Dave's blog

PHP Unconference Hamburg Day 1

I spent yesterday at the PHP Unconference in Hamburg. None of the sessions were in English, so that meant I really struggled with some of the sessions, while some of the others I could pick up some of it.

Between sessions I meant to meet a few people I had chatted with in IRC, but never met in meatspace. I always like to be able to put a face to a nick or blog, then have a beer or 2. This is exactly what happened last night.

I managed to land a big thick Ajax book (in English), which was pretty cool - something to read on the plane back to Australia

It is sad that phpGroupWare doesn't have the "brand recognition" it once had. Hopefully we can turn that around later this year if we get a release out.

I am skipping the morning session, and hope to catch some good sessions this afternoon.

For the record, the Norwegian company I work for isn't eZ.

Snakker du englesk?

The title will become my most used phrase over the next couple of weeks. As I bash this out, I am on the train to catch a flight to Bergen, Norway. Over the next 2 and a bit weeks I will be meeting with Sigurd and the guys from Resight to discuss the project and the next stage of development.

I will be making a side trip to Hamburg, Germany to attend the PHP Unconference on the 26/27th April. As it is an unconference, the program isn't decided, but the attendees list looks interesting.

During this trip I have decided to give twitter a try. I have had an account for almost a year, but never used it. When travelling I want to blog, but usually don't have the time, now I don't have an excuse. You can keep up on what I am doing via my twitter stream.

In more web 2.0 compliance news, I have started using my flickr account. I have installed the flick posting client on my N95. Combine that with the location tagger, it should be easy to keep track of what I was doing when and where.

At this stage I won't be linking either service into my RSS feed, but that may change if I really like them.

PS Watch this space for some geek posts in the coming weeks. I hope to blog about my new Dell D830 running AMD64 Ubuntu Hardy once I get all the issues resolved.

Google adds custom 404 handler

Tonight I was trying to get to Google translate, but was trying http://google.com/translation - which doesn't work.

Unlike last time it didn't work, Google.com now tried to suggest the right url for me, which was nice. It looks like Google has recently added a better 404 handler.

It only seems to work for google.com not google.com.au (I didn't try other local versions). Here are some examples.

  • Translation - com | local
  • Shopping - com | local
  • Crap Code - com | local
    (is google really claiming that they have no crap code?)

Interestingly URLs containing Google's more popular products/services (such as maps, mail, calendar and jobs) redirect straight to the service. As the rest of the urls are returning results based on keywords, why doesn't google just redirect them too?

I would upload screenshots, but I am in the country on a sub standard GPRS connection this week. Click the links and you can make your own screenies.

I have no idea how long this has been available, but I think it is handy and more user friendly.

Windows 8 to be Written in LOLCODE?

On Saturday at BarCamp Melbourne, Nick Hodge, from the evangelist team at Microsoft, gave a lightning talk about something that makes the geeks at MS very excited - LOLCODE.

Soon you won't need Visual Studio any more, you can just code in MSN^H^H^HWindows Live Messenger. twitter is fast becoming the distributed version control system of choice.

Afterwards I was talking to Nick about it and he suggested that Windows 8 might be written in LOLCODE. Apparently LOLCODE is a bit too cutting edge for Windows 7. You heard it here first!

For those of you still considering switching from PHP to Ruby, don't! Instead you can try out LOLCODE from the comfort of PHP. Check out Jeff Jones' implementation. Does this mean that one day you could run Windows under PHP, under Linux, now that would be a crazy new virtualisation engine.

<insert appropriate LOLCat here />

BarCamp Melbourne 2008

This weekend I am off to BarCamp Melbourne. I didn't make it last year, but I decided to make the effort this year.

I missed out on almost all of linux.conf.au, which was disappointing, but I did take Noah to the open day, which was lots of fun. I know BarCamp won't make up for it, but it should still be a good day.

I am hoping to give a talk about phpGroupWare. During my talk I will probably be showing off trunk and the YUI enhanced template that we have been working on at ReSight. You never know I might even be able to find a new dev or 70.

BarCamp should be an opportunity to meet up with a few people that I missed at LCA, and also to some that I didn't miss, including Justin, from Simple Invoices

Time permitting I should get a post BarCamp entry up next week.

Flakey BIOS in Gigabyte GA-M68SM-S2L Makes MAC Address Change on Reboot

Over the weekend I have been setting my new Mythbuntu pair, a split. back end and front end. Everything has gone pretty smoothly.

One issue I did hit was the onboard NIC on my Gigabyte GA-M68SM-S2L motherboard despite what the specs say it is a "nVidia Corporation Unknown device 054c (rev a2)" which uses the forcedeth driver. Everytime I rebooted the box the NIC would increment its interface number - eth0, eth1 ... eth6 and so on. Changing the "Smart LAN" setting in the BIOS from auto to disabled just disables the NIC, not what I wanted.

After googling I discovered that others had experienced similar problems with ASUS boards with nVidia NICs, changing their MAC addresses. Looks like Gigabyte (and ASUS) have been shipping invalid MAC addresses on some of their boards, and forcedeth isn't happy about it, so it just generates a new (valid yet) random MAC address.

With a little help from sysfs I was able to hack my udev config so it all works now. My /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules looks like

SUBSYSTEM=="net", DRIVERS=="forcedeth", ATTRS{vendor}=="0x10de", ATTRS{device}=="0x054c", NAME="eth0"

I grabbed the output of "cat /sys/class/net/ethX/device/{device,vendor}" to populate the relevant ATTRS entries above.

I am not sure what you do if you have 2 onboard NICs and they are both broken.

Gigabyte (and ASUS) or nVidia should look at fixing their broken kit to save people from wasting time on this.

