Monday, May 30, 2005

Universal Plug and Play

I've been doing some reading on UPnP as a part of developing right file transfer in Jabber. The whole thing seems promising, but I don't know if it's going to be a 'silver bullet' that would resolve all the problems. It seems that it is possible to query DSL modem for its outside IP address, but the uses would need to set up the port forwarding to make the Target user able to connect to it. This port number would have to be set somewhere in Jabber client; it could be typed in by hand or received - again - from UPnP device, provided that it supports it (right now I'm not sure if it can).

I wanted to test it today with my DSL setup but apparently, UPnP is blocked on my device and, because of the fact that administation of it lies beyond my control, I can't try to enable it. I've sent the proper request though, and I hope that I will be able to check it out soon. There is a Java API for UPnP around, and I'm going to try it as soon as the issue with port blocking is resolved.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Exporting Global Address List from MS Exchange

As we are using MS Exchange at work, I wanted to get the list of all contacts to my laptop/pda. I've figured out that if I have a read access to the Exchange server, I should be able to get the list of contacts and do something with them, preferrably convert to abook / mutt.
Full of hopes, I started googling for some Windows tools for querying Exchange server but apparently, it's not that easy. It may have something to do with the fact that Exchange uses some not open protocol. I've found some tools for some address conversion but most of them were supposed either to be used by Exchange admin or/and they cost money.

So, the solution I've chosen was most quick'n'dirty and simple as it gets: exporting address book to comma separated values formatted file. To get it into abook / mutt / pda I need to write some conversion program but it shouldn't be that hard. As exporting GAL is not possible, I saved my old Contacts folder, copied the GAL to the Contacts and exported it from there (when I write it, it dawns on me how Q'n'D 'solution' it is!!).

I wanted to have 2 separate addressbooks, with private and working addresses. The question was how to convince Mutt to use both of them. The solution was very easy: in .muttrc I had to call abook twice:

set query_command='abook --mutt-query %s;abook --datafile=/my/work/addressbook --mutt-query %s

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

BugMeNot extension for Firefox

Clever use for a Firefox extension: � BugMeNot saves you even more time when it comes to registration that you don't want to make. Just right click and Firefox will do the rest!

Switch to Ubuntu

OK, new is better so I've decided to drop Debian in favor of Ubuntu (which is not much of a drop as U derives directly from D). Other reason was that I've installed x-window packages from Ubuntu (at time of this writing, Debian does not support them), and my repositories started to mix so the clean up would be good).

Looking at Ubuntu's support page, the results of switch from D to U varied; it wasn't always 100% successful event but I've decided to give it a go anyways. The whole process was quite simple. I've followed the documentation on Ubuntu's support page. The only strange thing that happened was kernel panic when I rebooted for the first time into Ubuntu; the culprit was HSF softmodem modules (after removing the package I was able to work all right).

I've had some problems with making X window work but it turned out to be font problem, after re-installation working was possible again.

Right now the screen looks better, thanks to gnome-settings-daemon running in the background. I don't want to have the full-blown gnome, as it is resource-hungry and comes with all this stuff I'll never use. Settings daemon makes sure that selected fonts are loaded at startup.

In general, I don't see too much improvement over Debian. Users were claiming that Ubuntu has the shorter release span (which should translate into more "cuttinng-edgeness", resulting in newer versions of packages being released) but so far, I've seen that I had to downgrade the packages from D to U more often than getting aby upgrades). All applications are working ok, I've had some problems with the sound though, as Ubuntu seems to use dynamic /dev filesystem and the devices are created when there's memory driver available for it). I didn't succeed to get sound recording working reliably with Skype client but it seems to be similar to something I've experienced earlier when the volume on a channel was turned down.

So, that's it. I hope that it will be working better now.

Friday, May 20, 2005

PDA dropped!

Yeah, it is Freaky Friday, everything's messed up! I've just dropped my PDA and it didn't survive it too well: display stopped working. Now, I've returned it to the supplier for repair, so I think I will not see it back for at least a month, as the supplier is UK company...

Monday, May 16, 2005

ajax: a new approach to web applications

AJAX, new technique for writing more responsive web applications (used by sites like GMail, Google Maps, Amazon's A9 and others) seems to be pretty hot at the moment. From what I understands, it's "charm" is due to the fact that some rendering is being done not at the HTTP server (as in usual web-surfing), but it's delegated to local AJAX "engine", a Javascript code running in hidden frame). The effect is pretty impressive, maybe it's time to implement it in some of our projects. Here are some resources to look up:

IM status on web pages

Apparently, putting the icon indicating your status on various IM systems is very easy. For more popular IM systems, you can try Online Status Indicator . It's written in Java and apparently can run on any machine. I'm thinking about using it for out closed jabber server, on a page with all user names so that users can have an overall view who is online.

As for "not-so-popular" IM systems, at least outside Poland, I've found this new changes to Gadu Gadu, IM system most popular in Poland:
New change in GG to indicate if the user is on-line: link to this where id is your GG's id. Here's my status:

Saturday, May 07, 2005

New creepy gadget

Hey, I want something like that too: Boing Boing: Barbie with a USB sticking out of her neck

Friday, May 06, 2005

KiSS Technologies DP-1500 -- updated

Well, after some time spent with KiSS player, I may draw some conclussions:
  • I have no problems with playing music, both from MP3s and WebRadio. Pity that there is no indexing/quick search feature but this may not be 100% true (it may depend on PC-Link software that is used. Right now I'm using EzLink free version, it may be somewhere in PRO which I plan to buy soon),
  • playing movies is a lottery - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Occassional hangs are very annoying, especially when there is no on/off switch anywhere (I suspect the Kiss engineers were very confident that user will not have to use it at all...). It is worth to note, though, that dolby digital encoded audio is working great (sounds just like on DVD).
I'm planning to upgrade the firmware to 2.9.1 and see if it helped. I have a non-official KiSS version of it from this website (I'm going to try it, even if it says it's prepared for DP-1000).

DVDs are played mostly without problems (recently I had some problems with Bergman's "The Seventh Seal", title menu didn't display properly after the disc was inserted, but pressing STOP and PLAY again helped).

Player is locked in region 2, I'll try to do something about that. Reading KiSS forum and Mpeg-Playcenter shows that you need to know the type of the drive used in the player. As I have a separate DVD player that's region-free, this can wait.

Just to report that upgrading the firmware went all right and the player apparently runs better. I can now access KML sites on the internet! (it's painfully slow but it works).

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Boing Boing: Blind woman who sees with sound

I've fount this interesting write-up: Boing Boing: Blind woman who sees with sound. Whole technology looks reaaly c00l: seeing by... hearing. Apart from the fact that this can be of a great help to blind people in the world, it is amazing for me, how this can work. The assumption, that the part of the brain responsible for seeing is not damaged and needs only to be stimulated - if not visually, then in some other way - makes me wonder: maybe it would be possible to do the similar thing with other senses: feeling by seeing? or by hearing? smelling by seeing? etc. etc. The number of combinations is plenty.

I wouldn't like to start a philosophical discussion here, but does it mean that our soul is just - a bunch of electrical impulses?