Category Archives: Tech Talk

Resolution of Ansible Issues on OS X Mavericks

Getting started with Ansible on OS X Mavericks. While following the installation instructions, it broke down on the final step, twice.

$ ansible all -m ping --ask-pass

It first broke down with the following message (upon entering an empty password):

127.0.0.1 | FAILED => SSH encountered an unknown error during the connection. We recommend you re-run the command using -vvvv, which will enable SSH debugging output to help diagnose the issue

Then tried entering the password for my logged-in user, which resulted in the following error:

127.0.0.1 | FAILED => to use the 'ssh' connection type with passwords, you must install the sshpass program

Solution 1: This was resolved with the solution found here.

After this, things were still breaking down, so I turned the -vvvv flag on. Here’s the output with -vvvv flag:

$ ansible all -m ping --ask-pass -vvvv
SSH password:
<127.0.0.1> ESTABLISH CONNECTION FOR USER: User
<127.0.0.1> REMOTE_MODULE ping
<127.0.0.1> EXEC ['sshpass', '-d6', 'ssh', '-C', '-tt', '-vvv', '-o', 'ControlMaster=auto', '-o', 'ControlPersist=60s', '-o', 'ControlPath=/Users/User/.ansible/cp/ansible-ssh-%h-%p-%r', '-o', 'GSSAPIAuthentication=no', '-o', 'PubkeyAuthentication=no', '-o', 'ConnectTimeout=10', '127.0.0.1', "/bin/sh -c 'mkdir -p $HOME/.ansible/tmp/ansible-tmp-1396129886.05-214459499538981 && chmod a+rx $HOME/.ansible/tmp/ansible-tmp-1396129886.05-214459499538981 && echo $HOME/.ansible/tmp/ansible-tmp-1396129886.05-214459499538981'"]
127.0.0.1 | FAILED => SSH encountered an unknown error. The output was:
OpenSSH_6.2p2, OSSLShim 0.9.8r 8 Dec 2011
debug1: Reading configuration data /etc/ssh_config
debug1: /etc/ssh_config line 20: Applying options for *
debug1: auto-mux: Trying existing master
debug1: Control socket "/Users/User/.ansible/cp/ansible-ssh-127.0.0.1-22-User" does not exist
debug2: ssh_connect: needpriv 0
debug1: Connecting to 127.0.0.1 [127.0.0.1] port 22.
debug2: fd 3 setting O_NONBLOCK
debug1: connect to address 127.0.0.1 port 22: Connection refused
ssh: connect to host 127.0.0.1 port 22: Connection refused

 Solution 2: Go to System Preferences > Sharing, and enable Remote Login option:

OS X - Sharing - Remote Login

 

You will finally get the following output:

127.0.0.1 | success >> {
"changed": false,
"ping": "pong"
}

That’s all folks.

Local Websites in Apache after updating to OSX Mavericks 10.9

If after updating OS X to Mavericks, your local Apache setup stopped returning the websites that you had setup locally, then it’s highly likely that your httpd.conf has been overwritten. However, before it was overwritten the Mavericks setup created a backup of the httpd.conf file, httpd.conf.pre-update, in /private/etc/apache2/ folder. You can use diff tools to find out the difference between the new and old httpd.conf files. Most likely, the inclusion of httpd-vhost.conf file must have been commented out, so uncomment that (along with any other changes that you might have had in the older httpd.conf file).

Reference: Quick Tip: Getting Apache Up And Running After Updating To Osx Mavericks (10.9)

Multiple Skype Accounts / Instances on a Single PC

For all those searching for a way to use multiple Skype accounts on a single computer, let me tell you that it’s actually very simple to achieve for Skype 4.0 and above.

When I searched for such a solution, I found lots of links that talked about running multiple Skype accounts through multiple administrator accounts or through Task Scheduler. Pfft … scrap that if you are running version 4 or above!

The solution is posted after the jump.

Continue reading

Who programmed the ENIAC – the first general-purpose computer?

Just came across a very interesting fact about ENIAC (the first general-purpose electronic computer): The ENIAC was programmed by six people … and all of them were women! Yes, you heard that right. All women.

The ENIAC, the world’s first computer, was invented to calculate ballistics trajectories during World War II – a task that until then had been done by hand by a group of 80 female mathematicians. The six women who were chosen to make the ENIAC work toiled six-day weeks during the war, inventing the field of programming as they worked.

That, I must say, is quite a surprising fact (for me at least), especially since the stereotypical notion of women that is thrown around is that they are not good in mathematics and logic, and thus programming.

Microsoft Manual Deskterity: An Exploration of Simultaneous Pen + Touch Direct Input

Just had a look at this awesome prototype from Microsoft. I am loving what Microsoft is up to these days, researching and developing some great new UIs and interaction mechanisms. Have a look at this Microsoft Manual Deskterity prototype video and you’d love it too!

Pen and touch computing have long-thought to be mutually exclusive methods of human-computer interaction, but as the Microsoft Research project “Manual Deskterity” shows, the two intuitively combined makes for a much powerful input method than each of them might ever be on their own.

If you’re short on time, the real soul of the demo – a custom application for the Microsoft Surface with a special infrared pen – starts at the 1 minute mark and shows off capabilities that either wouldn’t be practical or possible at all by either pen or touch alone. Bear in mind however this is a research project so the application is quite limited in scope.

I Started Something

I just hope it makes it out of their research labs and into our hands soon.

Western Digital My Book 500 GB Review

If, like me, you are running out of space on your desktop/laptop hard drive, or you require a central storage space to store all your digital stuff – hi-res pictures, HD videos, movies, music, etc – then you certainly have been thinking about getting an external hard drive for yourself. The market is inundated with manufacturers marketing their external hard drives in the sleekest of cases. And it’s not just the conventional storage brands anymore – Western Digital, Seagate, Iomega – offering a range of external hard disks, but the non-storage players have entered this arena too, including HP and Toshiba, offering competent products.

