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Category: Veracity (Page 1 of 3)

Change out your Mint hard drive to an SSD hard drive

So new SSD drives are sexy, and now pretty good in terms of reliability. And the prices are down, too.

I use Linux Mint Rebecca 17.1 for my work machine. I had two 500g hard drives, dual booted with grub2. So this is how I swapped out my Linux drive to an SSD. Why? For games dude, why else?

I plugged in the Crucial 256g SSD drive to the system and booted into Windows 7 from the grub boot loader menu.

I installed Acronis, a drive migration and backup tool, which came with the Crucial SSD drive. I downloaded it off the web per the enclosed instructions.

I then used Acronis to copy the Linux drive to the Crucial SSD drive.

Then I shut everything down and rebooted off of a DVD (or USB drive) into a Linux Mint live distro.

Once booted, I ran Gparted and copied the UUID of the new Crucial SSD Drive.

I ran Gedit as root and edited the grub boot menu text file on the Crucial SSD Drive, replacing the UUID of the first couple menu entries with the Crucial SSD drive UUID from Gparted.

I shut down and removed the DVD, and rebooted. Your system should reboot to the boot loader menu.  I then selected Linux and booted all the way into the SSD drive Mint Linux desktop.

I opened up a terminal as root and ran update-grub to finish out my grub menu updating.


I looked at using clonezilla in Linux and DD from the command line, but your partitions need to be the same size or larger on the target drive, and I am way too lazy to deal with that!

4th of July

So citizen, what does 4th of July mean to you? What will you do? Hopefully you will think about our nation and it’s direction. I am becoming cynical of our future. I don’t like being cynical.

Health care: If you think we have great health care, you are immersed in a dream. Wake up. Overall our health care is too expensive, limited to those who can afford it and behind other countries in terms of management and modernization.

We need change. If you make it to 75, your health care should be free going forward. Personally, I think that if you are breathing, your health care ought to be free at the point of sale. You pay into an account while you are working – a flat 2% or some other number. No deductions, no discounts etc. A normed flat tax per income would help.

Political systems: Get lobbyists out. Get term limits in. Look at Mitch McConnell. I rest my case right there.

Energy: Don’t be an idiot. You cannot see carbon monoxide, but it will kill you dead. Who told us about it? Scientists did. So what they are telling us now is that we are cooking the planet. The planet cannot evolve fast enough to accommodate us and our pollution. Check the math. We need to get serious about alternate forms of energy. Clean coal technology is a myth. Energy from algae is a myth. People will say we have to protect jobs in the coal industry. Really? Tell that to all the businesses killed by Wal Mart, all the small farms gobbled up by corporations, and all the dairy farms gone under this last 10 years. Tell that to the furniture manufacturing industry.

Privacy: everything is fine in a car until someone dies in an accident. No seat belt, no airbags, speeding and on and on. Everything is fine with firearms until there is tragic event. So it is with privacy. Once your information is compromised, good luck. It’s too late. So take privacy seriously. This stuff with the NSA is troubling. Oh, but congress will sort it out. Like they have on everything else? Two words for congress: you’re fired.

So why am I ranting about this? Because fixing everything above won’t fix us: you and me. We have to give a damn. We have to write a letter, make a phone call, attend a rally or protest, something. It’s our job as a citizen. It’s not a hotel: it’s a nation. It’s us, folks.

Politicians’ spend crazy money on campaigns to win because they know that is the only time they need care about you and me. They bank on the fact that as long as we have Doritos and beer and Nascar, we won’t do a darn thing.

The last good run at politics as usual was the wall street protest movement. But in classic fashion, all the politicians and press painted it as youth wanting a free lunch. Thank you professional journalists, you are so valuable. “Houston we have a problem” is what they should have been reporting. Watch the documentaries of how no one is in jail for the mortgage backed securities and derivatives that were sold unethically. Watch “Inside Job” some night with your Doritos.

I dare you. I double dare you.



Studies of stupidity

So I don’t usually rant, but today I’ll make an exception.

Many many studies are showing that texting, talking, fiddling with a device, drinking, eating, exercising and on and on can be dangerous while driving. Thank you in flight rocket scientists of the world.

I’ll go way way out on a limb and predict that texting, exercising, drinking, smoking, playing the pan flute while diffusing an atom bomb may also be dangerous.

Listening to creed blaring loudly while castrating a lion may also be dangerous.

Accidentally waking a sleeping Kodiak Bear in a small dark cave while wearing a protective suit of honey and meat as a result of texting on a noisy smartphone keyboard may also be dangerous.

Punching an Orca Killer Whale in the eye accidentally with your blackberry while texting under water and then snapping a photo of the inside of his stomach may also be dangerous.

Cutting limbs off a tree with a chainsaw in one hand while texting your wife with a smartphone, accidentally snapping a photo of your moments before severed leg may be dangerous. You could fall on your own leg, driving it right through your chest.

