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Jun 272009
 

Last night I was unable to sleep due to several things that were going through my mind. The ruckus going on in my apartment around 5:30 AM convinced me that I would be unable to sleep even if I tried. So to clear up my mind and I to tire myself out ( so that I could sleep later) I packed my road bike in the back of my car and headed out to Oak Mountain State Park. I reached there around 6:15 AM and was surprised to see that several other cyclists were in the middle of their workouts already.

If we start biking at the park entrance, a bike route goes 7 miles before you have to turn around. Now as I was on the last downhill towards the end of this 7 mile route, I noticed a tiny tortoise in the middle of the road, utterly confused. There were quite a few cars, trucks and campers passing along that road and its quite likely that if the tortoise had run out of luck, it would have been run over by some automobile. I was going at nearly 30 mph on the downhill and it was impossible for me to stop suddenly. So I went ahead and finished the ~0.2 mile descent and turned around as fast as I could. I was afraid that some vehicle was going to crush that tiny little tortoise before I got to it. So I pedaled as hard and fast as I could and was slightly relieved when I saw the toroise still trying to decide where it wanted to go.

As soon as I reached next tot he tortoise, I threw my bike on the gravel by the road and sprinted to the middle of the road and picked it up and brought it to the side.

Here are some pictures of the tortoise I took on my cell phone camera once I brought it safely to the side of the road.

It refused to even take its head and feet out of the shell at first.

It refused to even take its head and feet out of the shell at first.

Here is the angle from its tummy. No signs of feet or head still.

Here is the tummy angle. No signs of feet or head still.

Finally it realized that I meant no hard and it slowly emerged from its shell and looked at me with its tiny red eyes.

Finally it realized that I meant no harm and it slowly emerged from its shell and looked at me with its tiny red eyes.

It looked so cute, I wanted to wrap it in my towel and toss it into my backpack and bring it home as my pet. But then reason took over. The state park, and some of it’s water bodies was this tortoises home. This is where it belonged. Sure I would pamper it and take good care of it. But having a tortoise is a lifelong commitment. They have a life span of around 100 years or so. The answers to these questions were clear. I wasn’t ready for a pet that would outlive me. More importantly, taking it away from its home and its own ecosystem was not the right thing to do. Even though I had saved it from getting crushed underneath a vehicle, it didn’t give me the right to own a creature that was meant to live free. So with a heavy heart I did what I believe was the right thing to do:¬† set it free in a safer place than the side of the road.

Tortoise set free into its own habitat.

Tortoise set free into its own habitat.

And it slowly walked away from me, back into the wilderness where it belonged.

And it slowly walked away from me, back into the wilderness where it belonged.

I know I would never see this tortoise ever again, but the memories will stay with me for a long long time. The sight of this creature walking away slowly was one of the finest sights I’ve had for the past several months.

This thought of having saved a little tortoise soon helped clear out all my thoughts that were keeping me up last night. With my mind all clear, I went on to do 6 laps of this 7 mile route, completing 42 miles in about 2:40 hours. Then I got back home and slept peacefully for the entire afternoon.

So this is the story. I guess the act of saving an animal helps me reclaim some of the green karma points I have lost on account of buying a SUV. I still have a long way to go to bring my green karma points out of the red, but every step counts and this was a pretty big one I suppose.

Jun 262009
 

Since the analog TV signals have been discontinued in most cases throughout the country, the only way to catch TV signals is to have TV which can capture and process digital transmission, or if you subscribe to cable. Since I’m not too terribly interested in watching TV, there was no point in investing in a new TV and subscribing to cable was totally out of the question. The option then was to get the reception on my desktop computer.

The solution was to get a cheap ATSC tuner which plugged into the USB port and which had a loop antenna for reception.

ATSC digital Tuner Antenna

ATSC digital Tuner Antenna

The antenna plugs into the USB port through a TV tuner card. The one I own is an Artec tuner card. I learned after I purchased it that it didn’t have support in Linux yet. Schade!

ATSC USB tuner for tuning digital TV reception

ATSC USB tuner for tuning digital TV reception

Once the hardware is setup is complete, we can get the local TV station information through Windows Media Center. That program pleasantly surprised me. After asking you for your zip code, it connects to a database and gets the TV schedules for all broadcast stations in your city. Then it scans for available channels and sets up a list of stations with their programming schedule.

Options seen under Windows Media Center, including one for Live TV.

Options seen under Windows Media Center, including one for Live TV.

You can either watch recorded shows or watch Live TV.

You can either watch recorded shows or watch Live TV.

Windows Media Center Live TV in action.

Windows Media Center Live TV in action.

Once Windows Media Center has scanned for the available channels, you can watch HDTV right on your own computer. In addition to being a TV tuner, Windows Media Center converts you computer into a DVR, where you can record programs or Pause and Rewind the shows that you are watching in real time. Pretty impressive stuff. Whats more impressive is that the equipment costed less than $30, that includes shipping.

Unfortunately the Artec card can’t be used within Linux since the kernel still hasn’t incorporated the hardware specs of Artec USB tuners¬† in video4linux (v4l). But I’m pretty sure it will be available pretty soon.

Jun 252009
 

In order to find the exact address maps and to see a list of devices attached to different ports one can use:

sudo lshw

This outputs the hardware specs to the terminal. However in order to check the detailed specs in a graphical format, we need to use the lshw-gtk command. Before you do that, you first need to install it using:

sudo apt-get install lshw-gtk

Then running the lshw-gtk as sudo brings up the list of hardware that you can browse through. It is similar to checking the hardware information from Windows’ control panel.

List detailed hardware specs under linux: lshw-gtk

List detailed hardware specs under linux: lshw-gtk

That’s it. It provides you with relevant information about your processor, memory, display cards, and also some information about the devices connected to USB ports. A quite handy tool for Linux.

Jun 242009
 

The upcoming release of Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) is in its Alpha 2 stage at the moment. One outcome of having an alpha released installed on your machine is the massive amounts of daily updates – with a major kernel update every once in a while. Things were going pretty smooth with the Karmic Koala until it was on 2.6.30-9 kernel.

Just this morning, there were a bunch of updates listed in the update manager. Among the things that were in line for the upgrade was a brand new kernel, 2.6.30-10. The updating process itself went pretty well. Then when it was time to restart, I picked the newly updated kernel from the Grub expecting nothing unusual.

Booting options after updating to kernel 2.6.30.10

Booting options after updating to kernel 2.6.30-10

After selecting Kernel 2.6.30-10, all I got was a green screen and the computer refused to do anything past that point. The only alternative was to restart and boot with the 2.6.30-9 kernel which I am currently using to make this post.

Ubuntu Karmic Koala (Kernel 2.6.30.10): Green Screen Of Death

Ubuntu Karmic Koala (Kernel 2.6.30-10): Green Screen Of Death

It not something one sees that often with Linux distros. I saw it today!

P.S.: The newer kernel 2.6.30-10 has been fixed. It boots and functions normally now.