Archive for March 2010

Playing with WiTango Server 5.5 and Apache 2.2.15 under Windows XP

March 28, 2010

I don’t particularly have a need to use this stuff; and the WiTango software itself is prehistoric (the last release for Windows was made in 2006, and the last release for UNIX clones/relatives was made in 2005), but I felt like a challenge.

After obtaining and unpacking the approximately 9MB Witango_App_Server_for_Win_5.5.020.zip archive; I preceded to run the installer, and followed most of the instructions provided – stopping only to obtain a “Lite” licence key using a spare GAfYD GMail account, as well as a copy of the Apache installer.

During the installation process, I ended up having to answer “Other” to a prompt regarding HTTP daemons; since Apache wasn’t installed, and I’ve been burnt previously by the outdated and otherwise dodgy WiTango Apache modules (the Linux ones don’t even work with Apache 2.2 as supplied by Fedora, and most of the supporting tools in the Linux package are broken – but that’s by-the-by).

Eventually, I was greeted with a dialogue with rather useless (incomplete) information, and peeked inside the directory at C:\Program Files\WitangoServer\5.5, to discover a Witango.exe executable that did nothing whatsoever when invoked, a rough ReadMe file, and various other DLLs, configuration files and directories.

I then installed Apache – ensuring that it wasn’t started as a service, and operated on TCP port 8080 by default, before returning to WiTango’s ReadMe file to look for the magic httpd.conf lines that would supposedly make things work.

Said ReadMe file recommends using the following – which wouldn’t work, unless you copied a ton of DLLs around:

# Witango Apache Plug-in configuration

# This loads the Witango 5.5 client for Apache 2.2 to
# enable communication with the Witango Application Server
LoadModule WitangoModule modules/mod_witango55_apache22.so
WitangoModule mod_witango55_apache22.so
AddType application/witango-application-file taf tml thtml tcf

As an initial compromise, I resorted to appending the following to the bottom of the httpd.conf file, and restarting Apache:

#WiTango Bits

LoadModule WitangoModule "C:\Program Files\WitangoServer\5.5\PlugIns\mod_witango55_apache22.so"

WitangoModule mod_witango55_apache22.so

AddType application/witango-application-file .taf .tml .thtml .tcf

After creating an empty file at C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\htdocs\test.thtml, and navigating to http://localhost:8080/test.thtml in Chrome, I was greeted with this:

The lights are on, but no-one's home.

I resorted to altering the WitangoModule path to refer to the absolute path of the module’s DLL file (““C:\Program Files\WitangoServer\5.5\PlugIns\mod_witango55_apache22.so”” – a single pair of double quotes are used within httpd.conf), and restarting Apache yet again, only to receive the same “Client Error” message again.

According to the installation guide – which doesn’t even ship with the WiTango Server product, a Windows service (“Witango Server 5.5“) is supposed to be running (although it was never started in my case).

Unfortunately, the ReadMe never stated that, but I’m sure that it was obvious to the developers…

That aside, after starting the aforementioned service, I was greeted with this:

I guess that I can call it a success, given that I’m unfamiliar with the Tango/WiTango language, and haven’t got around to trying the associated developer tools yet…

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Conficker, It’s a Way of Life

March 27, 2010

Apologies to my handful of readers, for not posting according to my usual rhythm – quite a lot has happened as of late, although I haven’t had a great deal of time to properly mull things over, since I’ve been relatively burnt out.

That aside, I’d like to rant about something that’s made life Hell for myself, fellow college students and even staff, over the past few months – Conficker.

I’ll probably receive some flack over this post, if an incompetent Network Nazi “a highly qualified, professional staff member” (such a thing is rare at this organisation) stumbles upon it, although I’m beyond caring at this stage.

Despite much tub-thumping over self-serving placebo security measures, that end up driving productivity into the ground; this maligned pest has made itself ubiquitous, and made this an everyday occurrence:

As a result, myself and others spend hours each day using tools such as multiple AV applications (usually either an existing copy of Sophos AV – if it still functions, the free-of-cost AVG product, or Avira’s free-of-cost product), WinRAR, Midnight Commander, and Microsoft’s own Malicious Software Removal Tool to remove the offending files (most of which have the System and Hidden FAT FS attributes set), deposited by the malware from our USB Mass Storage devices.

