Take a break or get hurt

February 7, 2008 2 comments

What do serious athletes, professional musicians and computer users have in common? They can all get hurt from doing the same motion again and again. Whether it’s holding and playing your instrument the same way, hitting the racket with a ball again and again, or typing at the keyboard, when you do the same motion again and again and again, you have a good chance of hurting yourself. The result is repetitive strain injury, RSI. If you think that you really need to finish this urgent job that you’re working on, and you’ll just ignore the pain, you’re making a big mistake. You might end up not being able to type for days and maybe weeks, and maybe even have surgery.

One way to mitigate RSI is to vary the motion. Try to switch keyboards, from a traditional flat keyboard to an ergonomic one and back every few days or few weeks. The change that I found most effective, though, is to use a program that reminds me to take a break from typing every so often.

Workrave to the rescue

Workrave is a free program that reminds you every so often to take a break. It has two types of breaks. A micro-pause of 30 seconds or so every 10 minutes

and a rest-break of 3-5 minutes every hour or so. During the first part of the rest-break, it walks you through some exercises.

Rest break

I used to do these, but don’t lately.

At some point, I reduced the frequency of the breaks, and the pains came back. I reduced them and things are better. You can configure the duration and frequency of all the breaks.

All in all this is a great program that does what it’s supposed to. Everything works as advertised.

Categories: technical Tags: ,

Replacing Vmware with Virtualbox

February 1, 2008 Leave a comment

It’s still a Windows world. There’s no way to escape it. While I, for the most part, love running Linux rather than Windows on my laptop, there are still many things that I need Windows for. For one thing, I often need to see what things look like on IE, and there are still some programs that require IE to run (some people are still stuck in the 20th century).

I’ve been running Vmware, which lets me run Windows in a virtual machine under Linux,  for a few years and have been mostly happy with it. I recently made the mistake though of clicking on the “there’s a new version available” that’s been nagging in the program for a while. I installed the latest version of Vmware only to be informed that I don’t have a license for the most recent version. Sneaky. Fine. So I looked around and sure enough, there’s now a free program, Virtualboxk, that does the same thing that Vmware does.

I downloaded and installed it,. It worked out of the box, but then for some reason I couldn’t get it to go back and forth using NAT between my network card and my wireless card. I  played around with the networking a bit more and now it works like a charm.  Great program, feels more solid and faster than Vmware. I happily send 30 Euros to the company.

Categories: Linux, tools Tags: ,

Playing with EC2

February 1, 2008 Leave a comment

I’m playing with EC2 a bit, and the firefox extension makes life a lot easier. I launched an Ubuntu AMI quite easily. One of the things that confused me was the whole issue of the key pairs and ssh.

Here’s the sequence.

  1. Generate a key pair in the “Key Pairs” tab. You’ll be prompted to put it in a file.
  2. Launch the AMI using this key-pair. Right click on the AMI, choose Launch ,a and from the option choose the key-pair from 1.
  3. SSH to the AMI using the public DNS address. In my case I did ssh -v -i ec2-keys/ubuntu1.pem root@ec2-72-44-44-15.z-2.compute-1.amazonaws.com where
    • ec2-keys/ubuntu1.pem is where I stored the private key
    • ec2-72-44-44-15.z-2.compute-1.amazonaws.com
Categories: technical, Uncategorized

Backup using duplicity to S3

January 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Most of what’s needed to backup a linux box to S3 is covered in


The good news:

  • Simple setup (see below)
  • Cheap backup
  • Encrypted backup. Even if someone manages to get to your data on s3, they still won’t be able to do anything with it.

Worked like a charm on my laptop, but I had many issues on my home server.

It took me quite a while to realize that the version of duplicity I had on ubuntu feisty doesn’t support s3 backup and I need to download the product from http://duplicity.nongnu.org/ rather than use the package.

The second issue is that I did the initial backup of the laptop at work where we have multiple T3s. At home I have a connection that’s 3M download 512K upload. That translates to 200M/hour 5Gig/Day backup, which means that the initial backup is going to be slow, and will slow down your connection to a crawl.

Also, duplicity doesn’t support a resume feature. So if your backup fails at some point, next time you run the script it’ll start from scratch and backup everything.

  #your pgp secret to encrypt your data
export PASSPHRASE=xxxxxxxxx

#S3 info
export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

echo "backing up /etc"
duplicity /etc s3+http://drormata-e1705-etc

#Notice how you can exclude certain things
echo "backing up /home"
duplicity ---exclude=/home/dror/.mozilla/firefox/54y9nzlg.default/Cache --exclude=/home/dror/tmp --exclude=/home/dror/.opera --exclude=/home/dror/.thumbnails --exclude=/home/dror/download --exclu
de=/home/dror/apps /home/dror s3+http://yourbucket
Categories: Linux Tags:

Bugmenot.com – login with these free web passwords to bypass compulsory registration

January 29, 2008 Leave a comment

On one hand, a nice way to avoid having to sign up with a site, on the other hand, these companies are offering a service, and the price you pay is offering to give them some of your info.

Bugmenot.com – login with these free web passwords to bypass compulsory registration

Categories: Uncategorized

Using gmail, Imap, Google Apps for Your domain

January 29, 2008 Leave a comment

As a die hard Unix/Linux user I have a real hard time using webmail. Gmail has some nice features, but even with it’s keyboard shortcuts, even with spidermonkey’s addon, there are still too many things you need the mouse for. I’m ten time more effective in mutt.
There are, however things that gmail is really good at. Probably the top two are spam filtering and searching.
So, I finally broke down when gmail started offering an imap interface and tried it out, and I’m happy to report that it works quite nicely.
Here’s my config.

set imap_user = ‘dror@zapatec.net’
set spoolfile =”imaps://imap.gmail.com:993/INBOX”
set folder =”imaps://imap.gmail.com:993″
set record=”imaps://imap.gmail.com/[Gmail]/Sent Mail”
#set postponed=”imaps://imap.gmail.com/[Gmail]/Drafts”]
set header_cache=”~/.mutt_header_cache”
set message_cachedir=”~/.mutt/msgcache/”
set imap_check_subscribed=”yes”
set imap_list_subscribed=”yes”
set imap_keepalive = 5
set use_domain = “yes”
set hostname = “zapatec.net”

The only issue I have is with doing searches in the headers in mutt. I can search “~C username” or “~s subject” but I can’t just do “user or subject” search since then it’ll start bringing in the bodies of all my messages.

Other than that, it works quite nicely.

Categories: technical