April 28, 2007

Sausage & Bacon Tomato Fusilli

It has been a while since I've posted something about food. Anyway, I decided to cook a very simple pasta for lunch since my Mom and I were fed up of eating some of our local hawker fare. Since my Dad wasn't around, we could experiment on new stuff too. (^^)

The recipe is very simple, the ingredients are as follows:
  1. Pasta Fusilli (spiral pasta) - portion for 2
  2. 2 chicken frankfurters chopped
  3. 4 pieces of back Bacon diced
  4. 2 garlic cloves chopped
  5. 1/2 red onion chopped
  6. Salt & pepper to taste
  7. Oregano (optional)
  8. Chopped parsley (optional)
  9. Presto's Tomato & Mushroom Sauce
  10. Olive oil - A Must!!!
Now, back bacon is not the streaky bacon which people cook for breakfast but the slightly more "meatier" bacon for people who are health conscious. Now, the back bacon does come with some fat and so, best to remove the top layer of fat if you have health issues. If you like a bit of greasy taste, just leave a bit on. :)

The steps are as follows:
  1. Boil some water with salt. Once the water comes to a boil, drop your pasta in.
  2. In a hot pan of medium heat, pour the olive oil and fry up the chopped garlic and onions.
  3. When the garlic and onions start to brown, stir in the chopped bacon and sausages.
  4. When the ingredients have been cooked well, pour in the sauce and stir well. Let it simmer for a while before adding crushed black pepper, oregano(optional) and salt to taste. I usually do not add in extra salt since my pasta has been cooked in salted boiling water and that should have enough flavour.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce.
  6. Stir well and serve with Parmesan cheese and some chopped parsley.
Easy, right? Anyway, this should be a good recipe for a quick dinner. (^^)

Variations could include adding a touch of cream or Cream of Chicken Soup from Campbell, shave on some cheese and putting it into the oven to make it a pasta bake.

Anyway, here's a look of the yummy stuff I cooked this afternoon. (^.^)

Kekeke, by the way, the yellow stuff on top is the Parmesan cheese. I would recommend getting the better stuff other than usual Kraft Parmesan cheese as it doesn't smell as bad but tastes great!!

April 25, 2007

After Ubuntu, what else?

It is a known fact that when you start using Linux as a desktop, you have a lot of stuff to do, i.e. you have to setup more stuff, tweak more configurations than your average Win* user.

However, once all the tweaking is done, the Linux "ride" is a whole lot more smoother, i.e. you don't have to worry about a lot of viruses or adware (**touch wood!!**), since quite a number of viruses are written to run on Win* machines. I won't say that Linux boxes have NO viruses, it is just probably less.

When Ubuntu was installed, most of my work was cut out for me. I had OpenOffice, Gaim (renamed to Pidgin), Firefox and even some other utilities which the team thought most users would require. Anyway, it occurred to me after my quick setup, that I needed to do a number of things to "pimp my ride". (^^)

Here's my list:

1. Install improved NVIDIA graphic drivers
My graphics is a little choppy and when I try to view videos on YouTube, it is very choppy. Sure, Ubuntu recognized my driver but nothing beats having the real deal from the manufacturer. For this, I'm relying on a little app named "Envy".

2. Install NTFS support
I'm still running the not-so-current Ubuntu Edgy Eft version and that means I don't get NTFS support off the bat. (-_-) So, I need to do some tweaking and etc, I've been Googling a bit and found out some utils like ntfs-config and ntfs-3g, which will allow me to mount/umount, read/write NTFS drives. This is because I have an external HDD which I keep some data larger than what my thumbdrive can hold.
TAKE NOTE: Most USB thumbdrives are FAT32 and so, would not have any issue. The only problem comes when you have an external HDD which is in NTFS, i.e. formatted using Win XP.

3. Install S/W Dev Tools
This means, I need Java, Eclipse and perhaps a little appserver like JBoss or Tomcat. If you require some Microsoft-based tools, chances are you need to run it off WINE or VMWare.

Ubuntu has their own version of Java installed at first but if you prefer to use Sun's JDK, you may get a copy of it and install it on your own. Just remember to add the entry where the JDK is installed in the "etc/jvm" file.

Installing JBoss or Tomcat is a cinch as all you need is to unzip the contents of the JBoss or Tomcat zip file into a directory, editing some config files and running the shellscripts to start up the server. If you want to get Tomcat or JBoss running from the time your machine boots up, you can drop a simple scriptfile in the /etc/init.d directory. (^^)

4. Install VMWare Player
I usually tend to run my stuff on more than 1 type of O/S and hence, I have to run VMWare to "play" another O/S virtually on my machine. This is an optional install which you can get straight off Ubuntu, and so, there is no need to download this.

If VMWare is not your cup of tea, Ubuntu also provides WINE.

5. Install Picasa
Yes, Picasa is supported on Linux. Head down to http://picasaweb.google.com and download a copy. Choose the debian package so that the Package Manager can install it for you. Easy Peasy!!!

6. Install a proper CD/DVD-Writing software
This is a gray area for me as my current setup is so old that it only has a CD-ROM drive. However, I believe that this could be one of the big issues why some people are not interested in installing Linux is because such software are not readily available - unlike Windows. However, there is a little software called "K3b" which can do the job of burning stuff to CD/DVD. By the way, Ubuntu also ships with CD-writing software too. It isn't as fancy as Nero or Roxio, but it works. (^^)

7. Install Media Players to watch my videos
Yes, there is other media players out there other than Windows Media Player. ;)
I like VLC and this is shipped with Ubuntu! Now, the only thing is to get the codecs necessary to play certain videos like XVID or DivX, as well as the popular MPEG-4 format files. However, when you need to play files in MKV or OGM as some Anime comes packaged in, you'll need some extra codecs. Don't worry, there is a codec available for RMV (Real Media Video) files as well.

8. Other Themes & Window Managers?
Back in the day when X-windows ruled, there were very few people very keen to customize the look and feel of a desktop other than putting up a new wallpaper and adding a few widgets here and there. If you were fortunate to work on a X-windows platform, you knew that you could write some nifty X-windows widgets to grace your desktop. Anyway, since we're on the *nix world, we are free to chose different window managers and themes as well such as KDE, Gnome (default install by Linux), Sawfish and IceWM, just to name a few.

9. Other Language Support - especially Asian languages...
Now, this is a step which even Windows expect you to perform AFTER you have installed Windows, unless you have chosen to use a non-English locale in the first place. Same goes with Linux. If you choose to have English as the default language, you may want to have an IME (Input Method) for non-English languages. For Ubuntu, this is easily solved by two things - 1) SCIM and 2) Additional Language Support.

10. Antivirus, Anti-Spyware, Firewall?? (~.~)
This is another gray area for me. Although a lot of viruses were written for the Windows platform, a lot of people say that *nix platforms would not be affected. That is half the truth. Sometimes, you may get some annoying messages on the system log indicating some file was trying to execute some non-existing *.exe file on your Linux box. Besides that, if you run a mail server, chances are you'll need a spam filter in order to sift through the garbage. Not only that, Linux boxes can also be "carriers" of viruses too. At the end of the day, it is still best to install these.. just in case!

I do agree with installing personal firewalls as this is a necessity in these modern times when hackers try to exploit every single hole made available.

As I said earlier, some of these softwares are made available as an optional install.

*Phew!!* I thought this post will never end!! Anyway, this post was inspired by this post which I found when I was surfing the web for tips on how to get my NTFS external HDD to work.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, since once your o/s is up, chances are you'll be installing software useful for you and also, try to customize it to your liking.

Happy Ubuntu-ing!!! (^___^)

Going Ubuntu's Way - The WiFi Edition

As promised, I got the resources for setting up a WiFi card to connect to an AP. However, this is just a brief overview of what needs to be done in order to get a WiFi card working on Ubuntu Linux.

The first thing to do is to check if your WiFi card is natively supported by Linux. What I mean by "natively supported", means that the manufacturer of the card already has an existing driver for you to use. Anyway, head over to this site --> http://linux-wless.passys.nl/ to check.

If your card is listed, you're lucky and you'll just need to follow the steps outlined by the manufacturer to get started.

