Eric D. Schabell: July 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Last day at the Radboud University Nijmegen

Today I close out almost 6 years of work, in one form or another, at the Radboud University Nijmegen. The picture shows my desk, something sad about an empty workplace don't you think?

It has been a wonderful job that had to end one day, with plenty of diversity. I have worked chiefly as a Scientific Programmer for both research projects and for the IRIS department. I spent time as system administrator, application administrator, deployed both a groupware calendaring system and a publication management system, and contributed to science with my publications. I also was able to teach courses like Requirements Engineering and ICT Infrastructure on campus as well a several off campus courses (evening masters). I was also able to continue teaching my private Linux courses as well as freelancing for IBM Learning Services here in the Netherlands on occasion.

I have nothing to complain about, I made the most of my time there and it is time to move on. Tomorrow I start my new adventure and enter a new family at the SNS Bank.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Short ride in and around s-Hertogenbosch

Today I just had time to take a long lunch and ride around town. About 20 km's and enough to blow off some steam. Had been awhile since getting back from vacation and have not been able to find the time to cycle much.

I just toured around the edges of Den Bosch, circling around the city back to where we live by the Maas river. Was sunny, bit windy, but nice.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vinokourov fails Tour doping test, leaves Tour 2007

This breaks my heart to see, but my favorite cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov has popped on his blood testing... I am pretty much blown away to hear this after watching him fall hard in the fifth stage of the Tour. He then hung in there, cycling with 30 stitches in his knees and elbow until he was fit enough to win the time trial last Saturday and a very tough stage in the Pyrenees Monday.

It seems he might have used blood transfusions to recover from the earlier stages and tested positive for blood doping after winning Saturday's time-trial stage. He asked for second sample to be tested but the damage has been done, as stated on the BBC SPORT website.

The Astana team was leading the team classification and had two other riders in the top ten of the individual classification. The Astana team released a statement stating:

"The anti-doping control on Alexandre Vinokourov, which was carried out on July 21 after the time trial in Albi, has tested positive.

"According to the ethical code of the Astana Cycling Team Alexandre Vinokourov has been suspended from the team with immediate effect. The rider has asked nevertheless for a B-sample analysis.

"Informed by the Astana management, the organisers of the Tour de France invited the team to withdraw, which was immediately accepted."

Alexandre Vinokourov faces a two year ban if the second sample tests positive. The yellow jersey and the leader in the youth classification both being shrouded in doping allegations, this years Tour de France has left me in despair...

Installing the Miro video player in Ubuntu

Wanting to give the Miro player a try for some time now I thought I would install it on my two x86_64 machines. It is a rather simple set of instructions that only require you to add a third party repository to your sources listing. Choose the version you are running:

deb feisty/

deb dapper/

# add the repository to your sources.
$ sudo echo "" >> /etc/apt/sources.list

# install miro with aptitude.
$ sudo aptitude install miro

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Reading extended state information
Initializing package states... Done
Building tag database... Done
The following NEW packages will be automatically installed:
firefox-dev libnspr-dev libnss-dev miro-data
The following packages will be automatically REMOVED:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
firefox-dev libnspr-dev libnss-dev miro miro-data
The following packages will be REMOVED:
0 packages upgraded, 5 newly installed, 1 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 4693kB of archives. After unpacking 27.0MB will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n/?]
WARNING: untrusted versions of the following packages will be installed!

Untrusted packages could compromise your system's security.
You should only proceed with the installation if you are certain that
this is what you want to do.

miro miro-data

Do you want to ignore this warning and proceed anyway?
To continue, enter "Yes"; to abort, enter "No": Yes
[..snip of install..]

Miro allows you to play virtually any movie format, download video from YouTube, access BitTorrent downloads, and subscribe to RSS feeds, podcasts or video blogs. Pretty amazing piece of software!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

101 Ways To Know Your Software Project Is Doomed

I am putting my top 25 from the list here, but I hope this handy little guide holds no truth for your current project(s):

My favorites
  1. Management has renamed its Waterfall process to Agile Waterfall
  2. You start hiring consultants so they can take the blame
  3. Continuous Integration server returns error message “Screw it, I give up”
  4. Your source code control system is a series of folders on a shared drive
  5. Allocated QA time is for Q and A why your crap is broken
  6. All of your requirements are written on a used cocktail napkin
  7. You start considering a new job so you don’t have to maintain the application you are building
  8. Ever iteration meeting starts with “Do you want the good news or the bad news…”
  9. Progress is now measured by the number of fixed bugs and not completed features
  10. You are friends with the janitor
  11. The SCRUM master doesn’t really care what you did yesterday or what you will do today
  12. You do not understand the acronyms DRY, YAGNI, or KISS; but you do understand WTF, PHB, and FUBAR
  13. Your manager could be replaced by an email redirection batch file
  14. Your manager thinks ‘Metrics’ is a type of protein drink
  15. Project estimates magically match the budget
  16. Developers use the excuse of ’self documenting code’ for no comments
  17. Your favorite software pattern is God Object
  18. You still believe compiling is a form of testing
  19. Developers still use Notepad as an IDE
  20. Your manager wastes 7 hours a week asking for progress reports (true story)
  21. You do not have your own machine and you are not doing pair programming
  22. Team Rule - No meetings until 10 AM since we were all here until 2 AM
  23. Your team believes ORM is a ‘fad’
  24. Your spouse only gets to see you on a webcam
  25. The company motto is ‘Do more with less’
[ more here...]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Will it blend?

Will your IT infrastructure blend smoothly?

New distance learning offerings for Linux courses

I have recently been contacted by a new customer that is interested in distance learning offerings for my Linux courses. This lead to some revisions to bring the student materials up to date and packaging this into a distance learning offering.

I have done some thinking and have published my new distance learning offerings on the Linux Courses page. I included the support structure that is offered for each of the courses you find there.

I am excited about these new offerings which include all of my Linux courses. I would be interested in any thoughts you might have on the structure of the offerings, including anything I am missing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Massive thunderstorm with hail, July in the Netherlands!

It's enough to make a grown man cry... guess they were not kidding about the climate changes going on in the world. We have not had much of a summer here, but today takes the cake.

Hail on the backyard patio table.

Hail sizes of 1cm diameter!

Firefox plugin for configurable Snap Shots everywhere

I am still not too sure about this product. I have run it previously on several sites I maintain but eventually removed it. It was a personal preference, it was irritating to have the previews pop-up everywhere. The often got in the way of under lying links I wanted to reach. These and other usability issues have been discussed and criticized on the Internet.

I have recently put Snap Shots back into this website as they have a new option to allow only previews from the icon next to a link. This makes it much more manageable.

Now they have come up with a Snap Shots Firefox Add-On (install) which includes a selling point that hit closer to home on usefulness:
  • Add Preview Shots to popular sites such as Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, and more...
I have installed it as I think that, for example, the Snap Shots of search results will be very useful.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Undo a Macbook Linux dual boot setup

I have been running my macbook with a bootcamp and rEFIt enabled dual boot. Ubuntu Linux and osX on two seperate partions. I decided to undo this and put Linux in a virtual machine setup with Parallels. Here is what I had to do:

First off I needed to win back the partion I had created with bootcamp, so I started the assistant you can find in Applications -> Utilities and choose the option to reclaim my extra partition. A restart was needed which still shows me the rEFIt menu with osX and Linux as choices.

To remove this menu you can follow the instructions at the rEFIt project:

Removal when using rEFItBlesser

While booted into Mac OS X, rename or remove the “efi” folder. For a 100% clean
de-installation, also remove the folder “rEFItBlesser” inside “Library/StartupItems”.

Removal for manual installs

First, open the “Startup Disk” preference pane and select “Mac OS X” as the operating system to boot. This will re-bless your Mac OS X volume and instruct the firmware to boot from it. After this, rename or remove the “efi” folder.


If Mac OS X no longer starts up after removing rEFIt, boot from the Mac OS X Install Disc (hold down the ‘C’ key while booting) and run “Startup Disk” from the “Utilities” menu. There, select “Mac OS X” on your hard disk as the operating system to boot.

After this I installed Parallels and put Kubuntu 7.04 on that. There were a couple of hitches to the process so here are my tips:

  • memory must be <= 512MB
  • at the boot prompt enter live vga=790
A good detailed step-by-step for the installation can be found at SimpleHelp. Good luck!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Apple ads, out of the box part II

Security features?

Apple ads, out of the box part I

Ain't it the truth?

The use of presidential power!

My absolute favorite scene from the series West Wing.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Perfect retirement home project on the beach!

Jody, we can fix this up! When our women/kids are tired of us they can place our wheel chairs next to each other with a crate of beer between us! We can watch the tides role in and out at one of the most historical battlefields in the world. I think it would be a perfect Marine rest home, what do you think?

Listen to MP3 Files Online Using Google Flash Player

I found this over at the Google OS blog. The quick story is that you can make any mp3 file playable on the web with the following link (just replace [MP3_file] with your MP3 file):

<embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" 
height="27" width="320">

More on the story at Google operating system. [ more...]

Lifehacker Code: Better Gmail (Firefox extension)

This has got to be one of the best addons I have seen for Firefox. If you are a Gmail user it also includes a split screen option with the Google Reader included in the overview page. Amazing!

"We've featured several Greasemonkey scripts that enhance Gmail in lots of different ways, but not everyone wants to install Greasemonkey and hunt down all those scripts. To save you the time, I've compiled the best Greasemonkey scripts for Gmail into one handy Firefox extension, called Better Gmail." [ more...]

Gmail with the clean skin