Aligned Planets

Ben Martin: Terry & the start of a video project.

Planet LA - October 15, 2015 - 23:27
I did a test video showing various parts of Terry the Robot while it was all switched off and talking about each bit as I moved around. Below are some videos of the robot with batteries a humming and a little movement. First up is a fairly dark room and a display of what things look like just using the lighting from the robot itself. All the blinking arduino LEDs, the panel, and the various EL and other lights.

The next video has a room light on and demonstrates some of the control of the robot and screen feedback.

I got some USB speakers too, but they turned out to be a tad too large to mount onto Terry. So I'll get some smaller ones and then Terry can talk to me letting me know what is on its, err, "mind". I guess as autonomy is ramped up it will be useful to know if Terry is planning to navigate around or has noticed that it has been marooned by a chair that a pesky human has moved.

The talk over video is below. I missed talking about the TPLink wifi APs and why there are two, and might be only one in the future. The short answer is that Terry might become a two part robot, with a base station only one wifi AP is needed on the robot itself.

Categories: Aligned Planets

Craige McWhirter: Enable Root Login Over SSH With Cloud-Init on OpenStack

Planet LA - October 14, 2015 - 13:57

Normally when you launch a Linux instance in OpenStack, remote root login has been disable via cloud-init.

I'll describe here how to re-enable remote root access on a Debian based instance but it won't vary too much, if at all, for other distros.


When you try and ssh as root, you'll be greeted with a message similar to this:

Please login as the user "debian" rather than the user "root".

You'll need to remove the below from the first line of /root/.ssh/authorized_keys:

no-port-forwarding,no-agent-forwarding,no-X11-forwarding,command="echo 'Please login as the user \"debian\" rather than the user \"root\".';echo;sleep 10" SSH Serivce

In /etc/ssh/sshd_config you will need to ensure that PermitRootLogin is set to without-password:

PermitRootLogin without-password

Then restart SSH if you had to change that setting.


The changes to /root/.ssh/authorized_keys are made from cloud-init and there are circumstances when cloud-init will revert your change, so let's make it permanent. Edit /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg and set disable_root to false:

disable_root: false

Now you should be all set to go and root access via SSH will be enabled.

Enjoy :-)

Categories: Aligned Planets

James Purser: On the new Battlefront

Planet LA - October 13, 2015 - 23:29

So I managed to get the new Battlefront beta down on to the Xbone.

The game itself is quite glorious, it has a real Star Wars feel to it. Hoth is presented in magnificent detail and running around the AT-AT's properly gives you sense of the truly massive size and threat that the walkers possess.

As a First Person Shooter it's not bad. It's very much Star Wars: Battlefield in that respect, and you know what? That's okay. I like the Battlefield style of combat and it doesn't detract from the Star Wars feel (the weapons and sound effects work is A1).

Where the game does fall down however is vehicle combat. Especially compared to the previous Battlefront games.

In the older Battlefront games, vehicles had set spawn points and in many cases were multi-crewed. You could have three people controlling an AT-SE (the old Clone Wars walker) while the opposition controlled Droid Spider Walkers. Then of course there was the space combat, where not only could you fly against droid ships or tie fighters, but against Capital Ships (and the ability to materially affect those Capital Ships as well).

The new game has done away with space combat all together (boo) and the way it handles vehicle allocation has changed from spawning the vehicles at particular points to dropping tokens across the battlefield which allow you summon each vehicle. At least on the Hoth level they were incredibly hard to see and it really broke that feeling of immersion to have to hunt around for the tokens and then summon rather than actually walk up to a waiting vehicle and enter it.

I'll probably end up buying the game, because as a Star Wars FPS it's good, but as a successor to the previous Battlefront games? Nope.

Blog Catagories: gamesstarwars
Categories: Aligned Planets

Sridhar Dhanapalan: Twitter posts: 2015-10-05 to 2015-10-11

Planet LA - October 12, 2015 - 01:27
Categories: Aligned Planets

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) Announce: LUV Beginners October Meeting: Mail server installation training

Planet LA - October 11, 2015 - 17:29
Start: Oct 17 2015 12:30 End: Oct 17 2015 16:30 Start: Oct 17 2015 12:30 End: Oct 17 2015 16:30 Location: 

RMIT Building 91, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton South


This event is a hands-on lesson in installing a MTA (Mail Transfer Agent). It would be best to have a laptop, tablet, or phone with MUA (Mail User Agent) software installed. A basic knowledge of system administration is required. The work will probably be done in groups as it's likely that the number of people attending will exceed the number of virtual machines.

