Archive for May, 2007

iMovie with Canon ZR850 Video Camera

2007-05-30 4 comments

I’m trying out iMovie and iDVD to make a DVD from some videos that one of the synchronized swimming coaches recorded at the most recent Canada Games. Importing video via firewire seems pretty straightforward, but I don’t know where the data’s going. So far I have a giant iMovie project. It looks like video off the camera comes in totally uncompressed.

I’m not sure what to do with the video after it is all in iMovie, but I guess I’ll figure that out as I go along. Unfortunately, you can’t seem to import from the camera at faster than realtime video speed.

Categories: Mac Stuff

Looking for a Mac Program Like Tomboy

2007-05-30 1 comment

I use Tomboy a lot on my work computer. It’s a great note taking application. I also used it quite a bit on my home machine, which was a FreeBSD box with Gnome on it. Since I’ve become a switcher I’ve been looking for a program for my Mac that will serve a similar purpose. One that’s come up in my research is Journler. I’m going to try it out for a while and see how it makes out. Apparently it also can post directly to my Blog, so if this appears in my Blog, I’ll know it works!

Categories: Meta, Neat Geek Stuff


2007-05-24 Leave a comment

This is going to appear in the local paper in the next day or so but for anyone of our friends or family who don’t see it, here it is here.

RCMP LogoRonald Flowers

The Flowers family wishes to thank their friends and relatives for sympathy and kindness extended to them on the passing of their beloved husband, father and grandfather.

Thank you for those who attended the funeral, sent cards, floral tributes and food to our house. Many thanks for the donations to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. Your care and sympathy gave us much comfort.

Sharie, Scott & Jennifer, Paige & Joe, Emily, Mackenzie & Morgan

Categories: Personal

Manual Email Via Telnet

2007-05-24 Leave a comment

I have a user who has a contact that is trying to send email and getting blocked by our spam firewall. I added them to the whitelist but the user says that the messages are still not getting through. I double-checked my permissions, and they looked right, so I decided to manually test the firewall and see if messages from that user would be allowed through. The easiest way to do that is with telnet. Here’s how to telnet to an SMTP server and send an email directly.

ME:telnet 25
SERVER: 220 (some text)
SERVER: 250 (some text)
SERVER: 250 (some text)
SERVER: 250 (some text)
SERVER: bla bla bla please end with CRLF . CRLF
ME: email message goes here, end with (ENTER) (DOT) (ENTER)
SERVER: 250 (some text)

A few seconds later, your message should show up in’s mailbox.

Categories: Other Work Stuff

More On Updating Solaris

2007-05-11 1 comment

Previously I talked about updating Solaris 11/06 to Solaris Express b55 in order to have the newer zfs receive option that forces a rollback just prior to doing an incremental receive. I tried a few weeks ago, before my time off when my dad passed away, to update one of our storage servers to Solaris Express DE build 55 from Solaris 11/06. The update didn’t go too well, because it stopped saying there wasn’t enough disk space. When I had originally built that machine, I used Solaris’ default configuration of the boot drive, which included a small (4GB or so) root partition. I didn’t have a lot of time at that point to figure out an alternate approach, so I stopped the update, and kept Solaris 11/06.

I’m back to trying to figure that out now, so I installed Solaris 11/06 using the default installation settings for disk partitions, onto a test box. Now I’m running the installer of Solaris Express DE b55 on it to see if I can upgrade it. The first try, I chose the GRUB menu selection that would install Solaris Express plus the developer tools. That resulted in a funny error message that stated something like This installer requires 768 MB of RAM to run. This machine has 767 MB of RAM. Please choose a different method of installation. I laughed between curse words when I read that.

Next I tried installing just Solaris in the GRUB boot menu. The installer tested the installation profile, determined that it would have to reconfigure the partitions on disk to fit this version of Solaris, and asked for a writable backup area so that it could backup my stuff. I specified a shared zfs partition on our Thumper box, and away it went. It is now in the process of doing the upgrade. When it’s done I’ll check it out to see if my stuff is all still there. Wait, crap, it has failed. It says that the share point on the NFS server must have o+rw rights. Doh. I’ll fix that and try again.

Now the machine is working through the installer. It’s an amazing 1% done so far.

Well, it failed again. So far not too good. I may have to backup important stuff in my boot disks to zfs, export my zfs filesystems and reinstall Solaris from scratch on the boxes I’m interested in. Luckily the Thumper box has a bigger boot partition and it should upgrade with no problems.

Categories: Sun Solaris

TV Sucks

2007-05-11 Leave a comment

Well, this is bad news (Dark Horizons). Battlestar Galactica, the best show on TV, will be going off the air after the fourth season. Instead, we’ll be treated to more crap like this, and other hour-long commercials for Home Depot thinly disguised as entertainment.

Categories: Editorial

Updating Solaris Releases

2007-05-04 1 comment

We’re using Solaris 10 with zfs as a target for disk-to-disk backups off of our production networks. Our old system used Linux and the filesystems we tried (ext3 and reiserfs) were awkward, slow and poorly able to handle millions of files on a single filesystem. We should probably have used XFS, but by the time we were strongly considering changing what we were using, zfs showed up on the scene. We needed more storage, and instead of buying more of the crappy HP MSA20 SATA enclosures we’d been using and having lots of problems with (weekly firmware updates and inexplicable occurances of the storage just unmounting and refusing to remount without rebooting), we decided to buy our nice Sun x4500 server with 24 TB of disk space.

We’re using rsync to synchronize from our production servers to the primary backup box, the x4500 server, in zfs. Then, we make zfs snapshots and make those available to the network administrators in our offices over http. That way, they can get files back from any day pretty easily. It works well and is very reliable.

We also have a second Solaris 10 storage server in our colocated site, with about 6 TB of storage in SATA shelves in an IBM DS4300 SAN. We want to make replicas of backup data on our x4500 onto this Solaris box so that we can purge any vestiges of local backups from our system. The zfs filesystem has a neat feature for doing this, called zfs send and zfs receive. These commands allow you to stream a whole zfs filesystem out to another medium and then retrieve it back and recreate that zfs filesytem again. If you pipe the output of zfs send through ssh to another box and then to zfs receive, you end up with a duplicate zfs filesystem created on another server. Sweet! Then, you can use a differential zfs send to update a snapshot, so that instead of re-sending the entire data set again the next day, you can just send the differences between yesterday and today and get another full snapshot. Unfortunately, in the build of Solaris we are using, which is Solaris 10 Enterprise 11/06, zfs send and receive for differential snapshots over the network doesn’t work, because the receiving side always makes some insignificant change to the filesystem before the receive starts, and then the differential receive fails because the two endpoints don’t match.

Later builds of OpenSolaris have a new option on zfs receive that forces it to do a rollback immediately prior to accepting the sent data. Our build doesn’t have that option. I’m now faced with the prospect of either a) unmounting the destination filesystem during the send/receive, which makes my backup snapshots unavailable, or b) updating Solaris to an OpenSolaris build. I need to figure out which is more appropriate. I also need to figure out how to nondestructively upgrade from Solaris 10 11/06 to Solaris Express DE or some other newer build.

Categories: Sun Solaris, zfs

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