Slightly less Random Ramblings

September 27, 2009

Another Difference between Public and Private

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 12:25 am

I drove through a Walmart parking lot and noticed how well the drainage system they have works. It takes some serious flooding to damage a Walmart to the extent that roads, schools, and government buildings have been damaged during the recent flooding in the Atlanta area. I snapped a pic of it. It was doing a very good job of keeping that parking lot clear. That’s very different from what we see of government “services,” where the need to please the customer is lacking, to say the least.

2009-09-26 16.44.50

September 15, 2009

Rangel’s no Angel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 5:30 am

Charles Rangel, the first black man to head the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and Congress’s foremost proponent of slavery, has perhaps topped all of his peers at displaying contempt for those he supposedly serves. In response to reporters’ questions about hidden personal assets, Rangel responded:

I recognize that all of you have an obligation to ask questions knowing that there’s none of you smart enough to frame it in such a way that I’m going to respond.

Well, at least he actually does give an accurate assessment of the press. Truth in politics is such a refreshing change of pace.

September 14, 2009

The Open Source Future

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 6:09 pm

One of the major factors which will fuel Linux and other open source projects’ development will be the developing world. I was listening to a podcast about Ardour, an open source digital audio workstation. One of the interesting things which was mentioned was the ability of members of the community to sponsor code. That is, a person can offer a bounty to have bugs fixed or features added. The fact that incomes vary very widely across the globe can actually help a lot here. Most of the consumers of this software are located in the developed world and have higher incomes than the developing world. As people in areas which have very low average incomes become more technically savvy in software development using free software, some of them will be able to earn nice incomes using their knowledge. This is outsourcing writ large.

August 7, 2009

Solid State Ubuntu

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 4:01 am

I decided to install Ubuntu 9.04 to my 2GB CF card. I wanted to avoid wearing out the CF with writes, so I settled on this method. I installed the server to one partition, so /usr/local is in the root filesystem. You can create the script anywhere in the root filesystem, but i used /usr/local.

Create a /usr/local/bin/ file with the contents below:

rsync -a /var.perm/ /var/
mount -t tmpfs tmpfs -o mode=1777 /var
rsync -a /var.perm/ /var/

Make a soft link from it to /etc/rcS.d with:

ln –s /usr/local/bin/ /etc/rcS.d/

This will cause it to run right after the filesystems are mounted, before any services which write to /var are running.

Add a cron.hourly script to rsync from /var to /var.perm, and you are all set!

I modified this a bit after the inital post. I changed the script:

find /var/ -type f -exec rm -f {} \;
mount -t tmpfs tmpfs -o mode=1777 /var
rsync -a /var.perm/ /var/
mount -o relatime /dev/vgraid/lv_squid /var/spool/squid3

The find line is actually only needed once. I just deleted the files from the underlying (flash) filesystems, leaving the directory structure. No need to waste space. After that, I mount the /var manually, then copy the permanent files into it. Finally, since I run squid on this server, I mount the squid cache directories after /var. All the other local filesystems get loaded from the scripts in the /etc/rcS.d directory. I also have an hourly cron job which runs the following:

#!/bin/shrsync –delete-excluded –delete-after –exclude=*.pid \
–exclude=spool/squid3/??/??/* –exclude=cache/apt/archives/*.deb\
-av /var/ /var.perm/

This copies all the directory structure, and most files, from /var to the flash card. I skip the squid cache files, since they take up too much space.

July 24, 2009

Calling it what it is

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 6:11 pm

A friend of mine, who has a young child, has begun to replace a certain concept with the word “socialism.” For example, “my son just took a massive socialism in his diaper.” Could there be any better description of the nature of the thing than that? It is easily applicable to any number of situations. Something really disgusts you? Scream “socialism” in complete disgust. It works well in some common phrases. “Socialism happens.” “Same Socialism, Different Day.” But I think it works nowhere quite so well as in a phrase used by the older folk during my childhood: “you don’t socialism where you eat.” That one works whether or not you do the mental substitution.

July 12, 2009

Parents Scaring Daughter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 1:04 pm

My wife decided she wanted to pay our 10 year old daughter back for always trying to scare people.

May 15, 2009

Private Security

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 2:51 pm

The heroic Norman Horn interviews private security expert Gil Guillory about security without the state.
Listen to the Podcast.

May 7, 2009

Which Famous Adventurer Am I?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 2:39 pm

Which Adventurer Are You?Quiz brought to you by
Tripbase – Vacation Ideas

March 12, 2009

I wish people would just stop using mathematical language if they don’t know how

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 5:59 am

I just saw a commercial which claimed a diet supplement helped people lose “an average of up to 4 times the weight.” Which is it? An average, or a maximum? Is it the highest average in a series of studies? I’ve been hearing this language more and more in recent times, and I’m sick of it. Can we get a bit of clarity here?

March 1, 2009

Tethering a Blackberry 8703e with Windows 7 Beta

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert Wicks @ 12:43 am

I recently installed Windows 7 beta on a Dell Latitude D630 and could not get Sprint Smartview to properly install. I finally found a solution which, while a bit kludgy, does work: using the BB over bluetooth as a dial-up-modem. I found the instructions on, from user “camattin.”

  1. Go to your network connections
  2. click create a new connection
  3. select ‘Connect to the Internet’
  4. ‘Set up my connection manually’
  5. <next>
  6. ‘Connect using a dialup modem’
  7. <next>
  8. check only the box for the ‘Standard Modem’
  9. <next>
  10. give the ISP box some value.. i.e. "SprintPCS"
  11. <next>
  12. enter ‘#777’ for the phone number
  13. <next>
  14. can opt for anyone’s use or my use only
  15. <next>
  16. leave the username & password fields blank
  17. unless your situation warrants it, unselect both checkboxes (use this account when anyone connects to the internet, make this the default internet connection)
  18. <next>
  19. <finish>

This finally allows me to use my laptop when I am away from wifi. Smartview is the only important application I have not gotten working under Windows 7, which has been amazingly stable for me.

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