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Linux Hard Disk Issue - Excessive Load_Cycle_Count

Prologue: My 2 year old laptop's harddisk had died a few weeks ago, and I replaced it with a Seagate Momentus 5400.3 160GB SATA Drive. I have been running only Linux for a long time on my laptop. (Running Ubuntu Intrepid at present)While trying to ascertain the cause of this premature death, I came to notice the abnormally high Load_Cycle_Count. This can be checked using smartmontools by issuing the command sudo smartctl -n standby -a /dev/sdawhere /dev/sda has to be replaced with the appropriate disk name. The option -n ensures that if the disk is already in standby, smartctl doesn't wake it up. A little bit of Googling returned quite a lot of stuffs about this issue. Laptop Harddisks, in order to improve power efficiency while on battery, have quite aggressive power management features by default. Now this is not really bad. When the disk is not accessed for sometime it spins down itself. So far so good, the disk stops spinning unnecessarily thereby cutting down power consum…

Evolution Of A Linux User

A message taken from Kulua mailing list.
From - Tue Dec 14 13:22:38 1999 Received: from kuhub.cc.ku.edu by lark.cc.ku.edu (8.8.7/1.1.8.2/12Jan95-0207PM) id PAA0000031643; Mon, 13 Dec 1999 15:07:29 -0600 (CST) Received: from DIRECTORY-DAEMON by KUHUB.CC.KU.EDU (PMDF V5.2-32 #39821) id <01JJGH1JNK6800TMXQ@KUHUB.CC.KU.EDU>; Mon, 13 Dec 1999 15:07:27 CST (UTC -06:00) Received: from violet.jayhawks.net ("port 1826"@violet.jayhawks.net [24.124.24.226]) by KUHUB.CC.KU.EDU (PMDF V5.2-32 #39821) with ESMTP id <01JJGH1G9GT400TIKN@KUHUB.CC.KU.EDU>; Mon, 13 Dec 1999 15:07:23 -0600 (UTC -06:00) Received: (from listserv@localhost) by violet.jayhawks.net (8.9.3/8.9.3) id PAA19912; Mon, 13 Dec 1999 15:06:33 -0600 Resent-date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 15:06:33 -0600 Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 15:06:20 -0600 (CST) Resent-from: kulua-l@kulua.org From: Jeffrey Watts Subject: Evolution Of A Linux User [LONG] Resent-sender: kulua-l-request@kulua.org To: KULUA List Reply-to: kulua-l@kulua.org Res…

Mumbai Nov 2008 Terror Attacks

"Terror attack on Mumbai" -- this is the headline on every news channel, be it Indian or foreign since the last few days. People seem to have got accustomed to indiscriminate killings and bombings every now and then, terror attacks have become almost a part of our daily life. Some discussion about the need to combat terror after every attack, some blame-game and finally everything settles down. Everything returns back to normal, until another attack kills a few hundred more. The cycle then repeats. People blames the Govt. for being ineffective, state Govt. will blame center, center will put the blame on state, both will then blame neighboring countries. The drama soon gets over, people forget the incident, Govt. forgets the culprits and things move on.
Go to a mall, restaurant, railway station or board a train, you never know the next moment you might be blown up in several pieces or reduced to ashes. We just hope we are lucky enough not to meet that fate. Each time a massacr…

Setting up local Ubuntu & Debian mirror using apt-mirror

Prologue: Our institute was moving to it's new campus. For a central Govt. run research institute, the huge land requirements forced it to be located quite far off from the city. It is a remote place around 50km from Kolkata, WB, India. Leased line internet connectivity is there in the Institute, but there was a "rumour" that internet connectivity will not be provided in the student's hostel. There is a large number of Ubuntu and Debian GNU/Linux users among the students. Whether the rumour was true or not, I could not have taken any chance. I had a spare 60GB Seagate USB HDD. It was big enough to hold the main, universe, multiverse and restricted packages for Intrepid and the main, contrib and non-free packages for Lenny. In addition to that I also mirrored a few other extra stuffs. We had a about a month to go, before we left for the new campus, so I set out for finishing the job before that. Ofcourse the biggest hurdle was bandwidth. We had a 2Mbit/s ADSL link in …

Some more fun with SSH port forwarding and socks proxy

Few days ago I made the following post:

Prologue: Our Institute has several nice Dual Core Machines deployed for the students. Unfortunately the machines are behind a NAT with no port forwarded for external SSH access. Student's hostel is a bit far off from the computational centre. As such if someone felt the need of accessing the machines during non-office hours, it was a wee bit difficult. The sysadmin would not have agreed to forward any ports. Something had to be done....

