printting man pages

There are times I want to print out a man page or redirect it to a text file for other reasons. Everytime I did man iptables > iptables.txt I got a bunch of control characters.

IPTABLES(8)                                                        IPTABLES(8)N^HNA^HAM^HME^HE       iptables - administration tool for IPv4 packet filtering and NAT

S^HSY^HYN^HNO^HOP^HPS^HSI^HIS^HS

i^Hip^Hpt^Hta^Hab^Hbl^Hle^Hes^Hs [^H[-^H-t^Ht t^Hta^Hab^Hbl^Hle^He]^H] -^H-[^H[A^HAD^HD]^H] chain rule-specification [options]

i^Hip^Hpt^Hta^Hab^Hbl^Hle^Hes^Hs [^H[-^H-t^Ht t^Hta^Hab^Hbl^Hle^He]^H] -^H-I^HI chain [rulenum] rule-specification [options]

Well there a nice little utility called col which filters reverse line feeds from input. Go figure. Here’s how to get rid of the noise.
man iptables | col -b Which results in

IPTABLES(8)                            IPTABLES(8)NAME

       iptables - administration tool for IPv4 packet filtering and NAT

If you redirect the latter to a file, you can print it like any other text file. Enjoy!

Family tech support

As a software engineer, I am usually called upon to be the family tech support person. Under most circumstances I am more than willing to do it and actually enjoy it. At home we have weened off of Windows for almost everything except iTunes. That’s my only weakness as I like how easy it is to buy songs and put them on my iPod.

Friday, I had to fix a printing issue with my mom’s laptop. I tried to help over the phone but it is too difficult to do. The printer would print from the media card but not the computer. Turns out there were almost 30 print jobs stuck in the queue. I removed them all and the printer worked again. Not quite sure what the problem was, but it worked. As I’m writing this I completely forgot to open up the VNC port for remote debugging 😦 oh well next visit. I forgot to mention my mom’s laptop is a Dell 1501 running Ubuntu. It has Windows XP Home installed but we don’t use it at all. Ubuntu meets all of her computing needs. Also, it’s not one of the Dell Ubuntu laptops either, we bought it before that happened.

My father-in-law was having some serious computer issues with his machine, a Shuttle XPC with an Athlon XP 2600+, 40GB hard drive, nVidia onboard video and 512 MB RAM. Not a speed machine but still very usable, well it should be considering Liz’ PIII 733 with 512MB ram ran just fine until I upgraded it.

So the problem with his machine was, well, it had TOO MUCH SHIT on it. The 40GB drive had about 100MB free. I have no idea how that can get full since he does email, word processing and music. Plus the machine ran slow as molasses. I mean slower than the PIII 733 I mentioned earlier. First thing was to backup his data to a portable Western Digital 80GB Passport. I then removed unused programs. I found 7 versions of Java installed 1.4.1, 1.5.0, 1.6.0 plus updates of each taking up 800MB alone. This was NOT his fault, but the way Java updates itself on Windows. This is one place Linux shines.

There were 4 media players: WINAMP, Windows Media Player, Musicmatch, and iTunes. There was a Spanish version of Microsoft Office 2003 Small Business edition including SQL SERVER! Windows Live OneCare and Mcaffee anti-virus suite, and a bunch of other crap.

What makes me annoyed is not that fact that he asked me to help him with his computer because I like doing it. It’s WINDOWS! That’s what I really hate. Data files and config files are scattered everywhere. No easy way to get a list of the programs installed or to uninstall them, especially if the uninstaller gets corrupted. Above all Windows is a pain in the @$$ to install as well.

I can re-install a Fedora Linux based machine in a couple hours. I backup /etc, /home, and rpm -qa to get a list of the software. I then install Fedora, setup livna repos, yum install the missing packages I need after a fresh install, then rsync back /home, and any /etc configuration I may need (usually not much). DONE! FINITO! FINIS!

