Reiserfs glitch

Yesterday my server went down again. This time it was a combination of hardware and software. On software side my Reizerfs filesystem got corrupted in a funny way - I could not delete some files under /var. Those were files modified after a specific time yesterday, but the effect was only local to /var directory and did not effect any files in any other directories on the same partition. No suspicios messages in logs for the whole day. It gives back EPERM = "Permission denied" errors even for root. I "fixed" the problem by "cp -r /var / && mv /var /var.old && mv / /var". All files were fine in the new directory (no corruption) and I could delete the same files there. But /var.old is still not deletable even by "rm -rf" as root. Any ideas?

Of couse I just though that I would reboot now so that all services would use the new /var. And of course the system did not come up because USB chip died. I had to go to the server room and disable USB in BIOS to get it up again. I hate hardware. :P

Left mouse

Jordi was searching for a good mouse for a left-handed person. Behold the new Logitech MX610 laser mouse that has a special leftie version planned with the same cost as a rightie version. Preorder and enjoy! :D

TUX Magazine #11

I have recently come across the TUX Magazine and have subscribed to this free downloadable PDF magazine. A couple days ago the issue number 11 came out with some great articles that I would like to comment on.

Note: after I implement a break feature in my blog, the line above will turn into a "(click here to read the 394 words below the break ...)" type of link in the Atom feed that will go to the planets and all the content below the line will not be sent there. That will allow to avoid spamming p.d.o with long non-Debian related articles, but will still allow you keep up with the interesting stuff or subscribe to the normal feed of my blog if you will want to keep reading full text articles in your aggregator. Also that will allow me to get a bit more of the ads on the site, but that is a minor side benefit.

Anyway, back to the TUX Magazine - the focus of this issue is desktop customization of KDE, Gnome and Firefox. The Gnome article is very much a cripple, but other articles and comparison between and downloaders make up for that a bit. Also I have not before known about, so that is nice to see. A few nice gadgets are getting reviews, including the Nokia 770. I also learned a few interesting things in articles about drum machine app Hydrogen and what actually a mail merge wizard in OOO2 is all about and for what it should be used.

All in all a god read well worth the time spent on it. I especially liked the computer oriented approach to publishing - the PDF is in 4:3 landscape mode, so you can simply used Evince in presentation mode to read the magazine page by page. The pages will fully fill your computer screen and you can simply press spacebar to go to the next page. Convenient.

Pandora music stream

I just discovered Pandora. It is a online flash streaming music player that plays the music that you like much like radio, just simpler and with instant feedback. You simply go to the site and tell them what artist or track do you like and the music starts playing in a Flash applet. Then similar music starts playing and you can say whether you like this particular song or not. There are even keyboard shortcuts, so it is enough to focus the windows with the player and press "+" if you like the song or "-" if you don't and it immediately adjusts its playlist to your input. Those kinds of services could replace downloading of music via BitTorrent for most of "background noise" kind of use.

Update: now that's one screwy service. After you listen to a bunch of songs, the player stops and requires you to register. It gets even better - the registration is US only. Just great! Well - back to radio to me.

Update2: Oh, ok - you can easily register with zipcode of 00000 and no paying for the service is required. And I also have heard some hreat music there, like the Bohemian Rhapsody that fills my earphones now.

60 rants (2)

Hospitals overcharging uninsured people

The bulk of the story in not really that hospitals make uninsured people pay more, it is that they make insurers pay less. It looks like it is common practice in US hospitals to charge their patients for work and materials with 300-500% profit margin. Only most of the country does not know it because they have either health insurance or Medicare and those insurers and government programs negotiate for themselves discounts in range of 75-90%. Also noone can find out the prices of specific procedures in different hospitals making going to a hospital look like blind shopping.

In my mind two thing must be done legislatively about this: demand that all price lists of all publicly accessible hospitals also be freely accessible by the public, ban any kind of discounts or bulk prices that hospitals could give to insurers or government programs. That will ignite a price war and bring the prices down considerably. And in the mean while make a court case that any uninsured person receiving medical attention can demand to be charged as much as Medicare would be charged for the same procedure.

Willie Brand and torture in Afghan prisons

There is just incredible amount of lies buzzing around the current US administration especially with relation to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We know that just from shreds of evidence that leaks out despite military discipline. Now top generals claim that prisoners have never been tortured or hanged from ceilings in Afghan prisons run by US army forces, while guards at those prisons claim that the same generals saw the procedures and did not disprove of them in any way. Now the generals blame everything on the guards themselves and even their direct captain claims that he did not see anything. Bullshit!

It is long time that NATO and ANO should step in and report USA to the Security council and impose sanctions on USA for breaking the Geneva convention. Because, if USA can do that and go unpunished, why should other countries uphold human rights of their prisoners?

