Posts in category rant

Goodbye Netflix

Wow. I just checked, and I've had Netflix since 08/10/2001. Over thirteen years. Longer than my marriage. Two houses ago. I'm down to the cheapest one-at-a-time plan, and I still get around to it every three or four months.

I think it's time to say goodbye.

But here's how they get you to stay:

Based on your 1698 ratings, this is the list of movies and TV shows you've seen. 

Yeah... thirteen and a half years of data that I don't want to lose! And that's my main account - I have two other profiles too. I searched the 'net for a solution, and came up with a lot. None worked. GreaseMonkey ones. PHP ones. None worked.

This was the closest: https://gist.github.com/tloredo/8483682

But I don't have a Mac, so I needed to manually capture that info. Ninety pages of ratings. So I used DownThemAll!. I opened the download manager manually, and for the URL I used http://dvd.netflix.com/MoviesYouveSeen?pageNum=[1:90] - I had manually determined 90 with some trial and error. This saved all the pages to files named MoviesYouveSeen.htm and then MoviesYouveSeen_NNN.htm.

I modified the script to read these HTML files instead of launching Safari. After that, the ratings were off - every movie in the file would have the rating of the first in the file. So I tweaked that. For some reason, some don't show a rating in the HTML, even when these were supposedly rated. Some are "No Interest," but others, I just don't know what happened. So I have it output 0.0 if it couldn't figure it out - a 99% solution.

Here are my changes from the gitlab (17 Jan 2014) version (depending on screen width, you might have to scroll way down):

  • .py

    old new  
     1#!/bin/env python
     2# Original @ https://gist.github.com/tloredo/8483682
    13"""
    24Scrape a user's Netflix movie ratings by automating a Safari browsing
    35session (with the user already logged in).  The ratings are written
     
    106108
    107109from jinja2 import Template
    108110from lxml import html
     111import re
     112
     113fname_regex = re.compile(r'(\w+?)_?(\d+)?\.(\w+)')
     114rating_regex = re.compile(r'You rated this movie: (\d)\.(\d)')
    109115
    110116
    111117# AppleScript functions asrun and asquote (presently unused) are from:
     
    159165    All values are strings.
    160166    """
    161167    # Load the page, grab the HTML, and parse it to a tree.
    162     script = ASTemplate.render(URL=url, DTIME=dtime)
    163     reply = asrun(script)
     168    reply = ''
     169    try:
     170      with open(url) as infile:
     171        for str_ in infile:
     172          reply += str_
     173    except IOError:
     174      return [], None
     175
     176
    164177    tree = html.fromstring(reply)
    165178    rows = tree.xpath('//table[@class="listHeader"]//tr')
    166179
     
    180193            # changing from page to page.  For info on XPath for such cases, see:
    181194            # http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8808921/selecting-a-css-class-with-xpath
    182195            # rating = data[3].xpath('//span[@class="stbrMaskFg sbmfrt sbmf-50"]')[0].text_content()
    183             rating = data[3].xpath('//span[contains(concat(" ", normalize-space(@class), " "), " stbrMaskFg ")]')[0].text_content()
    184             rating = rating.split(':')[1].strip()  # keep only the number
     196            rating_cut = rating_regex.match(data[3].text_content())
     197            rating = '0.0'
     198            if rating_cut:
     199               rating = "%s.%s"%(rating_cut.group(1), rating_cut.group(2))
     200
    185201            info.append((title, year, genre, rating))
    186202
    187203    # Next URL to load:
    188     next_elem = tree.xpath('//li[@class="navItem paginationLink paginationLink-next"]/a')
    189     if next_elem:
    190         next_url = next_elem[0].get('href')
    191     else:  # empty list
    192         next_url = None
     204    fname_cut = fname_regex.match(url)
     205    if fname_cut:
     206      if None == fname_cut.group(2):
     207        num = 0
     208      else:
     209        num = fname_cut.group(2)
     210      next_url = "%s_%03.f.%s"%(fname_cut.group(1),int(num)+1,fname_cut.group(3))
     211    else:
     212      print "Regex failed."
     213      next_url = None
     214
    193215
    194216    return info, next_url
    195217
    196218
    197219# Use this initial URL for DVD accounts:
    198 url = 'http://dvd.netflix.com/MoviesYouveSeen'
     220url = 'MoviesYouveSeen.htm'
    199221# Use this initial URL for streaming accounts:
    200222# url = 'http://movies.netflix.com/MoviesYouveSeen'
    201223

This renders a lot of the script useless, but there's no benefit in making the diff larger so I didn't trim anything else.

