Web coding tutorial

I realized that I had made this web coding tutorial a while ago but forgot to publish it officially... It covers some common HTML skills and tags (including tables and frames) and introduces some basic CSS.

It's still not complete, but I promise I'll get a new revision online soon. Enjoy!

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Werewolf

Fedora 8 (Werewolf) is here! I've been using it as my primary OS since Test 2 came out, and it's been rock stable ever since RC2 in my case (though I heard there may have been a few bug in NetworkManager concerning certain types of wireless networks; That will be fixed in a zero-day update). Be sure to check out Werewolf's downloads and the release notes, as well as the updated collection of Fedora 8 howtos!

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I'm tired of this (rev3)

Apple has been in my good books for a long time because as their computers have no problems. Nearly no viruses, popups or adware at all. No additional software needed. Their computers 'just worked', right out of the box. I'm seeing more and more things in Apple that I don't like, things that I stopped using Microsoft's products for. Apple's products work wonderfully, but in many cases only with other Apple-based products. iPhone. iPod. iLife. iMac. And even then I find they don't work that well all the time.

A perfect example is recently when I was creating a slideshow using music purchased from iTunes. The iTunes Plus tracks worked flawlessly - Drag & drop, that was it. I'm happy Steve Jobs supports it and I really hope the industry moves DRM free... But I'm getting off track. I try the regular iTunes tracks (DRM encumbered) and turns out they refused to be added to the iMovie slideshow claiming the computer wasn't authorized. I entered my password, authorizing from iMovie which didn't work so then from iTunes too. I even deauthorized and reauthorized the Macbook in iTunes to make sure. Then I tried playing the tracks in iTunes - It worked. I switched to iMovie and what d'ya you know, same results. In the end I burnt all the songs to two CDs and then ripped them. Another two hours of my time wasted. Apple's FairPlay doesn't seem too fair at all - I couldn't use it on the very same computer I had purchased the songs from, and forget even trying to play them on another computer. I don't even know if you can put songs purchased from iTunes onto non-iPod players without having to break the DRM first (which is illegal in the US).

This time, Apple has added encrypted firmware and hashes in the database which makes it near impossible to use a new iPod with 3rd party tools (see the article I posted at the beginning of this entry). To make it worse, the encrypted firmware makes you unable to run Linux (aka Rockbox) on it to workaround the database issue. One could say otherwise, but I don't see the advantage of encrypted firmware or hashes in the database to users... What do the 3rd party tools change from Apple point of view? Users have still purchased their iPods, and whether people update iPods from iTunes or GtkPod doesn't make a difference to Apple whatsoever.

Considering one can't use an iPod with Linux anymore, I'll have to use iTunes from Windows or Mac OS X. And considering what happened the last time I used iTunes, I won't be buying the new iPod everyone's talking about either.

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Accellerated screen capture

I've been on the lookout for an accellerated screen capture on Linux for a while but to no avail... If you know of an accellerated screen capture application (eg one I could use to capture Compiz effects smoothly @ 20fps) please let me know.

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DBA

DBA: Drivers before Activation.

I'll have to remember that next time I install XP, as after installing the Intel and JMicron RAID/SATA controller drivers Windows thought I had "major hardware changes" and required me to reactivate my machine... At which point it said I had reached the maximum number of activations (which really was only one, half an hour before, to be precise) so I had to call Microsoft to get that sorted out.

I wish I could opt out of all this genuine activation.

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Something new every day...

This one's my fault for skipping through the Python docs, but I recently found __getattr__ which is incredibly useful. One of those nifty features I missed from PHP when programming Python was the $$name variables, where I could name a variable based on the content of another or retrieve variables from the string (name) stored in another variable. __getattr__ does just this, and even better - You can call functions or methods with it too!

So here's my tip of the day: Both Python and __getattr__ are awesome Laughing

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NexStar3 eSATA+USB2.0 Enclosure

I recently bought a Vantec NexStar3 eSATA+USB2.0 enclosure plus a Western Digital 500GB SATA2 drive to go inside it. The enclosure and the drive are great, but when I put the two together I was having some really, really annoying problems.

