RIP Terry Pratchett – Long shall you live on in the Clacks

In one of his books:

The Hour of the Dead was when men died. And when a man died, they sent him home by clacks. Moist’s mouth dropped open. ‘Huh?’

‘That’s what they call it,’ said Harry. ‘Not lit’rally, o’ course. But they send his name from one end of the Trunk to the other, ending up at the tower nearest his home.’

‘Yeah, but they say sometimes the person stays on in the towers, somehow,’ said Jim.’ “Living in the Overhead”, they call it.’

Sir Terry will always live on in the overhead of reddit.

A lot of what travelled on the Grand Trunk was called the Overhead. It was instructions to towers, reports, messages about messages, even chatter between operators, although this was strictly forbidden these days. It was all in code. It was very rare you got Plain in the Overhead. But now . . . ‘There it goes again,’ she said. ‘It must be wrong. It’s got no origin code and no address. It’s Overhead, but it’s in Plain.’ On the other side of the tower, sitting in a seat facing the opposite direction because he was operating the up-line, was Roger, who was seventeen and already working for his tower-master certificate. His hand didn’t stop moving as he said: ‘What did it say?’

‘There was GNU, and I know that’s a code, and then just a name. It was John Dearheart. Was it a—’

‘You sent it on?’ said Grandad. Grandad had been hunched in the corner, repairing a shutter box in this cramped shed halfway up the tower. Grandad was the tower-master and had been everywhere and knew everything. Everyone called him Grandad. He was twenty-six. He was always doing something in the tower when she was working the line, even though there was always a boy in the other chair. She didn’t work out why until later. ‘Yes, because it was a G code,’ said Princess. ‘Then you did right. Don’t worry about it.’

‘Yes, but I’ve sent that name before. Several times. Upline and downline. Just a name, no message or anything!’ She had a sense that something was wrong, but she went on: ‘I know a U at the end means it has to be turned round at the end of the line, and an N means Not Logged.’ This was showing off, but she’d spent hours reading the cypher book. ‘So it’s just a name, going up and down all the time! Where’s the sense in that?’ Something was really wrong. Roger was still working his line, but he was staring ahead with a thunderous expression. Then Grandad said: ‘Very clever, Princess. You’re dead right.’

‘Hah!’ said Roger. ‘I’m sorry if I did something wrong,’ said the girl meekly. ‘I just thought it was strange. Who’s John Dearheart?’

‘He . . . fell off a tower,’ said Grandad. ‘Hah!’ said Roger, working his shutters as if he suddenly hated them. ‘He’s dead?’ said Princess. ‘Well, some people say—’ Roger began. ‘Roger!’ snapped Grandad. It sounded like a warning. ‘I know about Sending Home,’ said Princess. ‘And I know the souls of dead linesmen stay on the Trunk.’

‘Who told you that?’ said Grandad. Princess was bright enough to know that someone would get into trouble if she was too specific. ‘Oh, I just heard it,’ she said airily. ‘Somewhere.’

‘Someone was trying to scare you,’ said Grandad, looking at Roger’s reddening ears. It hadn’t sounded scary to Princess. If you had to be dead, it seemed a lot better to spend your time flying between the towers than lying underground. But she was bright enough, too, to know when to drop a subject. It was Grandad who spoke next, after a long pause broken only by the squeaking of the new shutter bars. When he did speak, it was as if something was on his mind. ‘We keep that name moving in the Overhead,’ he said, and it seemed to Princess that the wind in the shutter arrays above her blew more forlornly, and the everlasting clicking of the shutters grew more urgent. ‘He’d never have wanted to go home. He was a real linesman. His name is in the code, in the wind in the rigging and the shutters. Haven’t you ever heard the saying “A man’s not dead while his name is still spoken”?’

GNU Terry Pratchett

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Choose an open source licence

I was trying to find an open source licence that would fit my purpose for my Trend Analyser project. After some googling I found a wonderful website “Choose a Licence

This showed specifically what each main licence does and gave templates to use. It made it easier than reading through and trying to understand all the legal terms.

In the end I choose a MIT licence for Trend Analyser because I wanted anyone to be able to use or sell the modified code and only wanted a licence that covered me and allowed attribution.

Using Nvidia Optimus on Fedora

If your computer is recent and has an i3/i5/i7 intel core and a Nvidia graphics card it likely uses Optimus technology. This smart piece of software turns off the power-hungry Nvidia graphics card and runs most programs on the integrated intel graphics chip. In laptops this can save a lot of power. However this solution is only available in windows 7 upwards.

The problem occurs when you are using an operating system that doesn’t support this, as in most cases both cards will run all the time, causing major battery drain. On laptops this can severely shorten the battery life.

However there is a solution to this called bumblebee. This piece of software aims to offer similar technology in Linux-based machines. I found many tutorials on how to install it and work and ended up reinstalling fedora (17 at the time) several times.

However, I found a post from the NC State University Technical Staff Exchange on how to install bumblebee for Fedora and Redhat based distributions. I used this before to install on Fedora 17 and now just today on Fedora 18. Previously I was having a lot of issues getting it to work on Fedora 18 and according to them “nouveau drivers do not work on fedora 18 at this time” which after following their guide and installing the Nvidia ones it started to work.

If you are running a laptop with a new intel core and Nvidia graphics card and are getting poor battery life, I suggest you looking into seeing if you have Optimus technology in your laptop, and if so try this.

However, there is a warning, you will be messing around with your display drivers which could cause your system to not be able to display any GUI. Back up everything before trying this.

As usual, if you have any questions, it worked for you or you have something to add to my post, leave a comment!

XFCE Application Menu Icons Missing

After i installed Fedora 18 XFCE i found that it by default doesnt show the icons on the application menu.

I normally navigate it by checking the images and not reading the words, so this inconvenienced me. On checking the properties I found that “Show icons in menu” was checked but it did not seem to work.

However a solution was suggested, and after running it and logging out and in, it worked.

Run this, then restart (or maybe just logout) and it should be fixed next time you login

gconftool-2 --type boolean --set /desktop/gnome/interface/buttons_have_icons true
gconftool-2 --type boolean --set /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons true

Leave a comment stating your linux distribution and setup if it worked or ask for any help in the comments.

Raspberry Pi!

During Christmas I got a raspberry pi and I have been waiting to start playing around with it for ages. Finally I decided to order the remaining pieces for it such as the power cable and SD card.

Since I didn’t have a HDMI TV around I decided to plug it into the router and see if it worked, luckily the latest version of the OS has DHCP and ssh enabled by default, which meant I didn’t even need to plug it into a screen to start using it.

I plan on looking at installing apache and icinga onto it to play around with and probably will run an instance of irssi as well.

The first things I installed were git and vim. Vim  is very useful when there is no full UI because of its many features and excellent code highlighting, I plan to use git to centralise some of my code that I plan to run on the pi.

20 year old French hacker is arrested after stealing 500k euros and infecting 17k smartphones

A 20-year-old hacker has been recently arrested in Amiens, France after allegedly stealing 500k euros from unwitting victims.

The hack worked by downloading and modifying android applications with a trojan which would call premium rate numbers in exchange for SMS codes  for playing online lotteries.

Central Office for the Fight against Crime Linked to Information Technology and Communication (OCLCTIC) tracked the creator of this network of trojans and uncovered the hacker. He stated that he did not do it for the money but “a love of computers and an ambition to be a software developer.”. According to the official report the users were charged around 130 euros for 30 SMS messages and many users did not notice this cost on their bill.

This outlines the issues with applications that can access any features of the phone and use them silently. Apple iOS devices have more protection to these type of hacks due to the limits that Apple put  on the phones and the necessary scrutiny that they put upon all applications. Furthermore since the only way to get apps without jail-breaking the iPhone is through the apple store it stops the majority of poisonous applications. Since Jail-breaking and downloading non-approved applications allows programs to drastically alter the iPhone its likely that its easier to program dangerous applications that can hide better, due to their ability to do anything to the phone.

We shall see if in the future there are further mobile phone hacks, but it is likely to increase due to the large amount of devices that people are using.