General blog entries

Configuring custom remote buttons for XBMC

When you are the proud owner of a MCE remote, you are set for use with XBMC. However, if you are using a custom remote (like the one that came with my Thermaltake DH-101 MediaLab kit) – you might wonder how you are going to get all the buttons to work. Short answer: you won’t by using the Lircmap.xml file.

I configured my remote using Lircmap.xml like it stated on the site and it worked fine. I modified the bit in both Lircmap.xml and Keymap.xml until the point came where you want to add buttons that are not on the standard remote.

I figured, I could just add another button to the section of Keymap.xml – in my case XBMC.EjectTray() but although XBMC started fine, you wind up with this:

ERROR: Remote Translator: Can't find button eject

This is because XBMC uses a fixed map to determine which buttons are valid. Instead of simply adding buttons by name, they have identifiers for each button so adding your own buttons won’t work.

At this point, you have 2 options:

First, if you only have a few buttons you could recycle unused buttons. Open up and look for the function called ‘CButtonTranslator::TranslateRemoteString(const char *szButton)’; ctrl+f it if you can’t find it, right now it is at line 777. See the lines following it? Those are the valid button names. For example: ‘if (strButton.Equals(“left”)) wButtonCode = XINPUT_IR_REMOTE_LEFT;’ – in this line the name ‘left’ is specified. Look for buttons you are not using and override their action in Keymap.xml.

The second option is a bit trickier. First, create ‘advancedsettings.xml’ in de userdata folder and put ‘true’ inside the file. Restart XBMC and start monitoring the XBMC log (by default under /var/tmp/xbmc-user.log’).

Start pressing all remote buttons and note which obc code they produce. Add all these codes to Keymap.xml under the tag – create it if you have to. A valid piece would look like:


Note that I replaced the tag start and endings with ‘[‘ and ‘]’ because my site seems to eat the correct ones.

Good luck taming XBMC and if you can’t figure out how to read the source file with the button names, you can look at this wiki article from the XBMC website. Note that it is usually out of date.

Update: the OBC codes only worked when I was using my universal remote with the XBox setting – unfortunately, this does not seem to work for specific remotes. Drat.

General blog entries

Restoring Windows 2003 SBS R2 Exchange

Windows 2003 SBS was always a bit weird for me. I’ve been playing with computers all my life and I know Windows Vista and earlier versions like the back of my hand but when it comes to server software on Windows I always have this unnerving feeling.

You should know that most of the time my presence is required when a server is almost dead or acting strangely so my experience shows that an unstable Windows server is usually ‘fixed’ by a complete reinstall – something I have never had to do to my linux servers.

Right now I am installing Windows 2003 SBS R2 for somebody I know. Their previous administrator never felt the need for finishing the setup or actually buying the license so when I came in, all I could do was reinstall the whole system.

I created a backup using NTbackup from the Exchange Store (which was half disabled on their server) and now I am trying to restore it. Guess what: it won’t.

I hate Microsoft for its poor practices and this is one of them: supplying backup tools that work within a very very confined space. In this case a fresh install will kill the option of restoring it without extensive Google-ing.

To be exact: I unmounted the Mailbox Store, marked it for restoration in the properties and fired up NTbackup to restore the backup. After setting a temp path (C:\temp) I hit restore and immediately see the whole thing fail. Of course NTbackup can’t tell me jack so I need to dig in the Application Log and I find this:

Event Type:  Error Event Source:  MSExchangeIS Event Category:  Exchange Backup Restore Event ID:  9635 User:  N/A Computer:  WIN2003 Description:  Failed to find a database to restore to from the Microsoft Active Directory.  Storage Group specified on the backup media is 581cb7ee-5fec-4d93-8f71-dcfe55a73319.  Database specified on backup media is Mailbox Store (SERVER1), error is 0xc7fe1f42. 

After searching high and low I finally get a blog post from someone who solved this. The error is in fact so simple, they should execute the team that thought that this was a funny way to describe it.

The names don’t match. Seriously.

In the Server Console –> Advanced –> Exchange –> Servers –> Win2003 –> First Storage Group you will find a store called ‘Mailbox Store (WIN2003)’ – assuming your server is called win2003 – whereas the backup has a store called ‘Mailbox Store (SERVER1)’. NTbackup can’t fathom the possibility that we actually want to restore to a store on this server without the exact name match so it fails.