Aren’t these things self evident? Let’s focus, people.


Osprey shortcomings?

A few weeks ago, in one of my rants, I mentioned the fact that I thought the Osprey was a craft conceived by a crazy person. This article is about a patent for a new tilt wing to replace Osprey type aircraft. It is presented as a better idea, in light of the fact that the Osprey has no backup if one engine is fails (or more accurately, if it loses a rotor).

Osprey replacement article

These ideas make my head hurt.

You build airframes based on requirements (one would hope). But which requirement is a priority? How about survivability?

So you put many motors around a circular frame, like a bicycle wheel. You sling the payload underneath. Motors can pivot independently outwards slightly for forward thrust. Their rpm can be regulated. If you lose one or two. the remaining adjust their position on the wheel, to redistribute the load equally. This cannot be any more complicated than a tilt rotor, right?

I’m just saying…

Time to think

Recently, I joined the ranks of the unemployed. I still own a small company, but my day job has finally ended. it is kind of a bummer and kind of a relief. When you work states away from your boss, you don’t get a farewell lunch or plaque. You get a mailing address for returning all your stuff.

I do have more time to think now. Lots of time to ponder my situation, the past, the future, and everything in between.

I hear many people give their opinion of the Wall Street protests. “They want a handout” is a common phrase. If student loans are too high, it doesn’t matter. The students are the ones who accepted them. They have a choice. I hear this over and over. But it skips over the real issues of tuition costs skyrocketing, back breaking loans, and the real possibility of no job at graduation. There are so many issues like this wrapped up in the protests: Tax system unfair – lobbyists have all the power – congress is ineffectual – education costs are out of control – wall street killed our economy, but it did not kill wall street. I could go on and on.

Man, many Americans are just not sympathetic. And if they get their news from FOX, they leave their brain at the door. I just don’t think it is as simple as that.

People in these protests are mad, because they have seen too much in terms of not being fair and a lack of transparency. They have seen their vote amount to nothing. The rich wall street elite have more of a vote. The situation is not fair, and this gets to the hart of the matter. If you can afford a lobbyist, you can buy votes. It’s just that simple. If you are rich, you are insulated, perhaps. But you should at least pay a share of the taxes. A fair share. Of course, we idolize those who beat the system. Well, we did…

If Saddam would have had effective lobbyists, we would be up to our ears in cheap oil. Same with Gadaffi. We’d be swimming in it. Global warming be be damned. But no, we had to go to war. Let’s get physical.

We certainly did not need to invade Iraq. If you still cling to this idea, get help. We had two no fly zones over Iraq, so dangerous we engaged and destroyed our own helicopters on several occasions as a result of mistaken identity. We had every clandestine agency of world wide capability in there looking everywhere. Yet Saddam was creating a delivery vehicle that would hit Europe? Really? So what. Ever hear of the Tokyo fire raids in WWII? The Dresden fire raids? We now have weapons that make these bonfires look like Boy Scouts learning to make fire. We could have gone down this road instead of an invasion.

We did not need to invade Afghanistan either. Make a statement there? Yes, definitely. Something insanely ugly. But we certainly did not need to stay. Now, as soon as we leave, Afghanistan will fold like a house of cards. You heard it here first.

Anyone anywhere who understands our political system, our love of money, our self absorbed character, and our self imposed image of grandeur understands the leverage and power of effective lobbyists.

Unfortunately, you and I cannot afford lobbyists. It is beyond interplanetary for us. And we are invisible to them.

“But who will do all the research and brief our representatives?”. Gosh, maybe they could do that themselves with a staff?

Our political friends in Congress get a pretty good pension for not too much time served. Also, a majority are millionaires. If you are not a millionaire when you enter the Congress, you are almost assured you will be by the time you leave. Inside deals, with information we are not privy to, are made by our representatives daily. Ouch. How about a crumb for the little people?

Or maybe just some intelligent legislation?

Memorial Day in the present

Here we are at another Memorial Day. Pretty much everywhere you will see celebrations of gratitude. Churches will ask veterans to stand for a moment during the service. Parades will be packed with vehicles and veterans of previous conflicts.

I always think of the people who never made it home. Some of them were volunteers. Many were draftees fulfilling their obligation. A few were running from trouble. What they all had in common is that they all thought they would return home. These were young men and women who for the most part imagined their deployment would be a brief interlude in what would surely be a long life. Some believed in the cause of the time, while others just believed in service to the nation, or to go along with their friends and get their obligation over safely. We can all identify with them in some respect. They are all gone. They will not return home alive. Some will not return home at all.

Then I think of current events. I think of all the people deployed to our two fronts. I think about it too long, and I get irritated.

Our nation is good at many things. One of those things is apathy. It is an apathy about the services and their hardships. People are even tired of hearing about the hardships. After all, we are talking about volunteers. “We didn’t make them join the service.” That is true. But we elect our government, and that government influences what happens to our military. And frankly, those we elect don’t get it most of the time. They never served or deployed.

Life in the service is a voluntary life of sacrifice. Even in the best non-conflict circumstances, it can be a difficult life for the service member and the family. You experience dangerous training deployments, high stress situations, and personal strife from long deployments. I know everyone experiences stress in their lives. I am just saying the average service member’s fun meter is usually pegged a little bit more than a civilian.

When you send a person into a shooting war, and they spend some time there, they change. Most of the time, they change a great deal. Don’t take my word for it, do some research. I was never in a shooting war, but I have been around more than a few folks who have. Men and women. They change.

Our manpower numbers are so thin that we are putting our military through an out of control machine of deployments. The same people deploy over and over. You go for months deployed, then a year or so home, then back, then home, and on and on. Change upon change upon change. Over time we have accrued all these professional warriors who like being deployed more than being home. But then we sweep them out like so much dust and dirt. They get therapy in bucket loads, but they are out. Their identity is gone. Sorry, we need the money.

We reduce costs by reducing manpower. It is the quickest way a corporation can raise cash in house. Our Military is no different. “The missions have changed” or “our strategic threats have changed” etc. Sure they have. But while we reduce manpower, we continue to buy unnecessary vehicles, systems, doctrine, and support. I will cite the V-22 Osprey as one example. What madman dreamed that aircraft up? “We need speed, more lift, etc, due to our threats”. Is it cheaper than two helicopters? One Osprey’s fly away cost is 67 million dollars today. The workhorse in Afghanistan is still the Chinook. Fly away cost 37 Million. The Chinook seats more troops, can lift 50,000 lbs which is only 10K less than the Osprey, and is definitely slower. As for the speed issue, the latest Sikorsky experimental helicopter is in the 400 mph range, comparable to the Osprey. My point in droning about all this is we are paying twice as much for more complexity, an unproven over time design, and less troop capacity. Ouch.

Which leads me to the point of all this. Our military is stretched too thin. In 2009, the Army had 548,000 active duty. With a mission to bring in over 80,000 new soldiers per year, the force is 1/7 untrained and unprepared to fight. Since a percentage is always leaving, meaning they don’t fight all the way up until the day they muster out, there is another hefty number not able to fight. Ouch. And since not everyone in the Army is a shooter, but may be a supporter at home in an office, this cuts the availability of a fighting force even more.

Is the answer more brigades? This is the structure the Army is adopting, the modular brigade concept. Brigades cost big money by any estimate. The GAO estimates 3 to 4 brigades and 3 headquarters of approximately 20,000 soldiers (brigades and headquarters combined) would cost about 2 billion annually. There is no free lunch, unfortunately. The Osprey’s cost is at 27 BILLION as of 2008. Think about that. That’s more than a few brigades.

A soldier can be trained to do many many things. They are cheaper, more flexible, and the rate of return is greater for your money. The more you have, the easier it is to do things. A soldier can run, climb, swim, think, and sacrifice. It’s all about boots, especially in today’s up close and personal combat situations. That is the one lesson we haven’t learned from previous conflicts.

So when you see all the nice and impressive vehicles and aircraft at the parade, look close. You will see a soldier somewhere. He or she will look tired, and bored. They have changed permanently, and they are waiting to go back. Because they know it’s coming, and there’s no one else to go.

Rockets in the Spring

When your hobby is building and flying airplanes, helicopters, and general kid/man stuff, winter is the time for preparation. It is a time when goofy ideas begin to turn into visions within our grasp.
Right now, in the Rineyville Skunkworks, we are getting ready for the next chapter of aviation. But more on that later. This is where and how it all started…

The Day of the Underwear.

In Vine Grove Kentucky, we had a little tradition.
Every 4th of July, to celebrate the birth of our great nation,
we launched a pair of underwear into outer space.

Equipment on Pad 13 (we spared no expense)

The Launch Vehicle (just like you would see at NASA)

The Payload, complete with special re-entry coating

The Flight Ain’t she a beauty! Up, Up, And Away!

Another small step for man…a giant leap for Kentucky. And,
another pair of underwear into outer space!

This year, possibly in April, we will make the aviation community cringe again. We will launch the sacred Saturn V Rocket (almost complete):

Launch it, we will, with the mighty launch controller:

And of course, the finale will be the space underwear launch (candidate yet to be chosen). We have begun construction of the launch vehicle. Stay tuned.

Government in Healthcare…ok, but…

I used to think government involvement in health care, in order to fix the current system, would be a no-brainer. Of course the government can do it just fine. I know the government manages Medicare, and I for one am gratefull. But my own life as a contractor has forced me to rethink my support.