SSH has a very useful feature - Remote and Local Port Forwarding. We have an old rickety PIII running Ubuntu 8.04.1 in the Hostel, it is connected to the net and is accessible via SSH from the internet. Using a tiny little shell script running on one of the machines in the Institute, I managed to make the old PIII an intermediate gateway for gaining SSH access to the Institute's machines from anywhere in the internet. The script is of few lines, but nevertheless powerful enough to serve our purpose.

#!/bin/…

XHTML 1.0 Standards - who cares?

It has been quite a few days, since I started Blogging. On the source code of my blog, it was proudly proclaimed <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-⁄⁄W3C⁄⁄DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict⁄⁄EN" "http:⁄⁄www.w3.org⁄TR⁄xhtml1⁄DTD⁄xhtml1-strict.dtd">
I rushed off to W3C Markup Validator . The fist run showed up 437 errors! Quite high a number it was. Most of them were petty errors like unencoded ampersands in URLs, improper comments and the like. It is true, the extremely demanding XHTML 1.0 Strict standards sometimes becomes too much for web designers, but no one forces a designer to declare <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-⁄⁄W3C⁄⁄DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict⁄⁄EN" "http:⁄⁄www.w3.org⁄TR⁄xhtml1⁄DTD⁄xhtml1-strict.dtd"> either. If Google Blogger is so keen to show off its "XHTML 1.0 Strict" compliance, then it should take up the responsibility that it remains true to its words. Simply asserting some compliance and then relying on the browser to do the rest of the hard wo…

Snapshots of my room in IISERK Hostel

... Neat and tidy .. isn't it ?
At the bottom of the rack (in the first pic) you can see Oak - our unofficial webserver, fileserver and network router for the hostel. On the table lies Mars - my Torrent Downloader and Music Player. It doubles up as a local mirror for some websites of our Institute's LAN. On the table also lies Pluto my almost always-on Compaq Presario V3018TU. All of them runs some flavor or the other of Ubuntu GNU/Linux. Oak and Mars runs Hardy Heron 8.04.1 LTS while Pluto runs Intrepid Ibex 8.10.

Fun with SSH Remote Port Forwarding

Prologue: Our Institute has several nice Dual Core Machines deployed for the students. Unfortunately the machines are behind a NAT with no port forwarded for external SSH access. Student's hostel is a bit far off from the computational centre. As such if someone felt the need of accessing the machines during non-office hours, it was a wee bit difficult. The sysadmin would not have agreed to forward any ports. Something had to be done....

SSH has a very useful feature - Remote and Local Port Forwarding. We have an old rickety PIII running Ubuntu 8.04.1 in the Hostel, it is connected to the net and is accessible via SSH from the internet. Using a tiny little shell script running on one of the machines in the Institute, I managed to make the old PIII an intermediate gateway for gaining SSH access to the Institute's machines from anywhere in the internet. The script is of few lines, but nevertheless powerful enough to serve our purpose.

#!/bin/bash
while [ 1 ]; do
ssh -C -o ServerAliv…

Changing the favicon for your blog

People who are not happy with the Orange and White Blogger favicon, can use their own instead. First create a 48 X 48 px image using Gimp or whatever software you prefer. Save the image as a .ico file, say myicon.ico. Upload the image to some webhost like Google Pages or Geocities (Picasa WebAlbum doesn't accept .ico files).
Next go to your Blogger DashBoard --> Layout --> Edit HTML.
Locate the line <head>
After the line insert the code-
<link href="http://imagelocation/myicon.ico" rel="icon">.
Replace http://imagelocation with your webhost's address. Save the template. The job is done. Refresh your Blog page, your own icon will appear instead of Blogger's.