Some of my fellow students enquire about malware removal several times a day (and see the SysAdmins anything up to 6 times per-day), and try hard to keep their UMS devices clean – before they become reinfected within 30 seconds of mounting them on the rather suspicious LAN clients; and others have resorted to bringing their own laptops in order to work.

I don’t foresee this being resolved any time soon , but one thing is for sure – we need all the help and luck we can get, to keep it at bay…

Introducing the Symbian Bug Squad

March 16, 2010

For those that have been living under a rock for a while, or at least haven’t been following things in the Symbian community; the Bug Squad are a group of volunteers embarking on a mission to locate and fix bugs in the Symbian Platform, and otherwise make a series of small-yet-meaningful contributions.

That aside, our first meeting (via IRC as a back-channel for general discussion, and Skype for group conference calling) was held today, so that people could introduce themselves to each other, and get acquainted with the collaboration process and tools.

Other than some feedback issues with the generic USB microphone (that shipped with a Wii game, of all things) that I’d been using, this combo proved a success, and things generally worked out nicely.

During the conference call, folks were also encouraged to edit a table on a Symbian Wiki page to informally register their participation –  although there were a few issues along the way related to unfamiliarity with the MediaWiki code syntax that were quickly resolved.

We also planned to use WebEx for screen sharing, although that didn’t go down too well with the participants – initially, some of us couldn’t connect properly, and there were issues surrounding authentication.

I ended up having to use Internet Explorer 6, along with yet another ActiveX control, since the Java client wasn’t working properly with Chrome under the VirtualBox machine running Windows XP that I was using.

Thankfully, everything worked out, although there was some indecision as to whether or not WebEx would be suitable for future meetings.

That aside, a lot of stuff also happened on the technical front, which will be elaborated on in this post.

In the meantime, I invite other interested folks to join me in this effort.

A day with the Symbian Bug Squad

March 16, 2010

In my previous post, I briefly introduced the Symbian Bug Squad project, and alluded to more interesting stuff coming.

During that introductory event, the focus was mostly on testing the improved Active Standby application (AKA the Home Screen) and task switcher that will feature in Symbian^3, using the legacy emulator supplied with PDK 3.0.h (which will hopefully be replaced by the Symbian Virtual Platform soon); although a reasonable amount of light work was done in other areas, too.

Keep in mind that this isn’t supposed to be a review – it’s more of a late-night parsed braindump with an occasional graphical annotation, so it might not have a coherent flow, or even make sense.

Some of the highlights (and lowlights) include:

  • Discovering that ZSH is fully functional under the legacy emulator (although certain commands – e.g. uname are unavailable)
  • Discovering an overall regression in the ability to play audio content – which I filed the first “official” bug against
  • Most of the team verifying that the Active Standby application builds with 0 errors, and minimal warnings for WINSCW (although others are still working on trying to build it with GCCE)
  • Discovering that Web and Internet connectivity didn’t work out of the box (although I wasn’t expecting it to, somehow), but the browser itself works nicely
  • Experiencing the new Active Standby screen and task switcher for the first time, and seeing it flake out in various ways
  • Playing with the kinetic scrolling implementation, which is a nice, subtle enhancement to several aspects of the UI
  • Discovering that installation of the iType font rasteriser from Agfa MonoType also improves overall stability somewhat, in addition to adding fonts with the “Mute” and “Music Note” glyphs, and generally making things look nicer
  • Discovering that installing the Samsung and Objective Systems components either makes no discernible difference to the performance of the Music Player application, or causes it to randomly crash
  • Finding that the Music Player application will sometimes also crash if I select an album corresponding to a track, even without the 2 aforementioned components installed

Of course, no Symbian-related discussion is complete without griping about the legacy emulator (WINSCW/EPOC.exe), so we’ve came up with the following (in addition to those mentioned in my SVP post):

