Monday, July 09, 2007

Top 20 Mario facts

Okay, I'm on a break from technology days. So let me post something about another of my long time passions - video games! This post is all about top 20 facts about Mario! Hope you enjoy reading it.

1. How old is Mario?

Answer: 26 years now (First game "Donkey Kong" released in 1981). He was then known as "Jumpman".

2. What is Mario's last name (surname)?

Answer: Mario does not have a last name!

3. Where was Mario created?
Answer: Japan

4. Who created Mario?
Answer: Shigeru Miyamoto

5. Where does Mario live?
Answer: Mushroom Kingdom

6. What is Mario's occupation?
Answer: He's a plumber.

7. What is Mario's nationality?
Answer: He is Italian.

8. Why does Mario wear a cap?
Answer: Because his designer found it difficult to draw hair. So he gave Mario a cap to wear. Smart!

9. What happens when Mario loses his cap?
Answer: He is more vulnerable to damage by enemies. Watch a video of Mario losing his cap.

10. Which weapons does Mario use?
Answer: Mario is so powerful that he doesn't need to use any weapons. However, he sometimes uses a hammer. He also throws fireballs after eating a Fire Flower but that's not considered to be a weapon. Rather it's an "ability".

11. Is Mario fat?
Answer: Yes, of course. He was created to be short, fat but agile and kind.

12. What is Mario's favorite food?
Answer: Mario's most favorite food is pasta. He also likes pizza.

13. Who does Mario rescue?
Answer: Princess Peach

14. What reward does Mario receive after rescuing the princess?
Answer: A kiss.

15. Who is Mario's twin brother?
Answer: Luigi

16. Who is Mario's enemy?
Answer: Bowser

17. Who is Mario's lookalike bad guy?
Answer: "Wario"

18. Does the baby Mario have a mustache?
Answer: Yes, Mario has a mustache ever since he was born!

19. Name the only three human inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom
Answer: Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach

20. How many Mario games have been sold so far?
Answer: Mario games are THE bestsellers in the history of video games so far. The Super Mario series alone has sold about 70 million copies!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How to backup iCal calendars in OS X

I was looking for a way to backup and restore iCal calendars on my MacBook running OS X. A quick Google search took me to a page on Apple's website. I tried to follow the instructions but it appears the page is outdated. Here is the correct information:

iCal saves your calendars as .ics files in this folder: ~/Library/Application Support/iCal/Sources/. There should be some folders in the Sources folder - each one corresponds to a particular calendar in your iCal (e.g. home, office etc). I have no idea why their names appear so funny - lots of alphabets just jumbled up together. Anyhow, you can back up your calendars by copying this folder to your backup location (file server, external hard drive, CD-ROM, and so forth).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Quickest way to spell in OS X

I just discovered this:

If you're typing a word in Mac OS X, and are stuck midway because you don't know how to spell the rest of it, OS X can offer you suggestions based on its built-in dictionary. To evoke the suggestions, just press "escape" key on the keyboard while the cursor is at the end of incomplete word. It's ultra-handy!

Note: The same feature could also be accessed by pressing F5, but I feel escape button is a lot more easy to press. That's why it's called "escape" key :P

Monday, June 18, 2007

Five days without a computer

My mac was refusing to sleep, and I decided to take it to the Apple store for diagnostics as the 1 year warranty is ending next month. The Apple Genius decided it needs surgery, so he kept it there. He told me I can get my computer back after five days. I said "O.K." and came back.

After coming back, the first thing I did was to rush for my desk and check my email.

But look, there's no computer! Oh stupid me! I just sent it for repairs! How can I forget? A sudden feeling of handicap grasps me. I am restless for half an hour, and then decide to sleep because I can't find a keyboard or a mouse to place my restless fingers! I wake up after two hours and suddenly discover how refreshing a daytime nap can be! I never had any afternoon naps in the last ten years, I think because I had a computer all this while!

Day passes, evening comes. I wasn't finding enough time to study for physician licensing exam over the last month or so. But that evening, I just sit in the living room couch with the book, and I spent five hours there at one stretch! Perhaps that is my longest uninterrupted time with books in the last ten years!

I get fidgety in the night because I want to chat with my sister in India, just like every other day. By now I have understood that I actually do not have any working computer, so I call her on phone. She's very pleasantly surprised to receive my phone call, and we chat for two hours. I just made her day!

Next morning, I have more time for my girlfriend, she's happy as well. I also finish several incomplete tasks in "real world" like fixing the sandwich maker and tidying up the kitchen shelves. After that I take some extra time to cook a delicious Indian curry. Post prandium, I also have the desire to take out that food processor from its box (for the first time ever I bought it last year) and actually place some litchi shake with coconut water. Man that was awesome!

I didn't have any computer for five days straight, and boy, life was fun! I pampered myself so much, like never before!

And damn! My masters' thesis topic is "Determinants of Internet Addiction".

I am sure gonna write my own experience somewhere in the introduction to my thesis!!!

And now that my computer is back, I am rediscovering "how to use a computer". What I know so far - "use it sparingly, like a medicine".

Sunday, June 17, 2007

How to change your OS X drive icons to any picture of your choice

I want to place my picture as my Macintosh hard drive icon. This is pretty easy to do.

Software required:

  1. Open the picture you want to convert in your favorite image editor. Make a square selection of what you want to convert into an icon. The length should be exactly equal to the width. (Press Shift key when dragging your selection in GIMPshop)
  2. Crop the picture and save a copy somewhere.
  3. Resize the image to 128x128 pixels.
  4. Adjust the brightness, contrast and colors to your liking. You should adjust these values after resizing the image because some images lose their "shine" when you make them small. You might also want to sharpen the image a bit to compensate for this. Using GIMPshop, I use a sharpness level of 60.

    Before -------------- After

  5. When you're done, save the file again, and close GIMPshop.
  6. Now open the same file you saved, with "Preview". Start dragging a rectangle in preview, and make sure you select all of the file.

  7. Now hit "Command+C" to copy the contents of the file.
  8. Click on the drive icon you want to change, and press "Command+I". This will get info for that drive.
  9. In the info pane, there will be a small icon for the drive on the top. Click on this icon, and then press "Command+V".

  10. Viola! You now have the picture you wanted as your drive icon! :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

She lost her job because she used openoffice

One of my friends (let's call her Alice) got her first computer recently. She had just joined a interior design company, and wanted to make her life easy by learning "office software". I asked her to be specific. She said she wants to learn "Microsoft".

"She wants to learn Microsoft"?

I made some alphabetical calculations in my mind and came up with "Do you mean Microsoft Office? Like Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc?". She promptly nodded in affirmative.

I asked her budget, and quickly came the answer "Can I get it for free?"

Being an open source enthusiast, I said "Well, if you don't mind using office software by another company, you can get it for free".

I wanted to tell her what open source is, and how can she benefit from it. But it appeared that she was just itching to get the download link. I downloaded, and burned a CD for her.

She went back and installed her brand new "office software", and started learning on her own. Smart lady!

After about 10 days, she calls me, crying on the phone "You know what... (sob) these damned people (sob)... they took my job (sob)... I'm fired (sob)... because my presentation didn't open (sob)..."

It took me some time to calm her down, and soon figured out what happened:

She had to work on an important presentation due on Monday. So she thought she'd work on it during the weekend at home. She used openoffice to make the presentation, saved it with her name (alice.odp), and took it along on Monday. She arrives in the office at 9am and everyone is waiting for her to make the presentation. She plugs in her USB drive in the computer confidently, double clicks the file, and the computer says "Windows doesn't know how to open this file. Choose another program from the list".

She chose Microsoft PowerPoint from the list, but the presentation won't open. PowerPoint says it's not a presentation at all! Her technical superviser tried to help, but even he had no idea how to open .odp files. Smarty also tried changing the extension to .ppt but it didn't work.

