Forcing a SATA II HDD to work as SATA I

A few weekends ago, I advised my father-in-law, that buying a new SATA disk should work fine. Hours of blue-screen-of-death’s later, the BOIS did not see the disk,  but XP would boot then BSOD.

Everything I had read said SATA II disks should auto detect and run as SATA I mode if the controller was only SATA I, but this did not appear to work in this case.

David’s work IS guy took great glee in suggesting  ‘setting the jumpers’ verse my ‘flash the BOIS’ advise.

Turns out the 640GB Western Digital drive has a SATA I mode if you set the jumpers correctly.. and after many hours of googling through bad advise David finally found this WD Knowledge Base answer which says:


And it all then worked.
I tried this on my WD 320 GB hard drive, and the problems with booting I had for the last few years, have gone away. Yeah! I was lucky as this was in my Linux file server, so it was not rebooted often. Previously I’ve had to unplug the on-board Ethernet card before it would correctly put the seconds disk is SATA I mode, I also had to have the second disk in the primary SATA control  channel.

All solved now!

LinkedIn add Twitter dribble to RSS Feed

OMG, WTF, LinkedIn developers in their lack of vision have added support for Twitter into LinkedIn, thus turning it from a business network tool, into a Facebook style pile of dung.

I’m ok with that, but what I’m not cool about is them adding this dribble to my RSS feed about my network.

If I wanted Twitter dribble from my professional peers, I’d follow then on Twitter… where’s the opt-in/opt-out…



outliersI purchased Outliers while in America this year.

Funny book buying story: there was a 20% off sticker of the jacket, but no price tag. All books in New Zealand have a price sticker on the back, as they are the US or UK print runs shipped here. Thus I was looking for the price sticker, when it dawned on my that it might be the RRP.  I then had to search the book jacket for the RRP (it’s on the inside front cover). Felt a complete nob.

Anyway the book is good, I had read some reviews/out-takes that talked about the hockey/football teams, so I was hooked.

I found the rest of the book to be as insightful. The key idea being that success is not just the efforts of the successful, but also not completely up to fate, very much along the lines of: life is what we make of those chances we are presented. To be a true outlier you need both (fate and effort) to go your way in large doses.

It also showed once again that there is no get-rich quick, no magic formula. Just people becoming great via hard work.

Complex SVN repository conversion to GIT

When I converted our two Visual Source Safe (vss from now on) repositories into one Subversion (svn from now on) repository I did it in an ugly fashion. I dumped the file based history for the current live trees, then loaded these into svn one after the other. They both had their own root names, so I shuffled things around to make a single Trunk, Branch and Tags arrangement.

This did not matter at the time, as we had the history for the code we cared about, and you could do per-file blame, etc.

But when I tried to import this tree into Git, it was messy as the svn tree was not standard for all time, thus the default scripts didn’t know what to do with it.

The history timeline (names changed to protect the innocent, but revisions are not altered, otherwise I’d make editing mistakes)

  • Tree-A imported from vss (single branch) – rev 1 – 3163
  • Tree-B imported from vss (single branch) – rev 3164 – 5710
  • Rename of roots, Trunk, Branch etc – rev 5711 – 5713 (we want to skip this stuff)
  • Current Unified Tree (multiple branches) – 5714 – HEAD

1. Setup our repo

Create new directory

  • Run ‘git init‘ – this will create the git directory
  • Git by default is setup for unix text files since most projects using git on windows are unix based projects. Thus we want to turn off the auto crlf -> lf conversion. We do this by adding the following to the .git/config file:
    filemode = false
    symlinks = false
    autocrlf = false
    whitespace = nowarn

If on Windows, also add

ignorecase = true
  • Add the authors file (.git/authors), this maps from svn users to git users (full email address)
    (no author) = Simeon Pilgrim <>
    user1 = user one <>
    user2 = user two <>
    spilgrim = Simeon Pilgrim <>
  • Setup git svn to use the authers file by adding this to .git/config (otherwise we have to mention it every time we do a fetch with the git svn -A .git/authors …, which is a pain)
    authorsfile = .git/authors

2. Create three remotes for each of the three chunks.

  • Normally this would be done via git svn init, but doing it manually gives us more control.
  • Edit .git/config to add the three remotes


[svn-remote "Tree-A-Old"]
    url = svn://svn-server-url/repository
    fetch = Tree-A-RootName:refs/remotes/Tree-A-Old

[svn-remote "Tree-B-Old"]
    url = svn://svn-server-url/repository
    fetch = Tree-B-RootName:refs/remotes/Tree-B-Old

[svn-remote "svn"]
    url = svn://svn-server-url/repository
    fetch = Trunk:refs/remotes/svn/trunk
    branches = Branches/*:refs/remotes/svn/*
    tags = Tags/*:refs/remotes/svn/tags/*

This defines three svn-remotes, which we can fetch individually. The first two will fetch from svn://svn-server-url…/Tree-A-RootName or svn://svn…/Tree-B-RootName to the remote branches Tree-A-Old and Tree-B-Old. We fetch them by using ‘git svn fetch Tree-A-Old‘ and ‘git svn fetch Tree-B-Old‘. The last remote will fetch trunk from svn://svn…/Trunk to svn/trunk and all branches and tags from svn://nzc…/Branches and svn://nzc-…/Tags as git remote branches with the names svn/<Branch or Tag folder name>.

