Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lunchtime render

Povray 3.6 in a live CD boot of Mediainlinux.
20 minutes creation time (not including final render).

camera {location <1,3,-4> look_at 0}
//light_source{<0,1000,0> color rgb 2}
light_source{<0,0,0> color rgb 1}
#declare RRR=seed(123);


#declare n=0;

threshold 0.2

sphere{<1/rand(RRR),0,0>, .1, 1
rotate z*360*rand(RRR)
rotate x*360*rand(RRR)
#declare n=n+1;
pigment{rgb <1,0.1,.1>}
finish{phong 0.9}

box {200000,-200000 hollow pigment {rgb 0 }finish{diffuse 0}
interior{ media {//emission .001
scattering {1, 0.1}

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Blame the church

Yahoo! News showed an AP report on recent events in Gaza:
"Israeli forces cut water, power in Gaza Palestinians inspect a bridge destroyed by Israeli army warplanes on a main road in the northern Gaza Strip, near Gaza City Wednesday June 28, 2006. Israeli tanks and troops entered southern Gaza and planes attacked three bridges and a power station, knocking out electricity in most of the coastal strip early Wednesday and stepping up the pressure on Palestinian militants holding captive a 19-year-old Israeli soldier. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)"

In order to save a solider, the IDF will cause massive suffering to an entire community, including bombing bridges and destroying a power plant.

You have no where else to look for blame in this situation than the church.

Oh, I don't blame the actual eternal, invisible Church of Christ. Not the actual God who is revealed in the Bible, not the One who is revealed as Word or is faithfully described in the "papyrus" as some say-- the literal printing in front of us. Not the tradition of the church historic, the institution that holds the creeds and teaches it to new generations. Not the sacraments of Word and Water and Wine.

I'm talking about the church of the Gospel of Prosperity, the church of Social Darwinism, the church of Fearing your Enemies and Killing their Children. The church that was indifferent to slavery, indifferent to the civil rights crisis-- the one that griped when these temporal distractions were brought up when it was talking about Law (God's command of what is to be done) and Gospel (God's promise to forgive sins). The church that insisted on keeping the doctrine of original sin as an essential yet abstracted doctrine but then griped whenever the specific sins of civilization were mentioned. The one that will go to great extremes to cause offense in posting the Ten Commandments in all public places, but cannot remember three of them.

I believe Augustine was quoted as saying, "The Church is a whore, but she is my Mother." We see it for sure whoring across the streets of Gaza today. This is no time for a City of God apologetic on the positive sociological effect of church on society. The world will laugh.

Lutherans have spoken of the church as being invisible. That you cannot see it even when you drive by its buildings. Such a time as this we have believe in such a concept even more...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The language issue in Linux distro web sites.

If you go to the website for SUSE linux, a distro made in Germany, you might find it hard to find any German language at all, especially in negotiating your way through the download pages or the help forums. Same with finding any language other than English at Mediainlinux, made in Italy. If you go to the website for Knoppix, made by Germans, all you have to do is click on one US/British flag, and you're done with worrying about languages. Similarly, for Paipix, you just have to click on one link for [EN], and all your lanaguage problems are done. These latter two do a wonderful job of accomodating a multilingual international audience.

A less successful model, in my opinion, was that of the website for kanotix in 2005. For quite some time there were too many places where the German and English content were jumbled together, or snippets of English buried in largely German pages.
  1. For example, the official English forums are to be found by going to the forum and then paging down past several categories of German ones to get to the English ones.
  2. If you wanted to log on to the wiki, even to help write an article in English, you had to go to a page that was all German in its interfaces. I experienced a problem there upon registering that my userid violated some rules (lacking a capital letter), but the error messages were all in German.
  3. Clicking on the links for downloaindg brought me to a page where there was English buried under German I left looking for another English page and never found one.
  4. For the longest time, the website defaulted back to German interfaces every time you hit a new page, even if you were to choose "English" in a small drop-down to the side, unless one were a logged-in, registered user. This got me in the habit of maddeningly clicking through the front page (default in German) for announcements, and so I missed a news item telling me not to dist-upgrade. I wrecked my system.
The last item was the least excusable one, and when I complained in their fora, it got the strongest defense. It seemed that to some degree they were circling the wagons in response to suggestions for improvement. They were invoking the international nature of the community using the OS, and the non-native-English speaking-ness of the distro designers. See Paragraph One above.

