Random Rants

Anything that tickles my fancy.

UNIX is 40 and still kicking and screaming.

Posted by silverstag on December 1, 2009

via IBM developerWorks : AIX on 11/30/09

The systems world will shortly be celebrating a major anniversary milestone. UNIX is turning 40 years old! Most of us know the story of how UNIX was born, but what about why? Was it born strictly because its founders wanted to play a computer game on a different platform? And why does UNIX continue to thrive 15 years after an (in)famous Byte Magazine article that asked, "Is UNIX dead?" How has AIX (the only UNIX flavor that has increased its market share through the years) been a part of the evolution of UNIX and what are the current trends today in the UNIX arena? These are just some of the topics this article explores.


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HOW-TO: Virtualization – Fedora on Windows with Virtualbox

Posted by silverstag on November 30, 2009

This post is a step-by-step guide to installing Fedora on Windows as a Virtual OS using VirtualBox. The steps involved are the same if you want to install any other Linux based OS. I have tried this with Android(desktop build), Ubuntu, OpenSuSE and Fedora. 

Before we step into this tech mumbo-jumbo; If you want to know what Virtualization is, check out my post here.


  • VirtualBox – Virtualization software. – Get it here.
  • A computer(desktop or laptop) running Windows.
  • Some free space on the Hard-Drive – 8 GB is what I set aside.
  • ISO file for the Fedora OS. – Get it here.


I thought I would write out a step-by-step guide with pictures and all. But then I realized it would be cooler to post a screencast of the whole procedure. So, here it is:

If the embedded video is not clear enough, get the original here. If you didn’t understand any particular thing shown on the video, please post your questions in the comments and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

And BTW, I used CamStudio to record the screencast. CamStudio is an uber-cool, Free Screen Recording Software.

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Neat tricks for fishing Pirate ships.

Posted by silverstag on November 30, 2009

via Slashdot by kdawson on 11/29/09

Hugh Pickens writes “Numerous high-tech devices have been proposed to help ships cope with piracy on the high seas. Now a company has developed a ship-borne launching device that fires a net or coiled rope into the path of pirate vessels using compressed air with a range of up to a range of 400m. The payload net or rope, which has a parachute attached to the end, will unravel and lay out across the surface of the water so that as the pirate boat travels through the water its propeller shaft will pick up the line and become entangled. ‘With the trials and testing we’ve done, it has taken us some 45 minutes to cut and disentangle the line from the propeller itself,’ says Jonathan Delf. ‘Within that time of course, the target ship is on its way and hopefully help has arrived in the form of naval forces or helicopter support.’ The system can be fired up to five times off just a cylinder of air like a simple scuba tank.” The video mentions that the device can also fire a payload of golf balls. The systems have recently be sold to “several large shipping companies that travel near the oil-rich Nigerian Delta, which, like the Somalian coast, is rife with piracy.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The Technology Behind Last.fm

Posted by silverstag on November 30, 2009

via Slashdot by kdawson on 11/29/09

CNET’s Crave has up a detailed interview with Last.fm’s Matthew Ogle, the company’s head of Web development. Reader CNETNate notes that Last.fm has streamed 275,000 years of audio around the world. From the interview: “We stream all music directly off our servers in London. We have a cluster of streaming nodes including a bunch of powerful machines with solid-state hard drives. We have a process that runs daily which finds the hottest music and pushes those tracks on to the SSDs streamers that sit in front of our regular platter-based streaming machines. That way, if someone is listening to one of our more popular stations, the chances are really good that these songs are coming off our high-speed SSD machines. They’re fast because every song is sitting in memory instead of being on a slow, spinning platter.” The interview is actually on two pages but pretends it’s on three.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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As a counter terror intiative Indian Government is gonna get snoopy on citizens.

Posted by silverstag on November 27, 2009

via Slashdot by timothy on 11/26/09

angry tapir writes “India plans to set up a centralized system to monitor communications on mobile phones, landlines and the Internet in the country, a minister has told the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament. Indian laws allow the interception and monitoring of communications under certain conditions, including to counter terrorism. A pilot of the new Centralized Monitoring System (CMS) is to be started by June next year, subject to clearances by other government agencies.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Scary: Facebook Photos Lead To Cancellation of Quebec Woman’s Insurance

Posted by silverstag on November 23, 2009

via Slashdot by timothy on 11/22/09

No. 24601 writes “A Quebec woman on long-term sick leave, due to a diagnosis of depression, lost her health benefits after her insurance provider found photos of her on Facebook smiling and looking cheerful at parties and out on the beach. Besides all the obvious questions, how did the insurance company access her locked Facebook profile?”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google needs a tighter reign on the Android platform

Posted by silverstag on November 23, 2009

Disclaimer: I love Google as a company and I am excited about Android as a platform. 

First off, I need to give props where they are due. I’m drawing heavily from a post I saw on my twitter stream and from my own experience working on a product that went through much of what is happening to Android . The title of this post may seem to be an oxymoron. How can Google exercise greater control on a Open Source platform? Well, they can if they wanted to and it won’t need to go against they unofficial motto of “Don’t be Evil”. 

In a short span of time, Android managed to get on a myriad devices and is serving various consumer markets. That is no mean feat. And it has been possible only because it was an Open Source platform. As much as I love Google for Open Sourcing such a beautiful OS, the current situation is not sitting well with me. But then again, I’m not an expert and Google might know better than me what they are getting into.

Here’s the current Android scene as I see it. There are a bunch of devices on the market running Android and they are not essentially running the same OS. It might be the same at the core but not throughout. You want examples? How about Motorola Droid, Sony Ericsson’s XPERIA X10, Barnes and Nobles’ Nook, Archos 5 PMP, T-Mobile G1 and HTC Hero. Can you say they all run the same OS? I can’t. They run their own version of an Open Source OS. And Google is not helping the current situation by being preferential. Yes, I’m talking about Google working closely with Motorola for Android 2.0. I understood why they did that with G1, they were just starting off an they need to market a product soon.

You might ask what’s particularly wrong with all this so, here are some questions: Can you pick an app from the Android market and have it run the same on all the devices that run Android? Can a developer make an easy choice as to which Android version he should build apps for? Can a consumer switching devices expect to find all the apps he had on his previous device? I didn’t think so. The problem is, each device manufacturer gets to make his own mind about what will run on his product and Google doesn’t have any say in it. It will be tough for Google to dictate manufacturers as to what they should run. Tough to dictate, not to influence. There’s a fine line. Developers and consumers are the key and not Google or any other company. For a platform to thrive, Developers and consumers need to be happy. That’s a tough mix though and that’s what Apple and Google are not able achieve. Developers are not happy on Apple’s platform and consumers won’t be happy on the Android platform (they are not yet unhappy).

Now that we know the problem space we can discuss a solution. In my opinion Google should work with all vendors on getting Android on their devices and should actively push updates to respective devices or at least get the vendors to do it. That’s easier said than done. The only other way out is for Google to turn into Apple and I don’t see that happening for many reasons, even if Google wanted to. 

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Anti-Smoking Vaccine Is Nearing the Market

Posted by silverstag on November 22, 2009

via Slashdot by kdawson on 11/20/09

eldavojohn writes “Almost 6 years ago we discussed a vaccine to help people quit smoking as it entered human clinical trials. Now it looks like the finishing touches have been put on a deal that will go into effect once phase III testing of the drug now called NicVAX is completed. NicVAX was developed by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, who have agreed to license it to GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals; it is expected to complete phase III testing successfully. Others have fallen short of this goal, in pursuit of a smoking-cessation market expected to hit $4.6 billion worldwide by 2016. Nabi has also sold an experimental vaccine for staph infections; and in 2008 we discussed news of a cocaine vaccine.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The Short but Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion

Posted by silverstag on November 12, 2009

For those of you out there who, like me, want to know what to do with their life.

via Zen Habits by Leo on 11/11/09

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold Toynbee

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

Following your passion can be a tough thing. But figuring out what that passion is can be even more elusive.