Her boss was infuriated because it was a very very important business presentation, it wasn't working, and the client left. Alice was fired immediately.

Now I'll think not twice, but thrice before advocating open source software to noobs like Alice.

I still feel confused, shocked, and guilty.

Who is to blame for this?

Her boss?

I think all of the above.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

When you take your Mac to an Apple Genius

My MacBook hasn't slept for six months now, and its warranty will be expiring soon. Therefore I thought I should have it checked by an Apple Genius. I took it to the nearest Apple Store, and there are a few things I would like to share with every Mac user.


1. Perform a full system backup
If he finds there is a problem with your Mac and it needs to be fixed in their workshop, you will get your Mac back after 3-5 working days. It is advisable to make a full system backup just in case something goes bad during repair.

2. Print out all the contacts from Address Book
If you're like me, you like to access all your contacts phones, emails and addresses from your Mac's Address Book application. Quicksilver makes things so easy, doesn't it? But now you don't have your Mac because the Apple Genius is taking it apart for repairs, and you need to call or email someone urgently, and you're frantically looking for your paper address book which you stopped updating years back anyway. A printed list of contacts is very handy in such a case.

3. Deauthorize your computer for iTunes account
You can play the items you bought from iTunes online store on upto five computers. If the hard drive dies or is erased during repairs, you lose one of those five golden chances. To prevent this from happening, deauthorize your computer to play iTunes content before every possible hard disk erasure.

4. If you installed third party RAM, also take your original Apple RAM
If the problem is due to third party RAM, the Genius will want to replace that with the original RAM that came with your Mac. In most cases they should have spare RAM to test with (as they did in my case) but I had to wait for 5 minutes before he could find it in his tool box. Therefore it's a good idea to take your original Apple RAM with you to the Apple Genius.

5. Remove any disks in the drive.

6. What if you need an alternative computer to with with as your Mac is out for repairs?
Call Apple beforehand and let them know. There is someone who badly needed to work as his Mac was gone for repairs, and Apple was kind enough to send him another Mac to work with temporarily.


7. Look for your name on the screen
In the store, the Apple folks display a neat list of people who are waiting to see the Apple Genius. So you can see your name in the queue on the screen. Also, they'll call out your name when they're ready to see you. So keep your ears alert.

8. Remember to get a printed receipt from the Genius.
The receipt is a proof that your Mac is with them for repairs, and it contains additional information about what kind of repairs might be needed, and if you need to pay anything (if you ran out of warranty or AppleCare protection plan). Do not lose it.


9. Check the status of repairs
Click here to check the repair status (sign in with your apple ID - easiest way)

10. Check your phone voicemail.
They'll call you when your Mac is ready to be picked up.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Visual anatomy of Blogger CSS

Click this image to see an overview of the gross visual anatomy of blogger css code. This image will tell you which code goes where:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What's up with Mac OS X mouse cursor?

Almost everyone who owns a Mac believes it's not only the most advanced operating system, it's also graphically superior. The Apple Human Interface Guidelines indeed lay out a comprehensive set of rules to follow. True indeed, I've seen the same program for windows and Mac, and the Mac version looks far superior.

"We made the buttons on the screen look so good you'll want to lick them."

Despite its aesthetic graphic appeal, there is one weak area which Apple remains to work upon.

Let's face it, all Mac users: It's the OS X mouse pointer.

It's primitive, way too small, and looks like a destitute orphan when compared to other parts of OS X interface. In other words, the default pointer in Mac OS X is ugggggggly.

Windows --- |---Ubuntu--- | ---Mac OS X

Not only the graphic appearance is ugly and not user-friendly, also the display is buggy at times. When typing my documents in NeoOffice, sometimes the cursor just vanishes, only to come back after I scribble on the trackpad frantically. Sometimes the cursor is just there, but it's so beautifully camoflauged in its black color that I'm not able to see it at all!

