Monday, July 31, 2006


I just finished the book "Starswarm", by Jerry Pournell. Like most of the fiction I read, I got the book from the thrift store, which means it was about ten years old. Since it was set in the future, on another planet, that was not a major concern. Actually, the technology held its own, ever after a decade. As a matter of fact, it was probably pretty visionary in 1995, and significantly more believable today.

When my wife saw the book, she thought the title was Starswarm, and was a part of the Skywalker saga. I explained that she was thinking about the story of a soldier, who took a young boy to live with his uncle, so he would not be found by the agent of an evil emperor, who had arranged the death of the boy's father. This book was the story of a soldier who took a young boy from his uncle, who was an evil emperor, and had arranged the death of the boy's father. Completely different.

To emphasis the differences, in Star Wars, the evil emperor could not have ordered his agent to kill the boy's father, for the agent was the boy's father. In Starswarm, the emperor did not order the agent to kill the boy's father, because the emperor was not evil, it was the agent who was evil, and killed the boy's father by order of a another emperor. Got it?

So anyway. They story was completely irrelevant to me when I bought the hardback book for sixty cents. What interested my was the type setting. The book was written in three different fonts.

The boy's mother was a member of the ruling family of the planet, but was also a computer scientist. She had the child implanted with satellite uplinked nuero transmitters, which linked his brain back an AI entity, which existed in the planetary mainframe. When the computer would talk to the boy, the computers quotations were in courier font. The boy would concentrate to communicate with the computer, and his thoughts were in an italicized, underlined, font. All third person action was a normal font. Interesting concept.

It was a good read.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

SELinux Strict Policy on Fedora Core 5

Fedora Core 5 will not successfully boot using the SELinux strict policy. It seems that the policy is soooo strict, that it will not let init execute. Here's a work around, for those of you that have too much sanity and patience.

1. Edit /boot/grub/grub.conf, and remove rhgb from the each kernel line.
2. Edit /etc/inittab and set the runlevel to 3.
3. Edit /etc/sysconfig/selinux and set SELINUX to permissive and SELINUXTYPE to strict.
4. Edit /etc/rc.d/rc.local and append the following line:
        setenforce 1
5. Execute the command touch /.autorelabel.
6. Add an unprivileged user and assign a password, as root is about to become impotent.
7. Reboot.

During this reboot, you will see a message about relabeling the file system. This will take several minutes. The system will start in the Permissive mode, then will switch to strict. Congratulations, and good luck... You'll need it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bluetooth Internet Gateway

The more I work with Bluetooth, the less I like it. It's one of those things that, in theory, sounds like a good idea... Kinda like communism. In the real world, getting this mess of Bluetooth devices to work together requires a lot of patience and persistence. For instance, I was happy to find that I could use one of my Linux systems as a Bluetooth gateway to allow my Palm to connect to the Internet (HOWTO Set up a Bluetooth Access Server.) Unfortunately, I can't use the Linux system to Hotsync.

The good news is that Windows XP has the ability to do Internet Connection Sharing, thus allowing the same system to do both jobs. Oh, wait a minute... It turns out that ICS only works as long as the line from the ISP terminates on the XP machine. My XP system connects to one of those new fangled home routers. So, we're back to square one: one system dedicated to each task.

But wait! What is that on the horizon? A Windows app that will act as a Bluetooth gateway? Yes: Over at Palm Info Center I found a page about Howto: Bluetooth Internet with Windows XP, which outlines the use of Intuwave's m-Router. This app was designed to be used with Symbian technology, but will work with Palm just as well.

It is excellent... And its is available as a free (as in beer) download.

Note: I have to stop m-Router in order to Hotsync, as only one of the two apps can access the Bluetooth dongle at a time. Occasionally, WXP will not realize that the program was stopped, and will have to be booted in order to switch to the other task. Same for the Palm. If I've used m-Router at home, then want to use SprintPCS on the road, I have to hard reset the Palm.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Toy Ray Gun Blog

Followed a link from to Christopher Howarth's Toy Ray Gun Blog - KiTT NeT. Lots of cool pictures.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Razor Cell Phone Sucks

My mother-in-law is not what you'd consider a technology whiz kid. My brother-in-law on the other hand... well, he's smarter than average when it comes to all this tech stuff. He's even indicated that if he were not a surgeon, he'd probably be in the computer field. Of course, then he'd be broke like the rest of us IT flunkies. Since he is not (broke, that is), he gets to pay for his mother's cell phone.

I've had SprintPCS for about ten years now. I had a Cingular phone for about 15 months, and cancelled it when they hit me with a $1,023 bill for one month. (It's been over a year, and it is still in litigation.) I had a T-Mobile phone for 12 months, and cancelled it because they only had coverage in about ten US cities.

He's had SprintPCS for years, which was convenient, as we were all on the same plan. Well... His daughter complained about coverage problems in Memphis, TN, (none of us live there: including her) so he changed to Verizon. As a result, my mother-in-law now has a Motorola Razor phone.

That thing is a piece of crap!

My Samsung will do everything but cut the grass, and I live in a townhouse... that has no grass. The Razor's menu has five options. Each has about four functions, giving a total of about twenty settings that can be tweaked. My Samsung has at least 80 functions from the main menu, another dozen from the Settings sub-menu, and about fifty more from a secret Field Service Menu.

She really only wanted three things:
* Add some numbers to Contact. (What a mess! I had to delete entries to edit them.)
* Make the numbers on the clock larger. (No can do: It could be done if the Verizon logo was smaller, but the logo is locked onto the handset display.)
* Get the voicemail to work. (It was a provisioning problem, so I called Verizon. I had to dial "O" for the Operator to ask how to get to Tech Support. They said dial #611. Tech Support wanted me on a second phone, but would not give me a direct line to call back. They agreed to call my SprintPCS phone. After several minutes they gave up and told me to take it to a store.)

I can't believe this is the coolest phone around! Sure it looks good... I'm just astonished that is the main people buy a phone!