Friday, April 30, 2004

This would be the funniest thing in the world were it not so pathetic: one of the American soldiers charged with subjecting Iraqi prisoners to torture offers as an excuse that he wasn't sufficiently trained.

Was he expecting his sergeant (or whoever the heck he was reporting to) to conduct a class and say:

1. You should not parade your wards naked and ask them to perform sexual acts on each other.

2. You should not write dirty things on their naked bodies.

3. You should not ask them to form a (naked) human pyramid.

4. You should not allow a juvenile prisoner to be raped by one of your colleagues and capture this act on film.

If he really did expect to be told these things, I have a bridge to sell him...
I formally give up.

I am not going to waste any more time trying to upgrade to Gnome 2.6, either through Garnome or otherwise. I have spent more than a week trying out all sorts of things, but it simply refuses to run. There are no messages in /var/log/user.log to report to the gurus.

Anyway, I am pretty satisfied with Gnome 1.4. It does everything I want. No point in trying to keep upgrading to the New and Improved (tm) version just for the heck of it. I am not a Windows groupie, right?

I am also waiting for my Fedora CDs. Let's see if my karma dictates that I will earn the privilege of seeing 2.6 when I get them.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

What leads to flame wars? Why do people at comp.os.linux.advocacy spew so much venom at each other, arguing in favour of either Linux or Windows?

The reason is that each camp is absolutely certain that it is right. Such certainty makes these people view anyone with an opposite opinion as having an ulterior motive or agenda (and not just some legitimate grievance). It then becomes a battle between Good and Evil. The moment this happens, all the rulebooks are thrown out; Good has to eradicate Evil; there can be no two opinions about this and no need to think rationally and conduct a logical argument for the position adopted. I will not go into the reasons why people are so certain of their beliefs; a lot of factors are at play here, like faith, personal values, belief systems and so on (in some cases this belief might even have a strong factual background -- in which case the rage felt against the opposing camp will be even stronger!).

In the case of political issues, we have wonderful leaders who do nothing to calm things down, but rather play on these emotions and keep the pot boiling, instead of taking a level-headed and rational approach. Someone who does not bow to the populist pressures is vilified as having given in to the other side's pressure and is either goaded into action or is pushed out of the picture altogether. In this age of fast food and soundbites, nobody has the patience to spend the requisite time to analyse a candidate's platform and judge for themselves whether what he says makes sense. Add to this the inherent complexity of economics (quick, tell me whether a stronger dollar is a good thing or not, keeping in mind that we need to boost our exports, while not allowing our domestic industry to languish because importing capital goods is more expensive), and the ability of governments to indulge in fancy bookkeeping that hides the true state of affairs as long as they are in power, and a citizen's efforts at getting the real picture are pretty much doomed.

Whew, what started off as a socio-cultural commentary somehow morphed into a political rant!

Monday, April 26, 2004

Do Niles and Daphne end up together? Please let it be!!
Which kind of people send out spam? Guys like Eddie in Grounded For Life. We all love Eddie and his antics, don't we? But would you tolerate this in real life? BTW, this is simply one of the best sitcoms in a long time along with Just Shoot Me (barring Friends, of course).

Talking of Friends, this should have been wound up at least three seasons ago. It is getting lamer and lamer everyday. It is really pathetic to watch fatter, less funny versions of Chandler, Rachel and others keep proving to us what they will do for one million dollars an episode.

Sidebar: one of the most poignant moments in TV (at least for me): Ross and Rachel are annulling their drunken wedding; Ross says to Rachel that never in his life did he think that he would be divorcing her and that this was one marriage that he expected would last.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Another piece of advice for the Palestinians: stop refererring to the Israelis as 'Zionists'. It may or may not be true that there is something called Zionism which has some religious/racist goals. But by repeatedly using this term, the Palestinians are lending credence to the idea that the issue is primarily a religious one, thereby strengthening the hands of the fundamentalists on both sides. What they should be doing is highlight the actions of Israel the country, treating the whole matter as a secular one. To be fair, I don't see how far they can take it, given that the Israeli state cannot be divorced from Judaism (and to think that only Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. are considered as religiously fundamentalist states). The Palestinians need some good PR, instead of flowery, meaningless rhetoric (I read somewhere that Arabic has such inherent attributes). They should start employing the services of some of those famous Washington firms (Hill & Knowlton, anyone?)
What is the height of frustration?

