Category Archives: General

General talk, about anything.

Portal 2: Play Session – Lasers Are Fun!

I’m really enjoying this game so far, have started the third chapter and for a game all about puzzles the story is surprisingly good. Have started getting more levels with jump pads and light bridges now which are exciting, the puzzles are getting more complex but somehow this game manages to get you through it and makes you feel smarter (than perhaps you really are).

This game has some addictive qualities, it is very satisfying when you complete a level and each are short enough for you to not get bored or frustrated with each. Its a great pick up and play game without requiring you to invest countless hours at a time with it.

Melbourne Train Network: Connex Time Comes To An End


Connex was this morning stripped of its contract to operate the network, with Hong Kong-backed company Metro Trains Melbourne to take its place.

The appointment of new operators for Melbourne’s train and tram networks will not bring about major service improvements unless the State Government invests more money, a peak transport users group says.

Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said Connex had become a scapegoat for the networks’ failures, which were mainly due to a lack of Government infrastructure investment.

Source: The Age – New train, tram operators for Melbourne

So Busy With Everything – Back to Blogging

Well It’s been almost 2 months since my last post and for that I really do apologise, I’ve been really busy with heaps of stuff over the last few months. Mainly getting my last exams over with for uni (yes after this week I’m done forever) and work has been quite busy too.

I’m looking forward to putting heaps more stuff up on here soon and getting back to writing on a daily basis.

Thanks guys for your patience.


Advertising War Between Audi & BMW

Press Release

Juggernaut Advertising, an independent advertising agency headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, has initiated a tactical outdoor marketing campaign on behalf of BMW of Santa Monica. The campaign is in response to Audi’s current billboards challenging BMW with the headline “Your move, BMW.”

Juggernaut Advertising’s creative work features the BMW M3 with the headline “Checkmate.” and is positioned prominently within the same sightline to westbound traffic as the Audi ad. Juggernaut approached BMW of Santa Monica after identifying a unique and immediate geographical opportunity along the highly trafficked Santa Monica Blvd. corridor between Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

“When we heard the idea, we loved it and couldn’t resist going forward,” says Del Montell, Jr. of Santa Monica BMW.

Source: Juggernaut Advertising

Computer Science: Releasing Itself of Gender Inequality

When I first started studying computer science at Victoria University here in Melbourne I was hard pressed to spot one female in the entire engineering/science faculty, not to mention just looking for any female even studying computer science. It was a tall order. The field of computer science has (basically since the conception of modern computing in the 1970’s) been a male dominated field of science, where other areas such as health and life sciences have attracted the larger female audience.

So why has computer science for so long been ruled by males and why have females just instinctively been drawn away from the field? I have no idea, but it has been the notion that females don’t study computer science is probably the main motivation behind female students not picking up the course.

I wouldn’t blame them. The stereotype of computer scientists have either been a quite heavy set male programmer who smells a little weird and sits around all day coding and consuming copious amounts of pizza and coke or only possible to be studied if you’re a genius Asian kid!

As we move further and further into this decade I’ve personally noticed a slow increase in females taking part in this course of study which is really great to see, and in more recent times I’ve seen the culmination of this in my first lecture back this year where there were 10 females students in the class of 35. That’s really amazing to see, and feels really good as a fellow computer scientist that the field is finally losing its male only stigma and becoming more and more accessible (and interesting) to female students. The science in general will grow much more having the input and skills from both sexes and maybe better ways of doing things will be found with new eyes on existing problems facing computer scientists of today.

11 Crucial Things an Ubuntu Newbie Should Know

Author: Kurt Hartman

As I was sitting here, preparing to write this article, my mind wandered back to the day I accidentally wiped out a Windows installation with a Gutsy Gibbon CD. I thought I was in trouble. I had just knocked out my work documents, including various templates I made, along with scanner support, and my Adobe 8.0 suite.

It was at that moment I decided to make a go of it with Linux as my sole operating system. After nearly 2 years of tweaking, making mistakes, fixing those mistakes, and then making even more mistakes, I finally feel qualified to give you advice.

In light of this experience, I now present "11 Crucial Things An Ubuntu Newbie Should Know".


1. ps -A: One of the reasons I hated Windows so much was the task manager. When a program would hang, you’d have to open task manager, tell it to kill the program, and wait 5 minutes for the system to kill the application, All the while, it would bog down the processor, hog memory, and be an overall nuisance. 50% of the time, you would have to restart the computer to get the process to clear.

Not so in Ubuntu/Linux. All you have to kill a program is open the terminal, and type "ps -A". This will pull up a list of all the processes currently running, with the name of the program, along with a 4-5 digit number next to it. Then, type "kill -9 PN" (PN should be substituted with the actual Process Number), and hit enter. This will kill the app, no questions asked. It will not ask you any questions, or give you any excuses. That program is now dead, until the time you decide to resurrect it. This will not work with things like Apache, or other process daemons. If you’re not sure, just try to kill it. If it doesn’t die, then it is probably a daemon. You will have to find the actual documentation to stop the daemon.

Bonus tip: In Ubuntu (Gutsy and later), the command to stop Apache is: sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 stop To restart: sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 start

2. gksudo nautilus: Nautilus is the GUI-based file browser for Gnome, which is the default window manager for Ubuntu. If you are not used to the command line, this command will save you hours when it comes to file operations. Well, it will only save you hours for things that have to be done as root. Things like special system configuration, and other things where you need upgraded privileges will be much faster when you use this command.