Here's when I ran it across my "TV Queue" account - yeah they're not all TV, sometimes I accidentally rated things with the wrong profile:

$ ./ScrapeNetflixRatings.py
Scraping MoviesYouveSeen.htm
1:  Garmin Streetpilot 2610/2650 GPS (2003) [Special Interest] - 1.0
2:  Six Feet Under (2001) [Television] - 0.0

Scraping MoviesYouveSeen_001.htm
3:  The Thief of Bagdad (1924) [Classics] - 4.0
4:  The Tick (2001) [Television] - 4.0
5:  Michael Palin: Pole to Pole (1992) [Documentary] - 0.0
6:  Kung Fu: Season 3 (1974) [Television] - 0.0
7:  Danger Mouse (1981) [Children & Family] - 3.0
8:  Farscape (1999) [Television] - 3.0
9:  Helvetica (2007) [Documentary] - 3.0
10:  Hogan's Heroes (1965) [Television] - 3.0
11:  The Lion in Winter (2003) [Drama] - 3.0
12:  Monty Python: John Cleese's Best (2005) [Television] - 3.0
13:  Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic (2005) [Comedy] - 3.0
14:  Stephen King's It (1990) [Horror] - 3.0
15:  Superman II (1980) [Action & Adventure] - 3.0
16:  Superman: The Movie (1978) [Classics] - 3.0
17:  Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951) [Drama] - 3.0
18:  An Evening with Kevin Smith 2 (2006) [Comedy] - 0.0
19:  Crimewave (1986) [Comedy] - 2.0
20:  Huff (2004) [Television] - 2.0
21:  Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000) [Television] - 1.0
22:  The Boondocks (2005) [Television] - 1.0

Scraping MoviesYouveSeen_002.htm
23:  Ricky Gervais: Out of England (2008) [Comedy] - 5.0
24:  Robot Chicken (2005) [Television] - 5.0
25:  Robot Chicken Star Wars (2007) [Comedy] - 5.0
26:  Rome (2005) [Television] - 5.0
27:  Scrubs (2001) [Television] - 5.0
28:  Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (2005) [Television] - 5.0
29:  Spaced: The Complete Series (1999) [Television] - 0.0
30:  Alice (2009) [Sci-Fi & Fantasy] - 0.0
31:  Best of the Chris Rock Show: Vol. 1 (1999) [Television] - 4.0
32:  The Critic: The Complete Series (1994) [Television] - 4.0
33:  Dilbert (1999) [Television] - 4.0
34:  An Evening with Kevin Smith (2002) [Comedy] - 4.0
35:  John Adams (2008) [Drama] - 4.0
36:  King of the Hill (1997) [Television] - 4.0
37:  The Lone Gunmen: The Complete Series (2001) [Television] - 4.0
38:  Neverwhere (1996) [Sci-Fi & Fantasy] - 4.0
39:  Robin Hood (2006) [Television] - 4.0
40:  The Sand Pebbles (1966) [Classics] - 4.0
41:  The Sarah Silverman Program (2007) [Television] - 4.0
42:  The Silence of the Lambs (1991) [Thrillers] - 4.0