So I quit using the distro (installed SUSE, and ubuntu) back in December 2005, and then started testing all kinds of live CD distros. I wrote one blog post a few weeks ago where I complained that kanotix was not for non-German speakers based on my 2005 experience. Since then, I looked back at the site, and problems 2-4 are fixed. I hope I didn't besmirch the helpfulness of the people, I just thought the distro's web site was plagued by a sloppy approach to bilingualness. But three of four problems I griped about regarding language in kanotix web sites are fixed. I am posting a correction.

I still hold up the examples of the knoppix and paipix as the ideal to strive for in internationally-acclaimed software and OS web sites.

Just for the record, I wasn't the only one to complain:

  • I wrote in "Learning German" in the kanotix forum:
    1) The Kanotix team are dedicated, brilliant, genuinely humanitarian folks.
    2) The German language barrier on some interfaces (like a broken wiki) makes some newbies demand more attention directly from the technical genuises.
    I'm suggesting that the kanotix team just take a breather, look at how some of the stuff might appear to present an unnecessary language barrier. Then some of those anglophones gushing with praise for kanotix in this forum could start writing wiki articles. The payback would eventually mean less newbies berating the technical team on IRC out of frustration. I know. I was one of them once.

  • Danielle writes in "This Website Can Be A Real Pain" in the kanotix forum:
    "Update: trying from Underground Linux right now: things seem to be better, but it takes several attempts before you can get English as your default language."

  • Andy King write in Making the jump to Linux: Six frustrations
    "The sixth, and final frustration, is the fact that I don't understand German -- most of the content on the Kanotix site is in German!!! Why didn't I take German???"

  • I wrote in my blog in 2005:
    "So I was a big fan of the kanotix distribution, and pushing it on all my friends, including my local LUG, who had never heard of it.
    Eventually I grew tired of the distribution and went on to choose kubuntu and SUSE. Most of the reasons revolve around the German language:"

  • Andrew Raevsky wrote in 2006 at NewsForge:
    "Remember, kanotix is currently a german focused distro, but all the developers have no problems with english, so that's not an issue. "

  • bigkahuna at blender artists said in 2004:
    "I used Kanotix for about a year, the only negative I can think of is that most of the users are German speaking, so getting easy to understand help in English can sometimes take a couple tries."

  • anonymous reader at writes:
    "Yes the Kanotix site is in German *as the default* but you can translate it to any of about 10 languages by choosing a drop-down menu on the far left of the screen."

  • VMWare's has a virtual appliances directory says:
    "Kanotix is a German-language Linux distribution, based on Debian-sid (unstable) and KDE 3.5. It is also usable as a LiveCD. 977MB zipped."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Water and waves...

... is the new IRTC theme. Don't know if I'm going to get an entry completed by July 15th, though.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Story about Fate

When I was in graduate school, I lived in a little house that was right off campus. Within two blocks of me were a Lutheran church I attended, and two fraternities. Both frats were probably ultimately made up of rich athletes, but one frat was a little bit more "yacht club" in its reputation; the other a bit more "captain of the football team." One year, a member of the yacht-club frat committed suicide.

I would often attend Thursday evening bible studies at the Lutheran church, which was immediately between the two frats. I imagine that the "football captain" frat guys thought I was a member of the other frat because of the path I would walk. They probably assumed I was cutting through the church's parking lot instead of actually going into the church. Anyway, one evening, shortly after the suicide, as I entered the church parking lot, I started hearing the word "suicide." Soon I noticed that every window in the football-frat's house was filled with brothers who were chanting "suicide" in a spooky, erratic fashion, each at different rhythms, and they were chanting at me! The funny thing was that it really didn't faze me once I figured out what they were doing. They thought they were teasing and mocking a member of their rival frat over the tragic loss of one of his brothers. The gall and cruelty were so over the top that I really didn't have any emotional response.

Within a few months, one of the football-frat guys was murdered behind their house. Shot. I believe they found the assailant but not a clear motive.

test comic

test comic, originally uploaded by pterandon.

June 25,2006

Gratuitous test of blogging "at Original Size"

zfixirishh47f03, originally uploaded by pterandon.