Surfing channels and landing at WWF wrestling and trying to quickly save yourself by moving on and finding that the remote doesn't work for some reason and having to endure the sh*t for ten more seconds as you desperately try to get the damn thing going again.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Just now finished watching Tim Sebastian grill the Israeli Justice Minister in Hardtalk.

When Tim started asking uncomfortable questions about Mordechai Vanunu, the minister tried pulling a fast one by trying to bring up Auschwitz. Tim didn't fall for it; he neatly sidestepped this pathetic attempt and persisted in his line of questioning. The minister totally lost it at this point and launched into an ad hominem attack on Tim; he accused Tim of harbouring anti-Israeli feelings.

The program ran out of time at this point.
Repeat after me, ten times, holding your hand over your heart:

1. I will not use the following commands to install packages: cp, mv, mkdir, ln, rm.

2. apt-get is my friend.

3. dpkg is my friend (provided I don't use any --force option).

4. garnome is my friend.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I understand that good advertising strategy dictates that every product should have a memorable baseline so that the product can be identified by consumers easily. But isn't it taking things too far when a mosquito coil's baseline reads "Keeps On Killing"?

I swear, I am not making this up. The product's name is Swordcoil, BTW.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Lest I forget: Xine rocks!
Gnome is cool, after all!

I screwed up my KDE installation (trying to upgrade from 2.2 to 3.2.1) and had to fall back on Gnome. The more I use Gnome, the better I like it. It seems much more flexible and customizable than KDE. Somehow, I get the feeling that KDE is closer to the Windows way of doing things, while Gnome's is the way of Linux/Unix! Blasphemy?

Back to some politics: I think the behaviour of the American government/people can be better understood if we consider that the primary emotion motivating their actions is indescribable rage. No country can take lightly the slaughter of 3,000 of their innocent citizens. If the same thing had happened in India, and if even the slightest doubt existed that it could be the handiwork of Pakistan, there definitely would have been a nuclear war. I don't think I would have protested such a course of action, either. After all, it's easy to talk and pass judgment when it happens to someone else. BTW, this does not mean that I condone the actions of the Americans.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

If I install a package directly by building from the sources, how can apt-get/dpkg be kept in the loop? I don't want apt-get to unnecessarily try to upgrade the package again.
These are the days.

These are days you'll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky.
It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are days you'll remember.
When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in
every hour.
You'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky.
It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are days.

These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break.
These days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face.
And when you do you'll know how it was meant to be.
See the signs and know their meaning.
It's true, you'll know how it was meant to be.
Hear the signs and know they're speaking to you, to you.

-- These Are The Days , 10000 Maniacs

Simply the most uplifiting lyrics I have heard in a long time. Not to mention the song itself. Natalie Merchant, I want to marry you!
Just heard the news that Abdel Rantissi has been assassinated by Israel. I think that a) either the Israelis have a death wish or b) Israel is in its death throes in which it is blindly lashing out at everybody. Is Arafat the next target?

The fastest way for the Palestinians to achieve their objective is to do what that Vietnamese monk did as a protest against the American invasion of his country. If each suicide bomber, instead of blowing himself and a bunch of other people up, announced that he is going to simply blow himself up at a pre-announced, cordoned-off spot, and does so, world opinion will turn in a matter of weeks. Whatever little remaining support that the 'shitty little country' has will vanish in a jiffy.

Are there no sane persons left in Israel?

Friday, April 16, 2004

Oops, it looks like I don't need MailGate or PostCastServer. Proxy+ comes with its own POP3 and SMTP proxies.
I have successfully reduced my dependence on my Windows box even further. Have installed PostCastServer for SMTP and MailGate for POP3. Now I can send and receive emails directly from my Linux box. Actually, MailGate can do SMTP as well, but I kept getting 10054 errors, so gave up on this.

Add this to ProxyPlus, and I have all the protocols covered :-)

Had I been able to move my DSL connection to Linux, all this would have been unnecessary. Still no replies to my post at LinuxQuestions regarding this.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

iTunes for Windows behaves in a 'non-standard' way when compared to other Windows applications.

When I access my Windows desktop through VNCViewer, iTunes seems reluctant to repaint itself when the screen display changes (to show the countdown of the remaining time, for example). I have to trigger the repaint manually by clicking a menu option, searching for a song by typing its title in the text field and so on.