For the rest of us, we'll need to do a little bit of work. However, thank goodness for this little utility called "ndiswrapper". (^^)

By default, this utility is not installed, but is an optional software, which means you'll need the Ubuntu CD close by. Besides that, also keep the original CD of your WiFi card close by as well.

What ndiswrapper does is to create a Windows kernel for which the WiFi card's driver can be loaded and thus used in the Linux environment.

1. Installing ndiswrapper
- Follow the steps as listed here http://ubuntuguide.org/wiki/Ubuntu:Edgy#How_to_install_Windows_Wireless_Drivers_.28Ndiswrapper.29
- Ensure that you have your WiFi's Windows driver handy.

2. Setup the WiFi card
- There are a variety of ways to setup the WiFi card, one of which is to enable via the Networking Tools. However, in my humble opinion, I'll always go for text-based configuration... Just to be sure. (^^)

(0) Open the "/etc/network/interfaces" file using a text editor. Remember to "sudo" in order to be able to write, i.e. if you're not "root" user. (**I know.... I know... Setting up networking stuff via configuration files can be a pain in the *ss, but I'm just a die-hard console-based administrator, ok??)

(1) Add the following lines to the file:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
pre-up wpa_supplicant -Bw -Dwext -iwlan0 -c/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf
postdown -killall -q wpa_supplicant

NOTE 1: If your network is setup as DHCP, just specify as dhcp, if it is static, then, the following lines should be used instead:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet static
address [your-ip-address]
netmask [netmask]
gateway [network-gateway-ip-address]
pre-up wpa_supplicant -Bw -Dwext -iwlan0 -c/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf
postdown -killall -q wpa_supplicant

NOTE 2: The command listed is using "wpa_supplicant" where if your WiFi AP uses WPA as an encryption, you will have to use this in order to get your WiFi working with WPA. For more information about other forms of encryption, please refer to the list of resources below, or Google.

(2) Save the file. (Obviously-la...)

(3) If your WiFi uses WPA as a form of security, you will need to configure the "wpa_supplicant" application prior to restarting the network services.

(3.1) Create a file called "wpa_supplicant.conf" under the "/etc" folder.

(3.2) Add the following lines to the file:


NOTE: The values for [your-wifi-ssid] and [your-pre-shared-key] should be enclosed in double-quotes (").

(3.3) Save the file. (DUH!!!)

(4) Restart the network interfaces by issuing the following command:

sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

(5) If all goes well, issue the following command to view the list of network interfaces configured on your system:

ifconfig -a wlan0

The output should tell you about the status of the WiFi card, where the IP address should be obtained (if using DHCP) or configured (if static). However, the important line to look out for is this:


This indicates that the card is up and running. If you open up your Networking Tools, you should be able to see if the WiFi card is enabled or not.

(6 - optional) If you want to test the network interface, use the "nslookup" or "ping" commands to see that the WiFi card is setup properly. If all goes well, you may very well use the WiFi card to surf the net or setup Gaim or any messaging software of your choice... supported by Ubuntu, that is... (^^)

For more information on setting up Ubuntu or WiFi, go to:
Hope that all goes well. When in doubt, Google it!

April 16, 2007

Staying Positive

I have been trying to write this post for a while, but did not have the time to collect my thoughts.

I am sure that many people has ask you this question before, "Are you happy?"

Certainly, we all joke, "Yes! Very!!" or "If you don't see me stick a gun to my head today, I should be happy-la..."

Anyway, in my humble opinion, this notion of happiness is only relative. This is because while we may seem happy at what we have, but when we start to compare with others, we may end up not being very happy after all.

I would prefer to be asked, "are you feeling positive today?". This is because, a happy person may look happy on the outside, but inside, would be very negative about the world. I am sure everyone is like this at some point or another, due to the circumstances we face everyday.

Frankly, I'll have to admit that I'm a negative/pessimistic person, by default. This is strange because a lot of people say I'm a jovial and bubbly character. However, when things go south, my negative "beast" tends to rear its very ugly head. I guess that this is me being reactive instead of taking a step back to adjust properly towards the situation at hand.

The symptoms I've noticed is that I tend to complain alot about things to the point some people say that I'm whining. Besides that, some people said that I tend to mention a lot of negative things too and that demotivate others.

