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Offline After Nearly 7 Billion Rotations

April 8th, 2009 1 comment

(That’s slightly more rotations than there people on Earth! :o)

With Spring Break giving me some much-needed time off from classes, I had some time to install and test the recently-released Fedora 11 Beta. While I do think there are many minor issues (such as Urban Terror having no sound and not being able to quit), there are many awesome improvements over Fedora 10 already. Among these are such niceties as DRI2 & Kernel Mode-Setting support for Intel video (enabled by default!), DeviceKit, and the obvious benefits of GNOME 2.26.

However, one thing that I noticed over the past weekend (looking through the awesome new Palimpsest disk utility) is that my secondary hard drive (a Western Digital WD740 Raptor) has begun to show its age after nearly 4 years of trusty service. The automatic block-reallocation and CRC error counts were already listing as “Failing” and just about everything else in the SMART self-test results are listed as “Pre-Fail.” Thankfully, it persisted long enough to backup my entire home directory to the primary disk (a 40GB Maxtor something-or-other). However, this backup has made that primary disk – which I have partitioned with everything else) almost full, with only about a gigabyte free. (That was close!) So, until I can get that replaced, I’m going to be getting my work done on my parents’ computers and those in the school labs – which means I’m not going to be able do anything Fedora-related other than simple bug-triaging for a while. With schoolwork and other duties now, it’ll probably take me about a week or so to order the new drive from NewEgg, have it shipped, and properly install it in my PC.

I do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause; but as I’ve said on prior occasions, hardware and I seem to have a very love/hate relationship.  :-/

The ‘E’s in “College” are for “Extra” and “Enjoyment”.

March 15th, 2009 No comments

(I will try to make this more regular in the future, honestly!)

In our previous College Survival Guide entry, we took a very brief look at the stark difference between life as a high school student and life as a college student. However, there is one thing that needs to remain a constant thoughout one’s entire student life, and that is something very simple, but often not very easy.

Have fun. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. (Seriously!)

Now, I know some of you are thinking at this, Fun, as a student? This geek’s been drinking far too much coffee. However, this is one of the best things I think one can do – especially in college. College is almost by definition a gigantic learning experience, but this learning should not be restricted to academic-only material. One of the biggest pieces of advice I give classmates when discussing scheduling for the following term is this: Always take a fun class – or more, if other life constraints allow!

There will always be times when you’ll be very stressed out with little or no control over the cause – too much homework, a difficult test coming up, group projects, et al. and the best way to relieve the stress is to enjoy oneself in something else entirely. I’ve found that very often while doing homework for a class that I do not like, I end up being bored and the homework then becomes a slow and tedious process. However, taking one or more fun classes, I can take a brief pause from doing the homework for that boring class and do the assignment for the fun classwork; and after that return to other work which now does not seem nearly as dreary. Also, if you make time for a fun class or two throughout your schedule, then you will actually want to go to school, and that can sometimes make the difference in not being truant to classes.

Now, there are many classes – especially the upper-division or major-specific courses – that will definitely be inherently enjoyable. For the most part though, especially during one’s early collegiate terms, it’s mostly General Education and other necessities which may be opposite of those wants. When I speak of “fun classes” that you should take, I’m referring to the classes that probably aren’t even required. These classes are one’s you should just take because you want to and for no other reason. One other benefit of these classes is that, due to the nature of your reason for taking the class, you are certainly going to put a lot of effort into it and get a good grade in the class, which can help keep or boost your GPA a little bit.

So, remember: Take some fun classes! College should NOT be a sleep-class-homework cycle! Well, that’s about it for this edition. Join us next time for another rousing post in this College Survival Guide!

Categories: College Survival Guide Tags:

Accidental Fixes

February 22nd, 2009 No comments

“If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.” (Edsger W. Dijkstra)

After fixing the notification-daemon bubbles (thanks, Martin!), I spent some time perusing through some of the other GConf settings and found another rather interesting gem: /desktop/gnome/interface/show_input_method_menu which is set to off (False) by default. Now, for the longest time I’ve had trouble in Xchat-GNOME (my IRC client of choice) with getting Japanese input to work properly. There was no preedit text or conversion from Romaji to Kana/Kanji. SCIM/Anthy just wasn’t being used at all! But changing this one item, it’s easy now to get SCIM working as it should, but selecting the “SCIM Bridge Input Method” from the context menu.

Granted, it’s definitely not a correct or long-term fix by any means; but at least now I’m not given the inconvenience of opening up gedit or some other application to switch back and forth when I want to IRC in Japanese. Yay!

I should probably go package up that new Midori release now. 🙂

Not Impossible, just a bit Unlikely!

February 17th, 2009 3 comments

Apparently I’ve become really bad at this whole “regularly blogging’ thing. *sigh*
I posted, a few weeks ago, about the cool new notification bubbles, but after updating yesterday and rebooting my computer, the beauty has vanished, just as quickly as it came. It saddens me ever so slightly; but it alas was just not meant to be.

No more sexy-time notification bubbles!

No more sexy-time notification bubbles!

On another note, we spent the entirety of tonight’s Kanji Study class doing calligraphy (called 書道, “shodou”) as a fun little break, with a visiting professor from UCLA. It was amazingly entertaining and we learned a lot about how much intricacy is often needed to draw the characters properly: angle and force of brush, amount of ink, proper stroke order etc., and how painstakingly detailed a seemingly simple character compound such as 先生¹ needs to be when drawn correctly. Near the end of our class session, he even went through several examples of how Hiragana and Katakana were derived from their respective 万葉仮名 (Man’yõgana), such as あ (Hiragana “a”, from 安 meaning “tranquil, quiet,” or in some contexts, “inexpensive”) and タ (Katakana “ta” from 多 meaning “much, many”). I found it quite intriguing; and our Sensei says that we’re going to go into this derivation in far more detail over the coming weeks. I can’t wait!

