Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sports commentary is dead

Recently, I've been trying to watch and/or listen to the World Cup matches when I discovered a peculiar thing. Sports commentary is virtually a dead art.

I don't think I'm the only person to notice that what stands for play-by-play commentary now is the commentator saying the names of about half of the players that are part of the play and then announcing a goal or a near goal. I suppose this is acceptable if there is accompanying video but if you only have have access to audio, it really is not going to cut it.

The worst offender I have found for this is ESPN. They have an Internet radio stream that seems like it is just their television broadcast without the video. The commentators are more likely to be talking about an injured player than what is happening on the pitch.

I don't think that this applies to just soccer, either. I recall noticing a similar absence of commentary while watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year but I wasn't concerned as I wasn't scrambling to find an audio-only feed of the games.

All is not lost, though. I managed to listen to some BBC Radio 5 commentary on one of the games before the BBC iPlayer decided that it did not want to let me listen due to "digital rights restrictions" which is a shame. I was really enjoying the play-by-play that they had. It would seem that, living in Canada, I am not entitled enough to listen to their much better commentary. I understand that the British people pay taxes that support the BBC and the BBC doesn't want to give away for free something that people have been taxed to produce but it's really annoying. This leaves me with trying to find a way to circumvent the BBC iPlayer's regional restriction, which I hope is still legal in Canada.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How to Install New Versions of Octave on Enterprise Linux

This how-to is specifically for installing Octave 3.2.3 on CentOS 5.5 but should work on any recent version of RHEL or RHEL clones, with a few minor variations. The version of Octave to be installed depends on whichever version is in the Black Op Software repository.

Preliminary steps

To be able to install the octave package through Yum, the RPMForge and Black Op Software repositories need to be installed and it is recommended to remove the Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux repository and any installed packages from it as they are likely to conflict with the Black Op Software package. This is because the Black Op packages are built against the RPMForge packages which are compiled with different features than the ELEP packages.

Installing the RPMForge repository

This is paraphrased from the RPMForge wiki and the CentOS wiki.

  1. Download the rpmforge-release package.

  2. Install the repository GPG public key:

    rpm --import
  3. Check the signature of the downloaded package with

    rpm -K rpmforge-release-0.5.1-1.el5.rf.*.rpm
  4. Install the rpm using

    rpm -Uvh rpmforge-release-0.5.1-1.el5.rf.*.rpm
  5. Edit /etc/yum.repos.d/rpmforge.repo and set

    enabled = 1
Installing the Black Op Software repository

This is paraphrased from the Black Op Software wiki.

  1. Download the blackop-repo package from here.

    Note: there is only one package because it is architecture independent (noarch)

  2. Install the Black Op Software GPG public key:

    rpm --import
  3. Check the signature of the downloaded package with

    rpm -K blackop-el5-repo-1.0-2.noarch.rpm
  4. Install the rpm using

    rpm -Uvh blackop-el5-repo-1.0-2.noarch.rpm
  5. If yum-priorities is installed, the priority of the blackop repository needs to be set fairly high, otherwise there will be conflicts between the base gnuplot package and the one provided by Black Op Software.

Installing the octave package and troubleshooting

This should now be as simple as running, as root,

yum install octave

If there are package conflicts or related errors, make sure that any of the involved packages are installed only from the rpmforge and blackop repositories. Try removing the problem packages and reinstalling them to make sure that they are coming from either the rpmforge or blackop repositories.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Am Special: Cron Edition

I've been running Gentoo Linux for at least four years now. I used to use the vixie-cron daemon to run scheduled tasks like keeping installed software and a directory database up to date until I bought a new computer over a year ago. When I set up the new computer I decided to switch from vixie-cron to fcron because the machine is primarily a desktop system and fcron apparently is more suited to systems that aren't always on.

It wasn't long before I realized that my scheduled tasks were not running when they should. I did some cursory explorations at the time to figure out what was wrong. The daemon was starting up and running fine and the scripts were properly installed in the cron directories. I was busy with other things at the time and so I put solving the problem on the back burner until today when it finally bugged me enough that I wanted to fix it. I dug a little deeper and checked the system cron scheduling file (/etc/crontab) which is where I found this message:
# fcron || dcron:
# This is NOT the system crontab! fcron and dcron do not support a system crontab.
# to get /etc/cron.{hourly|daily|weekly|montly} working with fcron or dcron do
# crontab /etc/crontab
# as root.