zen.org Communal Weblog

June 29, 2006

Canada's got its own porn, eh?

Filed under: — brendan @ 00:29 GMT

Going through immigration in Ottawa yesterday, the nice lady asked me a bunch of questions. She finished with, “Do you have a computer with you?” I replied that yes, I had a laptop (as would lots of other people at the GCC Developers Summit I’m attending). Boy was “yes” a wrong answer.
I was sent to a mystical back room for a further search. A big guy in a police uniform did a cursory look at my two bags, then focused primarily on my laptop. He opened it, turned it on, asked me to log in, and with the screen turned away from me proceeded to click his way around the system. (It’s my backup laptop running a 2-letter commercial O$ … I so wished I had Linux on it instead, just to see if they’ve any idea what to do.)

He explained he was looking for “objectionable material, which most people think is just child pornography.” Nope, it’s anything that may cause offence (left to be defined) including “beastiality” and anything that is “traitorous”.

I asked if there’s a list somewhere listing what they go looking for; he repiled, “Well, if there’s any kind of a match there’s a database we consult,” and continued—click, clickclick. “Do you use your computer to connect to the Internet?”

What the hell kind of question is that? I felt like I was back in 1984 dialing up to Telenet.

I just stood there looking around, my brain pondering all sorts of things: is the arbitrary examination of your personal files legal? What would he do if it were any other OS? Why would anyone transporting illegal stuff like child porn leave it in any form this guy with Windows Explorer could find? Why not encrypt it all and rename it to “quicken.exe”? Why not just wait and download everything over a secure link once you’ve gotten to your hotel? The possibilites are endless.

When he’d finally seen enough to satisfy himself, he gave me the laptop back and said I could leave. Meanwhile my friend Doug’s out in the baggage area waiting to see if I’d ever show up after walking up to the immigration people at the same time.

I still wonder if it’s equally legal to open up a binder full of paper and start reading what’s on the sheets, waiting to see something derogatory about the Prime Minister.

Canada appears to have its own Department of Homeland Decency.

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June 28, 2006

Mac 1:1 (1:0) PC

Filed under: — Sven @ 14:50 GMT

Our Toyota Pirus has this feature that you don’t need to put your key in the car to drive it.  So when 余艾蕾 and I drove off this morning I didn’t notice that I was driving off using the key in 余艾蕾’s pocket, not mine.  When I got to work, however, I was unable to unlock my office door.  So I sat down and started working at the PC in the hall, rather then at my Mac.

Apart from figuring out how to turn on the Dvorak keyboard, and having it pop back to QWERTY for no reason that I could tell, the PC was not that bad to use.  There is just one thing to know, don’t use Microsoft software.  Once I started using software not shipped by Microsoft all went well!

So Microsoft makes a passable operating system, but really crappy software.

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June 26, 2006

New Jeans

Filed under: — Sven @ 13:43 GMT

I have been using most of my pants to work around the house, so most of them are not up to wearing to work. As construction is nearing an end, a couple of weeks ago I drove a bunch of old pants to a local church that takes old clothing donations, including all my jeans. I almost threw out my old jeans, but I thought they could be used for patches. Why patches? It seems I have big balls. All my jeans had holes right where my gonads are, I put patches on and they wore holes through the patches.

Yesterday Zoë and I went to Sears, and I got two new pairs of Levi’s, 505 and 550. Today I’m wearing the 550s, so I’m sitting at work with oddly blue pants. Tomorrow, or shortly there after, I plan on wearing the 505s. The test is to see which pair wears through first. When I lived in San Francisco, Levi’s home city, I got a pair of 506 jeans, after years they had no gonad holes and I wore the the entire pair down to nothing. But Levi’s don’t make the 506 cut anymore, I think 560s are the closest that are currently made.

Maybe next time I’ll order a pair of 506s and give that the gonad test. Maybe I should give up Levi’s Jeans.

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June 24, 2006

Copa Mundail De La FIFA

Filed under: — Sven @ 23:56 GMT

After today, all of my primary and secondary teams are out of the world cup.  Primary teams for me mean the USA and Sweden.  Secondary teams mean anybody in CONCACAF.  After that comes underdogs and anybody playing Brazil.  I guess I’m just glutten to loose.

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June 12, 2006

Firefly

Filed under: — Sven @ 14:17 GMT

On Sunday’s full moon, Daphne had just made some fried rice and cooked some collard greens chinese style.  I was taking some bits out to the compost heap and I saw my first firefly of the year.  I guess summer is now here for me.

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June 10, 2006

He's also dead, Jim.

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:59 GMT

Last year my favorite laptop suffered a horrible death at the hands of hardware failure.

