LDAP for authentication back end

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

For a long time now I’ve been wanting to setup an LDAP back end for various Hidayah Online Network resources, especially the Columbus Dawah project.  This has become particularly pressing as the Columbus Dawah website has three primary public services – the blog, the forums, the school.  Additionally, in the future I want to roll out webmail (publicly) for volunteers & administrators within the project.  The problem with running these disparate services is that they all have their own authentication built-in, which means someone needs to register on each site independently to access any services that require one to be logged-in.  Therefore, a system that would unify user authentication for all services (i.e., LDAP) would save a lot of hassle for both the users and myself.

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Concatenating compressed files

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I have my new server (aalimraan.hidayahonline.net – the one hosting Audio Islam) setup to log web accesses each day to its own file which is then bzip2-compressed.  This is convenient for a variety of reasons.

  • Firstly, I can easily access statistics for each day by processing the appropriate file.
  • B, I can see the relative activity on each day at a glance by seeing the size of the file, keeping in mind it’s only a rough estimate since compression can skew the results (e.g., many requests for the same, exact URL may compress much more than fewer, disparate URL requests, resulting in a smaller file and a seemingly less active day)
  • 3, by being compressed text files, they take up very, very little space.

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Hunspell & enchant dictionary/spell-checking file locations

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, while waiting for an answer an #fedora for the question of where the custom spellcheck files for hunspell, the unified spellchecking engine for Fedora 9 and upwards, reside, I discovered that they are stored in .config/enchant, which isn’t very intuitive, but makes sense after discovering that enchant is related to the Fedora hunspell integration.  Click to see the link that lead to this discovery.

Unmatched search folder in Evolution

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I’ve (finally!) installed Fedora 10 on my laptop, but it’s not been without its bumps.  I cannot blame this on Fedora 10 nor the anything else related to the release.  But, in the end, I don’t have a DVD to install from, only the LiveCD (which I booted from my SD card reader), and that left me without a lot of packages and also without Ext4!  And now, after having copied my Evolution profile directory over, I discovered that the new version does (2.24.1) does not supported the “unmatched” search folder feature which I had come to rely on in recent weeks.  This is a real bummer as it all but nullifies the advantage of using search folders (for me, at least) in Evolution.  Alhamdulillaah, at least there’s a bug report open with one developer sympathizing.  However, a fix for it may not be forthcoming until the next release.

I think the time has come to take a look at Thunderbird again…

Fedora 10 released

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, Fedora 10 has been releasedTorrents are available.  I have all of my servers seeding now (including the newest one).  Read up on the new features to find out what’s new.

Well, what are you waiting for?  Just go download it already!

If you don’t want to use the torrent (although you should), then you can also download both the x86-64 build as well as the i386 one from my new server.  My server should be able to deliver the files as fast as you can grab ’em, in shaaʾ Allaah.  Let’s find out.  😉

(Famous last words, eh?)

rTorrent let me down :(

For seeding the Fedora 10 release, I am using rTorrent on albaqarah & aalimraan (my two fastest servers), but I had to fall back to using the standard bittorrent client on alfaatihah because rTorrent isn’t available for its platform (RHEL3) – at least, not through yum nor up2date.  rTorrent is great, in general, but it really let me down when I was trying to seed on aalimraan, because it kept crashing.

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Blog almost certainly 100% compliant now

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, after loading up all blog-post pages (i.e., going to the bottom of each page and clicking for the next page), I’ve fixed all old posts that had HTML errors (according to the HTML Validator Firefox plugin).

This actually is a relief for me because amongst the major reasons I enjoy using WordPress is the work the developers put into it to make it a clean & standards-compliant application.  I’ve avoided themes that are not.  So, alhamdulillaah, it seems that all the posts are fixed.  I haven’t bothered with the pages that I’ve created, though, because I’m likely going to redo those shortly anyway, in shaaʾ Allaah.

Note:  This refers to all pages that list multiple posts.  Apparently there is an error, possibly in the template that I am using, when viewing individual posts or pages.  *sigh*  More work ahead for me, but this is, at least, progress, alhamdulillaah.

That is all.

New server for Audio Islam

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, following a recommendation from a close friend, I decided to start leasing a server from 10TB.com for Audio Islam.  As the name implies, they are big on bandwidth, which is exactly what Audio Islam needs.  Needless to say, I’m thrilled at having a new beefy server to play with and to meet the current & future needs of this food of the Islamic audio-consuming masses.  And the best part is they installed Fedora for me!  How awesome is that!

Read on for the specs & details on the transition.

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Blogging with BloGTK

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

So now I’m trying with BloGTK.

