Archive for March, 2008

Jack Bauer leering at me…

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Have been doing work with IPTV and set top boxes for awhile now. Today I turned on the test TV after leaving a box on all night. Was greeted with the following frozen video stream:

Jack Bauer Leering Angrily

Jack Bauer. Angry. Leering.

This scared the bejeesus out of me.

Unlikely Fix for HP Printers

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Our HP PSC 950 (admittedly ancient) has been slowly breaking down for the last two or so years. Whenever you try to copy, scan, or fax, the printer will randomly go into a Warming Up mode from which it cannot seem to return.  Zombie mode.

Our when-in-doubt-reboot solution had been to cycle the power numerous times until the printer finally deigned to work. It’s hit or miss that the thing will work on any given reboot. Lately the hit ratio has become frustratingly low.

I was about to throw the printer out the window when I figured I might as well Google “psc 950 problems”. Sure enough, other people are complaining about the very same thing. And sure enough there is a simple solution from a gentleman going by the name tomahawk on fixyourownprinter.com.

The fix? Tear open the printer and wipe dust off the mirror.

I was shocked that this worked. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it will work for other HP printers with similar problems.

Details reproduced here for posterity:

  1. Turn off the power, unplug
  2. Remove the control panel on the right side by prying off the control box cover with a small flat screw driver, then do the same with the control box underneath (if required).
  3. Take off the copy cover, followed by the two small screws at the back/top of the glass cover/scanner unit. These screws are tricky to remove and in the end you might break the plastic in desperation in prying up the cover! Don’t worry, your unit is useless anyway and a couple of missing screws is worth the sacrifice of fixing the copy function. Disconnect the connector multicable, noting how it came out.
  4. Pry off the black cover on the copy/scan unit to expose the bulb housing. Don’t touch the bulb, but open the cover of the black plastic housing to the right side of the bulb. This can be a bit tricky too, but will come with a bit of encouragement.
  5. With a soft, clean cloth give the mirror a wipe to remove any dirt/dust.
  6. LEAVE THE BLACK COVER OFF
  7. Reassemble the unit, making sure that the multicable is properly seated.
  8. Plug in, turn on and the copy function should work.

Thank you tomahawk. Maybe now I can eek another two years out of this thing.

Nihongo of the Day: 世渡り上手

Friday, March 28th, 2008

This is one of the better phrases we’ve discussed lately. ALC translates it as follows:

世渡り上手(yo watari jyouzu) — worldly wisdom

which is not.. really right. 世渡り上手 literally means “good at crossing the world”.

Think of someone you know for whom, without really having to try, everything goes well; especially career-wise. They float from job to job and their career always seems to grow brighter. The golden boy in the office. The entreprenuer who stumbles from one boom to another as others go bust. These people are 世渡り上手.

In a positive sense this phrase refers to those who live a “charmed life”. The innocently lucky. 世渡り上手 can also refer to those who worm their way up the ladder of life. Sycophants and “yes men”.

It all depends, I suppose, on whom you are referring and the particular secrets of their success. And maybe upon your point of view.

clamav crashing on Debian

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

I’d seen this happen occasionally over the last couple of months, but it seemed to get really bad on Friday.

Fri Mar 21 21:31:45 2008 -> SelfCheck: Database modification detected. Forcing reload.
Reading databases from /var/lib/clamav
ERROR: reload db failed: Unable to lock database directory (try 1)
ERROR: reload db failed: Unable to lock database directory (try 2)
ERROR: reload db failed: Unable to lock database directory (try 3)
ERROR: reload db failed: Unable to lock database directory
Terminating because of a fatal error.
Socket file removed.
Pid file removed.
--- Stopped at Fri Mar 21 21:38:16 2008

Not entirely sure what the problem is, but it seems like clamav is choking on recent updates from freshclam.

And apparently I’m not the only one. Took advice from this thread and updated clamav to the version in debian-volatile. The official ClamAV documentation also recommends using the volatile repositories.

I’m new to Debian and almost took this to mean that I should use etch. Good to know that Debian maintains a volatile repository. To pull packages from volatile, just add:

deb http://volatile.debian.net/debian-volatile etch/volatile main contrib non-free
(though preferably use a mirror)

to /etc/apt/sources.list. Running a simple apt-get update clamav or aptitude update clamav will find and install the appropriate volatile updates. Nice.

ObjectDock versus RocketDock

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Occasionally I get a bit obsessive compulsive about new applications and will run one on my laptop and another on the desktop to better compare them. Lately I’ve been comparing Stardock’s freeware ObjectDock to open source RocketDock.

Both get high marks for doing what they’re supposed to do, which is be a Mac-esque dock application for Windows. In terms of look and feel, RocketDoc is a little closer to the Mac version I think.

That said, I’m going to stick with ObjectDock for one simple reason: It always works. RocketDock has a nasty habit of not popping up after an hour to two have gone by. This gets to be very frustrating very quickly.  A good dock app can soon become an indispensable part of one’s daily desktop routine. And a broken dock breaks the routine.

Recursively replace URLs in multiple text files

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

There used to be a nifty little utility I used for this kind of thing, but the below works just as well:

find ./ -type f | xargs sed -i 's|http://domain.com|../relative/path/or/whatever|g'

As with grep and other utilities, sed can take different characters to represent the division between fields. Above I used the pipe (“|”) as opposed to the standard slash found in most examples.

$1 USD is 99 Japanese Yen!

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Closely on the heals of my breaking story about $300 cherries, I noticed today that the yen has broken the one dollar mark. To the best of my knowledge this hasn’t happened since ’round about 1995, back when I was living in rural Miyazaki in a small house infested with giant Japanese house spiders that always reminded me eerily of the spider head from John Carpenter’s The Thing. (The Thing tagline: “Man is the warmest place to hide.”)

Oddly enough, the spider head was once available from Amazon.com and apparently featured “an incredible sculpt that captures the spirit of this character.” Which would therefore be the spirit of a diabolically murderous shape-shifting alien entity bent on infesting all of humanity. Talk about craftsmanship.

Fortunately with the new exchange rate I can leverage my Sumitomo savings and back order a dozen or so.  I might even be able to afford a Ghosts of Mars action figure or two..

40 cherries for $300. Bargain.

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

From our remote correspondent in Tokyo.

30,000 JPY for 40 Cherries

30,000 JPY for forty cherries. Almost $300 dollars.

Now I’m sure that each cherry was individually encased in protective polystyrene cushioning, perfectly cooled, and personally serenaded to sleep each night by various members of the Tsunk Family, but still… I think this is a little excessive.

Nihongo of the Day

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

My wife and I have been playing a word-of-the-day game on and off for a year or so. Though the pace is slow, it’s probably been one of the most effective ways of picking and retaining new vocabulary I’ve used; especially now that we’ve moved back to the US.

Yesterday’s word came up while watching Karei Naru Ichizoku, a Kimutaku drama about Japanese business and power in post-WWII Japan.

徹底的(tetteiteiki) — exhaustive

Lots of tetteiteki this and that in Karei Naru Ichizoku. Business, politics, power. Lawyers. Lawyers and exhaustive research into the nether regions of business.  徹底的な研究 of some such product, 徹底的な検査 to prepare for the upcoming trial.. yada, yada. As for me, the drama kind of induced me to 徹底的に寝る。

(But then I woke up exhausted… Nyuck nyuck nyuck.)

Monkey Island in Flash Forward

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Blast from the past. Amazing work.