Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sonar 2009 -

The Sonar 2009 - pages are up. This is probably the last time I do this, as it is just too much work and nobody else is helping me with the wiki.

Sonar is doing a special offer of 125 EUR for the general pass for the three days. The normal price is 140, which is the same as last year. Maybe they realize that they can't raise it every year. Some of the parties were very empty last year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

more server tuning

In my quest to try out new things and make my rented virtual server run a bit smoother I tried two (for me) new tools:

memcached: I never had a need to use it, because at work we just do websites which nobody looks at. We could really have used this at guideguide, where we basically used mysql to cache some often used data which didn't work too well.

Installation was very easy on CentOS and mediawiki and Django have direct support for memcached. I just had to enable it and change the code for to make use of the cache.

lighttpd: On the previous server, which had about ten times more memory I used two apache instances. One for the static stuff and as reverse proxy for the second one for the mod_perl server. Now I am using lighttpd for the static and reverse proxy. I am not 100% convinced by the syntax, but it is rather easy to setup and allows some refactoring of the config with include files.

So for example I have in the main config:

$HTTP["host"] == "" { = ""
server.document-root = "/....../bicingwatch/site_media"
include "proxy-localhost.conf"

And in proxy-localhost.conf

$HTTP["url"] !~ "\.(js|css|gif|jpg|png|ico|txt|swf|html|htm)$" {
setenv.add-response-header = ( "X-Forwarded-Host" => )

proxy.server = (
"" => (
( "host" => "", "port" => 8000 )

And on port 8000 is the apache and mod_python installation I had before.

Seems to work ok, so that is another thing gone from my todo list.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Paris Condal - Restaurant Libanese

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Another lunchtime restaurant review. I ventured over the Gran Via again on the look out for a new restaurant choice for our lunches at work.

Paris Condal is a small restaurant with an attached snack bar. They got pictures of some food in the window, which usually puts me off, but I had a good experience in Andorra so I went in anyway. The restaurant has maybe ten tables and smoking is allowed. I don't understand why anyone would have smokers in a restaurant, but there you go. The bathrooms are dirty like a dark corner in Raval.

The lunch menu is 9.90 EUR and I had dolmades as starter, couscous as main and a cortado.

Dolmades are rice wrapped in grape leaves on a little bit of boring salad. These seem to come from a tin and were certainly neither fresh or handmade. I wonder what is the point to present something like this in a restaurant.

The couscous was nice, a mixture of minestrone and lamb stew with a bit of couscous. It was very well seasoned and not greasy. But I am not sure if I would call it a mains, in another restaurant it probably would make a very nice starter.

The cortado was good and hot, which was nice.

Overall I give this restaurant one star, because I see some potential and I would try it again.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

System administration sucks

This weekend I moved more websites away from my old dedicated server. The site of my girlfriend moved from mediawiki to a account. Our family website is now a planet running on the new virtual server.

And today I moved also to the virtual server. This turned out to be a major hassle, because the mediawiki version was pretty old and the mysql server changed from 4.1 to 5.0. As usual with these things I run into charset troubles. After playing for ages with various combinations of iconv and mysqldump I gave up and put a 'SET names latin1' after the connect in the mediawiki code. This is obviously not a good solution, but I can't be bothered at the moment.

I changed the skin to keep most of the mediawiki layout to make it a bit easier with upgrades and userfriendlier for people who already know wikipedia. I will play around with it though to make it look better.

Someone from Wikia contacted me last week again and wanted to know if I wo uld be interrested in moving to Wikia. I am not at the moment, but if it turns out to be too much work in the future I might take them up on the offer.

I also have to see how the virtual server can take the load, it seems to be a bit underpowered.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Snowboarding in Andorra

Last week Cat had the brilliant idea to go snowboarding in Andorra for the weekend. The snow conditions were just turning right and the Grand Valira snow resort was opening the lifts for the first time this year. So we booked a car, hotel and the ski passes and left for Andorra on Friday evening. To our surprise it was a very quick trip because there was not a single traffic jam.

It took us a while to find the hotel, but it was not far from the El Tarter area. We were staying at the Vall Ski. I have a system of three categories for hotels. The first one are the ones where you feel at home and the atmosphere is more like staying with friends. These are usually small or B&Bs. Another category are the ones where you feel like a king and they provide everything you need without you having to ask, these are usually very expensive. And then there is the third category which is the biggest one and also the one Vall Ski belongs to. In these you feel like being in a hospital. Everything is nice and clean, but the food is horrible and served way too early. You also have to pay extra for everything. The staff was nice though. One evening we went to the restaurant next door with horrible design and menu, which surprised us with very good food by an italien chef.

When we tried to pick up our ski passes on Saturday morning, it turned out that he booking service (from the Grand Valira website) had messed up the booking. Cat spend two hours on the phone to sort it out, but the lady in the call center in Bulgaria was friendly but not helpful. So we ended up buying another set of two day passes. We will be canceling the credit card payment and I hope they will sort it out then.

The weather on the first day was very windy going to snowstorm. Sometimes I lost all sense of speed and direction. In the afternoon it turned even worse, so we had a snack and when we were finished we had the perfect conditions for the rest of the day. Fresh snow and no queueing for the whole day.

Sunday was even better, with more sun and less wind. Overall a perfect weekend for snowboarding and I think I improved my skill a little bit.

Now I am hurting everywhere though. Before we go to Laax in January I will have to spend more time in the gym and on the bicycle to get my fitness level up.