Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ban China?

The Chinese military hit the New York Times in retaliation for a story exposing the Chinese Prime Minister's theft of billions from the Chinese people.

China is a mere kleptocracy, a country ruled by criminals for whom the law is a tool, just like the switchblade or handgun, to extract money from victims, defined as anyone other than themselves.

As a web admin, it is tempting to ban all of China, but typically I just ban a couple thousand Chinese IP addresses at a time whenever I detect bad activity. The Chinese are spending a lot of money trying to infect servers and computers in the West, and the New York Times is just the latest story. Even small sites are targeted for various reasons. Anytime I see activity from Russia, Ukraine, or China, that's always bad news.

The reason I hesitate to ban all of China is that I could be living in China myself, or someone like me could be. I don't like the idea of banning everybody due to the actions of a few thousand knuckleheads in the PLA. Besides, the thought has occurred to me that the tyrants of China want us to ban China, because they don't want their peasants learning the truth. In fact, provoking a blanket ban may even be an objective of these hack attacks.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Elance is a Boil that Needs to be Lanced

I've been exploring Elance lately. What a time-waster that place is. I spent an hour this morning providing a one-page proofreading sample for somebody writing a novel. Based on the page they took from their novel, they can't write well and are wasting their time. Unfortunately, they wasted my time too. I spent an hour proofing the one page and composing a proposal on Elance only to have them cancel the whole project, most likely because I was quoting a fair price, and they had a Wal-Mart budget. I am sure they wanted me to work for $5 an hour--that is exactly what they had in mind. That teaches me never to do any work until I see the money and to never do any work on spec or in hopes of getting work. You work on spec or in hopes of getting more work, and your hopes are dashed, everytime, because somebody finds a cheaper source or changes their mind or has a brainstorm or whatever the case may be. The next time someone asks for a sample, I am going to ask for $100.

I don't like Elance, because they take a greedy Mafia-esque 9% cut, holding the money for a week or longer before transferring it, and charging for every little thing. Want to make bids on a different category? That will cost you. Just making bids in the first place involves a substantial amount of time examining the job and determining whether it is a good fit or not. Then you have to deal with 10 to 30 other bidders who also want the job. Elance is just another slimy monster stealing work from Americans and farming it over to the third world. I think Elance is a boil that needs to be lanced.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, January 28, 2013

The ASUS E35M1-M

The ASUS E35M1-M has a bug: unplug your keyboard, lose your keyboard. I would not advise anyone to buy any kludge manufactured by ASUS. I'm sitting here looking at two keyboards in the trash can. They were perfectly good, in fact better than average keyboards, not cheapie specials by any means, until they came into contact with the ASUS E35M1-M, which killed them.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hillary Clinton & the Mansplainers

This article about Hillary's testimony before Congress was Hillary-ous. Most of the credit is due to Hillary herself. Her choice of glasses was a particular stroke of genius. She's a right likeable lady. My mother voted for her for in the 2008 Presidential primary, while I voted for Obama. Together, as they are now, they make a great team. I don't know whether Hillary would have made a better President, but she makes a superb Secretary of State.

I think the U.S. frankly needed a black President just to set things right, given our country's history, but Obama's election was not affirmative action. I wouldn't have voted for just any black candidate, even if the fellow agreed with me on everything. I wouldn't have voted for a smart and well-educated black man either, unless he was as good a speaker as Obama. I wouldn't have voted for a black politician that exaggerated and played havoc with the facts or played the race card all the time, like some I can recall. In fact, for me at least, a politician's skin color is neither advantage nor disadvantage; one simply observes after the fact that yes, it is probably a good thing for the sake of history that the U.S. showed the world we can elect a black man to the highest office. It's like thumbing our nose at the world, you see, with all its harsh criticisms of the United States, and saying, "You don't know us, after all. We're America, land of opportunity!"

A potential Hillary candidacy in 2016 would be interesting, but I am afraid she may be too old then. I don't know why she is stepping down as Secretary of State--missed that explanation.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Unorthodox Anti-Sicilian

I love "my" new pet line against the Sicilian, although I have to place the possessive adjective in quotes, because with my lowly rating and modest abilities, I have never invented a chess opening in my life that could actually win games on a consistent basis. I observed 2. Na3 in a game played by a grandmaster at a tournament, and it has been my stock reply to the Sicilian with increasing frequency for one reason--I win games with it.

[Event "Live Chess"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2013.01.23"]
[White "igor"]
[Black "A. Nony Mouse"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1486"]
[BlackElo "1456"]
[TimeControl "8|5"]
[Termination "igor won by resignation"]

1.e4 c5 2.Na3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bc4 a6 5.c3 Nc6 6.d4 b5 7.Bd5 Bb7 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Bg5 Nxd5 10.exd5 Na5 11.d6 c4 12.O-O Bd5 13.Nc2 Nc6 14.Ne3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 f6 16.dxe7 Bxe7 17.Bf4 O-O 18.Qg4 Re8 19.Nf5 Bf8 20.Nh6+ 1-0

What's nice about this game is that Black played reasonable moves, with no outright obvious blunders until the very end, although he did make mistakes that allowed me to gain tempos. Notice how I am constantly developing my pieces while Black fiddles with his knight and bishop and pawns with little to show for it.

