Harry Seldon's blog

Fractals, Chaos, and Control Systems on Rails


iPhone or iPad synchronization with iTunes, iCloud and Outlook

Posted by Harry Seldon on November 10, 2011

Since I had installed iOS5, when syncing my iPhone with iTunes and Outlook on Windows, I got the error message :
“Unable to retrieve conflict information from sync server. Please try again next time conflict resolver window is presented”
or in French:
“Impossible d’obtenir les informations sur les conflits depuis le serveur de synchronisation. Veuillez réessayer à la prochaine présentation de la fenêtre de résolution des conflits.”

You may have this message because you have activated iCloud on the iPhone, on iTunes, but not on Windows. To solve this you need the iCloud Control Panel for Windows :
Search for iCloud in the Windows search bar. If you don’t have it, you can download it here.
Launch the iCloud program and simply enter you iCloud login / password. Select what you want to synchronize with iCloud (Mail, Contact, Calendars, bookmarks or pictures flow). Apply. Then go back to itunes and sync your iphone or iPad. It should work better but prepare to have some duplicates in your calendars or contacts.

If you have too many duplicates, for instance for your contacts, first make sure you have a backup of your contacts, a backup independent from iTunes. Then one option is to turn off iCloud / Contacts, to delete the iCloud contacts, then to synchronize and finally you reactivate iCloud / contacts and you resynchronize.

One more thing, don’t forget you can directly check what is on iCloud by going to https://www.icloud.com/.

I hope it helped.



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Need a Google Wave invite? Just add a (nice) comment

Posted by Harry Seldon on November 29, 2009

I have got 8 remaining invites for Google Wave. If you want one, just add a (nice) comment below with your email in the email field (not in the comment itself). I will invite you from Google Wave, asap. It will take a day or two before you receive an email from Google that will give you the actual access to Wave.

Once you are surfing the wave, remember, to search for public waves, use this query: with:public. To search for French public waves, use with:public tag:fr.

If you want to create a public wave:

  • Add public@a.gwave.com to your contact list (press enter even if it tells you the user does not exist)
  • Create a wave and add this contact.

Enjoy Wave.

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Why I love Twitter (and sometimes hate it)

Posted by Harry Seldon on June 14, 2009


I have been using Twitter only for a couple of months and I love it. Here is why.

The twittosphere is a thinkosphere

A tweet pretends to be an answer to the question “what are you doing?”. But clearly people answer the questions “What are you thinking about?”. For instance they post a link to an article they are reading, they post a link to a blog post they wrote. They tell you what they like or dislike.
At some point people were indeed telling what they were doing. A lot of tweets as fascinating as “I am eating an apple” or “I am going to brush my teeth” were made. But, as you guess, this quickly bored people and so they started elevating the debate, by speaking about technology, politics, news etc.
So Twitter is a set of thoughts. It is a sphere of thoughts, it is a … thinkosphere. I have been (slowly) developing a website called ThinkoSphere for a few years now. So you see why I can only love Twitter. For those who wonder, I’ll come back in a future post on the main similarities and differences between ThinkoSphere and Twitter. Twitter is called a microblogging application. Well, a micropost for a blog is nothing else than a thought. A tweet is a “Quantum of thought”, taking the expression from this very good article: The Future of Social Media: Is a Tweet the New Size of a Thought? by Wired.

Twitter is sending digital real time signals

Twitter is real time, you get a news as soon as it happens, you get someone’s thought as soon as it is formulated. Twitter sends Signals (or stream or flow) because the set of thoughts is not static, you can easily process it (like in Digital Signal Processing) or filter it. For instance you can make a search on a keyword, AF447 for instance. Thus you are filtering all the tweets for this word. Using the advanced search you can also filter for the language and a couple of other parameters. Twitter is about signals because their digital public interface (API) is very well done so you can generate automatically a tweet for instance from a blog post (eg using twitterfeed) or from a social bookmarking application. You can also export your twitter stream to your blog (you can see mine live on the right sidebar of this blog).
Thanks to CNN and others, live news has existed for a while but with twitter it has become digital. That is to say it is directly accessible to your computer. A tweet is often accompanied by a link and this link can de directly clicked. If you hear a news on CNN and want more information, you need to go to your pc, make a search and then follow the link. Quite a long process for a young person in the XXIst century! CNN has quickly understood the interest of twitter so they got rapidly an account and it is now the second most followed account. Do not ask me who is the first one I have never heard of that guy except for twitter related questions.
Real time is so fashionnable and important that it is going to be the theme of Techcrunch CrunchUp and Le Web conferences this year.

