Living Life in the Fast Lane

“Live life in the fast lane”
We’ve all heard the saying. We all know what it means.
But why does everyone seem to be using it in a literal meaning these days!?
The last few mornings I have been driving into and out of Wellington to get to and from uni. And it astounds me, not those who will sit nicely at 90km/hr holding up the traffic (though they annoy me equally), but those that, even though there is clear air between them and Zimbabwe, choose not to flick on their left indicator and slide on into the left lane (or slow lane). Is it too hard to make that maneuver these days?
Whilst it is not particularly important as there is a nice large median barrier on the motor way, but surely the “Keep left unless passing” rule should still apply?
So if you are out there and you find yourself lapsing into auto pilot and coasting along in the fast lane where you’re not within cooey of anyone… watch out behind ‘coz I’ll be the one passing you on the left with my lights and horn blazing at the top of their lungs!

(For my lovely American viewers, please note that here in New Zealand we drive on the right side of the road… the left hand side!)

‘Till next time…

Its working!

Finally, after many days, weeks even of messing around with my site trying to get it working for Internet Explorer, I have done it!
Hopefully, the 40% of you who visit my site will notice that the drop down navigation menu now appears when you click on the “Need More” button…
This will open up the rest of my site to other users who don’t use Firefox.
Many thanks go out to Melech Mizrahi who spent a bit of time sifting through source code and essentially found and corrected the problem for me. Top work!
‘Till next time…

Sophisticated vs Ubuntu

Last weekend I mentioned how I lost all my files, all because I had switched to openSUSE for a more delicate, a more “Linux” distribution than the out of the box Ubuntu.
I switched because Ubuntu is seen (in my eyes at least) as a beginners distro of the famous Linux. Its seen as that as it is often what is shown to people who are still Windows users. It has all the bells and whistles, it works straight away with almost 98% of applications working out of the box, and any that don’t work, it will go away, fetch the missing elements and allow you to keep using it.
It puts a pretty face to the ugly back-end that is Linux.
And thats why it is so popular, because new users come along, Ubuntu is recommended as a starting point and they get hooked.
I got to the stage where I wanted something more. Something more powerful. Something that sounded more, more than “I’m a Ubuntu user”.
Hence openSUSE.
But I found out something else about Ubuntu through the process.
It just works. Out of the CD case, it just works.
In openSUSE I had to compile, download, adapt, reconfigure all sorts of things until it was working, and even then I had to sacrifice some of the things that got me hooked on Linux anyway. The reason why so many people are using Ubuntu, is not because they’re all Linux-noobs, but because it works. Everything works.
And if it doesn’t, there is ubuntuforums.org, one of the leading solvers of Linux problems today.

Under no condition am I saying openSUSE is a bad distro.
I’m just saying that Ubuntu works.

‘Till next time…

Ctrl+Alt+Deleted

A lesson to be learned right now. Back up your files. Now. Off you go… Go back them up.
The following tale is not for the faint at heart. It is a true disaster, something I do not wish to ever have to repeat again.
The day is Friday. Last Friday.
I successfully installed openSUSE 10.3 and connected it to the internet. All good and propper.
I then mounted my Windows partition into /mnt/Windows/
All good. Played with documents, made sure I had read/write permissions etc. Then I decided that I’d rather have the Windows partition in /media/ instead of /mnt/.
Bad idea.

mkdir /media/Windows/

Then I edited /etc/fstab to point at the new directory.

mount -a

This mounted the Windows partition in the new location.
All well and good.

rm -R /mnt/Darkness 

to get rid of the old folder that Windows was mounted.
DO NOT DO THIS!!!
I forgot to unmount the folder, and so rm -R went through and deleted every file on my Windows partition.
Every file, every website, every photo, ever uni assignment. All of it gone.
And the nature of a linux ext3 folder structure… you can’t get it back.
Devistation set in. There was no light at the end of the tunnel…

Well… until a friend shone a torch in a pretty good solution.
PhotoRec is a open source, cross platform utility that recovers lost data. With a bit of tweaking and organizing what files I actually wanted it to find, it ran through, collected all the files on the ‘erased’ disk and put them into numerical files and folders – something which has taken me 4 days to go through and get the files I wanted back. But it was worth it and I would recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in the same position as I did.

‘Till next time…

Walk

Music by Parachute Band
“Precious Jesus” from
Roadmaps and Revelations

He came
He died
He rose again
For me
For you
His name?
Jesus

‘Till next time…

Excellence

“Why is it that we introduce painting and music to primary school students before they can read? The arts are a part of a universal human language, whether music, dance, drama or the physical fine arts.” (Education Horizons, p13)

A recent article, To create or not to create; is this really the question? in Education Horizons (Daniels, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2008, pp13-14) outlined the seemingly lack of importance placed in the arts in our education system. Mirrored by the lack of funding from the Ministry (MoE) and the attitudes displayed in the schools and in the curriculum, its importance is wavering; its relevance getting lost in the political agendas of various sectors of the educational system.
Often art (as in visual art) is ‘dumbed’ down as a subject. Its widely promoted as if anyone can take it at any time as a way to make up credits. Gone are the days where training to be an artist took years, even decades and the “fine art” has been lost with the dawn of modernism and mass production.
The article in question raises several valid points and speaks volumes as an argument for the importance of art, especially visual art, to be better recognized in the balance of the New Zealand education system. However it overlooks various parts of artistic practice which do align with other areas of the curriculum.

“Strive for excellence all you want. The talented students will always succeed. All I ask is that you offer the rest of us the opportunity to shine by boosting funding to the arts faculties in schools so that we can help students increase their sense of self-worth and self-esteem. We all need to lose ourselves in imagination and dreams sometimes. As wonderful as out technological world is, without human imagination and creativity, life is stilted, one dimensional and deprived of soul.” (Daniels, p14)

What this is suggesting is exactly the point I raised before. It is promoting art as a subject for those of us who aren’t so-called “academic”. But why? Why place that stereotype on the arts and use it as an argument to validate its existence in the school environment? Why suggest that there are no “talented” students in the art department; that it’s purely made up of “the rest of us”? Whilst it is more than common that art students brains are more right sided and the “academics” in Mathematics or Science who are left sided, this does not mean that students who are more creative can’t achieve excellence in their given field. They can still strive for that excellence. Place a scientist in an art department, and that same level of excellence is unlikely to be reached, just as an art student could struggle to reach the same levels in science if the roles were to be reversed.
The reason this type of reasoning falls apart is because art is subjective, the work produced often is a result of a process that is explored, rather than a right or wrong answer at the end of the day. The science buff is able to complete an artwork, and although it may not be highly skilled or technically accurate, the process leads to a result that is considered as art, and the level of excellence is only relevant to that student.
In my opinion, and it is only that, is that there are students who achieve to a high degree of excellence in art. That does not mean they are mediocre students or that they aren’t talented. Students who take art are still able to succeed and produce excellent work, and can be “academics” in their own field. I think that the article itself seemed to be making an excuse for not reaching excellence, rather than outlining the fact that there is still excellence in every subject area, and art is no different.

Daniels, R. (2008) To create or not to create; is this really the question? In Education Horizons; Journal of Excellence in Teaching, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2008.

‘Till next time…