Thursday, December 22, 2011

Net10 is a frustrating company

I'm done with Net10.  I've had a phone with them since June 2011. I originally signed up for the $15/month plan for 200 minutes. It worked great.  I was charged 1 unit/minute of talk and .25 units/text. I was able to calculate everything out and figured out adding a 900 min Pay As You Go would supplement and get me through the year, or so I thought. I was still being charged the standard 1 unit for each minute of talk and .25 units/min for texting. In October I decided to try the $25/month plan for 750 minutes. No rollover with that plan but I figured it would be the perfect plan. Net10, however, is not up front about any of the costs on their plan. Oh sure, they'll respond to an email and tell you the costs are buried in the terms and conditions and indeed they are. However, an honest company would simply put that right on the plan page so you know the change in charges between plans. So I changed and began to be charged 1 unit/text, up from the .25 units/text on the other plan. I was surprised at the change but of course was told in an email it's all there in the terms and conditions, instead of being right on the plan page itself. Not a big deal but irritating that they are not up front and honest about the change in costs.
In mid December I decided I'd switch back to the $15/month plan and just supplement with a 1500 min card. I had 23 mintes and 1 day of service left when I tried to switch plans using the web site. So I logged in and followed the pages to change my plan. I got all the way to the final payment page clicked on Submit and was eventually greeted with an error after submitting payment. I then became stuck in their monthly plan hell. My phone showed that it was no longer enrolled in any monthly plan. To make matters worse, I could no longer enroll in the $15/mon 200 min plan, it was simply greyed out.  The $30/month 500 min plan was an option but not what I wanted. I decided to call their toll-free number. I won't go into details but I will simply tell you, don't bother. The rep was utterly clueless about how to fix anything and simply kept telling me that plan was not an option. The damn web site says you can change as much as you want without charge. Clearly this rep had no idea what to do other than tell me that wasn't an option. Completely useless. So I simply added a 1500 Pay As You Go card and got 180 days of service. Fine, at least I had minutes and service time. I then sent a text and was charged .5 units. WTF? I figured going back to the Pay As You Go option would get me back to my .25 units/text that I was being charged before. So I sent an email.
Within 24 hours I had a reply that all phones are charged .5 units/text on the Pay As You Go options. I didn't even bother asking where I could find that. I'm sure those details are also buried in the terms and conditions of the Pay As You Go plans. 
I really liked the Net10 options initially because I thought it was easy to figure out exactly what combination of monthly plan and Pay As You Go options would work. I then figured the 750 min/month plan would be perfect, not knowing there was a change in charges. I've had enough of the games the company plays by changing charges based on what plan you use. It makes it much more difficult for me to figure out what plan to use and how much it will cost. Oh, and the forums on their website are an absolute joke. Go there and you will see that every reply to a public forum post is from a company person saying they will gladly take care of things for you through a private direct message(DM). What exactly is the point of having forums for people to get help if you simply want to take care of everything via private message? Talk about a clueless company.
Since then I've done some looking around and found AT&T's Go Phone option of $25/month for 250 minutes of talk and unlimited text. That sure seems like the best option for me at this time but I suppose I should go read the terms and conditions first.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Query last 5 installed rpms by date

rpm -qa --queryformat '%{installtime} (%{installtime:date}) %{name}\n' |  sort -n | tail -5


Friday, November 25, 2011

Changing the email address on your Nike + iPod acount

These directions worked on a Mac running 10.5.8. I recently changed the email address on my Nike+ account. Getting to sync properly with iTunes again was a tad challenging. I basically followed the steps here but I did not reset my iPod. I lost a few runs because I didn't do things in the proper order.

1. Uncheck the automatically send workout data to in the Nike + iPod tab in iTunes and sync your iPod (in iTunes) without new workouts on your iPod.
2. Get a new workout recorded on your iPod. It can simply be walking around for 5 or 10 seconds.
3. Log in to Nike+ using Safari.
4. Connect your iPod with an unsynced run/walk
5. Recheck the automatically send workout data to in the Nike + iPod in iTunes and click Apply.

