Reviews |Techie Talk by Judy @ 7:35 PM
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So I figured out how to fix my master drive partition table and reinstall XP from backup. 3 hours. I reinstalled SuSE – several times because each time it didn’t install correctly, each time for a different reason. I kept thinking about that old saying about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, each time expecting different results. I kept doing the same thing over and over, expecting the same results, and each time it was different. (This is not a Linux slam, as Windows will do the same thing.) I finally blew away those partitions, reformatted them — thank goodness for Partition Magic 8 — and reinstalled. Total time to install SuSE: 3 hours.

I had Mandrake CDs lying around also, so I thought I’d give Mandrake a try. A friend told me that it would probably be an easier install than SuSE, and definitely easier than Fedora. I booted to the install CD, and it complained that it didn’t understand my master drive partition table, but it would be happy to destroy all partitions on that drive and start over. I shut the computer off and unhooked the master drive (I can be taught). Then I tried again. This time it said that it didn’t understand the partition table on my slave drive, but it would be happy to blow that drive away and reformat it. Did I want it to do that? I shut the machine off, hooked the master drive back up, and threw the Mandrake CDs into my “software I’m not playing with anymore” drawer.

Maybe SuSE is enough for now, eh?

So I booted up into SuSE. I figured out how to change my screen resolution and refresh rate to something usable. Not bad so far. Popped an audio CD in the drive…

Techie Talk by Judy @ 5:39 PM

I like WinXP. It’s my OS of choice at this particular time. I have a lot of software that cost me a lot of $ that runs very nicely under XP.

But I like new toys, also, hence my desire to load a couple of Linux distros and play around.

Last night I managed to successfully load SuSE on my seondary drive! YEA! This was after multiple unsuccessful installs the previous night, so I was pretty happy when I saw KDE come up.

I also have Fedora and Mandrake lying around. So, since SuSE went so well, I decided to load Fedora.

It turns out there’s this “feature” in Fedora.

SuSE happily installed itself into the partition where I told it to go. No sweat.

Fedora offered to either wipe out all of my Linux partitions, or, if that wasn’t good enough, to wipe out every partition in my system. I told it no thanks, pointed it at a partition and told it to go there. I also told it to leave my MBR the heck alone and install it’s boot info in its own partition. Fedora wiped out all of my Linux partitions, including my SuSE install, in order to grab everything for itself. Along the way, it messed with the MBR on my master drive and “fixed” that drive’s partition table. Apparently XP sets up the disk geometry a little strangely, and Fedora helpfully changed it back to its own interpretation.

I’m lucky as hell that I was able to boot to XP at all post-Fedora install.

I’ve pulled Fedora off (and it will never blacken my disk again), and will spend this evening fixing my now-invalid partition table.

That has got to be one of the worst-behaved pieces of software I’ve ever had the displeasure to install. However XP set up the partition table, what the hell is it doing messing around with stuff that I told it to leave strictly alone? Regardless of how one feels or doesn’t feel about Microsoft, this kind of behavior is not OK from any software.

From poking around on the net, it appears that this is a general problem right now and also occurs with SuSE and Mandrake dual boots with XP. My SuSE install went OK because I told it where to install and it didn’t need to repartition the drive. Fedora didn’t need to repartition either — it just did anyway.

Political Rants by Judy @ 2:34 PM

From Terence Hunt, AP White House Correspondent in an AP article published in Yahoo:

Bush had agreed in February 2002 that al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were not protected by the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war because they violated the laws of war themselves.

Say WHAT ?????

Thus spake Dubya (this is from the documents themselves):

Our nation recognises that this new paradigm – ushered in not by us, but by terrorists – requires new thinking in the law of war.

I accept the legal conclusion of the attorney general and the Department of Justice that I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva as between the United States and Afghanistan, but I decline to exercise that authority at this time.

This is scary stuff! Very scary. Right down there with the “Patriot” Act. Since when does a President have the legal ability to rescind basic human rights? I don’t care whether it’s war or not. I don’t care how barbarian our “enemy.” We still can be civilized.

Bush and Rumsfeld have both said that the Geneva Conventions do apply in Iraq. And yet Rumsfeld admits to have approving an unspecified number of secret detentions where the International Red Cross was not notified. That’s a Geneva Convention no-no.

From a Justice Department memo dated 01/22/02, written by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee to White House Chief Legal Advisor Alberto Gonzales:

We conclude that neither the federal War Crimes Act nor the Geneva Conventions would apply to the detention conditions of al-Qaeda prisoners.

We also conclude that the president has the plenary constitutional power to suspend our treaty obligations toward Afghanistan during the period of the conflict.

He may exercise that discretion on the basis that Afghanistan was a failed state.

I wonder how we would feel if someone else decided we were a failed state and they could come in, run us over, and ignore the Geneva Conventions as they lock us all up and torture us. Bybee has since become a Federal judge. Isn’t that grand?

Are you scared yet?

Techie Talk by Judy @ 11:10 AM

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley. (That’s Robert Burns, friends.)

Installing Linux is not as easy as it sounds. I installed SuSE multiple times last night. Once it actually installed OK and booted to KDE. But it only booted once and after that I couldn’t boot to anything. So I ran FIXMBR and could then boot to XP, but not to Linux. So I decided to start over again. But I never could get back to that point.

This is the reason why Linux is not on more desktops. When it’s as easy to install and use as Windows then it will spread beyond the enthusiast market.

Techie Talk by Judy @ 6:00 PM

I’m interested in playing around with Linux. I have several different distros laying around and want to install them and start messing around to see what they do. Seems simple enough, right?

So I started out on Friday evening to get ready to install Linux, while attempting to make sure that everything else remained as is.

My computer has two hard drives: A 160 GB drive configured as three partitions (C:, D:, and E:); and a 40 GB drive configured as one partition (F:). C: holds the OS (Win XP right now), D: is where I install non-OS software, and E: has projects, data files, etc. F: is where I stick stuff like new drivers and software delivered via downloading. It’s sort of like a storeroom. Then I have an external USB drive that I use for backup only. The plan was to get an external enclosure to move F: to and get a new 2nd drive to install Linux on. Seems simple enough… Right?

Friday I was at CompUSA for CDs, and while I was there I looked at drives. Sometimes CompUSA can have really killer prices (it’s either that or they’re over-priced – never a happy medium). The Customer Service guy came over while I was looking at the drives. I had a 120 GB Maxtor in my hand. He said that they had a better 200 GB drive for the same $$. And it was a good price. So, who am I to turn down 80 free GB? I took the 200 GB drive home.

Since the new drive was a better drive than my old master drive (C:, D:, and E:, if you’ve been paying attention), I decided to make the new drive the master and clean off the old master to install Linux. So I installed the new drive first as the slave so that I could Ghost the drive images over to it. Since it was on as the slave, XP decided that it was the F: drive — even when I swapped it to master and booted with it. Since XP was installed on the C: drive, this didn’t work very well as you can imagine. Of course one can change the drive letter of every drive except the system drive.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the damned thing to think it was the C: drive. I even wiped the old master drive and reinstalled XP in it so that I could boot to that version of XP and change the designation of the other drive. Which worked just fine – for that installation of XP but not when I rebooted to the new one. I ended up having to change the drive designation in the registry. And then XP complained that it didn’t know if it was a valid copy or a bootleg and refused to boot. But reinstalling XP over the top of itself taught it the error of its ways.

This took up all of Saturday.

On Sunday, what with one thing and another it was late before I got back to it. I had found a cool external enclosure at Fry’s and moved the F: drive to it. So now I was almost ready.

The last thing before installing Linux, of course, was to back up C:, D:, E: and F:, just in case. For some reason Drive Copy started saying it couldn’t see the external drive I use for backup. I could see it fine in Windows Explorer. hmmmm… try something else… Then Ghost complained that there were bad sectors. Uh oh! Then Partition Magic said that the partition size was wrong. Oops! New drive time! Sigh. So, Monday night it was back to CompUSA for a drive. The deals weren’t as good, but I didn’t need as good a drive anyway and they had a good enough price on one. I wanted to shred the data on the old drive. I deleted everything, wrote random 1/0’s over it, deleted the partition. And it died. Dead as a doornail. I had planned to create a new partition, reformat it, and write random 1/0’s over it again several times (it’s got stuff I don’t want to share backed up on it). I tried several times with several methods to reformat it. No go. So I guess I have to consider it good enough.

Everything is now backed up. And tonight I install Linux. I hope.

This is Tuesday, and I expected to be at this point on Saturday. Oh well.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 3:08 PM

After the management change at UserLand, Dave Winer has decided not to continue personally hosting Can’t say I blame him. It must be a thankless, 24×7 job. Very few people would want to do it without help. Very few people would offer continued help without pay.

I can understand the hurt and disappointment of those who had their blogs on It sucks when your host has problems.

My first host (may they rot in hell) warned all its customers that their data center was being moved. What they neglected to tell us was that: (1) There would be no more dedicated IPs, regardless of the fact I paid for one, because all sites were being moved to a virtual sharing arrangement. (2) The easy-to-use menu and normal FTP was being replaced by a piece-of-shit, unusable panel that featured one-at-a-time, slow-as-snot file uploading (so easy to use when one is modifying multiple pages!). (3) Some sites would be down for a long, long time. Of the two sites I hosted with them, one never came back up. The other was up and down, up and down, for two weeks (at which point I pulled out). (4) Sometimes somebody else’s site would come up under my name. That was interesting. (5) When customers started pointing out that they were violating their own contract, they simply removed the agreement from their web site and replaced it with another one. (6) When the going got tough, they’d run like hell for the hills and simply stop answering their phones.

I did eventually get my money back from them. I had to go through their local Chamber Of Commerce, which was a route several of us took. It helped that I had a cached copy of their original agreement to send to the COC.

My next host had the unfortunate luck to have the backbone they connected to run under the World Trade Center. 09/11 was not a happy day for them. Unlike host # 1, however, they were perfectly willing to work with their customers, but they didn’t know when they’d be able to get back up again. I felt bad, because they were nice guys and had worked with me through a couple of sticky problems. But I had to go elsewhere. Again, unlike host # 1, host # 2 refunded my money with only a minimum of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Now I use They’ve been stable, honest and helpful and I feel I’m getting good value for my money.

Note that I paid for all of these hosting accounts. Since #1 Son was in his first band, I’ve paid for multiple sites. Right now I’m paying for four. (Anybody want to buy I’ll sell cheap!)

So, while I feel bad for the bloggers, still… they had four years of free hosting. That’s a pretty darn good deal in this day and age. I would never trust a free host to remain free.

And… you get what you pay for.

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