Freitag, 14. August 2009

Leaving Writing Blogs to 200 Mio Blog Writers

"Don't waste other peoples time!" #iquotemyselfalot

There is nothing in particular that I feel I need to write about. I rather write comments on other peoples Blogs or, if there's really something that needs to be expressed by me ( 1:6.5 Billion People) - I'll write an article or a book in the future.

Saving you precious time.

Donnerstag, 13. August 2009

The Social Media Revolution


Montag, 13. Juli 2009

Stephen Wolfram - ANKS - Not a New Review -

A New Kind of Science A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Wonderfully printed, easy to read, marvelous to look at, pretentious piece of quack.

It was hard to pass the Introduction and the first Chapter, when you hear the author praising himself, his own importance and why literally 'everybody' in science and why science itself is 'wrong' and did not 'see' what very self-aware author sees, but nobody else.

The book is a massive piece of rarely to find print. I was self-published by the author to assure the quality of the printing. It has many black-and-white Illustrations and pictures to accompany the text. The text, when it is not about self-praising, is rather easy to read and easy to understand for non-academics. So what is it about?

It talks about the 'big' picture in nature and science. Stephen Wolfram is a well known 'Wunderkind' in theoretical physics. He made his PhD in 1979 at the age of 20. In the mid-1980s he founded Wolfram Research Inc. and invented 'Mathematica' the leading software for technical computing and symbolic programming.

Wolframs main thesis of the book and the solution he offers are easy to understand:

"... very simple programs produce great complexity. For all it takes is that systems in nature operate like typical programs and then it follows that their behavior will often be complex. And the reason that such complexity is not usually seen in human artifacts is just that in building these we tend in effect to use programs that are specially chosen to give only behavior simple enough for us to be able to see that it will achieve the purposes we want" page 3

This is the crux of the book, there, luckily on page 3.

If you read the 12 Chapters (846 pages plus around 250 pages of notes and additional massive Index, than it is most likely, that you do it because you like an intellectual exercise or because you love books and don't mind the many times annoying voice.

I am not going to discuss the results of such a vast amount of research and work that went into proving and verifying his idea. There are plenty of scientists from his fellow theoretical physics to mathematicians and others that reviewed and challenged Wolfram's book over the past years. There is even a great discussion a the slashdot-forum that mocks the authors writing and is funny and hilarious to read for nerds like me. May reviews and articles are online and it is easy to find them, if you want to.

Beyond the Masters Voice, this is a lovely book to look at. An artifact in these times of trash-quality publishing. It is not a masterpiece of printing. You cannot compare it with bibliophile editions. But for science books, if you have seen a physical copy of it, it is more on the upside, which tells you where we are nowadays, when it comes to print.

There is a complete online-version of this book now available for free on the Wolfram Research Homepage. The whole thing. For the curious minds.

Unfortunately, somebody on Google buzz triggered the worst in me and made me write some sort of review/critique in 2010. I attach it here, since it found some readers.

disclosure: I am neither an academic, nor a scholar. Take my disappointing comments for what they are .

The main result (...) - that programs based on simple rules can produce behavior of great complexity - seems so fundamental that one might assume it must have been discovered long ago. But it was not, and it is useful to understand some of the reasons why it was not .” Wolfram ANKS page 42.

The premise of Wolfram’s book was to introduce to all of us “A New Kind of Science” - did he achieve that? Have we found out anything new or fundamentally different (as in ‘wrong’) with non-Wolfram “science”? Is his the underlying ‘principle’ - the one thing τι ὃ οὐ κινούμενον κινεῖ ("something which moves [other things] without [itself] being moved [by anything]" (Aristotle Metaphysics).

You mention Scott Aaronson's review of the book and that was the first review I have read. I felt grateful that somebody from Wolfram’s ‘crowd’ (on his level, way above mine) took the time and effort to debunk the pretentious ‘findings’. I lack that level of inside baseball. Keep reading, if you must.

“... it’s validity depends on how it is formulated.” Scott Aaronson, p. 99

What poisoned my experience with the whole book is his tone, not the more or less interesting, already ‘well-known’ phenomena that may or may not apply to the degree he thinks are true. Wolfram goes after everything and everybody. There is a well known tradition in Western Philosophy (which used to include all of ‘Science’) to make “scientifick” (rhetorical) statements like: “ (1) This is what my predecessors found out. (2) They were all wrong. (3) This is how the world works according to my body of work.”

