Archive | May, 2007

Notes from PySIG, 24-May-2007: Python logging and wxPython

Thirteen participants made it to the May meeting of the Python Special Interest Group of the Greater New Hampshire Linux User Group, held as usual on the fourth Thursday of the month at 7 PM at the Amoskeag Business Incubator, Manchester, NH.

It was a busy meeting. A quick round of introductions and announcements was followed by several terrific presentations.

Kent Johnson entertained us with Kent’s Korner, this month featuring the logging module. Simple logging can be implemented in two lines of code and customized with a third, but the module can be expanded almost infinitely to include multiple handlers arranged in a hierarchical fashion with different levels of filtering and multiple output. As usual, Kent did a fine job of showing simple examples and clearly building on them.

Bill Sconce decided to defer his second attempt at describing a hierarchy of data types, a discussion sure to rouse an interesting and educational debate amongst the participants. Stay tuned for a future meeting…

Ric Werme made the main presentation on wxPython. He brought the most extensive handouts we’ve had today, with an engaging backstory of his several-decades tinkering with graphing and the Petals of the Rose patterns. The demo was arresting, and source code can be downloaded here and here. Ric walked us through the wxPython wrapper, explaining the various widgets used and spoke well of the new wxPython book.

Thanks to Ric and Kent for their presentations, to Bill Sconce and Alex Hewitt for arranging the meeting and facilities, to the Amoskeag Business Incubator for their hospitality and to all who attended for their participation!

Sun declares OpenID Patent Covenant

Over at his ongoing blog, Tim Bray blogs about Sun’s recent oOpenID Patent Covenant

Sun just announced a Patent Non-assert Covenant on OpenID; chapter and verse and FAQ here. Simon Phipps has a useful write-up. But what really impresses me is the text of the covenant itself; four short paragraphs of simple, almost jargon-free, English. Why can’t we do this more often?

Indeed. Since we have to live with (or work around) software patents in the U.S. and Australia (but hopefully not Europe!) until there’s a major regime change and overhaul of the broken patent system, clear declarations like this covenant need to be required of contributors to “open” standards: you should not be able to get a stamp of approval from a standards body on a protocol or format or process that you can then turn around and attack people for using.

MonadLUG notes, 10-May-2007, dd and Seth Cohn, Drupal

Ten attendees made it to the May meeting of the Monadnock Valley Linux User Group, held as usual on the second Thursday of the month at the School Administrative Unit #1 offices, Hancock Road, Peterborough.

Bill Freeman presented his thoughts on the Man Page of the Month: dd. Bill provided two pages of notes. Quite the discussion followed obscure and useful things dd could do, such as preserve floppy drive images for posterity, copy music CDs to images for subsequent loopback mount and playing, copy and restore bootblock records and of course read and write tapes.

Seth Cohn was the featured speaker of the night and spoke on Drupal, the content management system. Seth has screenshots of a surprising number and variety of sites that are running on Drupal, presented a bit of Drupal history – seems it’s been around for a long time, and had a fairly stable history – and its current state, with fairly large and active communities of developers and implementors. He covered a bit of the architecture and philosophy of the modular design of Drupal and did the fairly painless install and initial configuration. 9 PM came too soon as there was lots more to see.

Thanks to Seth for presentation, to Bill for MPoM, to Charlie for organizing the meeting and to all for attending and participating.

WordPress 2.2 released

WordPress 2.2 has been released, and it looks like it’s got some pretty cool features:

On behalf of the entire WordPress team, I’m proud and excited to announce the immediate availability of version 2.2 “Getz” for download. This version includes a number of new features, most notably Widgets integration, and over two hundred bug fixes. It’s named in honor of tenor saxophonist Stan Getz.

It also looks like a big enough change not to be an overwrite-and-see-if-it-works update, but rather a carefully planned backup, parallel, switchover, test, test, test process. Look for the upgrade here in the coming weeks…

Notes from CentraLUG, 7-May-2007: Ben Scott on OpenWRT

Seven attendees got to enjoy the last CentraLUG meeting at the New Hampshire Technical Institute Library this academic year. The school will be closing on Friday, and summer hours will not accommodate CentraLUG. Stay tuned on an announcement of a summer location for June, July and August (September will have no meeting due to the Labor Day holiday).

