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Automatic Application Deployment with Mina

By Jimmy Bonney | August 17, 2013

It has been a while I meant to write something about Mina, a “really fast deployer and server automation tool” as the team behind it describes it.

The concept behind Mina is to connect through SSH to your remote server and execute a set of Bash instructions that you define in a local deployment file (deploy.rb). There is only one SSH connection, making it faster than other tools that encapsulate each instruction inside their own SSH transaction.

Using such a tool limits the number of manual operations required to deploy a new version of the application on a remote server. All tasks to be executed are gathered in one place and this allows reducing the risk of forgetting something or typing the wrong command.


Pencil Mockup Export

By Jimmy Bonney | July 20, 2013

As discussed in a previous article about flow charts and mock-ups applications, Pencil is a great application to realize quick mock-ups. The application is available on all platforms (MacOS, Linux and Window) either as a stand alone application or as an add-on for Firefox.

Unfortunately, I realized recently that export to PNG files didn’t work any longer from Pencil 2.0.3 (at least not in Ubuntu 12.04). Based on the two links provided in the sources section below, this bug appeared when Firefox 17 was released and can easily be fixed.


Column Header Rotation in CSS

By Jimmy Bonney | July 19, 2013

Last month, D-Sight Web was updated with a pretty awaited feature: splitting the work between experts when evaluating alternatives and defining preferences in a decision process. In other words and without going into too much details (for that, read the release announcement), this typically allows for a technical expert to only provide input for technical criteria and for a legal expert to focus on legal criteria – for instance.

Such a change required the possibility to assign users to criteria in a pretty limited space. Indeed, this assignation is done in a modal window and the the basic idea for such assignation is simply to have a table where:

  • The users are displayed in rows
  • The criteria are displayed in the different columns


Configure Nano Syntax Highlighting on Synology

By Jimmy Bonney | June 15, 2013

Nano is a small text editor available from the console. It is an alternative to editors like vi or pico but comes packed with features making it more user-friendly – especially for beginners. Nano is available from pretty much all Linux distributions. In this article, we’ll focus on installing and configuring its syntax highlighting feature on a Synology NAS.

Install nano

In order to install nano, ipkg needs to be installed. If it isn’t, have a look at this previous article or go directly to the Synology forum.

Once ipkg is installed, simply run the following commands as root:

ipkg update
ipkg install nano

Now, nano is simply available from the command line.


Manage Crontab on Synology

By Jimmy Bonney | June 15, 2013

As we’ve seen before, Synology’s NAS offer a Linux distribution that can be enhanced with many applications. As all Linux distributions (at least as far as I can tell), it comes with cron which allows to easily schedule tasks that need to be run on a regular basis.

We’ve shown previously how to add a task to cron but I have noticed that some of the tasks that I set up were disappearing on reboot. The crontab file was simply containing the default entries and I had to add again my custom tasks after each reboot. As this doesn’t really happen so often, it is easy to forget about it meaning that if those tasks are supposed to run backups for instance, then you might end up in situation were your backups do not run for a while.


Fix Postfix SASL Authentication Failure

By Jimmy Bonney | June 9, 2013

I discussed recently how to install a minimal LAMP stack environment on a virtual server. The installation was based on TurnKey Linux Lamp distribution, which is based on Debian. However, I noticed some time ago that when trying to send emails through sendmail, nothing was sent out.

When looking through the mail logs (located at /var/log/mail.log), the recurring error was the following:

lamp postfix/smtp[2113]: warning: SASL authentication failure: No worthy mechs found

In order to fix that, it is necessary to install libsasl. Before you do that, you might want to empty the existing mail queue in order not to receive all pending mails once everything is set up properly. To do so, go to the webadmin interface or execute a postfix -f from a console or a SSH session in order to purge the queue from all existing mails.


Managing GitHub Gist with GistBox

By Jimmy Bonney | June 8, 2013

I’ve started to use GitHub Gist to store some of the code snippets that I share on this blog. The application website works well and does its job but it is quite minimalist and does not provide any advanced functions. It is not possible for instance to organize the snippets, nor search them.

Fortunately, a web application (and a Google Chrome application) have been developed to do just that. The service is called GistBox and the web application is available at while the chrome application can be installed from the webstore. It connects to GitHub to store all the gists and provide a nice interface allowing to:

  • search among existing gists,
  • provide labels to organize gists based on language or application they are related to for instance
  • copy function to copy the content of a gist to the clipboard


Export Tumblr Posts to nanoc

By Jimmy Bonney | June 8, 2013

I used to have a blog on Tumblr. I migrated there the content of an old web site back in 2009. It allowed me to keep the content available without having to maintain a server. But time has passed, visits on the Tumblr blog have been almost inexistent, and as I built this new personal site, I decided that it was time to perform some clean up and consolidation. I therefore spent a couple of hours to migrate the posts that were just lying down on Tumblr to this web site. And well, since Yahoo bought Tumblr not long ago, it will also allow me to ensure that I keep ownership on the content I wrote.

This blog is built with nanoc and all posts are written in markdown. Fortunately, some tools already exist to export Tumblr posts to markdown articles. First thing to do is install npm and pandoc:

sudo apt-get install npm
sudo apt-get install pandoc


Replacing Google Reader - 4 Alternatives

By Jimmy Bonney | May 31, 2013

Google announced earlier this year that they would shut down Google Reader as part of their spring cleanup on July 1st, 2013. Google Reader is a feed reader that had been adopted by a few millions users but the usage of the application has been declining for a while and instead of maintaining a costly application, they preferred to retire it. This came as a shock to many people but based on what I’ve been reading so far, a few applications raised to the challenge and users seems to have found their way around it… often for the best.

So, with one month left to migrate your data from Google, it is time to find out a viable alternative to Google Reader. In this article, I’ll present 4 alternative feed readers.


New Design

By Jimmy Bonney | May 26, 2013

I have just deployed a new version of the website. Gumby framework has been replaced by InK and the overall design has been somewhat simplified – less boxes, less borders, less colors… Design is responsive making it more accessible from mobile devices.

A few other things have been updated at the same time:

  • The front page provides only a summary of the latest article
  • Links to LinkedIn, G+, … have been moved to the footer
  • About page has been reviewed
  • Article layout