Entries from September 2005 ↓

I try to avoid the meme thing these days

…but this one is just too cool (from notabouthim)
Human Virus Scanner

Viruses I suffer from:

  • Pokemon – Pikachu! Use your hyper-electric-get-a-life move now!
  • Linux – Install the latest version of Microsoft Windows. Learn to love it.
  • Junkfood – Eat some real food. Something which you can identify the source of every ingredient, not the point of manufacture.
  • Sci-fi – Stop wearing the stick-on ears.
  • Gaming – Life is not a game. Roll 3D6. On a 4 or more go out and do something with your life.
  • BBCB – CTRL-Break, and get a real computer. Repeat: “Mode 7 was not a good thing.”
  • 8-Bit – Polygons, all the polygons you can get are not enough.
  • Religion – Read “God’s Debris” by Scott Adams (yes, the Dilbert guy)
  • Windows -Try MacOS X. It’s based on UNIX, it has a smoother UI than Windows and it doesn’t suck. As an extra feature the boxes look nice.
  • Politics – Stop caring!
  • Brand Names – Having a well-known name doesn’t make it good.
  • Computer Games – Stop staring at the screen and get some fresh air. You should see a doctor about the RSI in your thumbs.
  • Conspiracy Theory – Face it, the elected government is in control. Actually that’s quite scary.
  • Ultima – If you find one tell us.
  • Macintosh – Use a mouse with more than one button.

Viruses I might suffer from:

  • TotL (85%) – Go read Brunching
  • USA (90%) – Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves! [repeat]
  • Free BSD (95%) – The GPL isn’t that bad really. Adopt a penguin at the zoo.
  • Industrial (70%) – Everyone likes folk. No, really. Maybe you should listen to the Incredible String Band.
  • British (95%) – No need for cure. Benign virus.
  • Japan (85%) – Big is good. Small is bad. Giant robots would not make a good last line of defence for Earth.
  • UNIX (65%) – Anything this old must be obselete. Go and install a nice modern operating system. I hear MSDOS has come a long way lately.
  • Discordia (60%) – Buy a suit. Invest your money. Eat hotdog buns on a friday.
  • X11 (85%) – I hear Mac OS 10 Aqua is nice at this time of year.
  • Environmentalism (73%) – Consume more stuff! It’s easier to buy new stuff than to recycle.
  • Prog Rock (60%) – Long hair looks dumb with a bald spot. Listen to CD’s they don’t crackle.
  • Hippyism (73%) – Free love is passe and potentially dangerous, and patchouli smells like cat piss.

Space is the place

A reasonably new company 4Frontiers announced on Sep. 5th their dead serious plans to colonise Mars within the next 20 years. First they plan to do alot more work on miniaturising manufacturing processes, and open a Mars settlement themepark to demonstrate ideas as well as gather revenue. Sounds exciting.

Next, I’m disappointed that my normal source of Modafinil from overseas no longer directly sells it, and the people they’ve outsourced to don’t ship to New Zealand. This means that I may have to ration my current supply, I’m finding it remarkably great for making me productive and it’d be a shame to not be able to continue “Modding” (get it? Modafinil – “modding”) my neurochemsitry to optimal performance.


This morning I was awoken by the hum of National Radio – they were discussing the coming elections as all the media in New Zealand can’t help doing and decided to go out and interview some citizens of Aotearoa.

I was then forced into a grumpy mood because of the reasoning behind people voting, or their lack of voting. People voting for National purely because of tax cuts, people voting for Labour purely for interest write-offs on their loans. No one actually caring about what the parties are like as a whole. Of course I knew these two uses of the surplus were just being used to pull votes, but it still saddens me how greed orientated the general populace is. “If I vote for this person I will get more money in the hand.” (Even if, as a side effect, services cost more and society’s outlook changes).

I think everyone needs a good beating with their own sacks full of greed.

Note that after the election I promise not to talk about politics anymore, just need to rant sometimes.

New Zealand “One day oil boycott”

So there was a oil boycott in New Zealand the other day. Which was for all the wrong reasons. My university department had an email forwarded around about it, and it was purely people being indignant about oil prices, nothing about the fact that our oil supply is running out.

This annoyed me greatly and a forwarded an email around as to why the whole idea is stupid:

“As much as the one day Oil boycott may seem like a solution this doesn’t help anybody. Oil prices are going up and will continue to do so due to increased demand and a lack of new oil drilling sites. Compound this with natural disasters destroying the majority of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico (here) and the turbulence in the middle east – it is easy to see why oil prices rise.”

“If we make New Zealand not buy oil, we don’t hurt the oil companies in the long term, but we may hurt ourselves. We’ll be known as having an erratic demand for oil and they’ll be more inclined to send their oil to nations that definately will buy it (e.g. China or the US). The oil that does come here may become even more expensive than before due to less oil supporting the same population size.”

“The government should raise petrol tax – because then they’ll be consumer demand for alternatives to oil. If we don’t change our oil based infrastructure soon then we’ll be completely unprepared for the advent of Peak Oil.”

“Sorry for the rant, but this particularly narrowminded event shows why we are in trouble in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I own a car and hate shelling out more and more money for my spatial freedom, but the oil age is ending and we can either adapt while we can or be indignant about high oil prices.”

And this didn’t even mention how the whole boycott is fundamentally flawed. Everyone who doesn’t fill up their gas tank on that day will just have to do it later!

Meh, the masses can be stupid.

Hack in progress: HP Laptop HDD to USB enclosure

I’ve recently written off my HP ZE5375US laptop and sold on various parts online. One thing I did keep however is the 40G 2.5″ hard drive in the hopes of using it with a cheap USB HDD enclosure. “Yay” I thought, “I’ll have portable storage for all my research notes and results, not to mention be able to run around with several television series on it if I’m so inclined”.

All was not well however. I plug the usb drive enclosure with the 40G drive into my machine. The windows does its detecting new hardware thing and things seem to be going well, but the drive doesn’t show up. I go to My Computer -> Manage to try and partition and format it but it doesn’t show up… not good – but I wasn’t too concerned since it was windows and that means it can be erratic and stupid. Next stop Linux!

So I rebooted and tried mounting it in Debian:

$ mount -t vfat /dev/sda /mnt/usb/
mount: /dev/sda: can't read superblock

Crap. Lets see what the kernel says:

kernel: usb 5-3: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 8
kernel: scsi4 : SCSI emulation for USB Mass Storage devices
usb.agent[22559]:      usb-storage: already loaded
   Vendor:  C25 040  Model:  T S04-0          Rev:  A4O
   Type:   Direct-Access                      ANSI SCSI revision: 00
kernel: SCSI device sda: 78123776 512-byte hdwr sectors (39999 MB)
kernel: SCSI device sda: 78123776 512-byte hdwr sectors (39999 MB)
kernel:  sda:
usb-storage: queuecommand called
kernel: end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 0
kernel: end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 0
kernel:  unable to read partition table
kernel: Attached scsi disk sda at scsi4, channel 0, id 0, lun 0
scsi.agent[22599]:      sd_mod: can't be loaded (for disk)
kernel: end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 0
last message repeated 5 times
kernel: end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 78123648
kernel: end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 78123648
kernel: end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 0

Also not good. I/O errors from Africa. Kinda interested to see just what information we can read about the drive using scsitools:

$ scsiinfo -i /dev/sda
Inquiry command
Relative Address                   0
Wide bus 32                        0
Wide bus 16                        0
Synchronous neg.                   0
Linked Commands                    0
Command Queueing                   0
SftRe                              0
Device Type                        0
Peripheral Qualifier               0
Removable?                         0
Device Type Modifier               0
ISO Version                        0
ECMA Version                       0
ANSI Version                       0
AENC                               0
TrmIOP                             0
Response Data Format               1
Vendor:                         C25040
then some (^*(&^(*&^(* -> unprintable characters

Urk. This results in the command prompt screwing up due to all these unprintable characters. Obviously from all the zeros, not much information is coming through.

I then went back into windows to try out a whole lot of HDD testing tools. And most picked up the physical device being present with the correct size, but any accessing of data didn’t work and writing a new partition table didn’t either. I would assume this meant the drive was now crap, although the storage time (mostly within the laptop case) may have something to do with it… still, that was only about 6 months.

I also thought the enclosure might not be right. So I performed surgery on my old brick laptop (486 dx100) and extracted its 320M hdd – hooked it to the usb enclosure and wolah! It works. But 320M is barely worth having when my mp3 player is 5G – plus I like having this old laptop around – with linux on it runs fast enough for command line work.

So more googling for me:
Looks like I’m not the only one with trouble
Uh oh Slashdot report on HP and Compaq drive locking, maybe this is my problem?
Sounds like it from what this guy says.

So I’m about to give up, or maybe buy an IDE adaptor for the drive (since doing this over USB limits the information I can find out), but also there is stuff on unlocking drives around… maybe I’ll look into that.

Any body with any hints please let me know!

Another silly test

Which File Extension are You?

And I really don’t know why, still… some of the answers are damn entertaining.

I will post something of more substance soon. I promise.

Racism alive and well in the media

Hurray for America.

Black people loot.
White people “find”.

It has been said disasters bring out the best and worst in humans. I wish the “best” was reported on some more, all I seem to see is the worst.