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March 4, 2006

Not a Software Day

You have to love software.

I need to install and configure Fedora Directory server, so I download the latest version v1.0.2 (security fix from previous release). Turns out the admin server on it is hosed - a glitch with access control effectively locks everyone out, oops.

That's ok, I need it to run against httpd v2.2 anyway, so let me build it from source. Build from source needs a JDK.

No worries, lets download one from Sun. Turns out Sun's download site is "down for maintenance" today: "We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you will enjoy the upgraded Sun Download Center when we return online."

Haven't Sun ever heard of a zero downtime upgrade? Oh well, the rest of the world can wait.


In the mean time, I can use a JDK from IBM. Go through the pagan ritual of getting through IBM's weird "log in first" system, which forces you to update their details first, hey, I got the time.

I decide to download the binary version that plugs in neatly into JPackage's RPM package. This should fit nicely. Only it doesn't work:

[root@chandler SPECS]# rpmbuild -bb java-1.5.0-ibm.spec
error: line 566: Package does not exist: %preun plugin

Oh well. Sod jpackage, let's just download the RPM from IBM and be done with it. But no joy either:

[root@chandler rpms]# rpm -U ibm-java2-x86_64-sdk-5.0-0.0.x86_64.rpm
error: Failed dependencies:
libstdc++.so.5 is needed by ibm-java2-x86_64-sdk-5.0-0.0.x86_64
libXp.so.6 is needed by ibm-java2-x86_64-sdk-5.0-0.0.x86_64

Seems the "let's install the directory server and get the first step of the upgrade out of the way" is destined to take all night.

On the plus side, this download speed is bordering on acceptable for today's networks:

Connecting to www6.software.ibm.com||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 63,086,066 (60M) [application/octet-stream]

100%[====================================>] 63,086,066 1.77M/s ETA 00:00

14:47:39 (1.95 MB/s) - `ibm-java2-x86_64-sdk-5.0-0.0.x86_64.rpm' saved [63086066/63086066]

Ok, iit's impressive when you get an internet connection from this fine company.

March 2, 2006

"Check with your Network Administrator..."

There are few error message that a computer can give that could be more annoying than that old favourite: "If you are unsure what configuration to connect with, check with your network administrator".

Translated into English, this error message means "Our programmers were too damn lazy to tell the user what the real problem is, so we are going to pass the buck at this point to the mythical 'Network Administrator', who will curse and wail at how stupid and unhelpful our software is, and stab wildly in the dark until a solution is found by accident".

The software guilty today is MacOS X's 802.1X authentication client.

It's really easy to switch on. Select "Internet Connect" and choose "File -> New 802.1X Connection...". Now, try and switch it off again.

The trouble is that switching it on stops your Airport card from working on certain WiFi configurations, and even though I am the network administrator, I'll be damned if I can find the button marked "switch the stupid thing off".

Yet again, the 5 minute task becomes a 5 hour marathon undertaking, courtesy of our old favourites, Stupid Programmers.

March 1, 2006

Someone is letting your house!

It's an elegant scam.

In September 2005, the South African actuality programme Carte Blanche ran a story about squattors moving into empty properties and taking up residence, without the landowners knowledge or permission.

The squattors usually get there through bogus "letting agents". These people somehow gain keys to the vacant property, and then place an advert in the local newspaper, advertising for interested tenants. Tenants duly arrive, and pay a deposit and rent to the "agent", never to be seen again.

This last week a would be scammer tried that on my property in Cape Town. The trouble was, not only did the neighbour send email to warn that people were being shown around the property, but the real letting agents, Trafalgar Property Management, saw the fraudster's advert for the property in the newspaper.

Posing as an interested potential tenant, the real letting agent made an appointment with the fake letting agent to be shown around the house. When the fraudster arrived, they were promptly arrested by police and are currently in jail awaiting trial for fraud.


Scenes from a Mall

Mobile phone cameras are definitely not stupid. How else would you capture this priceless little gem in the Fourways Mall parking lot: