Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Installing Box Backup on a ReadyNas NV+ (sparc)

I'm jetlagged so what do I do? I install Box Backup on my NetGear ReadyNas NV+.

A while ago I have in fact built my own little datacenter in my loft. There I store all my music and most importantly the backup for all the pictures that I take.

It is a raid 5 so if one of the disks breaks down, I can still recover 100% of the data. But what happens if it gets stolen or something really bad happens? I will loose everything so I need to have another backup copy of my data somewhere else.

Meet www.boxbackup.org:
The backup daemon, bbackupd, runs on all machines to be backed up. The store server daemon, bbstored runs on a central server. Data is sent to the store server, which stores all data on local filesystems, that is, only on local hard drives. Tape or other archive media is not used.

The ReadyNas NV+ has a Sparc CPU and at the moment there are no official builds for this platform so I had to build it myself. It took a while to find the right setup so let me share it here.

Update your /etc/apt/sources.list

deb http://www.readynas.com/packages 4.1.10/
deb http://archive.debian.org/debian sarge main contrib non-free
deb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian sarge main contrib non-free

Install all the dependencies

apt-get update
apt-get install cpp
apt-get install g++
apt-get install gpp
apt-get install libc6-dev gcc
apt-get install libdb4.3-dev
apt-get install libreadline5-dev
apt-get install libssl-dev
apt-get install libz-dev

Get the sources


Configure & build

./configure --build=sparc-linux --enable-gnu-readline


Thursday, 19 July 2012

The little yellow book of vaccinations

I have almost filled my yellow book with vaccinations. You get it when you contact NHS and make an appointment with your closest travel clinic. I went to my usual surgery Sterndale in Hammersmith.

The nurse recommended to get Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Rabies and the compulsory Yellow Fever. Some of them require more than one shot so make sure to start your treatment at least 3 weeks before you leave.

I am also going to get an anti malaria treatment but for that I need another appointment.

The injection are almost harmless so don't be scared. Be scared of the bill though as some of those vaccines are not free and cost up to 40£ per short.
And yes, you can also use private clinics as Nomad (STA Travel) but it will cost you more.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

South America & Greece: a strange combination

I finally booked all the flights to my adventurous journey to South America. My wife and I will be there for two weeks. On our return to Europe we'll head to Greece for a week. Crazy? Maybe, but we really need to spend some time in the sun to recharge from the rainy London winter (can you believe it is summer?) and there was nothing compatible with our timing. In fact, to fly from Brazil to the Caribbean islands, the only option was to fly to Miami and back!

This is the detailed plan:

* Buenos Aires - got family down there
* Iguazu/Iguassu - need to visit the falls and the world's largest dam
* Manaus - we'll stay in the Amazon forest for a few days. I want to see the sloth!
* Rio de Janeiro - Corcovado & co at least!
* London - unpack and pack
* Corfu - battery recharging

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Worth using a specialized travel blog?

I'm planning a trip to South America (I was supposed to go there for my honey moon last year but I had to cancel) and I thought that maybe I should start documenting my trips a bit better.

Is it worth to start using a more specialized blogging site? I am not sure I want to create yet another account so maybe I should stick with blogger and just give it a little more attention than I have given to it in the past. After all, I'm all Google and Google also pays my salary so why not?

It is a must though to be able to compose on my phone, when offline. Most of the time I would be blogging on a plane or abroad with no roaming.

It would be nice as well to be able to post location updates and to be able to quickly and neatly share to my social network sites, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (and yes, Google+ rocks but many of my friends are still not there)

I'll give the blogger iPhone app a go and see what I think, stay tuned!

FYI, the picture I'm attaching here has nothing to do with this post but I should be trying image uploading as well so there you go a photo of one of my favorite artist's masterpieces (Picasso, from the San Francisco Moma - museum of modern art)

Monday, 18 June 2012


Today I went to a branch, withdrawn all my funds and ended my short relationship with Citibank.

I wanted to open an account to better manage my trips to the us and the euro zone. I was attracted by their free USD and EUR so after consulting with some colleagues that gave me ok feedback, I submitted an online application. Few weeks later I received a letter in the mail asking to provide some proof of address. Once I sent it back, took few days to receive a letter saying that they were processing my application. Finally, a letter saying that the application was rejected. I phoned them up and they told it was because I spent less then 3 years in the UK. Knowing that this was not the real reason (colleagues of mine have been in the UK only for few months and have successfully opened an account) I kept pushing, asked to talk to a manager which eventually said the there was absolutely no problem and the accounts where opened.

Funny that the phone clerk suggested to wait the 4 extra months I needed to comply with the 3 years rule.

So, few more weeks to get the welcome package and the debit card and finally I can go to the bank to deposit my funds. Speaking to the manager, he explains me that the "free" account is not longer free as there as been a change in the terms, so, unless I open a GBP account as well, there is 5£ fee for each foreign account. That is 120£ per year!
I refused to open the account right there (it is free if you meet some conditions but I would have to move all my direct debits from my other bank) and said I would think about it.
Once home, I decided to go for it anyway and I filled in an application form within the online banking service. Again, it took few days to receive a new letter saying that they were looking at the account. After 2-3 weeks I finally received a welcome package (lots of jada jada on paper) and a confirmation that the GBP account had been opened. I logged in but no traces of the account. I wait a week, no traces. I send an email to the customer care. No answer. I send another mail and yet no answer. Note that they say they will answer within 3 days which, besides being an enormous amount of time in today's world, is a promise that they were not able to maintain.
Obviously I also called the phone banking which could not help me with my missing account (besides, why is the phone quality of all call centers so bad?)

