[Budo] Resolve

"You do it simply through the sheer effort of will it takes to be beaten but still show up for practice."
- Kim Taylor

[Photos] My wall is a whiteboard

German Grammar

Crayola Ultra-Clean Washable Markers


[General] Purified memories

You know how over time your memories lose some details and some things you end up idealising?  I think I like that effect.  I think it's generous and good to strip away unflattering details and recall people and events more fondly than they originally warranted.   Well, as long as you don't use the rosefied memory to inform important decisions. :D

[Microblog] The stupidity of Google Music (Play Listen)

I don't understand can look at my entire music collection and then fail so horribly to predict what music I'd like.  They're wrong 9 out of 10 times.

Also, I have no idea why it's so hard to get it to Just Play music.  They keep asking me to narrow things into restrictive boxes.  I just want a system that learns what I might like and introduces me to new stuff.

[School] 100 Days of Thesis: Day 91

I have done a horrible job of blogging about my Masters.  I originally had grand plans.  So, starting today, I will count down the last 100 days of my Masters.  I think I actually have slightly less than that.  Yes, today is day 91. 

[General] Lots of thoughts, no time to articulate them

There is a lot I would like to write about in here. 

How efficiency involves keeping people uncomfortable.  If people are becoming comfortable, there's probably 'waste' in the system that can be stripped away until you find the threshold beyond which enough people start failing that the system collapses.  "Equilibrium."  Sellers generally probably wish they could have greater profit margins and buyers wish they could pay less.

How imbalances, where one person profits at the expense of another, probably can't be sustained; something is getting depleted. In theory, if one supplier is charging more than they "should" (based on their own costs and the spending power of their buyers), people seeking opportunities can correct that by supplying the product at a more reasonable price.  In practise, suppliers collude, even implicitly, and people abuse the difficulty in entering certain markets to help prevent competition and prolong an exploitation.

Some types of imbalance apparently can be maintained for a prolonged period of time, and even increased, though.  Growing income gaps are a good example, where wealth gets consolidated and used to increase consolidation, squeezing more out of more people.  But perhaps that's a push for efficiency.  The situation has changed so that more people can technically survive with less.  People can exist with a lot of debt that they can never reasonably repay and be relatively unemployed and still eat and enjoy some form of shelter.

That's disturbing.  In theory, the more debt you hold, the less free you are.  You can't easily quit your job, because you owe tens of thousands of dollars to your creditors.

Every time a change comes along (e.g. a new technology) which should in theory make people more comfortable, free up their capacity to live life, that capacity gets quickly filled in.  Computers and printers greatly expedite tasks from the 1980s, but rather than enjoy more free time as a result, that freed time was just filled up by other things.  More work got done in the same period of time.  Is that bad or good? 

In theory, my computer should work incredibly smoothly with little resistance in my usage, since processors and memory have increased by an order of magnitude over my youth, but no, my computer is still quite slow, my phone even slower, despite being almost as powerful as my previous computer.  Why?  Why can't people let the increased capacity be and let others relax and enjoy existence a little?  Why do I have to feel frustrated at my phone when it processes 1,600,000,000 operations a second (twice, since it's dual core) but I can't efficiently send a text message - a task I was able to do fine on a phone that was 20 times slower 8 years ago?  Why is 'good, lasting performance' not a sector that people try to fill?  Why is there no market for it?  My phone is 3 years old.  My friend's iPhone is 3 years old.  We have the same complaint.  Our phones fundamentally do the same stuff from 3 years ago, but are we just being pushed via software updates to replace them?

Your allegedly average work week (spend 40 hours at a location working + 7.5 hours of transportation + 2.5 ancillary time lost per week = 50 hours per week) almost seems designed to consume all the time in an employee's week possible without destroying them.  Week days, after 8 hours of sleep, 10 hours of work, and 6 hours of being tired (consumed by chores and need-to-dos), there is almost nothing but to wait for a small, two day break where time is quickly lost to things you should have been doing all week anyway and not wanting to do anything because you're tired.

I feel like having the most productive and efficient system is counter-productive in terms of individual happiness.


[General] MEN ON MARS, the story of Curiosity's odd shadow

This has appeared on my Facebook news feed a few times and it's disappointing that people believe it.  Anyway, people claim the Curiosity rover is either on earth or there are people on Mars, since this photo taken by Curiosity itself, accidentally reveals the shadow of a person maintaining it:

Shadow of a man?
NASA Source
Popular news articles:

Wikipedia article on the Curiosity Rover:

Image of the whole rover (on earth):
Full size
Shadow of the rover's mast head and the arm:

NASA source

"Shadow of a man" again for comparison:
NASA Source
So, you can still see the "arm" and the "oxygen tank" and the "head" but it doesn't look so much like a person anymore, does it?  Why are people blindly reporting and believing this?


[Technology] Bitrotting brain

  • have an encrypted /home
  • hard shut down of computer
  • wouldn't boot back up to the login screen
  • couldn't mount /home from emergency mode
  • had to boot a Live USB key and do fsck.ext4 on / (yes, /)
  • problems with mounting /home were probably more to do with emergency mode and what gets enabled for different targets via systemd
  • I need to update myself on my system's work-abouts :D

I know a lot about my computer and computers.  There are a lot of people who know a lot more than me.  Relative to the rest of the population, there was a time 3.5 years ago when my knowledge was probably ranked at a higher percentile.

I haven't had the same time and motivation these past few years, though.  One of the largest complications has been my Masters.  Sure, I know a lot more about machine learning, linguistics, natural language processing, etc., but that hasn't helped me really understand my computer much more.  I was fortunate enough to participate in the Google Summer of Code 3 summers in a row, but my time was always tight for that, and full-use was probably not made of those opportunities working on GNOME.

However, today was a harsh wake-up call about the consequences of idleness.  My knowledge of init and rc and Linux's old boot sequence is still fairly strong, having grown up in Slackware on the command-line.  However, while I've read about evolving configurations and utilities since, I haven't gotten much practise in them. 

And so, it was with horror when I realised that my system would not fully boot today and I could not immediately address the issue.

Today's Predicament

My /home directory is an ext4 filesystem on an encrypted LUKS partition.  Perhaps you can immediately see what is going to go wrong.  Earlier today, my computer froze up.  That's not uncommon.  As much as I love Linux, I am never surprised when it spontaneously freezes (especially on a laptop (what with having its Internet connection and video mode and power supply changing constantly)).  After trying to get it to respond for 15s, I just held down the power button as usual and then turned it back on.

Plymouth came up, I saw the fedora logo start to fill, it was interrupted by the password prompt for my /home partition, I entered the password, and then the fedora logo filled up and - nothing.  It just waited there.  It should switch to gdm's login screen, but it wouldn't.  I could go see the terminal in the background, but I couldn't access any shells.  Just the start up log.  There was nothing obviously wrong.

Sometimes I would see this message, "EXT4-fs error (device dm-0): ext4_mb_generate_buddy:757: group 83, block bitmap and bg descriptor inconsistent: 21682 vs 21673 free clusers", but dm-0 is my root directory.  dm-3 is my home directory.

I tried to boot into rescue mode to see if I could still access all my files.  No.  After supplying my password for decryption, I would see this error message "device-mapper: table: 253:3: crypt: unknown target type
Failed to activate: Invalid argument".

That sounds bad.  I entered the emergency mode shell, and checked the journal.  This is something I only do occasionally using journalctl, as I used to directly check logs or dmesg.  Uh oh.  Here it was failing to mount /home, and it was failing at the step of "/usr/lib/systemd/systemd-cryptsetup attach luks-1496...e527 none" [LUKS name contracted].  Uh oh.

At this point I started to suspect that my encrypted partition was corrupted from my hard shut-down.  There's not much else I can do with my computer when it freezes up, but I haven't suffered from it being left in a volatile, at least until now.

I tried to manually mount it, but then realised I have almost never manually mounted a file system encrypted using LUKS.  I've used encfs, but - uh, now what?  Also, lvm2 and systemd I'm only passingly familiar with.  How am I supposed to be confident in my computer's reliability if I don't even understand the fundamental tools that house my data any more?

I double-checked that my back-up was still working (I've had back-up hard drives die on me before!) using another old computer and thankfully it was OK.  However, I didn't want to have to back-up from it if I didn't have to, as I had done work in the past 24 hours that I didn't want to lose, damn it.  (I'm so glad that I've gotten the knack of backing up every 24 hours at least!).  I also wasn't completely convinced that my data was inaccessible.  On plain text file systems, it's easy to grep or scan to reclaim many/most files, even if the file system itself is corrupted or the partition boundaries have been lost.  You can't readily do that when the file system is encrypted, but perhaps there was a way to repair it?

Also, this made me wonder, why was the default multi-user graphical mode stalling out?  If it couldn't mount /home, it should still be able to display the login screen.  I don't need a /home for that.  I tried to launch gdm from emergency mode and couldn't because of failed dependencies, one of which was for binary formats.  That seemed weird.  I didn't remember so many things failing to start back when I was booting in the normal way.  So I tried the normal way again and ... it claimed that /home mounted cleanly and even gave a plausible count of files.  (!)

I then decided to boot in single-user mode (edit the grub command for the kernel I'm booting into and add 'single' on the kernel line).  This took me through the same process as usual, which seemed to mount /home correctly, but instead of going all the way to the point where it was stalling, it stops successfully before at a command-line for root.  Hooray!

Once there, I poked around.  I couldn't immediately tell why from emergency mode I couldn't successfully mount my file systems, but there's an egregious lack of familiarity in me regarding how systemd, lvm2, and luks interact, so that's no big surprise.  I did a passive run of fsck.ext4 on my / directory (remember how dm-0 had errors reported earlier?) and yes, there seemed to be quite a lot.  I grabbed my Fedora live USB key from my drawer, re-booted into it, ran fsck on my computer's root partition, and let it fix all the errors.  This always alarms me, as I never know what data has been lost on my file system to lead to the errors in question.  There's never a guarantee that cleaning up after the errors will resolve the problem in question.

