Removing the hard disk from a VAIO VGN-FE31H

Removing the hard disk from a VAIO VGN-FE31H is pretty easy. It’s located on the right hand side of the laptop, at the front (to the right of the touchpad).

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Installing Windows XP Professional SP2 on a Sony VAIO VGN-FE31H

I recently bought a Sony VAIO VGN-FE31H. It’s a pretty nice laptop, except for all the proprietary software that it comes with. The first thing I wanted to do was reinstall Windows XP from scratch.

I hoped that I would be able to get official drivers for the hardware in the laptop, but for most of the components, only the Sony-provided drivers are readily available. They come pre-installed, and the original driver files can be found in C:\Drivers. They can also be downloaded from the VAIO support web site (under “Preinstalled Drivers”).

Actually installing Windows was a breeze – XP Pro SP2 supports the SATA controller that’s in the VGN-FE31H. On the first boot there were 7 unrecognised devices. With official drivers hard to come by I opted in the end to just use the Sony-provided drivers. The table below describes how to get all the hardware working.

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RealPlayer on Fedora Core 6

So you’ve installed Fedora Core 6, and the RealPlayer RPM from here. You go to Applications → Sound & Video → RealPlayer 10, and… nothing happens.

Open up a terminal. Try to run RealPlayer from there. Chances are you’ll see this:

[rich@penguin ~]$ realplay
/usr/local/RealPlayer/realplay.bin: error while loading shared libraries: libstdc++.so.5: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

This is really easy to fix. Just type

yum install compat-libstdc++-33

and RealPlayer will work, from the terminal or from the Applications menu.

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del.icio.us extension for Firefox 2.0

I’m sure that others have pointed this out elsewhere, but it’s easy to get the Firefox extension for del.icio.us working on Firefox 2.0.

Download the extension (delicious.xpi) to your computer, and then:

  • open it up with WinZip, 7-Zip or whatever you use (it’s just a zip file with the xpi extension)
  • extract the install.rdf file
  • find the <em:maxVersion> element (line 24 when I did this), and change the value from 1.5.0.* to 2.0.*
  • put the new install.rdf file into delicious.xpi
  • open the Add-ons window in Firefox (Tools → Add-ons) and drag your new delicious.xpi onto this window
  • install as normal.
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Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP

So, getting Apache and PHP to work on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 was harder than it should have been… if you get this in your Apache error log:

PHP Warning: PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library 'D:/PHP/ext\\php_mysql.dll' - The specified module could not be found.\r\n in Unknown on line 0

chances are it isn’t because php_mysql.dll can’t be found, but because libmysql.dll, the DLL it depends on, can’t be found.

I’ve found that the following works every time (using Apache 2.0.59 and PHP 5.1.6)…

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Subversion plugin for History Flow

Following on from my post a few weeks ago about the API for History Flow, I’ve made a plugin for accessing files in Subversion. You can download the plugin JAR file here, or get the source code (in the form of an Eclipse project) from here.

To use it, you’ll need a few additional JARs:

  • javasvn.jar (JavaSVN)
  • swixml.jar (SwiXml)
  • jdom.jar (JDOM – at present this JAR file is included in the SwiXml download).

Put all 4 JARs in the plugins directory of your History Flow installation (typically C:\Program Files\History Flow Visualization\plugins). (The Eclipse project assumes that javasvn.jar and swixml.jar are in this directory.)

When you run History Flow, there will be an additional “Subversion file…” entry on the “File” menu. Choosing this will open a dialog box in which you can enter the URL to a Subversion repository (svn:// or http:// repositories will work), a username and password (leave these blank if you can access the repository anonymously), and the path to the file.

Clicking OK will load the revisions of the file into History Flow.

If you have any comments or suggestions about this plugin, do let me know.

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Mail bounced by Postfix

Until a few weeks ago my mail server (Postfix running on Fedora Core 5) was having difficulty keeping up with spam. I was finding lots of bounce errors in the mail log, like this one:

Sep 23 12:32:15 fc5test postfix/local[9084]: 875EEF46F3: to=<rich@test.rdf>, orig_to=<abc110@test.rdf>, relay=local, delay=1011, status=bounced (Command time limit exceeded: "IFS=' ' && exec /usr/bin/procmail -f- || exit 75 #rich")

I use the setup suggested on the UsedViaProcmail page on the SpamAssassin wiki. Postfix delivers all mail for the domain, regardless of the address, to the same local user account. The .forward file for that account makes Postfix invoke procmail, which filters the message through SpamAssassin, and then delivers it to the appropriate mail folder.

Although SpamAssassin is the biggest bottleneck in the mail pipeline, it was actually Postfix that was causing the problem.

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Spring 2.0 Seminar

Today I attended Rod Johnson’s Spring 2.0 seminar in London. Rod spoke about the new features of Spring 2.0, which is scheduled for release at the end of September.

Simplifying Spring seems to be one of the main goals of 2.0. The new configuration syntax will make things a lot more readable; it’s also possible to create custom tags, so the new syntax isn’t limited just to Spring beans. Another addition is that Spring Web MVC now has a tag library that can be used when creating JSPs.

Spring 2.0 also supports some of the new language features of Java 5, such as annotations and varargs. Interestingly, a quick survey during the seminar indicated that the majority of developers are still using Java 1.4; relatively few are working with Java 5.

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Corbett Challenge 2006

On Saturday I climbed Cadair Berwyn and Cadair Bronwen for the WaterAid Corbett Challenge.

There are some pictures here.

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Undeletable page in Writer?!

I’ve just had a problem with OpenOffice.org Writer whereby I couldn’t delete a seemingly empty page. There was a table on the first page, but nothing else. Putting the cursor on the second, empty page and pressing Backspace wouldn’t do anything.

It turns out that there was a page break before the “paragraph” on the second page. Once I turned this off (Format → Paragraph… → Text Flow → Breaks) the page disappeared.

This doesn’t seem to happen unless there’s a table on one page, followed by a page break. Also the page break has to be added by changing the paragraph settings – this problem doesn’t appear if Ctrl-Enter is used to create a page break.

Word is more consistent… if you tick “Page break before” for a paragraph, you can’t delete that break using Backspace at all (whereas you can with a Ctrl-Enter page break).

There’s a useful OOoForum.org discussion here where someone else found they couldn’t delete a page due to a page break. There’s also some good advice about making page breaks more visible.

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