Monthly Archives: October 2007

How to run Cisco VPN over EVDO when you’ve got VMWare Fusion installed

Well I finally got one of those EVDO cards, specifically a Novatel Wireless Merlin EX720 that fits nicely in the Express Card slot of my MacBook Pro. It works great pretty much everywhere I go, but there’s one thing that’s bugged me: the Cisco VPN would drop when I was on EVDO, just a few seconds after I connected.

At first, I fixed it by upgrading to a newer version of the Cisco VPN client. That fixed some issues with Parallels. All was good until I also installed VMWare Fusion. (Note that this is all on Mac OS X 10.4.10.) But today I figured out what you need to do (thanks to Michael Renner for the tip in the VMWare Community):

Cisco VPN logo
1. Download the latest Cisco VPN client. As of this writing, the best available is Fortunately, MacUpdate is hosting downloads of Cisco VPN

2. Go into Terminal and run:

sudo /Library/Application\\ Support/VMware\\ Fusion/ --stop

This has the side-effect of disabling VMWare Fusion. I think what’s happening is a conflict in the kernel extensions.

3. Start up Cisco VPN, connect and enjoy.

4. Either immediately after or later when you need VMWare Fusion, you can go back and run

sudo /Library/Application\\ Support/VMware\\ Fusion/ --start

to re-enable it.

(Updated 3/10/2008: Ensured that the backslashes in the shell commands are available to be copied from your browser – they were getting stripped out by the blog.)

CCMenu helps you monitor your builds

You’re using continuous integration, right? If not, you really should. And you should probably set it up to email you if the build breaks. But there’s a nice way to get notification right on your OS X desktop: it’s CCMenu.

CCMenu in action

CCMenu is a menu item for OS X that displays the status of your projects that are being built with CruiseControl. It works with CruiseControl.rb as well which you can use for your Ruby on Rails projects, which is where I mainly use it. When your projects are good, it shows a green rounded square and when your projects break, it shows a red one. It also uses Growl to notify you whenever there is a status update on any of your projecs. Its freeware and available thanks to Erik Doernenburg.

One tip: you can have it start up automatically by going to System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items and adding CCMenu and then checking the checkbox. Perhaps that will be a preference in the future, but for now that works for me.

Beanetics – a micro roaster in Annandale, Virginia

Beanetics has got me hooked. On coffee. The last time I was hooked was when I went to vacation in Italy. Ever since then, most coffee has been pretty blah or just plain bitter. But this summer I thought I’d cut back on my Coca-Cola consumption and drink coffee instead.

My wife went online and researched the best places to find good coffee beans. Also, how to make coffee. I had never really learned how to make good coffee. We settled on using a Bodum Champbord 4-Cup French Press with matching Bodum Antigua Burr Coffee Grinder. So the next step was find good beans without going to Italy. So we checked out a few places and tried a few different beans, but the best by far was Beanetics.

BeaneticsBeanetics is a micro roaster in the Washington DC area, Annandale, VA to be exact, which is not too far from where I live. I had never heard of a micro roaster before, so I was pretty curious what that actually meant. I’ve been to micro breweries. I used to work for a company based near Portland, Oregon which probably has more micro breweries per capita than any place on earth.

So a micro roaster is basically a shop that roasts their own coffee beans. That way you get the freshest roasted beans and the result is that your coffee tastes REALLY good. They’ve got quite a few different beans they roast and also blends of beans. Plus of course they serve good coffee, they’ve got Wi-Fi, a few tables, and coffee equipment. I bought my grinder there. The staff is pretty helpful and friendly too. Its also an Indie business, which I find refreshing in the age of franchises. I think the backstory is that two guys got together and wondered why there wasn’t better coffee in the Northern Virginia/DC area and so they started up Beanetics, which opened up just a few months ago.

BTW, my favorite beans are the El Salvador beans. They’re the sweetest. I’m trying out the Mexican right now and I hear that the Costa Rica is the most popular. Anyways if you like coffee and you’re in the area, go check out Beanetics!

Rails 1.2.4 – getting ready for Rails 2.0

Rails 1.2.4 came out today. The big thing here in my opinion is that it helps you get ready for Rails 2.0, since it includes more deprecations.

I had to fix a deprecation for pagination, which will be optional in 2.0. To fix it, I piston installed the classic_pagination plugin from the guys at errtheblog:

piston import svn:// vendor/plugins/classic_pagination

By the way, this also affects Streamlined, which uses pagination.

Ruby on RailsAnother thing in 1.2.4 is that REST URLs don’t use the semicolon “;” anymore, instead they just use the regular slash “/”. So instead of doing /comment/1;edit which always seemed a little weird, we’ll now use /comment/1/edit.

Also in 1.2.4 are security updates and “minor performance enhancements.”

I usually freeze Rails and I dug up my rails:refreeze rake task to do it, which does it all automatically. I’ll blog that soon. I wonder – is there a place where you share rake tasks? Is there a Rake-forge?

I’ve been Primed

I recently signed up for Amazon Prime again. I joined when they first started offering it about 2 years ago, then let it lapse for a year and now I’m back. My life has gotten a lot busier with work and family and its just harder to get out to Borders or Barnes and Noble and browse books with my wife like we used to. We used to go to the “double-decker Borders” in Baileys Crossroads so often back in our DINK days (that’s Dual Income No Kids for the uninitiated) that the people knew us. But alas, last time I went to Borders (at Tysons Corner), I think the most I got done was to order, cut up, and serve a huge rice krispy treat for the kids and coffee for me while my wife browsed through some home decorating magazines.

So I think the time/hassle savings definitely outweigh the $79/yearly cost. Oh yes, did I tell you that I’m sometimes impatient? I really dreaded the “Super Saver shipping”, which sometimes would take quite a while. So a bonus is that you get 2 Day shipping for free with Prime. Overnight is $3.99 extra.

But wait, there’s more! Amazon must have been doing their research because they realize that there are really impatient guys like me. I was thinking 2 years ago that what I REALLY wanted was same-day shipping… I mean, I’m not asking for some Star Trek-like teleportation device. But you’d think that with 30-45 minute pizza and chinese food, that we could get books delivered by some kid riding a bike or a guy in a car. So voila, Amazon has just recently extended their “Local Express” shipping to the Washington DC area for $5.99. Not bad – its still cheaper than if I went to the store usually. I just placed my first order for Your Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich. I’ll report back when I get it. :)

Oh yea, one more thing – Amazon usually doesn’t deliver on weekends. I guess UPS and FedEx workers need some rest too. But I’ve started seeing some books (but not all books) have a Saturday Delivery option for $4.99. My reading inbox is getting full, so I’ll save that for another time.

Update: Its after 8PM and no book. :(

2nd Update: I got an email back from Amazon – they said it was delivered. So I step outside of my door in the wee hours of the night, almost 24 hours after I ordered, wondering if they left it somewhere and find the book discreetly tucked into the nook of my door. So they did deliver it after all! But wouldn’t I have tripped over it on the way? Hmm… life is pretty busy with kids. :)

Looks like they opened up a shipping center in Sterling VA, judging from the shipping label, which is not too far from me. So its not instant, 30-minute delivery, but it’s still same day! And that was a satisfying conclusion. Now for some bedtime reading…