Beware Prolific PL3507-based Firewire enclosures


In the interests if keeping some data off my laptop's main drive but still accessible, I bought a Firewire/IEEE-1394 hard drive enclosure and stuck a 120gb drive in it. Well, tonight when I plugged it in the drive, after having it roaming the house for the day, the drive wasn't identified by OSX - the drive was on, I could hear it purring away, but it wasn't actually doing anything. As it turns out, the enclosure is controlled by the Prolific PL3507 chipset that has reliability problems, which sucks. Amusingly, the enclosure also has a USB connector, and when I plugged the drive in that way it worked! Go figure. So, time to get realistic with this and set up a Solaris & ZFS/RAIDZ-driven NAS, to heck with this silly single-drive, single point of failure BS, lets bring on some reliability for a change.

Crossover Mac + Outlook 2003 - neat idea, very unstable


Microsoft's Outlook 2003 has been the defacto standard for business-level communications for several years, especially for businesses that use Microsoft's Exchange system (which is most of them). For anyone using a Mac the options were limited to either basic IMAP access, which doesn't support all of the stored address books, calendars, etc, or Microsoft's Entourage application which is promoted as a reasonable equivalent. There are two key problems with Entourage, however:

  1. It doesn't support many of the "Public folder" data sharing mechanisms, so you can't use shared calendars, tasks, etc that are stored in Public Folders, only messages.
  2. It is unstable:
    • I can fairly consistently crash it just by writing a message and hitting down down arrow (!)
    • it randomly gets the server connection messed up - you leave it running overnight, come back in the next morning to see "unable to connect to the server", at which point it fails to connect to the server no matter what you do, and requires a magical combination of star alignment and crossing of limbs to get it working again.

A new option entered the arena lately - directly running Outlook using Codeweaver's Crossover Mac application, which provides an emulation layer to run some Windows software directly on your Intel-based Mac (or Linux box). With the brand new release of Crossover Mac (comparable to Crossover Office version 6 for Linux) they finally added official support for Microsoft Office 2003 including Outlook 2003, so at work when my Entourage decided to implode I politely asked for it to be bought for me. Half an hour later I was sitting down to install it.
Crossover Mac has the potential to be a really great program, it is just currently hampered by a few issues:

  • Lack of specific documentation. Several people on their forums say that they have Outlook running without any problems but nobody has said exactly what release they're using, exactly what extras were used (you need IE6 installed for it to work fully), what the installation options were for the software, etc.
  • Instability. CXMac has locked up on me a few times when it was attempting to "reboot" (not a physical reboot, it's all within the emulation layer).

After wasting half a day on it I still don't have Outlook 2003 running correctly: one install stopped working after I installed IE6, one refused to start Outlook at all, on another I installed IE6 first only to have Outlook not display HTML emails at all (but it is at least running my mailing list filters to keep my inbox clean).
Tomorrow I'm going to try out Outlook XP/2002, to see if it is any more reliable, but so far I'm rather disappointed.

iPhone spam, after less than 24 hours?


You can tell the world is a-buzz about something when you start receiving spam about it less than 24 hours after its unveiling. That's right, at 4am this morning I received an email telling me that my iPhone was ready to ship. While I have to 100% agree that I'd utterly love one, a) they're not going to ship until June, and b) nobody's going to send me an email out of the blue saying that they're shipping me one - I just ain't that lucky. That said, if anyone did want to send me one, how about one for my wife too? ;-)

ColdFusion MX 6.1 with Apache 2.2 on Windows


Apache 2.2 was released to a mixed fanfare. While everyone was pleased at the improvements most had to rest on their laurels while their web programming technology of choice was updated accordingly. At the time of writing, PHP 5.1 and 4.4 have an unofficial connector available (unless you want to run the unreleased 5.2 code), Ruby on Rails has several ways of working with it, and many others have received updates. Adobe's ColdFusion MX 7 was given an update which provides compatibility, but the company decided against including (the older though still officially supported) 6.1, so officially users of 6.1, my current employer included, are up the proverbial creek without an equally proverbial paddle. Or so we thought.

