Coming to you live from Linux

Ubuntu Dapper Drake to be precise. Over this last week I’ve been in Linux just about as much as windows, actually. As i have no room for a Linux partition on my primary harddrive, I’m running it on an external USB drive. I think i’ve posted about his previously elsewhere. But I now have it in an upgraded, fully usable state. Previously it was more of a toy, and lots of stuff (Firefox plugins, customizations, etc.) wasn’t in place. But it’s now much more “me.”
I also was able to get my brother on linux (albeit on M$ Virtual PC). He’s running Xubuntu (uses the XFCE desktop environment instead of GNOME). I still find it quite oxymoronic (is that a word?) to run linux using a Window$ program. Anyway, I thought since i was using linux “so much” :D this week, i should at least make a post using it.

Customizations i’ve made to the default install include (but are not limited too)…

  • Firefox 2 (not in the dapper repositories yet)
  • Automatix – nice installer for lots of common plugins (flash, quicktime), apps (gFTP, Gaim beta 3, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Bluefish and much more), codecs, etc. that make Ubuntu much more friendly to my everyday use.
  • xorg.conf customization for Thinkpad scrolling
  • Copy of file browser running as root
  • Standard Firefox and Thunderbird icons (not the ubuntu versions)
  • msttfcorefonts (Verdana, Trebuchet MS, Arial, Tahoma, ect [since almost every website we’ve created uses at least one of those)
  • other tweaks such as theme, screensaver, fonts, wallpaper, etc, to give it “my” touch

Before i sign off, i suppose i should register at least one complaint, and others have mentioned it before… If linux is ever going to go mainstream, linux support is going to have to stop referring users to the terminal. I personally like using it, but my brother dislikes it a good deal. Eh, as a designer, he just wants a Mac, anyway.

Current System specs:
Thinkpad R40 2723
80GB Western Digital external USB hard drive
1.3 GHz Centrino processor
Ubuntu Dapper Drake 6.06 (I’d upgrade to Edgy, but it seems to have been giving too many users problems)


The horror stories are true…

Last night i have the very pleasant experience of canceling an AOL account. (Yes I’m being sarcastic, and no, it wasn’t mine.) To make a long story shorter, an older lady in my church asked me to come over and help her get her computer working. It initially wasn’t booting due to registry corruption or something caused by SBC Yahoo! Dial, so I did a system restore and got it running again. Since that wasn’t working she installed AOL. Well, I uninstalled the AOL software, and then after getting an alternate dialup ISP setup went looking for how to cancel the AOL account. After searching around at (Yes, that is a not a link. You don’t want to go there.), I found their support page. Then about 3 links deep I found account information (how to change account preferences, payment method, etc.) 2 links deeper i found a link that said Canceling AOL account. Finally! That took me to page with their phone, fax, and address. What! No online cancelation!!??

So after downloading and installing Firefox I disconnected and called AOL (The number was 1-888-265-8008). After talking to a friendly sounding computer voice for about 5 minutes to which i gave all the account information, they finally connected me to a human. He, of course, was from India or somewhere they can’t speak English worth beans. In addition, he would not talk to me, because it wasn’t my name on the account. So the lady had to listen to him give a high-pitched shpeel about the greatness of AOL, why on earth would she want to cancel, yada, yada, yada. She must have told him, “No, cancel my account,” at least a dozen times. Then after verifying bank account numbers, etc. He connected her to their Cancelation Legal Disclaimer. Another computer voice read off this litany of how cancelation is in effect today, any charges you have incurred, yada, yada, yada… If you would like to continue your AOL account, hit 1, etc. I noticed that this computer voice was much less friendly sounding than the first one =).

Total time: 21 minutes, give or take. Not as bad as some accounts I’ve read online, but still way too long for something you should be able to do with a couple clicks on a website.


My Very Efficient Mother Just Served Us Nine…

Farewell, Pluto: BLOG: SciAm Observations

According to the new definition of planet by the International Astronomical Union, the former ninth planet, is no longer a planet. Here is the new definition:

a “planet” is defined as a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

Pluto fails part “c” of the definition, because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune’s. So it is now classified as a “dwarf planet” along with some large interplanetary asteroids.

So can anyone propose a new mnemonic for remembering the planet names? How about… My very efficient mother just served us noodles?

What do you think?


