jason thurber's weblog

globally-scoped ramblings

Upgrade to WordPress to combat comment spammers!

without comments

They finally broke me! Waking up to 20 odd comment spams every morning for the last couple days made the decision to upgrade to WordPress a no-brainer. Thanks for the super-easy upgrade guys! I’ll apply some (limited) style soon, and will fix the links on the sidebar, but it’s workable for now.

Update: I see that Scott recently upgraded for the same reason. Of course he wasn’t still runnning b2 :)

Written by jthurber

September 29th, 2004 at 5:57 pm

Posted in General

How to use multiple email addresses for a single account using Mail.app

with 18 comments

So, I’ve got a couple of email addresses under a single username/password combination, let’s call them a@a.com and b@a.com (in actuality it’s more like a@a.com, b@a.com, a@c.com and b@c.com but two should suffice). I was trying to figure out how to allow Mail.app (the email application that ships with OSX) to send as any of these email addresses (you might call these “aliases” or “outbound email addresses”). I tried to configure a new account that wasn’t configured with an inbound server, but that didn’t work, so I asked Google:

And Google spoke (in the voice of this page) saying: You simply comma-delimit multiple email addresses when configuring an account and they all become available in the “account” dropdown when composing email. A very clean solution (if not terribly intuitive or discoverable). It’s exactly the sort of thing a novice email user would never need to know and an advanced user would know to (eventually) google for!

Written by jthurber

September 29th, 2004 at 11:54 am

Posted in programming

Back in Vegas…

with 23 comments

As the title indicates, I’m back in Las Vegas.

I was a lucky recipient of “the full-treatment” from Security at San Jose International. It was alright until they tried to stack my bag on top of my laptop at which point I became a more active participant in the process (saying “Excuse me, please don’t stack anything on my laptop” or similar). Other than that it was an uneventful trip (thanks in no small part to the double-espresso I picked up from Peet’s and slammed on the way to the airport).

Why am I in beautiful Las Vegas, you are perhaps not asking yourself at this point? Well, the Lemur and Stacia are getting married this evening, and I wouldn’t miss it.

The really good news so far (aside from my lovely white Dodge Neon rental car with the random “bing” noise): I’m at “The Coffee Bean” again (of previous post fame) and they still have free wi-fi. So… I’m drinking fairly good coffee, eating a sugar-laden scone and sitting in a comfy chair surfing the web… people who know me know this describes my ideal state of being!

Note: The Coffee Bean is actually on Maryland, not Paradise (as I previously posted). here’s a map.

Written by jthurber

September 4th, 2004 at 10:31 am

Posted in General

Lens return…

without comments

The following is a paraphrased, but accurate, account of a conversation I had earlier in the week.

Me (talking to KEH.com a new/used online photo supply store): I bought a used lens earlier this week and they’re a few things wrong with it. I’d like to return it…
KEH Rep: [Looks up my account.] What’s wrong with it?
Me: Well, the mount is pretty worn, so I can get my camera to error by twisting or putting load on the lens. It works ok, unless you twist the lens.
KEH Rep: Well, there are a couple of things that can cause that… [asks some questions about my camera, etc]… what else is wrong with it?
Me: Well, there’s a bug in the lens.
KEH Rep: A bug? What sort of bug?
Me: Well, like a big gnat stuck to one of the inner elements. It wasn’t there when the lens arrived, but it showed up after I drove home, I think it shook lose from the inside while I was driving, but now it’s stuck on one of the inner elements…
KEH Rep: You can tell it’s a bug?
Me: Yeah, it’s pretty big, and it’s stuck right in the middle of the glass.
KEH Rep: And it’s inside the glass?
Me: Yeah. And the third thing is that the lens just doesn’t seem to take very sharp pictures. I think it’s mostly front-focusing, but they’re just generally soft as well.
KEH Rep: Wow, I’ve never heard of a bug before, that’s a new one for me.
Me: Yeah, me too.
KEH Rep: Go ahead and send it back, I’ve put these notes in your file. Sorry about that.

