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Showing posts from May, 2014

Win-Win: Employer Branding and Corporate Social Responsibility

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Does your company care about employer branding? Probably yes.

Does your company care about corporate social responsibility? Probably yes.

Does your company combine these two to create a win-win situation? Most likely not!

Take my employer ImmobilienScout24 as a typical example: The about us page mentiones that ImmobilienScout24 is a great place to work (4th in our region) and the CSR team talks about the social engagement, e.g. blood donations or the social day where all employees donate their work time to non-profit organizations.

However, there is no obvious connection between these two things.

I would like to suggest a simple way how to combine both employer branding and corporate social responsibility:

A company should make it a priority to support charitable organizations and social projects related to their own employees.

Examples:
Sponsor non-profit organizations or neighborhood/community projects that employees are involved with.On social day, go to schools and kindergartens wh…

Adding Custom Menus for Linux Desktops

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The "Start Menu" of a Linux Desktop usually comes with a predefined set of categories that make up the sub menus. If you have a lot of custom applications then you might want to group them under a dedicated sub menu instead of having them spread out over all the menu categories.

Adding sub menus and new categories on Linux Desktops is defined in the Desktop Menu Specification in Appendix C. It turns out that it is really simple and the following example from ImmobilienScout24 can serve as a base for your own custom menu.

You will need the following parts:
A Desktop file using a custom categoryA Directory file defining the icon and description for the new sub menuThe icon for the sub menuAn XML file describing how to integrate the new sub menu into the menu structure and which categories of Desktop files to show in the new menu The Desktop file describes the menu entry, in this example the VPN client:
The important part here is the Categories entry which specifies a generic …

Simple Video Presentation with Raspberry Pi

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Playing videos in an endless loop is a common problem:
Product demos at a trade show or fairInfomercials in a public place or foyerBackground fun at a party... When I faced this problem at the last LinuxTag we did not want to take a full blown computer with us but make do with a Raspberry Pi. The question was how to turn the Pi into a simple video player with a minimum amount of fuss.
The solution is simple and elegant: Install OpenELEC (an Kodi distribution) on a SD cardBoot it up once in the Pi to initialize the storage partitionAdd the following file in the storage partition as .kodi/userdata/autoexec.py
Add any amount of multimedia files in the storage partition under videos/Boot up the Pi and enjoy your videos You can also interrupt the playback and use OpenELEC normally. To go back to the automatic playback simply reboot the system.

And here is our booth with the demo videos in front:

Update 2016-05-13: Adjust for Kodi instead of XBMC. Everything else works as before.

Simple file patching with sed

Patching configuration files is like the bread-and-butter job of every configuration management. In our package-based deployment world we try to minimize the patching to the absolute minimum, usually to "enable" modularized configuration patterns.

The best example is the Apache Webserver, where we have a wrapper RPM package with a %post script that simply replaces (and not patches) the upstream configuration with a few include lines:

Sadly there is still a lot of software that does not support includes in its configuration. For these we of course have to patch the existing configuration and use this short and simple config patcher in our RPM %post scripts, for example like this for sshd_config:

The trick of this snippet is that in the end the changed parts are always at the top of the file. It is also important to always embed some information about the cause of the patch so that one can easily find out who or what is reponsible for the file. The %-variables are filled in …