Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Permanent Fix for ActiveX Internet Explorer Patch relating to Eolas Patent

Over the last week or so the new security patch for Microsoft Internet Explorer has been rolling out to millions of PC's around the world. Included in this security patch is the court mandated changes to the ActiveX browser plugin technology due to a patent held by Eolas. This isn't "news" exactly, as it has been known to be pending since 2003.

Microsoft has released a temporary patch to undo the security patch changes for 60 days, which is intended to give corporations and developers a chance to update their intranet and internet sites and software to comply with newer techniques. Sixty days isn't a long time, however, and it is obvious that only a handful of the most trafficked sites will incorporate changes to accomodate this issue. So a more permanent solution is desirable for the common web user.

The permanent fix for this problem is freely available from Mozilla, and should ensure smooth surfing unencumbered by proprietary/patent issues for years to come.

Information about the Fix from Mozilla

Search Engine Ads

This thought came to me today while we were fiddling with a Google ad campaign: If everyone has their bid amounts set to "auto", what's to stop the price of ad-space from going up indefinitely? At a certain budget, you will get impressions and clicks for however many keywords you can afford. This number goes down as you run out of money for the month. But, the number of key words you can afford also goes down as other advertisers raise their bid to stay on top. If you leave your budget the same, in time all the keywords would be unavailable because the price is too high for you to afford. This could technically go on forever - especially for popular search keywords.

My advice is to keep strict track of how much you spend on web advertising, and how much you get back. If you are spending more than you are earning, try cutting out your search engine ads altogether. On our server, the site that gets the most traffic, and earns the biggest profits (as of now) does not use any search engine advertising. It is not impossible!

As so often happens, as I was thinking about this in the back of my head, I ran across a page on the same topic: Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox: Search Engines as Leeches on the Web

The Alertbox is a great site on usability, by the way. If you are in the web design field, you should read through some of his other articles.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Qaballah Tree of Life

To the right, you'll see a "Tree of Life" that I designed out of pipe cleaners. The fascinating thing about this particular depiction of the Tree of Life, is that it is three dimensional. Furthermore, I will show that it actually meets the description of the Golden Lampstand, or Golden Candlestick of the ancient Israelite Tabernacle, in a way that many common depictions of the Candlestick ultimately fail to do. The biblical description indicates seven lamps. A central shaft, with four sets of the "ornamentation" (which we will get into a bit later), with six branches coming out of it, three on one side, and three on the other side, each of those containing three sets of ornamentation as well. In total the number of sets of ornaments comes out to: 22, the number of letters in the Hebrew Alphabet. Anyone familiar with the Cabalistic Tree of Life will note that there are also twenty two paths connecting the Sephirot on the Tree.

Additionally, we learn some particulars as to the arrangement. Namely, that one set of ornamentation (bowl, bud, and blossom) is found below where the first set of two branches split off from the main shaft, working our way up, we find another set below where the next two begin, and a third set is found below the final two branches.
Depicted at the left, you see a typical representation of the candlestick. I say typical, but in reality you will hardly find two pictures that agree on the specifics, and that is precisely what I mean by "typical" ;)

However, there is one point which MANY depictions do agree on, and that is in relation to the placement of ornaments on the central shaft. One located below each set of branches, and by necessity, an elongated, unadorned top portion, capped by the final set of ornamentation where the central oil lamp is to be found.

The Tree of Life exhibits this same pattern in its central shaft. Three, equidistant orbs, a void, and then the crowning orb, "Kether", at the very top.

But, you may say, how can the Tree of Life be the Candlestick, since the Tree of Life only displays a central shaft with one branch on the left, one branch on the right? To answer this, we must enter the third dimension, and along our journey we will find out more about all the intricate intersecting pathways in the Tree of Life, and why some of them have Sephirot and some do not.

For simplicity, I have color coded my tree. The central shaft is red. The lowest set of branches is Blue, the next highest is Green, and the final set is Orange.

The Blue Branches

Here is a picture from the bottom of the tree looking up. I have not depicted the ornaments themselves, so I will describe where they are. [Maybe a reader can render this in 3D for me sometime, to help complement my crude pipe-cleaner model.] The first ornament rests just below the joint of the two blue branches and the red stick. The two blue and red branches "sprout" out of the blossom, and extend upward. You'll notice the blue goes to what I will call the South and North sides of the Tree, for it is placed chickenstance to the compass directions as explained by the first century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus: "These lamps looked to the east and to the south, the candlestick being situated obliquely."

