Archive for November, 2005

Alternatif Pacaran: Jodohan?

2005 November 25

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2005 November 21

Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh is a common word in my life, and in writing people usually write it as “Ass. Wr. Wb.” or “Ass.” for brevity. The “Ass.” form is especially popular for use on SMS.

I once read someone’s post on a mailing list advocating the abolition of the abbreviated form. His argument is that “ass” means something completely different in English.

Well, I also had thought about it long before reading his post, and my stand is that such change is unnecesarry. Here’s my thinking…

In a world of many languages, it is expected that some neutral words in a language may be a curse or dirty word in another language. Some examples:

“yet” is a neutral word in English but it means “f*ck” in Thai
“asu” means tomorrow in Japanese but is “dog” in Javanese (a curse word)
“ma” means mother in many cultures but – if spoken with the correct intonation – means “dog” in Thai (a curse word)
“sat” means depleted in Javanese (example: “banyune wis sat”) but is a curse word in Thai (I forget the meaning)
“cincin” means ring in Indonesian but means “male reproductive organ” in Japanese (chinchin)
“marah” means angry in Indonesian but sounds like the Japanese “mara” (male reproductive organ) (am I stretching things a bit?)
“tai” means sh*t in Indonesian but appears a lot in Japanese (taihen, taisetsu, shitai). “-keteku” (in Indonesia it sounds like “ketekku” meaning “my armpit”) also appears a lot in Japanese.  (ok perhaps I’m really stretching things a bit)

And those are just some examples I can think of in English, Indonesian, Thai, and Japanese. If we include all human languages, I bet the list will grow significantly.

Since all of those are just coincidences, I don’t think there is no need to object the heavily-abbreviated “ass” form. The context is usually clear enough anyway…

Booting Ubuntu on a different machine

2005 November 15

So, I’m now on Jogja again… (actually since 12 November)

Some days ago I plugged my harddisk and revived my abandoned box. My harddisk had Breezy on its third partition, but that Breezy was configured for my cousin’s computer (installed when I was in Jakarta). I wanted to see Breezy fail again, so I proceeded.

(The Breezy which was installed on my computer failed to boot on my cousin’s computer, so I reinstalled it there)

At boot a message came which told me that /dev/hdc3 was not found. Understandable, since on my cousin’s computer the hard disk was plugged as secondary master while here it was plugged as primary master. The last message was something along “dropping to shell”.

(On my cousin’s machine I stopped at this point, but I was feeling quite adventrous so I continued on…)

Shell = typing commands, so I tried to type. However there was no characters written on the screen. Since I believed Ubuntu’s last message, I tried to switch to other terminals (CTRL+ALT+F2, CTRL+ALT+F3, etc). As expected, the shell sh was waiting on one of them.

(Actually when we’re in terminal, pressing ALT+Fx will suffice to switch. We only need to add CTRL when we’re on X)

sh is a very very primitive shell. It has no code completion (TAB key), it has no history (UP and DOWN keys), it has nothing fancy. Just a plain bare shell.

ls showed some directories already created on the filesystem. Take in mind that no drive had been mounted. Those files were created on the fly and existed only in memory.

So, I created /mnt/slash and mounted /dev/hda1 on it. I thought the problem was with /mnt/slash/etc/fstab so I proceeded to edit it.

The problem is, I couldn’t find vi (or vim, or whatever). It was not on /mnt/slash/bin, /mnt/slash/usr/bin, and /mnt/slash/usr/local/bin. Luckily there was nano on /mnt/slash/bin.

(it turns out that vi is actually on usr/bin of my root partition. Creepy. Probably I mislooked it)

Oops, however nano failed to load a library (ncurses stuff). It probably searched on /lib while the library was on /mnt/slash/lib.

Suddenly chroot came to mind. I used it when mindlessly following the installation procedure of Gentoo. I remembered faintly (from the name) that it is used to fake the location of / to applications. The Gentoo installation manual said that the command was very powerful. Time to test it…

After “chroot –help”, I did a “chroot . bin/nano etc/fstab” (I was on /mnt/slash) and nano starts like wonder, loading fstab. After changing some stuffs (most notably hdc to hda) I confidently rebooted, only to find…

The same error popped out! I wondered, what could’ve caused it. The only possible program seemed to be grub, so I rebooted and viewed the grub boot command (can be done by pressing e from the grub menu). It was:

kernel        /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.12-9-386 root=/dev/hdc3 ro quiet splash

Changing hdc3 to hda3 made Breezy boot just fine. However..

X failed to start. Luckily I remembered someone suggesting “sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg” on to reconfigure X automatically. After the text-based wizard, I could use X just fine. Sound is working OK. Heh, never thought I would’ve wasted my time doing it :).

We can see 2 different approaches here (Windows vs Linux). On one side, it seems that Windows will reconfigure itself when a critical hardware change is detected (video card, disk configuration, etc). The priority is booting up to the graphical shell and making all hardware usable by the user. On the other side, Linux don’t want to play smart and change our precious configuration files (/etc/fstab among others). The priority is honoring user files and probably speed (e.g. don’t waste time detecting changes and reconfiguring, just follow the configuration files blindly).