Scraping MoviesYouveSeen_003.htm
43:  Alias (2001) [Television] - 5.0
44:  Alien (1979) [Sci-Fi & Fantasy] - 5.0
45:  Band of Brothers (2001) [Drama] - 5.0
46:  Bleak House (2005) [Drama] - 5.0
47:  Brisco County, Jr.: Complete Series (1993) [Television] - 5.0
48:  Code Monkeys (2007) [Television] - 5.0
49:  Coupling (2000) [Television] - 5.0
50:  Dead Like Me (2003) [Television] - 5.0
51:  Deadwood (2004) [Television] - 5.0
52:  Family Guy (1999) [Television] - 5.0
53:  Family Guy: Blue Harvest (2007) [Television] - 5.0
54:  Firefly (2002) [Television] - 5.0
55:  Futurama (1999) [Television] - 5.0
56:  Futurama the Movie: Bender's Big Score (2007) [Television] - 5.0
57:  The Great Escape (1963) [Classics] - 5.0
58:  Greg the Bunny (2002) [Television] - 5.0
59:  How I Met Your Mother (2005) [Television] - 5.0
60:  MI-5 (2002) [Television] - 5.0
61:  My Name Is Earl (2005) [Television] - 5.0
62:  Police Squad!: The Complete Series (1982) [Television] - 5.0

Scraping MoviesYouveSeen_004.htm


Thanks a ton to the original author, and the full version is attached here for posterity.

Don't end filenames or directories with spaces

Yeah... my Ruby script that I posted before made a bunch of directories with spaces at the end. And then when I fixed the bug, I had directories with and without spaces at the end. Bad things happen...

Cannot delete file: Cannot read from the source file or disk.

I Hate Java

(Originally posted 27 Nov 09, lost in server mishap, found in Google's cache of this page)

So for some reason this evening, my favorite RSS Reader (RSSOwl 2) wouldn't run... and that scares me. I use it to peruse probably 60-80 websites daily.

Anyway, it just wouldn't run. No error messages. Didn't even look like Windows would give it a chance. Never showed up in Task Manager. Well, I was using a beta, so I uninstalled it and installed the newly released 2.0. Still no luck. Nothing at all.

Decided to try it from the command line, to see if the helps:

Error occurred during initialization of VM
java/lang/NoClassDefFoundError: java/lang/Object

That's nice and descriptive - WTF? Remembering that RSSOwl is built on the Java IDE Eclipse, I decided to make sure I have the newest Java. I am running Windows 7, which is fairly new, so maybe something happened there. Doesn't explain why I've been running it since its release with no problems up to now... In fact, I notice that running java from the command line gives me the same error.

BTW, Google was useless, a bunch of posts about Java from 2005, or talk about the SDKs and/or rt.jar. None seemed to apply.

So I install the latest, which is "Java 6 Update 17" - an odd numbering scheme, I will get back to that. With a fresh install, the plugin works in Firefox. Java.com has a link to check your JVM too. That crashed Firefox. So I copy the URL and try Internet Explorer. Crashed that too. Drop to the command line to try java - same error.

Open up the control panel to add/remove programs, and I see that there are 4 or 5 versions of Java installed. Why? Shouldn't "Update 17" be sufficient instead of also having Updates 2, 5, 7, and 13 also? (I don't remember the exact numbers).

After uninstalling all of them, and then installing the newest, everything works fine, including RSSOwl and the JVM check page:

[email protected] ~
$ java -version
java version "1.6.0_17"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_17-b04)
Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build 14.3-b01, mixed mode, sharing)

One note: I think Update 17 was the first one to be installed/updated after the upgrade from Vista to Win7. That may be related to why there was such weirdness... but I still don't agree with an update not removing all the previous ones.

RHEL/CentOS/VMWare pissed me off

(Originally posted 25 Oct 09, lost in server mishap, found in Google's cache of this page)

I cannot believe that a point release would hose me up so badly...

Strange Software Install Issue (Installer silently hangs)

I've been having a strange install issue with the ATI Catalyst software. It's documented here on the AMD site: http://forums.amd.com/game/messageview.cfm?catid=279&threadid=125401&forumid=11

However, forums like that have a great history of disappearing when I need them most, so a summary is also now here.

