Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

first day at the new office

Today we got the keys (and implements :)) to establish ourselves in our own corner of Dublin's Digital Depot, located within the Digital Hub, which also houses Media Lab Europe. Yes, going by names alone this would seem to be quite the hip location. :)

Here are some pictures I took of the offices. There aren't that many of our space (actually I appear to have a certain fixation with my own desk!). I did take a couple but they were out of focus so I didn't include them. We spent the afternoon rearranging the desks and so on. When I was getting back home I realized we should have taken pictures of the place before we got it ready. Oh well. I suppose we can always spend a day messing it up, taking pictures and then putting it back together. :)

Technically the first day was yesterday, but not all the legalities were finished and we just used one of the meeting rooms and couldn't set up the offices.

The phones we got installed are Cisco IP phones: they connect through Ethernet and have an Ethernet-100 output that gives us Internet access on each desk (from the phone!). I babble about the phone because this is the first desk phone that I've used that has its own IP address, network config, DNS setup, :)), ringtones like mobiles, LDAP directory integration (!), updatable firmware, and the first one for which I've found an online tutorial (!). Very cool. (And maybe I'm wrong, but I think those are the phones they use at the fictional CTU in the series 24, which I've always liked). Anyway, not that the cables are that important, once we finished arranging the space it was about 5 minutes before I set up an 802.11g router.

The place is great, and since it is an incubator of sorts, there are a bunch of other cool companies like Havok. Our nearest "neighbor" is Kavaleer which does animation.

Anyway. It's been one of those days were you feel the change. We were talking with Paul about yesterday's meeting and he said "It feels like it was a week ago, doesn't it?", and it was true. I didn't want to leave :) but since we haven't received the machines yet there wasn't much I could do there (the laptop is good for some things, but can't handle all I need for full development). If I'm not very responsive to email (or IM, or whatever), this is why; just keep badgering me :). We've got so many things planned for the next few of weeks that it's a bit overwhelming, but that's how it is.

In case you missed the link above, one more time: here are the pictures.

:-) :-) :-)

Categories: clevercactus
Posted by diego on February 11, 2004 at 8:08 PM

digital music and subculture

An interesting paper by Sean Ebare on:

[...] a new approach for the study of online music sharing communities, drawing from popular music studies and cyberethnography. I describe how issues familiar to popular music scholars — identity and difference, subculture and genre hybridity, and the political economy of technology and music production and consumption — find homologues in the dynamics of online communication, centering around issues of anonymity and trust, identity experimentation, and online communication as a form of "productive consumption." Subculture is viewed as an entry point into the analysis of online media sharing, in light of the user–driven, interactive experience of online culture. An understanding of the "user–driven" dynamics of music audience subcultures is an invaluable tool in not only forecasting the future of online music consumption patterns, but in understanding other online social dynamics as well.
While focused on music, there are interesting ideas for the area of sharing in general.

Some comments: anonymity, in my opinion, is a big factor in the (exploitable, see also here) power-law behavior of virtual communities (alluded to but not explicitly mentioned in the paper with the "citizen/leech" concept among other things), and it also affects group dynamics, even, possibly, affecting producer/consumer dynamics. The fact that these networks are anonymous is almost implicit in the paper, I find it interesting that it is often taken as an axiom. Additionally, the perceived "safety" (also mentioned in the paper) given by anonymity is mostly mirage: in most cases the only thing you are achieving is partial hiding (Networks like Freenet are a different matter in this sense), and the possibility that the content might be manipulated (remember this?) or used as a trojan for something else (read: ads, viruses...) is very real and yet barely considered. These networks create a parallel universe that requires people to engage in behavior like that described in the paper, since your "identity" has to be created from the ground up. Forget music: even types of content sharing that are not in dispute are generally of this type. So what are we missing?

I think that advances in this sense will be seen in the mixing of meatspace trust/knowledge relationships with the ability to share/utilize the network, and in fact feed back into it. Cyperspace and meatspace complementing each other, not moving in parallel universes.

Categories: science
Posted by diego on February 11, 2004 at 10:35 AM

configuring apache 2 + tomcat 5 + mysql + jdbc access on linux and windows

Heh. That title took almost as long to write as it took to complete the configuration. :)

I spent some time today preparing the basics for webapp development and runtime. The "basics" include:

Update (Jan 26, 2005): I've posted some new information related to the tomcat config for versions higher than 5.0.18.
To make sure I understood the differences across environments, I configured the system in parallel on both a Linux Red Hat 9 machine and a Windows XP machine. Before I begin with describing the steps I took to configure it, I want to thank Erik for his help in finding/building the right packages and distributions, particularly on the Linux side of things. It would have taken a lot longer without it.