I don’t know whether changing Linux to be more automatic (in this particular problem) is a good thing. The problem is, Linux can be awfully customized. You can separate /, /home, and /boot for example. You can’t just mount all visible partitions on /media/a, /media/b, /media/c and expect things to work as intended. Well, probably this should be left as is, since booting a harddisk on another computer configuration isn’t what everyone do everyday :).

Breezy observations

2005 November 11

I’ve set up Breezy multiple times and used it for quite some period. It’s now time to write some observations, focusing on changes from Hoary and things that matters most to me.

  1. Breezy now has a nice splash screen on boot up. However if things went unideal (for example when it takes too long to synchronize the clock to a time server) it will fallback to the console mode. Other than that fallback mode, the user will still see the console on grub, between grub and the startup splash, between the startup splash and gdm (a blinking console cursor), resuming hibernation, and when shutting down. I’m hoping Dapper will get rid of the console on bootup and shutdown sequence. It’s just plain ugly!
  2. OOo 2 is included, but sadly not the final version (it’s 1.9.129). I haven’t managed to successfully install version 2 final.
  3. Mono and its popular apps (Tomboy, F-spot, Banshee) is now on the main repositories!
  4. More game sounds work out of the box. In Hoary, after installing games many of them cannot output sound without further tweaking. Now the only game (among others that I tried) that still cannot output sound out of the box is Wesnoth.
  5. The option to open terminal when we right click the desktop is now gone. They (Gnome? Ubuntu?) probably removed it because opening a terminal has nothing to do with the desktop. Makes sense. If you’re a power user that need it regulary, just right click “Terminal” in “Applications” -> “Accessories” and choose “Add this launcher to panel”.
  6. “Run application” is gone from the “Applications” menu. I was shown a thread in Bugzilla discussing it. The Gnome devs decided to trash it because it’s mainly for power users (and they press ALT+F2 anyway, making the menu item pointless) and because it gives the impression to “average Joe” that running special commands is critical for normal usage.
  7. Browsing mode (instead of spatial) is now the default. I don’t know whether this is a Gnome or Ubuntu decision. Too bad because I was just trying to get used to it. Anyway you can go back to spatial by turning off “always_use_browser” from /apps/nautilus/preferences (run gconf-editor).
  8. I got Japanese input working using uim (see the wiki), however it crashes gnome apps occasionally :(.

That’s all for now…

PS: The one about Ubuntu kernel panic on my previous post, it turns out to be a hardware error. If I use another available memory slot Ubuntu boots just fine.

Grade 1 kanji completed

2005 November 10

I managed to memorize all kanji that are taught in grade 1 (elementary school). It consists of 80 kanji, which I present here for your viewing pleasure:


(Actually this is quite an old news since I memorized the last character some days before Lebaran, however I was lazy to write it here :))

A kanji has a definite way of writing. For example, the correct way to write 十 (juu, meaning 10) is to write the horizontal stroke first (from left to right) and afterwards the vertical stroke (from top to bottom). A kanji also normally has multiple readings. For example, the kanji 一 (meaning 1) can be read as ichi or hito, depending on the adjacent characters. For example 一日 is read as ichi nichi (meaning all day) but 一人 is read as hitori (meaning alone). What I meant previously by “memorizing” a kanji is memorizing the correct writing, the meaning, and at least 1 reading.

The next challenge is to memorize grade 2 kanji, which consists of a whooping 160 characters. The online materials I use for memorizing kanji are, among other things, the Wikipedia entry on Kyouiku kanji (kanji taught in elementary school) and Taka kanji database (contains applets which illustrate stroke order).

As a last note, according to Wiktionary the usual plural form of kanji is kanji, not kanjis.

Now at Jakarta

2005 November 8

I’m currently in Jakarta and there’s 24/7 internet connection here.

My hard disk is with me on this travel since I had planned to download tons of Ubuntu deb files and I didn’t want to waste CDs to transfer files.

The hardware on my cousin’s machine is very different from my box (P IV, GF2MX vs Athlon XP, FX5200). Of course the Ubuntu (Breezy) which was already on my hard disk didn’t want to boot. I had to reinstall. What amazed me is that Windows XP SP2 which was installed on another partition on my HD could perfectly boot on my cousin’s computer! Now that’s what I call a superb adaptation.

PS: My father told me that he tried to add a RAM stick to one of his Linux box (Ubuntu Hoary) and the result is a kernel panic! Dunno whether Breezy could handle it (but I can assure that Windows 95 handles memory size change just fine).

So, after the Ubuntu is set up I just did lots of

sudo apt-get –print-uris -y install blablabla

and gather all URLs that apt-get spits out. After all the URLs are in my hands, I download them using download manager such as FlashGet (Windows) and d4x (Linux). Oh, and I had to record all files that every package depends on (for example to install “octave” we need “a.deb”, “b.deb”, and “c.deb”). It was really laborsome so that I’m currently writing a program to simplify this boring routine. Should help me a lot for Dapper.

The deb files worked like a charm. I finally got banshee and f-spot running! MonoDevelop is kinda working (can compile GTK# programs but to we cannot run the executable from MonoDevelop). Haven’t tried beagle yet.

Oh, I also got my flash disk fried here :(. I plugged it to a USB plug which isn’t working (not connected to the mobo) and left it to the toilet. When I came back, the flash disk is already heated and it simply won’t work anymore :(. I think it is still on the warranty time so it should be not much of a problem.