Russell Coker has done lots of Linux development over the years, mostly involved with Debian.

LUV would like to acknowledge Red Hat for their help in obtaining the Trinity College venue and VPAC for hosting.

Linux Users of Victoria Inc., is an incorporated association, registration number A0040056C.

October 17, 2015 - 12:30

read more

Categories: Aligned Planets

BlueHackers: World Mental Health Day 2015

Planet LA - October 10, 2015 - 12:28

On this year’s World Mental Health Day, some info from Lifeline and Mental Health Australia:

Mental Health Begins with Me

Did you know 70% of people with mental health issues don’t seek help? […] As a community we can encourage others to take care of their mental health by breaking down the barriers that stop people seeking help when they need it.

How can you help?

Make your mental health promise and share it today.  Encourage your friends and family to do the same and share their promises here or on social media using the hashtag #WMHD2015.

Here are some great tips and promises to make to yourself this 10/10 (October 10th):

  1. Sleep well
  2. Enjoy healthy food
  3. Plan and prioritize your day
  4. Tune into the music you love
  5. Cut down on bad food and booze
  6. Switch off your devices and tune out
  7. Hangout with people who make you feel good
  8. Join in, participate and connect
  9. Exercise your body and mind
  10. Seek advise and support when you need it


Categories: Aligned Planets

Lev Lafayette: Julia cluster install with MPI packages

Planet LA - October 9, 2015 - 15:29

Julia is a high-level, high-performance dynamic language for technical computing. With a "just in time" compiler, it is very fast, especially compared to languages like MATLAB, Octave, R etc. However it is relatively new and a cluster installation and package deployment has a few quirks.

Download the source from github. By default you will be building the latest unstable version of Julia from the git checkout. However, we want to run 0.4.0 (or rather, 0.4rc4) which is the last stable release.

# cd /usr/local/src/JULIA

read more

Categories: Aligned Planets

Craige McWhirter: Trouble Shooting MySQL ERROR 1136 (21S01)

Planet LA - October 8, 2015 - 22:43

I encountered this gem of an error working with MySQL today:

ERROR 1136 (21S01) at line 144: Column count doesn't match value count at row 1 TL;DR

A mismatch between the number of destination columns and the number of columns specified in your MySQL script will generate this error.

In Detail

I was converting the database for one application (Storyboard) to another (Phabricator]. Something I've not done before and the code was more than six months old and a hand me down from a previous dev. It worked then but the SQL schema for both has changed since then.

This is the code snippet it choked on:

insert into user select id, phid, username, if(full_name is NULL, username, full_name), NULL, NULL, storyboard.make_cert(32), '', unix_timestamp(created_at), if(updated_at is NULL, unix_timestamp(now()), unix_timestamp(updated_at)), NULL, 0, 0, '', storyboard.make_cert(255), 0, 0, is_superuser, 'UTC', 1, 1, storyboard.make_cert(64), 0 from storyboard.users;

It turns out that this error is telling me that the destination table (phabricator_users.user) does not have the same number of columns as the select statement from storyboard.users.

Examining storyboard.users first, I found this:

mysql> desc users; +--------------+--------------+------+-----+---------+----------------+ | Field | Type | Null | Key | Default | Extra | +--------------+--------------+------+-----+---------+----------------+ | id | int(11) | NO | PRI | NULL | auto_increment | | created_at | datetime | YES | | NULL | | | updated_at | datetime | YES | | NULL | | | email | varchar(255) | YES | UNI | NULL | | | is_staff | tinyint(1) | YES | | NULL | | | is_active | tinyint(1) | YES | | NULL | | | is_superuser | tinyint(1) | YES | | NULL | | | last_login | datetime | YES | | NULL | | | openid | varchar(255) | YES | | NULL | | | full_name | varchar(255) | YES | MUL | NULL | | | enable_login | tinyint(1) | NO | | 1 | | +--------------+--------------+------+-----+---------+----------------+ 11 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Examining phabricator_users.user I found this:

