Archive for September, 2009

Launchpad Meetup

September 29th, 2009

Yesterday evening about this time I was stood in The Warick Pub in London, near Picadilly Circus, chatting to the great and the good from the Launchpad development team.

It was really good to get to meet some of the 30-strong team of Launchpad Developers that make my work with Xibo so much easier, and to get the opportunity to thank them personally. Of course I didn’t pass up the opportunity to mention the odd niggle I have with some aspects of the system, but the good news was that they’re all in the process of being addressed now. Result.

Many thanks to Matthew Revell for inviting us along, and to all the Launchpad team for making me feel so welcome.

Adjusting Video Audio Volume

September 24th, 2009

We needed to increase the volume of a WMV video today. mencoder to the rescue. Here’s the secret sauce:

mencoder input.wmv -o output.avi -delay 0.1 -ovc copy -oac lavc -lavcopts acodec=wmav2 -af volume=12

-delay was added to fix the lip-sync
-af volume=12 was as loud as I could get it to go without distorting

Then I discovered that the resulting file won’t play on a stock Windows Media Player. Hmm. ffmpeg to the rescue this time:

ffmpeg -i input.wmv -b 2500k -vol 1000 -acodec wmav2 output.wmv

Linux P2V to KVM via tar and ssh

September 23rd, 2009

At work we have a kvm-based virtualisation solution.

We periodically convert real linux servers in to virtual machines, either for testing upgrades, backup purposes etc and I always have to stop and think how I do it, so here I’m documenting for myself how I do it. If it’s useful to you then so well and good.

  1. Create a new VM using virt-manager
  2. Manually edit the XML (/etc/libvirt/qemu/host.xml) to fix up the networking and change the network adapter to e1000
  3. Boot puppy linux inside the new VM. Choose xvesa x-server and manually configure eth0
  4. Partition the disk (usually /dev/hdb at this point) and format as required
  5. Mount the new partition (eg /mnt/hdb)
  6. From the new VM, run the following ssh command:
    ssh root@realserver “(cd / && tar -cvpf – –one-file-system –numeric-owner –exclude /some/files/to/exclude)” | (cd /mnt/hdb && tar xvf -)
  7. The whole machine will come over ssh. Note if you have lots of filesystems you’ll need to do them all manually – this will only take “/” over.
  8. Once the copy has completed, fix up /mnt/hdb/etc/fstab to reflect the new device names. /dev/hdb will become /dev/hda once you reboot minus the CDROM.
  9. Last job is to fix grub so it boots the machine correctly. Edit /mnt/hdb/boot/grub/menu.lst and modify the root device paths as required.
  10. grub
  11. find /boot/grub/stage1
  12. Remember the device name – example: (hd0,0)
  13. root (hd0,0)
  14. setup hd0
  15. Optionally edit /mnt/hdb/etc/network/interfaces to change the IP the box will come up on.
  16. Reboot the VM.

Netbook Logon App

September 22nd, 2009

At work we have two trolleys of Asus eeePC 904 netbooks running Windows XP home that are used for Opening Minds lessons. That basically consists of a bit of word processing, web surfing etc.

I desperately wanted to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix on them but unfortunately we couldn’t get the staff teaching Opening Minds to agree to use it, although they are using Open Office on them.

I really didn’t want to have them logging on to the (Samba) domain as it uses alot of wifi bandwidth, and often makes the whole process of getting started very slow.

What we’ve done is have a locked down student profile that logs on automatically, and then the AutoIT v3 script below is set to run automatically to map network drives. WPKG is running in the background to keep the software updated.

Here’s the AutoIT script. It’s basic, but it does the job. We compile it in to an exe for convenience. I’m releasing it under a Public Domain license – so you can take this, distribute it, modify it. Basically do whatever you want with it.



September 20th, 2009

I’ve been listening to Security Now for a year or so now – and I think the not-so-subliminal ads for Audible have finally rubbed off.

I’ve subscribed to and, perhaps predictably, chosen The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown as my first audio book. Plan is to listen to it while walking.

BSF Update

September 20th, 2009

I’m still here and I’ve not been gagged 🙂

Here’s an update on how things are progressing BSF wise.

Our readyness to deliver document is ready to be submitted to PfS for inclusion in the 2010 round of funding. We’re not “on the programme” yet beyond our initial wave 12 positioning.

The BSF meetings have continued, with a focus on ICT visioning and self-assessment such that when the time comes, we’re in a better position to set out the services each school currently provides, where that sits in the national picture and our own strategic plans to deliver “the vision” over a 5 year period.

This “sets the challenge” to poential ICT Managed Service providers to beat us on service delivery and strategic leadership.

More once the RTD document is public.

Belgian Grand Prix

September 1st, 2009

This weekend I’ve been over to Belgium to Spa Francorchamps to see the Formula One.

It’s my second trip to Spa – the last time was in 2004.

Here’s a couple of my best photos from the weekend: