Jeff's Amazing Geek Page

Amazing stuff for geeks like me!

This is my page about geek stuff. Reviews, links, geek resources. It's all here! (Or it will be eventually)

Hacking Gnomesword RPMs

Fri Jun 23 21:45:57 EDT 2006

I've been using Gnomesword to do Bible study under Linux for a few years now. It's a great project, but they need a lot more help than they have. The GNOME Project moves so quickly and they change enough things from one release to another that keeping a GNOME based application working at all is a lot of work. Adding new features and fixing bugs are secondary.

I've tried to help them out a bit hear and there, but it never amounted to much. I did do a tiny little bit of documentation (I did section 6.1 in the manual - Simple Searches - and most of it is still my work).

I'd still like to get time to help, but until then I'm just a user. I've been running the development version of the code, though, and actually built my own RPMS. If you run Fedora Core 5 and are brave you can look for them on my Gnomesword page. I learned most of what I needed to build RPMs on Fedora from a document here. It's just a draft, but it's still the best I've found.

Kris and Betsy get the shaft

Fri Jun 23 14:39:39 2006

I know it's been forever since I updated anything, but I just need to do this one thing real quick. Kris and Betsy at the Croncast went on vacation lately and had their van nearly destroyed by John Elway Dodge in Denver. Click that last link for pictures. Rather than fixing it and making it better, the dealership did everything they could to get out of it. Listen to the podcast for details, but be warned that language is a bit bad. If you had the kind of horrible customer service that they got from John Elway Dodge, you'd be tempted to curse, too.

Perl hack for today

Thu Mar 2 14:43:50 2006

At work I have to compute a date 48 days in the future from time to time. I used to have a calendar with Julian Ordinal dates in addition to the regular dates and could just add 48 to the current date. Since my company is now too cheap to buy me a calendar at all, I needed another solution.

So I hacked together this Perl script to do the job:

# A script to give me the date 48 days from a specific date. 

use Time::Local (timelocal);

# Import command line args.
($date, $off) = @ARGV;

# Default offset is 48 days
if (!defined($off)) {$off=48}

# Set default time/date to now

# Use date from command line if we have it
if ($date) {
	($mon, $day, $year) = split /[\/-]/, $date;
	if ($year<10) {$year+=100}

# get base time in seconds, do conversion, and convert back
print "Date you gave me is $start\n";
print "Date $off days from that date is $then\n";

By default it gives today's date and a date 48 days in the future. It will accept a date in the form mm/dd/yy or mm-dd-yy, and also an offset in days. Call it as 'perl <scriptname> 11/20/04 7', for example. It handles dates from 01/02/1970 to 12/31/2037. It assumes anything mm/dd/10 and below is after Y2K, and anything else is before. It seems to handle 4 digit years OK.

The Web 2.0 Show - what is it?

Sat Jan 28 19:15:22 EST 2006

Lots of people are talking about Web 2.0. Mostly people are saying "what the hell is it?" Since I'm a guy who's interested in the web, and recommended this show, I decided to give The Web 2.0 Show a try. (RSS feed here.)

I'm a pretty tech savvy guy and all I really know about Web 2.0 is it's some mysterious, ill defined group of technologies that will change the web to make it better-stronger-faster than it ever was. So I went into the Web 2.0 Show fully expecting to have these questions answered. That was a mistake. At first it seemed like Josh Owens and Chris Saylor, the hosts, were going to lay it out for me so I could understand. In episode 2 they attempted to define some Web 2.0 terms, but although they talk about Ajax, Rails, "Rich User Interface ™," "walled gardens," microformats and other hip Web 2.0 terms, they never actually said what they were.

I was a bit put off, but determined to hang in there. I listened to a few more shows, and I don't know where Josh and Chris get their contacts, but they get some amazing guests! They interview Matt Mullenweg (Wordpress), Kevin Rose (Digg), Chris Messina (Flock browser), Jeff Barr (Amazon) and Jason Fried (37 Signals) among others. Their interview style is very good, and there never seems to be any dead space in the interviews.

I've decided that my puzzlement from this podcast not defining Web 2.0 for me is more a product of my expectations than a failing of the hosts. You've got to assume a certain basic level of knowledge in your audience, and they assumed differently than I did. Still I'd suggest a glossary on the web site (which actually has content besides show notes, by the way).

I was a bit disappointed by the sound quality. Levels aren't always great, and Josh has a habit of starting off at a decent level, then descending into a barely audible monotone. They've definitely improved the sound in later episodes, though so it's not a deal breaker.

So if you're looking for a show where you can actually hear from the people who are making Web 2.0 happen, this is the show for you. If you want to know what Web 2.0 is and you're willing to learn by osmosis, give it a try. I'll keep listening.

Rating: 4 Gomers!

My Podcasts

Tue Jan 24 08:20:31 2006

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I take the MP3s with me to work and listen on the computer so sometimes I can listen to up to 8 hours of podcasts a day. This doesn't make me an expert, but I know what I like. Because of this thread on the TLLTS forums (look for me as Gomer_X on the forums), I decided to post the list of what I currently listen to.

These are links to the feeds. I'll hack in links to the web pages for the casts eventually. If you're a geek (and you should be), you can look at the <link> tag at the top of the feed and try that.


MP3 feed
OGG feed
The best Linux podcast outside the USA. It's more about trends and philosophy than about technical details. Always entertaining, often hilarious. Good interviews. It's like a bunch of friends discussing Linux down at the pub in podcast form.
The Linux Link Tech Show
OGG feed
MP3 feed
The best Linux show in America. Lots of people don't get it, but I think TLLTS is great. I don't have Linux geeks to hang out with. I don't have a local users group I attend. These guys make me feel like there are other people like me in the world. It's about the brotherhood of geeks. You can also get the show from my personal mirror here.
LQ Radio
Linux oriented, mostly news. Usually pretty short and to the point. Audio quality is good. Worth a listen.
Linux Australia Update
A Linux podcast from Australia. About the local scene, but also general Linux news. They're lucky enough to get Jeff Waugh on from time to time. Usually short.


This Week in Tech
Leo Laporte, John C. Dvorak and others in a roundtable discussion on Tech. One of the most popular tech shows around. Quality is good, although they sometimes pan people left and right to simulate "stereo" which gets annoying in headphones.
In the Trenches
"A podcast for System Administrators and IT Professionals" pretty much says it all. An inside look at the life of the sysadmin. For the most part it's about Windows stuff, but they know Linux too. Kevin and George are great to listen to and have a good conversational style. Audio quality is good.
Binary Revolution Radio
A show from the hacking scene. Slanted towards phone phreaking these days, but still of broad interest. Usually weekly and 90 minutes. If you think hackers are people who break into other people's computers, this is not the show for you.
IT Conversations
This is a series of shows on IT, tech, and biotech topics. Most are talks from conferences, but some are interviews. There are so many it's hard to listen to every one and still maintain interest. There's tons of good stuff here, though.
Securty Now!
Steve Gibson's weekly security podcast. Almost exclusively about Windows. Probably not worth listening unless you know enough to know when Steve Gibson is wrong. He gets most of it right, but hand waves away lots of important details. Still interesting if you want to know about the latest Windows security problems.
T.W.A.T. Radio
The title stands for "Today With a Techie." Yes, inside every geek is a little boy who still laughs at this type of thing. It aims to be a daily tech show with many revolving hosts. Usually quite short. Since there are so many hosts, quality varies widely.


Daily Source Code
Adam Curry's Daily Source Code. You may love him or hate him, but if you're interested in the state of podcasting, you have to listen. Sometimes too commercial for my tastes, but he's still the Podfather.
Evil Genius Chronicles
bittorrent feed
MP3 feed
Dave Slusher is the Adam Curry for guys like me. Less Hollywood, more intelligent, he's a geek, he's a dude and he has his head out of his butt. I think he really gets what podcasting is all about or should be about. (Hint: it's not about making anybody rich) He talks about what he feels, and what the "new media" is really about. Essential listening.
Scripting News
Dave Winers podcast. Same category as Adam Curry. Dave is one of the key people in the evolution of podcasting. Audio quality is usually bad, the cast is very infrequent, and content often irrelevant. Still it's worth a listen.
Mark Kermode's Film Reviews
Movie reviews from the BBC. Entertaining, quick and to the point. I can't be bothered to keep up with what's playing. This podcast tells me all I need to know.
Escape Pod
A Science Fiction podcast that usually consists of news and a short story read by one of the hosts. Usually very interesting. I don't have time to read SF anymore, so this fills the need.


Radio WC
Uncle Dan and Abu Snookums are a couple of guys who live right here in southwest Ohio. This is one of the most right wing areas in the country, and Radio WC is about being politically left of center in Republican hell. I find them pretty balanced in their views, and they are genuinely entertaining to listen to. Episode 13 where Uncle Dan goes to the state fair and gets bitten by a horse is priceless (audio on this episode is sub-par since they're "on location"). One of my favorites. Worth a listen, no matter where you're from.
Off the Wall and Off the Hook
Off the Hook is a radio show, and Off the Wall is Emmanuel Goldstein's podcast. Mostly about politics and hacking and the politics of hacking and how politics relates to hacking.
Presidential Weekly Radio Address
President George W. Bush's own podcast. Like him or not, it's worth hearing what he has to say. Very short.
Slate Magazine Podcasts
Readings of articles from Slate Magazine. Usually about politics and popular culture. Quite often humorous and usually short.


Tokyo Calling
A podcast from Japan. I wish it were more about Japanese culture, but it's still worth listening. There's a video cast as well, but it has a separate feed.
Wired Jesus Podcast
This is about Christianity from a "postmodern" perspective. If you grew up in a church that spent most of it's time telling you how you were going to burn in hell if you didn't obey their rules, this may be the cast for you. God is not the church.
The Shofar's Call
A podcast about Messianic Judaism. I don't agree with everything they say, but I enjoy hearing about Christianity from the perspective of Jewish Christians. Interesting interviews and insights.


The Croncast
I really don't get into "couples casts" at all, but Amigofish recommended this one and I checked it out. Kris and Betsy are just an average midwestern couple trying to make it, but their show is pretty entertaining. It's weekly these days, and I always look forward to it. I think it's the expert use of sarcasm (which I consider an art form) that gets me.
RasterWeb! Audio
This one only comes out on rare occasions, but it's always short and always funny.
History according to Bob
Bob Packett is a history professor, and does short podcasts on widely varying topics in history. Comes out several times a week.
Learn a song a day
Learn an American folk song. Very short, comes out maybe once a month.
The Confused Cast
Zack is 13 and has a pretty good podcast. It's short and funny. I hope he keeps at it.