Friday, May 23, 2008

Arguments for "A Home of Links"

Linux directory structure starts with root '/', in Windows this is approximately 'c:\'. Users' are given homes: '/home/USERNAME', approximately 'c:\documents and settings\' in Windows. This is where their documents and program configurations files are stored, and they have read/write permission there.

Now, this is where people mostly work, at least that's the case for me, and the more activities done there, the more chance a mishap could happen there. In fact, one just happened to me yesterday: I was trying to delete a backup folder, say .folder~, so I enter rm -r .folder~, or so I thought. When it's done, my desktop went blank, the wallpaper just vanished somewhere, to lunch maybe. Then I noticed something big: my home folder was gone! Penguin, I was homeless in my own machine. I entered rm -r .folder ~ instead, with extra space between .folder and ~, that means delete the .folder and my home. I wasn't only homeless, I also bulldozed my own home, how's that for fearless.

Now, there are ways to restore deleted data, if they haven't been overwritten, but really, it's a pain. Prevention is better than cure, especially if it's trivially practical. Generally, it is advisable to put your root and your home to two different partitions. Thing is, it's kind of better if you have an extra partition for data, and link it to your home. Firsthand experience. My data, reports, drafts, musics, videos, about everything but the kitchen sink are put in yet another partition and linked to my home. So even after that fire drill, not everything of value was lost. Don't panic.

I spent the rest of the evening getting things to work as they were again. That was quite a snap, but not something I'd do every week. Now the lesson in brief:

  • It's safer save your data somewhere other than your home, and link it there
  • Make a backup of your home regularly (now that it's mostly links, it'd be really small)

How to make the backup then? I, for one, use Unison, to sync my home folder with a backup. It's nothing fancy, and the backup is not even compressed, but it's dead easy to use (I think it's even better for syncing a thumbdrive with its backup). It's free, and it works in Windows too, try it.

Well, arguably my mishap won't happen as much if I just use more of the graphical interface, but if you have Yakuake around, you'd get tempted. But that's for another time.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Campus Expedition

New hobby? The past few weeks, I enjoy walking to a far canteen for an early dinner, and go for a long detour on the way back; gives me time to look at sceneries I don't usually see in the walks to and from classes. It's a time spent talking to myself about anything and everything too, loudly or not. The sight of new buildings and my mental comparison to the old sceneries I saw as a freshman almost four year ago, however vague that was, is amusing. Made wish I had a working camera. Early evening campus has a kind of magic in it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Long Open Source Experiment


I took the plunge and migrated from Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux about 1.5 years ago. From then on, it has been a long experiment of living with Linux in a predominantly Windows environment. With the end of FYP presentation sometime last week, I feel that I can write something about this long experiment here. Also, the penguins implore me.

I did about all my school work with open source softwares: starting with Internship report, FYP plan, FYP regular updates, design course reports, FYP interim report, FYP first draft, FYP final draft, resume, FYP presentation, and more! Of course, I can just give up and go to one of campus computer rooms to use Microsoft's office suite, or coerce a friend or two to lend me a computer (of course, I can't ask the penguins for help in coercion). The thing is OpenOffice actually works nicely for me, and after this 1.5 years, I'm even more familiar with it than with MS Office Suite to the point that I would always have a portable version in my thumbdrive so that I can still use OpenOffice in campus computer rooms where it's mostly not installed. (Portable OO for windows)

There are times when I'd need to exchange files with people, so they must be able to read my work; OpenOffice can read and write MS Office documents anyway, so I can still read .doc, .xls, .ppt files, and others, although some delicate layouts would be broken. Alternatively, I can just import the file to pdf or html (easily done!) and be assured that it's readable. It'd be nice if we can have a standard file formats for these things so that everyone can get along and work together, sans the wonkiness.

Let's keep the discussion on how to have fun for another time (or for a fun procrastination time with google, wikis, and Linux forums), let's talk about taking the plunge yourself.

What would one need to take the plunge? It's getting easier and easier these days. You can even install the newest version of Ubuntu from Windows and uninstall it like just another Windows program (look up on wubi), with some performance penalty, so unless you just want to try out the experience, I won't encourage doing that. What I think one would need to take the plunge (apart from a computer, and a copy of a distribution) are courage and commitment. Enthusiasm and time would very much help the process. When I took the plunge, I first needed to muster up the courage, then brave myself through the discomfort of trying something new. Also, I was lucky that it was the beginning of a long holiday (Rather, I deliberately chose that time). After that it's smooth sailing, until now, after the long experiment is somewhat concluded.

My experiment is a success, jump in to this side, the force is strong here!

...We have cuddly penguins too!

*The copyright for Tux mascot belongs to Larry Ewing, Simon Budig, and Anja Gerwinski

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lead the Pack!

