East of the Sun, West of the Moon

2004/11/30

Stop this train!

Filed under: News — Erwin @ 9:59 pm

This article bugs me. A lot. Some quotes:

“There’s a constant impetus by conservative evangelical Christians to bring religion back into the public schools,” said Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “The end goal is to get rid of evolution. They view it as a threat to their religion.”

Ok, so far nothing new. I can understand their desire, although I disagree with it, but it looks like they’re starting to cheat the rules (regarding separation of church and state):

Emboldened by their contribution to President Bush’s re-election, conservative religious activists are using intelligent design as a new strategy of attacking evolution without mentioning God, Scott said.

It looks like more bits are making it into the classroom:

In Texas, the nation’s second-biggest school textbook market, the State Board of Education approved health textbooks that defined abstinence as the only form of contraception and changed the description of marriage between “two people” to “a lifelong union between a husband and a wife.”

And then you end up with highschool students who make intelligent comments like:

“Evolution — is that the Darwin theory?” Cashman shook her head. “I don’t know just what he was thinking!”

If anyone reading this blog was unaware of my points of view, I suspect I cleared up a few things today. 😉

2004/11/29

More useful Firefox extensions

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 11:36 pm

More Opera behaviour I was missing in Firefox:

  • Focus Last Selected Tab 0.8.1
    Brings focus to the last selected tab when closing the active tab. Focus previous tab by clicking the active tab.
  • Tabbrowser Extensions 1.11.2004111302
    Add-on package for extending operations of tabbed browsing; e.g., tabs become re-ordable by drag and drop; undo tab close; suppress
    referer; …
    etc. Although I haven’t been able to drag and drop tabs with it yet, I wonder if I have not enabled some feature or that it’s
    incompatible with Firefox 1.0 in that respect. Or that my brain is fried, who knows.

The good, the bad, the ugly.

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 4:42 pm

I had, naively, installed Firefox using the installer that’s available on their site. Naively because I had done this in /usr/local/firefox, a generally accessible directory, for those not quite aware of how unix works. This works fine for most purposes. The one thing that just didn’t seem to work as intended was installing/uninstalling extensions and for the longest time I couldn’t make sense of it.

Today Josh and I were brainstorming about this, triggered by his blog entry about a Firefox extension, where he mentions he doesn’t have a Linux machine available for testing. Well, I do, but I couldn’t get it to work, or any other extensions for that matter, so… first of all we tried to eliminate all external influences, by means of uninstalling the other extensions. Oddly enough that didn’t work. Removing all sorts of application directories in my home-directory also didn’t work. With the namechanges that Firefox has had in the past there were a few: ~/.firefox, ~/.mozilla-firebird, ~/.mozilla, ~/.phoenix. Hrm. Finally the thought occured to (one of) us that perhaps Firefox was trying to write to a file in /usr/local/firefox, which wasn’t going to work because those files and directories under there are readonly for a regular user and can only be modified by the system administrator.

Time for a *lightbulb moment* here. Was that Firefox installer really intended to be installed in someone’s home-directory, not in a system directory? Gah, what a thought! I’m so used to installing applications system-wide on my computers that the idea of (compiling and) installing something in my home-directory only never occured to me! Two minutes later I’d installed an additional copy in my home-directory and sure enough, everything works fine now.

With that sorted, I can confirm that Josh’s extension works fine under Linux as well. 🙂

Another extension that I finally got around to try now, also works like a charm and might just convince me to switch to Firefox all the way, dropping Opera. That would be the Session Saver which allows me to crash and burn and happily resume browsing afterwards, having restored all Firefox windows and tabs, including their history. Admittedly I’ve only tested it for a short while but it looks promising. Time to load a load of pages into Firefox windows/tabs and see what happens. 😉

You’ve earned 1 points!

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 8:29 am

Yeah, that’d be because I followed the Rediscover the web (Get Firefox) link myself, of course. 😉

2004/11/28

It’s never easy, is it?

Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 5:34 pm

I decided to give my workstation a reinstall, going back to Debian/stable after several years of messing around with sometimes stable, but mostly testing and unstable, had created a situation that I found to be somewhat unmaintainable.