The moves I am proudest of are 9. Bg5! and 18. Qg4!, which positioned the Queen just right. There may be refutations to each of these moves, as that is always a possibility with my games, but I don't know whether many players could find them in 8|5 blitz. I'm pretty sure that 9. .. Nxd5 was very bad, although not an obvious blunder--at least at my level of play, in blitz--but it lost time and allowed me to push the doubled pawn to d6, which was bad positionally for Black. Players are too eager to trade knights for bishops, based upon the stock wisdom that bishops are more powerful than knights. Yes, but. As dear old Chigorin knew, there are a lot of but's!Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, January 20, 2013

KDE, Dolphin, K3b, Thunderbird, Kmail, Password Hell, Kate & Jedit

I like many things about KDE 4.9.4. I have not noticed any sluggishness on my 25-watt computer, despite the reputation of KDE for being slow. Other desktops have weird problems that just boggle the mind as to how they made it past the beta stage. For instance, Mate's screensaver activates while watching video. Linux Mint Maya Xfce does not have a keyboard shortcut to open a Terminal--I had to research to figure it out, and then I wrote a tutorial on the subject. But KDE is beautiful, mature and smooth.

Two things brought me to KDE: Dolphin and K3b. Trying those KDE apps out persuaded me that KDE developers know what they are doing. In my opinion, Dolphin and K3b are among the best apps available in the Linux world. They compare well against anything offered in Windows.

The color picker widget in KDE is also excellent and much better than the similar app in Gnome. The Gnome app I used to use frankly confused me, and I am not easy to confuse. I felt as though the developer had gone out of his way to confuse the user. KDE's color picker is intuitive and works almost as well as Color Cop in Windows, but Color Cop I find even more intuitive. I prefer Color Cop's defaulting to hexadecimal color codes rather than (rgb,rgb,rgb) and have not found a way to get KDE's color picker to default to hex.

What I like about KDE is the overall quality of the applications. I think of KDE as Windows as it would be, if it were designed for maximum efficiency rather than to generate value for Microsoft's shareholders.

Some of what reviewers dismiss as KDE's "bells and whistles," I would not be without. For instance, I really like KDE's bouncing ball that provides a visual cue that I have clicked on a launcher. In Xfce, I would often click on Firefox two or three times, thus launching that many instances of the browser, which wasted time. With KDE, I have never clicked on Firefox more than once, because KDE provides that helpful visual cue, which to me is not a "bell and whistle," but a damned useful thing. I am not quite as fond of many other visual effects, possibly because I do not understand their purpose, and at any rate my poor little ATI video processor is not very fast, thanks to ATI's poor support of Linux, so I have disabled many of them. But I do like the bouncing ball. I also like the many widgets that can easily be added to the panel. I doubt whether I have plumbed the depths of that ocean, but there are a lot of widgets available for installation, more than I have time to evaluate. At the moment, I am using the following widgets: cpu temperature, date reminder, magnifying glass, klipper the clipboard tool (which looks simply awesome), the wonderful color picker, and network activity. I am not so sure what the activity manager is for, but I have installed it, so if there is ever any activity going on, I'll know about it.

Among Mate, Xfce, and KDE, I feel that KDE was easier to customize in every way. I like the appearance of the date and time in particular and the pop-up calender, which includes notification about important holidays. In Xfce, I was unable after many attempts to get the month and day of the week to display in a legible format on a dark background along with military time, with the hours and minutes being larger than the date. In KDE, all this was easy. However, if KDE does have a weakness, it is the risk that a novice user might screw something up and forget how to go back to the way things were. I'm not sure whether there is any safeguard for that sort of thing, so I try to be careful in the changes I make. Where operating systems are concerned, I'm an incessant tweaker and perfectionist and like things to be the way that I want them to be, which is why KDE is a match made in Heaven for me.

A possible exception to KDE's quality may be Kmail. My problem with Kmail was that it always asked me for my email account's password, despite my checking the box that said, "Remember password." Kmail would only remember the password until the next time the computer booted, and then if I loaded Kmail and tried to send email, it would ask me once again for my password. I don't know whether the Kmail developers are a paranoid bunch, but I am not quite so paranoid, and after the twentieth occasion of entering my email password, I said, "Enough." That is when I installed Thunderbird. Thunderbird remembers my password. I only entered it once, and that was enough for Thunderbird, which also works very well in other ways. If anything, Thunderbird was easier to set up than Kmail, much easier as a matter of fact because Kmail got my settings wrong for one of my email accounts, and I had to spent about an hour on configuration, compared to two minutes with Thunderbird. Also, Kmail wanted to fiddle with something called Kwallet. I did permit the use of Kwallet, but perhaps I should not have, because I received no apparent benefit from it other than a potential defense from cybercriminals, if they want to go to the trouble to steal my computer and read my emails to see what kind of nonsense I write in my spare time.

What frustrates me the most about Linux in general is the constant nagging and annoyances and wasted time and frustration over passwords. I really think that the best new feature for any Linux distro would be to execute a new concept in system security using something like a USB key or fingerprint for security purposes rather than requiring the poor user to type a cryptic code, which inevitably is going to be written down on a piece of paper next to the computer--thus defeating much of the supposed benefit to the password hell.

