Possessed

Voodoo
Following on from my previous post, and the events I experienced with my aunt. I couldn't help but notice the change in her character when she was upset. This got me thinking about the emotions that possess us.

She had a misplaced belief about her air purifiers, even though they did little or nothing to improve air quality. But her belief was steadfast. Immovable. Unshakable.

When we carry these "unshakable" beliefs, they become a part of "me". And if any body threatens these beliefs, they threaten "me". That's why people will sometimes kill for their beliefs. Its almost as though, "I am" my beliefs, and if you destroy them, you destroy me.

Therefore, I will kill you, or at least attack you, insofar as I need to, so I can defend my beliefs. Ultimately defending me.

This may seem crazy, but dig a little deeper. Fundamentalists of all persuasion, kill for their beliefs.

Examples:
  • Muslims suicide bombers kill innocents.
  • KKK kill innocent blacks.
  • Catholics kill protestants.
  • Communists kill Capitalists.
  • Capitalists kill Communists.
  • Fascists kill Jews.
  • Jews kill Arabs.
How else can you explain such attrocities?

The problem with beliefs is they change. They are slippery. Without foundation.
  • 500 years ago, every one believed the earth was flat
  • If you sailed to the edge, you would fall off into space
  • The sun revolved around the earth
  • Heaven was just above earth
You can cling to those beliefs, but it creates a problem. Disharmony. You're out of tune with Nature and mankind.

The crazy thing is that many of us still do it. My crazy aunt still believes her air purifiers work and that when she dies she will go to heaven and sit at the right hand of god. She cant sit still for 5 minutes, without some distraction. How she's gonna sit at the right hand of god for eternity with no TV, no newspaper or any other form of distraction. I have no idea.

Its a crazy notion but thats what she believes.

I guess that's the problem with beliefs. Only the believer needs to believe in them.

Ad Man's Dream

They Wouldn't Be Allowed To Advertise If It Wasn't True

Its interesting to watch how people behave at times. Its particularly interesting to observe them when they feel threatened. How they cling to petty notions and unfounded beliefs.

I was staying with a relative recently, an elderly female. A septuagenarian. Some time back, she had purchased several ionizers and placed them in each room. I switched off the unit in my room, as it produced a high-pitched whistle when working. My aunt, was going deaf and could not hear the whistle.

Each time she came into my room she would switch the unit back on. I could hear it whistling away and quickly hit the kill switch. My aunt asked my why I kept switching the unit off. I explained about the high-pitch it gave off. She responded: "I can't hear anything". Enough said.

A couple of days later, she showed me an advert for the same unit in a Sunday supplement magazine. I laughed and suggested the only thing they cleaned up was the amount of money they made. This irked her.

I suggested the units did nothing but burn electricity and you were better off opening a window to freshen the air. This inflamed her even more. I could see her getting more agitated by the minute.

I googled for: "Why ionizers dont work". Read through a few posts and found a couple that explained why they didn't work. Why they were a waste of money, and if you bought one, to return it and get your money back.

This infuriated her. I was attacking her heart-held belief. And that's not allowed.

Her: "Of course they work". She retorted.
Me: "Why do you say that?"
Her: "They must work, or they wouldn't be allowed to sell them".
Me: "What? Can't believe I'm hearing this"
Her: "They advertise them, so they must work".
Me: "Are you being serious?"
Her: "Yes. Look at the advert in the paper".
Me: "That proves nothing".
Her: "They wouldn't be allowed to advertise if it wasn't true".
Me: "Who's gonna stop them?"
Her: "What are you talking about?"
Me: "I'm talking about advertising and who polices the adverts."
Me: "Tell me who stops them printing what they like in an ad?"
Her: Silence
Me: "Come on. Tell me. Please explain who stops them?"
Her: Now fuming. Steam coming out of her ears
Me: "Well? Please elaborate".
Her: "You know nothing".

She storms out the room.

A little while later when she had cooled down a I tried to explain to her that anybody can produce any ad they like and the papers will print it as long as you pay for the ad. She called me a liar. My aunt carries some incongruent belief that the "Ad Police" will stop you producing and advertising malevolent products or fraudulent claims. Little does she know.

Really I could not make this stuff up. Ad men love my aunt and the millions out there just like her, that truly believe that ALL adverts are true, honest and factual. Nothing could be further from the truth.

An ad-man's dream.

Done!

Trouble At Anfield

Woe Woe And Thrice Woe
Liverpool have been dire in many games this season. At times, they've produced scintillating football. Other times, they've play like a Sunday pub team. Inconsistency has been the norm. Too many times, they have struggled against mediocre and lesser opposition .

Yesterday, Liverpool were held to a 0 - 0 draw against Swansea, who were promoted from the lower division last season. It should have been a walkover for the 'Reds". Instead, Swansea in white kit, stormed 'Fortress Anfield' and almost took 3 points. Swansea were only denied all three points, by a poor call from the referee. Liverpool struggled and could not unlock the Swansea defence. Liverpool hung on for a lucky draw. What does that tell ya?

Liverpool were held 1 - 1 by lowly Norwich few weeks ago. Again, Norwich were promoted from the lower division last season. On paper, Liverpool should have thumped them, but they didn't. Liverpool just scraped through and were lucky to get a point from the game.

At the beginning of September, Stoke, a middling premiership team, beat Liverpool 1 - 0. In the middle of August, Sunderland, another middling team, held Liverpool to a 1 - 1 draw at Anfield.

In mid September Spurs thumped Liverpool 4 - 0. Spurs like Liverpool are vying for a top four finish to qualify for the Champions League.

So what's happened. Where has it gone wrong?

