UK Vacation

August 1st, 2008


On Friday I flew from Shannon to London for a short vacation. There wasn’t an immigration officer in sight when we walked off the plane – so much for a UK stamp on my passport. However, there was a sign in the immigration area requesting that people please not assault the customs officers. In the US, I would be worried about getting sent to Guantanamo for doing something like that. Read the rest of this entry »

Mexico Vacation

January 14th, 2008

Puerto Vallarta

scribblings on our guide bookWe left a dreary Boston on Sunday afternoon bound for Puerto Vallarta via St. Louis and Dallas.  Even the seasoned check-in agent was surprised about the stop in St. Louis, but I guess you can’t complain when you are using frequent flyer miles.  I’ve never been a fan of Chili’s One (or as I call it Chiji’s), but strongly suggest avoiding Chiji’s Too if you are ever in St. Louis.  By 10PM we were in mild nighttime Peurto Vallarta.  We chose to take a shared taxi to our hotel.  After we dropped off some resort-goers, Kate started practicing her Spanish with the taxi driver.  It turned out he was better than a tour guide and spent at least 15 minutes telling us (her) about some of the places we planned to go after we picked up a rental car.  Every time Kate mentioned somewhere we were interested in, he would get a light in his eyes and tell us about it and write down [pic] some interesting facts.  He was pretty emphatic about Tapalpa, “Taaappppalpa – si, Talpa – no,” he said a number of times referring to two different towns.  I was very disappointed that we did not have time to visit Tapalpa to try some “birria de conejo” (rabbit stew) as suggested by our taxi driver.  It was great to get his opinions, and as a bonus he told us the best map to get, the mapa Roji, a real road atlas. Read the rest of this entry »

Sound, USB 2.0 and DIrectX3D in VMWare Player for a Windows XP guest

December 20th, 2007

I have had a Windows XP virtual machine kicking around for a while and just figured out how to upgrade it for some of the new features of VMware Player 2, as well as fix the sound problem I’ve always had with the virtual machine. Read the rest of this entry »

Ireland 2007

December 11th, 2007

At the end of October, I traveled to Ireland to do a week-long training for a work. However, not being one to pass up an opportunity to explore, I took some vacation time as well.

I left Boston on Friday night bound for Shannon, via Dublin. Unfortunately I had a 6-hour layover in Dublin – no doubt anyone who has experienced this layover has said “never again,” as I did. When I arrived in Dublin at 5:30 AM, there were a few people starting to filter in for early-morning flights. The airport pubs were open too, and they were already pouring Guinness. Something just didn’t feel right about drinking before dawn, so I held off having my first Guinness [pic] in Ireland until about 8:30, with my breakfast bagel. It was excellent. Read the rest of this entry »

Read commercial DVDs in Ubuntu

June 18th, 2007

I had libdvdcss working for a while on my Ubuntu PC, but at some point it stopped working for most if not all DVDs.  I could not read the DVDs at all, let alone play them.  I tried a number of players, and a number of techniques to back them up, but nothing worked.  I had installed libdvdcss from medibuntu, which is referred to in the main Ubuntu help here.  I added the medibuntu to my apt sources.list as shown in the medibuntu howto.   There are multiple other sites and forums which explain this process, but that is straight from the horses mouth.

I still do not know why the package stopped working for me; however, to solve my problem I removed libdvdread and libdvdcss from my installation with the package manager.  I also removed all dependant packages.  I then installed libdvdcss the old fashioned way as detailed here, among other places.  I needed to follow the directions I was given to build an “experimental” install on my AMD64 machine.  Voila, reinstall libdvdread, vlc, and some of the other packages that had been removed, and everything worked fine.  I’m still not sure exactly what the root cause was…

Create a custom imapd.pem SSL certificate for Westhost IMAP

May 29th, 2007

This trick will let you get rid of the annoying Thunderbird dialog questioning you about the SSL certificate every time it checks for new mail. In the imap directory which holds the imap certificates (see this WH forum post), /usr/local/imap-server-1.0/openssl-0.9.8d/certs, execute this command:
../bin/openssl req -new -x509 -nodes -out imapd.pem -keyout imapd.pem
which I found here during a google search. openssl will prompt your for a number of parameters; however, the reason I had to do this, and the most important part of the certificate generation is the Common Name (CN). The CN is the name that you set up in your IMAP client (such as Thunderbird) as your IMAP server. I use a sub-domain for my IMAP server (, but the Westhost manager website does not allow me to select that Common Name, it automatically selects as the CN.

Compile rsync on Westhost 3

May 23rd, 2007

A little trick for compiling rsync. I didn’t think it would be just this easy, but all that is required is a simple change to the options.c file from
#include <popt.h>
#include "popt/popt.h"
I imagine this has something to do with the new version of gcc. This fixed the error I was getting on line 24 of options.c because popt.h was not found.

If you want rsync to work with a remote connection to your server, link or copy rsync to /usr/bin/rsync.
ln -s <your rsync path> /usr/bin/rsync

Part 2 – Put your Lacrosse WS-23xx weather station online

April 29th, 2007

Automated updates from your 23xx to

I have an extra linksys WRT54G (with linux firmware) lying around which I plan to use as an always-on linux box. I have not set this up yet, but I have tested out a simple setup on my desktop Linux box to upload the data from my 2317, which is now accessible by IP (see previous post), to Read the rest of this entry »

Part 1 – Put your Lacrosse WS-23xx weather station online

April 28th, 2007

Setting up a Serial Device Server

I got a WS-23xx (I think 17, but it was just called “pro”) for Christmas. The PC softwhere which comes with it is horrendous. In addition, I didn’t want to have to have a PC running all the time in order to upload data to the web. This hack will show how I took a Lantronix MSS-T1 Serial Device Server, and modified it in order to make it work with the 2317. Once the Serial Device Server is working, the 23xx essentially has an IP address and can be accessed from any computer that could normally access that IP.

1. Acquiring a Serial Device Server

What is a Serial Device Server? It is a powered electronic device which converts an RS232 serial data to data that can be transferred over a TCP/IP network Read the rest of this entry »

Backup an entire DVD with dvdbackup (no transcoding)

April 22nd, 2007

I had to hunt quite a bit to find a utility that would let me back up an entire DVD in its original format. My only goal is to back the DVD up onto the hard drive. I’m not interested in transcoding, or playing it on my iPod. dvdbackup is available in the ubuntu repository. The man page shows how to back up a DVD. In its simplest form, the command line looks something like this:

dvdbackup -i /dev/scd0 -M -o outdir

Where /dev/scd0 is the DVD device, -M says full backup, and -o points to the output directory.