Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...

Archive for June, 2006

Windows utilities you didn't know about: subinacl.exe

Friday, June 30th, 2006

subinacl is "a command-line tool that enables administrators to obtain security information about files, registry keys, and services, and transfer this information from user to user, from local or global group to group, and from domain to domain."

The magic thing that you can do with subinacl that you can't do with the GUI, is change ownership of files. It was a deliberate decision to only allow taking ownership from the GUI, so that if you are an admin, and someone locks you out of their files, and you have to take ownership to see them, the owner will know. Bugger having a paper trail for a laugh - use subinacl.

I have found a good example (with pics) at Windows Server Hacks. There is a reference page at ss64, which is a great reference for command line Windows tools. (What, Windows has a command line?)

If you're the sort of person who already knew about subinacl, can tell me tales of other useful tools like it, and want an IT job in Hamilton, we want to hear from you.


Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (previously Novell Linux Desktop, now "SLED") has released a public preview of version 10. Along with this are some preview videos.

I like what they've done with the main application starter menu, but I also like what Gimmie is doing in this area. Check out Alex Graveley's Gimmie GUADEC slides for some idea of the direction that launch panels might be going. If it gets combined with MacSlow's Cairo dock, we could see some excellent GNOME app launch/management lovin'.

Also, Ubuntu fits snugly on one CD. Why does SLED need five? Can I make do with just one?

More random unfixed bugs: Big gray box on Java websites

Monday, June 26th, 2006

One of the reasons I wanted to start blogging was to draw attention to random bugs that I've found and either only worked around or not fixed.

Today's bug-that-I-hoped-was-fixed: in the Sun JVM on Windows XP, (Update 6) or higher, if you try and go to a website that embeds Java, and get a big gray box instead of usefulness.

It is not fixed in In fact, it is marked WONTFIX. It would be fixed if Java was open source software, or if Microsoft and Sun were still friendly, co-operating companies. Unfortunately, neither of these things are currently true. Apparently Microsoft will address it in a cumulative update, sometime, if they feel like it. (Maybe it will be fixed in WinFS? *sting*)

Resolution: downgrade to And cry a little.

Plea to ICANN

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Something that the .NZ registry does, but I don't think that ICANN does, is take expired domain names and put them into a holding pool. That way, for a period after their expiry, they don't work, but they are marked "pending release", and only the original owner can pay to get it back - everyone else has to wait. This is excellent if you forgot to pay for your domain and it lapsed - the lack of DNS records will point it out, and you won't find someone has bought it out from underneath you.

In 2001, Neil Finn put up an ambitious multimedia website at; with a one year contract on his designer, it seems he also only got a one year registration on the name; it expired, someone else bought it, and now it's never going back to him at all. Neil moved to and (probably unrelated) lost interest in the project.

What's the alternative? Register names for 10 years? Thats obviously what Network Solutions wants you to do.

I'm not sure how to fix the problem; if the price of domain names was hitched up substantially (you can register a .com for a third to half the price of a .nz, so I'm thinking at least ten times), it would mean that anyone with just a joke or an idea wanting to make a name for itself would have to think twice, but the speculators wouldn't be quite so interested either. And because anyone can buy a domain name, everyone does, forcing people with unique names to register them just so no one else does. Just think; if Angelina hadn't snapped up all simple derivatives of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt's domain name, she might have had to resort to

I wish the internet had a benevolent dictator who could point at a domain name and say "you are not using that in the spirit of the Internet; I'm taking it away from you".

Happy 30th, Prof. Eric

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Software Freedom Day 2006

Saturday, June 24th, 2006


WLUG have had two installfests in the last two years; between them and the Saturday Workshops that run once a month, it seems we need to do a bit of advertising before we'll have any new people that need Linux installation help in the Waikato. (That, and Linux has become substantially easier to install recently!)

With the growth of international Software Freedom Day, it seemed about time that WLUG ran an SFD event in Hamilton to drum up interest both in F/OSS and the group itself.

So, if you're in Hamilton, or will be on September 16, mark the day in your calendar, and if you're interested in helping out, sign your name on the planning page.

This is a new area for us, so any advice from people who have done it before is welcomed.

Falcon repository builder

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

While Matt has built a repository system based on reprepro, thanks to Seveas (beware, that link is in Dutch), I've got Falcon working as a Debian/Ubuntu package repository. And in the process, increased the number of bugs fourfold!

The great thing is that he's fixed two of them already and there will probably be a update released today based on that. What great service.

(Is your blog staying at the top of the Planet longer than it should? Is your feed showing the time in the correct time zone? If not, you're posting from 12 hours in the future!)

For the people who want to make HIGification a word

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

A Firefox bug I haven't raised yet:

File menu should be renamed Page menu

Applications traditionally have a File menu, as the far left menu in their menu bar. Applications also traditionally act on "files" of some sort, be it documents, images, locally on your disk.Most of the things in the File menu in Firefox are actions that can be performed on the web page or image you are currently viewing (save, print, send, etc). While these technically are files, perhaps it might be worthwhile considering renaming the menu "Page".

