Apple Mail client missing plug-in?

November 21, 2010

It is not news that Oracle bought out Sun. The light was waning for the bright star in the firmament for some time. It finally fell prey to the soothsayer who had been quietly espying the heavens for auguries. The signs said “Buy Sun” and that is what Oracle did. What the omens did not say was that there was going to a mess.

I started noticing  a problem with the Sun Java some months back. First, it was my Windows box. Then it spread to my Mac box. The very last problem was with OsX Mail.

The darn programme told me that there was a plug-in missing. I finally found out how to resolve the issue.

It is this:

a) Open the Utilities Folder under Applications.
b) Go to the Java icon and activate it.

You will then set Java to default.
Here is what it looks like

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Mounting HFS+ R/W in Linux(Debian)

November 11, 2010

Mounting an HFS+ system in Linux is not all that easy In order to succeed you must mount your HFS+ drive then run fsck.hfsplus on the drive/

Here is how it is down

Step 1 : in a terminal

apt-get install hfsplus

Step 2 : I assume your drive is attached/installed

In my case I ran a mount command to see if indeed I could mount it

mount -t force hfsplus /dev/sda1 /mnt/sda1

If this works then umount the drive

Step 3 : apply the hfsplus rebuild to the drive: on the termina


l write


The output looks like this

root@thinkpad:~# fsck.hfsplus /dev/sda1
** /dev/sda1
** Checking HFS Plus volume.
** Checking Extents Overflow file.
** Checking Catalog file.
** Checking Catalog hierarchy.
** Checking Extended Attributes file.
   Incorrect number of Extended Attributes
(8, 3)
** Checking volume bitmap.
** Checking volume information.
** Repairing volume.
** Rechecking volume.
** Checking HFS Plus volume.
** Checking Extents Overflow file.
** Checking Catalog file.
** Checking Catalog hierarchy.
** Checking Extended Attributes file.
   Invalid map node
(8, 0)
** Checking volume bitmap.
** Checking volume information.
** Repairing volume.
** Rechecking volume.
** Checking HFS Plus volume.
** Checking Extents Overflow file.
** Checking Catalog file.
** Checking Catalog hierarchy.
** Checking Extended Attributes file.
** Checking volume bitmap.
** Checking volume information.
** The volume Backup_USB was repaired successfully.

Step 4: edit your /etc/fstab file

Add the following line to your fstab file

    /dev/sda1       /mnt/sda1       hfsplus  rw,user,noauto 0       0

Step 5:


Dave Clark Five – Catch Us If You Can (1965)

November 5, 2010

The Sixties – the Anglo Music Scene

November 5, 2010

Footloose, footsore on the St James Way

October 22, 2010

In May and June of

MMX I walked the St James Way. It will remain one of the more important journeys of my life.

Before I embarked on this journey, I did what most people do: I researched the Way and went so far as to drive to St Jean Pied-de-Port (for some cycling too). Reading the literature does not prepare you for the Way anymore than reading a sci-fi novel prepares you for a trip to an outlying galaxy. Even though I had read, calculated and made exhaustive lists, I did not know what to expect, not really. When visiting St Jean-pied-de-port (St John at-the-foot-of-the-mountains) last year, I asked more than a dozen pilgrims (those who had been walking from as far away as Switzerland)  what I should expect. They were very imprecise, it seemed to me.  Purposefully, I thought.

My preparation did not make the journey any easier. However, like many travellers the difficulties were of my own doing. I committed a few cardinal sins. My boots were too new though I had bought them six months before and “broke them in”, or so I thought. My rucksack was too heavy which is to say I carried too much dross with me. To put it another way, you cannot, you should not, the comforts of home should stay at home. Those things I thought I needed I ended up leaving behind at the hostels. First it was something a little heavy, then something bulky then finally even trousers and underwear. To this end hostels have a catchall bin for pilgrims who are wishing to donate and those looking for a lost sock or all weather underpants. It seemed that many pilgrims were better prepared – and so they were as I subsequently found out – while many were very ill prepared indeed. The most ill prepared pilgrim I met  was a friendly sympathetic nurse from northern Ontario. She had a few handicaps. She spoke no English although this was not a big problem as the second largest group of foreign pilgrims were French-speakers. She was overweight and she wore crocs.  In retrospect, when my blisters started to multiply like promiscuous rats, I kicked myself for not bringing along my own crocs. She was brave. She did not whine. But she was slow so I left her behind. This is the first lesson I learned. You must walk your own way, at your own speed and in your own thoughts.