There are ways to make it look bigger, and I tried one of them. I thought that a bigger pointer will be easier to see. But the result was disappointing, it now looks ugggggglier.

What the heck? Reminds me of a 80's arcade blip-blop game.

In my opinion, the default mouse cursor in Mac OS X needs some work - at least make it look like the default one in Windows. That will save my eyes some diopters (- and some money to my pocket because I won't be forced to buy that $10 software to change my default mouse pointer).

For those who do want to spend money to customize the pointer, check these out:
Also see iCursor

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mac OS X: "Airport" process using more than 99% CPU

I don't remember when it started, but I noticed my MacBook is running hotter these days, and the fan switches on to full speed after few minutes of login. iStat Pro, the dashboard widget, tells me that the process "airport" has very high CPU (about 99-100%). There is no application named airport in my system, so it's a child process of some other application.

After much tinkering around, I found the solution. The culprit was Vine Server, a VNC server application. I had deleted the application from my applications folder earlier, but apparently it left something behind. What did it leave? Spotlight didn't show any results for "VNC", but Quicksilver showed this:

Image Hosted by

So I deleted this app from my hard drive (I had to enter password), rebooted, and now everything works fine.

Lesson for Mac Users: If "airport" shows very high CPU usage, remove everything related to VNC.
Lesson for Apple: Please include a clean uninstaller with OS X.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How to easily switch between different language input methods in OS X

I'm a trilingual person, and need to change frequently between different input methods. Sometimes I use all the three languages in the same email message.

OS X provides a tool to change language input methods in International preference pane. But it's a pain to evoke that each time I want to change the input method. So I have come up with a shortcut to accomplish the same task, but in a more convenient way.

Follow these steps to create a convenient keyboard shortcut for changing input language in OS X:

1. Open System Preferences and go to "International".

2. Go to "Input Menu" tab and make sure the languages you want are checked.

3. Click the "keyboard shortcuts" button at the buttom of Input Menu tab of International.

4. Search for "Input Menu" in the list of applications registered with Keyboard Shortcuts.

5. Check the "Select Previous input menu", click the "Shortcut" box next to it, and press Command and [ key at the same time.

6. Check the "Select Next input menu", click the "Shortcut" box next to it, and press Command and ] key at the same time.

7. Close the keyboard shortcuts preferences pane.

Start any application (e.g. TextEdit) and type a sentence. Now press command and [ and type another sentence. If all goes well, congratulations! You are now able to switch between different language input methods using a simple keyboard shortcut!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Quicksilver for slow typists

Quicksilver is a great tool for all Mac users. I use it all the times.

The problem arises when one of my friends wants to use quicksilver, and she's a damn slow typist. She presses one key per second. And Quicksilver resets the search being typed after a short interval (less than a second). A quick fix to this is the following:

1. Invoke quicksilver by pressing ctrl+space or whatever key you have set it up to.
2. Open Quicksilver preferences by pressing command+, while Quicksilver search interface is still open.
3. Go to the Preferences tab, if it's not already selected.
4. Click on Command in the left side pane.
5. In the bottom, there is a little slider named "Reset search after". Make sure it's checked, and slide it towards right and make it 2.00 seconds.

Quicksilver preferences

6. Now close the preferences, and try Quicksilver again, but type real slow. It'll now work for slow typists! :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Google adds graphical usage indicator in Gmail

I signed in to my Gmail account today, and noticed that in addition to text-based usage notification ("You are currently using 1726 MB (60%) of your 2852 MB"), there is a graphic bar to indicate that too:

Interestingly enough, I could make this show up only on Firefox! IE doesn't display this as yet!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Steve Jobs' 20 rules of success

