Thursday, November 18, 2004

Telemarketers are Da Debil!

I just got a call from some telemarketer. The call went something like this:

Me: (picks up phone) Hello, This is Ben. (Phone: static, silence, static, for about 5 seconds.)

Telemarketer: (American accent, very hard to hear over the static) Ah hello, is Mr Williams there?

Me: (suspicious already) This is Mr Williams.

Telemarketer: (pause; it sounds like the delay you get on long-distance calls) Hello Mr Williams, I'm (unintelligible name) from (unintelligible company name)...(starts sales spiel about switching long-distance carriers)

Me: (waits for pause for breath) Look, I don't have time for this now and I'm really not interested. Can I ask you not to call me again? Can you take me off your list?

Telemarketer: (again the long-distance pause) Whatever, Sir. (Hangs up)

She just hung up on me! Cow! I couldn't believe it. If I had been able to hear the name of the company she was from, I'd so love to call them back and tell them about it. That's just disgusting.

Ironic really when you think about it, someone calling wanting me to switch to their long-distance service, and the line quality is so bad that I can barely hear them. Good one.

I hate telemarketers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The fiiiinal countdoooown

I've been giving Jason a bit of grief about going to see Europe in concert. I mean, what are they going to do, play The Final Countdown 20 times? I mean, the lead singer's name is Joey Tempest, for goodness' sake! They are one of the ultimate proponents of 80s hair metal (along with Def Leppard and Van Halen).

Well anyway, I just got a 20-second phone call from young Jason, holding the phone up at the gig so I could hear a chorus of The Final Countdown. What a moment. I haven't stopped laughing since I heard it :)

It seems Europe isn't the only band Jason's been seeing recently.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

cups & samba vs windows XP printing

So I just spent a couple of hours fighting with my linux server and printing to the attached printer from my windows boxen. So that I don't forget it when it breaks again, and for the sake of the world’s best troubleshooting database, I'm going to write it down here. If you don't at all care about printing to a linux-connected printer from a windows client, you can stop reading here. No, really, it just gets geekier from here on in.

Summary: You can print from windows XP to a linux printer using cups & samba via IPP or windows networking. The key step is enabling raw printing, by uncommenting the application/octet-stream lines at the bottom of the files /etc/cups/mime.*. Read on for the story of how I achieved it.

My file server in the corner is running Fedora Core 1 and happily serving up files via NFS and Samba. I've got an HP DeskJet 3650 connected to it via USB, and I wanted to be able to print to it from the 3 other machines (all running windows XP) in my house. It was working until I rebooted the server, and because I had no idea what I'd done to it, I decided to set it up from scratch. It turns out there's two ways to do it - via samba and shared via IPP; I did both, and I liked the IPP results better1, but I'll talk about both here. After plugging in a monitor, mouse & keyboard so I could get a console, here's what I did:

  1. Plugged the printer in. /var/log/messages registered some garbage about a new USB device; that's a good sign.
  2. Ran redhat-config-printer (this is somewhere under the main desktop menu in Fedora, but I ran it from a shell for some reason). I added the printer as the right model (HP DeskJet 3600 series), and printed a test page - all good. I made sure the printer was shared while in the printing setup program.
  3. Added it to samba; man cupsaddsmb told me that I had to add this stuff to my smb.conf file:
    load printers = yes
    printing = cups
    printcap name = cups
    comment = All Printers
    path = /var/spool/samba
    browseable = no
    public = yes
    guest ok = yes
    writable = no
    printable = yes
    printer admin = (my-username)
    which I did, and restarted samba (service smb restart). Lo and behold, I could see the printer from my windows machines, but I still couldn't print to it (jobs would silently disappear).
  4. Enabled raw mode printing (this was the key step): In /etc/cups/mime.convs, I uncommented the line at the bottom that reads:
    application/octet-stream application/vnd.cups-raw 0 -
    In /etc/cups/mime.types, I uncommented the line at the bottom that reads:
    I restarted cups (service cups restart), and samba for good measure. I could now print to it from my windows boxes! If all you want to do is share via samba, you can stop reading here. Read on on for the IPP method.
  5. Added a raw queue for the printer, again through redhat-config-printer. To do this, I selected the "Generic" drop down in the "Printer model" step of the wizard, and selected "Raw Print Queue". Note: this printer queue will only be useful to those machines configured with a printer driver (Also remember to share the queue).
  6. On the windows machines, I added a new printer (Start -> Control Panel -> Printers and Faxes -> Add Printer). I chose to add a new network printer, selecting "Connect to a printer on the Internet", and using a URL of http://hostip:631/printers/RawPrinterQueueName. I selected the printer driver as I would have for a locally connected printer (I had downloaded the drivers from HP's website). Success!
  7. I basked in the warm glow of having foughtthe unholy alliance of Linux, Cups and Samba, and having won.
You might also need to make cups accept IPP connections from other machines if it doesn't already; if you can't connect to the printer via IPP, add an Allow line to your /etc/cups/cupsd.conf in the appropriate section, such as (for a LAN in the 192.168.0.* range):
<Location />
Order Deny,Allow
Deny From All
Allow From
Allow From 192.168.0.*

