Robot One – In the Beginning

21 Dec 2011

I’m finally getting into robotics. At this point, I’m most certainly an amateur, beginner Roboticist. However, it’s a subject that I’ve been very interested in for about as long as I can remember.

So, what changed? Well, a few different things all lined up at the same time to push me into finally buying my own soldering iron and a few other tools. Additionally, for my daughter’s 5th birthday, she was excited about some robots so we got her some HexBug units. It’s been a ton of fun for her. She loves to play with them, especially when doing so with Daddy. I picked up a few kits requiring soldering for Arduino shields and have put a few together already.

One piece here another piece there (thanks to Amazon Prime, it’s been almost too easy), and soon I just about had the parts to build a complete independent mobile robot. Yesterday, the last basic components arrived (from DFRobotics in China). Once I opened this latest shipment, I realized that I had forgotten about some standoffs & screws. I tried to hit up both Radio Shack and Home Depot, but both were already closed for the night.

Tonight, I took some photos and started putting some bits together. I’ll post more details, soon, along with the photos. I’ll walk through the process that I’m inventing and following for myself in constructing and programming this, my first robot design. It should be fun.


8 Nov 2011

This past weekend, I flew to Dallas, Texas in order to take the exams necessary for the RHEL6 version of the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification. I found out Monday morning (when I looked at the email they had sent me Friday evening) that I passed.

There’s sure been a lot of change in the 8 + years since I was awarded my first RHCE (back on Red Hat Linux 9). I proctored the certification exams for RHL9, RHEL3 and RHEL4 as well as beta versions for both RHEL4 and RHEL5. The whole process, the delivery method and even much content has evolved, but I think RHEL6 introduced some of the biggest changes yet. Of course, I cannot go into details beyond anything that Red Hat has already published on their web site, so I won’t.

Barracuda Networks Details Security Breach

2 May 2011

Barracuda Networks website suffered a breach on April 8, 2011. It appears that all the crackers got were some people’s names and email addresses from a Marketing database used to send event announcements and such emails to opt-in customers.

On Tuesday, April 26, Oliver Wai, a Product Marketing Manager at Barracuda Networks posted a blog entry detailing how the SQL injection attack was conducted.

We need to see more companies step up like this and provide useful technical (and anecdotal) information about breaches of their data. It helps us all to be reminded to watch out for such things, but also to see it in action. All too many who are not up to their eyeballs in that, “security nonsense,” as I’ve heard some of them call it, don’t have the benefit of seeing what those of us in the know have seen, like this example which Barracuda Networks has so graciously shared.

I’m sure there are a number of people who will now be more interested in examining their Barracuda Web Application Firewall product.

Central Spell-Checking Dictionary

11 Jan 2010

Today, I found out that the spell-check system within Microsoft’s .NET framework does not support adding entries to the dictionary. Supposedly, .NET 4.0 will add such support.

Come on! Are you kidding me? What century is this, anyway? This is an extremely basic feature. Seriously, I could write the code in under 1 day and I don’t even know C#.

Generally, yes, the Microsoft Office shared spell-check dictionary would probably fit the bill. It’s been a long time, but I remember nearly 10 years back that there was some COM or DCOM accessible spelling-dictionary facility documented in MFC coding guides that was more OS level “global”. That’s what was basically what I was thinking about. However, I’m not finding it with some quick Googling, so maybe I’m thinking of something else?

Yet another reason I continue to prefer Qt. Oh, and Linux where any app that wants spell-check just links in the GNU aspell (or other such) library, all of which can share common dictionaries. Lest we forget Mac OS X; they have a global spell-check feature that even works on a command prompt.

Why are Microsoft frameworks (especially .NET) always so far behind?

MySQL Error 121 During CREATE TABLE

23 Nov 2009

I’m using MySQL to track a pile of data for a project at work. This is a one-off kind of thing that will probably be thrown away after I finish this project, but, I still try to make sure that I have a solid, yet simple, DB design. So, while iterating my way to having just the bits I need, I ran into:

$ >mysql -p database_name <filename.sql
Enter password: ***************
ERROR 1005 (HY000) at line 86: Can't create table database_name.table_name'(errno: 121)

A little Googling lead to several totally different explanations, which are things that I tried. What finally fixed it for me was the advice that I found at [ ]. The SELECT statement for listing the foreign key names didn’t work on MySQL 5.1.40-community on Windows (yes, I know that 5.1.41 is out, I’ll get to it later). However, I did have a couple of tables that were using the same name for a foreign key pointing at the same third table. So, error 121 means a duplicate foreign key name somewhere in the database. Foreign key names must be unique across the entire database, not just within a given table.

WordPress 2.8.6 Upgrade

22 Nov 2009

I did this upgrade almost right when it came out. I simply followed my “normal” upgrade process:

  1. Backup the DB ($ mysqldump -p dbname | gzip >~/backups/$(date -I)-dbname.sql.gz).
  2. Backup the existing directory (# cp -a current-directory directory-outside-of-the-web-space).
  3. Extract the new version on top of the old ($ tar -zxf ~/wordpress-version.tar.gz).
  4. Delete the wp-config-sample.php file.
  5. Fix group ownerships of wp-content/ and sub-directories.
  6. Visit the admin interface.
  7. Fix problems, if there are any.

This time, there was nothing to do for the last two steps. It was all over in just a couple of minutes. Simple as pie.

openSUSE 11.2 Upgrade

21 Nov 2009

I upgraded my HP Compaq 6715b from openSUSE 11.1 to openSUSE 11.2 on Tuesday. There have been a couple of minor bumps since, but all-in-all, I’m pretty happy with the upgrade. Here are some of the things that I’ve seen.
Read the rest of this entry »

How Many of Me

19 Nov 2009

I first saw [ ] a few years ago. There was a conversation the other day that made me think of it again, so I decided to look it up, again.
Logo There are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

There are only 19 of Monty Peterson in the U.S.

Netflix PS3 Video Streaming

14 Nov 2009

A couple of hours ago, I had my first taste of streaming Netflix on my PS3.

We’ve been getting movies and TV shows from Netflix for over a year. It’s been a great experience for us. We have the 3 discs at once plan, which lets us hang onto some TV series disc for a few days (a couple of weeks) and still keep a couple of movies going back and forth. It’s also possible for us to watch up to 6 different movies in one week, as their turn around time is so fast, it (almost always) only takes 2 days from when I put a disc in the mail until the next one arrives.

Netflix also allows their customers to stream movies and TV shows on their computers, using the Roku player, the LG BD370 Blu-ray player/Netflix streaming device, plus many more. Netflix recently announced that they would be releasing a version for streaming on the Sony PlayStation 3 (a.k.a. PS3).

I’ve added about 20 films to my Instant Streaming Queue in the time I’ve written this article. I think I’ll go watch something.

I got an email from Netflix the other day, announcing that the PS3 disc is now available. It’s free, I simply had to click a couple of links and they sent it out to me. That disc arrived in the mail earlier today. We popped it in, waited for the PS3 to say that it was ready for us to “watch” that disc, and a moment later, we saw cover art for movies and TV shows that are in our Streaming Queue. I selected Season 1 of Quantum Leap and started watching episode 4 (episodes 1-3 are only available on disc). It took about 35-40 seconds for the show to start playing. The playback was flawless. Zero audio or video glitches (I do have a solid 7Mbps DSL line)..

When Maildrop Keeps Filling a Log File

12 Nov 2009

Earlier tonight, Some friends told me that they saw a couple of emails they sent to me bounced back at them. I wrote about what happens “When Maildrop Fills a Log File” on one of my other blogs. Well, it’s happened again a couple of times since then. It’s happened again just a few days ago (ls showed -rw------- 1 lamontp lamontp 51200000 Nov 6 11:19 .maildrop.log).

That’s enough! I’ve had it; I’m going to prevent this from bothering me again.

Well, the right way to fix this is to grab a clue-bat and use it on the Maildrop developer(s) who decided that hardcoding a 50 MB log file size limit into Maildrop was a good idea, until they change their mind(s). Seriously, though, I’m going to send them a patch for this lame duck.

In the meantime, I’ve written rotate-user-maildrop-logs, a shell script to place into your /etc/cron.daily/ (or similar) directory. I am releasing this under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 3 (a.k.a. GPLv3).

I really like Maildrop. It’s great for me, but it’s not for everyone. For example, my wife isn’t going to sit down and use vi (or any other text editor) to maintain her very own ~/.mailfilter file. For this reason, I will be switching to Sieve in the near future, using the Cyrus IMAP server instead of Dovecot, which I’ve been very happy with.

Is that the time? OK, maybe I’ll have to write that patch for Maildrop on Saturday.