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HTML problem solved; Cisco VPN client ranting

Discovered the solution to the HTML-escaping problem I reported in my last post: it turns out PyDS’s MetaWeblog API implementation attempts to be “smart” and render as reStructuredText unless the post starts with a <. Guess what I started this post with? :-)

In someone’s infinite wisdom, the Siebel Center provides one Ethernet port per desk for graduate students. We’re all supposed to use wireless for our laptops—which requires a VPN, because one of the available non-VPN wireless networks is for faculty and staff only, and the other doesn’t support AirPort cards. So I have to use the excellent *cough* Cisco VPN3000 client, which slowly breaks over repeated connections until the following dance is required to get it to connect.

% vpnclient connect DCSnet-wireless
*** malloc_zone_malloc[18118]: argument too large: 3269996800
malloc: Cannot allocate memory
% sudo kextunload -b
kextunload: unload id succeeded (any personalities also unloaded)
% sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext
kextload: notice: extension /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext has debug properties set
kextload: /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext loaded successfully
% vpnclient connect DCSnet-wireless
fread: Unknown error: 0
Cannot secure command line arguments.
% sudo vpnclient connect DCSnet-wireless
Cisco Systems VPN Client Version 4.0.2 (C)

Eventually, not even unloading and reloading the KEXT and running vpnclient as root fixes the problem, and I have to reboot. That usually takes about a week. I guess that qualifies as an improvement over the VPN5000 client, which would cause repeated kernel panics. Of course, OpenVPN’s kernel component doesn’t crash at all, it works wonderfully, requires next to no setup, and I never have to touch it. The coming 2.0 version will make it possible for multiple users to connect, so it’ll be useful as more than a “personal” or permanent VPN connection.

You know, it sometimes helps if people test their software to see if it breaks over, oh, I dunno, 20 or 30 uses.

Testing PyDS 0.7.2

Finally upgraded PyDS to 0.7.2; so far, nothing has broken. From the PyDS-Dev list I had been led to believe I’d have to redo all my templates. So far, so good; here goes a publish…

Looks like PyDS no longer likes me disabling the TopicExchange or Aggregator tools; when I try to publish, I get:

Background thread exception NameMapper.NotFound: aggregatorException instance __dict__: {‘args’: (‘aggregator’,)}
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/PyDS/[1300] in thunk
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/PyDS/[432] in _initthread
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/PyDS/[1751] in renderFeedList
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/PyDS/[760] in renderPage
[49] in respond


Background thread exception NameMapper.NotFound: topicexchangeException instance __dict__: {‘args’: (‘topicexchange’,)}
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/PyDS/[1300] in thunk
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/PyDS/[131] in _initthread
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/PyDS/[1076] in renderTimeframeOnline
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/PyDS/[760] in renderPage
[104] in respond

It also seems that PyDS is escaping my embedded HTML tags, or I would have put

 around the above. Weird.

Since I now have a decent weblog editor, and the semester is over tomorrow, I'll start posting a bit more.

Time passes…

Over two months since my last post. Wow. I’ve got a few minutes now, listening to back-to-back James McMurtry songs (incidentally, “Where’d You Hide the Body” was the first music I purchased on the iTunes Music Store) on radioio and relaxing before I head out again.

I spent last weekend in St. Louis, Saturday at a Kuk Sool Won tournament and Sunday with Robb Beal. You can see a picture of me with Robb’s two foxhounds on his weblog. If I look a bit harried, it’s because what you don’t see are the 8 pictures where we couldn’t get the dogs to stand still. :-)

My research continues to go really well, and I should be submitting my current work to next year’s CGO. Of course, I have to finish the work and write the paper first! The Siebel Center had its dedication this weekend, and seeing everything appear at the last minute was rather incredible. Now if they could only get rid of the smell of burning plastic from the elevators…

Still no time to work on F-Script Anywhere, ICeCoffEE or Pester. I’m planning on getting out of being a volunteer sysadmin for the local ACM student chapter over the summer, which should free up some time. I’ve started going ice skating on Friday evenings; it’s been over ten years since I had skated regularly, and it’s a wonderful way to spend two hours not worrying about life’s pressures. Also cheap, at $1 for skate rental (my skates are still in storage in New Hampshire) and otherwise free for U of I students.

Some software I’ve used recently and truly enjoyed:

Trac is great for organizing small projects; I’m using it on (publicly) as well as on a G4 Cube I set up at the med school (privately). One of these days I hope to set it up for research, too; currently we’re still on CVS and I’m hating it.

Colloquy is the first graphical IRC client since MacIRC I will use. I spent a few hours last weekend contributing a few fixes to Colloquy; it now pretty much does what I want, and works well with the irssi proxy. I’d like the scrollback to be refreshed through the proxy like cognetd does, but it can wait…

Both Trac’s and Colloquy’s authors care a lot about usability and limiting complexity, which is such a rarity in open-source development that I need to mention it.

Unison lets me synchronize my files across platforms between my PowerBook and research machines, easily exclude files, and generally does what I mean. I use the console UI, but it’s also got a reasonably decent GTK UI.

Dovecot, from the author of irssi, has allowed me to switch my mail to IMAP without losing fast, local access with Mutt. It’s very much a “set it and forget it” server; it just works.

Glen Low’s Mac OS X port of graphviz is responsible for some of my productivity in research recently; between the amazing-quality Quartz PDF output, improving user interface, Glen’s responsiveness to feature suggestions, and the excellent use of OS X 10.3’s kqueue to automatically rerender modified documents, it is wonderful. When it misrotated some pages last night, I wrote a quick Python script last night to rotate its output PDFs, using the great (though underdocumented) Quartz Python bindings. Almost my entire new research group has PowerBooks, so it’s no problem giving this stuff to them to run.

My next project at the College of Medicine is an event scheduling system, for which I evaluated many Python Web frameworks. I will need to build a form construction toolkit for users, so they can design their own survey forms to give to attendees. The projects that made the most sense to me were Quixote and Nevow. In evaluating Quixote, I discovered the authors of Quixote don’t seem to care too much for presentational aspects of the Web. When I mentioned Nevow on #macpython, I discovered its author, Donovan Preston, was answering my questions. Can’t beat that for support; so, tentatively, I’ll be going with Nevow.

Saw that Wes just finished Altered Carbon; I borrowed Steve’s copy and read it while sick last year. It was enjoyable, and I see Steve has his next book Broken Angels sitting on his bookshelf; when I get sick next I might find myself with enough free time to read it! Steve has been even busier than me recently, what with three very hard classes and working half-time.

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