Before I explain how I did this, I just wanted to mention that Adobe does not officially support running CFMX 6.x with Apache 2.2, and neither they nor I am responsible if this turns your web server to mush. Proceed at your own risk.

As it turns out, presumably thanks to the wonders of Java binary compatibility, the official ColdFusion MX 7 connector works with ColdFusion MX 6.1, though I had to tweak the instructions a little. Here's what you need to do to get it running on Windows:

  • You'll need both ColdFusion MX 6.1 and Apache 2.2 installed and running correctly.
  • Stop both the Apache and ColdFusion services.
  • Make a backup of both the Apache and ColdFusion directories.
  • Start up the ColdFusion services again.
  • Download the updated connector file from Adobe's site (read the full release instructions if you want).
  • Extract the wsconfig.jar file from the file you just downloaded and put it under your ColdFusionMX directory under runtime\lib, e.g. C:\CFusionMX\runtime\lib. It will ask if you want to overwrite the existing file, so click Yes.
  • Open up the command prompt and move to the runtime\lib directory, e.g. CD \cfusionmx\runtime\lib.
  • Enter the following command all on one line:

    java -jar wsconfig.jar -ws apache -dir /apache2.2/conf -bin /apache2.2/bin/httpd.exe -coldfusion -v

    where "/apache2.2/" is the directory you have Apache 2.2 installed. Note that I have both ColdFusion and Apache installed on the same drive so didn't have to give any drive letters, and I used the UNIX-style directory separator (forwards-slash) instead of the Windows-style (backslash).

  • If you got an error message that said
    'java' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.

    then you need to close your command prompt window, download and install the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) v1.4, and try again.

  • Presuming everything worked correctly you should see the following in your command prompt window:

    Macromedia JRun 4.0 (Build 107948) Windows 2000
    os.version: 5.0
    os.arch: x86
    platform: intel-win
    Extracting resource connectors/installers/intel-win/prebuilt/jrunwin32.dll
    file defaulted
    last modification date: Thu Apr 06 13:07:04 EDT 2006
    size/compressed size: 73728/26315
    to D:\CFusionMX\runtime\lib\wsconfig\jrunwin32.dll
    Created file D:\CFusionMX\runtime\lib\wsconfig\jrunwin32.dll
    findServers(): found server default at
    Found JRun server default at
    this host is tlcweb:
    web server: Apache
    web server directory: D:/Apache2.2/conf
    verbose connector logging: false
    apialloc: false
    force resource extract from jar: true
    CFMX: true
    mappings: .jsp,.jws,.cfm,.cfml,.cfc,.cfr,.cfswf
    filter mapping prefix: false
    Using Apache binary D:\Apache2.2\bin\httpd.exe
    Server version: Apache/2.2.3
    Apache 2.2.3 is recognized
    isValidVersion(): Apache is 2.2.3
    Compiled in modules:
    Parsing Apache configuration file D:\Apache2.2\conf\httpd.conf
    Extracting resource connectors/apache/intel-win/prebuilt/
    file defaulted
    last modification date: Thu Apr 06 13:07:04 EDT 2006
    size/compressed size: 65536/25836
    to D:\CFusionMX\runtime\lib\wsconfig\3\
    Created file D:\CFusionMX\runtime\lib\wsconfig\3\
    Wrote file D:\Apache2.2\conf\httpd.conf
    Added JRun configuration to Apache configuration file D:\Apache2.2\conf\httpd.conf
    Created file D:\CFusionMX\runtime\lib\wsconfig\3\README.txt
    Wrote file D:\CFusionMX\runtime\lib\wsconfig\
    Error stopping service. The web server must be restarted to complete this operation.

  • At this point start up the Apache server and try loading a CFM file. :-)

ODBC with Ruby-on-Rails


Everyone wants to say that their Ruby-on-Rails projects are using the best data structures on the latest RDBSs, sheer brilliance through and through. The simple fact of life, however, is that not every project is from-scratch, not every project can have a new whistle-clean schema designed for it, and not every datasource is a brand-spanking new install of PostgreSQL. For the times when you're not working with the newest, you may feel a need for a new connector to your older database:


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