My BIOS detected the drive fine, AHCI or IDE mode, and could bootup into Linux (I tried with Fedora, Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS). It's detected in the OS too, but not usable:

Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: exception Emask 0x10 SAct 0xff SErr 0x780100 action 0x2
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: irq_stat 0x08000000
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/20:00:af:96:bc/00:00:05:00:00/40 tag 0 cdb 0x0 data 16384 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:3c:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/80:08:d0:86:cc/00:00:05:00:00/40 tag 1 cdb 0x0 data 65536 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:3c:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/7f:10:50:87:cc/00:00:05:00:00/40 tag 2 cdb 0x0 data 65024 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:3c:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/08:18:e7:87:cc/00:00:05:00:00/40 tag 3 cdb 0x0 data 4096 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:3c:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/07:20:66:7b:4c/00:00:12:00:00/40 tag 4 cdb 0x0 data 3584 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:3c:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/02:28:e3:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 tag 5 cdb 0x0 data 1024 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:3c:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/07:30:79:b1:d4/00:00:01:00:00/40 tag 6 cdb 0x0 data 3584 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:3c:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/06:38:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 tag 7 cdb 0x0 data 3072 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:3c:e5:70:cc/00:00:1e:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7: soft resetting port
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: configured for UDMA/133
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7: EH complete
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] 976773168 512-byte hardware sectors (500108 MB)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Write Protect is off
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Write cache: enabled, read cache: enabled, doesn't support DPO or FUA
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: scsi 6:0:0:0: Direct-Access     DMI      WD1600BB-00GUC0  3.52 PQ: 0 ANSI: 0
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] 312581808 512-byte hardware sectors (160042 MB)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Write Protect is off
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Assuming drive cache: write through
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] 312581808 512-byte hardware sectors (160042 MB)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Write Protect is off
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Assuming drive cache: write through
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:  sdc: sdc1 sdc2 < sdc5 sdc6 > sdc3
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Attached SCSI disk
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg3 type 0
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: NET: Registered protocol family 10
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: lo: Disabled Privacy Extensions
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: floppy0: no floppy controllers found
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: No dock devices found.
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: device-mapper: ioctl: 4.11.0-ioctl (2006-10-12) initialised: dm-devel@redhat.com
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: device-mapper: multipath: version 1.0.5 loaded
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: EXT3 FS on sda1, internal journal
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: exception Emask 0x10 SAct 0x2 SErr 0x580100 action 0x2
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: irq_stat 0x08000000
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: cmd 60/80:08:27:97:bc/00:00:05:00:00/40 tag 1 cdb 0x0 data 65536 in
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel:          res 40/00:0c:27:97:bc/00:00:05:00:00/40 Emask 0x10 (ATA bus error)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7: soft resetting port
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7.00: configured for UDMA/133
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: ata7: EH complete
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] 976773168 512-byte hardware sectors (500108 MB)
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Write Protect is off
Aug 15 23:32:56 LinuxBox kernel: sd 7:0:0:0: [sdb] Write cache: enabled, read cache: enabled, doesn't support DPO or FUA

After tons of messages like that and a few minutes, a "soft reset" and "EH complete" would occur and only then would a tiny bit of data get through. Right after that the link froze up again with tons of errors.

So I googled, changed ports, changed wires, used different eSATA wires, nothing changed. I tried the drive internally and it's perfectly fine, it operated at full 3.0Gbps - SATA II speed. After hours of searching I learned this:

  • The ICH8 SATA controller on the GA-965P-S3 (rev 1.0) doesn't actually support AHCI. Later revisions of the ICH8, for example the ones on the GA-965P-S3 rev 3.3, do though. /me grumbles...
  • The one time the drive did work without the link failing was when it was reset enough times and auto-negotiated the link down to 1.5Gbps - Perhaps electrical interference was the problem.
  • All SATA II Western Digital drives have a manual override for the SATA link speed using the jumpers: putting a jumper on the second column of pins will limit the drive to 1.5Gbps (regular SATA speed)

As you can probably guess, the first point is just a major annoyance and the last two solved the problem. My drive now boots up with a 1.5Gbps link, so no need to let it fail for a while before using it. As for the enclosure, it's a great buy for it's value - I got it for $40 CAD. It features SATA connectors inside and as mentioned above can be plugged in via USB or eSATA. Vantec even supplies you with an eSATA cable and an SATA --> eSATA bracket!

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It's been a while...

It's been a while since I blogged, I've been pretty busy... But anyways, I went to see the Family Guy Live! show last month, it was really funny. If they come by next year and you're a Family Guy fan, make sure to go and see it - It's well worth it!

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fwbackups 1.43.1

fwbackups 1.43.1 is done... It includes a new "follow links" backup option, fixes several bugs present in 1.43.0 and also has a full set of documentation installed to /usr/share/gnome/help/fwbackups.

Sorry for the inconvienience, but it turns out automatic backups in 1.43.0 doesn't work at all so if you're using automatic backup, it is a good idea to update to 1.43.1.

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Gazette and CTV interview!

Last May (the week of the 21st) I was interviewed by the Gazette by surprise - one of my clients had sent a letter to the Gazette and they wanted to interview me about Diffingo and the free support/software I offer. Then the same day that the article was published CTV asked for and interview as well! If you'd like to have a look, here is the article and the CTV interview:

Gazette article (PNG image, 5.8MB)
CTV Interview (QuickTime/MP4 movie, 3.3MB)

Need QuickTime? Get it here.

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