I’m lucky — I’ve found my passion, and I’m living it. I can testify that it’s the most wonderful thing, to be able to make a living doing what you love.

And so, in this little guide, I’d like to help you get started figuring out what you’d love doing. This turns out to be one of the most common problems of many Zen Habits readers — including many who recently responded to me on Twitter.

This will be the thing that will get you motivated to get out of bed in the morning, to cry out, “I’m alive! I’m feeling this, baby!”. And to scare your family members or anyone who happens to be in yelling distance as you do this.

This guide won’t be comprehensive, and it won’t find your passion for you. But it will help you in your journey to find it.

Here’s how.

1. What are you good at? Unless you’re just starting out in life, you have some skills or talent, shown some kind of aptitude. Even if you are just starting out, you might have shown some talent when you were young, even as young as elementary school. Have you always been a good writer, speaker, drawer, organizer, builder, teacher, friend? Have you been good at ideas, connecting people, gardening, selling? Give this some thought. Take at least 30 minutes, going over this question — often we forget about things we’ve done well. Think back, as far as you can, to jobs, projects, hobbies. This could be your passion. Or you may have several things. Start a list of potential candidates.

2. What excites you? It may be something at work — a little part of your job that gets you excited. It could be something you do outside of work — a hobby, a side job, something you do as a volunteer or a parent or a spouse or a friend. It could be something you haven’t done in awhile. Again, think about this for 30 minutes, or 15 at the least. If you don’t, you’re probably shortchanging yourself. Add any answers to your list.

3. What do you read about? What have you spent hours reading about online? What magazines do you look forward to reading? What blogs do you follow? What section of the bookstore do you usually peruse? There may be many topics here — add them to the list.

4. What have you secretly dreamed of? You might have some ridiculous dream job you’ve always wanted to do — to be a novelist, an artist, a designer, an architect, a doctor, an entrepreneur, a programmer. But some fear, some self-doubt, has held you back, has led you to dismiss this idea. Maybe there are several. Add them to the list — no matter how unrealistic.

5. Learn, ask, take notes. OK, you have a list. Pick one thing from the list that excites you most. This is your first candidate. Now read up on it, talk to people who’ve been successful in the field (through their blogs, if they have them, or email). Make a list of notes of things you need to learn, need to improve on, skills you want to master, people to talk to. Study up on it, but don’t make yourself wait too long before diving into the next step.

6. Experiment, try. Here’s where the learning really takes place. If you haven’t been already, start to do the thing you’ve chosen. Maybe you already are, in which case you might be able to skip to the next step or choose a second candidate to try out. But if you haven’t been, start now — just do it. It can be in the privacy of your own home, but as quickly as possible, make it public however you can. This motivates you to improve, it gets you feedback, and your reputation will improve as you do. Pay attention to how you feel doing it — is it something you look forward to, that gets you excited, that you love to share?

7. Narrow things down. I recommend that you pick 3-5 things from your list, if it’s longer than that, and do steps 5 & 6 with them. This could take month, or perhaps you’ve already learned about and tried them all out. So now here’s what you need to ask yourself: which gets you the most excited? Which of these can produce something that people will pay for or get excited about? Which can you see yourself doing for years (even if it’s not a traditional career path)? Pick one, or two at the most, and focus on that. You’re going to do the next three steps with it: banish your fears, find the time, and make it into a career if possible. If it doesn’t work out, you can try the next thing on your list — there’s no shame in giving something a shot and failing, because it’ll teach you valuable lessons that will help you to be successful in the next attempt.

8. Banish your fears. This is the biggest obstacle for most people – self-doubt and fear of failure. You’re going to face it and banish it. First, acknowledge it rather than ignoring or denying it. Second, write it down, to externalize it. Third, feel it, and be OK with having it. Fourth, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Usually it’s not catastrophic. Fifth, prepare yourself for doing it anyway, and then do it. Take small steps, as tiny as possible, and forget about what might happen — focus on what actually is happening, right now. And then celebrate your success, no matter how small.

