10 November 2008

Art Quilts XIII: Lucky Break

For those who love Debian or other open source projects: Chandler Center for Arts is hosting an exhibition titled Art Quilts XIII: Lucky Break. The highlight for the Debian or open source community is the "Debian" quilt made by Thelma Smith promoting Debian/GNU Linux and open source software in general.

Below is a glimpse of the unfinished quilt along with wonderful detail of the artwork in the close up. More than 2years of hard work has gone into realizing the quilt. The quilt is NFS but if anyone is interested they can contact Thelma for commissioning another or maybe one with a bunch of people holding hands in a cirle ;). Dimensions of this quilt are approx. 6'x4'.

Debian Quilt - Unfinished

Debian Quilt - Detail

For those of you interested in Debian and art (or just open source); the exhibition runs from 7th Nov. 2008 to 31st Nov 2008. Admission is FREE.

Chandler Center for the Arts
250 N. Arizona Ave.
Chandler, 85225

21 October 2008

New Blogger Type

Usually there are people babling about weird things on their blogs like me. However, a new type of blogger caught my attention. I have to say that this is blogging with a difference.


7 October 2008

Teksavvy + MLPPP

Just in case you are using Teksavvy and are being throttled (by Hell Sympabico) during the day, you can always use the multilink PPP feature in the operating system you use or just get a Linksys WRTG54GL router and install Tomato/MLPPP firmware on it.

For more information on how to enable MLPPP on your choice of OS you can download and read the MLPP Guide.

MSI GForce 8600GTS - Noise

The past weekend I said it was enough and took apart my PC to clean it up as it was making too much noise. Cleaning it up did make a difference as usual, but the noise was still a lot. So I started testing it by disconnecting all fans and powering them one at a time. Guess who was the culprit.... it was the Nvidia based MSI GForce 6800GTS PCI-E video card's cooling fan. I got this card for about $100 less than 6months ago and it is already driving me nuts with its fan noise. I don't even use the Nvidia card for high end graphics that it would heat up and needs the fan to run at high speeds. I'm already leaning towards buy an ATI card to replace the Nvidia card. Both of them work quite well with Linux with open source drivers if you don't play high end games like me.

20 July 2008

Comment Moderation

FYI: due to inability to delete spam comments, I have changed settings to moderate comments before being posted publicly.

15 July 2008

Firefox Profile Size

Ever wondered why your Firefox profile is still at least a few MB even after you do a "Clean Private Data"? The culprit might be phishing filter database which helps you warn about phishing websites. I was checking my Firefox profile size and found out that it was more than 50MB even after cleaning the cache and all other private data. I went into the profile and noticed that the urlclassifier3.sqlite was 58MB! I didn't know what the file did, so I went on to the knowledgebase article and learnt it was the phishing filter database file.

This database can, overtime become fragmented and be of a size much larger than its real size. An easy way to get it back to the real size is to delete it (I renamed it and later deleted after everything was fine). Shut down Firefox. Firefox should download the database file again from Google at next startup. Below are the file sizes before and after deleting.

user@localhost 21:11:34 {nzkgcf5p.default} $> du -sch urlclassifier*
5.3M urlclassifier2.sqlite
53M urlclassifier3.sqlite
4.0K urlclassifierkey3.txt
58M total
user@localhost 21:42:00 {nzkgcf5p.default} $> du -sch urlclassifier*
20M urlclassifier3.sqlite
4.0K urlclassifierkey3.txt
20.1M total

So that is more than 50% reduction in size! Is there any way to set Firefox to do this automatically? It would be really great for people using remote profiles.

12 July 2008

Bell Representative Discussions

Just returned from the sidewalk sale. Lots of people enjoying the wonderful day (although it was getting a bit hot) by shopping for items on sale. Pictures will follow soon. But the highlight of the excursion was the talk with a Bell representative.

I was observing a phone+internet+cable TV offer the representative was offering to another lady. After a couple of minutes, the lady started talking to me too along with the Bell-rep. I thought of asking details about the deal as it was a conversation of 3 now. I asked how much could I use the internet and the Bell-rep said, 1GB of bandwidth @512kbps per month. I exclaimed that it was too slow and he said he could offer a high speed connection with 100GB/month cap. I said great, but what about the throttling issue? At this point I think I pinched a sensitive nerve and he became agitated and said "We do not throttle, but reduce speeds for p2p transfers as they use a lot of bandwidth." For that I said, Bell themselves replied to CTRC and their chart does not show more than 6% of peaks due to p2p. Hence they don't use that much of the network. His face was clearly agitated and said "Let me finish with this lady first as she was here before you." I let him go hoping to continue the discussion in a nice way.

Another Bell-rep approached me and said, "May I help you?" I said "Sure". She asked me what information did I need. We started discussing about high speed DSL connection offers from Bell. She said she could offer me 100GB cap/month for high speed DSL @ $86.95/month(!). And extra bandwidth will be $2.50/GB usage. When I said, I already get 200GB/month for $27/month. She asked me "What speed do you get?". I told her that it is a 6Mbps line. She said she couldn't believe that price but cannot lower Bell's offers. She said "The company offering me such a price is not making any money with that price". She was surprised and said that the main goal of doing business is profit and that company is sure to close soon with those prices. She said that Bell spends so much in maintenance and customer support that they can't offer prices any lower than the current ones.

Another person who was standing beside us, said he has been with Bell for 10years and has had no problem. I told him, I too was with Bell till last year and had to change to a better company because Bell breached the contract without intimating me prior to the change.

I told the Bell-rep that I was expecting much more from Bell with regards to offering high speed DSL connections at prices comparable to other DSL providers in the market and not playing Big Brother with what the user downloads and uploads. Taking into consideration that they were just Bell-reps who might have been hired only for the sidewalk sale and couldn't do much about the "throttling and price problem at Bell", and that I had made 2 customers and 2 reps aware about the problem, I thanked her for the information and continued on searching for great deals on clothes.

A couple of minutes later I realized Bell was charging 10 times the cost Teksavvy charges for extra bandwidth usage per month!! $0.25 versus $2.50. Teksavvy Rock(y)s.

9 July 2008

We can now eat YELLOW Margarine

So the 21 year old margarine law in Quebec is all set to be changed with the provincial cabinet agreeing to change the law. Margarine in Quebec will soon be available in the same colour as it is in the rest of Canada and the World (unless someone repeals the decision!).

But the important question is: Will the government be willing to educate the masses that the two yellow milk products are different? One is their protected butter and the other is coloured margarine. One of the excuses given for non-coloured margarine was that people would be confused if margarine was of the same colour as of butter!

What I see here is either the dairy lobby noticed that colouring margarine won't affect their butter sales or that Quebec's population has matured enough to be able to distinguish between butter and yellow margarine. Either way, taste of margarine, whether coloured or not, is going to be the same and butter will always taste better than margarine :)

8 July 2008

Is Rogers Playing Dumb?

Rogers senior VP (Regulatory Affairs) Ken Engelhart seems to think that public is dumb and will believe whatever the telecom companies say. However, little does he know that it is he who is being projected highly paid dumb management employee when he makes statements like:

"Of course, because some P2P applications (BitTorrent for example) restrict download speed to the maximum upload speed provided by the user, a customer’s P2P download speed can be limited by the upstream cap, but that is a result of the business decision taken by the P2P applications provider"

Even a newly initiated person who uses a bittorrent application knows that it isn't true. Moreover, if there is an application which does that (BitTorrent for example, as he says), there are several others available freely to everyone which work as they should i.e. down and up stream bandwidths are not dependent on each other. I myself download Ubuntu every time they release a new version, and my download speed does not decrease irrespective of how low the upload I keep.

And earlier Bell was complaining that P2P users were eating up most of its bandwidth and when CRTC asked for explanations and proofs of the statement, it was just a fluke as P2P was hardly using up 5% of their bandwidth (and that is at peaks and not sustained usage).

This shows that these big telecom companies lie and mislead their consumers to achieve their ulterior motives. It is the consumer's own responsibility to stay informed and fight against unlawful rules being imposed by the big telecos. Go head over to netneutrality.ca and help keep the internet a neutral territory as it should be.

Net Neutrality Canada - Neutrality.ca

3 July 2008

IE 5 Views the Future

A friend of mine wanted me to back up her old PC and laptop so that she could discard them. She still had a few files that she wanted but hadn't used the computers in more than a couple of years. The PC was an IBM but I forget the model. It had Windows 95 on it! It wouldn't take a USB key as expected by luckily it had a LAN port. So I zipped the needed files and put them on my server. At that point I noticed that it had IE 5 on it. I had an idea and thought to test how IE 5 would see these futuristic websites. Here are a few screenshots with the "About IE" as the very first.

