Ryan Kanno: The diary of an Enginerd in Hawaii

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Google App Engine on Win2K (using django-yui-layout-templates)

Update : September 1, 2008

I guess Googs finally caught on as their 1.1.2 installer works on Win2K! FTW!


After finally getting time to play around with the Google App Engine Django helpers, here’s a few more steps to integrate nicely with the helper suite.

  • Move the appengine installation from C:\AppEngine\ to where the Windows installer would have installed it to: C:\Program Files\Google\google_appengine (make sure to clean up your .pyc files)
  • Add the following to your PYTHONPATH system variable: %APPENGINE%\;%APPENGINE%\lib;%APPENGINE%\lib\yaml\lib;%APPENGINE%\lib\webob;

After following the instructions, you should be good to go with Django + AppEngine! FTW! Whee. :)

So I finally get an hour or so to play around with the Googs App Engine and luckily for me, all my machines decided to puke except for my Windows 2000 Server. How ironic is that? In disbelief, I downloaded the Google App Engine SDK Windows installer and what do I get?

Google App Engine Windows installer

I sense some pure, unadultered haterade. (j/k)

Since Python is one of those insert_any_synonym_for_fun languages that just works, here’s how to get the Google App Engine SDK working in Win2K.

  • Download the Linux/Other platform package and unzip to somewhere neat.
  • Add a System Environment variable called ‘APP_ENGINE_HOME’ that points to your App Engine installation. (Notice, I installed mine into C:\AppEngine)

    Add system variable

  • Add the System Environment variable to your System Path so the Windows shell can execute the included Python files.
  • Make sure you have .py files associated with the python.exe executable located in your Python installation. (Check file types under folder options)
  • Follow the tutorials: here and here, or learn with others – just to name a few.
  • Oh, and before I forget, if you develop an application and realize that you can’t kill the development appserver (dev_appserver.py) by pressing Ctrl-C, I found a solution here. Basically, press Ctrl-C, hit the server with your browser one more time and voila, the development application server dies. Thanks Frank!

As an added bonus…

Checkout my my previous post using the Yahoo UI library to create a set of default Django templates. I’ve updated django-yui-layout-templates with patches and suggestions, and I’ve also created a few branches to support the Googly App Engine. Check out the branches directory in the Subversion repository!

Last but not least…

Big ups to Mr. Fitz for solving all my Google App Engine issues and thanks to Mr. Harper for causing them. 😉

Voila! (Enjoy)

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Yahoo! UI (YUI) + Django templates == Google Code project! FTW!

Let me first preface this blog by saying that I’m not a designer. When it comes to art and creativity, I’m so left brained, I actually wonder if my right brain even partakes in the process.

Three things spurred me to release django-yui-layout-templates.

  1. I’ve always wanted to see what GoogleCode offered in relation to SourceForge / RubyForge.
  2. I’m so caught up in corporate America staring at Java / Ruby code all day, not only haven’t I blogged about anything Django related in quite a while, but it’s nice to get some commentary from the community, i.e. “your code sucks”. (Brings me back to reality)
  3. I found myself using the same templates on a variety of projects and figured that I could do my part and help eliminate unncessary cruft/duplication.

So without further adieu, check out the project here. I know, I know – nothing revolutionary here, but I figure since Django is picking up some steam, these templates might help a Djangonaut get a head start on their next million dollar idea. :)

Voila! Enjoy!

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Backing up your Subversion (SVN) repository on Dreamhost with cron

Two events spurred me to write this blog.

First, my 2 year old “Subversion + Dreamhost + Post-Commit” blog still gets quite a number of hits. Second, after the latest Dreamhost outage move, I’m beginning to feel a little more vigilant about backing up my data.

As a standard disclaimer, if you’re not familiar with the Unix shell, I highly suggest you not try this unless under the supervision of someone who reads Perl books for fun. By accessing your Dreamhost shell, you can seriously f-up your account and I will not fix it for you. You have been warned. :) (Don’t you just love smileys?)


There are a few prerequisites to being able to back up your SVN repository.

  1. First and foremost, you must have already installed a SVN repository into your Dreamhost account via the control panel.
  2. Second, you must know how to SSH into your Dreamhost account. As a FYI, you sorta-kinda-need to know what that means in order to follow this tutorial.

Grabbing the backup script

Wait, you didn’t think I was writing my own right? In any case, if you actually installed/compiled Subversion on your own, it would’ve contained this file, hotbackup.py. Fortunately for us, Dreamhost has this file conveniently available at: /usr/bin/svn-hot-backup, but it’s an older version of the backup script. There are some subtle differences like being unable to pass in the number of backups you want the script to manage. Personally, I like to be on the edge, so let’s get the latest version. Execute the following commands from your home directory.

