This is not one coherent post, but a post about crazy things that have recently occurred.
Crazy thing number 1: New York City Mayer, Mike Bloomberg, has announced that from now on the building code in NYC will state that for every toilet in a men’s room there must be two toilets in the women’s room. This, he hopes, will ameliorate the age-old problem of women’s bathrooms having ridiculously long lines when compared to a men’s room. He joked that he would no longer need to wait outside the women’s room for his wife.
Crazy thing number 2: I had been trying to setup email forwarding for my Cornell account before they delete it. I kept getting an error every time I did it so I emailed Cornell. They told me that people have been having trouble signing up with Netscape and Firefox that I should use IE. As you guys know, this infuriates me! So I said, “What could I use instead of Internet Explorer?” On a whim I decided to use elinks. elinks, for those of you who don’t know, is a text-based web browser. There is no GUI at all. Yet, IT WORKED! So the latest browser doesn’t work, but one based on ancient technology does. Go figure!
As I drove to work today I came to a realization: my college life was like a type of poem I remember learning about in high school. It may not be 100% exact, but do you remember those poems where the first and last line rhymed while the inside lines rhymed? That’s exactly what’s happened to me. As I wait for some stuff to clear up on my permanent job I’m doing a temporary job at Baxter Healthcare, where I had my first summer internship. Thus, my jobs in my Cornell Years have been:
I found something poetic about it. That’s all I have for today, I think.
Recently I had ocassion to require wireless access on my Linux box. This is notoriously difficult in Linux as of now, although most other hardware devices are found and work right out of the box. I’d gotten it working on my laptop before, but this time it was necessary to get it working on my desktop. At first I tried a USB wireless device, but those are almost no support in Linux so I ditched that effort and bought a D-Link DWL-G510 Wifi G pci card. I hoped it would work out of the box, but it didn’t.
After connection inside the PC it was just there without working or anything. The only way to get it to work involved getting the ndiswrapper program, a program for using the Windows device drivers instead of waiting for Linux people to figure out how to reverse-engineer the drivers. I am using Fedora Core 3 and, unfortunately, they use a 4k kernel, which doesn’t work with the Windows drivers. I had to go to http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/phpwiki/index.php/Fedora to see the Fedora instructions. This involved downloading the patched kernel from the link listed there. It worked just fine and I just boot from that kernel instead of the one I had before. (This after a few hours of searching on Google were fruitless) Once that was done I followed the instructions on that page to create and install an RPM of ndiswrapper program. For my particular wireless card ndiswrapper can use the drivers that come on the CD-ROM. So I navigated to the drivers’ location on the CD-ROM and typed
ndiswrapper -i filename.inf
where filename was the name of the inf file. Then I typed
and it told me the driver and hardware were present. I then went to my /etc/modprobe.conf file and added
options ndiswrapper if_name=eth1
alias eth1 ndiswrapper
Finally I typed
finally everything was working! I was able to go into the network configuration GUI in Fedora and configure/activate a wireless connection and here I am using it! There’s just one thing I haven’t figured out yet – how to get it to load automatically when I start up my computer. So far I have to type that every time I log in. Still, at least I finally have wireless working, which is no small task in Linux.
