Floored by Knoppix

As I’ve mentioned, my computer isn’t in the best shape. With my latest episode of hard drive clunking, I thought I’d give Knoppix a try. I found myself distracted, to say the least.

For those of you who don’t know, Knoppix is basically a version of Linux that runs completely off a CD-ROM. Once you boot your computer from the disc, it automatically loads partially in RAM. Due to smart compression algorithms, 2 gigabytes’ worth of programs are packed onto a 700 MB CD.

Knoppix is good for a number of reasons – you can do system troubleshooting, demo Linux for others, or just change the scenery from time to time. For me, my motivation was to give my poor hard drive a break while I did some work.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get my work done – Knoppix just sent me into “shock and awe.” It was a little challenging to get it burned, but once I rebooted, it just worked. This is on a notebook computer, with a cordless (non-Bluetooth) keyboard and mouse, behind a NAT. As any geek will tell you, this is not an ideal configuration to install Linux on. Yet, most everything works, without any effort on my part.

Of course, there are a few things I don’t like:

  • The mouse, even at its lowest sensitivity, moves a tad too fast.
  • My side mouse button, which double-clicks in Windows, behaves inconsistently.
  • The keyboard shortcuts are somewhat unfamiliar.
  • My notebook’s built-in volume controls don’t work – they require a Windows driver.
  • Some files on my hard drive are inaccessible. I don’t know whether this is due to my dying drive, the fact that it’s formatted with NTFS, or because of some permission problem.

These problems are minor. Consider, for example, that I’m blogging this on Knoppix, inside Mozilla. At the same time, I have an (empty) document open in OpenOffice, and am listening to a Live365 feed in XMMS, a Winamp clone.

Not bad for a user-friendly CD. Thanks, Dean! :) Now, back to work (yeah, right)…

God Bless Humanity

Bene Diction recently discussed the state of spirituality in Canada. “God Bless America” is indeed a very beautiful song, but I think in recent years, some nationalistic sentiment has creeped into the phrase.

Shortly after 9/11 (or 11/9, depending on where you live), the members of Congress that sang for the press were singing mostly for the healing of the country. However, as time progressed, the use of the phrase by President Bush and friends has definitely changed from idealism to nationalism.

To borrow another American phrase, I think “One Nation Under God” should become “One People Under God.”

The United States was created with the loftiest goal I can think of. It was designed to be a Christian nation, but the Christian founding fathers, in their wisdom, designed our core legal document to prevent the suppression of other religions.

This is exactly how God treats humanity: he provides us His way, the only way, but He loves us so much that He gives us the freedom to choose a different way.

I think we humans can learn a lot from Him.

Yahoo! Does Not Send Spam

Screenshot from Yahoo! Mail


Yahoo! Mail (which I don’t use…it makes a great honeypot, though) has a button labeled “Spam” that deletes any mail messages and sends them to Yahoo! so they can update their filters.

I found it telling that their e-mail message about their opt-out marketing, highlighted in blue with their red Y! icon next to it, was ignored by the button.

Before people accuse me of attacking Yahoo! for caring about their customers, read some of the actual message:

In March 2002, we began rolling out an updated marketing communications system. Instead of just a single “Yes” or “No” choice, we created a new Marketing Preferences page…When this updated system was first announced in March 2002, we told you we’d begin sending you messages about Yahoo! products and services across all categories, even though you had said “No” to messages under the old single choice system.

This is not responsible e-mail marketing. Many people dispute whether opt-out is acceptable at all. Everybody agrees that once you do opt-out, you should never have to do so again.