Category Archives: Life

Dear Mr. LaPierre and the NRA

(Sent today.)

Dear Mr. LaPierre and the NRA,

I have been a member of the NRA for many years.

I renewed my membership after the Virginia Tech shooting, in which a deranged man killed 30+ classmates at a college. He never should’ve been able to purchase firearms, but your organization didn’t agree.

I renewed my membership after the Aurora, CO theater shooting. The killer in that shooting never should’ve been able to buy a drum magazine — it has no purpose being owned by an ordinary American. Soldiers in the military aren’t even issued them individually.

I renewed my membership after the Newtown, CT shooting, and that one was tough. You would think 20 small children being gunned down would cause your organization to at least soften its stance on the issue — to sound a little less combative — but no. Your organization came out after the event as angry as ever.

But the Las Vegas shooting is too much. There has to be limits to the 2nd amendment. Even if the stated goal of your organization is to help protect the right for citizens to arm themselves in the event of armed insurrection.

No one needs 50+ firearms. A common sense argument for your organization would be to say, if the goal of the 2nd amendment is to protect liberty, you only need one rifle and one handgun.

No one needs thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition. A common sense argument for your organization would be to say, if the goal of the 2nd amendment is to protect liberty, you only need to be able to buy enough ammo that you could carry on your person in the event of a “SHTF” event. (One could purchase more ammunition for target practice at places like ranges and gun stores, but the ammunition should not be allowed to leave the premises.)

And no one, I mean no one, needs “slide fire” modifications to allow a semi-auto rifle to shoot fully automatic. Your organization could come out today and join the call for such devices to be banned, but you probably won’t.

I am a gun owner, and will remain one. I own one rifle, and one handgun. However, as of today, I will no longer renew my membership in the NRA. Also, I resign as a member of the NRA, said resignation to be effective immediately. Please remove my name from your membership lists.

Why “Social Media” Should be Renamed “Social Masturbation”

We have hundreds of friends on Facebook. We follow hundreds of people on Twitter. We interact with dozens a people a day, spread across an equal number of timezones or even countries.

We follow funny blogs, meme-generators, and news sites on both of these services, and they deliver dozens of posts that we like and re-share to all of our friends, so they can see that we like them.

We feel like we’re making such a difference in the world! It’s so amazing! A collective consciousness if forming, almost — who can stop it? Who can fight it?

Disadvantaged groups are in control of such power! They now have a voice in the world so that everyone can hear of their struggles, thanks to the Internet! Social behavior that would’ve been illegal 50 years ago, and just an enormous faux pas even 25 years ago is now completely normal and accepted… isn’t it?

I mean, that’s what all my friends think. And I’m sure yours largely do too, if you’re probably reading this.

The reality in the rest of America, however, as we just learned, is very different.

Stages of Grief

We’re still not even in the postmortem stage from the Trump election win in 2016, but we’re close. Right now, people don’t know who to blame, mostly because the final results were such a surprise. Nobody saw the coming — not even FiveThirtyEight, who haven’t predicted an election wrong before this one.

And why would they? Why would any of us?

How many Trump supporters are you close to, on a daily basis? How many do you talk to daily, as a friend? Not bickering with online, but in person — where you’re more than just text making them angry on a website, but a living, breathing person in front of them, that they can see, and hear.

If the answer is zero, honestly I don’t blame you. Trump supporters aren’t usually… let’s just say it’s hard to have a conversation with someone who’s starting position is “Ban the Muslims/Mexicans, Build The Wall, Lock Her Up!” There’s not much gray area — not much room for common ground.

Even I only had about half a dozen, and they were all online. Mostly family members who survived earlier Facebook purges and friends from high school who stayed behind in the small town area where I grew up, and never left.

After this past week, of course, I’m no longer friends with them. Not because of anything they did or said, of course — most of them were fairly well-behaved — but because I realized, after the election, that we’re not really friends.

I didn’t talk to them in person. I couldn’t affect their lives in any meaningful way. In any discussion, there was never any meeting of the minds — no give and take. Every conversation could stop immediately when the aggrieved party wanted it to, by just walking away. There was never any reconciliation attempted, because there was no need to.

