Feb 022016
 

I use screen capture.  A lot.  I use it to capture reminders.  I use it to capture technical information that I might need later.  I use it to capture images of bills I have paid online…  You get the idea.  On more than one occasion, I’ve wanted to review an image I captured when I was away from my computer.  What a pain.  So I got thinking about how I could use iCloud document sharing to synchronize the images between devices.  The image files aren’t particularly large.  I use Dropbox for just about everything, so the 5GB of free Apple storage is more than enough.  I’m not terribly worried if Apple changes something with .mac, (I mean .me, I mean iCloud) and deletes all my shit… While I love their (older) computers, their cloud “services” seem to be getting worse and worse in the post Jobs era.

Back on topic, the process to accomplish this was fairly easy, but did require 3rd party software.

I first attempted to save the screen shots directly to the iCloud Documents folder (technically a folder called ‘screenshots’ that I had created there), but no dice.  So I figured I’d just have the screen captures saved in the ‘screenshots’ folder I created in the Pictures folder.  Then use something monit to watch the folder and call a shell script when it sees new files added.

So I got about 5 minutes into that and then remember that I had a copy of Hazel.  Mashing buttons in the shell demonstrates computer ninja skills.  But if you just want to get shit done in a hurry (or you don’t know shit), nothing better than a solid GUI to serve up that command line power.Hazel Rule

You can see the path info in the picture.  But just in case you’ve got those “progressive bifocals” it looks like this:

NOTE:  I added screenshots to keep the root folder clean.

I know, a GUI solution is totally cheating.  You could do it for free with monit….  Whatevs…  Here’s what it looks like on the phone:

Screenshots in iCloud

May 022015
 
roku

While I hate to admit it, sometimes the only way to get a few minutes of rest while away on a family vacation is to throw the kids in front of the tv for an hour or two.  Unfortunately, most of the tv shows I’m willing to let my kids watch aren’t typically available in the hotel room.

Luckily, most hotels have tv sets that have a free composite or HDMI port available.  This allows you to easily connect your own Roku, Apple tv or other streaming device and access your own programming.  The one SNAFU is that most hotel wi-fi networks require you to authenticate your access with a password, and there is no way to do that from your Roku.

Here’s a little trick to get you around that.  Assuming you’ve brought your laptop (for demonstration purposes, I’m using an Apple laptop), you can authenticate the Roku device using your laptop.  The first thing you’ll need to do is to get the MAC address of the Roku.  Luckily, it’s printed on the back in nice, easy to read lettering.  Here’s a picture of mine:

Roku

One you have the MAC address, you temporarily ‘spoof’ (think clone) this mac address onto the wireless network adapter of your computer.  On OSX 10.x, you do it in terminal like so:

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 7.38.09 PM

Once you’ve spoofed the MAC address, join the wireless network and authenticate from your laptop:

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 7.36.19 PM

Repeat the terminal command using the original MAC address to restore your original settings.

Now that the MAC address of the Roku has been authenticated with the hotel network and been issued a network address, you simply have to plug it into the tv, turn it on and then join the network from the settings page!  You now have access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Plex and anything else you already have on your Roku!  (And you have the kids occupied long enough to make a blog post!)

Nov 112014
 

Following many months of attempting to resolve an issue whereby incoming mail delivery was disrupted every 48 – 60 hours, I now have a functioning patch in place. Recently, I determined that the mail filter (amavis), was faulting during it’s cleanup cycle. Somehow it’s temp (working) folder is deleted, and then the process hangs. Consequently, postfix is unable to deliver mail since the filter has broken it’s connection. Thanks to monit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monit), I was able to configure a service that verifies the temp folder status every 60 seconds, and then creates the folder with the proper user/group permissions (_amavisd:_amavisd) if it does not exist. Mail delivery is restored immediately, as the amavis process is now able to execute.

IMG_3255
The mail server has now been error free for four
days and counting!

IMG_3256

No need to watch the server logs in real-time any longer!

The amavisd version included with Mountain Lion is 2.8.0. I believe that somewhere in the modified code is an error that is triggered by a yet to be identified instruction sequence or message handling. It is certainly due to some modification I made to the server config at some point. Either way, there should be no further ‘tweaking’ required. I am now able to direct my attention back to the pure Linux mail server that will enable end users to customize their own mail filtering options. Once the configuration is tested, I can begin importing the active directory accounts, and replicating dovecot folders.

Now that I won’t have to restart the mail service – the monit solution solves the problem gracefully. Existing IMAP connections to dovecot are not disrupted, so end users are not disconnected from their mailboxes. Not only will confidence be restored, but secondary issues such as incorrect passwords entered at the mail client’s prompting will improve end user satisfaction.