Setup was totally hanging. I tried all kinds of things to trace what was happening. Then this wonderful post came along:

From Wiink:


I signed up to post in this thread since I was having the exact same issue and was really frustrated over it. I have a 4890 and have always used Ati graphics cards, never had any issues and drivers always installed flawlessly until one day i decided to update from 9.8 to the current 9.12.

I'd go through the usual uninstall methods using the ati uninstaller and then follow up with driver sweeper. Click on the exe for the 9.12 suite and it would unpack/extract then an hourglass for about 5 seconds and then nothing. I would see InstallManagerApp.exe running in the taskmanager and my hdd light would be lit, but that was about it....no install. Tried many times and nothing worked. Drove me absolutely crazy. Checked and re-checked all the cleanup, c++ redist and .net stuff....All in order and still same results - nothing.

Then I came across this thread about not having full admin permission for registry changes needed for some software installs even though I am the only user and Admin of this pc. When installing the 9.12 Catalyst Suite, it needs to change something in the registry that was now being blocked , so I ran this fix posted here and my problems were solved immediately on both my Vista and my XP Pro machines. Just remember to create a fresh system restore point before applying it. I was so happy to have the issue fixed I had to share. It specifies Vista in the post, but it worked for my Xp Pro as well flawlessly. Took about 20 minutes and fixed! And sorry for the wall of text. Just do a reboot after running the cmd file and try to install the catalyst 9.12 suite again, should work now.

Post by Michael G. Simmons: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/forums/en-US/vbexpress2008prerelease/thread/c273b0e1-7f46-4065-afaf-4edf285d2531

There is a quick fix for this and any other permission issues that occur with Vista. I've seen this happen with several different installs under Vista including VS 2005 and Orcas. The problem is for some reason regisry permissions are given to the user msiserver. You can reset each entry manually, but that is a major pain. It's much easier just to fix the entire registry by using the SubInACL utility. Basically, you can use the utility to add administrator permissions to every key in the registry.

  1. Download and install the SubInACL utility.

2.Create a new text file named fix_registry_permissions.cmd and add the following text to it and save it.

    cd /d "%programfiles%\Windows Resource Kits\Tools"
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive% /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %windir%\*.* /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
  1. Run the file by double-clicking on it.

That's it. It will take several minutes to finish, but at the end all registry keys will be accessable to the administrator and system, as it should be.

My Dell XPS Gen 3 won't boot from CD-ROM!

To: Some friends of mine.

Any ideas on this head-scratcher?

My Dell XPS (getting really old, I know) won't boot from CD-ROM. I have tried 3-4 different CDs. One of the CDs has multiple boot images on it and none of them boot.

Here's the weird part - I can get the boot loaders to work! The Ghost ones will say "Loading PC-DOS..." and then the CD drive just stops spinning. The multiboot one gives me all the menus, but as soon as it tries to launch something, it hangs in the same way. Even good ol' DOS 6.22 says "Loading MS-DOS..." and hangs. I tried my CentOS 4 installer DVD - I get the boot menus, I type "linux rescue" and then it just sits there.

My config is multiple SATA drives and two PATA CDs. I have even disabled the master and then I have the same issue with the secondary (it won't touch the secondary if the master is enabled, even if no CD in master). Same thing.

And here it gets even weirder... I booted from a USB key with Ghost on it just fine; I'm doing my backups now. WTF?!?!

Various suggestions came back... then a few days later, I found the solution!

You've GOT to be shitting me... I fixed it!

http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&releaseid=R104585&SystemID=DIM_PNT_P4_XPS_G3&servicetag=&os=WW1&osl=en&deviceid=308&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=8&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=1&libid=1&fileid=135030

I didn't install this BIOS release from over 4 years ago (I have A06), but look at the changelog:

"1. Prevent boot issues when USB devices with media readers are present."

Lo and behold, I plugged my monitor in a few weeks ago. Which has a (useless) built-in USB hub and media reader! I never would've expected something like that to happen! So my guess is that the BIOS tries to enumerate the drives somehow to map to INT13 and hangs up! When I yanked the USB cable from the monitor, CDs booted just fine!!?!?

