Release of new utility: Bacula Reports 0.9

I write a lot of code, most of it unsuitable for release to the public but this little gem is worth a public release.

After using Bacula to backup all my servers (both Windows and Linux) for some time, the large number of mailings you get when using it on a small server park drove me insane. Even when using filters to sort out new mail, it is hard to see if everything is going as it should be.

Enter Bacula Reports: a mail aggregator for Bacula 2.x and 3.x.

Bacula Reports consists of a faux mail command (which does not send out reports by mail but rather analyses and stores them) and a report generator which aggregates all the stored reports into one mailing with an overview and some HTML styling to make it more readable (if you don’t want HTML, modify the template to generate plain text).

By integrating the scripts into the Bacula configuration at 2 points (a mail command used for sending out reports and a job to send out the combined report), the storm of daily mails changes into one neat report at the end of the backup cycle.

Normal error messages and operator messages are unaffected and will be delivered as they used to be, only the backup reports per job are redirected to Bacula Reports.


  • A linux server (32 or 64 bit, tested on CentOS 5.2 and Gentoo 2008)
  • A working Bacula 2.x or 3.x installation
  • PHP as a command line interpreter (run ‘php –v’ to see if you have it)
  • 10 minutes of your time to set everything up

The cool thing of the scripts is that they require only 2 small changes in the director configuration to reroute the status mailings and if you don’t like it or run into trouble, reverting is normally a matter of simply commenting out the modified lines and restoring the old ones.

One drawback for some people: it requires PHP on the command line (as stated before). The reason for this is very simple: I want to use the same code in the future for a web GUI and my unix-scripting skills are virtually non-existing compared to PHP or Java.

Even though its PHP, the scripts have a small footprint and run very fast – they should be easy to add to any existing Bacula environment.

{jd_file file==5} {jd_file file==6}

General blog entries

KBlogger moved to KDE 4.3

And yet another epic fail for KBlogger, the new blogging tool that was supposed to be in KDE 4.0. After KDE-PIM was not ready for the 4.0 launch, it was postponed to KDE 4.1 – understandable but as anyone running a blog and a PC using KDE4 knows, we don’t have any decent blogging tool on linux.

After an early alpha (which was a step in the right direction) is became very quiet around KBlogger. So when KDE 4.1 was released I was surprised to see the lack of info about the new blogging tool.

When I found KBlogger on the KDE 4.2 release schedule I sighed – another half year to wait on a decent replacement for Windows Live Writer (which is still – in my opinion – one of the best blogging tool out there, even when used in VirtualBox).

Now, at the dawn of 2009 and the coming of KDE 4.2 I found it weird that the beta of 4.2 lacked a preview of KBlogger.

I just found these mail conversations on the KDE mailing list pushing KBlogger to KDE 4.3…. which is supposed to come out end 2009. Once again a huge let down for the KDE fans.

Despite the statements that KDE 4 is feature complete it keeps lacking vital programs: KDE PIM has a screwed up Kitchsync support (which in itself is half broken if you ask me), power management just arrived in 4.2 (Powerdevil) and KBlogger is still not here (even though its core component KBlog – a WYSIWYG editor – is working pretty well for some time now). I am still using KDE 4.x but so far the thrill has become quiet the waiting game. Yay for open source I suppose…

Japan Blog Study Tour

An unofficial day off

Today is my day off. Well not really but I’m sick with a combination of flu and a serious cold. Yesterday I skipped the diner at the cruise ship to prevent throwing up all the way and before that I managed to survive the NHK visit while walking around with a fever.

Japan Blog Study Tour


IMG_2752 This is the first day we woke up while it was snowing. According to the staff, it usually is cold this time of year but snow is pretty much unheard of. Luckily for us we are traveling quite a while today which means we probably be walking around in the sun rather than the snow.

We walked past ATR and NICT multiple times (they are in the same town as for example Omron, the first company we visited in this study tour) but today we actually get to visit them. IMG_2763And to be honest, these are the ones we have high hopes for.

When we got there we first walked towards ATR as we thought they were located in the same building. After a minute of so, one of the receptionists walked us to the right building one kilometer down the street.

IMG_2767 NICT uses a lot of research from ATR to speed up their own research. One of the cool things we saw was a prototype of the ubiquitous home. In here, the whole home is controlled by a computer (with pressure sensors, RFID readers and camera’s) which turns on the lights, makes sure you don’t forget stuff and records shows you like. Something like HAL2000 but then in 2008.

Another project uses pressure sensors in the floors of the entrance hall to track occupants and determine their intent from just the pressure patterns: is someone waiting, hasty, idling around etc. IMG_2798Even though the idea is cool there is not much to see except for the floor of pressure sensors.

After NICT we walked back to ATR (which we now knew how to find) and we were greeted by Nick Campbell, one of ATR’s big shots. He turned out to be a really nice guy and he told us to follow him into the restaurant for lunch.

Another weird thing about Japan is are the rules regarding presents and such: we had to pay our own lunch because otherwise it could be considered a bribe… We heard that in some cases it would be possible to get a free lunch but that has to be approved by numerous large organizations and it would take months.

