think the Samba protocol (or whatever windows have chosen to call it) should be able to handle packages coming in haphazardly without getting confused like this, and the most probable result of Samba not managing that should be some kind of failure, even total failure demanding the drive to be remounted (or a blue screen or whatever XP uses when the OS-programmers run out of money, time or happiness).

Enough about networked drives… the drive in question was local!  No network, no delays, not even cables (USB/FIREWIRE/eSATA or what have you)… unless you count the system bus.  Does windows use TCP/IP on the system bus?

Well… thank God I have my important files on another OS altogether!  Not to mention on RAID and USB backup…

Computers are scary… Windows computers are terrifying!

Review: Knocked Up (2/5)

“Knocked Up” (IMDB, Amazon) is about Ben (Seth Rogen) and Alison (Katherine Heigl) who gets drunk, has unprotected sex, gets pregnant and decides to keep it (or at least she does…)

This is a sweet movie and all. Some quite good characters, but the main problem here is, I don’t buy it. People just aren’t this cute and cuddly. Sure, she might have jumped into bed with him… if he’d given her roofies… and sure, she might have wanted to keep the child… if she felt jumping off a bridge was the only alternative, but the guy she’s doing all this with…

Don’t get me wrong here. Ben is a pretty cool guy…. in fact I bet most men think he’s really cool… he does his own thing, and … well goof off completely. Checking the IMDB page for this movie I’m not surprised to learn the director is a man (Judd Apatow) he’s also the writer, and four out of five producers are men (unless Clayton Townsend isn’t a male name, but I think it is…)

So, male fantasy coming up: Photo model beautiful woman will want to have your child even if you don’t have a job, smoke pot and are piss poor. Don’t tell me he got his act together in the end…. she didn’t know he was having a work, and apartment etc when she took him back.

Anyway, this story doesn’t have to be logical anyway since it’s just a big poster child for making people have kids (or at least not abort them) so much so they had to put in (definitely SGI’ed) shots of the baby “breaking out” just to scrape some of the sugar coating off.

This movie, ladies and gentlemen is nothing but the product of a frantic society (and I bet the rest of the western world are just as frantic as they are “over there”). The authorities want us to make lots of consumers and tax payers, but we’re not really doing so good in that department, so when they go old nobody will be able to pay for the care of them, at the rate of growth most western countries have today we’d have to import daily buss loads of immigrants or there will be no consumers or tax payers in the end… and that’s why this movie screams… get knocked up, do it regardless of the cost “Just do it already” and it doesn’t matter if the guy is a complete looser or if you brought condoms, just as long as you don’t use em… Wonder if the Catholic church is a sponsor?

This movie gets a 2/5 score for being a good laugh, but it could have gotten more, if it hadn’t been for the propaganda.

Euro English

The European Commission has just announced an agreement that English will be the official language of the EU – rather than German (the other possibility).

As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement, and has accepted a 5-year phase-in of new rules, which would apply to the language and reclassify it as Euro-English.

The agreed upon plan is as follows:

In year 1, the soft ‘c’ would be replaced by ‘s’. Sertainly,this will make the sivil-servants jump with joy. The hard ‘c’ will be replaced by ‘k’.

This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan now have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome ‘ph’ is replaced by ‘f’. This will reduse ‘fotograf’ by 20%.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always been a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent ‘e’s in the language is digrasful and they should eliminat them.

By year 4, peopl wil be reseptiv to lingwistik korektions such as replasing ‘th’ with ‘z’ and ‘w’ with ‘v’ (saving mor keyboard spas).

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary ‘o” kan be dropd from vords Kontaining ‘ou’ and similar changes vud, of kors, be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters (i.e., ‘ea’).

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibil riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or dificulties and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer.

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