The very first page was from Microsoft® which was offering me to update to their latest browser! As if I will be able to. Don't they do any kind of browser sniffing?

The second page I pointed it to was Firefox download page. It was able to render the page quite nicely, except the main part: the download area with the Firefox icon. Compare it with the correct rendering.

Then comes Google Maps. Tried to search for Canada and look what it gave me. Although IE5 got the XMLhttpRequest object in ActiveX in 2002, this version of IE is probably older and has lots of trouble handling AJAX.

Then I tried Digg and that was one of the worst results. It wasn't able to render almost anything as expected. Although it seems that IE5 had a built-in AdblockPlus feature ;)

Next came another community site: boingboing.net IE5 was able to handle it in a better way than Digg!

In the end are a couple of screenshots of slashdot.org. Although the complex CSS was rendered nicely but barfed when it saw the grey part. The grey part extended for about 9 page-downs after every story!

More to come: screenshots of the mess IE5 created for rendering Apple's page.

1 July 2008

Scrolling: Firefox 3 and Safari

Software update started jumping up and down when I started my laptop today and I checked what it had to offer. There was this Security update and Safari 3.1.2. So I just said OK and let it work along for the 15o or so MB of data download. So after a restart, I checked the updated Safari. Is it only me or has Firefox 3 really gotten better than Safari at scrolling. It definitely is more fluid in Firefox than in Safari. Another thing I noticed is that the scroll bar in Firefox goes on a bit more even after you stop scrolling (extra distance depends on its speed when you stopped scrolling). Some might think it should just stop when the scrolling stops. But that is subjective. The extra roll, if call it that, seems to be more realistic and of a more fluid and friction free environment.

Anyway, I'm enjoying both of them right now. Hope you have got your new version of Firefox too.

PS: Watched Hulk - II today and it was worth it. Good one.

16 June 2008

C-61 - Real Life Implications

Michael Geist is doing a week long analysis of real life implications with examples of the recently tabled Bill C-61 aka the Canadian DMCA. The very first post shows situations of things we do in everyday life considering them as normal; although they won't be if the bill is passed. Keep reading his posts for the rest of the week to know in more detail.

The Canadian DMCA: What You Can Do

Start Here

14 May 2008

SP3 Changes Preferences

Just installed Service Pack 3(SP3) on a Windows XP install. The upgrade took about half an hour in total but went fine. After the obligatory restart, I have noticed at least one annoyance: the SP3 install changes your default browser to IE7. I had it set to Firefox Beta and saw that SP3 reset it to the native browser! When will MS stop messing with user's personal settings?

21 April 2008

Canadiens Win

I confess that I don't even know the basics of Ice Hockey and just today came to know that a game consists of 3 periods at least. However, I do know for a fact that the Canadien Habs won the Easter Conference quarterfinals series tonight because their fans are honking and making all kids of noises sine the last 45minutes. Fans in cars are honking, fans on foot are shouting and drinking and all traffic is almost at a halt on St. Catharine and De La Montaigne.

Good Luck to them for the semis.

5 April 2008

Massa and Kubica

The Bahrain Grand Prix is today and Kubica is up front on pole for the first time. Massa, who unfortunately hasn't scored a point this season, is second and has another chance to prove himself. A very interesting grid for Bahrain. Hoping for an entertaining race.

Update: Woohooooo .... Massa won in Bahrain again. It was an entertaining race as I read the news report. The title hunt is getting interesting with Kimi Räikkönen leading the points tally and Kubica and Massa being good challengers to Kimi and Hamilton. The BMWs are going to be an important force this season.

10 February 2008

Adblock Plus and BBC

Adblock Plus has been efficiently blocking advertisements for me in Iceweasel (Firefox). But it was today that I noticed that the ABP icon was green while reading news items on BBC. It wasn't blocking the advertisements on BBC pages. On further checking I found out that ABP has whitelisted BBC! That is what was causing the adverts to appear.

A simple disabling of the whitelist entry for bbc returned the page to its clean form. What would we do without ABP?

Update: As Wladimir pointed out, the filter list was automatically updated to solve the above quirk. So if you happen to see those adverts, update your filter.