I thought the USB hub was useless before because it powers off with the monitor - now it is a downright HINDRANCE!

RPMBuild stupidity

OK, this just pisses me off. It's plain dumb - rpmbuild expands macros before stripping comments. So what happened to me today (and I wasted an hour on) was that a multi-line macro was being inserted into a comment!

Based on a quick search of bugzilla at readhat, I'm not the only one - see 74949 and 99100. They say WONTFIX but that's just dumb in my not-so-humble opinion.

So now you know. If you are making a spec file for an RPM:

%files
# %build

will screw you over like it did me. You need to:

%files
# %%build

Hidden Directories

So, apparently Vista does something that is actually kind of smart. If a program tries to put preference files, etc into the "Program Files" directory, it dumps them elsewhere so that they are still going to be user specific. (This is all hypothesis!) Anyway I was trying to move my scores from WinXP to Vista for "Snoodoku" and this was the solution. http://www.wordofmousegames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2134


Well, I found it myself, so figured I'd post the solution for future users.

Apparently, Vista merges two directories when a program is trying to store preference files in the Program Files directory. So the file was actually hidden away in C:\Users\RevRagnarok\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\Snoodoku


More info from Microsoft.

Subversion from Perl

So I spent about three hours trying to get my perl svn_compress script running and I ran kept running into the damned thing segfaulting!

svn_path_basename: Assertion `is_canonical (path, len)' failed.

I finally found the answer. Apparently, libsvn wants '' as the current directory, not '.' like every other program since the beginning of time (Jan 1, 1970, right?).

Three hours.

Where I read the answer. Pasted here:

Peter Samuelson wrote:
> [Julian Gilbey]
>> burnside:~/debian/tex/tetex-bin $ perl -MSVN::Client -e \
>>   'sub print_names { print "<$_[0]>\n"; } $ctx=new SVN::Client;
>>   $ctx->status("", "BASE", \&print_names, 1, 1, 0, 1);' | head -5
>> <>
>> <.pc>
>> <.pc/.version>
>> <configure>
>> <INSTALL.generic>
> 
> I reproduced your bugs with subversion 1.3.0-5, so I can properly
> discuss it with upstream.  Unfortunately, I don't know much about the
> Perl bindings.  But comparing "svn status" with your command, it does
> seem to correspond to the "." entry.  I wonder if that is even
> considered a bug.  I mean, if you prefix each entry with $(pwd)/, it is
> fine.
> 
> 
>> perl: /tmp/buildd/subversion-1.2.3dfsg1/subversion/libsvn_subr/path.c:377:
>> svn_path_basename: Assertion `is_canonical (path, len)' failed.
> 
> Right, that's definitely a bug.  Even if this isn't something the perl
> bindings can fix on their own, they should carp or something.

Hi. This is an issue that gets kicked around on dev at svn from time to
time, and usually ends up with the thread fizzling out sooner or later,
with no concrete action being taken, due to a lack of an obvious right
way to proceed. I'll sum up the situation...

There exist a number of path manipulation functions (svn_path_*) which
do not conform to the usual style returning an error status as the
return value, and output data via output pointer parameters. Instead
they return data directly as the return value, and are supposed to only
ever be able to experience errors that merit assert() or abort().

Subversion defines a 'canonical path' format, and most of the functions
(apart from the canonicalizer itself, obviously!) assert that the input
path looks like a canonical path.


Various groups of C programmers will conduct heated debates on whether
this is good programming practice, or an annoyance, but that is
irrelevant where the bindings are concerned, since assert()-ing out of a
scripting language interpreter is clearly bad.

There is a fairly obvious, though non-trivial, solution:
Make the bindings test all input paths (presumably using a path-specific
SWIG "in" typemap) using the same logic as is_canonical, and
canonicalize if necessary. The problem, though, is that discussions of
this nature tend to get intertwined with the parallel issue of whether
the C code is being generally unhelpful in this situation, and should be
changed too.


OK, now you know the background.

Feel free to prod dev at svn to raise awareness of this problem which has
sadly lain dormant for far too long.


Max.

Aside:
The canonical form (IIRC) is mostly common sense stuff:
* no repeated slashes
* no internal /../ sequences
* no trailing slash
BUT it has one weird rule:
* the canonical form of "." is ""

"Hidden" Search Feature in File Open dialog

OK, I've been using Windows for years and I really thought I knew almost every shortcut. I Alt-Tab like there's no tomorrow (and occasionally remember to Win-Tab on wifey's laptop w/Vista). Win-R hourly (typing cmd or calc is quicker than finding it on the menu). Win-E any time a USB drive is nearby. Anyway, apparently you can do searches within a "File Open" dialog. Obviously, I knew most programs add a pull-down with file types. But on a whim, I was in UltraEdit the other day and type *vhd and wow it limited the selection to the VHDL files. *.v worked too, but acted like *.v* - however *.l and *.l?? showed the second one acting as I would expect (matching only 3 letter extensions starting with l - .lock was hidden). I tried it in a few other programs like Gimp and it seems to be part of the standard Windows UI. This is XP, I don't have access to any 2000 machines anymore, but no idea when it came about. (As shown before), I hate it when something I'm looking for is right under my nose!

Getting Tcl/Tk stuff to work on Fedora 8

I have a third party app that has an installer that is written in Tcl/Tk. Apparently, my Fedora 8 install has a busted install of wish, the shell it uses. Here's the ass-backwards way I got it to run.

The error was "Application init failed ... This probably means that Tcl wasn't installed properly."

First, I ran tclsh manually to figure out where it was looking - puts $auto_path shows me. It was looking in /build/xfndry8/J.36/env/TDS/Tcl/dist/export/lib instead of, oh, I dunno, maybe /usr/share/tcl8.4/tcl8.4 . However, Tk looks at /usr/lib/tk8.4 instead of /usr/share/tk8.4 ...

mkdir -p /build/xfndry8/J.36/env/TDS/Tcl/dist/export/lib
cd /build/xfndry8/J.36/env/TDS/Tcl/dist/export/lib
ln -s /usr/share/tcl8.4/tcl8.4 /build//J.36/env/TDS/Tcl/dist/export/lib
cd /usr/lib
mv tk8.4 tk8.4_orig
ln -s /usr/share/tk8.4 tk8.4
cp tk8.4_orig/pkgIndex.tcl tk8.4

Note: This is all scratched on the back of a Dilbert calendar sheet so there may be a typo or two.


Follow-up

Apparently, one of my yum updates broke it. I needed to re-run the mv and ln commands. For the record, I'm now at:

tcl-8.4.17-1.fc8
tk-8.4.17-2.fc8

I decided to file a bug...


Follow-up 2

I should've known - when all else, fails, blame Xilinx. If I had paid attention, I would've realized that Xilinx tools version 8 would be xfndry8 and J.36 is their internal build number (IIRC 9.2SP4 is J.40).

Cleaning up your bblog blog

I am sick of these spammers putting trackback crap. My system doesn't allow trackbacks nor comments, but I have over a thousand filling up my database anyway. When I move fully to my new server, I plan on converting it all to a non-public wiki anyway.

To clean yours out:

Go into SQL, whatever way you normally do.

use blog; <-- yours may be different of course
DELETE FROM bB_comments where type = 'comment';
DELETE FROM bB_comments where type = 'trackback';

Now to stop them: Go into the bblog directory:

mv trackback.php trackback_disabled.php

I'll update this later if there's more.

Netflix vs. Blockbuster

Well, I've had Netflix since forever (391 DVDs since 2001). Yes, sometimes they throttle. But I haven't had much problem with that because I don't have my queue full of all new releases. To make a long story very short, they kick BB's ass. I have tried BB for a little over two weeks now. The only advantage I see in BB is the ability to get 2 games or DVDs a month at the local store.

