For those who have used Linux for any length of time the issue of automating tasks will have come up. The time honoured way of doing this is through Cron. Each user on a Linux system has a crontab - a list of commands that is run at a predetermined time.
I'm not going into massive detail into what Cron is and how it works - the MAN page is a good start for that. However in order to automate tasks you need to put them into your crontab, and here is how you do that.
1. Type 'crontab -e' into the shell prompt. This will let you edit the crontab file, on some distributions (CentOS, Fedora) the editor will be Vi (or Vim) or in case of Debian and Ubuntu (and maybe others) it is nano.
2. Enter the timing and command - use must you absolute pathnames for everything.
The way crontab files are formatted is something like this:
*1 *2 *3 *4 *5 <command>
*1 = minute of the hour (0 - 59)
*2 = hour of the day (24 hour clock, 0 - 24)
*3 = week of the month (0 - 52)
*4 = month of the year (0 - 12 where January = 0)
*5 = day of the week (0 - 7 where Sunday = 0)
<command> = command using absolute paths
So for example if I wanted to run /home/crapple/runme.sh every Monday at 1am I would put the following in the crontab:
* 1 * * 1 /home/crapple/runme.sh
Basically * means every minute during 1am on Monday, so the script will run 60 times. If you want it to run only once, pick a minute and change the first * to a number between 0 and 59.
Once you have entered the command you wish to run, save the file and quit - so in Vi/Vim, escape edit mode and :wq as normal or in nano ctrl+o then ctrl+x.
And you're done. Just remember if your script outputs to STDOUT then when it runs the output will be placed in your user account's email. This can be suppressed by putting > /dev/null at the end of your command, so using our previous example:
* 1 * * 1 /home/crapple/runme.sh > /dev/null
Now all input will be sent to /dev/null.
One final thing, if you want to comment your crontab file to make it understandable at a later date, single line comments start with a #, for example
* 1 * * 1 /home/crapple/runme.sh > /dev/null # this is a comment
Over the past three years I have been using the Cuisinart "professional" grinder to try and make espresso - the longevity of its use serves more to highlight my lack of research into proper espresso brewing. Simply put, if you want to drink espresso, do not use this machine to grind your coffee beans.
Cuisinart label this product as a professional grinder simply on the basis that is uses a burr mechanism. Indeed a burr grinder is used by "professional" machines (machines such as those made by Mazzer et al.) but the biggest difference between those 500 quid (or more) machines is the ability to adjust the coarseness of the grind. The Cuisinart grinder simply does not grind coffee beans fine enough for espresso, resulting in under extraction which can be seen through a lack of crema (the thick "cream"/oil that should be on top of an espresso).
Amazon, among many other retailers, sell the Cuisinart "professional" grinder at a price that suggests it is a bargain compared to other units that cost hundreds of pounds. I bought mine from Amazon and for three years it gave reliable, but sub-standard service.
There are a few reviewers on Amazon that say the same comment regarding grind granularity but it is outweighed by the very many who seem to think it is perfectly fine. This could be for many reasons; like me they were ignorant to what good espresso should look and taste like, but more likely it is that they are not using it in an espresso machine, rather a French press or worse still, a filter coffee machine.
If you intend to use this machine to grind beans for a French press or a filter coffee machine then it is fine, the coarser grounds will suffice. However if you want espresso, it is simply not worth buying this machine.
In the last week I replaced both my Cuisinart grinder and my cheapo Krups espresso machine with a Racilio Rocky (without doser) and an Isomac Tea II. Needless to say the espresso I drink now is significantly better.
From a recent dealing with an individual on eBay, I figured out how easy it is for someone to scam another person on eBay, without the usual tricks of cheque fraud, escrow services and other similarly well documented tricks. No forget all of that, instead all that is required is a tracking number and eBay's utterly useless chimps in customer service will side with the seller.
After purchasing a job lot of processors (for £29), the seller claimed to have sent the items to me. Furnishing me with a DHL tracking number that doesn't work on DHL's website but rather through Parcels2Go, it clearly states it wasn't delivered to my address and was picked up by some bloke who doesn't even exist on the street. So obviously I take this up with eBay, providing them with evidence that clearly states that the item was not delivered to the address I had asked.
The response after appealing the first decision that went against me? eBay cannot overturn the verdict because a valid tracking number was provided.
Yes, you read right, a tracking number that not only doesn't work on the courier's website but on a third party website and one that shows, clearly, that the package has not be delivered to the right address.
