May 27, 2013

Free DNS Servers on Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

Filed under: Networking,T3city — pj @ 7:47 pm

Recently, I was researching how to run Ubuntu instances on AWS. I found The free tier includes 750 hours for EC2 Linux Micro Instances and 30GB of EBS storage. After clicking around, I figured out this is what you get with the Micro EC2 Instance running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS:

  • The default Ubuntu 12.04 LTS AWS image boots on a 8GB  root partition created on EBS. This allows you to run a a normal Ubuntu server. If you create a larger EBS partition, Ubuntu will automatically expand the file system on first boot, but 8GB should be plenty for a typical DNS server.
  • The Micro Instances includes 600MB of RAM
  • I thought I read that the Micro Instance includes 2 CPU cores, but the image I booted only shows 1 CPU.

This should be fine for a backup DNS server. (more…)

March 12, 2013

New Domain Name Scams

Filed under: Abuse,T3city — pj @ 2:11 pm

Most people know about Cybersquatting, but there are plenty of other scams involving domain names. Here are a few:


A friend forwarded me an email yesterday with a scam I haven’t seen before. He received domain name spam that looked like this: (more…)

January 25, 2013

Climbing El Cap in 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — pj @ 2:14 pm

Back in 2008, I climbed The Nose on El Cap with Ian Ryan. While searching my email for something completely unrelated, I came across some Internet trip report posts by El Cap photographer Tom Evans that mention our climb:


January 16, 2013

Transcoding a Movie Library with Python

Filed under: Home Theatre,Programming,Python — pj @ 10:18 pm

Like many a fellow geek, I have a Ubuntu server with shared folders that hold my collection of photos, music, movies, etc.. To show the movies on my TV, I started off with ASUS O!Play media player. Eventually, I bought a Samsung Blu-ray player with built-in media player. While the ASUS box supported CFS (Windows file sharing), the  Samsung could only see DNLA servers. I installed a DNLA service on my Ubunto and that worked fine until recently. Last summer, I moved to a new house. My new place doesn’t have CAT5 run all over, so I needed a new Blu-ray player with WiFi. I bought an inexpensive Panasonic unit from Costco because the Panasonic supported Amazon Instant Videos. Unfortunately, the Panasonic was much more picky about the supported video formats. While it can play modern .mkv files, it can’t play .avi files at all. I had a choice: I could buy another Media Player (the Western Digital WD TV Live was recommended for wide codec support) or I could figure out how to transcode videos.


April 9, 2011

Linq Links

Filed under: .Net,Programming — pj @ 5:35 pm

Linq is some of the coolest new stuff to happen to programming in a long time. The idea was tried in the past with things like “embedded SQL” for Cobol and Fortran, but I think this time, Microsoft finally got it right (or at least has things headed in the right direction). With the Standard Template Library (STL), we got a uniform way to access and navigate type-safe and efficient memory based data containers. With Linq, we have finally a unified way to access and navigate data stored in just about any form. Yeah, I know, Linq really isn’t new, but I’m just now getting serious about using it large projects. Some of the interesting Linq related links I’ve seen recently:

January 1, 2010

Moving Contacts into My New Droid Phone

Filed under: .Net,Programming — pj @ 7:44 pm

I’ve been waiting on a phone like the Droid for years – an Internet connected miniature computer I can put in my pocket. I skipped Windows Mobile because it was lame: Poor resolution, poor open source application support, poor UI experience (poor Microsoft). I skipped Blackberry because the phones are ugly with small screens and the software is just awful. I skipped the iPhone because I’m not into platforms you can’t tinker with… app stores are fine, but, as a developer, I don’t want to be forced to use one. And Objective C should be something programmers either choose (or not) on its own merits – not due to Apple strong arming.

The G1 was almost good enough, but I heard it was slow and slow computers drive me crazy. Finally, my Droid has arrived. I’m not thrilled that Java is the recommended programming language, but at least you don’t have to program in Objective C. I’m on day 2 with my Droid and I’m really just getting started. The first challenge I ran into was moving my contacts from Thunderbird and my old Casio “Boulder” phone. (more…)

December 12, 2009

Hiring Your Friends

Filed under: Programming — pj @ 2:11 pm

Recently, a friend of mine asked me about hiring friends. I’ve read a lot of books about team management and I have a lot of hard won experience in this area. Posting this up in public may come back to haunt me, but I’ve decided to bumble on anyway and try to document some of my suggestions here in the hope that it will make the world a better place. A lot of the post below details what to do when things aren’t working out, but I don’t want you to think things are all “gloom and doom” – I love to work and I’ve had really good times at work. One of my very best friends today is a “success story” about hiring friends.