Remember the saying that "Misery attracts company"? I believe my negative actions have also caused like-minded people to come to me and together, we stew in our negative, toxic soup. At first, the other person is looking for sympathy and understanding from like-minded people who are undergoing some sort of rough spot at work or at a personal level. However, after a while, the negative, toxic stew takes a toll on our energies and we end up feeling drained and depressed. Sure, it is ok to b*tch about things but best not to take it too far.

So, the issue here is taking some action on stopping this negative toxicity I tend to manufacture from time to time. In short, I'm trying to find out why I tend to be so whinny and b*tch a lot about things, when it goes wrong/bad.

One of the manners is finding out the root cause of why I'm so negative. I notice that I tend to go off like a "broken record" when I complain and so, that is one way in which I may spiral out of control and be totally negative and whinny. Sure, it is ok to complain but I've got to learn to know how to stop.

So, to address this, I am starting to think very carefully when I want to complain about things. Of course, this does not mean bottling up emotions and etc., but finding another positive outlet to rechannel my energies. However, this does not mean that I'm going to turn into a pussycat, not willing to stand up for my rights and etc. We all need to release our frustrations in one way or another, the important thing is not to let it go too far.

I find that by taking a step back, and trying to think the positive side of things, the negative thoughts go away. Of course, being a bit hot-headed and a pessimist by default, this is a very hard thing to do. Although, it is hard, it is not entirely impossible.

I've been reading/listening/watching a lot of motivational material and to stay positive, it all boils down to a few key items:
  • Nobody can make you happy but yourself
  • Don't let worry eat you inside out
  • Laugh often (have a sense of humour)
  • Visualize and project positive thoughts
It is all about having a proper mental adjustment towards the situation at hand.

I still remember a good video of the famous "Bus Uncle" in HK, who said, "你有 压力, 我有 压力!!" which literally translated to "
You have pressure, I have pressure!".

I'll write more about those 4 points in the future, but for now, just think positive thoughts.

If you have watched the "Pursuit of Happyness", you'll know what I mean. It is an uplifting film, and it has certainly opened my eyes. If you thought that it was a comedy of sorts, you are dead wrong. It is about being positive in our pursuit of "happyness" and to each person, it is different.

Think positive, stay positive. (^_^)

April 15, 2007

Going Ubuntu's Way

I have used a number of Linux distros in my day, but none has impressed me as much as Ubuntu does.

I have been a firm advocate of RedHat or CentOS for servers for its reliability and ease of use. However, for the desktop, I did not find a good substitute for Win* other than Lindows or Mandrake (now, known as Mandriva).

When I got some interns to do a bit of research on using the GSM Modem on Linux, they came across Ubuntu. It was still at beta during those days and from the screenshots, it looked promising as a Win* replacement for those going the Open Source way.

Anyway, I decided to install Ubuntu on my aging P3 800Mhz Intel box which still had some life left. This old box was previously running Centos 4.3 but after it displayed a "kernel panic" message for some odd reason and so, I decided it was time to change distros... (^_^)

The problem I had with this machine is that it is situated in my room, quite far away from my Router/WiFi AP and so, I had to use a wireless USB device in order to get access to the Internet. Now, the fun part begins... that is, because my wireless USB device has not been certified to be supported by Ubuntu yet. (o_0)

However, after a little bit of Googling (I love Google!), I found out about this little application called "ndiswrapper". This little utility is an open source network driver which implements a Windows kernel to dynamically link NDIS APIs with the network driver. In layman's terms, it helps use the Windows drivers you get with your wireless network card to work in a Linux environment.

Now, Ubuntu's installation did not take very long, it was well under an hour (far shorter than Win XP's installation) and it didn't ask many questions. Primarily, it asked me the following:
  • Who I was
  • What was the current time/timezone I was in.
That was it.

Shocking, right?? (o_0)

Anyway, here is a screenshot of my Ubuntu machine...

It did not take me very long to get my Wireless USB device to work, although it did involve a little bit of command-line work but what are a few command lines when you're in the *nix world. ;)

Frankly, I think Ubuntu is just great. It is a good start for those who want to have an alternative solution to Win* due to hardware or $$$ issues. However, if you do want user friendliness because you're not a very savvy computer user, go Win*.

