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Preview: A little blog for a restless mind

A little blog for a restless mind





Updated: 2014-10-07T06:24:47.348+02:00

 



Shopping in online German shops

2013-07-28T20:54:24.639+02:00

Life in Slovenia is becoming more expensive. A few years ago, as a rule, if you were buying one piece of something, say a computer or other electronic piece of equipment, it was cheaper in an online German shop than in a Slovene shop, online or classic brick-and-mortar, but due to shipping expenses it usually evened out.
For example, I bought 3 hard disks two years ago from a German shop, 57 € a piece and 15 € of shipping. Because of the amount of disks, shipping per disk was reduced to the level where it was more economical to buy from the said online German shop, than it was to buy them anywhere in Slovenia. I saved approximately 20 €.
This week I bought running shoes, Adidas Response Trail 19 GTX, for 80.56 € from javari.de. Leaving aside the great user experience of the shop (which is subjective anyway), free EU-wide shipping, and free returns policy in 365 days, it was just cheaper than buying them in any Slovene shop. In Slovenia this model was selling for 129 €, and I couldn't find any place where they'd be on sale, for a reduced price. Now I can't find them at all anymore. If they were on sale, this was only for a few days, and judging from other similar models that are still on sale, the price was probably reduced to at most 109 €.
Then there's the multifunction device (printer, scanner, copier, and even faxing) Canon Pixma MX925 I bought from a German online shop for 139.91 €, with 9.95 € shipping. In Slovenia I couldn't find it selling for less than 191 €. So I bought it online from this German shop, voelkner.de, that had it the cheapest at the time (but not anymore, for some reason).
All in all, I saved around 90 € by ordering the printer and running shoes from German online shops. I don't understand why this practice isn't more widespread. What are people afraid of? Whatever. I guess it's true, fear has its price.



Let's resume this

2013-07-28T20:24:50.204+02:00

Instead of the usual lamenting about the lack of time to blog, I'll just say I'll try microblogging from now on. I see there's a blogger app for iPod, just the thing to use while I commute to and from work.



Making Tea, Office Style

2011-12-27T10:22:10.310+01:00

I've been kind of hyper-busy the past 80 weeks or so, so I needed something to zap my brain to be able to handle mounting work. A good black tea would do the job, and the best tea always comes directly from the source. So I waited for Dav to send me some...The package with the tea arrived in a week. Not too shabby. Look at all the stamps. Dav really made the effort to deliver the tea ASAP.I unpacked it right away. Nice tea. I love it already. Let's make some tea!You'll need a tea cup. Don't mind the dogs. They're there to keep watch on me. If I stray away from my work, they give me some tea to bring me back in line. Kind of like those big wooly alpine rescue dogs with a small barrel of schnapps attached. But schnapps works only on lost mountain climbers, I require tea.And a tea strainer that we'll use as a tea infuser.And some milk. You cannot have a proper black tea without some milk.And the tea, of course. This package opens at the side pictured.Opening the outer cardboard reveals the inner bag. Nice packaging.You have to unwrap the bag.There's some fine Broken Orange Pekoe inside.Fill the tea cup with water, but not exactly to the brim, leave some space for the milk that we'll add later. Basically, just drown the dog's feet in the water, but not the whole dog. Now put the cup with water in a microwave and engage it at the highest setting for about 2 minutes. It should make the water boil. Black tea is brewed at a higher temperature than green tea.In the mean time sip some tea in the strainer. Not much, make it two teaspoons for some quite strong zapping tea.Here, a closeup. I'm not sure whether this is two teaspoons, perhaps a little less. Two teaspoons is really a lot for one tea cup. But then again, I don't know what size tea spoons you have.Start brewing the tea by putting the tea strainer with tea into the tea cup.Here is a close-up. Leave it like this for 3 minutes, not a minute more.And then pull the strainer, that we used as an infuser, from the tea cup.Now we have the pure freshly brewed tea. But that's not ready for consumption yet!Pour the milk into the tea cup, just enough so you drown the whole dog.And the tea is done.Don't forget to send a Thank You note to Dav, so you get more tea from him.[...]



Visiting Puppies

2010-02-10T09:19:07.546+01:00

Me and my girlfriend went for a visit this past weekend to see puppies at my mom's place. We took the train, so first a few pictures of landscapes. I'd have published more of them, but the train was fast and as a result most of the pictures are blurry.A small house on a hill.A creek in the middle.A fancy house on a hillside.A curvy road through the land.Going over a snowy road.Now that we finally arrived, a wondering cat met us.Also, a few ducks were in attention.We found the puppies! Scrupulous beasts at eating their lunch.And their mother beast watching over them.Uh-oh, a puppy heard me.Now he's sad.He's asking me to apologize. OK. I'm sorry. It was the devil speaking through me!The puppies were satisfied with my apology and went on with the feast, and the big Nero playfully joined them.Ducks weren't impressed.A closer look revealed they were completely untouched by any of it.Coming inside I found a dead cat.It shook its head. Oh, no! It's a zombie cat![...]