So if you want to scam people on eBay as the 'auction' site simply hires chimps that obviously don't know their arse from their elbow then provide a valid tracking number. Hell send it to yourself, eBay won't care.
I pray for the day a company with enough clout to challenge eBay and its payment service, Paypal, comes out and kicks this once useful website into the annals of web history.
Perhaps a glaring sign of assumption leading to a mistake, I had thought Western Digital had put a gigabit Ethernet controller on its WD TV Live device. After all why wouldn't you? The device can clearly play back high definition content and Blu-Ray discs can transfer up to 40MBps at present. To my shock after upgrading my LAN to gigabit Ethernet and changing the patch panels to Category 6, I bothered to check WD's specification only to find that the device supports 10/100 Ethernet. Absolutely shocking.
You have to 'upgrade' to the WD TV Live Hub if you want gigabit Ethernet. That's a nice device with a 1TB hard drive which I have absolutely no need for. It also costs double that of the WD TV Live. Gigabit Ethernet chips are so cheap these days it's shocking that WD stuck 10/100 Ethernet on the device. Not only does it cripple functionality it shows how cheap the company's product designers are.
It's a real shame WD did this as apart from this glaring omission the WD TV Live has performed faultlessly.
Perhaps the most impressive bit of hardware I have purchased since my first solid state drive is Western Digital's WD TV Live box. It all but removes the need for having a computer under your telly.
The unit itself isn't exactly new technology, it's been around for a few years but prices for the WD TV Live is now around the 75 quid mark including VAT and since it can play MKV files without any trouble at all, it's almost a no brainer.
As there's no hard drive in the WD TV Live, it's up to you to provide the storage. There's a gigabit Ethernet port and two USB ports. The device supports some USB WiFi adaptors (link to a full list of supported devices) but most useful of all is the ability to plug in both FAT32 and NTFS drives and play videos directly. If you have a 2.5-inch hard drive, chances are the USB bus can provide enough power meaning you don't even need to plug it in).
Aside from playing x.264/h.264 files in MKV containers, it supports DTS and AC3 passthru. For lossless music playback, there's FLAC support. I have even managed to transcode a Blu-ray image of Inception into a high-profile x.264 with DTS-HD audio passthru into an 45GB MKV file, which the WD TV Live had no problem in playing.
The underlying OS is a custom Linux variant but you can even install Debian if you want, though I can't be bothered as it seems WD has done a great job in making the device do all I need and is easy to use.
I'm probably going to end up getting one upstairs so I can listen to FLAC audio without the need to run a desktop. Congratulations to Western Digital for making such a decent bit of kit, it certainly follows on from the firm's hard drives.
Some Texan moron who felt violated that his daughter was asked to reveal text messages on her phone has sued the county's school district for over $7 million.
Believing that his little princess's constitutional rights had been violated, Mr John Beaird naturally thought it would be right to sue. Why not? After all, MacArthur High School or perhaps MacArthur Prison Camp as Mr Beaird would have you believe, only asked his little ankle biter, Madelyn, to fork over her mobile phone in order to eliminate her from an investigation.
The investigation was prompted after officials from MacArthur High got wind of minor fracas involving keyed cars and, naturally this being in Texas, a gun. Initially the school thought the doe-eyed Madelyn was involved, proceeding to question her and search the contents of her phone.
This was the final straw for daddy. Upon hearing of the flagrant disregard for his cherished daughter's right to bare a phone, Mr Beaird declared all out war, slapping the Independent School District (ISD) with a lawsuit and claiming over $7 million in damages.
As to how the doting father reached the figure of $7 million, well that's a story best told by the hero of hour himself. "I remember back when hot coffee was spilled in the McDonald's law suit. They were awarded $4.5 million. I said you know, I guess a constitutional right is worth at least $4 million today." There you have it, Mr Beaird putting a value on the very fabric of American life.
And what about the victim of the heinous crime? It seems the sight of four figures of authority caused Madelyn to shut her claptrap. "I knew they could not do it but I was kind of scared to ask for it back because you know I was like there were three principals and a police officer." Of course you were dear, now skip along and play with your marbles.
The ISD told the local rag that there was "reasonable cause for the district to search the phone" and that the school had got permission from all students involved. It also rubbished Mr Beaird's claims but did offer to reimburse his little treasure's phone, as it had not been returned.
While Mr Beaird wonders what his next money spinning move would be, the majority of other American parents would be grateful to know that a school would investigate a matter that relate to guns in schools. Mr Beaird on the other hand would prefer to use his daughter as a pawn in furthering his own bank balance.
The shameless advertising of the Ipad is not what I pay my license fee for.
Also Jonathan Legard is utterly useless as a commentator, a luddite's view on racing. Makes a motor race sound like a horse race with his rambling guff, adding little to what a viewer sees on screen.
He does a very passable job of sounding like a twat, so if he isn't, maybe he should consider a job as an actor.
Piss off and let Martin Brundle take over.
I had typed a load of stuff but the app decided it was not worthy of publication and deleted it.
The Ipad isn't really conducive to blogging but the bigger screensize does help with typing on the virtual keyboard.
Nevertheless the Ipad does on the whole seem like an overpriced plaything no matter how long you have it.
Scott Ison has finally decided to call it quits, with his sham of a registrar at long last showing an "out of business" sign.
The Jumpdomain site now simply tells people to move away, which is what people should have done ages ago, if they could. No links to other parts of the site are available but the site does exist behind the useless index.html.
My original advice on how to move away from Jumpdomain still remain in place and I had contact with eNom in the past week who were again very quick in handing over an EPP code.
Unsurprisingly the shyster, Ison, offers no help and frankly I hope someone decides to take legal action against this guy to try and set a precedent for registrars to take responsibility against doing these sorts of things in the future. I was lucky and didn't lose any money but there are stories of people who lost domains and more directly, money, thanks to this conman.
Don't expect any flowers Ison, I hope your other job as a lying, money grabbing lawyer ends up hitting the buffers. You deserve it.
For the past three and a bit years I've been using a pair of Fujitsu Ten Eclipse TD 307 speakers which I managed to nab off eBay for a half decent price. The speakers were an excellent upgrade from the crappy Yamahas I had for around 10 years previously.
Fujitsu Ten Eclipse TD speakers, where the TD stands for "Time Domain" are very interesting (and relatively expensive) speakers, so occasionally I look out for them on the auction site. They are pretty rare and although a few years back a couple of 512s were knocking about which had a bit of damage (and resold quickly by the person who won them in a matter of days). At the time I missed out bidding for them and felt somewhat gutted - the 512s were the top of the range at that time.
So a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a seller with a pair of 510s and 508s. The former was to end a good four hours before the latter and were the "beefed up" version of the older 508s. I put in what was my limit and was outbid, which is fine. I would have liked to win them but they went for just under 500 quid, a little more than I wanted to pay for it.
The 508s came up and I put my bid and won them for what I thought was a bargain. The seller was very slow getting the speakers to me but once they arrived I was amazed at the difference between the 307s and the 508s. The bass on the 508s (from the same Eclipse 307 amplifier) is simply outstanding for a speaker of its size. The guy who sold them had kept the speakers in almost perfect condition, I couldn't find any marks on the body or the woofer cone.
Unlike the smaller 307 there's no grille although the woofer diameter is exactly the same. Sadly I couldn't get them in silver but I'm happy nonetheless.
The 508s have been replaced by the updated 508 II but for the time being I'm perfectly happy with these. If you have a chance to audition Fujitsu Ten TD speakers, I thoroughly encourage you to do so, they are utterly superb.
A few months back Sky phoned up saying they have a special offer on Sky Movies and Sky Sports for a tenner a month combined. The offer would last for three months and then revert back to the "great price" of £35 per month. So I thought we'd take it for three months and then remove it. All good so far.
Two and a bit months down the line we put in our notice to remove the Sky Movies and Sky Sports and the guy on the phone says lets see what we can do. After some posturing he says that we could have it for £37 per month, all in.
Two more months down the line I look at my bank statement and find that they are charging me £54 and £68 a month for the past two months. I phone up and speak to a lady, who to her credit wasn't trying to fob me off and explained to me that the guy I spoke to two months back meant £37 for the first set-top-box and that I had to pay another £20 for the two other boxes so the total was supposed to be £57. I mentioned that they didn't take that amount either of the months so far and I never agreed to such a thing.
After somewhat admitting the mistake/false selling of her colleague they offered us a crappy deal in which there is no sports or movie channels (fine by me) for £31 per month for six months. This was only after I said that I wanted to leave and asked her what notice period was required.
I would suggest that even if you haven't had any billing problems from these News Corp crooks, just phone them up and say you are leaving. See what deal you can get, you might just save a few bob.
