Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Work on Movable Type

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Having spent the best part of a couple of days this week working on a Movable Type installation that needs to be migrated for a business RBI sold recently, I’m getting more than a little frustrated. Months ago I specified the MT version they needed, and then about 5 weeks ago provided them with a back-up file to test with. Looks like they did nothing with all that – until this week – and now it’s absolutely crucial that they get this productionised NOW!! I’ve almost completely rebuilt their installation to something a little bit sane, but they still have problems with imports – I did two just fine today – and there are some horrible problems with the content which looks like it’s been badly constructed with absolute links for pictures and other assets. It’s enough to make one weep! I’m wondering if I should offer to do this freelance for them at the weekend – a good rate to charge might be what the Landrover garage charge for working on the car. Might make them think, though. Perhaps I should sell them hosting as well!

Visiting New Scientist

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Today I spent the day visiting my New Scientist colleagues at their offices in Theobald’s Road in Holborn, London. Holborn’s a bit of an old stomping ground as I used to work there for a while for the bank (in the Old Prudential Building) so it was with mixed feelings that I made my way to the area today.

In the sunshine, like today, it’s a fine looking area, and not nearly as depressing as I thought it might be. In any event, meeting the people was great fun, and we went out for a pub lunch in Lamb’s Conduit Street.

There was time during the day for a good chat with all the devs; Ken, Matteo, Vivienne, Neela, Ruth and Rowan. Most worthwhile, and I think I’ll do this again in a couple of months.

New jammer worked great on the train in the way home. Very amusing as well.

Citrix on Fedora 12 Grief

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Working from home today, so I needed to set up Citrix on my Linux desktop – which I’ve just rebuilt from a selection of parts from other hosts lying around in the study (including replacing the HDD which had a SMART uptime of more than 5 years – it used to be in a a server).

Anyway, after downloading the ICA client tgz file and failing miserably to get that to work, I looked around for more information. As with the Mac (which was a problem when the snow happened) there’s a newer bit of client software, so down the wire that came, and as an RPM should have been easy to install. A quick rpm -ivh did the trick. First step was then to disable a couple of font files which stopped it launching at all (/usr/lib/fonts/cjkuni-uming/* were the culprits). Logging in with the web interface to the office systems, click on the terminal services icon – and wham – a message saying I’d not chosen to install the AddTrust External CA root certificate.

Well – fortunately that existed in the Firefox setup – so a quick export from FF and copy in to the ICA certs folder and It Worked!

It’s still pretty awful – I can’t seem to adjust the screen size for the client window, so I’m working in a small (scaled down) 1024×768 sort of screen. At least, though, I can actually work.

Posted from GScribble.

Update: Inorder to use the wfmgr.bin utility to manage the citrix onnections I also had to symlink /usr/lib/openmotif/ into /usr/lib (although there’s probably a better way of doing it). Now the session manager works I seem to have more control of window sizes. Phew!

Beer and Stuff

Friday, January 29th, 2010
A garden shed with snow

Shed in the snow

I’m just drinking a very pleasant, if somewhat cool, glass of home made beer.  When we decided to do up the garden this year, one objective was to start brewing beer in the shed – something I’ve not dine for about fifteen years or so.  Once the shed was in place, out came the fermenting bucket and barrel, and the result is a pressure barrel (courtesy of some gaffer tape to keep the safety valve shut!!)  of beer for me to sip when I like.  Forty pints will last a while  – I seem only to manage a pint or so a week at most.

Nice day at work today – plenty accomplished, and although I had to refuse some business to tune a web site, I was able to make a few useful tweaks to the Apache configuration for performance.  Stats still suggesting Movable Type rendering 500,000 page impressions a day – that’s pretty good.

Finished my performance review at the office this morning as well.  Glad that’s out  of the way.

I also managed to get my BT200 voip phone to ring with a converted bell sound.  Not really very spectacular, but just rather neat to accomplish!

Random Thoughts on Tuesday

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Very random.