Next I will share my experiences making my Linux computer into a nat box – essentially converting it into a wireless router for my room. This should, theoretically, all me to also connect my windows computer to the Linux one and, therefore, have them both access the Internet withouth needing two wifi cards – which is a good thing if the computers are right next to each other. Why spend ~$100 when you can just spend $50? (for purely reference point – this was written 3 June 2005 although it won’t appear for a couple of days)
What does “Deep Throat” mean to you? Well, if you were born in the 80s and happen to have a “dirty mind” then the term is a reference to a type of oral sex. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d rather not be the one to take away your innocence so go google it. If you are a history buff or were born in the 60s (or earlier), “Deep Throat” was the name given to an informant to the Washington Post who helped to leak key information about Richard Nixon which ended up in his resignation. In my opinion, it was a very weird name to give to this person considering the fact that it was a reference to a cult pornography movie in which a woman who was unable to orgasm, called upon a doctor who found out that the problem was that her clitorus was located in her throat. I think you can guess where the porno went from there. (I’ve never seen it, but saw some clips on VH1 – I think it’s the grandfather of cheesy 70s music-style pornography – the kind which is always parodied)
It seems almost impossible to believe in today’s world of instant news, but the identity of this person was kept secret until about a month ago! Can you imagine something like this happening nowadays? It wouldn’t happen because the press would have demanded to know who this “anonymous” source was. It would be on the the news constantly until an answer was finally given. 24 hour news networks would update us every 15 minutes with the latest word that they still didn’t know who the guy was, but that they were working hard to find out.
Finding out who the guy was dissapointed me. He didn’t have as clear an agenda as one would have hoped. I mean, after bringing down such corruption in politics, it would have been nice to find out it was just a concerned White House worker who wanted to protect the American people. Instead he was the #2 man at the FBI. Nixon purposely didn’t allow him to become head of the FBI, even though he had been Hoover’s protege. So it seems there was a bit of a motive. Even if he didn’t do it for that reason, it still taints the guy in my eyes. Also we may never know because he is a frail 90-something year old guy who recently suffered a stroke. While he seems to have most or all of his capabilities, we may never know his true motives from the 1970s. Mark Felt – you will live on in history as a mysterious person.
Got FIVE As this final semester of my four years at Cornell, so I just had to thank God for that.
I now have a newly minted Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Phillips School of Electrical Engineering. So that’s it, I’m official now. I now have my first degree. How do I feel? I feel like I’m on summer vacation. Doesn’t feel any different than any other summer. It DOES feel really good when I tell someone that I’ve graduated. It has the accomplishment feeling to it. Also, I get to tell people that I graduated from Cornell and that usually gets another round of congrats. It’s funny because for the past two days I’ve been really busy helping out around the house, unpacking my computers, and doing wedding preperations, but at the same time it feels like an eternity until my marriage.
Graduation itself was a fun little ceremony. I will probably upload some pictures when I get internet set up on my main computer. For now it’s a little too much of a hassle to transfer it to my laptop to then upload it to the server. Cornell had all of us line up in the Arts Quad by school. Then we went in a counter-clockwise circle around the quad towards the clocktower. There we kept walking towards Day Hall and then behind the Statler, to the stadium. Impossible as it may seem, I saw my parents as I walked past them, despite the thousands of family members there. They actually got about 3 pictures of me as I passed by.
We waited for the rest of the schools to come in and then President Lehman gave his speech. The speech made heavy use of Star Wars metaphors. He warned us not to go to the “dark side” – narrow vision and quick judgement. It was good and I thought he did a thourough job of making the analogy. Something still sounded wrong with it and a lot of people didn’t like it. I think the biggest reason is that it sounded too much like he was trying to be cool. After everyone and their mom who gave a speech that weekend referenced Snoop Dogg (or Snoopy Dogg), it seemed like everyone was trying a little too hard to be cool. Still, he was able to keep the speech from being boring and overall I’d probably give it an 80/100. It was nowhere near as boring as I thought it would be. I may write more about this event if I feel moved to do so, but I feel that a lot of the feeling has passed, so this is all I felt like writing.
We’re back! The server should continue up uninterrupted until I finally move to my permanent home (sometime between Oct and Dec this year)
It has been a wonderful journey with this server. I have been able to be liberated and have my very own server. I am limited only in the space and hardware constraints of the machine. I can have SQL databases, php, and whatever else I wish to support. I have been able to have my own blog, fully customizable in the way that no other is. I have provided space for my friends; Andrew Laine used it to the fullest. That’s why I’m so sad to have to shut it down. But don’t worry! It’s just temporary! I plan to have it back up as soon as I can when I get back to my parent’s house. Then it will run until I move to my job location. After that it should be running for another long period of time.