Our interaction was limited to them sharing their funny conservative memes from ridiculous websites and fake news sources, while I would groan inwardly and put up with them, because I was being “open-minded.”

They were certainly never going to change my mind about Hillary Clinton by posting some link about a “child sex ring in Macedonia run by the Clintons” (all false, of course), and I was never going to change their mind about voting for ol’ Agent Orange himself by telling them about his six bankruptcies, piggish attitudes about women, or the ridiculousness of building a “90 foot wall on the border of Mexico.”

So, why keep up the charade of pretending like we’re friends?

Fair and Balanced

However, I didn’t stop there. How many like-minded people are you friends with on Facebook, that you also don’t see in person? A dozen? Ten dozen? A thousand? How many do you follow on Twitter?

Do you think these relationships are healthy? Do you think you’re making a difference in their lives? That by liking their posts, and replying to their comments on yours that you’re doing something nice for them?

Maybe — just maybe these interactions are robbing you of the desire to make actual relationships, with those people around you.

Now — before you get outraged — I’m not saying you can’t have a meaningful relationship with someone in a purely online fashion. I met my partner online, so I of all people am not saying that.

I’m just saying you can’t have a dozen simultaneously. Or ten dozen. You’re not Scarlet Johansson’s character from the movie Her. And you certainly can’t have 1,456 real “friends” on Facebook, no matter how much you like seeing the number.

These interactions you are having on Facebook, or Twitter, with people you rarely ever see in person, are having a negative influence on your life, and you may not even know it.

They momentarily quench the desire to have real connections, out there, in the real world. Friends you can visit in the hospital if they’re in a car accident. Friends with who you can move a couch. Friends you can go to a party with, or to the park.

And most importantly, friends who, if they don’t think exactly the same as you, may come around to your way of thinking when it’s voting time.

Beating Us at Our Own Game

Because you see, like it or not, this is something “the other side” has the non-Trump-voter beat in, wholly — real life social engagement.

They have churches, where they see the same people regularly, every week.

They go to tailgate parties. Constantly.

They go to real parties, out in the woods, where cell phone connections are spotty and where you’re forced to, you know, talk to people.

And when it comes to voting time, they’re the ones telling their real-life connections, in person, who to vote for.

Yes, they have huge social media presence online, mostly — the recent trouble with fake conservative news being spread like wildfire across Facebook being an example of that — but it’s not their only, or even their most major form of social engagement.

Human beings are social creatures — it’s coded into our DNA. You may think you can survive without a tribe, or a group, but you can’t — that’s just our pleasant, safe, modern world fooling you.

When we human beings were first coming down from the trees and learning to walk on just two legs, the tribes we formed required people to work together to achieve goals — you had to know like-minded people (or in this case, hominids), or you didn’t survive. Human beings weren’t the fastest, or the strongest; we didn’t have sharp fangs or claws or sticky webs to trap pray in; but what we had was cooperation.

And those that could work together with others had their genes propagated to the next generation.

Say “Hi”

So what can you do? If you’re not going to delete your Facebook account in protest of their out-of-control “sharing” feature (I’m still considering it), start by unfriending everybody you don’t see on a daily basis.

Make a few exceptions for those two or three people who, no matter what the geographic distance, you’re still soul mates with. It won’t hurt.

Make an exception for close family that aren’t racist.

But that’s it.

Stop spending time talking to people who you can’t make a meaningful difference in their lives. It’ll hurt at first; I know. But soon that desire will turn into actual action that may help those that are close by to you right now, especially if you live in an area that’s a bit more heterogeneous. (You know, like those “swing” states that Hillary all lost.)

And that is where the culture war will be won. Not by posting rebuttals or Snopes articles on Facebook and Twitter. But by showing people who look and think slightly differently than you how you’re not a caricature.

And maybe, must maybe, they won’t vote next time for a man who thinks that women’s bodies are up for grabs, if you have enough money, or that it’s okay to mock the disabled, or that all illegal immigrants are murderers and drug-dealers.