KDE's Kate text editor does not support macros. How I miss Notepad++! As for Libre Office, their macro system is a mess. I recorded a macro, but it didn't work. And the fact one would have to navigate through a menu with about five or six clicks just to run a macro makes their macro system of little value to me. I have very simple needs. I press a key, I want multiple keypresses to be produced. I don't want to handle the mouse each time I select a macro. Just keypress, macro. Easy. I don't need a complicated system of storing macros, as LibreOffice tries to foist upon the user. I don't understand all of that. LibreOffice asked me each time I saved my macro whether I wanted to overwrite Main. I don't know what Main is, and I don't care. But the macro did not work, anyway, so LibreOffice is not likely to be used again by me. I'm starting to think that I'm going to need a Windows machine around to get work done.

Update: after a morning searching online, I found a text editor in Linux that supports macros reasonably well--Jedit--and after some poking around, I figured out how to use the keyboard to activate my macro. The only problem with Jedit is that it can't open .doc files correctly, complaining about encoding errors, so I have to open a .doc file first in LIbreOffice, then copy and paste into Jedit, but that's a relatively minor issue. For macro support, I would have put up with a half-hour opening delay. Macros are that important.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unorthodox Response to the Sicilian

If one seeks a sound yet unorthodox reply to the Sicilian, here 'tis, illustrated by my latest 15/10:

[Event "Live Chess"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2013.01.xx"]
[White "igor"]
[Black "A. Nony Mouse"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1583"]
[BlackElo "1575"]
[TimeControl "15|10"]
[Termination "igor won by checkmate"]

1.e4 c5 2.Na3 a6 3.c3 d5 4.e5 Nc6 5.d4 Bf5 6.Bd3 e6 7.Bxf5 exf5 8.Nc2 Qb6 9.Qf3 Nge7 10.Ne2 cxd4 11.cxd4 Rc8 12.O-O Nxe5 13.dxe5 Rxc2 14.Nc3 d4 15.Qd3 Rxc1 16.Raxc1 dxc3 17.Rxc3 Nc6 18.Rd1 Qd8 19.Qf3 Qc8 20.e6 fxe6 21.Qh5+ g6 22.Qg5 Bg7 23.Rc2 O-O 24.h4 Qe8 25.h5 e5 26.h6 Bf6 27.Qe3 Nd4 28.Rc7 Qb5 29.b3 Rd8 30.Kh1 Qb6 31.Qc3 Nb5 32.Qc4+ Kh8 33.Rxd8+ Bxd8 34.Qf7 Qf6 35.Qxh7# 1-0Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


The NRA recently criticized somebody they disapprove of as elitist. I have observed that when American right-wingers use the word elitist, what they mean is intelligent. Gregory, the "elitist" mentioned above, is not a member of any elite that I am familiar with.

Rupert Murdoch is elite. The rich have real power that is secure, awesome in its scope, and long-lasting, with few checks upon their many privileges.

Autocratic world leaders might be called members of the elite, although in republics, a leader might be regarded as a high-level worker and not much more than that, as his position is insecure and limited by checks and balances.

Intelligent people compose a different kind of elite, one that exists purely as an abstract idea, if we imagine humankind to be arbitrarily divided into groups based upon their I.Q. scores. I.Q. scores are a contentious issue today, and not many people are willing to accept their infallibility, but perhaps this remains a touchy issue for right-wingers with personal overtones. In reality, intelligent people are hardly united, but span the spectrum on political issues. They do tend to understand the meaning of words, however.

Unfortunately for the world of Man, intellect does not translate into power as much as one might wish. This is obvious from a survey of senators, representatives and MPs. When I look at the senators that represent my red state, I would not expect any of them to feel the slightest motivation to solve any problems, although they are good hands at creating new ones. They are most of them motivated by the desire for power and money. They didn't go into politics because of their intellect or capability to solve problems, but merely for personal gain.

To be sure, intellect enjoys a tangential relationship with power, because an idiot could hardly hold on to power without being dethroned by a rival. To remain rich, a rich man has to be able to choose the right accountants, the right lawyers. But no one could seriously make the case that Rupert Murdoch is anywhere in the ballpark of Albert Einstein or any other genius for that matter.

I do find it amusing that right-wingers are so concerned with portraying intelligence as something arrogant, when in reality, people with money are the real elite in this world.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Add a Keyboard Shortcut to Open a Terminal in Linux Mint Xfce

Opening a terminal is one of the most frequent activities one does on a fresh new Linux installation, and even on more mature systems, I do like to poke around the terminal on occasion to look at this or that.

In Xubuntu 12.10, you can open a terminal via the keyboard shortcut "super-T."
What does the word "Super" mean? "Super" refers to the Windows key found on many keyboards, located between the Ctrl and Alt key and having a Windows flag on it.
In Linux Mint Maya Xfce, this shortcut was removed. If you click on Menu | Settings | Keyboard | Application Shortcuts, you will find that there is no keyboard shortcut for opening a Terminal window.

However, the good news is we can fix Linux Mint Xfce and restore the missing "Open Terminal" shortcut. After doing a bit of research on the web, I found the command for opening a terminal, and it's not xfce4-terminal, but gnome-terminal.

The precise steps are:
  1. Click on Menu | Settings | Keyboard | Application Shortcuts
  2. Click "Add"
  3. In the command, enter gnome-terminal
  4. For the shortcut, press Super-T and ok, you're done!

Connecting Linux Shares to a Windows Network


This is a basic level tutorial for Linux novices who are wrestling with their new operating system trying to get it to share directories on their Home network instead of serving up "Access Denied" to Windows. I am assuming that your level knowledge is at or near zero here, much like mine was about a week ago.

After a long struggle with usernames, groups and all of that wonderful stuff, I just succeeded in connecting several Linux directories to an existing Windows network so that files can be copied back and forth from Windows. Linux still cannot see the Windows shares, but that will have to be figured out the next time I have a couple days to kill. I am not worried about that part as I do not use the Linux box for much besides htpc.

My computers run Windows XP and have a network already in place that has been working fine for years using DHCP and a router without anything fancy. I consider this the typical home network scenario although many folks these days use wireless routers. I did not change anything on my Windows boxes and you won't either. Note: Due to massive retardation in Windows 7, the following instructions will not suffice for that OS. I was unable to network Linux with Windows 7 after many hours trying.

The only missing link on my network for several days was the Linux box, but now everything is more or less okay.

Keep in mind that Linux is designed from the ground up with security in mind, in fact this is the number one bragging point for Linux for decades, so usability takes a back seat. What I want to do is disable the security as much as possible and make usability the driver in this vehicle.

The following is a very simple and not secure example of smb.conf that will let you access your Linux box from your Windows box via the network. I do not need the heavy security of Linux due to having a hardware firewall in my router and certain other factors. If this is your scenario as well, then read on, otherwise you're in for a long ride, better put your seat belt on and browse another tutorial besides this one.

Here's a little tip for Windows users that will really save them some time. When you are testing your Linux shares in Windows Explorer, remember, all you have to do is click on "My Network Places," click on the window on your right, and keep that window in focus. Then, anytime you make changes over on your Linux box and want to see if you can now access the shares or not, all you have to do is hit F5 for a refresh and Windows will update its network info. Then click on each share to see whether you gain access. No, you do not need to reboot Windows or exit out of Windows Explorer or anything else that wastes time. I learned this through trial and error. Again, I made no changes to Windows or to the router.

After installing Linux Mint for the first time, you need to download Samba in order to network. Either enter the text commands to apt-get if you prefer the command line interface or else use the Package Manager and search for Samba and let it do the installing for you. I prefer the Package Manager myself because it requires just a few clicks and you're done. I like the Package Manager and think it's a great idea and too bad Windows XP didn't have one.

Use the File Manager to browse over to your /etc directory. I can usually find mine by clicking on "File System" in the left area. Next, click on a directory called samba. Once you're in /etc/samba, right-click on smb.conf and choose "Open as Administrator." After entering your password, your text editor, Pluma in Linux Mint, will load and you can modify the file.

Adjust the "server string" and the "user" and "group" to your own scenario. I just made up ones for this example. Your path may be different as well. This is just an example that provides the basic idea. Workgroup is very important. You must go into Windows to find out what your workgroup is called. Click on Start | Control Panel | System | Computer Name. In Windows XP, that is where you find out what your workgroup is, or if you don't have one set, that is where you set it. However, server string and netbios name are different. You can make them up, call them whatever you want. Workgroup must be legit though and exactly match what Windows is looking for. I don't know whether case is important but I would match case too if it were me.

I have found through trial and error that it is a good idea to include "bcast" and "lmhosts" in your "name resolve order." I think including these will allow your Linux box to access your Windows box. If you remove bcast and lmhosts, as I once did as an experiment, then your Windows can find your Linux box but not vice versa. It may be that setting the netbios name is important too, I don't know but I made that change about the same time and now I have two-way sharing, which is what everybody wants.
workgroup = WORKGROUP
server string = thelinuxboxofigor
netbios name = igoroystershell
security = share
name resolve order = hosts wins bcast lmhosts

path = /home/igor/Downloads
force user = igor
force group = thelinuxbox
read only = no
guest ok = yes
available = yes
browsable = yes
public = yes
writable = yes

path = /media/sda1/music
force user = igor
force group = thelinuxbox
read only = no
guest ok = yes
available = yes
browsable = yes
public = yes
writable = yes

You can add additional directories besides just Music and Downloads. Just copy, paste, and modify as needed. Comment out the other stuff because it may interfere with sharing. Remember, Linux is all about the security. In this example security is not our friend. We just want things to work, security can come later.

In addition, you want to make sure your /etc/hosts file looks something like this: localhost thelinuxboxofigor.WORKGROUP thelinuxboxofigor

Note that the above settings not only configure your network. They will also prevent an annoying little error message when you try to sudo anything, that is, run things from the Terminal command line as an administrator.
Also, /etc/hostname should have the name of your box, that is, the word that comes after your username and the ampersand when you open up a Terminal. If you open up a Terminal, you will immediately see what I am talking about.

The next thing to do, maybe the most important, is to set permissions for the directories you wish to share. Make them wide open to everybody with read/write access. Also click on Share permissions and then Windows. It is not enough setting permissions for a directory. You also have to allow permissions for all the parent directories as well or else it won't work, the folders won't permit access on the Network! I didn't realize this was so, but trial and error showed that it was on my network.