mysql> desc user; +--------------------+------------------+------+-----+---------+----------------+ | Field | Type | Null | Key | Default | Extra | +--------------------+------------------+------+-----+---------+----------------+ | id | int(10) unsigned | NO | PRI | NULL | auto_increment | | phid | varchar(64) | NO | UNI | NULL | | | userName | varchar(64) | NO | UNI | NULL | | | realName | varchar(128) | NO | MUL | NULL | | | sex | char(1) | YES | | NULL | | | translation | varchar(64) | YES | | NULL | | | passwordSalt | varchar(32) | YES | | NULL | | | passwordHash | varchar(32) | YES | | NULL | | | dateCreated | int(10) unsigned | NO | | NULL | | | dateModified | int(10) unsigned | NO | | NULL | | | profileImagePHID | varchar(64) | YES | | NULL | | | consoleEnabled | tinyint(1) | NO | | NULL | | | consoleVisible | tinyint(1) | NO | | NULL | | | consoleTab | varchar(64) | NO | | NULL | | | conduitCertificate | varchar(255) | NO | | NULL | | | isSystemAgent | tinyint(1) | NO | | 0 | | | isDisabled | tinyint(1) | NO | | NULL | | | isAdmin | tinyint(1) | NO | | NULL | | | timezoneIdentifier | varchar(255) | NO | | NULL | | +--------------------+------------------+------+-----+---------+----------------+

phabricator_users.user has 19 columns, yet the original MySQL syntax has 24 columns listed. So there's been a schema change in the intervening 6+ months since the script was last run.

Identifying missing fields and removing surplus columns from the script resulted in this version of the stanza:

insert into user select id, phid, email, if(full_name is NULL, email, full_name), NULL, NULL, storyboard.make_cert(32), '', unix_timestamp(created_at), if(updated_at is NULL, unix_timestamp(now()), unix_timestamp(updated_at)), NULL, 0, 0, '', storyboard.make_cert(255), 0, 0, is_superuser, 'UTC' from storyboard.users;

... which unsurprisingly now worked.

Categories: Aligned Planets

James Purser: Lunch Time Science is returning

Planet LA - October 7, 2015 - 23:29

Right, the next step in getting things back on track, Angry Beanie wise is rebooting the #lunchtimescience daily updates and the podcast that will be attached to it.

So starting next Monday, #lunchtimescience will return and I'm already on the hunt for the first scientist to profile for the show.

For Science!

Blog Catagories: angrybeaniefor science
Categories: Aligned Planets

Leon Brooks

Planet LA - October 7, 2015 - 23:03
Two for our gummint to think upon...


...oh, and one more for a person who can do no wrong... in their own eyes, anyhow... you do actually have a possible future, one which centres on choosing to no longer be totally self-righteous, and sticking to that choice:

Categories: Aligned Planets

Colin Charles: MariaDB Developers Meeting + User Group NL

Planet LA - October 7, 2015 - 22:25

Next week, all the MariaDB Server developers will descend to Amsterdam for the developer’s meeting. As you know the meeting is open to all interested parties, so we hope to see you in Amsterdam Tuesday Oct 13 – Thursday Oct 15. The schedule is now online as well.

In addition to that, Monday Oct 12 2015, there is also a meetup planned with the MySQL User Group NL. As the organiser Daniël van Eeden wrote, this is a one of a kind meetup: “This is a very unique event, it is not often possible to find so many MariaDB developers together and speaking about what they work on.”

Yes, we’re doing it lightning talk style (ok, not strictly, 5 minutes), but everyone will talk about something they’re working on or passionate about that you don’t find in MySQL. I understand that there will be pizza and beverages too.

All in, a packed week in Amsterdam, and here’s to focusing on the MariaDB Server 10.2 release cycle.

Categories: Aligned Planets

Michael Still: Lunchtime geocaching

Planet LA - October 7, 2015 - 19:28
So, I didn't get to sleep last night until 4:30am because of a combination of work meetings and small children, so today was a pretty weird day for me. I was having a lot of trouble concentrating at lunch time, so I decided a walk was the least worst thing I could do with my time. I decided to knock off some of the few remaining geocaches in southern Tuggeranong that i haven't found yet.

This walk was odd -- it started and ended in a little bit of Theodore they never got around to actually building, and I can't find any documentation online about why. It then proceeded through a nice little green strip that has more than its share of rubbish dumped, Cleanup Australia needs to do a visit here! Then there were the Aboriginal axe grinding grooves (read more) just kind of in the middle of the green strip with no informational signage or anything. Finally, a geocache at an abandoned look out, which would have been much nicer if it wasn't being used as an unofficial dump now.

