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Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Corporalism?

Sun, 03/05/2015 - 22:29

I was playing shop the other day with my son as he'd recently been bought a new toy till with money and food and it was going fairly well until he got a little excited and started saying "I want more money". At this, I started telling him that he couldn't just get money for nothing and that he'd need to sell me something else from his shop. This made my wife uncomfortable and she asked me to stop as she didn't want him being indoctrinated with such capitalist ideas from so early an age.

So, what's the alternative? I'm certainly not convinced there's anything wrong with teaching my son the value of currency and trade but similarly, I sort of agree that I don't want him to grow up only aware of one way that the world can work.

Educate for what's practical in the world he's growing up in and risk indoctrination or play through other scenarios and risk him growing up not knowing how to deal with financial matters?

How would that even work? I'm not sure I know how to play socialist shop. Maybe my parents failed ;)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Why-fi?

Wed, 29/04/2015 - 21:30

I'm an arch linux user and I love it; there's no other distro for me. The things that arch gets criticism for are the exact same reasons I love it and they all more or less boil down to one thing: arch does not hold your hand.

It's been a while since an update in arch caused me any problems but it did today.

It seems there's an issue with the latest version of wpa_supplicant which renders it incompatible with the way wifi is setup at boot time. The problem was caught and resolved very quickly by package maintainers who simply rolled the wpa_supplicant package back. However, I was unlucky enough to have caught the intervening upgrade shortly before turning my laptop off. I came home this evening to find I had no wifi!

This wasn't a huge challenge but I haven't written a blog post for a while and someone might find this useful:

If your wifi doesn't start at boot...

And you're using a laptop with no ethernet port...

And you know an upgrade will solve your problem...

How do you get internet so you can upgrade?

Simples :)

  1. First, find the name of your wireless interface:

    iw dev

    Which will output something like:

    phy#0 Interface wlp2s0 ifindex 2 wdev 0x1 addr e8:b1:fc:6c:bf:b5 type managed channel 11 (2462 MHz), width: 20 MHz, center1: 2462 MHz

    Where wlp2s0 is the bit we're interested in.

  2. Now bring the interface up:

    ip link set wlp2s0 up
  3. Connect to the access point:

    iw dev wlp2s0 connect "AP name"
  4. Create a temporary configuration file for wpa_supplicant:

    wpa_passphrase "AP name" "password" > /tmp/wpa.config
  5. Run wpa_supplicant to authenticate with the access point:

    wpa_supplication -iwlp2s0 -c/tmp/wpa.config
  6. In another terminal (or you could have backgrounded the above), run dhcpcd to get an IP address from your router:

    dhcpcd wlp2s0
  7. Update and reboot or whatever :)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Engledow (stilvoid): It turns

Sat, 04/04/2015 - 10:24

Over the past few months, I've mentioned to a few people that I like the idea of Firefox OS and that I've used the emulator and been fairly impressed. Well I've just put my money where my mouth is and ordered a Geeksphone revolution.

I'll admit that the decision to buy the phone wasn't purely to support Firefox OS; my hand was forced and I faced a dilemma:

After dropping my nexus 4 and cracking the screen (leaving the touchscreen only partially working), I found out that a repair with genuine parts would cost me nearly £100. My N4 being quite old now - and fairly crashy with lollipop - I couldn't quite justify the repair cost.

To be honest, I've been enjoying living without a usable phone except for the odd rare moments when I've needed to make a call while out. For that reason I decided that a brand new top of the range phone was out of the question.

I didn't want to go as far as getting a feature phone (I'm so used to having a smart phone now) and the Revolution seems like it offers a good compromise on cost vs. features.

So the intention is to live with Firefox OS but if it turns out to be ghastly, the phone will happily run AOSP and I can switch back and forth at will - yes, it even dual boots.

I'm sure I'll waffle on about my first impressions when it arrives...

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Jonathan McDowell: Shipping my belongings across the globe

Tue, 31/03/2015 - 15:35

I previously wrote about tracking a ship around the world, but never followed up with the practical details involved with shipping my life from the San Francisco Bay Area back to Belfast. So here they are, in the hope they provide a useful data point for anyone considering a similar move.

Firstly, move out. I was in a one bedroom apartment in Fremont, CA. At the time I was leaving the US I didn’t have anywhere for my belongs to go - the hope was I’d be back in the Bay Area, but there was a reasonable chance I was going to end up in Belfast or somewhere in England. So on January 24th 2014 I had my all of my belongings moved out and put into storage, pending some information about where I might be longer term. When I say all of my belongings I mean that; I took 2 suitcases and everything else went into storage. That means all the furniture for probably a 2 bed apartment (I’d moved out of somewhere a bit larger) - the US doesn’t really seem to go in for the concept of a furnished lease the same way as the UK does.

I had deliberately picked a moving company that could handle the move out, the storage and the (potential) shipping. They handed off to a 3rd party for the far end bit, but that was to be expected. Having only one contact to deal with throughout the process really helped.

Fast forward 8 months and on September 21st I contacted my storage company to ask about getting some sort of rough shipping quote and timescales to Belfast. The estimate came back as around a 4-6 week shipping time, which was a lot faster than I was expecting. However it turned out this was the slow option. On October 27th (delay largely due to waiting for confirmation of when I’d definitely have keys on the new place) I gave the go ahead.

Container pickup (I ended up with exclusive use of a 20ft container - not quite full, but not worth part shipment) from the storage location was originally due on November 7th. Various delays at the Port of Oakland meant this didn’t happen until November 17th. It then sat in Oakland until December 2nd. At that point the ETA into Southampton was January 8th. Various other delays, including a week off the coast of LA (yay West Coast Port Backups) meant that the ship finally arrived in Southampton on January 13th. It then had to get to Belfast and clear customs. On January 22nd 2015, 2 days shy of a year since I’d seen them, my belongings and I were reunited.

