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Media

Journal: Adobe Reader For Linux Uses GTK 2

Journal by thePsychologist

Adobe has released Adobe Reader for Linux, version 8.1.1. What's important is that it now fully works with GTK 2.0, so the interface is consistent with the rest of the GTK apps. It has subpixel rendering, unlike every other PDF reader out there for Linux (Poppler has an experimental patch that is very bad. Someone told me kpdf has this feature, but the one from the Feisty repository does not). Read an article about it.

The downside is that it's bloated and slow, but I would trade fast response to a slight lag for superior text rendering any day. This is wonderful for Linux users with LCD screens.

User Journal

Journal: Random Thoughts of the Day

Journal by thePsychologist

Why doesn't Fluxbox have shading on mousewheel scroll? (Yes I know there's a hack patch somewhere)

Why is the eight hour work day so commonplace? Why not six, or nine, or five? And why is it 9-5 for so many (or around this time)? I'm thinking that a hell of a lot of gasoline would be saved if there was no rush hour traffic. Think of all those idling engines. Do most people really need to be at work at a specific time for their respective corporations to function, or is it just a bunch of ridiculous overhead and stupid idiots running the place?

And don't use the argument that all fossil fuels will be used up anyway, so it doesn't matter. The rate at which fuel is burned does matter, and does affect our health.

I'm tired.

(end rants)

Networking

Journal: Linux: One Step Closer To The Desktop

Journal by thePsychologist

Linux has gotten much better now. Why? Well wireless networking was really painful before. Now it's not. Sure there was stuff like knetworkmanager, and the network-manager packages for GNOME/KDE, but those were packages that either required panel applets or lots of libraries.

Panel applets are not for me since I run Fluxbox, and the network managers were always a bit finicky anyways. Enter wicd, perhaps the best program for Linux ever. It's so simple. It just connects to networks. It allows automatic connection. It plays nice with command line apps. It doesn't require a panel applet and can connect to my WPA wireless network.

There's a time for the command line: when it's much faster and more efficient to use it. Connecting to networks is not one of those times. It's useless and irritating to have to type "sudo wpa_supplicant -Dmadwifi -c/home/blah/config/wpanetworks.conf -iath0" every time I need to connect.

Privacy

Journal: Updates To The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

Journal by thePsychologist

The US president and friends want to update the FISA in order to make spying easier. The full article is available here. Bush said in a statement:

Protecting America is our most solemn obligation...

I'm not really questioning the validity of this bill since I have no idea what these "updates" are (not in the news bulletin), but am I the only one who thinks that Bush trying to "protect" America by increasing spy "intelligence" is like trying to protect yourself from a huge swarm of bees with a rocket launcher, instead of simply going inside your cabin?

Data Storage

Journal: Simple Find Files Script

Journal by thePsychologist

Tired of searching your hard drive with GUI programs with too many features? Here's a handy script that will get the job done on any decent Linux setup. First type this in a terminal:

find -xdev / >> ~/dbase.txt

If you want other filesystems searched too remove -xdev. Anyways, this will output an entire list of files into a file called dbase.txt in your home directory. Put it wherever you want though if you care.

If you want even more useless junk searched put a sudo in front of that command to get some protected files (not useful).

Now that you have a static database of almost all the files on your computer, write up a script like this:

#!/bin/sh
 
if test $# -eq 1
then
      grep -E -i $1 ~/dbase.txt
else
      if test $2 = -h
      then
            grep -E -i $1 ~/dbase.txt | grep "/home/`whoami`"
      else
            echo "invalid option"
      fi
fi

Make it executable and put it in a scripts directory. Typing "isolate junk" will isolate all filenames containing "junk" (case insensitive). "isolate junk -h" will just use the home directory. Use any regular expression.

I found this kind of script very useful because I know where any of the files I use that change often are, and when I need to search I only need to find files which stay in the same place forever. The advantage is that it takes less than a second for queries and there's no space taken from a program, and of course it can be used in text-only mode.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: More Funny Amazon Reviews

Journal by thePsychologist

A review for an IWC watch for 204000 USD (save 36000):

This watch is horrible! Do not buy it, under any circumstances! This watch ruined my life, and I'm sure it will ruin yours too.

How did it ruin my life, you may ask me. Well, it is not due to a lack of money. The price of this watch meant nothing to me. I've been in contact with so many Nigerians within the past few years and helped them so much with their uncle King Abazarujabahad-ruh that they each send me approximately $50,000,000 per month for my efforts. What did end up ruining my life, however, was the way the watch worked.

See, the watch doesn't work using a normally charged battery. Nor is it one of those fancy "charge-as-you-move" watches. No, this watch actually works at the level of your soul. Positioned at just the right distance from your hand, this watch sits flush with your soul. Every 44 hours, it has to recharge itself with your soul. It does it while you're sleeping, so you don't even notice!

You may be wondering why I wear the watch when I'm sleeping. The answer, is that it has a self-soldering clasp on it. Once you put it on your wrist, it solders itself together, so that nobody can steal the watch from you, unless they chop off your wrist and slide it off. Unfortunately, if they do that, then they can't get it onto their own wrists, unless they chop it off too.

