My name is Philipp C. Heckel and I write about nerdy things.
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Yearly Archives / 2009


  • Sep 21 / 2009
  • 8
Linux

Dell Latitude E6400: the Ubuntu fan and noise problem

A couple of days ago, my 4 year old laptop (HP nx8220) decided that it was time to retire and refused to switch on a couple of times. Even though it works most of the time, I can’t rely on it anymore and will therefore look for new notebooks in the next week.

On my journey through the Web I looked into the details of various business notebooks. I stumbled across the Dell Latitude E6400, which looks nice and has everything I wanted. Unfortunately, it also seems to have problems with Ubuntu. In particular, the fan seems to run all the time (and not too slow, but very loud) – as many forum posts and user reviews prove [1,2,3,4].

Since I couldn’t find a solution, I decided to ask the Dell support via their support chat.

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  • Aug 09 / 2009
  • 0
Linux, Office

Extract text from PDF files

Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) has reached great popularity over the last years and is the number one format for easy document exchange. It comes with great features such as embeddable images and multimedia, but also has rather unpleasant properties. The so called Security Features represent a simple Digital Rights Management (DRM) system and allow PDF authors to restrict the file usage. Using the DRM system, authors can allow or deny actions such as printing a file, commenting or copying content.

Even though this is a good idea for some situations, most of the times, it’s just annoying: Collecting ideas for seminar papers or a thesis, for instance, is almost impossible without being able to Copy & Paste certain paragraphs from the PDF.

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  • Apr 07 / 2009
  • 2
Linux, Scripting, Security

Simsafe: Simple command-line password safe

Nowadays, it appears to me as if almost everything in the big and fancy world of IT comes with the need to sign up and create an account. Every little online tool, every social networking site and of course every instant messenger account. System administrators hits it even harder: The setup of a server machine requires to create lots of different users for every kind of service, — be it Postfix, Sendmail, Courier, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc. Most of them require some kind of super-user password or account.

This is where a password manager comes in handy: Open the password vault by typing in the master password, put in all you secrets and crucial information, save it and be happy. As if!

Almost every password manager I found on the Web was crowded out by details so that it took minutes to add a single account. What I wanted was something like a text-file with password — and that’s what I made: A simple command-line password safe.

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  • Mar 16 / 2009
  • 3
Distributed Systems, Programming

KadS: a secure version of the Kademlia protocol

There are various peer-to-peer protocols out there. All of them focus the decentralisation of storage and other system resources. Most implement a distributed hash table (DHT) to store information. That is, each node of the network only holds a small part of the hash table but is able to locate and retrieve any requested entry. Kademlia, a protocol designed by two NYU students in 2002, is one of them.

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