Solve this by right-clicking on the store, renaming it to the old name and restarting the restore. It will run now.

On a side note – this was not the end for me. I got event id 1088 after I managed to restore it: Distinguished Name is not the same for the Store and the server. I can’t grasp why them Redmond idiots haven’t made it possible to simply rename the DN of the store to make it work in case of a migration like now.

I tried renaming the legacy DN using the ADSI editor and the LegacyDN tool from the site. I couldn’t get it to work after trying 50 guides so finally I tried to uninstall the server software. This failed (of course) and left me with a system in which I couldn’t resume the setup. So after a new installation and 2 hours of waiting/babysitting I am back where I started, ready to restore my Exchange backup…

General blog entries

New Laptop

It has been quiet a while on this site while I was working and painting my living room. After the necessary stress of the ‘hollidays’ I decided it was time to buy myself a new laptop to replace my old 17″ HP laptop.

I finally settled for a 15 inch Dell XPS in Tuxedo Black. After 2 anxious weeks, the laptop arrived a week before the planned delivery date. Even though I was still pretty sick, I took some pain meds and manned up to get my new toy.

Currently I’m trying out all the software on this baby and some of it has to go. First thing up: ditch Internet Explorer, Windows Mail and Windows Media Player and replace them with Firefox, Thunderbird and Winamp.

After tuning Windows Vista and its software I’ll start installing Gentoo Linux – I can’t wait ^^.

General blog entries

Review of Ergo Proxy

Last week I finished watching Ergo Proxy, an series of 23 episodes and I just can’t resist to put up a small review about it.

Click for full version

The story begins in a futuristic domed city called Romdo, built to protect its citizens after a global ecological disaster. In this utopia, humans and androids coexist with each other peacefully under a total management system. For some reason, some androids go on a killing spree. Re-l Mayer (see image) is assigned to investigate some of the murders with her android partner Iggy.

Ergo Proxy has it all: dark, sinister surroundings, animation which is far above standard – I dare say most of the time on par with Ghost in the Shell 2 (which I consider the ultimate anime style, a mix of computer generated and good old hand work). The main character has a gothic like appearance and she is just plain hot. During the series we get a few shots of the female lead in her undies, even a short flash of some under-boob but nothing more than that: kiddy-save and not even close to the ecchi category.

So far, its all the ingredients far a kick ass show… But wait, it gets even better. During the series we get some awesome action scenes and all of the eye candy is accompanied by a truly awesome soundtrack. Actually the production team of Manglobe did pretty much everything right to create a truly fantastic series.

So here comes the ‘but’. The animation, sound, characters – all great, but the story just blows… Its horrible: the first half of the series everything slowly becomes clear and everything is peachy – no even better than peachy as I was sitting on the edge of my seat. But after 14 or so episodes you get this uneasy feeling that something is off.

I still can’t pinpoint it but by the time it goes really off the rails you have been watching for some time while having this suspicion that its all wrong – just plain wrong. I still had high hopes right up until the end – I mean, a show which has such outstanding looks can’t just suck, right?

Unfortunately the ending does not safe this sinking ship. I have to applaud the creator of this masterpiece of an ending: it was certainly nowhere near what I would expect. I’m still pondering if I think it makes sense – so far I concluded the beginning and the end must be the product of different writers while a 3rd attempted to link the 2 together.

To be honest, this show is one of my biggest disappointments: I randomly ended up with Ergo Proxy and after 2 episodes I was hooked and expected a treat like GITS was (which one? Pretty much all GITS series/movies) but was seriously let down. I’m giving the show a 5 out of 10 rating for the simple fact that it was cool to watch (most of it anyway), but for the shear lack of a decent story it doesn’t get a single point more…


  • Animation: 9 / 10
  • Sound: 8 / 10
  • Characters 7 / 10
  • Story: 3 / 10
  • Overall: 5 / 10
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Windows Live Writer and Linux, How To Do It

I’ve seen lots of discussions floating around the internet, talking about people attempting to install Windows Live Writer. Some are using Mono, others the .NET Framework – all of them are using Wine. In this article I’ll explain How I Did It.

In this case the limits of Wine and Mono become visible. The .NET frameworks work partially in Wine so relying on them is useless (to be precise: all the external libraries needed in this case screw up this valiant attempt).