The Green Branches

The green, or second set of branches extend to the East and West,
and just below the joint of their starting point is the second ornament. At this point, let us stop and take a collection of what remains. We now have a central shaft, with two sets of branches coming off of it, one in each of the four cardinal directions. If we were to view it from above as described so far, we would see nothing more than an X or + shape. Each of the extremities of this X shape extend directly upward and contain three sets of ornamentation, one at the base, one in the midst, and one at the top. The central shaft contains four sets of ornamentation: One below each set of branches, and another one, located at the top, higher than any of the others. At this point, we have five lamps burning. Looking from directly above, compare it to the number five represented as the pips on a standard die. Each pip is where an oil lamp burnt, with the central one being higher than the other four.

The top ornament on each branch, the place where the lamps burn, corresponds with the place beyond "Daath", the void between the upper three Sephirot and the seven found below it. So in the Lampstand, we could say that the upper three Sephirot are "on fire." With the left or right hand side, Chohman and Binah each containing two flames, one near to our point of view, and one back behind.

The Orange Branches and the Snake

The Tree is sometimes associated with the Snake, a zigzag or a spiral concept. The final two branches, the "Orange" branches (as our pipe cleaners happened to be colored), are found coming forth from Tipereth, the Sun, the sixth Sephirot. The first ornament on each of these branches is found in a location half way between the second ornaments on the green and blue branches, and the second ornament is found half way between the third ornament of the green and blue branches, but the orange branches "spiral" around the top, so that they form the pathways reaching to the Crown, and cause the pinnacle of the left and right orange branch to be in perfect alignment with the flame at the top of the red central shaft. These three together are seen as a single point from the traiditional viewpoint, but it is actually a spiral similar to the old NCSA Mosaic logo, where the three "flames" are aligned in a straight row.

To help clarify the shape for any who haven't been able to discern it from my description and bad pictures, I'll provide a couple additional bad pictures:

The area above Daath from the "Normal" point of view.
The area above Daath viewed from the side.
The striped "bar" is not actually a path, but represents the union of these three energies which are combined to form the Kether. Notice how well illuminated all of the branches are from this perspective. Two blue, two green, and two orange, all shining down through the vail.

Here I have depicted the tops of the seven lamp stands as seen from above.

The following photo is the closest I was able to achieve to the look of a traditional Menorah by photographing my creation from an angle to create the illusion of two sets of branches (green and orange) coming out of each side. The remaining set of branches is coming out the front and back, in line of vision with the central shaft. Ignore the striped bar across the top, and if it only weren't for 3D perspective, the orange branches would not have even look crooked.

Considering it again from the traditional viewpoint, I found it interesting to observe the "thickness" or prominence of each Sephirot with this arrangement. The "F" indicates "Flame" and the number is how many sets of ornaments:

2F,1 ... 2F,1
3 ... 3
2 ... 2

Well, I hope I haven't bored you. I think this is enough Kabbalah for the moment. Looking forward to hearing comments and interpretations on this one.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

An "Expansion" of Faith

I recently heard of a concept called the Expansion Theory, in relation to inspired works of scripture, and it immediately helped my faith to, well, expand, so I felt it worthy to mention here:

In a previous article, I talked about Honesty in Religion. Mainly, I was concerned with the intentional covering-up of "darker" spots to make a religion appear more palatable on the outside. This concept seems to be related, but not the same, because this one does not involve intentional deviation from truth on the part of any person. Well, here it is:

Every person who receives revelation, inspiration, visions or impressions, when trying to communicate them to other people, has to translate them from "brain language" into their own native language, and into concrete symbols and words. In so doing, they by necessity of human nature, taint the material by their own thoughts, life experiences, religious and social background. The only time such a record can be 100% faithful to the event, without embellishing, is when actual words were heard and afterward recorded, and even then, it could take an incredibly strong mind to remember with the necessary exactness to put forward these things without error.

How much "expansion" actually occurs? It probably depends a great deal on many factors. In some cases, God has given specific approval of the end product in some way, to indicate that it is "good enough" to serve the intended purposes.

What does this really meant? It means that the language and trappings of scripture and religious practice can be influenced heavily by those who are receiving them, and yet the status of the revealed word is not threatened by this fact.

As a word of caution, do not take this to the extreme! We cannot use this concept as a cover-all to write off serious doctrinal errors. We could use it, however, to explain why Solomon's Temple so closely resembled the Phoenician Temple of Melqart in Tyre. Of course, the employment of builders from Tyre provides a more direct connection. Scriptures indicate that God did approve of this structure, so the Phoenician influence was acceptable in the sight of God.

Acquiring the Mind of the Father

I once read that the Holy Spirit is the Mind of The Father and of The Son. The same teacher later revealed the Holy Ghost to be a personage of Spirit distinct from The Father and The Son. These ideas seemed at first to contradict, but I think I have found a deeper meaning behind them - or perhaps a concept entirely apart from the intended meanings:

To "acquire" the Mind of the Father (and of The Son) is to reach a point during or after our life when our own decisions are made with the ultimate wisdom and goodness. When God can fully and completely trust us to decide with our own freedom of choice and intellect what must be done in any scenario. These decisions must be made in complete love.

In no way is this a forceful thing, or becoming a predictable "robot," but rather, it is attaining an absolute thorough understanding of the question 'why?' Why does Father make the laws He does? Why does Father allow things to be the way they are? Why doesn't Father make it easier? These are just a few good questions to demonstrate the point. Once we understand why, once we have "grown up", we may find ourselves worthy of becoming Holy Spirits, as mentioned in one of my most recent blog posts. We will share the same mind of The Father and of The Son, and will be entrusted with more privileges and responsibilities than we can now imagine.

The Holy Spirit, meaning the legions of Holy Spirits, are all those disembodied Spirits who share the Mind of Father, in the sense of being a trusted representative of Him, whose presence is always as though He had been there Himself.

This is something we should seek after ourselves. The more we can understand why God does the things he does, the better equipped we will be to handle the challenges of life, and to love our fellow man with the kind love of Deity, boundless and without reservation.

Spiritually Speaking

I just wanted to put in a quick plug for this blog. It is worth a read.

The Necessity of Opposition

I recently had someone tell me that the perfected (but foiled) plan of God was for Adam and Eve not to have fallen, so that all of humanity would live together with love and tranquility inside the Garden of Eden. On the surface, this seems to be a wonderful thing - Peace, Prosperity, Kindness . . . all the things that are lacking in our World at large. But, would it really have been all that we imagine? I think not.

The World is not a resort for us to vacation in for a while. We are here for a specific reason; namely, to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Below is a quote by C.S. Lewis, regarding the reasons we have Virtues, and why we follow them:
We might think that the 'virtues' were necessary only for this present life - that in the other world we could stop being just because there is nothing to quarrel about and stop being brave because there is no danger. Now it is quite true that there will probably no occasion for just or courageous acts in the next world, but there will be every occasion for being the sort of people that we become only as the result of doing such acts here. The point is not that God will refuse you admission to His eternal world if you have not got certain qualities of character: the point is that if people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside them, no possible external conditions could make a 'Heaven' for them - that is, could make them happy with the deep, strong, un­shakable kind of happiness God intends for us.
While I don't agree that there will likely not be any use for bravery, and just acts and so on in the next life, he brings up a good point - that we are not here to be good, but to become good. In a world with no troubles, there would never be an opportunity sacrifice of yourself for other people, or casting your pride away to let others help you.

Think of the child growing up in luxury, who does he become when he is older? A great man, with experience and wisdom, or a selfish one who cannot fend for himself? I think we can look to history, and experience to find the answer. Like the chick who is broken out of the egg by another, instead of struggling through it himself, the one who is given freedom looses it, and the one who struggles and fights for freedom, truly gains it.

Help stop the heresy of Jesus Worship

Matthew 19:16-17:
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Christ did not desire to be the object of worship, nor even to be called "good." He taught the doctrine of the Father. Christ worshipped the Father, and prayed to the Father.

If you have been worshipping or praying to Christ, you are not listening to his own teachings.

Let me clarify. There are two senses of "worship." One of them is appropriate to give only to the True God. To give it to any other being is to violate the first of the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) This first type of worship is the type where we make sacrifices (whether they are flesh and blood, or personal, spiritual sacrifices), and set the being as the object of our prayers and thanksgivings. The other type of worship would be better fit into a different word, like to revere, respect, and honor. It is a limited sense, and this type of "worship" can apply to a number of worthy exemplars or even principles in our lives. Don't get me wrong: Christ was our great sacrifice. He is the only way to the Father. We are to seal our prayers to the Father in his name, because he is our redeemer. However, you must make effort to listen to and perform the things he actually taught.

If you HAVE been worshipping or addressing prayers to Christ, do not be fearful. There are several possible outcomes:

1. You were praying with real intent, and because of this, God was the actual object of your worship. You were being true in heart, and were unaware of the mistake. God heard your prayers, and dismissed your mistake as though you were a child using bad grammar.

2. You were actually trying to pray to Jesus Christ. This opens you up for the possibility of being deceived. It is not exactly necromancy, being that Christ is alive, but it seems to be in a similar vein. God condemns this behavior and forbids attempting to conjure spirits for these purposes:
Deuteronomy 18:10-12
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
By doing this, you could have received many false impressions or lies from Satan or his minions, pretending to be the Spirit of Jesus Christ. It is up to you to decipher what has happened. There is likely a mixture of this and the previously explained outcome. You should pray correctly for help and guidance to know what is right and wrong. Once you taste of the Spirit as the response to true prayer, you will know it and it will be harder to fall into this trap again. Satan is a great counterfeit, and he wants to have all glory and power given to him. He is an Angel of Light, now fallen, who desires to have his throne higher than the throne of God. He will use any means to achieve his goals, even professing Christianity to prey on the weakness of man.

3. You were actually trying to pray to Jesus Christ, but this doesn't work. Your prayers were deliberately addressed to a being other than God, and therefore, they could have gone unanswered. No harm, no foul. Get it right next time.

It is my hope, that category #1 is where most people who have made this grave error have landed.

In conclusion, help spread the truth, and give the Glory to God by following the great example of Jesus Christ. Believe his words, and act accordingly. Be Christians, true followers of Christ, not Christ-Worshippers. Amen.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Holy Spirits

Those familiar with Christian Theology may have some ideas about the concept of the Holy Ghost, or the Holy Spirit. Dismissing the perverse doctrine of the trinity which pervades many sects, let us evaluate the being of the Holy Ghost further. The Holy Ghost is a being of Spirit, not of flesh and bones. Furthermore, it can help guide us and even become our constant companion if we are worthy of it. At this point, I would like to make a departure from popular traditional thought. May I suggest the possibility that there is more than one being serving as Holy Ghost. That there are literally Holy Ghosts, or Holy Spirits, rather than a single being. This would seem to solve the question of how it can be the constant companion of more than one person. I have strong experiential evidence to suggest that this is true. The Holy Ghost might be like your "Guardian Angel" to use a familiar phrase. It could be the Spirit of someone who has already passed on, or who is not yet born.

I would encourage anyone reading this to at least try this idea on for a fit. I think it may be a doctrine that is partially expressed in the Catholic notion of "patron saints." This Guardian Angel, or Holy Ghost, is a conduit between The Father and his children. It is the still small voice that whispers in your ear.

In addition, I believe it to be possible to identify your Holy Ghost, by personal revelation, even by name. I challenge you, my dear reader, to attempt to determine whether this concept is true and to identify your Holy Ghost by name, if possible. This should be done through prayer and study. Reading the words of those passed on before may allow you insight or a reading between the lines where you will find out this answer. There is a chance your search will end in a question mark, because perhaps your Holy Ghost has not yet been born, and/or perhaps there is no body of text written where you can read the words of this being.

The being you locate will by necessity be a faithful Saint of God. You will know when you find it. When you do, if you feel inclined to share, please do so, but if you know the name, I would ask that you only share that via email with me, instead of posting it in the comments, so that you do not sway other readers one way or the other. However, do post the steps or experiences in general as comments if you feel inclined.

I know who my Holy Ghost is, and it fills my soul with warmth and makes me feel as though I could cry tears of joy.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Is your religion Living?

You should never be afraid to adopt new beliefs and understandings if you come across further light and knowledge. The weakest people in religion and spirituality are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. The stronger people hold fast in their faith, they are strongly rooted in their doctrines. But the truly wise ones remain teachable, as little children, and allow their faith to be alive, to develop towards higher truth. At some point in your journey, you should reach a place where you doubt everything you ever believed. If you do not reach this place, you still have quite a distance to travel. Don't be surprised if you reach higher truth, and find it to be a relatively lonely place, at least for the present time. Narrow is the way and there are few that shall find it.

Ubuntu on a PowerBook

If you haven't read my previous two posts, please go back and do so. This is a continuation of them.

