Friday, December 29, 2006

Free Laptops from Microsoft reveals that certain bloggers are receiving free high-end laptop computers from Microsoft.

So where's my free laptop, Mr Gates? Here on my extremely popular Microsoft shill site I am saying nice things about MS all the time, as I'm sure both of my readers would gladly attest.

For example: in which I said, "People are going to want to buy this".

Also, this article about Vista, in which I say, "You know you want it."

See, I am totally pro-Microsoft, and completely deserving of free stuff.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Weekly Debian Nubiles #6

Did you ever get the feeling that maybe all of the adults have left the Debian project for greener pastures (ie Ubuntu)? When you read about developers deliberately sabotaging the release of Etch ( - see also here) do you just think "Oh well, another candidate for the famous Linux Hissy-Fit Award" or do you possibly begin to wonder if this points to a deeper, darker, drearier and - notwithstanding my amazing powers of alliteration - way way dastardlier plot.

Yes, brave reader, welcome to this week's Weekly Debian Nubiles - the column that dares to ask the undarable questions, to climb the unclimbable heights, to view the unviewable porn... And the important question for this week is, are we dealing with a bunch of selfish thirteen year old primadonnas who apparently don't give a toss about Debian? And if so, how attractive is Opensuse looking right now?

These questions, and many others, will be answered a little later. Well, probably much later. By somebody else. This is because Weekly Debian Nudes is the column which dares to ask the undarable questions, not answer them, and also on account of my legendary reluctance to get involved in any actual research.

Anyway, in other news the release critical bug count continues to decline, despite the resistance of certain treacherous developers who will remain nameless to protect the guilty, and also on account of my legendary reluctance to get involved in any actual research. Those guys will no doubt rot in the pits of some hideous hell that looks remarkably like the first level of Doom, or Quake, or Duke Nukem, or whichever one it was had the scene with the hidden porn in the movie theatre... But I seem to have become distracted again, so will now move on, cleverly avoiding any recognition that my own imagination has become atrophied out of all existence by years of mindless computer games. Damn solitaire.

Finally, in the major news item for this week, the long awaited Ubuntu Satanic Edition has been released and will no doubt soon burst onto your screen with lots of fire and brimstone and chocolate sauce, just like in that Buffy episode with the demon in the computers.

All hail the anti-buntu.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Weekly Debian Nudes #5 - because it doesn't need to be weekly to be called weekly

Let me tell you a story. It is not about a man named Jed. Well, it could be - what with all those thousands of Debian developers out there, one of them might be called Jed. You never know.

But for now, let's just assume that this story is not about a man named Jed. Instead, let us pretend it is about a bunch of guys who think it might be kinda neat to put together some software from various places, test it, refine it, and release it to the world as something called a "distribution".

Let us also pretend that these guys have a strange and inexplicable policy of releasing their "distribution" only when it is really ready to be released. If this policy does not seem strange to you, then most likely you do not work in the software industry, or have never heard of Duke Nukem 3d.

Anyway, these guys go about their happy mission, releasing high quality distributions whenever the holy spirits move them, or, you know, whenever they've been off the spirits long enough, though there be years between releases and the rest of the world has long overtaken them, in terms of functionality at least.

Then, one day, along comes the Dunc Tank, a group whose name apparently derives from some kind of pool games, although it might be nice if they could learn how to spell dunk. Regardless of how you spell it, this Dun[c|k] Tank is made up of some guys who think it might be nice to get the next release of Debian out on time for a change. To this end, and apparently oblivious to the
fact that in the context of the larger group's policy "on time" really just means "when it is ready", the Dunc Tank resolves to pay certain prominent developers to meet the release goals - specifically December 4, 2006.

Which brings me, in a roundabout kind of way, to the point of the story - since the last Weakly Debian Nudes the expected release date for Debian 4.0 (Etch) has passed, with no release in sight. I guess I could have just said that, without the whole story thing, but then what would I fill up the rest of this post with?

Anyway, I suppose this means the whole Dunc Tank experiment was a failure, admittedly from the viewpoint of an outsider, and admittedly from the viewpoint of an outsider who has done no research whatsoever and really doesn't care very much about accuracy.

Now you may notice that, since the goals of Dunc and Debian vary considerably, this is not a failure for Debian. Debian fails only if the next release is not of sufficient quality and stability, and from the viewpoint of this desktop user Etch is already of higher quality than Sarge ever was.

Next week in the Weekly Debian Nudies: Silence. Glorious silence.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Yay Sun!


If I had a dollar for every time Sun announced that they were going to release Java under an open source license, I would be able to buy a really nice lunch instead of this nasty sandwich.

And every time they so announce there is this huge "Yaaaay for Sun!!!" cry from all and sundry.

The thing is, saying it is not doing it. Doing is an entirely different thing to saying. You get that, right?

Sun: We are going to open source Java.

Everyone: Yippeee yippee cheer cheer.

Sun: Wow, I think we'll say that again next month.

Maybe if you all stop giving them credit for the doing stuff, when they're really only exercising the jawbone, then just maybe they might actually get around to releasing some of that Java you've all been hanging out for.

Not me. I don't give a toss about Java.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's Alive!!

Make-live is a brilliant new method of making stuff live without all that messing around in hyperspace. (<-- non-sequitur HHGTG reference. Sorry) Or, to put it another way, make-live is a brilliant new method for creating a zombie army of flesh-eating slaves.

Or, to put it a slightly less wildly inaccurate way, make-live is a brilliant Debian application for creating an up-to-date Debian live CD. What is a "live CD", you ask? Well I'll tell you. Or, rather, I won't. Sorry.

Oh, ok, dammit, take a look here: and don't say I never do anything for you. Instead, please say that I rarely do anything for you - it's more accurate, and makes you look kind of generous. Trust me, I know about stuff.

Anyway, once you've installed make-live (apt-get install live-package) you can just type "make-live" to automagically build an iso of your very own Debian live CD. It really is as simple as that. Well, it is that simple if you don't mind downloading all of the required packages each time you wish to build a CD. This can be hundreds of MB at a time.

To avoid this, you're going to want to use some kind of proxy on your local network, or your local machine. I recommend apt-cacher (apt-get install apt-cacher). Then you're going to edit (as root) the file at /etc/make-live.conf and change the various repositories to point at your proxy. For example, using apt-cacher on the local machine, you would change the following line:

Now each package will only be downloaded once. If I were not quite so lazy I would point out here that this is also a very useful method to avoid unnecessary downloads if you have more than one Debian machine on your network. But I won't, on account of aforementioned laziness.

To build a KDE based live CD, instead of typing "make-live", type "make-live -p kde" or "make-live -p kde-extra" to get extra stuff. There are also Gnome and XFCE versions of the above command.

The configuration file includes options to specify additional packages to be installed (Firefox is a popular example. Well, it is popular with me. Ok, I thought about adding it but didn't bother.), additional files to be included in the image, Which Debian distribution is to be used (unstable is the default), and other stuff that I am not going into right now on account of it is all rather complicated and did I mention I am lazy? Thought so.

So, there you have it. Now you can build your very own zombie army Debian Live CD. No need to thank me - just click on the Google ad - and remember, there are no flesh-eating zombies, I did not mention flesh-eating zombies, and I have exactly zero plans for world domination. Look at the google ad. Concentrate on the google ad. You are feeling sleepy...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Installing Nvidia Drivers in Etch

For some time now the Nvidia drivers have been missing from the Debian Etch repositories.

Naturally it is possible to use Nvidia's own installer, however I prefer to avoid bypassing the package management system where possible, and you should too. Because I say so, and I am right.

Here's how:
  1. apt-get install module-assistant
  2. Next you need an Unstable repository available. This is done by editing the /etc/apt/sources.list file and adding this on a new line, but without the quotes - "deb unstable main non-free contrib"
  3. apt-get update
  4. m-a prepare
  5. m-a auto-install nvidia
  6. apt-get install nvidia-glx
  7. Edit /etc/apt/sources.list again and remove that new line, or comment it with a # at the beginning of the line.
  8. apt-get update
All steps must be performed as root. (At a command prompt type "su" then enter the root password) Once you're done, type "exit" to exit from the root shell.

It is possible to do all steps except for 4 and 5 using Synaptic, but I will not go into that here, on account of I am lazy.

  1. Anonymous points out that it is also necessary to edit your xorg.conf file to replace "nv" with "nvidia". Absolutely. Not sure how I missed that step.
  2. Nvidia drivers are available in Etch again, so this guide is no longer necessary, although still potentially useful if you need more recent drivers.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Thing About Beagle

Beagle is a desktop search tool for Gnome. I thought I might give it a go, because sometimes I need to find things. Since I am using KDE I also installed Kerry, which is a KDE front end for Beagle. All of this can be accomplished in Debian as follows:

apt-get install kerry

Phew, that was tricky. I can see why those windows guys find Linux sooo difficult. It is waaaaay easier to go to some random website, download an installer, pray that it is safe, double-click on the installer, click "Yes, I do agree to all of these outrageous license terms and I don't mind that it includes spyware, and adware", click Next, Next, Next, and finally reboot a couple of times.

Linux sure has a lot of catching up to do in the area of software installation.

But I digress. It's what I do best.

The idea with Beagle/Kerry is to make it easier to find stuff on your computer, or, as the Beagle folks put it "Beagle is a search tool that ransacks your personal information space to find whatever you're looking for. Beagle can search in many different domains."

Beagle can search based on file name, and on the contents of the many file formats it understands. And it is damn fast. Beagle can index your emails, documents, web history, and many other things that I am waaay too lazy to deliniate here.

So, anyway, Beagle and Kerry are now installed. You'll find Kerry under "Utilities" in the KDE menu. When first run it needs to index your system, which can take some time. You can use Kerry before this is finished, but don't expect a complete set of results.

Here's how you use Kerry: Type your search term. Press Enter.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work.

"Ah," says the reader. "We've come to the bit." And you would be right. This is the bit, and here it is. The thing about Beagle is that it misses stuff. Really really obvious stuff. I tested by searching for a file called "revaddress" in my home directory. No results. Huh?

Well, has it not finished indexing my home folder? Unlikely - I left it two days before testing.

Maybe I'm just not holding my mouth right.

I tried a different file, this time with the tip of my tongue sticking out the corner of my mouth to show how determined I was. Beagle found this one. Tried a few more searches for known files. Some were found. Others not. Perhaps there is a pattern of some kind, but if there is my enormous brain was not able to discern it during my exhaustive five second examination.

There is another bit. I was happy with Beagle's ability to search my Thunderbird mail folders, however when I clicked on a search result in order to open the message, Kerry failed with an error:

"Could not start process Unable to create io-slave:

klauncher said: Unknown protocol 'mailbox'. "

Update: Just now got a new version (0.2) of Kerry from the Debian repositories, and this error no longer appears. Instead, when I click on a search result to view the original email nothing whatsoever happens. So, they're half way to fixing the problem, I guess.

There is another bit. It is this. Beagle/Kerry use bucket-loads of memory, which I'm sure has been covered elsewhere so I don't know why I bothered mentioning it here, except that, for me, it means Beagle will be disappearing from my system pronto - for some reason I'm not keen to have ten percent of my RAM chewed up by a process that I might use, maybe, if you're really lucky, once or twice a month.

By the way, bucket-loads is a technical term - you probably wouldn't understand it, because it is so technical.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Vista Crippleware

Vista DRM

People are going to want to buy this crap? Does nobody else have a problem with paying for deliberately crippled software?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Microsoft Firefox

Excellent new product from Microsoft. I wonder if they make a version for Linux.

I particularly like this bit: " Tired of slow image rendering? Microsoft Firefox 2007 can deliver online pornography at blazing fiery speeds. By using a proprietary dynamic algorithm, anything that remotely resembles a tit or a boob will download up to 10 times faster!"

Friday, November 10, 2006

Weakly Debian Nudes #4

Nothing happened this week. Sorry.

But that never stopped me before, so let's begin with the strange rumour that Novell is having Microsoft's love child. This kind of thing is completely unwarranted, and the people spreading these fabrications - bloggers, analysts, so called "Novell Spokespersons" - really need to, well, knock it off. Novell have enough going on at the moment without having to deal with this kind of unfounded innuendo - why they still need to figure out a way to take advantage of Oracle's recent attempt to cripple Red Hat.

Moving on to some slightly more debian-related bits. On the debian-security mailing list this week Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña said:
$ diff -u /usr/share/doc/php5-common
/examples/php.ini-dist \
/usr/share/doc/php5-common/examples/php.ini-paranoid |less

You know, just to show that I do read the mailing lists. Or I did read one of them, once. Well, security is important and all that.

And from the "Intranet is for porn" department, Christian of reports that for some strange and unknown reason the word "nudes" is now one of the top four search phrases leading to his site. I offered to help, but was told to sod off and that I had, apparently "done quite enough already thank you very much", whatever that means.

But on to the famed "Linux Hissy-Fit Award" and we find that for the first time in living memory the recipient is not connected with the Debian project. Please welcome Dave Jones, who has quite a bit to say about a recent review of Fedora. Apparently Dave is a bit miffed. Onya Dave, firstly for giving me an excuse to use the word "miffed" in a sentence, and secondly for discovering that Ubuntu is the root of all evil. (<-- tenuous Debian link in this story)

Miffed is a great word. I call on bloggers to use the word "miffed" in your next post. If we all make the effort "miffed" can be elevated to the recognition it so richly deserves. Forget "wtf", and "rtfm", and "meh", and "pfy". Get "miffed" - you know you want to.

In local news, I tried Beagle/Kerry on my box and was mostly underwhelmed. Story to follow, if I can be bothered.

Well that about wraps it up for another illuminating episode of the Wonky Debian Nudes! In next week's Wankly Debian Nudes, the ever changing title of this series undergoes a transformation that surprises, and possibly shocks, even the most hardened of analysts. I can't reveal too much quite yet, but, well, let's just say that it may or may not involve some kind of covenant with a little-known monopolist in the software industry. Yes, I may or may not be working to preserve the right of my readers, and only my readers, to make smart arsed comments without fear of infringing certain patents related to smart-arsedness.

But I have said too much.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Weekly Debian Nudes #3 - or "How to flog a dead horse"

And here, once again, flying in the face of common sense, of good taste, comes the legendary Weekly Debian Nudes, determination in every line of its features, like a superhero who has accidentally strayed onto the wrong blog.

Yes, despite the fact that the genuine Debian Weekly News has been published this week, and despite that fact that the reader has no doubt woken up to the realization that I know nothing whatsoever about anything that is going on in the Debian project and mostly just ramble on a bit about whatever has happened on my computer lately (Well, I am running Debian, so that counts as Debian news, right?), not to mention making up some stuff about Debian people I have never met, and then finally throwing in a few sentences so long that by the time you get to the end of them we've all forgotten what they were supposed to be about.... Where was I?

Ah, right; I was explaining that this right here is the third issue of the famous Weekly Debian Nudes, which totally deserves to be in bold.

Firstly, and this is the bit where we get to the actual news, Debian Weekly News has returned, although indications are it will no longer be a weekly, so that just goes to show how great I am.

But just in case you still don't get it - I am great.

In other news, Technoblogical posted a really fab article on Documentation in Debian, which contains almost two coherent sentences. That may be a record of some kind.

Debian Sarge has been updated again (Release 4) , and Etch is still on target for a December release, but don't quote me on that, mostly because I didn't say it.

Ubuntu 5.04 is now officially unsupported, like a win98 in an XP world. Oh how the rolling panoramic Vistas call poor old 5.04 on to Valhalla, where courageous mixed-metaphors party like it's some kind of eternal 1999.

But on to the important stuff.

It has been reported, and a recent study confirms, that almost all of the Debian developers shower naked.

"What?!" Suddenly the reader's ears prick up at the prospect of finally seeing some good hardcore shagging, before realizing that this is the "Weekly Debian Nudes", and the prospect of any actual nudity is very slim indeed, which is more than I can say for many of those Debian developers.

The reader's ears then go on to win several major literary prizes for their article entitled Why "reader's ears" can't possibly see anything, in which they explain that ears are not eyes, and that the likelihood of "reader's ears" realizing anything about the Weekly Debian Nudes is also extremely remote, on account of them being ears, and not brains, and that therefore Ben is a bit of a moron and can't write to save his elbow. I mean his life. You know what I mean.

In next week's episode we finally see some actual content. Also in next week's episode, the reader's ears are disappointed to find that my promises of actual content were, as usual, without substance. Finally, in next week's episode, it turns out that after winning several million dollars in the lottery I find it increasingly difficult to give a toss about actual content.

I think I shall buy a packet of Tim Tams that never runs out.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Deb Help Me Now

Our last best hope for docs
There is a vast array of documentation installed with your typical Linux distribution. There are the ancient and venereal - uh, venerable - manpages, which are kind of like the Vorlons of documentation (<-- obscure Babylon 5 reference). There are the more recent info pages, which are kind of like that fake Vorlon in that episode with the fake Vorlon in it.

Finally, there are all of the others - html docs, changelogs, readme files, plus of course, The Oracle and that annoying brat who bends spoons.

Traditionally manpages are accessed via the "man" command. To find out more about "man", type "man man" at a command prompt. Info works kinda the same. (Type "man info" to read the manual for "info"). And, yes, in case you're wondering, "man" is short for "manual".