From the online dictionary.reference.com:

regression - noun

1. the act of going back to a previous place or state; return or reversion.
2. retrogradation; retrogression.
3. Biology. reversion to an earlier or less advanced state or form or to a common or general type.
4. Psychoanalysis. the reversion to a chronologically earlier or less adapted pattern of behavior and feeling.
5. a subsidence of a disease or its manifestations: a regression of symptoms.
adjective
6. of, pertaining to, or determined by regression analysis: regression curve; regression equation.

How can this be? Considering the new American owners have spent £100 million on players?

Suarez was an inspired buy. The moment I saw him, in his first game for Liverpool, I knew he was magic. I labelled him "The Wizard". Carroll on the other hand, has been a poor buy. A disaster. An unknown quantity. Untried, untested. His performances this season have confirmed this. He's missed too many chances, and performed poorly when starting games. I'm confident he'll be the same for the rest of the season.

Downing and Jordan, have been poor to middling. Sometimes good, sometimes, forgettable. They may yet produce. Time will tell.

Charlie Adam has been great. He's performed peerlessly, scored goals, created chances, great vision, great crosses, and commanded the midfield. Adam has been an excellent buy.

I have views on why the Liverpool locomotive has been derailed.

Thats for my next footy post.

Don't Talk To Cops - Part 2

Bite Your Lip
Following on from the previous post, here's the second part of Don't Talk to Cops. Appropriately titled: The Other Side of the Story.

In Part 2, George Buch a police officer with the Virginia Beach Police Department, gives his take on why you should NOT talk to the police or answer any questions, without your lawyer present. The second talk gives the police view of getting a statement or a confession.

After a brief intro, officer Buch opens his talk with a few questions;

"Are any of you guilty of anything? How many drive here today? Anybody go above 55 on the interstate? Hold your hands up."

People raise their hands.

Professor Duane off-screen, admonishes them for admitting guilt:

"Why are you holding your hands up. I told you about that."

Uproarious laughter.

Officer Buch continues: "And there you go. People are inherently honest, and that's the problem."

"When I was a police officer in uniform on patrol, I could follow a car however long I needed to and eventually they will do something illegal. And I can pull them over."

"When you get stopped for speeding. Everyone likes to be somewhat honest. First thing police officers asks you? Do you know how fast you were going? If the speed limit is 35, you say, oh 38 - 40. You wanna be kinda honest even though you were doing 50. You just said you were doing 38 - 40. You just admitted to breaking the law. You just confessed. They can go to court with that. That you confessed and get a conviction."

Its worth watching to get an insight into how the police view their work.

Officer Buch: "People are stupid. They do stupid things. They talk to the police." "I've dealt with a 1,000 felonies and 2,500 misdemeanors with a 98% conviction rate. 80% of those I don't even have to go to court. Why? Cos they confessed."

"People like to talk to the Police. They like to tell their story."

"My job is to get you to talk. To develop a great case. A great case is a case with a confession."

Later on in his talk officer Buch honestly states:

"The defence attorney's job is to get to his client and stop him talking to me."

Here's the link to the video: Don't Talk to Cops, Part 2


Done.

Don't Talk To Cops - Part 1

Silence Is Golden
If you haven't watched it yet, take time to view an excellent video posted on YouTube, given by a Lawyer. His name is James Duane a Professor at Regent Law School.

Professor Duane starts by explaining the top ten reasons for not talking to the police (without your lawyer present), or helping police with their inquiries. No matter how trivial it may seem, or how innocent you may actually be. He goes on to give several examples of how your statements or your answers can be used against you, and in many instances may be the only grounds on which you are convicted, even if you are 100% innocent.

He also explains that police officers are human, and sometimes make errors when collecting or giving evidence.

Its funny and essential viewing, and may one day save you from being convicted of an offence you did not commit. (Or even one that ya did).

The video runs for 28 minutes, but its worth the time invested.

Here's a link to the video: Don't Talk to Cops, Part 1



Done.

Liverpool Woes Continue

More Pain
Icheck the BBC website sports section to see Liverpool are playing Tottenham at White Hart Lane. I don't have Sky Sports. I have serious reservations about Liverpool's abilities to beat a middling team such as Tottenham. I read that Liverpool are trailing Tottenham 1 - 0.

Liverpool showed how inept they were when they hit Stoke City last week. I see more pain today. I follow Liverpool and feel with their pedigree, they should be at the top, near always.

The Liverpool dynasty was established by Bill Shankly, a tough, no-nonsense progressive scot with a big heart. He took Liverpool from the lower ranks and set the foundations for them to become a major force in English and European football. All feared and respected Liverpool fc.

When Shankly retired in 1974, he handed the reigns to what was to become Liverpool's and one of English football's most successful managers: Bob Paisley. Paisley brought unparalleled European glory to Liverpool. Paisley's time in charge was fruitful and glory-filled. Cup after cup. Title after title. Year after year. European cup, Eufa cup, FA cup, league cup, league title. Liverpool were untouchable. Paisley retired in 1983.

Joe Fagan took over from Paisley and continued the success and the Liverpool tradition. Fagan remained in charge till the Heysel Stadium incident. He retired in 1985 when King Kenny took over.

Kenny Dalglish inherited a powerful all-conquering team which continued Liverpool's success. Kenny stayed in charge till another major spectator incident occurred at Hillsborough. King Kenny retired in 1991.

Graeme Souness, a respected  Liverpool player was appointed manager and oversaw the first stages of Liverpool's decline. He won the FA cup in the '92 season but nothing else.

Souness was dumped in 1994 and replaced with Roy Evans one of the Shankly Boot Room boys. Evans steered Liverpool to a single success, and was eventually replaced by Gerard Houllier in 1998.

Both Evans and his successor, Houllier oversaw the continued decline of a once awesome footballing force. Houllier won a few prizes, but nothing of real substance. Yes, Houllier won three cups, but in reality the football they played was scrappy.  It must be acknowledged that Houllier upgraded, rebuilt the training regime, along with Melwood, Liverpool's famous training facility. Houllier being French brought with him continental training techniques and methods. English football still lived in the days of a bucket of cold water and sponge as being the most common treatment for most ailments.

Houllier was given marching orders in 2004. The search for a replacement begun. It was at the behest of Liverpool's bright young striker, Michael Owen. Liverpool played Spanish side Valencia in a European game and lost. Owen was overawed with their style of play and openly stated their manager should be the next Liverpool manager. It was how Liverpool should play.

The management heard the echoes and duly employed Valencia's manager Rafa Benitez to take the helms. Benitez arrived in 2004 and steered Liverpool to their 5th European cup. The city was ecstatic. The club was ecstatic. It seemed Liverpool had finally found someone to take them back to the top, where Liverpoolfc belonged.

Liverpool under Benitez was a rollercoaster ride. He brought some freshness to the team, but there were many problems on the pitch, off the pitch and in the boardroom. Benitez bought badly, as had some of his predecessors. The team did not gel. Of course this was not helped by Benitez constant player rotation, which unsettled so many players. Benitez was restrained by lack of funds. Given different circumstances, perhaps Benitez could have worked his magic at Liverpool, got them playing great football, and restored their former glory.

For years Liverpool's ownership had quietly contributed to their success. In 2007 Liverpool was sold to Americans Gillet and Hicks. Much has been written of how the 'Americans' milked Liverpool. I don't wholly agree with this view. But the coupling of 'American' ownership and Benitez petulance eventually saw his dismissal in 2010.

Roy Hodgeson was poached from Fulham FC to take charge in 2010. Roy inherited an unsettled squad and did not immediately stamp his authority. Roy was outspoken on some issues that alienated him from Liverpool supporters. Liverpool's efforts on the pitch were dire, leaving them dwindling in the drop zone. Liverpool fans chanted 'Hodgeson for England' suggesting his poor management skills would suit and continue the poor form of the English national team.

Hodgeson was given his P45 and replaced by 'King Kenny', for Kenny's second stint in charge. Kenny along with his new backroom staff took Liverpool out of the drop zone and took them into the top six. It looked like the 'King' was back and he had not lost his 'Midas' touch.

But that was not the case. 'Kenny Dalglish' came back to inherit a poor Liverpool team. A mediocre squad with little self belief. 'King Kenny' sold the unsettled 'Torres' for £50 million to Chelsea and bought two players in his place. The mercurial wizard Suarez and the pedestrian Carroll.

Suarez plays the continental style of football. Fast, sharp, passing and movement. This was how Liverpool played in their 'All conquering' hey day.  Carroll, tall, slow, centre-forward in the traditional British mould. Think aerial. Think high-balls. Think long-balls. Think frequent punts. Liverpool are going backwards.

Whenever a new manager is brought in, the team, any team responds with good results. When 'King Kenny' came back it was the new manager syndrome re-visited. That has now worn off. The initial feel-good factor is gone. Its back to the daily grind and all the associated emotions.

This shows in some of Dalglish's selections and the poor results against mediocre opposition. Some media pundits were predicting that Liverpool would be a top 4 team this season. Bah. Humbug!

If Liverpool finish in the top 6, it will be a miracle. As I finish writing this post, I check the BBC sports page and see Liverpool were beaten 4-0 by Tottenham.  Its downhill all the way.

Last week I posted the 'King Kenny' was not the man to take Liverpool back to the top.

Watch this space.

Liverpool Woes

Here we go again...
Okay, its been a while since I last posted as I was travelling in Asia. I toured Japan, Hong Kong and Korea and had a great time. I felt I had to post on the situation at Liverpool.

If your not a football fan (Soccer to all you american dudes), switch off now. Much has been made of the return of 'King Kenny'. He came in last year and turned things around. Revived flagging fortunes. Picked things up after Roy Hodgson's disastrous tenure. Kenny did the right things to get the team back on track and get Liverpool out the drop zone. Okay that's the good part. Here's the rest.

King Kenny should go.

Why?

A few reasons. Allow me list them:

1. He quit Liverpool when things got tough last time round
2. He quit Blackburn after a difficult spell
3. He quit Celtic after a difficult spell

Well, err can anyone see a pattern here???

Don't go backwards unless you want to go backwards.

Question: Does that make sense? Maybe not.

I'll elaborate. How many bands reform after years apart to try and re-capture their glory years.

Answer: Too many

They get together after patching up their differences and personal hostilities. Try to recapture the 'love' they felt back then, and do one more gig for the management (and the bank balance).

What they soon discover is that you cannot recapture the magic and the glory of days gone past. The past glory was a result of actions and events rooted in that time and space/place. Trying to re-create the conditions that contributed to those events is just not possible.

So many external conditions contributed and supported those events, and those conditions cannot be re-created. Its just not possible. So forget it. Move on.

Have ya ever tried to get back with an old flame. Tried to re-capture the magic of your earlier relationship. You can't do it. Forget it. Move on.

Have ya ever met up with old school friends, tried to relive the past, and get shocked at how they changed. How fat they got. How old they got. How rigid/ingrained they become in their ways. Forget it. Bury it. Move on. Go find new pastures.

Ya see things are constantly evolving. Changing. New influences are impacting on situations. You can never recapture the past. You can never re-create those magic moments. They are gone dead. Buried.

So, where does that leave us, 'King Kenny' and Liverpool?

Right now, I'd say 'dead in the water'.

Here is my prediction for the coming season.
  1. After much expenditure on the wrong players, Liverpool will fail spectacularly.
  2. Carroll will fail and become marginal. He's a misfit in the Liverpool squad.
  3. Liverpool will sack 'King Kenny' or 'Kenny' will leave by mutual consent, after a string of mediocre or poor results.
  4. Liverpool will not make a top four finish. They will languish in 6, 7 , 8, or mid-table.
What the new owners need do is find a bright, young, innovative, energetic manager. Someone forward thinking. A young visionary. Some like Pepe Gardiola, perhaps. Forget about the past. Forget about the old. Time to move on.