Umberto Eco wrote in 1995 a book about the “The Search for the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe)” Eco, a linguistic professor and true “semiologist” (not the Dan Brown “DaVinci-Code, Langdon sort), explores the old European idea and cultural origins of a ‘universal language’, a concept that touches many of the aspects Wolfram is trying to get at, in his own way.

The “theory of science”, the underlying ‘grammar’ we all want to rely upon, is always - implicitly tainted with our suggestions, presumptions, inaccuracies - and personal idiosyncrasies ... even (and especially) in science! Mathematical models don’t suddenly ‘appear’ out of the blue. They all went through a process that has a ‘historic’ element or string to it. Think of non-coding functional RNA, or junk-DNA - that really isn’t junk after all, as we now know . We used to call that junk-DNA, since we did not know what it was good for. Wolfram goes to the Cellular Automata model to explain the world. His ‘simple programs’ are not really simple, they are not well understood. ‘Translating’ the idea of a cellular automaton in ‘machine instructions of a computer’ is problematic in a very fundamental, philosophical sense. "Traduttore, traditore." (The word ‘translate’ means ‘to betray’).

True, since Leibniz we constructed many interesting mathematical problems and found very accurate descriptions for natural phenomenas - but also always reflecting the ‘Zeitgeist’, the technology ‘du jour’, on which we create the models of the world every time new. Why is Wolfram’s computation as a framework for explaining the phenomenon of universality so different from La Mettrie?

Maybe it is my personal lack of imagination, but seeing him inventing ‘A New Kind of..’ LEGO bricks and trying to explain all complexity, classical physics, quantum mechanics, and mathematical phenomena through ‘his’ idea of LEGOs (you can also read λόγος logos) reminds me very much of the Stoa and less of a more serious - less broad - underlying principle of all nature.

But things are not that simple. And he is mixing (deliberately?) theory and experimental outcome, again and again in his book.

In Chapter 11 Wolfram returns to discussing cellular automata, Turing machines, register machines, etc...

The main point (...) is that essentially all of these various kinds of systems - despite their great differences in underlying structure - can ultimately be made to emulate each other. This is a very remarkable result (...) In a sense its most important consequence is that it implies that from a computational point of view a very wide variety of systems, with very different underlying structures, are at some level fundamentally equivalent. For one might have thought that every different kind of system that we discussed (...) would be able to perform completely different kinds of computations. But what we have discovered here is that this is not the case. And instead it has turned out that essentially every single one of these systems is ultimately capable of exactly the same kinds of computations. And among other things, this means that it really does make sense to discuss the notion of computation in purely abstract terms, without referring to any specific type of system. For we now know that it ultimately does not matter what kind of system we use: in the end essentially any kind of system can be programmed to perform the same computations. And so if we study computation at an abstract level, we can expect that the results we get will apply to a very wide range of actual systems .” Wolfram, ANKS, page 674.

I would love to leave you alone with this passage. I would love to not mention Kant’s “Kritik der Reinen Vernunft” 1781 (Immanuel Kant - Critique of Pure Reason ) where Kant distinguishes between ‘Synthetic’ and ‘Analytic Judgement’. Wolfram is doing nothing less but justifying his ‘experiments’ by proposing to not make a difference anymore between theoretical (abstract) automatons and computational results of the physical kind he did, because all are in the end ‘nothing else but’ his kind of universal cellular automatons.

I would insist, a Turing machine is a theoretical device. Turing machines do not ‘behave’. They do not ‘translate/interact or compute’ into similar systems concepts - no matter how similar they are. On the other hand, ‘systematic computer experiments’ do ‘behave’. Most of them according to their authors. Furthermore - another basic/poor thought of mine: ‘Cellular automata’ as a theoretical concept unequals ‘cellular automaton programs’ as in ‘executed by compilers’. The results of actual physical computation - as accurate and as many digits long they may be - are NOT comparable to results as in ‘ideas’. Ask the hardware engineers, who spend their lives designing CPUs or the poor souls who try to ‘predict race conditions’ in their massively parallel programs. You mix theory and the physical world, you end up with weird math. Ask for that your theoretical physics and quantum physics department. Combining those two parts and introducing them into your ‘little’ world, of innocent cellular automatons is turning the concept upside down - it results in unpredictable complexity.

Especially the last chapter, proposing a “Principle of Computational Equivalence” is nuts, and has no basis - again, according to my humble brain-cells. The Church-Turing thesis is an abstract model in the classic Popper sense. But Wolfram goes into ‘metaphysical’ territory (not in Aristotle’s or Kant’s sense, but in today’s lingo - beyond the grounds of classical and/or quantum physics. Do I have to paint graphs and cite peoples work of the past 100 years to ‘debunk’ his ‘thesis’? I cannot.

If you assemble LEGO bricks long enough with a set of simple rules, you are able to ‘see’ some things you might not have anticipated. You may ‘see’ a bigger pattern. You may experience ‘gravity’ etc... - yes, I am polemic and simplistic. There is nothing ‘new’ about my method. I do not see anything new neither in Wolfram’s findings (described at length with nice pictures) in ANKS. Oh, and did I mention his pretentious tone?

Sorry for the length, grammar/spelling and lack of more elaborate, better versed English.July 19, 2010

View all my reviews >>

Freitag, 26. Juni 2009

Holly Miranda, Marques Toliver

Holly Miranda, Marques Toliver

How many artists do you know who write their own newsletter to their fans? I don't know many. Actually I know only one, and that's Holly Miranda. 

After her Tour with her Band Members (incl. Marques Toliver) and AA Bondy she is finally back home and had some time to upload pictures from the tour and write a newsletter.

She will perfom in New York on July 25th @ 92y tribeca with Joan As Police Woman! She wrote "(holy crow.. seriously)".

So, if you are in NYC or in Jersey or Upper NY or ANYWHERE in America, go and GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

It's $ 15 bucks, which is ridiculous! That's as much as a parking tip in L.A. or a 2 frappuchinos.

Don't miss it, because I sadly have to. Sucks to live so far away...

Montag, 8. Juni 2009

European Union in a Nutshell

European Union in a Nutshell

What you might want to know about Europe but never dared to ask

In short.

Think of the United States, Canada and Mexico deciding, that they want to expand their relationship beyond a trade relation.

They want to 'harmonize' their laws so trading, working and living between the three countries would be almost like moving from one US-State to another.

I know, this sounds frightening to many ears and it actually is.

The 25 Countries that have joined the European Union are souveraign States. They still have their own Constitutions, their own gouvernments and laws.

All countries are sending a part of their GNP to the EU Budget, proportional to their overall GNP. 

Beyond that national level the European Union created to branches of Meta-Government if you will. The European Parliament is elected every 4 years and they have the right to create laws and debate them while the European Commission (two seats for each country) is the 'Administration' of Europe. Both of them have no real power, still. The top level of 'European Government' are the 'Ministers' (Secretary's of State and Finance) who are making the final decisions if something will pass the European Level of legislation. If they approve the law each country has to apply these european laws on a national level. Sound's complicated? Yes, it is. And it can be tidious. There are laws that decide the size and weight of bananas and tomatos. These rules have to be applied in each country and the real trick is, they have to be in accordance to national laws and constitutions.

The elected politicians in the European Parliament have no real power. They debate and nobody in Europe really cares about them or listens to what they say. That is why they are the prey of lobby groups. While K-Street style lobbying is still a small plant in Europe and not very well understood, many interest groups have learned over the years how to play them. The biggest part of the Budget for the European Union still goes to subsidizing agriculture. The farmers all over Europe have learned how to make themselves heard by politicians.

European Elections are not important to the citizens in Europe. Only a small minority feels the need to go and vote. Less than at any national or local election. 

This is why so many obscure groups and individuals see their chance to get a well paid job and secure themselves and their parties a revenue of income. 

All these small groups either build a coalition that is reminiscent of their national parties (Netherlands Social Democrats, with Austrian Social Democrats) and 90 seats are filled with nutheads. Most of them have radical, silly or hideous agendas. They are trying to get a couple 100.000 votes in their country to get them their seat in Brussels. 

Since the influence of the European Parliament none the less is growing continuously on the one hand but the National States are still strong and will not give more power to the EU soon.

Here is a link to the Website of the European Union and the recent Election results:

unposted follow-up comment for flickr-thread on "Do you like to hear when you suck?"

on flickr and photography

I started a thread on in the group "Flickr Central" one evening, because a certain question occurred to me. Do you like to hear when you suck? Honestly? (no troll)

Here is a follow up I did not post on the thread.

I want to resent the idea that everyone who goes into a shop and buys any camera is a 'Photographer'.

I have no problem with people being able to click on everything they see, or make as much pictures of their babies, dogs and cats or trying to be creative.

I don't care if people run around through cities and make snapshots of everything in their way, never taking the time to really 'see' the things infront of them, to 'understand' them. Their choice. (of course, sometimes the 'right moment' dominates everything, granted - I am not talking about these). 

There are always several angles to photography, every path is valid.

