Anthem

2014/07/31

I finally got the time and read Anthem, the 1937 Novella by Ayn Rand. I began reading it from the Project Gutenberg copy, but bought the cheap Kindle edition because it was easier to read on the device. Random thoughts that passed through my mind while reading this fascinating work:

- Gollum
– 1984
– Yoda
Raft
– Kolmogorov
– Sergei Korolev

and finally:

Chuck D singing “United we stand, yes divided we fall”.

I understand where Rand came from (timeframe and fleeing from Soviet Russia) and why she wrote what she did. But I do not have to agree with her last two chapters.

It is SysAdmin Day today and I will start with a bitter joke. A well known management one, but tailored for sysadmins:

The old sysadmin had resigned and the new one was taking things over. After having finished orientation of the systems and important stuff that needed to be performed since day one, the old sysadmin gave the new three envelopes.

- Open these if you run up against a problem you don’t think you can solve, he said.

After a few months passed by a severe problem arose. Downtime was long, management and customers furious and all over our sysadmin. Desperate and without any other help, he opened the first envelope. The message read, “Blame your predecessor.”

So he did and everybody got off his back. In a calmer environment and with less pressure he was able to get things working again.

About a year and a half later, havoc rose again. Deadlocked, our sysadmin opened the second envelope. “Reorganise” said the message.

He decided to switch automation software, documented why this was beneficial for the company’s business and indeed the systems behaved better and everyone was happy again.

Time passed and it just so happened that the system was inexplicably inoperable again. So the helpless sysadmin decided to open the third envelope. The message read, “Prepare three envelopes”.

You know people at work appreciate you when they do not let you open the second envelope.

Nicely put:

“Okay, I’m going to just keep my head down and do what I’ve always done, because then I can be the most productive.” So, from the outside, after it runs for many, many years, it gets really broken. And part of that, I think is because it’s not only a lack of accountability. There’s also a lack of reward system for taking any risks. There’s only a negative consequence to taking risk. There’s no positive consequence to taking risk in government.”

See? Not only in the Greek public sector.

So I got myself a Kindle. Simple, not Paperwhite.

Ever since I got my Nexus 7 back in 2012 I am using it for ebooks and social networking fooling around. The Nexus 7 is a cool device for reading for it can read virtually all formats. EPUBs (with and without Adobe DRM), djvu, PDFs and other more obscure formats. Of course there’s a Kindle app for Android, so them too. But there’s something that puts you off reading using a general purpose device. The angle is never right and the lighting might not help and …

And that is why I am only reading technical stuff on the Nexus 7. Office use only. The Kindle on the other hand is a vacation device.

Ever since I got a Mac, I bought VMWare’s Fusion in order to be able to work with software that exists only in the Windows world. The really nice thing that good friend Moses pointed out yesterday, is that Fusion now supports easy installs for Ubuntu too! I had never took notice of that, since I run most of my VMs on VirtualBox.

I am an LXDE fan, so I first tried a Lubuntu install. It went fine, but it was not an Easy Install (in Fusion’s terminology). Then I went ahead and installed normal Ubuntu and afterwards (since I cannot do any real work with Unity) installed LXDE. The Easy Install went smooth and I did not need even need to consider keyboard configurations (something I had to do with Debian-LXDE and VirtualBox). I also changed the available RAM for the VM and now I have a machine that just works.

Oh the fun of using closed software in order to work easier with open source.

Τελικά μικροί ήμασταν πολύ άπλες. Ενώ η πιθανότητα να μπει γκολ από ένα πέναλτι είναι περίπου 75%, η πιθανότητα να μπει από κόρνερ κυμαίνεται από 1% – 6%.

Έγραψα και αμέσως μετά σκόραρε η Γερμανία από κόρνερ το πρώτο. Δεν έχω πατήσει submit και γράφει ήδη τρία τέσσερα…

Damn!

For sometime now, my main desktop has been Debian LXDE virtual machine. There is a problem with lxterminal though. Whenever I changed its settings they were not saved. It turns that this is a permission problem. You have to make sure of two things:

  • Directory ~/.config/lxterminal exists and is owned by you. You may find it owned by root. chown this.
  • File ~/.config/lxterminal/lxterminal.conf exists and it is owned by you. You may find that it does not exist. Create it using touch.
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