Your new Login ID is hopefully now showing in iTunes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Net10 monthly plans

I recently made a post to the Net10 Forums about their monthly plans. After submitting my post it mentioned that a moderator needed to approve my post. So clearly, Net10 does not want open discussion on their boards so I'm reposting my info here, where I moderate what I post :)

Beware the 750 minute 30 day plan

If all you do is make phone calls, the plan is fine. If you text, the plan is terrible. They don't tell you this up front, although they do kindly bury it in the terms and conditions, you will be charged 1 unit or minute per text message. We have an LG900G phone and were getting charged .25 units/text message. As we started to do more texting I thought moving to the 750 min/month plan would be ideal. It's my bad for not carefully reading the terms and conditions but Net10 should put that kind of info up front to it's perfectly clear. So for now I'll continue ripping through minutes until the minutes are used up and go back to another plan and supplement with airtime cards since it ultimately proves to be a better value for me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Restore using pg_restore

We run daily dumps on our PostgreSQL databases. The command we use to dump the databases is:

pg_dump --blobs --compress=9 --format=c --verbose DBNAME --file=DUMPFILE.c

I recently had to restore one of the dumps to a different server and kept receiving the error:

ERROR: invalid byte sequence for encoding "UTF8": 0x93

I discovered that my original system had the database encoded as SQL_ASCII and the new system was encoding all new databases as UTF8. So I ran a create database with the proper encoding:


Then restored the file using pg_restore:

pg_restore --dbname=newdbname DUMPFILE.c

Monday, November 7, 2011

Argument list too long

I've run into this running rm * and du -hcs *. Solution is to pass the command via pipe and use xargs:

find . -name 'filename*' | xargs rm

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Slow data load speeds with Greenplum

Recently started loading data into a brand new Greenplum DCA. Data load speeds should be blazing fast right? Well, ours were very slow. It  was taking 50 seconds to load a 2.6GB csv file, pitifully slow. I finally figured out what error I had made. We were moving data from one GP system to another. That process involved dumping the schema out of the production system, dumping the data out of the production system, restoring the schema in the new contingency system, then restoring the data into the new contingency system. The problem was that when we restored the schema into the new system, we restored everything, including indexes. So as I was attempting to load the new data, the system was indexing it at the same time. After dropping indexes, that 2.6GB csv file loaded in about 8 seconds. That's more like it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Summer brew

Never tried this before but a friend told me about it and it sounded good.

- 1 large can of frozen lime-aide (empty into a pitcher)
- Refill lime-aide can will vodka and then pour into pitcher
- Refill (or half way depending on how far you want it to stretch) can one more time with water and pour into pitcher
- Add 6 cans of light beer (cheap beer is fine) to the pitcher and then stir
- Serve in a glass / cup with crushed ice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Time sucking queries

Had a user submit a query recently:

select count(*) from (select * from viewA UNION select * from viewB)

viewA pulls from two tables with a combined 1.5 billion rows and around 60 columns. viewB pulls from a table with about 300 million rows. I rewrote the query as follows:

select (select count(*) from viewA) + (select count(*) from viewB) AS count

Same result but the first query has an explain plan with a cost 26X the second. Second query runs in about 3 minutes.

Terminal title in OS X

I did not come up with this. A quick google search turns up multiple ideas. I combined a few and trimmed things down to how I wanted the title to look. Here's my final result:

case $TERM in
  export PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0;${USER}@$(hostname -s)\007"'

I added that code to ~/.bash_profile. Now my Terminal title changes when I open a Terminal or ssh into a machine then exit back to my Mac.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Distributed by and updates in Greenplum

I have an earlier post where I list how to update table A from table B. In that example the WHERE clause sets tableA.column=tableB.column. That works perfectly as long as your tables are DISTRIBUTED BY(column). If one, or both, are distributed randomly, you are out of luck. At least this applies to 3.3.x. I haven't tried this on a GP 4.x setup. I had tableA distributed randomly and when I tried to redistribute by column I would get gang errors. Here's the fix I implemented.
Run a pg_dump --schema-only on tableA. Run ALTER TABLE and rename tableA to tableA_orig. Edit the schema dump of tableA and change distributed by from randomly to (column). Run the schema dump to recreate tableA distributed by column. Populate the new tableA with, INSERT INTO tableA SELECT * FROM tableA_orig.
There's a few other things to be aware of. You'll need to redo the indexes on tableA or edit the schema and change the name of any indexes because the original indexes will now be associated with tableA_orig but they are not renamed. Any views that include tableA will need to be redone because they now point to tableA_orig. I believe that's all I had to do. I'll update this post if I run into more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Database, schema, and table sizes in Greenplum

Starting in the 4.x release, you get size info from the gp_toolkit schema. To get the size of all databases and their size in bytes:

select sodddatname, sodddatasize from gp_toolkit.gp_size_database;

To see the database size in GB, TB, and/or MB.

select sodddatname, (sodddatsize/1073741824)/1024 AS sizeinTB from gp_toolkit.gp_size_of_database;

select sodddatname, (sodddatsize/1073741824) AS sizeinGB from gp_toolkit.gp_size_of_database;

select sodddatname, (sodddatsize/1048576) AS sizeinMB from gp_toolkit.gp_size_of_database;

For schema sizes, connect to your database and run:

select sosdnsp, (sosdschematablesize/1073741824)/1024 AS schemasizeinTB from gp_toolkit.gp_size_of_schema_disk;

select sosdnsp, (sosdschematablesize/1073741824) AS schemasizeinGB from gp_toolkit.gp_size_of_schema_disk;

select sosdnsp, (sosdschematablesize/1048576) AS schemasizeinMB from gp_toolkit.gp_size_of_schema_disk;

If you want a specific schema only, add WHERE sosdnsp='SCHEMA'

Take a given schema and find table sizes:

select sotdschemaname as SCHEMA, sotdtablename,(sotdsize/1073741824) as tableGB FROM gp_toolkit.gp_size_of_table_disk WHERE sotdschemaname = 'yourschema' AND (sotdsize/1073741824) > 0 ORDER BY sotdtablename;

select sotdschemaname as SCHEMA, sotdtablename,round((sotdsize/1048576),2) as tableMB FROM gp_toolkit.gp_size_of_table_disk WHERE sotdschemaname = 'yourschema' AND (sotdsize/1048576) > 0 ORDER BY sotdtablename;

For an individual table you can get the size of the table as:

select pg_size_pretty(pg_relation_size('schema.table_name'));

You can get table and index size(total) with:

select pg_size_pretty(pg_total_relation_size('schema.table_name'));

For just index size use:
select (pg_size_pretty( pg_total_relation_size('schema.table_name') - pg_relation_size('schema.table_name'))) AS IndexSize;

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Unable to log into OS X

Ran into a problem with being unable to log into an OS X machine joined to an AD domain. I had previously logged in successfully with this account. Logged in as a local administrator on the machine and noticed the account was no longer listed in System Preferences/Accounts but other domain accounts were, odd.  Ran dscl . -list users and the account was listed. There was also a directory structure under /Users/userid. Ran dscl . -delete /Users/userid and was then able to successfully log in and the home directory was untouched so no data was lost.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fixing size bloat in Greenplum tables

I noticed recently that some queries on a table were running very slow. Simple counts were taking longer on what appeared to be smaller tables. I say appeared because the tables had 1/5 the number of rows as other tables but queries were slower. The raw data files contained about 7 GB of data. To see what the Greenplum system had for table size I ran this query:

select pg_size_pretty(pg_relation_size('schema.table_name'));

The answer was 190GB! Clearly there were problems.  This table does get reloaded every month with new data but I truncate the table before reloading it so you aren't supposed to run into issues. Anyway there turned out to be a couple of solutions. One was to run a vacuum full on the table. After running that the table size was reported as 5.635 MB. I did try a vacuum on the table but it had no impact on size. Another solution is to redistribute the data randomly then redistribute by the table key.

ALTER TABLE schema.table_name SET DISTRIBUTED BY (table_key);

The first statement will not actually redistribute the data. To make the system actually redistribute the data randomly run this:

ALTER TABLE schema.table_name SET WITH (REORGANIZE=true);

Redistributing by a column name will actually physically redistribute the data.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Burn OS X Lion DVD


Nuts and bolts:

1. Once you've pulled Lion down from the Mac App Store, right-click on the installer and select the option "Show Package Contents." This is your Mac's way of tearing the wrapping off a virtual install disk to access all the shiny bits (aka "files") inside.
2. Open the "Contents" folder, then look for a "SharedSupport" folder and open that. Inside, you'll find something called "InstallESD.dmg." This is the money file we're looking for (or the "master control program" if you're a Tron wonk).
3. Copy that file ("InstallESD.dmg") to a folder outside of the installer (your desktop works).
4. Open the "Utilities" folder on your Mac and launch "Disk Utility."
5. Select "Burn" from the "Images" menu option, or just click the yellow and black icon on the menu bar (which, disturbingly, looks just like the official symbol for nuclear activity).
6. Browse to wherever you copied "InstallEDG.dmg" and select that—drop in a writeable DVD, wait for it to burn, and presto, instant bootable OS X Lion DVD!

