Spyware, or, How I Hate Windows

(Security, because it’s spyware, but General Tech, because it’s not actually all that interesting, being spyware on Windows, but I figured I’d post a bit of my notes here.)
Linda’s mother asked me if I could have a look at her PC. It was giving her weird error messages when she tried to go into the Control Panel and such to remove software. She blamed it on Linda’s sister, who’d been using LimeWire on the machine, but I figured it could have been anything, so I agreed to have a look. (There’s some history between us regarding fixing computers, and I generally loathe looking at family PCs anyway, but I figured what the hell, I’d never seen that particular error message before.) So, mostly last night and a bit today, I had a look.

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iPod syncing

Since our RT system is currently down and I’m not actually sure what I’m supposed to be doing right now, I figured I would take the opportunity to experiment.
I had a full iTunes library on my PC here at work, and was syncing my ipod from it. The problem is, I don’t want to take any time at work (or stay later than usual) to do miscellaneous maintenance on my library, so it’s falling a bit into disrepair. I got a bigger hard disk for my old iMac at home (hopefully to be soonish replaced with a spiff new iMac) so I decided to experiment. I borrowed a USB enclosure and a fast PATA disk, and rsynced /Users/mpatters/Music to it from my work G5 (executor). Then I took it home, and rsynced it to the iMac (reaper). I plugged my iPod in at home, and iTunes figured it could manage it no problem – didn’t even warn me that it was being managed by another machine and did I want to switch it – and It Just Worked, hurray. I listened to and deleted some podcasts, just ducky.
So I brought my iPod back to work and plugged it into executor. It promptly copied all the podcasts back. So I figured I’d try to do in iTunes 7 what used to be called “update manually” in iTunes 6.
I now have an empty iPod. sigh.
Well, I can always re-sync it from reaper, but it’s going to be a boring walk home.
There must be some way to do this – I like autoupdating the ipod from iTunes, so I’d like to keep the connection between it and reaper, but I also like listening to music at work. Perhaps the thing to do is to mount the iPod as a hard disk, then tell iTunes on executor that the music library lives at /Volumes/myipod – that worked once when I tried it with a Powerbook, anyway. Then I can free up a bunch of disk space on my work machine, but I’ll also need to either remember to always haul my iPod USB cable around, or else purchase a second one.
.. Update: I guess I didn’t see the manual sync option before, but it’ll have to be Monday before I give it another try.

Frustration with hardware

I’ve spent about 15 or so hours the last week setting up vmware server *just right* so that I could experiment with clustering software with the minimum amount of work per reconfigure.
I’ve documented almost all of it, but I hadn’t gotten ’round to backing up the vmware configs or filesystems yet.
My SSH session to the head node virtual machine died just now. Logging in to the host machine, I found out why:
clusterhead01:~> sudo tcsh
clusterhead01:~# /etc/init.d/vmware start
/etc/init.d/vmware: Input/output error.
clusterhead01:~# df -h
/bin/df: Input/output error.
clusterhead01:~# dmesg
/bin/dmesg: Input/output error.
So I figured I’d shut it down:
clusterhead01:~# halt -p
/sbin/halt: Input/output error.
Well, fortunately, as my co-workers can no doubt attest, I’m religious about updating RTs, so at least I’ve got my thought process as I reasoned out how to do the last few hours of work.
But I hate redoing work. With a passion. Looks like I’m going to get to. The other disk in this system died as I was installing it. This system is one of about half a dozen that were purchased all at the same time, and every single hard drive (Western Digital 160gb) has been replaced at least once. I should have taken the hint.
And why, yes, it is 11 on a Friday night, and I’m doing this stuff. So what? I had a few beer earlier, and I got bored.

Upgrading Ubuntu 5.10 Breezy Badger to 6.06 Dapper Drake

A bunch of people found this weblog looking for Ubuntu hangs in PCMCIA CS (Card Services) whilst upgrading from 5.10 to 6.06. In case it’s not clear from my previous post, the problem appears to be related to using a 686-smp (and probably k7-smp) kernel on certain classes of hardware. I’ve seen it myself on the Asus P5LD2 motherboard (mine’s a rev 1.02 VM model). Symptoms are hangs on dist-upgrades or upgrades done using the update manager. It seems to trigger a CPU-intensive loop of some sort on PCMCIA, and for me, it hangs altogether starting ACPI services. (Why PCMCIA is appropriate on desktop class hardware, I’ve no idea. Perhaps somebody can illuminate me.) This bug is reported in Ubuntu’s launchpad as bug 37430.
To my knowledge, despite the “Fix Released” moniker, this still occurs – I tried it yesterday, post-release.
The workaround is to boot a -386 kernel first. The fix, if your pooch has already been screwed by this, is described in the bug report. You’ll need a boot / rescue CD and a little knowledge of dpkg.