General By marco, September 17 2005

Is back! Wooo!

In slightly different form than before (cinnamon icecream vs. vanilla icecream with real cinnamon mixed in), but still. Woo!

Life By marco, August 16 2005

After the third train derailment at Amsterdam Central Station in two months, I was forced, yet again, to consider alternative ways of getting to Amsterdam. Today, I thought it would be fun to take the ferry from IJmuiden. All was smooth in the morning. The nice girl behind the counter even saved me 3 euros by reminding me that my Student's Public Transport card (OV-Studentenkaart) was valid there, too.

Some funny things happened on the way back, though. First, I ran in to this:

BoatTrain

This is a promotional thing from NS, to be used during SAIL '05. I knew it existed, though I hadn't seen it up close before.

After getting on the boat (took some time, because there were too many people so I had to wait for the next one) we went on our way. About five minutes later, the captain asked all the people in the front part of the boat (12, including me) if we could please move to the back of the thing because it couldn't get the nose upwards (it was one of those flying boats, for lack of knowing the real name). It made some speed, got the nose up and we could all move back. People applauded.

Some ten to fifteen minutes later, we cross a submarine. Didn't see that coming (snigger). Complete with 30-or-so marines waving at us.

And about that waving-- what is it with boats and people on them? Damn near every boat we crossed or passed got waved at by the people with me. And it's not just that those people were imbiciles, the people on the other boats all returned the favour. I just found that really odd.

Tech By marco, August 09 2005

I've been thinking lately about how my mail server should send me notifications of new mail, instead of having my client check every X minutes. I don't think it can be done with IMAP (and I'm positive it can't be done with POP) but after some tinkering I found a way: AppleScript.

Back in the days of Classic MacOS, Apple was nice enough to introduce Remote Applescripting. This meant that you could execute an applescript on machine A, and it would do stuff with machine B. The problem was that this only worked with AppleTalk, so not over the internet. Then came MacOS 9, which added support for remote apple-events over TCP/IP. This allowed people to do their applescripting not only with machines on the local network, but also with machines half the world away. Great, I can use that. MacOS X added another nicety to it: it supported all this not only over IPv4, but also with the next generation of the Internet Protocol, IPv6. I happen to be IPv6-enabled, so that was of great use to me.

So what did I set up? Well. My mail server is in Amsterdam, and it runs Communigate on Linux. That means no direct applescripting because, well, it's just not available for anything other than OSX. Luckily, about 40cm higher up in the cabinet, there's an Xserve. The Xserve, of course, runs OSX. But not the mail server. But that's ok, because the Xserve is still a UNIX box so I can easily get to that from the Linux box. So on the XServe, I created an applescript application that does this:

tell application "Mail" of machine 
               "eppc://marco:password@despina.v6.cyberhq.nl/"
        check for new mail
end tell

It's simple, and it works. I'd use the keychain to store the password, except that doesn't work if you aren't logged in graphically. (Apple: fix that!). I saved this as a runnable application.

Then on the linux box, an equally simple shell script connects to the xserve and runs the applescript:

#!/bin/bash

ssh marco@xserve.mediamatic.nl 'sudo open /Users/marco/CheckMail.app'

You want to use RSA/DSA keys so it doesn't ask for a password to get in. You also want to add yourself to /etc/sudoers to avoid that password-prompt too. All that's left now is to instruct the mail server to execute that shell script whenever mail arrives. I did that by setting up a rule that matches anything except a certain mailing list.

Yes, ssh also works fine over IPv6 and I could have set the shell script to ssh to my machine and locally run the applescript. I didn't because the xserve is more available (pretty much always) and I don't want the mail server to get stuck up on a shell script waiting to time out.

Music By marco, July 29 2005

Dire Straits - Money For Nothing

Not that 'I want my MTV' stuff at the beginning, skip to where the drums kick in.

Annoying By marco, July 26 2005

I've just had, for the first time ever, a computer call me and tell me that I've won a free caribbean cruise. While I was watching an episode of Coupling. How rude. Usually I at least get a person talking to me. Anyway, the message went something like this:

Congratulations! You've won a free caribbean cruise. To reclaim your prize, press 9. That's the nine-key on your telephone.

In English, yes. Note that I live in the Netherlands. I wonder if they were calling from the US. If so, I suppose I should have just let the thing talk while I continued watching television. Unfortunately I only thought of that after hanging up immediately.