So here are the steps I took to get it up and running...


The installation of Apache is pretty straightforward, both for Linux and Windows. Red Hat 9 usually includes Apache "out of the box" so there's one less step to go through. When in doubt, the Apache docs usually fill in the picture (documentation for 2.0 has improved a lot with respect to 1.3.x).


Here's where things got interesting. The last time I used Tomcat was when 4.0 was about to be released, and I had switched over to the dev tree for 4 since 3.x had serious scalability problems. There are tons of new things in the package, but the basic configuration doesn't need most of them. Installing Tomcat itself is in fact also quite straightforward (Again, the docs are quite complete), but it's when you want it to access it through Apache that things get a little more complicated.

Apache + Tomcat: The Fun Begins

To access Tomcat through a Apache you need a connector. Tomcat has connectors for both Apache and IIS, but the problem is that doesn't include RPMs (and in some cases) binaries. The connector that I wanted to use was JK2, but binaries for RH9 where not available (I got the Windows binaries from there though). So. I first tried downloading the package supplied at (which is a really handy resource for Java stuff on Linux) but after a few tries (both getting the binaries and rebuilding from the source RPMS, including having to install most of the dev stuff which still wasn't in the server) it wasn't working. Most probable reason for this was that these packages are actually being done for Fedora, not RH9.... it's amazing that Fedora hasn't officially taken over and already we've got compatibility problems. Finally Erik pointed me to this page at where I could actually get the binary RPMs directly and install it. So far so good. Now for the configuration.

Configuring the connector is not really that complicated, and it worked on the first try. The steps are as follows ("APACHE_DIR" is Apache's installation directory, and "TOMCAT_DIR" is Tomcat's install dir):

  1. Go to TOMCAT_DIR/conf and edit the file, adding the following line:
    (This is just because I chose to use a port other than the default).
  2. In the same directory, open server.xml and look for the "non-SSL Coyote HTTP/1.1 Connector". This is the standard Tomcat-only connector and comment it out since we'll be using Apache for handling HTTP requests. In the same file, look for a commented line that says "<Context path="" docBase="ROOT" debug="0">". Right after that line, add the following Context path:
    <Context path="" docBase="APACHE_DIR/htdocs" debug="0" reloadable="true" crossContext="true"/>
    Btw, htdocs is the standard Apache root document dir, you will need to change that if you have moved it to another location.
  3. Now go to the APACHE_DIR/conf directory. There, create a file, with the following contents:

    # socket channel

    # worker for the connector

    Note that the port matches that defined in server.xml above for Tomcat.
  4. Copy the module file into APACHE_DIR/modules (for Windows this will be something of the form mod_jk2*.dll and for linux mod_jk2*.so).
  5. Edit the file APACHE_DIR/conf/httpd.conf and add the following lines at the end of the list of modules loaded into Apache:
    LoadModule jk2_module modules/MODULE_FILE_NAME

    <Location "/*.jsp">
    JkUriSet worker ajp13:localhost:8009

    <Location "/mywebapp">
    JkUriSet worker ajp13:localhost:8009

    The "mywebapp" reference points to a directory that will be handled by Tomcat, you can add as many mappings/file types as you need to be handled by the connector.
And we're set! You can now drop a simple test.jsp file into the Apache document root, something like this:
<H1><%= " Tomcat works!" %></h1><%= "at " + java.util.Calendar.getInstance().getTime() %>
And then access it simply with


Before moving on to configuring database pools on Tomcat and so on, it's a good idea to test JDBC in an isolated environment. This is easy. First, get the MySQL Control Center application to create a test user and database/table to prepare the environment. This app is quite complete, and multiplatform to boot (Erik also mentioned Navicat as an app with similar functionality but better UI for Mac OS). For this test I created a a database called testdb and a single table in it, called user. I added three fields to the table: name (varchar), password (varchar) and id (int). I also created a test user (username=test, password=testpwd). Note that the user has to be allowed access from the host that you'll be running the test on, typically localhost, as well as permissions on the database that you'll be using (in this case, testdb).

