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Category: linux

08/11/11 05:23- ID#54924

Crunchbang home

I migrated from Fedora 15 to Crunchbang once more, and hopefully for good this time. I had to deal with one-too-many hangs and quirks and finally gave up. Having had to stare at the clock all the time, not being able to maximize over the upper panel bar, losing the use of super/windows key on several shortcut combos, being stuck with a left-sided dock and poor customizability of visual elements using GUI interfaces were complete dealbreakers.

Behold my new pimped out #!.
I am pretty relieved that I don't have to deal with the eccentricity menace of Fedora 15 now. Everything just works for me on Crunchbang just as it works for (e:Paul) on Fedora.

As (e:Paul) pointed out maybe the primary trouble is the general incompatibility of ATI graphics cards with Fedora 15. Maybe someday I will be able to rip out the internals of the laptop, replace the screen with a e-reader screen, replace the graphics cards and whatnots but that someday is definitely not today or anytime close. So for now, Crunchbang is home.

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Words: 178
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/11/11 11:21

Category: science

08/11/11 03:48- ID#54923

Information is beautiful

Or not.
Some of those edit wars may sound so ridiculous, but what I really can't believe right now is I was involved in a particularly intense one not long back and almost got banned. Nopes, totally not telling which one. That identity and IP of mine are thankfully buried forever. ;-)

And I have to say, I love that term "Sublimation". Makes singledom sound way cooler. haha

Words: 89
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/11/11 03:49

Category: the odes

08/11/11 01:22- ID#54922

I'm Imelda.

I have 25 pairs of footwear. I don't have a picture right now because they are not all together but I will post them here someday.

Flips Flops = 5
  • Black (my latest, one of my awesome colleagues at work bought these and they were too small for her. But she thought of me before returning them! They fit me like those glass slippers fit Cinderella. Only, they are 1000x times more comfy.)
  • Black with red highlights: From Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi. Just as crazy and just as cool.
  • Blue beachy. I got these in Florida for $2. I was in Florida and I wasn't prepared for the beach!
  • Orange Orange: I was in California and my shoes got squelchy from a massive downpour. We were near an Old Navy. $3.
  • Chinese traditional knockoff: I loved the embroidery and the silk and the blingy fake stones. Washington, DC. $2.

Everyday, no-thought-involved shoes = 2
  • Reds: Mary Jane sneakers. Love them. Alas they can't be worn in the winter. I love red shoes. I sometimes wish I could spray paint all my shoes red or orange or green or maybe a tasteful combo of all three colours. But can a red-orange-green combo be described as tasteful? Who knows.
  • Winter boots: Wore these for 5 months straight earlier this year and last year. Workhorse of a shoe. Don't look too dressed down either. But best of all, they are light enough that they don't feel like a chore to walk in.

Sneakers = 7
  • Sporty Bright white and blue: These are big at size 7.0. A whole size up from my regular feet size (which ranges from 5.5 to 6.5). But they are light and comfortable and I have danced and worked out in them. Not a big fan of how they look. They just look too sporty. They might as well have "SPORTS" flashing in neon all over them just like that sign that flashes " BOWLING" on Amherst and Elmwood.
  • The 8:20s/Grey and orange: I bought these for $8.20 with tax. I remember because when I checked out of the store it was 8:20 PM (it said so on the receipt) and it was the 20th of August around 5 years back. I love these and they are almost worn out now. I live in constant fear of when they are going to split into half or some such hideous fraction.
  • Greens and Whites: From home. The store clerk who fitted these shoes for me at the store stalked me across Connaught Place where I bought these. It didn't make any sense. I freaked out and took random routes to the car park to shake the trail. It was like a spy novel gone bad. They were my favourite in ROC. Don't wear them much because they are kind of worn out now. And not because the clerk was creepy.
  • Blues and Greys: From home. Comfy shoes. Wear them occasionally with all the other blues and greys that dominate my wardrobe. It is the perfect shoe that gels so well with everything else that sometimes people think they are part of my trousers. Well.. not really, but that part was fun to make up.
  • Spring Green Cloggy sneakers: love these and wear them often. I like that they are the green I like. But they are kind of heavy and clumsy and inflexible. I still like them but... You know, because there are always buts.
  • Grey and Grey: Okay kind of sneakers. I need to replace the laces. Neither loved nor hated. They look neutral too. They are the height-of-neutral shoes out of all my 25 pairs.
  • Brown and Greens: Wore this extensively everywhere. They are still going strong. Like them a lot. Occasionally grit gets into the weird elevated holes they have on the soles. Whoever thought that design up obviously was not thinking of me walking all over NYC and Florida and California and DC and Georgia and of course, Buffalo in them. Notice how I don't want to remember ROC in that list. I didn't particularly like anyone I met there except my landlady. I remember her telling me once that she liked these brown and green sneakers.