Now my Sony Vaio TX1XP laptop, only about 7 months old, has also failed. The power plug on the back was a bit loose, and has become looser over the last few weeks. With it came the too-familiar problem of getting it to realize it’s been plugged in. Today, it finally wouldn’t see the power no mater what angle I tried to twist it. I used the last 2-1/2 hours of battery life to back stuff up and restore the factory image back onto it. (As opposed to sending it off for repair with all of my stuff still there. At least I use unique SSH keys for each lifetime of the machine.)

I’ll call the Sony Vaio customer support line, walk thru the troubleshooting steps, and get them to send me the box used to get it repaired. Can’t do that til late next week, though, so fingers crossed.  A few days ago I found a forum online where people described the same exact problem, but of course I can’t seem to find it now.  (And didn’t bookmark it, shame shame.)
At least this all happened today, a Saturday, as opposed to any time earlier this week when I was hammering on some time-critical work with it. (And had to do the work under XP.)

I wonder if I’ve got bad laptop karma.

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June 7, 2006

Kubuntu 6.06 LTS Released on a Mac G5

Filed under: — Sven @ 20:46 GMT

Perhaps to Pat’s chagrin, I will make another Ubuntu post. Like I did last April, I tried Kubuntu on my PowerPC at work. It didn’t report the audio card not working. If the sound card worked or not I don’t know, the fan got too loud. Also, the mouse didn’t work, I don’t know if the mouse worked with the beta version, I was too worried about turning it off.

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June 4, 2006

Coolness of Ubuntu

Filed under: — brendan @ 18:13 GMT

Inspired by Sven’s recent post and some messages on ILUG, I replaced SuSE 10.0 on my Sony Vaio VGN-TX1XP laptop with the Desktop copy of the new Ubuntu 6.06 “Dapper” release. (I tried to install an earlier version of Ubuntu in the past, and hoped this would go more smoothly. Bingo, it was great.)

After doing a full backup of my system (aka rsync -vaRx / brendan@otherbox:/backup/kaylee-20060604/), It took maybe 5 minutes from booting off the CD to having the installation process get underway; you start by just double-clicking the “Install” image on the desktop.

The whole install took about 20 minutes. A reboot at the end and it came back up as a fully functional system.

So far, so good, tho I’m a KDE user normally so its GNOME default will take some getting used to. Of particular interest so far:

  • Ubuntu uses apt-get instead of rpm for packages;
  • the GNOME Network Manager makes it really easy to switch between Ethernet and wireless;
  • X automatically goes to 1366×768, the not-so-normal size of the screen on the TX series of laptops;
  • hibernation is quite fast—the same under SuSE took much more time;
  • even more amazing: suspending (aka standby and its glowing orange power button) works (well, almost)! I right-clicked on the Power Manager battery icon at the top, and in its preferences I selected it to use suspend when the lid closes. Down goes the lid, wait til it’s orange, open it up, and in about 10 seconds at most the screen saver is prompting for my password, and everything is still there and working (including the network interfaces). Awesome awesome awesome—for about a day.  But then it fails to properly bring up X when it’s woken up; this is apparently a known bug, still not fully fixed.
  • Fn-F5 and Fn-F6 darken and brighten the screen (I knew there were tricks I could play under SuSE with lots of manual editing to try to make this happen; here it just works);
  • Just by doing a rsync of ~/.gaim* from the backup, I was able to bring up Gaim (installed by default) with no trouble at all;
  • everything, including bringing up Firefox to edit this post, goes really fast;
  • the original install of XP wasn’t messed up (in part cuz of my selection of partition from the previous install of SuSE), but even better, the Ubuntu install of Grub automatically put it in the list of choices at boot-up;
  • I have to do Ctrl-Alt-Left and Ctrl-Alt-Right to switch workspaces, instead of the Ctrl-Tab used by KDE to cycle thru them;
  • Applications -> Add/Remove is so amazingly easy to install other stuff I want (like Thunderbird, Kaffeine, emacs, and Gnumeric).

I’m really impressed at how easy and seemingly effortless it was to install this.
B

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June 2, 2006

/tmp

Filed under: — Sven @ 14:10 GMT

Noticing the new Ubuntu was out I went to the download page.  Like most ISO images, just under 700M. Having but 800M left on my home directory I choose to download it to the /tmp directory on the root partition, which has about 4G free. I start the torrent. As the afternoon went on, I had a healthy download and upload speed. Six o’clock, time to pick up Zoë, the torrent was done but still with a healthy upload speed. Thinking I was being nice I left the torrent running for the night….

Rain, much needed rain all night, but the drought watch continues. Thunder and lighting too. No need to water newely planted trees today. The weather man says more rain today. It’s today?

…I yawn as I get my cup of coffee, and sit at my desk. Time to try an install, /tmp in empty! An up time of nine hours. Stupid thunder and lightning, causing a blackout to reboot my computer and wipe my /tmp directory. Relaunching my torrent, slow download time and no upload time. Rats!

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