As an aside, VNCViewer under xdm is much slicker/faster than under gdm. The Windows desktop feels almost like I am operating it directly.
Saw this "gem" in the latest issue of Time, in the Letters to the Editor section:

"The terrorists hate us because they are militant Islamists and they want to convert us to a Taliban-like country with Islam as the official religion".

This is from a gentleman in the U.S.

Yeah, right. Osama bin Laden is gathering an army of milions who are going to invade the American continent in submarines.

I can't for the life of me imagine that there are people in the U.S. who harbour such views.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I really like the way we compile and install gcc. It does not come with uninstall like the other packages, but the advantage of this is that I don't need to keep the source/object folders once I have installed it. Provided that I give a suitable prefix (e.g. /usr/local/gcc-3.3.2) and ensure that it gets installed in its own separate directory, I just need to delete this directory to remove gcc (and also update my INCLUDE, LIB and LD_LIBRARY_PATH, of course). I can thus easily and safely maintain two versions of gcc simultaneously (as I do now).

Compare this with the bother of having to maintain the source folders for the other packages for as long as I need the packages themselves [*]. My home directory is simply overflowing with the gnome 2.6 package directories.

[*] Is this really true? Or am I missing something?
Spent the last four days trying to install gnome 2.6. Finally gave up in frustration. I wanted to install Anjuta (still looking for that kick-ass C++ IDE for Linux -- don't get me started on KDevelop), hence the interest in gnome (I like KDE a lot, actually).

Lost count of the number of times I typed 'configure', 'make' and 'make install'. But I must confess I went about it in a none too orderly fasion. I downloaded gnome-terminal 2.6, and tried configuring it. Found out all the missing packages and then downloaded them (and then downloading the packages *they* depended on and so on).

I was able to successfully compile and install all the required packages, but when I run gnome-terminal I get some critical errors (assertion G_TYPE_IS_OBJECT failed...). There are a lot of gotchas when you are compiling these 2.6 packages. I will try to list some of them later.

Better to wait for gnome-2.6 to make an appearance at Debian (BTW, I did try to get the experimental gnome-desktop-environment package using apt-get, but this spewed out a whole bunch of packages which were necessary but were not available. I beat a hasty retreat).

But in this process, I somehow managed to correct the problems in my earlier gnome packages; Anjuta (1.2.1) is now working! There is a load of error messages, though. Ignoring them by feeding them to /dev/null.

I must say, I am pretty impressed with Anjuta. Especially like the automatic word completion (even within quoted strings). But I don't like the way my project folder is cluttered with so many boiler-plate stuff (,,, etc.). I am sticking to my simple, hand-crafted makefile. I was able to import this directly into Anjuta.

Vajra is misbehaving. Segmentation faults for no reason. Tried both gcc 3.2.3 and 3.3.2. I have the feeling that it has something to do with libc6 or glibc. I am also not able to use the debugger with Anjuta. Sprinkling my code with couts.

I really must do something about my fonts. They are really crappy. If I have one crib against Linux, it is this. But hey, I should just RTFM, right :-) ?

Saturday, April 10, 2004

At last I am able to see Linux in its full glory. Replaced my old P1 (200 MHz) 128 Meg with an AMD Athlon 2400+ (2 GHz) 256 Meg. I was losing faith in Linux's performance somewhat, though, to be fair, it was my inferior configuration that was to blame. I was even veering around to the view that may be the Mac afficionados were right after all. Happy to say that Linux rocks! Now, if only I could move my DSL connection from my Windows box as well...
I am a regular reader of 'conspiracy' web sites like xymphora, WhatReallyHappened, From The Wilderness and others. I really don't know if all the dire predictions (Americans facing economic catastrophe, everyone running out of oil, rushing headlong into WWIII due to a conflagration in the Middle East and so on) have any merit. I cannot deny that the arguments put forward do seem plausible. But I feel that, had the Internet been around twenty/thirty years ago, we would have seen the same sort of doomsday scenarios (which, of course, did not materialise). But does this mean that the 'conspiracy theorists' were just blowing smoke, or that things were somehow covered up and catastrophes averted due to actions by the powers that be that screwed over more helpless people?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

This is my home page, by the way.
My first web log entry. I'll start off with a rant against Microsoft.

Finally bit the bullet and installed the .NET SDK. Found out that you need the .NET framework as well. Why is this not bundled with the SDK itself? Doesn't the JDK come with it's own JRE?