Just open the terminal, type "gksudo nautilus", enter your password, and magically you can do anything you want. For faster access, right click the Desktop, select "create launcher", enter "gksudo nautilus" as the command. You can now click the shortcut on your Desktop , rather than opening the terminal and entering a command each time you need access to Nautilus.

3. dmesg: If you have managed to really mess something up, or are having trouble getting things to work, you may need someone with greater experience to take a look. Typing "dmesg" in your terminal window will call up all the messages from your system kernel. Copy and paste this into a text document, attach it to an email, and let a true expert get a look at what is going on with your hardware.


4. Ubuntu’s package manager, Synaptic, is a GUI front-end for Aptitude. What you don’t know is that Synaptic is set to run in what could be called "safe-mode". It will not go get the latest and greatest versions of the software you are running. It will get the last (often 6 months older) version of the software you want to run. You can upgrades faster by enabling optional software repositories.

To do this, open Synaptic (System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager), then select Settings > Repositories. Once you are in the repositories window, select the "Updates" tab. The Ubuntu "security" and "recommended updates" repository have already been selected. To get the newer stuff, you need to check "backports" and "proposed" software. Apply, and reload. This should get most of your software up to date, along with the kernel.

5. The kernel: While having the latest and greatest stable kernel can improve system performance, it can also break little fixes you have made along the way. An example: I had gone through the painstaking process of editing some configuration files to get my webcam to work. The last kernel update overwrote the changes I had made, and in the process, disabled my webcam. This can get irritating, but eventually a kernel release might fix an issue on its own, so I guess it is an ok, if not completely lossless tradeoff.

6. Upgrading to the newest version of Ubuntu: Don’t do it right away. Always give a new version at least two months in regular use before you decide to upgrade. I have tried to upgrade for 3 releases now, in the first two weeks of availability for the upgrade. Each time, there has been a major failure, mostly in the area of graphics and sound. If your release is stable, there is no reason to upgrade right away, other than a few minor changes in speed and stability. You forfeit these if you upgrade on the first day of a new release. You have been warned.

Got Help?:

7. You can Google it: If you haven’t googled it, do not trounce into a forum and ask the question. People are nice, but they really can’t stand laziness. If you have searched, and can’t find it, it may be a more advanced question that really needs more expert analysis.

Here’s the search formula that reaps the best rewards for me: [manufacturer] [model] [problem] [ubuntu distribution]…(e.g. sony vaio webcam installation hardy). You can vary this formula a little bit, as sometimes it takes a few searches to get the hang of it. The one thing that you should not change is having your version of the distribution in the search. The reason is that fixes, and places where applications install can be different depending on the version you are using. This will ensure that you receive the best solution possible.

8. The Forums: Most of the time, Googling the problem will send you to the Ubuntu forums. Get a user name, log in, and be respectful. Be sure you try everything they tell you to before griping that it won’t work. The help and advice is free, and usually very helpful in nature.

9. Launchpad: This is a bug reporting service that Ubuntu users use to get bugs and various other problems fixed. You can reach the project at . Once you get there, click on report a bug, and follow the instructions. Be sure the problem has not been reported already, as they will ask. Provide as much information about the incident as possible. They will keep you posted on the progress as far as the problem being resolved, and assign a priority rating based on the severity of the problem. I’ve had to use it 2 or 3 times. Even the minor problems have been resolved in 2-3 weeks.

10. Don’t Be Afraid To Break It

This is the most important rule. This ain’t your Granny’s china. Stuff will break, you will be the one to break it. You will also be the one fixing it, along with your friend Google. Be patient, be persistent, and walk away for a bit if the solution just won’t come. Vindication will come, and when the fix is done properly, or you changed a variable that caused performance to increase, there will a mountaintop rush. Chances are, your significant other won’t care, but that won’t matter. Feel free to prance around in your boxers, and act like you just won the Nobel Prize.

11. Everything in Windows can be replaced with Open Source software: Really, it can. It takes a little time to find it, but when you do, a whole new world will open up. You’ll start to see how things work better than you expected. Things will play that would not on Windows, you’ll be able to open every attachment you ever wanted to. Productivity will increase, thereby giving you more time to make your system work faster, and work on your own open source program.

I can’t include everything I’ve learned over the past two years here. There are some other articles that I have written on software packages, and the pros and cons of each. Just google my name and iSnare to get a full list of what I have written on the subject. In conclusion, have fun with Ubuntu, share your knowledge with others, and fear God. Seriously.

That’s all the advice I have for you.

About the Author:
Kurt Hartman has been using Linux as his primary operating system for the past 2 years, and has loved (almost) every minute of it. He uses it regularly in his role as Head of Employee Training for Mobile Fleet Service. They sell Titan Tires in addition to several other brands, including Michelin, Bridgestone, and Goodyear. If you enjoyed this article, please search for Kurt over on iSnare, or read his blog at .

Article Source:

New Site Header: Good or Bad?

Well as you can see I’ve done a little tweaking with the site’s title graphic. I still wanted to go with something simple and not too crazy, but wanted to jazz things up a bit also. I’d love to hear any feedback on the new graphic so if you feel like it please feel free to cast your vote:

Stay tuned for tomorrow, I’m currently writing something on online music and file sharing so if you’re into that you’ll have fun tomorrow (otherwise it will just put you to sleep).

Thanks guys.