Anyway, back to the soul stealing - every few nights, this watch saps your soul, bit by bit, until one day, when you wake up, you're in Hell! I awoke just this morning to the smell of sulfur and brimstone. Upon opening my eyes, I realized I was in Hell, without a soul. I was astounded! I hadn't deserved to be down here. But, alas, I was. All because of this stupid watch. The only nice thing is that Satan himself loves my watch. He has been serving me all day, just so that he can get glimpses of my watch.

I did notice that on the side of my watch, there is a small etching which says "666". I'm not sure what exactly that means. I'm assuming that it means I have the 666th watch created in this collection. However, I cannot be sure.

Despite stealing my soul and destroying my life, this watch is absolutely horrible at keeping track of time. It loses a second of time for every second passed. I bought it at 4:00pm a few weeks ago, and it appears to still be 4:00pm on that very same day. Hmmm, perhaps that is why I went to Hell. Perhaps I broke free of the space-time continuum, and landed inside Hell. I may try my best to break free of it again and see if I can get back onto earth. If I can figure out the powers of the watch, I may be able to sell this thing on Ebay for much more than I paid for it! Then I can buy me even more of these watches. Perhaps I will give one to each of my Nigerian friends. They can break free of time and see their dead uncle Abazarujabahad-ruh. That would be splendid!

Alas, my time is running short. The time is about up for my watch, so I must go to sleep and let it recharge. If this works well, I will certainly change my review to a 5-star. But for now, a 1-star will suffice, until I can understand more the working complexes of this magnificent watch.

Thank you for allowing me to purchase this watch, thank you for allowing me to go to Hell, and thank you for giving me this wonderful deal on the watch. I love it, but I will certainly miss my SD friends.....at least until I can break the continuum again, once and for all.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: Amazon: More Than A Bookstore 2

Journal by thePsychologist

You can get some pretty expensive stuff on Amazon.com. Enter the Cartier Ladies Tank Francaise WL4081KF Watch. Brace yourselves because this one goes for $225000! Read some of the reviews; they're hilarious:

I was buying my dog's caviar (he only eats Sevruga; Beluga gives him gastritis) when I saw this watch in the jeweler store. Of course I immediately bought it and placed it on my husband's account. It's a fine looking watch. Matches the color of my Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible which I got for this weekend's party. Next week I'm ditching both for a Bentley Azure Convertible Mulliner combined with a $1M Chopard watch I'm getting for myself as a birthday present. Oh dear! Isn't it hard being the wife of a billionaire?

Most of the reviews are by people who didn't buy it of course. I wouldn't be surprised if no one bought it. But imagine that, a watch that costs more than three times than my house. It better come with a time machine.

Okay, get this, there's more. This one isn't as expensive as the watch: Super Bowl XL Opus MVP Edition (Leather Bound), a book (yes, a book) signed by some football players. Price, $40000 dollars. This thing costs more than twice as much as my tuition for my entire undergrad degree. And it weighs eighty pounds.

For the finale here's something useful: a friggin' diamond. Who knew you could buy a 6.65 carat diamond on Amazon? And only for $867790! Make sure to turn on 1-Click ordering!

(All Prices In US Dollars)

Hardware Hacking

Journal: DAQ Card Works (Sort Of)

Journal by thePsychologist

It's a Friday, and it's quiet around here in the office except for the occasional chat and typing. I thought I might see if I could get the drivers installed on Windows XP to test the card out. I'm more of high level software guy than a hardware hacker, and I'm really not very interested in hardware and driver programming.

About half an hour later, I get the Windows drivers installed and I can read data from the card using the test utility. So it actually does work. Drivers working/not working is a manufacturer thing, so I don't consider it much of a point towards Windows. However, it would be very nice to have a nice GUI utility on Linux with options like:

  • listing all detected interfaces
  • reading raw data from any interface (dump of some kind)
  • list of associated drivers for the device

Sort of like a graphical frontend to utilities like modprobe and lspci, with the ability to do raw dumps of signals from the devices. I seriously don't know if this last requirement is possible, but it would be nice, if only to verify that everything is plugged in properly.

It would also be nice to have drivers that work with any major kernel version, like installable 2.6.x drivers. I wonder if a modification like this is possible. Maybe some kernel hackers and app developers will read this post as a hint to what a casual Linux user would like.

Hardware Hacking

Journal: DAQ Cards On Linux

Journal by thePsychologist

A data acquisition (DAQ) card is an interface from a computer to a device that collects some kind of data. Recently at work I was tasked to make an Advantech PCI-1735 PCI card work with a Skinner box for behavioural monitoring.

I chose to try Linux. I did also try the driver on Windows, although it did not install properly.

There's actually quite a bit of information on DAQ cards out there. The first place to go is the Comedi (Linux Control and Measurement Device Interface) website. They have support for 396 different DAQ cards. The only problem is getting it to work.

There is no actual support for the PCI-1735 (PCI-1734 supported!), but I think the drivers should be similar enough to get it to work. Over the next few weeks I'm going to try and set up a fully functional system that reads data from the Skinner box using the PCI-1735 card on Ubuntu linux.

So far I've tried to compile the source, and I actually got it to work, but unfortunately I'm still stuck at getting the drivers to work properly.

Man must shape his tools lest they shape him. -- Arthur R. Miller

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