“Slack is killing email” – yeah, right

Responding to glorified technology advertising publication The Verge running this silly clickbait headline a while back, here’s my prediction on where Slack will eventually end up. As posted on Twitter, recorded here for posterity.

Slack exchange from Twitter


Thunderbird, Gmail, and the “less secure apps” thing

For those folks wanting to use Thunderbird as a Gmail client and who are encountering an incorrect password error when attempting to configure the account in Thunderbird (irrespective of two-factor authentication), this is most likely due to Google enforcing OAuth. Google are spinning this as a “secure vs. less secure application” problem, suffice it to say opinions appear to vary on this.

For now, the conditions under which you may or may not see the incorrect password error prompt when hooking Thunderbird up to a Gmail account can be found here.

And on the Thunderbird developer community side, discussion about this can be found here.

EDIT: we’ll also highlight this most excellent point, from Twitter:

Can’t disagree with this.



On Windows 10…

Microsoft spent four years hyping Vista, and it was a colossal, costly failure when it was eventually released. They then hyped Windows 8 as some sort of unified miracle OS for desktop and mobile devices – and it turned out to be a two-headed abomination that had seasoned professionals tearing their hair out. And now, Windows 10 – which Microsoft’s marketing geniuses think they can smooth over Windows 8 bad customer experiences with by skipping a major version number.

How many more expensive, time-wasting chances are folks going to give before realising Microsoft just cannot get it right?

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Extreme fan noise with an HP ProLiant ML110 G7

A little while back I posted some initial impressions of the Hewlett Packard ML110 G7, and noted:

“One review made mention of the ML110’s quiet operation and how it would not be noticed in an office environment. Well, unless your office happens to be on the factory floor of an air conditioning manufacturing plant, you’re going to notice this thing…”

Out of curiosity I decided to look into this a bit more. It turns out a whole bunch of other folks have encountered the same thing, and if you perform an online search for “HP ML110 G7 fan noise” you’ll find many forum posts with all manner of straw clutching – from running every firmware and BIOS update under the sun, to nuking warranties with third-party cooling hacks.

One thing I noted with my unit was the actual reported fan speeds via the LOM were in the order of 31%/13%/10% for the three fans respectively – which hardly accounts for what sounds like a system with its fans running absolutely full tilt (completely unsuitable for office operation).

Buried in one forum post was information apparently passed on from HP’s support personnel to an affected customer, advising them to reseat the front fan (referred to as the PCI fan in the service manual), as apparently it may become dislodged during shipping. Sounded rather odd to me as clearly the fan itself is functioning (a bit too well…), but as it turns out this totally nailed the problem. After disconnecting the fan’s motherboard connectors and physically removing the component, then letting the system boot, POST and shutdown with a fan error, then reconnecting everything and powering it back up, the server is now quiet.

Updating iLO3 firmware on an HP ML110 G7

Hewlett Packard’s website is an embarrassing mess. Don’t go looking for an easy-to-find page for the iLO3 with a one-click firmware download, because you won’t find one. The state of HP’s site is a rant for a future post, but for now here’s a quick guide to getting your hands on the latest iLO3 revision. The sole catch is that you’ll need a Microsoft Windows-based PC at some stage, irrespective of which OS you have installed on the server itself (OpenIndiana in my case).

First, go to HP’s product page for the ML110 G7. Next, we’ll choose “Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2” (blech…) as our OS:

HP ML110 G7 product page

Look for the Lights Out Management Firmware section, and click the relevant link to start the download (we’ll go for a 64-bit Windows target OS):

Download the iLO3 installation file

Now, run the downloaded executable file (named “cp022549.exe” in this example) on a Windows-based system (Windows 7 or Windows 8 will do just fine) and extract (not install) the file contents to disk:

Extract the downloaded file contents

Look for the .bin file in the extracted files – this is the one we need:

Look for the firmware BIN file

Now, go to the iLO3 admin BUI, upload the .bin file, and wait for the update to complete. Once the LOM reboots, verify the firmware version:

Prepare to upload the BIN file

Firmware file is uploading

Updating to the latest firmware


Compare the old firmware version to the newest


iLO3 firmware is now at the latest version

Fixing TeamViewer on Ubuntu 64 bit (tvwine.dll.so)

Folks running older versions of TeamViewer (version 6 for Business in my case) on the 64 bit (i.e. the default download) release of Ubuntu may have run into the following error after installing and trying to launch it:

TeamViewer launch error on Ubuntu 64 bit

In short, the solution which worked for me is in this post:


I’m still reasonably happy with TeamViewer – it works well, and they’ve as yet resisted the urge to railroad their customers into a rental-only model. It’s for this latter reason I’ll be sticking with the product come time to upgrade.

Endpoint-encrypted email with Thunderbird and Enigmail

Thanks to Thunderbird and Enigmail, anyone wanting to securely contact me over email can now do so.

Regarding Enigmail, setup is reasonably quick and easy (thanks to Enigmail’s wizard), but it’s definitely something most folks would need help with from someone with technical know-how. Anyone local who would like to claw back a little of their privacy in the post-Snowden era is welcome to drop me a line for assistance.

Setting up Gmail Calendar and Tasks sync in Thunderbird

Updated 29th June 2016: For folks landing here via search engines and the like, I recommend ditching Gmail as a mail service altogether – as I now have. The hoops one has to jump through to simply get Gmail to behave normally with an external mail client are no longer worth the effort in light of the better business email hosting services now available. FastMail in particular is a cinch to set up, is stable and affordable, has full calendaring, and just simply works with minimal setup on the Thunderbird side. Google clearly has zero interest or business reason to permit Gmail to work seamlessly with external clients, especially as it removes the vector for targeted advertising.

With the latest versions of Thunderbird, and the Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar add-ons, Thunderbird now supports full Gmail Calendar and Tasks synchronisation. As the setup has changed somewhat from previous versions of these add-ons we’re going to cover the current procedure in this blog post.

We are using Thunderbird 31.2.0 on Ubuntu 14.04.

If you’ve already installed these two add-ons and you’re synchronising your Gmail calendar, please delete the calendar from Thunderbird (this unsubscribes from the calendar only, and leaves all server-side data intact), and uninstall the add-ons. Restart Thunderbird to get back to a clean-slate state.

Now, using the Thunderbird Add-ons Manager, search for and install both the Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar add-ons:

Install the Lightining add-on

Install the Provider for Google Calendar add-on

Restart Thunderbird to complete the installation process.

Next, switch to the Calendar tab in Thunderbird. Right-click in the area where the default Thunderbird calendar is visible and create a new calendar:

Create a new calendar

We now work through the “Create New Calendar” wizard. In the first two screens that appear, we want to add a calendar on the network, and this should be a Google Calendar:

Add a calendar on the network

Add a Google Calendar

You’ll now be prompted to enter your email address: this should be the Gmail address of the associated calendar you wish to synchronise:

Enter your Gmail address

Thunderbird will then list the calendars and task lists available to be synced. Tick these as you need:

Adding Calendars and Tasks lists

If all goes well you’ll see a dialogue indicating the wizard has finished, and, after a brief delay (during which the interface might not be responsive) your Gmail Calendar and Tasks will be synchronised:

Dialogue indicating the wizard is finished

Google Calendar and Tasks synced

At the far right-hand-side of the above screengrab you can see our tasks lists (only containing a single task in this example). These are synced with your Gmail account.

Nice try, Windows…

…but, no thanks 😉

Ubuntu installation disk warning