My Latest Obsession

In my second summer of gardening, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. This year, in addition to tomatoes and peppers. Ted also gave me some beans, watermelon and pumpkin. And I also had zucchini. The pumpkin was weird. The vine grew like crazy all over the back of my house, but then died for some reason. I ended up getting one pumpkin, about the size of a 16" softball. It was green when I picked it, but as it's been sitting on my counter, it's turning more orange. I picked one small watermelon and there are a couple more still growing. I haven't yet cut it open to see how it looks or how it tastes. The tomatoes have been reliable. I planted some miniature red peppers and I like eating those the best. There are a lot of green ones out there now, so I think they tend to come a little later in the season than the tomatoes. I got a few good size zucchini. However, after I picked them, the plants seemed to die. Since I think I planted them too close together, I ended up pulling them out last month.

Now however, I'm thinking about what's next. I had a bunch of lettuce plants in one of my boxes. After it got hot, I noticed that the lettuce tasted pretty bitter. So I was mainly letting them grow to get the seeds, which I ended up not harvesting. Oh well. But in their place, I planted some green onions. They went in the ground on Labor Day. Yes, that seems pretty late for planting, but I feel like we're getting longer growing seasons now. The past winter wasn't really that bad and this summer didn't get blazingly hot. Of course, this is just my own judgement. I haven't consulted any tables of temps in Chicago. But it seems like climate change is starting to affect things. With the hurricanes this year and crazy high temperatures in San Francisco, I think we've reached a tipping point. So, if our winters aren't as cold, perhaps we'll have a longer growing season. Again, I haven't quantified any of this, but I'm planting now because I feel like it's a good idea. Today, I also moved some pea plants and lettuce outside. We'll see if those take.

So, my latest obsession is to try to garden year round. Now I don't think that we won't get any snow, but I feel that it might be workable for growing. I need to build a greenhouse of some sort. I tried a cold frame last year, but that didn't really work with my simple box and plastic window on top. I think if I were to use two pieces of glass (my own double-pane window) and perhaps put some thermal mass inside the greenhouse to collect the heat during the day and distribute it at night...I may be able to grow stuff year round. I've been spending most of the afternoon looking stuff up to see how I might do this. And it's another crazy idea, that I totally would like to try.

Merge Three Files into One Using Command Line

I have three pdf files that I want to merge into a single file. But I don't want the three files to be on three separate pages. I want one big page with the three files all there.

First, get the sizes of my files:

$ identify PusherDisc32017.pdf 
PusherDisc32017.pdf PDF 1224x792 1224x792+0+0 16-bit sRGB 58413B 0.000u 0:00.000
$ identify PressBlockShort32017.pdf 
PressBlockShort32017.pdf PDF 1224x792 1224x792+0+0 16-bit sRGB 51523B 0.010u 0:00.000
$ identify LongPressBlock32117.pdf 
LongPressBlock32117.pdf PDF 1224x792 1224x792+0+0 16-bit sRGB 49860B 0.000u 0:00.000

So I want my final image to be 1224 x (3x792) or 1224 x 2376. Now make an empty image that size. I'm using a white background.

convert -size 1224x2376 canvas:white hold.png

Now, one at a time, merge the files together:

$ composite PusherDisc32017.pdf hold.png out1.png
$ composite PressBlockShort32017.pdf -gravity center out1.png  out2.png
$ composite  LongPressBlock32117.pdf -gravity south  out2.png  out3.png

Now my file out3.png has what I want.

Problems with mp4 files in Firefox

We had some students who took a video with their phone and wanted to post it on an html page. The html code we used was:

In Chrome, this worked fine. But in Firefox, it would show like this.

When that happened, I went to Tools -> Web Developer -> Browser Console. I got a message like this:

HTTP "Content-Type" of "video/3gpp" is not supported.  Load of media resource failed.

This message was strange because I wasn't posting a file called Robot.3gp, but one called Robot.mp4. So on my server, I checked the file.

$ file Robot.mp4
Robot.mp4: ISO Media, MPEG v4 system, 3GPP 

So whatever created this file, actually made a 3gpp file and not a legit mp4. However, I found that you can convert a 3gpp file to mp4 using ffmpeg. I renamed my Robot.mp4 file to Robot.3gp and then converted it.

