Un Cachito de la vida

Un Cachito

"Computer_stuff" Archives

Un Cachito de la vida - A little piece of Cameron's life

March 3, 2007

Free your vmail

I've wondered some times about how annoyingly long voicemail introductions often are. I'd think people who could change it would try to make it better. Little did I know it's a conspiracy. Cell phone companies get to charge you for when you're listening to the message (because you're using air time listening to it). That's $$ in their pockets. On top of long vmail instructions, sometimes it's just inconvenient to dial into voicemail to retrieve a message. Well, technology is catching up and there are some promising solutions as mentioned in this article about ways to convert voicemail into email. I haven't tried any of the services yet, but it's tempting. One of the services costs $10 a month (probably too much for me), but the other, Spinvox will have a yearlong free trial. Just send an e-mail to [email protected]

Posted by charr at 7:18 PM

November 11, 2006

Upgrading FC5 to FC6

I wrote most of this post a couple weeks ago, but went out of town before I could test anything, so here it is after I've booted into it.After stumbling my way through a previous upgrade from FC4 to FC5, documented here, I figured it'd be a little slicker this time. Here's what I did and issues I ran into:

  1. Upgrade Fedora release package (it complains if I don't install release notes also):
    rpm -Uvh fedora-release-6-4.noarch.rpm  fedora-release-notes-6-3.noarch.rpm

  2. Get all the new packages (which may take hours):
    yum -y upgrade

  3. Reboot

It was pretty much that easy, except now that I've rebooted, my mouse won't work properly. It is slow, jerky and doesn't always follow the direction I'm going. It happens this way in both X and in GPM. I can't run "setup -> mouse" or "system-config-mouse" because it appears the rhpl mouse module is no longer included and those tools won't run without it. I filed an entry at fedoraforums.org but as I haven't seen any similar problems around the Internet, I'm not confident. Wish me luck or omniscience.

Posted by charr at 11:38 AM

September 15, 2006

Kernel fights

You could call this sibling rivalry, but it's not about popcorn. This is about Linux kernel problems - basically two closely related kernels that are giving me fits. In short I'm having bizarre connectivity problems between 2.6.17 and 2.6.5-7 (Novell SLES 9). I'm running a 2.6.17 FC5 kernel. The servers I'm trying to access are running SLES 9 SP3, which is a 2.6.5-7 kernel. I can ssh in and then it either hangs displaying the MOTD or will hang as soon as I type a command whose output takes up more than about 1 line of the screen. At that point I have to force disconnect. This has been gnawing at me for months now and hurting my productivity (especially with scp). I'm getting around it by logging into another box first (running an older kernel), but it's driving me crazy. I realize I could set up an ssh tunnel, but I want things to just work normally.With some experimentation, we found it's not just the FC5 version of the 2.6.17 kernel either; a friend is running a Debian install with 2.6.17 and has the same problem. He was able to back-rev to 2.6.16 and the problem went away. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to back-rev my FC5 kernel, though I'm sure there's a way.

Posted by charr at 1:18 PM

June 15, 2006

Thumbs down for Geek Squad

I consider myself fairly savvy with computers and associated things, so I'd never feel the urge to use the Geek Squad - Best Buy's pay-a-lot-of-money-for-a-techy program. Well, I just had a bad experience with them yesterday and whereas I was neutral before, I would not recommend them to anyone now.A couple in my church group had a wireless network that was apparently set up a while ago (probably months). They asked around at church a bit to see if anyone could hook things back up for a little extra cash. I volunteered, though I declined monetary payment. On a tangent, I read a guy say that after being taken for granted, he always charges for his computer services, even if it's food or something else - just so they know it's not for free. I thought that was a great idea, so I settled on a dinner or two. Anyway, the set up took longer than I thought, largely because when the GS came out before, they changed passwords and WEP keys, etc. but left no usernames or passwords. None at all. I couldn't believe that, but I think I read elsewhere on Google where that was the case. I don't want to go into all the details, but this couple was eventually able to get some information, which was helpful. However, they were not given a username and password to log in to the wireless router. That's important. I spent a while on the phone yesterday and talked with a girl who was very polite, but refused to help me with my questions (Can you tell me what the password is that you set on my box?) because the warranty was out of date. This is a password they set but didn't write down anywhere. They apparently don't have standard passwords either.At any rate, I wasn't too happy with the call. To every question, she politely refused to help. So, I ended up just resetting the wireless router to the defaults and starting over. The moral is that customer service matters and if an organization isn't willing to help their customers on (what I would think are) obvious things, they don't deserve my business or recommendations.

Posted by charr at 4:42 PM

May 4, 2006

Bad Router! Bad!