In the other corner we have Mono. Because WLW is in fact a Win32 executable, we have to use Mono in Wine (install the Windows version of Mono using Wine) but even the big anti-Microsoft framework fails here.

To be honest, Mono keeps failing every time for me. This is because Mono can run managed (byte-code only) executables fine, even the ones compiled for .NET (unless I’m mistaken). However, the windows in a GUI program are drawn using a native interface for .NET, one that Mono does not have as it uses a cross-platform windowing toolkit called GTK#. In short: any program that is used in a modern desktop environment and which is designed for .NET will not run on Mono. Thanks for the effort there guys…

So WLW on Linux is a no-go. And every other blogging tool out there for the Linux platform pretty much sucks or costs muchos dineros. I still have hopes for KBlogger but after 3 months its still at alpha 2 – so I stopped hoping that would be any help any time soon. I was using Bleezer before but it keeps screwing up source code which I am trying to post (I am hoping WLW will do this a LOT better). But how do we get out of this dark age, you might wonder? The solution? VirtualBox!

General blog entries

Integrity issues

That’s what I get for toying with stuff I should leave alone… I tried to merge the articles from my other Joomla installation back into my main site. After clicking around for a bit it seemed like the manual database merge worked out.

Next I found a number of modules with version number 1.0.x – assuming these were remains of the original 1.0.x installation I selected them all and hit delete. On the page refresh I noticed something was off… The menu was gone! Most of the Joomla Administrator panel was working but without a menu, a lot of sections are unavailable…

After installing a second installation over the existing one I managed to get the missing modules back (note to self: make sure to download the full package AND copy all the files…) by copying tables between the 2 installations. Finally I had a working installation again but now the other users (a.k.a not me) did not show up anymore…

After Googling for weeks I finally found a thread in which somebody made a whole database schema for Joomla! 1.5. The schema can be found here.

Even though I had restored most of the key references within Joomla! I somehow missed the ‘jos_core_acl_groups_aro_maps’ table – this only had one entry: for admin only. As soon as I realized my mistake, I manually added the missing rows and everything started working properly again.

Note to self: stop breaking the site…


How to make Bleezer look good

Like I posted in a previous entry, I hate the way Bleezer looks on linux. The screenshots look great but I guess the author is using MacOS.

Personally, I like the Substance Look and Feel, even if its a bit heavy to render (the GUI gets a little sluggish if the windows get complex). I downloaded the 4.3 release from the Substance site and used the docs to figure out what argument to feed Java.

Note that Substance has multiple skins, all are a little bit different from eachother. This is why the Substance package has multiple classes you can select for the L&F.

Back to Bleezer. I tried making Bleezer use the Substance L&F by means of the command line. Something like this was supposed to work:

java -cp .:substance.jar -jar Bleezer.jar

However, it did not. For some reason you get this:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.Error: can't load javax.swing.UIManager.initializeDefaultLAF( javax.swing.UIManager.initialize( javax.swing.UIManager.maybeInitialize( javax.swing.UIManager.getUI( javax.swing.JPanel.updateUI( javax.swing.JPanel.<init>( javax.swing.JPanel.<init>( javax.swing.JPanel.<init>( javax.swing.JRootPane.createGlassPane( javax.swing.JRootPane.<init>( javax.swing.JFrame.createRootPane( javax.swing.JFrame.frameInit( javax.swing.JFrame.<init>( com.bleezer.Bleezer.<init>( com.bleezer.Bleezer.main(

After trying a million tests to make sure the JAr file was included I finally ran a decompiler over Bleezer and it looks like Bleezer will only attempt to set the L&F on Windows and MacOS. This means the linux users are stuck with the Metal L&F and Bleezer does not provide an option to change the skin.

In a previous post I showed how you can override the L&F for Bleezer using the command line. For some reason, that same trick won’t work here so we’ll work around it.

The solution is to add the Bleezer JAR to the class path and then manually specifiy which class should be run. Using this trick, you can make Bleezer use the new L&F.

Putting it all together you could make a launch script to fire up Bleezer using the new Look and Feel:

#!/bin/bashjava -cp .:substance.jar:Bleezer.jar com.bleezer.Bleezer

And here is the end result, before:

…and after: