Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Old stuff needing organization or new stuff which doesn’t fit else where.

Baking Audiobooks with m4baker

Building audiobooks on (Debian) Linux in the m4b format is actually possible and doesn’t have to be a pain. I’ve found numerous recipes with shell instructions, but having a nice simple app to handle the building of the books seems much easier.

Most of the apps available for Linux seemed to be in a pre-alpha state, but after a few experiments I’ve settled on m4baker, which – while a bit rough – actually seems to do the job just fine.

Getting the m4baker running on my Debian Testing took a few steps:

sudo apt-get install python-qt4
 sudo apt-get install libcanberra-gtk-module
 sudo apt-get install faac
 sudo apt-get install libmp4v2-2
 sudo apt-get install mp4v2-utils
 sudo apt-get install sox
 sudo apt-get install libsox-fmt-mp3

Once these steps have completed successfully the final step is getting m4baker installed and running:

  • Download the source from https://github.com/crabmanX/m4baker/releases
  • Unpack the file and from the unpacked directory run the install script:
    python setup.py install --optimize=1
    

This should have successfully installed M4Baker and all the required files and libraries to build m4b-audiobooks (suitable for iTunes and other m4b-supporting audio players).

You launch  m4baker either through the (start) menu or simply with the m4Baker command from the shell.

m4Baker is an open source project available on GitHub.

 

Get your DMARC going

Get your company implementing DMARC now…

During the past 5-6 years email industry efforts have been pushing the DMARC standard along. It provides the best widely supported and seemingly efficient way to – as a domain-owner – protect the domain from misuse and abuse in terms of spam and phishing attacks.

postkasse_japanAs sending email has often been a wild-west, and knowing who is a valid sender of email may prove a challenge for many companies – and as most IT developers does seem to care too much about the finer details of email (and production just as bad email headers as HTML markup 🙂 ), implementing DMARC protection on your domain may actually be a challenge.

The DMARC standard provide you 3 powerful tools:

  • Using DMARC you have the power (through) DNS to declare which mail-servers are valid senders of email from your domain.
  • The DKIM signing of mails allows your to prove to recipients it was sent from a valid server.
  • Finally DMARC  provides a way for the email receiver to report back to the sender about messages that pass and/or fail DMARC evaluation.

In summary, you have the option to protect the credibility of your domain (by not exposing it to spam and phishing), and you should care now, as Google through Gmail seems to be starting to push harder to signal which email is “safe” (or legitimate at least).

This latter effort will not only remove fake emails pretending to be from your domain, but it will likely also promote your legitimate emails and make them more likely to reach their audience.

Here are a few articles on how to get on with DMARC implementation:

 

 

Viewing EML files

As mails bounch around some email programs (I’m looking at you, Microsoft), seems to encrypt package forwarded mails in attachments with the extension .eml.

On Linux…

While Mozilla Thunderbird should be able to read them (as should Evolution), it requires you have the mail  application available on your machine, but I haven’t – I’m doing just fine with GMail in the browser. So far the best solution I’ve find – assuming it’s trivial non-sensitive, personal files – that an Online viewer seems to work pretty well. My preferred solution is the free one from encryptomatic. It handles the mails quite nicely, it restores the formatting to something quite readable and even handles embedded images and attachments within the eml-file.

On Windows…

If you’re using Windows Live Mail or any other mail application running on windows, it can probably handle the .eml files. An other option is to look for an App, as there seems to exist several apps on windows, which renders the .eml files with no issues.

A little trick (with a browser)

When using windows – even in a VirtualBox – there’s an easy little trick you can use: Save the file and simply rename the file extension from “.eml” to “.mht” and open the file with Internet Explorer. It should render perfectly.

Once the .eml file is renamed to .mht Google Chrome and Firefox seems able to render the contents too – though handling images and attachments seems much less graceful.

Updating Viscocity certificates (on mac osx)

When using Viscocity to connect to a corporate network or any other openVPN server, you’re probably using certificates with a reasonable lifetime, but sometimes the certificate expire and needs be updated. Replacing the certificate files through the Viscocity interface is quite easy – just edit the connection and replace the certificate files in the appropriate tab.