The former two can just be straight fetched without specifying a revision range (eg. ‘git svn fetch Tree-A-Old‘), but the last requires a range to be specified. This is for two reasons:

  • git svn fetch with branches and tags seems to check every revision up to the start point
  • We actually don’t want to grab the first few revisions after the svn merge as I was purely renaming/moving directories. Otherwise files will randomly disappear and then reappear a commit later in the middle of the history.

Thus to grab the recent svn history we run fetch as ‘git svn fetch -r 5714:HEAD svn

3. Merge the two old vss branches

We want to merge the two old vss histories together (in correct time order) so we replicate the svn merge in a nicer fashion.

  • First we check out one of the branches ‘git checkout -b merged Tree-B-Old‘. This creates a new local branch ‘merged‘ which is a copy of the remote ‘Tree-B-old’, since we can’t edit remote branches directly.
  • We then merge the Tree-A-Old remote branch into ‘merged‘ by running ‘git merge Tree-A-Old‘. This creates a merge commit (ie a commit with more than one parent). The message can be edited by using ‘git commit –amend‘ but the existing is probably fine.

4. Grafting the branches together

The next step is to graft the branches. Essentially we take the start point and force it to have the merge commit as a parent.

  • Note that since git stores the state of the tree at each commit rather than the diff from the parents, we can essentially tell it that a given commit has a different parent commit and it will handle it fine.
  • Add a graft entry to .git/info/grafts. The format of this file is a series of lines with $parent_id $child_id. We thus add an entry with $merged_head_id $trunk_base_id. To get the ids we can run ‘git log merged‘ and take the head/top commit id, and run git log ‘svn/trunk’ and take the root/bottom commit id.
  • This is a temporary graft (ie the link will only remain whilst the grafts file is there), which most tools should adhere to, but we want to make it permanent. We do this by running git-filter-branch on each of the svn branches by running ‘git filter-branch svn/trunk svn/v3.0 …

5. Get git-svn to use the new remote branches

  • git-svn adds an entry of the form git-svn-id: svn://svn…/Trunk@40403 <UUID of svn serv> to each commit. It uses this to rebuild its cache in the event of corruption.
  • To force git-svn to use the new branches is quite easy. Remove the folder .git/svn and rerun ‘git svn fetch svn‘. git-svn will then rebuild its cache and start from where we left off.

B1. Cleaning history

The history can also be imported directly from a local copy of the svn data. This makes the svn import much faster, but the commits need some post cleanup for git-svn to sync up with the real svn server. Specifically the git-svn-id entries will come out as follows:

git-svn-id: file:///home/james/src/repo/Tree-A-Rootname@3161 1923097a-7eed-ce49-a323-f810e19527ea

but we need it in the form of:

git-svn-id: svn://svn-server-url/repository/Tree-A-Rootname@3161 1923097a-7eed-ce49-a323-f810e19527ea

This is where we use the git filter-branch command again. In particular its –msg-filter argument which takes a chunk of bash script that is run for every commit message with the current message given on stdin and the new message on stdout. In this case we use it as follows:

git filter-branch --msg-filter "sed -e 's#file:///home/james/src/#svn://svn-server-url/#g' " -f svn-trunk/trunk svn-trunk/v3.1 svn-trunk/v3.2 svn-trunk/v3.3 svn-trunk/v4.0

The other arguments given here are -f which forces filter-branch to run even if they are backups of previous filters (also seems to be needed on windows) and the names of the branches to be updated.

In my particular case I was also running an email/address fixup with the entire command being:

git filter-branch --msg-filter "sed -e 's#file:///home/james/src/#svn://svn-server-url/#g'" --env-filter 'export GIT_AUTHOR_NAME="$(echo $GIT_AUTHOR_NAME | sed -f /c/SG/authors)";export GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL="$(echo $GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL | sed -f /c/SG/emails)"' -f svn-trunk/trunk svn-trunk/v3.1 svn-trunk/v3.2 svn-trunk/v3.3 svn-trunk/v4.0

The env-filter lets you change environmental variables in this case GIT_AUTHOR_NAME and GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL, which I updated using two sed scripts.

The contents of /c/SG/authors was:

s#^.*no author.*#Simeon Pilgrim#gi
s#user1#User One#gi
s#user2#User Two#gi
s#spilgrim#Simeon Pilgrim#gi

And /c/SG/emails:

s#^.*no author.*

This post was written by James, thus the /home/james/ paths, I just generalised the grammar, and removed work-place specific information.

Nant xmlpoke whole blocks

It took me awhile today to use the nant/xmlpoke/xpath to update our copyright message in our application so I’ll document it here.

The xmlpoke documentation explains whole to replace parameters but not children nodes. The simple answer is just define the parent in the xpath.

Thus to update/repalce the copyright string to have the correct current year, in a  resource file (strings.resx) which looks like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
  <!-- other stuff -->
  <data name="About_Copyright" xml:space="preserve">
    <value>Copyright © 2008-2009 Company Name.</value>
  <!-- more stuff -->

You would want use this xmlpoke/xpath

xpath="/root/data[@name = 'About_Copyright']/value"
value="Copyright © 2008-${datetime::get-year(datetime::now())} Company Name." />

Simple really (the xpath), but until I got it, it wasn’t.