So, on the face of it, the actual time on the ship was only slightly over 6 weeks, but all of the extra bits meant that the total time from “Ship it” to “I have it” was nearly 3 months. Which to be honest is more like what I was expecting. The lesson: don’t forget to factor in delays at every stage.

The relocation cost in the region of US$8000. It was more than I’d expected, but far cheaper than the cost of buying all my furniture again (plus the fact there were various things I couldn’t easily replace that were in storage). That cost didn’t cover the initial move into storage or the storage fees - it covered taking things out, packing them up for shipment and everything after that. Including delivery to a (UK) 3rd floor apartment at the far end and insurance. It’s important to note that I’d included this detail before shipment - the quote specifically mentioned it, which was useful when the local end tried to levy an additional charge for the 3rd floor aspect. They were fine once I showed them the quote as including that detail.

Getting an entire apartment worth of things I hadn’t seen in so long really did feel a bit like a second Christmas. I’d forgotten a lot of the things I had, and it was lovely to basically get a “home in a container” delivered.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Mick Morgan: the russians are back

Mon, 30/03/2015 - 09:50

About four years ago I was getting a huge volume of backscatter email to the non-existent address info@baldric.net. After a month or so it started to go quiet and eventually I got hardly any hits on that (or any other) address. A couple of weeks or so ago they came back. My logs for weeks ending 15 March, 22 March and 29 March show 92%, 96% and 94% respectively of all email to my main mail server is failed connection attempts from Russian domains to dear old non-existent “info”. Out of curiosity I decided to capture some of the inbound mails. Most were in Russian, but the odd one or two were in (broken) english. Below is a typical example:

From: “Olga”
To: Subject: Are you still looking for love? Look at my photos!
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 2015 15:22:08 +0300
X-Mailer: Microsoft Windows Live Mail 16.4.3528.331

Sunshine!
Are you still looking for love? I will be very pleased to become your half and save you from loneliness. My name is Olga, 25 years old.
For now I live in Russia, but it’s a bad time in my country, and I think about moving to another state.
I need a safer place for life, is your country good for that?
If you are interested and want to get in touch with me, just look at this international dating site.
Hope to see you soon!
Just click here!

Sadly, I believe that many recipients of such emails will indeed, “click here”. Certainly enough to further propagate whatever malware was used to compromise the end system which actually sent the above email.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Mick Morgan: kidnapped by aliens

Mon, 30/03/2015 - 09:21

An old friend of mine has expressed some concern at the lack of activity on trivia of late. In his most recent email to me he said:

“You really should revive Baldric you know. Everyone will believe it if you just say you were kidnapped by aliens, and then you can just resume where you left off.”

So Peter, this one is just for you. Oh, and Happy Birthday too.

Mick

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Cleaning out my closet

Thu, 12/03/2015 - 15:59

Or: Finding out what crud you installed that's eating all of your space in Arch Linux

I started running out of space on one of my Arch boxes and wondered (beyond what was in my home directory) what I'd installed that was eating up all the space.

A little bit of bash-fu does the job:

for pkg in $(pacman -Qq); do size=$(pacman -Qi $pkg | grep "Installed Size" | cut -d ":" -f 2) echo "$size | $pkg" done | sed -e 's/ //g' | sort -h

This outputs a list of packages with those using the most disk space at the bottom:

25.99MiB|llvm-libs 31.68MiB|raspberrypi-firmware-examples 32.69MiB|systemd 32.86MiB|glibc 41.88MiB|perl 54.31MiB|gtk2 62.13MiB|python2 73.27MiB|gcc 77.93MiB|python 84.21MiB|linux-firmware

The above is from my pi; not much I can uninstall there ;)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Devicive

Thu, 12/03/2015 - 00:53

With all the tech world moving towards the idea that you have a single device that does everything, I've found myself suckered in to the convergence ideal in recent months. I was even genuinely excited by the recent video about Unity 8.

I have an Android phone that I use for a lot of purposes (nothing unusual: music, podcasts, messaging, web, phone calls) and a tablet that I use for more or less the same set of things with a bigger screen.

Yesterday, I managed to break my phone's screen leaving me with the horrifying prospect of a ride to work without being able to catch up on Linux Luddites (cha-ching) so I dug out my old mp3 player and it reminded me how clean and efficient the interface was.

Until a lot more work has happened, I've officially woken up from the convergence dream.

  • Reading

    I have a Kindle Paperwhite. I use it to read books. It's fantastic for that.

    The web browser is dire.

  • Web browsing

    I have a Nexus 7. I use it to surf the information superhighway. The web browser is great.

    It's not so good for reading books - the display is too bright (even on a low setting).

  • On-the-move Music / Podcasts

    I've fallen back in love with the MuVo and I think I'm going to stick with it for a while.

  • Development

    There really is no substitute for a screen and a keyboard. The laptop I have for work is perfect.

    It is, however, much to big to use in bed.

  • Gaming / home media

    I don't do much gaming so that doesn't warrant its own hardware but shares a home in the PC behind the telly which runs a Plex server and Kodi and has a big hard drive attached with all of our media on it.

  • Time

    I have a watch. It's a Pebble so it tells me when things are going on but it's mostly there to tell me what time it is (and relatedly, when I'm about to be late for a meeting).

I'm left feeling a little unsure of what I need a phone for now. Breaking it and subsequently not missing it one iota today speaks volumes. I barely use SMS (I mostly stay in contact through various other means) and I don't make or receive enough phone calls for it to seem worth carting an expensive oblong around.

I'm sure I'll change my mind soon.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs