Archive for November, 2008

Download Picasa Webalbum

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Did you ever got an invitation eMail from a friend or a colleague to his Picasa Webalbum?

Well actually I do not use these online photo albums (yet). The nice thing about them is, you can show a huge pile of photos to someone without having to send him tens of eMails with 4 or 5 photos attached to each – depending on resolution, file format and the allowed size of attachments of the receivers mail server.

On Saturday, 2008-11-15, I had a concert with my gospel choir Profil and a professional photographer took photos of us. Liberally he offered to send me the images to put them into the gallery of our website. As I am a geek of course I asked for the images in their original resolution (maybe we want to use them in some print material).

Today I finally got an eMail from him, and guess what: He uploaded all the 240 images to his Picasa Webalbum. Its nice to see the slideshow online in the browser or to get a an overview in the thumbnail view. But I wanted to download the real data on my disk to work with it. On the website I did not find any link to download that stuff. I could click around to get the image in original resolution, but only one at a time and it took about 5 clicks to get the real download link.

Google itself told me to install Picasa on my system. Another blog described a way how to download the images with the Firefox plugin Downthemall. I also found a Java applet and a Mono application that could have done the job. But I didn’t want to install some big blob just to download some images from the net – this is insane.

Then, thankfully, I found this page. It provides a simple Bash script that can download Picasa Webalbums just by passing it the URL. It even knows about nested albums and you can specify exactly what you want to download. The script is licensed under GPL3 or later so I’ll host it here as well (to never lose it). Just put it in your ~/bin folder or even in /usr/local/bin

Now assume you got a link to the Picasa album GNULinux of the user abhishek.amberkar. The link you got looks like this: http://picasaweb.google.com/abhishek.amberkar/GNULinux

All you have to do to download this album is this:

mkdir newPictures
cd newPictures
picasaweb-download http://picasaweb.google.com/abhishek.amberkar/GNULinux

See the linked site and the scripts help for the usage. It supports listings of albums and images and once you downloaded something you do not need to specify the full URL any more but can download the next album just by name. Veeeery cool. Thanks “Loïc Cerf” for this great script. Now its a matter of a few seconds to download enire albums.

The day after the InternetX-DDoS

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

It seems to be an intersting time for the spam-gangs these weeks. On Tuesday, 2008-11-11, the webhoster McColo was disconnected from the internet because he hosted master server of spam bot nets. As a result of this spam rates worldwide dropped to about 50%. Then last week on Friday, 2008-11-21, the german hoster InternetX was attacked by a DDoS against their DNS servers. And this time spam rates dropped again remarkably. I doubt that this had a worldwide effect, but at least my monthly mailgraph looks amazing now.

Hardly any spam during InternetX-DDoS

Hardly any spam during InternetX-DDoS

I don’t think I have to comment on the graph. It’s quite easy to see what happened. But unfortunately the spam starts to rise again since the DDoS stopped the weekend.

Just one question remains: Why exactly was there so few spam during this DDoS?

  • Were the remaining bot nets busy with flooding InternetX and had no bandwith to send advertising?
  • Does InternetX provide service in any way for the spammers, and therefore the DDoS blocked them as well?
  • Do big parts of the spam delivery rely on DNS servers of InternetX and was therefore blocked as well?

Unplugged

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

On Tuesday night the amount of spam delivered to my server dropped to about the half of the former average. My mailserver was still doing well as there were still eMails coming in. But some hours after my discovery I found the explaination in an article of the famous german online and print IT publisher heise.

The two main ISPs of the American hoster McColo pulled the plug of his internet connection. Based in California McColo supposably gave refuge for master servers of several spam bot nets. The Washington Post covered this story as well. According to IronPort, spam levels fell by 66% in this night.

It’s a pity for all reputable customers of McColo’s – sorry, but I welcome this action. I hope you’ll quickly find a new hoster.

Some months ago I set up mailgraph on my server. Mailgraph is nice mail log analyser and visualiser. It watches Postfix or Sendmail log files and creates daily, weekly, monthly and yearly graphs. I regularly check these graphs. So I discovered the unusual low mail reject rates Tuesday night already. And even days later the spam levels stay at that level. Here is my weekly graph two days after McColo went offline:

Mailgraph two days after McColo's internet connection was cut

Mailgraph two days later

But I wanted to have my own numbers. So I quickly did some calculations and compared the first McColo-offline-day (Wednesday) numbers with the former average:

  • overall connections to my mailserver dropped to 48%
  • overall rejects as well are at 48%
  • rejects because of invalid helo hostname even are at 44%
  • mail rejects from known spam sources are down to 38%
  • rejects because of invalid recipient fell to 50%

Now it even got more interesting monitoring the statistics to find out when the spam rates start to rise again. Somehow I doubt that the bot net creators will fail to even get parts of their system back under control.

Karl Ranseier is dead

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Karl Ranseier

Karl Ranseier

Worlds most unsuccessful blogger all-time, already in his childhood posted all of his friends. At school he became maverick. He wanted to get the star role in the homonymous hollywood movie and became an actor. As he went for the casting he picked the wrong door and was appointed supernumerary in a comercial where he got at least a bog roll. After an occupational retraining he worked as a second-rate b-logger for the saw mill of his uncle.

At the age of 42 Ranseier founded a microchip factory, designed and built worlds biggest microchips and vainly tried to sell them. Two years later he was up to his neck in debt and for 5 years went to jail where he learned to code. In recent years he worked freelance as an executive webapplication developer of enterprise business management systems for several IT companies.

Ranseier died yesterday when he confused his second-life with his real-life account and did a logout.

My Anythingbutipod: Cowon iAudio 7

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

For about two years I was suffering from an old MP3 player. It was too big and too small. Too big in dimensions and too small in capacity. At least thats why I almost never used it. But sometimes mobile music is a nice thing to have so I looked for an adequate music player.

Sure, iPods look very nice and even the laser engraving is a neat thing. But iPods lack one very important feature: they can’t play Ogg Vorbis. Sorry Apple, I asked you for Ogg Vorbis support in iPods over two years ago when I got my first MacMini (PowerPC). Yes, I had one as my Workstation for 2.5 years, as we ship openSUSE for PPC again since 2005.

Cowon iAudio 7

Cowon iAudio 7

Finally after reading lots of reviews I found the Cowon iAudio 7 and liked it. Its lightweight (35g), big (16GB), plays Ogg Vorbis, flac, wav and MP3 and even has an integrated FM radio. Additionally it can play videos, which I can’t think of ever needing it on a 1.3 inch display (videos need to be recoded on the PC anyway) and it has a built in microphone and a line input, so it can record from these and from the radio. But I wont use these features either as I have a more suitable device for mobile recording (maybe I’ll blog about it as well).

The navigation on the iAudio 7 is done with the “Swing Touch” and an additional menu button on the top. This was odd just for the first minute but then I loved it. Once I got used to it I could jump to any function intuitively. Together with in-ear head phones from AKG I now use the iAudio 7 on my trips with the public transport on my ways trough the city.

Btw. the music the player is playing while taking the photo can be found at jamendo.com.