$ ffmpeg -i Robot.3gp -ab 64k -ar 44100 -strict -2 Robot.mp4
ffmpeg version 2.8.12 Copyright (c) 2000-2017 the FFmpeg developers
  built with gcc 4.8.5 (GCC) 20150623 (Red Hat 4.8.5-11)
  configuration: --prefix=/usr --bindir=/usr/bin --datadir=/usr/share/ffmpeg --incdir=/usr/include/ffmpeg --libdir=/usr/lib64 --mandir=/usr/share/man --arch=x86_64 --optflags='-O2 -g -pipe -Wall -Wp,-D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2 -fexceptions -fstack-protector-strong --param=ssp-buffer-size=4 -grecord-gcc-switches -m64 -mtune=generic' --extra-ldflags='-Wl,-z,relro ' --enable-libopencore-amrnb --enable-libopencore-amrwb --enable-libvo-amrwbenc --enable-version3 --enable-bzlib --disable-crystalhd --enable-gnutls --enable-ladspa --enable-libass --enable-libcdio --enable-libdc1394 --disable-indev=jack --enable-libfreetype --enable-libgsm --enable-libmp3lame --enable-openal --enable-libopenjpeg --enable-libopus --enable-libpulse --enable-libschroedinger --enable-libsoxr --enable-libspeex --enable-libtheora --enable-libvorbis --enable-libv4l2 --enable-libx264 --enable-libx265 --enable-libxvid --enable-x11grab --enable-avfilter --enable-avresample --enable-postproc --enable-pthreads --disable-static --enable-shared --enable-gpl --disable-debug --disable-stripping --shlibdir=/usr/lib64 --enable-runtime-cpudetect
  libavutil      54. 31.100 / 54. 31.100
  libavcodec     56. 60.100 / 56. 60.100
  libavformat    56. 40.101 / 56. 40.101
  libavdevice    56.  4.100 / 56.  4.100
  libavfilter     5. 40.101 /  5. 40.101
  libavresample   2.  1.  0 /  2.  1.  0
  libswscale      3.  1.101 /  3.  1.101
  libswresample   1.  2.101 /  1.  2.101
  libpostproc    53.  3.100 / 53.  3.100
Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from 'Robot.3gp':
    major_brand     : 3gp5
    minor_version   : 0
    compatible_brands: 3gp5isom
    creation_time   : 2017-07-26 17:45:04
  Duration: 00:00:20.23, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 5135 kb/s
    Stream #0:0(und): Video: h264 (Baseline) (avc1 / 0x31637661), yuv420p(tv, bt470bg/bt470bg/smpte170m), 720x480, 5005 kb/s, 30 fps, 30 tbr, 90k tbn, 180k tbc (default)
      rotate          : 90
      creation_time   : 2017-07-26 17:45:04
    Side data:
      displaymatrix: rotation of -90.00 degrees
    Stream #0:1(und): Audio: aac (LC) (mp4a / 0x6134706D), 48000 Hz, stereo, fltp, 123 kb/s (default)
      creation_time   : 2017-07-26 17:45:04
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] using cpu capabilities: MMX2 SSE2Fast SSSE3 SSE4.2 AVX FMA3 AVX2 LZCNT BMI2
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] profile High, level 3.0
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] 264 - core 148 r2699 a5e06b9 - H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec - Copyleft 2003-2016 - - options: cabac=1 ref=3 deblock=1:0:0 analyse=0x3:0x113 me=hex subme=7 psy=1 psy_rd=1.00:0.00 mixed_ref=1 me_range=16 chroma_me=1 trellis=1 8x8dct=1 cqm=0 deadzone=21,11 fast_pskip=1 chroma_qp_offset=-2 threads=6 lookahead_threads=1 sliced_threads=0 nr=0 decimate=1 interlaced=0 bluray_compat=0 constrained_intra=0 bframes=3 b_pyramid=2 b_adapt=1 b_bias=0 direct=1 weightb=1 open_gop=0 weightp=2 keyint=250 keyint_min=25 scenecut=40 intra_refresh=0 rc_lookahead=40 rc=crf mbtree=1 crf=23.0 qcomp=0.60 qpmin=0 qpmax=69 qpstep=4 ip_ratio=1.40 aq=1:1.00
Output #0, mp4, to 'Robot.mp4':
    major_brand     : 3gp5
    minor_version   : 0
    compatible_brands: 3gp5isom
    encoder         : Lavf56.40.101
    Stream #0:0(und): Video: h264 (libx264) ([33][0][0][0] / 0x0021), yuv420p, 480x720, q=-1--1, 30 fps, 15360 tbn, 30 tbc (default)
      creation_time   : 2017-07-26 17:45:04
      encoder         : Lavc56.60.100 libx264
    Stream #0:1(und): Audio: aac ([64][0][0][0] / 0x0040), 44100 Hz, stereo, fltp, 64 kb/s (default)
      creation_time   : 2017-07-26 17:45:04
      encoder         : Lavc56.60.100 aac
Stream mapping:
  Stream #0:0 -> #0:0 (h264 (native) -> h264 (libx264))
  Stream #0:1 -> #0:1 (aac (native) -> aac (native))
Press [q] to stop, [?] for help
frame=  607 fps=178 q=-1.0 Lsize=    1593kB time=00:00:20.22 bitrate= 645.1kbits/s    
video:1408kB audio:162kB subtitle:0kB other streams:0kB global headers:0kB muxing overhead: 1.439324%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] frame I:4     Avg QP:19.34  size:  9992
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] frame P:171   Avg QP:22.56  size:  4317
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] frame B:432   Avg QP:24.06  size:  1534
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] consecutive B-frames:  3.3%  2.6%  8.4% 85.7%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] mb I  I16..4: 28.5% 58.4% 13.1%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] mb P  I16..4:  4.2%  9.2%  1.8%  P16..4: 37.9%  7.7%  5.0%  0.0%  0.0%    skip:34.2%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] mb B  I16..4:  0.3%  0.5%  0.1%  B16..8: 42.5%  2.7%  0.4%  direct: 1.4%  skip:52.2%  L0:48.5% L1:48.6% BI: 2.9%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] 8x8 transform intra:59.6% inter:80.2%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] coded y,uvDC,uvAC intra: 32.2% 41.0% 4.4% inter: 7.5% 10.5% 0.3%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] i16 v,h,dc,p: 33% 24% 26% 18%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] i8 v,h,dc,ddl,ddr,vr,hd,vl,hu: 10% 16% 45%  3%  9%  3%  9%  2%  3%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] i4 v,h,dc,ddl,ddr,vr,hd,vl,hu: 13% 14% 27%  3% 18%  4% 16%  2%  3%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] i8c dc,h,v,p: 61% 18% 20%  1%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] Weighted P-Frames: Y:2.3% UV:0.0%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] ref P L0: 56.2% 10.7% 21.3% 11.6%  0.1%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] ref B L0: 84.3% 11.6%  4.1%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] ref B L1: 94.4%  5.6%
[libx264 @ 0x1e6d1e0] kb/s:569.65
$ ll Robot*
-rwxr--r-- 1 hep html 12988147 Jul 27 12:53 Robot.3gp
-rw-rw-r-- 1 hep html  1630980 Jul 27 13:43 Robot.mp4
$ file Robot.3gp
Robot.3gp: ISO Media, MPEG v4 system, 3GPP
file Robot.mp4
Robot.mp4: ISO Media, MPEG v4 system, version 1

Now the Robot.mp4 file plays in Firefox without a problem.

Keyboard not working with old program setup

At work, we use some very old programs. In one program (layout), it opens up the other program (specctra). The weird error was that the keyboard would not work in specctra if it was started from layout. If I started it by itself from the command line, it worked perfectly. I looked at the logs when it started and found a lot of warnings that looked like this:

Warning: translation table syntax error: Unknown keysym name:  osfActivate
Warning: ... found while parsing ':osfActivate:            ManagerParentActivate()'
Warning: String to TranslationTable conversion encountered errors
Warning: translation table syntax error: Unknown keysym name:  osfBeginLine
Warning: ... found while parsing ':osfBeginLine:           ManagerGadgetTraverseHome()'
Warning: String to TranslationTable conversion encountered errors

Searching for this message brought me to this page. And the directions there worked perfectly.

[~]# cd /usr/
[/usr]# mkdir -p X11R6/lib
[/usr]# cd X11R6/lib/
[lib]# ln -s /usr/share/X11 .

After I created that link, the keyboard worked fine however specctra was started.

Compromised Account

I had a user account that was compromised yesterday. Fortunately, all they used it for was to send out a ton of spam for 11 hours or so. The person whose account was compromised came in today to find over 50,000 bounced messages in her account. So I had a pretty good idea of which account was causing the problem. After stopping her mailer and then starting and stopping sendmail, I saw that the messages were still going out. I changed her password and that appeared to stop things. I kept an eye on things and will continue to do so for the rest of the day, to see if anything else goes wrong.

In looking at the logs, I've found lots of messages like:

Jul  6 11:09:21 srv sendmail[23556]: STARTTLS=server, [], version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NOT, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Jul  6 11:09:23 srv sendmail[23556]: v66G9Ac7023556: [] did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA
Jul  6 11:10:06 srv sendmail[23952]: STARTTLS=server, [], version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NOT, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Jul  6 11:10:08 srv sendmail[23952]: v66G9xXg023952: [] did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA
Jul  6 11:10:48 srv sendmail[24162]: STARTTLS=server, relay=[], version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NOT, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Jul  6 11:10:50 srv sendmail[24162]: v66GAfoO024162: [] did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA
Jul  6 11:12:25 srv sendmail[24858]: STARTTLS=server, [] (may be forged), version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NOT, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Jul  6 11:12:26 srv sendmail[24858]: v66GCHIq024858: [] (may be forged) did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA
Jul  6 11:12:29 srv sendmail[24869]: STARTTLS=server, [] (may be forged), version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NOT, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Jul  6 11:12:31 srv sendmail[24869]: v66GCMQ5024869: [] (may be forged) did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA
Jul  6 11:13:49 srv sendmail[25528]: STARTTLS=server, [] (may be forged), version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NOT, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Jul  6 11:13:51 srv sendmail[25528]: v66GDhMg025528: [] (may be forged) did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA
Jul  6 11:14:13 srv sendmail[25679]: STARTTLS=server, [] (may be forged), version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NOT, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Jul  6 11:14:15 srv sendmail[25679]: v66GE68G025679: [] (may be forged) did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA
Jul  6 11:15:08 srv sendmail[25991]: STARTTLS=server, relay=[], version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NOT, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Jul  6 11:15:11 srv sendmail[25991]: v66GEt5t025991: [] did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA

All of those did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSA messages are people trying to send mail through our server with the incorrect password. Part of me would like to collect all of those ip addresses and block all packets from them, since they're compromised. However, that would be a lot of work. And they could be just like me, someone who had a compromised account that they're cleaning up. And also like me, they'd like to have their email delivered again once things are back to normal.

Year is Half Over

That was quick. 2017 is already halfway over. Thought I'd take a minute to see how the year is progressing so far.

I started the year off great with my no sugar habit. But then I went on vacation at the end of April and sort of fell off the wagon for May and June. My intention was to start July better, but that hasn't happened. The good thing though is that I am getting better about not totally overindulging when I have a little bit of sugar. I just put the black face on the calendar and try to get back to eating right. And my new mantra is "I'll try again tomorrow". No use beating myself up over it.

My DIY projects have been going pretty well. I've made a number of things. Beer flight paddles for my brother's brew pub. They're working really well and he just asked me for 7-10 more. So I'll have to get on that. I made some small planters for my mom out of old boards in the basement. And I made a huge planter for my mom out of some old doors I found. I've gotten the welder all set up, though I haven't actually used it yet. Though that's more of a problem of finding space in my garage. For safety, I only want to weld outside or in the garage...not in the house.

I had emptied the back of my upstairs to start gutting it. That hasn't happened. In fact, I moved a twin bed up there because my brother and his husband moved all their stuff to my house because they're going to Shanghai for the year. And since I hurt my back about 10 days ago, I've been sleeping on this twin bed because it's harder than my own bed. So while I have great intentions for working on the house, nothing has been done.

The garden is looking pretty good. And I bought a ton of herbs. A new goal that I have is to try to learn how to cook well. I think I might need to use the herbs. Someday, I'd like to invite people over to my house for a dinner party and be able to cook for them. Shoot, I'd even like to be able to cook myself some decent meals. I have absolutely no confidence in my cooking skills at this time.

So far this year I have already bought myself a new bike. That was an excellent purchase and I like it a lot. Granted, I also got hit by a car for the first time ever. Fortunately, both me and my bike were fine, so I can keep riding. So I now fully understand the whole "you have to get back on the horse that threw you" mentality. I won't say that it didn't affect me, as I do tend to tense up when there are more cars around. But I do still ride. I also got a drill press. And it didn't cost me anything. Mickey gave it to me. I haven't yet used it because it didn't come with a key and I couldn't find mine. But I'm sure I'll use it soon.

So far the year is going well. My sister is getting married in two weeks, so I'm very happy for her. My brother and his husband are embarking on an adventure in Shanghai, so I'm happy for them. I still like my job and can take care of myself, so I'm happy for me.

The Back Part II

On July 21st, I got up as usual and did some stretches for my knee, as I had started doing again a few weeks before, and was putting my shoes on when I felt a sharp pain in my back. I don't know why, but I do know that I had done this before. So I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. It is now 10 days later and things feel pretty good. I started to be able to do normal things without a ton of pain after about a week. And as I noted in my previous blog post, ice is better than heat. And lying flat on the floor is quite helpful. Though, getting up from lying on the floor is quite painful. But I think it'll be back to normal after another week. I'm mainly writing this to note how long things take to get better and how often this is happening.

I also think that I might look into joining a gym where I could work with a trainer. Since I had literally just finished stretching and was putting on my shoes, I fear that perhaps I'm stretching incorrectly. And a trainer will work on stretching all my muscles, not just the ones that hurt. I'll have to look at things to see how expensive this might be.

The security ID structure is invalid

All of my new users in my samba domain were getting this error when they tried to login to windows after I updated our ldap server. The problem was that I didn't update my script to use the new SID on the new server. So for these users, the sambaSID and sambaPrimaryGroupSID values were wrong. I changed them with this ldif file.

dn: uid=user1,ou=people,dc=edg,dc=uchicago,dc=edu
changetype: modify
replace: sambaSID
sambaSID: S-1-5-21-3315390538-3674444503-1443699862-4388
replace: sambaPrimaryGroupSID
sambaPrimaryGroupSID: S-1-5-21-3315390538-3674444503-1443699862-1413

Uninterruptible Sleep

Recently, I've upgraded some servers at work to RHEL7. I've had a few things that I didn't plan for, but that's to be expected when you do a major upgrade and you can't test everything in advance. However, I have had one issue that is still causing problems. And ironically, it seems to affect my own account the most.

On most mornings, when I ssh into our server, it takes a really long time to login. I assumed this was an nfs issue because I almost always assume slowness things are related to nfs. After logging in, I run top and can see the load on the system go up. There's no single process that looks to be out of control. I did notice though that an imap process under my name would jump to the top every so often. Since I had Mail on my mac open, I expected that. However, since I wasn't doing anything with mail and I didn't see any new messages, I didn't understand why it would suddenly cause a high load. I thought it was just coincidence, but after a few days of this happening, I figured something was there and I googled "Mac Mail High Load". This brought up High Mail CPU with El Capitan as the first result. And I was running El Capitan. I ran the top command and looked for processes in the uninterruptible sleep state and found me with a bunch of them. I have a few because I'm checking a few different email accounts, some are under my username and others are under a user called ichep.

[~]# top -b -n 1 |grep D
  476 ichep     20   0   19776   3208   2204 D   0.0  0.0   0:00.12 imap
  946 mary      20   0   20052   3348   1992 D   0.0  0.0   0:00.14 imap
 1101 mary      20   0   19296   2400   1928 D   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 imap
 1166 mary      20   0   19044   1996   1672 D   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 imap
 1167 ichep     20   0   19044   1812   1524 D   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 imap

I followed the instructions in the webpage and turned off "Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox" and closed the preferences window. Then reopened it and turned off "Compact mailboxes automatically".

Now when I run mail, I don't appear to get those processes in the uninterruptible state. However, I still think there's an nfs issue causing those processes to get into that state. I'm not 100% sure though, so I'll keep an eye on things over the next week to see if I find anything. The weird thing about this is that I tend to notice the problem the most, the first thing in the morning when I initially login. This makes me think it's an nfs issue, as the disks that I'd normally use would probably be unmounted. My logging in should cause autofs to mount the disks I need. And I think there's a disk that my .bash_profile uses to source something that is causing the problem. The only "proof" that I think it's an nfs issue is that I check another mail account on a different server. On this second server, everything is set up exactly the same, except that my home disk is a local disk, not one mounted via nfs. And on this second server, I've never seen any issues with this type of delay or uninterruptible sleep states.

New Big Project

For quite a long time, I have wanted to write a book and try to sell it. For a multitude of reasons, I haven't. As of yesterday, no more! I signed up for 30x500 to get started. I'm hoping to find out ways to determine if my idea will actually help people, thus making it worth doing. Am I sure about this? Absolutely not. Who do I think I am to write a book? I'm not an expert at anything. It will probably be the worst book ever and will sell zero copies. However, I've decided that this is something I want to try. I've decided that being afraid of failure is worse than failure itself. I want to give it a try. And the 30x500 class is a way to help me hedge my bets. It cost me $1900 and my goal is to make that back within the next three years. (Official date: March 8, 2020) Doable? I have no idea. But I'm going to put in the work on it. I've deleted everyone I follow on Twitter, except people that I know personally. So I shouldn't be wasting any time there. I've also deleted all the bookmarks for blogs I like to read and youtube videos I like to watch. Again to not waste time. Lastly, I've created a new account on my laptop to use for studying and writing. So all of the programs and things that I have on my laptop aren't available to this second account and thus I can't have them open while I'm working. I've created a website for it. Let's get started!