Taking these steps will allow easy access to the Linux box without the annoying "Access Denied" errors. Some day I'm going to think about allowing access to the Windows shares from Linux, but for now I am respecting a truce between Linux and me, so that I can evacuate the wounded personnel from the battlefield. Update: I think the above config will permit two-way sharing on the network. Mine is working both ways now. Knock on wood.


There may be other files that could use modification for networking but I don't remember any off hand. I modified so many things over the course of my journey, and it all becomes a blur after a while, but hopefully this tutorial will help me remember.

If you are a novice then I would recommend learning about /etc/fstab as it contains some pretty important controls that can effect performance and security, though I doubt whether it effects networking. My fstab looks like this based upon my research:

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# Use 'blkid' to print the universally unique identifier for a
# device; this may be used with UUID= as a more robust way to name devices
# that works even if disks are added and removed. See fstab(5).
proc /proc proc nodev,noexec,nosuid 0 0
# / was on /dev/sda1 during installation
UUID=blah-de-blah / ext4 errors=remount-ro,noatime 0 1
# /home was on /dev/sda6 during installation
UUID=blah-de-blah /home ext4 defaults,noatime 0 2
# swap was on /dev/sda5 during installation
UUID=blah-de-blah none swap sw 0 0
tmpfs /tmp tmpfs nodev,nosuid,size=2G,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
tmpfs /var/lock tmpfs nodev,nosuid,size=128M,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
tmpfs /var/run tmpfs nodev,nosuid,size=512M,noatime,mode=1777 0 0

"noatime" kills the Linux process that keeps track of how much each file is accessed. I don't care about such statistics, although a network admin for a big company might. UUID is better than using labels because it makes the OS more agile in accepting new drives. The last digit at the end of each line controls the priority of each file system to fsck when it is checking for errors. So boot is highest priority at 1, followed by the rest. I have set tmpfs to use a maximum of two gigs of RAM instead of swapping out to /tmp on the hard drive, because Linux does not need that, it has plenty of memory on my box. Don't really see the need for a swapfile in modern times, but Linux is an old OS and grew up in the time when memory was measured in megabytes or even kilobytes--as did I. Based upon my reading over at the wonderful and superb Arch Linux documentation goldmine, I've determined that /tmp, /var/lock, and /var/run can be converted to tmpfs, thus conserving I/O to the hard drive and using memory instead. When one has 4 gigabytes of RAM, one wishes to use it. Whether these mods really affect system responsiveness, I have not determined, but I find it interesting that the latest version of Fedora (18) sets /tmp to be tmpfs by default. Really I do not know why all the other distros don't follow suit.

How to Change the Pictures Folder in Mate-Screensaver's Slideshow

mate-screensaver's GUI doesn't permit changes to the pictures folder option for the slideshow. This can present a small problem for some of us who have our pictures located in other places.

To change the Pictures folder in mate-screensaver, open a Terminal and enter:

sudo pluma /usr/share/applications/screensavers/personal-slideshow.desktop

Scroll down to the end of the file. Change the line that says:

Exec=/usr/lib/mate-screensaver/slideshow --location=/home/Pictures

to instead indicate your desired pictures folder. On my rig, it was:

Exec=/usr/lib/mate-screensaver/slideshow --location=/media/sda1/pix

Then click save. Go to Control Center | Preferences | Screensaver and you should see the Pictures Folder option. Click on it and presto, you should see a picture displayed in the preview.

Important: to disable mate-screensaver while watching videos, refer to this thread.

Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

How to Launch a Slideshow in Linux Mate

Linux Mint Mate makes it easy to initiate a screensaver slideshow. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and select Create a Launcher. Use this command for the Launcher:

mate-screensaver-command -a

When you want to activate the screensaver/slideshow, simply click on the launcher.

If you're curious, open a terminal and see what else mate-screensaver-command can do. Enter:

mate-screensaver-command --help

I would like for it to have the ability to change the timed delay between images. Currently, the delay is preset to 20 seconds. I would like to set it to 60. However, I don't see a method of doing this other than via the time parameter in mate-screensaver-command, and I have not been able to get that parameter to work.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

When Xfce Desktop Icons Disappear

Xfce has a problem from time to time where all the icons on the desktop disappear. This will happen if you try to delete tens of thousands of files, get tired of waiting after a couple hours, and restart the computer. In that case, you can log back in to a perfectly blank desktop without your icons.

The preferred way to delete tens of thousands of files is to use the command line; the GUI likes to crash all the time.

The optimal fix for the disappearing icons in Xfce is to enter xfdesktop at the command line. Then hit Ctrl-C and exit. Your desktop icons should be restored.

If it doesn't work: you must trick Xfce to let you have your icons back. Go to Settings -> Desktop and change the background of the desktop to something different--a different wallpaper. Then enter xfdesktop at the command line.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Fix the Helvetica Font Error in Xscreensaver Glslideshow

The Problem: Xscreensaver displays an error message in both Ubuntu and Linux Mint when running Glslideshow, because a missing font is referenced in the glslideshow hack. The error message is "unable to load font "-*-helvetica-medium-r-normal-*-180-*", using "fixed". Helvetica is a copyrighted font, and Adobe is the copyright holder. You can buy the font, or you can modify glslideshow's source, or you can try a workaround.

The Solution: This is only a workaround instead of a proper solution, such as fixing and recompiling the source code, but it is easy and won't take but five minutes. We can get rid of the error message, if not the error itself. The error will still arise, but we don't need to see it anymore.

Open your file manager. Navigate to your home directory and turn on the option to view hidden files. Edit the hidden file, .xscreensaver, (~/.xscreensaver) as root. If the file does not exist, you may create it. You must edit the file as root in order to modify the file.

Change the option:

captureStderr: True


captureStderr: False

Although it may not be necessary, I also changed

overlayStderr: True


overlayStderr: False

I suggest also changing the option Font from Helvetica to: *-medium-r-*-140-*-m-*, although by itself this will not eliminate the initial error message displayed on the first picture. The problem lies in a hardcoded reference to Helvetica found within glslideshow's source code. With a hex editor, one could fix glslideshow's binary for good, changing helvetica to a font that is installed on Ubuntu and its derivatives, but that's dodgy, as a future update would wipe out the change.

While you're editing your xscreensaver file, examine the ImageDirectory option and change it to whichever directory you intend to store your slideshow pictures. Some of the other options are self-explanatory. The mysterious "nice" option just refers to Xscreensaver's priority in comparison to other programs. The default, ten, is low but higher will make it even lower. I left that one alone.

When you're done playing around with the options, save the file and exit.

Now let's edit two more files, found in /etc/X11/app-defaults: XScreenSaver and XScreenSaver-gl. It may not be necessary to change the Stderr options in these files, because according to the comments, the config file in your Home directory takes precedence. I went ahead and changed the options anyway just to be sure that the error message would not display everytime I ran the slideshow. I also changed all references to Helvetica with some other font. "*-medium-r-*-140-*-m-*" should work for this purpose.

The end result is a cleaner slideshow experience without that error message popping up everytime the screensaver activates.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Linux Regen.Sh (Regen.Bat) for Dungeon Crawl

I am currently porting regen.bat over to Linux.

Alas, if only I could port regen.bat to the human existence! I have a feeling that would prove popular beyond all measure.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

AIG's Ingrates

The Federal government bailed out AIG, and as thanks, AIG is going to sue the government because it didn't like every aspect of the bailout terms. Can you remember the last loan agreement that you liked in every detail?

The leadership of AIG notes, "Our duty isn't to the country, it is to the shareholder."

Come to think of it, maybe we should all sue the government, because it ain't doing for us just what we want, when we want it.

I've got a solid case. Instead of my education at the public school, I preferred my education to have been on a beach in Hawaii, two hours a day, with six hours a day recess, because play is so important, as pediatricians have discovered.

Instead of the old battle-axes I had for teachers, my teacher should have been a good-looking young college graduate that wore shorts and a tee shirt, with the tee shirt being entirely optional.

For lunch, instead of the abominable cafeteria food they fed us--leathery soybean burgers with greasy tater tots as "vegetables"--replace that with chocolate milk and a choice of fresh lobster, rib eye steak, ribs, scallops, or fried chicken every day.

I doubt my legal case would get very far, because I can't afford fancy lawyers like AIG's ingrates. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you-- AIG! --AGH! --I think they bit the middle finger I was giving them.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Chess Book

Over the years, I've developed offbeat chess openings to break my opponents out of book early, because I haven't the patience or desire to book up on the Ruy Lopez, Queen's Gambit or Sicilian, and would much rather play my own game using my own ideas.

As White, I play either 1. c4, b4, g4, or e4. I like b4 and g4, these textbook illustrations if not exaggerations of hypermodern theory. The more the masters and Wikipedia criticize the flank openings, the more determined I am to play them. But I also like to revive ancient Classical openings that have fallen out of fashion in the modern chess scene to the extent that no one even remembers that they are actually sound openings rather than mere blunders. I am talking about Chigorin's Defense and Bishop's Defense, two of my favorites, but I also like the Brooklyn Defense, an obscure variation of Alekhine's 1. .. Nf6 which I think has merit if for no other reason than because nobody seems to know what to do against it.

If e4, then if Black responds e5, I play d4 for its novelty value, because few people recall the antique Center Game. Quite often players will try to hang on to the pawn after capture, which is a mistake due to the devastating c3. If on the other hand, my Queen is permitted to occupy d4, then that is often a slight advantage, and I follow up with Bc4 and rapid castling unless another opportunity presents itself. At any rate the Center Game avoids all bookish nonsense from Black, because no one analyzes nor often plays the Center Game anymore in the modern era. Inaccurate play by Black can be dangerous to his longevity in the Center Game. However, if both sides play correctly, the Center Game is your quick and easy passport to the middle game. This is why the masters dislike it, because there is a feeling that White should strive for an advantage in the opening. A Queen on d4 is only a slight advantage, if indeed it is any advantage at all. The novelty value is my angle, along with breaking out of book. I don't play in the upper echelons of the chess world, far from it, so I don't have the same concerns as the masters. That is also why I pay no heed to chess authorities that dismiss the Grob. For the record, there's a chess authority that endorses the Grob, an International Master by the name of Michael Basman. So there, chess snobs.

If Black attempts the Sicilian, then I have another obscure novelty, Na3, which stupefies every player, but is quite sound. The ideas are to break out of book early while avoiding committing to any specific plan and get the Queen's knight developed to a square that is well-suited against the Sicilian, while leaving open the possibility of c3. Note that with Black's pawn at c5, there is little danger of the knight being captured by Black's bishop before it relocates to an advantageous square. Those who play the Sicilian must be broken out of book early, I find, because their book knowledge tends to be deep. I have never found anyone to refute Na3, though I do lose due to my own middle game blunders. Changing one seemingly trivial move in the opening really does throw many players for a loop, forcing them to consume more time and energy in the opening than would otherwise be the case. Their instincts urge them to refute my stupid move, but how?

If Black attempts the French, then I'll play along for a few moves, with an eye toward placing my Queen on g5 before laying my knight down on f3. This was Nimzovich's idea, and it seems logical, as the kingside is Black's weakness in the French. Most French players don't seem to have prepared for this, and I don't like bothering with a laborious defense of the pawn on d4. I'd rather go straight for the kill if at all possible. I will be the first to admit that I have had the most difficulty against the French Defense of all openings. The Sicilian I enjoy playing against, but with the French, I really have to think.

If g4, I am playing the positional Grob, to be followed by h3 if need be to protect the spike. The tactical Grob that sacrifices the Spike is not to be countenanced, for a refutation has been published on Wikipedia, whose authors despise anything new, and want all players to open with e4, d4, or c4 only. Opening snobs like to sneer at the Grob, which is why it must be played against them. Breaking snobs of their prejudices is a civic duty that must be performed by every conscientious player.

If c4, I have no mind of the English, but instead intend a delayed Grob with g4 and Bg2, breaking out of Wikipedia's cozy lines, with the added advantage that Black is often reacting as if to the English, and is startled by a novelty, and d5 may no longer be an easy option for him. If however Black responds Nf6, then White can play h3 prior to g4, or else transpose to the Queen's Gambit.

If b4, I'm aiming for the Polish, a positional slow opening that gives about equal chances to both sides, but White has the advantage if Black is ignorant of it. White may achieve a slight positional advantage from his advanced Queenside pawns, but exploiting this is no small task. White must avoid leaving a hole at e4 that may be occupied by Black's knight.

As Black, against e4, I play either Nf6, g5, e5, c6, or d5.

d5 is the Center Counter of course, and I will attempt to capture with the knight rather than the Queen, because that is common sense. I seldom play this anymore, though it is good once in a while against your defensive players.

If Nf6, I'm aiming for the Brooklyn Defense, an obscure opening scorned by everyone except those I defeat. If e5, then I replace the knight to its former position on g8, leaving White astounded. This wins some of my games, I swear, on time alone, White staring in disbelief for longer than is prudent, either on this move or on the ones that follow. Many White players think they can obtain an advantage building a pawn wall on f4, e5, and d4, but they are mistaken, though the game gets sharp for Black, and I am known to make costly mistakes. To d4, Black replies d3. To f4, Black replies g5, which gains time, because White is not apt to take the offered pawn, which can advance to g5 to drive White's knight away on the following move. Then I am in familiar Grob territory, while White is lost at sea, apt to lose on time or perish on some rash attack.

If White declines e5 against Nf6, then I do not permit easy transposition to familiar lines, but instead maintain our journey into the chess wilderness. I like to respond to Nc3 with d5 every time, and e5 can then be met by either Ne4 or d5 with good results.

Against anything except d4 or Nf3, g5 heralds the Macho Grob, seldom seen, which is as sound as the day is long, yet many players will launch a rash attack against it for no good reason, giving me free tempos or even losing their Queen as a result. The idea is to shift to a Kingside attack at some point in time, with the advanced pawns providing a head start on that line.

I like to play an occasional e5 against e4, which is standard, but if White pulls the King's Gambit, I default to Fischer's reply, d3, which quite neutralizes all his thunder. I have no desire to learn all the nonsense in the King's Gambit, which is just pure memorized tactics all the way to the end game. If Nf3, then I will reply Nc6, and if he initiates the Ruy Lopez with Bb5, I will play Bishop's Defense, Nd5, which not many people know about, but often gives me a good game. Otherwise, I will play a boring conservative game following classic principles.

Against d4, I like d5, and against the Queen's Gambit, I like Chigorin's Defense, Nc6, because Chigorin knew what he was about, and many White players don't know what to do against it. Another good answer is b5, the Polish.

Against your aggressive young prodigy, nothing answers like the Caro-Kann, c3 to his e4, against which he is liable to break himself. It is a solid defense, and flexible enough to react to anything White may have in store. I have had good luck with it, but it almost never leads to a quick victory, and has less novelty value than other answers. Most players have stock replies to the Caro-Kann and need not think for the first several moves. I like to play Caro-Kann most of all when I am under the weather or tired, because it is the one opening in chess that holds your hand and leads you along a safe path, since almost all the opening moves are intuitive, requiring little effort on the part of Black. The only thing I dislike about the Caro-Kann is that many players know it through and through, so the novelty value is limited.

I never play the Sicilian or the French, because it is against my religion, but I don't hold anything against those that do. As a matter of fact, I have an easy time against the Sicilian, because 2. Na3 befuddles most of 'em. Against the French, I have not yet found a good, solid yet obscure line to counter with, but old Nimzovich had some good thoughts along the lines of a kingside attack, and I also like to play f4 on occasion, to give Black something else to think about. I believe the main thing against the French is to develop rapidly, sacrifice a few pawns if necessary on the Queenside, and hammer Black on the kingside.