I can't see Windows human interface guidelines without buying a book from 1998, which is made redundant by every new Windows (and also by every new Office, even if they come at the same time!). The GNOME HIG suggests that if you're a game, you should use a Game menu, not a File menu, and the Apple HIG says you don't have to have a File menu, just an Apple menu and an application menu. So why not give it a go?

I haven't raised this bug, but I'm interested in doing so if it seems like a good idea (This suggestion bought to you in part by IE7. It's Page menu isn't even on a menu bar any more).

By the way, I didn't know we were Planet Poetry Wink

Asshat space (or wordpress c2 a0, for search-fu)

Sunday, June 18th, 2006

Somehow, WordPress is inserting C2 A0 characters in my feed, which means that Planet NZTech can't parse them, so my posts don't show up until I find them manually and fix them.

C2 A0 is a unicode non-breaking space. It could be because of my habit of hitting Space twice after a sentence, that it realiases one of them has to be non-breaking. Whatever it is, it's irritating.

It doesn't happen in the output under ISO-8859-1. It's only on Windows, doing a diff of the feed as downloaded on my UTF-8 Linux server, that I actually see the problem.

Badly configured UTF-8 systems often end up with the symbol A-with-circumflex (Â) before the character. In #wlug, we lovingly call this character "the asshat". I had thought that putting it in would stop this post from being picked up, but seems there's an â in HTML just for my asshat character.

I've also found I can see them with LANG=iso-8859-1 less index.html. This explains why I couldn't find them to start with - less runs in UTF-8 by default, which draws it as a space!

Unfortunately, it works fine on Planet WLUG, so it's fixed in newer planetplanet, which doesn't work for Follower at the moment 😦

Not much can really be fixed at this point, so this writeup can act as a "this is the problem" in case anyone Googles for "wordpress c2 a0".

Jealous before God

Sunday, June 18th, 2006

This post didn't have this first paragraph the first two times, but something I'm doing is crashing Firefox, and while the Sessionsaver extension is nice, it doesn't seem to save form entries. I like the fact that Web 2.0 is all about "instant updating", and there's no reason why I shouldn't have my content saved as I go, even in draft format, everywhere on the web. Score one down for WordPress.

(hits Save and Continue Editing) Back to your regularly scheduled rant.

I learnt something today. The word 'zealot' is often bandied about, normally in the context of "someone who has a different opinion to me, and isn't afraid to espouse it". Zealous is actually a Hebrew word, meaning "jealous on behalf of God". While the two words have a common heritage, jealous and zealous today mean two different things.

Enough Hebrew - the Computer zealotry article is the one we we really meant.

I read an interesting article in the Computerworld this week, suggesting that the Free Software Foundation's reworking of Digital Rights Management as Digital Restrictions Management, and their Defective By Design protests, were painting them as fundamentalists, and that Stallman should continue at what he's good at, namely software freedom.

(So, this time, hitting Save and Continue Editing crashed Firefox. Not impressed. I did upgrade GNOME, perhaps I should have rebooted, like it asked...)

Then I read a presentation that Cory Doctorow from FSF Europe presented to Microsoft in 2004 (if you haven't read it, you really should), pointing out that people don't like being made pirates, and they will always try and do what they think they should be able to do, so the way to succeed in the business is to make the player that can play everything, and have the law change to follow you.

I could agree with either side individually. Yes, the FSF are appearing to be zealots, by trying to tell people that iTunes will eat their children. But for those people who believe that the FSF is communism incarnate, doesn't it seem like they just trying to reintroduce a free market?

At issue is the software embedded in the songs bought from the iTunes music store that prevents them from being played on rival devices. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have demanded that Apple strip the blocking software from its iTunes service. France is readying legislation that enforces such interoperability, and Finland may follow suit. Although no action has been taken in the United Kingdom, the record industry's trade body there has called for a removal of the software.

Meanwhile, protests have begun cropping up in the United States. A group called DefectivebyDesign rallied demonstrators at eight Apple stores across the country last Saturday, including the company's new 24-hour store in Manhattan. Wearing hazmat suits, they hoisted signs and handed out leaflets calling for Apple to stop using the blocking software.

The EFF have also weighed in with their cartoon interpretation of the future that could be.

In a world ruled by DRM, tinkerers will always be criminals. I've often thought that the hacker community should possibly stop trying to reclaim the word in a world that associates it with "computer criminal", but on the path that is bring projected, will there be a difference between the two? It seems the issues of copyright and Free Software are intertwined in a way that means that the FSF really do need to be involved.

I'm glad that issues like this and Net Neutrality will bring the issues to public attention. Linux Australia are bringing it to the attention of the Australian public It's happening now in Australia, as a Free Trade agreement with the US appears more likely. I'm not sure if it will come up in New Zealand - it might happen with music, it might happen with HDTV. But look out for NZOSS announcing memberships in the next month or two, and consider flicking us a buck to look out for you.