Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ThinkPad T42 Oddity

I have a ThinkPad T42 at work. Usually it runs Linux (RHEL 4 AS), but once every 3 months I boot to Windows (XP SP2) to change my domain password (and to run Windows Update). If I knew a way to use SAMBA from Mac OS X or Linux to change my AD domain password, I might not boot to Windows as often as once a year! That would be nice, but unfortunately password changing isn't that easy.

I have an external monitor, a Dell 2405FPW, connected to it. Usually the monitor works fine. However, after I've booted to Windows, once I boot back to Linux, the monitor shakes. The scanlines don't line up anymore, and it looks for all the world like a hardware problem. However, if I unplug power to this monitor for two days (I haven't tested a shorter time period yet), it goes back to working. So Windows is doing something evil to my monitor that only shows up for Linux! Once the monitor has the shakes, it doesn't matter if I remove the BlackBox KVM or the Dock from the cabling.

I use the DVI connector to this monitor with my Mac OS X, and I use the VGA connector for the KVM and Dock (VGA KVMs are significantly cheaper!).

I'm still working on a theory to explain this, but at least I have a workaround, to leave it unplugged over the weekend.

UPDATE: a co-worker suggested that Windows detects the monitor, that also has card slot readers, and downloads new software (it would have to ask permission, and burn, new firmware, so I don't think it's technically firmware) to the monitor. Then when I go back to Linux, the new monitor software and Linux don't get along. It's a theory, but since I have a work-around (don't use Windows, or use a different external monitor with Windows, or leave it unplugged over the weekend), I'm not going to worry about it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Thunderbird: Bounce and Growl

The beauty of an application with a plug-in architecture is that you can add features that you want. Mail redirect (or bounce) can be added to Thunderbird with the Mail Redirect add-on. Cool! Read the comments for a URL to a version that works with Thunderbird 2, or for the way to fix it yourself (it works, but you have to tell the maxVersion check). Now I have an easy way to bounce messages to Gmail for search archiving.

So that just leaves Growl telling me about new messages in Thunderbird. I found three ways to do that. The first, yamb +, is what I've been using since I started using Thunderbird 2.0b1 (I was an early adopter because I love IMAP mail tags). I don't like it because Thunderbird is always bouncing in my dock to tell me that a folder (who knows which one) is being processed and can't be accessed right now. I don't care, but the bounces are distracting, so while Growl fits GTD, the extraneous bounces don't. The good news is that what I was using before, Growl New Message Notification, now works with Thunderbird 2! This is the best route in my mind. It's one add-on (not an add-on and a shell script) (although you do need to install growlnotify, one of the optional Growl Extras installs), it's very configurable (so are shell scripts, but not as easily), and it doesn't give me the error messages that YAMB does. However, if you want another choice, there's also Growl Notifications for Firefox (completed downloads) and Thunderbird (new messages) in the sandbox. I prefer the extension not in the sandbox because it has options, but they both work.

Tags are good. Plug-ins are good.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Send Mail to Gmail

No offense to Gmail Loader (it's free and cool), but I didn't want to take the time to install extra Python widgets just to shuttle some old mail to Gmail for storage. So I used Mulberry. Mulberry is a lot like pine and presumably alpine in that they get no respect. Most of the time I want a pretty interface; sometimes I want to be able to use any possible IMAP feature (and don't get me started on why I like IMAP better than POP -- I'm mobile, OK?), and that's where Mulberry shines as does pine. You use the redirect feature in Mulberry (bounce in pine) to bounce your old mail to another address. The "Date" and "From" fields are not modified, so this is a reasonable way to transfer mail between accounts.

Less Salt

Ever since morning sickness, I've had to eat a lot less sodium; if I get too much, I feel like my heart is being squeezed. So I can believe that you can "Cut Heart Risk by Eating Less Salt" because it sure feels that way to me!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Cool! There's a command-line way (in OS X 10.4) to look at what's going on with your Airport connection: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport. The useful flags are -h for help, -s or --scan for a scan, and -I or --getinfo for current status.

We've had some cases at work where I would really like to have a graph of signal strength (so I can prove that the latest LWAPP firmware upgrade was disastrous for Mac users), so a list of numbers to chart would be ideal. There are some nice graphical tools out there, but the charts aren't persistent, so my documentation is ephemeral. I could easily write a script with airport for my list of numbers to chart, though!

Supporting No DRM

Symbolic gesture, done.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hurrah for EMI!

I'm really surprised that a major label dropped DRM, but good for EMI! I'm ready to go out and buy something (like The Verve or The Vines) just to help make the point. At full price too!

When the RIAA shut down Napster, I quit buying music that wasn't from an independent artist (like Cyril Lance at CD Baby) or used (from Phil at Back Door CDs). So there! I don't believe that the recording industry, built on electronics, was significantly harmed by electronic downloads. In fact, Janis Ian can back that up: she hasn't recorded since the 60s, she owns the copyright on her songs (rare!), and her sales go up every time she releases a song as a free MP3. There's no reason other than a song's free release for her sales to go up since she hasn't recorded in years! So the RIAA is just afraid of change. Well, change happens!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Thunderbird and Growl

I love the tags in Thunderbird 2.0, but I miss the Growl New Message Notification. That add-on really streamlined my workflow, keeping email in the background unless it's important.

So I went back to Neil's World on Growl and Thunderbird, and used that approach instead. The good news is that it works with Thunderbird 2.0 (although it isn't as simple as the one-step add-on). If you want tags and Growl, go the YAMB route.

Saturday, April 7, 2007


For years, I've said that I get a cold about once every five years. That seems like a pretty good record, so I'm not complaining. I would sometimes go to the doctor only to hear allergies, and I always thought it meant you look fine to me. Well, I was wrong. Last time I "caught a cold," I remember thinking Oh no, not again when it went to my throat. So I started searching the web: If there is no fever, if the mucous secretions are clear and if sneezes occur in rapid, multiple sequence, an allergy is almost certainly involved. OK, that describes "my typical cold" to a tee! I sneeze in threes, the nose runs clear, and I'm otherwise fine. (Here's another symptom list.)

So it's allergies, and I could have prevented most of the "colds" I've had! That's annoying. So this time I'm taking decongestants when I think the post-nasal drip wants to give me a sore throat. The problem is that chlorpheniramine makes my head stuffy, so I can't take it consistently, but it's the most effective. I tried montelukast (Singulair) but it's not as strong as my runny nose. I couldn't even tell that loratadine (Claritin) did anything! So I'm limping along, taking chlorpheniramine when I can't stand it anymore. My desperate plan, if the nose gets worse, is to try promethazine (Phenergan), but I really don't like the warnings, and I can't believe a drug prescribed for morning sickness has that many warnings!

According to, the major irritants right now are oak, birch, and cedar / juniper. We don't have any of those in the yard, although we do have pollen bombs (those strands of pollen grains) everywhere. Apparently pine is copious, but not as allergenic. The ragweed hasn't kicked in yet, and I think I'll scour the yard before it flowers! At least this is a record pollen year with almost double the usual amount of pollen, and that probably explains why I average once every five years for these bad bouts.

So I've learned that my traditional three-sneezes-in-a-row with clear nasal drainage means allergies (and I never listened), and I haven't found the right decongestant yet to clear my nose without clogging my head.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


At least I know there's a reason why the pollen got to my nose this year. It started almost two weeks ago, I felt a fire in the back of my nose Friday morning. And I've been sniffling ever since, unfortunately. I'm trying to balance between a clear head and not having so much nasal drainage that I get a sore throat.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Bookmarklet to Download Video Clips

I ran across a site to Download YouTube & Google Video clips via bookmarklets, and the YouTube (only) bookmarklet worked like a charm for me! As you may remember, I think bookmarklets are super-convenient, and I prefer the shorter time to download, the privacy, and of course skipping an intermediate server (just adds unnecessary complexity, even if it is free). Shucks, even this post comes in thanks to a bookmarklet!