Wonder how this will work. Will flickr actually send at 640 and will Blogger display at 640??

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Revoking John 15:13

In an NPR story, Anatomy of a Shooting: A Civilian's Death in Iraq Maj. John Dunlap, the chief law officer for the 256th Army Division, is quoted:
"Soldiers were called upon to make decisions on a daily basis in snap seconds," Dunlap said. "And we did not want to create an environment where soldiers thought they were going to be second-guessed and prosecuted for making decisions that would save their life. Rule number one is to come home alive."
I remember reading St. John Chrysostom's commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. He was discussing whether statements such as "If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic" were to be taken as literal, prescriptive commands for us today. Chrysostom was musing whether following such advice would be hopelessly impractical. He said if anyone were to have become naked because they let people take all their clothing, that indeed you'd find folks willing to give up their very skin to make sure that such a faithful person would not go without clothes.

I've been to a few street festivals that allowed public drinking of beer. There were policemen there. I have often seen an appropriate police presence at these festivals. Now suppose in the middle of the crowd of families brawls were to break out among those who have had too much to drink. On one hand, can you imagine even the worst cop-hater having anything but sympathy for the cop injured breaking up a brawl to keep children from being injured? On the other hand, if your children were right next to the brawl, how would you feel if the cop's marching orders reallywere:
"Rule number one is to come home alive."
My goodness! if such a cop were right next to your kids, wouldn't you be bothered?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by mukroe_.
This photo was taken by mukroe_ at flickr. I thought it so inspiring I just had to share...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Wow. Not even all BSD distros work with all hardware.

I was fascinated by this report posted at distrowatch where someone compared a bunch of live CD's for BSD. BSD is another free operating system and is not the same thing as linux. The fascinating thing to me is that only one out of four tested distros worked on all four boxes the author tested.
"My overall impression was that BSD live CDs are not on par (yet) with their GNU/Linux cousins, but that they are catching up fast. "
My experience with linux distros this weekend (see yesterday's post) is that the linux distros aren't as universally good at hardware detection.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Linux death march (no one else was complaining!)

[edited comments about Kanotix and German]

Background: I've heard some linux developers gripe that PC manufacturers completely thumb their noses at any iso standards for hardware, they simply ship their product if it works with the current version of Windows. Oh boo hoo, how unfair life is, I say. I'm imagining some developers then taking one box which meets the standards. They make a distro that works fine on a few "perfect" boxes-- getting internet through an ethernet cable, of course-- and in effect thumb their nose at the rest of us with non-standard boxes.

That's one possible interpretation of my frustrations below. Another is that I do in fact have a hopelessly buggy box that is in need of repair, or maybe there's something seriously wrong with my burning process. I'm also a non-CS major, over 35, who's only been tinkering with linux for 18 months. You're free to take or leave this advice.

I call this round of testing for linux disros a "death march" because I am getting fed up with nonfunctionality. I am tempted to chalk this nonfunctionality up to indifferent incompetence. There's that Dilbert cartoon where an I-beam has fallen on one guy's head. That employee complains and Catbert informs him, "No one else is complaining." Well, I am.

Here's a description of the test.

THE DISTROS: A dozen live CD or DVD distros. I chose live distros because it's easy to compare and I've seen too many cases of nonfunctionality that I'm not committing a few hours to so many more distros. But as it is I have tested half the Distrowatch top twenty.

THE BOX: A NetVista with 512 MB memory and 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor. It's probably 2-3 years old.


USB: I booted up the box with a Lexmark SECURE II 1GB USB pen drive sitting in a USB port. I counted it a success if I were able to read one particular text file on the stick, even if I had to go to the trouble of typing a mount command to do it.

MPEG-I. I had an MPEG-1 animation stored on a hard drive on a pre-existing partition, in the /home/knoppix folder, as part of a Knoppix 5.01 HDD install. I attempted to access the file using icons for this hard drive partition that pop up on the desktop. I would then doubleclick on the icon for this animation and then see what happens. So playing the animation successfully is both a file-access test and a sound and video playing test.

WIFI: I don't do ndiswrapper. This box has an Atheros-based wifi card in it and I have been able to get it to connect to my home encrypted wifi network with many distros. Usually I use the "iwconfig" command.