Adding Social Bookmarking links like Digg, Delicious etc. in Blogger

With a little tinkering of the HTML code of the Blogger template, it is very easy to insert social bookmarking links like Digg, Delicious, Technorati etc. so that readers can directly bookmark the Blog post.
To add these links:
Go to your Blogger Dashboard, Click Layout --> Edit HTML. Then check - Expand Widget Templates
Search for the line: post-footer-line
Just after the line, add the following code:
<p/>Add to: <a expr:href='"http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=" + data:post.url + "&title=" + data:post.title' target='_blank'><img HEIGHT='20' WIDTH='50' src='http://lh4.ggpht.com/sambitbikaspal/SPAyI0pMJYI/AAAAAAAAAm0/THLvsaJKvJo/s144/digg-logo.gif'/></a> <a expr:href='"http://del.icio.us/post?url=" + data:post.url + "&title=" + data:post.title' target='_blank'><img HEIGHT='20' WIDTH='75' src='http://lh6.ggpht.com/sambitbikaspal…

Rendering LaTeX in Blogger.

Rendering LaTeX in Blogger is pretty easy thanks to the JavaScript LaTeX equation render engine from http://www.yourequations.com.
To enable LaTeX rendering go to the Blogger Dashboard --> Layout --> Edit HTML . Then add the line
<script> type="text/javascript" src="http://tex.yourequations.com/"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://tex.yourequations.com/"></script>
just before <body/>. Half the job is now done.
Then, for example to render:
\int_{0}^{\pi}\frac{x^{4}\left(1-x\right)^{4}}{1+x^{2}}dx =\frac{22}{7}-\pi
Use the code:
<pre lang="eq.latex">
\int_{0}^{1}\frac{x^{4}\left(1-x\right)^{4}}{1+x^{2}}dx
=\frac{22}{7}-\pi
</pre>
The LaTeX code will now be displayed as:
\int_{0}^{1}\frac{x^{4}\left(1-x\right)^{4}}{1+x^{2}}dx=\frac{22}{7}-\pi
Ofcourse Javascript needs to be enabled in the Browser for the renderer to work.

Durga Puja 2008

Photographs taken with Sony DSC W130 DigiCam, during the Durga Puja 2008 at Kharagpur.
Durga Puja is an autumn festival celebrated widely, mainly in the states of WestBengal and Tripura in India in honour of the Hindu Goddess Maa Durga.


Some snippets about Verisign's Personal Identity Portal

Recently I stumbled upon Verisign's Personal Identity Portal - pip.verisignlabs.com. Though still in Beta, I found it immensely impressive as an all-in-one Personal Identity Management Service.
It has a cool feature named One-Click Sign In, which allows signing in to a host of websites including Google, Yahoo, Flickr, Youtube among many others. The login credentials for the respective sites are required to be submitted. These will be encrypted using the users passkey. The only caveat for this excellent service is that one has to take Verisign's word for it, when it comes to security and privacy of the login credentials. Having trusted Verisign fully with one's secrets, all that is required is Bookmarking the One-Click sign-in link provided after submission of the credentials. Clicking on the bookmark leads to a list of the added sites, clicking on any of the sites directly signs the user in, ofcourse one has to be signed in to pip.verisignlabs.com prior to that.
Another feat…

Why the name - Bot Cyborg ?

The name of the blog followed the name of the domain I had registered. I was interested in the domain hack - cyb.org . Unfortunately it was already registered by someone. Looking for an alternative I registered botcyb.org . As one of my friends has correctly said, the domain name sounds as if it belongs to some spam bot :D . The blog was named just after the domain name.

Why blog?

A few days ago I was caught up in a discussion on this topic with one of my friends. Personally I was ( and still am ) somewhat against the idea of writing blogs. Naturally when I have set out writing my first blog, I've got to justify atleast myself why I am doing so.
Prologue:
I had been maintaining a tiny personal website on Googlepages. Coming to know about Google's decision to phase out their Googlepages service and replacing it with Google Sites, I started looking out for some other reliable but free host. I didn't find Google Sites very appealing. It doesn't allow hosting of custom HTML pages. Being a student shelling out bucks for paid hosting would have hurt my pocket a lot. Unfortunately most free webhosts will litter the page with crappy and tasteless ads. Yahoo! Geocities' free hosting was a good compromise.
Temporarily I moved my site to http://www.geocities.com/sammy_pal123 but was not very happy (somewhat happy to speak the truth) with it either as it d…