Almost a Blog

Ziff Davis Spam House

For quite some time I have been receiving rubbish emails on various topics and they all originate from Ziff Davis. I have never subscribed to any of these so called magazine or whatever they are, they have obviously bought some email list that I was unlucky enough to have been on and then automatically subscribed me to every email list under the sun. This is extremely irritating. I’ve written an email to the following people to unsubscribe me.

Since the bots will eventually pick this up I hope they get the same enjoyment from their own Spamming techniques as I have.

qemu bridged networking

My final /etc/networking/interfaces file looks like (this is for Debian)

auto lo eth0 tap0 br0

iface lo inet loopback

iface br0 inet dhcp
bridge_ports eth0 tap0
bridge_maxwait 0

iface eth0 inet manual

iface tap0 inet manual
pre-up tunctl -b -u <my_user_name> -t tap0
pre-up ifconfig tap0 up
post-down tunctl -d tap0

I stole this from the following site joost.damad.be

Beware the username enttry above needs to be changed to your username… You will also need to install uml-utilities. Once I had this running I could start my image as follows:

qemu -net nic -net tap,ifname=tap0,script=no -hda debian.img

Mount You must specify the filesystem type

I encountered this error while trying to mount an image created using qemu. The command from the docs says to run the following command to mount it on the loopback device.

mount -o loop,offset=32256 debian.img ./mntpoint

This is completely wrong because the data start is not 32kb into the image file. To figure out where it starts you need to use the following commands:

]$ fdisk -ul debian.img

you must set cylinders.
You can do this from the extra functions menu.

Disk debian.img: 0 MB, 0 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 0 cylinders, total 0 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00077ccb

     Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
debian.img1   *        2048     5785599     2891776   83  Linux
Partition 1 does not end on cylinder boundary.
debian.img2         5787646     6141951      177153    5  Extended
Partition 2 does not end on cylinder boundary.
debian.img5         5787648     6141951      177152   82  Linux swap / Solaris

Once you have this output you can see that the data starts at sector 2048 and since sector size is 512 on my image I need to set the offset to 512*2048. So the final working command is:

mount -o loop,offset=$((512*2048)) -t ext3 ./debian.img ./mntpoint

and we now have a mounted image file.

Changing your keymap

I recently had an issue where my keyboard when using synergy was inserting a double arrow instead of the usual greater than or less than sign also known as guillemotleft and guillemotright.

To fix this annoying bug I added

keycode 53 = x X greater greater greater greater
keycode 52 = z Z less less less less
keycode 24 = q Q at at at at

to a .Xmodmap in my home directory. If you are wondering how to find the keycodes etc you can use xev. To start it without restarting X use

xmodmap .Xmodmap

Google Bugs

I am not sure what has been happening to Google recently but over the last few months it has got quite awkward to use. The first thing I noticed was the new fade in. For me while it’s fading I’m unable to type anything into the search box. This is really annoying.

The other less annoying thing but annoying anyway is the fade itself, who on earth decided this was a good idea? Are they really that desperate for more searches that they will hide parts of their menus etc until you do something. I’m sure they’ve done some UED studies and concluded that it’s better for the majority of people, personally I hate it.

The second thing I noticed today is that I lose control over the Firefox menu when I have a Google Window open on the home page. I was able to repeat this quite easily and when I close the Google tab I’d get control back. This is very very annoying.


It’s getting more and more awkward to use Google and this spate of bugs is getting tiring. I appreciate Googles uncluttered page and speed but this is starting to take the piss.

As a Yahoo! employee these errors are of course good news for us. I’ve been an avid user of Google for years but I think it’s high time I stopped using Google anyway and the recent spate of bugs has given me a good reason to try Bing/Yahoo to see how I get on with them. Hopefully within a few weeks my muscle memory for “goo” will change to “bin” or “yah”.

Harry buys a new top


This is my first attempt at a cartoon strip. I drew it on a whiteboard and then took a photo, that’s why it’s dark. I would be surprised if this has not been done before, it’s a very obvious joke.

US British Bashing over Deep Horizon Disaster

Disclosure: I’m a BP shareholder.

I’ve been watching the Oil leak
since it started and I’m alarmed at what has happened; not because
I’m a shareholder but because of the damage caused. BP needs to pay
for the cleanup, I know this and it has cost me money in lost
capital, BP knows this and so does half the world so why are we
seeing ever increasing British bashing from the United States over
this event.

For instance: Barack Obama is on record
for using the old name of BP, “British Petroleum”, why would he
do this? I’m sure his advisers know when the name changed and the
implications of using it even if he doesn’t. Fox news are quick to
say things like “BP, formerly known as British Petroleum”, why
are they saying that? BP is BP and has not been calling itself
British Petroleum for some time. The level of bashing is getting out
of hand and the papers in the UK are seeing this as an outright
attack on the British. The news this morning was about three things,
the World Cup, David Cameroon in Afghanistan and the US bashing the
British over the oil slick.

The facts are that BP is a
multinational company and the US own a large chunk of it:


The rig that exploded was owned by an
American company and it was American people operating it. Bashing the
British achieves nothing and will only harm relationships between the
two states. The UK and the US have been staunch allies for years and
we’ve spent many more billions together than what it will take to
clean up the mess in the Gulf of Mexico. My fear is that some cretins
will be allowed to deflate what is a solid relationship that will
take much longer to repair that the oil slick. John Napier, CEO of
Royal and Sun Alliance has put it much better than me in the
following letter.


Barack Obama and the US public are
right to ask BP to withhold the dividend until we know the extent of
what has been done. I know the implications of this for the pension
funds and other investors but hey, we bought BP shares, it’s a bit
late to complain now. We took the risk so we’ll pay the price, that’s
how this stuff works and Barack Obama has a duty to
make sure that BP can pay for the damage. However, the anti British
rhetoric needs to stop because it achieves nothing and will only damage what is a fantastic relationship.

Oil sticks but grudges and ill feeling
sticks much longer and will cost us all far more than the billions it
takes to clean up the Gulf.

Gordon Browns Legacy

Darren Foreman was kind enough to point out an article detailing Gordon Browns Legacy on the BBC today:


If you click on the image you will be able to see the full positive legacy that Gordon Brown has had on our country.

On a serious note Gordon was the Chancellor of the exchequer that allowed Tony Blair to basically spend spend spend his way to popularity. He sold the gold reserves for a quarter of what they where worth a few years later. But, to top it all off he has managed to increase total tax as a percentage of GDP from 39.3% in 1997 to 42.4% in 2006, going to a higher level than Germany. So the nation is now within 8% of actually working for the governement. How sad is that. I will soon be an employee of the state who happens to go to work for less than 50% of what I actually earn. No matter how you butter it, Big (read Natzi or Communist) government is just around the corner. When a government needs 42% of it’s national output to fund what it does the nation being run by that governement is in serious trouble.

Superstition is Rife among developers

I was reading John Stuart Mill’s on Liberty and came across the following passage:

There is a class of persons (happily not quite so numerous as
formerly) who think it enough if a person assents undoubtingly to what
they think true, though he has no knowledge whatever of the grounds of
the opinion, and could not make a tenable defense of it against the
most superficial objections. Such persons, if they can once get their
creed taught from authority, naturally think that no good, and some
harm, comes of its being allowed to be questioned. Where their
influence prevails, they make it nearly impossible for the received
opinion to be rejected wisely and considerately, though it may still be
rejected rashly and ignorantly; for to shut out discussion entirely is
seldom possible, and when it once gets in, beliefs not grounded on
conviction are apt to give way before the slightest semblance of an
argument. Waving, however, this possibility—assuming that the true
opinion abides in the mind, but abides as a prejudice, a belief
independent of, and proof against, argument—this is not the way in
which truth ought to be held by a rational being. This is not knowing
the truth. Truth, thus held, is but one superstition the more,
accidentally clinging to the words which enunciate a truth.

Have you ever heard Perl and PHP fans get stuck into each other, or Java vs C++, or Vim vs Emacs (there can be only one). It’s crazy! Most of the noise is created by people who have no real understanding of the technology they are arguing against and some of them don’t even understand the tech they are arguing for. Wikipedia has an entry on Editor Wars.

Basically Mr Mill is stating that if you are arguing against something with little real understanding about what that something is then your just another superstitious idiot.

Political Compass

I am rather please with this: I took the Political Compass Test and I got the following result.


If you are wondering what the above means the following diagram will
give you an idea of where I stand compared to some famous characters.