There is however another little trick, which may need to be applied before the new certificates work. Viscocity offers to save the certificate password in the Keychain and I choose to use this feature, which caused a bit of trouble when updating the certificate. While it ought to – Viscocity does not – clear the password, when the certificate is changed, so to get prompted you need to go into the Keychain access tool and delete the stored password.

Look for an entry looking something like the highlighted line below and delete the occurrence.
Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 23.04.07

 

Connection debugging tip

Viscocity provides a detailed log, which makes it much easier to debug connection issues. In the OSX Menu bar, right click the Viscocity icon, then choose “Details”. This opens a details window where a the button bar. The button to the right allows you to see a fairly detailed log of what Viscocity is doing, and provides clues on what to fix. In the screenshot below, it’s a wrong certificate password issue (“private-key-password-failure”).

viscocity_log

Salvaging a deleted message from Thunderbird

undeleteSuppose you got an important mail, but by accident deleted the message – and to make matters worse, you also decided that emptying the mailbox was a pretty neat idea. Is then time to Panic?

Well it might, but there is a chance you might be able to undelete the message – and quite easily if you’re on a Mac or a Linux machine. Here are the few steps, which has helped recover a lost mail or two… First close Thunderbird. Then located the mail directory (on Linux it’s located in the subdirectory .mozilla-thunderbird in you home directory – on windows most likely somewhere in C:\Documents and Settings\*\Application Data\Thunderbird – In there you’re looking for the “Local Folders” directory.

If you’re on a Mac or Linux type the following:

cat Trash | grep -v X-Mozilla- > Restored

The cat command prints all the line in the file Trash – not to the screen, but as input to grep. Grep is used to find all lines not begining with “X-Mozilla-“ and prints these – and the greater than makes the print go to a new file called Restored.

Once this is done exit the directory and restart Thunderbird. You should now be able to find a new folder called “Restored” and a lot of old mail. Find the message you need to restore, and drag it into the inbox or wherever you need it – then delete the “Restored” folder.

If you’re on windows you need to do a little more work. The trick happening with the command line above, is that all lines beginning with “X-Mozilla-” is deleted and thus restored from their deleted state. A suitable editor might do the trick.

Do notice, that the Trash folder may be quite large, if you haven’t run the “Compact Folders” in quite a while – and if you did do that after deleting the message you’re trying to restore, then it’s probably gone for good.

Android – installing apps

Picking up from the last post, I’d share a little more of my Android experience.

Once I had configured the phone with my basic settings – voicemail number, wifi networks and so on – and moving my contacts to the phone, installing software is probably the next step. There is an Android market, but it’s just as good (or bad) as the Apple Apps store – finding the best applications may be a pain.

Schack has been on Android for awhile, and here are the tricks, that got me started fast. First install the program called “barcode scaner” (just that no more). You do that by launching the “market” and searching for the name click and install it. It allows you to scan barcodes with the camera on the back of the Hero.

Next step is going to the Cyrket website on any computer and use the big screen and keyboard to explore the software available for Android – once you see something you like, you can scan a square barcode on the page and go directly to the page on the market place – so much easier than browsing on the Hero itself.

Some of the programs I’m playing with currently include:

  • nav4all – GPS Navigation
  • Listen – PodCasts (subscription and downloads)
  • NewsRob – RSS reader with Google Reader integration
  • Compass – name says it all…
  • Toggle Settings – nice, but wasn’t available in the Market.
  • TasKiller – a task killer

Bonus wifi tip for HC Hero: If your wireless network is hidden, it seems the Hero really doesn’t play well. Make the Wifi net visible and you should be all good (and if the network is secured probably, it shouldn’t be a problem it’s visible).

Moving to Android (mobile)

I’ve been using SonyEricsson mobile phones ever since the launch of the P800 some years ago – all with the Symbian OS. Until a few days ago that is. Now I’m on Android. I’m still in the process of finding my way around Android, but I’ll try to post some of the tips and tricks of running Android here. This first post covers the very basics.

The Phone

My Android phone is the HTC Hero. It seems well build and solid – and the case seem to be crammed full with just about any imaginable feature available in a mobile phone. The only exception seems to be an FM radio, but frankly I doubt I’ll miss it much. I didn’t really use it on my most recent P1i.

