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Radio Show and Podcasting

For a long time I’ve been interested in tech podcasting, I’m an avid listener of these fine shows, http://bol.cnet.com and http://twit.tv.

I was recently asked to join the panel of a radio show being broadcast on my local college radio station, called ITFreely, the show is a continuation of a podcast that is now being recorded in a proper radio studio and being broadcast on FlirtFm, at 12.30 every Wednesday. So far there have been 2 shows broadcast, which are available online here and here

Running parallel to this, I also started to contribute to the Tech In Hiding Netcast, a podcast by bloggers on the TechInHiding.com website. I’ve done one episode so far, and it can be found here

So, if you want to listen to me blather on about technology, check the links out, and leave some feedback. I’m new to all this, so any comments are appreciated.

Handy Songbird Tips – AllTray, MMKeys and ubuntu-notify

I love Songbird, it’s a great music playing program and I’ve been using it since it hit it’s 0.6 release. Anyway, today I discovered 2 cool little things that have made my Songbird experience much better.

Read more →

World Community Grid in Linux – Peer certificate authentication problem

UPDATE – Tyler in the comments notes that this is also a problem in 32 bit versions, so I’ve modified the title accordingly

Last night I performed a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.10. One of the first things I did was to install the BOINC manager so I could continue contributing to the World Community Grid

I fired up the BOINC manager and for some reason, the blasted thing wouldn’t connect and download new jobs. I switched to ‘Advanced View’ and had a look under the ‘Messages’ tab. There was the following error message –

"Scheduler request failed: peer certificate cannot be authenticated with known CA certificates"

What the hell does that mean, well, I found some information on this really helpful site.

The issue appeared to be that the file ca-bundle.crt was not included on the installation of the BOINC software.

So, the instuctions were to download the file, and add it to the BOINC data directory. Where the heck is the BOINC data directory? Well, after a little poking, I found it. This is only an issue if you installed the package from the repositories, otherwise, the data directory is easy to find, as it’s in your home folder.

To fix the problem,

1. Download this file

2. Copy the file to the BOINC data directory,

sudo mv /path/to/the/file/ca-bundle.crt /var/lib/boinc-client

3. Now, to get the client to recognise the new file, you need to stop the daemon, restart it, then restart the manager. If this all sounds like a pain in the arse, just reboot your PC and it will do all this for you. If you don’t want to reboot, run

sudo /etc/init.d/boinc-client restart

Then start the BOINC manager again, you should be up and running.

Response to Letter to Dermot Ahern

Recently I sent a letter to the office of Dermot Ahern TD, expressing my concerns regarding the new Defamation Act and the articles contained referring to blasphemy. You can see the letter I sent here

After quite a long wait, apparently due to some email routing problems, I received a reply from Conor R. Savage, Private Secretary to the minister, who writes that….

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Build a single kernel module in FreeBSD

This is a simple piece of information that may save some of you some time.

There are a few reasons that you would like to build a single kernel module in FreeBSD, and thankfully it is easy to do.

Firstly, find the module you need.

cd /usr/src/sys/modules/YOURMODULE

Often there will just be one file, a Makefile in these directories. That’s not a problem, just run

make

Now you will be left with a load of files, the one you need is the *.ko one.

To load this onto a running system, use the

kldload

command.

Done and done! To check your work, run

kldstat

Is Earth ‘tuned’ for life?

Alot of people subscribe to a mild form of creationism, although they would not call it as such. They don’t believe in Adam and Eve and all that bulls**t, but I often hear the argument that our planet is somehow ‘tuned’ to permit our existence.

This is an argument from design, the circumstances of life on Earth seem to be an amazing coincidence, so therefore, it points to a designer who ‘tuned’ these conditions to allow life to evolve here. It is certainly true that conditions here on Earth are astoundingly fortunate, liquid water, energy from the sun, it all seems to be almost too perfect.

I totally reject this argument. It’s narrow minded and childish. If I take a guitar and drop it, the tuning gets knocked off and it sounds horrible, how horrible depends on the mechanics of the fall, how hard it hit the ground etc. If I drop it again, it will go to a different tuning, again, seemingly random.

What if (assuming my guitar is made out of adamatium or something similar) I was to drop my guitar millions of times? Is it not conceivable that on one of those millions of occasions, the bang knocks the guitar INTO tune perfectly? In fact, even with millions of possibilities, the odds of that happening become quite high.