Climate change:  the IPCC seems to have shot itself in the foot having predicted a few years ago that all the Himalayan glaciers would be melted in less than thirty years from now.  I really don’t understand how they can have come to such a dramatic conclusion without realising thy must have been so amazingly wrong unless they were simply joining the global warming bandwagon and giving politicians what they wanted to hear in exchange for funds.  It’s bad enough that the Pro GW enthusiasts can’t accept that they might be wrong.  Drives me mad – and somewhat irritated by some journals fanning the flames, it seems to me.  Gah!

— UPDATE, 27/01/2010: The Times has an article on this very subject and which strikes me as a far more balanced attitude to how scientists should think about this subject.—

The office canteen produced Haggis yesterday.  It was great.

Spent much of today looking at the conversion of to an MT based site.  Hopefully I can sort out the problems this poses me, and discover just hpw many pages there actually are.  Wget is now being run to try and get an  “independent” idea of what’s there.  Editor says 3500 pages, Script from SixApart finds just 980.  Nice bit of feedback from the publisher, though.

We went to Grace’s school this evening to hear about the proposed trip to Little Canada (IOW) when she gets into year six.  Got to find some cash, now!

Waitig for Grandstream to reply to my question about upgrading the BT200 phone firmware.  24 hours so far and no reply yet.  Hopefully they’ll comeup with the goods, because random crash and reboot only with a power cycle is a bit frustrating.

Time for bed.  Early shift for me tomorrow.

Twitter/Blog integration attempted

Friday, January 15th, 2010

A little exercise to see if I can integrate Twitter into my resurrected blog. One of the tools in my work Movable Type installation lets the bloggers there make a tweet when they publish an article. I even use it for my admin blog to tell them what’s going on and when I’ve broken something. Can I do the same for my personal WordPress blog? I think I can.

I’ve actually used two tools – one from for displaying recent tweets, and one from Alex King for the posting integration bit.

Well, if you’re reading the tweet or this post, then it’s done what it’s supposed to do!

Nice result

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

After a day spent slaving at my Performance Assessment for 2009, an exercise that becomes more frustrating, pointless and quicker (as I’m getting better at the corporate speak) each year, I’ve had a little work result.

I had to set up a Sawmil log analysis server at the end of last year – and as is the way with stuff you want to get clear of, there was a bug.  Ticket raised, but no clear answer – just the usual “have you tried this” and so forth.  The error was evidenced by a message saying a log file couldn’t be created – and my ticket expressly asked where the log file was – along with a bunch of other diagnostic data helpfully supplied (quite a nice error handling system, I thought).  Anyway, the supplier had to be chased for resolution, after confirming there was still a fault.

The result is that there is a workaround, but you have to let the application create an executable lock file in the cgi-bin directory. Ugh!  At least I can move on, though.

Getting my blog up and running again

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

It’s about time that I made the effort to get this blog finally up and running properly – with some sort of regular posting going on.  Too many attempts at this in the past have fizzled out – but, working in the IT/Publishing industry, and managing the technology for an installation of over 250 blogs for the UK’s largest business publishing company, it’s about time I did what I do!

Of some note is that this is a WordPress based blog – yet at work I deal exclusively with Movable Type.  Both make good blogs, but it strikes me that the most important thing is to use the most appropriate tools for the job in hand.  For large scale business publishing I don’t think Movable Type can be bettered for us.  Running it on Linux, though, is an absolute must.  The work installation I inherited was two front end Windows 2003 IIS servers with a MySQL/Linux database.  Today, thankfully, it’s twelve front end Linux hosts with MySQL databases (still on Linux).

One or two blogs are worth a mention from this group:

Kitchen Rat, possibly my favourite
Mannerisms – from the wonderful David Manners and his slant on the electronics industry
Any of the Farmers Weekly Blogs

They all keep me amused, and very gainfully employed but back to this blog…

WordPress claims to be famous for it’s five-minute set up – but it took me rather longer.  Some of this was the interminable FTPing of files back and forth, and some was a rather daft attempt at an in-place upgrade which went wrong.  I think it was the style sheets or theme for the older WP version that caused the invisible pages, but a complete scrub and restart  from scratch finally did the trick.  WordPress always remind you to back-up before you start anything like this, and although I’ve never had a problem like this before, ignoring the advice will always bite you in the bum eventually.  I should have known that!