[1] Pronounced “sensei,” it is literally translated as “one who lived before” and used as an honorific title for teachers, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals.

Categories: Life Tags: , ,

Introduction to College

February 10th, 2009 4 comments

I’m alive and well, I swear! Schoolwork and other life issues have swamped me quite efficiently over these past couple of weeks; but I’m okay!

While searching for backpack recommendations on the Gentoo Off-The-Wall forums, I came to an interesting thread from a couple years ago entitled, Going to college. I’d like a How-to survive your first year.

I very much concur with just about every piece of advice in that thread; and it inspired me to expound on a lot of those tips as well as to add my own. For that purpose, I’ve decided to post them on this blog in a somewhat-regular [hopefully] fashion. On this vein, Welcome to the first-ever edition of my College Survival Guide!

Today, we’re going to discover one of the most important things about college life: College and High School are two totally and completely separate things.

Now, this may seem fairly obvious to many readers, as I can imagine they have already been through these experiences and know what I’m referring to; but there are those who still treat their studies as if it were really still not yet collegiate-level work. (Trust me; I’ve met a great many number of people like this.) For the majority of readers that believe this, it is something that doesn’t seem to be so incorrect at a glance: It’s just more school…why should it be any different?

The answer to that, of course, is quite simple: For most people, college is the first time in his or her life that one is on one’s own for so many things. Among many other reasons, it is this shift of responsibility to the student (from teachers, tutors, guardians, and others) that may be fairly overwhelming at first. More often than not, the student becomes responsible for not just the learning, but the homework, transportation, food, socialization, et al. Many of the things which had been simply given to the student or scheduled for him/her are now no longer done so. Instead, the student oversees his own education – from scheduling of one’s classes to preparing meals for oneself and – for better or worse – having far more control over one’s life.

Now, I know many (and myself am among those) who as college students still live with their parents and so much of this responsibility (for example, basic housework) is often not as drastically redistributed to the student. However, the responsibilities are still quite prevalent: especially of classwork and transportation. I still live with my parents, for example; but it is my responsibility – and mine alone – to ensure that I wake up and have a decent breakfast everyday. It is also mine to ensure that I get to class on time everyday: making sure I leave enough leeway in my scheduling to walk from my house to the bus stop as well as from the bus stop on campus to the classroom buildings (which, for my major courses, are almost on opposite sides of the campus, thank you very much whoever had THAT brilliant idea) as well as vice-versa when I return home. One can be living with their parents yes (which is probably a good idea for most beginning students, from a strictly economical perspective); but that should not imply that they are any less responsible for their own well-being.

Well, that’s about it for today. In the next issue of the College Survival Guide, we’ll discover some highly beneficial patterns in scheduling one’s classes. Join us next time for more tips and advice from the College Survival Guide!

A Semester of Fun

January 24th, 2009 1 comment

Well, now that I’m nearly finished with the general-education requirements, this semester is shaping up to be quite a fun adventure. Aside from the slight tedium of taking General Chemistry, I’m also taking two math courses (“Advanced Topics in Linear Algebra” & “Ordinary Differential Equations”) and two Japanese classes (“Intermediate Japanese-A” and “Study of Kanji”), so even though it’s going to be quite busy (18 units!), it definitely won’t seem so.

We went to a a used book store in Fullerton that was having a “going out of business” sale over this past weekend: about 70-80% off everything. While there, I picked up a good half-dozen Star Trek books that, along with Christmas and early-birthday gifts, should provide quite ample reading material for the bus rides to and from class, as well as just generally being quite good books. On my desk right now are just a handful of them:

  1. Fallacies and Pitfalls of Language: The Language Trap (S. Morris Engel)
  2. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Barack Obama)
  3. Titan (Stephen Baxter)
  4. Doctor Who: The Indestructible Man (Simon Messingham)
  5. Pegasus in Space (Anne McCaffrey)

This is not an exhaustive list, mind you, but a majority of the Star Trek and other books that I bought were only due to my having read them in the past simply on loan from the local library, and I enjoyed them so much that I simply wanted to ensure myself my own copy. I think I’m going to quite like this. 🙂

Categories: Books, Life Tags: , , , ,

New Year, New Blog

January 23rd, 2009 2 comments

Well, wwwaaayyy back in October 2007 (!), one of the reasons I citied for moving away from a self-hosted blog setup in the first place was “integration with external services.” It’s been well over one year since that time and I still have no idea what services I was referring to. However, I’ve decided to move my blog back to my own domain because of the much finer control of the content and its display. (It’s no longer “my blog on some website” but instead “my blog on my website” mainly.)

I tried yesterday to import the posts and comments from LiveJournal, via both WordPress’s LJ-XML importer and the script that Jeremy linked to. Unfortunately, the results from both of these attempts were only mildly successful. (Indeed, I call them “successes” only because the posts’ content was properly imported.) So for ease of my own workings, I’ve decided to leave those on LiveJournal until I can figure out a more appropriate method to transition them to this blog setup.

Everything should be more-or-less functioning the way I want now; but do let me know if there are any problems with the move. (And don’t forget to update your bookmarks/etc.!)

In closing, next time I decide to stop posting for a month, I kindly ask that someone poke me incessantly. Thanks. 😮

Categories: Life, Technology Tags: ,