The candidates:

Damn Small Linux 3.0 RC1

Failed to boot. "Unable to connect to X server."

Damn Small Linux- Not 0.1

Failed to boot. "Unable to connect to X server."

dyne:bolic 2.0

MPEG-1: Accessed the file. Worked flawlessly, including sound.
USB PEN DRIVE: worked fine.
WIFI: Probably not working. I couldn't fogure it out. I'd love to be proven wrong here.

Gentoo RR4

MPEG-1: Accessed the file. Saw the video and sound. (I had to change some settings in Kmix to get it to work).
USB PEN DRIVE: worked fine.
WIFI: KWifiManager worked for me.

Kanotix 2005-04

MPEG-1: Accessed the file. Worked flawlessly, including sound.
USB PEN DRIVE: worked fine.
WIFI: Worked flawlessly with the "iwconfig" command
CAVEAT: I once became frustrated with the language interfaces on the kanotix web site, but they have made dramatic improvements in the past six months.

Knoppix 4.02-DVD

MPEG-1. Accessed the file, but playback sound was plagued by an odd echo.
USB PEN DRIVE: Couldn't see it, even in USB view.
WIFI: worked flawlessly with the "iwconfig" command.

Knoppix 5.01-DVD

MPEG-1: Accessed the file. Worked flawlessly, including sound.
USB PEN DRIVE: worked flawlelessly.
WIFI: worked flawlessly with the "iwconfig" command.
CAVEAT: Sound and USB devices work flawlessly with a live boot, but gave me trouble with a HDD install. I published a bug fix I got from "AgenteFBI" at the fora.

Mediainlinux 4 RC5

MPEG-1: Accessed the file. Worked flawlessly, including sound.
USB PEN DRIVE: Couldn't see it, even in USB view. The irony here is that for an old laptop, MiL was the only distro that let me see the data on the stick.
WIFI: Worked flawlessly with the "iwconfig" command.

Paipix 5.0

MPEG-1: Accessed the file. Attempts to play it with Kaffeine initiated a reboot of the system. (I tried it four times across two different reboots).
USB PEN DRIVE: worked with use of the mount /dev/sda1 command.
WIFI: worked flawlessly with the "iwconfig" command.

Quantian Scientific Computing Environment 0.7.92

MPEG-1: Not able to access the file. Problem with the desktop-- a bug upon loading.
USB PEN DRIVE: never got to the data, although I was able to see it on the list with "usbview".

Slax Kill Bill 5.03

MPEG-1: Couldn't see the file.
USB PEN DRIVE: icon shows up, inoperatble.
WIFI: might have had it, but I coulnd't get it to run.

Slax 5.05

MPEG-1: Accessed the file. No sound when playing it.
USB PEN DRIVE: Accessed the data.
WIFI: Use of the "iwconfig" command locked up the system, requiring a hard power off!

SUSE 10.0

MPEG-1: SUSE will not ship with software that enables the playing of MPEG-1 files.
USB PEN DRIVE: I quit this distro because it USB access was painfully slow and intermittent. My perception is that it got worse with time.

SUSE 10.1

WIFI: I quit this distro because the developers capriciously took out the wifi driver because it didn't meet OSS standards.

Ubuntu 6.06

MPEG-1: "unable to mount the selected volume" when trying to access the file.
WIFI: It's over my head, or it's non-functioning, or madwifi not present. It accepted my iwconfig command but didn't work over all.
CAVEAT: On this box, I frequenly found that when I had various flavors of ubuntu products installed, I had a slow-up problem. When I would leave the box alone for more than an hour, and come back to it, my system would act like it was running on a 2.8 MHz processor instead of a 2.8 GHz processor. Neither the ubuntu fora nor my local LUG email-list were able to help solve, let alone scarcely believe, my problem.


  1. Gentoo RR4 is the surprise winner. Ironically I didn't figure out either the wireless or the sound until I went back to it a second time. I guess I'm afraid to go Gentoo, but if these Debian-based systems don't get their act together, I'm bailing. It also ships with povray (and completely incidentally, comes with scene files I wrote for povray!). I would note that if one were going to the trouble of a live CD, then the software on it is a serious consideration, and live DVD's may often win out over live CD's.
  2. Knoppix is my old friend. The DVD has everything I could want, except povray. The HDD install is working okay on my box.
  3. kanotix 2005-04 used to have several problems with how it handled languages in its web site, and I'm proud to say the worst ones are fixed. (I tried out the 2006 "Easter" version and found its hardware detection not as robust as the older one). It is lacking a bit in software for the graphics fanatic, but Kanotix 2005-04 is still the first distro I would reach for as a rescue CD.
  4. dyne:bolic is another distro I'd like to get to know better. If it has wireless drivers, I might consider it based on its overall beauty

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

SUSE's omission of wifi drivers: the reason

A distrowatch posting about a release of SUSE 10.2 eventually led me to a place in Novell's bugzilla where the "ath_pci missing" bug was being discussed. Novell took the wifi driver out of 10.1 without any fanfare. The reply to the bug, from Andreas Jaeger, stated:
The ath_pci part is not under an open source license.

Many developers in the kernel community consider kernel-level modules to be subject to the GPL terms. Novell respects this position and has a policy of distributing kernel modules that are compatible with the GPL. Novell continues to work with vendors to find ways to efficiently provide users functionality that may currently only be available through non-GPL kernel modules. These efforts include designing an open source solution or creating an alternative means for users to access the functionality.
Okay, it is a little less maddening to know that they had a principled reason for doing so, even if it were an obtusely and recklessly applied principle. I would that they had put this at the top of the release announcement and not kept it hidden until someone complained. The original complainant said,
So when you remove drivers for common hardware, you will not win new users :-(
Indeed. SUSE 10.1 was replaced with Knoppix 5.01 on one of my boxes. I'm still undecided as to what to do with the box which still has 10.0.

I am a bit ticked that the bugzilla informs us of SUSE's attitude toward the bug:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Picture 513

Picture 513
Originally uploaded by pterandon.
I took this one at a butterfly exhibit a the National Museum of History in NYC. I like it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

A review of google earth

Google is touting google earth on its birthday. I continue to find that it has much less detail of my neighborhood than does NASA World Wind. Attached is the view of my neighborhood at the default mag it gave when I typed in my hometown.

I was however able to get it to load the first time without too much anguish using linux, Knoppix 5.01, and its built-in WINE, although not all the controls were visible all the time. It is also not clear to me whether this WINE process will mean a fresh "install" each time or not.

A review of OpenLab GNU/Linux 4.1 Alpha 1

I tried this distro as a live CD. The Distrowatch announcement claims this release "includes significant enhancements for mobile computing, including improved wireless and WPA support." I say we need more distros to focus on this aspect of computing.

Openlab has the best design for user interface to wireless that I have seen. A window is on the boot-up for their home-grown wireless utility, and it's one of the best ones I've seen. While KWifiManager gives you enough rope to hang yourself several times over, with far too many options, and its panel for changing encryption key settings buried deep in sub-menus, Openlab's utility on the other hand is brief and to the point.

Unfortunately it didn't work for me. I wasn't ever able to connect to the internet using it on a PC which has worked with many other a distro. I haven't taken time to figure out why. I hope the reason is not that it fails to have the wireless drivers that even come with da__ small linux.

Wifi user interface: best ever
Wifi functionality: not

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Another analogy comparing events in the Occupied Territory in Palestine to the Holocaust.

I was discussing the ELCA's social statement on the wall in Palestine with some guys who are more politically conservative than me. An analogy crept into my head and I thought I'd try to flesh it out in a blog post first.

It involves comparing things happening in Palestine to what happened in Nazi Germany. I have this historical stuff in my head because I've been reading A Testament to Freedom : the Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Some leftists have engaged in an inflammatory version of this analogy, saying that the Israelis are doing to the residents of Palestine exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews. This analogy onece worked for me, but it hasn't worked for me as my understanding grew. I've got a new angle, and it's inspired by reading Bonhoeffer's frustration of seeing a culture in decline into violence. My analogy is that the Lutheran presence on the ground in Palestine is like Deitrich Bonhoeffer, wailing at the gates as a society falls into madness.

Let's put in this analogy Hamas is like the Nazis, and what the political atmosphere there is like 1930's Germany.

Pastor Mitri Raheb of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem noted that the only Christian candidates in the recent election were all in Arafat's old party. They stood for election against Hamas. I have heard through hearsay that Pastor Raheb personally wasn't too thrilled even with the idea of Arafat's vision for ruling should he have come into full power, in that Arafat promised eventually to invoke the sharia, where Christians wouldn't have much freedom. A few years ago, I read a sermon Bishop Younan of the ELCJ which expressed sadness not only at the Israeli treatment of Palestinians but also explicitly condemned the saber rattling of Arafat. I believe that the Christian church on the ground in the region ultimately is the key to lessening the extremism of the violent factions there-- that it has a track record of being the most vocal opposition to the violence of Hamas. Pray for them. To me, they read like the Bonhoeffer of 1938.

The Lutheran presence on the ground is also informing us that the poor common people cannot bear it any longer. Pastor Raheb spoke of the frustration and anger he felt when his father had a heart attack and the ambulance was stopped up by Israeli checkpoints.

The Christian Church in the West however, too often has the wrong idea. Looking for spiritual brethren in the region, it ignores the existence of churches in the east. It does not recognize the courageous witness of the "Bonhoeffers" on the ground there, it views any criticism they make of the Israeli military as Hamas propaganda. Drunk on a binge of Social Darwinism, Gospel of Prosperity, Theology of Glory, and economic libertinism, it cannot see suffering for what it is. Pray for us.

Where is God?

I was recently touched by the lyrics of the song, "Silence", by the group Jars of Clay
Did you leave me unbreakable?
You leave me frozen?
I've never felt so cold
I thought you were silent
And I thought you left me
For the wreckage and the waste
On an empty beach of faith
Was it true?

Cuz I...I got a question
I got a question
Where are you?
The song ends with a wailful repetition of the question, "Where are you?" Sometimes it's good to wallow in doubts, or at least let them come up to the surface and struggle with them honestly. That question seemed to resonate with me last evening.

I've been reading A Testament to Freedom : the Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is interesting how much he was stressing community. In some places it was like he was pushing this agenda to the expense of other doctrines or niceties-- I think in one place he went so far to gripe about musical performances in churches by soloists, because it didn't build up the community.

Then this Sunday, I had a nice day in my local congregation. Our family actually only did about a third of what was available to us, but I had an especial feeling of being at home and part of a community.

And there in my heart I heard the answer to Jars of Clay's wailing-- that God is found in the community of the visible church.

Shame at Guantanamo

Seen in "Guantanamo suicides a 'PR move'", BBC News:
But earlier, the camp commander, Rear Adm Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair.

"They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said.

"They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

I call for Rear Adm Harris' demotion.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

News Flash: God is not a cruel meanie

I went to see the Christian musical group "Point of Grace" in an Assembly of God congregation tonight. Browsing through the hallways, I picked up an insert from The National Association of Evangelicals Washington Insight, the lobbying office of the NAE. There was an article on the immigration controversy.

When I saw the topic, given this group, I was expecting... well, no, you don't want to know what I was expecting. This article, the March/April 2006 issue, states:
"Is a compromise possible with House-passed legislation [H.R.4437] that would return illegal immigrants to their native lands and jail those who aid illegal immigrants? That's unclear, but white evangelicals need to hear the voice of Hispanics about the implications of H.R. 4437.

So the NAE is not championing the more cruel and unbiblical ("The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born.") creations of the House Republicans. The National Association of Evangelicals is hoping for a compromise on it. Alleluia! Praise be to God!

Ever since the House Republicans picked Bush in the early 2000 primaries, I've often thought there's something especially sinister behind this movement, which distinguishes itself from Lincoln Republicanism, Roosevelt Republicanism, Eisenhower Republicanism, Nixon Republicanism, hey even Reagan Republicanism, and certainly McCain Republicanism. When it comes to war and poverty, this movement separates itself from the historical teachings of the Christian church, from the writings of Luther to the papal encyclicals. It has thrust this awful war upon us. Eventually even its most faithful cheerleaders have to take a look at where this bus is headed.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Command-line setting up of wifi.

A friend was using a distro that came with wifi drivers but he didn't know how to set up the computer to run with his encrypted wireless network. Here is a tip that I know works with Knoppix, kanotix, and damn small linux-- probably any debian-based distro that has been kind enough to include madwifi-- when you've got an atheros-based card. Open a Konsole or terminal and do:

[respond to root password prompt]

[look to see what the software is calling your wireless device-- is it "eth0" or "ath0"? I will call this YOUR_DEVICE ]



I believe I learned this method from the folks on the kanotix IRC channel.