Some people love baby pictures, because they love babies. The see cute babies in pictures and say: "that's a great picture"

Only cranky scruffy old chaps like me would feel the urge to open their mouth and object by saying: "This is not really a great picture"

I had friends who are professional 'old school' photographers. They used to think about and prepare for weeks and months for a shooting or sometimes even for 'one' shot.

And afterwards the result was still unknown because they of course had to go to the dark room, working for hours.

Photography was an undisputed 'art'-form as well as it was craftsmanship.

Depending on your own possibilites and capabilites people can or cannot do 'these' sort of pictures. I want to think that professional photography is still in it's own league. It takes years. It takes maybe decades to reach a point. And sometimes you even loose your craft.

I wish people would be willing  to see beyond the amazing technology inside the modern cameras and judge the result on the simple question: "What did 'you' (actually) do, to make this photo look so amazing?" 

I never bought a camera in my life, because I know, I am not a photographer.  Don't think, this would make my arguments less valid. I do love the old Hasselblads and Leicas etc...

Mittwoch, 3. Juni 2009

30 years of not writing.

30 years of not writing. 

What? Bragging with creating nothing? 

Exactly. No academic papers, research papers, new canonical works of literature and philosophical castles, secret software killer-apps. Intentionally not.

Still with me? 

Some people never climb from being avid readers for decades, Bookoholics, reading everything from Chaucer, Malory, Shakespeare to Jane Austen, Henry James, James Joyce (in English) to Pushkin and Tolstoy, Gorki, Dostoyevski (in Russian and translations), to Goethe, Heine, Mann-Brothers, Musil (in German), Proust, Stendhal, Voltaire, Balzac (in French + translations), to prescription labels, legal texts (for fun) etc. etc. - I hope you guess the idea. I intentionally left out the ancient Greek and Latin philosophers and the rest of the bunch coming after them. I'll come back to that soon.

I don't brag about this. Every fellow reader get's it and knows the addiction. And if you have not been such an excessive book worm I applaud you! There is nothing to be intimidated or jealous about. Au contraire, I am jealous of all the people who have not poisoned their heads from early years on, with tons of books. But books were the only joy I had for a long time. They were my escape route during a couple of years, when I had to adopt to a new country, a new language, being part of a school but not 100% accepted. And the same books became the troublesome source for problems in high school and later on. 

You see, I somehow stumbled over a non-fiction book, disguised as a fictional text when I was ten. It was something we had to read for school. Friedrich Nietzsche's "Also sprach Zarathustra". This was a very controversial book in post-war German high-schools, because Nietzsche and especially this book of his. The Nazis incorporated his work, brutally mishandled and forged by Friedrich's sister Elizabeth, who loved the attention of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. My interest in this book was childish and naive. I did not understand it. But I was intrigued.

From Nietzsche I came to Plato from Plato to Socrates, from Socrates to the pre-socratic philosophers and in between to Hegel and Hume and Kant and Aristotle and to the "Frankfurter Schule" (Horkheimer/Adorno) which led me to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and straight back to Hegel, Fichte, Schelling... I could ramble on and on. Everything is connected. Once you take a jump into these waters, you should never expect to come out alive on the shore ever. I mean this literally.

Philosophy, the understanding of 'us' human beings and the world around us, how it is build, how it works, what this all means can be a lifelong journey, and for me it started very early. Probably too early and in the wrong environment, without having people around me to ask or talk about it. So I became a loner as a teenager.

Now, religion would be a solution, you might say. For all the souls that come from families that belong to a certain religion or a religious group or a sect, it is all laid out for you, before you know it. You grow into the believes of your parents and grandparents. You either accept it when you are a teenager or you start to question their believes and try to separate yourself from them. Both ways, it's a possibility.

I grew up with my single mother. She was a 'loosley' Greek Orthodox. In the sixties, when I was born, a single woman having a child was not suitable to be blessed by the church. I was not baptized. I had neither the privilege nor the burden to be connected to 'a' religion. I was a free mind. I had the opportunity to choose. And I chose the hard way: figuring out how this all works, not accepting easy answers. 

At the age of maybe 12-13 I started to also read books about science and scientific methods. 

It blended along with my studies in philosophy, because logical thinking and methods of verification and deduction have been discussed throughout the last 2500 years - even if in western Europe, the catholic church wanted their version of the truth and their take on Aristotle through Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine) to be predominant: Christian aristotelian logic = ok. Giordano Bruni's or Galileo's = not so much.

We, in the West, cannot imagine how it was to live the hard life in medieval Europe, full of hard work, diseases and repressions. People in african states, in poor countries are living this nightmare right now. 

