Dimdim a Free Live Meeting and Web Conference service – if only it worked

My wife is doing a course in online learning/teaching and has been told that they will hold their next session on a service called DimDim. As I had no idea what this was I had to check it out .

From the site:

Dimdim is a free web conferencing service where you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with absolutely no download required for attendees.

[From Dimdim: Free Live Meeting, Web Conference, Net Meeting, Online Meetings, Online Training, Desktop Sharing, Web Meeting, Free Web conferencing, eLearning, Presentation Software, Web x collaboration, Collaboration software]

But I have now tried to register using 2 different browsers, and I have to say that there is nothing worse than a web2.0 slow service.

For more than 30 minutes I have been trying this – and this is all I get


I am now giving up.


Update: 15 minutes later a email dropped into my inbox – the registration process had actually worked! I can now (or at least later on in the week) commence testing!

The Electronic cat flap is now live!

Ok – the electronic cat flap is now live!

The cats “were passed under the sensor until it beeps 3 time” – which means that we now have 2 very unimpressed cats, but on the other hand they seem to be able to operate the catflap, so hopefully no more strange animals getting access t the house.

In addition the night-sensor mode is activated, so we basically have a cat-curfew in our house. The only problem with this is that the catflap does not have any kind of mode-memory, so if power goes off for any reason it will loose any memory of the night-mode.

So far so good.

Aduino basics

I am in the process of buying a Arduino microcontroller kit – and while looking around for projects to get me started I came across this wonderful page with easy starter projects:

We’ll start our tutorial with three simple light circuits. In the first one, the LED is permanently on. In the second, the LED only lights up when a button is pressed and a circuit is completed. In the third example, we’ll replace the manual switch with an Arduino pin (set to output mode), so we can control the LED from our program. Here are three simple circuits to build on your breadboard:

[From protolab wiki / TutorialButtonsAndLeds]

What I am reading

It’s always a pleasure finding a good book by a new author – and this one is just one of these. … This book is one of many about vampires living among us (and other races btw) – but it is written in such a way that the characters actually come alive.

It’s always a pleasure finding a good book by a new author – and this one is just one of these.

“Magic Bites” (Ilona Andrews)

This book is one of many about vampires living among us (and other races btw) – but it is written in such a way that the characters actually come alive.

I enjoyed this book a lot – and it looks like the comments on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive as well.

Varnish – meet Lingon

I do use Varnish as a reverse proxy in front of our main webserver to speed up (and protect) the site(s). But the version I’m running (1.1.2) has a problem running on OsX 10.5 PPC, where it crashes every couple of days.

Normally it restarts itself, but occasionally it needs a manual restart – which is annoying.

So the solution is to use “launchd” – which can make sure a application is automatically restarted. But for most of us the setup is rather complex – that is until you find “Lingon”:

ingon is a graphical user interface for creating an editing launchd configuration files for Mac OS X Leopard 10.5. You can use launchd on a Mac to launch scripts and applications whenever something special happens or at a specific time or periodically. You get all launchd configuration files in a list to the left so you can easily see all and choose which one to edit.

[From Lingon by Peter Borg]

Works for me!

Trying to fix a Sky+ box

We are having a problem with our SKy+ box at the moment, and this time rebuilding the directory, or indeed doing a full reet of the box did not help.

The symptom is reasonably simple – the box does not respond very well to the remote control, even down to the red LED not responding to keys being pressed on the remote control. After a full restart it work for a little while, then goes bad again.

So as a last ditch effort before I try to put in a new harddisk I tried this:

if the problem persists disconnect the digibox from the mains power. Press and hold the ‘left’ and ‘right’ navigation buttons on the front of the digibox whilst you reconnect the mains power. Continue holding the buttons in for about 20 seconds, and when the ring of light on the front comes on, press the ‘select’ button on the front of the digibox (between the left and right buttons you were holding). The Sky+ recording logo lights will spin backwards and, according to the Sky engineer, this will “clear the hard drive”.
Once this is done, disconnect the digibox from the mains power again and this time press and hold the ‘back up’ button whilst you reconnect the mains power. Continue holding it for about 15 seconds until 3 lights on the front of the box come on and you get a full-screen message saying “Updating system software. Do not disconnect mains supply or satellite dish.”

[From Sky Plus system fault, how to fix faulty Sky+ without £65 callout fee @ PaulAnnett.co.uk]

And it worked better than the previous solutions I tried – so let’s see if it “stcks”.

MySQL Load Balancer

This is interesting – even though MySQL Proxy has been around for a while it is really interesting to see the functionality integrated into MySQL itself. Certainly makes scaling easier.

I’m not sure how I didn’t see this earlier, but it looks like MySQL 5.1 is coming with a load balancer for replicated servers. I’m absolutely pumped about this – we’ve got a few sites running with multiple db slaves and it’s so annoying having to check if they’re behind the master.

It looks like the load balancer will automatically pull slaves out if they fall behind, and route connections to the ones that are the most up to date. It is based on MySQL Proxy, which is currently in Alpha.

MySQL Load Balancer

[From MySQL Load Balancer]