9. Find the time. Don’t have the time to pursue this passion? Make the time, dammit! If this is a priority, you’ll make the time — rearrange your life until you have the time. This might mean waking earlier, or doing it after work or during lunch, or on weekends. It will probably mean canceling some commitments, simplifying your work routing or doing a lot of work in advance (like you’re going on a vacation). Do what it takes.

10. How to make a living doing it. This doesn’t happen overnight. You need to do something, get good at it, be passionate about it. This could take months or years, but if you’re having fun, that’s what’s most important. When you get to the point where someone would pay you for it, then you’re golden — there are many ways to make a living at that point, including doing freelance or consulting work, making information products such as ebooks, writing a blog and selling advertising. In fact, I recommend you do a blog if you’re not already — it’ll help solidify your thinking, build a reputation, find people who are interested in what you do, demonstrate your knowledge and passion.

I told you this wouldn’t be easy. It’ll require a lot of reflection and soul-searching, at first, then a lot of courage and learning and experimentation, and finally a lot of commitment.

But it’s all worth it — every second, every ounce of courage and effort. Because in the end, you’ll have something that will transform your life in so many ways, will give you that reason to jump out of bed, will make you happy no matter how much you make.

I hope you follow this guide and find success, because I wish on you nothing less than finding your true passion.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

If you liked this guide, please bookmark it on Delicious or <a href="http://twitter.com/home?status=Reading:%20The%20Short%20but%20Powerful%20Guide%20to%20Finding%20Your%20Passion%20http://is.gd/4SSLg%20via%20@zen_habits“>share on Twitter. Comments? @zen_habits me.

On mnmlist: Learn to love less

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Google Offers 20GB ($5/Year) to 16TB ($4096/year) of storage on its Cloud.

Posted by silverstag on November 11, 2009

via TechCrunch by MG Siegler on 11/11/09

179057322_c9c4d9c3a8Well, it’s not the mythical Google Drive, but it’s close. For a price. And assuming you only want to store pictures and emails.

Google tonight announced that it was drastically slashing prices while at the same time offering more storage pricing options for users of its services. Specifically, while Gmail users currently get about 7 gigabytes for free and Picasa users get about 1 gigabyte for free, both can now upgrade to 20 GB for just $5 a year. Previously, it cost $20 to get just 10 GB of additional service.

But what’s really pretty incredible is that Google has an option for you to buy up to 16 terabytes, yes, terabytes, of storage from them. As Google notes, that enough to store 8 million very high resolution photos. Considering that most consumers probably still have south of 500 gigabytes of storage in their home, that’s pretty massive.

Of course, you’ll pay for it: 16 TB will set you back $4,096 a year. But if you do something that requires you to store 16 TB of photos, you can probably afford that. And there are varying storage levels at different price points leading up to that. 8 TB is $2,048 a year, 4 TB is $1,024, and so forth.

These all represent significant price decreases from Google’s previous offerings, but it still would be cheaper to buy your own external drives. So why not do that? Well, Google offers the same levels of backup security that it ensures on all of its data currently. Plus, you won’t have to have dozens of drives sitting around. And since the data is all in the cloud, you’d be able to access it from anywhere, which Google highlights in its post.

But there’s something key to remember: Google is only officially offering this storage for use with Gmail and Picasa. It’s not a complete online backup/storage system, which is what Google Drive (or Gdrive) has long been rumored to be. Of course, there are programs and workarounds that will more or less let you use it for that purpose, but Google is not yet sanctioning the use of its storage as your official cloud drive.

Under Google’s system, 1 TB of storage will cost $256 a year and 400 GB is $100 a year. I don’t know about you, but if Apple offered something similar that would let me backup all my iTunes music and movies and allowed me to access them form anywhere, I would do it.

[photo: flickr/vsz]

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