Python script to fix messed up “Date Added” in XBMC

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Filed under Programming, Uncategorized
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I recently switched from MediaPortal to XBMC on my living room HTPC. I was using MediaPortal for a long time. But unfortunately it got more and more unstable from release to release. So I gave XBMC a try and so far I am pretty satisfied with it. I really like how fast it is.

When I add movies to the library, XBMC sets “Date Added” to the file creation date. That is exactly how I like it. I am using 3rd party tools to add movies to the library which are not automatically recognized by XBMC itself (e.g. XBNE). I just added a lot of movies with XBNE. Worked great. Unfortunately XBNE added them with the current date in “Date Added”.

So I wrote a simple python script which goes through all movies in the library’s database and changes “Date Added” to the file’s last modification date.

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Compiling an Android Linux Kernel for Xperia Phones

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Filed under Android, Hacking, Hardware, Linux, Xperia T
Tagged as

The Linux kernel for Sony Xperia phones is open source. So nobody is stopping you from compiling your own custom kernel. All you need is a Linux machine, the kernel sources and a couple of tools.

custom_kernel

I will explain the steps needed to build, package and flash a custom kernel by using the Xperia T (LT30p) as an example. The steps should be pretty similar for all other modern Xperia phones.

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How to Troubleshoot CIFS Problems on Android and Linux in General

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Filed under Android, Hacking, Linux, Xperia T
Tagged as , , , ,

If you are using Linux kernel 3.4, especially on Android, and you are having troubles mounting windows or samba shares, and you are in a hurry, please skip to section 2 or the conclusion at the end. I just need to tell a little story first.

1. The Story of a Fool

That’s how it’s supposed to be: You take out your Android phone. Mount a windows share to a directory of your liking and start accessing your files from any app you like. Yes, eat that, iPhone. Welcome to the 21st century. At least that’s how it used to be on my Xperia T until I updated the firmware to a newer version.

To be more precise, you need a rooted Android phone. And an app like CifsManager. It’s pretty easy. You can enter a number of windows shares, including user name and password if necessary, and the paths you want them to be mounted to. From now on, you can mount and unmount the shares with a single click. Really neat.

Then one day, I updated the firmware of my Xperia T from 7.0.A.3.195 (Android 4.0.4) to 9.1.A.0.489 (Android 4.1). And the days of happy networking with windows were gone. CifsManager stubbornly denied mounting with an “Invalid argument” error. A very helpful error, I must say.

After hours of googling around, I found many articles, telling me that the linux kernel of the new firmware is probably missing CIFS support. If I am lucky, somebody will create a CIFS kernel module, which could be loaded with insmod. Again many hours later I realized that nobody seems to have done that for my phone. So I gave up, hoping that the issue would be fixed in another firmware.

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How to install Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) on an encrypted hard drive.

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Filed under IT, Linux, VirtualBox

Debian is my favorite distro, but I usually don’t recommend it as a desktop environment. LMDE is a nice alternative for Debian fans who want to use Debian as their everyday home/work desktop environment. Unlike Ubuntu, it’s a pure Debian installation (basically Debian Testing), but it uses a more agile and up to date package repository. Many software packages which are known to be a hassle on Debian desktops run seamlessly out of the box. Who hasn’t cried out “Come on Debian, who needs Iceweasel. I want the latest version of Firefox with Flash running”. LMDE goes a little bit along the line “I like to have my cake and eat it too”.

One thing that bothered me tough, is that the LMDE installer didn’t offer any options to encrypt the partition(s). I found a howto by hashstat Howto install LMDE with LVM (with or without encryption). However I didn’t like the idea of transforming the Live CD into the final system.

The main part of the solution I describe here is heavily based on hashstat howto. However, we install LMDE onto a virtual machine and then transfer it onto the encrypted partition. There are three steps:

  1. Install LMDE on a VirtualBox VM
  2. Prepare encrypted disk
  3. Transfer LMDE from the virtual machine to the real machine

In my case, I installed LMDE on a virtual machine on my notebook. If you don’t have an extra computer, it might also be possible to install LMDE on a flash drive and use it later to transfer it to your real machine. However I didn’t try that. The virtual machine method was fitting for me, since I had LMDE already installed on it for a test drive.

