Random things

Feb 11

Ansible against Synology DSM 4.3

Ansible doesn’t work against Synology DSM 4.3 out of the box because Ansible expects to be able to copy temporary files over via SFTP.

However, the Synology SSHD appears to be hard coded to not allow SFTP access via the root user.

The work around is to turn on scp_if_ssh in the Ansible configuration:

My ansible.cfg looks like this:


Oct 5

Identifying hard drives

I’ve had a Linux server at home with a lot of hard drives in it for many years.  One of the most frustrating things about this has been when a drive eventually fails, it’s a pain to identify exactly which drive it is that has failed.  This seems obviously in hindsight, but I recently realized that “hdparm -i /dev/sdx” will give you the serial number of a drive.  So since I was replacing the root disk with an SSD, I figured that I would put a label with the serial number on the front end and back end of all of the drives so that I could easily identify failed drives without unmounting them in the future.  The upside here is that apparently hard drive manufacturers have been putting labels on the front end of the drive for years.  The labels have the serial number on them, along with a barcode that I assume also decodes to the serial number.

Sep 17

Rails 3.0.0 and rubygems 1.3.5 issue

If you’re running into a problem like this:

coneill@test:~/buildbot# bundle install
/sw/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/1.8/rubygems/dependency.rb:52:in `initialize’: Valid types are [:developmen
t, :runtime], not nil (ArgumentError)

Then your problem might be that you’re running rubygems 1.3.5.  I ran into this yesterday, and couldn’t find any good leads on what the problem might be.  This morning tried upgrading rubygems to 1.3.7 on a fluke, and that fixed my problem.  Actually, this seems to affect a number of things, since I first ran into the problem when trying to run “rake db:create” the first time.  I’m guessing that bundler has an unstated dependency on the newer version of rubygems.

Sep 11

May 30

Aerogarden Labels

I bought a three pod Aerogarden a while back, and I’ve been experimenting with growing my own seeds in it. I came up with an Omnigraffle template for the labels to go on the top of the seed pods. It’s a double sided template where one side is a label for you to write on and the other side is a cutting template. You can run it through in duplex mode if you have a printer that supports that, but I’ve found that depending on the printer you can get better alignment by running it through the printer twice. Originally I had printed this on card stock, but in hindsight that was obviously a bad idea. It ended up waterlogged and started molding after about two weeks. I ended up ordering some Rite in the Rain waterproof paper which is supposed to be mold proof.

Here is a picture of the Rite in the Rain labels:

New labels

More photos: Flickr

I glue these on using rubber cement. I’m not 100% sure with that, because Download Template: PDF | Graffle

Jan 21

CAP Theorem

We’ve been doing architecture for geographically disperse, highly available systems at work for a few years now.  We have mostly been coming up with “things that work” without spending a lot of time on research.  I ran across Werner Vogel’s post on this sort of thing a month or two ago and thought it would be worth mentioning.  It really crystalized for me some ideas that intuitively made sense to me and it is something I can point other people to.  We were talking about the architecture of a new system today at lunch and I realized that I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone when I originally read it. 

Werner’s entire post is well worth reading, but a more succinct explanation of just the CAP Theorem can also be found here.

Apr 24

I think Plaxo thinks they’re funny

So I don’t use full screen Expose on my Mac very often, but I was looking for my Time Machine progress bar, and found this: 

At first, I thought that the “Trust me…it’s super legit” was some value in the certificate, but it’s not.  The cert is apparently from the blue socket wifi gateway we have here from work.  I was puzzled as to where this came from, until I realized the icon here must be from the application, and that the icon over the lock is almost certainly the Plaxo icon.  I’m sure someone thinks they’re “super funny”, but this is pretty lame, and likely to freak out anyone that sees it at first glance. I’m guessing some developer at Plaxo never imagined that their Mac client would get back an invalid certificate when making a request to the Plaxo servers, but again, this is pretty lame.  I’m guessing this is also a Cocoa dialog (or OS level dialog).  If so, this is pretty lame on Apple’s part to not force the application name into the dialog somewhere. Here is a screenshot of the details view. 

Apr 18

Things you don’t expect to see in traffic: Unicycles

I was driving home on Wednesday and pulled up to the head of the line at the corner of Route 7100 and Foxmill Road near Herndon.  As I’m sitting there, I see this guy filter forward through traffic, and dismount off of his unicycle: 

I was a little surprised to say the least.  However, I wasn’t completely shocked, as I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this same guy commuting on the bike path on 7100 once before, in even weirder circumstances.  I was looking forward to seeing him mount up, and ride across, but unfortunately (for me), he just walked the unicycle across.  I’m guessing that’s probably a lot safer, but unfortunately I didn’t really get to see him riding. Unfortunately the quality of the picture is pretty bad, but you can click the photo to see the higher resolution version at Flickr.  I pulled my formerly trusty Canon S400 out of my bag, but it appears that the sensor has bitten the bullet.  Well, I’m not positive, but I do know that all the pictures on the LCD show up purplish, and really wavy/fuzzy. I need to decide now whether or not I should buy another Digital Elph, or wait until the 3G iPhone comes out, and just use the camera that is on that.  I’m thinking I’d like a separate camera, since on multi-day bike trips it would be a lot easier to keep a camera charged than a phone

Feb 23

My gift to Steve Jobs…

I have a simple suggestion: put a single mouse button on your laptops but put two switches under it, one on each side.  Have the OS ship configured to treat both sides as the same.  Give me the option to tell the OS to treat each side of the single mouse button as left and right mouse button. PS: I’d rather have dedicated page up/page down keys than a two enter keys and a dedicated eject key.

Jan 15

Great quote from “PeopleWare”

Lately I’ve been reading more software engineering/development books, especially those with more of a project management slant.  I got a copy of Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams in the mail today and I’m about 30 pages into it and so far I’m really digging it.  I particularly liked this quote which was mentioned in a section about Parkinson’s Law:

In a healthy work environment, the reasons that some people don’t perform are lack of competence, lack of confidence, and lack of affiliation with others on the project team, and the project goals.  In none of these cases is schedule pressure liable to help very much.  When a worker seems unable to perform, and seems not to care at all about the quality of his work, for example, it is a sure sign that the poor fellow is overwhelmed by the difficulty of the work.  He doesn’t need more pressure.  What he needs is reassignment, possibly to another company.
As an aside, I also finished reading Rapid Development over the holidays, and it’s what got me thinking about this sort of thing in general.  I had someone at work the other day ask me why I’ve started reading more about this sort of thing, and I think the first few pages of Peopleware kind of summed it up.  Most of the problems on most software projects aren’t with the software, but it’s what most people would call office politics, and what I see as more of as project management and process issues.  I didn’t really have to deal with this sort of thing much at RCN, but with larger groups working on projects at TWC, it’s definitely something I have to deal with on a regular basis.

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