Now, please don’t misunderstand me — I’m not talking about possibly changing the minds of any Trump voters — you should know that’s not possible by now. You’re talking about a kind of person who believes in fake news, without any facts, and when confronted with facts to the contrary, simply chooses not to believe in them. You can’t change that kind of person’s mind, so don’t try.

I’m talking about possibly convincing someone who doesn’t vote, or who is undecided, that they might want to try voting. Those are the changes you can make. And they can be made.

On Healing

Getting better is a wonderful thing.  You start getting your strength back; you start feeling more like a human being again, and less like a patient.

Within a few weeks (just like I said), you’re beginning to forget about how sick you were.  The memories begin to fade.  You start moving on.

But you’re never the same.  (And that’s not always a bad thing.)

You can’t look at the world the same way again.  The things that used to bring you joy, still do, but in a different way.  You savor them slightly differently.

Even when you’ve made a full recovery, you’re always slightly worried about getting sick again.  You now know you’re not immortal, and that thought tints everything you experience from this point on.

It’s not grief–it’s a different sort of feeling.  It’s just a nagging, unplaceable, unstoppable worry.

Depending upon the vector that made you sick in the first place, you’ll always be thinking of it.

If it was melanoma, even if you bring yourself to be able to go out in the sun again, you’ll be constantly paranoid about it.  You’ll wear SPF75 sunblock and wear hats and long sleeved shirts, even to the beach.

If it was influenza, you’ll be scared of large crowds.  You won’t look at door handles the same way.  If you’re at a restaurant, and your waiter coughs, you’ll want to leave.

If it was something terrible like food poisoning that stayed with you for a while, you probably wouldn’t be able to go to a restaurant at all.  You’ll cook your own food in a hermetically sealed kitchen until you either get over it or until some event or occurrence forces you to eat food prepared by someone else.  (And then you more than likely won’t get sick again, and you’ll be fine.)

But that’s what it’s like.  That’s life.  I imagine that’s why therapists exist.  Even after a traumatic occurrence in your life is over, the mental and emotional issues just stick around for a while.

Time helps.  Distracting yourself helps.  It helps if you have a social circle of friends and family to depend on, as the social drama from keeping these relationships healthy can take up enough of your time that you no longer have the time to worry.

Sometimes it helps to make a big change in your life at this point.  Something to make you feel like what you just went through was significant in some way.

If you’ve been thinking about quitting your job and working somewhere else, now is the time to do it, especially if you haven’t been able to psyche yourself up before this point.

If you’ve been thinking about moving, now might be the time to do it.

If you’ve been putting off some big project in your life–what the hell, why not start now?

I imagine I’m not the first person to come to that realization.

I really should’ve wrote about it. (Part III)

(Continued from Part II…)

(If I’m coming back to this article at some point in the future, this is where I need to remind myself to go ahead and skip ahead to the end section, “Getting better.”  That’s where the happier stuff starts.)

Well, this time I was going to make sure this never happened again.  I went and got my checkup at the same clinic three weeks later, where they scanned me for pneumonia by x-ray and found no evidence of it.

There’s actually a pneumonia vaccine, too — typically only recommended for the very young or those with other chronic health problems (just so that if you ever have to go to the hospital again, you don’t have to worry about getting pneumonia while in a hospital bed, along with everything else you’re having to deal with).   So, I got that, just to be thorough.

I started being very clean and washing my hands all the time, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, etc.  I got the flu shot every year for the next five years, right as soon as it was available, in early September.  I ate right and tried to exercise.

I figured that, even if I did somehow contract influenza again, it probably wouldn’t turn into pneumonia, because I had the vaccine, right?  I no longer considered myself invincible, but I surely didn’t go around fearing for my health all the time.

Getting pneumonia twice was like getting hit by lightning twice, right?  I couldn’t possibly get it a third time.

Well, it looks like I did.

Present Day.

This year, 2015, the flu vaccine didn’t cover all the strains of flu that got around into the general population. Or there was a mutation late in the year and even people who had gotten the flu shot started getting the flu.  Either way, about two weeks ago, I started having chills, and body aches, and knew immediately that I had to take action.