The phone has a MicroSD card (easily accessible) and included with the phone was a 2Gb card. It is a regular MicroSD card. The Hero supports MicroSDHC cards, which are available in sizes up to 16Gb currently (but the format should support up to 128Gb).

TODO: It seems it would be worth while to get hold of a SDHC card (Class 6) to replace the included card. Android uses the MicroSD card as swap storage and faster memory card ought to result in faster performance on the phone…

Moving contacts

I’ve been using mobical for years to backup my contacts. I don’t think Andriod and mobical work together, so moving contacts over was a slight detour, but it worked almost without any pains. As a part of setting up the Andriod phone, you tie it to a Google Account. I’ve tied it to my personal Gmail box on my on Google Apps domain – as it works just fine.

To get contacts to the phone I logged into mobical and exported all contacts in a single VCF-file (it Contained a Vcard for every contact). Then I logged in to my Gmail Webmail and choose contacts in the left side menu and imported the file.

It went surprisingly well. Most of the overlapping contacts was merged with out any issues and a few duplicates had to be merged (or removed) by hand. A few minutes after updating the webmail contacts, they were automatically synced to the phone.


TIP: If you like the phone to pop-up an image of the caller, you can add images to contacts in the webinterface. Use Facebook, Linkedin or regular image search on Google to find suitable images for your contacts. For companies (main number) I usually pick their logo as contact image.

Flight Control

flight-controlI really like simple games, which you can play where ever you are – and which still has enough challenges to be interesting for quite a while. One of the best games I’ve played for a long time is Flight Control for the iPhone/iPod Touch. The game was developed by Firemint.

It’s a fairly simple game. You’re in control of an Airport and all you have to do is make sure the planes land at the runways. To do this you simply draw their designated paths on the screen. There are 4 different aircrafts – helicopters, propeller planes, small jets and large jets. As you play more planes concurrently enters the airspace – and eventually it gets quite busy and avoiding mid-air collisions a challenge.

In the recent update of the game two new airfields was added to the original, and with the different layouts, new strategies for keeping the planes from hitting each other must be developed.

The sound in the game is nothing special, but that really doesn’t matter – once the airspace gets busy you really don’t have time to listen – and if you like you can disable sounds when the game launches and keep listening to podcasts or music.

The game is currently (at the time of writing) on sale for 99 cents – buy it now (AppStore link) and you’ll have hours of entertainment.

My Current high scores:

  • Classic: 153
  • Hawaii: 91
  • Carrier: 82

Welcome to the "new" old site

Let’s call it lift off… This site has been online in some form or another for 10+ years. During that time I’ve been runing a static HTML site (eventually with a few CGI’s), later on Movable Type a few years and most recently an odd mixture of WordPress, Gallery2 and custom code. During the past months I’ve been trying to make things somewhat simpler, and what you’re looking at right now, is the first step – a new look (though a standard WordPress theme and a drastically reduced plugin collection).

There are loads of broken links, and currently the entire photo gallery is more or less off-line. Don’t panic though – you can still see some of my images on iStockPhoto and some of the images will return on the site as WordPress Galleries.

Sorry for the inconvenience, but I’m sure things will improve eventually – featuring less broken links and more content.

Security can be easy

It’s often the case that security is an inconvenience and gets in the way of usability and ease of use. There are exceptions though and for a number of weeks I’ve been playing with the Yubikey (thanks to Schack) from Yubico.

It’s a small device, which plugs into a USB port, and to the computer acts as a keyboard. It has some advanced security build-in with the ability to generate one-time verifiable passwords, but is incredible easy to use – plug it into the USB port and press the single button when you need to sign in to services supporting the Yubikey.

I’ve been useing it with OpenID sign-ins and WordPress logins, and it’s worked flawless everytime. The only important thing is to remember the Yubikey – without the little hardware token, you’re lost. If you need a secure sign-in solution, listen to security now to get the technology explained and contact Yubico, it’s seems to be as affordable as it is easy to use (and no, the post isn’t paid or sponsored, nor do I know anyone at Yubico).