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Sunday, July 18

Why I am not excited about the new Rupee Symbol!

While the media initially went all gaga over the new Rupee symbol which somehow seems to have pushed us into an "elite" club, the reports have started coming in that it will be a while before the symbol gets into regular usage.

Anyone with interest in Indian language computing is well aware of the fractured state of the Unicode usage. Most of the media houses still use a proprietary font for their content. Even govt uses many incompatible fonts in the data created by it. Result is a typical " जल बिच मछली प्यासी" situation. Even though large amounts of text is available in digital format, it is useless for a lot of purposes. A lot of people cannot view it properly without installing tons of fonts, it cannot be searched or indexed and it is useless for most computing purposes. Lack of huge amount of digital text is one major problem hampering research in NLP for Indian languages.

With the introduction of Rupee symbol, the situation can become even worse. First it needs to be approved and incorporated in the Unicode standard which itself might take up to 2 years. Then we will need Unicode fonts that include this glyph. Since ISCII is controlled by the Indian govt, it will be able to incorporate it much faster and non-unicode fonts will continue to be used in govt works. This will further delay the adoption of Unicode.

In the view of the above, the whole exercise of giving a symbol to Rupee, is not a mere symbolic exercise which we can just ignore if we don't care about it. It has all the potential to make the state of Indian Language Computing worse then it is today.

Friday, July 9

Inaugural issue of Pothiz is here!

Inaugural issue of Pothiz - a new free online magazine is now available on Pothi.comJaya is the force behind this one.
I am also trying to write a story for the next issue - a sci-fi epic :-D. Entries are due by 16th July. Let's see how far you can continue to write code and story without mixing them up too much!

Tuesday, July 6

How to setup Facebook vanity URL for fan pages

What is a Facebook Vanity URL?
Facebook vanity url is a url like http://www.facebook.com/pothidotcom which is shorter and easier to remember as compared to the default
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pothicom/18749584929?ref=mf

How can you set it up for your page?
It took me a bit of searching to find this but you just need to visit http://www.facebook.com/username and you can setup vanity urls for all your pages.

Fixing Logrotate on Ubuntu Jaunty Server Edition

After about one year of having used the VPS based on Ubuntu Jaunty, recently I had the need to go look at my Apache logs. Now Apache log on my desktop machine are always nicely rotated by logrotate without me having to do anything. However on the server, I found a gigantic 1.2 GB other_vhosts_access.log staring at me with no rotation whatsoever in last 1 year.

So I began to learn about logrotate. Running logrotate by hand produced the following which was obviously not true.

abhaya@www$ sudo logrotate -d /etc/logrotate.conf
rotating pattern: /var/log/apache2/*.log weekly (52 rotations)
empty log files are not rotated, old logs are removed
considering log /var/log/apache2/access.log
log does not need rotating
considering log /var/log/apache2/error.log
log does not need rotating
considering log /var/log/apache2/other_vhosts_access.log
log does not need rotating

The contents of the status file (/var/lib/logrotate/status) which logrotate uses to determine which log files need rotating was surprisingly empty:

abhaya@www$ cat /var/lib/logrotate/status
logrotate state -- version 2

So for some reason, logrotate was not able to write to the status file and so no logs were being rotated. Following the advice in this thread, I deleted the status file and ran the logrotate again as following:

abhaya@www$ sudo logrotate -d  /etc/logrotate.conf

And again got the same result as before. Surprised, I tried the command exactly as suggested in the thread:

abhaya@www$ sudo logrotate -v  /etc/logrotate.conf

And voila:

abhaya@www$ cat /var/lib/logrotate/status
logrotate state -- version 2
"/var/log/btmp" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/wtmp" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/samba/log.nmbd" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/samba/log.smbd" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/mysql/mysql-slow.log" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/mysql/mysql.log" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/mysql.log" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/dpkg.log" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/apt/term.log" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/apache2/other_vhosts_access.log" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/apache2/error.log" 2010-7-6
"/var/log/apache2/access.log" 2010-7-6

Just one last problem remained. With this setup, logs would start rotating only next week and I did not want my Apache log files to get any bigger then they already were. So I cheated by manually editing the status file and pushing the date against the apache logs about a week earlier.


"/var/log/apache2/other_vhosts_access.log" 2010-6-28
"/var/log/apache2/error.log" 2010-6-28
"/var/log/apache2/access.log" 2010-6-28

And ran the logrotate by hand once again. The logs duly rotated and hopefully will rotate as expected in the weeks to come.