When I upgrade to a newer machine (hopefully this summer) I plan to add an exciting and new dimension to my server – email hosting. It’s a lot more complicated than website hosting, but it IS doable. I hope to see you all again soon.
2500 people so far this month. Wow…I used to get excited about 200 people visiting.
One of the best things about Linux is the ability to write shell scripts. These are most often used as utility programs to do repetitive tasks for you. I just wrote my first one on Sunday and here it is followed by commentary.
echo "starting xchat..."
echo "starting Gaim..."
echo "starting Thunderbird..."
echo "starting Gkrellm (docked)..."
echo "starting 2 instances of Eterm (transparent, no buttonbar, no scrollbar)"
Eterm -x --scrollbar=0 --buttonbar=0 --trans&
Eterm -x --scrollbar=0 --buttonbar=0 --trans&
The first line is required in any bash script. On the second line I am using the echo command to write stuff to the screen. This is just to remind me of what exactly the script is doing. This could be important if I write another startup script that launches different programs.
Why did I write this script? I wrote this script because I was starting up these programs every time I started up my computer. While a Linux computer barely ever needs to be rebooted, I still wanted to be able to type just one command instead of six. Additionally, I didn’t memorize the command to make the Eterm window look like I wanted. Instead of scrolling through all my commands every time I wanted to launch up an Eterm window, I coded it in. In fact, if you like how my Eterm windows look, you could write a script called “Transparent Eterm” and run it to start them up instead of typing that long statement every time.
I’m sure there’s some way to launch programs at startup in Linux, why not use that? A very simple reason: I don’t want it to startup every time. Back when I was really into Windows I put some programs into the “Startup” folder that I thought I would use every time I launched the computer such as AIM and WinAmp. Then came a day when the computer was misbehaving and I had to reboot it a few times. Waiting each time for all those programs to load that I didn’t want to load because I was doing diagnosis was very annoying. Thus, by writing this script (which currently can’t be done in Windows) I am able to launch all the programs I use at startup, but only when I want them up.
Other things you should know:
- when you write a script you need to make it executable. If you are the only user on a system the easiest way to do this is to do:
to write the script and
to make it executable. Of course, everyone can execute your script now, but if you’re the only one it doesn’t matter
- you need to type
to launch the script.
Two panoramas I’m really proud of. They’re being hosted on flickr and you can click on them to go to the photo’s page.
Here I have decided to run the “top” command in the top transparent Eterm window. This is a great command to have running on the desktop. Basically it’s equivalent to hitting control-alt-delete in Windows and then clicking on “processes”. It tells you what you are running on your system, how much RAM/CPU cycles it’s taking up, and a bunch of other information. It dynamically updates so as you run programs you can see what’s holding up the computer. It doesn’t normally have that line running down the middle. That’s a consequence of some glitch when I was taking the screenshot.
I was using the bottom window to run my programs. This way I don’t have to look for the window, I know it’s sitting on the desktop and I can get a quick view of which programs I’ve launched as well as any information they are telling me as they run.
This server will go down this Wednesday. It will be down at least until Tuesday while I move out of my university apartment.
While it turns out that the place I’m living at never went with wireless, thus allowing me to keep the server running, I know for sure that we will be shutting down soon. There is always one problem with running your own server at home – when you move there’s no way to keep it on and connected. I’ll be leaving this place in about two weeks. After that I’m not sure how long it will be before the server is operational again. Ideally, it would be the following week. Since I’m also getting married soon, the timeline might be a little different. So if you try to come by two weeks from now and the site isn’t here – don’t worry, it’ll be back really soon.