A Parked Cloud

2009-09-01T08:47:14.965+02:00

A cloud must have felt heavy this morning, so it decided to park itself in front of my balcony.



Summer Panting

2009-07-21T15:50:05.787+02:00

Whoa, passed three exams already this year! Just got the result of the latest exam. Okay, I officially passed two exams, but because one double-semester subject got divided into two one-semester subjects per the new programme, I had to take two exams for that subject. Yay for me! Two more exams remaining... And a diploma. I hope to pass both remaining exams this year or at least till February, and then start working on a diploma. And then this big chunk of my disgrace will have finally fallen off of me. C'mon, studying for 15+ years isn't exactly what I had in mind when I enrolled.
I had to invest my summer vacation time and a chunk of overtime work into having a month off to study, and I think I can muster at most 3 more weeks off this year. I hope it'll suffice at least for one more exam this year. But then again, I must not stop now... Full speed ahead!



Seasopause

2009-06-25T21:21:08.019+02:00

The latest weather extremes are just that - extreme. One day 33°C, the next day 13°C. Hot burning sun to cold rain. Up'n'down'n'up'n'down. I even caught a cold. I don't know what to wear anymore! Oh, and I saw this guy a couple of days ago, who was wearing a winter coat! Considering that I was freezing at the time, it wasn't a bad idea. Only, it's officially summer! It used to be quite hot at this time of year. But now, a week of rain, with floods in some places. Oh c'mon! It's just like... seasons stopped! Were put on hold! Pause! And now we're having hot and cold flashes. Wait. Oh no! The weather is having a seasopause!



I'll Be Back!

2009-05-20T15:48:52.947+02:00

Whoa, I almost forgot I had a blog. The usual busy excuse applies. Hey, did you know that now I can handle Java, JBoss, HTML, SVG, CSS, JavaScript, C, Delphi, Python, XUL, SQL, XML, Debian, XPCOM, COM and Bob knows what else...? (Well, I just don't want to enter even more links.)
Have you ever tried to implement a simple videoconference-like thingy using Firefox/XULRunner, VLC plugin and a webcam? Well, I have, and it's a biggy. I'm down to researching how to decrease latencies... 2 second roundtrip is not something we can call interactive, and noone believes me it's because electrons are exhausted and slow so we should try to change electrical company to get electricity of a different, more lively, aroma.
While at the subject of webcams, did you know that Theora is going the way of the Dodo, to be replaced by Thusnelda (no, not that Roman woman)? The latest project update shows it to be quite promising, rivaling the famous H.264.
And now, back to my meager existence, which I'm trying to improve by finishing my degree. 4 exams to go, 2 of which I plan to take this June. And I have until the next June to complete my degree, after that the course I enrolled in becomes... expired. Like milk, sour, and after a while, yoghurt. No, wait, that's what I'll become if I don't finish it.



Not Time Travel - Time Inflation!

2008-02-10T18:57:03.870+01:00

People think that just by inventing time travel, all their problems would be solved. Yea, right. For every solved problem they'd just make two more problems. I thought time travel would be an amazing ability to have, too. But then I thought about the reasons for wanting time travel. And they all mainly reduced to: having more time! You know, work for 10 hours at the office, then zap back in time and have a nice cocktail at a beach, and perhaps a vodka-martini later while playing pool, all at the same time I worked at the office. Maybe zap back the third time just to update myself at the office of new thoughts I had while having a smashing time. And zap back in time once more to play tennis with a friend, since we both experienced a fantastic weather during the day, and, well, you never know what the weather will be like tomorrow, so why not having will-had played tennis the past day? See? Only new problems. We'd even have to invent a new tense or two.
Instead of time travel I propose something different, something that would have the same effect of being able to do much more in a day: time inflation. That's right: simply inflate the time. Hey, if it's possible with money, then time should be no different. Time is money, right? We should just apply the same economical mechanisms to time, raise the inflation, I don't know, to 10%? That should increase the time's interest rates and result in a general time saving instead of time spending. And after you've saved enough of time, you could afford yourself a nice cocktail at a nice beach party. Splendid idea, isn't it? Only, it's not new. I invented hot water, again.
Another approach would be to invent a device that would change the physical space-time continuum in such a way that time would become inflated. In essence a second would feel a lot longer, although all measurements would tell otherwise. Having an eight-minute instead of an eight-hour workday, because you could do all the usual work in eight minutes instead of eight hours. Well, yes, but dealing with time in an economical sense is stupifyingly easier. But hey - if you have an idea on how to change physical properties of the universe, I'm your man!



Life is Work, But What is Leisure Then?