Anyway, I rebooted, I went through a normal boot and - tada, the login screen.


So why did I write all that?  In part to motivate me to learn more about the current state of my system to regain the glory of self-sufficiency.  And in part so the few error messages I encountered that another in my case might encounter will be documented, and searchable. :D


[Microblog] Tradition

I've lived 9 years in this town and I've barely walked its streets at all.


[General] Writing

I thought of something beautiful to write today.

And now I've forgotten it.

I've had a lot of opportunities in the past few years that I might not have had.  That's an obvious sentence.  You can never fully appreciate what else could have been, since it wasn't.  It's like if something horrible happens, and you wish you could undo it, it's a bit unsatisfying to know that if you could undo it, nobody would appreciate the difference, because the worse outcome wouldn't have been experienced. 

I like the odd anime.

My Little Monster has a title that reminds me of a cartoon I watched as a kid, My Pet Monster.  It was quite different and quite the same.  It has some lessons that I've avoided, because I'm told they're bad.  Perseverance is one of them.

Are the best things in life simple and obvious?

I'm sitting in a splendid room.  Decorated with bed sheets, predominantly white in colour, all the better to glow under a black light.  There are glow-in-the-dark stars on the wall.  A bright orange salt lamp.  Fake clouds atop the bookshelf.  A comfy futon under me. 

I suffocate the life around me.


[General] Neu

Years and calendars are relatively arbitrary (at least they align with physical seasons more or less), but I suppose they are useful structure.

What I've accomplished in 2014
  • escaped crippling depression
  • escaped crippling poverty
  • took a break from a crippling Masters
  • worked well, diligently, productively and regained self-respect and self-confidence
  • improved my German greatly (hooray Duolingo)
  • worked on photography
    • managed to finally upgrade to a Micro Four Thirds (from a camera phone), wrote some handy scripts for my workflow, managed to mostly share an average of 40 photos/week.  (Still haven't managed to integrate that stream into this site well :D)
  • worked on budo
    • learned a long-sword school, Kage Ryu
    • improved two-sword Niten Ichi Ryu
    • attained the rank of Nidan in ZNKR Iaido
    • managed to make it to 1/3 of kendo practises (goal was 1/2, oh well)
    • learned the jo side of Ran Ai
  • grew my social video gaming :D (Wii U + Mario Kart 8 + Super Smash Bros + Hyrule Warriors), managed to play a fair amount with my best friend who is in another province
  • caught up with anime (mostly through a circle of friends and regular night)
  • found someone to teach me violin in exchange for cookies :D
  • got my father out to Victoria to see his daughters
  • went hiking, camping, and canoeing a lot
  • improved my independence - no longer feel dependent on others!
    • even have a basic understanding of what it is to "love" oneself
  • started drawing way more often (work on the teddy bear web comic is underway!)
  • made my own kitchen knife (!) in a FORGE and my own pants and top (for iaido) from 'scratch'
  • expanded my baking repertoire (birthday cake, zucchini bread)
  • started my own company
  • negotiated a compressed work week contract :D
  • managed to help my dad out a lot (zoom zoom)
  • exercised!  Goal was daily, managed every-other-daily, still good results, especially in cycling up Gordon St. workdaily
  • bike maintenance!
  • journaled privately more often (that is, not even online :D, so totally frank and no filters), worked on improving own information organisation
  • made some cool, new friends
  • made a neat web app (My Daily) but didn't publish it yet :D
  • went tobogganing
  • organised a booth for Guelph VegFest 2014 and a large vegan potluck on campus :D
  • explored a sewer and dumpster dove
  • traveled (Victoria/Vancouver, Timmins, Calgary)
Where I've failed
  • almost no relaxing downtime :|
    • too busy a lot of the time, had to drop a contract even!
  • managed to read just one book a "semester"
  • didn't really do any of the Coursera courses I signed up for
  • had two periods of notable stress (which I ended up catching)
  • accomplished very little Open Source development
  • failed to grow much as far as veganism goes (I need to get more familiar with more facts so I can make better arguments and retire bad ones)
  • eating well - ended up spending more eating out just to make sure I had some complete meals, due to busyness
  • got 80% of My Daily done, but haven't finished the remaining 20% :D
Goals for 2014
  • work on integrating information
    • I want photos to flow through this site
    • I want my "microblog" posts to appear where they'll be read (Twitter) and where I live (here, kosmokaryote)
    • want a private 'wiki' offline that I can store more facts about my own life
  • practise violin weekly
  • practise piano weekly
  • start learning French
  • further improve German
  • reserve more time for me
  • finish my Masters
  • read more
    • including about budo and veganism
  • cook for myself, cook more healthily
  • get out of Guelph
  • improve on all the other stuff I've been doing :D


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