Catch up...

So, if there is anyone out there who half regularly checks my blog, then you would have seen some retrospective posts going up :P And you would have also noticed that I have not written anything for almost two months! Well, I have been quite busy. After returning from Ireland, Faye and myself travelled back to Carmarthen and off to my home of Melksham. In Melksham I spent a couple of weeks jobless, but spent it well learning Objective-C and Cocoa, whilst Faye sewed sequins on clothes for £6 an hour… We went down to Camberley (Surrey) a couple of times to look for a house. We found a loverly house just outside town. A week or so went and I ran around like a headless chicken trying to sort things out, whilst trying to get my first Mac app complete.

After a couple of weeks in Melksham me and Faye travelled to Camberley to move into the house. We arrived on Tuesday 1st July, we spent the next couple of days setting things up, we spent loads at Tesco and went to Ikea for a few things. A good few hundred pounds later, the house was ready for the other house mates. Tom moved in on Thursday and Steve moved in on Saturday, we started work on the Monday. From here on in, everything written in my Sun blogs starts… The weekend after the first week I went back home while Faye went to Aberystwyth to photograph a friends wedding. At home I watched my brother’s band ‘Switchback’ play at the party in the park. Last weekend I spent a frustrating time in the local Asda, people seem to be so inconsiderate and ignorant, standing in the middle of isles, conversing with people leaving no space. The staff were rubbish too, how many 16 year olds does it take to refill the banana stand? About five it would seem :S

On Monday, Faye’s brother told her that she had an interview back home, so Tuesday evening she left for Carmarthen. The rest of the week has gone past, last night (Friday) I went to Tesco, out or boredom and the need of food. Today I have spent cleaning the house, the bathroom was a mess…The while toilet a shade of dark grey, yuk. I took all our recycling down to the recycling centre the chilled with three nice cool beers…

Now I shall leave you, thanks for wasting a few minutes of your life reading this blog!

Sun - Week Three

This last week I have been on yet another training course! This week is was to look at the SunFire midrange servers, a.k.a. The Serengeti range The serengetis are the 3800, 4800 and the 6800, with a couple or variations.

We looked at how to administer them and service them basically.

Icon transparency in OS X

I found out how you make icons transparent! Make them a tiff image! Simple as!

EDIT: I will update this with a walkthrough someday…

Our House in Camberley

This is our house! I have toured the house with me camera and added some commentary to make explain some of the more subtle details….

Sun - Week Two

This last week I have been learning about Solaris administration (at an intermediate level ;) ). We first learnt about the directory structure, including things like /usr doesn’t satnd for ‘user’ it’s ‘UNIX System Resources’ and how different root level folders were usually mounted via other partitions. We then looked into looking at disks and partitions/slices, followed by the UFS filesystem and how to mount/unmount partitions/slices. We looked into the Solaris OS too, about installation, package admin and patches, then moved onto OBP and GRUB. We also looked at administrating users and processes, finishing up with backing up systems and restoring them, it was the first time I had seen a data tape!

Whilst attending the course, Steve and myself decided it would be fun to take control of our colleague, Tom’s, computer, we messed around for a bit, then he decided to lock down and not grant root access to remote hosts :(

Sun - Week One

After the weeks in Ireland and sitting around at home, I have finally arrived in Surrey and completed my first week at Sun Microsystems. It’s been a busy and hectic week, with lots of TOI’s (transfers of information), but I am happy with it, I have learnt a lot about the tools I’m going to use over the next year, and looked at some of the machines I’ll be using too. Here’s a quick summary of the week:

Monday We were welcomed into the company by Paul Humphreys first thing in the morning, he told us the do’s and don’ts, company structure, among other things. Later in the afternoon Paul gave us the H&S talk about working in the lab, things like putting the feet out so server cabinets don’t go flying and how to tidy cables away, you know, the mundane yet vitally necessary details. In essence, keep it tidy, don’t be stupid, the usual common sense stuff.

Tuesday David Cole (DC), gave us the talk on JLT (Java Lab Tool) first thing in the morning. JLT is a program that has a database of all the kit in our lab, as well as others. It enables you to book systems and to attach PCI cards and the like to servers etc. It is an important tool to keep track of where all the equipment is and who might be using it. The afternoon saw us being told about Console by Michael Clark. It’s basically a telnet in a wrapper. It allows us to gain access to a servers serial port and see exactly what is going on! It’s a nifty tool, and a jolly shame it’s not implemented as default in Solaris!

Wednesday Liam McBrian (see blog1 and blog2) told us about js_config, the configuration tool for jump starting machines. A handy tool indeed. The next few hours saw the bookings out of many systems in the lab and a mixture of Solaris versions being installed onto each. After lunch, David Wilkinson (DW), talked to us about power. He told us about RPower, the tool for ‘pulling the plug’ on various pieces of kit. Only some devices have these contraptions, and not many that I chose to have a shot at did. More investigating me thinks…

Thursday This morning we learnt about the production servers and the lab networking, James Legg gave us talk. He talked about a great many things that we didn’t know, presuming that we did, then went back and filled in the gaps :P The network is split up in several ways, which I can’t remember and will be bugging him when I need to know again (watch out James!) . The production cage (or the production cave as I always say), holds the servers that run the campus, servers that run the SunRays, the backend database for for JLT and js_config, among others.

Friday Today went quite slowly, going down to the lab to do the odd job here and there. Next week we are on training, oh what fun!


Day One

We got up early and did last minute things then left at about 11:15. We travelled up to Holyhead. We found that the online booking form had got out times wrong! We were booked to leave from Dublin, and get to Holyhead…Not what we wanted. The ferry place switched the times for today and Friday for us and we had a three hour wait. Things weren’t going to plan, but this just spelled out: Adventure!

As we waited for the ferry, I indulged myself with asking lots of half annoying questions, to satisfy my boredom and curiosity. We checked in at 16:30, and boarded the ferry, another chance to ask lots of questions! Then after a short wait, we were off! Skimming along the Irish sea! We walked around the deck, went around the outside deck, and around the duty-free shop, then found we had nowhere else to sit… After finding a new table, we enjoyed the magic show and I learnt some Objective-C.

We came off of the Ferry and onto a bus, this took us to the Dublin bus station. It was a short walk to our hostel. When we arrived we were shown to our room, a small, brightly coloured room with two bunk beds. We made ourselves at home, then went out for a walk. While walking around I took great pleasure in taking lots of pictures…We went in The Temple Bar, where I had my first Irish pint of Guinness, it didn’t taste hugely different…

We found dinner in Burger King, then headed for home. Once we got back to the hostel, we got ready for bed and laid our heads on pillows at about 23:30.

Day Two

An early start with breakfast at 9:30, we were out and on the bus for around 10:30, touring the sites of Dublin. I took lots of photos of bits and bobs. Then we arrived at the Guinness storehouse.

The Guinness factory is a marvellous place, €10 to get in for students. In days of yesteryear, you would receive a pebble, but today you get a little admission slip… We made our way around the storehouse, from bottom to top, seeing how they pick the ingredients, and how they mix them to make Guinness. There was some history on the founder and on the advertising too. At the top of the storehouse, is Gravity Bar, where you may trade in your slip for a free pint of Guinness!

Next we went to an asian exhibition which was good.

After this we went to the Jameson distillery. We had a guided tour with a free shot of Jameson’s at the end. Faye and myself had previously been chosen as tasters, at the end of the tour, us and four others were sat in front of the rest of the group with several different whiskeys in front of us…Three Irish whiskeys, one Scotch, and one American bourbon. We tasted them all and selected our favourites, then we were given a certificate for our hard work :P

After this, we headed home for films and food.

Day Three

Today was culture day! We woke up early and walked around town finding cultural places that were free. We were disheartened that we had to pay for all the churches, but we found lots of other things to do.

We got home early with some chips and watched Die Hard I & II, after that we went out to the pub across the road from us, which was nice and had live music, but one of the barmen didn’t seem to like us. A trip back home and a couple of episodes of Black Books and we were all asleep.

Day Four

After a late start we went to meet Faye at St Steven’s Green, she had been to an art gallery. We wandered around the shops for a bit, where I found a lovely green, leather coat; I was very tempted, but at €30, I thought I might come back later… We carried on shopping, finding some gift shops where I bought a Guinness Toucan figure and some other stuff, then we made our way back to the hostel.

After an hour or so, me and Faye wandered out to have another look at the jacket. After finding it again, I decided I didn’t like it as much as I though I did. Saving myself €30, I bought a Starbucks coffee and enjoyed a quiet sit down. We wombled back to the hostel, popping in the odd shop here and there. When we got back in, we sat and watched Die Hard III, then went our for some drink.

We went to the first pub which looked like it was hosting OAPs night, it was good, €4.50 for a pint of Guinness, there was also a Birthday going on and we were offered cake! The second pub was better still, Guinness for €4.40! Faye’s pint was €3.70, which she was happy with as she had previous paid €5 for lager!

We got home and enjoyed a couple of episodes of Black Books before falling asleep…

Day Five

On the fifth day, we got up and cleaned up the room, had some breakfast and went to wait for the bus. An hour or so later, we were on the bus to the ferry port. At the ferry port we waited to check in then waited to board the ferry. A couple of hours on the ferry and we were back off to Aberystwyth. The adventure had ended!

Application icons...

Did you know that you can grab the icons for applications, and then save them as a GIF, a JPEG, PNG or even a PDF?

If you go to the Applications folder and select the application you want, right (ctrl)click and press “Show package contents

From there, click through any folders until you find a directory called “Resources” In that folder you should find a file called “app.icn” or something similar.

If you double click on the file, it will open in, this will reveal several, scaled versions of the image, which you can then File > Save as… to save as you preferred format! Click HERE for a PNG version of the icon.

Also, if the application is on the Dock, to quickly find it, command-click it and you will get a Finder window in the Applications folder, with the said application highlighted! Pretty nifty!

Thanks to the team at for their browser, the icon used in this blog post is that of the Camino browser. Also, thanks to Apple for their Mail application!

Installing GCC on OpenSolaris

*NEW* Click here for command line instructions, plus how to install gmake and subversion!

Are you using the new OpenSolaris, released May 2008?

If you have tried to ./configure any sources, you will find that you can’t, because the gcc isn’t in your PATH. To get gcc on your PATH, do the following:

  • System > Administration > Package Manager
  • Search all packages for gcc
  • Install SUNWgcc
  • Once installed, open Terminal (right click on desktop)
  • Use: export PATH=$PATH:/usr/sfw/bin
  • Now everything should be fine!

Fixing a Macbook power transformer

Just over a week agao I found that my Macbook wasn’t charging, but the charger was plugged in and on. I inspected the cable and found that it had melted just outside of the transformer!

I temporarily fixed it with some blue insulation tape, but today, it failed all together :(

I have already ordered one off of eBay, ordered on Tuesday and dispatched the following day. Should hopefully be here anytime soon.

In the mean time, I have fixed the transformer :D A fair bodge job, but it seems to work now. Prior to the work, I spent about an hour trawling the internet for a how-to, couldn’t find one, so here’s my own.

My burnt area was right up close to the transformer, so I needed to get in to sort out this problem. First, I cut the wire close to the transformer, so the magsafe adaptor is connected to the wire and burnt/damaged wire. I then set about forcing off the little clips the pop out enabling you to wrap up the cable. I couldn’t find a way of preserving these, so they were snapped off. Also, snap out the little metal clip which makes them springy.

After this, I needed to break into the casing. This is hard as it seems to be one, moulded unit. So I forced the rubbery flex protector where the little stub of cable clinged and managed to fish out the rubber material. I then had several holes into the case. To get the case open ‘simply’ take a screw driver and a hammer (that can’t be good?), then chisel away at the plastic in the gap. After about two hours, you should have chipped through the casing. Well done! You will hear cracking as you chip away. Don’t be worried!

With the case off, you will see the little transformer, wrapped in copper, guessing this is to dissipate the heat. You can carefully unwrap the copper plates, and slide out the inner board. With the top exposed, you can nip away at the white and black wires just at the base of the last of the rubbery flex protector.

White is the core, black is the shield, terms may be wrong, but essentially, the white wire will be connected to the innermost set of cables, and the the black wire will be connected to the outer cables.

Now, some of my crap soldering. I soldered the core first, then the shield. I wrapped some insulation tape around the core so that the connections didn’t touch.

Wrap the copper casing back around the board, I taped it down with some more insulating tape. Carefully putting everything back into the case, I then put loads of insulating tape around the case to keep it all together!