How to fix RMI startup problem with GoldenFrog Mimo 1

Just a quick fix if you happen to be using Mimo with Giganews, which by the way, is the BEST Usenet provider in the known universe. I ran into a problem where Mimo wouldn’t start. The splash screen hung at “Registering RMI Server” and then eventually just closed down. No logs. Nothing in the console.

Support didn’t know what to do so I just guessed and added this to the startup arguments “-noRMI”. It worked!

On a Mac, you can do this:

sudo /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c 'Add :Java:Arguments string "-noRmi"' /Applications/

On Windows you will probably need to modify the shortcut or find a batch file to launch Mimo. I don’t have Windows so I can’t help you there.

Update 2014-02-20: Found this on their change log for an OLD version:

“Add a -noRmi option for Mimo startup”

Planning Center Song Sync 5

If you’ve been following me on Twitter (@javierplumey), you know that I am working on a new web app that will sync song arrangements from Planning Center Online (PCO) to a Dropbox folder.


I love PCO–it helps me manage my small team of worship musicians at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Ellicott City, MD. And it also maintains my growing database of songs. I remember back in the day when I used to lead music at San Isidro in Pompano Beach, Fl I used to have a very large binder that weighed about as much as a California Redwood. These days, with PCO as a central database for my songs and apps such as OnSong and forScore, I can keep everything on my iPad.

The issue is that there is no way to sync the chord charts and lyrics in Planning Center with the excellent OnSong music app on iOS. It doesn’t have a direct link with PCO (yet) so users must copy and paste out of the PCO web site and into text files which can then be synced into OnSong. I decided I would write a tool to perform this sync operation since it would save me a lot of time and keep my offline OnSong database up to date with the latest version of the chords for any song/arrangement combination in Planning Center.

I have worked out most of the code and am now putting on the final touches and integrating test scripts. I can currently sync all arrangements to my Dropbox folder. The sync is smart so that it only updates the files for the arrangements that have changed since the last sync. The sync will occur every hour unless you manually choose the sync option on the web site.

Here’s an example of a file created by the song process:
Example chordpro file created by the app.

Please fill out this form if you’re interested in being a part of the beta testing. The site will be completely free.

Please follow me on Twitter if you want up-to-the-minute updates on the progress.

How to quickly download every presentation from IBM IOD 2013

Did you attend the IBM Information OnDemand Conference this year? Talk about Big Data! The sheer number of presentations and material covered was way too much for a mere four days. IBM has made available to download many, if not most, of the presentations from the conference. You can go here to find the ones you want and download them manually.

Through the power of the command line (or a good Download Manager) you can get every presentation from IOD with a single command (and a very fast connection).

Here is a file that contains every presentation available to download as of 2013-11-19.

If you’re a command line nerd like me, you can download the file above to your system and use the following command line:
wget -i . wget will then download every presentation. Be sure to check out the wget man page ( for ways to control retries, etc.

Here are links to the list of every presentation available, broken down by component.

Have fun downloading and reading!

Find any photo from the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day Library

I just discovered this fantastic search engine for the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day library. It’s written by Stuart who runs the @apod twitter account and blogs at Stuart chronicles why he wrote the search engine (spoiler: government shutdown) and goes a bit into some of the technical work to make it happen. He’s also the man behind this excellent Virtual Sky HTML5 Planetarium. If you’re an astronomy nerd, Stuarts’s web site ought to get your heart rate going.

I’m currently in the tail end of a writing project and I’ve used the APOD search to get photo inspiration, descriptive support of astronomical objects in my story, and sadly, to procrastinate while dealing with writer’s block. It’s a great tool. Go check it out.

3 options for documenting your story’s universe

** Update 2013-10-25 to include nValt

You’ve spent months and months developing the backstory, characters, and places for your story. You’ve obsessed over every detail. For instance you know that your main character loves pizza with anchovies but only on Tuesday and only when he’s eating at home. You’ve designed a planet where the terraforming process has left the swamps smelling like flatulence and the natives looking like glow-in-the-dark bobble heads.

