Areas of Interest, as counted by my cat

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 2)

KdenLive notes

KDenLive has been my application of choice for video editing for the last 12 months or so. I use the “standalone” Windows installation. Each time a new version is released (20.04, 20.08) I’ve had this error come up when I try to render a video:

this application failed to start: No QT platform plugin could be initialized


I’ve looked it up twice now, and for future reference, here is what I needed to do both times: Fix the paths in environment settings, because they retain the location of the previous installation:

These paths have been adjusted to match the new install for 20.08

New Gig, New Tooling

I’ve just started a new full-time gig, and it involves several technologies for which I don’t have in-depth experience, including:

  • PostgreSQL & MySQL
  • Python 3

I’m not too worried. Once you’ve had sufficient experience with two varieties of RDBMS (e.g. SQL Server and Oracle) then becoming capable in a third one isn’t too hard. You kind of know where the gaps are going to be, and how to find out the answers rapidly.

I want to give a huge shout-out to a tool called dBeaver. A colleague at the new gig turned me on to it. It’s an RDBMS-agnostic, cross-platform database IDE based on the Eclipse framework.

Holy crap, how had I not heard of this before. It’s awesome. It just works. I don’t miss PL/SQL Developer or Management Studio at all. (At least, not yet.) The community edition is free, but it is worth supporting with a license.

Speaking of “community editions”, PyCharm CE is a very nice Python IDE with Git integration.

Finding the Data Dictionary in DB2

I’m not creating a special “DB2” category for this post 🙂

I’ve been looking for metadata, or some kind of data dictionary similar to those available in MS SQL Server or Oracle DB, to describe the tables and columns in a schema in DB2.

The closest match so far seems to be information in the SYSIBM library:




Fuzzy Fonts in OS X web browsers

My better half and I recently upgraded our personal computers from aging Sony Vaio laptops, to twin 2013 iMacs. We’ve wanted to dip our feet in the OS X waters for some time now, and this seemed to be a good opportunity.

I’d always supposed Apple Macs to be a paragon of typography perfection, so imagine my surprise when I discovered the great “fuzzy font” controversy surrounding recent OS X releases.

There’s a lot been written about this elsewhere so I won’t repeat it:

Anyway, the problem seems to be particularly noticeable when light text on a dark background is used. Unfortunately, this directly affects my Prodigal Sounds family of web sites.

Thanks to a post by Tim Van Damme, I found a work-around: to add a block to the web site’s CSS stylesheet:

html {
-webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased;

This seems to force the browser (at least, Safari and Chrome) to work as though the LCD font smoothing option was turned off, and the text is more readable for those browsing on Macs, even if they have the LCD font smoothing option enabled.

If you’re on a Mac, you can see the results here at

Windows 7 can’t see SMB-based network attached storage without a hack

I’m sure it’s all in the name of greater security, but I don’t really care about that. My new Windows 7 studio computer could not back up my projects to my Network Attached Storage (NAS) box. Not a problem in XP, but in Windows 7, no matter what credentials you try, you get an error message “invalid username or password”.

Not very helpful, and in fact, misleading. Here’s what you need to do to enable connectivity:

Windows Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Local Security Policy

Then, in the hierarchical list of options on the left, select Local Policies > Security Options.

On the right side, scroll down the list and configure the following settings:

Network security: LAN Manager authentication level = Send LM & NTLM responses
Network security: Minimum session security for NTLM SSP based (including secure RPC) clients = No minimum (clear both checkboxes)

After this, I rebooted, although that was probably unnecessary.

I can now browse and copy files to the file shares on the NAS box. Hooray! 

(solution obtained from

Essential Software List 2007

Time for a round-up of the Free and/or Open Source tools I've been using on my work laptop.

1. Eclipse 3.3 (IDE, Java and generic)

I've been dipping into various versions of Eclipse for Java
development for years. Its plugin architecture is brilliant (see
below). Out of the box it handles Java development as sweetly as any
"Professional" edition out there. It also has a built-in editor for Ant
build files (an XML dialect) which I'm finding particularly handy right
now. One feature I really appreciate is the ability to create a
"generic" project that basically just lists all the files in a
directory, regardless of what type of file they are. Very handy for my
current work which involves a series of versioned directories
containing  various flavors of text files. Which brings me to:

2. Afae Plugin for Eclipse

"Afae" stands for "Another Freebooter's All-purpose Editor". It
doesn't appear to be under active development and has stalled at
version 0.9, but don't let that stop you from using it. It adds a TextMate-flavored
text editor to Eclipse that allows me to edit .sh, .bat, .sql, and
other types of files in syntax-colored goodness. It has a bunch of
other features that I'm not using (such as a "post to blog" button on
the toolbar?) but I've found the text editing to be solid.

3. DiffMerge

I've mentioned this before.
Since then it is up to version 3.1 but it is still free, and although
other file comparison tools probably have more features, I've grown to
like this one.

4. AstroGrep

I have long ago given up on making Windows Search
find anything on my file system. How I long for the File Manager applet
in FoxPro for DOS 2.0. That thing was fast. AstroGrep is a GREP utility
for Windows, with a simple UI on top. It's fast, and I can search the
contents of text file with regular expressions. On my latest project I have found it invaluable.


DiffMerge is a tool recently made freely available from SourceGear. If you are not a programmer then you probably have no need of this, but if you do find yourself needing to compare two different versions of source files, then I recommend this tool

I used WinMerge for a while, but the other day I needed to do the file comparison thing and I found that on my laptop, not only had I not installed WinMerge, I didn’t have an installer conveniently located in my c:\downloads folder either.

Since I regularly read Eric Sink’s Blog, I knew about DiffMerge, and so I gave it a try.

It’s excellent. It blows WinMerge out of the water. Recommended.

Editor’s Note, August 2020: Actually, I’ve ended up using both WinMerge and DIffMerge over the years. Perhaps WinMerge more. I would like to take back what I said here – they are both excellent tools and WinMerge perhaps has the edge but DiffMerge I still found handy for quick comparisons.

Threatening Software

No, not viruses. I mean, what do you do when the software you depend on stops working? For example, today Outlook 2003 just refused to send mail to our SMTP mail server. It would say “timeout, server not responding” or some such. Oh, and there was a nasty Hex number associated with the message that you’d think would help when you google it, but no. No good advice from the Goog. Instead, just stupid stuff I’d already tried, like “change the ports” or “delete the account configuration and re-enter the authentication details”, and the old chestnut, “reboot your computer and see if the problem goes away”.

I even got onto a web chat session with my ISP support dude, who said *he* had no problem sending and receiving email from that account.

Only one thing worked. I set up my email account in Mozilla Thunderbird. It send test messages flawlessly. Then I went back to Outlook. Still no joy sending outgoing mail. That’s when I said it, “OK. I guess I’m switching to Thunderbird for my email from now on, then *sigh*.”

Next time I pushed send/receive in Outlook, it worked.

A Little Generalizing

Scene: Driving home in the car. We are having a discussion about the sad state of Project Management.

Me: You know, people in general can be divided into two groups: Those that accept and take responsibility, and those who actively work to avoid it.

L: Well, I think there are indeed two types of people in the world: those who like to divide people into two groups, and those that don’t.


Me: People can be divided into two groups: Those that do not understand recursion, and those that like to divide the remainder into two groups: Those that do not understand recursion; and those that like to divide the remainder into two groups: Those that…

L: Shut up.

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