So, after 80 days since I first contacted CITI, my account was still not setup properly. I had no choices to go and close it and to say never again!

Why you should not use them:

  • Their online system is mediocre.
  • If you lose your card and you block it, they also block your online account.
  • They give you a single card no matter how many accounts you have with them which makes it unpractical if you want for instance have a joint account with your wife.
  • The switch account linked with your card you have to call them, you can't do it online.
  • Their customer care sucks. If you send them a message they tell you they will respond within 3 days!
  • They have only 2 branches in London and none is open on Saturdays.
  • They are incredibly verbose, sending a letter for everything, probably to make up for they're slowness.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

ReadyNas NV+ and rsync

Setting up an account to backup a windows machine to my Nas I discovered an issue with the rsync setup.
I first enabled the rsync protocol in the readynas admin interface.
I then added a new user account and when I was testing I got the following error:

rsync -av myidr/ newuser@mynas:
newuser@mynas's password:
Connection closed by
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (0 bytes received so far) [sender]
rsync error: unexplained error (code 255) at /SourceCache/rsync/rsync-35.2/rsync/io.c(452) [sender=2.6.9]

I tracked down the problem to not having a ssh key on the nas for the new user:

su - newuser
newuser@mynas:~$ ssh-keygen
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/c/home/newuser/.ssh/id_rsa):
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in .
Your public key has been saved in .pub.
The key fingerprint is:
c1:25:12:5b:21:18:31:23:73:58:45:99:2c:0b:0e:7c newuser@nasone

Before that I had to edit /etc/passwd to enable interactive login for newuser as by default users cannot login.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Un italiano a Londra

Aprire un conto in banca è un casino in Inghilterra. Ti chiedono una "proof of address" che è in genere difficile da avere se sei appena arrivato in città.
Se il tuo datore di lavoro ti fornisce una lettera di raccomandazione è molto più facile. Le banche consigliate sono CITI e HSBC. Io ho un contro HSBC perché era la banca della mia ragazza e forse ci sono piu' filiali in giro.

Proof of address
In inghilterra non esiste l'anagrafe e pertanto, per fare qualsiasi cosa ti viene richiesta una "proof of address". In genere va bene o un estratto conto della banca oppure una bolletta del telefono o dell'elettricità (Non basta il passaporto). La cosa si fa interessante quando per avere un conto in banca ti chiedono una proof of address che ancora non hai... (Vedi sezione su come aprire il conto in banca, è la chiave di tutto)

In generale, la copertura cellulare a Londra è pessima, probabilmente dovuto al numero elevato di persone.
Io ho un ricaricabile O2, che credo abbia una copertura migliore rispetto a Vodafone (Poi anche farti un mensile di circa 17.5 pounds che comprende un bel po di minuti di chiamate e internet illimitato).
Nel caso optassi per 02, vai sul sito che ha pacchetti più convenienti rispetto ai negozi.

In metro non c'è copertura cellulare!!

Trasporti pubblici
Autobus e metro non mancano mai (a parte dopo mezzanotte!!). Il sito ufficiale per i transporti londinesi è TFL. Alcune metro sono chiuse per lavori durante il week-end quindi ti conviene controllare prima di pianificare.

La Oyster è una tessera con un chip rfid e ti garantisce la tariffa migliore.
La puoi caricare (top-up) e poi ti scala in base alla lunghezza del viaggio oppure la puoi caricare con un abbonamento di 1,3,7 giornioppure mensile/annuale
La Oyster e' gratuita se acquisti almeno un settimanale oppure costa 3 pound di cauzione.
Ah, l'abbonamento e' in base alle zone. Ti serve almeno zona 1 e 2 = circa 100 gbp al mese

Cercare casa a Londra è probabilmente la cosa più difficile. Io spendo 260 pounds a settimana per qualcosa che definisco "catapecchia". Gli standard sono generalmente molto bassi e sfido a trovare qualsiasi lusso come doppio bagno, lavastoviglie, parquet.
Io abito a West Kensington, una quartiere di Hammersmith molto molto comodo dal punto di vista delle comunicazioni visto che ci sono molte metro tra cui la District Line diretta per Vittoria e la Picadilly Line per Heathrow. Non è una zona che mi inspira particolarmente ma nello stesso tempo è molto comoda
Affidati ad una agenzia di relocation se puoi oppure datti da fare su siti come globrix.com o gumtree se vuoi affidare una stanza in un appartamento condiviso.

Attenzione agli "estate agents", sono degli sciacalli! Io ho avuto particolari brutte esperienze e invito tutti a diffidare di Barnard Marcus. Assicurati di avere TUTTO per iscritto e soprattutto di controllare l'appartamento per bene prima di firmare il contratto. Una volta che sei entrato è molto ma molto difficile fare in modo che le clausole sia rispettate. Leggi attentamente questo post per evitare sorprese.