Subversion on GoDaddy shared hosting

For better or worse, I’ve been using GoDaddy shared hosting for my personal hosting needs for nearly a year.  It’s cheap and cheerful, with plenty of disk space, bandwidth, SSH access, and easy access to a number of popular open-source apps you can test out with GoDaddy’s hosting connection.  Of course, it does have its drawbacks, and one of the major ones for me has been the nonexistence of a subversion client in the shell environment.

GoDaddy also doesn’t provide a compiler, so building from the source isn’t a possibility.  I read a post suggesting it might be possible to use a binary and decided to give it a shot.

Poking around, I noticed my server was an X86 running CentOS 5.2 (which is essentially RHEL), so downloaded the CollbNet RedHat binary.  The binary was packaged as a RPM file, so I used another machine to unpack it:

rpm2cpio CollabNetSubversion-client-1.5.6-1.i386.rpm | cpio -id

The package I used only included the subversion client.  It also came with some PDFs, man pages, install scripts, and other unnecessary bits which I was able to pare down.  I transferred the leftovers to my GoDaddy home directory, changed some environment variables, and voila – it worked!

If you’re in the same boat, you can download a TAR with everything you need here.

Here’s a step-by-step to get it working from the command line:

  1. Download the TAR to your home directory:
  2. Unzip and unpack the archive:
    tar zxvf godaddy-svn-1.5.6.tar.gz
  3. If you haven’t adjusted your default .bashrc file, you can move the included bashrc.svn to overwrite your existing file:
    mv bashrc.svn .bashrc

    Or append the following to your existing .bashrc:

    export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/svn/bin
    export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$HOME/svn/lib

UPDATE – thanks to Alin for pointing out this will only work for repositories hosted with HTTP/HTTPS.  GoDaddy appears to be blocking the svnserve port 3690.


Turkey Day

There’s that stage in life, as we get older, where somehow things that used to be so new and exciting slowly start to dull and become routine.  I think it must be an inevitable part of growing up, yet it is still something that saddens me a bit and makes me wish I could rewind back earlier memories and relive that youthful joy and amazement.

Thanksgiving somehow lost its lustre for me at some point in time, just as Christmas, birthdays, and other recurring life events had as I got older.

This year, though, I’m really excited.

As I type this on the Amtrak #160 to Boston (via Verizone EV-DO) , I’m trying to remember the last actual Thanksgiving I celebrated with my family at home.  Having lived in England the past few years, Thanksgiving became just another day.  Sometimes I would hold a little celebration with fellow expats, or treat myself to a roast turkey sandwich, but really it became nothing more than a day that came and went with very little thought.

Now, though, I’m really excited to be able to spend this day with my family enjoying the holiday and all the things I missed out on while in England.

Lesson learned – enjoy what you take for granted and don’t let life become boring with routine.

Triple Monitors & Other Workspace Improvements

Almost everyone seems to be intrigued with my workspace setup – consisting of three 19″ Viewsonic panels. Having moved up to 3 monitors (from 2) only a few months ago, I’m already at the stage where I’m thinking of taking on a few more.


OK, just joking.


Or am I?

Triple Monitors

Most modern video cards natively support dual displays, but in order to add more than 2 monitors, you’ll usually have to install another video card. Interestingly enough, my Dell Dimenson desktop has a built-in Intel video card, but I was unable to enable this while running any other cards in the box for multi-display.


With two (or more) video cards in, possibly some tweaking in your BIOS, and some driver installs, it’s a breeze with Windows XP to define your monitor layout and be on your way to multi-monitor mayhem. For an even better experience, consider investing in UltraMon by Realtime Soft, which can provide handy extra control to move around your active windows, stretch your desktop and screensaver, and better organize your toolbar.

French Press

New additions to my workspace include a French Press Travel Mug (for brewing my new drink of choice – Yerba Mate), a mini-dry erase board, a trusty old TI graphing calculator, and of course, a pad of paper.

Flying Fast

My Friend Annika is travelling through Northwest Canada and Alaska by seaplane exploring Global Climate Change as part of a video documentary project, Flying Fast. The website has just been launched but will soon feature video clips and updates.  Check it out.

VoIP Fly-By-Nights

As a user of the Asterisk VoIP PBX for the past couple years, I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of voice IP termination and origination services, with extremely varied experiences.

The Good

In the UK, (TelAppliant) provide fairly solid IAX & SIP origination/termination services. On a SDSL connection in southwest London I was able to get ping times around 10ms to their switches. Most US and UK landlines 1p/minute.

The Bad

For a while, I swore by nufone – extremely cheap toll-free DIDs with solid service and IAX termination. Then, one day without much warning, their upstream provider Telesthetic decided to pull the plug. No service for quite a while, and then I started getting phone calls telling me they could port my numbers to a new provider for a fee of $60/DID. So, I anted up, waited, e-mailed, phoned, waited some more…until I was told the numbers actually can’t be ported and I couldn’t get a refund. I filed a complaint with PayPal – but no luck. They investigated and couldn’t refund as they can’t monitor “services”. Never, ever use these guys.

The Ugly

LiveVoip offering incredibly cheap IAX DIDs (1.2 cents/min), pay-as-you-go, and immediate activation. Their site should have been a dead giveaway – these guys were not for real. First they lost their contract with Level 3, then with another provider, then they went belly up and turned off the lights and filed bankruptcy. Ugh.

The Lesson

VoIP companies are not like Ma Bell … they are quite literally here one day and gone the next in a lot of cases. If buying prepaid services, try to limit deposits and sheild your risk. Remember your number could change or be yanked at anytime.

Despite my varied experiences, I recently signed up for VoiceStick using SIP with my Snom360 VoIP handset. So far so good. They’ll give you a free DID and $5 credit, so little to lose should they kick the bucket.

New York, New York

Blogging has been a bit slow lately, mainly because of all the hectic things surrounding our sale of AeroDiet/ to (Press Release).

Instead, I’ve been in the process of furiosly sorting out all the various unglamorous bits involved in selling a company – accounting, legal agreements, taxes, documents, etc etc.  Not to mention the move to New York, finding an apartment, assembling furniture, figuring out how the subways work (uptown, downtown, motown?)…it’s all been quite a grand adventure.

Luckily, I’m now fairly settled both in terms of work and home, as a shiny new employee of (but still getting to do the same things I know and love) and a brand new resident of Long Island City, New York.  Phew!

Gyro, Gearo, Hero?

I was lucky (unlucky?) enough to enjoy a tasty Gyro today with plenty of tzatziki & chili sauce.

Now, I’m no stranger to this delicious street meat. For nearly one year of my life in London a while back I remember surviving off the Turkish equivalent – the Doner Kebab – almost exclusively. In Britain, the nearly-unescapable ‘bab is right up there with fish & chips. In fact, I would wager there are more kebab shops than chippies. And they’re open late. And they’re cheap.

Today I pondered a few questions about the ‘bab few should ever ask. What do they do with that gigantic, rotating, elephant leg at the end of the day? Turn off the lights and let it sit out? How do they make those? What the hell is in it?

My search lead me to this – How Greek Gyro is Made Yes, now you too can find out these answers and more. Enjoy responsibly.

PS> If you are ever looking for a life-changing Kebab in London – check out Best Mangal on North End Road in West Ken. This is not some greasy Doner, but an actual pit-roasted masterpiece. I used to live next door, hence the Year of the Kebab.

Gmail SPAM Recipes

I bet this is intentional – but I still think it’s hilarious.  While checking my Gmail spam folder today for false positives, I noticed the web clips at the top showcase a number of delicious spam recipes, such as this French Fry Spam Casserole.  Yum.


Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud EC2

Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) continue to impress.  Just annouced is the limited beta test of their newest service – Elastic Compute Cloud, allowing extremely cheap, on-demand, (somewhat) scalable computing.  Cost is $0.10 per instance-hour plus $0.20 per gig external transfer, as well as a charge to store your virtual machines’ images on Amazon S3 ($0.15 per gig).

Each instance provides a “1.7Ghz Xeon CPU, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth.”

I’ve been a user of their S3 (simple storage service) and am extremely impressed by the speed, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of their web services.   It will be interesting to see new products and technologies making use of this commodity grid storage and computing now available to everyone.

Global Popularity of Internet Sites & Services

One thing that constantly surprises me is country-to-country variance in popularity for major internet sites and services.

Sure, there are the global (or near-global) heavyweights like PayPal, eBay, and Amazon, but there are also a number of surprises in services you would expect to be just as pervasive.

Take, for example, online instant messaging. In the United States, my personal experience seems to indicate that AOL instant messenger (AIM) is the most popular messaging client, whereas my experience in Canada seems to show MSN messenger is dominant (an April ComScore report indicates usage in “North America” is about tied between AIM and MSN – my cursory search was unable to bring up any breakdown of market share by country). Google trends (for what it’s worth) seems to validate this presumption:


One of the most talked-about regional differences is that of MySpace and Bebo in the US vs the UK. HitWise reports UK market share of Bebo has surpassed MySpace at 12.9%, and in recent months this seems to have set the blogosphere afire, especially with Bebo’s rejection of £300 million from BT.

Another, less-talked about site that really hasn’t hit its stride outside North America is Craigslist. The London site has been live since 2003 but seems to only be populated with American expats and aggresive spammers. Have a look at the for sale listings – nearly every other one is for something outside the UK! Perhaps CL just couldn’t compete with existing players like Loot and the largely-Antipodean GumTree. Something just didn’t spark.  Compare to the Toronto CL, launched at the same time as London, which is booming.

(Sidenote Funny – I was with a group of British & American friends at the door of a London club late last year and mentioned I was on Craig’s List…Craig being one of the DJs. The Americans in this group thought this was hilarious, whereas the locals had absolutely no idea what we were laughing at.)

I suppose when you look at it you can sum it all up to this – these are all services that spread entirely through word-of-mouth, and word-of-mouth has very-real geographical borders. You have to wonder…if the experiment Malcom Gladwell discusses of Harvard social psychologist Stanley Milgram determining “six degrees of separation” were tried at the global scale, how much different this would be. Six degrees might be sixteen…or sixty…