writing a jci blurb is hard

Ik kwam snelletjes tot het volgende

Het leven is te kort om te verspillen aan banaliteiten, maar te lang om er zelfs met een ijzersterk karakter aan te weerstaan.
JCI is de dam die ons helpt het triviale op afstand te houden door positieve verandering te brengen en projecten met impact te realiseren.

maar dat is dan weer te lang voor jciaalst.be

Dus is het geworden ..

Het leven is te kort om te verspillen aan banaliteiten, maar te lang om ze ondanks ijzersterk karakter af te houden.
JCI is de dam die ons helpt het triviale te weerstaan.

En ben ik nu volgens de willekeur van de server een lid in de kijker.

Introducing Max Schepens

Today we are proud to present to you, Max Schepens! Our second boy, brother to Aster!

taken 13:23:39, Max was born 9:54, so he's 3:27:39 old in this picture
Max, 3h 27m old!

To quote the official message:

50cm, 3310gr, 100% Max Schepens! Sinds 9u54, 6/11/12 en Gert, Viona en Aster zijn zeer blij!

The official baby card is still under embargo, but updates will follow as the embargo is lifted 🙂 What I can already tell you:

Zoon 3,310 kg 50,0cm
Max Schepens
09u54 Jette

Vrijblijvend Geboortelijst paradisio-online.be ; tel 053 76 81 96. Of BE66 0356 1109 0543

Also, there is 1 image and a load of extra text on there. And 4 folds 🙂

We are very happy and proud parents. Also, tired. Off to bed!

Continue reading “Introducing Max Schepens”

Cleaning the XBMC movie collection

I have a lot of movies in t he XBMC server and not all of those are worth watching. Generally, anything with a rating lower than 5 is probably not worth the time!

So I wanted to get a list of bad movies with ratings! You can set up XBMC to store the data in an SQL database, and that’s how I set it up. Mainly because I want to share the database between the multiple XBMC set-ups around the house. Both the SQL database and the regular SQLite database support queries, though this is tested on MySQL.

To execute a MySQL query, you need to log into the database somehow, probably phpmysql or commandline (# mysql -u root -p )  to execute the query, but if you managed to set up XBMC for MySQL, you probably won’t need help there.

All the data you need is in the database and you can find out all about how the database is defined on the XBMC wiki: XBMC databases

The two tables you need are the movie database for a list of your movies, ratings, and any other info. And the info table for information about the file name. The table names are not very self explanatory and you really need the database reference wiki page to get anywhere.  For example, the following is the movie table:

Column Name Data Type Description
idMovie integer Primary Key
c00 text Local Movie Title
c01 text Movie Plot
c02 text Movie Plot Outline
c03 text Movie Tagline
c04 text Rating Votes
c05 text Rating
c06 text Writers
c07 text Year Released
c08 text Thumbnails
c09 text IMDB ID
c10 text Title formatted for sorting
c11 text Runtime [UPnP devices see this as seconds]
c12 text MPAA Rating
c13 text [unknown – listed as Top250]
c14 text Genre
c15 text Director
c16 text Original Movie Title
c17 text [unknown – listed as Thumbnail URL Spoof]
c18 text Studio
c19 text Trailer URL
c20 text Fanart URLs
c21 text Country (Added in r29886[1]
c23 text idPath
idFile integer Foreign Key to files table


Next is putting it all together into a pretty SQL querry

select c00,c05,strFilename from movie join files on movie.idFile = files.idFile where c05 < 5 and c05 > 0;

This lists all the movies with a rating lower than 5, because nobody likes a bad movie. And higher than 0 because a 0 rating apparently only happens when the movie is not found. That being said, you might consider a second query to find out what movies aren’t recognized correctly 🙂

I have a fairly good idea where my files are so I didn’t need the file paths, but if you do, you can get to those by merging the “path” table into the query and adding “strPath” to the select.

And then I opened a browser and deleted all the waste of time junk.


As a next step, I looked into the options for cleaning the database and triggering the updates from the command line. The Event Server can do this, but there appear to be some issues, installing the package using the official Ubuntu repository removes the XBMC package; slightly weird and definitely worth looking into, but not today.


