Friday, June 29, 2007

Installfest at SMC

I'd just like to mention that on Sunday, July 15 there will be an installfest at Santa Monica College hosted by the Linux Users of Los Angeles. I will be there. So, if you need Ubuntu installed, or just want to say hi, drop on by. But, see details on the web site.

My analysis of Sun

Ok, here's the moment you've all been waiting for. I'm "publishing" my results for the score of Sun Microsystems. However, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of these results because, I'm an ordinary guy. I just went by what I could find. The main sources I used are the Sun Eco Web site, and the environment portion of the CSR Report (pdf). The scorecard for grading Sun is found here, so you know EXACTLY what I'm looking for.

1. GHG emissions inventory completed?
4 (on their carbon footprint page, they give a fairly detailed outline of their emissions)
2. Rough calculations or standard protocol/calculator?
3 (same page, the calculations are very precise, so I give them credit)
3. Are Kyoto gases besides CO2 included?
0 (I'm pretty sure they're accounted for, but there's no documentation)
4. Are indirect emissions accounted for?
(e.g., supply chain, travel, commuting, use/disposal of products/services, investment
0 (Sun works to make energy-efficient servers, but I don't think that counts)
5. Is there external, qualified third party verification of emissions data, reductions, and
reporting (where applicable)?
0 (I wasn't able to find any, but maybe I just didn't look hard enough)
6.Is the inventory an ongoing, regular process accounting for multiple years?
1 (Sun didn't publish any previous records of greenhouse gases, but they make plans to do it regularly on the carbon footprint page)
7. Has a clear goal been set?
4 (a very clear goal is on the carbon footprint page)
8. Strength of baseline year used for the reduction goal (keeping in mind changes in
company's size/composition)
2 (baseline is 5 years back, as on the carbon footprint page)
9. Magnitude of reduction goal (considering size of reduction and target year)
4 (reduction is 20% in 5 years, more than even some countries)
10. Have a management plan and organizational structure been established for
climate?
5 (oh yeah, the whole environment page is a tribute to Sun's dedication to green)
11. Is there top-level support for climate change action?
2 (I'd give four points, Jonathan Schwartz has been a real champion is environmentally efficient systems)
12. Has the company taken steps towards achieving reduction target? (Interim progress
on reduction)
8 (2 for making more and more efficient systems, 2 for supplying the energy-efficient systems, 2 for RESEARCH to make more efficient systems (same page), and 2 for investing and using alternative energies)
13. Has the company achieved emissions reductions?
6 (I give this to them, because they HAVE made greener products. However, I can't give them all of the points because those aren't officially listed as part of the reductions)
14. Absolute or intensity-based reductions?
0 (I could only find the 20%, nothing else)
15. Has the company achieved verified reductions to date (prior to current goalsetting)?
0 (I'm pretty sure they have, but just haven't published them)
16.Has the company made successful efforts to reduce GHG impacts associated with
the use of its products/services?
4 (Practically everything Sun sells is environmentally friendly, so no question here)
17. Does the company work to educate its employees, trade association, and/or
customers on how they can reduce individual GHG emissions (through direct
education programs, incentives, or philanthropic projects)?
4 (Sun even freaking made the Open Work system, so that employees wouldn't have to drive to work, that's definitely 2 points. And it combines performance with efficiency, so that customers would be driven to buy an eco-friendly server, 2 points)
18. Does the company require suppliers to take climate change action or give
preference to those that do?
2 (Oh yeah, Sun has its suppliers follow a fairly strict environmental policy)
19. Does the company support public policy that could require mandatory climate
10 (This question was cut off, but it basically asks if Sun is in favor of public policy which would solve climate change. This is a HUGE YES!)
20. Does the company oppose public policy on climate change that could require
mandatory action by business, or has it made efforts to undermine climate change
action?
0 (These would be negative points. But as the last question says, Sun is very pro-environment)
21. Is the company publicly reporting on emissions, risks, and actions? How is
information disclosed? Company-based (e.g., on their website or annual report) or
through a credible third-party program (e.g., CDP, GRI, etc.)?
6 (So far, the only place I was able to find data on Sun's carbon emissions was from its web site)
22. Are emissions broken out by facility, business unit, country of operations, or other
meaningful subsegments?
2 (Yep, its web site shows it)

And that adds up to...67? Oh, I might have made a mistake on my last estimate. Oh well, it's still really really good! And if anyone finds any statistics that I might have missed, feel free to comment and I'll probably update the score.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Speed up OpenOffice

This is an excellent guide on how to really speed up OpenOffice in Ubuntu. I'm not sure about other operating systems. But really, the speed up is substantial. For me, OpenOffice now runs wayyy faster, and with the quickstarter (see the guide), starts up nearly instantaneously. It's also very simple and easy to follow. I hope you enjoy a faster OpenOffice !

Sun's results

Ok, after much research and deliberation, I've come up with the index for Sun Microsystems. It must say, it was quite surprisingly low. But, then again, I might have missed a lot of things. I would still consider it 100, because I just researched on their web site. The ClimateCounts report was probably a bit more detailed than I was. However, Sun's score, as measured by me is 68 (highlight, because I didn't want to give it away that easily). I'll post the raw data tomorrow, because I'm just like that.

ClimateCount ranks companies according to Eco-friendliness

That's right! There's a report (beware, big .pdf) that ranks companies according to how hard they work to reduce their emissions of CO2. Of course, since this is a technology-directed blog, we're going to emphasize the companies (or lack of) that are ranked. Now, there are the hardware-manufacturing companies, and the software/internet companies. We'll start with the hardware companies, here are their ranks and scores on a scale of 1-100:

Canon 77
IBM 70
Toshiba 66
Motorola 60
Hewlett-Packard 59
Sony 51
Dell 41
Hitachi 36
Siemens* 34
Samsung 33
Nokia 29
Apple 2

Ok, if you were me, ONE THING should jump out at you. No, it's not "congratulations Canon, I'm glad I have your printer". And it's not even, "HAW HAW!!1 Apple sux0rz!" It's that "SUN is not even on there!!!" If you got that right, congratulations! Eh, but it's not quite fair, a score of 180 would put the other companies to shame. On the next post, I'll independently score Sun, but lets get on with THIS post, shall we?

Ok, the software/internet companies are incredibly pathetic! The numbers will have to speak for themselves:

Yahoo! 36
Microsoft 31
Google 17
eBay 2
Amazon.com 0

I'm disappointed in all of you! Especially Google, which is a center for innovation. It was beat even by Microsoft, I can't believe that! What's wrong with Google, well, according to the report:

Google has also begun to move forward, but because it does not provide a public accounting of its emissions, it falls behind other sector leaders.
All right, that's tolerable, but its constant improvement redeems it. Anyways, eBay and Amazon are also absolutely horrible, but I never use their services anyways. But yeah, SHAME!!!! That disappoints be entirely.

What criteria does the report use to allow me to be so judgmental about these companies, well here they are:

Our company ratings are based on a rigorous scoring process that screens publicly available information on each company
against 22 criteria drawn from scientifically accepted climate and corporate performance tools. We use these 22 criteria to
measure the following four key benchmarks:
How well does the company MEASURE its climate “footprint”?
How much has the company done to REDUCE its global warming pollution?
Does the company explicitly SUPPORT (or express intent to block) progressive climate legislation?
How clearly and comprehensively does the company publicly DISCLOSE its climate protection efforts?
And at the end of the file, which takes up most of the room, are the specific questions and data from each company. But you'll have to find that yourself. I don't feel like copying and pasting 56 pages on my blog.

The things you should have taken from this: Sun is too good for this study, software/internet companies have to shape up, and Apple sucks at protecting the environment (but to their benefit, they're now PLANNING to improve).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Share the Software!

Ok, ignore the hippie-type message and music. Actually, listen to the hippie-type message. Actually, I have no idea what I'm saying. I'm in a YouTube mood these days for some reason, so listen to the Free Software Song:



YEAH! This is what I'm talkin' about. You'll be free!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mac or PC rap



Ok, this is probably one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen, but of course, very closed minded. I should work on making a new, more open-source compatible rap. Mac or PC or NetBSD! If I do, it'll be the most hilarious thing ever.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Malaria and Evolution

Now, National Geographic has, for their July 2007 issue, chosen Malaria as the main topic. Now that's a highly interesting article, and you should read it when you have the time. However, there's some more evolution that's in this issue. Back in the mid 1900s, things were looking bad for malaria:

The global eradication effort did achieve some notable successes. Malaria was virtually wiped out in much of the Caribbean and South Pacific, from the Balkans, from Taiwan. In Sri Lanka, there were 2.8 million cases of malaria in 1946, and a total of 17 in 1963. In India, malaria deaths plummeted from 800,000 a year to scarcely any.
Unfortunately, we stopped caring, and some horrific consequences resulted:

In several places where malaria had been on the brink of extinction, including both Sri Lanka and India, the disease came roaring back. And in much of sub-Saharan Africa, malaria eradication never really got started. The WHO program largely bypassed the continent, and smaller scale efforts made little headway.

Soon after the program collapsed, mosquito control lost access to its crucial tool, DDT. The problem was overuse—not by malaria fighters but by farmers, especially cotton growers, trying to protect their crops. The spray was so cheap that many times the necessary doses were sometimes applied. The insecticide accumulated in the soil and tainted watercourses. Though nontoxic to humans, DDT harmed peregrine falcons, sea lions, and salmon. In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, documenting this abuse and painting so damning a picture that the chemical was eventually outlawed by most of the world for agricultural use. Exceptions were made for malaria control, but DDT became nearly impossible to procure. "The ban on DDT," says Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health, "may have killed 20 million children."
As much as I'd hate to put down Rachel Carson, she really did cause a large uproar against DDT. Perhaps a bit too large of one, which kept DDT from being used in places where it would have been helpful. But here comes the worst part of it:

Then came the biggest crisis of all: widespread drug resistance. Malaria parasites reproduce so quickly that they evolve on fast-forward, constantly spinning out new mutations. Some mutations protected the parasites from chloroquine. The trait was swiftly passed to the next generation of parasites, and with each new exposure to chloroquine the drug-resistant parasites multiplied. Soon they were unleashing large-scale malaria epidemics for which treatment could be exceedingly difficult. By the 1990s, malaria afflicted a greater number of people, and was harder to cure, than ever.
Oh, would you look at that? In just a few decades, our most powerful medicines were rendered useless. Chloroquine was considered one of the greatest achievements in the fight against malaria. It was a synthetic, highly effective, and cheap cure for malaria. Now it's nothing! Now. evolution is a powerful force which should be given credit to, not denied. And don't give me that "microevolution" bull. There's another characteristic of malaria which paints it's evolution on a very macro level indeed:

The disease has been with humans since before we were human. Our hominin ancestors almost certainly suffered from malaria. The parasite and the mosquito are both ancient creatures—the dinosaurs might have had malaria—and this longevity has allowed the disease ample time to exploit the vulnerabilities of an immune system. And not just ours. Mice, birds, porcupines, lemurs, monkeys, and apes catch their own forms of malaria. Bats and snakes and flying squirrels have malaria.
Since dinosaurs, mice, birds, porcupines, lemurs, monkeys, apes, bats, snakes, flying squirrels and humans all have similar immune systems, therefore they're all exploitable by malaria. Why couldn't an intelligent designer spare some of these species by giving them a different immune system? Was he/she/it just too lazy to do so? Well, thanks a lot!

(Hooray for Panda's Thumb)

Linux on a Badger

That's right. There is now a guide for installing linux on a badger. Though, to me, it seems rather buggy, and not enough features. It seems like a pretty impressive accomplishment. And an improvement on the badger, the default badger OSs are pretty cruddy. However, it seems like a really tough problem. I'd much rather get a penguin with Linux preinstalled.

(Hat Tip to Three Toed Sloth)

Antibiotic-resistant infections rising in hospitals

Since I used antibiotic resistance as a major part in my essay, I thought I'd do a follow-up because of this article on an increase in incidents of Methillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). MRSA are bacteria that live primarily in the Emergency Rooms and Intensive Care Units of hospitals. To normal, healthy people, they're harmless, but if you have a wound or a compromised immune system, you DO NOT want to have this bug. It is extremely difficult to treat because it's resistant to just about all antibiotics. Going around the numbers and data, this is one paragraph that seemed really shocking to me:

People colonized with MRSA typically carry it in their nose without being symptomatic. They're at risk of passing the superbug to others unknowingly by wiping their nose and then touching a table that a doctor or nurse later touches, for instance. MRSA can live on surfaces for days and even weeks.
This is really worrying, because it's a double-whammy. People can be carriers of the disease, without being infected, which is a big problem for those who are susceptible. Your doctor could have it without knowing it. Really scary. The other way is that it can survive outside the body for a very long time, which makes transmission extremely simple. Of course, I'm not trying to scare you, but just be aware that evolution is kicking our butt.

(Thanks to Wired Science)

[NOTE:] Wired Science also links to another story in Wired Magazine about MRSA, and its problems in the military. However, the last paragraph strikes me as a surprise:

In the open source world of bacteria, everyone is working for the resistance. Ramping up the immunity of any single organism, while dramatically increasing the size of the population most susceptible to infection, only helps the enemy. To an aspiring superbug, war is anything but hell.
This makes sense to me. Bacteria are known to use transformation (Wikipedia is currently down at the moment, so I'm not to sure about that link). Transformation is basically when living bacteria absorb DNA from dead bacteria around them. So, if a drug-resistant bacteria is placed with non-drug-resistant bacteria, the non-drug-resistant bacteria can acquire the resistance. Therefore, every strain does not have to independently evolve a resistance. It can just be acquired from another strain. So, in addition to evolution, open source is kicking our butts. I think something should change.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Google analytics: Content Overview

Ok, I don't have that much to talk about, so I'm going to continue on the Google Analytics series. Now we're going to talk about the Content Overview area:
Ok, so, as you can see, the main page is the overview. It gives you some helpful statistics about your blog. We'll go into detail on these as we delve into the Content.

The next page is "Top Content", this is another one of those self-explanatory pages. It tells you which pages are the most popular. This is helpful if you have ads. As you can see on the far right, if you integrate Google Analytics with some sort of ad service (something we're not going to cover), it'll tell you how much money that one page made you. That's kinda cool. If you don't make money, this page is mostly informative to tell you what people like. For example, disregarding the post about me winning the essay contest, my next popular post was the one about pidgin. So, maybe I should help people install software when it's difficult. See, it can help you tailor your blog to what people want.

The next is "Content By Title". It's basically the same as "Top Content", except instead of listing the web page, it lists the title of the post. I find it to be more interesting with "Top Content"

I'm going to tell you the truth, I have no idea what "Content Drilldown" is. To me it looks like it's a look at the generic pages. Not the specific pages, but the ones that hold them, for example archive pages.

"Top Landing Pages" are the pages that people land on from outside. I'm guessing that in most cases, it would be the front page. However, there are also ones from links and search engines. You see which ones are most landed on.

"Top Exit Pages" are the opposite. They are the pages that people leave on. To me, they're just as useless as "Top Landing Pages".

"Site Overlay" basically takes you to your web page. I can do that myself, thank you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I beat Nibbles!

Hooray, today I finally managed to beat Nibbles. No, I'm not talking about getting through all of the levels. That's easy. What I'm talking about it getting a high score while playing 5 AI worms on Finger Twitchin' Good. That is actually REALLY hard, because every time you die, you lose a big chunk of your points. Staying first really takes a lot of work. But yeah, a random accomplishment I've done. For those of you with GNOME, you can find Nibbles in Applications (or whatever it's called)>Games>Nibbles. Have fun.

Oh Goodness, not C-decay

PZ Myers recently linked to an article in the World Net Daily (a less than credible source for just about anything) which tries to hold that the speed of light in a vacuum (c) was faster in the past than it is now. Now, talk.origins does a pretty good job of dismantling the technical parts of it, and the lousy science behind it, but I (independently) found another way in which a decrease in the speed of light in a vacuum (c) would violate another law of physics, one creationists hold quite dear to them. However, it's kind of a logical proof rather than experimental, and rather simple, but very effective in my opinion:

Lets take a certain moment in time where c is at any value. It doesn't really matter, and call it c*. So, following Einstein's E=mc^2, the amount of energy that universe contains in mass would be E=m(c*)^2, where m is the mass of everything in the universe. Get me so far?

Now, lets assume some amount of time has passed, and the speed of light in a vacuum is ct. According to c-decay, (ct)^2 < (c*)^2. Since m is constant in the universe, then Et < E*. However, this cannot be, because it breaks the law of conservation of (mass &) energy. The amount of mass stayed the same in the universe, but the amount of energy inherent in the mass decreases; therefore, law of conservation of energy is broken.

This kinda sucks for Young Earth Creationists because they often use the law of conservation of energy to justify a creator, because, according to them, the universe can't create itself. Well, here's a nice theoretical obstacle for ya. Enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Congrats to Larry

For months I've wanted to point this out, and by now I'm far too impatient to put it off any longer. I would like to congratulate Larry in advance. In a little more than a week, it's going to be 3 months since his last post. That's quite an achievement, especially since I know he's been free all of this time. Well, Larry, I've gotten used to the gmail paper post being up front. I hope it stays.

Google Analytics: Traffic Sources

Ok, it's been a while since I've done a post on Google Analytics, so here's one. Today, we are going to be covering the section entitled Traffic Sources:


Now, before I talk about the actual content, I'd like to bring this up. That gigantic spike that occurred when PZ linked to me has finally passed. The big graph now makes a lot more sense, and is on a more appropriate scale; thank goodness.

Ok, so, traffic sources is basically telling you from where people come from. The overview page has that line graph, as every page does. It also gives you a couple of statistics about where people come from: directly vs. search engines vs. referrals. As you can see, I'm pretty popular on search engines. It also gives keywords that people used to get to your site. As you can see, there must have been a report on persuasion, because a lot of people visit my site to check on the different types of appeals. And it's also fun to see the random terms people get to you by, my favorites are "open source gould stephen" and "bible striped stick" (actually, now that I think about it, it seems rather sensible). So yeah, tons of fun!

Now we're going to "direct traffic". This is basically a few statistics on how much your site is visited. I don't know exactly what bounce rate is, but I was able to find out that if a page has a lot of it, you should update it. Not much here.

"Referring Sites" is precisely what it sounds like. It lists the sites that refer you. Now, if you want more detail on a specific site, just click on it, and it will give you the specific page which refers you. I don't know, for me, most of them come from blogger. But your stats may vary.

"Search engines" is also precisely that. I know it seems weird that GOOGLE Analytics would provide a page for this, but that's how it is. And surely enough, >90% of searches come from google for me. If you want more detail, just click on the search engine. It'll tell you the keywords people used to get to your site.

"All Traffic Sources" is basically a comparison of the last three categories put together. You can compare ALL of the sources in this view. Like for me, I know that google is the #1 source of my visits. More than even direct visits (that seems weird for me).

"Keywords" is also self-explanatory. It's the keywords that people used to get to your site. Of all companies, I would expect Google to get this right.

The next three things have to do with advertising. So, I don't know much about them. If you haven't noticed, this web site is entirely volunteer-driven. So, I don't make money from you guys. So yeah, there's everything I know about traffic sources. You can have a lot of fun in this section. Now I'm going to let you loose and see where your visitors come from. Enjoy!

Yahoo! creates unlimited storage

That's right! For those of you using Yahoo! mail, even the free one, Yahoo! is offering unlimited storage for your e-mail. It seems as if they've one-upped google, which offered a virtually unlimited 2GB of mail, by actually offering unlimited. This means you can literally keep every single e-mail you get. How do they do it? Well you can check out the FAQ entry:

How can Yahoo! afford to give away unlimited email storage?

By hiring outstanding engineers, of course! Ours have been hard at work developing an incredibly efficient backend storage system. Protected by responsive anti-abuse controls, this updated storage system gives you the option to never delete another email! Unless, of course, you want to.

Of course, there's a catch. Do you think if the offered unlimited storage, they would have it for very long? However, it's not that bad a catch, I'm certainly satisfied with it:

The purpose of unlimited storage isn’t to provide an online storage warehouse. Usage that suggests this approach gets flagged by Yahoo! Mail’s anti-abuse controls.

Unlimited storage gives normal email account users like yourself an opportunity to not have to worry about hitting a storage limit. Basically, the idea is that now you can save your correspondence and memories and never worry about deleting older messages to make room for more.

Basically don't hold your files in there to store them. I can live with that.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Vacation has started

For me, today marks the first day of Summer vacation. It's the day which marks the beginning of nothingness. My summer plans are now kinda tentative, so I'm not too sure about that. And there's nothing really to do. So far, most of my summer has been spent coming up with algorithms on how to most efficiently do my summer work (as opposed to ACTUALLY doing the summer work). So yeah, I hate it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

*sigh* relativity is complicated

The Bad Astronomer discusses a paper which basically adds a new......let's say perspective, to black holes. I'm far too non-technically-learned to read the paper, but by what the Bad Astronomer says, it's one of those conflicting reference point things that makes relativity a real pain in the butt. It basically says two people could see something different, based on their motion or acceleration, and they're both right. Here are some of the juicy parts of the BA's post:

Einstein showed that as gravity increases, your clock runs slower. Literally, if you have two people, one guy up high above a black hole, and another guy close in, the guy outside sees the close-in guy’s clock running slower. Literally, time flows more slowly near an object with gravity, and the stronger the gravity the slower time flows relative to an outside observer. For a black hole, time literally stretches to infinity at the event horizon. Clocks stop. Update: Well, I was being glib. Actually they continue to slow, ever approaching stopping but never actually reaching it. I was trying to simplify, but oversimplified — I make similar comments below in this entry, so where you read that things stop, think of it as "slowing almost to but never quite reaching zero". Read the comments thread below for details.

So, confusing thing number one is that to someone outside the event horizon, a black hole never forms. As it compresses, time gets slower and slower, so it will never QUITE reach the event horizon and become a black hole. However, from the black hole's perspective, it shrinks down through the event horizon and becomes a singularity. Next quote:

But it gets worse. Years ago, Stephen Hawking discovered that black holes can in fact "leak" out mass. It’s very complicated, and has to do with entropy and quantum mechanics, so forgive me if I leave out details. Let’s just say that black holes can evaporate, and go from there.
This isn't a really confusing thing, but a necessary part of this post. I can't tell you the details about Hawking Radiation either, because I frankly have a few questions about it. But it's basically: starve a black hole long enough, it'll evaporate until it doesn't exist anymore. The crazy part comes next:

But from your point of view, high above the black hole, the event horizon never quite actually forms. It gets closer and closer, remember, but slower and slower. Yet the Hawking radiation isn’t really affected by this. So the two effects compete: the event horizon never totally forms because it would take an infinite amount of time, but during that time the hole is losing mass. So the black hole will actually evaporate before it ever really becomes a black hole.

If you throw something, let’s say a wad of paper, into the black hole, you would actually see the black hole evaporate (if you could wait long enough) before you’d see the paper wad get to the event horizon. So the black holes loses mass faster than it can gain mass and the event horizon can never actually form.

Hawking Radiation doesn't care whether this is a black hole or just a really really dense thing. The thing is, since a black hole never actually GETS to being a black hole, it should evaporate away before becoming a de facto black hole. Also, since time gets slower as you approach a "black hole", any debris that falls into the black hole doesn't actually REACH it, because it slows down and slows down, always a little bit behind the actual black hole. So, according to this, black holes CAN'T eat, they just waste away due to Hawking Radiation. So, we SHOULDN'T have black holes.

Unfortunately, according to many of our observations, we find objects that behave exactly as black holes behave. But we consult relativity on black holes, it says, "It depends on how you look at it." I'm really interested in how the physics community would deal with that, so BA, keep us informed, please.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Robot Chicken Star Wars

The most hilarious Star Wars parody I have EVAR seen!!!



Thanks to the Bad Astronomer for the heads up!

[EDIT] OH SNAP! It changed. Well, you'll have to watch it here then.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

That's why I'm a Physics Guy

Dang, I so gotta do something like this next year:



It would be so freaking awesome!

[EDIT:] Though how would I beat pi bling?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pidgin 2.0.2

Ok, I know a bunch of people who had trouble installing pidgin on Ubuntu Feisty. Here's a practically guaranteed way to get it installed, fully functional. My experience, when I compiled it, I had to meet a bunch of dependencies, and even then, sound didn't work. Turned out you had to enable some cryptic flag when configuring the source, so I decided to have nothing of it. One great thing is having GetDeb. GetDeb is basically an online repository for software that's available for Ubuntu. Now, most things you could probably find in the Ubuntu repositories, but there are certain things that the Ubuntu repositories have fallen behind on. One of these is pidgin.

Now, for pidgin 2.0.2, it's a bit weird. For this, you have to install two .deb packages. The first is pidgin-data. Since most linux users are probably using firefox, I'm going to assume you're downloading to the Desktop, since that's the default. Next, download the actual pidgin application.

Now open up a terminal. Since you installed everything to the Desktop, you want to move there, so first type:

cd Desktop

Next, you want to install pidgin. Do this by installing pidgin-data first. In the terminal, type:

sudo dpkg -i pidgin-data_2.0.2-1~getdeb1_all.deb

Now, I don't think you should have any dependency issues, I didn't. But if you do, leave a comment and I'll probably be able to help you. Next, install the pidgin application:

sudo dpkg -i pidgin_2.0.2-1~getdeb1_i386.deb

Now, restart pidgin if it's running, or start it. It should now be installed and upgraded.

Now, I'm sure there's a graphical method of doing this, but I learned it this way, so this is the way I'm teaching it. I think the graphical method is basically clicking the .debs, and they'll automatically install.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Google Analytics: Visitors

Ok, I know it's been a long time, but I finally am going to continue this series. We're now going to talk about the visitors section of Google Analytics. By clicking the Visitors area to your left, you should get this page:

This is the overview, this gives you some basic statistic about who visits your site. If you scroll down, you'll also get more technical statistics with more information. The first thing we're going to cover is the Map Overlay.

The Map Overlay basically tells you how many visits you get from where. This is my map overlay of the history of my blog:

From here, all you have to do is click on the area you want to zoom in on, and you'll get more information on it. The bottom of the screen (not shown), is basically the same thing, but with text and links instead of a map. This might be more helpful on the local level, when you have a ton of little dots representing cities.

Next is the New vs. Returning category. This is fairly self-explanatory. It tells you which visitors are new and which are returning. I don't think I need to get into detail on this.

Same with languages, you see what the language codes are for people viewing your blog.

Visitor Trending is something I haven't really found that useful. However, if you really want detail on who reads your blog, and how long they read, and how often they come back, this is for you.

Same with Visitor Loyalty.

Browser capabilities is my FAVORITE part. I bet you could have guessed. Now, Browsers tells you what browsers people use to get to your site. Operating Systems, a vital part of my blog, tells you which operating systems people used to access your site. Now, Browsers and OS basically tells you which versions of browsers people use on your site. I've never seen IE/Linux, just for you all to know. Ok, now we're leaving the cool stuff. The rest of the stuff is also self-explanatory. Screen colors, screen resolution, Flash Versions, and Java Support. Yeah, I think you could figure those out.

Next we go into Network Properties. As far as I know, this area is filled with network jargon that not even I know. So, there's not much I can tell you about this place. Perhaps if someone else knows, that person could enlighten me. Though if you really understood the network and internet engineering, this could be very helpful information.

Well, there it is, the visitors section of Google analytics. I hope this was helpful. After writing a while, I realized that the screenshots weren't really that important. You all are smart enough to figure this out, right?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Google Analytics: Introduction

Hello everyone! This is your introductory lesson to Google Analytics. I am your instructor, cactaur. Today we will go over the basics of what Google Analytics can show you. Now, what you want to do is log in. After that, if you set up your web site, you should get this page. Follow the given instructions:

Ok, from there, you should get to a page similar to this:

If you were wondering, that huge spike was when I won that essay contest, and when PZ linked to me. That's why I was so surprised. So, this is your dashboard. You should put what information you find most important over here, because it's the first thing you see. This part is entirely customizable and you should do it. I've done it slightly, but it's not in that view.

As you see on the left side of the screen, there's a menu. We will cover that......at a later date. I don't want to overwhelm you all. So, get used to this page, we'll go to the next pages later. Hey remember, this is only the intro. We'll go into detail with stuff later. Ok? And I'll have more pretty screenshots.

(Wow these are harder than they look. I think I have to wait until I have more time for the next installment. Maybe Wednesday.)

Linux phones are apparently getting popular

According to The Owl's Hide, Motorola is releasing five new linux phones. Five new phones are being released that use linux. That's really impressive. Of course, for me, that's not all impressive. When apple starts releasing linux on its ipods, THEN that'll be pretty cool. But anyways, apparently linux is making several subtle movements into the lives of regular people.

I've never had a cell phone, but a friend told me about how he got a linux-powered cell phone, and performance was really good. One of the main things he noticed was that it was much faster than other phones he's had. Now, this friend is someone who REALLY knows his mobile technology, so that's a really big compliment to linux systems. Of course, I was the first to hear that opinion, because I'm the school linux zealot. YAY! So, for people who think linux is too impractical, there's another pillar that's knocked. Phones!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

UBUNTU OWNAGE!!!

(Warning, yet another anti-mac rant)

Actually, this isn't a rant. It's just something that caught my attention. Thanks to the Ubuntu Forums for pointing this out. Someone looked in Google Trends, and compared Ubuntu with OS X. The results are here. After 2006, Ubuntu has apparently gained more popularity than OS X. And Linux has been higher since the beginning of Google trends. That's gonna be a VERY useful statistic for school. HAHAHAHHA!!!

Ok, before you start yelling at me, I know there are several giant holes in using this as a useful statistic for saying Ubuntu is better. For one thing, Ubuntu users are 8 kajillion times more likely to search for help on the internet than mac users. Mac users probably take their computer to the store to get it fixed, Ubuntu users have to use the web. Another thing is that you can BUY software for macs in the store. For Ubuntu, you have to search on the internet "program name ubuntu" or "program name linux", because that's the only way you'll find software for linux (except for looking in the package manager, but I think this is more fun). So there, I broke down my own logic, I hope you enjoyed that. But that won't stop me from using this interesting fact, hehehe.

Rhythmbox lyrics continued

I finally figured out how to set your own lyrics, if Rhythmbox isn't able to find them for you. Whenever Rhythmbox comes up with lyrics, it saves them in a directory. This is "~/.lyrics/artistname/songname.lyric". When you search for lyrics, Rhythmbox then creates a corresponding text document to use. The syntax of the names is "The name of the song in lower case".lyric. One thing you can do is have Rhythmbox find the wrong lyrics, then open the file and replace them. This may take a bit longer, but you'll definitely get the lyrics right. Another thing you can do is just create the file named in the right syntax and put the lyrics in there. What I would recommend is for songs with straightforward names and no weird characters, just create the file. However, if there are songs that are kind of weird, have Rhythmbox sort those out for you. That is my plan. I hope you now know how to use Rhythmbox lyrics as well as I do.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Democracy Works!

No, I'm not talking about rule of government by people. I'm talking about Democracy Player, an open source application that basically allows you to search and save videos from all over the web. Ok, maybe not from all over the web, but from most video sites, including YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo! video, etc.

For the longest time, there was something wrong with Democracy and .flv files on my computer. I helped with a bug report and waited. Surely enough, eventually it got fixed. Now, I can appreciate seeing videos from across the web without using my browser. I highly recommend this program.

I went to Larchmont!

Ok, today I went to Larchmont (which is basically a street which is made up of several different stores, most of them independently owned). Actually, I went there twice, but the first time is personal and you won't hear anything about it. The second time, I went to look at a bookstore that I've been meaning to go to for a long while, but my parents scared me away by saying, "It's so expensive!!!". So, I finally grabbed an envelope full of money, and rode on my bike to Larchmont to go check the store out. Thirty seconds after I left, I noticed that my back tire was flat. So, I went back home, and pumped it up. Now I'm REALLY ready to go.

Wow, I forgot how it was to ride on a bike with full tires, it's much easier, compared to the first time I went today. Ok, so I rode, parked, locked, and walked to Chevalier's Books (It's FRENCH!). When I walked in, it was pretty small, but there was still room to walk around. Despite its size, it's a pretty good place. It's selection may not match Borders or something, but they have a pretty interesting selection. They obviously put a lot of thought into what to buy. A lot of books that I've heard of were, in fact, being sold. Of course, The Darwin Awards by Wendy Northcutt caught my eye, and I REALLY liked that place. However, I still had a mission. My mother wanted me to find a book on APA writing conventions. Unfortunately, they did NOT have such a reference book. There was only a book on MLA, which wouldn't cut it. So, I now had an excuse to leave that place without spending any money. Oh yeah, and the pricing wasn't bad at all, it was the same as any other place. I will DEFINITELY come here before I check something out at Borders.

So, my review is very positive for that book store. And I will most definitely return. So, on my return journey, I found out that my back tire was flat AGAIN! So, there was a kind of hole. When I got home, my father made me take apart the tire and look for the problem. After 15 minutes of doing that (I'm not really that handy), we finally got it. The really tough part was getting the actual tire off of the spokes. So yeah, I have to get another tire. Great!

Guide for Google Analytics

Ok, I've recently figured out how to use google analytics as a really powerful web site monitoring tool. And it's also really fun to explore and find out things about your web site. I use it to track my blog stats (but unfortunately, I can't watch you through it). I'll tell you how to make a profile and set up a web site in it. It's actually quite easy.

The first thing you need to do is make a Google account. If you use gmail, you already have one. If you don't, all you have to do is sign up. Once you do that, sign in. After that, you have to add the web site you want to monitor.

To set up the web site you want to monitor, look at the Web site profiles area and select "Add Website Profile" (in the top right corner). Right now, you want to add a Profile for a NEW domain, so stay with the default. Next, put the address of the web site you want to monitor (for me, it was "scienceonlooker.blogspot.com". Country and time zone I'm pretty sure you can figure out.

Next you have to install the tracker code. Since I have a blog, all I have to do is add it to my template, since the template is used for every page. However, if you're adding it to an actual web site, you need to add it to every page you want to track. If you want to track your web site, this step is essential, no matter how you want to do it.