The Pirc, Benko's Opening, and other modern systems involving a fianchetto I find unambitious, preferring aggressive openings like g4 or b4, which seize more territory from the get-go and give the opponent something else to worry about besides just a bishop. I always play the Macho Grob against Benko's and the English, without fail, to illustrate my belief.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Here's for the Death Penalty

I'll be pleased when the cinema shooter in Colorado gets the Executioner's Axe, if for no other reason than I won't have to look at his ugly-as-sin, wide-eyed and crazy mug shot on the front page of Google News every other day. Liberal I may be, but my heart won't bleed for that vermin, nor for anyone who slays people at random without any rational motive. Whether the murderer is crazy or not matters not. A life has been taken, indeed, many lives, and in reading the account of the massacre, many of those slain were heroes, who should serve as subjects for U.S. Postage Stamps, as they sacrificed their lives to preserve the lives of their loved ones. For the sake of civilization, an example must be set: a life for a life. It is the way, it is the law, and has served since civilization began. Cut off his head and be done with it, and let us read about more interesting things than a worthless scumbag murderer. I am for beheading, when it comes to methods of capital punishment, because it is simple, foolproof, fast, and humane, though in truth the guillotine is superior to the Executioner's Axe. The French Revolutionaries knew what they were doing when it came to execution methodology, if not juriprudence and prudence. Harvest his bodily organs without consent, so that his body might serve a purpose, if his actions in life did not. Give sight to those that lack it, and kidneys to those that need it.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Probtheme, Vampirestat, Zombiestat, Villainstat, Ontimemarketing

Dear fellow bloggers -- if your blog keeps getting traffic from probtheme, ontimemarketing, adsensewatchdog, uglystat, villainstat, vampirestat, or zombiestat web sites, just ignore all of that, as it is the product of worthless scumbag referrer spam-bots. Automated, unattended software programs generate these supposed "hits" on your site. They do not represent any human visitors and are not of any interest whatsoever. Do not visit the referring sites, because there is a high probability of malware. Do not link to the sites anywhere online. In other words, do not do the sort of things that the scumbags want you to do. The reason that some malicious hacker is running these bots is to generate traffic on the above-mentioned web sites and quite possibly to entrap, identify, or infect the personal computers of blog owners. End of story. Don't fall for it!


It has come to my attention that some blog owners may have been posting the url of vampirestat, et al, on their blogs.

You will notice I was careful not to specify the url to any of the above sites when I was discussing them. Linking to a site means typing the basic URL in a message, post, or comment.

Let me be clear: Do not EVER link to a bad site like vampirestat, even if you only mean to complain about them or shame them. Do not even post a link in a forum! Search engine bots cannot yet distinguish between favorable comments and unfavorable. Search engine bots investigate each and every link they detect and determine associations between sites. If you link to a site, even if you hate it, you are helping it; you are associated with that site. Always remember that! If you have anything resembling the actual url of a malware site anywhere in your blog, then you are assisting their prevalence in search engines, and Google will evaluate your site as being associated with malicious hackers. Your site's Google ranking may decline, and your site may even be flagged as a malware site.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, January 4, 2013

Microsoft Networking

Whenever you install Windows 7, be sure to set aside 100 hours to struggle with network configuration. Microsoft thinks that everyone wants to pay Microsoft Technical Support $99.95 an hour to connect two computers via ethernet.

Windows 7 has to be the WORST operating system in existence today for home networking. I wouldn't use it if I didn't have to for my answering machine. I intend to use it for nothing but an answering machine. What a tremendous piece of garbage it is. Nice, fancy GUI that can do absolutely nothing; networking wizard that can't find its own behind; share permissions that share to everyone and yet no one. I'm glad to see that Microsoft is providing employment to the mentally handicapped, but I wish they would have them doing something other than programming Windows.

Post Scriptum:

I plan  to sell my Windows 7 install DVD on ebay since it hasn't activated yet. It is just too difficult to connect Windows 7 to other computers in the home network. I plugged the old Windows XP hard drive back in and presto, the network was working again. Windows 7 as far as I am concerned is just a mistake. If I need modern capabilities then I will use Linux, not anything by Microsoft. I feel sorry for people who feel like they have to use Windows 7. They are really setting themselves up for punishment.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Anita Baker

I can't imagine why anyone talks about Whitney Houston. I've never found a Houston song I like, but Anita Baker has produced some real jewels, classics that will be played long after we are dust, restorative & soothing to the soul.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Windows Seven: Still Stupid After All These Years

Microsoft clearly has been hiring intellectually handicapped programmers for years. Try to install Windows 7 updates, and Windows falls flat on its face. Can't find the internet. D'oh? Any modern Linux distro finds the Internet without a hitch. Microsoft requires nursemaiding to guide it along. "Right this way, dear. No, don't go potty in the trash can. To your left, dear. The commode. Yes, that's it. Now, now."

Estimated time of installation for Windows: ten hours.

Estimated time of installation for Linux: ten minutes.

Windows 7 should be renamed Windows .07 alpha trialware. Because it will be a trial getting anything done in Windows. Windows 7 is such an obvious kludge: it crashed three times just installing updates--and installing updates took hours and hours. Most of the updates concerned security holes that Microsoft's doofuses left in their code.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions