2008-06-20 14:23

Adding MSN notifications to Argus

I am a user of Argus as a monitoring software. Since it's very flexible and easy to extend, I wanted to add MSN alerts, the same way I had added SMS alerts a while ago. It was easier than I thought!

  1. Install msnlib

  2. Install the example msnbot, modified so do_work is like this:

    def do_work():
       Here you do your stuff and send messages using m.sendmsg()
       This is the only place your code lives
       # wait a bit for everything to settle down (sync taking efect
       # basically)
       for d in sys.argv[3].split('+'):
               print m.sendmsg(d,msg)
       # give time to send the messages
       # and then quit
  3. Define a custom notification in argus like this:

    Method "msn" {
       command: /usr/local/bin/msnbot [email protected] mypass %R >/tmp/XXX 2>&1
       send: %M\n
  4. Wherever you want MSN notifications, add this (on notify or escalate directives, using as many guys MSN addresses as you need):

    msn:[email protected][email protected]

That's it.

2008-06-16 22:27

Kid, wanna try a WM?

Reading a post on planetkde, I saw an apparently out-of-nowhere reference to blackboxqt...

Not all that interesting, I suppose, but I am fond of ol'BB,and this Qt4 remake could be pretty cool (although I can't test it because it doesn't build for me). Here's a link to the code.

2008-06-11 10:29

Discount: FAIL!

Suppose a Thing (TM) costs $100. Now,you are offered a 20% discount. You expect to pay $80 for it, right?

That means you expect to pay, for X discount, 100-X % of the cost.

That's why this picture is full of FAIL.


BTW: Real picture from a shop in Mar del Plata, Argentina, a few days ago.

2008-05-30 11:41

Living with eee: tips and tricks

I have used my eee PC for a few months already, and here are a few tips I gathered along the way.

  • Remove Xandros, get *Ubuntu on it

    Yes, it boots a bit slower, but everything still works (I admit, with some manual tweaks), and you will use less disk space, and be generally happier.

  • If you use KDE, check the advanced window menu.

    Did you know that any app can be fullscreen? Yes it can. However, I prefer the "No Border" option. Yes, your windows will have no borders,buuuuut:

    • You are probably not going to use windows side by side on a 800x480 screen, are you?
    • You can still move and resize windows: Alt+LMB and Alt+RMB are your friends.
  • Yes you can play games on the eee: get psx, the psx emulator. I had a bunch of CDs for my long-dead PS1. Need for Speed looks pretty good, and Tekken 3 is a lot of fun :-D

  • There's enough streaming music to avoid carrying your MP3 around. Last.FM and all the shoutcast radios on Amarok do the trick for me.

  • Get SD cards.

  • The black model seems to be pretty scratch resistant.

  • Yes, you can throw it on the sofa when you arrive at home. No, nothing will break (at least nothing broke on mine). SSDs are nice.

  • A 1yo boy with clean hands can slap at the keyboard for a minute or two and it may live.

2008-05-28 14:53

JEC: Just Enough Computer

Since I am the guy that "works with computers" everyone asks me the same things over and over. So here's at least one answer.

Question: What computer should I buy?


If you never need a computer outside your home/office, a eee PC will suck for you, but maybe a Shuttle KPC will do the trick.

But suppose you are a "Office+Web+Mail+IM+Youtube" guy, as are about 90% of teenage girls and maybe 95% of the over-50.

Then the KPC will work wonderfully for you, if you don't need to travel with it.

And the eee could work great for you if you travel a lot, or prefer your internet access on a cafe [1], although you could be happier with a light-ish, ordinary 13" or 14" notebook with a large disk (you know the size of your data, right?)

Do you use it for work on the road, only? Then the eee is awesome. I dare anyone to need over 3GB of data for work, outside of some specific data-intensive niches.

Do you see a pattern here? I never tell you to buy a 4-core 4GB RAM box. You do not need it.

If you needed it, you would not haveto ask, you would know you need it.

  • If you are a gamer, you need a gaming rig. But you knew that, so you were not asking me.
  • If you edit video, you need what you need. But you knew that too.
  • If you build KDE from sources daily, well, you know you need more than one computer anyway ;-)

A Celeron 900 (what's on the eee, probably the slowest non-VIA CPU sold today) is enough to play any video, except full-HD (which makes no sense, since it has higher resolution than your screen anyway ;-).

A 240GB disk can hold everything you own. Everything you may need on the road probably fits on 8GB, or 40GB if you want a huge music collection.

So, your data can fit in one external disk (buy 2, do backups) , and what you use often will fit on any notebook you buy, even a eee PC, modulo a few SD cards.

So, if it's not about the CPU, it's not about storage, it's not about the video board, why would you need a very fast computer?

Buy cheap. Buy last year's model. Are you willing to spend some extra money? Then spend it onnicer peripherals for your desktop computer, or spend it on a quiet computer, orspend it on a little RAM, but do NOT spend it on CPU.

Here's my current hardware:

  • Main traveling notebook: Asus eee PC 4G. Can't be happier about it.
  • Main desktop computer: A HP Pavillion zd7000. Got it for nothing, used.
  • Rosario's desktop computer: a Intel box with no fans, a 600Mhz P3, got it as surplus from a client for free.

