Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Flu or How I Lost a Week And A Half But Gained A Yard of Flowers

I think that the flu is one of those things we're all expected to get through.

That is to say, it is more like the closest thing to death that we'll get through and everyone will just shrug and go on.

Having a cold, you seem to think "Hmm, I feel off" and you muddle through.

The Flu?  Each time I have had it, and I can only think of three times, it has been the same.

10:24AM - Yay, feel great, lets go do stuff!
10:25AM - Hmm, This isn't quite right.
10:26AM - A cold?  Is this a cold?
10:27AM - I had better check the fridge, are there enough supplies, this isn't normal.

It always is a Fast Onset like that.  Bang, you're down. 

The last two times I had it it I thought, Ok, well it's going to be four days of down, plus a few days of the wobblies, but no worries.

Hah.  Just Hah.

That particular morning, I had a memorial service I wanted to go to.  A good friend had died and I was told about a month before that there would be a get together and I was specifically invited.   He knew that he wasn't going to make it and wanted to make certain that I could get there and visit with family and friends.

Sorry, Emilio, but someone somewhere decided that I was going to have the flu that particular day.

I say it that way because it was a friend of a friend who went to work with the flu and inoculated her entire office.  I am collateral damage.

Being one of those people who never can just sit down and be sick, I got started on some projects.  Things that I knew I wanted to do but didn't want to do until I was in the right frame of mind.  I had some sewing that needed doing because I went past the Stitch In Time and it needed about 100 stitches.  I had a laptop that had to be completely disassembled and put back together.

Laptops are usually one of those "Clear The Deck" things.  You never want to do that in a rush.  This one took me through lunch time and it worked.  In fact, the original owner, happy with having the data recovered, told me to keep the machine.

Oh no, please take it, I don't need another machine, please, oh please.

It's still here.  Along with another one.

Oh well.

Day two was full on Flu.  We laid in supplies and thought that it would be a total of another four days.  Blown weekend and all.

And then it hit like a tornado.  Around day five I realized that I was scheduling a trip out back to the yard.  As in "I have to walk the 30 feet to the back of the yard to pour a half cup of water into some bamboo I am trying to clone, will I make it" schedule.

I made it.  That day was day four.  It was not fun. 

There are things that the world would expect you to keep doing.  If you look at tasks that you do, you realize that you have them on a schedule.  Every single day like OCD. 

Mine is Spanish. 

I log into a website called and practice with some basic Spanish quizzes.  I set my goal very low so that all I had to do was one quiz in case I got tied up.  See, I was thinking.  Be able to do it in case I got busy and was traveling.

Good thing that I did that.

I had been doing 30 questions a day for a very long time.  Duolingo has a graph on it.  When you hit a point where you skip, the graph dips.

Duolingo told me when the depth of the Flu was.  It was mid week, day 6 of a four day flu.  It took me all morning to get one quiz done.  It usually takes me about 10 minutes for all three.  By the end of the day when I passed out shivering in the cold, I had only completed two quizzes. 

I think that day, my bamboo didn't get watered either.  In the stand of bamboo out back that is about 10 feet across, about 5 feet off the ground there are two plastic bags tied to the stalk.  In the bags is a small handful of soil that I was keeping moist.

Luckily on Day 7, the soil was still slightly moist. 

I walked out back, watered it, walked back in.

By Day 8 the coughing started.  I walked out to the bamboo, and the dog followed me.  I thought to myself, "How did Rack get walked last week".

I still don't know.

Coming back to the house, I noticed that there were orchids blooming that hadn't bloomed before.  The Milkweed was in flower.  The Mango tree on the corner was in full flower.  My podocarpus cuttings were either dying or rooting, depending on the Gods of the Garden.

I had very little idea what caused it all.  Things just "happen" in a garden, whether you want them to or not.  Blink and it all goes wild.  I had had carrots, onions, green onions, and a rogue rutabaga planted back there.  It's all under a layer of clover now.  Have to find that stuff, quick.

Long past a blink, this was an 8 day black out.

Spanish on Day 9 was all about medical terminology.  Enfermedad - sickness.   Muerte - death. 

I was finally coming out of it enough to enjoy the irony.   The little laptop was telling me "Estoy amando tus labios" and I was thinking it was creepy that the machine that I breathed life back into was saying "I am loving your lips".

You know you are finally coming back when you are thinking of all of the times when some fool said that Flu Shots don't work.  Funny thing about that, I don't remember getting one this year.  I will remember the flu.

And those lips that my laptop seems to like.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Mother In Law's Test

A Mother -in -Law decides to test her three Sons- in- law for their good nature.

For this she goes for a walk by a river with the first son in law and jumps in.
He saves her.

Next morning he finds a Toyota Corolla parked outside his house with note : from your Mother In Law.

Next she goes for a walk by the river with the second son in law and jumps in.
He too saves her.

Next morning he also finds a Toyota Corolla parked outside his house with note : from your Mother In Law.

Next she goes for a walk by a river with the third son in law and jumps in.
He just laughs and walks away.

 Next morning he finds a BMW M5 parked outside his house with note : from your Father In Law!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wally's Wedding Night

At 85 years of age, Wally married Anne, a lovely 25 year old. Since her new husband is so old, Anne decides that after their wedding she and Wally should have separate bedrooms, because she is concerned that her new but aged husband may over exert himself if they spend the entire night together.

After the wedding festivities Anne prepares herself for bed and the expected 'knock' on the door. Sure enough the knock comes, the door opens and there is Wally, her 85 year old groom, ready for action...

They unite as one. All goes well, Wally takes leave of his bride, and she prepares to go to sleep.

After a few minutes, Anne hears another knock on her bedroom door, and it's Wally. Again he is ready for more 'action.' Somewhat surprised, Anne consents for more frantic coupling. When the newlyweds are done, Wally kisses his bride, bids her a fond goodnight and leaves.

She is set to go to sleep again, but, aha, you guessed it..... Wally is back again, rapping on the door, and is as fresh as a 25-year-old, ready for more 'action.'

And, once again they enjoy each other in the way only two people in the first flush of lust can... But as Wally gets set to leave again, his young bride says to him, 'I am thoroughly impressed that at your age you can perform so well and so often. I have been with guys less than a third of your age who were only good once.

You are truly a great lover, Wally.'

Wally, somewhat embarrassed, turns to Anne and says: 'You mean I've been here already?'

(Senior Moments can have their advantages).

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thinkpad X201 Dissambly and The Flu

I have to ask myself what is this fascination of tearing apart computers when I have "a cold".  In this case, The Cold turned out to be The Flu.  It wasn't fun.  I'm at about day 5 and this is the first day that I'm clear enough to sit down and write.

The back story goes that I was handed a wee little laptop.  Thinkpad X201 if you are following along.  It's a pocket rocket of a machine, i7 processor, 8GB of memory, 500 GB mechanical hard drive.  All of that was crammed into a 12 inch case.  It predates the whole "Ultrabook" computer thing where people started building machines that were thin, light, and powerful.  The Mac Book Air is a prime example of what they tried to emulate.

I think they got the power right.  I was told "I have data on this that I need recovered, then see what you can do with it, it's got a heat problem".

What Thinkpad doesn't?  Lenovo switched to a heat sink compound a while back that has the consistency of Silly Putty or dried tub caulk.   That is to say that it dries out and flakes away.  I found that out later when I opened the machine and had little grey bits of goo fall out onto the table.

What I did was to recover the data, there wasn't much because the machine was not trusted, and then reload it.  It came with Windows 7 so I reinstalled that, then I made sure that Windows 10 would never get onto the machine by turning Windows Update to manual only and checked each update on the list to make sure it wasn't rumored to be either Windows 10 Related or Windows Telemetry.  I don't like what Microsoft is doing to a once very stable operating system and neither should you.

There is also a registry setting that will help keep that horrible pest off your computer, but if you have that little nag box sitting in your task bar you can be guaranteed that you will be "upgraded" to Windows 10 Home. 

No.  Not on your best day.  I am not allowing that.

When I was chatting with someone he suggested I put it on a torture test and recommended Prime 95 which calculates prime numbers.  It also turns any given machine into a furnace.  I was typing in chat that it was playing well when "Black Screen".  The processor hit 100C and turned off.   Yes, as in Boiling Water Temperature.  Processors these days tend to run 50C or cooler.  100C under load is going to shorten the life of the machine.  It needed help.

I found a series of videos, one that showed how to disassemble the machine so that the motherboard could be removed.  The second one showed the reverse order how to reassemble it.  By the time I had fully tore this little machine apart, I had nothing left in the case and a mother board on the table with the heat sink below it with a few random coins for size comparison.

If you are curious, there's a game token, a penny, a UK Pound and a UK Two Pound coin.

I ran that video in stop motion, and every time that the author removed a screw, I removed the same.  It took me about 20 minutes to tear it down.  The picture at the top is the result.  The blue squares are the processors and the heat sink compound.  They were cleaned with Rubbing Alcohol, and the lot was reassembled with the second video one screw at a time.

So if it was so straightforward, why am I writing about it?  So I have the info for later.  Complete with the videos.

Oh, make sure you have a little cup to put all those little screws into.  There were two sizes and they have to be put back in the same holes.  Luckily the video went "Large Screw" first, "Small Screw" Second.

Good luck, Future Me if you have to tear it down.  But after a week of beating it up, it's a great little laptop to go onto its owner if I can convince him to take it back!

And if you are not "Future Me", the Standard Internet Warranty applies - this is at your own risk, if your following these instructions turn your laptop into a dragon that consumes you or starts a fire, or causes any sort of damage, you are on your own because I can't take any responsibility for that. 

Besides, I still have the flu.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Bunch of Short Jokes I Shamelessly Stole

I have a friend who is a structural engineer.  He's always complaining about stress at work.

I became a proud dad today.  My son is actually four but he was an annoying little kid for the first three years.

How does every racist joke start?   With someone looking over their shoulder.

Why did Batman rush to the Bat Cave?  Because he had to go to the Bat Room.

Back in the day there were only 25 letters in the alphabet.  Nobody knew y.

How do you kill a vegetarian vampire?  With a steak to the heart.

So a Harley Davidson rolls into a bar and the bartender asks what would it like?  RUM RUM RUM RUM RUM RUM RUM

What do you call a French guy wearing sandals?   Phillipe Phillope

What is the opposite of Marshmallow?  Well, I guess it would be marshmadness.

Which is worse, Ignorance or Apathy?   I don't know and I don't care.

Why can't a centipede fly coach?  Not enough leg room!

 So I was in the bar the other day.  When i started hearing voices saying "nice shoes" and "lovely smile", I started wondering who was saying it so i went to the bartender and said "Mate, do you know who keeps saying nice things to me" He replied "Its the peanuts mate" I replied "Peanuts, What do you mean" The bartender replied "Yea they're complementary".

I used to be addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I turned myself around.

What do you call a factory that produces quality goods?  A satisfactory.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Three Vampires

3 vampires are having a competition to prove who's the most vicious vampire amongst them.

The strongest one started 1st, "watch this," He said as he flies so fast, about 100 miles/hour. After only 10 minutes, he comes back with blood all over his mouth.

"what happened?" they asked.
"did you see that house over there?"
"well.. I killed the entire family and sucked the blood dry!"
"wow!? fascinating, as expected from the strongest vampire"

Then the eldest one takes the next turn "watch and learn," he said as he flies even faster, about 120 miles/hour. After only 5 minutes, he comes back with blood all over his mouth and his neck.

"what happened??" they asked.
"did you see that village over there?"
"well.. I killed every last person on that village and sucked the blood dry!"
"wow!? magnificent! truly amazing, we can expect no less from the eldest one!"

Finally the last turn belongs to the fastest one, "don't blink or you'll miss it" he said as he flies really fast, even faster than the other two, about 140 miles/hour. After only a mere 30 seconds, he comes back with blood all over his mouth, his neck, and his nose.

"wh..what happened???" they asked.
"did you see that big ass tree over there?"

"well.. I didn't"

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

This Time Change Thing, My Dog Is Not A Fan And Neither Am I

The best time of the day to get a long walk in is before dawn.

At least for me.  Your mileage may vary.  Mine certainly does.

I am normally up before dawn, except the "High Summer" when it's hot and the sun gets over The Bahamas at Four-Freaking-Why-Am-I-Up-Again O'Clock.  It is a holdover from when I was doing marathon inline skating workouts and semi-competing all over Philadelphia and Fairmount Park.  Going from City Line to Valley Forge as a third of a workout means you go early, you go long.

Bring plenty of snacks.

But this is much more mundane.  There's a reason now to do these walks.  Keeping the dog sane.

He is Rack, the Mc Nab SuperDog(TM) who can run faster than the speed of light through a wormhole that we discovered behind the shed in the back corner of the yard.  He's also tearing up the turf since he can corner sharper than a dime.  All those right angle turns will take energy and when you are leaning over to bank the turn at 89.999 degrees, you're going to rip up a little grass.

Maybe I should put something up there, shift his path a little bit.

But I get up with my usual schedule at the Five O'Clock In The Morning Bonus Hour and get the walk in while it is still what passes for cool here in the place where weather can usually be described as "Being in someone else's bathroom while they take a long hot shower" Warm.

Just go in your bathroom, turn on the water full hot, close the door and wait for the air to steam up. 

Yeah, like that.

But it's what passes for Spring, the highs are still in the 80s and the mornings are quite pleasant.

So time to take the dog out for A Long Walk of about a mile and a quarter.  Lots of switchbacks, and turns around my neighborhood so that I am not walking the same block twice.  You don't want to do that at 5 AM because, things.  Someone might be out and about and wonder why you are too.

However that didn't happen that particular day.  It is because we, and many other countries, have an insane habit of Spring Ahead, Fall Back.  Daylight Savings Time.  Like that really "saves" anything.  More like cutting the end of a string off and tying it to the beginning to make it better.

While you get the time back eventually, it never is actually lost.  Just annoys you while you readjust your schedule.  Has me thinking "Will you people make up your mind?".

But nobody else was thinking that this morning.  By nobody, I really mean nobody.  Quiet like a tomb.  Creepy like a cemetery.  Chill down your spine creepy.

You see, when I walk down Wilton Drive, the spine of the business district in Wilton Manors, I expect certain activity.  Delivery Trucks bringing food to the restaurant to be restocked and cooked later.  The barbacks and crews cleaning the bars.  One guy sitting in the desk in the travel agency talking business to someone over in Europe somewhere.  Same stuff different walk.

This day?  Nothing.

I did say like a tomb.  Not a soul walking around except me wondering where everyone was. 

It's like someone decided to adjust their clocks or something!

I got off The Drive, and headed back on the second half of the walk through the neighborhood.  Past the darkened apartments where nobody had their yappy little dogs barking at the skies.  No airplanes overhead.  No other dog walkers. 

Nothing.  Got that pin?  Drop it, I'm sure you could hear it.  Not even the breezes were moving that morning.

I did manage to spot Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, or what I believe are them, where they belonged and moving slightly each day.  They're in a line, or more accurately, an arc, across the skies.  I'll lose Mars first, then probably lose track of the other two.  But for now, it occupies my empty mind.

Looking down at Rack I say "weird morning huh?"
He wags his tail once or twice, then goes back to sniffing a leaf.
"Nobody out yet!"

Did I mention that his English is getting stronger?  He gave a vigorous wag to that as if to say "Definitely".

"We'll be home soon enough, this walk is just strange"

Even a stronger wag, and he looked back at me to nod "Yes".

He knows what the concept of  "Yes" is since I taught him that it gives him things he wants.  You should see the little comic nodding his head to get out the door.  He's about to nod that head off his neck.

But we plodded through the neighborhood, out of the apartment areas, past the McMansions, and into the Old Florida Homes that look much more reasonable here.  Low slung to hunker down in case of a storm, a one level home lets the trees block the winds for you in case of a hurricane and they're much more likely to survive when the two or three level condo loses its roof.

That roof that will end up in your swimming pool, of course.

We get on Our Street and keep going.  Rack is tired now, after a mile and a quarter of walking.

"That's it buddy, time to wash your feet.  Some day you'll stop painting your white legs yellow!".

He nods his head "Yes" again.

I grab the hose, wash them down, walk him through the grass to wipe the pads off and we're done.

Another creepy walk down.  I guess that's what happens when everyone is still asleep.

Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Just a nice walk around town.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Cowboy Walks into a Bar

A cowboy walks into a bar and takes a seat next to a very attractive woman.

He gives her a quick glance then causally looks at his watch for a moment.

The woman notices this and asks, "Is your date running late?"
"No", he replies,"I just got this state-of the-art watch, and I was just testing it.."

The intrigued woman says, "A state-of-the-art watch? What"s so special about it?"
The cowboy explains, "It uses alpha waves to talk to me telepathically."

The lady says, "What"s it telling you now?"
Well, it says you're not wearing any panties."

The woman giggles and replies "Well it must be broken because I am wearing panties!"

The cowboy smiles, taps his watch and says, "Damn thing's an hour fast."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Blind Man and His Dog

It's a bit shorter than I usually post, but seeing that this morning I had to deal with a surly dog with a bad attitude (not mine), Here you go!

A blind man and his seeing eye dog are waiting to cross a road at some traffic lights when the dog cocks his leg up and pisses on the blind man's trousers.

The blind man proceeds to get a dog biscuit out of his pocket to feed the dog.

A bystander says "excuse me sir, your dog just pissed on your leg and you are going to reward it with a biscuit?"

The blind man replies "I'm trying to work out which end is its head so I can kick it in the arse!"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cloning a Hard Drive With Linux

Yeah well calling it Linux means I most likely lost 97% of the market.

Windows people don't realize that there is a painless way to get their windows computer to do some of this stuff - a Live Linux Distribution like Ubuntu.  If you get a live disc working, you can copy this shell into it, then follow the instructions.  It should work.

Mac people may even be able to run this natively.

Maybe.  Depends if PV is Mac Friendly, if not, convert the PV line to a copy of your choice.

A Live Linux can be "burned" to a USB stick or to a DVD and your computer can be booted from that.

And now you know!

But none the less...

What this is basically is my own shell.  I use this to completely back up my computer.  All the drive specifications are found and known, and do not change.

I run fdisk -l as root and use the information in there to edit the shell script to change things as needed.

This assumes that you know what your drive devices are, are willing to edit a shell script to make your own changes as is, then have an external USB hard drive slightly larger than your boot device.  My boot device is /dev/sda and most likely yours is as well.

This assumes that you have a second drive sitting in your chip reader.  If not, you can comment out the line that copies it to the hard drive.

This assumes that you have room enough to do everything.

I am doing this on Debian Linux, however the commands here are so very generic that you should be able to run this on most "full" distributions of Linux.  Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Centos, Fedora and the like come to mind.

Standard Internet Warranty - I make no warranties and it is at your own risk.  If you lose data, it is on you.  I take zero responsibilities for any miscoding or changing or whether a magic dragon comes out of the skies and takes you onward to valhalla.  Really.  None at all.

I will say that I ran this exact shell this morning and it worked for me.  You WILL have to change the file specifications to fit.   

  • My boot drive is a 240gb SSD with about 120gb free.
  • My chip has about 12 gb worth of data on it.
  • Debian thinks that the chip is called "128GB" and it typically comes up in the file manager (thunar) on /media/bill/128 GB/


Installed versions of
How it runs:
  • This must be run as Root in Terminal.
  • This will pause after each step with an OK message in the Dialog box.
  • For me, the entire shell runs in about 2 hours on my i7 laptop with a USB 2.0 external hard drive.
First the shell in its entirety in blue:

#! /bin/bash from

dialog --no-lines --title 'Run This As Root' --msgbox 'This shell will backup SDA to SDB\nYou must click OK after each step so watch this.\nYour Disaster Recovery will thank you!' 10 70

dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "update your sources" --prgbox "apt-get -y update" 10 70
dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "update your software" --prgbox "apt-get -y upgrade" 10 70
dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "update your distribution" --prgbox "apt-get -y dist-upgrade" 10 70

arg1="'/media/bill/128 GB'"

dialog --title "copying the chip to the drive" --prgbox "cp -avr $arg1 /home/bill/128GB" 10 70

(pv -n -i 2 /dev/sda > /dev/sdb) 2>&1 | dialog --title "Backup SDA to SDB" --gauge 'Progress...' 7 70

dialog --title 'Message' --msgbox 'Cloning is done, click ok to clean up and end' 5 70

dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "Removing the copy of the chip" --prgbox "rm -r /home/bill/128GB" 10 70 
dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "Synchronize your drives" --prgbox "sync" 10 70

To actually use that mess...
  • Copy the entire text and paste it into your favorite text editor.
  • Save the file with a ".sh" extension somewhere you will be able to get to it - in your path.
  • Change the mode to executable - chmod 0770
  • Change the owner to root.  You never want to use this as a regular user - chown root
  • Change the group to root.  chgrp root
  • Run the shell as root: sudo ./

Now, each line in excruciating detail!

---- Run the programs using bash interpreter

#! /bin/bash

---- I'm signing my work here from

---- This puts up a message box

dialog --no-lines --title 'Run This As Root' --msgbox 'This shell will backup SDA to SDB\nYou must click OK after each step so watch this.\nYour Disaster Recovery will thank you!' 10 70
---- The next three steps gets your distribution to date.  Don't want this, comment it out

dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "update your sources" --prgbox "apt-get -y update" 10 70
dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "update your software" --prgbox "apt-get -y upgrade" 10 70
dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "update your distribution" --prgbox "apt-get -y dist-upgrade" 10 70

---- Store the directory that Linux mounts the chip to in "arg1"  If no chip to backup you can comment this.

arg1="'/media/bill/128 GB'"
---- Wrap the actual work of copying the chip out to a dialog box.  The flags "-avr" say copy the whole drive in $arg1 recursively to the destination.  If no chip to copy, comment this line.

dialog --title "copying the chip to the drive" --prgbox "cp -avr $arg1 /home/bill/128GB" 10 70
---- This line does the real work.  Now that you copied your chip out to the hard drive, clone the actual hard drive.  The flags on pv tell it to report to stdout the percentage of work done so that dialog can show a pretty gauge.  Ahh, so pretty!

(pv -n -i 2 /dev/sda > /dev/sdb) 2>&1 | dialog --title "Backup SDA to SDB" --gauge 'Progress...' 7 70
---- Copy is done, it is time to clean up message

dialog --title 'Message' --msgbox 'Cloning is done, click ok to clean up and end' 5 70

---- remove the data that you copied from the chip from the hard drive to be neat. if no chip, comment this out.

dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "Removing the copy of the chip" --prgbox "rm -r /home/bill/128GB" 10 70 

---- Your work is done, make sure you flush your cache by doing a "sync".

dialog --no-lines --sleep 3 --title "Synchronize your drives" --prgbox "sync" 10 70  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Italian

(Hey, I can post this... they're my people!)

An 80-year-old Italian goes to the doctor for a check-up.

The doctor is amazed at what good shape the guy is in and asks, “How do you stay in such great physical condition?”

“I'm Italian and I am a golfer,” says Silvio, “and that's why I'm in such good shape. I'm up well before daylight and out golfing up and down the fairways. I have a glass of vino, and all is well.”

"'Well,” says the doctor, “I'm sure that helps, but there's got to be more to it. How old was your Father when he died?”

“Who said my Father's dead?”

The doctor is amazed. “You mean you're 80 years old and your Father's still alive. How old is he?”

“He's 100 years old,” says Silvio. “In fact he golfed with me this morning, and then we went to the topless beach for a walk and had a little vino and that's why he's still alive. He's Italian and he's a golfer, too.”

“Well,” the doctor says, “that's great, but I'm sure there's more to it than that. How about your Father's Father? How old was he when he died?”

“Who said my Nonno's dead?”

Stunned, the doctor asks, “You mean you're 80 years old and your grandfather's still living! Incredible, how old is he?”

“He's 118 years old,” says the Old Italian golfer. The doctor is getting frustrated at this point, “So, I guess he went golfing with you this morning too?”

“No, Nonno couldn't go this morning because he's getting married today.”

At this point the doctor is close to losing it. “Getting married? Why would a 118 year-old guy want to get married?”

“Who said he wanted to get married?"

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Husband and Wife Go On A Golfing Trip

A man and his wife and save thousands of dollars, pack their bags and go on their dream golfing trip abroad.

The golf course is a thing of beauty, perfect greens, giant sculptures, huge sparkling blue lakes, the finest sand pits, and amazing views. The rich of the world all have mansions and castles on either side of the fairways.

The husband is a bit of a worry-wart. So, naturally, on the first hole of the course he's giving his wife tips and encouraging her to drive the ball straight down the fairway.

"Don't you dare flub your shots dear, if you do and it breaks anything at all we're in so much trouble... We could barely afford the trip let alone damage fees!"

He makes the wife nervous and at first she whiffs the ball entirely. After encouragement... She hits the ball hard and drives it, straight into a beautiful stained glass window of a near by mansion.

"Dammit!" They both exclaim and start to argue. After bickering for a few minutes they decide they had better walk up to the mansion, apologize, and see if they can work out an arrangement for the damage.

Upon arrival to the mansion they notice the door wide open and a deep, strong voice echoes "Well... Come in."

They enter the spectacular mansion, and follow the voice I till they come into a room that appears to be a study, there is broken shards of glass everywhere, and halfway across the room is a broken jewel encrusted vase. Standing next to the wreckage is a burly man with thick goatee and fine clothes, holding a golf ball.

The husband and wife start apologizing profusely and begging to work out an arrangement, but the man hold up his hand for silence, smiles and speaks:

"Do not worry about the damage, you see you have done me a great service, do you see the jewel encrusted vase that has broken before you? I have lived in that cell for a millennium. It is only thanks to you that I am free. You see I am a genie... And as a reward I may grant three wishes... I only ask you allow me to make the 3rd wish"

The husband and wife are astonished and thrilled! The husband walks up to the genie and happily asks for a mansion just as beautiful as this one, in every country in the world.

The genie nods his head and says "it is done. There is now a mansion in every part of the world"

The wife looks at be the genie and asks for so much money that they never have to work a day in their lives again. And so they can golf here whenever they want.

The genie nods and says "it is done, you now can afford all the pleasures in life"

The genie then asks for his only wish "this is my only wish and you must command it for it to come true... I have been locked in that vase, far too long, far too lonely without the comfort of warmth of a beautiful woman such as your wife standing before me... I wish to take this woman to the bedroom upstairs and have my way with her."

The husband and wife are shocked at his wish, and the husbands none to happy but after discussing it for a few minutes, the wife convinces the husband that it's worth it, that after all the wise genie did for them it's the least they can do...

So with the husbands approval the genie takes the wife upstairs into a beautiful huge bedroom and has incredible enjoys his time with with her. Hours pass and they both lay there elated and tired.

The wife exclaims "that was incredible..."

And the genie, smoking a cigar, asks "so how long have you been married?"

"A 35 long years" the wife replies

"Wow, such a long time for you both, and how old is your husband?" Asks the genie

"He just turned 50 last month.. Why do you ask?" Says the wife

And the genie chucked "amazing, 50 years old and still believes in genies"

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Netbook Server - Sharing an External Hard Drive in Linux

So if you have followed my instructions, you now have a:

Computer that runs Debian Linux

Computer that you can look into using Remote Desktop

Computer that you can share part of the local hard drive

Congratulations.  You now have a file server!

If you followed those directions, it also installed a bunch of other programs that will let you do other things.  I noticed that something called "CUPS" was installed, and that will let you plug a printer into the same machine and act as a "Print Server" or a "Network Printer" - if you can find the instructions on how to configure it.

Debian and Raspbian both come with enough that you could use that machine as your one and only daily driver computer.  The browser is called "Iceweasel" and is Firefox, rebranded.  You have Libre Office to write letters, work with spreadsheets, and make presentations that are all compatible with Microsoft Office

Yes, it really is, I use it every day.  No, you don't have to pay for it.  Ever.

There are more apps, and I would suggest looking into some of the software that is out there, all free.  If you start "synaptic" from your terminal as root or "sudo synaptic &" you will find so much free software that your mind will fog up and get tired before you find everything you want.

But that all is just the preamble to this discussion.  You came here to share an external drive.  This is like any other shared drive on the network, you have to have it plugged into the server (USB Port on your netbook), you have to tell the computer where it is, and you have to tell it how it is to be shared.

Remember, I am trying to write this for a Windows audience so I'll go as basic as I can.  You Windows folks are in a new world, and you will want to have this go well.  If you are a Linux expert or even intermediate, you may find this needlessly wordy.   Not to worry, you'll be right.

One Step At A Time.  Divide and Conquer.

First step - Make sure you can read the drive from Linux.

Before you get anywhere, start the computer.  Log in.  Get to your desktop.  Then plug in the drive. 

Start your terminal session by clicking on the (start) "Applications Menu", then click on Terminal.  Sign in as root by entering "su" and your root password.  You will eventually need this

Now, launch the file manager by clicking on the (start) "Applications Menu", then click on "File Manager". 

In the left pane of the file manager you will see Devices, Places and Network.  In "Places" your external drive will come up with a little eject arrow to the right of it.  Click on the icon for the drive.  A little wait icon will start to rotate.  When it is through it will do one of two things:

Success is if you are dropped into a view of whatever files are on the disc.  It means that all the drivers are in place.  Most likely this drive is something called "vfat" or "fat32".  Remember this for later.

Failure is if you get a big ugly warning message up.  That means that you don't have the drivers for the format that the drive has on it.  Most likely you will have to install the set of drivers called "ntfs-3g".  This would be where your external is a really big drive and you did it to make things faster.  To install that do the following steps:

  1. apt-get update
  2. apt-get upgrade
  3. apt-get install ntfs-3g
  4. shut down the server
  5. unplug the drive (It isn't shared yet and you don't want to wait for the computer to release it)
  6. start the server
  7. and plug in your drive when you have logged back in to the desktop, terminal, and file manager.

No matter what, at this point, you should be able to read your external drive. 

You also need information.  When you worked with the server software "samba" you created a user and a password, and you will need that later.

Next step - finding where Linux thinks that drive actually is.

-- Update --

While researching my next blog article, I found a much easier way than the dmesg and so forth method.

In your terminal app, as root, enter the following command - fdisk -l 

You will get your list of drives, and what Linux thinks it has.  Different versions of linux will either make the drive available or not (Mounted or not mounted drive) so look for the last drive and make a determination for yourself what it is.  

Of course checking dmesg (as below) will be a sure way of finding out what you last plugged in, then doing the fdisk -l will tell you what you have on the drive.

-- end update --

Here is where Linux people will be saying "gparted".  If you know how, go for it, this is the slower but less risky method.

To determine what is plugged into your machine type into the terminal:
  • dmesg | tail -30
Linux keeps a log of whatever is important to the system.  Since you "just" plugged that external drive into the computer, the last thing on that very long stream of text will be what was reported when the computer detected the hardware.  The "tail" bit will tell terminal to just show the last 30 lines of what are in the display of messages (dmesg).

The clue there are the lines that say "usb 1-2" and "sdb".  When I plugged in the drive, it said "new high-speed USB device number 2".  So what we're going to tell the system is that the drive is sitting on a device called sdb.  The partition we will be using will be the first one, so it is officially "/dev/sdb1".  In windows, it would come up as your D drive if there is no DVD/CD drive present, E Drive if it is, this is the same thing.

Since my stick is formatted to be removable on Windows, it is a format that Linux calls "vfat".    My big 4 TB drive is formatted NTFS, so I would have to mount it as "ntfs-3g"

Create a place to store the data in.  In my case, it is "/home/bill/external".  You should change "bill" to the name of your user that you logged into when you started this exercise.  To make the directory, open terminal again as a regular user and enter this command:
  • mkdir /home/bill/external
  • chmod 0770 /home/bill/external
You just created the directory and set it up so that you and root can use it.

There is one file that you need to edit in Terminal with the following command:
  • nano /etc/fstab
This file tells linux where all of your disc drives sit, so be careful and don't delete anything.  You will be adding a line, as below:

  • /dev/sdb1 /home/bill/external vfat defaults 0 0"

That says - put the external drive's first partition "in" the /home/bill/external directory.  It also says that it is "vfat" format so change that if it is an ntfs-3g format.  The defaults are lengthy and you can go into them in great detail on the Wikipedia Article.

If you wanted to go further and add multiple partitions for other people, you could do it in /etc/fstab by adding multiple entries.

Once you restart the computer, you should be able to find the drive on Windows, and you are on your way.  Just find the drive in Windows File Manager, enter in your login from Linux, and you're good to go.

One final wrinkle

What this does is to "bind" the external hard drive or memory stick to the server.  It is now set to automatically mount and share the drive whenever the power comes back on.  If you do not have a drive plugged in, Linux will boot, but put you into a terminal session as root into what is called "Single User Mode".  You can do the following edit at that point with the commands below.

To remove the hard drive so that the server is no longer looking for the drive at boot, in terminal as root:

  • nano /etc/fstab
  • find the line with the external drive and enter a # as the first character in the line
  • save the file and restart the computer

This now turns your server into a machine that only serves the local hard drive.