The third group (html, changelogs, etc) are not so easy to access. Firstly you need to find out where they are, then load them in the appropriate application. Actually, first you need to know that they exist, but let's not get all pedantic now. None of this is difficult, of course; in Debian, for example, you can just type "dpkg -L <Package Name>" to see the locations of all files installed by a particular package.

Still, it would be nice to have all of this stuff in one place. And, of course, since this is Debian, somebody has already thought of that. More than one someone, in fact...

Enter the dhelp
dhelp is a command line program that pulls all of that other stuff together. Install dhelp via Synaptic, or by typing "apt-get install dhelp". Typing "dhelp <Package Name>" searches the documentation for the package mentioned, then launches your browser to display the results. If you are not in X, it will use a text mode browser, such as lynx. Typing "dhelp" on its own will show you an index of available documention, organized by section.

Now this is pretty neat, but it gets better. If you also install the info2www and man2html packages dhelp can also display manpages and info pages, although these also require a web server be installed. (apache or httpd).

All available documentation via one interface? That's pretty neat.

dwww is much the same as dhelp. dwww is prettier, but will always require Apache. If you don't mind having another daemon running on your system, install dwww instead.

This dwww addon is a browser based frontend to the package manager. It allows dwww to display full details of packages.

This paragraph is the summary. See, I am really good at writing stuff.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Assume the Position

This guy is out of his tree if he thinks users will rise up as one and reject Vista on the basis of this insanely restrictive EULA.

Mark my words (I always wanted to say that), you are about to see millions of users bend over as one and intone the time-honored Litany to Microsoft - "Do it to me, Billy, one more time! Pleeeeease..."

You know you want it.

IRC Funny

It's funny because it's funny. Or is that too technical for you?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Weekly Debian News #2

And once more the glory of the Weekly Debian Nudes bursts onto your screens, like a particularly colorful pimp, resplendent in its purple sports coat and orange suede shoes.

Firstly, from the mailing lists, comes the news that I still steadfastly refuse to read the mailing lists. Please insert rant about how newsgroups are soooo much better right about here. I would do it myself, but fear such a feat might require the ability to form some kind of rational argument. Pity really.

The tremendously exciting news this week, of course, is that Gnome 2.16 packages have begun to appear in unstable. As a KDE user I am uncertain why this is exciting, but it sure sounds better than "the tremendously boring news..."

Speaking of upgrades, kde, or most of it, has been upgraded in Etch, from 3.5.4 to 3.5.5. This is a bugfix release, and the changelog is in that place which contains the changelog. What, I should find it for you? You don't know how to spell google?

This week's Linux hissy-fit award goes to Debian, as usual. Sigh. Just once I'd like to see somebody else win it. I mean, apart from Theo. Theo doesn't count, because he is BSD.

I manage to write a second issue. Of course this is the really big, and no doubt entirely unexpected, news. Although it would have been a whole lot more unexpected were there any actual content... but moving right along folks, we come to the final exhibit:

Ubuntu 6.10, Edgy Eft, has been released, or will have been by the time you read this. Ok, it's not exactly Debian, but I think I may have mentioned that I am not hung up on accuracy. Or proper grammar. or punctuation. or speeelling.

Anyway, I have it on good authority that every tenth customer will receive an actual Eft. I don't know how they manage to fit them in a CD sleeve, but leaving that aside for now because I seem to have forgotten the punch line, we shall instead move onto some very important advice as to the proper way to care for your Eft. Firstly, they only eat freshly killed orangutans. Secondly, you should never feed your Eft after midnight, just like in that movie. Whatever it was called.

And that's all for this week, so it's good night from me, and remember; just because you "apt get install bum", doesn't mean you're gay.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Raw Surfing - To Porn Or Not To Porn

Surfraw. You know you want to.

No, this is not about naked websurfing, although I suspect such an article might be a whole lot more popular. An idea for the future perhaps...

But for now, let us consider Surfraw, a handy command-line program for finding stuff online. No, no, not porn. Well maybe a bit, but not nearly as much as the title of this post suggests. Sorry about that.

In Debian (Etch or Sid) you can install Surfraw using apt. If you would rather use Synaptic for installing software, then you are not really in the target demographic for this program. Please go back to your Firefox, and your Opera, and all those other wimpy graphical thingies.

The Surfraw guys describe sr(Surfraw) thusly:
Surfraw - Shell Users' Revolutionary Front Rage Against the World Wide Web

Surfraw provides a fast unix command line interface to a variety of
popular WWW search engines and other artifacts of power. It reclaims
google, altavista, dejanews, freshmeat, research index, slashdot
and many others from the false-prophet, pox-infested heathen lands of
html-forms, placing these wonders where they belong, deep in unix
heartland, as god loving extensions to the shell.

Surfraw abstracts the browser away from input. Doing so lets it get
on with what it's good at. Browsing. Interpretation of linguistic
forms is handed back to the shell, which is what it, and human
beings are good at. Combined with incremental text browsers, such
as links, w3m (or even lynx), and screen(1), or netscape-remote
a Surfraw liberateur is capable of research speeds that leave
GUI tainted idolaters agape with fear and wonder.

Kinda makes you wonder where those Windows users get the weird idea that we're all a bunch of arrogant pricks, doesn't it.

So, here's how it works:

sr google arrogant pricks
This commands tells Surfraw to search google for the term "arrogant pricks", which will no doubt return a photo of the sr authors. Sr then starts a browser to display the results. If run from a konsole session within KDE, konqueror is used(Actually, to be slightly more accurate than usual, it uses x-www-browser in Debian, which on my system links to konqueror). If run without the X window system Surfraw starts a text mode browser, such as Links, or Lynx. All this stuff is fully configurable, but I won't go into that here, because I am terribly lazy.

sr -elvi
Google is just one of the many search engines Surfraw knows about. "sr -elvi" returns a list of the available engines. Here's the output on my system:

alioth -- Search Alioth (
altavista -- Search the web using Altavista (
amazon -- Search the bookstore
ask -- Question the web using Ask Jeeves (
austlii -- Search Australian Law docs (
bbcnews -- Search BBC News (
cddb -- Search for cd track listings in CDDB (
cia -- Search CIA documents at
cite -- Search computer science papers (
cnn -- Search on CNN (
ctan -- Search the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (
currency -- Convert currencies with the Universal Currency Converter (
cve -- Search for CAN assignments in CVE
debbugs -- Search the debian BTS (
debcontents -- Search contents of debian/ubuntu packages (
deblists -- Search debian mailing lists (
deblogs -- Show changelogs for a package in Debian main (
debpackages -- Search debian/ubuntu packages (
debpts -- Search the Debian Package Tracking System (
debsec -- Search the Debian Security Tracker for CVE ids or package names
deja -- Search usenet using Google Groups (
discogs -- Search the Discogs database of music information (
dmoz -- Search the Open Directory Project web directory (
ebay -- Search the Ebay auction site
etym -- Look up word origins at
excite -- Search on Excite (
fast -- Search the web using FAST Search (
filesearching -- Search files on filesearching (
foldoc -- The Free On-Line Dictionary Of Computing (
freebsd -- Search FreeBSD related information (
freedb -- Search for cd track listings in FreeDB (
freshmeat -- Search Freshmeat (
fsfdir -- Search the FSF/UNESCO Free Software Directory (
genpkg -- Search Gentoo packages (
google -- Search the web using Google (
gutenberg -- Search for books on Project Gutenberg (
happypenguin -- Search the Linux Game Tome (
imdb -- Search the Internet Movie Database (
ixquick -- Search the web using ixquick (
jake -- Search journal/databases in jake (
leodict -- Search Leo's German <-> English dictionary (
netbsd -- Search NetBSD related information (
openbsd -- Search OpenBSD related information (
pgpkeys -- Search the PGP key database
pubmed -- Search medical/molbio databases (
rae -- Busca en el diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española (Spanish Dictionary)
rfc -- Search RFCs (internet standards documents)
rhyme -- Search for rhymes et al using Lycos Rhyme (
scaleplus -- Search Australian Law using ScalePlus (
scholar -- Search Google Scholar (
scpan -- Search the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (
slashdot -- Search stories on Slashdot (
slinuxdoc -- Search entries in LDP (
sourceforge -- Search SourceForge (
stockquote -- Get a single stock quote (multiple providers)
sundocs -- Search docs on (
sunsolve -- Search public docs on Sunsolve (
thesaurus -- Look up word in Merriam-Webster's Thesaurus (
translate -- Translate human languages (various providers)
W -- Activate Surfraw defined web-browser
w3css -- Validate a CSS URL with the w3c CSS validator (
w3html -- Validate a web page URL with the w3c validator (
w3link -- Check web page links with the w3c linkchecker (
w3rdf -- Validate a RDF URL with the w3c RDF validator (
wayback -- Search The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine for a URL (
webster -- Look up word in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (
wetandwild -- Real time weather information (many sources)
wikipedia -- Search the free encyclopedia wikipedia
woffle -- Search the web using Woffle (localhost:8080)
xxx -- Superior XXX, hot and ready to press (
yahoo -- Search Yahoo categories (
yubnub -- Use the social command-line for the web (

A pretty impressive list. Sadly xxx does not, in fact, refer to a special porn search engine. Again, appologies for the misleading title of this post.