How does this fit in with the ‘Earth is tuned’ argument? Well, estimates put the number of galaxies in the universe in the hundreds of billions. The number of stars in our own galaxy is estimated at roughly 100 billion. If you have 300 billion galaxies, all containing 100 billion stars that could potentially have a rocky planet orbiting at a favorable distance you get 1×10^22 (or I with 22 zeros following it) possible solar systems.

Thats a hell of a lot of chances for life. In fact, the more you think of it, the more likely it seems that there is life on other planets that happen to have the same favorable conditions as our own.

But theres more, all this revolves around the assumption that life as we know it is the only way that life can exist. What if there are other planets with conditions not conducive to carbon based life forms but perfect for other types of life?  Creatures and forms we cannot begin to imagine, living happily in seas of methane or rivers of mercury. Taking this into account, it seems almost probable that we are not alone in the universe.

There’s nothing special about the Earth in the context of all the other planets in the Universe, yes it can support life, but, it seems likely, so could millions of others. The Earths special features are not a miracle of God, but a miracle of coincidence.

I wonder have those other life forms created religion to explain things they don’t understand like we have done.

O2 Mobile Broadband – Strange Experience

I’ve recently moved into a new apartment for the summer months while I finish my work placement. The place is great, nice and compact, and about a 1 minute walk from work, sorted!

The cloud to all this silver lining is that the place had no tv or broadband. AGHH!! Terrifying I know!

After completing Halo 3 on heroic (using my computer monitor as a screen) we sorted out the TV, then set about sorting out broadband. Now I don’t expect to be living in the apartment I am in for more than a few months, so normal broadband isn’t really an option, I can’t sign up for a 12 month contract.

I had a look at the 3G mobile broadband options available around here and there were 3 options, O2, 3, and Vodafone. All weigh in at about 50 to 60 euro for the modem, and then 20 quid a month, or 30 quid if you’re looking at short contracts. Hmm, not ideal.

Luckily for me I then came across an offer that O2 are doing with HEAnet (Higher Education Associan NETwork) for college students. €13 a month on a 12 month contract, with the modem for FREE! Then, the real icing! €15 a month, on a 30 day contract that can be canceled at anytime! DING DING DING Jackpot!

HEAnet

Perfect, it’s only a measly 5GB of usage, but it should be enough for some lightweight usage. So off I went on my merry way to the local O2 shop in the centre of the city to sign up for this wonder deal, ID and proof of address in hand. I went up to the 8 foot tall shop assistant (seriously, the guy was huge!) and asked him about the deal. He was ready to get me signed up when he mentioned “€13 for 12 months”. Whoa!! Stop right there big guy, I want the one month contract thing! “That deal has been canceled since July”. “July?” I spluttered incredulously, “You mean in the last two days??”. “Yep” he replied and I left the store, heartbroken, not even giving the aspiring street artist clamoring for my attention so much as a nod.

As I reached my bike I realised I was standing outside another O2 shop, so I thought, I’d chance my arm, maybe they don’t know about the so called ‘canceling’ of this deal. One day (their computer system was down) and a couple of forms later, and I am now sitting on a 30 day contract with my free modem.Take that giant shop assistant.

o2

This turn of events really shocked me, one rep in one shop said one thing, while in another shop, quite literally 50 yards up the road said another, and processed my application without any trouble. The mind boggles. I suppose the moral of the story is to shop around, even if the shop is a different outlet of the same company.

Anyway, the heel of the hunt is that I now have my mobile broadband and am looking forward to trying it out on my bus journey later. I might post a review on this site depending on my experiences

modem

Neteller – Use a Laser Card as a Credit Card

Now that I have entered gainful employment for my college work placement programme, my thoughts quickly went to deciding what I would buy with my wages. As a tech head, gadgets are generally top of the list, and the cheapest place to buy gadgets is online. With me so far?

The problem with wanting to buy online is that the majority of shops only accept credit cards, a luxury I do not have. I do however possess a Laser Debit Card, and while some Irish shops do accept this type of card, it leaves you painfully restricted as to where you can shop, and therefore you often end up paying more than you should.

Ah I hear you chime up, 3V vouchers! Basically, a prepaid Visa card from Permanent TSB. I have used these in the past, and they are good, and do the job nicely, if a little expensively. The problem I have with 3V cards is the hassle of having to find a shop that a) sells the things and b) has employees who actually know what the hell they are. If I could buy 3V vouchers online with a Laser card, they would be perfect. There must be a better way I thought.

Thats when I came across Neteller, Neteller are an Internet payment company, most popular for their gambling services, and were very popular with Americans looking to gamble online, which for some inane reason is illegal in most states.

neteller logo

I signed up to an account, not because I’m harboring a secret gambling habit, but because of the promise of their Net+ cards.

To my surprise, I then got a phone call from a very friendly and helpful Neteller rep, something one does not expect when signing up to an online service.

To use the Net+ cards, first one must prove ones identification by sending them a scanned ID over the net. I was very cagey about doing this at first, but after some research, I went for it.

A few days later, my account was ‘Extended’ which meant I could start using all their features, the process works like this,

1. I deposit money into the account by choosing the debit card option and selecting the ‘Maestro’ card from the dropdown box (I figured since my card has a Maestro logo on the back it was worth a go). The money comes straight out of my account, plus a 1.7% charge, which is, as far as I can see, the only charge levied against me.

UPDATE

Murray in the comments informs me that AIB laser cards only have 15 digits, and for that reason will not work with Netellers depositing function. Sorry guys, I don’t know of a way around it, BOI laser cards work fine.

Noel has pointed out that if your AIB laser card has 19 digits, you’ll be fine and can use Neteller no problem.

2. I pick the Neteller Net+ Virtual card option on the site, and it generates a Mastercard No, with an expiry date and security code

Screenshot of card

Screenshot of card

3. Jot the details into the website of your choice, all websites accept Mastercard, and the payment will appear on your Neteller account.

4. ????

5. Profit!

There you go, use a Laser card as a credit card without leaving the house, simple really.

Volvo Ocean Race Stopover – Galway

I went down to the race village last night for the first time, to see the Hothouse flowers and generally get a feel for the place. I have to say, I’m very impressed. They’ve done a great job, it was a lovely evening and there were loads of people just milling about.

One thing I noticed, food stands. Everywhere. And we’re not talking just your usual burger and chips. Every stand had something different, pies, spuds, organic teas, anything you can think of. A great selection.

After seeing them on TV, my main priority was to take a look at the boats themselves. especially the green dragon. I got some photos too.

green dragon

green dragon

They are really impressive things the boats, and apparently loaded with tech.

Of course, there’s only so much looking at boats you can do (check out my flickr page for more photos) and we moved then toward the big main stage to see the entertainment, and the Hothouse Flowers put on a great show.

Hothouse Flowers

Hothouse Flowers

We then retired to a local establistment to consume some recreational beverages. But not before I took this photo of the Ocean Race boats’ masts with the moon in the background.

Masts

Masts

All in all, it’s a great event, the team behind it, Let’s Do It Galway have done a brilliant job in creating a real party atmosphere and something Galway can really be proud of.

Of course, 70% of people there have never set foor on a sailing boat in their lives, any old excuse for a party eh?

Open Letter To Dermot Ahern re: Blasphemy Bill

To try to raise awareness to this concern, here is a copy of an email sent by me, to Dermot Ahern, regarding the upcoming blasphemy legislation in Ireland http://blasphemy.ie for more details.

Mr Ahern,

I am emailing in relation to the proposed Defamation BIll and the parts of the bill regarding blasphemy.

A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.”

The definition given of “blasphemous matter” is matter “that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.”

This is absolutely unbelievable. It is a direct affront to the fundamental human right of free speech. To protect people who have a particular set of beliefs is completely against equality. The definition of blasphemous matter contains the phrase “any religion”. I subscribe to no religion and as such am an atheist, this law would value the opinions of religious people above my own and discriminate against me and the thousands of atheists around the country.

Suppose a religion or denomination of a religion complains that the advertising of equal opportunity jobs is blasphemous, because this religion believes, as many do, that women are inferior to men. By this law, they would be perfectly entitled to complain and fine such a company €100,000.

The main problem with the law is that the definition of blasphemous material is loose and open to interpretation. Because everyone will have a different definition, religious groups will use this to suppress debate and healthy discourse on issues of religion.

People will become scared to voice their opinions because of the fear of a huge fine. I hope I don’t need to explain why that would be a terrifying situation.

The law opens a door to a slippery slope which at the end, results in a police state, where even speech is controlled.

I implore you to rethink this almost Orwellian legislation and be open to new debate and public opinion. I also would urge you to visit http://blasphemy.ie/ to see the opposition to this bill.

Yours,
A concerned citizen,

Shane Tuohy
web – shanetuohy.com
twitter – shanetuohy