Roaming on Softbank Breaks Voice Mail?

I haven’t been getting my voice mail on my iPhone here in Japan. When I got off the plane, it hooked up with Softbank which is the company that sells iPhones locally (using a cute, white dog as a mascot). However, no voice mails come in and when I go to the voice mail tab on the phone, it says it can’t connect.

Then my phone switched briefly to NTT Docomo and behold: two voice mails came in. Could it be that Softbank’s own iPhone support interferes with foreign iPhones’ roaming?


I run a VMWare Server 2.0 installation so I can test Apache and other things on a wide variety of operating systems. Recently, I’ve been fighting to send Ctrl-Alt-Delete to the remote console of a VM from my Ubuntu workstation… some operating systems work better with Ctrl-Alt-Delete, but the moment you press Ctrl-Alt the console releases input focus. On a Windows client, you use Ctrl-Alt-Insert because the local operating system will catch the real thing.

It turns out you are to press the Del key on the numeric keypad, not on your main keyboard, to send the key combo to the console. I’m blogging this so the LazyWeb learns of it, and when next I forget I can Google for my own post.

VMWare Server rocks: the price is more than right, which allows me to do my Open Source work without paying Closed Source prices. And that in turn benefits VMWare because some of their stuff is clearly based on Apache Software Foundation projects.

Free Wi-Fi at Oakland Airport

Quick shout-out to Oakland Airport: they now offer free Wi-Fi on the concourse. Most webpages get a little advertising frame across the top, but that seems a small price to pay. Lower fares, cheaper parking, free Wireless: how can you go wrong. Plus the Southwest terminal now has little desks at the gates with wall outlets to charge the laptop.

Firefox Overzealous… Or Is It?

Man In The Middle is defeated by context. — Bruce Schneier

As has been widely discussed, Firefox 3.0 is a little over-zealous when it encounters an unknown certificate on an SSL website. Where previous versions would just warn the user about the observed irregularities, the new version requires that the user add an exception for every certificate that has an unknown certification chain, is expired or for which the hostname does not match the information in the certificate.

Adding an exception takes four clicks, most met with a stern warning that will deter anyone but the most determined user. Folks who use self-signed certificates as a matter of habit are howling, because they have to tediously make exceptions for all of them. This Firefox features seems over the top, but is it? Continue reading

Microsoft Overloads MIME Types, Breaks Safari

Safari Downloads Window For some time, any time I downloaded a Microsoft Office document in Safari, the browser appended an extra filename extension to the saved download, which turned the Office Document into an Office Template. A Word Document gets a .dot suffix, a Powerpoint slide show gets .pot, and an Excel spreadsheet gets .xla, which turns it into an add-in library which is really not what that file is. ?Devastating? No. Annoying? For sure yes. Life is too short to have to munge file name extensions all the time, and this is a Mac, right, so stuff should just work.?

Fortunately, a Google trip across some web forums leads to the cause of the problem, which in itself is an interesting illustration about how intricate even Personal Computers have become, and how easy it is to break something. ? Continue reading

Smart Tar

It’s fully ensconced in my muscle memory: tar -xzf somepackage.tar.gz to untar a gzip-compressed tarball. But what if the tarball is compressed with Bzip2? You have to use tar -xjf or tar won’t understand the compression format.

Or, on MacOSX, just use tar -xf on either compression format and tar figures it out for itself. And that’s the way it should be: smart software that can find out on what file format it operates.

But my fingers still want to tar -xzf

Testing out Journler

If you can see this, it’s been successfully posted through Journler.? I’d do a test post, but that’s too boring.? I’m in Seattle.? It’s raining.? Oh wait, I’ll have to do better than that if I want to be non-boring.?

Unit Testing Not Necessarily teh suck

I finally took time to read Will Shipley’s impassionate 2005 post about unit testing and why he doesn’t do it. He’s of course exaggerating for effect and the post is best taken in together with BBum’s excellent follow-up where he argues that unit testing made a huge amount of sense for his project, but may be less relevant for software that directly interacts with users.

Unit testing serves to define and enforce the interface that a piece of code presents to the outside world, which makes most sense (and makes a whole lot of sense) when the user of the code is itself a program. Hence: libraries, Frameworks (oh wait, they are also teh suck) and the like. Having a comprehensive set of unit tests gives the folks who have to work with your code confidence in its quality, and gives you liberty to change stuff under the hood as you see fit, with no fear (ok, less fear) of breaking the confidence the other folks have.

Unit tests don’t find bugs. They ensure that there is no unpredictable behavior (bugs) in the bits they test, but they are not as good at finding new bugs that you didn’t know were there. That’s still up to other techniques like exploratory testing that Will likes so much better. Perhaps Unit Testing is incorrectly named, and we should be talking about Unit Verification.

Stretch Desktop With the fglrx Driver

I have a new PC under my desk, and it seems that I now have my X setup the way I want it. The problem was with the dual head support: I wanted one desktop stretched across the two monitors, so I can drag windows across from one monitor to the other.

The default configuration merely mirrored one screen onto two monitors: a waste of desktop real estate. What I had before did put different X displays on the monitors: good but not great because I couldn’t drag across. On my old machine I could use the Xinerama extension to achieve the what I wanted, but turning that on made the driver for the new card (ATI’s proprietary fglrx) crash when the screensaver kicked in.
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