Casual work = 2
  • Brown Suede Oxfords: Comfy almost-office shoe for slightly chilly weather. They are so ordinary looking. Almost everyone has had a shoe like this, I am sure. But they are so soft and unassuming. Fun to wear.
  • Black square slip on: Comfy but I don't like how these look. They are too square. I simply don't need any more masculine accents in my wardrobe. For a while they were my dance shoe and the soles are still covered in Gaffer tape ((e:tinypliny,53404))

Office, currently under my workdesk = 2
  • Black heel boots: I wear wherever my feet land in the morning and sometimes they land in terribly casual ones. These are back-ups-immediate-dress-up-lethal-looking-heels. They are comfortable though. At 2.5 inch a bit high, but eminently manageable. They transform however shabby I am looking. I then just need to pull out an air of sophistication to complete the effect. Of course. I often fail there because I am not sure I have that air in me anyway.
  • Flowery brown hippie Mary Janes: Fun little mary janes. Dress up but casual. When they were new I had to treat their rims with coconut oil for an entire week to stop them from giving me shoe bites. It's so funny that no one knows the term "shoe bites" here. Yes. it's across-the-pond lingo for blisters caused by new shoes.

Pure Dance shoes = 2
  • Salsa Suedes: I loved the dance, once upon a time. Then something happened and I totally fell out with it. I can't say it was a specific something but more like a generally depressing helplessness-related something. I bet they are still awesome dancing shoes for hard surfaces. Maybe I just need to go dancing with (e:Paul) and learn some crazy moves. :)
  • Black swan: I like to call them that, but they are really quite plain split-sole white-suede-bottomed ballet shoes. The only thing that is rather odd about them is that they have a white suede bottom. Why on earth would anyone opt for white suede bottom. They attract and retain ALL the grime from whatever surface I am dancing in. It is as if they are snakecharming the dirt out of surfaces while I dance. Only they fit me like a glove and I can forget about my ballet teacher casting disapproving glances at my feet when I am wearing them.

2.5 inchers I intend wearing someday but haven't yet. = 3
  • Burgundy suede: My favourite 2.5 incher. I love the colour. I have a matching scarf. Definitely the ones for the big day whenever it comes around.
  • Brown fake crocodile: My least liked 2.5 incher. I bought this online. Big mistake. What in the world was I thinking. Not only do they give me shoe bites, they are also losing their gloss and get-up even though I have never worn them outside!
  • Shiny burgundy: An inbetween shoe... thinking of wearing these tomorrow, but afraid I may not look like me. But I should atleast give them a chance, right? I actually want to silence the heels with fake suede strips before I wear these or any of the heels really. The horsy clippetty-clop heel-clatter sounds so much like keyboard rackets sometimes. It makes me nuts having to listen to both of these.

Need to donate = 2
  • Blue heels: They are a size too big. I don't know what happened here. How did I end up getting these? My feet easily slide out of them all the time. I just can't wear them because they don't stay on. Maybe I don't know how to wear strapless heels because only the Mary Jane type of heels stay on my feet. I squarely assign the blame on the person who was with me when I bought these. I realize everyday that I don't like her so much. I don't know why I started hanging out with her in the first place. She always made me feel like crap. I don't have to deal with this anymore since she is not in Buffalo, but I still sometimes wonder how my life would have been different had I actively blocked any efforts by depressing fad-ridden people to become my friends in the first place.
  • Winter shoes: I bought these for my first winter in ROC. I wore them then but they are TOO HEAVY. When I wore them it always felt like I had loads attached to my feet when I walked. In fact that was the reason I never wore them much and ended up ruining several of my 7 sneakers with the salt and snow before I realized that I really needed a proper winter shoe that I could wear without thinking and weighing the pros and cons. My current much lighter and waaaaaay more useful winter boots replaced these. These need to go. They are in perfect shape, but just not for me.

I never throw out my shoes. Maybe I need to start with the old heavy winter ones above that I am never likely to wear anymore and the blue heels that are a size too big.

I know that some people don't have any shoes to wear in this world. But then they also probably don't have any food to eat, any dress to wear, any phd to finish, any friends to hang out with, any dance class to passionately dance in, any snow to deal with, any too-dressy slightly strange non-primary intimidating advisors to contend with... or even much of estrogen.

Why did I get those 2.5 inchers? I wear them around the kitchen because the counter and sink and stove are too high for me. I could easily pull them off for 8 hours straight without whining but that's not the point. They are ridiculous. The point is it is tough to defend the shoes you own or don't own. They are sometimes necessities but they are sometimes frivolities as well. I guess a part of Imelda lives on in everyone; some have more of her than others and she is hard to evict.
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Words: 1680
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/11/11 05:13

Category: eating out

08/11/11 12:03- ID#54921

Lindt & Sprüngli Chocolate

I don't know what was the %cocoa in the Lindt chocolate (e:Paul,54915) posted but I don't get why they decided to change their simple uncomplicated old recipe in all the other bars except the 85% (and possibly 90%) to include palm oil, soy lecithin etc. Why weren't the ingredients below that work SO well enough?