Selection: Netflix just has more movies, period. I really want to see the DVD "Star Wars: Clone Wars" from the Cartoon Network. BB has no mention of it, NF has had it in my saved queue since I first heard about it.

Availability: BB is crap. Of course, it is very possible that they are throttling me. Here's my current queue - note this is Apr 2005... I have added at the end of every line the year the movie is from

Movie Title Rating Availability
Bamboozled [WS] R Long Wait 2000
Shaolin Soccer PG13 Short Wait 2001
Eurotrip [WS] [Unrated] NR Short Wait 2004
Astronaut's Wife R Short Wait 1999
Torque [WS] PG13 Short Wait 2004
Honey [WS] PG13 Short Wait 2004
Tommyknockers NR Long Wait 1993
Fish Called Wanda R Short Wait 1988
Booty Call R Long Wait 1997
White Chicks [WS] PG13 Short Wait 2004
Club Dread [WS] NR Short Wait 2004

I have no idea how "The Bootiest Edition" of Booty Call from 1997 can be a 'Long Wait' along with an old Stephen King miniseries. As a guy I used to work with liked to say, "I call bullshit!"

Today was proxy fixing day!

Well, spent half of today fixing computers for the woman's family.

They insist on using AOL DSL, so to share the connection they have to use AnalogX Proxy instead of a "normal" wireless router. I got that up and running a year or so ago. But there have been glitches that I wasn't aware of until today.

Problem 1: Firefox don't work. On either client machine. Weird DNS issue too that I had once before with other reasons (look around on this blog). Basically any site you went to would be the same site as the first. Example - home page is google.com, then I try to go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com and it is google again. Type microsoft.com/cgi-bin/whatever and you get a 404 from google.com saying "I don't have /cgi-bin/whatever "

OK, so the fix. AnalogX proxy cannot handle HTTP/1.1 - you need to do HTTP/1.0 only.

about:config
Find "network.http.proxy.version" and make it "1.0"

Problem 2: Apparently, Microsoft in their infinite wisdom f'd up WindowsUpdate with SP2. The one machine worked fine. The other machine (brand new Dell laptop) didn't. So I update the other machine to SP2 and now it doesn't get WindowsUpdate either! Turns out that post-SP2 WindowsUpdate IGNORES THE PROXY SETTINGS YOU PUT INTERNET EXPLORER!!! What's the POINT?!?!

The fix: I'm not sure. There is a program "proxycfg" that sets up the proxy settings. I'm not sure which worked, one of these two (from the command line):

proxycfg -u

Supposedly updates the settings based on your IE ones. I'm not sure if that worked. Other possible:

proxycfg -p "http://10.70.70.70:6588"

(Obviously, put your proxy server/port in there)

As always, if this helped solve your problems, please drop me a 'thanx' note.

Finally... some rebate laws!?!

(Note, I almost never advocate new laws...)

Yes, it is California only, but note (from FatWallet):

I think the law will have a nationwide effect. Here's why:

Almost 75% of technology companies are headquartered in California, so all of them are subject directly to the law.

The law pertains to anyone who offers a rebate to a California resident, and that affects the remainder of companies (even though California would have a tougher time enforcing it's law on companies outside of its jurisdiction).

No matter, since everyone will have to comply with the California law where it pertains to California residents, they will not be able to differentiate them from residents of other states and so they will be forced to apply the terms of the law to everyone.

http://info.sen.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_1154&sess=CUR&house=B&site=sen

ADDED BONUS

The FTC WANT you to report to them when you don't get the rebates using consumer protection laws! :)

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/rebatealrt.pdf

Anti-phishing site

Smartass Answer

Next time I get a dumb Q: http://tinyurl.com/22c6t

Ghost and error 19922 SOLVED

The Symantec 'knowledge base' has this this useless link.

The 'solution' is "Symantec is investigating this problem to determine a resolution. This document will be updated when new information or a solution is available." - They have said this since at least version 6 - search their site and see at least 4 different Ghost versions saying that they are looking into it!

My situation, and fix, hope it works for you... NAV Pro 2K4 had crashed a few days before (it only happened that once) and I never shut off my desktop. Well, what was happening was the dump file was spanning at the 2GB mark. NAV has hooks in the OS that do RPC calls when the file is closed, telling NAV to scan it. Since NAV wasn't running, the RPC call was timing out. By time the RPC call failed, the Ghost client had given up the ghost (ha!) failing with error 19922.

A simple reboot fixed it, but it still took me about 3 hours of being very worried to fix, because I had made a major change to my network since the last backup...

CD-Rs bake in the sun!

OK, I had a silver CD-R (Imation 80min if you care) with MP3s. I left it in the car too much in the sun (now I flip the jewel cases over). One edge of it turned a nice golden color like the older CD-Rs are.

It had 5 CDs on it.

I have randomly sampled the files in my audio player, and they all sound fine and are as happy as can be.

Checked the SFVs of 4 of the 5.

Even though my sampling sounded fine, EVERY SINGLE FILE had a CRC failure.

Weird.

Keep yer CD-Rs in the shade!!!

HP Printers crashing Win98 (and getting VxD versions under Linux)

Kitty says to me today she's having printing problems. About 1/2 the time, the machine just hangs when she tries to print. I reply with the standard help desk response of "reinstall the print drivers". Oh boy.

Shortly thereafter, not only did the new printer software fail to find the printer, the damned thing would BSOD (Win98) if it was booted WITHOUT the USB printer attached!

Then USB just stopped working for a while. That was cute.

Long story short - after many (many) reboots, including logged boots and many BSODs (and just plain lockups on boot) I finally noticed that even with it all supposedly uninstalled, it still BSODd without the printer attached. I'm talking manual Registry wipes uninstall. It wouldn't lock if I deleted the USB hub from Windows. Until I rebooted again and then BSOD. I found it was still loading a VxD file.

Yes folks, think WAY back. 16 bit. Windows 3.1 - "System.ini"!!! But it wasn't there either. In there is a line that says to load "*.VxD".

So I erased (OK, moved) all the HP*.VxD files in C:\Windows\System\VMM32\ (WTF?) and wow - everything was A-OK when there was no printer attached! I figured that would make a good baseline - if it don't boot without the printer, it will never boot with.

I connected the printer, pointed it to the directory where I had downloaded the drivers, and it installed without a hitch. Even installed the accessory utils automagically.

So I went back to that VMM32 directory. The HP files were back. Copied them all to my fileserver, and ran diff on them. No differences. Except... there was a file "hpziop98.vxd" what wasn't reinstalled. Lo and behold, the old directory had both "hpziop98.vxd" and "hpziop00.vxd". Kinda suspicious, huh?

Here's a Linux command for you to file away:

strings *.vxd | grep -A 20 ProductVersion'''

hpziop00.vxd:
ProductVersion
1, 18, 6, 0
ProductName
Hewlett-Packard 1284 Driver.
OriginalFilename
hpziop00.vxd
LegalCopyright
Copyright
1998. All rights reserved.
InternalName
hpziop00
FileVersion
1, 18, 6, 0
FileDescription
1284 Driver.
CompanyName
Hewlett-Packard Company
Comments
Built on 12/30/99 2:00pm

hpziop98.vxd:
ProductVersion
1, 16, 7, 0
ProductName
Hewlett-Packard 1284 Driver.
OriginalFilename
hpziop00.vxd
LegalCopyright
Copyright
1998. All rights reserved.
InternalName
hpziop00
FileVersion
1, 16, 7, 0
FileDescription
1284 Driver.
CompanyName
Hewlett-Packard Company
Comments
Built on 10/12/99 2:30pm

Yes folks, some time between Oct and Dec 1999, HP renamed their 1284 driver file, and didn't tell the uninstaller (which I ran at least 3 times!) to remove the older version if it saw it! AND, IEEE 1284 is PARALLEL PORT!!! Lastly, you'll note the "OriginalFilename" entry for the __98 file?!?

Fixed. Total time: almost 2.5 HOURS.