Also: a couple of monitors, a bunch of external IDE disks (with el-cheapo USB-IDE adapters) for backups.

Total cost: probably U$S 500. You will probably pay U$S 800 for it, since you probably have less people willing to dump their old computers on you ;-)

If I were to buy all new today, I would probably get two KPC's along with a 9" eee.

Expected responses:

  • I need a faster computer

    Then buy one ;-)

  • The eee/P3/KPC would be too slow!

    For what? Tell me something specific, I'll try it on my eee andlet you know how it goes.

  • You manage with that hardware because you are a low-end user.

    Maybe I am! But maybe you are, too. Let me know why you are high end.

[1] I get at least one question about my eee everytime I use it on a cafe. Guaranteed.

2008-05-12 22:10

Wine kinda works nowadays

I had stopped trying to run stuff in WINE a few years ago,because pretty much nothing worked.

You know what? They areright about approaching 1.0, I had to try a few windowsy things lately, and each one has worked just fine.

Kudos wine people!

PS: can you make the widgets look less ugly, though? I heard rumours of a theming engine, but have no clue as to where one would look. Even something like GTK's clearlooks would be bearable.

2008-04-23 22:20

My first impressions of Google App Engine

Since I got my invitation and am tired of Haloscan not being reachable from home (not their fault, probably), I decided that my first project would be a comment hosting app.

In other words, something a bit HaloScan-like.

Since I have very limited resources, it will probably not be useful for many people, but I am learning about App Engine, and at the same time probably making my blog a wee bit more comfortable.

Some random thoughts:

  • Can I put Google ads in app engine apps?
  • Does anyone else need this kind of app? I intend to make it open, so anyone can register its blog in it and use it. 500MB (the max DB size) are a lot of comments. Like a million of them.
  • I intend to use Yahoo's YUI RTE for editing. So my app will be hosted in Yahoo and Google. Cool :-D
  • It's basically just Django. Sure, no UNIQUE, no CRUD (ok, there is Google's, which is kinda lame... hire one of the Django guys and mke him work on it ;-), but it's the same thing, give or take a few bytes, specially using djangoforms.
  • webapp is... ok, it's rather ugly. Routing the requests is annoying, you can't do things like passing parts of the URL as parameters...
  • The User/DataStore APIs are ok, they feel a bit limited but they have a lot of scope in other ways (as in, there are a few million registered users and many TB of data stored ;-)

All things considered, a nice thing to use, specially at the cost.

2008-04-22 10:11

I see strange things: Cosmopolitan magazine

Yesterday I saw this in a news stand and I just had to share it. It's a picture of Cosmopolitan magazine, and it says is:

Test: am I a virgin?

It does pose an interesting problem, though. What's more logical:

  • If you have to ask, you are a virgin?
  • If you have to ask, you are not a virgin?

2008-04-17 17:13

Becoming organized

I am trying to become more organized in my work. And it seems to be working.

Things I do/notice/try now:

  1. There is a ticketing system. Use it.

    Really, there is no reason not to. If the customer says creating tickets is annoying/boring/whatever, I do them myself.

    It takes very little time and it lets me see/describe what I do/did in the day. Then, take what's in the ticket, clean it up, and...

  2. There is a wiki. Use it.

    Document every thing I do. No "this is just a little thing". There are no little things. If it was so little, I wouldn't have to do it. Put everything in the docs. The client needs it. I need it.

  3. There is an email. Use it.

    I got an email. Then either it's something that's broken (create a ticket), or something that needs explaining (create/refer a doc), or something that needs doing (create a todo), or a meeting (put it in the phone), or a a piece of data I need to remember (archive it, mairix will find it when I need it). I have had an inbox with no mail in it for three days, and it's quite liberating.

  4. The phone is the first PDA that actually works.

    I never managed to use desktop PIM suites or PDAs. I do keep my appointments on the phone. I always have my phone with me. I listen to it when I have an alarm. I can't say the same thing about the notebook, or about any PDA I owned. And it's a cheap phone. Using a smartphone makes no sense. I lose the things. Now I can sync it via bluetooth, too! I still use a Sony CLIE to read ebooks, though.

  5. I like HiveMinder.

    It's todo lists I can actually use. Done? Click, gone. New task? Fill a line and it's there, tagged, grouped, dated, prioritized. Want to do it from the CLI? Yup. I do need to write a Trac plugin that converts my tickets into todos, though.

    Sure, I don't have it with me all the time (maybe sync it with my phone's todo list is possible somehow...) but I just need to do one full task review a day, add tasks when I'm on a computer, close tasks at the end of the day or while working.

  6. Read email/news on fixed time periods.

    I can't focus on working for over one hour nonstop. So I stop every hour for 10 minutes of news, and 5 minutes of mail (which is still working anyway, since I need to know about stuff). No mail app running in the meantime. If it's urgent, they have my phone number. If they don't, it's not urgent.

It is making a difference, I am becoming more productive without spending more hours at it, which was my previous "strategy".

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