OS X right side of menu bar frozen

I am having a problem with my Mac where the right side of the menu bar will freeze when I run VMware. The problem is that my clock freezes and I lose track of time. While this isn't a solution for the overall problem, I found a fix that allows me to reset the menu bar and get my clock back on track. Simply run the following command in a Terminal:

killall SystemUIServer

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Batch module replace in Drupal

Every so often I update a Drupal site and need to update a bunch of modules/themes at the same time. Fortunately, the naming convention of modules/themes is consistent so I can update many with one little script.
First, scp all the module/theme gz files to the location you want to store them. Next, cd into that directory. Last, run this script:

for thm in $(ls *.gz)
        thmnew=$(ls ${thm}|cut -d'-' -f1)
        tar -cf ${thmnew}_old.tar ${thmnew}
        mv ${thmnew}_old.tar /usr/local/src/drupal/tmp/themesupgraded/
        mv ${thmnew} /usr/local/src/drupal/tmp/themesupgraded/
        tar -zxvf ${thm}
        mv ${thm} /usr/local/src/drupal/tmp/themesupgraded/

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stop OS X bouncing Dock icons

Hallelujah! These drive me nutty some times.


Open Terminal
 defaults write no-bouncing -bool TRUE
 killall Dock

To reenable:
Open Terminal
 defaults write no-bouncing -bool FALSE
 killall Dock


Monday, April 25, 2011

Rsync transfer statistics

I wanted to take a look at the total amount of data that would be transferred for an rsync operation. Running

 /usr/bin/rsync --dry-run -avhz --delete -e ssh /sourcepath destserver:/destpath

would give the the Total Size of the /sourcepath but not the amount transferred. Adding --stats will give you the amount of data that needs to be transferred to get the /sourcepath and /destpath in sync

/usr/bin/rsync --dry-run -ahz --stats --delete -e ssh /sourcepath destserver:/destpath

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Samsung Intercept on Virgin Mobile

I've been using the Samsung Intercept on Virgin Mobile since Dec. 2010. I thought I'd take a little time and writeup my experience with the phone and the service.
This is my first smartphone. I've always been fine using a "feature" phone since my primary use was calls with an occasional text. I was using a Samsung T401g and the Net10 service. It worked great for me. The problem was that I was carrying an iPod touch and the Samsung phone and decided I was tired of carrying two devices in my pockets all the time. I use Google services heavily and thought it would be handy to be able to enter items in my Google calendar as they are setup. Previously I would enter items into my Google Calendar on my computer and then have text messages sent to my phone to alert me. That worked great but I wanted the ability to add them on the phone. That and going down to one device was also appealing.
My problem was that I didn't want to pay at least $70/month for service. At the time, Sprint was the least expensive of the big carrier options. Going from spending $15 to $20 per month for service to $70 just didn't agree with me. Last year my son discovered the Virgin Mobile service. Their plans start at $25/month which includes unlimited messaging and web. The big drawback to their service is that it runs on Sprint's network with no roaming.  For a year that held me back from switching. I thought I wanted the truly nation wide coverage I was getting with Net10. Then I began keeping track of where I was for a year. I soon discovered I was rarely in an area that would not have coverage using Virgin Mobile and when I was, I was with someone who had a phone with coverage. With 99+% of my time covered I figured why not. During that waiting period, Virgin rolled out their first Android phone to the USA market, the Samsung Intercept.
The reviews for the Samsung Intercept on Virgin are pretty good, if you remember what you are getting. You are using a prepaid service and a lower-mid level phone. I don't expect a perfect experience from this setup and so far I have not been disappointed. I have not had to deal with Virgin Mobile customer service so I can't comment on that part of the equation.  So far, I've been very happy with my experience.
First thing to note about the phone is that this is not an iPhone/iPod Touch. The user interface on the phone can react a bit slowly at times. If you don't have the patience for you phone on occasion to take 5 to 10 seconds to respond then don't even consider the phone. I rarely have the phone slow down like that but it happens maybe once or twice a month. Usually I just wait it out and my phone begins responding.  On occasion I will simply power off the phone and power it back on to get it responding again. Another thing I'm discovering is that you don't want to have a ton of applications all running and trying to pull data, update, etc on the phone at one time. I used to use Google Voice on the phone but decided to ditch it recently. I've noticed since that time that my phone appears to be a bit more responsive at all times. I've also changed update times for Twitter to be 30 minutes. Really, do I need to have info flowing in any faster? I've turned off some of the auto update features on other apps and take care of them when I remember. Basically I'm a light user of data services. I check Twitter, FB, and email 3 to 5 times daily each. I have had the phone completely freeze up on me twice in two months and am not sure what caused the freeze. I can see the update icon each time so I'm assuming it had something to do with auto updates on the phone. Once again, no big deal for me. I simply shutdown and restart the phone. Also, startup times on the phone are long. From the time I push the power on button to the point I can use the phone is about 2 minutes.  Doesn't bother me but if you have to have instant access to your phone upon power up, move on.
The Virgin Mobile service itself has gone out since I've had the phone. I noticed it one evening while at home so I simply turned on the wifi mode for the phone and was able to use data services. Didn't bother me but might annoy some people to lose data services at all. Once again, put it into perspective, it's a prepaid phone with monthly service fees of $25(that's the plan I use). I don't mind an occasional issue.
You can now pickup the phone for less than $200. I've seen some people complain about the initial cost of the phone but that's easily outweighed by the cost of the monthly plan. Do the calculations of the cost over 2 years(typical contract length at a large carrier) and the savings are huge even paying full price for the phone. The phone currently(Apr 2011) sells at Best Buy for $169. I've also seen Virgin Mobile phones discounted around Father's day, the Christmas season, and especially on Black Friday.
The phone currently(Apr 2011) comes with Android 2.1. This is not the latest version of Android but it is in the 2.x series which is considerably nicer than the 1.x Android series from what I've read. I never expected the OS on this phone to be upgraded given how inexpensive the service is but they recently announced on Twitter that Android 2.2 is coming to the Intercept this Spring(2011). As of this writing, I should be getting the update in the next couple of weeks. Android 2.2 provides better speed and the ability to store applications on the removable SD card, in case you are the type to download a ton of applications.
I'll post an updated review when I get my Froyo(Android 2.2) update. So far I'm satisfied with the phone and it's performance. It's not a perfect phone by any means but it does what I want and the total price of the phone and service is great.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ssh-add could not open a connection

Ever try to run ssh-add and get this message?

Could not open a connection to your authentication agent

Run this command

exec ssh-agent /bin/bash

or just add that to your .bash_profile so it runs on login.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

CentOS 5.5 fails on install

There's a known bug in CentOS 5.x that causes install to fail if you select the Extras repositories during the setup process. So DO NOT chose the Extras repository when you install.

Friday, March 25, 2011

OS X boots to grey screen with spinning disc

Recent went through a scenario where I was turning a MacBook Pro into a fashionable brick. Install OS, completely update, apply a bunch of new settings & software, reboot, and fu.... Grey screen with spinning disc. I'd diligently boot into my install DVD, repair disk(saw errors about file and directory counts and fix them), repair permission, reboot, and fu... Repeat process. I finally figured out that /System/Library/LaunchDaemons will read every file in that directory upon boot, even if it doesn't end with .plist. I didn't want to fubar any of the files in that directory so I would create a backup copy of the file I was working with and would save them in that directory and end the file with .ORIG Turns out that upon boot both files were bumping into each other and the machine would not boot. Finally moved my backup file into /Users/Shared and the machine boots. So don't keep backup copies of files in /System/Library/LaunchDaemons, store them somewhere else.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bash substrings

Say you have lines in a file that are of the format:


and you need to split out the strings to work with them.

string2=${string:0:3} # result is 123
string3=${string:4:6} # result is 201004

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black Bean & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Don't know where I found this but it was stored as a random txt file on my computer.

Black Bean & Roasted Red Pepper Dip
1 pkg(1 oz.) taco spices & seasonings
1 can(15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jar(7 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained
1 pkg(12 oz.) light cream cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 to 2 teaspoons lime juice
Garnishes: chopped tomato and fresh cilantro

In food processor combine all ingredients except garnishes; mix thoroughly. Makes 2 cups.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Drupal site move results in off-line message

I recently moved a Drupal site from test to production. I followed the standard line for moving a site. When I went to access the new site it told me the site was off-line. My big problem was that my log files weren't telling me anything useful, nothing at all. I kept poking around and finally figured out I had made a typo when setting up the database and didn't have the MySQL permissions assigned correctly. As soon as the proper grant was issued on the database the site immediately became available.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Greenplum update with multiple tables

Recently ran into an issue using Greenplum to update a column. I had column1 in tableA that needed to be set to the value of column1 in tableB. Finally came across the correct syntax here. This is what I was looking for:

UPDATE tableA 
SET col1 = tableB.col1 
FROM tableB 
WHERE tableA.col2=tableB.col2;