Well — I had never read anything by Mr. Neil Gaiman before, but had always heard his name repeated everywhere. And… I was pleasantly surprised. Weird writing, but really great.
Not bad — I’d never read anything by Terry Pratchett before this. I like his style of writing, and the ideas brought up here and there in the book regarding religion are thought-provoking.
Sadly enough — because I really wanted to really like this book — I’ve never been a fan of the “all satire/funny” style of writing. Give me some Heinlein (with the witty banter of his characters) or something more modern like John Scalzi (who’s a LOT like Heinlein in how he writes) and I’m fine, but the type of writing in Small Gods (or something similar like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) just bothers me. I’ve never liked it.
Maybe when you try for the joke-a-minute style of writing that sometimes it can’t help but seem forced, or the jokes kind of just start losing their funniness after a litle while (I had that problem with Hitchiker’s Guide — near the beginning, I’m literally laughing out loud while reading, and about 2/3 of the way in, I’m like okay, get on with the story).
So, for about two days the touchpad on my HP laptop stopped working. Of course it was right after a kernel update in Ubuntu, so I immediately blame that. You know… because 9/10 times it is.
So, I’m checking and checking things but can’t find anything. It’s weird. It’s not like it’s not working correctly, or is misconfigured — it’s like Ubuntu, which is actually pretty good at picking up on hardware changes today, can’t even see it. So on a hunch I reboot into Windows, but it’s not working there either.
So now, instead of having to tromp through the utterly useless Ubuntu forums (full of unresolved issues where people complain about some update or the other breaking something), I can now expand my search to various HP Windows forums. Where in about five minutes, I found this gem.
Apparently, on some HP laptops (or maybe all laptop hardware is set up like this, I’d honestly never encountered it before), you have to perform what’s called a “kick”:
- Turn off your laptop.
- Unplug your AC adapter.
- Take out your battery. (If you can’t take out your battery externally, time to pull out a screwdriver and start taking your laptop apart.)
- Hold down the power button on your laptop for at least 30 seconds, preferably more (just to make sure, since time is a relative construct perceived differently by all sentient forms of matter).
- Put in your battery, and turn back on. Your touchpad should now be visible to your OS, be it Ubuntu or Windows, again.
Why or how this works is anyone’s guess. I think it resets the BIOS (it seemed to do a strange double boot the first time plugging it in after performing this procedure, which is similar to what happens on a BIOS upgrade). I’m just glad it does.
- The hardware-based “Raid 1″ hard drive mirroring (for safe data “insurance”) that’s built into most motherboards today isn’t real Raid 1 — it’s a type of “fake” Raid 1 that’s really just a fancy software wrapper: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/FakeRaidHowto
- It’s actually really, really easy to control what hard drives are mounted (and to what directories) on Ubuntu by editing the /etc/fstab file. Yeah, that’s about it. No fancy programs you have to run or weird modules/packages to install. No need to search through Google for hours thinking that “there’s got to be something more to it than that.”
There’s a small bug when running Cyanogenmod 9 (Android 4.0.4) on the Droid Incredible 2 — every time you reboot, you have to run the command “killall drmserver” as root, or you won’t be able to install or upgrade any applications.
Now, why this isn’t baked into the OS, I don’t know, but in lieu of having to start a terminal every time you start up your phone and run this command, you can actually create a startup script.
It’s never that easy on linux (seems to be different on every distro), but the way it seems to be done on CM9 is:
1) First, create the directory ‘/data/local/userinit.d’ with the following command:
mkdir -p /data/local/userinit.d
2) Then, create your script in this directory and make sure and make it executable (chmod 755, at least) — I had something like:
#!/system/bin/sh killall drmserver
Steam For Linux Now Available To All Users ~ Web Upd8: Ubuntu / Linux blogGreat job on making Steam for Ubuntu there, Valve, but (boo! hiss!) on not including the damn key with the installation so people can actually update it when they install it.
This blog mentions how to fix it, with the command below:
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys F24AEA9FB05498B7
Been wondering this for a while — how do you make a cron script that will only run once, when your server boots?
Just append “@reboot” before the command, instead of the usual time information (at least on Ubuntu Server 12.04):
- @reboot /path/to/execuable1
It’s how one tests for issues without the rest of the OS getting in the way. Just boot your Mac while holding Command+S.
Now, this is one of the best new SF books I’ve read in a while.
An interesting story of a quasi-utopian future that suddenly meets with danger out amongst the stars, the “Commonwealth” series of novels by Peter Hamilton tell of a future mankind that never really takes to the stars in a great diaspora via starships — instead, mankind stumbles across the ability to open up instantaneous wormholes relative to where they’re currently located, at least across a few light years. The ability to do this is a closely kept secret of the team that first invents it, so, while they remains quite generous with the opening of new wormholes for mankind, the progression of man amongst the stars continues in a very orderly, organized fashion for about 400 years or so, with new wormholes opening up only after many, many committee meetings and discussions.
It is only when an interesting astronomical event occurs far outside the reach of any wormhole, that starships are finally created (using a sort of “progressive” opening and reopening of the same wormhole technology) to travel the far distance necessary to observe it up close. However, what they find was probably better left alone.
One of the most interesting things about the future in this universe is just how normal everything remains compared to modern day — there’s still a stock market, there’s still large companies (only now they’re multi-system instead of just multinational) — there’s even still a middle class. People can live much longer thanks to rejuvenation and body cloning techniques (given enough money, an individual can be nearly immortal), and you can securely back up your memory to a bank in case of complete body loss.
Not bad, Mr. Mieville, not bad. I didn’t know if I’d like a non-Bas-Lag book by China Mieville, but Embassytown was a very interesting world.
Set in a world far, far in the future long after the human diaspora (after faster-than-light travel is discovered), Embassytown tells the story of a group of humans who have taken residence on a planet inhabited by a race they call only the “Hosts.” The name is given in deference to the permission the humans have obtained to live on the Hosts’ planet — a permission obtained with some difficulty, since the Hosts’ do not recognise other creatures than themselves as being sentient.
There’s also a brief B-plot about the “Immer,” which sounds a lot like the “Immaterium” present in the Warhammer 40K universe… :p Basically it’s a sort of sub-space that a craft can enter to travel long distances — very, very long distances, such as from galaxy to galaxy, halfway across the universe. The main character is one of the rare people who can pilot ships through the Immer, as most peoples’ minds go “slack” and they vomit uncontrollably the entire time they’re inside of it.