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Am I green?

Feb. 2nd, 2009 | 01:51 am

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, am I green?

Green Fields (from *SΛM's photostream http://flickr.com/photos/samsnet/)

Green Fields (thanks to *SΛM)

Well, to begin to answer this I’ll have to put aside the obvious misuse of the word by both media and public relations, and instead focus strictly on minimizing my damaging effects on the environment.

So to be environmentally friendly I must, at minimum, recycle and refuse plastic bags whenever possible. Recycling is easy, as more and more places offer recycling bins. My city, for example, already provides us with a specialized recycling bin, and a specialized bin for organic things such as branches and other plants.

As for plastic bags, well, that one is a bit tricky. Try as I might, several places just don’t understand the situation. A few months back, I went to Walgreens to get some cold medicine, and being that I only had one small item, I would not expect a bag. However, it seems that the store has these special small plastic bags for such situations, and the employee was surprised when I refused to take a bag. In another situation at Food Lion, I bought three of their reusable bags, since I had forgotten mine at home. I would have expected that all my items would be placed inside one or two of these bags, but instead, while I used the machine to pay with a credit card, the lady placed my three reusable bags inside another plastic bag, and gave me four more plastic bags with my items spread out. I was in shock. I didn’t say anything. I just honestly didn’t know what to say.

Now, I’m not complaining about these stores. Normally, the employes at Food Lion know to place my items on one of these bags, and I generally never had a problem with them before. I don’t know what to say about Walgreens, but it’s certainly not limited to them, as people have attempted to give me these small bags for purchases at other stores. Target tried to give me a little bag for a lock I bought. Toys R Us tried to give me a large bag for two small toy cars (no larger then 4 cm in length). And the list goes on.

To be continued…


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Mozilla’s open standards

Jan. 27th, 2009 | 05:36 pm

Found this image in Ars made by the Mozilla Developer Center. Reminds me so much of the cat’s eyes in shrek.

Mozilla Developer Use open standards

Mozilla Developer Use open standards


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KDE 4.2 out soon

Jan. 25th, 2009 | 06:26 am

Perhaps the only thing that excites me about the release of KDE 4.2 in just a few days is that the Fedora people will take care of compiling for me :) Since around late November, I’ve been compiling the KDE development branch on a near daily basis. It was easy, turn on the computer in the morning, and while I showered, let it compile away at the changes that happened since I last recompiled. I did this because I was really curious to see the progress as it happened. That, and because I was really excited about KDE 4.2 being released.

Now, after about two months of doing this, I’m ready to let the Fedora KDE SIG take over this task for me. I’m ready to move my desktop to a stable release. I’m mainly interested in getting Kontact to work nicely again, it would seem to crash whenever I opened a folder in my email. But this problems seems to have been fixed, somehow, in the Fedora 10 build that is currently in Koji.

All in all, I expect blue skies in the days ahead, all thanks, of course, to the KDE developers and the Fedora KDE SIG. My thanks to both!

KDE 4.2 Desktop

KDE 4.2 Desktop


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What is the smallest number that is divisible by all of the numbers from 1 to 20?

Oct. 8th, 2008 | 03:32 pm

I recently discovered ProjectEuler which posses mathematical and computer science questions for the eager person to solve. Today I decided to tackle on of them that I've read in the TheDailyWTF.net website:problem 5.

Read more after the jumpCollapse )

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KDE 4.1beta1

May. 28th, 2008 | 08:08 pm

Finally!  KDE 4.1 first beta is out.  I've been compiling the KDE trunk for a while now, just to play with things.  But I am finally glad that a public beta is out.

Of course, I wanted to see if Fedora provided a nice package for it, but found none in the Fedora 9 repositories, nor the updates-testing.  Fortunately, it was already included in rawhide, so I was able to install it from there

One can get it through:

yum --enable=rawhide update kde*

While it has been working fine with me, with little problems (some glitches, but I'm sure they come with the beta), your mileage may vary.

UPDATE:  I should also mention that I'm using the new nvidia driver in livna released today.  That also helped.  (Actually, I got it a little earlier from the build servers ;) )

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Programs I run that are not open source

May. 20th, 2008 | 10:11 pm

Though I strive to run my entire system on nothing but open source, every few months or so it seems that I have to use a bit of closed source proprietary stuff for one thing or another. So today, I thought I'd list which proprietary programs I use.

  • Flash
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Nvidia drivers
  • OneMachine's nxclient/nxserver
  • Picassa Linux
  • and on very rare occasions VMPlayer to run Windows

and let me give a few explanations why I used the above named programs
  • Flash: This one I see no way out of, at least not for now. I need a flash version that works so that I can play those videos that many people, including galephys  send to me for my continued enjoyment. Along with the occasional flash based game. Of course I, like many people out there, despise flash adds, and flash popping up in places I don't expect it to. So I use FlashBlock to make surfing the web a little more comfortable.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader: I seldom use this program, as I prefer to use the open source ones. Since Fedora comes with Gnome by default, I often used evince. But at some point it was too slow to render slides with graphics, like say, spectra. That I had to install Adobe to make any presentation. However, evince has come a long way in just a year and is now able to render my slides perfectly fine, and in a very timely and smooth manner. I seldom, if ever, see the "Loading" page. However, my new favourite is KDE4's Okular. It's ability to monitor a file and reload when changes are made is a huge plus when I'm compiling LaTeX text. So now I just leave Adobe Acrobat Reader around for the few times I need to fill in a PDF form. Basically, I'm too lazy to download it everytime I need it. If I don't run it, I see no harm for it to be there.
  • Skype: I was a huge fan and user of the OpenWengo program sponsored by wengo.com. But it seems that since wengo dropped it back in October, the nuisances that I used to tolerate while expecting a better version to come out were unbearable. For one, the fact that it would cut after 3 hours was annoying. The fact that it didn't work well with alsa was more than annoying. For these reasons I decided to give it up. Unfortunately, as it was already in use by many people, I went to try Skype 2.0 for Linux. It doesn't always seem to work well with my camera, and crashes on some occasions, right now, it's better than nothing. I haven't checked if ekiga fixed it's issue with pulseaudio, I might give that another try again. I'd just have to convince people to use it...which is not always easy.
  • Google Earth: I can't stop using it. Well, I did for now, because nvidia does not yet work on Fedora 9, but that might be a good thing, too addictive. And they have street view! Damn you Google! You owe me many hours.
  • Nvidia: Needed for the above, and also for Compiz Fusion! I mean, I have a good video card I've inherited, why not use it right? I can't just use it to render good looking fonts all the time.
  • OneMachine's nxclient: I used to use VNC a lot, but was frustrated by it's terrible behaviour. By the fact that I had to setup a vncserver at machines I had no root password to, only to loose it when they decided to reboot the machine. It was a bit annoying. But then I heard for FreeNX and...it didn't work. But then I heard of NXClient, and wow! Unless VNC or FreeNX work ( or at least I learn how to use it ;) ) I am not going back. I'm definitely sold on the idea.
  • PicassaLinux. While I don't like the way it handles images, I particularly like F-Spot (shouldn't it have been f-stop?? ), Picassa was just a little easier to upload to picassaweb, and so I installed it and use it for those times I want to share pictures. And I have plenty of pictures to share really.
  • VMPlayer, Windows: There are the rare occasions when I need to run some windows only program, that I definitely can't run under wine. So for those times I boot up that old windows virtual image run the damn program, do what I needed to do, and close it. My exposure to it is mainly the fault of my university, which at times makes me run programs only accessible through windows. It's very rare and seldom when I do. And I mostly don't speak about it. I feel so alien in that environment...so compressed. But, well, that's just a personal preference.
Ok, so that's about it. There is no more that I can think of.right about now. I doubt there are more.

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SELinux and Fedora 9

May. 15th, 2008 | 09:01 pm

So through a mistake of mine I've discovered an interesting behavior of SELinux on Fedora.  I do not know if this is the default behavior across all SELinux deployments.  It may just be a way the way the Fedora developers chose to approach the problem.

Before I mention the behaviour I'd like to mention why I insist on using SELinux.  While I'm sure I've read my fair share of complaints about SELinux from the Fedora and Linux user community at large, I still feel uncomfortable not running it.  Particularly on a system that I like to remotely log in through SSH.  I mean, this is the value of having a Linux system, being able to log in and continue work.  But I definitely have a need to secure it, anyway I can.

I'm by no means an expert on securing systems, but I do take the usual precautions that everybody else does.  I make sure my firewall is configured to block all but those needed ports, mainly SSH on all machines.  I also find it important to run something like denyhosts to parse through the secure log and block an IP that is trying to crack into the system.  And lastly, I'm careful with what I download.  I even have an anti-virus installed to parse those attachments people mail me, and make sure I don't send it to anyone else by accident.

Regardless, all this does not seem secure enough without running SELinux.  The whole idea being that SELinux can lock down a system from within.  Simple Unix access control cannot prevent a process from accessing areas that it should not be accessing by design.  Of course, if configured incorrectly it can only backfire on the user, because it prevents processes from accessing resources they require.  For example, in Fedora Core 6 I had to log in as root for a while in order to transfer music files to my MP3.  It was annoying at best, but only highlighted some of the problems people were experiencing.

I've been running with SELinux enabled by default since Fedora Core 6 and have only run into minor problems.  That is, until today.  SELinux did the unthinkable.  It prevented the system logger from accessing the system logs.  It prevented X.org from accessing anything under the /var.  Any system process that needed to access bar was blocked.  The only way to run anything was to shut down SELinux.  I thought there was a mistake, and SELinux complained about /var having multiple specifications.  I found it odd, so I had it relabel the entire 500GB volume.  Took a few minutes, and the end result was the same. At each different relabel attempt I looked at the policy file, and it looked good, only one label for var.  So clearly, there was a mistake somewhere.

After countless relabels, and removing and adding the policy packages, I noticed it.  There was a nother file, a sort of dynamic file that was created.  This one claimed that /var was a home directory, and therefore no system process should store anything valuable there.  This was curious, because....oh...wait....oops.  That's right, at some point I needed a dummy user that I needed to test with for about a week or so.  I didn't want this user to have a login, so I assigned him a dummy home under /var/tmp.  At one point I had to log in as that user to set something up, and so it created a home directory at /var/tmp/username.  This went well for a few days until I updated my policy file.  Then somehow, that's when /var got relabeled.  The system noticed /var had a home directory, and designated the whole directory to be in user space.  This was the source of the whole problem.  After removing this dummy user, relabeling the entire drive just to be safe, I was back in business.

Only 3.5 hours behind on my work...sigh...  Lesson learned, quite well.  Ok, I'll never do it again.  But it was nice to learn about this feature, I'll look into it more now.

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Korean Buffet

Oct. 26th, 2007 | 12:41 am
mood: calmcalm

This is a nice restaurant in Pioneer Blvd and Centralia St in Cerritos, CA.  It was nice, they offer a buffet for a little over $15.  But the twist is, we get to cook it ourselves!  That's right, just see the picture.  I recommend it!

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Friends and saddness

Sep. 25th, 2007 | 01:58 pm

Wow, this is sad, very, very, sad.  I was checking my friends list, because it's what I do, and got this:
Friends thing
See, apparently I have myself on my friends list and myself has I on his friends list.  It reminds me of spaceballs's barf, where he says: "
I'm a mog: half man, half dog. I'm my own best friend!"    Apparently, I am my own best friend :(

See, it's these sad realizations for which I didn't want to create an LJ account.

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First post

Sep. 23rd, 2007 | 01:38 pm

Well, I don't know what to say, seeing as to how I just created this.  Perhaps, it will all be explained if I just say: Chicken, Курица, Gallina, Poulet.

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