This, in combination with Debian Backports works smoothly, mostly. I get Gaim, Subversion and GPhoto2 from there and still plan to try OpenVPN from there. A few trouble-spots:

  • There is a GnuCash package in stable, but it cannot handle the files generated by the newer version I previously used.
  • The Firefox 1.0 installer (and I guess the binary itself may as well) depends on libstdc++ 5.x, while stable only has 2.x and 3.x.
  • The DB_File Perl module could not handle the newer version Berkeley DB files that I had.
  • My homebrew random mp3/ogg player (which is the one using DB_File) was unhappy in general (as in exiting without any helpful message), I assume this may have something to do with the version of POE that is in stable. I’m using XMMS for now, instead.
  • The KDE 3.x files in my ~/.kde directory did not go well with the KDE 2.x that is in stable. I ended up just moving it aside and reconfiguring the desktop to my wishes from scratch. Annoying difference between 2.x and 3.x (as far as I can figure) is that one numbers the virtual desktops first in horizontal direction and then vertical, while the other does it the opposite. Makes my head spin.
  • There is no recent Java anymore for stable, apparently. So I ended up using Sun’s own install package. Hrm.
  • It took me a while to remember to turn off KDE’s option of enforcing colours and fonts to non-KDE applications. That made my xterms and such a lot happier.

That’s all I can currently remember anyway. I ended up installing both GnuCash and Firefox 1.0 on my fileserver and just run them remotely. Doesn’t hurt me much on a 100 Mbit internal network. It just means that in the case of Firefox any sound the flash plugins might want to create doesn’t do it any good. 😉

2004/11/26

Random bits

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 11:31 pm

Wishing Annie well so she can soon return to playing Go without a fuzzy brain, be it from cough medicine or the coughing, sneezing, etc, itself. 😉 At the same time I hope Lydia is having a good, nay, great time in Dublin. That’s one place I hope to visit at some point in my life but if she’ll come back with some cool pictures that’ll do for now.

Thanksgiving here in the US was (for me) pleasantly quiet. I’m not one for crowds although I do appreciate the company of good friends, so a thanksgiving meal where there are more than a dozen or so distant relatives, most of which I see once a year if that, is not quite my cup of tea. If I could say ‘no’ without never hearing the end of it, I would. 😉

Being a tele-worker it’s not always easy to take a break from work since any time I sit down at my computer I could see email from work with some question or another, or notice something going wrong in a SSH session on one of the servers. Given that, I’m almost proud to say I only did one thing for work today and am mostly ignoring its email for now. Maybe tomorrow I’ll give in, to prevent an email-OD on Monday.

2004/11/25

Gadget fun

Filed under: Technology — Erwin @ 10:36 pm

I was mumbling to M a few days ago that I thought an USB connector that acts as a network interface would be handy from time to time and now it turns out that those already existed and apparently have for a while, though the 100Mbit version is only recently a technical possibility with USB 2.0 becoming more widespread.

I’m almost afraid to ask it, but … what’s next?

2004/11/24

Like a Rolling Stone

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 2:56 pm

The new (December 9 issue) Rolling Stone has a 500 greatest songs of all time list. How could I take that in any other way than a challenge to see if I have (or can get) all those tracks in my collection? Hrm. Must resist the temptation, must…

Hmm, another project

Filed under: Technology — Erwin @ 1:19 pm

With news of the demise of the VCR, or more to the point, the discontinued sales of VCRs at Dixons in the UK, I’m reminded of another long-term project of mine, to turn lots of tapes that we have (for the kids or ourselves) into video CDs or DVDs. Ideally I’d put 2 or 3 of those 30 minute tapes onto one DVD, but I’m not sure how practical that is, as far as image quality goes and the kids being able to find what they’re looking for. It certainly would clean up a lot of space. 😉 Time to look at programs like dvdauthor again and also to see what else has come into existence in the meantime.

Now if only I could shake that braindead feeling I seem to have today.

2004/11/23

Links? I see no links here.

Filed under: Site — Erwin @ 4:21 pm

I could’ve sworn that the WordPress software had been configured to hold comments for moderation if they contain more than 5 links, yet this morning I was greeted with one with about 7 in them. Then another one with no links at all but basically just nonsense and the poster’s URL going to the same damn spam site. Hrm. Perhaps time to see if there is an upgrade available. *twiddles thumbs*

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