The blog is back

It’s been a while since I last wrote blog articles. I’ve been quite busy lately with my self-employment at TFMT. We’re working on some really exciting projects and I’m happy with the decision I made so far. The blog has been reactivated (using WordPress) with a customised theme that utilises a native font stack (San Francisco on macOS, Segoe UI on Windows, Droid Sans on Linux, with appropriate fallback fonts).

Last weekend, I’ve shipped an update for python-rrdtool (version 0.1.5) which now includes a documentation and some bug fixes.

python-rrdtool 0.1.3 released

Today I’ve released python-rrdtool version 0.1.3, which fixes some bugs when building the module in build environments that do not have specific rrdtool build headers included. Now all the graph and xport functions are available again.

To update or install, use pip:

pip install -U rrdtool

There are some discussions going on about the number of Python bindings for rrdtool. The version I’ve created is just one of a few, and was probably the first one that offered Python 3.x support. Some people were asking if it may be possible to get this merged into the regular rrdtool distribution. It might be. But from a certain point of view I think it’s a better approach to distribute the bindings via PyPI, because it’s more pythonic, and it allows building for multiple Python versions at once.

Apple iPhone 6S battery issues

When I bought my first Apple product back in 2001, I was thrilled to have something that looks great, has great capabilities and yet does a good job. It was an iPhone 4S, for which I paid around 630 € back then. However, that phone was not working well with recent iOS versions, since it’s hardware specs are somehow outdated (well, everything older than two weeks is out-dated nowadays).

So I decided to get an iPhone 6S. The presentation of the latest iPhone in Apple’s September Event looked promising. More processor power, more GPU power, 3D Touch and so on. A well designed device with current technology. Three days ago my phone was delivered. After unboxing, I charged it until the Battery was full and then started setting it up. I did not recover any existing backup.

The next day I encountered an issue with the device. While not fully set up (a lot of Apps I use were not even installed), the battery drained pretty quickly, while the phone was on Standby for 95% of the time. A full battery lasted for about 12 hours. Later that day I contacted Apple Support and told them that the battery was draining for no reason. They remotely tested the device via their diagnosis tools and told me that everything is fine. They recommended me to reset the settings. I did that. I even did a factory reset – without success. Again I contacted Apple’s support and the result was the same: The device is fine, all I can do is bring it in for service. Unfortunately the next free time slot in my local Apple Retail Store is in more than a week. So I might go and get it checked there to find out what’s wrong with it.

For me, it’s an hardware issue. With no apps installed, Bluetooth, location services and many background services turned off, the phone is not meant to consume a lot of energy at all. My OnePlus One lasts at least one and a half day with average use and a fully charged Battery. That’s what I expect. I know that Apple reduced the battery capacity for the 6S compared to it’s predecessor, but it shouldn’t be that dramatic.

Update: I’ve returned the phone. The battery capacity is simply not sufficient for my needs. Maybe future versions of the iPhone have a larger battery capacity that provides enough power through the day.

Text Editor Comparisation

Editors are the most important tool for software developers. A great editor can speed up the development of your project and make life easier in many aspects. There are many editors out there – some with the minimalism of vi or nano, other are graphical editors like Textedit, Notepad(++) and so on. The difference between an editor and a word processor like Microsoft Word/LibreOffice Writer is simple: Plain text editors just store the text as-is, without any formatting. Word processors may store the contents in binary format to preserve formatting. That way, word processors are not suitable to write code and configuration files.

Editors nowadays offer much more features than just text manipulation: Syntax highlighting, intelligent search/replace functionality, version control integration and many more. Below is a list of editors I think that are worth to be mentioned.

1. Sublime Text 2 & 3

Released in 2011, became one of the most popular editors out there. Sublime Text is by far the fastest editor out there, starts in no time and offers a lot of themes and extensions. It’s written in C++ with a Python backend. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux. A license can be obtained for $70. License: Commercial.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 11.41.59


2. TextMate 2

The user interface seems to be inspired by Sublime Text 2/3. It’s written in Objective-C and available for Mac only. Still in beta (as of Feb 2015) and free of charge. Allows extension using Bundles. TextMate 2 is open source. Free.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 11.44.30

3. Atom

Atom is a editor from GitHub, written in HTML, LESS and JavaScript. It runs on Chrome’s rendering engine and renders the UI using web technologies. While it takes a few moments to start up, it runs very quick when launched. It can be extended using themes and plugins. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Atom is licensed under a MIT-style license. Free.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 11.41.16

Conclusion

All of the editors above offer a great look and feel and a wide range of features, even if they’re just text editors. While I usually spend most time using a full-blown IDE, these editors can be a great alternative, especially when it comes to speed and efficiency. Atom is currently one of my favourites, because it uses web technologies on the desktop which I think is a great step towards the future of apps on the desktop. The reason is simple: Since it’s not written in a compiled language, it’s possible to run it on any system that offers a interpreter for the code. That way, Atom may work natively on FreeBSD while Sublime Text may only work with Linux emulation there.

PyCharm on OS X Yosemite

When installing PyCharm on Yosemite, you’ll get an error about missing Java Runtime 1.6. In fact, Apple has removed the Java Runtime version 1.6 on Yosemite. Don’t worry – you can install Java 1.6 using Java for OX 2014-001 from Apple. I strongly recommend doing it that way. You could also download JDK 1.7 or 1.8, but in fact that would break the signatures for the app bundle and as a result, updates won’t work anymore. Read more about that in Jetbrain’s blog.

This may also apply to other IDEs based on IntelliJ, such as WebStorm etc.

Another side effect on using Java 1.6 for IntelliJ products is font hinting: While it works fine with 1.6, it looks horrible on 1.7 and 1.8. This has to do with some Apple-specific adjustments in their Java distributions. You may also find the UI having the pre-Yosemite UI elements (buttons for example). Maybe the latest Java JDK/JRE do not support the new UI elements yet. This applies to any Java versions to date (1.6 – 1.8u25).

python-rrdtool now available on PyPI

python-rrdtool is now available on PyPI. This simplifies the installation of the rrdtool bindings for Python when using pip or easy_install.

To install, you can simply use the following command:

pip install rrdtool

python-rrdtool is a Python binding for rrdtool. It’s based on the original Python rrdtool binding distributed with the source code of rrdtool. This bindings work with Python 2.6+ and 3.3+.

YDNS: How to add a custom domain

We recently added support for custom domains to YDNS. That feature allows you to have YDNS manage your DNS records for your own domains. That makes YDNS not only offering free dynamic DNS services but also DNS services in total, since we added support for a few more record types as well.

I see many people adding domains the wrong way. Our system currently does not test whether a domain exists or not; it will frequently check its nameserver records for correctness. If they are not configured correctly, YDNS will disable those domains for further use (this will also happen if you have successfully validated your domains in the first place, but changed its configuration afterwards).

To correctly add your domain to YDNS, follow these steps:

Login to your Domain registrar’s Control Panel. It shall offer a section where you can change the nameservers which are responsible for your domain. If you cannot find this, you cannot add your domain to YDNS. In case you successfully found the appropriate section, replace your domain’s name servers with these two (and of course delete the previous one if they still exist after that):

  1. ns1.ydns.eu
  2. ns2.ydns.eu

After you’ve one that, you can add your domain in YDNS by navigating to the Domains page and use the “Add Domain” link on the right side on the top of the page. You may enter your domain name appropriately (e.g. “mydomain.com”) there. Our system will accept invalid domain names as well, but they’re deleted automatically after two weeks if they cannot be validated during that time frame.

Once your domain configuration is synchronized through the internet, our system will automatically flag your domain as being active and you can start using it.

If you have difficulties using this, please write to support@ydns.eu

YDNS receives some updates

Today I spent another update to yDNS: The support for multiple records per host. Before the update happened, only one record per host was allowed due to implementation restrictions. Now you can add an arbitrary number of records to each of your hosts. I also added support for three additional record types: CNAME, MX and TXT. The update resource for API calls has been updated as well: It now supports two new parameters:

  • content (alias for ip, can hold any content value for the record, not just IP adddresses)
  • record_id (if specified, the specific host is updated directly instead of guessing which record has to be updated)

I have plans to add support for custom domains. But that’s not final yet. Everyone is invited to test the new features in yDNS and report issues/suggestions by creating an issue on the project’s Github site.

python-rrdtool 0.1.1 released

An update to python-rrdtool was released today. Version 0.1.1 adds support for Python 2.x and fixes some minor issues that came up when porting the original Python binding for Python 3.

You can find more information at the project page on Github.

Installation

The installation of the module is pretty easy. All you need is to have rrdtool installed (and its headers) and of course the header files for your Python version.

Assuming you want to install it via pip, use

pip install https://github.com/commx/python-rrdtool/tarball/master

You can also install it from sources by downloading the source and run

python setup.py install

About python-rrdtool

python-rrdtool is a Python binding for rrdtool. It works with both Python 2.x and 3.x and comes with an object-oriented interface as well.