The Prince of Pot

A Canadian is being charged with drug trafficking by USA for selling marijuana seeds in his shop in Canada. It is formally illegal there, but even if charged, he would only have to pay a fine. However if he is extradited to USA, he would face up to a life sentence. The man is a leader of marijuana legalization movement in Canada.

It may come as a surprise, but I agree with him. Marijuana no more harmful then alcohol or tobacco. Some even argue that marijuana is less harmful to the body and mind then alcohol or tobacco in same doses. If those two substances are allowed, then marijuana should be allowed too, in the same regulated manner as those two. If marijuana is banned then alcohol and tobacco must be banned too - be consequent. By pushing marijuana into the black market governments only make the black economy stronger. Also marijuana acts as a gateway drug just because government says it is as bad as heroin, so people after trying marijuana start thinking "Well marijuana is not that bad, maybe government is lying about heroin too". And after a few months a new unalive junkie is formed out of what could have been a contributing member of society.


Andy rants about outsourcing this week. Fear not Andy - it is easy to outsource labor intensive jobs, but outsourcing creative jobs is much harder - no asian guy can replace you (well maybe except for George Takei :)).

Oscars rant

Blogging this week seem to be on a high wave for me. Which, as I previously noted, is correlated with my general level of activity. So this blob post is my braindump about 2006 Academy Awards ceremony a.k.a Oscars 2006.

First of all - I love John Steward and watch "The Daily Show" daily.

Opening was just hilarious. Everyone refuses to host and then John awakes from several dreams in bed with Clooney. LOL!

Collage of non-gay westerns - LOL! It is true - I will never will be able to watch old westerns without considering "maybe that guy is gay?"

About Best Animated feature: I really thought that "Howl's moving castle" was much better then that Wallace and Gromit thing, but they gave it to them because their props burned down.

Talking about howling, who let Dolly Parton in? That was just horrible - no voice, no show, all face pulled back into a bun in the back of her head. "We're all Gods children"? "Alleluia"? Please, let her die in piece.

March of the Penguins is the best, especially in Linux context :D

Now the second song (the one from "Crash") was much better in all possible ways - great show, good looking singer and a better voice too. The beginning was kinda shaky, but she calmed down soon after starting to sing. I was fascinated.

They should have given Steward more time to give some impromptu jokes.

I really loved the way they presented the original score from films - giving one man with a fiddle to play all the scores in succession was a brilliant move.

Pimp song - quite strange rap. Still better then the first song, but quite strange anyway. And they won the Oscar. Doh, man.

Best Actor - Philip Seymour Hoffman. Without any doubt. Congrats.

The most important part of the ceremony is also the most boring one for people that are not involved in the process. So I spent the most of the ceremony almost dozing off. As I said earlier, more John Steward could be useful there.

I really did not expect "Crash" to win the best film. Maybe I will have to see that. It is not played in Latvia and there are no plans to show it here. It is believed that it is so USA specific that it will not be interesting to audience here.

In any case, I love the tendency to go for love budget films - that is where the creativity is. Lets hope that one day a film is made in a free software manner that get an Oscar. That would be something.

Crontab EOF

If one of your crontab entries is not running lately without any errors, check if you have a newline at the end of the crontab, because if you do not, then the last job will never be executed and no error will be reported anywhere: 79037 (and possibly cause of 260789)

Oh and it will also not run /etc/cron.d/ file with a "." in the name: 324922

I managed to hit both of these bugs within a single day, yay me :P

Food rhythm

Today I was chatting with my friends (Coced and Livespirit), we were discussing effective use of time when I was describing my food preparation habits. Coced started describing his daily morning routine as an example of time-effective food consumption routine. Then we decided to blog our food rhythms and crosslink those posts.

So here goes my daily rhythm:

  • Wake up (I am trying to start waking up at a fixed time lately, but I will blog about that another time)
  • Open the notebook, check email
  • Fill an electric teapot with water, put it to boil
  • Wash the mug
  • Go to the bathroom for the morning bathroom routine
  • Put tea leaves, 3 teaspoons of sugar and boiling water into the mug, stir
  • Make sandwiches from white bread (possibly sweet white bread with raisins), "Rama" margarine +sausage or cheese. Adding mayonnaise if I feel particularly hungry.
  • Make the bed
  • Sit down with the laptop and the tea continuing working and drinking tea
  • Every hour Gnome's "Take a break" timer goes off and I enter a "Break" subroutine:
    • Get up
    • Put water to boil
    • Wash the mug
    • Put tea leaves and sugar in the mug
    • Go to the bathroom
    • Do stretching or rhythm exercises for at least one song (depending on the mood and songs rhythm)
    • Put boiling water into the mug
    • Stir
    • Return to work and continue to drink the tea in small sips during the next hour
  • Once a day I prepare a major meal. And I really do mean Major meal. I had to buy a special 40cm plate so that I could place all my food on it without worrying of it spilling over the side.
  • Continue with a mug of tea per hour for the rest of the day. Most days I drink around 2 liters of tea.

I have stabilized my main meal to one of few dishes that I know how to prepare in a safe, nourishing and good tasting manner. I think that I will post some of my recipes with very detailed step by step instructions and pictures, so that everyone could see how simple my cooking really is and also suggest something to extend my daily meal routine. Oh and you might also get something interesting out of it too. :)

Crosslinks: coced's morning (Russian)

DPL platform runthrough 2: Missing man

Following up on my own review of the DPL platforms I give the review of the latecomer - the platform of Andreas Schuldei:

Andreas Schuldei

  • abstract and TOC present - feels a bit more professional
  • purpose-drive and predictable, with the purpose being having fun - sound much more balanced then some other approaches, hopefully not "Fair and Balanced"
  • "experience in implementing change in volunteer driven scenarios" - very precise definition of what we need
  • flashback to last years platform - looks like some progress is done, but most of it is still relevant
  • real-life meetings - Yes!
  • small teams - isn't that just splitting Debian up into small, easier to manage chunks?
  • more friendly environment - Teletuby alert?! Or should we just redirect all flamewars to the Sauna Cabal?
  • accept more leadership - good
  • more frequent and regular releases - please stop beating that horse. It is a fossil already. Does it really do as good as a project to have a release every year? Where is the stability in that?
  • care more - we can't care less, can we?
  • more resources - please elaborate, what do you mean by resources here? Global network of Debian approved anti-flamewar saunas?
  • DPL Team - isn't that just another name for nontransparent cabal running Debian instead of a single nontransparent individual?
  • set goals within teams to become purpose-driven - sounds good on the first glance, but would that not lead to segregation of purposes?
  • DPL milestones - timeout callback for a DPL. Might help to have a reason to report even if nothing is done, just to convey that information based on set deadlines. On the other hand that is extra "paper"work
  • "Important and/or controversial decisions are made in discussion with the whole team." - this seems to lack a critical part: "decisions are made by the DPL", because falling back to "our team decided" is just a lack of leadership and promotion of birocratcy and lack of responsibility.

Five word summary: purpose, RL meetings, team, schedules, resources

It looks very thought out, but is it just me or is it also becoming very birocratic?

Note: the promised interview is coming up tomorrow.

Top 10 libre timewaisters from Debian

This Saturday we had an installfest in LAKA with a topic of free games. It came to me to make my own top 10 of free Linux time wasting games that are packaged for Debian. Here we have the list for future reference:

Honorable mention - Battle for Wesnoth: a turn based strategy game with a lot of scenarios for single player and also with multiplayer support.

  1. Enigma - A fine puzzle of precision ball moving around large and complex landscapes with a lot of different of tools and quirks
  1. Bygfoot - A football team manager with a lot of nice extra tools like transfers, injuries, salaries, sponsorship deals and a nice comentary for the games themselves. I only would love to see some kind of an online mode either in runtime mode or in turn-per-day mode.
  1. Blob wars - Funny and bloody as hell. Think Rambo as a bruised blob shooting other blobs and rescuing another blobs. Got a lot of laughs during the presentation.
  1. Pingus - Lemmings clone just with penguins. Nice graphics and control. Looks like there is a lot of levels too. Wonderful intro.
  1. LiquidWar - A very addictive and abstract game of liquid domination. Nothing much to explain - just play it with your friends or against a bunch of AI players.
  1. Tecnoballz - Arcanoid on steroids ... x4 ... with a shop ... and bosses ... and ballz ... lots of ballz. Must see.
  1. Scorched3D - The best 3D graphics I have ever seen for a free software project. Same old addictive blowing stuff up with nukes that we all love since Scorched Earth and Worms. Gameplay is better then the latest Worms. Great multiplayer fun. I only with the camera would be more intelligent.
  1. Frozen Bubble - instant classic of free software gaming. Wit and precision required. Fun supplied.
  1. Neverball - Great graphics. Wacky gameplay. Tilt the world with your mouse. Do not fall off. Try the harder levels for even more fun.
  1. Powermanga - Just plain fly and shoot. With powerups. Lots of powerups. Especially note the last powerup that upgrades your ship to a new model which has new weapons to upgrade. Waves and waves of enemies with an occasional big boss. Sadly no multiplayer.

Note: sometime later this week I will also add screenshots to the list.