That said, a nice little walk, but I have no real desire to revisit this one any time soon.


Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20151007 photo canberra bushwalk

Categories: Aligned Planets News: Call for Media Participation

Planet LA - October 6, 2015 - 21:28 2016 Geelong - LCA By the Bay - is now seeking applications from suitable media outlets to participate in one of the most respected technical conferences in the Asia Pacific region.

When: Monday 1st February to Friday 5th February

Where: Deakin University, Geelong Waterfront Campus, Geelong CBD

Up to five Media Passes will be available, providing;

  • free Professional registration to all five days of the conference, valued at around $AUD 1000, including access to Penguin Dinner and Professional Delegates Networking Session access to specially designated Media areas
  • Access to interview Keynotes and Speakers will be via the Conference Media Liaison, and by agreement with the Keynotes and Speakers themselves.

Travel and accommodation is not included in the Media Pass, and Media Representatives will need to make their own way to the conference.

To be considered for a Media Pass, please provide the following information via email to

  • The registered business name of your media outlet, and ABN or ACN
  • Examples of the online or physical media you produce
  • Whether you’ve attended in the past, and if so, examples of media coverage generated at the event
  • The name of the staff member who would be attending
  • Acknowledgement that you agree with the Conference’s Code of Conduct

Decisions to grant a Media Pass will be made based on the following principles;

  • ensuring diverse channel and cohort coverage of
  • prioritising media outlets who have a significant focus on Linux and / or open source technologies
  • that the holder of a Media Pass have not previously breached the Conference Code of Conduct

We encourage you to remain up to date with conference news through the following channels;

Categories: Aligned Planets

Binh Nguyen: Geo-Politics, Soundcloud Scraper/Downloader, Apple Issues and More

Planet LA - October 6, 2015 - 01:42
- if you don't quite understand the difference between Western media and why some Russian media is branded as being propogandist watch some of the interviews of Putin and compare it with other news outlets. In general things are much more 'controlled', too 'coherent' (with regards to perspective), and at times it feels as though the questions and answers have been prepared before hand

Vladimir Putin 60 Minutes interview FULL 9-27-15 Vladimir Putin 60 minutes Interview Charlie Rose

Putin Speaks English for CNN

Vladimir Putin: An Enigmatic Leader's Rise To Power - Best Documentary 2015

Vladimir Putin Rage


Putin: Who gave NATO right to kill Gaddafi? Putin: We won't let anyone achieve military dominance over Russia

Putin: America is a bully and threat to stability

Putin slams US in address to nation

Putin on US Foreign Policy Elite

Putin: Quit lecturing Russia on democracy!

Putin talks NSA, Syria, Iran, drones in exclusive RT interview (FULL VIDEO)

'Do you realise what you've done?' Putin addresses UNGA 2015 (FULL SPEECH)

Vladimir Putin: "KGB Spymaster"

- I think a lot of people underestimate Putin. They know that he's attempting to look after Russia's (and his) best interests but the thing I'm wondering is whether or not they realise how far he's willing to push back and how multi-faceted he really is. It's clear that he can come off as a thug but look at the USSR's history. Their is no way that he look after Russia's best interests without at least projecting strength. I'm not sure he could have lasted long within the KGB/FSB if we was a pure thug/'gansta' as seems to be portrayed by some people

- at times, I look at Putin's reactions and it feels as though there was some tacit agreement to have him bring it back to a position of global strength. Hearing some stories about him (and other heads of state of Russia as well as other USSR member states) it feels as though every time Russia has has tried to help the West, the West has not returned the favour (the truth is probably somewhere in the middle). This is especially the case with perceived lack of  enough investment into Russia, the expansion of NATO, and Western interests close to and inside of former USSR states (all of this going against earlier documented promises). Many Westerners have been booted out of former USSR states for appearing to want to interfere with internal politics. The problem is that if this is true, Putin will feel as though he's being pushed into a corner from which he has no option except to react forcefully. The irony is that this time the West isn't dealing with a pure politician. As stated previously I feel he's far more intelligent and multi-faceted than that. Think carefully; with the moves that he's currently making in the Middle East, some of his other moves in other USSR states as well as in the East any possible new Eurasian Union (if it comes off) is much stronger (and better prepared) as a (China's influence and future success is a different issue altogether...) power bloc to challenge the current Western powers