And for some reason, I like to kill XBMC. And it has 2 processes. And it needs a “kill -9” by the time I feel like killing. Sooooooooo, I put it into a simple bash script.

kill -9 $( ps -A | grep xbmc | grep -oE ” [0-9]* ” )


Hope this helps, use it at your own risk, etc, and feel free to get back with feedback!

Near Field Communication

A while back, I got a wad of info together about NFC. Planning to do something with it. Life however happened and now the idea has fled my mind and all that remains are these NFC links. So here they are:


NFC is the new technology that Google is pushing these days. And there is a cool lot of potential!

Google I/O 2011: How to NFC

Getting tags isnt easy at the moment though I did find some stores around the web

And finally; the Android related info on NFC is at nfc.android.com

Gnome Shell Animated Background

The support for animated backgrounds in Gnome is not new, but the path to actually rolling your own and activating it on your system is all but easy today. Ubuntu offers 2 magically changing backgrounds but no information about how to do this yourself. There is a cute “+” button that allows you to add new static backgrounds but that’s it. To make things worse, the plus doesn’t allow you to add such a magical background either, when you finally create one.

An animated background for Gnome Shell consists of a wad of images you want to use as backgrounds and an XML file detailing how and when to show this data. I was honestly expecting a single file, instead of this multi-file concept, but apparently the multi images backgrounds are not really ready for the common user. A single tar file would solve the problem though so this should not be that far off.
Adding your file to the desktop menu is another problem altogether, as you cant’t use the plus to add the XML file. This requires either a workaround or a second XML file in a separate directory outside of your home directory.

To create such a background, start by collecting a wad of suitable backgrounds to rotate around. (I expect lots of funny moments with NSFW backgrounds and presentations as this concept catches on) and put them together. You don’t actually have to do this, but it helps to have them in one place. I used “~/Pictures/Fallout” as I was creating a Fallout background theme and I like pictures to go into the Pictures map. Next you need to create the XML. This file is formatted as follows:


<file>/home/gert/Pictures/Fallout New Vegas/1347371663_intonewvegas_543942.jpeg</file>
<from>/home/gert/Pictures/Fallout New Vegas/1347371663_intonewvegas_543942.jpeg</from>
<to>/home/gert/Pictures/Fallout New Vegas/Fallout-New-Vegas_2010_03-06-10_14.jpg</to>



The XML consists of a starttime tag and as many static and transition tags as you have backgrounds.
The starttime tag defines when the timer for changing  the background starts running. Any past date will do and unless you want do create a background that follows your day cycle or clock, the time doesn’t really matter either.
The static section defines what files to show and for how many seconds, the transition section defines a transition between the backgrounds and how much time such a transition should take. Your last transition should be back to your first image.

Writing a file yourself is easy but tedious and there are graphical interfaces available that do this for you. Sadly, these do no appear to be included in the default Ubuntu repository. They all appear to be obsolete to some degree. I used Crebs and it works wonderfully though the dependencies fail to define the requirement for the python-glade2 package in Ubuntu, resulting in a crash until you install that package. The internet also provides the XML Background Creator for Gnome3 and a selection of interesting articles and even pre-made downloadable packages, though these don’t exactly install nicely.



More information at


Actually using your freshly created background is not that simple though. The GUI does not appear to provide any mechanism to add the XML file to the menu or to otherwise activate it. There are 2 options but none of them is particularly user friendly.

You can tell gnome to use a certain background using gsettings on the commandline, but this will only activate the background and not add it to your selection menu.

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri ‘file:///home/gert/Pictures/Fallout New Vegas/Fallout_New_Vegas.xml’


The second option is adding the background to the gnome menu. You do this by creating a new XML file, telling gnome where to find your spiffy new background.