Twitter uses Telepathy

Do you know that telepathy exists? Twitter invented it. This is important. I actually think that this point is the one that explains the success of Twitter. It is the secret of Twitter! When you think or say to a friend “Techcrunch is a great blog” or “I love Twitter” Techcrunch or Twitter will never know you thought about them. Even if you publish a post, they won’t know you spoke about them so kindly, unless you send them so much traffic they notice it or unless you use trackbacks. With Twitter, telepathy is possible. You tweet your thought, that is you write “@Techcrunch is a great blog” and here you are. Because of the simple @, Techcrunch received a “reply” and thus they are aware you spoke about them. Preceding a word with a # also allows you to point out this word for the hashtags service.

By the way this gives me the idea that it could be interesting to make a generalized trackback system where each time you mention someone (and not only an article) in a blog post it sends a ping on a special page of the person’s blog, a “they speak about me” page for instance.

Twitter is about making new friends

You often make new friends by talking to people with whom you share some common interests. It is the same on twitter and it is more pronounced than on Facebook. On Facebook you are more or less supposed to add as friend people you already know. You are also supposed to use some real name. It is not the case on Twitter, you have a pseudo and you can follow who you want, in general the reason is based on some common interest you share with the other twitterer.

Twitter is a really easy stream aggregation service

You probably already read a bunch of RSS streams (1), with Twitter you can blend all the rss streams in one chronologically ordered stream.

A few things I hate

Let’s see now the things I hate about Twitter.

Website is very poor

On the twitter website you cannot make groups, you cannot manage several accounts. You are limited to 10 searches. You cannot have a multi column display. To have all these things working you need a twitter client. There are a bunch of them:

  • TweetDeck The one I prefer for its simplicity, its interface, its fastness.
  • Twhirl very useful when you want to deal with several accounts simultaneously but maintaining a strict separation between accounts.
  • Seesmic Desktop is good to merge several Twitter accounts and also Facebook accounts. The interface looks good but the client is still in beta. And for some reasons it is slow and buggy (2) on my Linux 64 bits. It will be a must once it is possible to manage separately several accounts and once it is faster. That is when Twhirl and Seesmic Desktop will be merged. Indeed both are made by Seesmic.
  • Statuzer There is a promising conversation view.
  • DestroyTwitter and Spaz: Simple twitter clients.

Way of Managing groups is awkward

It is very easy to manage searches but I have not found very easy ways to manage groups of people you follow: On TweetDeck you can easily add people to a group. Starting from a group you have a list of people you want to add to that group. But you cannot easily add a person to several groups. Starting from a person there is no option to add it to groups. On Seesmic Desktop it is exactly the opposite! Groups do not exist on Twitter so you must recreate them for each client you use. Obviously nobody will do that. So I am still waiting for an awesome Twitter client.

Twitter website is often deadly slow

Obviously they never anticipated their success. So they are “following” their success. They need to improve their infrastructure.

There is no advanced filtering

It is not easy to filter search results by language. In clients you can’t. The only thing you can do is using Twitter advanced search. You cannot subscribe to the tweets of someone, filtered by language. For instance if someone tweets in English and French you cannot only get the English Tweet. That is why I created 2 accounts one in English and one in French.

Dealing with several accounts is a pain

It is a pain even with Twhirl or Seesmic Desktop because you often need to go to the website (for advanced search for instance) and the website does not allow you to be connected with several accounts on several pages (like too many websites by the way, this is due to the web session management by cookies…).
I would have preferred to have one account and having people able to follow only my French tweets or English tweets or both.


Twitter is awfully spammed. It is the new heaven for spammers. Fortunately Topify helps you quickly knowing if a new follower is a spammer. But it is not yet a full antispam. I would like to have a software preventing spammers to follow me based on word analysis or simply based on a black list.

Twitter is a time sinkhole

You can spend hours on Twitter, not even noticing it. One reason is because there is no night on twitter. At any time you can find interesting people chatting about things you love. Another reason is as the website is poor, you will need a special application for anything you want to do (140+ apps). So you will spend a lot of time configuring twitter for your blog, for your RSS stream etc. If you want a Top 10 of Most Popular Twitter Applications, here is one.


After Google and Facebook, Twitter is the new internet revolution. So join the Twittersphere and follow me!

[EDITED My Twitter name is now @Fractalharry and finally I will stick to only one account to tweet in French and English]
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/harry.seldon (Go to http://www.facebook.com/username if you want to set up your own Facebook url)

(1) RSS streams about Ruby on Rails for instance. Notice that about all the guys mentionned in this post are on twitter so you can also follow them.
(2) I weirdly lose the first column sometimes. That is the column is there but empty while it should not.
(3) twittersphere 124000 results on google, twittosphere 95100 results, tweetosphere 5580 results. Which one do you prefer?