When we last left off, I ran out of hard disk space. The solution I came up with was this... While the installer was running a second time (I allowed it to reformat the ext3 Linux partition to start over), I did these things: I flipped over to the second console (ctrl+option+F1), pressed enter to start it, and navigated to the folder where packages were being copied to. There are two locations I found that were useful. One of them was /target/var/cache/apt/archives, and when the installer reaches the Copying remaining packages to hard disk phase, you can go in after it and delete things. Upon completion, I realize that I could probably have deleted almost everything, because Ubuntu was really resiliant with downloading or retrieving from CD things it did not have at the time it needed them later. But, I was careful, and I picked and chose things I knew about that I considered unessential to begin with, like gimp,, and a few others. Quite a few others, too many to list. At this step, don't worry so much about what you want to run, we just need to get the base system up and going, so be generous in how much you delete. Be sure to delete most of the truetype font packages, especially the foreign ones, they're really hefty on space requirements. (I would remove xorg and gnome for the time being for reasons described further down. We will add them back in later.) My partition was 1.7G, and at the end of this step I think I had whittled it down to 36% usage (use "df" to check your free space on /target) But, the previous attempt when I ran out of space, it was around 51% usage at the end of this step. The "end" of this step is when the installer talks about a bootloader and instructs you to remove the media and reboot.

After this, unplug your network connection, because if you don't, you'll be waiting on a big download to retrieve the files you swiped out from under it. Remove the CD when you reboot as well, or else it will probably copy from there.

In BootX, select the new kernel from the install, but leave the ramdisk image the same as it was (I think), and boot again. In this phase, Ubuntu will set up and configure all the packages that were copied.

If you boot up to a text login prompt, you can skip down until the section titled "GETTING GNOME TO WORK":

So, after I got Ubuntu installed, my first main problem was the video was scrambled. There were stripes through it, and the mouse cursor tweaked the colors as I moved it. Also, even though I could see well enough to log in, doing so gave me nothing but a blank "brown" screen, along with the gnome login sound. To make matters worse, trying to flip over to another console with option+ctrl+F1 produced a flickering screen instead of readable text, and logging into the failsafe terminal mode gave me scrambled letters that were unreadable.

To make a long story short, I used BootX to boot up from the CD again. There is some confusion in my mind about which initrd file to use. I am pretty sure I have only had real success with the initrd.gz from the Ubuntu CD. The one I copied over wasn't proceeding to boot. However, I flipped the kernel back over to the vmlinux taken from the CD, and started up. I proceeded forward until the networking was set up, but did NOT partition again, then flipped over to another console. option+ctrl+F2, and press enter to start it. At this point, you are accessing the Ram Disk (initrd) file system, not the one you installed previously. So, I made a directory in the root called t (for target, I'm lazy), with mkdir /t, then I mounted my target volume there. mount -t ext3 /dev/hda10 /t, and you can get in and update your XF86Config file, use cd /t and chroot to set your root to your target drive so that you can use pico or vi to edit your files.


The XF86Config file I "copied from" to achieve a working result with the PowerBook LCD display was this one, although I only used portions of it. Specifically, I tried to keep my keyboard and mouse devices "as is" because they were working fine. Your mileage may vary:
Section "ServerLayout"
Identifier "Powerbook 3400c Configured"
Screen 0 "Screen0" 0 0
InputDevice "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
InputDevice "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"

Section "Files"
RgbPath "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/rgb"
FontPath "/usr/share/fonts/ttf"
FontPath "/usr/share/fonts/artwiz-fonts:unscaled"
FontPath "/usr/share/fonts/misc"
FontPath "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/:unscaled"
# FontPath "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/:unscaled"
FontPath "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/misc:unscaled"
# FontPath "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/Type1"
# FontPath "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/Speedo"
# FontPath "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi"
# FontPath "/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi"

Section "Module"
# Load "GLcore"
# Load "dbe"
# Load "dri"
Load "extmod"
# Load "glx"
# Load "pex5"
# Load "record"
# Load "xie"
# Load "ddc"
Load "bitmap"
Load "freetype"
# Load "speedo"
Load "type1"
# Load "vbe"
# Load "int10"

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Keyboard0"
Driver "keyboard"
Option "Protocol" "Standard"
Option "AutoRepeat" "250 30"
Option "LeftAlt" "Meta"
Option "RightAlt" "Meta"
Option "ScrollLock" "Compose"
Option "RightCtl" "Control"
Option "XkbLayout" "us"

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Mouse0"
Driver "mouse"
# Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
Option "Protocol" "PS/2"
# Kernel 2.4 with devfs:
Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
# Kernel 2.2 :
# Option "Device" "/dev/mouse"