2008-02-03T22:23:06.786+01:00

Wow, It's been more than half a year since I posted my last entry to the blog. I probably don't have any readers anymore. I'll write more frequently from now on, honest! (But I'm careful enough to not make it a promise.)A lot has happened. I passed an exam in September, yaaay! 6 more to go. I have time till October 2009 to graduate, after that I'd have to ask for a study programme conversion. I'm in the first generation that studied by the new computer ingeneering programme, but you see, it's not new anymore, it's old, this year the last generation has finished classes in the final, ninth, semester. If I'll have any luck, I won't only be among the first to enroll this study programme, I'll also be one of the last to finish it. Some luck, ha. And I'm so tired of even thinking about studying for exams. I'm suffering from a chronic lack of study motivation. I'll have to start fighting it again real soon - first next exam is on February 18th, and the next one is on March 28th. If I hadn't have a job - piece a cake. But now - I'll have to find a sleep suppressant.The company I work in bought me a laptop. My first laptop, yay! A neat Dell Latitude D830. A big 1920x1200 screen, but shitty nonetheless. I guess I can't expect PVA or MVA panels in laptops, IPS panels being a mere dream. Damn TN panels should be prohibited for anything but gaming. I have an old nice big 1600x1200 LCD monitor with an S-IPS panel at home (a Dell 2001FP) that has wonderful colours and an excellent viewing angle. If I put the laptop next to it, it's like comparing a cheap indian car to a BMW. So I'm considering to buy a new monitor, a 24" one that has something else than a TN panel, to connect it to the laptop when at home. I'm waiting for the Dell 2408WFP to come out and be tested by someone, and then I'll decide. Perhaps I'll buy an LG L245WP. And I'm seriously entertaining the idea of ordering it from abroad - within EU of course. The prices of monitors in Slovenia are strangely quite a bit above the European average. So much so that if I order the latter monitor from UK, shipping included, I'll save from 100 to 150 Euro, depending on to which Slovenian shop you compare it to. But perhaps I won't buy a monitor at all, I haven't yet firmly decided on this.The government is suffering from a nasty case of diarrhea - I don't think I've ever seen so much dreck. The shit hit the fan a long time ago, only some people are not aware of this yet. Well, after another increase in prices of food that is being forecast by all major store chains for this and next month, I think everyone will be aware of it. Coupled with what will result from the last catastrophy, when syndicates and employers had a "difference of interpretation" of the result of negotiations between syndicates and employers (effectively destroying all the efforst up to now, making everyone furius), I think the dreck will start stinking real strong real fast.Ah, I got an internet connection, at last. 10 days before the new year. 20/20 FTTH. Heaven. Signed up for 12 months, got first 4 months for free. Only I got the first bill already in January. Heck, this wasn't the deal, so I went and complained. I filled out a complaint form and was promised a response within 15 days. I got a response after almost two weeks alright, and it said they were notifying me that the resolution of the complaint will take significantly longer. Sheesh, in the contract it clearly states I have the first four months for free, what's so difficult to resolve? Then I got a debit note from a Slovenian online computer store from where I ordered a few fans for my computer the last year. And for an order I never ordered. It made me furius, quite mad in fact, and if their phones weren't busy for a whole hour before I gave up, I'd have screamed and insulted like there's no tomorrow. You see[...]



Hard Drive Woes

2007-06-11T20:15:45.376+02:00

And this past weekend one of my hard drives went berserk. At first I didn't know what was wrong as I just upgraded Ubuntu. The linux kernel was also upgraded, and after reboot it halted at disk identification. For some reason the 80G Western Digital disk caused problems. Some DMA timeouts and it all seemingly locked up. Well, only seemingly, as I found out later, the kernel needs about 3 minutes to give up on it. I found this unacceptable, so I disconnected the disk and rebooted. And now I had a ghost disk in the same place, albeit 300G Seagate, giving me the same error. It just somehow duplicated there. Okay, I switched off the onboard controller in the BIOS on which the now disconnected disk was hooked on. The same error yet again. Only, now I also had a ghost controller. G'damn, I go boot Knoppix, and everything is well. Hm! I go boot the previous Ubuntu kernel, and everything is well. Bloody hell, they messed up something, again. Last year they did it with XFree -- I couldn't work for a day in graphics mode. This time they did it with kernel. Only now there's no forum overflowing with spits over Ubuntu; it seems only I'm affected. Well, I really don't have the time for this. They patched something around IRQs, and I bet this is where my errors come from.
And the story continues... I mounted the disk into another computer and ran a SMART long selftest, just for the heck of it. The disk went working and after 10 minutes it switched itself off and went playing with the busy light. Oh I really wanted to just throw it out the balcony. My divine W800JB Western Digital disk, with 8MB cache and what not, from 2002. Bloody hell. I switched off and on the machine 5 times and the disk finally seemed to work. I wanted to check the SMART selftest log and the disk again spun down (as in switched off) and started the lightshow. 5 another power cycles and there it is, seemingly working. I wondered if this need for power cycling 5 times was arising out of the fact that I may have interrupted the SMART selftest, because according to standards drives should resume with selftest if interrupted. So I issued the SMART command for cancelling the selftest. Again the drive spun down, only now there was no lightshow, now the busy light was on constantly. And no 5, 10 or 20 power cycles helped, so I turned the computer off and went for some denervousiation.
And this morning, well, I couldn't help it but turn the computer on and see what's with the disk. Wow, it seemingly worked. Oh, no more SMART shit! I checked the filesystem, it passed. It's readable. So I turned it off and went to work. I'll turn it on again when I'll have a new disk onto which to copy the contents of the old one. And then I'll boot it out the window.



