June 05, 2008

Replacement for Windows

Over at HowToForge, Falko Timme has created the installation steps required to replace Windows with Linux using Kubuntu 8.04. Excerpt:

This tutorial shows how you can set up a Kubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron) desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge. Kubuntu 8.04 LTS is derived from Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and uses the KDE desktop instead of the GNOME desktop.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

He goes through the all of the steps necessary to get you going on your replacement for the Worlds Biggest Virus™.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 08:55 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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V-blank-blank-d-o-o? Anyone? Anyone?

From the fertile mind of Jerry Pournelle comes this essay. Or rather, I should say "comes again", since he first wrote it back in 1988. Anyway, excerpt:

"I wouldn't know anything about politics," my friend said the other day. "I'm only an engineer."

He happens to be a very good engineer, but he named his profession as if he were ashamed of it. I see this a lot. The social scientists are automatically assumed to know more about society and politics than the hard scientists--even when the subject matter is something like nuclear power.

I wouldn't be so sure.
You can prove anything if you make up your data. You can prove nearly anything if you are allowed to select your evidence and forget embarrassing facts.

The social sciences have made an art of forgetting embarrassing facts. If a fact doesn't fit the theory, leave the fact for another discipline. Sociology has nothing to learn from anthropology, which has nothing to learn from social psychology. None of these has anything to learn from the mathematics, physics, or chemistry departments.

The solution to C. P. Snow's dilemma seems clear. Scientists must learn something of the humanities. That, I think, is done rather more often than not. Scientists do read books. I have met the maniac scientist bent on discovery no matter the harm far more often in literature than in the laboratory.

Secondly, the humanists must learn something of science. This is less common, but it does happen. It isn't necessary that the humanist become a scientist, or even learn how to do science; it is necessary that he learn the principles of scientific reasoning.

I would be far more willing to believe that the two cultures could coexist, however, were it not for the contamination of the "social sciences," which pose as sciences to the humanists, and humanities to the scientists, but which are not in fact much good as either. The poet who believes he knows something of science having taken "Sosh 103" and "Ed Stat" is far more dangerous than ever he would have been if he had remained ignorant.

Meanwhile, novelists have as much right to be called "experts" on human behavior as any social scientist, which is to say we can learn as much about our fellow humans from a good novel as from a sociological treatise; and I know which I would rather read. Similarly, the poet may find beauty in the theory of probability, and will learn something of the difference between data and evidence while studying it; "Stat for Social Scientists" teaches nothing, and is dull in the bargain.

When the social scientists are challenged as unscientific, their usual plea is that their subject matter is very complex and thus the methodology of physical science won't work. This is an interesting argument, but it would carry more weight if students of social science knew something of physical science's methodologies. Granted that the "social sciences" have an intrinsically more difficult job; is this any reason to abandon the tools of science?

Posted by: Physics Geek at 12:34 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Gimme some of that old time new religion

Orson Scott Card has a pretty good editorial up about the beliefs that motivate Black Racist Jesus:


Posted by: Physics Geek at 11:43 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Paris trip

Received via email. Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

A thief in Paris planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre.


After careful planning, he got past security, stole the paintings, and made it safely to his van.

However, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied,


Posted by: Physics Geek at 10:10 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Open your eyes

Imagine this discussion:

"Gee, I really miss that lighthouse."

::driving down the road with a friend::

"Hey, look at the lighthouse. It looks exactly like the one that was torn down. "

"Yeah, that's interesting. Anyway, as I was saying, I really miss that old lighthouse..."

Okay, I realize that Cape Cod and California are on different coasts, but I'm still trying to figure out how this could have happened.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 07:56 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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June 04, 2008

More free stuff

Over at Free Geekery is a post containing ways to get free stuff online. For those of you frugal (cheap) individuals, it's definitely worth checking out. Here are some samples:

23. SourceForge: Open source software is all the rage these days with even non-tech savvy people embracing Linux operating systems like Ubuntu. Download open source programs, the majority of which are free or reasonably priced, to your heart’s content with the Web’s “largest open source software development website.”
40. Berklee Shares: If you’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar or keyboard, or a variety of other instruments, this site could be your chance to do so for free. Just download the lessons and you can start learning on your own and with no out of pocket expense.
45. Ear Training Software: For the less musically inclined, understanding pitch and being able to play things by ear is a daunting challenge. These free and open source programs can help build your skills without you having to pay for expensive software or numerous lessons.

Lots more for your reading pleasure.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 12:54 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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It's bitchslap some pencil pushers day!

Leanna Elizalde has had two surgeries for cancer. Also, she's undergone weeks of radiation treatment to help her, you know, live. Consequently, and understandably, she's fallen a bit behind in her studies and needs to take one more English class during summer school to earn her high school diploma. However, she'd like to walk with her classmates/friends during graduation ceremonies. No big deal, right? After all, a lot of colleges do that. My alma mater, VCU, would allow students within a certain- small- number of credits to participate in graduation ceremonies. Although no degree or diploma is awarded until completion of the remaining coursework, students got to enjoy wearing the cap and gown and just generally having a good time. Apparently, the dickheads at Leanna's high school just can't bring themselves to allow such a thing. I'd certainly understand the school's position if Leanna was simply a lazy student who had fallen behind due to lack of effort. But right now it looks like the school is punishing her for the inconvenience of not dying.

Elizalde's doctor, UC Davis Professor of Clinical Surgery, Robert Canter has written to the school to ask them to reconsider their decision, saying, "I strongly believe that (Leanna) should be allowed to participate in her graduation ceremony, and I think that refusal to do so would be construed as a punitive action unbefitting a pediatric cancer patient."

I guess that it's a good thing Leanna's doctor isn't an officious prick like the school principal or she might not even be in the news right now.

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