I regularly attend a religious discussion, and from time to time interesting subjects come out. I always have some papers with me, initially to take notes, but when things go slow or when I'm just bored (yes, there are times like that, in case you're an attendee) I'd scribble all over and by the time it's over, I'd have some mess of scribbles and none of the substance discussed remained. Ha!

Of course, first paragraph is just for procrastination. Putting off the main thing I'm trying to say. The penguins haven't warned me against this, so it might as well continue. The thing is, the last material was very interesting to me. It was about what one must have to lead people to the 'right' (or what you think as 'right', last time I checked, 'right' is not portable, and perhaps the same can be said of all values).

There are times when 'right' is outnumbered by 'wrong', and being 'right' is weird, like having a third arm growing out your back. The analogy used was like this: imagine there's a house on fire, and you're screaming "Fire! Fire!" while pouring buckets of water to the house. Strangely enough, the people inside are actually laughing "Yay, it's a fire! Yay, it's burning!" adding to that, people outside are trying to get inside and try the 'fire experience' for themselves. That'd be an ouch moment, and people would agree that that's some levels of mad if that's what actually happen, analogy isn't what's actually happening though.

Now, there are seven things that a 'right' people must have to lead. They have Arabic names, but I didn't jot them down, my habit to omit new jargon was in full force, or the penguins made me do it.Either way, here they are:

Commitment and dedication: Put your life to something. Get a purpose that you won't and can't let go, and work like a horse for it. Be ready for major sacrifices for the purpose, no, go ahead and sacrifice what can be for the purpose. This may go terribly haywire, but other things below should give it enough control. If not, then hope that more people decide to become superheroes than supervillains (Are superheroes entitled to a personal shark armada?).

Resources and independence: Wealth. Don't waste what gold you have and be sure to obtain more. Penguins don't eat gold, you're not competing with them, don't worry. Lack of resources may get you in a dependent position to some people you don't want to be dependent to, and dependence may mean hindrance. As such, careful with asking favors to people, and very careful not to get entangled in other people's mess. Again, obligation may mean hindrance, especially if it directly deter yourself from the goal. For example, you were once fed by a person, then he asks you to help hunt flying cows, while flying cows are both rare and protected, not to mention cute.

Knowledge and able mind: All the 'right' people can and will be fooled by the 'wrong' people if they use their head while the 'right' people don't. Organized 'wrong' people can and, again, will rule over disorganized 'right' people. Even more so if they're brain dead. Then, the ruler, like it or not, would have some control over information, and so, they will be recorded as 'right' no matter how gray the world really is. Also think about what misinformation would do to help lobotomize the next generations.

Moral: I know moral is not portable. Different people have different set of it, and it's generally bad to push one set to people who subscribe to another, from an objective point of view anyway. Although the perpetrator would most likely feel righteous and like a hero with flowing hair, handsome face, and charming smile. Even the penguins wouldn't laugh at a joke like that. I think, not doing to others what we don't want done to us is pretty nice.

Social aptitude: Get to know people. Of course, stay away from their mess, but not all people are malicious. People knows things, people can do things, knowing people is a good resource., being known has its uses too. There are things you couldn't that you can learn by knowing people who can, and vice versa. But, Before building your personal army of minions, look at the previous point. After that you can decide what kind of uniform they should wear when you become a supervillain.

Drive: Do. Not. Stop. When one thing is done, move on to the next, then the next, and so on. Life is too short and the universe is too vast. Leave the lying around to rot to cabbages, tomatoes, and potatoes, we have a lot of solar systems to annex. There is always something to do. something to master, something to build. This is an especially hard thing for me (among other, why must these things be so penguinly hard), for I just love to reward myself with hibernating all weekend if I did something remotely useful the week before, etc. It's frightening.

Goal and Plan: Plan is the key. The purpose you're supposed to commit your waking and sleeping hours in point one is the goal. After a hard day, wouldn't it be wonderful to go to sleep thinking that things are going JUST AS PLANNED. Well, wait till the penguins make their movements.

Now, not all things here are taken from the discussion itself, I add some (or rather, a truckload) of my opinions as well. As the my notes don't distinguish between the two and things kind of flow during writing (maybe I should, my opinions may distort things. Penguins made me do it, if you care for an excuse). That's it, good job going through all that wall of text.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Here and There

The festival is really over. What a surreal feeling.

Way back in middle high, I learned to sew in a mandatory subject. Today, I am quite surprised that I could relatively nicely patch a hole on my backpack shoulder strap. It wasn't anything functional, and I could live without the patch, but it looks a lot nicer patched. The material used to patch is a holey sock. See, my socks have tendency to get holey after a year or so. At least they don't grow moral.

I discovered Toribash some few days ago. Perhaps very much late in internet time, but penguin knows it's fun. Available for free for Linux, Mac, and Windows, see the trailer, and get the game.