My mistake was trusting a company that has a egomanical twat at the helm.
One of the machines in the lab decided to give up the ghost sometime in the past 10 days though it certainly went with a bang.
This machine wasn't attended to very often so when I saw it was off, I turned it back on and was almost engulfed in grey smoke and the stench of burning silicon. What had happened is that sometime earlier there was a coolant leak from the watercooling system which had led to the machine originally being switched off. The cause of all this smoke however was that some was still residing in the case (though a lot of it made it's way onto the floor) and passing electricity through it meant death, very quickly to some components.
The one which bore the brunt of the damage was an Adaptec 29360 SCSI card. The card itself is only a 20-30 quid replacement on eBay but the PCI slot it was parked in also was full of coolant so while the motherboard may be okay I would rather not take the risk. So we've got one useless motherboard and one very dead SCSI card. Check out the pictures.
This computer was mainly used for the odd bit of gaming (the CPU was a Core2Duo 8400 (3.0GHz), 8GB RAM, couple of SCSI drives and a NVIDIA 8800GTX video card. I'm trying to salvage the video card by replacing the watercooling block and putting in an Arctic Cooler thing which I'll post about when it arrives.
The smell of burning silicon is extremely painful.
Last month I ordered a few t-shirts from Threadless, a store which gets normal people to design t-shirts and pays them if they appear on the store. Some of the designs are excellent so I decided to order four. I had them delievered to the UK (Threadless are an American company), knowing full well that I would most probably have to pay import duty. Considering the whole order was around $38 I expected maybe £5 on import duty.
Fast forward a month and I get a slip through my door from Royal Mail saying that I have to go to the local Post Office to pick up a package and pay almost £13 for it. That stunned me a little but what was I going to do, leave my purchase until it got returned to the US?
So I went and I paid. What really pissed me off was that out of the £13 or so quid, £8 was a Royal Mail "handling charge". What the hell is the postage charge for then? The duty was as I had expected, around the £5 mark (below actually) but this handling charge simply takes the biscuit.
Not only did it take Royal Mail a month to deliver the item (Threadless posted it two days after my order) but according to this most of the delay was when it arrived on the UK side (big surprise). I understand that there were strikes due to lazy postmen/postwomen asking to safeguard their basic jobs (why not deal with it like everyone else and try and get qualified or be pushed out?) but the charge was wholly disgraceful. Lets hope the strikes helped the other courier firms gain more of a foothold in the industry. More competition is needed because Royal Mail is simply a disgrace to the nation.
Expansys, a large mobile phone seller is a company that I've recommended to many - though most baulk at the thought of dropping 200 quid or more on a unsubsidised phone. In the past I've heard back from those I recommended Expansys to with nothing but compliments so when it came to me ordering a phone (for my father) I went over there straight away.
After my father made his decision (which took longer than one would think) the Nokia 6110i was ordered and delivery was very prompt, within one working day. No complaints so far. Until my father opened the CityLink pack which held the phone. This is what he was greeted with.
In the flesh it's much worse, with the box torn and essentially falling apart. I have no doubt that when it left Expansys the box was in perfect condition, but why on Earth would you ship it in what is a plastic bag with no cushioning/padding? Even a couple of layers of bubble wrap would have been fine.
My father was extremely angry and phoned Expansys within five minutes of taking delivery and the RMA procedure has been started. Lets hope it goes smoothly (you'll certainly hear about it if it doesn't).
All in all I'm very disappointed with Expansys because spending an extra Pound on some bubble wrap would save all this hassle.
As I look to book my hotel for the 2010 CES show in Las Vegas, it striked me that it's a relatively affordable place to stay - if you go on off season when there are no massive conventions/conferences. Where else would you get 5* luxury for around £100/night? The rest of the place may not be so cheap but hotel rooms aren't too bad if you want to go.
However as is common hotels ramp up prices when you really need to be there (i.e. not just for a jolly). So gone are the £100 luxury and incomes £100 for garbage, dirty rooms. Much as I would love to blame the hotelliers in Vegas it's even more common here in Europe, especially in Germany where once I paid around £300/night for a room during CeBit which, according to the little slip you find on the back of hotel room doors or wardrobes was supposed to rent for £65/night. Disgusting. There should really be laws against this, especially by local authorities who get a boost to their economy from the extra numbers who fly from all corners of the globe to be in their town.
As for Vegas, sadly the luxury of the Wynn experienced in August will be a distant memory with the nightmares of Circus Circus more likely.