IMG_2803 Lunch consisted of a  kind of fish – salmon I believe, soup and rice. I ditched the rice, drank the soup and was then pleasantly surprised to find out the the fish was prepared great. After lunch we moved towards the back where we found a coffee parlor. With a bit of help from a Japanese employee we managed to find the right button on the ticket machine to get a ticket for coffee and some cookies. After we got some fresh made coffee from the lady at the counter we heard we could walk around for a bit because we were early (that was a first) so we decided to walk around on the ATR site.

IMG_2812 When we passed the parking lots we turned the corner and found ourselves next to a huge grass field with some stone barbeques next to a small terrace. This was meant for employees that wanted to have a party at ATR. According to the signs next to it, the party was allowed to continue until 10 PM – some party…

Next we walked by some huge pond with a small forest around it and some benches along the  way – no doubt the place to go if you need some peace and quiet. After we passed that, we emerged from the trees to find a soccer court and a few tennis courts. ATR sure knows how to keep their employees happy.

IMG_2825 We finally walked back to the entrance to find the rest of the group. ATR does research on a wide range of topics including robotics (they have full size humanoids and robot faces with realistic skin) but we came to see ubiquitous technology so we had to skip that section. Mostly.

We got to see the voice recognition and syntheses that ATR build. The computer is a UMPC and the program works within a certain context to make sure the translation is accurate, in this case the topic was travel. The software even copies the intonation of the speaker when it translates.

IMG_2832 Next we got a presentation from Nick Campbell himself and his research on following a conversation with out listening to the words. He found out that we use a certain intonation when we speak to certain people (father, mother, sister, aunt, lover etc) and he created an algorithm that determines the intonation and deducts the softness of the voice. It was pretty cool to see how accurate the software worked.

IMG_2834 ATR also has a group that is working on learning algorithms. They programmed a robotic arm with some stereo camera to learn how to do a certain move. For example we taught the software what the command "stack" means or "move": you simply show the computer what you mean and it can then do the movement, even if the number of blocks differ, their color differ and even if their position is different.

IMG_2856 After the very successful visit to ATR we traveled all the way back to Kyoto for a great dinner in the hotel we were staying at, the Palace Side Hotel. We finally got to eat Western style prepared food. Well mostly Western anyway: the Japanese think its normal to serve the garments (the vegetables and the potato’s) cold. Even with the cold garments, the food was great.

Japan Blog Study Tour


A bit late but due to the lack of time I didn’t have had the time to upload any photos or write some other message.

10022008037 So after the flight to Tokyo, we boarded the flight to Osaka. Luckily this was a short flight because the plane was much smaller and much older (and hence, noisier). After we got to Osaka airport and collected our luggage, we walked to the bus that would take us to the hotel.10022008056  Besides the color, it was a decent bus and the driver knew how to floor it so after a short while we passed through the outskirts of Osaka and arrived in the Umeda area of Osaka where we found our hotel: Hotel Kinky.

The name is more exciting than the hotel itself as the rooms are rather small. Especially the 3-bed room I’m sharing with Luuk and Roald: the beds are so close together that we have to put the suitcase on the bed to be able to open them. Also the western style rooms have no closet (whatsoever) and nothing to hang clothes on except for 5 coat hanger hooks in the wall. As a comparison: one of us has a Japanese style bedroom which comes with towel hanger in the shower and a rack in the bedroom. On the upside we have a fridge which is kinda empty but at least it was turned on when we arrived.

Another source of humor is found in the fact that the TV has an English manual but its so dead simple that none of us need it to figure out how it works. However the thermostat and the water boiler are in Japanese with no indication what everything does. Right now, we managed to fire up the heating but boiling water is still a mystery.

Japan Blog Study Tour

Done packing

Well, I’m done. Not so much that I’m 100% sure that I forgot something but I already sacrificed some cookies, sugar (for in the cappuccino I’m bringing ;-)) and one of my books I bought for the trip to make the backpack close and the suitcase below the 20kg weight limit (no way I’m paying a fine for have too much luggage on the way to Japan, perhaps the way back it will be different…).

No more like I’m done with preparing for the trip – its been over a year now that we worked on papers, projects, working for companies to sponsor the trip, writing reports, taking Japanese lessons (which by the way pretty much slipped my mind before we even leave) etc etc. I’m just ready to go.

Its 2:30 AM while I’m typing this and I’m about to try to get at least 8 hours of sleep so I can stay awake during the flight and thus prevent jet-lag. But if someone called me and said: "we leave NOW" I’d be up and ready to go.

By the way, I don’t reckon I’m able to get jet-lag as I don’t have a biorhythm: I’m used to getting 9 hours sleep (give or take) and I swap day and night pretty easily. So the gut-writhing feeling everyone is describing as being jet-lag, is just one of my rough weeks 🙂 I’ll get back later on that subject to let you guys (my loyal readers *cough*) know if it worked out.

Right now, my borrowed laptop is humming downstairs, trying to squeeze as much music on my shiny new Meizu M6 (better than an iPod Nano and half the price, beat that Apple!). I kinda modified it a little by uploading the Chinese firmware which enabled the FM-radio and made the menus look cooler, but still, better than most other players.

Well, that’s it for now, time to get some sleep before the big flight.