So, I went into full flu-preparation mode.  I went to the clinic, and even though I turned up negative for the flu (via the big nasal swab q-tip test), I was prescribed tamiflu, and an antibiotic.   I went to the pharmacy, got my prescriptions, got lots of fluids, and prepared to just get over it, like everyone else does.  My fever started going higher, but I was able to keep it down with fever-reducing drugs.

However, I wasn’t getting any sleep.  My sleep was fitful and bothered.  I coughed.  The fact that my new job requires me to be on call 24/7 during a week every two months, and that of course my on-call week started simultaneously when I started coming down with flu symptoms didn’t help either.   (When you’re in a rotation of on-call personnel, and your week comes up, you don’t get out of it unless you’re either dead or in jail, and I was neither at this point.)

Good sleep is important to getting over any illness — it’s said it gives your immune system time to repair and restore, and I wasn’t getting any of it.

So, seven days later, instead of being completely over everything, I was still sick.

Back to the clinic.

My on-call week being over by this point, I told my boss I was going to be out for a while, and I didn’t know when I’d be back.  I go back up the clinic, get checked out again… and this time it looks like I’ve got pneumonia.


Even though I’ve had the vaccine, it looks like I still got it.  The doctor prescribes me a stronger antibiotic, I get it filled, and go home to rest some more.

Two days later I had no fever anymore, and felt like I had more energy.

I’m writing this now, after I’m pretty sure the pneumonia’s cleared up.  It’s been five days since my fever broke after being put on a stronger antibiotic (the first batch that I was put on at the clinic either wasn’t strong enough, or wasn’t going to go on long enough to clear everything up).

I’ve had a minor scare with some of the medication I was on — something was causing an allergic reaction, so I’ve had to stop some gradually to see if things get better.   I know in the grand scheme of things — ending up in the hospital and all that — a mild allergic reaction is no big deal.

But I’m still worried.  And scared.

Getting better.

I imagine this happens to most people who go through some sort of health scare — you’re worried you’re not actually getting better, and that you’ll relapse.

You’re worried that even if you do get completely better, the same thing will happen to you again in the future, and you’ll be a burden to your loved ones again.

Getting very badly sick, even if you recover from it, saps you of confidence.  If fills you with doubt.  It makes you depressed, which is as much as impediment to recovery as anything else you encounter.

I know I’ll get over it all soon.  I know I’ll be healthier, and have my strength back, and in a month or two or three, I won’t be thinking of this every single day.

Having people in your life who love and care for you helps.  I have Nina.  Without her I wouldn’t know what I would do, and she helps me find reserves of strength I had in me that I didn’t even know was there.

So, I’ll get better.  There’s things I know to look out for.  More drugs to add the list of medications to warn doctors about.

The pneumonia vaccine is supposed to have a booster after five years, so I’ll make sure and get that after I get better.  I’ll make a new appointment with my doctor for some time in the future, and talk about what risk factors may have led to this.

The good things are this — this time, when I get better, I will have gotten better without having to go to the hospital.

That proves I can do it.  Every time I get pneumonia I learn more about it, how to handle it, and what to look out for.  I’ve learned a few things about what not to do (like the safest thing to take for a fever is just plain ibuprofen, did you know that?).

Maybe it’ll happen to me again, maybe it won’t.  Maybe medical science will advance to the point where even if I do get it, a single shot of nano-bots or something will take care of it for me.

So, if you’re reading this five, seven, ten years from now, Me, know that you’ll get over it.

I really should’ve wrote about it. (Part II)

(Continued from Part I…)

Pneumonia Redux.

Around about the same time of the year (March-April), but seven years later, I came home from work one day just feeling like a general pile of crap.  My whole body hurt. (I had no idea why.)