Ben Scott was the featured presenter this evening, showing off the OpenWRT Linux distribution for embedded devices. The list of supported hardware [Updated the link — Ted] goes far beyond the initial LinkSys WRT-54G model to include products from dozens of other vendors. Many attendees brought their own routers for show-and-tell or backup. I had a v.1 WRT54G which I opened for folks to inspect. I also brought the compact (and alas, not yet flashable) WRT54GC. Bruce Dawson brought the WRTSL54GS, a Linux-flashable unit that includes a built-in USB connection. While Ben wrestled with the network and projector, we entertained ourselves well (and heckled Ben).

Ben had a well-prepared presentation, with schematics of the units, pictures of the circuit boards and some of hacks performed upon them, and a live demo of upgrading the unit from stock firmware to use the OpenWRT firmware and X-Wrt interface [3]. The OpenWRT includes a package manager and a large number of packages have been ported to the OpenWRT environment, ready for download. and installation.

Installation was uneventful – the Murphy gods must have been busy torturing the students in their finals week – and simple: select the “upload” option from the web interface and point to the OpenWrt image. Installation takes a short time and requires the router to be rebooted. Ben strongly advised clearing your browser cache, since the “same device” is going to be responding with different responses.

Ben gave us a quick tour of the OpenWRT interface and plunged right into installing X-Wrt. X-Wrt extends the interface and makes management far simpler, with some pretty incredible tools, like live SVG graphs showing actual network usage. Pretty impressive stuff.

Folks considering buying a new WRT54 will want to look for a “GL” unit where the “L” is Linux, the “GS” versions “Speedbooster” with more RAM or the “SL54GS” “Storage Link” that includes the USB connection also.

Bill also notes that it is possible to “brick” a unit. Ben says there are ways to de-brick them. Google ought to help, as would a post to GNHLUG.

Thanks to Ben for the great presentation, to Bill Sconce for providing the projector and notes, and to all for attending and participating.

MonadLUG, 10-May-2007: Seth Cohn presents Drupal

The monthly meeting of the Monadnock region Linux User Group takes place as usual on the second Thursday of the month at the SAU #1 offices in Peterborough. Details and directions here.

Seth Cohn will be presenting Drupal, I’m looking forward to it. The LUGs have been privileged to see a couple presentations on CMSes: Jonathan Linowes presented Xaraya, and Barrie North Joomla! It’s great that there are som many great choices!

Microsoft Patch Tuesday, May 2007

It’s the nineteeth week of the year, and Microsoft issues fixes #23 through #27, running a bit ahead of the pace from the last couple of years. And “Remote Code Execution” is obviously the goal of the bad guys. Here’s the list:

  1. MS07-023 – Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (934233)
  2. MS07-024 – Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word Could Allow Remote Code Execution (934232)
  3. MS07-025 – Vulnerability in Microsoft Office Could Allow Remote Code Execution (934873)
  4. MS07-026 – Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Could Allow Remote Code Execution (931832)
  5. MS07-027 – Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (931768)
  6. MS07-028 – Vulnerability in CAPICOM Could Allow Remote Code Execution (931906)
  7. MS07-029 – Vulnerability in RPC on Windows DNS Server Could Allow

Here’s the Microsoft summary, with links for more details. The Internet Storm Center at the SANS Institute is rating most of these as “Patch Now!” with few contraindications. As usual, make backups, and get patching!

OReilly Radar > Better Gmail

At O’Reilly Radar, Tim O’Reilly points to Paul Kedrosky pointing to Lifehacker’s Better Gmail. The FireFox extension looks like it brings some real power and extensibility to already powerful GMail platform. Tim notes:

A really interesting side note: as Better Gmail is a firefox extension, its not available for IE users. Its an interesting twist on the browser wars. In the old days, Microsoft and Netscape fought to lock in users with incompatible extensions. Here we see the same thing happening simply because that one platform is open and the other is not. The users themselves are evolving the browser.

I agree with Tim’s observation, but cringe at the term “users.” Many years ago I attended a session in Redmond where I heard two ‘Softies talking about the product they were shipping and referring to us as “users.” The product was Visual Studio. We’re not users, I thought, we’re developers! We’re producers. So, “users” aren’t evolving the browser. We need to get out of this “us – them” mentality. We are the users. We are the producers. We make the world we choose to live in, by action or inaction. There are no “users.” Only us.

Okay, enough ranting. GMail extensions look pretty cool. Check them out!

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.