1. October 13, 2009

      Safari Crashes, PubSubAgent has issues, everything dies, oh my!

      Ever had one of those days, where everything just seems to be going wrong? Over the last 6 hours, I’ve been trying to debug why Safari, Mail.app, iTunes and Adium crash without ANY explanation, after any of said applications tried to load a webpage.

      It started randomly (haven’t made major changes in the last few days), so I assumed it was something corrupted. The only hint was that after Safari, Mail, iTunes or Adium crashed, PubSubAgent would use 100% CPU time. So, I fire up Instruments and look at the trace for PubSubAgent. It seems to be calling CFHTTPCookieStorageFlushCookieStores many times, which is odd, because a quick Google doesn’t return anything useful about this system call, obviously related to CFHTTP.

      Fast forward 4 hours later when I’ve cleared caches, nuked my Safari config, tried removing PubSubAgent (which just made it worse). The fix? Removing ~/Library/Cookies/Cookies.plist. Oddly enough, it has a companion – ~/Library/Cookies/Cookies.plist – corrupt.

      So, just a recap; somewhere the system knew my Cookies file was corrupted. But instead of spitting this out to the Console, throwing a Dialog, or ANY form of useful information, I had to trudge through my Library looking for something which could be causing the problem, and manually removing it. It was by chance that I noticed the Cookies folder, which is strangely not in the Safari folder where one would normally expect it.

      And just to make matters worse; Safari’s “Reset Safari” did nothing to solve the problem. That’s right, checking the “Remove all cookies” checkbox did NOT remove the cookies!

      Good user interaction FTW!

    2. September 19, 2009

      Snow Leopard: Outdated-software-R-us!

      I apologize in advance for the lack of coherency in this post; it’s late, and I’m tired.

      So, I have a custom backup script (mostly because I know I can do it better for my workflow than some off the shelf solution). It uses tar’s listed-incremental function to do, as you can guess, incremental backups over a monthly cycle. It’s been working well since I made it on Tiger, except today, the first time I’ve tried to take a backup since upgrading to Snow Leopard. It straight off failed, claiming it doesn’t understand listed-incrementals.

      I’m scratching my head as to why (it’s really not a complex script), before I realise it’s using an older version of tar than what shipped with Tiger and Leopard (or it’s using BSD tar as opposed to GNU tar… but I can’t verify what Tiger/Leopard had, all I know is it worked previously). Hmmm… ok. So I open Macports, install the latest version of gnutar, removed the crappy Snow Leopard tar and all keps going happily… except I now have a wiggling suspicion in the back of my mind that there is another disturbance in the force…

      I dig a little, and it’s not long before I discover that Apple also decided to ship bzip2 1.0.4, which has a security exploit that was fixed 1 year 6 months before 10.6 was released…

      WTF Apple? Is anyone paying attention to software releases over there? It makes me wonder, what other outdated, exploitable software is installed on my laptop?

    3. September 11, 2009

      Spam for Coffee…

      So, me and Bev like coffee. In the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening. We also like sleep, and so our coffee time in the morning often results in getting 2 to go. Which is fine, because BP’s Wild Bean coffee is actually pretty good, and as we have travel mugs, quite reasonably priced.

      We collect the free coffee cards, and enjoy it. Except this morning, we notice that they’re phasing out the paper system in favor for a keyfob barcode. It’s ok though, if you register your keyfob online, you still get 6 for the price of 5, contradictory to the way Subway did it when they introduced their Subcard, when Subway sneakily increased the cost of a free lunch.

      But the BP offer isn’t without a catch. To get the 6 for the price of 5 deal, you have to not only give them your email address, but also opt-in to their… well, it doesn’t actually say what I’m opting-into. For all I know I’m opting into daily advertising, or perhaps a free coffee on my birthday, or perhaps they’ll forget about it entirely and we’ll all just go about our days.

      Will people accept Spam for slightly cheaper Coffee? It’s an interesting concept, I wonder how effective it will be…

    4. September 10, 2009

      ACM Code Poetry + Pizza Night…

      … has been postponed.

      However, do not loose faith, it is happening. Unfortunately we just couldn’t do it in the first week back.

      Watch this space!

    5. August 31, 2009

      Soundflower + 10.6 == …. Works (now anyway)

      So, I’m procrastinating from writing my Java app. And when procrastinating, I like to listen to music. Except my laptop speakers suck, and as I’m home alone I would like to listen comfortably without headphones. Long story short; I need to hijack music form my laptop’s iTunes, and stream it to my desktop’s VLC or Windows Media Player.

      Instantly I turn to an old favorite; Soundflower, which provides virtual inputs and outputs for MacOS. Except, it stopped working in Snow Leopard, the dialog: System extension cannot be used The system extension “/System/Library/Extensions/Soundflower.kext” was installed improperly and cannot be used. appears. Thankfully, it’s actually a simple problem and a simpler fix.

      If you go:

      $ sudo kextutil /System/Library/Extensions/Soundflower.kext
      /System/Library/Extensions/Soundflower.kext has problems:
      Authentication Failures:
          File owner/permissions are incorrect (must be root:wheel, nonwritable by group/other):
              /System/Library/Extensions/Soundflower.kext/Contents/Info.plist
              /System/Library/Extensions/Soundflower.kext/Contents/MacOS/Soundflower
             /System/Library/Extensions/Soundflower.kext/Contents/Resources/Soundflower.xcconfig

      See, simple permissions problem! Running chown and chgrp cleans it up nicely. I’ve submitted the fix in the bug report, and hopefully soon a fix will be officially released.

