Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Wing Chun Dummy and Stand

With the help of my friend, Khan, we assembled a stand to mount my Wing Chun dummy on. It took a Sunday afternoon and about $250 in materials. I'm really happy with the result and I think it looks pretty good too.



For the stand, I used the plans found here.

Build your own desk with just a power drill and iron.

I've been itching to try to build my own computer desk, but I'm a total newbie when it comes to woodworking. I haven't done anything since probably middle school shop class, but it's something I wanted to try. I went to the local hardware/lumber store and bought myself some wood which I got the store to cut to size. I bought pre-built legs and just made the table top. The main thing I wanted was to have a way to conceals all the cables on my desk while still having easy access.

I used a power drill to make the holes for the wood dowels that holds the top of the table to the side supports. The top is plywood so it has that rough edge which is covered with wood edge strips that you use an iron to fuse it to the wood. Since it is real wood, you can stain it like the rest wood and have a smooth edge.

It took me about an afternoon to put this all together, but the staining took another 3 days as I had to wait for it all to dry, but for my first effort I'm pretty satisfied. :-)
Homemade Desk

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Restoring My Linux drive

Last week, while I was using my Linux machine the windows manager crashed. Menu bar disappeared, programs shut down, kaput... When I rebooted, it told me during the file system check that something was wrong and that was it. No more booting.

Fedora is a little annoying because during boot up it doesn't show you the start up message unless you hit F8 although the message didn't really help since it said that it couldn't find the UUID of the drive which can be misleading. Most posts on it talks about how UUID mismatches between your /etc/fstab and the actual drive's UUID causes the message. For me, that wasn't the case since what happened was that Linux was unable to find the drive, but the message along with "Result: hostbyte=DID_BAD_TARGET driverbyte=DRIVER_OK" in the dmesg log did help me figure out that the problem was with a particular drive (I have two in the linux box).

My first guess was that that partition table was corrupted, but I couldn't use any standard utility to fix it since Linux couldn't mount the drive at all. I feared that it was a hardware failure and I'd have lost all my data (I had an older backup, but prefer to rescue the most recent data if I could). I take out the drive and replaced it with a new drive, booted it up with a rescue disk and recreated the partitions that was on the drive. Initially, the system didn't see the drive and for a moment I thought, "Oh no, don't tell me the controller board is fried 'cause that means having to buy a new motherboard." Calmness prevailed and I realized that I put in a new drive and my motherboard most likely didn't support 3 Gb/sec SATA drive. I put in the jumper that put the drive at 1.5Gb/sec and the system recognized the new drive. That allowed me to boot up the machine again.

Next thing was to see if I can rescue the data on the drive. I put the old drive into an external USB enclosure and plugged it into the Linux box. No dice, Linux still couldn't do anything with it. I then plugged it into a macbook that had macfuse and support for ext2/ext3 file system and the data partitions came up! Now I wanted to copy over the data as quickly as I can in case the drive really fails, but OSX was pretty crappy at it. It would stop or complain and couldn't get through the copying for various reasons including that it isn't a case sensitive file system and so when it runs into errors it would abort the whole copy.

Reformatted my portable backup drive to be case sensitive and used rsync instead. Once I copied all the files over, I plugged the USB drive into my linux box to restore the files. Of course, Fedora boots into the GUI interface and I needed to copy the files over first so that the GUI can boot in correctly. Fedora won't let you boot into the GUI as root so you'll have to be at the machine and using CTRL-ALT-2, go into the console and log in.

I was then able to copy over all my files and get back to work!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Snake oil salesman.

It's fascinating to me how some salesmen can spin words to make the a bad situation sound wonderful and they can do it with a straight face. Take, for example, the sales pitch that comes from Summerhill's blog (a bay area home builder) which disguises itself as an informational site but is really a commercial.

In one article, they are reporting that the real estate market has turned around. The message is clear: better buy their houses now as they are flying off the self! For "evidence", they use their own sales figures such as how they've sold 14 out of 30 homes... over 12+ months. So that's a rate of about one a months, so hurry up before another 16 months go by and the last house is gone.

Notice that they they spin the words so that it says "40% sold out". What does it mean to have 16 houses available but is 14 houses sold out?

Seriously, though, do they really think consumers are that stupid?!? Do they really think that we don't know what these terms really mean?

Temporarily sold out - The market is bad and so we stopped construction and there is nothing to buy.
Next sales release – We don't have anything to sale now but give us some money and encourage friends to give us money and we might give you something in the future.
Priority list – Please, for the love of green points, please just say you're interested.
Sold Out – We’re sorry but there are no more homes of this plan or this community available for sale by us, but there are 16 other similar plans next to it that isn't sold out.