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Monitor0"
VendorName "Unknown"
ModelName "Unknown"
# DisplaySize 256 184
HorizSync 119
VertRefresh 196
Option "DPMS"
Option "blank time""5"
Option "standby time""10"
Option "suspend time""30"
Option "off time""60"

Section "Device"
Identifier "Card0"
Driver "fbdev"
# BusID "PCI:0:17:0"

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Screen0"
Device "Card0"
Monitor "Monitor0"
DefaultDepth 15
SubSection "Display"
Depth 1
SubSection "Display"
Depth 4
SubSection "Display"
Depth 8
Modes "800x600"
ViewPort 0 0
Virtual 800 600
SubSection "Display"
Depth 15
fbbpp 16
Modes "800x600"
# ViewPort 0 0
# Virtual 800 600
SubSection "Display"
Depth 16
fbbpp 16
Modes "800x600"
# ViewPort 0 0
# Virtual 800 600
SubSection "Display"
Depth 24
Modes "800x600"
ViewPort 0 0
Virtual 800 600
SubSection "Display"
Depth 32
Modes "800x600"
ViewPort 0 0
Virtual 800 600
After these changes, I unmounted the drive, umount /t, then I rebooted again (type "sudo shutdown now"), set BootX back to the installed kernel, and it booted up to a fine looking screen.

If you've made it this far, the rest is relatively easy. Flip over to a text console with ctrl+option+F1 and log in. run sudo aptitude to go into the text mode package manager, and watching the space requirements, use its interface to disable anything remaining that you don't think you'll need, and enable gnome. You will want to remove ubuntu-desktop and a couple other similar packages, because they are "umbrellas" for the entire system, and will be considered broken if you don't. Don't worry, removing ubuntu-desktop will still let you install everything you need, it just won't enforce it anymore.

After you've applied your changes here, and waited a long time. :-) You will find that gnome still doesn't work. Darn. To fix your gdm and gnome, you need to run
sudo dpkg-reconfigure -a
After answering the numerous questions to the best of your ability, and trying NOT to change the video settings at all, so as not to destroy our custom PowerBook video selection we made above.

Affter this was all finished, I rebooted ("sudo shutdown now") and logged in, and everything came up fine!

Watch your free disk space! Installing even a couple packages can wipe it away to nothing. This is not for the faint of heart, but does render a usable Macintosh as a result.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ubuntu / PowerBook 3400 Update

I'm writing this blog post from Firefox in Ubuntu Linux on a PowerBook 3400c.

Not any PowerBook 3400c, but the one I was working on in my previous blog post! I have done the impossible!

There were many other adventures on the way to getting this operational. I will relate those in a post in the near-future, from my PC. :-)

For being in Gnome for a couple minutes, my only concern so far is that I don't seem to have any way to "right-click", it being a Mac. That is disturbing, but I bet there is some switch somewhere I can throw to turn on a modifier key for right-click, or a press-and-hold right click.

On the plus side, Linux no longer mangles my keypresses being stored in the keyboard buffer, whereas the Mac OS would frequently flip them around backwards, if I typed "the" too fast, it would come out "eht". On the other hand, the blogger editor control is so slow that I can easily type a couple phrases in advance of where it has caught up with me, however, it seems to keep up eventually (so it is a good thing the buffer doesn't flip). Bear in mind, that I am an unusually fast typist, so for an average user, this might not be much of a concern. Also, editing in GEdit seemed to be up to speed.

As an experiment, clicking the "Edit Html" link in Blogger seems to make the speed quite a bit faster, although it is still a little bit sluggish.

I'll post the gory details of how I pulled off this technilogical feat on a system with only 2G of disk space and substandard everything, very soon.

Ubuntu on a PowerBook 3400c

I'd just like to report that I've been casually (meaning: it has been distracting me for over 24 hours) trying to install Ubuntu Linux on a Macintosh PowerBook 3400c. I'm not a Mac user, so I've been learning a lot of new things. This Mac was recently given to me, and was lacking a System CD (that would be the Operating System, or Mac OS). It falls in the family of "Old World" macs, running a PPC (PowerPC) processor but not so old as to use the antiquated 68k processor. It isn't new enough to run OS X.

I have had numerous challenges in this process. First of all, I had no way to boot off of a CD, since I was lacking any bootable Mac CD. So I boldly decided to force edit the partition table to create enough free space for my Linux install. I had made the wild guess that since I was using a forceful hackerish type of program to do it "hot" (while the partition was mounted), that it would not actually erase the data on the drive, and I might still have a bootable System, since I theorized that the System was the first thing installed and would therefore be earlier on the disk.

Boy, was I wrong. It looked fine at first, but upon a reboot I got a blinking question mark on a disk.

After numerous hours of attempting all sorts of things, I managed to find a Macintosh "Disk Tools" for Mac OS 8.5 bootable floppy image. I used a raw image writer to write it to a floppy. I probably had to decode it from hqx or macbinary first, but I forget (I've had to do this so many times to so many files, that it is all a jumble in my head).

As a side note, I should mention that Macintosh files use two forks, a "data" fork and a "resource" fork. MacBinary is a way to stream these two forks together into a single file with a wrapper to tell it what is what. BinHex (hqx) is the same thing, but seems to create a file suitable for emailing (low ASCII only). The end result: You must turn a file into a MacBinary .bin file or an .hqx before it can be stored on a PC or Linux partition, or else you lose an entire fork of the file and end up with nothing useful, and you must undo this whenever you've put a file back onto the Mac in order to reconstitute it to a usable format. This of course does not apply to common interchange formats like .jpg, .zip, or .txt where all the content resides in only one fork anyway.

So I booted my PowerBook 3400c from the Disk Tools. I was able to use Disk First Aid to do ... something. Then I used Disk Setup to Initialize the hard drive, which finally took on the partitioned size I had selected before. So my partitioning job was actually fine, I probably should have just done it after I booted off the Disk Tools disk, instead of before. :-)

I dragged the System Folder and Friends (the entire Disk Tools, actually) onto the hard disk, and now I had a bootable system using System 8.5DT (DT = Disk Tools), which is sort of a hackerish solution because every time I boot it tells me that the version of System I'm running was intended for boot from a floppy and I have to click OK. I can work around this later, I believe. If you own a PowerBook with the proper System installer, using that should alleviate this problem.

At any rate, we've partitioned the drive, and installed Mac OS onto a small partition, I used 250MB because I wasn't sure how much I was going to need to do on the Mac side. Don't touch the other 7 or 8 partitions, they are important Mac things that I have no clue about, you are only interested in lowering the size of the Apple HFS volume. So, I had 1.7G remaining for my Linux, and I left it unpartitioned for the moment.

Next, I found that I could not access any CD-ROM discs. Bother. So, I had people help me, and found out that I needed to install the Apple CD/DVD driver extension. At the time of this writing, it was living at this location, as an .img.bin file. I used hfvexplorer131 from my PC to create a Mac floppy containing it. This automatically translated it from MacBinary for me, so I'm left with just an .img file. Next, I discovered that I needed Apple's Disk Copy program in ordere to read an .img file. Disk Copy lives here, and has the advantage of being a self mounting image after you translate it from MacBinary.

So I click on the .smi file, open that up and install Disk Copy. Then I unmount the image, by dragging it to the Trash, because it won't actually finish the whole install while an image is mounted (since it is the thing that mounts images, circular logic!) After this, I was able to mount the .img file, and retrieve the small Apple CD/DVD extension which I then dropped onto my System Folder who magically migrated it into the Extensions folder.

I rebooted, and inserted a Macintosh CD. It mounted.

Next, I needed to install BootX, a bootstrap loader that would allow Linux to boot on an Old World mac. BootX lives here, and suffered from the problem that it was too new of a .sit file for the only version of StuffIt I could find for a Mac that old to work with. So I installed Aladdin StuffIt Expander for Windows, and unpacked it "with options" telling it on the Cross-Platform page to use MacBinary for all of the files. I ended up with a BootX 1.2.2 folder, which I then burnt onto a CD to load into the PowerBook.

No luck. Apparently, Mac can't read Joliet CD's, and I'm not sure what they do read natively, so I found an extension that lets Mac read Joliet CD's. It was located here, and I ran into the same problem with too new of a .sit file, so I did the same deal, but it fit onto a floppy with hfvexplorer so I didn't have to burn another CD.

I installed the extension, rebooted, and voila! My BootX CD was now available. I grabbed the BootX folder and copied it to the hard disk, and used StuffIt Expander for the Mac to reconstitute the forked files. Unfortunately, StuffIt was very difficult for me to find, and I didn't retain the link. Maybe someone reading this can comment on where to get the old version of it if they know. I had to reconstitute the BootX files one at a time to get the ones I needed. I was mostly interested in the BootX App and the BootX Extension. I dropped the App into System Control Panels (although I'm not sure I needed to), and the Extension in the Extensions folder. Also, move the Linux Kernels folder into your System Folder, you'll need it later.

Next, I put the Ubuntu Linux Mac disc into my CD-ROM drive, and went into the Install folder. I found a powerpc folder with the vmlinux and initrd.gz files in it.

I copied the vmlinux into the Linux Kernels folder on my hard disk, as well as the initrd, and then I ran the BootX App. Select the ram disk (initrd) in the options screen and check the box to use the ram disk, pick the kernel from the drop down, leave options blank and click Linux.

A window frame should shrink, the screen should go black, and after a while, text should appear scrolling on the screen and the Ubuntu installer will open to a blue screen with a language selection.

Unfortunately, I had BootX fail to go to the black screen a couple times. I was persistent, and it has worked ever since then. I'm not sure what it was.

The Ubuntu install went pretty well. When it got to the partitioning screen, I selected Manual Partitioning and made a swap disk of 150MB from the unpartitioned space (usage: swap), and also made an ext3 Linux partition with the remainder of the space (mount point "/").

I continued with the install. It detected my network and Internet connection, and everything installed smooth. When you get to the screen that talks about a bootloader, you'll need to manually intervene with Option+2 and press Enter, then do the following to copy the new kernel over to your Mac partition. Replace hda9 with wherever your Mac HFS partition is. You'll know you got it right when the mount command doesn't complain, and you can see your Mac files by doing ls /m :-)

mkdir /m
mount -t hfs /dev/hda9
ls /m
mkdir /m/boot
cp /boot/* /m/boot
umount /m

This should get everything we will need for later booting over to the Mac side.
Option+1 flips back over to the installer interface, where we will continue by pressing enter. Eventually you are asked to remove your install media from the CD Drive. Do so, and reboot.

I was a little sketchy about whether the BootX extension was actually working at Boot time, so I clicked MacOS manually and ran the BootX App after start-up to boot into the system again. But FIRST:

Copy the Kernel from your boot folder (the file starting with vmlinux- and having -powerpc in the name) into the "System Folder:Linux Kernels" folder.

Now, I don't remember exactly what I did next, but it involved picking one of the two initrd's combined with one of the two kernel's (vmlinux), and either setting or not setting the extra paramater as "root=/dev/hda10" (without the quotes, replacing hda10 with the Linux partition you used). This gives you only eight possible options to try, so figure out which one works to get you into the next step -- where you get back to the Ubuntu blue installer screen and install the packages that have been copied.

My intuition tells me I did the new kernel (with the number and powerpc) and the OLD initrd with the root option set. It didn't seem right to use the old initrd, but it seems like that was ultimately what was required. Any other combination gave me an ALERT! error and dropped me to a BusyBox shell.

After I got this going, I ran into a snag. Out of hard disk space. Ubuntu requires 1.8, and my Macintosh only had 1.7 left after my Mac partition of 250MB and my swap partition of 150MB.

I suck. I think I could trim down my Mac partition to 75MB and my swap to 50MB, but this would only be 1875 MB. Rumor has it, Ubuntu takes more than 1.8G during the install because it has to unpack some files while it is installing packages.

Also, the Ubuntu Mac disc did not give me a prompt to choose custom or server install as opposed to desktop, the way the PC version does. Otherwise, I'd be able to trim it down to ~400 MB hard drive requirement (and no graphical interface) easily. It says on the disc sleeve that that is an option, but I see no where to select it from.

I'll report back soon on progress.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sony once again attacks Freedom

I just heard that Sony Online Entertainment has started censoring (by deletion) any negative comments about the online game "Star Wars Galaxies" from their forums. Yet another move towards the dark side by the evil empire.

This started because Sony decided to revamp the game to eliminate most of the reading, wandering, and learning, and to make the game more like the movies instead of something creative.

I used to have a "boss" (the work arrangement was barely even legal, hence the quotes) who worked under the same modus operandi). He believed he could herd users like cattle and force them to do his bidding, which was usually pointless, extremely stupid bidding.

Dumbing down things is rarely ever a good way to attract a wider audience. All it does is bore people and drive them away. But again, the censorship is the point here. People were trying to post comments to suggest ways to improve the game, and they would delete any one that mentioned anything negative.