Thank goodness for Windows security holes

I woke up Saturday morning to a very bad sound… **Click…. Whirrrrr…. Whirrrrr… Click, Click** By the time I was cognizant to what it was (the harddrive of my laptop, which sit by my bed), and attempted to save and close programs and shut it down, it blue screened.

“Well,” I thought, “it’s windows, BSOD is pretty common.” I do a force power down (hold in button for 5 secs), reboot, and wait.

**Windows/System32/Config/System file missing or corrupt**

Great… A registry hive error. Pretty much irrepairable with an OEM XP installation. Oh well, I’ve been wanting to do a clean install of Windows anyway. Nevermind the fact that today is day we’re supposed to upload all the content for our client’s new site. Oh well, how long can this take? Probably not past lunch, No biggie.

So I attach my external hard drive, and boot into Ubuntu to recover my data in case I have to wipe the drive. (Unfortunately I forgot to get my 3+ years of email… too late now.) That done, I attempted Windows recovery console. No dice there either. Well, I’ve got my IBM recovery partition, let’s try that… Good, that’s working. Let that run for 30-40 odd minutes. During the process it asked me to set an administrator password, which I did. It finishes, reboots and presents me with the login screen, and the user name of Administrator. I enter the password I chose earlier and wait.

**Bong** Password incorrect. Please retype your password. Passwords must be typed in the correct case.

Oops, my bad, try again. **Bong** Stupid me.. **Bong** What! **Bong** Good grief **Bong** Try blank… **Bong** **Bong** **Freeze** **Bong** **Bong** (you get the idea…)

Not good, I must have mistyped it. How could I have made the same typo twice??? Wrong home keys? Oh well, it’s only 10 o’clock or so, I’ll reinstall again.

This time I set the password to something really easy: abc. How could I mistype that? Reboot, and login screen.

**abc** **Bong** Ai yi yi **Bong** Ok, the Admistrator account has a problem… Let me try some other things… **Bong** An old account name? **Bong**

I should probably explain that because I bought my laptop from the school, the recovery partion I’m using has a custom image on it with school software. So I thought, “It must have a custom Administrator account too.”

Well, I have another option. Because I was an IT minor last year, I was able to take advantage of Microsoft’s Academic Alliance program which allows computer science students to download free M$ software including Visual Studio, VPC, and XP. I downloaded an iso of the XP install CD complete with academic license and authentication code. This disk image was on my harddrive and part of the files I had recovered. So I used another computer to burn it to a CD, and as Nero, for some reason wouldn’t recognize the .img file type of the iso, I used a free program called Burn 4 Free. Once that was done, I put my new XP install CD in my laptop and waited. After another 40 mins or so, I was able to log in. Yea!! But I had absolutely nothing. No OEM drivers, no internet, zip, zero, nada. So I decided to try the IBM thing again, just to get that. I had an Administrator account now that worked, after all.

Same as before, installed, rebooted, login screen… **Bong** AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

How can i reset this Administrator password? So a googling we go. Oops, sorry! I mean, I did an internet search using Much info abounds on how to attempt, both legally and illegally to get around the Administrator password. But the article i found most useful was this one… I Forgot My Administrator Password!!. It informs the reader of a (may I say) scary access hole during the install process. At one point you can hit SHIFT+F10 and bring up the windows command line, from which you full access to the system. Simply call up nusrmgr.cpl and you get the familiar windows gui for changing passwords. You can wipe out the admin password, or create a new admin account. I assume you could use this access hole to retrieve data using notepad.exe “<file name>”, and who knows what else. And as this can be done during a XP repair install, it could give you full access to all the data on the computer as Administrator once the repair is done running.

As it turned out, there was no Administrator account, just one called dormsupport (still on my computer and with no idea as to the password for it). So I created one, saved, closed and exited the command line and continued the reinstall.

Finally, after 13 hours, I was back in. Next to install XP SP2, and 62 other critical updates, and I was back in business around midnight. Meanwhile, we got the content for EBC-EBCA’s site uploaded, and began the process of domain registration transfer and DNS propigation.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?


“Meep” me!

Google Talk came out with an update today, adding file transfer and voice mail capabilities. The voice mail is hilarious!!

“The person you are trying to reach is not available. Please leave a message after the ‘meep’… Meeep!”

Find out about the updates here: Google Talk


Happy 25th Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you…

Well, this birthday boy probably won’t be blowing out any candles, and definitely not eating any cake, but it’s still worth celebrating.  Happy Birthday to the personal computer (PC).  Or more accurately, happy birthday to the IBM 5150, the first computer model that really took off in the business world.  Sure the Apple II was out, as was Atari’s model, but as a business manager would you rather buy a machine from the International Business Machine company or the company named after a fruit?