$ cd ~
$ mkdir scripts
$ cd scripts
$ wget http://svn.collab.net/repos/svn/trunk/tools/backup/hot-backup.py.in
$ mv hot-backup.py.in svn-hot-backup.py

The commands issued above created a directory called scripts in your home directory, switched into the directory, downloaded the latest hot-backup.py file from CollabNet, and renamed it to svn-hot-backup.py. Now that you have the file, you’ll need to make a few edits. Personally, I’m accustomed to vi, but pick your poison (pico, nano, text editor of your choice) and find these two values (they should be close to the top of the file in consecutive lines).

# Path to svnlook utility
svnlook = r"@SVN_BINDIR@/svnlook"

# Path to svnadmin utility
svnadmin = r"@SVN_BINDIR@/svnadmin"

and change them to the following:

# Path to svnlook utility
svnlook = r"/usr/bin/svnlook"

# Path to svnadmin utility
svnadmin = r"/usr/bin/svnadmin"

(If you’re wondering, if and when you compile/install Subversion yourself, these two variables would have been automagically filled in for you.)

The python script we downloaded not only performs a hotcopy of your svn directory, but also can archive it and manage a set number of copies. Pretty neat right?

Preparing for the backups

Before you can actually back up your SVN repository, you’ll want to create a directory structure to manage your backups. Execute the following commands from your home directory.

$ cd ~
$ mkdir backup
$ cd backup
$ mkdir svn
$ cd ~/scripts

The commands issued above created a directory called backup in your home directory, switched into the directory, and created another directory called svn within the backup directory. We’ll be using this directory to store all your backups. Finally, we switched back into the scripts directory created in the previous steps. Now that we have the backup script and directory structure to manage the back ups, let’s test it out!

Before you can back up your repository, you’ll have to know the name of the Subversion repository you’re trying to back up. To find the name of your repository, you can either look in the svn directory in your home directory, or you can check out the ID value in your Subversion Goodies control panel. In any case, remember the name of your SVN repository and issue the following commands.

$ cd ~/scripts/
$ python2.4 svn-hot-backup.py --archive-type=zip --num-backups=10 ~/svn/REPOSITORY_NAME_HERE/ ~/backup/svn/
Notice, change the value of REPOSITORY_NAME_HERE to the id of the SVN repository you want backed up.

You should see the following in the console:

Beginning hot backup of '/home/USERNAME/svn/lkg/'.
Youngest revision is REVISION_NUMBER
Backing up repository to '/home/USERNAME/backup/svn/REPOSITORY_NAME_HERE-701'...
Archiving backup to '/home/USERNAME/backup/svn/REPOSITORY_NAME_HERE-701.zip'...
Archive created, removing backup '/home/USERNAME/backup/svn/REPOSITORY_NAME_HERE-701'...
If you see the following, the backup was a success! You can even check on the file by changing into the backup/svn directory!

Voila! (But there’s more)

Automating the backups

Now that you actually have the script backing up your SVN repository, let’s automate them! To do so, we’ll use the handy cron daemon. Cron has similarities to the Windows task scheduler in that it provides a service that enables a user to execute commands at a specified date/time or set intervals. To tell cron the tasks you want to execute, you’ll need to load a configuration file called a crontab. You can read more about it here and here. In any case, here’s what my crontab configuration file looks like.

# minute (0-59),
# |      hour (0-23),
# |      |       day of the month (1-31),
# |      |       |       month of the year (1-12),
# |      |       |       |       day of the week (0-6 with 0=Sunday).
# |      |       |       |       |       commands
  0      0       *       *       *      /usr/bin/python2.4 /home/USERNAME/scripts/svn-hot-backup.py --archive-type=zip --num-backups=10 /home/USERNAME/svn/REPOSITORY_NAME/ /home/USERNAME/backup/svn/

Create a file in your scripts directory called svn_backup_once_a_day.cron and copy the contents above into your file. I’ve setup my crontab to backup my svn repository once a day.

Notice, change the value of ryankanno@CHANGE_TO_YOUR_EMAIL.com to your email address (or comment the line out with a # if you don’t want emails sent to you), USERNAME to your Dreamhost username, and REPOSITORY_NAME to your Subversion repository.

Once you have this file called svn_backup_once_a_day.cron in your scripts directory, load the file into your crontab by issuing the following command:

$ crontab svn_backup_once_a_day.cron

As a FYI, this will replace your old crontab. If you have other items already running on cron, it’s a good idea to list them via the crontab -l command first. If you want to make sure that your cron will run, you can test it out by setting the values in the crontab to the time you want it to run. I’ll leave this as an exercise to the reader. :)

Storing your backups

Though out of scope of this blog, you’ll still have to store your backups somewhere. Please just don’t leave them in your Dreamhost account. Your best bet is probably to get an Amazon S3 account and store your backups there. Personally, I like to run another script immediately after the hotcopy finishes that pushes the backup to my S3 account. Other options include scp/sftp’ing the backups to your home machine. Here’s a link to read more about that option.

Voila! Enjoy!

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Upgrading your DVR: How to increase your DVR’s recording time

This blog is for all my Hawaii television addicts.

Since I rarely have time to watch live television, my Oceanic Time Warner DVR is constantly filled to max capacity. This means I’m always battling my inner demons on what shows I have to erase… Rock of Love, A Shot at Love, Flavor of Love… you know, all the good stuff. To solve my problem, I’ve finally decided to invest the $150 to upgrade my DVR and increase its total number of recording hours.

Luckily for you, I’ll walk you through the steps to upgrade your own DVR!

As a standard disclaimer, if you attempt to upgrade your own DVR and f-it up, I can’t and won’t fix it. So… if technology scares you, please parents, do not try this unless supervised by your technology-oriented youngster. If you don’t understand what SATA, external enclosures, or hard drives mean, do not, and I repeat do not try this at home!

The setup

Before you can upgrade your DVR, you’ll need to make sure that you have the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD. Just match what your DVR looks like to the one in the picture. It’s not that hard. This is what mine looks like: the front and the back. I do know for a fact that Oceanic has a few versions of their cable boxes out in the wild. I’m pretty sure you can upgrade (some of) the other models as well, but I’ve personally only upgraded the 8300HD. So if you want to be ballsy and upgrade a different cable box, feel totally free – just be warned that this guide won’t apply to you. I’m not even sure if you can still turn in your old cable box because of the demand for HDTV in Hawaii, but calling up Oceanic can’t hurt.

Aside from owning an 8300HD, you’ll need three additional components to make this upgrade work. I’ve included links to where I purchased the following items. Fear not, I don’t make any commissions on these links so feel free to buy these products from anywhere you see fit.

Here are a few pictures of the aforementioned items.

External SATA enclosureMaxtor SATA 500 GB hard driveeSATA to SATA cableEverything unpacked!

The results

First, make sure your 8300HD is turned off. Place the hard drive into the external enclosure. Next, after connecting the external SATA enclosure to the 8300HD (with the SATA to eSATA cable), power the external hard drive before turning the DVR box back on. Note, it’s extremely important that the external SATA enclosure be turned on prior to the cable box being powered on. Once booted, the 8300HD should recognize a new, external data source and prompt you to format the new drive. The following message should appear:

Format hard drive prompt

Once formatted, you should see a success message:

Format success!

Voila! DVR Upgraded!

The benes

There are numerous benefits to increasing your DVR’s total recording time.

  • No more having to rush home because you forgot the DVR is full.
  • No more making those life-altering decisions about what movies to delete.
  • Being able to store almost a year’s worth of reality crap is fun!

Of course, there’s the almost 4X increase in the DVR’s recording time as you can see by the following before and after pictures. Not bad!

Before upgradeAfter upgrade

The cons

There’s no such thing as a free pass in life… so here are a few of the cons.

  • As I wrote earlier, the external hard drive needs to be powered on before your cable box. This means one of two things. Either you always turn the external drive on first or leave it on permanently. Since I know I could never remember to do the former, I’ve decided to leave the device on permanently – meaning a slightly larger electricity bill. As someone trying to get off the grid, that makes me sad.
  • You can’t rip the recorded video off the external hard drive. Unfortunately, the data is encrypted. Unless you’re a cryptographic expert, worked on the 8300HD, or have a few Beowulf clusters, deal with it. You won’t be able to share your recordings.
  • $150 bucks is a lot to spend on easing one’s mind, but I think it’s money well spent considering the prices here and here.

Some linkage

Of course I couldn’t have upgraded my DVR without the Internet. Here’s a link to the forums and guides I read to assist me along the way. Check them out, some of them are quite interesting.

Finally, check out my flickr set if you need to see any more pictures!


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Guess who’s back… back again.

Unlucky for all of you, I’m back.

Here are some of the highlights of my sweet two week hiatus to Cali4nia:


(Click on our group picture to see my flickr set!)

Here’s Steder’s “2008 Rose Bowl Turning Point” video on my youtube

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