Steve Jobs' rules for success:
  • First thing: As soon as you join/start a company, make a list of strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your company on a piece of paper.
  • Don't hesitate in throwing bad apples out of the company.
  • Don't worry about too many things at once. Take a handful of simple things to begin with, and then progress to more complex ones.
  • People judge you by your performance, so focus on the outcome.
  • Success generates more success. So be hungry for it. "I've always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do."
  • Ask for feedback, from people with diverse backgrounds. Each one will tell you one useful thing.
  • If you're at the top of the chain, sometimes people won't give you honest feedback because they're afraid. In this case, disguise yourself, or get feedback from other sources (Steve Jobs actually called Apple Customer Care disguising himself as a customer, just to check on them).
  • Focus on those who will use your product - listen to your customers first.
  • Advertise. If they don't know it, they won't buy your product.
  • Pay attention to design. "We made the buttons on the screen look so good you'll want to lick them." "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."
  • "Innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower." If there's a better technology available, use it no matter if anyone else is not using it. Be the first, and make it an industry standard. “I think this is the start of something really big. Sometimes that first step is the hardest one, and we've just taken it.”
  • “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
  • Learn to criticize your enemies openly, but honestly.
  • If you partner someone whom you don't like, learn to like them - praise them and benefit from them - "Ecosystem approach"
  • Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.
  • Do your best at every job. No sleep!
  • Think about not just tomorrow, but the future. “I want to put a ding in the universe.”
  • There's always "one more thing" to learn!
  • "Better be a pirate than to join the navy"
  • "Think different"

Friday, May 11, 2007

How (and why) to disable apache server signature on your web pages

In the default configuration of Apache, any error pages will contain the full signature of the server (version number) which could be exploited by hackers. Each version has some deficiencies that could be exploited, and a hacker who knows your version number may benefit from it by focused attacks.

To disable server signature, you will need to edit your /etc/apache2/apache2.conf file.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Press Ctrl+w to search for "ServerSignature" and press return. If you find it, edit it to:

ServerSignature Off
ServerTokens Prod
If you don't find it, just scroll to the end of the file and add these two lines.

Then, we need to reload apache configuration to put this new change in effect:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

Check the new configuration by entering an invalid address on your server URL (e.g. You should not see the server signature now, just the server name.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mac OS X: Show hidden files and folders in Finder

1. The easy way:

To show hidden files, just download and run this app.
To hide them again, download and run this app.
(Word of warning: Both these applications relaunch the Finder. So make sure you don't have any applications running, otherwise everything works just fine)

2. A little more geeky way:

To show hidden files and folders in Finder, open a terminal window and type this:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

(the above sentence is all in one line), press return, and then type:

killall Finder
(and press return)

Finder will relaunch and you will be able to see hidden files and folders.

To revert (hide hidden items), type this in terminal:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles FALSE

(all in one line again), press return, and then this:

killall Finder
(and press return)
That's it!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Control fan speed in your macbook

iStat Pro widget tells me that my CPU temperature is in excess of 50 degrees celsius while doing casual work, and it's not good. I want a cool laptop so that it doesn't burn my lap. I was thinking of buying a laptop cooler, but Google directed me to some other place.

There is this little program "smc fan control" which lets you adjust your minimum fan speed. The default is 1500rpm, but you can adjust the minimum speed to anything between 1500 and 6000 rpm. I find that setting the minimum fan speed to 3000rpm keeps the macbook cooler, and does not produce much fan-sound either.

Download here:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Deny.hosts file

I described last week how many (zombie) computers are attempting to gain anauthorized access to my server via open SSH port. Though I haven't been able to configure my iptables firewall as per my wishes, here's a temporary fix:

This guy has released his hosts.deny file to the public, so that we can ban these bad guys. Just copy it to your /etc/ directory (overwriting existing deny.hosts file) and restart your network or computer. It'll start working straightaway.

Additionally, here is a very nice and easy tutorial about installing denyhosts, an automated program which scans your logs for multiple unauthorized login attempts, and bans those hosts from accessing your computer।

To install Denyhosts on Ubuntu:
sudo apt-get install denyhosts

The default installation of Denyhosts in Ubuntu comes with reasonably secure default settings. It also adds a daemon at startup! Being a zero-configuration daemon, I recommend it over fail2ban (which does require configuration by hand in Ubuntu).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How to backup iWeb sites in Mac OSX

iWeb is an incredibly simple application to make web-pages. I have made websites for myself and a few friends using iWeb, and now it's time for a system reinstall. Now, how do I backup (and restore) those websites? Here's the answer:

1. Open finder and go to the folder: /%username%/Library/Application Support/iWeb/
2. There will be a file named "Domain.sites" there - this is the file you want to backup. (If you have chosen to hide file extensions, this file will just be visible as "Domain"). Copy this file to a flash-drive or any other external location.
3. Reinstall the system, and then place this file in the same directory back again!

That's it! You can now make backups of your iWeb sites! :-)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ubuntu votes for people's favorite packages automatically

While ransacking the system files to look for logs and other things, I noticed that cron runs an application called "popularity-contest" every month.

user@ubuntu:/etc$ ls cron*


apt find man-db samba sysklogd
bsdmainutils logrotate mysql-server standard



man-db popularity-contest sysklogd

I was curious as to what is "popularity-contest"! The name is interesting! So I ran this application from CLI, and it spitted out a list of packages in Terminal. A quick google search revealed the following:

The popularity-contest package sets up a cron job that will periodically anonymously submit to the Debian developers statistics about the most used Debian packages on this system.

This information helps Debian making decisions such as which packages should go on the first CD. It also lets Debian improve future versions of the distribution so that the most popular packages are the ones which are installed automatically for new users.

This is a nice and democratic way, but a little creepy for the unsuspecting and new users like me.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hack attempts at my server

I really love the ease of setting up a web server with Ubuntu - I set it up months back, and just forgot about it. Today morning I noticed some suspicious hard disk activity on my server, and I decided to check what's happening.

Someone might have been trying to hack into my box!!!

I got suspicious.

A common hacking technique in Linux involves dictionary based attacks on ssh (port 22), which is open on many servers for remote management. I have this port open too, because I love to connect to my server and administer it from my office etc. So, how do I know if someone is trying to hack my server by logging in via port 22?

Well, I read the SSH Daemon (sshd) log entries. By default, the sshd dumps its log in /var/log/auth.log . So I open that file in nano (command: nano /var/log/auth.log) and I see numerous failed login attempts through ssh. The log also contains their IP addresses, so I check their websites by entering their IP address in my browser. Many of such sites are actually running on commercial web servers, that have been hacked by exploiters. One such site is this:

This unsuspecting person has her website hacked, and there is an automated hacking tool installed there, which looks for more computers and hacks them. Thus, the hacker could soon control an army of hacked servers! This can be used very effectively for a DOS ("Denial of Service") attack on an enemy server to knock it down. I immediately wrote an email to this person to check the security of their server.

So, the SSH attack has been performed. Was it successful? The auth.log file will tell you if it accepted the password for a given user.

Also, you can use the last command to view the last few users who logged in (latest on the top) - this will also show the domain from which they logged in, the date and time, and also the length of time they stayed logged in. If you see any users logging in from any domains that you don't know of, they probably hacked your password! You might want to change the username and password (both) immediately, and please make a stronger password this time. Also check any suspicious modifications in the /etc/sudoers file (command: sudo nano /etc/sudoers), and check if any new users have been added to any groups (command: sudo groups root username)

A potential failure of this diagnostic process can be when the hacker clears the auth.log entries. I will explore more about this and update this post later.

Still, I am greatly amazed by the rock-solid security of Ubuntu - I just have the default system install and have not configured any firewall or anything, and my box is wide open to the internet, and still I'm not hacked! Extremely impressive!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How to change your home directory in linux/unix

How do you modify a user's home directory in Unix/Linux?

1. Login as a user with sudo privileges.
2. Enter this command:

sudo nano /etc/passwd
3. Nano text editor opens up. Locate the username you would like to change the home directory of (the last added user is in the end), and just enter whatever directory you would like. For example, the home directory for the user jack is set to /home/jack in this file:


But I want him to use a home directory of /home/whatever. So I just change the above line to:


Now when the user jack logs in, his home directory would be /home/whatever.

Related post for changing home directory in Mac OS X can be found here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to add blogger RSS to yahoo 360

I have a yahoo 360 page, and was wondering if there is a way I can add RSS of this blog of mine to yahoo 360. Here is how I did it:

1. Open your blogger page.
2. Click the little orange RSS icon in the address bar, and it will display the full RSS.
blogger RSS in firefox
3. Copy the address URL of this RSS. The link will be like:
4. Now open your yahoo 360
5. Click "My Page" link
6. Scroll down to the "feeds" section, click "Edit Feeds"
7. Paste the URL in one of the empty text-fields in the next page, and make sure the "can be seen by" is set to "public"
8. Click "Save".

Note: Following these steps gave me a nasty error message every time I clicked on the save button. But my blog is now showing up on my 360 despite the error message! Let me know if this worked for you. Thanks to Neetesh for assistance!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Funny: Pistachio Laptop Cooler

Image Hosted by

My roommate's Sony Vaio was running exceptionally hot during one of his extended cyberchatting sessions. He's too lazy to go out and buy a laptop cooler, and can't afford to shut the machine down for a few minutes. So this is his innovative way to cool his laptop: Place it on a bowl of Pistachios. The pistachios are a very effective cooling agent for laptops - please call a computer researcher to confirm this :)

(As a side effect, the pistachios will last longer too)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Linux: The non-stop performer

I am hosting five websites from my home server using Linux. This "server" is a very old computer barely capable of running modern operating systems, but is running Apache web server on Ubuntu Linux successfully. I had configured this as a server many months back, and then just forgot about it. I never had any downtime problems so far (except once when I filled up the entire 1GB HDD by installing some updates leading to a kernel panic), and no crashes!

Yesterday, I just remembered I have a web-server which has been running all day and all night, and I became curious how many days it has been up. I checked, and here is what I saw:

The server was up for 91 days non-stop! I didn't have to worry about it at all! This is truly great, and I can now feel why the Linux community is so enthusiastic about their software!
Thank you Linus!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

MacBook insomnia

My MacBook bought 7 months back was working flawlessly until recently, when it started failing to sleep when I close the lid. This used to happen once in a while, and I had to reboot it to fix it. But the problem returned after some time of use.

The failure to go into sleep mode took some serious turns two weeks back when the MacBook would never go to sleep whatsoever, reboots after reboots. I didn't install any new applications as far as I remember, nor did I change any hardware in the MacBook.

I repaired permissions, repaired the disk, to no avail! I even reinstalled the entire Mac OS X and updated it completely, didn't work either. I reset the PRAM etc. as described on Apple support website, even that didn't solve the problem.

Now the status is, the MacBook can go to sleep if it's rebooted freshly. But as I keep using it, it fails to go to sleep, and the only way I can transport my MacBook to school is by turning it off completely, which is quite like a Dell notebook (in fact, worse) and I don't like it.

The Apple website doesn't mention anything about MacBooks failing to sleep. Searching on other Mac help sites has revealed that several people have this problem, but there is no solid solution.

Can someone help me?

Monday, January 08, 2007

My first experience with Linux kernel panic

I was running a web server from my apartment using Ubuntu Linux. During vacations, I traveled to Washington DC and was managing the server by SSH. I installed a kernel update, and then the server wanted restart. After restart, I couldn't login!

Sending a (-technologically challenged) friend for investigation revealed that the server now has a kernel panic each time it boots up. This was because I filled up its capacious 1GB hard drive by installing the update, and that led to kernel panic.

I agree not many people are running Linux on a 1GB hard disk. Still it has ruined my server in no time at all! My suggestion to the Linux developers is to have an intelligent software updater that can recognize updates that will fill up the entire HD. It should be pretty simple to do, just takes some thought.