Editing config files as root in Knoppix 5.01

I was having difficulty finding a way to get a GUI editor to open config files as root in my HDD install of Knoppix 5.01. On the debianHELP forum, the user "cammoblammo" gave me this tip:

gksu kate [filename]

which works great. I'm repeating this tip here so I myself can find it more easily in the future. :)

The Left vs. property rights.

John Nichols wrote about how the Sister Cities organizations of the 1980's, which originally arose to help people suffering from a civil war at the time, are still active:
An example of how the U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities Network's solidarity model works will be seen Friday at the annual shareholders meeting of Au Martinique Silver Inc., a Canadian-registered mining exploration firm that is promoting development of a gold mine in the Salvadoran department roughly equivalent to a state of Chalatenango. The mining scheme has stirred broad opposition in Chalatenango, where farmers fear that waste from the mining operation will pollute local rivers and water supplies with arsenic and cyanide.

So in the conflict between the mining company and the peasant farmers, it is easy to imagine some entity called "The Left" being on the side of the farmers. The farmers don't want their farms polluted-- their "passive" property rights harmed. There is plenty of anectdotal evidence of mining pollution to prove the farmers concerns valid. The mining company wants to use its property as it wishes, their "active" property rights preserved. Of course, in such a competition, reason would favor the passive right-- just as I have a passive right to enjoy my car's windshield more than you have an active right to do what you wish with your hammer.

But somehow I believe that in the fights between The Left and The Right, the values of capitalism and free markets and liberty and property rights get conflated with corporation's uncharitable use of active property rights-- say hammers. I say capitalism and free markets aren't bad things, it's just that too many apologists for man's-inhumanity-to-man try to tie these good things to their bloody campaigns.

I heard a talk by Arundhati Roy on the radio about dams in India. Her take was that companies were getting big bucks to build dams which would put hundreds of thousands of folks out of home and field. It sounds like such a horribly statist enterprise-- the seizing (destroying) of hundreds of thousands of homes so that a government may enrich one particular business interest. But can't you imagine somewhere along the line the argument gets altered into one of unwashed peasants versus the businesses trying to bring something positive to the country? You know, kind of like was argued in El Salvador in the 1980's?

Ativa USB pen drives: cannot help you.

The biggest driver of hits to this web page recently is search engine hits on "ativa + USB". I wrote one blog post where I made a passing reference to my inability to get it to work with damn small linux. I imagine people want to read solutions and not gripes.

Here's one tip: I experimented with several live distros of linux, and Puppy 2.00 was the best at being able to read the ativa pen drive.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ah, there we go....

This character seems to find his calling as a sort of circus strongman. You could easily imagine him with a leopard-pattern outfit straight from an old movie. I had been playing around with the strong chin and glasses, and it just didn't seem to match. The moustache however sticks.

Made with povray 3.6 on a box with a Knoppix 5.01 HDD installation. (Once I got wifi going, it was easy to grab pov via synaptic).

Sometimes mistakes along the way are more interesting than the intended art form

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Wacky Liberals with far too much time on their hands

From an appeal I ran across from the Humane Society of the U.S.
Save Pets From the Next Disaster

Help prevent what happened after Katrina from ever happening again. The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act), requires state and local authorities to consider the needs of individuals with pets and service animals in the event of a major disaster. You could help save thousands of people and pets from anguish -- even loss of life -- during the next major disaster, just by filling out the form on the right to ask your U.S. Senators to support this legislation.
I consider myself very liberal on many issues. But this emphasis on animals when humans aren't even being taken care of goes over the top. It also seems a sort of unfunded mandate.

Workaround for Knoppix 5.01 USB problem


Knoppix 5.01 as a live CD, booted live, worked fine for me as far as hardware recognition-- it could see my USB pen drives of mulitple manufacturers. Knoppix 5.01, after a HDD install to my computer, did not. It could not see any USB stick. Or rather, an icon would pop up on the screen, but I couldn't ever get to the stick.


One of the error messages is reported below:
"Could not mount device. The reported error was: mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/sda1."
Following the "dmesg" trail, I saw it was complaining about the UID that Knoppix assigned as owner of the stick. Then, I looked at /etc/fstab, both for a live boot and a HDD boot, and saw that they were identical when the pen drive was in. And that's the bug. The "UID" for the /sda1 was in both cases "knoppix". That's the correct userid for a live boot, but it was not the userid I had chosen for my HDD install.


Create a userid of "knoppix" for your HDD install of 5.01, and you should have no problems seeing USB devices. I have reported this problem as Bug #10 at the knoppix wiki for 5.0.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ark Linux's lecture on what a live CD is for.

From their news item on the main page, "Ark Linux 2006.1-rc2 and Ark Linux Live 2006.1-rc2 released"
About Ark Linux Live
Ark Linux Live is a "Live CD" version of Ark Linux Home, meaning it can be booted directly from the CD, without needing installation.
The primary uses of a Live CD are:
  • Recovering a normal system after a big hardware or software failure (Ark Linux will launch a special live CD for this purpose later, with more recovery tools and fewer other tools)
  • Checking the system out without any risk
  • Showing others what Linux is like, on their own hardware
  • Taking your favorite operating system with you - e.g. to get on the net with Linux even if you're on vacation and the only internet cafe in town is a Microsoft shop
While it is possible to use Ark Linux Live as your primary operating system, that is not recommended -- a live CD is always slower than an installed system because CD/DVD drives are slower than harddisks, and the compression needed to fit 2.5 GB of data on a CD takes up processor time. Use Ark Linux Home instead.

Ah, but what if that internet cafe is one merely offering a wifi spot, and not ethernet cables all over the place? What do you do with your Ark Linux live CD? nothing. Because you'd have to remaster the CD to take something off and put madwifi on it. Go figure.

Puppy Linux 2.00's wrongheaded wifi strategy

From Puppy linux 2.00's Wireless Network Wizard:

Welcome to the Puppy Wireless Networking Wizard!
NOTE: if you have a physical Ethernet cable plugged into your PC, this is the wrong Wizard! Click "EXIT" button, and run the Ethernet Wizard....

GOOD: It seems that Perl is available, and Perl is needed to install the Windows driver for the wireless card. You now have three choices:

CHOICE 1: ndiswrapper
Note that Perl is only required during installation of the driver.
Okay, that is one requirement out of two! Now, do you have the CD that came with the wireless card? If so, click the "Setup_ndiswrapper" button...

CHOICE 2: wifi-beta.pup
If you do not have the XP driver for the card, Bladehunter (Forum name) has developed wifi-beta.pup, a DotPup package that enables you to use ndiswrapper without requiring Perl. But, it only works for certain wifi cards. Find out more and to download, go to the Announcements section of the Puppy Forum. Download it, install it (it is a DotPup package, so after downloading it, you just click on it to install it), then run this Wizard again.
Please click "EXIT" button if wifi-beta.pup not installed...
Please click "Run_WAG" button if wifi-beta.pup is installed...

CHOICE 3: Use a Linux driver
Many wifi cards have a Linux driver module and some are installed in Puppy, and more can be found if you go to the Announcements section of the Puppy Forum. Quit this Wizard, install a driver, load it with modprobe, then run this Wizard.
Please click "EXIT" button only...

My goodness, you either need the WinXP driver for your device (where the heck is the one for my laptop??), or a PhD in computer science and to piecemeal a bunch of things together, downloaded separately. You might as well write your own distro, or go get one with madwifi already installed as part of the distro. DSL-N somehow manages to have it, while too being a very small distro.

Lunchtime render

20 minutes composition time from scratch, not counting final render time.

povray 3.6 with DSL-N linux on a SanDisk USB pen drive

Probably could have looked better at higher altitude but i gotta move on.
Code below:

camera{location<0,1.2,2> look_at <0,0,4> angle 40}

#declare rrr=seed(123);
light_source{<0,100,0> color rgb 1}

threshold 0.2
#declare n=0;

sphere{0, .1,.1 translate }
#declare n=n+1;
[0 green 0.9]
[1 rgb <0.15,0.65,0.15>]}
scale 0.03}

normal{bumps scale 0.1}

pigment{blue 1}
normal{bumps scale 0.031}
finish{reflection 0.3} }

background{color rgb <0.7,0.7,0.9>}