And there, you have your web site set up for monitoring. I'll soon post about how to actually use the interface to find really cool stuff.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Shuttle

Today, the STS-117 launched. As of this writing, it is currently in orbit and set to dock.

However, this is just a mere coincidence because today at the Santa Monica Amateur Astronomy Club, a member, Jim Bartlett, who worked on building the engines for the orbiter (I believe) gave a talk about the space shuttle. It was a bit technical, so I can't remember most of the specs that were given, but I walked away with two main thoughts.

The shuttle is freaking huge. It is assembled at the Vehicle Assembly Building, which is a HUGE building that you just can't get into proportion. The orbiter itself (the part that actually goes to the International Space Station) is 16 stories tall if I remember correctly. That's huge. And it's assembled in the same place where the Saturn V rocket was built, the largest rocket ever designed.

Another thing, it's freaking heavy. By using extremely powerful machinery, the shuttle can only be moved by a crawler that goes at .9 mph. POINT nine, as in nine tenths. That's how heavy it is.

Unfortunately, I can't give you most of the information that he showed, because it was mostly in pictures, but I can say that it's really more interesting than I thought it would be. I didn't even doze off like I expected to (because I haven't really been getting all the sleep I need). If you could do research on it, I would highly recommend it.

Oh, and would you look at that, the SMAAC has their own blog. That's another thing for me to keep track of.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Take that deforestation!

I just finished writing part of a report on deforestation for my Chemistry class. I must say, it isn't one of my best works. I had a few quality problems with it. For one thing, I was not able to get that much research done. We couldn't check out the books we used from the school library, so we had to take notes. And also, I have to admit I wasn't that motivated to do so. Well, my part is now officially over. I can now wash my hands of the written report. However, I could probably write a better blog post than that essay (maybe I should). I swear, the sections had to be around one page, DOUBLE SPACED! That's really small, seriously. Now all that's left is to give a presentation. Wish me good luck on that.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lyrics in Rhythmbox

Ok, for months I've been trying to figure out how to enable lyrics in Rhythmbox. It turns out, it's not that hard. I've just been looking in the wrong places. Here's the basic way to find them:

1. Go to "Edit>Plugins>Song Lyrics" Enable it.

2. Now you have Song Lyrics in the View menu. Tah-dah. Yeah, it took me months to find that out.

Unfortunately, the lyrics feature works by searching your lyrics on the internet and fetching the closest one to the song you're listening to. For those of you who listen to Capitol Steps, it is quite a show. Because the songs they use are knockoffs of actual songs, you get the lyrics of those actual songs. So, you can see the original song while hearing the politicized version. However, at other times, that's an inconvenience, especially if you listen to weird music like I do. I think Rhythmbox also has a feature to store lyrics in a directory, but I still need to figure out how THAT works.

Another funny thing: The only song they have for Jonathan Coulton is Code Monkey. So, if you want to figure out how the other songs go, too bad (good thing I memorized them by listening 5 billion times).

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Another Summer Project

Because of my immense boredom today, I decided to take a stab at reading the holy book. That's right, the Bible. This weekend, I was able to get through Genesis. And wow, was that an experience. Most of those characters seemed kinda shady in some way or another. I mean, Adam kinda screwed us all by eating that stupid fruit. Cain killed Abel, and further screwed us. Noah was kinda wacky, and his curse to Canaan was extremely random and out-of-place. I mean, Canaan didn't really do ANYTHING against him. His only problem was being the son of Ham, who saw him naked. I mean, what the freak?

Next guy, Abraham. He was kinda fundie. I mean, the thing with his son, and the angel. I understand that he loves God, but still...isn't that kinda taking it too far? Oh well, I guess you could say that Abraham was good in his own sort of way. And the whole Sodom and Gomorrah thing, what was with that? So what if they're gay, let them use the word "fabulous" as much as they like. Oh yeah, this is the vengeful God, forgot about that.

Next guy was Isaac. He was OK. I mean, I understand if he has some emotional problems, with what Abraham did to him and all that. If your dad tried to sacrifice you, would you be ok? He actually didn't turn out that bad. He was a bit xenophobic (ok, he hated the Canaanites). Otherwise, nothing really wrong.

I hate the next guy, Jacob. He is the most lying, thieving, duplicitous person I have ever heard of. First, he steals his brother's blessing. What's wrong with that kid? I mean, it's one thing to steal your brother's legos or something, but the freaking blessing? That's not something you can just say, "I'm sorry" and that'll be it. I must say, he was smart for running the heck away from Esau (his brother). I'd be pretty mad if my brother took away my blessing (though I wouldn't kill him, I'm just not like that). But yeah, even after he runs away, he goes to Laban, who's basically a family friend. Well, one thing Jacob does is try to marry the youngest daughter, Rachel. He works for seven years to be able to marry Rachel. Once he does, he finally wants to have sex with her, it turns out it was her older sister, Leah. Now, Jacob has the "WTF??!" emotion on him, I would probably too. The family says, I'm sorry, but we want to marry the oldest daughter first, you can marry Rachel too next week. Now I'm like, "what?!?!" He freaking gets two wives. Now these sisters fight over Jacob, and are in some kind of race to see who can give him the most babies. I'm like, "Jacob's a freaking gigolo!". Now, the next thing I have a problem with, the thing with the sheep. Jacob tells Laban that he'll look over his sheep, and only take the spotted, striped, and dark-colored animals as his wage. Now, Jacob is shrewd, and has the strong sheep mate in front of a striped or spotted stick, so that they'll have striped or spotted children (I'm going to ignore the fact that this is bad genetics). Eventually, his sheep become strong and Laban's sheep are weak measly things. I don't care what anybody says (ok, I do), but this is two-faced and dirty. I believe this is the first white-collar crime. Even though he technically didn't do anything bad, he still had insider tricks to rip Laban off. This guy is horrible.