My interest in school education was close to zero. I did not get from school what I wanted. Higher education was not an option for me. My mother was poor. She could not help me. She had to work too hard to put food on the table. And also, she could barely read or write, but this is another story I will tell another time. It should be even more inspiring.

After I left school and started a job-training and later poorly paid jobs, mostly in retail. I spend all my free time concentrating on all the interesting subjects I could think of. Between 16-20,22 I had my 'phase'. I was on a roll. Catching up and establishing the groundwork that will put me in trouble for years to come. I established a rebellious attitude. I had some college friends and entertained them with my borrowed or own ideas, satirical rants, outrageous comments - it was obvious, the first book is in the making. So much 'talent' needed to be spread. 

I discovered the works of Jacques Derrida and found a mutual soul. Through his writing I read all the books he read. I have read them before. I understood them better afterwards. I was intrigued by the misreadings and misunderstanding in the academic community about his work. It was not so obvious to them as it was to me. The ethical aspects of his work were laid out from his early work on. The connection between him and Deleuze, Lacan and most important to me, with Emmanuel Levinas were amongst the most pleasurable moments in my reading life.

Why I don't write...

This all still does not explain, why I did not write a thing. Or, if I wrote them, why they do not exist anymore. It is best explained by Torquato Accetto's (1641) "Della dissimulazione onesta" (The Honorable Concealment). The small text is about the discourse of truth versus lying. Is it appropriate to lie ever. It became a popular topic in the Renaissance. From Erasmus from Rotterdam to Machiavelli, to Baldassare Castigliones "Buch vom Hofmann" wertete die Verstellung geradezu als Pflicht höfischen Benehmens. 

Torquato Accetto discusses something so obviously wrong in a way and with the clarity and subtle melancholy that Shakespeare's young Hamlet was not capable to grasp. These are the thoughts of an old, wise man, who saw the atrocities and horrors of his lifetime. If you can find the book, read it. He suggested to sheet the truths of bitter life with a veil of dark concealment. He basically praises Concealment as a legitimate way of disguising the horrors in life. The beauty we see is just the disguise of death and decay. Thinking about the text, yes, it is evocative of of Baudelaire's "Les Fleurs du mal" in tone, but with the bitterness of Italian medieval.

...nor 'create' other things.

And alongside with this philosophical essay, I also indulged in the subversive thinking, subversiveness as an 'act', or more precise 'action'. My meek artistic endeavors of whom there is nothing for you to find anymore (all destroyed and lost) were probably good enough for a certain career path. But I never was interested in 'career' when it came to Art. I am rigorous as a fundamentalist neoevangelical Christian when it comes to the topic of 'Art' and it's biggest Nemesis the 'Art-Market'. 

I perfectly understand, my beloved Renaissance painters where all slaves of commerce. They had to work for a living, satisfying their customers: Dukes, Kings, and the of course, the Church. I studied them. I understand them. I have learned the difference in the color of eggs and how they affect the secret paint they were mixing together. 

But I am still uncomfortable with 'art' as a 'subject' of commerce. Art has to be free. It has to brake boundaries. It must offend to mean something. It needs to be more than something rich people and banks can grace themselves with, showing of the works of the impressionists and others, who one's were seen as hobos and would never be allowed to step into one of these banks, even only to go to the bathroom. I know precisely what I am talking about. Art as decoration, ornamental, as an emotional 'feel-good' accessory deserves my contempt. I cannot help it. There are beautiful ornamental works in arabic and persian culture, or even by contemporary Designers. But the 'idea' of 'art' is about something else. Art is serious business. "If art has nothing to do with life, than we don't need art" Ai Weiwei  

So I decided not to play along in the attention-seeking market, knowing I will never be a part of the circus, either the academic circus ("Philosopher? You don't publish, you are a nobody") the book-circus ("You're a writer? How many did you sell?") or an 'artist' ("Damien Hirst shocks the art-market")

I decided to keep things to myself. Most notes for books on philosophical topics or well advanced chapters of novels, short stories, essays are burnt, destroyed. All the good stuff, were I put more than just a couple of minutes into it is destroyed and/or lost by accident (I kept a map of best things from 20 years and it was destroyed - a true moment of enlightenment).

You did not, because you cannot, because you have not enough talent, endurance, strength

Valid arguments. I will not defend myself. I feel no need to. You are free to think what you want. I am not offended by any of it. I feed my self-esteem through other sources, closer to me. Tiny, gentle interactions with people around me. There is of course more to this. Things unspoken, words kept back. Topics unexplored, other unexplained. The sound of my voice, you cannot hear. The movement in my face and the glimpse in my eyes, not referred to in this 'text' that is no text. I became good in 'letting go'; of thoughts, work, people...