The government gets its work accomplished largely through the management of contracts, and their favorite contractors. The government, DOD, everyone uses contractors. So why does the government use so many contractors? Easy access to high quality expertise, convenience and competition. As a government entity, I can ask for contractors to bid on my work, and I get to choose the one I want. I can get bids, and select the lowest bidder with the best approach and save the tax payer money. Sounds great, right? It would be great, if it worked that way.

As the government, I can pick expertise from a waiting pool of contractors, and escape all the messy management of my own workforce. However, every few years, as the government, I get paranoid and swell with positions to keep expertise. Then, years later, I cut them to save money like I never knew them. Other than these organized purges, it’s hard to remove a government employee. Not so with a contractor. All a government manager has to say is “I am not comfortable with Joe” and they are on their way out. The government can terminate whole contracts fairly easily.

Contractors are much more agile that the government. Filling a government position takes months. The president still doesn’t have all his people seated. It’s not his fault: it’s the system. And this is during the biggest financial emergency in our history. A contractor has bodies staged to place into work. I can hire and have someone in place in two weeks. I know other contractors that have shortened that down to a day.

The government wants us to think they are the honest brokers of everything, including contracts. I certainly wish they were above it all, but this seems rare in practice. It is more frequently based on who you know, who you will hire, and who has just retired into your company, from the inside of the government organization immediately before your bid.

Longevity plays negatively into the government personnel system. I can say many of the people I deal with in government have figured out where the “autopilot” button is for their job, and have pressed the button years ago. And, in my workplace, if a General has bright ideas about how to do something innovative, the civilian leadership will just wait him out. He will rotate in 3 years or so. This is the scale at which they think.

Government folks have their favorite contractors, and they will take their word over any one else, right or wrong. You also have people in government who worked on a previous job as a contractor. Now the ones in government have an informal alliance with those who remained as a contractor. This funnels work to the contractor, despite competition. You would think there would be too many checks and balances in the system. In practice, the system insulates the government from all but the loudest contractor calls for fairness and fair consideration.

Contractors have their warts too. If the government wants an elevator to Mars, every contractor will bid, and all their energy will go into winning the bid. Only after they win, will they actually figure out how to do the job. Also, some contractors hold the government hostage by promising to deliver, while costs go ever upward. Seldom does the government realize this.

So back to health care. I don’t fear government involvement because of privacy issues, or cost issues, or difficulty in getting care.

I fear the magnitude of the unmeasurable bias, favoritism and lack of visibility that is possible.

Ubuntu upgrade to Jaunty Jackalope 9.04

Last night, I took the plunge and upgraded from 8.10 to 9.05 Ubuntu. This has been the smoothest upgrade of all. I only had to add the boot parameters for menu.lst for my windows drive. Sweet. Everything works, video, sound, etc. Everything. Things do get better with age!


Switched to LINUX

About two years ago, I switched to UBUNTU LINUX on my work machine at home. I also loaded the server version onto a couple boxes in the basement. I switched because I wanted to try something new, and I saw the programmers that I worked with use LINUX for everything. I was also paying about $400 bucks a year for a Microsoft Action Pack subscription to get copies of the latest and greatest software, that I used less and less.

So how has it been? Fairly smooth, with some caveats. One less than smooth spot early on, was the Nvidia driver chase every time the kernel and headers were updated. Usually I had to go through a short but irritating reinstall of the correct driver, to get my high resolution back. Lately this problem has disappeared. Now, I am running two monitors off the same card, using twinview, and it rocks.

I have a couple programs that I haven’t swapped for LINUX equivalents. For that, I have a dual boot option in GRUB, the boot loader, so I can also boot into a WINDOWS XP system if needed. This was another rough spot. Searching discussion forums to find the correct combination of parameters to boot the windows drive was lengthy. The windows drive was IDE, and the LINUX drive was SATA, which was also tricky initially. I also found my motherboard wouldn’t support SATA and IDE together, even though the documentation said it would. I had to install an additional SATA controller card to fix this.

The latest rough spot was when they last pushed out a kernel and header update. My machine failed to find the boot drive. Once again, after searching discussion forums, I found the correct delay parameter to put into GRUB. Now it boots reliably.

I seem now to have experienced all the big problems with a LINUX UBUNTU system. Bear in mind, I have relatively old hardware, such as the Athlon XP 3200 processor. Installs on newer hardware have all gone perfect, and so have all the updates. I have even installed Simply Mepis and Damn Small Linux on systems, and they are working flawlessly. I can place DreamLinux on a thumb drive, and take it with me anywhere.

I use OpenOffice applications for general business, and it integrates well with MS Office. For the one windows program I haven’t migrated to this point, I use VMWARE to load a copy of windows XP, and run the program in there, rather than booting to the old Windows Drive.

Now I just have to put up with my coworkers telling me ‘I told you so”. I’ll pay that price.


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