Once the db is ready, you can get MySQL's JDBC driver, Connector/J, from this page. After adding it to the classpath, you should be able to both compile and run the following simple JDBC test app:

import java.sql.*;

public class TestSQL {

    public static void main(String[] s)
        try {
            Connection conn = null;
            String dbUrl = "jdbc:mysql://localhost/testdb?user=test&password=testpwd";
            //fields are name (String), password (String) and ID (int)
            conn = DriverManager.getConnection(dbUrl);
            String statement = "INSERT INTO user (name, password, id) VALUES ('usr1', 'pwd1', '1')";
            Statement stmt = conn.createStatement();
            boolean res = stmt.execute(statement);
            String query = "SELECT * FROM user";
            ResultSet st = stmt.executeQuery(query);
            while ( {
                String name = st.getString("name");
                String pwd = st.getString("password");
                String id = st.getString("id");
                System.err.println("Query result="+name+"/"+pwd+"/"+id);

            if (stmt != null) {

            if (conn != null) {
        } catch (Exception e) {

Which, when executed, should print Query result: usr1/pwd1/1.

Using JDBC/MySQL from Tomcat

Once JDBC and MySQL are up and running, we can move to the final step, namelyl, access the MySQL database through JDBC from Tomcat. For this I used the guide provided here within the Tomcat docs. For completeness (and to maintain the context of this example), the following are the steps required to set up the JNDI reference to the connection pool (managed from code built into Tomcat that uses the Apache Commons Pool library among other things):

  1. Copy the JDBC driver JAR file into TOMCAT_DIR/common/lib
  2. Edit TOMCAT_DIR/conf/server.xml and after the Context tag for the root dir (added at the beginning) add the following:
    <Context path="/testdb" docBase="APACHE_DIR/htdocs/testdb"
            debug="5" reloadable="true" crossContext="true">

      <Logger className="org.apache.catalina.logger.FileLogger"
                 prefix="localhost_DBTest_log." suffix=".txt"

      <Resource name="jdbc/TestDB"

      <ResourceParams name="jdbc/TestDB">

        <!-- Maximum number of dB connections in pool. Make sure you
             configure your mysqld max_connections large enough to handle
             all of your db connections. Set to 0 for no limit.

        <!-- Maximum number of idle dB connections to retain in pool.
             Set to 0 for no limit.

        <!-- Maximum time to wait for a dB connection to become available
             in ms, in this example 10 seconds. An Exception is thrown if
             this timeout is exceeded.  Set to -1 to wait indefinitely.

        <!-- MySQL dB username and password for dB connections  -->

        <!-- Class name for mm.mysql JDBC driver -->

        <!-- The JDBC connection url for connecting to your MySQL dB.
             The autoReconnect=true argument to the url makes sure that the
             mm.mysql JDBC Driver will automatically reconnect if mysqld closed the
             connection.  mysqld by default closes idle connections after 8 hours.

    This sets up the JNDI resource and paths.
  3. Now edit TOMCAT_DIR/conf/web.xml and add the following after the default servlet:
          <description>DB Connection</description>
    Finally, compile and package into a JAR the following java file (
    import javax.naming.*;
    import javax.sql.*;
    import java.sql.*;

    public class TestSQLLoad
     String user = "Not Connected";
     String pwd = "no pwd";
     int id = -1;
     public void init() {
       Context ctx = new InitialContext();
       if(ctx == null ) {
        throw new Exception("Boom - No Context");

       DataSource ds = (DataSource)ctx.lookup("java:comp/env/jdbc/TestDB");

       if (ds != null) {
        Connection conn = ds.getConnection();
        if(conn != null) {
         user = "Got Connection "+conn.toString();
         Statement stmt = conn.createStatement();
         String q = "select name, password, id from user";
         ResultSet rst = stmt.executeQuery(q);
         if( {
          id = rst.getInt(3);
      }catch(Exception e) {

     public String getUser() {
      return user;
     public String getPassword() {
      return pwd;
     public int getID()
      return id;

  4. Once you've got the JAR ready, drop it into TOMCAT_DIR/common/lib as well.
    Important note: Normally we would configure the JNDI resources and drop the JAR file into an independent web application, but I am placing it into the default web app and dropping everything into common/lib (not a good idea in general, except for the JDBC driver's library) to simplify the example. Quick and dirty, and yes, maybe a bit too dirty, but it's better not to be configuring a web app at the same time; all we need to know is that the JDBC driver, the JNDI reference, and the pool work properly.
  5. We're almost ready. Now create a directory testdb under APACHE_DIR/htdocs (or whatever your Apache document root is) and create a file test-db.jsp with the following contents:
        <title>DB Test</title>

        TestSQLLoad tst = new TestSQLLoad();

        User <%= tst.getUser() %><br/>
        Pwd <%= tst.getPassword() %><br/>
        Id <%= tst.getID() %>


    You should now be able to access it through the following URL:
And that's it! Phew!

Apache, Tomcat and MySQL are ready to go. Hope this helps, and as usual, comments/questions are welcome.

Posted by diego on February 11, 2004 at 12:16 AM

Copyright © Diego Doval 2002-2011.