Western Digital My Book Essential 500 GB

image Out of all the options available in the market, I decided to get myself the My Book Essential 500 GB from Western Digital. Apart from its big storage, it looks stylish in its black shiny body, with just a small blue LED light on the side.

Some of the things that I loved about the Western Digital My Book Essential:

  • The design: its sleek, black shiny body looks stylish
  • Cooling vents: To keep the drive cool
  • Quiet operation: To hear a sound, you have to bring your ear closer to the vents
  • Smart and energy efficient: Turns itself on and off with your computer
  • Instant plug-n-play: No need to install any drivers or software to use it
  • Book style design: Collect two or more and they cuddle neatly together like books on a shelf

 

Reliability, Accessibility and Design

Most of the external hard drives end up doing the same thing anyway: provide external storage for backup or extending purposes. Thus, the decision in the end probably comes down to reliability, accessibility and design.

Reliability: Most of the reviews of the WD My Book Essential I read (on Amazon) termed it as reliable. Though there were occurrences of the drive dying out, but the reviewers got it replaced from Western Digital easily under the warranty.

Accessibility: The drive is ready to be used as soon as you unbox it! As for carrying it around, it is designed for the home/office and thus, designed to be stationary at one place (although you can carry it around, if you wish to).

Design: 10 years ago, we could have argued that design should not be a deciding factor for buying a tech gadget. But after Apple scored with designing the best products in the last decade, design has become a crucial part of gadgets today. The My Book Essential scores pretty high on this front with its simple, yet stylish design. Place it on your book shelf or table and it will fit perfectly there.

Setting-up WD My Book Essential: What’s included?

Box-packed Western Digital My Book Essential 500 GB The drive is plug-n-play: Just power it up and plug it in (in that sequence).

The My Book Essential 500 GB includes setup files of a few backup utilities – both for Windows and Mac. The main backup software included is the Memeo AutoBackup. Sadly, its a trial version, which is quite odd, since I read elsewhere on the web that other WD external drives (including others in the My Book series) include the full-version of Memeo AutoBackup (with its serial key printed in the manual).

The file system on the drive is FAT32 by default.

 

Spice-up your external hard disk!

You can spice up your external hard disk experience by converting the file system to NTFS and installing an alternative free backup software. I will write about them in detail in my next post.


Palm Pre: The coolest new phone of 2009!

Palm is back! After almost going into obscurity, Palm makes a sexy and stylish return with a new phone dubbed as the Palm Pre. Here’s a glance on what the Pre looks like:

Palm Pre Smartphone Mobile

This hot new gadget from Palm is slated to be available in the first half of 2009. So get ready. It looks like a worthy competitor to both the Blackberry range and the iPhone. Is this the iPhone killer?

Sounds sweet? Find out more with these 7 most useful Palm Pre resources:

Palm PrePalm
Palm Pre: Everything you ever wanted to knowEngadget
First impressions: Palm Pre | CES 2009CNET Blogs
Palm Pre Preview: Simply amazingGizmodo
Hands-On: A closer look at the Palm Pre and WebOSPC World
In a nutshell: Palm Pre vs. iPhone vs. G1Gizmodo
The Pre’s got mojo: a developer speaks about Palm’s new SDKArs Technica

Highly Compelling Reasons for Switching to an Apple Mac

Interesting experience of why Rob Christensen, from Adobe AIR product development/management team, decided to switch to Apple iMac in his post Six reasons why he made the switch. His reasons are quite compelling and I agree fully with what he has to say against Microsoft Windows and in favor of Apple Mac. My most compelling reasons, from Rob’s post, for switching to an Apple Mac would be:

Apple. In the past year, I’ve purchased two iPod Shuffles: one for myself and one for my wife. When I thought I had lost my Shuffle recently (for the second time), I decided to upgrade to an iPod Nano. It’s an absolutely incredible piece of technology. … The allure of hooking up iPod hardware to a Mac is difficult to ignore. Also, Apple’s decision to extend the hardware capabilities of the iMac has really put it in direct competition with Dell’s flagship desktop products like their XPS line.

Apple, and Steve Jobs, is an inspiration. I had the first generation iPod Nano and it was awesome! I love Apple and what it is creating. Correction: Innovating!

Media Management. It’s truly shocking to me that Microsoft has not improved the user experience with Windows Media Player (WMP). Something about the design of WMP has always felt exceedingly video centric as opposed to library focused. Playing an .mp3 will force most of the screen to be taken over by an annoying visualization. … In addition, the lack of basic photo management in Windows has been the source of tremendous grief.

I have to agree with Rob’s WMP experience. Though I have been a Windows Media Player user since long (I was hooked to the ex-king Winamp before that, during its 1.x and 2.x versions reign, and Sonique too – ah what a super cool player that was!), but since my WMP music database has been wiped out (the database itself, and not the music files) after the Vista of my laptop’s pretty Windows was shot down by a vicious virus and I installed it anew, I am trying out a new media player: the open source Songbird. And it’s pretty good.

Most applications are now on the Mac. Nearly all of the applications I use are now available on the Mac such as Firefox, the Creative Suite (Dreamweaver, Flash, etc.), Office, Stellarium, AIM, Google Earth, etc. If the tools you use and depend on are portable, then it makes it even easier to make the switch.

That’s definitely a compelling reason. And on top of that, if a Windows application has not yet been ported to the Mac, one always has the option of Boot Camping to Windows. Tada! Nice one, Apple.

Now all these reasons make me crave for an Apple iMac/Macbook all over again! I hope I’ll be able to afford one soon.