...zzzZZZzzz...

2007-05-28T12:01:32.699+02:00

Well, enough of winter hibernation.
Okay, so I was busy. I'm sorry. But work is really only increasing. I kept saying to myself, "Ugh, I'm too tired, I'll post something the next day. Or the next week. Hm. Month?"
All this thing about not having enough time made me suspect something big yet misteriously intangible, undescribable or unthinkable, could be happening. It's like a time compression, or as Art Bell stated, a quickening.
Then I came upon Terence McKenna who was, in my view, a genious. Among other things, he devised the Novelty Theory based on ancient Chinese I-Ching. The Time Wave, which is the essence of the Novelty Theory, shows that the novelty has a tendency to increase with time. In other words, novelty is taking over the world. This time wave is also fractal in nature, which means chaotic and self-similar.
As far as I can tell, according to this time wave, the pattern of novelty is repeating (self-similarity) over time, with every next occurence taking much less time and thus having more novelty. It's like focusing on a certain spot on a border of the Mandelbrot Bug and looking at it through a greater and greater magnification. The rate of this, should I say, novelty compression looks like it is exponential. Thus the feeling of time compression - a feeling there is more and more things occuring in a unit of time as time goes forward.
What bugs me is that according to the novelty theory the time wave ends on 21st of December 2012. The same date as the Mayan calendar ends. And the first wasn't based on the second, so it's rather a curious coincidence.



Non-homogenized Milk at last

2006-11-08T16:28:05.816+01:00

I stopped drinking milk right after I read about effects of homogenization about 6 years ago. A bit late, since by then a lot of damage could have been done already, but at least I'm certain I first encountered homogenized milk somewhere in nineties so it shouldn't be that big damage. Technological inferiority, by many theories a result of the communist past, had the effect that homogenization came very late to our country. Something good, who would have thought.
And a few days ago, I accidently stumbled upon a non-homogenized milk! It said so right on the label, as if the producer was proud of it. A bold move, considering that among the general populace homogenization still seems to be something that adds quality to milk. And here it is.

(image)




Busy as a Bee

2006-10-31T09:38:52.333+01:00

Hey, I've got this thing, a blog! Right on! Quite a hit of the last couple of years in Slovenia, this blogging. Except with the politicians. If you were to say to one of them: "Hey, minister of Moneymaking and Citizens Abuse, I have a blog!" I'm quite sure the response would be: "Oh, I'm so sorry... Why don't you go to a hospital?"
Yes, this government is going from bad to worse with each hour, not just each day. A week ago the new law about media taxation became effective. Every CD, DVD, hard disk, floppy, RAM of any kind, device working with the before mentioned type of media is taxed as follows: 8 SIT for every first gigabyte but not more than 4000 SIT per media or device. That's 0.0333973449 Euro for every first gigabyte per media but not more than 16.69867245 Euro. So I don't get stack of 25 Verbatim DVD+R for 2500 SIT anymore, now I get them for 3500 SIT. 1000 SIT goes to the Association of Scrupolous Artists. Which makes me a pirate by definition. Even if I only buy a camera to take some nice photos of the landscape in autumn. You see, that was the excuse for the law: a big, overwhelmingly huge, super-duper piracy which makes artists poor. I won't even go into details and explain every aspect of wrongness and lack of any rightness, as there's already plenty of that all over the web and no government cares about it. The only other European country I know that has a similar law is Spain; they got it somewhere in the first half of this year. And today I hear the European Union Commission published an opinion stating governments should not adopt general taxes on media and should instead solve the royalty payment in some other way. I guess there is still some hope.
I ask myself when are they going to tax paper? I mean, there's a lot of photocopying of books, Xerox machines all over the place. Aren't the bloody artists going to ask for some money from each piece of paper sold? And don't forget to tax newspapers and publications in general! I can still scribble something on it, thus copying a piece of a book...
And now I should apologise for not contributing to my blog for so long. The usual excuse applies: no time. I took a couple of credits for 30 years as banks in Slovenia still don't offer mortgages and bought a small flat. I still don't have a broadband connection because the telco is screwing me like I'm a miss of the world bimbo with a liver where brains should be, and the cable is too expensive for my current financial state. I still work a lot, perhaps a bit more than before, because I don't meddle with blogs anymore. I should probably be renamed to Guru Workalot.
I decided to build my own custom book shelves. I'd design them, take the dimensions for boards to a local hobby shop and wait for them to be delivered. The assembly shouldn't be difficult. And then I'd have perfect-fit shelves. Chipboard should be the cheapest, but I hear it causes cancer, so I probably shouldn't choose that material for shelves. Anyway, it's been a month since I decided this and I still haven't even designed them. Well, at least I decided on the design tool: QCad.



President's Spirituality

2006-05-28T16:15:10.923+02:00

The president of Slovenia Janez Drnovšek published a book this Friday, Thoughts on Life and Awareness. Yesterday in a shopping mall I had the occasion to briefly list through the book. It's a book with not much contents, although it may seem otherwise. That's because it's printed on a thick paper (and a low-quality paper at that, like those daily newspapers), there's a thick margin on pages, and a big font with large letterspacing was used. I'm saying all that because it costs astounding 4990 SIT (20.79 EUR). For that money you get thoughts of 64 days, on average 2 pages a day. From my brief listing through the book I'd say that's about 10 sentences a day at most.As I mentioned, the president writes about his thoughts of the day. The focus is on life's philosophy and spirituality. A fews sentences I sampled were like rewritten rants to fit into the class of spirituality with a philosophical remark here and there. His recent discovery and fondness of buddhism is not something you can easilly miss here, either. Though some thoughts are a bit naive at times in this regard.I should also mention that 100 SIT (less than half of Euro) out of every sold book is donated to some hospital for children, I forgot the exact name. That in itself could be considered a noble deed, but if you think about it it's only 2% of the price. Considering this it suddenly doesn't sound as noble anymore, more as an advertising for uneducated and gullible people, which this book seems to be targetting and of which there seems to be no shortage in sight in this country.All in all I think the book has very good chances to be a hit and that the president has good chances to earn good money out of it. It is targetting the largest segment of the population, it is easy and short to read, the facts are mostly hard to check for the targetted population (meaning: who don't even know where a library is), there is no one story going through the whole book, deductions are easy to grasp even by an uneducated peasant, and the price is at the top of the range common folks are usually prepared to give out for a book of this (or any) sort and they are even encouraged to do so because then they could brag around how they helped a hospital for children, or shut your critique off because surely there couldn't be anything bad about it, because the sale is helping some hospital.I think I'll donate 1000 SIT (like buying 10 copies, but still would get only a fifth of a copy for that) directly to this hospital just to cleanly cut off anyone throwing those sorts of remarks at me.To me the president with this book seems like a freshman that hasn't even yet passed the first grade of buddhism, yet already wants to teach (preach to) everyone what is right and what is wrong. As a side point, I've heard he even wants to convince the Dalai Lama to become a vegetarian, because that's the purest form of being, or something. A reviewer (Marcel Štefančič, jr) at the Mladina newspaper gave it 3 out of 5 points. Quoting some stuff out of the book, and with the remark at the end: "Thoughts on Life and Awareness are mixing facts and fiction -- like The Da Vinci Code. And like The Da Vinci Code they'll become the favourite book of those that don't read." Note that the reviewer probably had less than half a day to read the book and write the review. The book came out on Friday, the newspaper the next day, on Saturday. I tell you, with some effort you can read the entire book in less than two hours. To me it certainly isn't worth the price. But okay, I've read various works of Dalai Lama, Osho, Donald Neal Walsch, and others, so my expectations are probably quite high in this regard.[...]



How Not to Live on the Brink of Poverty in Slovenia

2006-04-25T18:15:19.756+02:00

First, it pays off to have children late in your life. Remember, two things: have them, and have them late.To have them because soon this fact could directly affect the amount of pension: the government thinks about introducing a special tax on pension for those without children. You see, there is currently a shortage of 260,000 children in Slovenia in order to just maintain the current percentage of the working population. So the government thinks that, well, if you don't appreciate everything this country is doing for you, and raise a kid (or, in Minister Drobnič's own words: breed a taxpayer) or (at least) two, then you should be punished. When you're old and grumpy and without the power to do anything about it.To have them late in your life just because it's the most profitable way. First you have to take care of yourself, and that takes time. The country will support your kids only with some change that doesn't even pay for a couple of shoes a year. The only exception are tax benefits, but this is not really a good way to do it: those with most children are typically those with lowest income and so can't do shit with tax benefits because they can't apply them in whole (the tax benefits are greater than their whole income). Therefore you have to attain a high position in a company to have a great salary and only then can you actually afford to have a kid. If you don't, well, tough luck. Go abroad. I fancy Scandinavian countries.So we come to the second point. Be successful in company wellbeing sense, but don't be too successful in business sense. Success is a giant magnet for tax inspectors. If you or your company is so successful that you or the company win various prizes, then that means only trouble. For tax inspectors this is like shit to flies. They literally dive their noses in it. And once it is known you or the company is having tax inspectors going through the papers, the reputation plummets. And they will always find something, even if something super-micro small, made by mistake or in (your) wrong belief. They have to, they are the tax inspectors, they are paid to do it!Don't have a salary of more than 400,000.00 SIT gross. It costs too much. Beyond that the personal income tax reaches 50%. Plus there are additional taxes, for you and the company, like the tax on wages.Form a company in Switzerland. You don't have to be alone - find some friends and do it together. The more the merrier (= less costly for everyone). Funnel your earnings through that company. Let it be seen as if this Swiss company did services for the company you work in. The key is for the most of the money to remain in this Swiss company and you getting only some smallish amount not worth debating over. Be careful, it has to be some reasonable minimum amount for the work you're doing or again you could get some tax inspectors behind your neck. And I already explained how unreasonably awful they are. Even if you did everything legal. They can just invent some arbitrary amounts of what anything is worth and there's nothing you can do about it. Then you have to pay taxes of their perception of what you made, not of what you actually made.Use your Swiss company to buy you everything you need. Well, not literally everything, like food, just big things: a house, a car (licenced in Switzerland, of course), furniture (except for bed, the law says you have to buy that one yourself), etc.Also use Cayman islands (and other tax havens) for transactions. The more indirections, the merrier and legal.Don't count on pension. Chances are that when you're retired the amount will be so small you won't be able to pay for a chewing gum. Invest. Or have you[...]



Hungry Like the Cat

2006-04-24T17:31:38.370+02:00

I met a very patient cat yesterday after lunch at a chinese restaurant.


It was probably waiting for a pigeon to walk straight into its mouth.
Anyway, it was quite cloudy, and soon it started to rain.


And I still have plenty of work. Damn. Always there's someone with urgent needs.



Linux Firewall HOWTO

2006-03-27T11:15:16.643+02:00

I stumbled upon a Brief Introduction to Firewalls that aims to help newbies at making their first steps in the linuxland building a firewall. Well, all right. I do recommend this for all of you that want to set up a linux box and (also) use it as a firewall. With a note. This author obviously thinks all services in existence use both, TCP and UDP, connections. Not so: HTTP (ports 80 and 443) only runs over TCP, SSH (port 22) only runs through TCP, and so on for TCP, POP, FTP, ... In contrast, NTP runs only through UDP. And for DHCP you also need to permit access for raw ethernet frames, not just for UDP packets.
Of course in theory anything running over TCP can be made to run over UDP, and the other way around, but it's not always practical and so in practise does not.
But that doesn't stop IANA to assign the ports for both, TCP and UDP, to services. So, basically, the author is correct in providing such examples. But I would never, for example, permit a port 80 UDP access, as there is nowhere a web browser or server that does UDP connections, as far as I know.



Linux Kernel 2.6.16 and ISDN FRITZ!Card PCI

2006-03-24T14:22:14.026+01:00

In case anyone out there owns an ISDN FRITZ!Card PCI and wants to install the Linux kernel 2.6.16: you're in a bit of a trouble. The official CAPI driver will not compile. I threw an eye at it and came up with a simple patch that solves it:

--- fritz/src/tools.h 2005-07-07 00:00:00.000000000 +0200
+++ fritz-kernel-2.6/src/tools.h 2006-03-21 16:13:32.000000000 +0100
@@ -71,12 +71,14 @@

/*---------------------------------------------------------------------------* \*---------------------------------------------------------------------------*/
+#ifndef atomic_xchg
static inline unsigned long atomic_xchg (
volatile atomic_t * v,
unsigned value
) {
return __xchg (value, &v->counter, sizeof (unsigned));
} /* atomic_xchg */
+#endif

/*---------------------------------------------------------------------------* \*---------------------------------------------------------------------------*/



Still here, still here!

