imac 24″

Saturday morning I turned on my PC and basically the screen did not come on (I have it on standby). Suspicious but has happened before. So I press the powerbutton to do a reset and then it did single beep followed by 8 rapid beeps. That’s the bios telling you: this pc is FOOBARRED, please try installing a new motherboard. Or something. Good luck with that. Anyway, eight beeps and nothing.

After the predictable “godverdomme, kutzooi”, which needs no translation here, I calmed down and did what I was planning to do anyway (by coincidence). Which was visiting the local Apple store. Or rather the Gravis M&S store on the Ernst Reuter Platz here in Berlin, a nice big store specialized in reselling all the nice Apple gadgets along with a helpdesk and good support options (I hate putting expensive hardware in the mail). So, I basically already decided to go for an imac. Question: which one. Eh … why go for anything less than the biggest one? Sure it costs money but it I’ll be spending the next few years glued to its screen. So 24″, 3Ghz dual core cpu, 4GB ram, a 1TB diskdrive and a nice nivida chipset with 512MB (which will no doubt run X-plane just fine).

Anyway, they didn’t have one in store with an English keyboard. So they made the order for me and told me “one and a half week”. So, to my pleasant surprise, I got the call already today that they had my new imac ready. So I fetched it, plugged it in and enjoyed the famous Apple out of the box experience, which is excellent.

Then I went to work installing the basics: firefox, adium, skype and some other essentials. I haven’t gotten around to applying all the tweaks I have on my work laptop but will of course be doing that to fix e.g. annoying home-end key behavior and a couple of other things.

I am now in need of:

  • A proper usb mouse (sorry but the mighty mouse will join its brother in a drawer)
  • A USB2 – SATA converter to read both internal drives in my old PC with all my music, photos and other essentials. I have a pretty recent backup on an external drive but had gotten a bit sloppy backing up the last few months. BTW. I noticed that NTFS is read only on macs, so any tips for fixing that are welcome. Macfuse seems to be one option, any alternatives?
  • To fix that, I will need a nice new big external drive to hook up to time machine.

Not all is great though:

  • The keyboard sucks compared to the one that came with my Mac Book Pro last year. WTF is up with the weirdly small enter key and the weird symbols where it used to say page down, page up, etc.
  • The mighty mouse still stinks
  • All the mobile me and .mac spam on first launch is kind of annoying

Anyway, happy to be online again.

Spam users

The latest in blog spam seems to be users signing up with obscure addresses like filesearch@o2.pl (feel free to send all sorts of crap that way) and not posting any comments. This was sort of a minor annoyance until now but over the past 24 hours I’ve had 5 new user registrations like this.

I have no idea why they do this. It might be that they are trying to gain access to my blog software for hacking/spamming purposes. Hint: my provider automatically stops attempts to abuse its servers for mass mailing attempts and I would find out pretty fast if some asshole was doing this. Whatever the reason, I delete accounts that don’t follow up with an actual comment and have installed a solution to prevent automated attempts in the future: capcc. This plugin allows wordpress to separate real people from bots trying to abuse my web infrastructure and it seems to work pretty nicely. I now have several plugins conspiring against malicious users and hope that is enough for some time.

For real users coming here, I’m sorry about all the obstacles in between you and actually providing comments on my blog. Unfortunately this is the only way for me to keep spam off my blog.

Update.
For victims of the same problem, here’s a useful query:

DELETE FROM wp_users WHERE wp_users.id NOT IN (SELECT DISTINCT user_id from wp_comments)

This will delete any user without any comments. Of course backup your database before running this and if it blows up in your face don’t come complaining here.

Update.

It just occurred to me (damn that’s a full 24 hours, WTF is wrong with me) that having capcc removes the need for me to require users to register before commenting.

xampp, skype and port 80

For some time I’ve been considering setting up some php development environment. Not that I like php but I want to play with some php stuff nevertheless (e.g. Drupal seems interesting). So I downloaded one of the popular all in one packages that combine apache, mysql and php: xampp. I have actually set up apache, mysql and php manually once on windows and know that it is A) doable and B) very tedious, hence the integrated package this time.

Xampp sure makes it really easy. Download, install, run xampp configuration tool, start mysql … green, start apache … ???!??!!! WTF, it won’t start. So I go to localhost with the browser, blank page instead of the expected error. So I check my processes list, no sign of httpd. Now this is weird, some process is definitely listening on port 80. So, I run netstat to find out who is guilty of this crime. It turns out that skype is actually listening on port 80 for some stupid reason. That just sucks. Luckily there’s an option in the skype preferences to turn it off but still, don’t open port 80 if you are not a web server.

Anyway, problem fixed and 2 minutes later I’ve created a database using phpmyadmin and installed drupal 5.2 and configured it. That’s just what I wanted: 2 minutes of work and *poof* instant website.

In case you are wondering, yes I am considering to dump wordpress. The reason is the lack of clear progress in getting proper openid, atompub and microformats support in wordpress. You can all sort of bolt it onto a wordpress install but not without editing php and default templates (and this tends to break during upgrades, i.e. every 2-3 months). Drupal seems much more feature rich and configurable than wordpress and it sure is tempting. Concerns I have include import/export of data (including e.g. uploads); openid support; comment & referral spam blocking; etc.

Update.

After playing with drupal 5.2 and a development snapshot of 6.0, I’ve decided not to migrate because simply the migration is too hard currently. There is only a seriously outdated module for drupal 4.7 which can only migrate wordpress version 2.0. In other words, this is unlikely to work for my blog without a lot of tinkering. Additionally, moving from drupal to something else is likely not exactly trivial either. I migrated from pivot to wordpress early 2006. That was quite painless since wordpress has excellent import feature. Drupal lacks such features and wordpress has no Drupal import as far as I know (would be hard due to the generic node datastructure in drupal).

BTW. I’ve spent some time researching the topic. This link here is the most informative I was able to find: http://drupal.org/node/69706. Be sure to also check the comments.

I’ve taken a brief look at joomla too. Interesting product but not really designed for Blogs. Overall, I’m pretty happy with wordpress. It’s just that I want proper openid support.