You can add the new background to your desktop menu by adding an XML file, telling Gnome where to find your background XML. This XML goes into


and is formatted as follows

# cat Fallout.xml
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<!DOCTYPE wallpapers SYSTEM “gnome-wp-list.dtd”>
<filename>/home/gert/Pictures/Fallout New Vegas/Fallout_New_Vegas.xml</filename>

This file is fairly simple, it defines the name of the background, where to find the file detailing the background and what options to enable, ie to zoom the desktop.


The whole process is pretty painless; except that initially I wrote this”One problem I am experiencing though is the desktop not changing.” (small problem ey) but it turns out that it’s ok. The issue is rather that the desktop doesn’t change at the correct time. It seems that the first section is ignored. It should change around the hour and half hour mark, but instead it’s been changing around 16, 46 minutes. I guess the system resumed rotation at .16 and is rotating from that point on. I don’t mind this so I did not look into this any further. My rotating background works like a charm 🙂

Ubuntu 12.10

Seeing some really really annoying install errors!



and more. So far linux-image-extra-3.5.0-17-generic, initramfs-tools – Synaptic says they have been installed though.. hmmm.. And it looks like the kernel is in /boot.
The process itself is a bit dubious too.. They tell you to stop using the machine, they do annoying shit like silently switching your keyboard layout during the process, but they do require you to freqyently answer questions. I can’t just walk away and let it upgrade, there is frequent user interaction required. Wondering what the usability expectation here is. Do they expect you want to just watch the upgrade, content to answer a question once in a while? And just watch, not to use the system at that time. Weird.

Im wondering if this ll kick me back to Unity or if Ill get my prefered Gnome Shell after reboot.. And I did. Hooray!

Weird crash reports at first boot. Not pretty!
Also, the gnome extensions seem to be disabled/missing. – Ah, no they havent, just the incompatible ones. Sadly, 4 out of 5 are incompatible.
Also, the keyboard lay-out is ok again.

Im afraid to say it at this stage, but so far its looking like a relatively painless upgrade!
On the other hand, doesn’t look like much happened, the most obvious so far is the Gnome update.. Checking the release notes.. Nothing to see there though.

The new notification bar down the screen is a bit weird but very modern.

There is apparently a feature to make sites into standalone apps (wondering if that concept ‘ll work this time around) but I don’t see how. I’ll look at it later I guess.

This is looking like a hassle free update; Don’t get me wrong, they should all be like this, but the last few years, they just didnt deliver anymore! very very happy!

Although some people are apparently experiencing weird problems..

Haven’t noticed any gvfs problems myself…….

Good and bad; The synaptics touchpad on my Asus Zenbook is better supported. The Click+Drag works out of the box, the right mouse works with click and two finger tap, .. this is better than before. What does however NOT work is the middle mouse button click. And that’s annoying as hell. I’m’a look at fixing that 🙂

Oh my, this is an annoying one! The brightness control seems broken. Its dark here now. I need to tune down this horrendous light blaring in my eyes. ITS HORRIBLE! TOO FUCKING SHINY!!! – Nevermind all that, Gnome Shell gave a crash warning, apparently part of the shell stopped working. The brightness works now.

One important happy improvement; the startig speed of LibreOffice is amazing! Where it was unbearably slow before, the current version starts like any normal program 🙂

Looks like the awesome crash handling of before is lacking a bit. Just encountered a weird bug where mouse clicks weren’t passed on to the applications! The gnome shell elements worked OK, but none of the apps received the clicks. Logging out apparently solved this.

Auto posting this brain dump on Oct 24th.

On being knowledgeable about life versus living

A quote from “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator”. Quote by Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton :  

 The interested and informed citizen can congratulate himself on his lofty state of interest and information and neglect to see that he has abstained from decision and action. In short, he takes his secondary contact with the world of political reality, his reading and listening and thinking, as a vicarious performance…. He is concerned. He is informed. And he has all sorts of ideas as to what should be done. But, after he has gotten through his dinner and after he has listened to his favored radio programs and after he has read his second newspaper of the day, it is really time for bed.

A though that I often have though not nearly as elegantly worded, about those people who get up, read newspaper, start checking Facebook for the rest of the day, read de metro, check news sites, watch the evening news on all channels, watch panorama or the like and go to bed. Aren’t you guys missing out on life?
Trading experiences for sensationalism, suffering and fear mongering about the near and the very very distant world around you?

Those interested should check out the BBC documentary called “How TV ruined your life” I’m sure they’ll broadcast it on Canvas some time. Ironically.

The official Dwars Door Mechelen results!

The results are in, I finished 1717th with a nice 0:56:33 time! Barefoot & with a backpack.
And huge congratz to my 2 fellow runners as well!

The results will also be on sport.be.msn.com/../dwarsdoormechelen/../uitslagen/ tomorrow, including the recorded finish and official stats: 56:34minutes, 5:50 m/km, 10.29 kmph.
And this is my run, thanks to MyTracks and my Android phone..

Some things I noticed.

  • Nobody runs with a backback. And when you do, people seem to consider that extra hard.
  • Nobody runs barefoot. (except me)
  • When people see someone running barefoot, they think you forgot your shoes
  • When people see someone running barefoot slowing down and messing with the backpack, they figure you’re finally taking your shoes.
  • When people see someone running barefoot , they wonder if it hurts. (it doesn’t)
  • When people see someone running barefoot after 7+km, they congratulate you and wish you luck or congratulate you. (very nice, thank you!)
  • Barefoot running has the extra issue that when its cold, your lower leg muscles need to warm up decently, this was a problem the first 3km. After that it was ok.
  • The barefoot running in the cold problem was aggravated by the slight rain at around 4km. This cooled my feet even further.
  • I ran the first 5km without a sweat
  • I ran the total 10km without a problem on a stamina level
  • My knees did protest after 7km, though nothing compared to the problem after those 2km with shoes earlier this week.
  • After 8km, I felt blisters forming on my feet but visual inspection was OK so I finished.
  • I believe the blisters are only because of lack of training. I had not run more than 3km barefoor before.

So, barefoot running was a great experience.
I don’t feel like taking it beyond 10km at the moment, but 10 km is a very good distance to run. No sweat 🙂

As for the now.. There is some big blistering on my feet and my knees are slowly recuperating. I have no idea why the blisters are there, but I noticed the difference in running after about 8km and that was right after the parts with the gravel and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s part of the problem. Gravel is not the friend of a barefoot runner. And there was a kind of fine gravel too and that was horrible! Other footing was quite ok..

My goal was to finish. I expected to run it under the hour. So I am very happy 🙂

A script to commit all the GIT projects in a map

I keep all the documents, code and whatnot for DGTL in several git repositories and synchronise those to secret remote locations (cool ey.) But its a hassle to update them all and why keep manually doing mundane tasks when you can replace it with a small (recursive) bash script 🙂

So I did.


The script loops through all maps and checks for the telltale .git folder. It its there, it runs the wonderful “git add . && git commit -a && git push“. This is probably not ideal, but its how I prefer it.

If there is no .git folder, it checks for an executable file with the same name, ie a copy of itself, though it doesnt check the content. A diff or md5 check or check for symlink might do this, but I trust myself to not screw this up. The script then runs that file. There is a risk for recursive hell here with symlinks to directories, but I’ll just not do that and it ll all be ok 🙂

The code is at http://www.gertschepens.be/bash#UpdateGit

So I put a symlink to the update script in ~/Documents/ and run it there. I put a second symlink in ~/Documents/Projects/. Effectively synchronising all the projects; hooray!


A simple script that works 🙂

Even today, I still loathe how I was first introduced to pointers

Even today, I still hate the asshole that first introduced me to pointers.

Instead of saying

“this is the coolest thing since sliced bread”

(which, by the way, it is.. you can do amaaaaaazing evil cool shit with it. Don’t let anyone tell you different)

the A-Hole said something like

“there is a thing called pointers, these are incredibly hard to do and it’s ok if you don’t get it, but you’ll have to try and get it anyway because you have to be able to do this, but its difficult and scary and hard.”

And that was in higher IT education.

Mercifully, I don’t remember exactly who it was, though honestly, I probably just repressed the memory.