IBM 5150

IBM 5150

The IBM 5150 has much in common with the desktops today. Separate keyboard and monitor, for starters.  It ran what IBM called PC-DOS which it got from Microsoft (MS-DOS), who bought it from a Seattle based company (QDOS – Quick and Dirty Operating System).  Most computers still run it today, although hidden.  The first program made for this program, a spreadsheet called VisiCalc, can still be run on computers today.  (You can get it here.) And it had an Intel processor.  Using off-the-shelf components made by someone else’s was new for IBM, which made it possible for other companies to clone its machine.  Thus the sale of personal computers exploded.

Price?  $1265 + monitor, floppy disk drive (upgrade from cassette drive), and $40 for PC-DOS.  Other OS’s were available but they cost from $400-600 (M$ hasn’t always been the most expensive).  One other impressive note for the time, both upper and lowercase letters could be used (the Apple II only had uppercase).

IBM sold their first unit 25 years ago today.  So Happy Birthday to you personal computer, how would we function today without you?


Krauthammer: ‘Disproportionate’ in What Moral Universe?

If only the rest of the media were like this guy…

‘Disproportionate’ in What Moral Universe?

Quote from the article:

What other country, when attacked in an unprovoked aggression across a recognized international frontier, is then put on a countdown clock by the world, given a limited time window in which to fight back, regardless of whether it has restored its own security?

In perhaps the most blatant terror campaign from the air since the London Blitz, Hezbollah is raining rockets on Israeli cities and villages… Britain was never invaded by Germany in World War II. Did it respond to the Blitz and V-1 and V-2 rockets with “proportionate” aerial bombardment of Germany? Of course not. Churchill orchestrated the greatest air campaign and land invasion in history, which flattened and utterly destroyed Germany, killing untold innocent German women and children in the process.


Done for now…

Stage one is done in our sidewalk project.

(A little background: In January we had a sewer pipe clog due to a large rock that had gotten in the vent. In fixing this, a huge hole was dug in our front yard. As part of digging this hole, a section of our concrete sidewalk had to be ripped out. Our sidewalk was sinking and buckling anyway, so we decided that we would replace the whole thing. Of course, Dad would wait to do that project after we got back home for the summer so we could help.)
Mom and Dad had decided that they didn’t want another concrete sidewalk, but a brick paver one instead. So a couple of weeks ago they went to Lowes and picked out the design they wanted. Then last weekend while at Lowes for something else, we saw that Lowes was offering free delivery on sidewalk paver stones. So after the 4th of July holiday, Dad had them delivered along with a pile of gravel and a pile of sand.

Thursday evening we began work. The first step was to tear out the rest of existing concrete sidewalk. My brother and I accomplished this by prying under it w/ a digging iron and breaking it into managable pieces w/ a sledgehammer. One whack. Oh yeah! Once the old sidewalk was removed, we started to dig up the area for the new sidewalk (it’s wider than the old one) only after carefully removing the sod for use elsewhere. By then it was dark, so we stopped for the night.

Friday, while my brother and I were at work, Dad dug out the area where the new sidewalk was going to the proper depth (8?). After dinner, we filled in the hole with 4? of gravel. (23 wheelbarrows or appx. 575 shovelfuls) That was all we had time for Friday night.

Saturday (today) Dad was at the rental place when they opened to pick up a compactor for the gravel (and later sand and pavers). However, he didn’t get it started until I came out after breakfast and played with it as the rental place gave him wrong instructions… So I compacted the gravel, and then began the long process of leveling and screeding. Once the gravel was level we nailed some retaining edges into the ground. (This, of course, was after much painstaking measurment to make sure the sidwalk was in exacly the right place and sloping correctly away from the house.) Once the retaining edges were in place we dumped in the sand and leveled and compacted it. Then my sister showed up to lay brick (I guess they thought that was the fun part…) So I hauled brick for them and they put it in place. Once the brick was layed we swept sand into the cracks and then ran one final run of the compactor. So as I said we’re done for now. But there’s still a lot of landscaping to do. We’ll take care of that after we get back from the Wilds 🙂 next week. As the youth intern, I get to go as a sponsor. But more of that later. As with any project in our family, humor ran high. Here are some of the funnier things that happened / were said. (I guess this is a reward for reading this long documentary :p )