  • It crashes and hangs an awful lot (at least in my case) – especially when using the display orientation switching button
  • It’s extremely voracious with RAM (consuming anything from 120MB to 222MB+)
  • The application window is vertically huge when the default display orientation is utilised – which makes it a pain to use on widescreen displays, and in small VirtualBox display canvas windows
  • There’s a good chance that if the emulator doesn’t crash when using the rotation button, the contents of the display canvas will be in a state of limbo for an indeterminate period of time

Now, let’s have a look at the new task switching feature, which of course supports (sideways!) kinetic scrolling for browsing the contents of the task list:

As a nice touch, it displays previews of each application’s active window, instead of just icons, and it even sort-of works in horizontal orientation mode.

Unfortunately, it also has a habit of refusing to function under the emulator, and bailing out with a random error – usually either “qtn_debug_pe_failed_at_startup” or “Application closed: Task Switcher ViewSrv 11” like so:

It seems that it also sometimes refuses to accept single or double taps to select a task (which is supposed to work), so it becomes necessary to use the “hardware” button that corresponds with the “Options” softkey.

I also attempted to play an MP3 audio file using the Music Player application,  after copying it into “C:\Symbian\S3PDK\epoc32\winscw\c\data\Sounds” on the host; before installing the R&D codec packs from Aricent and RealNetworks, without much success.

It seems that I can persuade Music Player to load the aforementioned MP3 file, and parse the ID3 tags contained within, if I invoke it through the File Manager application – although no audio is passed through into the host OS’s audio stack.  The result of which looks like this, when it works:

When file playback doesn’t work, I either receive a note from MMF or another component, or the Music Player application unceremoniously crashes and returns me to either the Active Standby screen, the parent process, or the Menu application:

Of course, since multimedia playback support is a exemplar use case for Symbian^3,  I consider this to be a regression – especially since it supposedly worked previously on Symbian^2.

It’s possible to scan for audio files within Music Player itself, without issues:

On a lighter note, I’ll close with various screenshots that didn’t fit in elsewhere…

Here’s the good old screensaver, that’s served us well from at least S60 2nd Edition onwards:

Here’s a mysterious “DRMEncryptor” application:

Here’s a brief ZSH session:

Finally, here’s a working Menu application:

At last, but not least, I’d like to thank everyone else involved in the project, and in the community in general. I’ll probably upload the remaining screenshots that I have to Picasa Web Albums later, but for now, I must sleep…

Does Anyone Know Noddy?

March 8, 2010

Not too long after the folks at the Symbian Foundation announced the release of the complete Symbian Platform codebase (or at least the parts that weren’t already open), I performed some of the searches that I typically perform on a newly-opened large codebase.

Some of the criteria that I searched for included:

  • References to suppliers and competing organisations (e.g. Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Apple and Microsoft)
  • References to previous names of organisations (e.g. Psion and Symbian Software Ltd.)
  • References to project/product internal/code-names (e.g. UIKON, AVKON, Crystal and Quartz)
  • References to cancelled or previous project/product names, especially within a given context (e.g. “EPOC is“- which will locate a prehistoric marketing document extolling the virtues of the old EPOC32 platform that is a progenitor of the current Symbian Platform)
  • References to projects/products that are related to, or derived from the codebase in some way (e.g. MOAP(S), Series 80 and UIQ)
  • The terms “confidential” and/or “proprietary” in various combinations

…and just for kicks – profanity and intra-cultural references.

Which leads on to a little mystery:

Just what is the significance of the Noddy references? (Most of which are enshrined in MIME test case sample files, and are made by folks with a connection to Psion).

According to a friend/contact at the Foundation, “Noddy wasn’t originally a cartoon character” – which makes sense, if a cursory glance at a Wikipedia disambiguation page; and passing familiarity with plush nodding dog ornaments in car windows is anything to go by.

Still, that doesn’t really explain who or what Noddy is in this context; or why Noddy was seemingly disliked by the folks involved in compiling the aforementioned test case files.