CLUG Talk videos

CLUG is one of the more active LUGs around, and has had fortnightly meetings with technical talks consistently since at least 1999 (the extent of our records, and my involvement).

While this heritage is a testament to a strong LUG, there are only about 20 people who regularly attend meetings, and thus get the benefit of these talks. With a LUG membership of around 800 (my best estimate from mailing list figures), this is a tiny fraction of our community. People who can’t make it have been requesting videos of talks for a while, and recently Jonathan Carter brought his camera, and we started playing with videoing them. He has been stuck in Johannesburg for a few weeks and left me his camera, so I’ve been playing around with encoding.

So far, the lessens learned:

  • Video quality: A camera, high up at the back of the room produces reasonable, compressible video without having to have someone pan around following the presenter.
  • But the built-in microphones on a cheap camera just aren’t effective at that range (especially when you’ve got a quiet speaker).
  • Audience questions are hard to record.
  • Audio editing is do-able, and necessary. But so far, we haven’t ventured into video editing (on linux, this isn’t trivial).
  • You can’t normally read all the slides (or demos) with SD video. At full PAL resolution, most slides are legible. Screen-capture is an option, but most presenters make their slides available, which is far more bandwidth efficient.

Our progress so far is these procedures, and these videos: UK, ZA. We are using Ogg/Vorbis/Theora, and 3 different qualities of video. The three qualities are overkill, but I’m still experimenting with settings. I’d like some feedback - especially from a codec expert :-)

PHP4 for feisty - pbuilder for beginners

I helped Robbster out on #clug today, building php4 for feisty (it’s been dropped after edgy, in favour of php5). If you want to install it, don’t care about security holes, and want to use the debs I created, add this line to your apt sources list, and go wild:

deb ./

If on the other hand you want to know how to do it (so when the next PHP security hole appears tomorrow, you can build the latest version yourself), read on:

I’ve never used pbuilder before, so it was fun:

# aptitude install pbuilder

Edit /etc/pbuilderrc to point to your closest mirror, and uncomment the COMPONENTSline (so that you get universe included)

# pbuilder create

Now pbuilder is ready for work. Get the latest sources from debian (Download those 3 files at the end, dsc, orig.tar.gz and diff)

# pbuilder build *.dsc

Sit back and watch…

When it’s done, you probably want to create a trivial repository of your debs:

# cd /var/cache/pbuilder/result/; dpkg-scanpackages . /dev/null | gzip -c -9 > Packages.gz

Then add this to your sources.list

deb file:///var/cache/pbuilder/result/ ./

Wohoo. Remember to watch out for those security holes…

Sarge -> Etch Upgrade and apache2

Thanks to Debian bug 407171, if you had mod_proxy installed in apache2, and upgrade to etch, it’ll also install mod_disk_cache, which means your /var partition is going to fill up quite quickly.

This happened to 2 CLUG servers.

I don’t think this is the correct behaviour, and I’m even more suprised to see that it the appearance of the bug is documented in a bug-report.

etch upgrades

I’ve done etch upgrades in the past (i.e. before etch came out), and they were sometimes quite hairy. Especially the transition from ssh to openssh-server and openssh-client. I had a few broken upgrades…

Since etch has come out, I’ve been upgraded a few machines, and it’s a piece of cake. In fact the CLUG webserver and backup-server have been upgraded.

My servers tend to use custom kernels without initrds, so upgrading is quite simple. The release notes seem to cover it pretty well. There are only a couple of gotchas I’ve had:

Upgrade vim with an aptitude install vim before you do any dist-upgrading. Personally, I like to use vimdiff for configuration file changes. This means I can keep the configuration file format and comments of the latest package, and my configuration changes from when the machine was originally set up. If vim is half installed, you can’t run vimdiff

When you are done, you might need to purge hotplug:

# aptitude purge hotplug

You can also remove non-US from your sources.list.


I’ve spent some time beefing up CLUG Park.

All the people who seem clueless about making avatars of the correct dimensions (ahem Rafiq), or cropping all the uncessary transparency around their avatar, I’ve sorted them out.

I’ve also switched us from Planet 2.0, to Planet Venus. This allows us to do funky things like filters (for you geeks with nasty RSS feeds). It also partitions out the theme far better, and above all does multi-threaded RSS harvesting.

Is anyone is keen on a tech-only (or CLUG-only) CLUG park, where we limit the subscriptions down to posts about CLUG or technology (using category RSS feeds), let me know, we can easily do this. While some of us like to read all about what CLUG Park members are up to, others probably only want to read tech-related articles?

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