Many thanks to Colin Stewart's page at for the instructions.

Now, Some keywords, for google's benefit: linux, cups, samba, windows, windows XP, print, printer, printing, HP, Hewlett Packard, 3600, deskjet, raw, IPP. That ought to do it. If you got this far, congratulations :)

  1. I found that printing via IPP was faster to start and a bit more reliable. When printing via samba it used to choke occasionally, requiring me to reset the printer; via IPP, I haven't had that problem at all. YMMV, of course.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Kevin Rudd: "Family First does not own God"

You tell em, Kevin!

"But we will not for one moment stand idly by while either the Liberals, the Nationals or that Family First assert that God has somehow become a wholly-owned subsidiary of political conservatism in this country"

Amen. Personally, I don't think the libs/nats have any grasp of the morality I see in Jesus' life (but that's a whole other debate).

Who'da thunk I'd be agreeing with a politician eh! I'm feeling all faint. Better go sit down.

In related "Christian Morality" news, Who Made Steve, from Slacktivist, is great. "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" indeed. (Via signposts.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Tree down

Bit of excitement down the road from me - big tree came down, blocking both lanes of traffic. I feel all, like, civic and stuff because I called the police to get them to stop people from crashing into it.

We managed to get down and snap a few pics before they cut it all up - excuse the crappy quality, they're from my phone. I've cleaned them up a bit in photoshop, but they're still pretty bad. Click for bigger versions.

Long view

It's quite big

Reverse angle

Just enough room for a car to squeeze past (nice car too) - you can see the trunk that snapped on the left side of this pic

Monday, November 08, 2004

Books, books and more books

Weeee :) I bought 36 books on the weekend, many of which I'm not going to get the time to read for years. Bliss!

I won't publish an exhaustive list (too long, can't be bothered). The summary is:

  • All ten of the Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jordan
  • Raymond E Feist's Riftwar & Serpentwar sagas (and related books, like the Krondor: series and the Empire Trilogy)
  • David Eddings - The Rivan Codex and The Tamuli (single volume edition)
  • A bunch of Tolkien extras, like Unfinished Tales, The Silmarillion, and other Middle-earth lore & history
So yes, I am a huge nerd. Unapologetically.

Also on the book front, I just started reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. Yes, I'm one of those people who find misplaced apostrophes to be a hangable offence. This book is utterly hilarious.

I am not a free support desk.

Now, here's something I'm sure all you fellow computer geeks can associate with.

Notice to people I don't know very well:

I Am Not Your Free Computer Support desk.

No, really, I'm not interested that your computer has this little problem where when you click on button X it pops up a thousand ads for viagra. I don't care if it says "no boot disk found" when you boot it up - that's what happens when you buy 10 year old computers from a garage sale.

It is not thrilling to me to try and diagnose your computer with a vague description like "It just gives me this error saying something like disk not found or something". This goes double for people I barely know; if the only time you talk to me is to ask me inane questions about your computer problems, we are not friends, and I do not like you. This especially applies to members of my church who approach me purely to ask about their computers.

I know how doctors must feel when people ask them about my-shoulder-thats-been-playing-up-its-just-a-bit-sore-when-I-do-this. It's really annoying. From now, if you ask me about this kind of thing, you're going to get an answer along the lines of "you should take that to a repair place".

Thus endeth the lesson.