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Words: 56
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/11/11 01:52

Category: dance

08/08/11 08:38- ID#54907

Back from ballet

I needed a hardcore workout today to channel all that excess nervous energy. Quite luckily Kolleen emailed me right when I was thinking about going to her class.
I was soaking wet by the time we were done and far away from anything resembling graceful but I had a bunch of fun.

They have a African Movement Workshop on Wednesday. I know it conflicts with yoga, but is anyone interested in going with me? It's $12.50 for the evening if we turn up to the class together.
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Words: 89
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/08/11 08:42

Category: science

08/07/11 08:17- ID#54901

View from 9th Avenue

This classic cartoon by Steinberg could easily be titled:
"View with a limited dataset".

Or maybe.
Who cares?!

Words: 21
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/07/11 08:50

Category: the odes

08/07/11 04:24- ID#54900

Being intuitive


1. The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
2. A thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.

Is it bad to require that people use their conscious reasoning at least some of the time? Or does having this requirement imply that the method put forward to explain things is not clear enough?

Conscious reasoning is clearly, more effort than intuition. Where do you draw the line at slaving over keeping everything super-easy and "intuitive" and requiring at least some effort on the part of your audience or end-user? Could not slaving over providing "intuitive understanding" to your audience a sign of laziness or worse, reflective of your imperfect understanding of the system or the subject matter? I wonder...

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Words: 141
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/07/11 04:26

Category: i-tech

08/07/11 11:41- ID#54895

Keyboard conclusions

I think I have learnt some keyboard lessons from all this keyboard shopping over the last couple months.
  • What is quiet and fast now will eventually turn noisy (logitech)
  • What is fast now will remain fast but will never be quiet (logitech)
  • What is quiet now can be fast depending upon your skills (Chiclet keyboards)
  • However, if you learn to type faster on the quieter keyboards, you are most likely doomed to finger fatigue and RSI.
  • Costlier keyboards are not necessarily exempt from the above rules.

The choice is basically between more noise or more pain. I think more noise is a better alternative if I want a healthier RSI/fatigue-free typing future. I am keeping all the three keyboards I got ((e:tinypliny,54877)) for now. Noisy for painful days and quiet for chaotic days.

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Words: 135
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/07/11 11:42

Category: linux

08/07/11 10:19- ID#54892

Learning about linux by dissecting packages

What makes a flawless efficient productive system? What goes into all those small things that make sticking to one OS easier than the other? What is behind those simple little tricks that you get used to in one OS that helps you work so much more faster than in another new system?

I want a system that will just stay out of my way and not make me think about it. But to not force people to think about anything requires careful thought into what works in the background silently and smoothly. There is of course the universal kernel and the efficiency of code of all bits and pieces of software. But an easier and more non-technical "everyone" way to dissect why one distro offers better productivity than the other is to look at the packages.

I am going to take a look at Crunchbang's packages and list them so that I can understand why that distro comes close to being one of the most perfect distros I have worked on. As usual, the easiest way is to just dissect the hard work already done by the experts. Omns (or Grant Galbraith) in his omns project blog puts together Debian systems all the time and writes post-install scripts for them. I am just going to extract commands from these scripts and put them down here. The difference will be I want to write my own descriptions for each package, why they are essential to the system and what they bring to the table in terms of making that distro a bit more "intuitive", all based on my limited understanding of linux systems.

I guess the goal is to learn not by building linux from scratch but by pulling apart a system that works well. And since I am working backwards, I am hoping to go from the superficial layers to the deep, first looking at the packages that form and work with the graphical interface and immediate enduser functions going down to what comprises the system itself. I probably won't be done in one day or even one year, but hopefully, this will be a useful exercise in understanding a bit more about linux systems that are better than others.

From part II: XFCE 4.8 on Debian Squeeze

  1. Set Repositories

mv /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.bak
cp sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list

I usually do:
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

So what is his sources list...
(% means commented out since the # means something else on (e:strip))
deb squeeze main contrib non-free
% deb-src squeeze main contrib non-free

deb squeeze-updates main contrib non-free
% deb-src squeeze-updates main contrib non-free

deb testing main contrib non-free
% deb-src testing main contrib non-free

deb unstable main contrib non-free
% deb-src unstable main contrib non-free

% deb experimental main contrib non-free
% deb-src experimental main contrib non-free

% deb squeeze-backports iceweasel-4.0

deb squeeze/updates main non-free
% deb-src squeeze/updates main non-free

deb stable main non-free

deb squeeze-backports main contrib non-free

So I don't like firefox. Never have. I have always been an Opera or currently a Chrome fan. The Mozilla-ice-weasel needs to go in my set up.
  1. Setting up preferences

mv /etc/apt/preferences /etc/apt/preferences.bak
cp preferences /etc/apt/preferences

