Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dick Dawkins

Before I forget, this video is probably one of the most hilarious videos I found in a long long while. I haven't been able to figure out where this came from but it's just... amazing. The lyrics are really well thought out, and the animation, I seriously WAS NOT expecting that! And dang! Eugenie C. Scoot looks pretty darn sexy!

Earth Hour

Well, Earth Hour just passed a while ago. Although I didn't get to officially sign up on the web site, I DID in fact, do it. And I have to say, one hour without using any electricity can be pretty boring, especially if you're with people who you have nothing to talk about with. However, being in Los Angeles DOES have an advantage. Since most of the city didn't participate, the costs of not having light weren't so bad. Like most nights, the sky is so polluted (especially when it's cloudy, like tonight) that you can read EASILY. In fact, without anything else to do, I got A LOT of homework done! Just sat outside for an hour, and did it.

Of course, if you missed it, don't be sad. An earth hour can be done at any time. In fact, we should turn off unnecessary lights all of the time and try to conserve. To find out more, you can visit here!
And remember, it doesn't have to be hard, just form the habit!

Blog Delay

Yeah, yeah. I haven't posted something in like two weeks. I have an excuse though! I'm trying to get through the backlog off RSS feeds that accumulated over Spring Break (I just couldn't read them over VNC, waiting for the screen to refresh was way too tedious). I'm almost there, but while you're waiting, combat poverty and improve your vocabulary.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blogging from afar

Ok, this is my first experience using network-type programs to control my desktop back in California. And I have to say, it's quite an interesting experience. My first plan was to enable VNC and SSH, and when I wasn't using the computer, I'd turn off X to consume less power and resources. When I need it, I ssh into the computer and use the "startx" command, and VNC at my pleasure. After some initial testing, I found out that the fool-proofness of ubuntu made that quite difficult. Now, for the first thing, we need some background on runlevels in linux.

There are technically seven runlevels that you can use in linux. Runlevel 0 tells the system to halt. Runlevel 1 is single user mode (which is basically root with limited services). Runlevel 3 is the operating system in a command-line. Runlevel 5 is the operating system with X running. And lastly, Runlevel 6 tells the system to reboot. Runlevels 2 and 4 don't really mean anything. To switch between modes, you use the "telinit " command as root.

So, what I planned to do was run ubuntu in runlevel 3 in the CLI, then when I logged in, run ssh and "startx". When X is started, I could then use VNC to get control of it and use my desktop. The problem is that ubuntu foolproofed the OS and combined 3-5 into X-running. So, I can't run from CLI only. That's not too bad, I guess. I'll just kill X when I'm done, then start it again when I need to. Unfortunately, if you literally "killed X" then it would come right back up to GDM. In order to enter the command-line, you need to stop GDM, which you can do with:
sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop
This will leave you with a command-line interface. However, I found out that if you do this, "startx" fails. By now, I'm discouraged and wonder if it's really worth the trouble to play around with X like this. I vote no, and leave it the way it is.

So, now, here I am, with X left on, and VNCing into my computer. I have to say that it's nice to be able to have my computer, though the internet connection leaves much to be desired. I'm using UltraVNC on the client (windows) computer, and although it looks entertaining to see your operating system in.... 32 bit color, it's not all that great. In addition, the connection takes a while to update, which gets annoying after a while. However, it's either that, or stay home (actually, the latter isn't a choice because my parents will take me with them anyways). Because of the delay, I found that it's difficult to keep track of IRC and IMing with such a huge latency period. So, I've decided to use ssh for those. I use finch for IMing, which is basically a CLI version of pidgin, and irssi, an excellent IRC client for the CLI, for IRC. So, those are the compromises I've made. Until next time, see ya'll!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pi day

Well, today was Pi day. So, instead of actually posting something, I'll just link you to this previous post. Have fun!

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Don't have much to say today. But yesterday, I went to my school's talent show. And one of the performer's was my math teacher's trigonometry class, which was a REALLY excellent show. It's a good thing it was recorded, and that, I bring to you:

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I just found out that there's a new little thing going on in NASA called OpenNASA. It's currently a group of young employees hoping to change the way NASA markets itself to the new generation (called Generation Y). Right now, NASA is mainly run by those in the baby boomer generation who are now starting to retire and there aren't many people to take their place. The baby boomer generation has really been motivated with the Apollo missions, Star Trek and a whole lot more which made NASA look like the coolest thing ever! Now however, we don't really have something that's amazing and innovative. Most of us don't care about the ISS or the shuttle, and think that NASA is just some sort of leech off of the government budget. This is where the OpenNASA folks come in.

They look at what we've grown up on. This generation is MUCH more community oriented, with the advent of YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, yadda yadda yadda just to name a few. And they aim to make NASA more transparent, open, and community-friendly. Now, as I said, right now they're just a couple of NASA employees with a vision, but it turns out that many others at NASA support what they do and this program might become really interesting. As an astronomy-enthusiast and open-source-fanatic, this is exactly what I can hope for!