So, if you wonder, who is this guy? Here was a glimpse of me. Probably still not explaining what makes me tick. But I don't like to talk about myself anyways and this will be the longest self-indulgent piece ever, only to satisfy the curiosity of a few, who still care (which is humbling and flattering at the same time). I appreciate the comfort of strangers. In real life or online. 

Sonntag, 24. Mai 2009

{programming} /.diary

Through the last 35+ years I used notebooks of all kinds. Think of Ralph Finnes in 'The English Patient' and his copy of Herodotus. I was never occupied by diary-alike 'me-me-me-blogging', but mostly wrote down quotes, equations, diagrams, some ideas to follow up on (by writing articles, essays or books - which I successfully avoided), and some quick drawings.

Von Notebook May 21, 2009 Part 1

Even in my most adventurous years I kept at least one notebook, or sometimes sheets of papers, backpages of ads, flyers, etc... anything, I could write on. When the paper/notebook was full I dropped it into the trashcan. I had to travel light, so I could not bother myself by travelling with tons of paper (I still kept many books with me, which I thought was more important to carry in my backpack).

Von Notebook May 21, 2009 Part 1

Of course, I do regret to have lost more than - let me think - 40-60? notebooks throughout the years? Possibly. Anyway, they are gone.

And this one will survive now, thanks to the 'Cloud' and Picasa.

Dienstag, 12. Mai 2009

GParted stress test with ext4, ntfs, MS Windows 7, Vista, Ubuntu 9.04

GParted is the Gnome Partition Editor application.

"A hard disk is usually subdivided into one or more partitions. These partitions are normally not re-sizable (making one smaller and the adjacent one larger). The purpose of GParted is to allow the individual to take a hard disk and change the partition organization therein, while preserving the partition contents."

1. resize MS Windows 7 partition
2. resize MS Windows Vista partition
3. resize Extended partitions
4. resize ntfs and win32 and ext4 partitions within the Extended partition


The only thing you have to be aware of as a user, if you do this, is don't delete any partition. You don't want to restart any OS after the resizing and let them have a hiccup.

Start the GParted Live CD and choose one step after the other in a logical, sequential style.

1. Make a logical partition smaller, so you can make other partitions larger (yes, stupidly obvious, but nonetheless I said it).
2. Move the other logical partitions to make room for the primary partitions.
3. resize the extended partition
4. resize the 2nd primary partition (make it bigger).
5. move the 2nd primary partition to have room for the 1st primary partition.
6. resize the 1st primary partition (make it also bigger).


At the end, all tasks were performed by gparted without any problem. I restarted Linux Ubuntu 9.04. Grub in the Master Boot Record was still untouched as was the /etc/fdisk, of course. The fsck starts automatically and should find no problems.

Then I started the Windows bootloader (grub chainloader+1) on the 1st primary partition. Windows 7 did a NTFS check and that was all it had to do. Windows Vista was replaced in this scenario, so it was necessary to use the Install-CD and start the 'repair'-function which also did it's job automatically. It scanned and checked it's own partition (hd0,1) that was moved and resized and it also checked the ntfs and win32 partitions on the extended partition. After two reboots, all done.

Conclusion: GParted did it's job flawlessly resizing and moving partitions in a complex scenario (ext4, ntfs, win32, primary, ext-log partitions). MS Windows 7 and Vista played along with the resizing and relocation as well, which surprised me a little bit. Well done. Linux? Ubuntu? You guessed right...

Mittwoch, 29. April 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 BBC iPlayer Adobe Realplayer mashup

If you have a recent Ubuntu 9.04 - the Jaunty Jackalope - released in April 2009 installed and also the Realplayer 11 (version and Adobe Flashplayer 10 (version 10,0,22,87) and think to yourself, "Hey, I can listen to Scott Mills on BBC Radio1 this afternoon" on the BBC iPlayer - uhm...most likely, but probably not that easy.

I have three different audio-chips on my pc (onboard, pci-soundcard, hdmi-audio-output on the graphic card).

Right now, the Realplayer is set to Alsa, Pulseaudio is running too and it all works fine with the pci-soundcard. I will post a real Howto, when I find the time. Until then, don-t give up. Google further, if you are looking for help, but be assured, it will work.

Tweetdeck with Linux

If you know Twitter and don-t know Tweetdeck you should quickly jump to their page and find out about it.