You can see that the website is back. It was really only down for maybe an hour or so if you were inside my firewall. For better or for worse, most of you aren't :). I spent most of yesterday trying to battle the new Linksys 2700HG DSL router Qwest gave us. It has some nice features and but lacks some dead-obvious ones as well, relying on its intelligence (sounds eerily like Microsoft). For instance, while there are lots of choices and security settings, there is no obvious way to view any logs. It was only after some searching today, after all the work yesterday, that I was informed there is an unlinked-to URL on the router you can type in that gives you a few more settings (like logging functionality), though still not everything I needed. Qwest phone support was pretty much no help and once the guy found out I had Linux boxes running he kept saying "we don't support Linux" irregardless of the fact that it was problems on the router, not the servers. Basically, the router refused to see one of the machines behind it, only looking for it's old IP address. I did some kluge-y things such as telling the box (which has a static IP) to force-grab a dhcp address and then change it, and that eventually worked. Next time let me have access to the functionalities that should be obvious, please.

Posted by charr at 8:52 AM

March 24, 2006

Upgrading FC4 to FC5

I think it was Monday when the new Fedora Core 5 (FC5) came out. For those who aren't familiar with Fedora Core, you can read about it here. It's basically an open Linux distribution that usually has a lot of the latest technologies. Anyway, I've been running FC4 and wanted to go to FC5. For kicks, I thought I'd try just doing a software upgrade through yum (yum is RedHat's online package update tool). I usually do not do "upgrades" when I upgrade because you're left with old files, rather I generally wipe clean and reinstall. But agin, I wanted to see what happened. I first tried a simple yum upgrade. That didn't do much - just pretty much did what a yum update does - update existing packages in your existing distribution version. So, I went to the all-knowing oracle called Google. I found and then tried to follow this page. I installed the release package for FC5, and did another yum upgrade. It didn't really do anything but print out some standard messages about sources and said there were no packages to change. Or so I thought. I looked closer and saw there was a problem connecting to one source. That usually shouldn't stop things, but I went and moved that source to a different directory. Then I tried the upgrade again. This time it didn't give errors about connecting to sources, but still said there were no packages to update. Or so I thought. Looking a couple more times, I saw that it was saying there were multiple sources for an "upgrades" keyword, or something like that, although they looked fairly benign. I'll mention here that I had several external sources besides the standard Fedora ones in order to get some other packages. I moved all of these to my backup directory and then tried the yum upgrade yet again. I looked close this time and there were no errors, for real. But there were also no packages to update. That couldn't be right I thought, so I started reading more about yum. I learned there was a way to clean it's cache. I tried that, but no change. I tried a couple other "clean" arguments, but still no luck, until I tried yum clean all. When I did the yum upgrade after this, It started finding thousands of packages to update.This took a long while - downloading headers for new packages and then resolving dependencies on them. Turned out at the end it complained about conflicts with packages initscripts, kudzu (conflict with a kernel), and xine (conflict with something else). I got around the xine problem by just uninstalling it, but it wasn't so simple with the other two. I tried numerous things, including the hint from the page above to go to the latest FC4 kernel. Problem was, I was already there - running a 2.6.15 kernel. Basically, one of the packages was complaining about a conflict with kernel < 2.6.13 and the other about a conflict with kernel <2.6.12. I tried manually downloading and forcing the install of those two packages, but that still didn't work. I tried some other things, and then received an epiphany. There were a number of old kernels installed on my machine and it turned out these were the ones causing the problem. I did a yum remove ... on all my old kernels and voila! the dependencies were resolved and it started to download some 1700 packages at just under 1GB. I let it go for a while, but then noticed it hung after installing package 156 (which happened to be grep). I let it sit for a while but it became clear it wasn't doing anything and wouldn't respond to ^C or ^\ either. So I killed it. Dead. Yes, Linux gives you some evil powers (hehe). Anyway, I restarted and let it run through the night. In the morning, it had completed and I rebooted.When it came up, it only came up to a text console and not the default graphical. I did a startx and X started, but just gave me a blank blue screen - no session. I played around and found out it had set my default init level to 3 but couldn't find out why it was failing on creating a session. I tried on multiple users: same problem. Logs said it couldn't run the Xsession binary, but I could run it manually (and get a blank screen again). Then I got curious and found out I couldn't ping anyone - not even localhost. That means somethings typically whacked. Long story short(er), I found out selinux was causing the problem and I disabled it in /etc/sysconfig/selinux and rebooted. Problem solved!

It looks like these are common problems and there is now a Fedora wiki that lists these exact two problems, along with a fix for the latter one.

Posted by charr at 9:15 AM

February 28, 2006

Windows boot delay

There have been many times when I've hit a problem, spent a while trying to solve it, solved it, and then hit the same problem later while not remember how to fix it. So in the spirit of productivity, I want to document to myself what I do sometimes.In this instance, I'm running Windows XP Pro and I had the auto-login enabled for a particular user (though I think it happens when the password box is there also). Anyway, the machine would boot up to where it displays the desktop background and where it would normally display the icons and load startup programs. However, my machine would sit there for a minute or more doing nothing. I had a surprisingly difficult time figuring out what this might be, and I tried many things in vain. After some debugging with the very useful msconfig utility, I found out the delay is caused by the Workstation service due to mapped or cached network drives that can't be reached. I think I went into "My Network Places" or "Network Connections" and was able to simply delete the mounts or cached drives and voila! that fixed the problem.

Posted by charr at 10:46 AM