Friday, April 13, 2007

victims as villians

I believe in the balance of humanity. I can say that I have faith in the balance of humanity. I believe that historically there is significant evidence of this balancing process. I cannot suggest to you exactly how this balance is achieved.

Pretty heady stuff, Papa. What is your point?

A victim is characterized as such because they have suffered from or entered into a relationship with an insult or injury. No one will refute that when my daughter fell and broke her arm she was the victim of an accident. No one will refute the feeling of pain that she felt as a result of the injury. (My daughter was properly treated by trained professionals and has recovered fully from her injury.)

She was not treated as a villain because she recognized the balance of the situation; gravity cannot be denied, literally or metaphorically. She accepted that in a real world circumstance if she did not maintain proper balance she would be subject to the laws of physics as we know them. In this case the infraction resulted in the insult to her arm.

Imagine for a moment the result if my daughter had railed against the laws of physics? How would she have been treated by her peers or even unknowns in the community if she had attempted to lay a claim of culpability on gravity. How quick might we all be to paraphrase the Bard and say, 'I think she doth protest too much!' Then were she, or a band of "interested" anti-gravity types, to continue on lambasting the celestial pull would overall sentiment begin to sway away from such a claim?

It is so easy to speak of the simple laws of physics, a falling child and an injury. Where might the balance be in a complex social circumstance involving the vague precepts of propriety and grievous insults? Certainly the insult is real. Of that there is no question. Then a groundswell of sentiment calls into question the veracity of the victim's claims. A counter swell speaks in support. And when the smoke clears the victim is seen as the villain. The original insult is not lessened just that the balance of humanity has prevailed.

Let me be clear on this point; I am not qualified to judge the specifics of any given circumstance. The only observation that I make here is that the larger perspective, the greater community with an unspoken voice, has re-established the balance of humanity. Further, let there be no doubt that being a 'victim as villain' hurts perhaps more than did my daughter's broken arm. Yet I, as a concerned father, and we as a concerned Internet community cannot prevent the rightful process of balance in humanity or the downward draw of gravity.

419 Fraud Letter I would prefer to receive...

Here is the type of letter I would prefer to receive from the 419 scammers...


My name is Imagonna Scamya. Instead of wasting my time and yours I will come right to the point; send me your money. I have no intention of promising any return on your 'investment'. In fact I can guarantee that you will receive nothing in return for your contribution.

Please note the efficiency and simplicity of this approach. There are no convoluted steps. There is no reason for guilt or shame. Conversely there will be no reward for your participation beyond my personal enrichment which after all is the primary objective here.

Thanks for your timely response.

Please make all checks and money orders payable to Imagonna Scamya.

Respectfully yours


Open Source Top 10 Must-read

10 reasons for enterprises to use opensource

And my favorite of course is...

1. Opensource makes you responsible. When you choose the components yourself, you don’t have a vendor to scream at. Or, as is often the case, a whole heap of vendors to scream at, each merrily pointing all known fingers (and a few unknown ones) at everyone else. While you fume and stew.
Personal responsibility in all aspects of computing. YOYOC = You own your own computer.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Slackware Linux & IBM Thinkpad R51

The IBM (Lenovo) Thinkpad R51 (2888-47u) is OK. While it is well engineered and fully functional it is not out standing, over the top, the be-all-to-end-all of laptops. Perhaps that is why this one was lovingly referred to as a 'Stinkpad' by its previous owner.

The Lenovo site says that this R51 model OEMs with the following...

P M 1.5GHz, 256MB RAM, 20GB 4200rpm HDD, 14.1 XGA(1024x768) TFT LCD, Intel Extreme, 8x-3.3x DVD, Wireless upgradeable(MPCI), Modem(CDC), 10/100 Ethernet(LOM), UltraNav, Secure Chip, 6 cell Li-Ion battery, WinXP Pro
Emphasis in this case is mine because I want to acknowledge that this laptop is very well engineered (OEM) for WinXP Pro. Special note of this will be taken during the installation of Slackware.

Why Slackware? It is simple.

Simple and Slackware on the same line??? Get real... Slackware's installation, albeit a bit Console&NCurses, does not insist that it knows more about how I want this installation to go than it does. Other distros that I have worked with in the past would take off flying and I would end up with a dual-boot, multi-partitioned, multiple file system, three headed monster. Slackware leaves me in control of an involved installation by not making all the critical decisions for me. It is that simple.

This is not a Slackware installation tutorial ( Here is a very good one posted on BitBenderTech. )

There are a couple of points that I want to make clear. First is that careful measures should be taken to preserve the 'OEM Partition'. In addition to just being a good practice in general this partition is the "resale value of the laptop". The next person to own it may not be a Linux fan but would be willing to pay more if it had Windows on it.

The second point that I make when installing Slackware on a "work" system is to install EVERYTHING. A "work" system is not a user/customer desktop/laptop setup or a production server configuration. A "work" system is the computer that I maintain as a resource. It has everything on it so that I don't have to install it later if my experimentation takes me into a new area.

So far we have...
  1. IBM/Lenovo R51
  2. Root ( / ) partition and swap partition. (And the preserved OEM Partition.)
  3. FULL installation of Slackware 11.0
With the normal installation settings (most are DEFAULT, the rest are clear choices) this is a vanilla install of linux.

When the system comes up I have a fully functional laptop running Slackware 11. I always take a moment to create at least one user account [Papa] as soon as I can so I don't have to work in the system logged in as root.

If I didn't do the network configuration during the install I can configure the network connection using the 'netconfig' command and then restarting* the system gives me network access.

Logging in as 'Papa' gives me a fully appointed and a 'working' secured system. Issuing the 'startx' command gives me a fully functional windows GUI, no extra configuration required.

