How to make emergency glasses

December 29, 2007 at 10:31 pm

If you wear glasses like me, sometimes you misplace them and you find yourself in a dire predicament: How do you find your glasses if you can’t see without them? I just discovered this howto video which explains how to make emergency glasses out of a leaf or a piece of paper. I tried it, and it works!

Windows XP running inside Ubuntu Linux and MacOSX

June 13, 2006 at 12:44 pm

VMWare screenshotI was googling around for a solution to why the fonts on Ubuntu Linux are stretched on my Dell 20″ monitor, and the search words “widescreen fonts stretched ubuntu” brought up this page as the first hit.

Well, J Wynia’s blog post didn’t really solve my problem with the fonts, but it did remind me that VMWare recently made their VMWare Server software available free-of-charge, presumably in response to attention received by the open source Xen virtualization software.Thanks to the free VMWare Player, I had been running Windows XP on my Ubuntu Linux box, but after I recently upgraded to the latest Ubuntu Linux 6.0.6 (codename “Dapper Drake”), the VMWare player stopped working. I decided to try updating to the VMWare Server to see if that would solve the problem.I downloaded the VMWare Server software and installed it using ./

This brought up a series of questions to which I replied the default. When I got to the question:

It wouldn’t accept the default response and said:

I googled for that exact text, and this post to the Ubuntu forums came up which described how one must install the headers for the release of the kernel you have installed. (this probably explained why VMWare Player stopped working when I upgraded – the kernel headers had changed).

I typed uname -r to find out what version headers to get, and then just passed this in to avoid typos.

Then when the question about the C header files came up, I typed in the following:

If you are trying this at home, you would substitute 2.6.15-23-386 for whatever version you have installed (output of the uname -r command).

After this, the install proceeded along and the very last step was to move my virtual machine file into the directory /var/lib/vmware/Virtual Machines.

I fired up the VMWare Server console, loaded my virtual machine and behold, Windows XP running inside my Linux box!

MacOSX solutions – Bootcamp and Parallels

My days running WinXP on Linux may be numbered because on thursday I’m expecting to receive a new Macbook which sports the new Core Duo chip. Using Apple’s Bootcamp software, I can run both MacOSX and Windows natively on the same machine.

However, because it’s a drag to have to reboot, I will probably run Windows in a virtual machine using Parallels. With the Core Duo processor, this will be faster than running it with VMWare on Linux.

Boston Macintosh Users Group

I’m looking forward to the BMac users group meeting tomorrow night because the topic is Windows on Intel Macs. Hopefully learn some tips and tricks, and also try to unload some old Mac gear that I’ve been trying to get rid of. Anyone want an Epson Inkjet printer or a Yamaha CD burner?

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Scraping a jazz events calendar

June 12, 2006 at 12:48 am

As mentioned in my last post building a live music calendar, I’m disappointed that the websites that list jazz events in Boston don’t offer the data as an RSS or iCal feed. One example of this is the WGBH Jazz Calendar, which has probably the most comprehensive listing of jazz events in the Boston area.

In my talk about Plone4Artists at EuroPython 2005, I mentioned a tool called Scrape ‘n’ Feed, which will scrape a website and generate an RSS feed. Well, it’s been a year since I first discovered this tool, and now I’m revisiting it to see if I can make it work. Here is my first foray into this scraping business.

ScrapeNFeed depends on Beautiful Soup and PyRSS2Gen which are easily installable on Ubuntu Linux with:

Once I installed these two packages, I downloaded the script and created the following file ‘’:

Run the script with ./ and it will output a file wgbh.xml , which is in the RSS 2.0 format. You can then open this file using your RSS reader of choice, and view all the Boston jazz events.

Once thing that I noticed is that some of the items in the list have an extra <br /> which means the title doesn’t get read in correctly. I’ll have to find a way to ignore the <br /> which I sure will be fairly simple with BeautifulSoup.

What’s next

At the OPMLCamp a few weeks ago, I met Mike Kowalchik, the creator of grazr. After seeing this tool, I immediately thought about how useful it would be for generating a browseable directory of event listings. You simply supply grazr with an OPML file, and it will then display all the RSS feeds and their entries. After I get a couple more event listing sites scraped, I’ll generate the OPML file and try them out with grazr.

Mike also mentions on his blog about Tom Morris’ idea about using grazr to ‘kill myspace’ by creating a better way for independent bands and artists to self promote using OPML. Note to self: follow up with Tom to discuss this idea further. I love the integrated MP3 player in his grazr box. Update: left him an Odeo message.

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Speaking at CM Pros Summit

April 21, 2006 at 12:47 pm

I’m in San Francisco and preparing my slides for Microformats and the Future of Syndication to be presented on sunday at the CM Pros summit. Using the uPress plugin for WordPress, I was able to embed calendar metadata about the event in the hCalendar microformat.

Content Management Professionals card carrying member

March 26, 2006 at 6:12 pm

After hearing about the organization from Bob Doyle and Seth Gottlieb, I decided to join the Content Management Professionals. It’s a community of practice who want to develop their expertise and share it with others. The urgency for me joining is that they are having a summit next month in San Francisco and come April 1st, the membership fee goes up to $100 (currently $50).

I’ve met Bob Doyle at several of the 501-techclub meetings, and he runs the CMSReview website and hosts monthly gatherings at his lab. He’s now proposing a New England Chapter for CM Pros which I think would be a great way to meet other people in the New England area who are working in the content management space.

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Content Management and Document Management Whitepapers

March 26, 2006 at 3:53 pm

One of the most challenging tasks of any technology professional is keeping track of the plethora of solutions available. Thankfully, there are guys like Seth Gottlieb who actually get paid to try out all the software solutions, analyze them and write about their findings.

I’ve gotten to know Seth through the Boston Plone Users Group, and we were recently both speaking at the Plone Symposium in New Orleans. The company where he works Optaros, has been kind enough to offer their office space to hold the monthly user group meetings. They also host the PHP and MySQL user group meetings.

Seth has written two excellent whitepapers which I have downloaded, printed and consumed as soon as they were published.

Unleashing the Power of Open Source in Document Management

Content Management Problems and Open Source Solutions

What I found interesting is that Plone was one of the only systems which appeared in both whitepapers, meaning it’s capable of being used for both managing content on a public facing website, as well as an intranet solution for managing documents.

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