Monthly Archives: May 2003

Slow Burn

I feel like Neo in the first Matrix when he looks around everywhere and sees code, because code is all I’ve seen for hours, far too many hours. I’ve basically been working non-stop on getting WordPress out the door. In a bit I’m heading out for a meeting but after that it’s right back to work. This evening should be a nice chance to relax though, as I’m seeing Hamlet at the Alley Theatre. I’ve never seen Hamlet on stage before, so I’m curious to see how they do it.

Whoa. WordPress.

Well, it looks like WordPress is going to become the official branch of b2, once we put out a release of course. Which should be soon, very soon. Time to start burning the midday oil. (I switched my sleeping hours.)

In other news i’m looking forward to seeing Michel’s new site, which he has some pretty cool thing planned for. He’s also doing more photography now, so maybe some cool b2 photolog features will come out of it. 🙂

On Unison

Ever since I first got a laptop I’ve struggled with trying to keep some semblance of uniformity between it and my desktop. My first and most significant obstacle was with email. Email parallax was killing me and so I made the leap to IMAP, and I haven’t looked back since. Before I decided to use IMAP though, I kept looking for a tool that would synchronize between my two Outlook files; I had become so spoilt by PalmOS synchronization that this seemed like a common sense feature. Apparently not though.

Anyway the 60GB hard drive on the new laptop opened the possibility of having my entire music collection with me at all times on the laptop. I remember surfing by a new tool that worked on both Windows and *nix and was essentially a two-way rsync. A little Googling led me to the Unison File Synchronizer. Bing.

I grabbed the Windows executable and fired it up on my laptop, thinking I would be able to point to the network share with the music on it. I had already transferred a couple of genres over so this would be a nice way to get the ones I hadn’t. Also the idea of synchronization because I might clean up a bunch of ID3 tags on my desktop or rip a new CD on my laptop when I’m out; my former (copy and paste) method of synchronizing these changes was messy and often missed things. Anyway it brought up a dialog that let me choose the directory on my local drive I wanted to synchronize, but it looked like before I choose a remote drive I had to start the Unison server on that computer. What followed was a long and complicated episode to boring and detailed to go into here, so if you just want Unison to work, here’s what I had to do.

  • Put the executable in the directory you want to sync. Yes, I know there is a path argument, it never worked right for me. So for me I have Unison.exe in d:\Music on my laptop and i:\Music on the desktop.
  • Start the server from the command line, I used: unison.win32-gtkui.exe -socket 1234.
  • Start up the client. I created a new profile using “socket” as the connection method, the local IP of the machine as the host ( and left the rest blank.
  • Run it, and hope for the best.

I should tell you that it never successfully synced my Jazz directory, which is about 17GB. It would get further and further along, and then crash. I should warn you that it’s very resource intensive as well. In the beginning it’s tough on the server machine, and later it’s very hard on the client. Both times before it crashed on my Jazz directory it was using about 400MB of memory and slowed the computer down to a crawl. I was able to work around the crash because it had actually already transferred most of the files over to the laptop, it just had them in a strangely named dot directory, so I simply moved all the files out of that, deleted the now-empty temporary directory, and ran it again. This time it tried to do a lot less at one time, and syncronized the remaining files and few file properties as well. I think it’s a testament to the quality of the program that its crash was relatively easy to recover from.

Since the initial bumpy setup, it’s been working well for me. I tested it out by updating some things on the desktop and the laptop, and it caught all the changes just fine. When it’s not sure what to do it just asks you and you can tell it how various conflicts can be resolved. I’m happy with this tool, but I’d be quite hesitant to recommend it to somebody without much computer experience. The documentation is relatively poor, and the interface and behaviour of the application are anything but intuitive. Now when I run it to catch up on minor changes it is CPU intensive for a little while, but nothing compared to the earlier runs. All in all, I think this is a nifty tool, but it isn’t quite at a level of development where I would recommend it to the masses.