- this point is pivotal in the Syrian conflict. It also gives perspective of how the Chinese/Russians view the world and what they will do in future if they continue to get stronger

- as stated previously, I don't think that any confrontation between the supposed Eurasian powers versus the West and it's allies is going to be as clear cut as some people say. In the past you could put this down to 'propoganda' but the fact is they have demonstrated their technologies and have footage of it. Nearly everything you've thought of both sides have also thought of on both sides as well. Estimates of how far China is behind the West in defense technology (on a broad basis) can vary anywhere between 5-30 years. My guess is that it's about 10-20 years (more likely towards the upper end with regards to development. Mass production and other issues are another problem entirely). Less, if they allocate resources correctly, increase their defense budget, gain further intelligence, and can make certain breakthroughs....

China's new YJ-18 missile: 'S'-shape movement at supersonic terminal speed

China Missile ???? WU-14 10 times sound speed can tear apart US anti-missile network

U.S. and Chinese Air Superiority Capabilities

An Assessment of Relative Advantage, 1996–2017,400789 

- one of the things that I think Westerners generally mis-interpret is that freedom doesn't not necessarily require choice. If that were the case, the Middle East and many parts of Eurasia would have fallen apart a long time ago. Look at the way the Chinese government has handled their overheating sharemarket. In the West, investors and institutions would blame the government (for recent massive/drastic falls) but would understand that that is part of life. In China, interviews with some people is identical to the response that is given by a lot of former Soviet spies. Failure and betrayal are much more closely aligned

- people keep on arguing about how much they spend on defense and how spending equates to quality. The problem is that price doesn't necessarily equate to value. Anybody who has lived long enough knows this.... Who cares if it's cheap or expensive if it's effective in fulfilling it's goal?

- guess this answers my previous thought about how far the Chinese are willing to project out. With respect to the functioning of the UN it is fascinating to see how the persepectives of the Russian and Chinese will play in the future especially if they continue their pathway towards strong, sustainable economic growth. What has surprised me is how early (relatively) they've been to push out

- people (any country) get hysterical at times in this discussion on who will 'lead the world' in future. Moreover, it is at this point that power projection and deterrance begin to take on bizarre dimensions. Think about how strange it sounds when the someone who projects power considers that it a deterrent against someone who considers an immobile object a deterrent

- I don't think China wants to win back Taiwan (or other contested territories) by having to have armed conflict. They want these territories to come back willingly to the 'motherland'. If they don't have that choice they want to have the exact same option that Russia has to it (with other former states of the USSR). Moreover, if they invade/take over contested territory they want their military to be strong enough such that they don't have to resort to nuclear weapons to intimidate others into backing down. They don't see it as that either. They see it as recovery of lost territory that has been documented (the same goes for other countries in the region though)  

- with some of the moves of recent in the Middle East one has to wonder how much respect countries in that region actually has for the West?

- turning local populations can take decades and even then they may still want you gone. This means choosing your battles (and scoping them) more carefully, staying there for the long haul, or ensuring that the side that you back will be able to take control. Ironically, this potentially means coming to an agreement with Russia on and having at least partial representation by former elements of Syria's current government. The Middle East is becoming more and more bizarre (and confusing) by the day. There are few if any clean hands in our world now,_terrorists_and_narcotrafficers

- if you've never heard of Chomksy his perspective on the world can come off incredibly paranoid if you've never heard too many other non-Western perspectives. It is interesting little (and how much at other times) separates many of us though

Bernie Sanders + Noam Chomsky: Deciphering Foreign Policy Jargon

Noam Chomsky: US is world's biggest terrorist

Noam Chomsky: US terrorism (2015)

2014 "Noam Chomsky": Why you can not have a Capitalist Democracy!

"Who does control the world?" - Noam Chomsky - BBC interview 2003

Noam Chomsky: Rebel without a Pause - Documentary

- the more you read the more obvious it is why there are so many defecters from from the West rather than the other way around. While things are brutal in many non-Western countries they are more up front. In the West things are at a different level, often less obvious and often hidden in the shadows. Potential agents, employees only get an idea of what the 'real world' is like when they join the service/s. I guess this is also the reason why if there are non-Western defectors they are often based on idelogical grounds

- if you know enough about finance and economics you'll realise that most GDP figures are distorted since everyone chooses different constituent parts. It's not just an issue related to China alone. In fact, in the past there were stories about them under-reporting GDP figures because technically their measures were different

This script is to facilitate automated retrieval of music from the website, after it was found that existing website download programs such as Teleport Pro, HTTrack, and FlashGet were too inefficient. 

