Blog: 2011-02

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Clouds of Tubes

I appropriated this new PHB IT buzzword from a colleague.


24 (TV series)

"24" is a TV show, the premise of which is that Kiefer Sutherland tortures people every chance he gets, due to emotional trauma from when other kids teased him for being named Kiefer.

JavaScript this and me

When working on some async code in JavaScript that, because of the way JavaScript is run, does not always propagate errors to the point that you can see them, this bit me multiple times yesterday...

You've seen the idiom for capturing the this so that you can reference it from a closure:

var me = this;
foo(function() {
  me.bar();
});

When getting functional-programming fancy with closures like this (with very good reason), and moving code around and such, it's easy to accidentally say this.bar() and then wonder where your code is silently stopping without an error message.

Sisyphus

A fund-raiser with which my young niece is associated has up a large thermometer metaphor graphic on a Web page that indicates how close to the donations goal.

Shortly after the thermometer hit 100%, not too long before the deadline, the capacity of the thermometer increased by half again.

Android VPN Support is Broken

I had this brilliant idea that I would get around the Motorola Defy's criminally bad Motoblur by always using a PPTP VPN, to a DD-WRT box at home where I can block most of Motoblur's channels back to the mothership. (Until the new key is cracked and I can install generic Android firmware over Motorola's lousy perversion of Android.

Sadly, not all is perfect with even generic Android. Apparently I'm not the only one having trouble getting a VPN to work, and it appears from Android issue 4706 that Android's VPN support has been inexplicably broken for over a year. The comments get better the further you read down the page.

This is not a good situation for Android. VPN-wise, I'd be better off with an iPhone or even Microsoft. Even if (hypothetically, for the sake of argument) those closed-source VPN implementations secretly leaked bits of keys or were otherwise compromised, at least then I could do the firewalling I want and also protect by eBay account from casual snoops on cafe WiFi APs.

It's odd when an open source VPN implementation with the engineering capability of Google behind it simply doesn't work. But I'm concerned with the practical problem of wanting VPN to work, rather than the question of why it doesn't work.

I would try OpenVPN now, but Motorola has just disabled my root acccess to my Defy with a firmware update. As I speak, I believe that there is no publicly known root exploit for this version of the firmware. (It might be possible to obtain and flash an exploitable Motorola firmware, perhaps for a different region, and then go from there, but that's getting risky and ridiculous.)

Fixing a "Bogus Date" Error in TortoiseSVN

Getting a "Bogus Date" Error in TortoiseSVN?

Around 5am, while working on a project, TortoiseSVN decided to corrupt my Subversion state, such that its "Clean up" function could not fix it and let me continue working with my files. I was concerned that whatever was going wrong might result in loss of my work later or possibly denying people access to the repository, so I interrupted my work to fix the problem.

I found that file .svn/entries indeed had a bogus timestamp in it:

1601-03-18T21:02:46.-75190Z

Not only is 1601 CE an unlikely year for electronic computer technology to be used, the date format is not valid ISO 8601, and indeed the "-" after what's a decimal point doesn't make for even a conventionally valid number.

When I did an SVN update on a Linux box, it had a much more likely timestamp (although being a round second is unlikely when 6 digits to the right of the decimal point are normally used):

2011-02-15T10:03:23.000000Z

The solution was to use the Cygwin touch on the file, which had a broken timestamp, and then fix the corrupt .svn/entries on the Windows box. Toggled the read-only attribute on the .svn/entries file, edited in Emacs to change both timestamps for the broken entry to the new timestamps, toggled read-only back, did a TortoiseSVN "Clean up". Seems to work now.

This was TortoiseSVN 1.6.12, on Windows XP SP3 32-bit x86, running directly on real metal. Although, I think that the original problem was that the file timestamp came out wrong when Windows's built-in Zip extraction got it out of a Google Earth-created KMZ file. And then the underlying Subversion code in TortoiseSVN did the wrong thing with this wrong timestamp, creating an invalid timestamp that it could not itself parse.

Aside: Discerening bachelorettes should read me working at 5am on February 15th as a sign that Boston's most eligible bachelor (and an exceedingly debonair one, at that) is on the meatmarket. Speaking of bogus dates...

Google Earth JavaScript Debugging

If you're doing Google Earth development, and wondering why JavaScript errors don't appear to be reported anywhere, I don't know where they are, but I did find that good old-fashioned "printf debugging" with GLog.write is indispensible in this situation.

If anyone reading happens to know who is eating my errors, I'd love to hear it. I tried Firefox and Google Chrome, both with and without Firebug. Latest versions of all tools. No time to debug further.

Mass. House Speaker Doesn't Read My Blog

If only the Mass. House Speaker had received yesterday's safety advisory in time, he'd be meeting with the governor, rather than in the hospital.

I'm not making light of someone's injury, nor do I think that he "deserved" to be injured. I think he wouldn't mind this incident being used to emphasize the goodness of icy-weather footgear.

Caution: Slippery

The sidewalk in front of my apartment building this morning was so slippery with melting ice that it was unwalkable for even two steps with normal footwear. So I guess it's time for my annual PSA about traction aids...

For a few years, I've been using what's now branded as SureFoot DueNorth Everyday Traction Aid. The slipperiest icy surface, you can clomp over with ease, clicking as you go.

I got mine at Walgreens, a chain pharmacy/store, but you can find products like this at various other stores, including outdoors stores.

As many people who do lots of walking will tell you... All it takes is one slip on the sidewalk to cause an injury you're feeling for weeks or months, or that substantially alters your life in an undesirable way indefinitely. If you live somewhere that gets ice, $25 for this particular protective gear is a great investment, even if you only use it a couple days a year.

(Don't worry, The ice in front of my apartment building is being removed as I speak.)


Danish

Based on the examples I've heard so far, I begin to suspect that spoken Danish is actually German, only verbalized in a non-threatening tone of voice.

Debian 6.0 Released

Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 was released this evening.

If you're installing new Debian-based workstations, you probably want to install this. For production servers, and for workstations developing for same, you'll want to do testing and controlled migration, of course.

LilDeb will remain based on Debian 5.0 for now, since it's highly stripped-down and has various configuration tweaks of the packages. Getting the minimal package list right, and then getting the configs right, will take a while.


9 1/2 Ninjas

From the title alone, you instantly know that the 1991 film 9 1/2 Ninjas is either incredibly bad or incredibly awesome.

The former.

Earlier to... 2011-01

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