Review points:

  • Good
    • Has a GUI for text alignment
    • Supports category selection for post (but see below)
  • Not so good
    • Does not support WordPress natively
    • Does not support multiple categories per post
    • No HTML highlighting in posts
    • No inline spell-checking

So, between Drivel & BloGTK, Drivel edges out to the first, but it is still far from being a complete solution. Does anyone else have suggestions for free software solutions to desktop clients for blogging software, specifically WordPress? Thanks!

Note: In both cases (Drivel & BloGTK) I had to do some HTML clean-up inside of WordPress.  I also accidentally selected “Astronomy” as my category for the post with BloGTK – I actually didn’t selected any category, and that is the first one in the list.  I’ll take the blame for that.

Trying out drivel

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I’m trying out Drivel, which is a blogging client that comes with Fedora. Due to the recent lack of updates to my blog while I’ve been abroad, I’ve realized that I need an easier way to get some of the quicker updates posted more easily. So, we’ll try out some of these desktop clients for WordPress and see how they fair.

Here’s an impromptu review:

  • Good
    • Simple interface
    • Highlights HTML cleanly (like gedit)
    • Allows selection of category (but see limitation below
    • Integrated spell-checking
  • Not so good
    • Does not have many GUI options for formatting (e.g., no alignment tools)
    • Only allows selection of one category
    • Cannot upload files
    • No native support for WordPress

Naïve integer primality calculator in PHP

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, while reading about integers and, subsequently, prime numbers last night, I decided the time had come for me to write a primality calculator in PHP.  The test I use in my implementation is about as a naïve as one can possible get, but it was fun, nonetheless.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that there already exists a primality calculator for *nix-based systems – primes.  It comes with the bsd-games package for Fedora.  I assume the same is true for other distributions.  Mine isn’t quite as fast yet…but it does accept, optionally, one or two arguments. If there are two arguments, then it will calculate all primes starting from the first going until the second. If there is only one argument, it will calculate from PRIME_START (defined to be 2) through to the largest integer PHP can handle on your platform (usually the maximum value of a signed int on your machine).

There are loads of potential optimizations that can be performed, and this was just something written on a whim as a proof of concept. It seems to be accurate, however. The code, released under the GNU GPL v. 3.0, can be found below.
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Time Lapse Barrage

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I’ve been able to take an enormous amount of pictures during my stay here in Malaysia until now.  And while the actual yield of shots with any value may be low, the sheer volume of photos means that I have plenty I would like to share.

The sheer amount of work to upload these and present them in anything close to an appealing way through WordPress has made me decide that I am going to seek an alternative method for disseminating the videos.  I am hoping I can leverage my Gallery installation, in shaaʾ Allaah, but it’s support for alternative media types has not impressed me to date.  And don’t even dare suggest that I use a Flash-based solution…

Read on for the feature presentation(s)!  As usual, make sure to get a copy of the free-and-open-source VLC player if you don’t have it or another media player that can play Ogg Theora videos.
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ffmpeg from svn

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I have really been engrossed in using ffmpeg, one of the most amazing a/v command-line tools out there, for my various personal video projects.  However, recently I was experiencing a recurring bug where I could not work with some specific codecs when either the input or the output file was on a particular drive (!).  The drive in question happened to have only one FAT32 partition, so I suspect it may have had something to do with it, as using another drive for both input & output would generally work flawlessly.  The particular action I was trying to perform was to encode a sequence of rather large JPEG files (3072×2304) into a single video file using the outstanding (but still somewhat experimental and/or unstable) FFV1 lossless codec.

So, I visited the ffmpeg website and looked at some of their bugs, but didn’t see anything related to this.  Then, after seeing some of their pre-bug report checklist, I decided to check the version of ffmpeg I had on the system, and found it to be from March.  So, I pulled-down a fresh copy of their trunk via subversion and ran configure & make (I did not run make install).  Running the resulting ffmpeg binary from this compile run worked perfectly, alhamdulillaah.

The lesson is, if you’re running into a bug with either ffmpeg or any other package, then give a shot at running the latest code, if available.  It may seem like common sense, but I had underestimated just how easy it would be.  Surely, other packages may not work as simply, but it really was a piece of cake in this case.  Now I guess I need to learn how to package RPMs so I can help out the Livna project to get this latest code into their repository, which I also understand is not simple task, as many other projects rely on ffmpeg…

Time-lapse photography with CHDK

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

As I’ve already alluded to in a previous post, I’ve been using the CHDK firmware supplement with my Canon PowerShot A550, which on it’s own is an outstanding camera, alhamdulillaah. This firmware add-on, though, really takes the cake!

One of the features made possible by CHDK is the ability to run scripts which take the enabled features of your camera and do interesting things with them. One such script enables one to take a sequence of images of a fixed interval over a period of time – i.e., time-lapse photography! So, over the past two days, I’ve gone-ahead and played with this feature a bit by just collecting images from my office window while I diligently “worked”.

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