What’s New with the iPod Settlement

It looks like the class-action suit for iPod owners got final approval last week. The suit forces Apple to replace batteries in iPods which failed early in their use. For the full details on the suit check out the Apple iPod Settlement Administration website.

iPod users have until September 30, 2005 (or two years from original purchase if it is a third generation iPod) to place a claim. It is still unclear how the claims will be processed; will Apple ask folks to send in their iPods, will they send out special shipping boxes, will owners be able to take their iPods to local service people?

The claims are expected to cost Apple around $15 million, but as an owner of one of these iPods, I have to say this claim is legitimate. The battery in my iPod has been flakey since the day I bought it and in the past year has been nothing short of terrible.

Hopefully the sting of $15 million will encourage Apple to consider a user-replaceable battery in their next iPod. I can only imagine a large portion of that $15 million is the “Authorized Service” necessary to replace these.

For more on the claim check out these links:

Apple iPod Settlement Administration website
Article on settlement from appleinsider.com
Article from macsimumnews.com

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Cheap Track Lighting And More

Track LightsI have just finished installing track lighting in my basement. The project was fairly simple and I now have replaced what I believe is the last of the sketchy wiring that the previous owners put in.

I ordered all the track lights and track from direct-lighting.com and I am very pleased with their service and the quality of their product. The low-voltage halogen lights I picked up were only $9.95 and are of very good quality.

Before purchasing I had emailed their service asking if the lighting I was looking at needed a special dimmer. I received a prompt answer that I could use standard dimmers on any of their products.

I finally got around to placing an order on a Sunday afternoon and by end of business Monday I had an email with a UPS tracking number. It’s worth mention that I felt I was taking a risk with an unknown brand and vendor, but their prices are so good I wanted to give them a try.

It did take a week to get everything, UPS ground from California, but for less than $300 I got 40 feet of track, 10 fixtures, and all the connectors to put it together and attach it to my suspended ceiling.

Now, a week after I got the goods I have it all put together and I could not be happier. I now recommend direct-lighting.com to everyone who says they are doing a lighting project. Their product descriptions on their site could be a little more detailed, but their prices on fixtures, accessories and bulbs cannot be beat.

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Your Friday Evening Explosion

Battery ExplodingDon’t try this at home!

These guys took a lithium ion battery (you know, like we all have in our cell phones) and forced it so far into over-charge that it exploded!

Obviously any properly functioning charger on an undamaged battery would not cause this type of reaction. In fact, all lithium batteries have a charge limiter (either on the charger or battery) to protect the battery. For this demonstration the charge limiting was bypassed. Even with all the precautions they took it seems like it was a bigger explosion than expected.

This was set up with a radio controlled model airplane battery. Check out the video and be thankful for those charge limiter.

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Oracle Change Tables – An Example

Here is an example of how to create and use Oracle Change tables. This is part of what Oracle refers to as “change data capture” or CDC.

Oracle change tables allow you to capture what has changed in a specific table over a period of time. This can be useful if you are attempting to keep data updated with a source. Typically CDC is used as part of the “extract” process in an extract-transform-load procedure for loading a data warehouse.

There are many sties and articles on this topic that go into much more depth than I will here, however I have never found a fully functional demonstration of an entire CDC cycle.

Change table example code

For more information on change data capture I recommend Oracle’s Data Warehousing Guide. More on data warehousing in general can be found at Mark Rittman’s Oracle Weblog.

A new feature in Oracle 10g called ‘streams’ offers an alternative to this type of CDC, however I (and I’m sure many others) are still dealing with change tables on a regular basis.

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Search UNIX without the junk

If you have done much UNIX systems administration you have probably seen output like this from the ‘find’ command:

$ find / -name lifeaftercoffee.com
find: /proc/tty/driver: Permission denied
find: /proc/sys/kernel/pax: Permission denied
find: /proc/net: Permission denied
find: /proc/4680/fd: Permission denied
find: /usr/local/dh/apache/logs/basic-argon/fastcgi: Permission denied
find: /usr/local/dh/apache/logs/basic-bongo/fastcgi: Permission denied
find: /usr/local/dh/apache/logs/basic-cabo/fastcgi: Permission denied
find: /usr/local/dh/apache/logs/basic-dap/fastcgi: Permission denied
find: /usr/local/dh/apache/logs/basic-adamant/fastcgi: Permission denied
find: /usr/local/dh/apache/logs/basic-emu/fastcgi: Permission denied
find: /usr/local/dh/apache/logs/basic-fritz/fastcgi: Permission denied
find: /usr/local/dh/apache/logs/basic-grog/fastcgi: Permission denied

Annoying, to say the least, that your actual search results may be buried in pages upon pages of this.

Here’s a quick way around this. Redirect the error output to /dev/null (the black hole of data.) It’s as simple as appending ‘2>/dev/null’ to the end of the command.

$ find ./ -name lifeaftercoffee.com 2>/dev/null

Any errors are ignored, which can complicate troubleshooting, but if things aren’t doing what you want them to, just drop the redirect and run the command to see the errors again.

The command may vary depending on your shell and breed of UNIX, but this has always worked for me.

Easy Linux CommandsFor more tips like this check out my book Easy Linux Commands, only $19.95 from Rampant TechPress.

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