Here is what you can do:

* Tweet directly from TweetDeck
* Stay up to date – view all new tweets in real-time
* Use columns to create your personal dashboard
* Create Groups to easily follow friends, colleagues or other interest groups

* Update Facebook and follow your Facebook friends
* Follow topics in real-time with saved searches
* View @replies and direct messages and manage your conversations
* Never miss an important tweet with notifications

* Share your photos and videos with Twitpic and 12seconds
* And many more Twitter favourites including Stocktwits, Twitscoop and all the most popular URL shortening services

But before you go there you should listen to this little advise: FIRST DOWNLOAD ADOBE AIR and install it (I assume you know how) and only then you can click on the "Download" button, which will allow you to install this application.

I had to figure it out myself, but want to spare you the time.

Dienstag, 28. April 2009

ATI Radeon 4670 with Ubuntu 9.04 - minor issues

After installing Ubuntu 9.04 there is always the exciting and annoying element called 'proprietary videocard driver'. While the process with NVidia-drivers under Linux became a piece of cake, the installation process with AMD/ATI-drivers, while equally 'easy' as a process, turns very mixed results.

the aticonfig --buildpkg is not the problem. The proper xorg.conf-settings can be, very much so for new Linux-Users, who are not interested in the history of X11, XFree, XOrg etc, as an alternative to the seven tomes of Marcel Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdu" which is accurately translated "In Search of Lost Time"

So while I had some hard-lockups when using the 3D-acceleration, when I turned off the fancy Desktops-Effects, everything became fine. I have to see if it has to do something with the overlay-mechanism, since I catch this hardware-cold only under certain circumstances (i.e. switching video into fullscreen).

But instead of looking to find the bug, I thought, I would rather write about it. After all. If you don't care about fancy wobbly windows and rotating cubes, you are fine. The question is, why would you want a Radeon 4670 at all?

Sonntag, 26. April 2009

InSecure Internet Surfing for Dummies (Client-Side/Userlevel)

"Think before you click."

Goal: Surf the web without having to fear infecting your own PC with worms, viruses, scripts, etc... exposing your data, unintentionally sharing files, somebody wiping your hard disk, reading your stored passwords and so on...

Status quo: Face the facts: You will never be secure browsing the web as a normal user. Just forget the idea. If you do not establish a trusted, certified, encrypted connection, that is monitored and has to verify each packet or hash sums of it, you are always exposed to attacks of all kinds. What you still can do, as a user, is letting go of old thinking and accept the facts.

Browse the web without having to fear that your data on your harddrives are exposed to attacks. Hiding partitions, encrypting your home/user-file-directories should be recommended, but you don't have to if you follow the concept below:


the most recent Knoppix DVD is 6.1 - I like the artwork for 5.3 by Thomas Saur (?)

Howto do it
: I use a Knoppix(Debian)-Live-DVD. You can install the complete Operating System on a 4GB-USB-Stick and have even 1GB left on it, for a encrypted read-only home-partition, where you can store your configuration. You can use any Linux-Live-CD (Knoppix/Ubuntu/openSUSE/etc...). Your harddrives are in read-only mode. You can make them invisible if you have not already encrypted them.
Beware: there is still the chance that somebody will read your tmp-files/ram etc. Every communication between you and a server and/or service on the web is as secure as the protocols underneath allow it to be. If you can, use secure protocols all the time. If you can, use encryption all the time. But the vulnerability you offer, is way lower than surfing from your 'installed system'. If you want to download files, simply use an extra partition, where you can dump that stuff. (Run multiple scan's on these downloaded files before you read/execute them. Be aware that all scenarios which include transactions of data through the net are still open to attacks (passwords in clear text, non-secure protocols between client and server, etc...) - avoid any online-service that does not use secure protocols, encryption or other form of trusted computing. Minimize the risks.

Security vs. Convenience - it always comes down to the following question: "How much time are you willing to spend vs. how much risk are you willing to take?" Most people don't know the risks and they don't want to know.

After you finished your web-browsing everything you might have catched throughout the session will be deleted on your side (but 'phishing-attacks' during the session might still have taken place). Think of your use of the internet as a jump into radioactive waters (FALLOUT 3). Don't be online all the time. Be aware that you are open to malicious attacks. Yes, Microsoft for example, improved their default security options a great bit. Vista and more so Windows 7 offer very good measures for unexperienced users. Still the biggest threat to a 'normal user' is the notion to lull them into coziness. Neither Microsoft, nor Anti-Virus-Software, nor Mac or Linux will save you from malicious attacks.

