Tag Archives: Computers

Die Windows XP Die!

Microsoft is finally dropping support for Windows XP. As with the last three times they said they were going to do this, a considerable amount of whining has taken place. There are people who are in denial, who are saying Microsoft will continue support at the last minute, as it has done in the past. There are people who are asking Microsoft to open up the source code so third parties can support it. There are people who are demanding the government step in and force regulations on Microsoft to for them to support Windows XP until Jesus returns to earth.

You have two choices here. The first choice is, you can stick with XP. Yep, its true, no one is going to come and force you to install Windows 8.1 on your system and XP will not cease to function. All that is happening is XP will not longer be updated. Your second choice is to give it up and move on, you probably need to buy a new computer anyway and you can get a low end laptop these days for $400.

Either way, please god stop complaining.

Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive

This week I had a windfall of cash and decided to buy myself a Solid State Hard Drive. Since my Alienware X51 only really has room for 1 hard drive and a dinky 256 SSD would not be terribly suitable, I decided to opt for a Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive. This device is a 128 GB SSD and a 1 TB mechanical drive built together into a single laptop sized hard drive. The pro to this is I get two drived in a single package, the down side is mediocre  performance. While the Solid state is several magnitudes faster than the mechanic drive, it is sharing a single SATA data channel with the mechanical drive and so you loose some performance there.

My first problem with this drive was fitting it securely inside my computer. The X51 has a fixed SATA data/power connector where the hard drive pushed into it, rather than cables. So I had to do some serious garage engineering to get it in there all nice and snug.

My second problem was when I booted into the Linux install, it only saw the SSD drive, it did not see the 1 TB drive at all. I assumed this would probably be fixed with an updated kernel.  I found this was not the case. I went to the internet and found the USB key they sent with the drive was not just Windows drivers. It actually takes you to Western Digital’s website where you down load a program that unlocks the 2nd hard drive. So I installed Windows 7 on the system, got the unlocking program, ran it and sure enough, the 2nd hard drive shows up. In hindsight, I probably could have just plugged in the spiffy USB cable they sent with the drive, hooked it up to PezWitch’s system, downloaded the unlocking program there, ran it on the drive and saved myself the trouble of a Windows install.

Once I got back into the Linux installer, I found the two hard drives actually looked like a single drive, with two partitions, three if you include the 100 MB Windows boot loader. I left the partitions as they were except to change the file systems. the Windows boot loader I converted to a FAT 16 table, figuring I might eventually use it for a quick boot hack. The second partition, which would be the rest of the SSD I formatted as Ext4 and mounted to root “/” and the third partition, which is the mechanical drive, I converted to Ext4 as well and mounted to /home. Magically, this worked, I was able to install Linux and boot up with no issues.

It was at this point I was getting the nvidia card going and things went REALLY wack on me, and the system would not go into the GUI. The nvidia driver was borked or an update screwed me over, I am not sure if it is related to the hard drive or not. I was now nearly 24 hours and three OS installs into this mess and I still did not have a functional OS. Sadly it was time to relegate this technology to the “Not Ready for Prime Time” category. I put my old hard drive back into my system, I just can’t have shit flaking out on me. I have now installed it into my Laptop and giving it one more try, if I can not get a stable OS, it will be crossed off the list of Linux compatible devices and I will foist it off on PezWitch, maybe it will perform better in her M11x.


PezWitch reminded me of one thing I forgot to mention, While I was removing the old hard drive from my X51, I cut myself and bled all over the new drive. Take from that what you will.

Random thoughts on random shit

Pi day came and went with the usual “But But Tau!” stuff. This got me to thinking, there is a text file on the internet that has Pi to one billion digits. Surely somewhere there is a good cryptographic application for a billion numbers with no repeating patterns.


CentOS – Party like its 1999

We have a spare hard drive laying around, so I decided this weekend I was give CentOS a try. I have been using Ubuntu/Mint for several years now and for the most part it just works. I do the reinstall, run the updates, run a finisher script and i am done, usually takes less than 2 hours. Ubuntu and Mint are both downstream Debian variants, they are consumer oriented and about as dumbed down as it gets. CentOS is a Redhat and is designed as a corporate Enterprise level OS. I like to keep my skills sharp and sometimes a virtual machine is just not enough.

The initial install went smooth enough, all of my hardware was detected and drivers installed, it did however install the standard Xorg drivers for my NVIDIA card and it kind of went down hill from there. Virtually all of the software I normally use is not installed by default and worse, most of it is not available in the stock repositories. To get my video drivers, I had to add a repository, to install dropbox I had to add a repository, to get wxpython, I had to add a repository, it went on and on. Then I started getting rpm broken dependency errors. I felt like I was in 1999 again, seriously, I have not had to fight to install Flash on a Linux box in a very long time.

Say what you will about Mark Shuttleworth and the direction he is taking Ubuntu, but there is a good reason Ubuntu is kicking everyone else’s ass. It is because Shuttleworth took chances and forced progress into the distributions and solved all the big problem issues so I don’t have to edit my /etc/yum.repo.d/dropbox.repo file to fix an error that should not have been there in the first place and still has not been fixed in 6 months. I was going to try and work with CentOS for a week or two, but that is not going to happen, I switching hard drives back today.

NSA, encryption and me

Every year I go to the hassle of renewing my PGP keys. I have done this every year for at least 10 years, I dutifully post my public key on my website and I lave a link to it in the signature of my most of my emails. In that time, not a single person has ever used it for anything, nor has anyone ever asked me to use PGP, or even exchange keys. I expect this from normal not paranoid type of people, but I know plenty of Conspiracy Theorists and none of them use it either. I also expected to see more people want to use encryption with the recent revelations concerning the NSA, but again, nothing. Learning curve and technological barriers are not really an excuse, making a key pair and using them is trivial these days, anyone can do it nearly seamlessly.

DogeCoin VIII

Okay I am done with this project, it seems to have gotten way too strange. This morning on my IRC Chat I had a message waiting for me that said “So long and thanks for all the fish.”. Several things have weirded me out about this. First, my IRC server is internal to my network, I set it up for PezWitch and I to use, there is no access to it from outside our house. Second, the user name was DMO, which is the name of the program I have been working on,  it stands for “DogeCoin Mining Operation”. Third, when I traced the IP address of where the connection came from, it was, the IP is for node 0 of the DogeCoin Cluster. Finally, all of my work is gone, the program, the database, the source code, all of it. Mind you, this could simply be the work of a hacker, but I have to tell you, I feel a bit like I have just seen a ghost, really creeped out.

DogeCoin Part VII

The database I was speaking about earlier this week that has grown a bit faster than I expected, I originally set up to store various algorithms I was having the software use for various tasks. What I was trying to accomplish was to build a command and control function that is basically a massive decision making tree to determine which algorithm is most appropriate to the task that needs completing. I knew the database would grow as the mining software got better, new algorithms could be added, compiled in as necessary and used nearly on the fly. It is really a pretty good idea, I wish I could take credit for it, but it came from a white paper written by a Russian programer. So once the database file  got so big I had to offload it to a 1 TB hard drive, I decided I needed to have another look at it. Most of my own algorithms were written in C, now I see a variety utilities written in different types of scripting languages, running the gamut; PHP, Javascript, Python, awk, sed, and the previously mentioned LISP, you name it, its probably there.

DogeCoin Part VI

I am amazed at how far it has progressed without my intervention. Apparently the self optimizing code has been doing its job, everything is working nicely and has not needed any bug fixes for a couple of days. It seems to have recompiled itself at some point, which is exactly what the anthropomorphic bot code was suppose to do. The program has stopped writing log files, the program probably optimized this function out and I will probably have to go back in and re-add the code and blacklist it from removal. However, looking at the source code, I see a lot of added assembly language in here, since I am not familiar with ARM assembly language, it will be sometime before I can figure what it did.

My only concern is the amount of storage this project is taking up. A few days ago when I was adding the 4th node, I noticed, all the 4 GB SD cards I originally used for this project were full, so I replaced them all with 32 GB cards. Those cards are pretty cheap and I figured that would take a while to fill. I was wrong, so today I have attached the spare 1 TB drive I removed from PezWitch’s system several weeks ago and off loaded the sql database files onto it. When I have time later I will have a look at that database and see why it is expanding so fast.

DogeCoin Part V

This morning I mentioned an odd influx of DogeCoin on Christmas day according to the program logging. I did not have a chance to actually check my DogWallet prior to going to work. However, I checked it when I got home and found only 14 DogeCoin. I went back and looked at the logs and sure enough, it looked like I was acquiring coins at a ridiculous rate. My only explanation at this point is perhaps a decimal error in the logging function. I will look at the source code this weekend and see what’s up.

DogeCoin Part IV

I am very concerned this morning, I have a lot more DogeCoins than I thought I would have at this point, and I do mean A LOT. I think this might be a bug in the reporting, but I am not sure yet.

Beyond that, my rig has been running pretty well since I added the node and setup a dedicated network. The code seems to be doing what it is designed to do, which is mine DogeCoins. The code has become very low maintenance, the memory leak seems to be under control and CPU usage, while high is not pegged out.

I am in the process of cleaning up my code, making sure I have given credit where it is due and that I am not violating anyone’s copyrights. It is interesting that there is code in here I don’t remember adding in, for instance there is a call to a LISP based module. I don’t remember installing LISP or compiling any modules that used LISP. I have to admit, I did a couple of long nights running on nothing but coffee and code, so I suppose I should be happy I didn’t try to drive during that time.