It’s All About the Money

Many surveys and studies of programmers suggest that job satisfaction is more important than money, but my experience is that you have to take care of money issues first, or you’ll keep coming back to them over and over. The ideal situation is:

  1. Everybody feels that they are being generously compensated (some of the generosity can be in deferred compensation - see #2)
  2. Any type of deferred compensation (sales commissions, stock options, profit sharing, etc.) is “icing on the cake” and not necessary for the person to pay their normal living expenses
  3. You don’t directly control the person’s paycheck (you both work for somebody else)


August 1, 2009

GoogleBase Troubleshooting

Filed under: .Net,OnlineStoreTech,Programming — pj @ 11:16 am

I just spent a large part of the last week troubleshooting a GoogleBase data feed. (more…)

June 28, 2009

Web Service for Document Conversion – an Odyssey

Filed under: .Net,PHP,Programming,T3city — pj @ 2:02 pm

A couple of years ago, I needed a way to convert Microsoft Word documents to Pdf from a C# program. The application I was working on processed hundreds of documents and was run by the system scheduler every day at around 3am, so manual conversion was not an option. I wasn’t in control of the source documents, so I had to accept the documents the way they were given to me. I needed to do additional processing on the documents, so I wanted to convert them into a universal format. I already had a good library for reading Pdf files. After researching my options, I settled on using OpenOffice to do the conversion. OpenOffice has a pretty good Word filter, the ability to create Pdfs and an automation interface accessible to all .Net languages, including C#, so it was a good fit. I know there are commercial solutions and ways to automate Microsoft Office, but the OpenOffice solution was free and fairly easy to use.

Recently, I upgraded my development system from OpenOffice 2.x to OpenOffice 3.1. I can’t remember now the main reason I upgraded, but I was looking forward to being able to add the ability to convert docx to pdf (Office Open XML support was added in OpenOffice 3.x). I figured the upgrade might require some minor changes to my document conversion code, but it turned out not to be so simple.

March 26, 2009

New Year, New Projects Completed

Filed under: ListingsTech,T3city — pj @ 11:34 pm

Wow, this has been a busy few months. In addition to the usual flood of small projects, since November, we’ve published these brand new sites: This was an interesting and very large project that recently went live. The application we created for this site is general purpose and can support many types of e-commerce. The backend of this site is very comprehensive and highly automated. Due to its sensitive nature, the there are multiple layers of security and a dedicated audit trail facility. This site is based on our very comprehensive and sophisticated online store engine. Our client’s goal is to compete head on with the likes of (who probably have spent hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on their online store). We have a very full featured marketing capabilities, integrated product catalog management (with lots of JavaScript to make it friendly and easy to use), integrated order fulfillment and automated integration with in-house store inventory. Since Google is the source of so much traffic (both paid and non-paid), we support every service that Google offers: Google Base (a.k.a. Google Products and Froogle), Google Site Maps, Google Adwords, Google Checkout and Google Analytics. We have some interesting payment solutions for vendors that want to sell to non-traditional markets (overseas). All our web applications support our standard skin and content management system (see below), so just about any look and feel can be created without any programming or database changes. There is a lot of power and flexibility under the hood that is probably best demonstrated in a meeting. This is a standard ListingsTech site to market HUD homes in the metro Chattanooga, TN area. One interesting thing about this project is that we allow visitors to search across subsets of two different listings databases. We needed to do this because the databases contain all HUD listings for Georgia and Tennessee, but the site is only for Chattanooga. Another interesting idea here is the general approach of keeping the site as simple as possible – we are trying to get visitors to the information or service they want in as few clicks as possible… Want to see listings for Walker County? Click the search term on the left. Need to get prequalified for a loan? Click the link on the top of the page and fill out the form. Need more information about a listing? Click the “Contact Us for More Info” link and type your question.  

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