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Geo Relocate Firefox Extention

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Filed under Firefox, Geo Relocation Firefox Extension, Internet, Programming, Uncategorized
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The other day I wrote about my experiments with Firefox’s implementation of the W3C geo location API.

I was able to package my modifications as a Firefox Extension, which anybody can use to the change the coordinates reported by the geo location API. Check it out at the Geo Location Firefox Extension project page.

Copy Paste Hell Between Windows Host and Linux Guest in VirtualBox

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Filed under Linux, VirtualBox
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The X server maintains three different selection buffers, PRIMARY, SECONDARY and CLIPBOARD. The PRIMARY buffer is usually used for copying and pasting via the middle mouse button. And the CLIPBOARD buffer is used when the user selects some data and explicitly requests it to be “copied” to the clipboard, such as by invoking “Copy”.

The VirtualBox client tool synchronizes the Windows clipboard content to the PRIMARY and CLIPBOARD buffer of a Linux host. But it only synchronizes the CLIPBOARD buffer back out to the Windows host. The reason why it’s not using the PRIMARY selection is that by only selecting a text in Linux overwrites the Windows clipboard immediately, which is an unexpected behavior for Windows users. At least that’s their excuse.

It might not be the expected behavior for Windows users. But it’s definitely not the expected behavior for Linux users. The forums are filled with posts like “Copy/Paste from Linux guest to Windows doesn’t work”. It is especially annoying that the selected text from a terminal window can not be easily pasted out to the Windows host. There are a couple solutions. But none are really satisfying.

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Spoofing W3C Geolocation from a Different Angle

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Filed under Firefox, Hacking, Internet
Tagged as , , ,

The other day I watched an episode of Hak5 – Spoofing the W3C Geolocation API were Darren was introducing us to the W3C geolocation API. (Btw. Hak5 is so awesome, you definitely have to check them out right now if your don’t know them already). This API uses certain informations like IP address, RFID, WiFi and Bluetooth MAC addresses, and GSM/CDMA cell IDs to determine the exact location of a users computer. It’s implemented by browsers like Firefox and Chrome.

One can test the geolocation API by going to Google Maps and clicking on the “Show MyLocation” icon. The geolocation API is actually pretty simple. Browsers make it available through a JavaScript object, which can be queried by the web application for the location. For privacy reasons, the browser will ask you if it is allowed to detect your location, since it has to transfer WiFi addresses and the likes over the net.

    <script type="text/javascript">
    // locate position
    navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition(displayPosition);

    // callback function
    function displayPosition(pos) {
        var mylat = pos.coords.latitude;
        var mylong = pos.coords.longitude;
        alert('Your longitude is :' + mylong + ' and your latitude is ' + mylat);
    }
    </script>

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Building Firefox on BackTrack 5

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Filed under Firefox, Linux
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Building Firefox on Linux is actually pretty easy. It used to be a bit harder with earlier versions of Firefox, but since Gecko 5.0 it’s not hard at all.

Since we are building on BackTrack 5, which is a Debian offspring, we more or less need to follow the instructions on building Firefox on Ubuntu. Some details about that can be found at Simple Firefox build. As you will see later, the only tricky part is to get all the required packages for the build process.

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Resizing a Linux Partition (Running in VirtualBox)

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Filed under IT, Linux, VirtualBox
Tagged as , , , , ,

I was recently setting up a new test environment (BackTrack 5) inside a VirtualBox VM. Half way down the road of my project I realized that I was way to stingily with the amount of space I assigned to the virtual drive. Well, I thought no problem – I am going to enlarge the virtual drive. The steps would be easy:

  1. Enlarging the virtual drive
  2. Enlarging the partition holding the root file system with parted
  3. Enlarging the file system with resize2fs

Easy in theory. In reality it was still a little bit tricky.

Note, that everything that I describe in steps 2 and 3 also applies to a real linux machine. Step 1 is only necessary, because I happened to work inside a VM. On a real machine, step 1 would be something like copying the data of the old physical  drive onto a newer bigger drive with dd or the likes.

I also realize that there may be more professional programs like partition magic, which would have saved me some trouble. But I wanted to make it work right here and there with the things I had at hand. Which was parted. Or even the plain old fdisk would have done I guess.

It also goes without saying, that before you do things like this, that you need to make a backup if the data is of any value to you at all.

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