The next guy I'm going to talk about is the best guy I've read of so far. I love him. Of course, I'm talking about Joseph. I mean, this kid took whatever was dealt to him, and turned it to his advantage. That's one freaking amazing guy. Joseph is the guy whose brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph ended up becoming the second most powerful man in the government, second only to the Pharaoh. Those are defeating some pretty bad odds. Even then, when his brothers came to him and were starving, he didn't do something as crazy as most other people in this book. All he did was play a little trick. It was a little, "guess what, remember the brother you sold to Egypt, THAT'S ME!!!" After that, he made up with them and everything was cool. Heck, if that's how he treats the people who sold him into slavery, I'd wanna be his best friend. I'm serious. That's a commendable person! HE is who would be my role model in Genesis. All the other people are crazy in some way.

Chess (mis)conception?

I don't know. I don't think I'm that good at chess, but for some reason I'm beating a lot of people at it. I mean, I ALMOST beat my dad. I beat a lot of my friends at it, usually without one loss. However, I can't even beat Glchess at normal (in fact, I lose horribly on normal). Am I good, or do the people around me just suck. That's what I want to know. Or do I just suck at the cost-benefit-analysis stuff that comes with a computer. Cause that is freaking annoying!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Come on Linux(-ers?)

(Warning: Anti-mac rant ahead)

I now love Google Analytics. It may have a horrible user interface that's really unnavigable, but you can get a lot of information by going there. While moving around the interface, I've discovered this shocking statistic:
Mac visits outstrip Linux visits by a factor of 2! GASP! Now what's wrong with that picture? Well, lets just say my favorite computers are not macs. No offense to mac users. Ok, a little offense to mac users. I'm sorry, but that's just the way I am.

Or maybe I'm just like this because I've never used a mac, and I need to get some perspective before making such an insulting announcement. Eh, I'm not sure. Well, for one thing. I don't think Sun really likes macs. They're not really included as major platforms for Java programming. And yes, Sun is considered proof for anything.

Meanwhile, on the sane side, I want all of you mac users to use install linux. Most linux distributions have an installed for Macintoshes (the old PowerPCs and the new Intels), so get one! That will finally bring things back into balance.

Note: This is another social commentary. Take this with as much as a grain of salt you took the one about the scavengers.

Science rejects the new Microsoft Word

Well, this is a rare convergence of the two main topics of this blog: science and open source. Well, not really, but the way I view them will. Science is the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. So, they've rejected the new version of Microsoft Word because it is highly backwards-incompatible. Now, Microsoft, that is not really the way to go. I'm sure it looked good on paper, all Office versions would have to be updated in order to maintain compatibility, which means MONEY! Unfortunately, that plan kinda backfired, didn't it?

You know what I'm gonna say now, right? In order to maintain compatibility, OpenOffice! You know you want to.

Open source cakes?

Ok, I finally have something to blog about. I just came up with a pretty good analogy to explain open source using ... cakes. First, some background. Cakes are good examples, because you can't really tell the recipe from the cake. If you're given a two-layered chocolate cake, will you be able to deduce the recipe from it? Unless you're a really really good chef or food critic, I don't think so. That is like software. In proprietary software, you only get binaries, no source code. You can't deduce the code in binaries, because it's just a collection of 1s and 0s, no actual code. It's like only getting the actual cake. Open source, however, is like including the recipe for the cake with the cake itself. That way, people know how the cake is made, and allows them to evaluate the recipe for themselves and possibly improve it.

When talking about open source software, Microsoft is bound to come up. So, I'm taking care of them up front. In this analogy, Microsoft is like the cake factory. Because of its ability to make tons of cake, it has a large proportion of sales. And most people just want cake, they don't quite care how it was made, and it's just convenient to buy a cake that's been factory made and sold everywhere than to make your own cake or buy a cake from a baker.

Who's the baker? Linux distributions. Linux distributions are your friendly neighborhood baker where you can hang out with other people and talk about the cakes that are made. You can also communicate directly with the baker to find insight into the recipe. Bakeries are a good place for people to get together and discuss how to improve the cakes and provide more options in cakes. A lot more than offered with factory-made cakes.

So, we have bakers and the cake factory, what's left? Teh hax0rs of course. Well, the reverse engineers, who try to make improved counterparts to common proprietary programs. These can be the bakers themselves, or merely culinary enthusiasts. For example, if the factory decides to make a change in some their cakes to make them more ... rich, the culinary enthusiasts then set in action to try and make existing cakes more rich. They have no idea how the cake factory did it, but they try to reproduce the change made in the proprietary cakes. And they update the recipe.

Now, time for the most important part of the open-source plan. It's not the baker, but the people who hang out at the bakery. That's right, the community. Without the community, the baker would not have the resources to make good cakes. For one thing, the community is very familiar with the cakes of the bakers. They also supply constructive criticism to the baker to improve the quality of the cakes. Because of the community, the baker can test his culinary creations and improve them on a scope far greater than the cake factory. In fact, the most important things in the open-source plan occur on the boundary of the community and the baker. It is there where innovation takes place. And it's there where the culinary enthusiasts can be heard and their ideas implemented.

However, normal people overwhelmingly use the factory-made cakes. The same way the Desktop market is overwhelmingly dominated by Windows. However, people who often host parties and have a very high demand for cakes use caterers (the server market). That's about all the information I have on this topic.

Of course, because it's me, I have to stick Sun Microsystems somewhere. I believe Sun would be a caterer. Sun is very successful on the server market, so is a very prestigious caterer. It is also very familiar with the bakers, and although it has its own baker (Solaris), it contributes highly to the other linux bakers to keep open source alive.

Yeah, this is only what I was able to remember at this time. I'm sure I'll be able to come up with more connection. Heck, I think this post is so important that I should link to it somewhere on the front of the blog.