On Wednesday night, I had introduced Peter to Brian Regan’s website (hilarious funny clean comedian). So at various times while we were working, with Brian’s routines fresh in our minds, they would pop out. (Particually the one about ants as we saw those critters several times.) Also we decided the compactor sounded like a tricycle when you tried to start it. It made a ding noise like a tricycle bell when you pulled the starter cord to full length. This noise was heard frequently as the machine was difficult to start. It seemed I was the only one who was able to start it. But I didn’t try until Dad had failed numerous times. This led to: Ding… Ding… Ding… It’s time to play… Name that Sound! A tricycle! Errrrnk. An impatiant customer at the service desk? Sorry, but we have some lovely party gifts for you. The compactor! Correct, now you go start it.

Also during the course of the afternoon a discrepancy arose over whether a dry mixture of sand and cement needed to be swept between the cracks of the bricks, or just sand. To answer this question we summoned up the new dictionary word. My first search took me to Home Depot. You know, “You can do it. We can help.” “Great,” I thought, “this should have the answer.” NOT. This is a direct quote from their site:

Putting in a new patio, driveway or retaining wall may seem like a simple, do-it-yourself project. But it’s no easy matter to do the job right. Instead, you’ll face a complex project that requires expertise, special equipment and many steps. Why tackle a paving stone project on your own when The Home Depot can do it for you? Our experienced, knowledgeable professionals will handle your entire project from start to finish so you can relax.

So much for “You can do it.” More like, “You can’t do it. So pay us to do it for you.” Yeesh.

Well, this is getting rather long so I’ll let you go do something else. Like visit Brian Regan’s site.


Merriam-Webster’s Christens ‘Google’ a Verb

Technology News: Trends: You Can Look It Up: Merriam-Webster’s Christens ‘Google’ a Verb
It’s official! The word we technophiles (as one of my teachers referred to me) have been using for years is now officially a word. Don’t just believe me, go google it  See it here on digg too:


Bible Conference ‘06: Dr. Bauder – “Let us adore Him”

This is number 2 in a summary of the BJU Bible Conference messages.

The Sunday evening message was brought by Dr. Kevin Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. He preached from John 1:1.

John 1:1 shows us three things about Jesus, the Word.

  1. His Eternity – He is the eternal One (“in the beginning was the Word”)
    The word was does not mean “came to be,” it means “always existed.” Likewise, the word begetting does not and cannot mean “beginning.” (Acts 13:33). Also, the word beginning is indefinite; whatever point you consider “the beginning,” at that point the Word already was.
    This has a theololgical implicatation – The Word is self-existent. He doesn’t depend on anyone or anything; He is the source of all things. This then has a practical ramification: If He is the source of all things, including life, if we want that life we must get it from Him.
  2. His Trinity – He is the other One (“and the Word was with God”)
    The Word is with God, there is something that is God that is not the Word. Our finite minds cannot grasp a three-person single being, but that’s what God is.
    What exactly does the word with mean? In Greek, the language of the New Testament, there are several words for with. The one used here is the most intimate one, pros (????), it can literally mean, “face to face with.” What are the Father and the Word doing together? They are fellowshipping and enjoying one another’s presence. He is also resting from His creative work (Gen. 2:2-3).
    There is also a practical ramification of the Word being with the Father. He is our intercessor and advocate “with” God. He is Someone Who is God Who stands between us and God.
  3. His Deity – He is God (“and the Word was God”)
    Dr. Bauder related a story of an oppotunity he had to witness to a Jehovah’s Witness (JW). JW’s believe, due to their theology that Jesus is not Jehovah, that the last phrase of John 1:1 should be translated “and the Word was a god” because the word God (theos) lacks the definite article (english: the) in the Greek. Dr. Bauder showed this JW three other instances in John 1 (John 1:6, 12, 18) where God (theos) lacks the article, and the JW agreed that these 3 places referred to Jehovah.
    The fact that there is no article, does not mean that God is indefinite (a god), but it instead means that the Word has all the qualities or essence of God, and obviously One Who has all the qualities or essence of God is God. It could not be a definite article because then it would mean that the Word and God are completely equivalent, and this is not the case because there is a part of God that is not the Word (the Father and the Holy Spirit).

Disclaimer: This is my unofficial summary of the message; it may or may not be entirely accurate as to what the speaker actually said. Any errors are almost certainly the fault of my summary, not what the speaker said.