This is something I don't know about. Something called apt-pinning. Omns has done a post about it that I need to read about. For now these are the preferences in the file we just copied:

Package: *
Pin: release n=squeeze-backports
Pin-Priority: 1001

Package: *
Pin: release n=squeeze-updates
Pin-Priority: 950

Package: *
Pin: release n=squeeze
Pin-Priority: 900

Package: *
Pin: release n=stable
Pin-Priority: 800

Package: *
Pin: release a=testing
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: release a=unstable
Pin-Priority: 600

Package: *
Pin: release a=experimental
Pin-Priority: 200

  1. Add Keyrings
This is to prevent the system from whining about "uncertified" and "untrustworthy" sources.

dpkg -i debian-multimedia-keyring_2010.12.26_all.deb

  1. Update Repositories and Upgrade packages

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

I have noticed that an upgrade always breaks stuff in Crunchbang Statler. Probably an indication that that exact package collection only works with some older Debian components and not with the newer updates. I still haven't learnt how to pinpoint the source of the break.

  1. Base packages and applications.
sudo apt-get install
xorg --> the graphical interface.
gksu --> launches programs in graphical interface
gdebi --> enables double-click *.deb and install ability
file-roller --> an unzip/unrar/untar utility (does not play well with evince)
% why do I need all the compression programs under the sun?
lha --> lzh archiver
lzop --> fast compression program
rzip --> compression program for large files
unalz --> De-archiver for .alz files
zoo --> zoo archive extractor
xz-utils --> XZ-format compression utilities
p7zip-full --> extract 7zip archives
alsa-base --> sound server. Maybe replace with pulseaudio
vlc --> video lan player
audacity --> audio player. vlc is fine really.
libdvdcss2 --> ?
lame --> mp3 codec
gimp --> high end graphics program similar to Photoshop
ttf-freefont --> better fonts rendering. Absolutely essential!
ttf-mscorefonts-installer --> M$shit fonts that are not so shit.
gcolor2 --> ?
agave --> ?
gedit --> The "linux notepad" I like so much!
fortunes --> ?
fortune-mod --> ? (I have read this is important as a notification machine but I am not really sure.)
gedit-plugins --> ? Not sure which plugins these are, the ons that bring along different code highlighting and syntax highlighting maybe. I just need some eye-popping bright ones that may not necessarily belong to R but make error-spotting easier.
evince --> pdf reader. ver 3.0 has annotation support but still ages behind wine + pdf xchange viewer.
gcalctool --> ? calculator?
iceweasel --> weasel I hate (firefox).
gftp -->?
xchat --> irc client. useful for naggy questions in realtime.
transmission-gtk --> torrent client.
wicd --> I think network manager is better in terms of offering a bigger variety of connections. 3G, VPN etc
cups --> something to do with the printer?
cups-pdf --> pdf printing?
system-config-printer --> ?
hpijs --> ?
hplip --> ?
dmz-cursor-theme --> ?
gtk2-engines-murrine -- ?
tango-icon-theme -- ? do I need this eye candy?
gnome-colors --> ?
bash-completion -- ?
screen -- ?
cowsay -- ?
figlet -- ?
scrot -- ?
whois -- ?
rpl -- ?
conky-all --> system monitor. Don´t need this as I only use the clock, that xfce can provide.
zenity -- ?
gparted --> partition disks. Do I really need this?
xfsprogs --> ?
reiserfsprogs --> ?
reiser4progs --> ?
jfsutils --> ?
synaptic --> package installer. Useful sometimes when you don't want to mess around with command line.
ttf-bitstream-vera --> font
ttf-dejavu --> font
ntfs-3g --> ?
pcmciautils --> ?
parcellite --> clipboard manager. I this messes up gnumeric.
fontconfig-config --> ?
libcairo2 --> ?
firmware-linux --> drivers but not sure which ones
firmware-iwlwifi --> I need to compile and install my dear realtek here, this won't help. Atleast not in the current kernel where my wireless has not been integrated.
libreoffice --> current openoffice avatar. I don't need all of it. Maybe only writer, impress and math
libreoffice-gtk --> ?libreoffice related

  1. Clean up downloaded packages

sudo apt-get clean

  1. Install Xfce 4.8

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get -t testing install

  1. Clean up downloaded packages

sudo apt-get clean

Hmm.. quite a few question marks I need to fill out there.
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Words: 1359
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/08/11 11:08

Category: eating in

08/07/11 09:44- ID#54891

Learn the method. The method.

His closing words are perhaps the best words of advice in any scenario. Once you have the method down, endless variations and innovations are possible.
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Words: 27
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/07/11 09:44



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