Stomach blues!

I have figured it all out. I can’t eat oranges. I can’t eat spinach. I can’t eat anything high on iron or that is acidic. I can’t eat anything save for what mom, dad and I cook (yes! I can cook. I am very much trained to do all sorts of house work, thanks to mom). I can’t even stand spices. If I do, I get sick. If I keep on doing it despite getting sick, I bog down real bad and end up religiously following a one week course of a couple of drugs without fail.

Mom, I know you brought me up in a very hygienic environment and manner. Ever since I was conceived, you kept everything clean and clear for me: my water and milk bottles were washed and rinsed in boiled water, I never drank anything other than properly boiled water, etc, etc. All my life, the food you’ve cooked has been simple, spice-less, and rid of many silly things that people over here otherwise find food to be tasteless without. I am happy you cared for me so much, I am grateful you’ve always kept my diet proper and never let me become like one of those who eat to live, but it is firing back now. If I only stick to eating home-made food, I stay in good health. And I try to keep it like that. But I don’t live in an ideal world (or, to be precise, at my home all the time). There are times when I absolutely have to eat outside, or at someone else’s place. And when I am faced with such times, I prefer to go on with an empty stomach. Like I did at the wedding party last weekend: Everyone got worn out from insisting I eat, and I got tired of telling them politely I can’t. When I haven’t brought anything from home, I stay hungry at office, despite how long I stay back. I can always consume biscuits and other stuff, but then those don’t really make up for a healthy diet alternative.

I know for a fact that people would jump to suggesting I start cramming down crap food more and more to make my internal system get used to it, but, I’m sorry to have to break it to you, that doesn’t work for me. It never has. If anything, all it achieves is throwing me in bed for a week with an unbearably painful stomach.

I have no choice but to refrain from eating out and avoiding what throws my stomach upside down — which implies that I have to end up staying empty stomach a lot of times. But, no biggie!

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Spoofing MAC address! (I be very bad)

The cable-net connection I am using as a backup link is different from the mass of desi cable networks available across the city. All I have to do to reach out to the byte world is plug in the patch cable, wait for the DHCP client to request a lease, and that’s it. There are no proxy or any otherwise preposterous settings required. Best of it all, almost everything (almost everything because I’ve yet to bump into something that isn’t) is open and available to me. I can surf, download, IM, open remote terminal and shell sessions, download torrents and access P2P networks, etc. The only major drawback is the single patch cable connection which makes difficult sharing the connection among other systems at home. Also, this particular cable-net vendor relies heavily on MAC filtering to maintain law, order, and control, so, for example, when you plug in the patch cable into your laptop at night, you don’t get allowed access to get to the Internet. Apparently, you have to pay an extra one-time fee to associate another MAC address with your connection. For people who hop from one system to another in the course of their day, such as myself, that can be an annoyance. And when there’s annoyance, there is someone bending the rules.

For all Windows lovers out there, Macshift and Mac MakeUp are two excellent, simple utilities that can be used to spoof MAC addresses of Ethernet cards. They require no special knowledge to use save for knowing which MAC address to spoof. MAC address is explained here.

Linux users ought to consider themselves lucky. The innate “ifconfig” command-line utility natively support MAC address modification (based on the underlying device driver’s support of the same feature for the given Ethernet card). Refer to the man page for ifconfig(8). In particular, the “hw‘ switch to “ifconfig” is the magic argument.

On Slackware, I’ve /etc/rc.d/rc.local set to partially bring up the eth0 Ethernet interface with a modified MAC address (which, for purposes of this post, has been masked to look xxyyzzaabbdd):

ayaz@dante$ tail -4 /etc/rc.d/rc.local
# Drop eth0 and load it with an alternate MAC address.
/sbin/ifconfig eth0 down
/sbin/ifconfig eth0 hw ether xxyyzzaabbdd up

All, then, I have to do when I log into the console is issue as root the “dhclient eth0” command to invoke the DHCP client to fetch a lease.

Undelivered email

Anyone trying to get to me via my ayaz.pk email address in the last two weeks will have their emails bounced back or not delivered. The hard-disk on which ayaz.pk is hosted died two weeks ago. The data centre folks are rebuilding the system. I am not sure when my website will be back up or when I can start getting emails again. For the time being, people can get to me at ayaz0007[at]hotmail[.]com

Yakuake: The Quake-style terminal emulator

For all KDE lovers, Yakuake is a must have. The moment you launch it, it hides into another unseen dimension on the screen, and when you hit F-12, a scintillating shell drops down out of nowhere from the top of the screen. Hit F-12 again, and poof, it disappears.

I have yet to find out why it is called a “quake-style” terminal emulator. And, oh yeah, I am back to Slackware Linux on the laptop. I will be putting up a detailed article very soon of my re-acquaintance with Slackware on the laptop (something I had been dying to do).

Removing .svn directories …

For deployment, one should ideally “export” a project that is under version control (subversion, in particular, for the sake of this post). However, at times one ends up deploying a tarball of a checked-out copy of the project on the production server. There is nothing wrong with doing so as long as the checked copy is recent, save for the fact that each directory and subdirectory in that checked copy will contain a .svn directory that holds subversion’s meta-data files along with pristine copies of all the files in the diretory in which that .svn directory exists. These pristine copies are what make possible the magic that is svn diff and svn revert, among other things. The following is a handy little command to reap out all the .svn directories in a checked out copy of a project under subversion:

# find project/ -type d -name '.svn' -print | xargs rm -rf -

One can also avoid piping the output to xargs and use the nearly equivalent -exec switch to find to achieve similar result. I cannot remember at the moment, but there are some drawbacks of using -exec with find. However, your mileage may vary.

Curious readers are welcome to read Linux man pages for xargs and find, along with “GNU Find For Dummies“, an article I wrote for The Slack World.

Climbing out of The Stone Age!

The primary land line is fixed. Connection from a local cable-net provider got established yesterday. DSL subscription will be enabled by Monday. I will from next week on have a primary DSL link and a fast backup link both. Oh, and I also figured out how to establish a connection on my laptop through the GPRS on my cellphone, with the only drawback being that the Sony Ericsson Suite for the cellphone does not work on Vista, so I have to fire up the XP vmware image to get online via my cellphone. I will be shelling out 1800 PKR in total every month for all this (GPRS cost not included, as I don’t use it at all). Not a bad deal, eh?

Ah! Finally life at home is getting back normal. I was without Internet at home for nearly four weeks. Yikes!

Sigh.

I wasted over twenty minutes waiting in line at the gas station in the morning only to find that my gas tank had space for 40 PKR worth of gas.