2006-03-24T14:04:14.150+01:00

Yes yes yes, I should be seriously barked at for leaving this blog rot for a while. And for virtually disappearing from everyone's life. The excuse is, as always, work. But now it's eased up a bit, so I have the time to write something here.The player project is finished, only one elusive bug remains that I just can't put my fingers on, but it seems more and more it's LinuxThreads' fault. Damn servers run the ancient Debian Woody distro. Perhaps I'll convert it to pseudo-threading, but it's not a critical bug so it's more probable the time will come when the servers will be upgraded to at least Debian Sarge (which runs the player nicely in all of my tests, with the NPTL (New POSIX Threads Library) that came with the linux kernel branch 2.6), before I'd delve into the beauties of pseudo-threading.I also implemented a reporting facility for Windows. It's a Delphi module that uses Word via OLE automation. You write a reporting template (which is just normal text with field names (not to be confused with native Word fields) and commands placed between two # characters) and define database queries and manual input edit boxes and the modules does all the rest. It's designed this way because the customer wanted it this way, but I think it would have been wiser if I used OpenOffice, which is free and also supports OLE automation.I also developed a love-hate relationship with the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. It's a wonderfully designed distro, as wonderful for casual windows-like users as for power-hungry sysadmins, with a plethora of distribution-specific utilities for everything, from simple installation and maintenance, to complex package (re)building and development, and the stable branch is really, well, stable. And tends to become old. As was the case with Woody. What, three years without a major software update? Only the last-year released Sarge brought the loooong awaited updates of essentials, like support for kernel branch 2.6, NPTL support, glibc 2.3.2, gcc 3.3, and so on. And when you get a server with Woody installed and are requested to install, say, a more recent php 4.3 (which isn't even the latest) and enable the Oracle 10.1 support, then you really start to hate the damn distro. I just pulled the source from the Sarge branch and thought to rebuild it for Woody. Forget it. The build dependencies resolve to about a zillion packages to be rebuilt. It came even down to the gcc and X window having to be rebuilt. Of course, php doesn't need X libraries to run, or the latest gcc to be built and installed, but packages with tools it needs to compile with or libraries it needs to link with eventually resolve down to it. I'd be finished way and way and way sooner if I'd upgrade the server to Sarge, but the contracting company doesn't allow for it, because it all runs nicely as it is and they don't want to touch it. That's, uhm... troubling, at least from the security standpoint as there won't be any official security updates anymore past the May of this year (May or April, something like that).And I've designated the state as my enemy. I didn't much trouble myself in the past with what exactly to think of the state and the government and how to relate to it, but the debacles and idiotisms of the current right-wing government just make me want to shoot them all and be done with it. Me, a reasonably non-offending and hard-to-offend person, that tends not to care if you're a masterpiece of an idiotic nincompoop, is seriously becoming furiously allergic to the current government. They've developed the art of perver[...]



I Want To Replace A Lot Of Heads

2006-02-09T08:01:04.113+01:00

I install a VPN client and suddenly, while installing, all connections are reset. Consequently, all remote applications close and all unsaved data is lost. And as if that doesn't suffice, the installer requests a windows reboot. Seriously, if the programmer writing this crap would have had been standing by me, I'd have had his head replaced. After rebooting I discover that if I activate the damn VPN connection, ALL traffic is routed through it. HEY! AT LEAST I WANT TO ACCESS COMPUTERS ON MY LAN, YOU STUPID GIT! What a bunch of idiots, conceiving this piece of shit. Yeah, I'm outrageously pissed of, thanks to Cisco. Sure, I can customize settings so I can access my LAN, but it's astoundingly hard. Where the heck did their logic go? Only traffic to the LAN on the other end of the VPN connection should be routed through the VPN connection by default! Or at least there should be some easy questions about this issue when setting up a VPN, if security is such an issue.
My boss has some weird problems, too. The virus checker on his computer demands a reboot after every automatic update of virus definitions. Imagine: you come in the office, turn on the computer, after the login the virus checker loads up and does its automatic tasks, and then a request for reboot pops up. OK, reboot, and login again, and then you may start working.
And don't think Debian (a GNU/Linux distro) is without issues, too. After a wasted day of debugging I found out that debconf scripts don't set close-on-exec flag, so any programs forked into background (daemons) inherit all open file descriptors. And debconf is such a stupid piece of shit: for anything that is to be executed it creates a pipe, then it forks itself and the child sets up the pipe descriptors in a weird way before execing the thing. The weird way is this: the input pipe becomes descriptor 0 (stdin, that's ok) and the output pipe becomes descriptor 3 (say, what?), while descriptors 1 and 2 remain connected to whatever the parent was connected. Oh, wait, there's more. The parent debconf process remains in a read/write loop while any pipe descriptor remains open. It doesn't detect the zombie child. How could it be there is still something open even after the child dies, you ask? Because the child exec'd a startup script, which runs a daemon, that forks into background, and has no way of knowing, what descriptors are open, beyond standard 0, 1, and 2! Of course, if someone set up close-on-exec process flag before running the daemon, it would all be okay. And the solution? My daemon has to try to close all possible descriptors when run. Debconf scripts return correctly now. Idiots. I was about to report a bug when I read that it's surely an issue with the daemon and I should use db_stop in my setup scripts for misbehaving daemons. Really, if I'd have been given the chance, I'd have had replaced a lot of heads this week already. Oh, and there is even more. What I described up until now happens if an (initial) package configuration takes place. If you want to reconfigure the package, then the daemon misteriously gets another couple of pipes on descriptors 10 and 12. Oh well, I gave up and just wrote that loop that tries to close every possible descriptor. Because I have this addiction to portability and didn't want to use the /proc//fd list.



