Three Cheers for Google

Sure, they might become evil some day, if not already, but as far as companies go, I'm definitely part of the audience they cater to, and they cater well. I will hire them for my 25th birthday.

I think I might like them as my friend Frank enjoys Apple. I am currently enjoying their Post to Blogger iGoogle gadget. In the future, it might be supported in their other containers (e.g. Google Gadgets for Linux).

The attention they pay to Linux is really phenomenal. I mean, our market share is so relatively slim. The future does belong to Linux, but not the present. They even go to efforts to assist Open Source. Google Code makes me smile all the time. The Google Summer of Code is huge. Oh- my girlfriend beckons- there's a video she wants to show me on Google Video (which I prefer over YouTube (which is another thing- YouTube isn't profitable for them, and they'll still gracefully taking the hit)).

I have more to say, about my "new" computer, my girlfriend's birthday, dead hard drive, and the journey we'll embark upon to retrieve its contents. Yay!



It is kind of sad to see the styles the group has come into. I hope I dress much more like this when I am their age:


Of Ships and Stars

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, "Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy." They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

And I want to say something to the school children of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."

Ronald Reagan, or The West Wing,
on Challenger



Biometrics are unique identifiers, but they are not secrets - Bruce Schneier

I have generally felt the same way. I am scared that so many people push towards biometrics in place of passwords. Not that passwords are great.


Chrome, Aural, Technical


Missing Spectrum

Incomplete color choices on web pages are a bane to the existence of dark coloured themes in GNOME and, at least formerly, on Windows. In particular, Blogger's post area explicitly specifies a background of white, which is disastrous when the system's font colour for editable areas is a light colour in a dark theme. You can try to mandate the colours in Firefox, but then some pages will look weird. My ideal solution is to define custom style rules.

In this case, I've installed the Firefox extension EditCSS by Pascal Guimier to modify the stylesheet and remove the white background rule. I used the DOM Inspector to locate the rule, finding out what the id was used to set the style ("#richeditorframe, #RichEdit textarea") copied the style from EditCSS into an editor that could do search :), removed the background declaration, pasted the edited CSS back into it, and voila! A usable editor once more.


I'm listening to Frou Frou's "Holding Out For A Hero" right now :)

I purchased a K.T. Tunstall's "Eye to the Telescope" the other day. Wat excellence. I still must pursue Rilo Kiley and Regina Spektor. I had been introduced to the latter some time ago, but it wasn't until the credits of Prince Caspian that I understood that I must possess this sound.


I have a slew of projects I want to work on. A blogger client in Vala, a simple DB-using tool in Vala, a simple cron editor in Vala. As you can see, I am excited about Vala. I don't imagine that I'll find the time to do any of them, though!

Linux and how I restored my file system

So, I lost my partition table, but knew that the file system I covet was still fine underneath. Yay. So, the solution was this:

  • boot the computer (perhaps from the OS that broke the partition table for the coveted partition, or from a USB key or Live CD.
  • download gpart (man page)
  • $ gpart -vvvf /dev/sda > logfile
  • find the partition (I guessed based on side and faint idea of its partition position) in the output that you want to save. Get the sector start and the # of sectors for it.
  • Either use this information to fix your partition table (Google for that- if the new partition layout that gpart recommends at the end of its output seems desirable, gpart could write that for you.), or, do what I did and copy it to a remote media:
    $ dd if=/dev/sda of=/mnt/sdb1/sda2.bak bs=512 skip=<sector start> count=<number of sectors>
    . It might be advisable to copy over, say, the first 32MB of it and try mounting that to see if a valid ext3 superblock exists at those numbers (described a bit more below). If it doesn't, the values might be wrong.
  • (if you don't want it to take over a day, you might consider converting the sector start and # of sectors into your FS's block numbers (and don't forget to change bs as well!). I went much faster for me then :) (in my case, my block size was 4096-bytes and the sectors were 512-bytes, so I divided the start and # values by 8 :) - hope that at least the start sector starts at a whole block :D (would it not?)
  • Once you have have copied the coveted partition into a nice pretty file safely on some remote media, you will probably want to try to mount it!
    $ mount -t auto -o loop /mnt/sdb1/sda2.bak /mnt/sdb1/sda2.dir
    (if you did a test mount of the start of your partition, you might want to remember to unmount it or to try a different dir ;)
  • I then copied all the contents of that partition out to yet another external media, my backup HD. I did this with rsync so I could preserve things, so the command was like
    $ rsync -va --progress /mnt/sdb1/sda2.dir /mnt/sdc1/sda2.root
    This will late be restored to the computer in question when I get things configured a new.

After getting the sector values from gpart, I actually dd'd over the first 32MB (very small) of the alleged partition onto my remote media, and then I tried to mount that (

$ mount -t auto -o loop /mnt/sdb1/sda2.test /mnt/sdb1/sda2.dir
) to see if it indeed contained a valid ext3 superblock :D The first time I did all this, it didn't quite work, because I dd'd over /dev/sda1 rather than /dev/sda (so the values were off by sadness :$) Once I got the right portion over and tried to mount it with success, I did get error messages, because inodes could, of course, not be found, as I had only copied over a relatively small portion of the actual filesystem. The errors were not reproduced after I copied the entire thing over :)

And this is how I restored my tentatively lost but not overwritten partition replete with complete filesystem :D Originally, I thought that this might be a case for ext3grep by Carlo Wood which does wonders for helping undelete files on ext3 partitions. However, that was not the case, but I still recommend the tool if you think you'd find it necessary.

Details on how to ruin your partition by installing Fedora 9 via net install to follow in a later post. (To summarise again, my coveted partition was in the later 18GB of a 40GB HD, and the Fedora 9 net install came promptless (as I failed to anticipate), installing a fresh Fedora and replacing the partition table :D. I am quite lucky not to have had any of my coveted data in the earlier blocks of my HD where the Fedora installation would have overwritten it. :|)


What I read.

I plan on updating the layout a bit later this weekend. Fun!

C-A-L-L Calling me, calling me now!

Wow, what an action packed adventure. Work is going very well. Progress is a very nice language but it makes real the many complaints about proprietary platforms I have heard in the past. I am also dabbling quite a bit in JavaScript for something internal. It's a more pleasing language than I used to think, and I haven't ever disliked it.

Something sad computery was that my attempt to install Fedora via net install failed, in that the installation went perfectly REPLACING MY EXISTING PARTITION LAYOUT. Thanks to gpart and dd, I have rescued my original Ubuntu partition- I think. I am very fortunate that I did not have it at the start of the disk. (Rather, than tragic honour went to an already corrupted Windows installation.) I will write some details about how to manage the net install and then how to rescue partitions later.

Amusingly, I got an e-mail notifying me of the availability of an old domain of mine, except as .com rather than .net. I am fairly certain that it was available previous to this e-mail, and has now been purchased by hucksters hoping they can sell it to me at a profit. Hahaha.

I have a new BC number, and will apparently hug(?). More later!

Oh, one last thing- I spent the day imagining other people's perspectives, something I should do more often; it brought my surroundings all the more to life.


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