Friday, December 22, 2006

The year of ID in a nutshell

I know I'm kinda late on this, but for those who have been keeping track (I am extremely bad with time), John Lynch has summed up the Intelligent Design in the past year.

But, for those of you who want it in an easier to digest form, here it is in the form of a Christmas carol. That'll really spread the holiday spirit.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

To one of the greatest public (and one of my personal) heroes: Carl Sagan

Note: This post is for the Carl Sagan Blog-o-thon.

Carl Sagan's influence on my life was probably one of the oldest things I can remember. In fact, all I CAN remember are brief snippets of Contact wayyyy when I was young. Although the only thing I could remember is when Ellie was in a wormhole (and all those cool special effects), and when Hadden was in Mir, I'm pretty sure that had a profound effect on my life. I never knew that I was watched Contact, until probably, last year; but nonetheless, it had an impact on me. What The Magic School Bus had done for me to turn me to science, Contact probably did to me to turn me to astronomy. That's the only explanation I could come up with. And I think it's pretty solid.

Now, I'm not really a big science fiction reader (unlike most people who like astronomy). One sci-fi book that I really enjoyed was [drumroll please] Contact. Now, in my opinion, it was wonderfully written. And if you think you don't have to read the book because you saw the movie, you are WRONG! The book and the movie turn out to be much more different then you think. Something I recommend to everyone is to read Carl Sagan's books.

Now, his other books are also very interesting. The ones I've read are Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, The Dragons of Eden, The Demon-Haunted World, and Pale Blue Dot. And I recommend every single one of them. Now, one that I recommend to creationists is Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. It challenges the very assumption that there is something physically about humans that makes us special. The Demon-Haunted World is an all-purpose skeptical guide, so, you gotta read that. And for those cynics who think the world is going to end due to human stupidity, Pale Blue Dot is the book for them. It may go over some bad qualities about humans, but it also conveys a sense of hope, that humans will exist far beyond Earth and spread throughout the universe (or galaxy, I forget which).

I just want you to know Dr. Sagan, you've changed my life, and probably the lives of many other people. Thank you!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Solaris, on hold

Ok, I'm going to just leave Solaris alone for a long while, until they make Solaris 11 (which I don't know when it will come out), or until they have D-link DWL520G on the Hardware Compatibility List (which is highly unlikely). But I'm not going to eliminate Solaris from my hard drive completely. First of all, because all my live CDs are at school with the FreeBSD system, so, I don't want to do something stupid. Second of all, Solaris makes my GRUB look sexy.

By the way, Solaris and sexy ALWAYS go together.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Winter break

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. IT'S WINTER BREAK!!!! Which means another three weeks of loneliness for this nerd. Hopefully, I'll be too drenched in homework to pay any attention to that.

Su and FreeBSD

Ok, I can't believe I forgot to tell you about my adventures with FreeBSD. The computer teacher at school dedicated a box for me to use with FreeBSD. Unfortunately, I have no classes with him; I have to go work during nutrition and lunch. And since it's winter break, I won't be making any progress on it anytime soon. You won't be hearing about it for at least three weeks.

So, to the point, something the absolutely wonderful FreeBSD Handbook didn't mention was using the "su" command. For those of you unaware of the special peculiarities of the UNIX operating system, su basically gives you privileges of the root user. The root user is the all-powerful user that can do anything on the computer. Typically, you use a limited user account (in BSD terms, "mere mortal"). This is a security feature. You won't be able to modify system files and accidentally do something stupid and mess up your computer (although, as I have demonstrated, "nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool"). Now, if you need to modify system files, you temporarily gain root privileges; this is done via the "su" command.

Now, when you first install FreeBSD, the computer is not programmed to give your account root privileges, you have to add yourself to something called "the wheel". Users in the wheel are allowed to use the "su" command and temporarily gain root privileges. By default, only the root user is in the wheel.

To add yourself to the wheel, you'll have to log in to the root account. This is done by putting "root" as the username, and the root password as the password (duh). Now, you'll have to edit a file in /etc/groups. For experienced UNIX command-line users, this can be done with vi, the command line text editor. For the rest of us, we can use the given "ee" (Easy Editor) editor or the "emacs" editor. I used "ee". After that, you'll see a line that starts with "wheel" and followed by "root". What you want to do, is put a comma, then your username. Save and exit and you're done. Now you can invoke root privileges with your user account. Give yourself a pat on the back, and try configuring X (I'm still working on it).


So, after finally hearing enough about how sexy Solaris is, I've decided to try it out for myself. And, I have to admit, it's VERY sexy, but not really as simple as linux. First of all, it won't detect my wireless network card, which means NO INTERNET!!!!!! That's just horrible. Apparently, my network card isn't compatible with Solaris, and apparently, there are only four wireless network cards known to be compatible with Solaris. That's right FOUR!!! Now, if I can find a workaround, my opinion of Solaris will increase. But as of now, the UNIX operating systems I find to be in order of user-friendliness are Linux (duh), Solaris, FreeBSD (I still can't get X to run, grrr). Apparently, there goes another use of the phrase, "it's what's on the inside that counts" .

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Endorsement

Well, this was a very tough decision to make, and I finally decided to vote Bad Astronomy for Best Science Blog. You do the same.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This printer shall be the death of me!

Ok, my printer is being really really annoying. It won't print. Whenever I set it up, it works for three seconds, then stops being responsive. And my computer displays an evil "Parallel port busy; will retry in 30 sec". I've been looking for a solution to this for days now. If I can't fix this now, I'm going to have to try it with my dad's printer.