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Interesting Stuff

Google Wave Invites

I have 10 Google Wave invites to give away. If anybody would like one, please leave a comment below or DM @mikemcmurray on Twitter. First in first served.

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Interesting Stuff Sys Admin

Enable WakeUp from PS2 Keyboard in Ubuntu 8.10

One of the annoying “missing features” I’ve struggled with under Ubuntu is that I was unable to wakeup the PC from suspend or hibernate with my keyboard. Of course, Windows just does it – tap the keyboard and the PC starts up again. I could press the power button on the front of the PC, but its down the side of the desk and not easily accessible.

I found an older post in the Ubuntu forums that had the fix for USB devices and it also works for PS2 with the simplest of changes. So follow these steps and you should be saving power and getting back to work faster.

Open a Terminal and type,

cat /proc/acpi/wakeup

Note the entries that come back and you should see a device called “PS2K” toward the top if you have a PS2 keyboard. For those with USB, it’ll be one of the USB items toward the bottom. The entry will probably also have “Disabled” on the same line, hence your problem.

To enable this entry, switch to a root session by typing,

sudo -s

and enter your password. Now type the following to update the acpi file and toggle “disabled” to “enabled”, (those with USB devices can try USB0, USB1, etc)

echo PS2K > /proc/acpi/wakeup

That should have now enabled your PS2 keyboard to wakeup your PC for this session. Give it a test by putting your machine to sleep and then tapping a key on your keyboard. Probably a good idea to save stuff first, just in case.

If you tried changing a USB device, it may take a few guesses until you find the KB. My mouse was USB0 and clicking any mouse button can also do the wakeup task.

To make this change permanant, you need to add that line to a script and run it when Ubuntu starts. So we create a file called wakeup.sh with the following contents,

#!/bin/bash
echo PS2K > /proc/acpi/wakeup

Save it and from a Terminal make it executable so it runs properly as a script and not just a text file,

chmod +x wakeup.sh

Now to add it to the startup area go back to your Terminal that’s running as root. We need to copy the file to the correct location and add it to the startup processes. You’ll need to run the cp command in the same folder as where you saved your wakeup.sh file.

cp wakeup.sh /etc/init.d/wakeup.sh
update-rc.d wakeup.sh defaults

Now when you reboot, the script will run and enable your PS2 keyboard in ACPI so you can wakeup your PC.

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Interesting Stuff

Print Processor Updates for Windows Queues

A while back I wrote about a few little tools from Microsoft that allowed an easy way to create remote print queues. One of the things I didn’t realise then was that another handy tool exists (in the Server 2003 Resource Kit) called setprinter.exe that opens up a few more options.

We use a non-standard print processor at work to insert barcodes on certain output from SAP. So to set all the printers on the print server or just one to use the new print processor, we just run,

setprinter myserver 2 pPrintProcessor="SAP Barcode"
setprinter myserverprinter01 2 pPrintProcessor="SAP Barcode"

Lots of other properties can also be changed using setprinter.exe, pretty much everything other than security permissions and for that you can use another tool in the RK, subinacl.exe. To view the properties of a queue and what you can change, just cycle through the property groups 0-9 (that’s the 2 in the above commands).

for %i in (0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9) do setprinter -show myserverprinter01 %i
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Code Interesting Stuff

A Closer Look at Wiki Authorship

Jeff Atwood takes an interesting look at the history of changes to wiki pages and the balance between opinion and fact. The larger wikis (e.g. Wikipedia) have a huge amount of data around page edits and Jeff’s article also highlights an IBM study on how the more popular Wikipedia content evolves over time.

There’s also a comment about one of my favourite subjects – reading too much into statistics. Apparently Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia co-founder) looked into who was responsible for most of the articles changes and found that 0.7% of users were responsible for over 50% of all edits. But an “edit” may be a spelling correction rather than adding content or altering the facts or meaning in an article. As it turns out, the data points to these hyper-active users doing just that – cleaning up after everyone else.

Kisimi uses a basic string comparison function called simple_text() to show the relative difference between two versions of a page. We could also use the Levenshtein function which gives the minimum changes to go from string A to sting B, but that doesn’t always make much sense for larger content changes. If someone sees that two versions are 96% the same then it’s obvious they’re much the same.

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Interesting Stuff

Think Txt Messages Are Cheap? Think Again

The NYTimes has an interesting article about the cost of txt messages that I’m sure most of us have suspected in the past.
Not only is it extremely cheap for a mobile provider to run a txt message service, the data uses a portion of the transmission that gets sent anyway.
A scientist at the University of Leicester recently published some calculations that show txt messaging is a number of times more expensive than sending data to the Hubble space telescope.
Anyone smell a price-fixing investigation?

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Interesting Stuff Sys Admin

Installing VMware Server 1.06 on Linux

Installing the free VMware Server is a common but slightly tricky process on some newer Linux systems. Having had to go through it again recently I thought I’d write some of it down. Of course if you are using Ubuntu 7.10 then the simple option is to enable the Canonical Partner repository and just use Synaptic to select and install VMware Server.

For the others in the audience that are installing on Ubuntu 8.04 or another Linux system that doesn’t have packages, you should have a working VMware Server install with web interface and a client console by the bottom of the page.

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Interesting Stuff

Measuring Your HelpDesk

Often one of the more difficult things in running a help desk is measuring performance. It’s right up there with trying to find talented staff, but often doesn’t become an issue until everything else is in place.

If you’re part of a reasonably sized company, no doubt your employee reviews contain some sort of performance measurement, so everyone gets judged and maybe even rewarded. In some parts of the business, it’s fairly easy to measure an employee’s work e.g. marketing could get rated on new customers and the sales team by how many extra widgets you sold this month.

As a team offering a service, rather than a product, to their customers, the help desk team often solely gets scored on the number of phone calls or tickets they receive or close. Pretty soon these measurements will create behaviours among your staff trying to increase their performance in these metrics. Team members will go for the high volumes of the easy fixes, or calls that can get handed on to 2nd or 3rd level areas, to pump up their stats.

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Interesting Stuff

You know Google has won when

Friends last Saturday night started talking about how they were using Google AdWords to help drive traffic to their old-school business websites. We’re talking a locksmith and a moving company here – not a web savvy SEO or Web 2.0 developer in site!

Discussion turned to how much they were each spending on their AdWords campaigns and both were on the low side, in fact the same amount, $30. Now that is a small amount but probably typical of those dipping their toes into web marketing for the first time. It would be interesting to see some figures from Google about what the average spend was compared to site rankings. The internet search and advertising giant didn’t get US$11 billion by ignoring their customers.

Some of the comments at the dinner table also echoed the feelings I have toward established media outlets, especialy those in the print business. The locksmith had run ads in large newspapers over the last few years but recently had been coming up dry on leads from their not inconsiderable spending.

As trade across the internet becomes more accepted and traditional business embraces the new advertising services the old media methods will struggle and die. No one wants to spend an hour searching through the classifieds when they can run a global search or visit an online auction site and find and purchase what they want within minutes.

Sellers can target a certain audience easily and then get a range of metrics on how many viewed their ad and then followed through. Further marketing can then be narrowed again to increase the quality of the investment. Well targeted ads benefit both sides, buyers see things they’re interested in and sellers and more likely to see a purchase.

So if you’ve been thinking about doing some business on the web, now is a good time to invest some time and maybe a little money. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Interesting Stuff

The New Media

Last night the Auckland region was rocked by three earthquakes which did little or no damage. They were the biggest quakes in close to 40 years in a normally stable area. All three hit after the evening TV news had aired so people were looking for news on what happened. Where did they turn to, why the Web of course.

Only a few years ago, a news event like this would have gone largely ignored by what passed as online news agencies. Last night however, the NZ Herald (large daily paper) had a story on their site within 15min and the local GeoNet site listing recent earthquakes was unavailable due to high traffic volumes.

By this morning interest in the story will have waned and the traditional paper and TV media will not be seeing that many more sales or viewers than normal. You can bet though that hits on web news sites last night went through the roof and those inconspicuous page ads started paying good money.

Those media agencies that have been slow on the uptake of what their audience wants and where they are now going for their information, need to move now before they get left behind for good.

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Interesting Stuff Sys Admin

The Cool Features of MS Class of 2007

I headed along to Microsoft’s latest “Business Value” presentation this morning on their latest products – Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007. The keynote was headed by Microsoft CFO and New Zealander Chris Liddell who, along with business journalist Rod Oram, spoke about the need for NZ companies to step out of old roles and processes, stay original and aim higher.

On show were the new abilities of messaging and enterprise communication that Office and Exchange will bring about. You’ll be able to update you calendar, clear your voice messages and respond to emails all from your mobile phone. For those in the office you can see when others are at their desks or their reasons for being away and Instant Message (IM) them with Office Communicator.

Communication blockers across business are also being worked on in the new products. With Outlook 2007 you can email a copy of your Calendar to any recipient while specifying what info they see and if it’s today’s items, this week’s or this month’s. If the two companies are joined by a Federation then you’ll also be able to use the IM and presence tools of Communicator.

Overall if you’re a Microsoft based medium to large sized business, the upgrade path for you is better and more feature packed than ever before. And honestly, this time, you might even use most of the new features rather than wondering how that guy down the hall makes the boss happy with his awesome PowerPoints.