Conclusion: This concept does not apply to all circumstances. Homebanking is as insecure as it always was. PIN/TAN and even iTAN transactions have been exploited. "HTTPS" sounds nice, but do you really now that the DNS-Server sent you to the 'real' MyBank-Website? Fake certificates are no prob for the net-mob. Your beloved Outlook or MS Office has to struggle through Wine if you really, really think you need it. But if you are paranoid (like me) or don't want to hassle with attacks that might infect your PC (even under Linux) or Anti-Virus-Software which has it's own vulnerabilities (been late, false negatives, etc), I figured, this is the best way for web-browsing.

Disclaimer: This does not work for 'safe surfing' (your kids web). This does not work for System-Administrators. They have to maintain networks and 1000s of connected computers, with infected programs and corrupt data floating around. They are mandated to use AV-Software and they better do. The nightmares of professionals is another story.

Thanks for reading this. Talk me down. Drop a comment.

Donnerstag, 16. April 2009

Introduction and Basic Profile

Von Blogger Pictures

Alex 'BuckyBit' Covic

PHONE: (+049) 0431 60 82 461
MOBILE: (+049) 01522 3460077
8486 4F01 8FC1 96EE 2128 DB5D 675D 465A 7FA9 60A5

My PGP-Key (see below)
My resume (german)...
follow me on Twitter
my Facebook-page...
my Flickr-page...

Who Am I?

I support the Free Software Foundation
I support the Electronic Freedom Foundation
I support the Debian-Project
I am still not a member of the German Unix User Group
I am still not a member of the German Linux User Group neither *

First Computers: Apple II, Amiga 500, Commodore64, x86 since 286 and Dr-Dos, Linux since Kernel 0.99

Origins: born 1967 in Munich, Germany - my Mother migrated after World War 2 from Yugoslavia to West-Germany.

I graduated successfully with something called ("Mittlere Reife") at an absolutely insignificant german school before actually starting 20 years of studies on my own, outside the institutions. I was regularly visiting the libraries of the LMU and TUM (mentioned in Thomas Pynchon's" Gravity's Rainbow"), secretly attending some lectures at these two main universities, without being a student.

I also spent around 15 years regularly visiting the Technical Library of the Deutsche Museum (where Einstein was a fellow before the Nazis kicked him out) and the BSB (amongst the world largest libraries, with a huge collection of academic magazines).

At the same time, I earned my living with low-income jobs, mostly in retail, while studying and socializing with my student-friends at night.Later on, I quit my job and lived unemployed for several years - even being homeless and having no legal papers.

I have 25 years of computer experience in my blood. I worked the last ten years in it-consulting, telling small businesses what hardware to buy, what software to use, setting things up and running, aquiring people to work as admins or to write apps for the clients.

Before that, I worked ten years in book-retail. The last employee-gig was 7 years for a book-chain (think of Barnes-n-Nobles of Germany). As an assistent-manager I was responsible for sales of computer-books and software. I made a revenue of US-$ 2 Mio for the company per year.

I started reading philosophy - besides science-fiction books - at the age of maybe 11 or 12. I use the word 'philosophy' in the broadest sense - I was reading everything, I could get my hands on: from the history of philosophy, the philosophical models, to mathematics, scientific models, methodology, biology, logic, political theories, sociology, neuroscience, physics.

interested in: scientific research: from genomics to quantum physics,
(computer) architecture/languages, parallel computing, functional programming, grid,clusters,cloud-computing,
global economy, international politics, media business, social issues, internet politics, and also organic food, 17/18th century literature, american football...

not interested in: ego/page-ranking, celebrity-gossip, iPhone/Apple-fans, google-ads/-bots, WoW, marketing-speech/pr-lingo,, newsgroup-trolling, racists, homophobes, misogynists, child-molesters, religious fanatics, political hacks...
favorite editor: emacs-nox
favorite shell: bash 4.0
favorite language: Haskell/Latin
favorite linux-distro: Debian
favorite tv-show: Star Trek (orig. Series)/ The Colbert-Report
favorite podcast:
favorite website: (books/reviews/article-metasite)

Although I'm primarily a Unix and Linux guy (Networks, Security, Virtualization), I have also spent time on many other platforms..

people I follow on the web (which I never met in real life):

Richard Stallman
Alan Cox
Dan Ts'o
Joe Duffy
Thomas Pynchon
Jeff Gerstmann

recently addicted to some web-tv-soap insanity,
presented by Vinnie and Jeff Persona4 Endurance Run.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)


*) I am not a member of the above organisations. I support them by donation and public awareness.