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Ranking rankings

Posted by Harry Seldon on September 01, 2008

Web 2 is a lot about grading and ranking. So I guess it is logical that bloggers themselves get ranked. However there are dozens of ranking systems. Thus bloggers get their revenge: they can rank the ranking systems !
Ouriel Ohayon made a great post (in French) here and he asks the following :
Which ranking is, according to you, the most meaningful ?
You can answer below:

As I am coding the poll website thinkosphere.com you probably already know that I am a huge fan of internet polls, even if they currently lack too many features. Thanks to this post I discovered one more lacking feature : publishing a poll in several languages. I do not know about a poll engine offering this capability. I guess I will have to do it myself !


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Tile windows on Linux

Posted by Harry Seldon on August 09, 2008

In the same kind of ideas as my post on 2 monitors, it would be great to be able to tile windows under Gnome or KDE. Some people thought about it as some softs do it : whaw or a compiz plugin (but using compiz to do that is really an overkill).

Morover it is a common subject on forums : ubuntuformums or unbuntu-fr.

So Finally if you like getting well organized windows, vote for the idea on brainstrom :


PS I love brainstorm which is much like what I wanna do for Thinkosphere. First time I learnt about brainstorm I was searching on vote not on ubuntu !

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Ubuntu Global Bug Jam in Toulouse

Posted by Harry Seldon on August 09, 2008

I went yesterday night to the Ubuntu Global Bug Jam. The session in Toulouse was organized by Christophe Sauthier, Ubuntu-Fr association president and toulibre association. Many thanks to them !

For most of us it was an opportunity to learn more about launchpad and its bug tracking system. Those like me who did not have an account on Launchpad created one. Then we helped sorting bugs for instance adding the package related to the bug. Christophe gave us this link to directly go to the bugs needing packaging. He also showed us how to forward a bug to the original developpers of the package (upstream process) and finally we learnt about the translation process on launchpad.

This was a cool party and an opportunity to meet the ubuntu community in toulouse. Thanks Christophe.

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Installing Typo : trackbacks and markup

Posted by Harry Seldon on August 07, 2008

After installing Typo 5.1.2, I had some troubles with mail capabilities. My second problem came from the trackbacks. Typo should add a trackback link at the end of an article (see below "Use the following link to trackback"). However, this link was not added even if the "allow trackbacks" option was activated in Typo.After some more debugging, it simply appeared that this was due to the theme. I had downloaded a new theme (techblue) but this theme like others at typogarden are not updated for Typo 5.

A beginning of solution is to copy all files from themes/typographic/articles to themes/techblue/articles.

Another question I had is how to use Markdown or textile markups with Typo. I was using the default mode to write content but actually you need to be in source mode.

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Installing Typo : mails

Posted by Harry Seldon on August 07, 2008

To install Typo I used the experienced user method. Meaning I installed it as if I was developping it. The setup is the same as Thinkosphere website. The code is inside a svn repository and the deployment is done thanks to Capistrano. 

Installation was pretty easy until it came to mailing capabilities which were not working. My old friend Google sent me to this blog : locomotivation.com/trackbacks The same tunings solved the problem. Indeed I am also working on Rails 2.x and this problem is due to a modification in Rails2.

However I add some more difficulties. Here is how you can lose 2 hours. The mailing was perfectly working in development environment but not in production. After 2 hours of Rails debugging into the mail sending low level code and a discussion with my host to get the smtp log, the solution appeared clearly : everything was working perfectly… but emails from the production blog were stopped by my spam filter while emails from the dev blog were not ! That’s a tricky situation.

So when working with mails do not forget your antispam !

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A quick SVN tutorial

Posted by Harry Seldon on August 06, 2008

Here is a quick tuto to setup a repository with svn on an online host assuming a ssh connexion. We will use the command line as you will probably need to use it to work on your remote server.

Your local source code is in /home/localaccount/myapp

Your remote space is on /home/remoteaccount/www/

Let’s create the repository directory on your remote account :

cd /home/remoteaccount/www
mkdir svn
cd svn
mkdir myapp

Now, we tell svn to make this directory a repository:

svnadmin create –fs-type fsfs ./myapp

As a good practice, we will create the usual branches, tags, and trunk subdirectories in the repository.
First we create a directory structure :

cd /home/remoteaccount/www/
mkdir structure
cd structure
mkdir branches tags trunk

Now we import the structure:

svn import /home/remoteaccount/www/structure/. file:///home/remoteaccount/www/svn/myapp –message ‘Initial repository layout’

Finally we import the source code:
Run this command on our local account:

cd /home/localaccount/
svn import /home/localaccount/myapp/. svn+ssh://remoteaccount@ssh.mydomain.com/home/remoteaccount/www/svn/myapp/trunk –message "initial import"

(do not forget the /trunk/) If you have a ssh properly setup with rsa key you won’t have to type any password.

I find this tuto quite hostile but my point is to use the command line. In general, I use a GUI (subclipse) but the only case where I have to actually type svn commands is when I setup a repo on my remote server. Maybe you are in the same case !

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