Tuesday, November 28, 2006


This is an experiment by Acephalous to see how fast a meme goes through the internet. The idea is to basically track his link as it spreads. Now, all of you readers with blogs, go to Acephalous's site (link above) and follow the directions (only three steps). And help with SCIENCE!!

Via PZ Myers

Friday, November 24, 2006

Debian fixes

When using Ubuntu Linux, you have to learn the workings of it's big big brother (maybe even father), Debian. Ubuntu is based on Debian due to it's use of packages, and the apt-get command. In fact, packages on Ubuntu and Debian are often interchangeable. So, when I installed pydance, I noticed that I couldn't run it, and I got the error message "pygame.error: SDL_ttf render failed". So, I used the wonderful tool of google, and it turned out that someone already submitted a bug. Now, the solution is fairly complicated, and it took me a couple of tries to understand it. But as you will see, a comment said that the Debian fix was here. Now, you might see that it's just a page full of text, even kinda intimidating. That's how I felt, but I managed to decode some of it. If anyone knows how to further use it, please comment, I would love to learn. Well, here's what I know.

I'll take the first chunk of code, and put it here:
--- pydance-1.0.3.orig/docs/man/pydance.6
+++ pydance-1.0.3/docs/man/pydance.6
@@ -8,7 +8,7 @@
Display a brief summary of command line options.
.IP \-\-version,\ \-v
Display the version of pydance (and features found, e.g. Psyco).
-.IP \-\-filename\, \-f
+.IP \-\-filename,\ \-f
Load and play a single file, then quit. By default, this is in
SINGLE (4 panel) mode, on BASIC difficulty.
.IP \-\-mode,\ \-m

Now, I'll just tell you what I know. Where you see the triple minus signs and triple plus signs, I figure that that is the file. As you can see, the file is located at pydance-1.0.3/docs/man/pydance.6. Now, I have no idea where that is, but I found that if I look for pydance.6 on my computer, it has the same function.

Now, you come to the double @s. I'm not too sure about these, but here's what I think. The negative value is the line number, the number of lines after that line number which are displayed. For example, for @@ -8,7 +8,7 @@, that means that you'll be on line 8, and the next seven lines are displayed (not including the line with the - sign). Now, I think the plus means where it will be AFTER you make the changes. In this case, you just replace a line, so it won't be changed, but if you go further into the fix, you'll see.

Now, you have the text with nothing in the margin. I think this is just to give the lines around the bug so you'll know where to look. You don't have to do anything with them.

Now, here's the important part:
-.IP \-\-filename\, \-f
+.IP \-\-filename,\ \-f
The - means remove this line, and the + means add this line. As you can see, this is basically the same as replacing the line.

Now, every time after you see the --- signs, it means go to the next file. So, the lines after:
--- pydance-1.0.3.orig/fontfx.py
+++ pydance-1.0.3/fontfx.py

mean you should go to pydance-1.0.3/fontfx.py. Then do the commands in there. So, now I've given you what I think are the tools of Debian fixes. If anyone knows what directory these refer to, please speak up. I checked the pydance source files, it didn't match exactly. When I took apart Debian packages, didn't match either. When I looked for the files on my computer, I could find the actual bugged files, but not some the documentation, plus, everything was spread around. No pydance-1.0.3 directory. So yeah, if you can find this directory, I'll be thankful.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Timeline v3.0

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted something, well, I'd like to inform all of you that my timeline version 3.0 is now available on Larry's Blog. I seriously encourage all of you to download it, especially if you have a history class. Hmmm....maybe I should refer people to my blog.

By the way, I've gotten a notice that the text file is collapsed without new lines, so the timeline couldn't read them. If anyone gets this, please comment either here or on Larry's blog, thank you.

Friday, November 10, 2006


I am nerdier than 95% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I have finally been promoted to Nerd God. Before, my scores were in the 80s as a High Nerd, but luckily, this day has come. I would like to thank my chemistry teacher. I think the tipping point is now that I know ~ 80% of the periodic table. Let me see, there are so many other people I would like to thank for this award. My parents; of course, the physics teacher at my school, Mr. Laderman, without whom my knowledge of science would not be near where it is now; my very supportive friends, Valeriy and Josh. They are now marginally better nerds than me. I would also like to thank MarkCC for introducing me to this quiz, and the Sciguy, whose post made me take it again and achieve this high score. To all of you, I say, thanks.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Back to blogging

Whew, it was a really really odd month. It took me 3 weeks to fix my computer before I said, "ok, I give up". And another week for me to reconfigure my computer to its former glory. Well, somewhat. Now, here begins my story from the very very beginning:

It all started when I tried to install a new distribution of linux called Fedora Core. I had my computer all prepared and partitioned, so I installed it. That went good, the problem was, my boot loader (which is the thing that lets you select your operating system), that came with my current distribution, Ubuntu, didn't detect the new operating system. So, in the spirit of open source, I went to the internet for help. It was there where I was told to try and reinstall my boot loader from the live cd (which is basically a copy of the operating system, on a CD, pretty cool). So, after I did that, my boot loader broke (figures), so, I sought help for that also. Turned out, there's this file called the menu.lst file, it is the basis of the boot loader, and tells it what to display and what commands to execute. It turned out, when I reinstalled it, it overwrote the existing menu.lst. That was no biggie, luckily, I saved a copy of it on the internet, so that took care of that. But once I got back in my operating system, I did something stupid again.

The official Ubuntu Dapper mascot

So, I went back to the internet, and asked for more help. Someone suggested that I mount the partition of Fedora (basically, temporarily allow myself to access it) and check to see how its boot loader is set up. It seemed like a genius idea to me, except the tutorial I used was not very friendly to me. It was now when I messed up my system for good. But first, a detour:
Now, in linux, there are things known as file permissions. These basically state which users are able to access which files. The most powerful user is the root. The root has access to every file in every way. Now, one aspect of linux is that the human user of the computer is not the root account (in contrast with Windows, where the user is actually CALLED the Administrator, in linux, that's a big no-no). This allows it to be MUCH more secure, and also helps keep you from doing anything stupid to your computer (didn't exactly work on me). Now, because of these more restricted user accounts, file permissions come in. My user is only allowed to write to files in my /home folder (which is basically my personal folder, similar to My Documents). Because of this, if I wanted to change an important file that belonged to root, I would have to basically ask it for permission (with the command sudo, superuser do). Now, most files on the computer can only be accessed by root, and it's not recommended you tamper with them. Now, to get back to my story.
So, I boot from the live CD (you can do that), and mount my hard drive. Now, there is a very easy way to do this, but I took an evil tutorial, and ended up changing the permissions of my entire file system to only be accessed by root. This is a huge problem because most programs can't ask the computer to be root, and base themselves on my /home folder. Now, when I reboot, I find that my desktop won't boot up and I got an error message. As you should always do if something goes wrong, I submitted a bug, because someone told me this had something to do with an application called the gnome desktop manager (gdm). After a long discussion with the guy who debugs, I found out that gdm depends on my /home folder, and that was property of root, so, I changed THAT back to me. When I tried to boot again, my desktop STILL didn't start, and there was a problem with an application called gnome-session. After submitting a bug THERE, I found that there's a folder called /tmp which should be wide open to anything. I then took THAT from root, and was finally able to boot up. But it wasn't the end of my troubles yet.

When I finally got back on my computer, it turned out I had no internet. Now, all the others, I could handle, but internet has been my Achilles heel for most of my life. It always gave me trouble, so, I finally gave up. But before doing so, I learned this valuable lesson about linux, it's never too late to back up. So, remember my previous installation of Fedora core, I put my /home folder in there, just for storage, then reinstalled. Now, after reinstallation, everything worked fine and dandy, actually, even finer and dandier than I expected. When I brought back my /home folder, all my preferences were saved. My RSS feeds, everything. That's one of the reasons why configuring took a lot less time than I expected. Well, I've been rambling on for a long time, and it's about time I go to bed, but I'd like to leave with this note.
Despite this incident, I STILL THINK LINUX IS FREAKIN' AWESOME!!! Just, don't do anything crazy like I did.