What have I learned? KEH is a good place, with nice folks on the phone (this is my second, totally painless, return to them). And always shake any used gear around a bit to see if anything falls out… or, sometimes more importantly, doesn’t fall out! Oh yeah, and I should have taken a picture of the bug :)

Written by jthurber

August 27th, 2004 at 9:28 pm

Posted in pointless

Delkin Cardbus32 + OSX != Kernel Panic

with 19 comments

If you haven’t been following the saga of the Delkin Cardbus32 and Delkin’s support (or lack thereof) for OSX here’s a short (self-centered) history:
- I posted this summary of my problems.
- Delkin issued an apology for taking so long with the drivers. Here’s the letter on Rob Galbraith’s site.
- Delkin recently released new driver’s for OSX (available here) that don’t require restarting your laptop every time you want to download a CF card.

I tested it yesterday on my newly-rebuilt fresh-from-Apple laptop (that’s a whole other story) and it seems to work fine. It’s FAST, and was worth the wait. If you download images in the field to a Mac laptop, this is the way to go!

Written by jthurber

August 3rd, 2004 at 10:50 am

Posted in review-lite

Comments Cleanup

without comments

Damn comment spammers! Oh well, they were easily cleaned up with a little “comment_author not in” SQL (my highly non-automated version of a comment white-list).

Written by jthurber

August 1st, 2004 at 4:39 pm

Posted in General

Airport Express… typical Apple

without comments

I picked up one of the new Apple Airport Express… what would you call it… base station thingers.
My quick review:

  • It’s visually awesome (not surprising), nice size, packaging, unobtrusive, cool bright green light when all is well with the 802.11g world
  • Setup is basically completely painless via OSX, it fetched all the settings from my Airport Extreme base station upstairs and configured itself as a repeater
  • iTunes integration is very clean… using our old Powerbook G3 Pismo w/ 802.11b card there were occasional stutters in the playback, but I was futzing around upstairs with iTunes on my PC, so it may have been partially my fault. I haven’t experienced any glitches with my Powerbook 15 Aluminum.
  • I’m looking forward to taking it with me when I travel. The ability to extend the hotel’s ethernet broadband without carrying the original Airport UFO will be pretty slick. It will also be nice to provide an ethernet jack anywhere there’s an outlet in my house for any visitors without wi-fi (I’m not CAT-5 wired downstairs, nor do I ever intend to be).
  • I think the review I read over at Arstechnica summed it up. If you’re only looking for one of the Airport Express featues there are cheaper solutions (tho probably not cleaner ones), but if you use any two of the featues, this is the way to go!

    Written by jthurber

    July 23rd, 2004 at 11:04 am

    Posted in General

    Quick test of Canon’s new EOS View Utility

    without comments

    I originally posted this in the forums over at FredMiranda, but thought it might be generally useful:
    Not a comprehensive test, but I compared the same 10D RAW file converted thru Adobe CS Raw, C1 and the new EOS Viewer Utility. My impression of the final picture quality (particularly color rendering), from best to worst:
    #1 – C1 – Very balanced color rendering for the default 10D profile
    #2 – EOS Viewer Utility – A bit more saturated on the red channel, but still generally balanced, surprisingly close to C1
    #3 – Adobe CS Raw – Somewhat strange handling of the green channel…

    RAW Conversion Comparison Image

    Note: This image will not look right in a browser that ignores color-spaces (which is most of them). It has also been constrained using a width tag. I converted the images to 240pixel/inch 16bit tiffs, and am shooting Adobe RGB color space. I left all the conversion settings to the default except for noise removal and sharpening (which I set to none for all converters). I’ve included a small comparison image, but it’s impossible for me to know what you’ll see on your monitor, so you may not see what I’m seeing in the files. I know I should have shot a color chart, but a) they’re expensive and b) I don’t have one. In any case:

    Perceived sharpness (local contrast?) was very similar between C1 and EOS Viewer, and a bit lower for CS. All three sharpen up very well (either using USM, or the sharpness settings in the converter).

    EOS Viewer advantages:
    - Price = free
    - Quality
    - Improved (and finally usable) speed

    EOS Viewer disadvantages:
    - Lacks the workflow support of C1
    - Lacks the PS integration of CS Raw

    Personally I’m planning to get C1 (the workflow piece is really slick), but that purchase will come sometime after a 1D Mark II (priorities ya’ know). For the present I’m planning to use EOS Viewer for most of RAW conversions. I’m as surprised by this as anyone, as the original File Viewer Utility was pretty bad!

    Written by jthurber

    May 24th, 2004 at 2:29 pm

    Posted in review-lite

    Quick update

    without comments

    Well, a few things have happened since I last wrote.

    In order of importance:

    - I got married
    - Changed jobs
    - Went to Costa Rica (Honeymoon)

    That’s about it actually… Southern Costa Rica was beautiful, but REALLY humid! I’ll write more later, but needed to break the cycle of NO updates ;)

    Written by jthurber

    May 17th, 2004 at 5:34 pm

    Posted in General

    Resting on the backs of others – PHP5 & OSX

    with 21 comments

    A few months ago I tried to start working with PHP5 on OSX. Followed the directions I was able find on Google (which were none too assuring as most of them ended with “so that didn’t work, anyone have any advice”) and gave up after several hours of mucking around.

    Approximately an hour ago I downloaded the php5 source code, built it and installed it. Well, I shouldn’t take any credit, basically I followed the directions here exactly (I helped that I’d recently done a complete upgrade of Fink, so I had libxml2).

    I cleaned up my httpd.conf file so that it wasn’t trying to run both PHP4 and PHP5 (’cause it can’t… at least not without some horrible hackery), and ran phpinfo(). It worked, I was running PHP5. PHPMyAdmin still worked, but Tasks doesn’t yet support PHP5. It’s a measure of how much I’ve been using Tasks recently that I then spent 20 minutes figuring out (googling actually) how to run PHP4 and PHP5 simultaneously. Again, it’s a simple as following the directions at How to run PHP4 and PHP5 prallel (sic).

    Now I’ve got two running instances of Apache, one listening to port 80 and one to 8080. I really like it when things just work!

    Edited on 8:48pm – Corrected the two mistakes relating to Tasks, namely the link was wrong and I meant PHP5, not PHP4 (which didn’t make much sense in context). One of the rare times when I got distracted mid-post and failed to re-read.

    Written by jthurber

    March 23rd, 2004 at 5:44 pm

    Posted in programming

    Delkin Cardbus32 + OSX = Kernel Panic

    without comments

    I ordered a Delkin Cardbus 32 CF adapter last week. This was intended to solve the “what is the smallest device I can use, that doesn’t have any cables hanging off it, that’s still really fast, to copy CF (I/II) cards to my laptop” problem… you know the one I mean. It’s a bit pricey (about 3x the cost of an external USB 2.0 reader), but it’s supposed to be as fast as Firewire or USB 2.0, and the form factor is great.

    Yesterday (in anticipation of delivery) I went to download the OSX drivers from Delkin. Bad news, the OSX beta drivers require that you “Shut down the computer and insert the CardBus adapter (with CF Card).” This is a major deal killer. I waited until I got the card this morning and tested. Sure enough, carefully eject the disk, power off the card from the menu, eject it, re-insert it and… voila, kernel-panic and a reboot (which does simplify the “shut down the computer” step, but not in a good way). Here’s what I’ve done to attempt to rectify the problem:

    1) Called Delkin support and asked “When will there be a production OSX driver?” He didn’t know, but assured me that they were working on it and he’d email me when it becomes available. I considered returning it, but it’s just one of those cases where I’d end up buying it again when the drivers came out, so why waste shipping…

    2) Learned a fair amount about Kernel Extensions in OSX. This is really cool stuff, and I’ve gotten to the point that I understand the problem… and know that I can’t fix it… which is basically a bad but interesting place to be. When you insert the Cardbus 32 card it loads an extension named CF32A.kext (and a “personality” named NinjaSCSI or something, I can’t remember and don’t want to reboot my machine again). If you manually load this extension using kextload it can be unloaded and subsequent reloading/unloading can be performed with no problem. But as soon as you actually insert the card it becomes impossible to unload the extension (using kextunload).

    C’mon Delkin… just a little more work and this will be a really cool accessory!

    Written by jthurber

    March 17th, 2004 at 9:47 am

    Posted in review-lite

    Favorite identity theft email, ever!

    with 22 comments

    Today I got an email that forced me out of my blogging hiatus. Here’s the message (italics are mine):

    From: staff@jthurber.com
    Subject: Important notify about your e-mail account.

    Dear user of e-mail server “Jthurber.com”,

    Your e-mail account will be disabled because of improper using in next
    three days, if you are still wishing to use it, please, resign your
    account information.

    Pay attention on attached file.

    Sincerely,
    The Jthurber.com team

    Then there’s some sort of attachment that I won’t open (even though I’m on a Mac and am relatively safe from email viruses).