The weirdest thing was the chills.  I was just cold.  I couldn’t seem to get warm enough.  I was fully dressed, and then Nina and I started wrapping me in as many blankets and bathrobes as we could find, and I was still just shaking and cold.  That lasted for about a night, and then I just kind’ve went downhill from there.
I had a high fever, that I could only keep down with fever reducers (otherwise it would be up near 103).  I was feeling weak.  I had a dry, unproductive cough.  My head ached.
I had influenza, which that year, 2010, was the nasty H1N1 strain — highly contagious, very nasty.  But I had no idea just yet.
I had never gotten my flu shot before, no — of course not!  I was still invincible.  “Who needs flu shots?  Old people and the crippled. I’ll be fine.”
Well, after about a week I still wasn’t getting any better.  My fever was still high, and I was still feeling like crap.  So, not feeling quite like I needed a hospital just yet, I drove up to the new urgent clinic place in our town.  Bigger than your local doctor’s office, but not as big (or as expensive) as a hospital.
There they did a “nose swab,” which is exactly what it sounds like — a giant q-tip stuck up your nose into your nasal cavity.  (I was given no warning about it, and it was surprising.)
Then, after about 15 min, the nurses and doctor come back into the room wearing face masks cover the lower parts of their faces… and then I knew something was up.
I had the H1N1 strain of pneumonia, which that year was making all the headlines.  Lots of people in the prime of their life were getting very sick, and sometimes even dying.
I was not prescribed Tamiflu (an anti-viral medication), because it’s typically only given in the first few days or so when you get the flu, or else it’s usually seen as not being worth it.  I was given an antibiotic to, I guess, help prevent pneumonia, and sent home.
Two days later I wasn’t feeling any better at all, and honestly felt like I was getting worse.  My fever was still sky-high, I had no appetite, and I just felt like the life was slowly draining out of me.  At this point I had been terribly sick for about nine days total, and I knew something was seriously wrong, and that no amount of rest at home was going to make it go away.
So, even though I didn’t want to, again I went to the hospital in town.
I don’t really want to talk about this part much, but I should.
There I was diagnosed with severe dehydration (which wasn’t doing my healing any good), as well as with pneumonia.  My white blood cell count was extremely low (which measures your ability to fight off something making you sick).
I was still active with the flu, and the nurses were still wearing masks.  I was given my own private room at the end of the hall due to my contagiousness, and started being pumped full of saline and intravenous antibiotics.
The next two days aren’t very fun, but pretty much follow that.  If you’ve ever spent time in a hospital you know the drill.  There’s people checking your intravenous drips, people checking your temperature, every four hours someone is taking your blood, you see the actual resident doctor maybe once of twice while you’re there — that’s about it.
(Hospital food is never very great, and I imagine in the South it’s even less great.  I couldn’t eat much, and the fare being put in front of me, which reminded me of the cafeteria food of my youth, wasn’t helping any.  I mean, I don’t expect to be fed like a king, but even something simpler, like a simple stir fry, or just something like vegetables without a huge nasty piece of ham mixed in with them shouldn’t be too much to ask for.)
I honestly thought I was going to die in that hospital, and I’m not ashamed to say that.  There was a moment when I had asked the resident nurse what the doctor had said about my condition on the second day there, the doctor was busy, so she relayed the information to me — my pneumonia had apparently spread to both lungs, and they prognosis wasn’t great.
But, I guess my numbers and figures started showing better numbers and figures by the next day, and they discharged me after just two days.  It took about a week for me to start feeling normal again, and I was able to sleep well for about two weeks, but I got through it.
Was the nurse wrong?  Was she talking about another patient?  I’ll never know.
Life and death.
When I was in the hospital, I started thinking about what I was putting Nina through — her having to see me in the hospital bed, not really able to do anything, having to travel back and forth to our house to take care of our cats and dogs.  Her having to sleep on the second hospital bed in the room, which I know she didn’t like, but that I’m glad she did.  I thought about what she would do if I did die, if I just kept getting worse and worse and never recovered.  I didn’t want to put her through that.  She’s tough, but life is easier when you’re able to travel through it with other people.
I’ve always talked the tough talk about death to other people — “I’m not afraid,” and the like, but when you’re actually confronted with it, it’s different.  It’s easy to not be afraid of something when it’s distant, and far in your future, but when it’s staring you in the face, it’s different.   It’s harder to keep a stiff upper lip about it.
It’s not impossible — there are people out there who curse Death in his face down into their very graves, but those people are far and few between.  I’m sure they mostly exist in works of fiction, to be honest.   Most people are scared, and lonely, and don’t want to die.  There’s nothing wrong with feeling like that — it’s normal.  Nobody wants to die.