All About Linux

2006-01-30T15:41:26.300+01:00

In my quest to linuxify everyone around me I forgot to mention a blog that's here on the blogger: All about Linux. It's quite a good blog, regularly updated, full of interesting articles. The author seems quite knowledgable (though nowhere near as much as me, you know) in things Linux. Only sometimes his personal preferences get a bit in the way, I'd say. But hey, I'm trying to convert all of you to Linux, so who am I to judge, right? ;)



Bathroom Renovation My Way

2006-01-27T15:54:14.716+01:00

Yes yes, I'm sorry it's been so late since my last post. I'm busy working and having fun. And cleaning up behind those nasty plumbers from the last post. Do you want to know how I do bathroom stuff? Right.Somewhere around 10 months ago my mom complained her electricity bill was unusually high and she thought it was all boiler's fault since it was over 30 years old. Even she didn't know the exact age because it's been there since she can remember.So then, I bought a new boiler. But that wasn't enough. The old boiler had to be taken down and the new one mounted. I decided to do it while mom's working so I could be free from all the criticism while working.Since the old boiler was so old, all the pipes leading in and out from it coroded so heavilly I couldn't disconnect it in any sane way. So I got the help of my crazy sister to disconnect it in an insane way. Saw it off!Yeah baby, go wild on the pipes!After I disconnected the old boiler I used some of that ol' WD40 to unscrew the nuts holding the boiler on the wall, took it down, and threw it out. But there remained two couples of screws protruding from the wall, one couple used to hold the boiler in the upper part, and the other couple of bolts used to hold the boiler in the lower part. My sister was all for sawing off those protrusions, too. But I'm more for quality work, so I wanted to get them out of the wall. I chiseled around one of the upper bolts to see a bit more.And then it occured to me: the holes for bolts were drilled straight through the wall and bolts inserted and fastened from the other side of the wall! The other side being the living room. So I went into the living room and instructed my sister to hit a bit on the bolts and I'll try to see where exactly they'd come out. Well, a light stroke caused the wall to bulge a bit, so I said to her to just go crazy and hit it through the wall. Ahm, I didn't anticipate it would cause that much of wall to come off. This is the upper part.This is the lower part.And this is what remained on the floor. You can see two couples of bolts, each couple attached to a piece of metal that held them in place.Oh, and this is the chiseled part.Since it was getting late I had to fix those huge holes fast. My mom was coming home soon. Well then, to the shop, buy some mortar and plaster! First, I put on a layer of mortar.But while I was working, I heard some nerve wrecking shouting.It was my mom, who came home, saw the state of the bathroom, and got angry. I wonder why.She even threatened me to better fix everything or else...So I resumed fixing the walls, in a rather fast pace. This is how the living room came out.And this is the bathroom part. You can see that there was no paint behind the boiler. The old boiler was indeed probably there since the house was built. Somewhere in the 1960s, I believe.Oh, those two holes in the upper part are already holes where the new boiler was going to be attached. Yes, I was thinking of everything. Anyway, after mortar and before paint there usually comes a thin layer of plaster. You see, mortar is coarse, but you need something fine to stick paint onto. This is how the living room looked like after being done with plastering.After plastering the living room and the bathroom, I and sister painted the bathroom and the small patch in the living room, mounted the new boiler and I connected it to the pipes and electricity. This is how it looks like now.The new boiler in operation.So... If you've got a bathroom t[...]



Bathroom Woes

2006-01-13T14:27:31.850+01:00

I am genuinely pissed off. A plumber was supposed to fix the drainage leak in the bathroom. If I were the owner of the flat I'd have kicked his butt a few days ago already. On Monday late evening, when he was already gone, after 5 days of work, this is what I've found when I entered the flat.

(image)
After making a step through the front door. Right is the bathroom (not seen), ahead is the studio room.

(image)
A look into the bathroom.

(image)
Something scribbled on the wall where a mirror is supposed to be.

(image)
A look from the bathroom.

Yesterday I checked it again and the tiles were on and the bathroom was painted. It took them 3 freakin' days for that. Seriously, if I were to do all this, it would take me 4 days tops. And yes, I have a fair deal of knowledge about doing this stuff, so nobody will tell me how long it takes to do quality work.
As of this morning, I couldn't even take a dump properly. The toilet bowl was just mounted on the drain pipe, it wasn't even fixed to the floor or connected to the tank. No faucet, no basin, no shower.



Linux Chix0rs

2006-01-10T10:46:24.736+01:00

Linux and women is not something you often hear in the same sentence. That's why some chix wrote a HOWTO document: HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux. Otherwise, HOWTOs are meant to be comprehensively written guides describing a certain operation of Linux, short descriptions of how to do something. Well, I guess this is something that pertains to Linux and is badly in need of a good guide... But wait, there's more! There's LinuxChix, a community for women who like Linux! So, women, ahem... Let's Linux!