    Things to note about this email that are funny:

    1) No attempt is made to explain “improper using”. There are many “improper usings” of an email account that would be cause for concern and an email of this sort, and any real Administrator would include a list of complaints.

    2) I own the jthurber.com domain and the mail server is administered by a couple of my friends both of whom is literate. ;)

    3) This is exactly the sort of prank that said friends would play on me, the primary difference being that the prank email would appear to be from a) the FBI b) the Justice Department or c) someone who had supposedly seen a personals ad on some horribly deviant personals board! (Damn, now I can’t play any of these pranks on them…). Oh yeah, and this theoretical email would be cleverly crafted to actually manipulate my behavior.

    4) The italicized sections are tells (just like in Poker). Note to identity thieves everywhere, the recent PayPal Identity Theft scams worked because the emails were believable, well-crafted and technically sophisticated. Even when you followed the “Enter your info” link it still looked like you were at the PayPal site. You actually needed to understand a bit about the internet to be suspicious. I’m actually appreciative that this one is so badly done that it’s funny instead of worrying!

    Anyway, I’m glad that my posting to newsgroups with my real email address is starting pay dividends!

    Written by jthurber

    March 15th, 2004 at 12:59 pm

    Posted in General

    Unlocking the contents of your Trashcan – OSX

    with 20 comments

    If you go to empty the trash in OSX and get a message like:

    The operation cannot be completed because the item
    filename is locked.

    Just open the terminal, cd to ~/.Trash and run the following command:
    find . -exec /Developer/Tools/SetFile -a l {} \;

    This will (should) recursively unlock all the files in your Trash directory. It’s pretty safe because, well, you’ve already put these files in the trash… what’s the worst that could happen. Depending on your privileges you may need to sudo this.

    Found this on the MacFixit Forums.

    Written by jthurber

    February 4th, 2004 at 8:29 am

    Posted in found-on-web

    Sleep Deprivation

    with 21 comments

    It’s been a while since I really deprived myself of a full night’s sleep. In fact, the last time I remember really feeling like I was going to die from lack of sleep was over a year ago when I was visiting some friends in New York.

    We had an early morning flight back to Cali, and needed to be at the airport by 5:30 (or some similarly ungodly time). I decided to stay up all night playing PS2 games on the 15′x8′ screen we had build for his LCD Projector during the requisite “Morons at Home Depot” project. I lasted until about 3am, when my resolve faltered and I decided to “grab a couple of hours sleep”. I did exactly that, grabbing an hour of very light sleep, then heading to JFK at 4:45. At which point I felt like I was going to die!

    We were literally the first people at the airport, the first ones in line waiting for security to open, and being the first one thru security (lucky me) I got my shoes thoroughly checked for whatever it is they were checking shoes for that day. An hour later there were way too many kids running around waiting for the flight, so I decided to go buy earplugs at the gift shop. I asked, “I’d like two sets of earplugs, how much are they?”. And was told, absolutely straight-faced, “$8.99 per pair” (mind you, these are those cheap foam earplugs that they sell for 25cents at KMart). I politely expressed my surprise by saying something to the effect of “Holy shit!”. I then asked how much for a bottle of NyQuil. I was told, “$6.” “Excellent”, says I, and proceeded to buy the pharmaceutical equivalent of earplugs. I took the recommended adult dose (two big slugs), fell asleep in the lobby 15 minutes later, woke up to board the plane, fell asleep as soon as I was in my seat, woke up after being repeatedly poked to verify that I was “qualified” to perform the tasks required by my lofty position as an emergency exit row attendant. I said “Huh, yeah…” then fell asleep again. (As an aside, I could not have managed to walk to the bathroom unaided, much less assist anyone out of a plane…). I woke up several hours later to eat, then slept until we touched down in Oakland. That may be the most enjoyable flight I’ve ever taken.

    All of this is by way of leading up to a story about my poor time management skills, and how they lead to me sleeping thru much of this Sunday.

    I woke up early on Saturday, went for a ride with Dad up to Alice’s Restaurant. Lazed around for a few hours, then went to REI and the Apple Store (which was out of copies of iLife ’04). I’d gotten a call from Scott that morning, and knew he wanted to go to Sacramento on Sunday. I’d also gotten a call from some college friends who wanted to meet in Walnut Creek for dinner and drinks that (Saturday) night. I caught a ride up to Walnut Creek, drank to much wine and ate too many egg rolls and ended up getting home at 1:30. I slept until 4am (that’s 2.5 hours if you’re counting) and drove up to Scott’s house (arriving at 5am). It’s curious that 70 mph felt really fast until I was half-way thru my cup of coffee. An hour later we were waiting for McDonald’s to open in Vallejo (McDonalds not being open is an excellent way to discern that you’re up too early). We drove up to Sac, unloaded a bunch of stuff into a storage locker and drove back to the Bay Area (getting back around 11am). If you’re curious, this is what 5am looks like:
    Picture of Truck

    Anyway, on the way back I started to get goose pimples, which is an excellent indicator that you’ve had too much coffee and not enough sleep. What is the point of my story you may well ask? Nothing. If you have further questions please note that it’s under the “pointless” category. I think you’ll agree it’s well placed…

    Written by jthurber

    January 19th, 2004 at 1:55 pm

    Posted in pointless

    Minor iPod Emergency

    with 21 comments

    Well, it’s been a very iPod-centric day for me.

    I manually sync’d some new music and an interview with Bruce Sterling (for more on my overall iPod “strategy” you can read this earlier post). I then walked out to the car, plugged the iPod into it’s Belkin Auto Adapter and tried to find the book I was listening to yesterday…

    My only playlist was the “On-the-go” playlist, which was empty
    so I rebooted it (Menu and Play buttons together)…
    no music magically appeared under Playlists or Browse.
    So I drove to work listening to the radio and talking on the phone, thinking that some quality time connected to the Powerbook might heal my sick iPod. But, nothing worked!

    So I went out at lunch and bought a 120GB External Drive, backed up the (invisible) contents of the iPod using PodManager (which I bought, upon reflection I should have learned to use rsync), erased the iPod using DiskUtility, re-installed using the iPod Installer 2.1 and connected it to Scott’s 17 to wake it up (’cause the 12 wasn’t seeing it) and dropped the contents of the backup onto the iPod icon in iTunes…

    I’m now waiting for 4142 songs to be copied across! Thank God it’s over Firewire instead of USB 1.1!

    What have I learned:

  • Don’t trust the iPod as a stable place to store music and books
  • I need more semi-portable, backup-type, storage (problem solved with the 120GB drive… at least for a while)
  • Anything having to do with music or video is a HUGE time-sink, especially when it stops working
  • I probably could have gotten away with deleting the iTunesDB file from the iPod_Control/iTunes folder of the iPod, but I’m an idiot and had already wiped it by the time I found that advice on Google
  • Written by jthurber

    January 7th, 2004 at 6:11 pm

    Posted in mild-rantings

    As if Powerbooks weren’t already pretty cool!

    with 20 comments

    Here’s a company (Colorwarepc.com) that will sell you a Powerbook in one of 24 different colors. It looks like the colored case adds about $500 to the price. I know Scott will like this.

    Written by jthurber

    December 7th, 2003 at 12:38 pm

    Posted in General

    Apparently, I’m Miles Davis…

    without comments

    Coffee Stain
    I Love Coffee! But maybe I should start using the coffee holder that comes with my desktop.

    BTW – The Miles Davis reference is from: Billy Madison.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Written by jthurber

    November 27th, 2003 at 11:25 am

    Posted in General

    My Digital IQ = 212

    with 21 comments

    Written by jthurber

    November 25th, 2003 at 9:23 am

    Posted in General

    Nice quote!

    without comments

    From www.sajjadzaidi.com, who in turn got it from http://geocities.com/warmarketing:

    “Of course the people don’t want war… that is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
    Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Chief and Luftwaffe Commander, at the Nuremberg trials, 1946

    Written by jthurber

    November 21st, 2003 at 10:23 am

    Posted in found-on-web

    Exchange to iCal Bridge

    without comments

    Several months ago I started looking into the feasibility of building an Outlook to iCal bridge. That project soon fell off the TODO stack, because it seemed a) uninteresting b) like something that would be released by someone else within a few months. I was right on both counts.
    I’m now using GroupCal by Snerdware. It’s good stuff! Allows you to subscribe to your Exchange calendar as an iCal Calendar. I’m not sure if it requires Outlook Web Access to be configured for exchange (but I suspect it does). Anyway, if this is something you’ve been looking for, it’s out in Beta version right now…

    Written by jthurber

    November 21st, 2003 at 9:14 am

    Posted in review-lite