Finally, surfraw-update-path can be used to add /usr/lib/surfraw to your path, which makes it possible to omit the "sr" from search queries. Thus the query above can be reduced to "google arrogant pricks".

Sunday, October 22, 2006

PHP Programming Tips #1 - Regular Expressions

preg_match: ( int preg_match ( string pattern, string subject [, array &matches [, int flags [, int offset]]] ) )

The test returned positive. You are indeed the father. Change your name and move to a different state immediately.

preg_match_all: (int preg_match_all ( string pattern, string subject, array &matches [, int flags [, int offset]] ) )

You have run out of states, and will be lynched by a mob of furious, pregnant women.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

StoneMonkey and CrackVulture

By now we're all pretty bored with the whole Debian renaming Firefox thing. Surely. I have resisted the urge to add my own worthless opinion. Until now.

Personally I have no problem at all with what the Debian guys are doing. Except for one bit. There is one bit that bugs the hell out of me, and it is this. Here is the part where I divulge the thing that is bothering me:

"Iceweasel"? What the hell? This has got to be straight out of Season One, Episode One of "Why Developers Should Never Be Allowed To Name Anything" (Coming soon on Fox). For chrissake. ***Throws hands in air in exasperation***

Don't get me started on stupid project/software names. Why the hell do you think nobody calls it GNU/Linux? And here I pause, but nobody volunteers any suggestions, possibly because they do not want to draw attention to themselves, what with the insane gleam in my eyes, and all. Well, I'll tell you. It is because you can't say "GNU". It rolls off the tongue like an enormous tongue-clamp - ie not at all.

Listen, if you can't think of a suck-free name, then just call it "Web Browser" or "Debian Browser" or any bloody thing, but not "Iceweasel", or any stupid construction like that.

Actually, I'm rather partial to "StoneMonkey". Or "HammerToad". That's pretty neat too.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Weekly Debian News #1 - Debian News

As a regular reader of the "Debian Weekly News" I must say that I am very sad to see it go.

I laughed at the MLM (Mailing List Morons) and their zany antics, wept at the plight of all of those poor poor orphans, and rejoiced at the news of new packages arriving in the night (presumably delivered by the stork).

So, it is with great pleasure that I hereby step up to the plate, eat a delicious helping of spagetti, step back from the plate, and offer my assistance in this most dire hour of need.

Yes, please be welcome to the first issue of the "Weekly Debian News" (title subject to change - possibly "Weekly Debian Nudes", because that would be really neat).

So, on with the news...

Amarok is broken! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!
Yes, you heard it here first, folks - recently (It wasn't this week, but I am not hung up on accuracy), in unstable, the most delicious of all spagetti music players has become a pathetic shadow of its former self, a cripple, a hideous mutant with peeling flesh and horns and a foul smell, like some kind of creature from the dark pits of hell... But I digress. It's what I do.

Apparently the current libxine1 package cannot play mp3s, and unfortunately it appears xine is now the only backend available for Amarok. It be a sad sad day. Add this to the brokenness of the musicbrainz integration, and Amarok becomes a virtual paperweight.

Shut up - brokenness is so a word. Look it up on Google. While you're at it, please find me some good porn.

[UPDATE 20061022]: The cure to the mp3 playback problem was rm -rf ~/.xine Thanks to Reinhard Tartler for this. Musicbrainz is still broken, however. And no, my inability to work this out myself does not prove that I am a complete idiot, for a couple of reasons:
  1. A claim that is uncontested does not need to be proven
  2. I am hardly complete.

In other news, a prominent Debian developer was seen rescuing a kitten from a tree. In this exclusive footage.... Actually there is no footage, but I always wanted to say that... The story about the kitten is also a fabrication, as is the name I use on this blog, my address, description, photo, and breasts. All else is one hundred percent authentic. Mostly.

Some guys said some stuff on some mailing lists, which I have not read, because I HATE HATE HATE mailing lists - ever since university, where each day I had to wade through hundreds and hundreds of horrible pathetic mindless emails by people who knew nothing about anything and should never have been allowed anywhere near a computer, or a university, or a falopian tube. Everybody who went to my university, except me, was a complete moron - no offence intended to any CQU graduates who might be paying somebody to read this to them, though where any of those sub-humans would get money from is beyond me.

Phew. I seem to have gone on a bit.

In next week's episode: adventure, intrigue, nudity, suspense, tragedy, horror, possibly even some Debian news, but I wouldn't count on that last bit. Or the nudity. Sorry.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Research Results

about:predius » Blog Archive » Fucks per programing language and license.

Clearly there is some very important research going on in the field of software development.

I think C# results would be a lot higher, if C# programmers knew how to use a keyboard.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Funny Stuff

» Microsoft gives adware pusher an MVP award | Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report |

Now That's what I call innovation. If this guy gets an MVP just for distributing adware, what's in store for the next guy who creates a mass-mailing worm that delete's all your word docs? CEO? Maybe an MBE?

Onya Microsoft.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Linux Today Blog

Linux Today Blog

"...I am pleased to announce that we are offering more: a collection of blogs from a wide variety of community members that will offer insight and knowledge..."

"...For the past few months, I have been extending the invitation to join our blog to associates and friends in the community that I felt would have the best messages to share..."

So, how come they didn't invite me? I am hurt. Because, you know, I am totally integral to the whole FOSS community, and really really important. And stuff.

Anyway, LT then goes on to introduce the new weblog writer persons. For example:

"Tom Adelstein. Tom is a system administrator and a technical writer by trade, and is the author of several technology articles for various media outlets, as well as blog entries for Linux Journal."

Just in case my invitation has been lost in the mail, I have been preparing a byline.

Ben Hay. Ben is a bit of a moron. He has been a professional ribbon-changer for some years now, and someday hopes to graduate to laser cartridges. He knows the back of his hand like the back of his hand, and has a penchant for playing "Dawn of War" instead of doing any real work. Ben thought he saw a Linux once, but it was only a mouse.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Extension Hell

I read somewhere that will get extension support. Actually, that's not entirely accurate - I read everywhere that will get extension support.

My response, instant, and clever, and really really insightful, is **cringe**

At their best extensions are a mixed blessing, fraught with all sorts of fraughtful things. Fraughtful is a word I made up, just for this occasion.

What's the best thing about Firefox? The extensions, and the extra functionality/configurability they bring.

What's the worst thing about Firefox? Extensions, and the flakiness, instability, and bloat they bring.

And this is not a new story. Back in my days as a Delphi developer I lauded the wide variety of third party components, their power, and their functionality, while at the same time cursing the wide variety of third party components, and the flakiness, instability, and bloat they brought to the IDE.

I predict extensions will wreak havoc with's stability and reliability, as it has done with other applications. This will be a bad thing for the users, and a good thing for the developers, because they can blame all of the problems on third party components, just as Borland have always done. Meanwhile users will sing the praises of their favourite extensions, while at the same time cursing Ooo for crashing all of the time.

Me? I will laugh, and download some more extensions.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Testing VS Unstable

I have been using Debian Testing on the desktop for a couple of years now, both at home, and at work. Naturally for servers I use Stable.

Recently I upgraded my home desktop to Unstable.

My impression on the difference between Testing and Unstable, based admittedly on a fairly short association with the latter, is that Unstable breaks more often, but Testing stays broke for a heck of a lot longer.

The NVidia drivers, for example, have been broken in Etch (testing) for months (Well, missing actually, but you don't get much more broken than that).

For those of you not familiar with Debian GNU/Linux and don't get all this talk of "stable" and "unstable" and stuff, please rest assured that I am in no way referring to my current sanity level... Please see the following link for an explanation:

Actually, this link might be better: What the hell - if Freespire can do it...

For those of you unable to read, please see the following explanation: dflkujtg6 534fg faag gasf yjpopiu jlkjlkyj fdsft afst tlkklgjit sdff;lstjl y f fsdkl65.

In other news I just bought a mouse. Hopefully the cat won't eat this one.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Stupid Things People Say

Why Ubuntu Got It All Wrong - Linux Forums: "For Ubuntu to upset major players in the desktop arena such as Microsoft and Apple they need to start behaving like a professional company and provide for the needs of their customers as opposed to what the company thinks they need."

Yeah, cause that's what Microsoft does. DRM, Product Activation, etc, etc, are exactly what the customer needs.


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Linux Kernel 2.6 Rocks, Apparently - Why Linux Kernel 2.6 Rocks

OSWeekly discovers the 2.6 kernel. Must be a Slackware user.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Standing at the counter of a local electrical retailer I noticed some mp3 players hanging on a rack. The fine print said "Compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux".

Later I bought a new monitor at the computer store. The fold out install guide included a paragraph on setting up X on Linux to work with the monitor.

Checked the documentation for the monitor I bought last year - no mention. Ditto for my old mp3 player. It's like that singer guy said: "The times they are a-something-0r-other."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ebay absurdities Acer Laptop (item 280010649916 end time 30-Jul-06 10:04:52 AEST):
Oh, and while I'm on a "mock ebay" thing, I just love this bit: "The computer has only ever been used for word processing". That's got to make it worth waaaaay more than if it had been used for spreadsheets, or web browsing or, shudder, downloading mp3s.

Also, it was owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays. Honest.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'd Buy That For A Dollar Microsoft Windows XP Professional OS (item 120009958959 end time 24-Jul-06 18:15:36 AEST)

Here is a copy of Microsoft Windows XP Professional for sale on ebay without the COA. In other words, what is being sold is the physical media, and not a license to use the the operating system.

Value of blank CD: $1

Current bid, with 24 hours to go: $26 + $4 postage.

Morons Actually, cancel that - an item is worth whatever somebody is willing to pay for it. Morons.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Suse Linux 10.1 - Adventures in Wireless

So, Fedora Core 5 was on the new machine for a whole day. Sure, it has some good stuff, but is kinda broken, on account of not providing the kernel source, or at least headers for the installed kernel.

So, I whipped out my lovely gold Suse Linux 10.1 CDs, all shiny and slim and beckoning me to wrap them in my.... Ahem...

Anyway, I wipe the saliva off my shiny new Suse Linux 10.1 CDs, and before you can say "Holy crap, he just installed Suse Linux 10.1" I have installed Suse Linux 10.1 on my brand new Pentium computer thingy. I say "Suse Linux 10.1" again just to draw attention away from the fact that I keep switching between past and present tense, and also because I am hoping there is some kind of world record for saying "Suse Linux 10.1".

So then, next thing I did, apart from changing tense yet again, was to see if I could maybe get the wireless networking set up. I popped in the floppy containing the RT61 driver souce, copied the archive to /usr/src, tar -zxvf, make all, and watched as it compiled without error. Gee that was a bit easier than the Red Hat Fedora experience.

See, Suse Linux 10.1 includes the kernel source on the installation CDs, which is kind of neat and <sarcasm>really really innovative. Other distributions should try something like that</sarcasm>.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Dealing With Comment Spam

"Anybody know how we get an RSS feed for this blog? I am not very tech savvy and would really like to get updated info on this blog. Thanks!"

At first glance this appears to be a reasonable request, however it is one of the more subtle forms of comment spam. Why? Because the guy calls himself "Hair Removal Products", and includes a link to some nasty site selling hair removal products as his homepage.

So, I'm moderating the comments, and am about to delete it, when it occurs to me that perhaps I should not be so quick to delete comment spam. Perhaps this awful stuff can be turned to my advantage...

Recognizing Comment Spam
Subtle indicators (Two or more of these suggest you're probably looking at spam):
  • The comment is on an old post.
  • The comment is very generic and could apply to any post, or indeed, any blog. ("I like this blog")
  • Your hair falls out while you're reading it.
In the case of the subtle indicators you need to look at the web address they have entered in the homepage field, and possibly their username.

Not So Subtle Indicators:
  • The comment is trying to sell you stuff. "Credit cards, personal loans, payday loans, mortgages, auto loans, etc...."
  • Hyperlinks in the comment body.
  • "I am a pathetic moron spammer" or something like that in the comment is a pretty good indication that the spammer has accidently put "I am a pathetic moron spammer" in the comment. Probably because (s)he is not very good at typing.

Alternatives to Deleting Comment Spam
Now this is the fun bit. Firstly you've got to recognize that spammers are not people. This should suggest some really neat stuff. Did you ever want to abuse the crap out of somebody? Go right ahead. Mock, swear, hurl abuse. Let the bastards have it. See the comments on this post.

If you are using decent bloging software (ie, not Blogger) it is probably possible for you to edit the comments. This means not only can you abuse the crap out of them, you can also remove all of their hyperlinks so they gain no advantage from it.

Or, and here's a good bit coming up, you can remove the hyperlinks and not abuse them. Then you're left with coments saying, "I like your blog", but without the ads. That's pretty damn good.

So, how did I deal with the Hair Removal Moron? First, I removed the links. Next, I did this. Pretty neat huh. It's all part of my brilliant plan to:
  1. remove links.
  2. write bullshit.
  3. ?
  4. profit.
I am really good at thinking of great ideas like that, because of my brain.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tech News 20060706

I bought a new cordless phone, and it came with a free memory stick. Also I had to buy some new headphones for my mp3 player because the old ones shat themselves. Shat is a technical term, derived from Shatner, as in that guy off Star Trek.

In other news Microsoft have announced an all new product called "Windows". Apparently it is a kind of a dumbed-down MSDOS for people who can't type.

***Breaking news***
Sun will open source Java!!! I just totally never saw that one coming, because it's not like they promise every month to release Java under an open source license. </sarcasm>

Maybe I should have called the previous bit ***Broken news*** I mean, how many times can Sun get credit for doing something they have not done, and probably will never do?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Am So Great

I am really great at computer stuff. I amaze myself. Like, for instance, the other day I found the Escape key! I keep pressing it, but the door to my cell won't open.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Who was that masked man?

Installing Suse 10.1

Most of the time I like to download via bittorrent, but I didn't this time.
I always check the MD5SUMS of ISOs before burning CDs, but I didn't this time.
If the installer has a function to validate the CDs I always use it, except for this time.

So, it should come as no surprise that CDs two and five were cut from corrupted ISOs, causing the install to bomb.

So, now I have to download the ISOs for CDs two and five again. But wait, what's that in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a pheasant? Is it perhaps a large slice of cheesecake, or a gorilla in a man-suit?

But, anyway, back to the story...

When we last met our intreped installaholic had just discovered that two of the five disc images he downloaded were corrupt. Possibly due to it being an election year, or something. Watch now as he learns an important lesson - all that glitters is not glitter, although most of it probably is.

... So, faced with the daunting task... well, not exactly daunting, because I am so damn good I am practically a superhero, or a lesbian pirate... So, faced with the oh so trivial task of downloading two full discs all over again, which would put an end to my plan of finishing the Suse install tonight, I laugh a mocking laugh, a manly mocking laugh. "Ha Ha," I laugh, mockingly, for I have a plan.

I navigate to the opensuse download page, and click the link to the torrent file. Bittornado pops up and asks where I would like to save the files. Now here is the tricky bit. The clever bit. I tell it to put them in ~/downloads, which just happens to be the exact location of the five Suse Linux 10.1 ISO images I have previously downloaded.

The next thing that happens is bittornado analyzes the existing files, works out which chunks are corrupt, downloads those chunks, and repairs the corrupted ISO images. Total bytes downloaded: approximately 512K - a saving of almost 1.2G. Where I come from we call that "not too shabby", or possibly we call it "Fred", depending on whether we've taken our medication.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Drinks Too Much

Holy Cow Batman! My new tenant must have been quite a bit more than slightly drunk to have bid on this here pile of fetid dingos kidneys. ( <-- shamelessly stolen from Douglas Adams, because I am too lazy to make up my own stuff)

Perhaps you should click on over and explain the horrible horrible mistake he has made.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tech News - 20060625

I think I shall buy some more RAM. Also, a second monitor, and possibly some chocolate.

In other news scientists have discovered that the warp coils do not, in fact, need realigning every second fucking episode. Also, Microsoft have apparently admitted that winfs will never fly, but that's not exactly news to anyone, so it probably doesn't belong here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Fedora Core 5 - Adventures in Wireless

Well, I received my new system today - P4, SATA, 1GB, 160GB, etc etc - and thought I'd try out a few distributions before copying my Debian install over from the old drive.

So, in goes the first Fedora Core 5 cd. I installed it.

Sorry, expecting more detail? Try here.

Following the install I booted into a Gnome desktop at a glorious 800x600, on account of the NVidia card not being recognized. Lovely, but I know I can get the NVidia drivers, so it's not such a big deal.

First things first though - got to get networking configured before I can download the graphics drivers. Using another machine I pop on over to the ralink website and grab the source code for the wireless lan drivers (Gigabyte GN-WP01GS with Ralink rt-61 chipset), and transfer it to the new computer via floppynet.

Oh, crap. No kernel headers. Didn't I choose "Development Environment" during the install? Sure as hell did. Oh well, that should be easily fixed. I go to Applications/"Add/Remove Software"... There is an error message: "Unable to retrieve software information".

So, apparently their package manager can only install software from online repositories - not from the CDs. Same deal with Yum on the command line, apparently. I resort to shuffling CDs, and searching for the appropriate RPM manually - A quick google suggests the package will be called something like kernel-devel, probably because kernel-headers would be too damn obvious.

No kernel headers. (!) I should probably repeat that a few times, if I were not so lazy. Instead I shall just throw in some elipses...

... and then continue in a new paragraph.

At this point I have three options:
  1. Connect the wired LAN and use that to download the kernel headers. Painful, on account of having to run blue cable through half the house, and then having kids tripping over it, cats chewing on it, wives and girlfriends demanding to be tied up with it...
  2. Download the package on another machine, and burn to CD, then hope it doesn't have any dependencies.
  3. Try Suse 10.1 and see if that handles my configuration any better. Or Ubuntu 6.06, but I haven't downloaded that yet.
None of this stuff is terribly difficult, and I'd be up that drainpipe in a flash, were it not for the fact that I'm just experimenting with FC5 before restoring my Debian system. Since I have no intention of actually keeping FC5 on the machine anyway, number three is looking pretty attractive right now. I may even propose.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ode to Democracy - ODF, MS and MASS: Now you see the dots (and now you don't)

Ho hum. Graft and corruption in America. Sandard operating procedure, as far as I can see. Is there a more openly corrupt political system?

I suppose it's a good thing they're so open about it, because then at least people know where they stand - government by the rich, for the rich.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Blog Rental

Here I am again, renting my blog to some unsuspecting victim tenant.

This time it is Recommended, a blog I really admire. So, you've got to ask yourself why? Why bid on this most unattractive piece of real estate?

Once again, here is the description I use to elicit tenants:
"This blog gets one or two hits each day and is rarely updated. You would have to be some kind of moron to rent space on this blog."

Kind of embarassing really. Please go and visit Recommended and offer your commiserations.


Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
- Philip K. Dick

Actually, reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, drops an enormous anvil on your head. Or was that the coyote?

Bill Retires!

So, Bill Gates is retiring. I was going to say something about rats deserting a sinking ship, but then I didn't.

According to Google, Billy boy was born in 1955, which makes him... calculating... calculating... older than me. So there!

Bill, or "William the bloody" as he is known to his friends (<-- gratuitous Buffy reference) is best known for his missionary work with the starving children in Africa, his wedding to that model whose name I have temporarily forgotten, that song he did about Vietnam - you know, the one with the spastic horses - and his enormous (<-- sentence ends prematurely)

The Billster also earned renown as an expert glass worker, although his windows did have a tendency to explode for no readily apparent reason, and also because he invented velcro. However those of us who really know Billy-Bob will look back fondly on his time as head of an insignificant little software company called.... whatever it was called, where he shocked the world by developing the world's first BLOGGER HAS CAUSED A GENERAL PROTECTION FAULT IN MODULE "RANDOM GPF.DLL" PLEASE STAND BY WHILE WINDOWS ERASES ALL OF YOUR DATA OR PRESS ANY KEY TO ERASE ALL OF YOUR DATA.

Oh, crap.

PS (<-- nonsequitor link to current tenant.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006


"Daddy, what does G O O G L E spell?"


"Is that a real word?"

"No, it's not."

"Is that what babies say? Google."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dell: Sod off

I work for a company that employs approximately three hundred people. We have a couple of Dell rack mount servers, as well as some DEC/Alpha servers, and other stuff. Stuff is a technical term. It means, "I am too lazy to be specific". We also have 50+ client machines, plus a small bucket load of vt420s and the like.

Sometimes we buy Dell, sometimes HP, sometimes white box. Of all the people we deal with Dell are the only ones who make us renew our credit account every single time we try to buy something. Seriously. This may be why we don't buy much from them.

Anyway, recently we're in the market for a particular item, and for whatever reason we decide to go with Dell. As usual our credit account has been cancelled by virtue of not having been used in six months. And so we go through the Dell shuffle - being transferred to half of south east Asia - fill out the paperwork, again, send it off.

Wait. Nothing. Wait. Email them. Phone the account guy.

Finally a response from Dell: "Sod off. We don't want to do business with you."

What a bunch of pricks.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

No Title Required

This Post is totally for Lorraine.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Automatix for Ubuntu

If you're using Ubuntu Breezy (aka 5.10) or Dapper (6.06) there's a handy script you might want to take a look at. Automatix is this neat thingy that does stuff to your Ubuntu system to make it work better.

See how good I am at describing it.

Or you could just listen to Arnieboy: "This is a graphical interface for installation of a lot of apps on Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu BREEZY AND DAPPER (DOES NOT WORK ON Warty or Hoary) and for tweaking a few things to get your Ubuntu box up and working in full throttle in the quickest possible timespan."

Some of the cool things you can install include w32codecs (for watching porn), mplayer (for watching porn), realplayer (for watching porn), frostwire (for downloading porn), azureus (for downloading porn), wine (for getting drunk while watching porn), plus a whole heap of other stuff that doesn't seem to have much to do with porn for some reason.

The first time I tried Automatix it failed silently, claiming that the install was successful when in fact nothing had been installed. So I went on over to the forum and left a really helpful bug report ("This fucking sucks").

Then some guy replied and suggested that I needed to provide more information.

Well, I was not about to take that kind of abuse lying down, so I dashed off an immediate reply: "This really fucking sucks. Lots." How's that for more fucking information.

Anyway, then I went to bed. In the morning there was a new version available which fixed the problem, so it just goes to show that it really does pay to provide a more detailed bug report. Also, don't take any shit from those open source guys.

Find out about Automatix here:
The sticky posts at the top tell you all you need to know to install and use Automatix.

disclaimer: The bug report story above may differ from reality in some minor details - such as all of them.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I use Konsole under KDE (KDE 3.5.2 on Debian, to be exact). It is sweet. It is neat. Those developers sure are clever chaps, especially that guy Pete.

But then there's the bit that makes me laugh, and shake my head in wonder - actually, kind of a reverse-wonder - and say "WTF were you guys thinking".

Hey, look, I can click "Settings/Save Sessions Profile". This is great because I generally have quite a few tabs open, all configured differently to suit different purposes (ie administering a VMS box requires a different keymapping to a normal bash session), so being able to save and restore a whole group of sessions (tabs) is really neat..... Hang on a minute... Where's the "Restore Sessions Profile" menu item?

This is the bit where I giggle insanely, because it is really funny when smart people do stupid things.

Yes I know I can run "konsole --profile ben". Shut up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On Backups, Ubuntu, and Shoes

Last Thursday night there was a power outage, following which my PC was unbootable. This is not necessarily a good thing.

It turns out the motherboard is cactus, which is a technical term meaning FUBAR, which is a technical term meaning that the item in question has failed. This will require the replacement of motherboard, RAM, CPU, case, and possibly the video card. I am hopeful that it will be covered by insurance.

Now as sysadmin I understand the vital importance of maintaining regular backups, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I have none whatsoever, in accordance with the Cobbler's Children law.

Somehow the hard drive survived, which is odd, considering my lack of backups. I mean, you know, Murphy's Law, and all that. Something is indeed wrong in the universe.

So, I removed the 80GB drive and placed it in my spare machine as a slave. The perceptive among you may notice at this point that I have backups of my hardware, but not of my data. This is perfectly ok, really. Anyway, this machine is the one I used some time ago for distro testing - see, for example, Henry's Damn Ubuntu Review (part 1, part 2) - and it still has Ubuntu 5.10 installed.

I downloaded firefox 1.5 from, and from some other place that I didn't save the URL for, installed the new firefox, and copied my firefox and thunderbird profiles from the old drive. There were a few more things I needed to get, or rather apt-get - w32codecs, nvidia-legacy, totem-xine, GCC, a feed reader - and I also had to compile the Ralink rt61drivers and move the wireless PCI card from the busted machine. All pretty trivial.

I can tell this is getting boring because my computer keeps hibernating on me. Sorry.

Anyway, it appears that for the moment I am an Ubuntu user. There may soon appear here something comparing the Ubuntu/GNOME experience with my Debian/KDE desktop, if I can be bothered. Don't hold your breath.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Why Porn is Good

It is Blog rental time again. I would like to welcome Mike from The Crikey Files to my little corner of nowhere. Hey Mike, you do realize I have no readers, right?

Mike is Australian, and some would say that's reason enough to have him featured here. However, there is more. For instance, he has "crikey" in the title of his blog. Also he says "crap" a lot, which is most admirable indeed.

He may also have porn. Or it could be a cheap trick on my part to get your attention. But I wouldn't do that. Seriously.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


The Wordpress post editor does not work terribly well for me. It is slow, particularly on backspace. Of course this does not matter in my case, since I never make mistakes.

Unfortunately that is not the only problem. It is also in the habit of randomly replacing </p> <p> with <br />, which screws up my paragraph spacing. Of course you don't see that it has done this until the post has been saved.

So, I thought it was time to give something else a try. Enter BloGTK - or, more accurately - apt-get install blogtk.

BloGTK is a simple Gnome-based client for weblogging systems that support Blogger, MegaWeblog or Movable Type APIs.

It does not support all of the features of Wordpress, or even Blogger (adjusting the time and date of a post, for example). It is also not WYSIWYG, but then neither is the Wordpress one since, well, what I see when I edit a post is defintely not what I'm getting out the other end.

At the same time I'm also experimenting with using the Wordpress editor with visual rich editing turned off. There is also, although Writely currently does not offer support for multiple blogs.

Born Free Mort

I am Mort, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore.

Morts of the world unite! Throw off the oppressive influence of those arrogant elitist bastards who think they can look down on us just because they can handle pointer arithmetic. Assert your god-given right to crappy code. Revel in the halls of mediocrity.

Stand proud and tall - or short, if you're not very tall - and cry to the heavens, "I am Mort! Fuck you!"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Being Root(ed)

I've never been totally comfortable with calling the administrative user "root", not because of prior Windows experience, but because, well, in our slang "root" means "to have sex with".

Thus, in Australia you may hear somebody described as a "wombat" because he "eats, roots and leaves". Our slang is so damn subtle.

User: The book says I need to be root?
Me: **snigger** Yeah, root.

I am so damn juvenile.

Monday, April 10, 2006

No Title Required

apt-cache show bum


I am so damn juvenile.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Microsoft's Open Source Olive Branch

Microsoft's Open Source Olive Branch

There's blood on that there olive branch. I wonder how many companies Microsoft have beat to death with it.

That's just the kind of guy I am.

On Changing to Wordpress

Recently I moved Henry the Adequate from a blogger weblog here, to his own domain (, hosted at and using wordpress as the blogging engine. I think I just used up my hyperlink quota for the next week, but, well, tough - this is important.

I am not going to tell you how to set up Wordpress because, seriously, it is dead easy and described quite well enought at anyway.

I am going to tell you about importing my blogger weblog into Wordpress, because that was really really difficult. Here is how it is done, and I'm assuing here that we already have Wordpress set up and configured on your server, or your hosting provider, or whatever- you know, the easy bit. So, log into your wordpress blog as an administrator (default is "admin").

Click on "Import". Click on "Blogger". Wordpress advises you at this point to back up your blogger template before proceeding. Do so in another tab, or window.(Log in to Blogger. Click "Template". Copy and paste the html code from the template to a text file on your local machine). Log out of Blogger. Now, back to the Wordpress tab, which has a space for you to enter your Blogger username and password. Do so. Select the appropriate Blogger blog from the list. Watch Wordpress import all of your posts and comments.

Damn that was difficult. And tricky. And all brain-draining. Phew. I think I need to go lie down for a while. Maybe I should have gone with my original plan, and retyped all of those posts.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Do Consumers Trust Microsoft

Do Consumers Trust the Microsoft Brand? - Lifestyle News - Designtechnica

Apparently people don't trust Microsoft. Who would have thunk it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Operating System FAQ

How can I protect my Windows computer from Viruses, spyware, adware, malware?
Open the case. Remove the network card, floppy drive, modem, and cd/dvd drives. Fill all USB and Firewire ports with some kind of silicone based sealant.

My computer has an integrated network device and/or modem, which cannot be removed. What now?
Fill them with some kind of silicone based sealant.

How can I protect my Linux computer from Viruses, spyware, adware, malware?
I don't understand the question.

Is Linux ready for the desktop?

Is Windows ready for the desktop?

Can Microsoft be trusted?

What about Trusted Computing?

Which is better, vi or Emacs?

What is the best Linux news site?

What is the best Windows news site?

Should I buy a Mac?
Sure. Why not. It's your money.

Which is the best Linux distribution?

Which is the best version of Windows?
I don't know. PCLinuxOS, Linspire, Mepis. One of those, probably.

Should I say GNU/Linux, or just Linux?
You can write GNU, but don't try to pronounce it, unless you want to look like a bit of an idiot. As to which bit of the idiot you will look like - I leave that to your own imagination.

Which BSD distribution is best?
***insert flame war about the use of "distribution" in relation to BSD here***

Ok, which BSD "flavor" is best?
The next one.

What kind of an answer is that?
It's called a "cop out".

Should I use KDE, or GNOME?

Tell me about The Hurd.
Yes, and when is that new Duke Nukem game coming out?

The /home partition is getting full. How do I free up some space?
cd /home; rm -rf `ls -I ben` does it for me, though you need to run it as root. (Do not execute this command)

Should I try VMS?
Ye I thi yo shou tr VMS.

What happened to those Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Saddam's Windows servers? They were replaced by a single BSD box.

Who is that masked man?
Henry the Adequate

Which is better - vi or Emacs?


That's right folks. All your tech questions answered here, and at no extra charge.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Blog Rental Time Again

It would please me if both readers could pop by my new tenant, Crazy Like a Fox. She is much more interesting than me, and gets waaay more hits.

Don't even bother coming back. Nothing happening here. Move along folks.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ghost for Linux

Ghost for Linux

This is a hard drive cloning/backup utility based on Linux. It comes as a bootable CD. You can clone directly to a new drive, or to an disk image. Images can be backed up to and restored from a server.

Ghost for Linux is Free Software, licensed under The GNU General Public License, Version 2, which means you are all free to download, copy, share, modify, redistribute modified versions, or use it as a drinks coaster. Try putting the CD in the Microwave if you like - they don't care.

DO NOT MAKE ILLEGAL COPIES OF YOUR HARD DRIVE. Because, you know, that would be really bad, and we'd have to send the boys around. Don't think we wouldn't do that. We have waaaaay more money than you.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Quote of the Day

It should be noted that no ethically-trained software engineer would ever consent to write a DestroyBaghdad procedure. Basic professional ethics would instead require him to write a DestroyCity procedure, to which Baghdad could be given as a parameter.
- Nathaniel Borenstein

Monday, March 27, 2006

Can Microsoft Be Trusted

Short Answer: No.

Long Answer: Microsoft can be trusted to be Microsoft.

You're welcome.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Strange and Mysterious Blog Rental Experience

Presumably people are just not reading the bit where it says "This blog gets one or two hits each day and is rarely updated. You would have to be some kind of moron to rent this blog."

Yes, your favourite non-tech blog is once again up for rent, and I have four bids. Of these my favourite is But, given the above truths, should I be renting to my most liked, or most disliked blog? Appearing as a tenant on this page is the equivalent of posting a large sign above your head, proudly announcing "I am a moron, and I enjoy giving away my blogexplosion credits for little or no return."

Repeat after me... "This blog gets one or two hits each day and is rarely updated. You would have to be some kind of moron to rent space on this blog."


So, after much intense consideration I have decided to go with Go and take a look at his place. Tell him you don't think he's a moron. Ask why he bought space on the least popular blog in the universe. Hey, that's pretty catchy. "The Least Popular Blog in the Universe". I Like it. Yes I do.

Friday, March 24, 2006

ajaxWrite Word Processor

"The look, feel, and functionality of Microsoft Word, in a completely web-based AJAX platform."

Does it really have the look and feel and functionality of a real word processor? Yes, sort of. For example, it has a splash screen, just like a real non-web word processor. Of course this is a bad thing. A very very bad thing. Splash screens are evil.

Once you get started it certainly looks like a real word processor - at least superficially. However the moment you click on the "Open" button this resemblance ends, for up pops a browser window, complete with the usual delay while the page loads. :(

Then there are the buttons. In a real word processor the state of the buttons such as Bold and Italics reflects the formatting of the currently selected text - If the text is bold, the Bold button will be down. Font dropdowns work similarly in a real word processor - the selected font matches the font of the currently selected text. Not so in ajaxWrite, or the Blogger editor for that matter. Is there a web-based editor that gets this right?

Michael Robertson claims here that "It feels and operates identically to a traditional software program." Clearly this is not accurate. In fact it feels and operates almost identically to a browser-based editor. Funny that.

Nice try though.

UPDATE 20060326:
The ajaxWrite website now has a FAQ page, which includes "ajaxWrite requires Firefox 1.5, or newer, browser." I am using Firefox 1.0.7 on Debian Etch. Furthermore, an anonymous commenter says "If I make a selection bold and then i click out of the bolded selection and then click back in it, the bold icon appears as depressed as expected."

Using my amazing powers of deduction - for which I have a patent pending by the way, so you'd better not try this without paying me, dammit... Using my amazing powers of deduction, I leap brilliantly to the conclusion that the correct functionality may be available on Firefox 1.5 or newer.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Bit of a Blow

No, this is not about porn. Pity really.

There is a cyclone headed for the North Queensland coast - around about this spot right here, actually. Cylones are severe tropical storms. They are loud, and destructive, and wet. Also, damned inconvenient at times.

A tropical cyclone warning looks something like this:

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre

Media: For Broadcast within the hour. The Standard Emergency Warning Signal
should NOT be used with this warning.

Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 10:47pm on Saturday the 18th of March 2006

A Cyclone WARNING is now current for coastal and island communities from Cape
Flattery to Mackay.

At 10 pm AEST Saturday, Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, category 3 with central
pressure 970 hectopascals, was centred in the Coral Sea near latitude 17.2 south
and longitude 154.2 east, about 900 km east of Cairns. The cyclone is expected
to intensify further, and move towards the west at about 22 km/h over the next
24 hours. The centre of Tropical Cyclone Larry is likely to be near the
Queensland coast early Monday morning.

Damaging winds with gusts to 120 km/h are expected to develop about the
Whitsunday Islands late Sunday afternoon, and extend to the coast between Cape
Flattery and Mackay overnight Sunday.

Very destructive winds, with gusts to 230 km/h, may develop on the coast between
Cape Tribulation and Bowen on Monday morning.

As the centre approaches the coast, sea levels are likely to rise well above the
normal tide, with damaging waves and flooding of some low-lying areas near the

Heavy to flood rains are likely to develop near the coast between Cairns and
Mackay during Sunday night.

Details of Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, Category 3, for 10 PM AEST Saturday
Central Pressure : 970 Hectopascals
Location of Centre : within 40 kilometres of
latitude 17.2 degrees south
longitude 154.2 degrees east
about 900 kilometres east of Cairns
Recent Movement : West-southwest at 22 kilometres per hour
Destructive winds : out to 80 kilometres from the centre
Maximum wind gusts : 170 kilometres per hour, intensifying

People between Cape Flattery and Mackay should continue preparations, and in
particular secure boats and property.

The next advice will be issued at 2am AEST Sunday.

This warning is also available through TV and Radio Broadcasts; the Bureau's
website at or call 1300 659 212. The Bureau and the State

Emergency Service would appreciate this warning being broadcast regularly.

This warning is taken from here:

Data on current and projected cyclone activity in Queensland, including warnings as above, can be seen here:

Just in case you're interested.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Welcome to the Wilderness, Rob

I have selected a tenant from the five bids. You will see a thumbnail just below my profile on the right.

Strangely enough Rob in China is not a moron - or does not appear to be, so his decision to bid on this blog is mysterious indeed. Rob describes himself thus: "I report those weird, wacky, odd, and strange news stories that don't get much mainstream coverage and then I add my own special photos to them".

It is a reasonably accurate description. Clicking on the thumbnail will open a new window, or a tab, depending on your browser settings. Clicking the link above will open the page in the current window and tab. You are encouraged to so click.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Renting My Blog

So, to continue...

I set up Technoblogical for rent on Blogexplosion, using the following description:

"This blog gets one or two hits each day and is rarely updated. You would have to be some kind of moron to rent this blog."

That seems pretty clear, now doesn't it.

So far I have four bids. Henry the Adequate has three bids, and has been available to rent approximately twice as long.

I am not saying people are morons...

Renting Blogs

Battle of the Blogs offered whole minutes of fun. The next thing you can do with Blogexplosion is blog rental. Here you can rent space on your own blog out to another blogexplosion member. And here you can buy space on somebody else's blog.

Payments are in Blogexplosion credits, with blogexplosion taking ten percent. Rental can be anything from ten to five hundred credits. The rental period is one week. Always check the click through rate for past rental periods before signing on the dotted line. Most potential landlords seem to have an extremely exaggerated idea of how much their blog space is worth. A hundred credits for two clicks is highway robbery.

Look for extras - some landlords will write a nice post about you, and some will provide a permanent links someplace even after the rental has expired. Henry the Adequate often incorporates the tenant into his ongoing story, thus giving several permanent links, and many many ongoing hits for the lucky tenant. This is not a shameless plug. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Quote of the Day

Computer science education cannot make anybody an expert programmer any more than studying brushes and pigment can make somebody an expert painter.
- Eric Raymond

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

One of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs.
- Robert Firth

Monday, February 20, 2006

Some Interesting Statistics I Just Made Up

  • There are approximately two billion weblogs in existence.
  • Henry the Adequate is one of those.
  • Henry receives approximately two thousand hits per day.
  • Henry the Adequate wins approximately the same number of Battle of the Blogs battles as it loses.
  • Therefore Henry is an average weblog.
  • Therefore Henry receives an average number of hits per day.
  • Therefore there are approximately two thousand billion hits per day on weblogs. That's a lot of mouse clicks.
  • Therefore weblog surfing is a major cause of lost productivity in the workplace.
It's amazing what you can prove with some imaginary statistics and a good solid application of really crappy logic.

Another pointless post on the road to obscurity.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Quote of the Day

The trouble with programmers is that you can never tell what a programmer is doing until it's too late.
- Seymour Cray

Form Over Content

I just accepted a blogexplosion challenge from a very interesting weblog. The interesting thing about it is that it looks beautiful, but seems to have no content to speak of, whereas Henry the Adequate looks like crap, but is packed with content (some would say content of dubious quality - I know where you live, dammit).

So, will Form win, or Content? Whole minutes of fun.

Check out the battle here (my username is nebyah on Blogexplosion):
Oh, and my opponent is here:

UPDATE: Here's what I was hoping to write. "Sadly Henry was defeated by the forces of eye-candy! No, I am not bitter, dammit."

Unfortunately Henry won, so I guess occasionally content is indeed king. I'd have voted for northernbound, if they'd let me. Go and take a look at the beautiful template. Tell her Henry sent you.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Blogexplosion Rides Again

And you thought my little tryst with Blogexplosion had come to an end. As if I could ever resist flogging a dead horse.

George mentioned Battle of the Blogs in the comments for my last post, and I thought "Hell, better give that a go!".

For ten credits I get a guaranteed fifteen page views, which is the best exchange rate available on Blogexplosion (that I'm aware of, but knowing my research skills...), and there's a chance I'll win my ten credits back, plus five. How could I resist? Results of Henry's first no-doubt-epic battle will be posted here soonish. Go to the battle of the blogs and vote for Henry, or the other guy, so the damn thing can end, goddamit. It's been sitting on three votes remaining for ages.

Then I went and did the unthinkable. I PAID ten bucks for one thousand credits. Shame.

Thank you to all who voted for me, and I will try to remain humble as my fame spreads accross the globe, devouring all other famousnesses in its path.

Blogexplosion - The Complete Waste of Time

The Great Blogexplosion Experiment has concluded. The verdict has been previously hinted at in the title of this post. Too subtle?

Reasons why Blogexplosion doesn't turn me on:

  1. My average hit count did not increase. Of course this could be due to the suckiness of my content, but more on that below. (Suckiness is a word, right?)
  2. Spending time on blogexplosion distracted me from actually creating content, and being distracted meant the content I did create had an increased suckiness quotient as measured on the patented Shooting Lawyers scale, which used to be called the "Man This Sucks" scale, but has recently been renamed in honour of that american politician wanker who shot that lawyer dude. The word dude sucks big time, which is why I use it so much - just to highlight how awful it is.
  3. There has to be at least three items, otherwise it's not really a list, now is it. So the third item is: My blog did not actually explode. Imagine the disappointment. I like explosions, and fires. Also pizza. Pizza is good.
So there it is, another pointless post on the road to obscurity.

The Linux Talent Shortage

I never just link to somebody else's story, and you can believe me because I am the truthsayer who says truthful things.

This is a good article because it is about how stupid people are. I like articles that remind me I'm best.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Quote of the Day

Optimism is an occupational hazard of programming: feedback is the treament.
- Kent Beck

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blogexplosion Again and Again

Blogexplosion has banner ads. You can place your own ads, for a price. Currently for one credit your banner can be displayed thirty-one times. Remember, to get one credit you need to view two weblogs, or you can buy a gaggle of them for five bucks.

Anyway, I created a crappy banner for Henry the Adequate, using some online thingy that I found via google but seem to have now misplaced. You can view it here: My Fab Banner

Great isn't it.

Right now the banner has been displayed 1423 times, with 12 clicks. This gives a click-through rate of 0.84%

So 2 blog views gives me 1 credit.
1 credit = 31 banner views.
therefore for every blog I view I get 15.5 banner views.
1423/12 = 118 (rounding down)
118/15.5 = 8 (rounding up)

Therefore, at the moment, it costs me 8 blog views for one click through to Henry the Adequate. I wonder if a better banner would give me more clicks. Since these page views are voluntary I wonder if they are more valuable than the standard blogexplosion view-for-thirty-seconds page view. I wonder if there's any chocolate left in the fridge.