It works by reverse engineering the storage scheme of files on the website, the lack of need for registration and login credentials, and taking advantage of this so that we end up with a more efficient automated download tool.

Obviously, the script can be modified on an ad-hoc basis to be able to download from virtually any website. As this is the very first version of the program (and I didn't have access to the original server while I was cleaning this up it may be VERY buggy). Please test prior to deployment in a production environment.

OS X: About OS X Recovery

How to Make an OS X Yosemite Boot Installer USB Drive

How to install Windows using Boot Camp

How to Create a Windows 10 Installer USB Drive from Mac OS X

If all you want is to try a later version of Mac OS X then try virtualisation...

I can log into my iTunes account but can not access my account details, what's wrong?

Came across a bizarre wireless bug recently on Mac OS X Snow Leopard

This is a bunch of quotes that I've collected recently.

- Colonialism was neither romantic nor beautiful. It was exploitative and brutal. The legacy of colonialism still lives quite loudly to this day. Scholars have argued that poor economic performance, weak property rights and tribal tensions across the continent can be traced to colonial strategies. So can other woes. In a place full of devastation and lawlessness, diseases spread like wildfire, conflict breaks out and dictators grab power."

- The United States makes an improper division between surveillance conducted on residents of the United States, and the surveillance that is conducted with almost no restraint upon the rest of the world. This double standard has proved poisonous to the rights of Americans and non-Americans alike. In theory, Americans enjoy better protections. In practice there are no magical sets of servers and Internet connections that carry only American conversations. To violate the privacy of everyone else in the world, the U.S. inevitably scoops up its own citizens' data. Establishing nationality as a basis for discrimination also encourages intelligence agencies to make the obvious end-run: spying on each other's citizens, and then sharing that data. Treating two sets of innocent targets differently is already a violation of international human rights law. In reality, it reduces everyone to the same, lower standard.

- Australian actively managed global funds continue to deliver woeful returns, with 67 per cent performing worse than the S&P benchmark indexes, rising to 85 per cent over three years and almost 90 per cent over five years.

"On average, international equity funds posted a strong gain of 23.4 per cent in the past one-year period. However, the majority of funds in this peer group, at 67.3 per cent, underperformed the S&P Developed Ex-Australia LargeMidCap, which recorded a return of 25.5 per cent over the same period," Ms Luk said.

Every single Australian bond fund has underperformed the index this year, and the longer term results are not significantly more promising: 83.4 per cent underperformed over the last three years, and 86 per cent over five years.

- Thursday’s speech was not the first time the Pope has spoken out about the arms trade. He referred to it as “the industry of death” in a talk with Italian schoolchildren in May. “Why do so many powerful people not want peace? Because they live off war,” he said.

“This is serious. Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms and sell them to one country for them to use against another country,” he said. “The economic system orbits around money and not men, women. … So war is waged in order to defend money. This is why some people don’t want peace: They make more money from war, although wars make money but lose lives, health, education.”

- A politics and solidarity that depend on demonizing others, that draws on religious sectarianism or narrow tribalism or jingoism may at times look like strength in the moment, but over time its weakness will be exposed. And history tells us that the dark forces unleashed by this type of politics surely makes all of us less secure. Our world has been there before. We gain nothing from going back

- The fall of Kunduz may also be a good time to look at whether the Afghan Army needs to shuffle assets around, he adds. In the immediate aftermath of the Taliban takeover, the government in Kabul rushed well-regarded Afghan commandos to the region, for example.

That’s to be expected, but “militarily, you want to make sure you know what the situation is before you throw a bunch of forces into it,” Barno notes. This includes assessing the level of training and capability of Afghan forces posted up there. “Are there enough forces, and were those forces trained and led properly?” he adds.

Finally, it’s worth keeping in mind that up until this point, there have been essentially two models for dealing with non-governed spaces in the post-9/11 world, Scharre argues.

“First, you can send in 100,000 troops in and occupy and try to rebuild it – that’s a model that has costs millions in dollars and thousands in lives,” he says.

The other model is drones and air attacks, “which don’t seem to ever fully solve the problem,” Scharre adds. “In Syria, in Anbar, Iraq we’re grappling with this.”

Kunduz could underline the need to consider new models, he says – “one where US soldiers aren’t fighting, but some level of support is reasonable.”

- “Many military conflicts started with the silent connivance to the ideas of one people’s superiority over others. In this sense the modern ideologies of exceptionalism are extremely dangerous,” Naryshkin stated.

- In the heady days of the Cold War, Americans tended to view Soviet decision making as a black box: You know what goes in, you know what comes out, but you are clueless about what is happening inside. Soviet policy was thus believed to be both enigmatic and strategic. There was little room for personality or personal philosophy; understanding the system was the only way.

- There's a quote that's often attributed to Winston Churchill: "Russia is never as strong as you fear or as weak as you hope."

- Both sides of the debate are correct—but neither side is telling the whole story. As a good friend on the Hill recently told me: “In political communications, facts are an interesting aside, but are completely irrelevant. What we do here is spin.” That’s exactly what’s happening here—both sides are selectively cherry picking facts to make their case—spin.

- Danny Dalton: Some trust fund prosecutor, got off-message at Yale thinks he's gonna run this up the flagpole? Make a name for himself? Maybe get elected some two-bit congressman from nowhere, with the result that Russia or China can suddenly start having, at our expense, all the advantages we enjoy here? No, I tell you. No, sir! Corruption charges! Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That's Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Corruption is why we win.

- Bryan Woodman: But what do you need a financial advisor for? Twenty years ago you had the highest Gross National Product in the world, now you're tied with Albania. Your second largest export is secondhand goods, closely followed by dates which you're losing five cents a pound on... You know what the business community thinks of you? They think that a hundred years ago you were living in tents out here in the desert chopping each other's heads off and that's where you'll be in another hundred years, so, yes, on behalf of my firm I accept your money.

- “The ‘Russian’ attitude,” Isaiah Berlin wrote, “is that man is one and cannot be divided.” You can’t divide your life into compartments, hedge your bets and live with prudent half-measures. If you are a musician, writer, soldier or priest, integrity means throwing your whole personality into your calling in its purest form.

- Russia is a more normal country than it used to be and a better place to live, at least for the young. But when you think of Russia’s cultural impact on the world today, you think of Putin and the oligarchs. Now the country stands for grasping power and ill-gotten money.

There’s something sad about the souvenir stands in St. Petersburg. They’re selling mementos of things Russians are sort of embarrassed by — old Soviet Army hats, Stalinist tchotchkes and coffee mugs with Putin bare-chested and looking ridiculous. Of the top 100 universities in the world, not a single one is Russian, which is sort of astonishing for a country so famously intellectual.

This absence leaves a mark. There used to be many countercultures to the dominant culture of achievement and capitalism and prudent bourgeois manners. Some were bohemian, or religious or martial. But one by one those countercultures are withering, and it is harder for people to see their situations from different and grander vantage points. Russia offered one such counterculture, a different scale of values, but now it, too, is mainly in the past.

- 1) Xi removed over 28,000 officials in 2 years. This is old data from early 2015. Officials no longer go to high-end restaurants, wear luxury. Most senior officials who sent their kids and wives to foreign countries have recalled their kids and wives back. Those who didn't was told crystal clear that they will be sidelined. Can any other leader around the world do that, at such a large scale?

2) CCP turned itself from a communist dictatorship and autarky in 1978 to a capitalist technocratic oligarchy and largest trading country in 2015, gradually, without major political turmoil. (Viewed from today's color revolution standard, Tiananmen Square in 1989 is child's play.) Can any other polity in the world claim the same success?
Categories: Aligned Planets

James Purser: TPP, Russia and Mandatory Data Retention

Planet LA - October 6, 2015 - 00:30

It's 11:26pm on Monday night, we're watching Dark Matter and the news has come out that the Trans Pacific Partnership has been signed off. Given that we've not actually been allowed to see what the full detail of the treaty contains and the only parts that we have seen have been leaks that actively threaten our ability to make our own laws and maintain our institutions (hello PBS), this is not a thing that I am happy about.

So on top of that, news has also come out that a Russian jet has violated Turkish airspace. This is also a thing that fills me with not happiness. Especially considering the fact that when Russia first fully entered the conflict in Syria they demanded that NATO stay out of Syrian airspace. The amount of dick swinging going on at the moment pretty much ensures a massive cock up.