I decided to start my journey on the eastern side of the Pyrenees, which is to say St Jean pied-de-port. It is my understanding that pilgrims who start in St Jean have grander bragging rights than those who start in Roncesvalles. Perhaps bragging rights  is the wrong term. Anyway, it was during this first day that I met pilgrims who had started 1000 km before me in Le Puy and others even further north and east. By their measure, I was a Sunday stroller. It was also on this first day that a pilgrim offered me piece of his meal when I sat down dismally lacking in nourishment of any kind. It was morning, it was sunny, it was grandly beautiful and I had not food in my kit. He also imparted advice: Always have food with your when your start out. His kindness was returned several times over on the journey.

It was also here, on my first day and crossing the Pyrenees that I met the members of  my first family. It was this family which stayed intact for the longest period. Halfway on my journey I developed a toe infection which obliged me to part from the family. Had it not been for this we might have held together to Santiago. As it happened, two members (who had joined the family some days after Roncesvalles) stayed together to the very end: to Lands End or Finistere.

Upon leaving St Jean, the hosts (albergiste) of the hostel – two real salt-of-the-earth Frenchmen, and true devout Catholics – instructed us how to greet other pilgrims. "Ultreia!" The response is "Et suseia". Rarely did I hear these words bandied about and certainly most pilgrims did not understand what it all meant. It means simply "Forward, ahead. “ And God help us!

But as I said, most people did not know what it meant and therefore kept to the benign "Buen Camino!" This anodyne greeting started to grate towards the end of the journey. I suspect it was because most pilgrims use it as a cover or as a way to dismiss the occasion to prevent another pilgrim from starting a dialogue. This was the way it worked: you mumbled ‘Buen Camino!" and continued on your merry way without missing a step. If you did then you were inviting conversation. At the end of the journey, the last thing a tired pilgrim needs is another chatty pilgrim rabbiting on about things of idiotic unimportance. Frankly, after one month of heat, cold, rain, snow, infected toes, blisters too numerous to count, irregular and insufficient or poor quality food, lack of proper kipping accommodation, it all starts to break down, even for the most courageous and intrepid traveller. It is also at the halfway point that one learns the meaning of well worn adages. Silence is golden is understood. What goes up must come down. Share and share alike. A fool and his gold are soon parted. Of the three love/charity is the most important. Strangely, tiredness, sore, blistered, bloody, infected feet is no reason to not continue. This is another important  lesson one learns on the St James is: never stop!

In spite of the fact that I carried a lot of weight and did indeed discard unnecessary accoutrements, I did have music with me. I played Pergolesi’s Fac ur ardeat cor meum daily, to give me courage and put me into a spiritual mood. It became my signature. Pilgrims walking beside me or with me would inevitably ask for an encore. I mean I did not sing it. Well I did, but only to accompany the joyful sonorous rendition by Sebastian Henning and René Jacob. I especially enjoyed this masterly musical piece after the daily rosary, or when I sat down to tuck into a fruit.

Why do it?

The St James Way is not to everyone’s taste. Or rather parts of it are not. The faith-based or religious reasons are less comforting than they once were and sadly, many of the  pilgrims who walk the Camino do not do it for religious reasons. The other way to say this is that some of the pilgrims who walk the Camino are not very religious. Indeed I met some were as venal, gritty, uninspired as rats taking a free ride on bowels of the Parisian sewage system. You learn this as you walk beside strangers (who quickly become friends). You walk the St James Way not to judge nor be judged but being human, one does precisely that. Sometimes that which comes out of another human being’s mouth can make one scratch one’s head. A French pilgrim told me, in order, what things are important to him and on those things he contemplated on the St James Way. He, a man approaching seventy, revealed to me that his list was short but it included  the very mundane – wife, family, children, work, friends but finally, sex (which he enjoyed with gusto).  I do not think I showed any surprise on my face.  I was now in the last 100 km of the Walk and hoping deep quiet. After this revelation I decided to walk on my own.

Some pilgrims could not rightfully be described as pilgrims. Some, too many, it seemed, were there for reasons to do with sport. There were those who were certainly not pilgrims, if one was to judge by their words. Yes, I did meet a few who, after the first greeting, went into vituperative paroxysm even make noises like "Oh the churches are so opulent. Would it not make more sense to sell all those riches and give the money to the poor?" Head scratching is permitted, I told myself. And tut-tutting and a feeling of vexed by simple minds. Then it echoes in my mind: Faith, hope and charity and of these the greatest is charity. I smile. I listen and bid that person  adieu. Thankfully I encountered less than a handful of such interested unbelievers. After such encounters I could not help feeling that for someone who is actually walking the El Camino for religious reasons, it sometimes felt as though I was the odd man outt.

The people who do not walk the St James for religious reasons do it for spiritual reasons. Still others do it for "other" reasons. Many of these wander the El Camino for physical fitness. Still others, as crass as it sounds, because it is a cheap holiday.

In the video vignettes I posed three questions:

a) What is your name?

b) From where do you hail?

c) What is the reason for your journey?

Videos (Short versions)

The Roma: a gypsy by any other name?

September 24, 2010

It was unusual. A bald statement by a BBC journalist.
Normally, I do not turn on the telly until late evening to catch up on national and world events. Today I did turn it on morningside. Flicking about, I chose the Beeb World News. A reporter had just started babbling on about the Roma (a.k.a. gypsies)  in France. La Republique Francaise, it seems, is not keen on having the Roma set up camp across the country, willy-nilly. A project initiated by Sarkozy, the French President, to have them expelled has met with a mixture of relief and scepticism. Viviane Redding, the European Commissioner for European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship called this plan akin to the extermination of gypsies by the Nazis. Hyperbole? Sarkozy was miffed and suggested that perhaps Luxembourg should take all the gypies coming to France (Redding is a Letzburger). This was a naughty thing to say given that Letzburgers are a minority in their own country (about 40% of the population is first and second-generation Portuguese). This tit-for-tat will continue, no doubt. Anyway, back to the Beeb reporter.
The correspondent was reporting on a project to get the Roma temporarily housed until they get their feet on the ground. As a man of large build states in today’s Swedish-language Finnish national newspaper, neither of these countries offer the Roma anything. Nothing. The Beeb report shows us cleaned up children having a lark in a well-ordered encampment, somewhere in France, in which families can actually feel secure. It shows us people who are genuinely keen on getting on with life: schooling their children, finding jobs, becoming independent and well-functioning families. The reporter tried the balanced view – as we all expect of the Beeb. His statement: “Even the critics acknowledge that wherever the Roma land, crime follows them.” Caught my ear. Of course, the cameraman caught a Roma woman sucking away at a rather large cigarette while another was hoarsely tongue-lashing the camera that not all Roma are thieves. Certainly not.
In today’s Hufvudstadsbladet (the national paper I mention above) carries a full page article – from the Roma frontlines somewhere Romania – who returned from France two hundred Euros richer, thanks to Sarkozy. Yes, it is admitted that the new houses they are building (but not to code standards) are the result of pro-active begging in far off corners of Europe, but the Bulgarian and Romania governments do nothing for them so they are obliged to move on to greener pastures, beg in these far fields and return with the goods to build their not-to-code houses.  It was better in communist times, one man pipes up to the camera. I only know this because I understand the odd phrase in Romanian.
Their next target is Spain. This, one gypsy man claims, is the Golden City of Cortes. Collecting scrap metal is lucrative and with a bit of begging to supplement income, the hawk-eyed gypsy can aim for a Beamer in the driveway and by golly there it is. OK, you might think that admitting to such crass and inappropriate desires is tantamount to showing you do indeed deserve all the scorn that can by heaped on your head. Not so. I want a Beamer too. In the neighbours yard so that I can scornfully girn everytime I walk past. Hah, I would tell no one in particular, what a crass little man who thinks that fine well-tuned mound of German steel will get him through the eye of the needle. Fat chance. Fat wide tyres. Nice rims. Don’t like the colour though.
Gypsies, Roma, tinkers, travellers or whatever name you put to them are a Europe-wide problem. I would stick my neck out and suggest that regardless of which ‘mainstream’ European you ask, they pucker their lips in a similar fashion when discussing gypsies. This could suggest that their mistrust of this rootless people is a common heritage. Why is this so? Why, after 500 years, do we have a minority of people who have yet to integrate? Why are these people stigmatized in such a way as to make their flight from their own ghettos almost impossible? Who or what is to blame for their plight?
I have read a lot on this issue and cannot for the life of me understand what it is that keeps this community shackled to misery. I have travelled in their communities, met them in their ‘own grounds’ and tried to understand them. But therein lies the problem. I do not understand them – even when we speak the same language.
Integrating Roma is difficult. Finnish gypsies are a good example of a minority which, should be easy to integrate as they do not physically stand out from the host community that is if they were to don a pair of jeans like every Tom, Dick and Jari. But they do stick out. They make a point of wearing garments which set them aside from the the man-on-the-street. Is the question then not of integration but of separateness? Do they want to be different? Is it possible that after 500 years we have yet to learn the lesson that gypsies do not want to be integrated but indeed want to remain separate. I do not know. What I do know is that I do not like to see gypsies using their children as pawns in their begging sprees. I do not like to be accosted by young gypsy women with shining baubles hanging off their fists trying desperately to cadge a Euro or two for jewellery of suspicious pedigree.
We cannot sit back and justify our passivity by uttering the meek mantra: This is the way they want to live. No doubt some do. Surely most do not. It is all well and good to look the other way when a (usually) woman comes at you with an outstretched begging hand. It is another when a child is press-ganged into this demeaning activity and you have to turn away in cold remorse. Even though my faith exhorts me to respect respect all human beings as my brothers and sisters, I do find it difficult at times. Is it appropriate to respect humans beings who are so morally ambivalent as to use their children in nefarious activities? Should we allow families to raise children to become beggars (and er, thieves) and continue this as though it was a valued and valuable cultural tradition? Should mothers and fathers be permitted to teach their children the skills of crafty conniving, the very same that have kept them enslaved in misery, poverty and hopelessness for many hundreds of years? Is it indeed not a neighbour’s to help? Is it not our duty to state clearly what is right and wrong? Is it not our duty to demand respect for everyone including for our very own selves?

Building a working and stable Gallery 3 media archive site

August 27, 2010

Ihave been toodling around with Gallery3 for some time. I spent an inordinate amount of time checking o photo-media gallery alternatives and came back to Gallery3. Many gallery server packages had shortcomings. I even thought ran WordPress for some days thinking that with all the media plugins I could build an archive with this very elegant tool. The packages I tested were, on the whole, incomplete, lacking in essential features, or both. Some, notablyZenphoto (disappointingly), were too darn slow. I have used Gallery1 and Gallery2 in thepast but the latter is too bloated and the former is ancient. I took the time to investigate Gallery3 and the claims made about the Kohana backbone. Yep. I think this is going to be a very good kit. For now though, it is still beta, so be warned.

Amongst the slew of gallery-media server packages, the mostpromising, and the one with which I stuck the longest, was LinPHA. However, I have finally dragged into the Trash bin because itis short on features but, more importantly, active development is as slow as a snail on asandy beach. 

After a couple of weeks ofGallery3, I am confident that I have found the right media archivingtool for the coming years. However, there are some shortcomings(still). For a Mac-iPhoto-Aperture user like myself, an exportfunction to Gallery3 would be just the ticket. I suppose I may have to find the time to do itmyself because, I am sure, the good chaps at Menalto are up to their eyeballs fielding bugs and requests.

I am running my Gallery3 on a toothless Tiger-G5 beast, lamentably short on memory and as noisyy as a steam engine in a tunnel. However, that being said, it does keep my shack from blowing away in the wind. 

Working Gallery 3 site 

Permissions on Gallery3
This is a tricky issue and can cause one to pull whatever little hair one has growing on the skull.
It seems that whatever else you must do, you must have the correct matching of the host name in the /etc/hosts file so that your domainname.tld is matched to
Hence, in my server, I had to this line
I also had this<—–>localhost 

Now the pesky message to do change your .htaccess file and AllowOverRide  in the httpd.conf file is gone. Bleeding heck.

How to create drop shadows using only HTML/CSS

August 26, 2010


How to create drop shadow effect on text using only HTML

I wanted to create a shadow effect (example above).
My principal concern was that it would work on most if not all browsers. There are many examples of how this is done using CSS and various cryptic javascript commands which do not seem to work on all browsers. I turned to plain old html code which I could insert in my Gallery3 header.
Here is the code and how it works.

  1. This is the first line or bottom text –  shadow text

  1. This is the top line

    Here is how it works …
    Step 1: Change the position of the shadow text by moving it a little to right or left. In the case above I moved it sligthly to the left of the top text (which is in 2 px to the right of the shadow text therefore after “position: absolute; left:”  I changed it to 10px
    Step 2: Change the position of the shadow text from the top to be sligthly offset from the top text. In this case the top text is 22px and the shadow text is 24px.
    Step 3: I made the shadow higher  (47px versus 44px) 
    Step 4: The font size is the same for both the shadow and top text. 
    Step 5: Colours are changed by fiddling around with the “color:” code.

    What is cool about this method is that by jigging around with the size and positionig you also get a glow effect.

    Easy peasy!

    El Camino Videos

    August 11, 2010

    The summer of sizzling pork

    July 30, 2010

    I left Canada (I stayed in Fergus, a village with enough distance from Toronto to make it the real rural) a fortnight back and left with it hot muggy weather. Or so I thought. Now what happened is that it followed me, to Finland, in the far north. Now you might think that we suffer from frigid weather all times of the year. Not so. The summer has been unusual. Even in Lappland  – the reindeer have been complaining loudly how unfair it is that they should have to put up with might well be climate change caused by their herdmasters, the human species.

    Their quadruped cousins, swine, do not have mechanism to cool themselves down so human intervention is necessary. Last night’s National News showed us how some farmers are coping with this heat wave. Simply, they take out the water hose and douse down the swine who, in their inimitable way, er, hog the water raining down on them. I do not come to mention hogs accidently. No, it has something to do with the latest tit-for-tat food war between the Russians and Finns. Actually, this food war seems to  move from country to country. Some time ago it was Poland. Then the Baltic countries. Then Sweden. Now it is our turn.

    It seems that Russian food scientists have found anti-biotics swimming around Finnish hog meat exported to Russia. They have also found other things and, it seems, they have been using microscopic technology far superior to that available to us in the west. This is not a new phenomena. I mean that the Russian government uses whatever is at hand to thrash its neighbours into line. Finland is a handy and easy whipping boy. Last week the Russian president,  Dmitry Medvedev, visited our own president, Tarja Kaarina Halonen, at the summer palace. We were there visiting family, the village, not the president.

    I got to hear of it from our local clan who have the nasty habit of going down to the see daily, to dip their bodies for a cool down. Were they surprised to see such a massive security presence? Does a bear shit in a Russian woods?

    Then our president, Tarja H. took up the several matters with her counterpart. For example, what about Russia’s attempt to restrict food imports from Finland? She likely whined.

    You see, this week it is pork, last week it was milk, and before that it was iced cream. Some time ago it was the meddling of the Russian Child Protection ombudsman who slagged off the Finnish Social Service, good and proper, from very high moral ground, for not being sensitive to the plight of a Russian family living in Turku who were having problems with their child. Russian media played the chauvinist card by suggesting that Russians living in Finland actually are obliged to follow Russian law, too. Give over, one Finnish politician was heard saying. Not too loudly though lest he get a harsh reprimand from the Duma.

    On the matter of Finnish food exports to Russia, the Russian president blithely mentioned at the one and only press conference at Tarja’s pied-à-terre that all would be fixed in a fortnight and besides, since the age of urchinhood, he has been suckled on Finnish milk and chomped down on good smoked Finnish hams. All to the good. Look at me now, all one metre fifty (5 foot 4)

     Well, then, hip hip hooray! So one may assume that if it was good for him surely it is good for us. Or maybe not.

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