Sad day in Robertland

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Apache/1.3.26 Server at Port 80

Diagnostic Tools for Linux

My Winxx box has been crashing hard lately, and I haven’t the slightest clue why. Up until tonight I didn’t care (too much) because rebooting it “made it all go away…” Well tonight it finally wouldn’t boot at all, before I even had the option to hit F8 it said that it couldn’t load the kernel: “could not load kernel. reason: load dlls failed, contact your support person.” Not even a BSOD– just right after POST it would display this error.

In an effort to recover I downloaded the Linux Crash Recovery Kit ISO ( and was impressed how quickly I had a working system up and running. I mounted my NTFS partition, enabled the networking stack, and ftp’d all my important files over to my [mac] laptop. Whoot.

Now I want to know what went wrong. Was this some Windoze snafu or do I have a piece of failing hardware? I went on a search for linux hardware diagnostic tools and came up pretty dry. The only thing I’ve found that remotely ressembles hardware diagnosis is the linux “badblocks” tool, which comes standard on most all linux distributions. Running badblocks -s -v -w /dev/hdxx will run a complete read/write scan of your harddrive.

The linux community needs to make a thorough diagnostics suite. A simple RAM read/write scanner, IO port checker and CPU stresser would make a very nice self-boot ISO distribution!

Space travel at the speed of light

“What would it be like to travel in a real starship? It’s weirder than Star Trek, but not nearly as fast-paced.”


Regime change for Iraq

I am against any kind of war action with Iraq. If Iraq really has the “weapons of mass destruction” that the U.S. and Britain claim, war would only provoke Iraq into using them. If it turns out after a war that they didn’t have the weapons claimed, then it would be embarassingly clear that the war effort was nothing more than a multi-billion dollar bail-out blood-bath for the oil industry (Shell and Chevron have been lobbying for drilling rights in Iraq for decades). An interesting quote from The Economist:

    Inspections cannot be a substitute for the [United Nations] Security Council’s rediscovering the will to force Iraq to give up its illegal weapons. So far Russia and France have been all too ready to explore any option but war, reinforcing the impression Mr Hussein gained from his defeat of inspections last time: that, come a crunch, the council will do little more than wring its hands. America and Britain, for their part, stand accused of looking for any pretext to go to war in order to oust Mr Hussein from power. In truth, maintaining the distinction between disarmament and regime change (America barely tries) is virtually impossible while Mr Hussein insists on holding on to his weapons as well as his power. So is the regime-change lobby right: the only way to force Iraq to rid itself of its weapons of mass destruction is to get rid of the regime that builds them?

    There is only one way of both disarming Iraq and proving the regime-changers wrong. That is for the Security Council to tell Mr Hussein unmistakably that he will be stripped of his weapons, by force if need be. The choice is then his.


Why the economy still sucks

Politics again have gotten in the way of real company accounting reform, this week in the form of the SEC not being able to elect a chairman to their new PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board). It’s antics like this that scare international investors, and is one of the core reasons our economy is still in the toilet. The Economist has the story.

Apple’s iCal

I finally got around to installing iCal and playing with it.. Pretty cool. iCal syncs with your [Palm] PDA, iPod, Bluetooth enabled cell phone, and can publish calendar data on the web. iCal can also use the iCalendar protocol to synchronize with other calendar data that has been published on the web, so if you’re publishing your calendar on the web, other people can sync with you, and you can sync with other people that have published their calendars using the iCalendar protocol.

By default, iCal will publish to Apple’s pay-for-use .Mac servers (boooo), but you can specify your own web server to publish your calendar too, if that webserver supports the WebDAV protocol. If you’re like me and you want to do this yourself on your own webserver, check out the Apache based WebDAV HOWTO. Neato.

Digital Choice and Freedom Act

Now here’s a Congresswoman that has her ducks in order, Representative Zoe Lofgren of California. This week, she proposed a house resolution that would reinforce the legal [and moral] rights of people who legally own copyrighted works. Under her bill, we will again be able to legally reproduce and backup our [legally owned] music and video to whatever digital medium we please, be it mp3, DVD-R, etc. Reading the bill almost brings a tear to my eye:

    …(c)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision in this title, a person who lawfully obtains a copy or phonorecord of a work, or who lawfully receives a transmission of a work, may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access or protects a right of a copyright holder under this title if–

      (A) such act is necessary to make a non-infringing use under this title; and

      (B) the copyright owner fails to make publicly available the necessary means to perform such non-infringing use without additional cost or burden to such person…

This bill goes head-to-head against major portions of the DMCA. Write your Representative today!!

Survivor Celebrity Mahem Explained: Celebrity Economics

The Economist had an article last week exploring the entertainment industries’ recent shift towards talentless celebrities (think Survivor winners). The case Economist brings to the table is that it’s cheaper to manufacturer a celebrity out of someone with no talent because celebrities who actually have talent are demanding a larger share of the pie these days. There is also an interesting thread in the article about how TV culture has created the need for celebrity tabloids.

No Child Left Behind for War

As part George W Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, there is a provision a few parents are taking note of that requires schools and parents to give recruiting information to Armed Forces agencies when their child starts middle school. Section 9528 contains the specific clause.

I’m deeply concerned as to why Bush feels the Armed Forces needs to have contact information for our 11 year old children, 7 years before they are eligible to be drafted. There is already a program in place that obtains draft information on our nation’s youth, it was supposed to be the Selective Service Program…