Note to my friends, i.e. those with whom I do things socially and who talk to me about things other than computers: This does not apply as much to you. I am happy to help you out, very occasionally, with earth-shattering computer problems that stop you from handing in your Ph.D thesis which is due in a week and you've been writing for the past 4 years and now your computer has eaten it. This is because we are friends, and friends help each other out. I'll expect the same if you're, say, a nurse, and I seriously injure myself in your presence.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Birthdays, and the forgetting thereof

If there's one thing gauranteed to make you feel guilty, it's when someone remembers your birthday and then you realise that you either:

  1. Totally forgot theirs; or
  2. Have absolutely no idea when theirs actually is.
So of course, you know exactly how I felt when I got an email from Jason saying such lovely things as
"Despite missing your birthday by a narrow margin, I've deced to issue a retrospective gift"
"I know for a fact that you'll drown in your own spunk as soon as you receive it"
and even
"it's coming from The Netherlands (ISN'T DAT VEIRD!!?!)."

So thanks, Jason, for making me all guilty and embarrassed ;)

No, I'm kidding. The anticipation is killing me now though! What could it be that I've always wanted that could come from The Netherlands1?! I mean, that's like, in Europe apparently! I just hope it gets here without the AFP tearing me a new one.

  1. Not to be confused with the Nether Regions, obviously. Totally different.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


So after all that whining earlier, time for a positive post!

Sarah and I were asked by a couple of friends of ours (Kirrilie and Matt) if we'd be godparents to their new baby Reilly. I've got no idea what that means exactly - the church I've always been a part of doesn't do the infant-baptism-godparent thing - but it's exciting! I'm looking forward to it, whatever it will mean. Also, it's nice to be asked :)

What a cult the president is

America, What the hell is wrong with you!

As I suspected, the person I wanted to win - anyone who isn't Dubya - lost, and the world's most dangerous illiterate fool got re-elected. I'm sure as individuals there's lots of rational people in the US, but as a group, they are consistently the stupidest nation in the world. It's bad that they're also the most powerful in militaristic terms. Also, to american christians, Dubya does not display any kind of christian ethics that I can see. But that's a whole other thread.

It mirrors the recent election result here in Australia; right wing tool gets re-elected via a fear and smear campaign. At least in the USA there's a two-term limit for presidents. We've been stuck with Little Johnny for 3 terms now.

How depressing (not that I'm bitter or anything ;) ). I'd say "at least I don't live there" - and that's still partially relevant - but events in the US tend to have a strong effect here in oz (and worldwide - ask the Iraqis), so it seems everyone is lumped with whoever the americans elect. Bah, humbug.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Browser share

So according to the stats I've got for my site (a free counter from, about 33% of you are using some kind of product (firefox being the biggest group with 28%). That.s cool.

There's still almost 60% of you that read my blog who are using Internet Explorer! Dammit, haven't I taught you any better! Firefox is about to release version 1.0, which is going to kick more ass even than the current version does. If you're not using it already, get yourselves over to and download it. It's only about 4.5 mb (that's pretty quick even on a modem), and it's more secure, quicker, and just plain nicer than IE. It imports all your IE settings for you when you install it, so you won't have to worry about losing favourites, passwords, fomr data, anything like that.

(The more astute among you may have noticed that those stats don't quite add up to 100%. Well, apprently I get enough hits from Safari, Netscape 3 (!) and Konqueror to make up 7% of my total. Impressive. While the 30% mozilla thing is pretty cool, I'm hardly a representative sample of the web, given that I've had, er, 318 total visitors since June. My readership is huuuuuge!)

U! S! A! U! S! A!

This whole USA presidential election stuff is kinda exciting - you can track it in real-time on this page at CNN.

I think George W is a first-grade moron (he prunounces nuclear "nuk-u-lar" - case closed as far as I'm concerned). He's bad for the world and bad for America, so I'm really hoping he gets the ass, but I'm not sure he will. Knowing my luck in elections, he'll be back for another 4 years.

I guess that'll be good for comedy at least.

W is for Whatever

So yeah, major blog neglect going on from my end, sorry. Lots of stuff to write about - Faithless, Uni, Work, Church, more - and no time to do it. Oh well.

On the news front, my friend Jodey's got a blog now - Check it out.