Embrace the future. Embrace the new.

Remove Gnome Desktop Folder

Permanent
If you run Gnome 2, by default Gnome will create a number of personal directories/folders for you. These include Videos, Music, Documents, Desktop.

You can easily remove Videos, Music, and so on. If you remove the 'Desktop' folder, Gnome will persist in recreating it, even against your wishes. This can create frustration and perhaps even a sense of helplessness.

Here's how to fix it so the deleted 'Desktop' folder is permanently removed.

Start gconf-editor and click:

apps/nautilus/preferences/show_desktop

Uncheck show_desktop

Exit gconf-editor.

Delete 'Desktop' folder.

Unfortunately, this removes your desktop contents such as Trash and any Icons or shortcuts you had.

Done!

Fedora Upgrade Using Yum

System Upgrade With YUM

Upgrading your Fedora, or other RPM based system using YUM is fairly simple. Once you follow a few basic commands your system will automatically upgrade to the latest release.

1. Back up your system

Use rsync, an external drive, back up to the cloud or any other means you have available to protect your precious data.

2. Clean Stuff

Find unused config files
Merge and resolve the changes found by the following script: yum install rpmconf; rpmconf -a Now find and remove old config which nobody owns: find /etc /var -name '*.rpm?*'

Now is a good time to remove packages you don't use - especially non-standard packages.

3. Find and review "unused" packages

You can find packages not required by other packages with the tool package-cleanup from the yum-utils package: yum install yum-utils; package-cleanup --leaves. These packages could be candidates for removal, but check to see whether you use them directly or if they are used by applications not backed by rpm packages. Remove them with yum remove package-name-and-version.
Another useful tool for cleaning up unused packages is rpmreaper. It's an ncurses application that lets you view rpm dependency graph and mark packages for deletion. Marking one package can make other packages leaf, which you can see immediately, so you don't have to run the tool several times to get rid of whole sub-tree of unused packages. Install with: yum install rpmreaper.

Find and review "lost" packages
You can find orphaned packages (ie packages not in the repositories anymore) with: package-cleanup --orphans. This will also show packages which have been partially uninstalled but where the "%postun" script failed.

4. Start the upgrade

Go to a text console
ctrl + alt + F2

log in as root, and go into runlevel 3

init 3

Update yum to latest version available in your Fedora version
yum update yum

Clean the cache
Then remove all traces of the version you are leaving from the yum cache in /var/cache/yum.

yum clean all

Upgrade all packages

yum --releasever= distro-sync

5. Make sure Fedora is upgraded

Distro-sync will usually take care of upgrades for the third party repositories you have enabled as well. Confirm with
 yum repolist

after the upgrade process is over. yum might complain about conflicts or requirements. That is probably because you have used non-standard repositories or installed non-standard packages manually. Try to guess which packages cause the problem (or at least is a part of the dependency chain) - uninstall them and try again. Remember to install the packages again if they are essential.
Ensure that all (new) essential packages from the new version are installed with

yum groupupdate Base

You might want to update other groups too, see

yum grouplist
For example

yum groupupdate "GNOME Desktop Environment" \
"Development Tools" "Server Configuration Tools" \
"Hardware Support" "Sound and Video" \
"Graphical Internet" "Fonts" \
"Games and Entertainment" "Printing Software" \
"Administration Tools" "Office/Productivity" "System Tools"

6. Preparing for reboot

Before booting you should usually install the bootloader from your new grub by running

/sbin/grub-install BOOTDEVICE
- where BOOTDEVICE is usually /dev/sda (If you get an error '/dev/sda does not have any corresponding BIOS drive' from that, then try /sbin/grub-install --recheck /dev/sda.)

Also, the order of init scripts could have changed from the previous version. A command to reset the order is:

cd /etc/rc.d/init.d; for f in *; do /sbin/chkconfig $f resetpriorities; done

Again, run package-cleanup --orphans to find packages that haven't been upgraded.

That's about it!

Chrome OS On Your Box

Google Shines

Unless you've been travelling the vast expanses of Siberia, the Amazonian forests, the north African desert, or a similar wasteland, you have probably heard of Google's Chrome OS. Following hot on the heals of their Google Chrome browser, the ChromeOS is designed primarily for laptops, notebooks, netbooks and will probably work on a tablet PC

To ensure, compatibility, speed and stability, Google restricted access to their OS. Primarily making it available pre-installed on new machines, to ensure a fast, stable, product for the user.

While following this line of logic, unfortunately it precludes users with existing hardware.

Ya know the scene, the machine ya bought with Windows pre-installed, which you tore off soon as you got it home, then quietly proceeded to install a Linux distro. Maybe Debian, Ubuntu, Arch or Fedora if you happen to favour RPMs.

Having wiped the evil empires efforts from your machine, and installed Linux, then you hear how good ChromeOS is on a light machine. Now you want to run ChromeOS. Only problem. Google does not offer a download site for their cool operating system. What to do next?

There is a way. Its not guaranteed to work 100%. Its not guaranteed to be headache free. But its still available to those that want it.

Hexxeh has been making ChromeOS available for download to the general public, since ChromeOS hit the streets.

hexxeh offers a daily release of ChromeOS that appears stable, and will probably work with your hardware.

ChromeOS is light, fast and frugal.

If you want to try it on your laptop or netbook, go to hexxeh website and download a USB image. Copy the image to your usb pen, and reboot your machine.

Try it, you might like it!

Using Yum

Yellowdog Updater Modified

Here's a quick simple howto for using YUM on a Fedora, Redhat, CentOS, or other RPM based system.

Update system
yum update

Search
yum search package-name

Info on package
yum info package-name

Install packages. Automatic resolution of dependencies
 yum install package-name

Uninstall packages
yum remove package-name

List Packages
available yum list|less

List all installed packages
yum list installed|less

List all installed packages need updating
yum list updates|less

Cleaning of the system

Yum can leave a lot of chaff on the system. The files are stored in the /var/cache/yum/ directory.  RPM packages can use up a lot of space.

Clean redundant RPM files
yum clean all

Group install
yum groupinstall "groupname"

Remember to include quotation marks

Search package names
yum list something

Find name of package containing file
yum provides filename

List packages recently added to repositories
yum list recent

List software groups
yum grouplist

Install a software group
yum groupinstall "groupname"

Update a group
yum groupupdate "groupname"

Include a yes switch in your request
Use -y for yes

Include a cashe switch in your request
Use -C for cache only

That's about it!

Fedora Add MS Core Fonts

MS Fonts

To add MS Core Web fonts to Fedora, open a terminal and do:

yum localinstall http://fedora.missingbox.co.nz/core-fonts.rpm --nogpgcheck

Restart your browser!

Emacs Dired Commands

Directory Editor

Dired is an extremely useful Emacs command set allowing you the ability to edit directories like files. Dired is invoked inside Emacs using C-x d, producing output similar to Bash 'ls -l' command. This allows file and subdirectory manipulation, which can be enacted immediately or marked for later execution.

Here's a list of useful Dired Commands:

C-x d  -- start dired mode
M-x dired -- start dired mode

Once dired mode starts the following keys effect the actions. Notice character input is upper case not lower.

d -- Delete
o -- open file in other window
v -- view file


C -- Copy
G -- Change group
M -- Chmod
O -- Chown
P -- Print
U -- Undo
X -- Shell command
Z -- Compress


C-g -- Cancel action

That's enough to get ya going!

Enjoy Yourself.

CouchSurfing

Free Bed By Any Other Name


In my efforts to find alternative means of travel accommodation I googled and checked out several forums with useful information for travellers. One site I came across was CouchSurfing.org. The idea behind CouchSurfing, being that if you need a floor or a sofa for one night, the good people making up the community of CouchSurfing will give you a bed down in a safe, warm, dry environment with no questions asked and no money demanded.

The site works hard to build a community spirit of fellow travellers, all willing to help and share. I feel its a grand, noble ideal that works sometimes.

I am sure you have been in a similar situation, where you hit a strange city, your only there one night, and wouldn't it be great to have a friendly host from the city, to offer you a free bed, coffee, breakfast, a chat, some site seeing, and other similar activities.

So like the good Netizen that I am I joined the site and paid my contribution of $25. Please note, this is not a "Joining Fee". This is a contribution. You can't join the site without a contribution, but its also not a fee. Err not sure how that one works, but it sure as hell looks like a joining fee to me. Oh Patrick you are the pessimist.

Of course if you are so moved you can "Contribute" more than $25, say $50, $100, or $200. There is no upper limit to how much you can throw into this communally spirited adventure.

Anyhow, I paid the minimum contribution and eagerly awaited verification. Ya see its a three stage process.

1. Join. Add your details and create a profile.

2. Make a contribution using a credit/debit card.

3. CouchSuring.org based in SF California, send a card to your home address, with a unique code. Enter the unique code and CouchSurfing knows you exist at that address.

After step 3 you are verified. Step 3 takes 4 - 6 weeks to complete, depending where you live in the world.

I joined and 2 weeks later I was jet-bound for Japan. I had already paid by credit/debit card, which is based at my home address. I am not going to hang around for another 2 - 4 weeks, rework my itinerary, just to get verified.

I am in Japan and I get an email from CouchSurfing asking if I have received my verification code. How do I know. I am spinning around the Nippon countryside. Anyhow, I don't let it get me down. I head out of Tokyo and aim for Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. I like Kyoto, its a wonderful place. So much to see. So many temples, monasteries, gardens, and an Imperial Palace too. Its a friendly place with a slower pace than Tokyo.

Allow me to digress for a moment. I will return to CouchSurfing soon. I stay a few nights at a Ryokan. This is a traditional Japanese Guest House. Tatami matting on the floor. Japanese bedding on the floor. Indoor Japanese garden. Low ceilings, Low doorways. Low Toilets. Low Showers. And plenty of banged heads. I have the cuts and scars on my scalp to prove it.

I am 6ft. 0in. Not overly tall for a Gaijin. But I can tell ya traditional Japanese homes are built with very short people in mind. The Japanese people are not particularly tall. Most Japanese, just about reach my shoulder. They can comfortable navigate a Ryokan with no great difficulty. I on the other hand, banged my head at least 6 - 8 times a day.

I love Japan. And I loved my time there, but I am just too tall for this place. Gimme dimensions that fit my frame. As I said earlier, I am not particularly tall. At School I was not the tallest kid in my class. Other kids towered above me. But I am just too damn tall for Nippon.

Back to CouchSurfing. I figure, look there are so many CouchSurfers willing to help, meet and host other CouchSufers, I should give it a try. I log into the CouchSurfing website, and do a search on CoachSurfers willing to host (ie allow total strangers to sleep in their home, on the floor or the sofa) in the Kyoto area. I find hundreds of members. Next I query who will allow me to stay for one night.

In CouchSufing, members can have 5 states:

1. Coffee Cup - They will meet for a chat, or a drink. No stay.
2. Aeroplane - They are on the road travelling. No stay.
3. Circle X - No stay. No matter what.
4. Couch ? - Maybe you can stay. Email me.
5. Couch - You can sleep on the floor or couch.

When I searched Kyoto hosts, I found hundreds and hundreds of 'Coffee Cup' hosts. ie they will meet you for a cup of tea, coffee, beer and a chat. Maybe even show you some of the local sites.

If you have lived on the road at any time and arrived in a strange city at 5am, just got off the bus. Had little sleep cos the bus driver insists on stopping at motorway service areas every 2 hours, the last you want at 5am is a cup of coffee or tea and a chat.

You want, a shower to remove the road grime and wake you a little.
You want to change those sweaty pants and 'T' shirt and put on a fresh clothes.
You want a little sleep. Maybe even 2 or 3 hours sleep. Anything will do.

Back to the search. Results come in and by the hundreds, I have lonely hosts that want to meet for coffee and a chat. I found 2 hosts willing to allow a Gaijin to crash on their floor for the night. I do not exaggerate or lie. I found 2 hosts.

I email them both, via the website requesting a couch for the night. One of them took the time to respond, but two days after I left Kyoto. The other host did not bother to respond.

I thought maybe its me and the fact I am not Japanese. You must remember, most Japanese are very cautious people. They feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and vulnerable with strangers, and particularly tall white skinned westerners.

I thought maybe its just me and the Japanese CouchSurfers dont get on.

I want to move on from Japan to another country and look at possibilities. I am not sure where I want to go next. I just search on various countries that I may visit in the near future.

I search on Korea.

I find 10 willing to host.

CouchSurfing appears to be particularly strong in Europe. So I guess I will get better results there.

I search on Holland.

Of the hundreds and hundreds of search results, I find, 1 host. A single host. And that had strings attached.

I search on my home city of London, England.

Again, I get hundreds and hundreds of results. Again I find only 4 willing to host.

CouchSurfing boasts having over 3,000,000 members world wide.

For your elucidation, 2,999,990 are all willing to meet, have a cup of coffee or tea and a chat. As for the remaining 10 members willing to give you a Couch for the night. You will have to email them and see when they are not busy, or not on the road themselves trying to find an empty couch for the night.

In closing I must add. I did meet a few people in the forums that were genuine and willing to help. Not with a Couch or bed, but with advice, help, shared experience and other useful info.

I will leave it there.

On The Road

Gone Gone Gone


haven't posted recently as I had a mountain of work to do throughout June and the beginning of July. Soon as the workload was finished, I hit the road for an extended break.

As anyone that has read the blog can guess I was living in England. I decided I needed to get away from my present life and do something way different.

I flew 6,000 miles to Japan, to spend time here travelling around, meeting people, sampling the culture, gawking at the amazing structures and struggling with the language.

I bought one of those Japanese Language Survival books. I spent quite a while in the book store browsing through the available English language books. Remember everything here is in Kanji - Chinese script.

I found one that looked useful. But I was wrong. Its turned out to be pretty awful.

All the road signs, railroad stations, buses, bus stops, maps, everything is written in Kanji.

Few people speak English. I read somewhere its only 10% of the population, and they are mostly located in the big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and so on. Once you move out the cities, you may as well use sign-language to communicate. You have a better chance.

After my first Japanese language book purchase, I heard about a second hand book store in a Tokyo suburb selling English language books. I made my way across town and hunted it. It was located on the second floor of a modern block. Took me close to an hour to find it, even with the help of natives.

I spent over two hours searching for the right book. Having learnt from my initial mistake, I eventually settled on three books that have turned out to be an excellent choice. In addition, when I got to Osaka, I realised I could not survive any longer without a Japanese/English - English/Japanese dictionary. I found a good one at KinoKunya, a modern bookstore with branches all over Japan. It has over eight floors of books.

One big problem with so many Japanese language books, is they promise, if you buy the book, you will be speaking the language in no time. Or maybe just a couple of hours. Yeah right.

What they don't tell you is even if you can get the question or statement out and pronounce it correctly, when the Japanese dude or lady you are talking too smiles and thinks you can understand Japanese. Then response at 10,000 miles an hour in a language you can barely grasp and I dialect you never heard before. You're gonna be baffled and grinning like an idiot. Nodding your head, pretending to have caught at least a little of what they said.

Another headache for Net and Web users are the keyboards. They are laid out real odd, with plenty of Kanji characters keeping the Latin alphabet company. If you're used to touch-typing on a western style keyboard, be prepared for some interesting surprises.

Anyhow its getting late and I have limited Internet access. Gone are the days of all day limitless Broadband.

So I gotta go.

I will try to post again soon on my adventures in the land of the rising sun.

Sayonara.

Fedora 15 Adding Repos

RPM Fusion

Like Debian Linux, Fedora Linux comes with standard free software repos as a default.

If you want non-free software or something a little exotic, you need to add the essential repos.

You want RPM Fusion.

RPM Fusion is a merger of Dribble, Freshrpms, and Livna repos.
 
RPM Fusion offers software that Fedora and Red Hat don't offer.

RPM Fusion Non-Free repo requires some packages from the free repo, so both need to be added.

In your browser click the following two links to run install scripts to add both repos to your Fedora system:

RPM Fusion free for Fedora 13, 14 and 15

RPM Fusion nonfree for Fedora 13, 14 and 15


When the script runs, press yes to the questions to allow the install. You may have to give root password at one point.

After the install scripts finish, in an Xterm or similar, as root user run:

yum update

This updates the repo database.

Now you can search and install exotic packages not available from Fedora.

Done!

Google Chrome On Fedora 15

Get Chrome

Installing Google Chrome on Fedora 15 64-bit is relatively simple, once you add the Chrome Repo to the Repos directory.

As root user, change directory to /etc/yum.repos.d.

Use Emacs, Vim, or any other editor and add the following:

[google64]
name=Google - x86_64
baseurl=http://dl.google.com/linux/rpm/stable/x86_64
enabled=1
gpgcheck=1
gpgkey=https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub


Save the file as google.repo

This adds the 64-bit Chrome repo.

Next run the following yum command:

yum install google-chrome-stable

When quizzed, press 'y' to answer 'yes'.

Yum install will run to completion.

Click 'Activities' > 'Internet' > Google Chrome

You got Chrome.

If you want 32-bit add the following repo instead:

[google]
name=Google - i386
baseurl=http://dl.google.com/linux/rpm/stable/x86_64
enabled=1
gpgcheck=1
gpgkey=https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub

Then run the yum command:

yum install google-chrome-stable

You have Chrome 32-bit installed.

Firefox Mouse Gestures

That Means

Firefox has a cool add-on called Mouse Gestures. Its an easy way to manipulate the Firefox browser using your mouse instead of the keyboard, menu or toolbar.

Moving the mouse in a particular fashion, creates a gesture. Firefox interprets the gesture as a command action and responds accordingly. Mouse Gestures provide fast acces to common functions.

You can use gestures to:

Go Forward

Go Back

Switch Tabs

Open Links

Control Text

Image Size

And many other functions.

A cool fast way to manipulate Firefox. There's just one draw back at the present time. Mouse Gestures only works with Firefox versions up to 3.0.3

You can find Mouse Gestures at this URL:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/mouse-gestures-redox/

Try it. You might like it.

Done!

Using Cut With Date Command

Cut Chop Dice

If you want to get the time without the other date info, use 'cut' command. You can cut fields to eliminate data you don't want displayed.

When you give the 'date' command it normally prints time and date. The output looks like this:

$ date
Sun May 15 13:15:36 BST 2011

If you only want to print the time, use 'cut' with -c.

$ date | cut -c 12-19
13:15:46

Here we pipe 'date' output to 'cut' and cut everything except columns 12 - 19.

We only get the time to display.

Try it on text strings.

Done!

Copy Home Directory

Home Sweet Home

If you want a quick 'n' easy way to copy your home directory to another disk, or just to copy a bunch of files effortlessly, use the following command:

cp -avx /home /new/path

This will copy everything in your home directory including hidden files.

It will retain file ownership and creation data.

You can also use tar to copy /home

Use the following command:

(cd /home; tar cf - .)|(cd /new_home; tar pxvf -)

This does the same as cp -a

Preserving mode, time, ownership, and other data. It also copies symlinks, hidden files and subdirs.

Thats about it!

The Boot Process

Bootstrappin'
The boot process is the magic that makes your hardware come alive. You may not dwell on it, the process by which your cold, static, inanimate box kicks in, is a wonder of modern science.

The process begins when you press the power button.

Here's how it works:

Booting is a multi-stage process:

Stage I

Read the BIOS ROM.

o Power Up

The first stage when switch on your machine is the surge of electricity to the power supply. This needs to be regulated so a steady stream can be pumped to the computer. Once the supply is regulated, a reset signal is sent to the CPU.

o BIOS ROM

Processor checks the end of system memory (the BIOS ROM) for a boot program it can load. This always resides at the same location in every BIOS: 0xF0000 to 0xFFFFF. The BIOS ROM always resides at the and of system memory.

o BIOS POST

Next the system runs POST to check all is healthy and A-OK. If it gets the all clear, it continues with the boot. If its a minor fault it beeps.

o Video BIOS

Next it reads and runs the video cards BIOS. This is located at: 0xC000 in memory.

o ATA BIOS

Next it looks for other BIOS on the system and reads them. This is normally the ATA disk drive BIOS located at: 0xC800.

o BIOS Display

The system then displays the familiar BIOS screen.

o Memory Check

BIOS now checks system memory and displays a total count.

System Check

Now BIOS performs system check to see what hardware is on the system.

o PnP Check

Now BIOS checks for Plug n Play devices on the system, and echos a message on screen for each one it finds

o BIOS Summary

BIOS displays a summary of system config. This includes serial ports and their I/O port addresses. The ports are:

  0x3F8/IRQ4 (COM1)
  0x2F8/IRQ3 (COM2)
  0x3E8/IRQ4 (COM3)
  0x2E8/IRQ3 (COM4)

Parallel ports, normally only one:

  0x378/IRQ7 (LPT1)
  0x278/IRQ5 (LPT2)

o Boot Device

The BIOS searches for a device to boot.

o Target Device

After identifying the target boot device, the BIOS now searches hard disk for cylinder 0, head 0, sector 1. (The first sector on the disk).

Stage II

o Bootable Device

If the BIOS finds a bootable device at cylinder 0, head 0, sector 1. It loads the code into memory to move to stage two of the boot sequence. This is boot0, a simple program it lists the available slices you can boot from, if you have multi-OS on your system. If not this jumps straight to boot1

Next it reads and executes boot1. Boot1 is only 512 bytes, and stores information about the slice to find and execute boot2.

Boot2 understands the filesystem enough to find files on it, and choose the kernel or loader to run.

At this point you can boot into single user mode (boot -s), load and unload kernel or modules, load config scripts.

o MBR

MBR layout always follow a standard format independent of the OS. The first 446 bytes are reserved for program code. The next 64 bytes hold space for a partition table up to four partitions. Without a partition table the disk could not be read. The last two bytes contain a special magic number (AA55).

o NoBootable Device

If it cannot find a bootable device, it diplays an error message and halts.

o Warm Boot, Cold Boot

The above process applies to a cold boot. A warm boot is the same except the POST is skipped and the boot process continues from step 8.

Stage III

o Kernel

Once the kernel has finished booting, it passes control to init the last stage of the boot process, Init checks file systems for inconsistencies, if it finds any, it runs fsck to correct errors. If these are corrected the boot continues, if not it drops to single-use mode for sys admin to correct.

If the filesystems are found to be okay, the system enters multi-user mode, and runs resource configuration of the system. The system reads defaults from /etc/defaults/rc.conf and system specifics from /etc/rc.conf. It mounts the filesystems in /etc/fstab, starts networking services, various daemons, and finally the startup scripts of locally installed packages. See rc(8) for further reference.

o Shutdown

If the shutdown command is run, init will attempt to run /etc/rc.shutdown, and send all process the TERM signal, if they don't respond, it will issue KILL signal.

At this point the machine powers down and its systems off.

Done!

Permanently Delete Files From Hard Disk Drive

Gone
You've probably read stories of someone getting an old computer and finding megabytes of sensitive or personal data stored on the hard disk drive. Simply deleting a file does not remove the data from the disk.

When you delete a file, the Operating System does not remove the data itself, it only deletes a reference to the data for that file. It erases details about the location of the data stored on disk. An table entry is deleted. The data itself is not touched. It continues to sit there on disk. Over time and with usage, some data is overwritten, as the Operating Systems uses more disk space. But this in itself is no guarantee that sensitive or personal data on disk, cannot be recovered.

There are stacks of free utilities to recover or undelete files. Google undelete utility and see how many free utils exist for download.

Even running a format will not delete the data residing on disk. A normal format (a high-level format) only lays out the disk with sectors and writes up a table for the new layout. Its still possible to recover old data after a format.

To permanently remove data from disk, you need to overwrite every binary digit (bit) of every sector on disk with zeros or random garbage.

There are a number of ways to achieve this:

Zero Fill Disk Drive

Zero filling a disk drive overwrites the existing data with a zero. All data on disk is represented by 1's and 0's. Overwriting every digit with a zero effectively fills the disk with... err zero. There will be nothing useful on disk.

To zero the first partition on an EIDE drive use the following command:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1M

For a the second partition use:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hdb bs=1M

For the third partition use:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hdc bs=1M

As you can see you increment the letter (hda, hdb, hdc) for the next partition.

If its a SCSI disk or a SATA drive use:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M

For a the second partition use:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=1M

Etc, etc, etc.

DBAN - Darik's Boot And Nuke

Download and burn a copy of DBAN - Darik's Boot And Nuke

This utility will permanently wipe any existing from your disk by overwriting it, so no data can be undeleted or recovered. DBAN overwrites the whole disk with zeros or randam garbage. DBAN also overwrites the partition table, making data recovery virtually impossible.

DBAN is fairly easy to use. After downloading, and burning to compact disk. Place CD in drive and reboot. (You may need to change the boot order in the BIOS). DBAN gets to work, re-arranging those bits. On older, slower hardware, it can take some time to wipe clean. Consider running overnight. DBAN runs unattended and is useful for wiping several disks.

DBAN is a Linux derived product.

Wipe Utility

A nice utility is Wipe. Its available in the main repository Debian or Ubuntu repositories for download.

aptitude install wipe

You have an easy to use utility to securely wipe and permanently erase data from your disk drives. From the man page:

wipe -rcf /home/bark/text/

Wipe every file under /home/bark/text/ including /home/bark/text/. Recursive wipe (-r) and don't ask for confirmation (-f). Files without correct permission will be chmod'd (-c).

wipe -kq /dev/sdb1

Wipes all data from the first partition on the second SCSI/SATA disk drive, using the quick option (-q). Before starting it will ask you to confirm.

On a fast multicore machine, an 18GB SCSI disk took 7 mins to wipe with four passes. A 72GB SCSI disk took 26 mins with four passes. For large size disks you probably want to run the Wipe utility overnight.

Done!

Firefox 4 In 4 Easy Steps - Debian

Quick 'n' Easy

Due to a trademark dispute, Firefox under Debian is re-branded as Iceweasel.

If you try to upgrade to the latest version, Firefox 4, you may have some difficulty.

Here's a fast easy method to install Firefox 4 on Debian:

1. Step One

Add the following entry in /etc/apt/sources.list (or a new file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/:)

deb http://mozilla.debian.net/ squeeze-backports-4.0 iceweasel

2. Step Two

Run update

apt-get update

3. Step Three

Install with apt-get

apt-get install-t squeeze-backports iceweasel

4. Step Four

Launch and enjoy.

Iceweasel

Done!

Mystique Of The Debian Swirl

Magic Smoke

The Debian Swirl logo is known to many Linux users. Some have queried what it represents, with many theories offered for its symbolism.

In fact there are two Debian logos, the Swirl comprises the top part of a larger image, showing the smoke emanating from a bottle, as a magic genie would in a Hollywood animation.

The Debian Official Use Logo
The Debian Official Use Logo is the red swirl coming out the genie’s bottle and may only be used for official parts of the Debian project, or by Debian developers. 


Debian Official Use Logo


The Debian Open Use Logo
The Debian OS may be referred to using just the swirl which is called The Debian Open Use Logo. The logos exist to protect Debian’s property from mis-use, which could harm its reputation.


Debian Open Use Logo

The logos were designed by Raul M. Silva in 1999, as part of a Debian logo contest. The designer, Raul Silva, never made any public statements about the logo's symbolism.

The logo's can be found on the Debian web site and are available for download.

Some of the theories for the logo's meaning:
  • The bottle represents the Debian community's collective effort, producing the magic swirl - the Debian OS.
  • Bruce Perens, famous advocate of free software and former Debian Project Leader suggests:

    The swirl is “magic smoke”. Electrical engineer lore has it that when you burn out an electronic component, you cause the “magic smoke” that makes it work to be released. Once the magic smoke is gone, the component doesn’t work any longer. Debian is supposed to be the magic smoke that makes your computer work.
  • In Pixar’s 1995 animation Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear had a red swirl on his chin. The movie may have been an inspiration for the logo. Bruce Perens worked at Pixar for 12 years. 
I guess nobody knows for sure, but I like Perens offering.

Yeah. I'll go with the "Magic Smoke".