(Continued in Part III…)

I really should’ve wrote about it. (Part I)

Five years ago I wrote this blog post, with the intention of writing more later on:


There, interspaced between two random blog posts (one about some upgrades I was doing to my car and one about a joke, one-off version of Left 4 Dead made up in retro-NES style) was an entreaty to myself to try and get my thoughts down on paper about what I had just gone through.  To look back and reflect on what had just happened to me, because I had had a lot to think about recently.

Unfortunately, I never did.  And I really should have — it would’ve helped me when I went through it again, recently.  This time, hopefully, it doesn’t seem like it was as bad.  But I still could’ve used the strength.


There, I  said it.  I don’t even like saying the word, as if it had some evil power over me, and that by naming it I get its attention.  I don’t like thinking about it, or talking about, and five years ago, I thought I was through with it forever.

Perhaps this is why I never wrote about it five years ago — I was healthier, I had recovered — maybe I just wanted to put the entire thing behind me and just forget about it.

I’ve had pneumonia three times in my life now, and I’m only in my early 30’s.  Most people never get it, and usually only when they’re very young or very old.  It’s an ancient disease — the ancient Greek surgeons knew of its symptoms, and when the symptoms were fully actualized, it’s terrible mortality rate.  It’s been called “the Captain of the Men of Death,” and in the 1800’s, was responsible for the death of millions

I first was diagnosed with pneumonia when I was only 21, in the prime of my health.  I was healthy, happy, and newly in love.  It seemed like nothing could stop me.

Even so, it’s not like I led an unhealthy life, even back then.  I didn’t eat to excess.  I’ve never smoked.  I’ve never drank alcohol so much so that it’s a part of my life.  I don’t have a job or career that causes me to be exposed to harmful chemicals, or dusts, or inhalants.

Even so, when I was just 21, I started getting sick at school (I was going to college at the time).  I lacked energy, I didn’t have much appetite, and I’m pretty sure I was running a fever (my future wife Nina and I were poor college students back then, so I’m not even sure if we owned a thermometer).  Eventually I was so weak couldn’t get out of bed, and when I breathed in I had a terrible pain in my right side.

Luckily, I was still a member of my parents’ health insurance plan, so at the urging my parents and Nina, we rushed to the hospital late in the evening.  There, quickly in the emergency room, I was x-rayed, diagnosed with pneumonia (of all things!), given a massive shot of direct antibiotics, and sent home with a 10-day prescription of keflex.

Within about 2-3 days I was better.

That’s what I don’t get the most about pneumonia.  “Captain of the Men of Death,” indeed — it certainly makes you feel like the life is draining out of you.  And today it’s cured by a quick shot of antibiotics, and a take-home prescription.

I got better, got over it, got married, finished college, got my first “real” job, and went on with my life.  For seven years I never had to think about it.

(Continued in Part II…)

Review: The Peripheral

The Peripheral
The Peripheral by William Gibson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Probably the book I’ve most loved from William Gibson since his earlier work — while not giving up on the, ahem, “different” style from his later work, he seems to have blended it with the futurism of his earlier 80’s work to make something entirely new and refreshing refreshing.

Taking place in two different times completely (15-20 years in our future, and about 70 years on from that), the book features the plot device of time travel, but in a way that doesn’t break the laws of causality — each world is more like its own universe within the multiverse. The denizens from the earlier time are used as a form of labor — think Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

While all of Gibson’s books seem to end suddenly, leaving you wishing they’d go on for just another 40-50 pages, this one is especially so — I haven’t been reading a book and wanting it *not* to end this bad in a long time. The world that Gibson has created is just so rich.

View all my reviews

Converting Your Existing Ubuntu Installation Into a VirtualBox Virtual Machine

Update for 2018: some of the commands have been changed  below to reflect new  possibilities present in Ubuntu 18.04, namely the excellent losetup command.)

I often find myself in the position of having to transfer all my files, applications, and other configurations that make my laptop “mine” onto a new laptop.

What’s so strange about that, you might add? Well, I go through all of this once every six months.  It’s not that I keep buying new computers — I don’t.  But I often obtain them in other ways — I trade, I help someone buy a new computer and in turn get their old one, etc.

So, tired of having to constantly re-install everything (or, at the very least, if I’ve imaged one laptop to another, having to spend a week or so having to get everything running just right), I decided to just convert my current main computer into a VM that I could just run on any computer, running any sort of OS that’s enough to run VirtualBox.

(This tutorial was created with VirtualBox in mind, but other VM’s have similar ways of converting the final file after you get to about step 3 or so.)

It seems like it should be easy, and after a little bit of work, I found out that it’s not too hard.

  1. First, you’ve got to make an image of your current installation.  (This is much easier if you have your entire Ubuntu install on one partition, i.e., no /home partitions on another hard drive or partition.  You can probably figure out how to manage that, but this tutorial will be just for one-partition installs).
    • Boot your computer with another startup disk (CD, jump drive, whatever), and then perform the following command:
      • dd if=/dev/sda1 of=image.bin
    • “/dev/sda1” refers to the partition name that your main install is on — you can find this by doing a “sudo blkid” or “sudo fdisk -l”
    • “image.bin” refers to the output file that the image will be contained in — this can be anywhere you want, but set it to a location that’s not on the hard drive you’re trying to image.
  2. At this point, I tried to turn the image.bin file into a .vdi file so that VirtualBox could use it for a virtual machine — the problem is, at this point, your .bin file is just a partition, and not a real “virtual” hard drive.  There’s no partition table, etc. — you have to simulate these things.
    • You do this by creation an empty “sparse image” where we’ll copy the image, simulating a hard disk, and then create a partition table:
      • dd if=/dev/zero of=newhd.img bs=1G count=0 seek=100
      • In this, “newhd.img”represents the location of the file we’re creating, and “100” represents the size of the virtual hard drive we’re creating, in gigabytes.  You may want to make this larger or smaller depending on the image you made.
    • Now, edit the image with “fdisk newhd.img“, and, following the commands presented in the fdisk interface, create a new partition table, and create a partition as large as the image you created. (The commands inside fdisk are pretty self-explanatory.)
    • Now, make the partitions available as individual devices to your system.
      • sudo kpartx -a newhd.img
    • Now, copy the original .bin file you made in step 1 onto the newly mounted partition:
      • sudo cp image.bin /dev/mapper/loop0p1
    • Now, run a disk check, and expand the copied partition to fill all of the available space, and then finally close the mounted partitions:
      • sudo e2fsck -f /dev/mapper/loop0p1
      • sudo resize2fs /dev/mapper/loop0p1
      • sudo kpartx -d newhd.img
  3. At this point, you should have a newhd.img file, which represents the entire hard drive you’ll virtually mount in your VM — the only step left is to convert it from a raw image of a hard drive into a .vdi file for use in VirtualBox:
    • VBoxManage convertfromraw -format VDI newhd.img newhd.vdi

The only steps left at this point are to create your new VM in VirtualBox, and then start it using this HD.  It more than likely won’t boot, so what you’ll need to do is start it with a livecd of your choice, and then fix the boot (I used the wonderful boot-repair utility available to Ubuntu).




Review: Titanicus

Titanicus by Dan Abnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not a bad tale of the Adeptus Mechanicus — there aren’t too many books in the 40k universe written about them, though they’re a huge part of the lore of this literary universe (standing quite a bit higher than the Astartes in the hierarchy of how things are run in the Imperium of Man).

Titanicus deals with some of the usual things you might expect to find in a book about the Mechanicus — the politics of human-augmentation in a society that seeks species purity, the way the masses see the Mechanius as distant, aloof, etc — and some of things you would rather not see explored too far, like the relationship between the God-Emperor of man (a being exalted as a living/dead god who sits on a golden throne on the Earth) and the Omnissiah (the being who the Mechanicus are allowed to worship simply because everyone has decided to look the other way and just claim that it’s obviously another avatar of the God-Emperor).

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