Update: It turns out it was a dodgy driver shipped by Ubuntu

PHP on crack

I had a chuckle while reading Ed Finkler's PHP6 wish list. After reading the comment by Damien Seguy I almost fell off my chair.

Try running the following code under PHP

<?php ${'!@#$%^&*()[]:;"<>,./?'} = "i bet this won't work!<br>\n"; ${"omg???!!! wtf???!!! :D"} = "omg it does<br>\n"; echo ${'!@#$%^&*()[]:;"<>,./?'} . ${"omg???!!! wtf???!!! :D"};

It worked here on PHP 5.2.3 with ubuntu security fixes. I got

i bet this won't work!<br>
omg it does<br>

This contradicts the PHP manual, but hey it works.

Hello Planet Ubuntu Australia

Last week my blog was added to Planet Ubuntu Australia, the syndication site for Australian Ubuntu LoCo participants' blogs.

I have been rather busy with work and family commitments lately. I am hoping to give my poor neglected blog a little more TLC.

Linksys will Fix the SRW224G4 Firmware - Eventually

Yesterday I spent about 20 minutes discussing the lack of Firefox/gecko engine browser support in the webgui on the SRW224G4 with someone from Linksys. It was an interesting discussion.

When the SRW224G4 was originally released it supported Firefox but this support was dropped in a later revision which added support for new features and an updated user interface. The plan now is to put the Firefox support back in the next major release of the firmware. If I had a revision 1.0 switch I could downgrade my firmware, but the revision 1.0 firmware which supports Firefox will brick a 1.1 unit.

There were no firm commitments given, but I was told that I should see a Firefox compatible firmware for my SRW224G4 released sometime in the first half of 2008.

During the discussion I found out that the SRW224G4 information on Linksys' Australian website is way out of date compared to the US, the current datasheet makes it clear that the product is only usable with IE. I was told that this would be brought to the attention of the appropriate people, and fixed soon. Hopefully the phone support people will also be told what the real situation is with support for Firefox and other gecko based browsers.

Until I get the new firmware, I have 3 options, use a clunky console app for administering my switch, use IE under WINE or return it and get a refund. I am still deciding what I will do.

I don't think Linksys will be on the top of my list of networking kit vendors for a while. Dropping Firefox support is a serious regression in my book, regardless of the reason for it. I know the tech support guys are the first to cop it from users and the last to be informed about product changes, but the lack information about this issue has been very frustrating. The people responsible for maintaining the various Linksys websites should really lift their game.

If anyone can recommend a good supplier of relatively inexpensive, but reliable SIP desktop handsets, please post a comment.

Linksys Knows the SRW224G4 is Broken and Won't Fix it

Yesterday I emailed Linksys a link to my post about Linksys SRW224G4 switch being unusable with firefox and other FOSS browsers. The only response I received was an auto responder telling me to expect a response within 24 hours. After over 28 hours and another email, I still had no response. I wasn't expecting to get a "it has now been fixed, please test with this beta firmware - [link]", but I did expect something along the lines of "we have received your message and have forwarded it to the relevant section, you should receive a response in the next 5 business days". Instead of waiting any longer, I called Linksys.

After calling I spoke to one of the front line helpdesk people who put me though to Wendell, a Senior Technician at Linksys. I also spoke to Wendell last week about my problems with their WebView webGUI on the SRW224G4.

Wendell again told me that it worked with Internet Explorer 5.5+ and that I may find that some pages wouldn't work properly with firefox. After pushing Wendell, he agreed that it wasn't a case of some pages not working properly, but the unit was unless with any browser other than IE. He also told me that this was an issue which had been known by Linksys for some time, and that currently they have no plans to fix support for browsers other than IE 5.5+. I asked for information about where this was documented, Wendell pointed me to the release notes (a MS Word .doc) for the version 1.2.2a firmware for the SRW224G4/SRW248G4 which is only designed for revision 1.0 hardware - I have a revision 1.1 model, which doesn't have any firmware updates available.

The release notes contained the following information at the bottom of page 1.

8. Web browser availability

The web management interface is best viewed using Internet Explorer 5.5 and up, with a resolution of 1024 x 768. In the current software version, certain pages cannot be viewed well using other browsers. It is recommended to apply the following workarounds.

[then on the next page]

Note: Internet Explorer web browser must be installed prior to running the following procedures.

This is the first time I have ever been told that I should read the release notes for the latest available version of firmware for a device before purchasing it as the release notes may contradict the data sheet for the product.

The datasheet states

Features [...]
  • WebView monitoring allows administrators to view the current status and configuration using their favorite web browser

Under the management heading it states:

Web User Interface Built-in Web UI for easy browser-based configuration (HTTP/HTTPS)

The minimum requirements are pretty clear too:

  • Web-based Configuration Java-enabled Browser
  • Cat5 Ethernet Network Cable
  • TCP/IP Protocol installed on each computer within the network
  • Network Adapter installed in each computer
  • Network Operating System (e.g. Windows®, Linux, MacOS X)

My favourite browser is firefox, and I have java installed (although I see no need for java in the webgui), but I still can't administer my switch.

Instead of sending the unit back to the retailer for a refund, I would much rather see Linksys fix their faulty product.

These days, firefox, and other gecko based browsers, aren't niche browsers, they have a growing market share, not only in Australia, but globally. Large vendors should be supporting open standards and platforms, not just the dominant player.

I would recommend that anyone looking at purchasing any Linksys equipment look for alternatives which are more Free/Open Source Software friendly.

A link to this post will also be sent to Linksys, not just the help desk this time, and I will see what response I get. Keep watching.