      Now, back to streaming my music…

    6. August 30, 2009

      iPhone 3GS WiFi Speed Issues

      So, since buying my iPhone 3GS, it’s been plauged with speed issues over WiFi. Not the awesome Lightwire service on campus, but my home, with my Cisco Aironet 123AG access point, the last place in the world I expect to have problems.

      For those lucky enough not to experience slack WiFi, the problem is that is some applications are completely unusable. Using the http://i.dslr.net/tinyspeedtest.html website, my iPhone (on good days) gets ~4000ms pings and I~50kbps. But there should be no reason for this; The speedtest.net app works fine, showing speeds of ~14Mbps… Curious…

      So, I did some packet captures (the capture point being on wired ethernet, directly after the AP); the iPhone takes seconds to ACK the TCP packets when running Mail or Safari (didn’t bother testing any other applications).

      My logic may be failed, but if I run the test and get 256ms and 3500kbps on my MacBook, there should be no reason why this isn’t possible on my iPhone. My MacBook uses .11a, while the iPhone 3GS seems to only use .11b/g (which is very odd, because the chipset is there to support 802.11a), so each device isn’t sharing radio space with the other.

      So I tried screwing with the settings, and the thing which had the most profound effect was the Beacon Interval. By changing it from 4000 Kusec to 40 Kusec, instantly I went from having ~4000ms pings to ~330ms pings, and a usable data rate of 864kbps! I then lowered it to the absolutely lowest time possible, 20 Kusec, and now have ~285ms pings and ~1500kbps to http://i.dslr.net/tinyspeedtest.html.

      This does, however, bring one very pressing question; Why does this only affect my 3GS? Beverley’s original iPhone worked fine before changing the settings, as well as our 2 laptops, and various visitor’s laptops. In fact, I used this and 4 other identical APs at the NZ WCG, providing internets to ~25 different laptops and PDAs of various descriptions, all roaming around the event, with the exact same configuration I started with, and not a single complaint. It obviously can’t be the fault of the AP… can it?

    7. August 23, 2009

      jlaundry.com 6.0!

      Oops, I did it again.

      So, I bought an iThing 3GS. I went app crazy, and found out about the WordPress app. I realised I hadnt posted to my blog in months, mostly because theres too much work involved in posting. So, I decided it was time for a freshup.

      So, bye bye custom CodeIgniter blog engine, hello (again) WordPress (and all the other social media integrations I have to integrate).

    8. January 26, 2009

      Now a Red Hat Certified Engineer!

      So I was in Melbourne last week (I was going to blog about it, I swear) doing the RH300 rapid track course. I learnt a lot, especially to do with troubleshooting. The instructor, Rohan Sathe, was excellent. And now, I’m a Red Hat Certified Engineer!

      I strongly recommend the course to anyone who wants to take the exam; there are things in the exam that you simply won’t have experienced. If you do the course, provided you pay attention and complete all the lab work, there should be no reason why you can’t pass the exam. Which is important, if your employer is paying a lot of money to fly you from New Zealand to Australia, and repeating the journey might take a bit of convincing.

      Just on a side note, when did the Australian government start requiring ID to purchase prepaid SIM cards? The form I had to sign appeared more concerned with how many prepaid services I already had, and not at all with the actual phone number (I could have missed something though).

    9. December 11, 2008

      Australia: Day 7

      Ok, so given as how I haven’t actually posted these as of writing, I don’t think anyone can blame me for skipping out a few days, yes?

      I’ve come to the conclusion that Australians, at least [Melbourneites,Melbourneians]? are the worst drivers in the world. They drive recklessly and never slow down, I swear most would rather crash then give you a break. I compare them to driving in Auckland, which is reality is pseudo-chaotic. Everyone thinks it’s this giant disorganised mess, but in reality, if you have confidence driving you’ll love Auckland drivers. They will hold up 3 lanes of rush-hour traffic just to let you turn right down a small side street! In can even compare them to Seoul drivers, who are far more reckless, but everyone will let everyone in and will slow down when necessary.

      Rant out of the way, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and bought an Elgato eyeTV DTT. After purchasing it I immediately tried it out in the car, and it picked up SBS no problem. However, reception in the suburb I’m staying in is very poor; at most I’ve been able to get 40% signal strength with a proper UHF antenna, although the small one that comes with it isn’t far off. Once back in NZ, I plan to get myself a Mac Mini (preferably a used one off TradeMe) and set up a recording system / file share / backup server.

      On a final note, don’t forget to check out Global Game Jam, which will be happening all over the world (and in particular at Waikato University) very shortly. The idea? 48 hours to create a game based on a predefined theme. I’m not talking super 3d immersive graphics level, just something fun and playable.

    10. December 7, 2008

      Australia: Day 3

      Yesterday was full of driving. Sam rented us a car, he doesn’t drive, and I can clearly see why. Traffic isn’t as chaotic as Seoul, but I keep thinking we’re going to have a crash every 30 odd min. Completely different to traffic back home.

      Now, being the geek I am, before we left I upgraded my Okta Touch to Windows Mobile 6.1, and hence unlocked the GPS. I then proceeded to load it with some software, and a map of Australia. This is probably the best thing I brought on holiday. Unless you’ve had a GPS, you hae no idea just how much stress it alleviates. When Telecom turns off it’s CDMA network or I get an iPhone (whichever comes first), I plan to mount it in my car for those times that I can’t avoid Auckland.