If you can't keep yourself away from Win* for whatever reason, there are a few emulators out there like WINE (WINdows Emulator) and VMWare which can emulate Win* on a *Nix environment.

I should be posting up some resources on how to get your USB Wireless Adapter on Ubuntu soon, which is a gist of what I've discovered when I setup my machine this afternoon.

Edited: 12:26am
P/S: I only had to reboot Ubuntu once, and that was when the installation completed. After that, you could use Ubuntu right away. (^.^)

April 09, 2007

Why Easter Is More Important Than Christmas

Christmas makes me sentimental. There is no doubt about it.

Due to its commercialism, I get very sentimental around Christmas time especially when I hear the first Christmas Carol over the radio or see the first Christmas decorations around the many malls around KL.

Sure, due to this commercialism, Christmas makes everyone sentimental or... greedy.

However, Easter brings about a different feeling.

Sure, it is not very commercial here because we don't see Easter bunnies and eggs as it does not bring about that "oomph" feeling, making consumers want to fork out more during this time of year, i.e. March/April.

However, in other countries, i.e. Western ones, Easter is getting to be quite commercial. Everywhere you go, you'll find pictures of bunnies, flowers, eggs all around. Besides that, there is also the big chocolate sales where people give chocolate bunnies or eggs to friends/family.

In both celebrations, the most important person is forgotten, i.e. Jesus Christ.

When you ask a young child, be they Christian or non-Christian, what they think about Christmas and they think of two things - 1) Santa Claus and 2) presents. When you ask them about Easter, most non-Christians in Malaysia would not know the significance of it. In Western countries, the child may answer 1) Bunnies and 2) Chocolate.

Some Christians feel that Christmas is a bigger celebration because it is when Christ comes into our world, small and helpless, like us. Certainly, we all identify with Christ during Christmas because during this time, He is small, helpless and we feel drawn to Him in His small, helpless form.

Easter, in fact should be a bigger celebration because it is during this time, Christ risen from death, has conquered sin and Death, thus freeing us from these shackles. It is also during this time, the Church is born because He has left us a message to perform the Eucharist as a Remembrance of Him. (Luke 22:17-19)

And from that moment, the Church which Christ has founded began and has continued to this very day. Isn't that more important than Christmas?

During Christmas, we are reminded that Christ, humbled Himself to be born a human, to live, suffer and ultimately die for us. However, during Easter or on Good Friday, Christ made the ultimate sacrifice by dying for us to set us free from our sins.

So, surely, Easter is a greater celebration than Christmas because He triumphed over Death and by doing so, brought us closer to God through a new covenant. (Romans 6:4, 1 Peter 3:18)

Anyway, all being said, I would like to wish everyone a Blessed Easter. May the Easter Joy make your souls dance for joy and hearts sing out loud, praising God!


April 02, 2007

New Template!!!

After Blogger went non-BETA, a lot of new features were introduced, making Blogger more attractive to the average blogger or n00bs who wants an intro to the blogging world. ^_^

Anyway, I have just sent about 1.5 hrs converting my old blog template to the new one, which incorporate the concepts of "widgets" rather than static HTML "div" sections to segregate content. It is a nifty idea and there are loads of new widgets to use, but I am a control freak and so, I stuck to the HTML/JavaScript widget.

After getting countless "not well-formed XML errors", I have discovered that the new templates are being parsed by an XML parser and so, all the tags need to be well-formed. **confused**

This means that if you have a HTML attribute called "noshade", you will need to assign a value to it, rather than leaving it as an empty attribute. Besides that, the tag <br>(break) will need to be well-formed; i.e. notated as "<br/>" or else you are going to get a lot of strange "unclosed tag <div> errors". **more confused**

Oh well, I am still tweaking with my new template and if you find some strange errors, please do notify me. It will take me a while to get it all working right again. Nevertheless, if you're a n00b, you will enjoy the new template layouts, or else, if you are a tweaker like me, be prepared for some eye-squinting, head-scratching time trying to normalize HTML to be well-formed XML. (0___o)

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