Oh yes, the icing on the cake is the fact that the mandatory data retention regime backed by both the Coalition and the Labor party is going to come into play in about a week. This is despite the fact that there are still questions about who the hell is going to pay for it.

So wheee, it's a wonderful world really.

Blog Catagories: Politicsthe world
Categories: Aligned Planets

Mark Terle: The flow of things ….

Planet LA - October 6, 2015 - 00:25

The theme of this blog entry was triggered by a set of slides that were presented at this OSCON this year on the topic of flow. Flow being the wonderful energised state where you are fully focused upon and enjoying

the activity at hand.

For reference the presentation was: OSCON2015: Coding in the FLOW (Slides)


The conference presentation goes on to describe what the presenter thinks are the criteria needed for when you are coding, but I think there is a degree of generality here that can be applied to anything technical or skilled. They were described as:

  • G = Clear, attainable goals
  • F = Immediate and relevant feedback
  • S = Matched Skill and Challenge

For myself, I think I can add at least one other criteria

  • A = Available Time

In terms of my tinkering away at little software projects, my most recent project has been npyscreenreactor. npyscreen is a Python library around the Python curses bindings. npyscreenreactor is an implementation of interfacing that library with the Python Twisted library.  Twisted is an event driven networking engine for python. The reactor part of the name refers to a design pattern for how to write event based service handlers and have them run concurrently.  (See Reactor Pattern)

The project was written to support virtualcoke.  virtualcoke is an emulator of the behaviour of the PLC that drives the UCC Coke Machine. This is written primarly to avoid club members needing to have access  to the coke machine to test code to speak to the machine and the development of the reactor was needed to enable use of the PyModbus Twisted module.

This project, npyscreenreactor, has taken sometime to come to fruition with an initial working release of the code in March 2015, some bug fixing in June, working examples in August and probably what will now be a

stable version in September.

For this the goal, feedback, and skill have been there. However, the available time/energy has not (due to other commitments, such as work).  The wider project that will use virtualcoke, I still need to throw some energy at, but it is now lower down my list of priorities.

In things apart from this, flow has been less forthcoming of late and I’ll need to work on it.  The challenge being to set up a positive reinforcing cycle where the achieving the goal generates warm fuzzies and more enthusiasm to work harder.

Categories: Aligned Planets

Lev Lafayette: Storage Limitations on Android Devices

Planet LA - October 5, 2015 - 16:30

Many Android devices come with storage configurations that are surprising to end-users. A product that is advertised as having 32 gigabytes of memory may in fact turn out to have much less available in terms of installing applications.

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Categories: Aligned Planets

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) Announce: Submission on Trans-Pacific Partnership

Planet LA - October 5, 2015 - 09:29

Status of the Submission

As of August 15 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Commonwealth of Australia stated that it "continues to welcome public submissions and comments on Australia's participation in TPP negotiations: (

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Categories: Aligned Planets

Sridhar Dhanapalan: Twitter posts: 2015-09-28 to 2015-10-04

Planet LA - October 5, 2015 - 01:27
Categories: Aligned Planets

Michael Still: A searchable database of walk waypoints

Planet LA - October 2, 2015 - 09:28
Over the last year I've become increasingly interested in bush walking, especially around the ACT. It quickly became evident that John Evan's site is an incredibly valuable resource, especially if you're interested in trig points or border markers.

However, I do most of my early walk planning and visualization in Google Earth before moving to Garmin Basecamp to generate walkable maps. I wanted a way to hook John's database of GPS logs into Google Earth, so that I could plan walks more effectively. For example, John often marks gates in fences, underpasses under major roads, and good routes through scrub in his GPS tracks.

After a fair bit of playing, I ended up with this KML file which helps me do those things. Its basically magic -- the file is just a link to a search engine which has a database of GPS waypoints based off walks John and I have logged. These are then rendered in Google Earth as if they were in a static KML file. You can also download the search results as KML for editing and so forth as well.

So, I'd be interested in other people's thoughts on if this is a useful thing. I'd also be very interested in other donated GPS logs of walks and bike rides around Canberra, especially if they have waypoints marked for interesting things. If you have any comments at all, please email me at

Tags for this post: walks gps search google earth

Related posts: HP iPaq GPS FA256A; MelbourneIT are into search engine optimisation?; Historical revisionism; Searching for a technorati search plug in for Mozilla Firefox; Well, that's Google blog search live then; Google book search

Categories: Aligned Planets
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