Finally I have figured out something else I have wanted to do for MONTHS! If you look on the top-right corner you will see what looks like an embedded terminal in my desktop. The biggest reason why I’ve wanted to do this is simply because it looks really neat to have a terminal “built into” the desktop. I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet, the way people use them to run a logger in the background or other neat utilities. Besides looking really neat, it allows you to enjoy your background while using the terminal instead of covering it up. I mean, what’s the point of going through all the trouble of having such a great background when you can’t even see it? If you are into computers you are now nodding in agreement. So, how did I do this?
Well, in a word: Eterm. As I mentioned a few days ago, Linux is all about choice. There are many, many terminal emulation programs for Linux and Unix. The most often used is the xterm program. In KDE the default program is called Konsole. Finally, many people use a program called aterm. xterm is pretty vanilla and it seems to be designed simply to be a terminal and nothing else. Console is highly configureable and has transparancy capabilities, but, as far as I know, no way to hide the borders or title-bar. I haven’t used aterm so I don’t know much about it.
Eterm, on the other hand, was purposely designed to be the most highly customisable terminal emulator around. The options for customization are dizzying. There is the ability to write a configuration file to govern the appearance of each new Eterm. However, I feel that the user gains the best use out of Eterm either launching it with a specific theme or specific options. This allows the user to have many Eterms open with different display properties instead of all of them being transparent or whatever other options they choose. As an additional benefit, the creators claim that it uses less system resources than the bland xterm.
So, how can you get the effect I have? It’s actually pretty simple. First of all, get a copy of Eterm. For this you can visit www.eterm.org. Type the following into your terminal program:
Eterm -x --scrollbar=0 --buttonbar=0 --trans &
“Neat!” You might say, “But how do I move it?” That, too, was bugging me when I first did this. You can move it around by holding down alt and dragging it around with your left mouse button.
Once I figure out the logger program and other such l33t things I will then pass them on in a future post. Happy customising!
I wanted to share my Fluxbox desktop on my main Linux computer both for the geeky motive of showing off my desktop like jocks show off their cars and also to help others achieve the same configurations that I have. Fluxbox, like Blackbox and other *box window managers, are very, very customizable.
Here is the screenshot of my desktop, which you can see in full resolution by clicking it.
First of all, on the left-hand side of the screen you can see my system monitor, gkrellm. If you’ve spent any amount of time checking out screenshots of others’ desktops you’ve definitely seen this system monitor, especially on a non- KDE or Gnome screenshot. I was actually trying to figure out what this program was for months before finally stumbling upon the answer. It is highly customizable both in what it shows and what the colour scheme is. Currently I have it showing my CPU usage, user/program usage, internet traffic, and a few other small things. The best and easiest way to get get gkrellm if you are a Fedora user is to install it from the freshrpms repository via apt or yum. Freshrpms also contains themes and plugins for gkrellm.
The second important thing I wanted to highlight is how to use themes in Fluxbox. Themes typically come as a tarball containing a “styles” file and a background picture. The styles file tells Fluxbox how to draw the menus and which colour scheme to use. Once you have Fluxbox installed on your system there should be a .fluxbox folder in your home directory. (Linux is case-sensitive so check .Fluxbox if you don’t have .fluxbox) If it doesn’t exist you can create it. Then create a styles folder and a background folder if they don’t already exist. When you untar a tarball move the files to their respective folders. Then you can right-click for the menu to come up and click on Fluxbox Menu > User Styles and the one you just put in should be there.
The most common problem is that the background doesn’t change and some errors pop up. This is because all the *box WMs use the same style files to control themes. Whereas on Blackbox the command is bsetbg, it’s fbsetbg in Fluxbox. At least, that’s what made it work for me. There may be some options listed after fbsetbg which you may have to remove if they produce errors.
I am currently using the Ghost in the Shell Theme available from freshmeat.net.
I hope to make some more advanced modifications to the look and feel of my desktop and will post here how I did it. While I feel that there are many, many great desktop screenshots out on the net there aren’t as many tutorials. Hope you found this one useful.