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Ubuntu 9.10 Installation – Sager NP7620

April 29th, 2010

Sager NP7620 Laptop

I set this system up for a friend of mine. The laptop power supply is going bad and the Windows XP installation was riddled with malware. I had quite a few issues installing, since the power supply is dying and various devices will only work intermittently.

Install

After trying to boot into the Ubuntu Live CD a few times and failing, because of the dying power brick, I came across a utility called UNetBootin. I used UNetBootin’s “frugal install” option to boot directly into the Ubuntu Live CD stored as an ISO on the solitary NTFS partition. I was able to install Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala alongside Windows XP. After transferring personal files between the partitions I decided to get rid of Windows entirely to make more room for personal files. Unfortunately, I ran into a roadblock with UNetBootin not wanting to run when installed on Ubuntu. I tried loading the ISO of the Ubuntu Live CD, other ISOs, and eventually got the actual physical CD to spin up in the CD-ROM. At which point I made the unfortunate decision to just reinstall Ubuntu from scratch off the CD. Of course, the installation failed about half way through and I was left with a system that only booted into a grub recovery shell with little to no options. It would seem grub didn’t even install all the way. Now what? Well, since I was able to boot from the Live CD (once out of every ten times I tried), I went ahead and sunk my teeth in.

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Ubuntu 9.10 Installation – Gateway GT5432

April 11th, 2010

Gateway GT5432
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
NVIDIA GEForce 6150SE (not in use)
Dual Acer x223w Monitors on Dual Head ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT
WMP54G Wireless Mini-PCI Card

Install

Installed Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. Created 2gb swap partition, 12gb root partition, and the rest went /home. Setup my user for auto login, waited for a few minutes while the install did its thing, and rebooted into my new Ubuntu system.

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Tobacco Island

April 3rd, 2010

A little something I had to write down while smoking in bed one night.

Sitting alone dreaming of miles of information
Smoking a cigarette and thinking of islands in the sun
Take a drag

The finest tobacco and my little rollie machine
Think I’ll roll a joint and put my feet in the water
Take a drag

Inhale that fine aroma into my lungs
Sit right down on the sand and watch the sun go down
Take a drag

A dream in a dream, sweet and salty smell of the sea
I wonder where the hours have went here

Sand tightening between my toes
I felt the heat building at my side as the tide came in
Looking down at the fire burning by my fingertips
Taking a moment to feel the scorch before shifting it
And taking a nice, long drag

I’m sitting in my bed, and I’ve got this idea growing
I wonder where the hours have went here
Taking another drag and putting out another rollie cigarette
Watching it smoulder as I crush it with seared fingers
Wish I had another

Insecure Online Banking

October 30th, 2008

I always choose a very good password, and I don’t forget my passwords, only which one I used. My passwords contain numbers, upper and lower case letters, and symbols. Every website I’ve ever had to use a password for has allowed me to create a password of my satisfaction, with one exception: banks. I’ve used online banking with two or three banks so far and both times my password has been stunted by either a maximum length requirement (even though the user name can be any length I choose) or doesn’t allow special characters.

What benefit could they possibly be gaining from disallowing me to choose a more secure password? Or maybe it’s just the programmers, but then the question becomes: Why on earth would they hire programmers dumb enough to limit the security of a client’s account? Then again, maybe it’s just me; perhaps I just have really bad choice in banks.

Is this some sort of bank conspiracy to make identity theft and theft of our funds easier? They would certainly have something to gain in the case that they offered some protection. Reminds me of the second Dragonheart movie where the guy gets paid by the townspeople to slay the dragon that is working with him.

I see insecurities like this in various different forms on all sorts of websites. Once I found a bug on a major retail site that let anyone view any and all invoices, which includes the customers’ personal information. I’ve sent e-mails to everyone in these companies I can get a hold of, complained in person, bounced up through the ranks over the phone, etc. All of this in an attempt to help these companies fix their issues and protect their customers’ (which may be you) information. I get the run around and they never fix the bugs.

I see this as a serious problem, and in this case I see absolutely no valid reason for the limitation of a user’s password. Don’t let this one go unfixed! Check if your bank has this issue, and if so, make them fix it!

Questions

October 15th, 2008

A friend of mine wishes to become a singer. I told him that I write poetry and he asked if I could write him a song to sing. I wrote this poem a few months ago as a song about my emotions regarding my failing marriage. It is called “Questions”.

I used to think that the world owed me something
The only things that mattered were the things in my head
I used to be a child, but now I’m a man
But there’s still somethings that I don’t understand

How many words make up a memory?
How many notes are in a melody?
How many people are lonely today?
Tell me, why must I feel this way?

I used to take for granted the way that you’d feel me
Now I only feel that you don’t know who I am
You used to tell me that you knew that you loved me
But now I don’t even feel like we’re friends

I remember when we first made love
And I know just what I was thinking of
I want to be with you for all of my life
But I’ve got questions for you, my wife

How many lies add up to misery?
How can I hide it when it’s easy to see?
How can I trust in anything that you say?
Tell me, why must I feel this way?

I know I’ve made mistakes but can you forgive me?
You know, they say that the best things in life are free
But I will spend my time devoted to you
Baby, tell me what you want me to do

How many moments make up true romance?
How will you know if you don’t give us a chance?
Oh, I don’t feel like a man today
Tell me, why must I feel this way?

Ouroboros: 3

October 10th, 2008

This is one chapter of a short story. To start from the beginning of the story head over to Ouroboros: 1.

The light was too bright to see. It slowly dimmed to reveal beautiful, lush, green trees all around him. Ben stopped short as he noticed a gaping hole in front of him. There seemed to be someone in the hole, but his attention was grabbed by a voice heard in the distance.

He looked up to see an armchair in the clearing. The voices lingered closer as he examined the floral pattern on the chair from afar. The voice’s words were unintelligible and he looked down for a moment into the well.

There was a boy looking up at him with no facial features at all, save a mouth. The boy whispered, but the sound echoed through Ben’s mind: “Please…”

Suddenly the voices in the distance were close and clear as day. He heard the words “father” and “accident”. Ben jerked his head up to find his aunt sitting in the chair talking to someone. A shadowy figure sat on a couch next to her. He looked directly at Ben and as he finished “…but we don’t want to rule out any possibilities.”

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CSS3 Suggestion

September 28th, 2008

Is it too late to request something like ‘background-position-x’ and ‘background-position-y’ to be added to the CSS3 spec? These would be extremely useful in cutting down the amount of code needed when the X position of the background needs to be as previously set but the Y needs to be changed.

This is useful for sprite techniques. For example, say you have a single image with a bunch of icons in a matrix. Different icons are represented horizontally in the image and different styles of those images (e.g. hover, selected,disabled) are represented vertically. So, now you can style all elements that contain icons with the ‘icon’ class which defines the background-image. Then add an additional class to each of these based on which icon it represents, which would change the background-position-x to display the appropriate icon image. Finally, you would have addition rules that define current state of the icon, such as a ‘select’ class or a ‘.icon:hover’, which would change the background-position-y.

An example of 5 icons with 3 states (e.g. normal, hover, selected) would require 15 different rules as follows:

.icon {
  background: url('images/icons.png') 0 0 no-repeat;
  width: 16px;
  height: 16px;
}
.icon1:hover {
  background-position: 0 -16px;
}
.icon1.selected {
  background-position: 0 -32px;
}
.icon2 {
  background-position: -16px 0;
}
.icon2:hover {
  background-position: -16px -16px;
}
.icon2.selected {
  background-position: -16px -32px;
}
.icon3 {
  background-position: -32px 0;
}
.icon3:hover {
  background-position: -32px -16px;
}
.icon3.selected {
  background-position: -32px -32px;
}
.icon4 {
  background-position: -48px 0;
}
.icon4:hover {
  background-position: -48px -16px;
}
.icon4.selected {
  background-position: -48px -32px;
}
.icon5 {
  background-position: -64px 0;
}
.icon5:hover {
  background-position: -64px -16px;
}
.icon5.selected {
  background-position: -64px -32px;
}

Whereas with the background-position-x/-y properties it would only need the following 7 rules:

.icon {
  background: url('images/icons.png') 0 0 no-repeat;
  width: 16px;
  height: 16px;
}
.icon2 {
  background-position-x: -16px;
}
.icon3 {
  background-position-x: -32px;
}
.icon4 {
  background-position-x: -48px;
}
.icon5 {
  background-position-x: -64px;
}
.icon:hover {
  background-position-y: -16px;
}
.icon.selected {
  background-position-y: -32px;
}

Of course, the more sprites used the more redundancy is needed without the use of a background-position-x/-y. Without separate X and Y properties it takes i*s rules, where i represents the number of icons and s represents the number of states. With them it would only take i+s-1. The benefits are obvious.

Motorola S9 Fix

September 27th, 2008

So I bought these really nice wireless bluetooth stereo headphones from Motorola back about a month ago. I opened the package while I was out and about and promptly made the huge mistake of just throwing out the packaging and reciept after making sure they work with my BlackBerry Curve. They are pretty sweet, and not too expensive for the convinience of being able to control volume up/down, track back/forward, initialize voice calling, and play/pause right from the touch of an ear peice.

The problem? They were broken and I didn’t even know it! That is until I started fiddling with them and hit the volume down button. I quickly found my volume at the lowest setting. Cool, nice feature, but wait, where’s the volume up button? I took them off and sure enough I was hitting the right button. Nothing is happening! Now they are stuck at the lowest volume setting and its the volume on the headset not on the phone.

So, I tossed them into a box for a while until I finally sat down and took out a handy soldering iron and started to strip a few wires and make some connections. I’m no electronics genious or anything, but I guessed right that black is always ground and found that the red wire is for the voice dial initialization. After accidentally ripping that wire out (no matter, since I planned to cut the activation strip off the earpiece so that this wouldn’t happen again) I found the yellow wire on my second attempt. The yellow wire was indeed the volume up!

I then soldered a hole right through the volume up and down connectors before remembering I cut out by accident. No worries, one day I’ll get around to repairing it and the connector is still there, so it will work.

Apparently this is a common issue with these headphones. Whether it just be sweat interfering and/or frying connections or, in my case, the circuit was just torn to bits when I got them. I didn’t check all the wires since I got it on my second try, but maybe I will later. Nonetheless, anyone that has these now has a partial pinout! Black is ground, red is voice, yellow is volume up. Comment with more if you’ve got them :D

Ouroboros: 2

September 24th, 2008

This is one chapter of a short story. To start from the beginning of the story head over to Ouroboros: 1.

Ben plopped himself down on the bed from his upright position. He stared at the ceiling for answers. “Could it have been a dream?” He found it just about as difficult to believe that as he did that the experience was real. Having had the same dream for the past fifteen years, he was slow to accept the possibility, but what else could it have been. “Things like that just don’t happen in reality,” he thought. He made a mental note to discuss it with his therapist. The ordeal slipped from his mind entirely as he looked around.

His room was covered in obsolete movie posters from the theater that his mother worked at. There were model cars lined up on his dresser and a recently raided jar of mostly pennies setting on its side beside them. The room was well lit by the eastern morning sun through faded beige curtains. The bright sun revealed little in the small room, but papers strewn about the floor and a backpack leaning against a wall in the corner. Ben thought for a moment that the room looked pretty empty.

Everything in the house had a putrid yellow-beige color to it, but the color was deepened the closer you looked towards the ceiling. Ben’s father was quite the smoker, and the smell and look of the place had slowly taken a downward spiral since they moved in, but nobody ever noticed. There were streaks running down some walls in the living area where the nicotine had condensed together and dripped slower than the eye could perceive. Despite the appearance, the walls were dry to the touch.

Without thinking, Ben dragged his hands across the walls of the hallway on his way to the bathroom. He headed for the toilet, but did a double take at his image in the mirror. He spoke to himself “Darn, I got a pimple. I’m not supposed to get those yet!”

“Ben! Time for school!” His mom had to yell for him every morning, since he was typically a slow start to get out of bed. Read the rest of this entry »

New Site Layout

September 10th, 2008

I’ve designed a new layout for the site finally. It’s funny how it can be so easy to come up with ideas for other people’s sites and so difficult when it comes to your own site. I’m just so picky and I wanted something that could serve both personal and professional purposes. Anyway, it’s done and it’s mostly integrated as a WordPress theme. I’ll just fix little problems as I see them, but I’m not too worried about it right now, because I am reading Pro Drupal Development Second Edition which is over 700 pages long. So, I will most likely be converting the theme over to Drupal soon. No reason to get too cozy with WordPress then right?

Once I learn Drupal pretty well I may be using it in all of my projects. The first theme I made for Drupal was certainly less complex than my first WordPress theme. If that says anything at all for Drupal then I’m all for it.

Note to self: write another story or an update to Ouroboros.