But now that you’re deep in your writing you need to remember those details so that you don’t send your hero running in the nausea-inducing forest of your terraformed planet without a gas mask. Where do you look? How are you storing this massive Tolkien-ish universe you’ve built? Should you? Yes! Documenting your created universe so that you always have a place to reference your characters and settings.

I’m in the middle of writing a science fiction story for kids and I’m struggling with the same question.  Here are my list of requirements:

  1. I need a way to create relationships between items. If a character lives on a terraformed planet I should be able to link the character to the planet bidirectionally and list all of the characters of importance that also live on that planet.
  2.  I need a way to search across all items. This is a no-brainer. I remember vaguely that one of my characters had an obsession with peanut butter. But which one?
  3. I need to update my universe at any time no matter where I am. Like many of us, I’m on the go quite a bit. So access to from my iPad, browser, and even in some offline capacity would be very useful.
  4. I need to eventually share my universe with a publisher/agent and with the public. Why would I want to expose my universe to the outside world? Because I eventually want to get published. Any tool that conveys the depth of my story will help me to get published (so I hope). Plus, I would love to eventually let fans explore the universe on their own and maybe even contribute to it based on what they’ve read in the book(s).
  5. I need to display images, video, and audio. I document my universe using diagrams, photos, video clips, and even audio clippings (mostly from my commute to work). These content types should all be viewable within the library.
  6. I need to reference the library no matter where I am. This is the one requirement that is seemingly at odds with #3 and #4 above. I might need access while on a plane or while sitting at my son’s basketball practice where there’s no signal.

Option #1 – Build an actual Wiki

Wikis have been around for a long time. They’re easy to edit and many of the newer wiki types let you embed video and audio. Creating links between documents is easy. Users can edit wikis themselves and you can even mark some hosted wikis as private if the wiki provider offers that feature. The problem with most wikis is that there is no offline access to them with the option to synch up changes you’ve made while offline. I looked at Flying Meat’s VoodooPad  and it comes close. It offers a Web Export option that creates static HTML pages for your entire wiki. They even offer an iOS client that lets you edit files on the go if you use Dropbox to store your VooDooPad file. The software costs $40 but they do offer a free trial. I’m currently evaluating this solution. My main question as of now is whether or not you can sync the entire wiki offline on the iOS client for viewing offline.

Option #2 – Evernote

If you’re into information management you’ve already heard of Evernote. It’s the uber note taking and digital collection platform that runs on the web, desktop, and mobile devices. I created an Evernote notebook and created notes for various characters. Then I linked them together by creating an index note with links to the individual notes. The process is cumbersome. Dragging and dropping on the desktop is easy, but editing the links between notes on their mobile devices is difficult. I did find some handy AppleScript code to automate this but it didn’t work well and resulted in even more work for me.

Evernote will let you share your notebooks to individuals or to the entire web using a Public Link. Here’s an example of this. Notice the lack of any real organization, sorting, and hierarchy. If you have a Premium account you can sync the notes and notebooks offline to your devices. Sharing the notebook to the world is easy, but editing requires an Evernote account and explicitly granting permissions to the editor. This might be fine if you’re working with an agent/publisher/editor but not ideal for the public.

If you’re already using Evernote to keep track of your universe while you’re writing, this option might be a natural progression.

So these are just two options that I’m currently playing with. Are you a writer? Do you have similar requirements? What do you do? Please let me know in the comments.

 Option #3 – nValt

nValt is a simple yet powerful note-taking software that allows you to create simple text notes using your keyboard. I like it because you can very quickly create new documents that link to each other. Just start typing a title, hit Enter and you have a text file. Once in you’re in your text file, put something in brackets like this: [[Characters]], and nValt turns that into a link. Click the link, hit Enter, and you have your Characters document. No, it doesn’t export easily and it doesn’t support images or videos, but it has the option to save each note as a file which you can sync with Dropbox and thus edit on any device you want. I wish I could create notes and links this easily in Evernote. If you don’t need images or video or any kind of rich text (although nValt does support Markdown), this might be a lightning-fast way to get your universe documented.