So now we have...
  1. IBM/Lenovo R51
  2. Root ( / ) partition and swap partition. (And the preserved OEM Partition.)
  3. FULL installation of Slackware 11.0
  4. 'netconfig' + 'reboot' gives us ethernet connectivity
  5. 'startx' gives us windows GUI
What is left? What is missing?

Any laptop is just an expensive desktop if it can't me mobile. In order to be functionally mobile a laptop has to be able to connect wirelessly. The R51 (2888-47u) does not have built-in wireless capability so I rely on a wireless PCMCIA adapter. Here I had to choose carefully. I chose Proxim LAN Gold ORiNOCO 11a/b/g ComboCard. Which did not work vanilla right out of the box.

WHAT?!?!? Then why choose that one? Because there are open source drivers for it that do work very well. I went to MadWifi and downloaded madwifi-0.9.3.tar.gz. Using my favorite file manager 'mc' I extracted the source to a working folder. Once inside the folder I did a 'make'. When it finished compiling I did a 'su -' to obtain root privs and then did a 'make install'.

Rebooting the laptop with the Proxim PCMCIA card in the slot and I have an 'functioning' wireless device. In order to make it operational it requires a bit of configuration. In a followup article I will detail that configuration as well as 'Simple, Quick & Dirty reconfiguration for mutiple network sites'. For now just a teaser to show how few CLI commands wireless connectivity requires...

root@laptop: ~# iwconfig ath0 essid MyWifiNet key s:asciipasswordgoeshere
root@laptop: ~# iwpriv ath0 authmode 2
root@laptop: ~# ifconfig ath0 netmask up
root@laptop: ~#

So to sum it all up...
  1. IBM/Lenovo R51
  2. Root ( / ) partition and swap partition. (And the preserved OEM Partition.)
  3. FULL installation of Slackware 11.0
  4. 'netconfig' + 'reboot' gives us ethernet connectivity
  5. 'startx' gives us windows GUI
  6. Wireless connctivity
Obviously I have glossed over some of the steps. (I have given up trying to write for first-time Slackware/Linux users.) This brief overview is to show that with an absolute minimum of work I now have a fully functional and well appointed IBM Thinkpad R51 running Slackware 11.

Articles to come...
KDE Tweaks for Thinkpad
Simple, Quick & Dirty reconfiguration for mutiple network sites

* "Restarting" or 'reboot' is one way. The system could also be 'init 1' and then 'init 3' depending on the user's comfort level.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Compliments not given

I am guilty. I don't know how to give compliments well. Oh, I know the mechanics but I just don't know the etiquette. It always seems that there is a sudden deafening pause after I attempt to give a compliment - an uneasy silence during which I don't know what to do.

Mostly this is due to my other failing, not knowing how to properly receive a compliment. I attribute this to a complex internal dialog that occurs just after the complimentor offers their critical praise.

  1. Fear: Why am I being singled out?
  2. Quid pro quo: What do I owe in return?
  3. Buttered-up: Somebody wants a piece of me?
  4. Contempt: Discounting the veracity of the complimentor.
  5. And the worst, Denial: Dismissing the compliment with "I am not worthy."
Now hopefully you are not subject to the same dialog. But I have learned that as I am "normal", if I have these feeling then most, if not all, folks have them to some degree or another. So what do I do to resolve this dilemma for myself? I practice the following mantra until it just rolls off my tongue...

"Thank you"

No dialog, no second guessing, no judgemental gymnastics. If any of the possible "piece-of-me" issues arise subsequently I will deal with them as wholly separate transactions. Until then I will just focus on accepting the compliment.

On now to the giving of compliments. I don't give them often because of that deadly silence that always seems to follow my attempts. In that uncomfortable moment I am plagued with an entire set of new issues.
  1. Discomfort: Complimentee is embarrassed
  2. Dismissed: Complimentee says/thinks, "Yeah, what ever."
  3. Undermined: Complimentee says/thinks, "Yeah, but its not as good as it could be."
  4. Redirected: Complimentee says/thinks, "You should see so-and-so's work."
  5. Oblivion: Complimentee stands silent, not knowing how to receive a compliment.
So my resolve is equally straight forward and simple. My part of the compliment is the giving. That is all I can be responsible for. So, I am just going to start giving compliments. I am going to practice until I get it right. Then I am going to practice it until I make it a habit.

You look marvelous.

Addendum: Ironically, in the past if I was sure that the message would be delivered correctly I would be more inclined to give the compliment to a mutual friend, to be delivered second hand. Interesting how a 'second-hand' compliment means more in the community and is easier to accept.

Monday, April 09, 2007

If you can't run with the big cyber-dawgs...

GigaOM - AMD gives us a tech reality check

Earlier today, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) announced that it is cutting its revenue forecasts, for the first quarter of 2007. “Revenues declined sharply quarter-over-quarter … due to lower overall average selling prices and significantly lower unit sales, especially in the resale channel,” AMD said. AMD will cut costs, and slowdown hiring. AMD pre- announcement can’t be dismissed lightly. You can expect more companies will make such statements during this earning season, underscoring lack of demand.

... <Churchlady> Could it be.... Vista? </ChurchLady>

While the GigaOM article does go on to name, "...,wireless handsets and most categories of consumer electronics" it speaks quite clearly to the PC markets. And as we all know the PC market is driven by the latest and greatest offering from Microsoft. In this case Vista. Which apparently no one is rushing out in droves to buy. Consequently AMD is taking it on the chin.

I have said it in other quarters for other reasons but it applies here just as well, "When you lay down with cyber-dawgs you end up with digital fleas." Sorry AMD, perhaps you should reconsider what porch you sleep on.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

. . .