Windows? Um, that’s just a hellish process. Install Windows XP with SP1 (part one of the problem). Install drivers for hardware (usually several CDs worth), create users, download software from different places (no repositories like Linux), connect to Windows Update a bazillion times to get all of the proper updates, install other software from CD, copy back data that was backed up and hope we got it all, reconfigure all user settings as that wasn’t backed up. Not to mention the bazillion reboots required in the process.

In the process I mention how easy it was to setup Linux and he asked if I could set him up with it. I declined because there are some programs he has that won’t run on Linux like LESSONmaker, iTunes, and many others. I know I should be spreading the Linux word, but I knew there were some problems I couldn’t solve easily for him.

This got me thinking, so who is the Linux target market? In my opinion there are two types of users that make great Linux users: 1) folks like my mom who are new to computers 2) power users who understand how computers work and don’t mind tinkering. The hardest people to switch to Linux are those that “know enough to be dangerous”. Because they buy or use esoteric software off the shelf that have no equivalent solutions in Linux, do lot’s of media i.e. music playing, downloaded, etc with their Windows PCs, or don’t have the patience to tinker. This is a difficult segment to crack.

After almost 4 hours of dealing with Windows, I gave up and brought the machine to my house to try again without any time pressures. Maybe I’ll install VirtualBox or VMware with a Linux image so he can try out Linux to see how it works for him. It would certainly make my life easier to deal with Linux than Windows.

Even with this ordeal I’ll still keep helping him with any computer woahs, not just because he’s family, but because I still like computers and tinkering.

Thanksgiving

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend. We drove up to Maryland and stayed with my in-laws on Thursday. We were making great time until we got to Tysons Corner, VA where it took us 1 HOUR! to go from Rt 7 to the American Legion Bridge. The minute we cross the state line the traffic just vanished. Speeds increased from tortoise 5mph to 70mph. This only confirms my suspicion that Virginia is just a blackhole.

We spent the rest of Thanksgiving day with Liz’ family, had a great meal and the ritual going around the table giving everyone a chance to give thanks. It’s very cool but I’m not good with these emotional events, it always takes me out of my comfort zone. They always end well though so it’s all good.

On Friday, we went to spend the day with my parents. The boys had a great time jumping into a pile of leaves in the backyard. It was their first time as we don’t have enough trees to generate a big enough pile at our house. It was nice to see my folks and let them see “los nietos”.

Saturday was a busy day for me as I was trying to fix / upgrade my father-in-law’s computer (more on this later). The girls – Liz, Iliana, Jacquie, and Viv went shopping around noon, while the boys hung out with me and their Grandpop. They did very well despite me fighting with a computer.

To avoid the usual Sunday after Thanksgiving traffic we decided to leave Saturday night. I took a 1.5 hour nap Saturday evening to make sure I was refreshed for the late night drive. We left Maryland at 9:45pm and got to North Carolina at 1:55am. There was NO traffic and we were moving at pretty good clip. Thanks to the black Chevy Tahoe from Georgia for making the trip more entertaining as we tried to keep up with each other looking for gaps in the traffic.

All in all it was a GREAT weekend.

boxedup.com

Since the Christmas season is approaching, yes it is *NOT* here yet, I’d like to remind folks of a great website called boxedup.com. It’s a great wish list site to give folks ideas of what you would like as a gift for any time of year, not necessarily just for Christmas.

Christmas is AFTER Thanksgiving

One of my favorite holiday’s is Christmas. But the media and retail establishments in the US are ruining Christmas. They start decorating stores in Christmas gear on November 1st. Radio stations are playing Christmas music all day already. What happened to Thanksgiving? Are we just going to skip that holiday?

And for those people that have forgotten when Christmas is, use this website: http://www.isitchristmas.com/. I refuse to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving is over. To me the Christmas season starts the day AFTER Thanksgiving.

So remember, it’s Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, THEN Christmas. At the rate we’re going Christmas in July will become a reality.

update

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Marco & Iliana have been sick the past week or two. