Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Raahe visit

I've been visiting the School of Engineering and Business in Raahe, which belongs to Oulu University of Applied Sciences.

It's a nice place to go and it has to get quite cold during winter time. I was giving a talk on Information Security. I was lucky I did not need to fight with any computer during my stay and even skype worked as expected to get cheap phone calls home.

The most amanzing device I use there was the new Canon 5D reflex camera and 28-105mm lenses. It's worth more than $4,000 so you do not want this equipment to get lost of damaged. It seems to have very low noise 13.3 Mpixels CCD.

Have a look at some of the sample photos. It's kind of heavy weight though (at around 4Kg including the lenses).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Even Blogger has to be fought against

As you can see below, for reasons I do not know two copies of the same post are shown. I swear only one showed up when I did my original post, but somehow it appears now. Instead of deleting one I will keep it as a living proof of how many times our computer systems are unfriendly with us :-)

Friday, September 08, 2006

L.E.T.S. ?

Not sure about commercial success. But it's just awesome.

L.E.T.S. ?

Not sure about commercial success. But it's just awesome.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Simpler, better

Sometimes you bump into a new idea that solves real-life problems in a simple way. Sometimes it is even free (I do agree here with Mr. Torvalds' quote that says "Software is like sex: It's better when it's free").

Meet-o-matic is a simple web application that seems to solve the problem of scheduling a meeting. I am aware some groupware (i.e. Exchange or Lotus Notes) provides a well crafted system to do this but it is not free nor you can use it everywhere.

Meet-o-matic is a simple web page with a simple working model, no registration required. It looks good enough to me. You can give it a try to get your own opinion. You cannot lose much. In a way, I like it as much as Mailinator.com (because no user registration is required, so no more forgotten passwords and time wasted with silly emails).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Recovering your grub boot

If you use GRUB as your Linux boot loader (it happens the same with LILO) you may notice that your boot menu is gone after installing most flavors of Windows, including Windows XP SP2. One way to avoid this problem is to install Windows first and, later, to install Linux or BSD.

Another possible solution, more general, is to fix the boot that is gone. My favourite way is to use a Knoppix CD to boot your system in Linux. Then, as the root user I mount the hard disk partition that holds / and /boot and then to chroot to the first one (/). Now you can issue the install-grub command to get your partition table boot code fixed.

Example: Boot hard drive is /dev/hda and Linux / and /boot are in /dev/hda3 partition. Open a Knoppix terminal and type:


sudo bash
mount /dev/hda3 /mnt/hda3
cd /mnt/hda3
chroot ./ /bin/bash
grub-install /dev/hda
exit
reboot

That should be it. Do not forget to remove Knoppix CD before the next system boot.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Still more about HD repartitioning

It seems I cannot escape the yearly ritual of hard disk swapping. This year I'm getting a 250 GB IDE drive to replace my 120 GB drive at home. As usual I do not want to lose any data and I want the process to be as painless as possible. This time I used a slightly different approach: I connected the new drive to my office computer as a slave drive to copy all the data I've had at the office (back-ups are always a good thing). Then I moved the drive home. I was keeping SuSE 10.0 in my home computer but I was willing to replace it by Ubuntu's Dapper Drake. So I copied my Ubuntu install from my office and I saved myself the configuration process. I was lucky enough to get the system working (including X) without changing a bit (as have ATI graphic cards on both systems and the rest was properly auto-detected).

At home I am keeping a MS Windows Fat32 partition with some software (like taxes forms) I need to use yearly. I had a 6GB partition that was almost full, so I just did a dd if=/dev/hda1 of=/dev/sda1 to get all data copied, but the destination partition (sda1) was a 16 GB partition and, though the new hard drive is a IDE drive, it was connected through an USB-IDE adapter I bought on eBay for around $10. The advantage of such a converter is you do not need to open the box to transfer your disk contents (incidentally, I cannot easily have two IDE hard disks connected inside my ASUS Pundit box 'cause there is no room --if you do not remove the CD first--).

The problem with dd command is that it just performs a raw copy. You end up with a filesystem who thinks it sits on a 6GB partition without being able to use the remaining 10 GB space. The solution is to use parted to get the filesystem straight. Just resize your partition and accept the default start and end partition values and Bob's your uncle. Once you boot up Windows you will be told a new device has been installed and you will be asked to reboot the system (so the new device can be used). On the second boot you will see your full-size filesystem with all the available [new] space. I guess NTFS partitions will work the same but I have not tried it out, so exercise caution if you do.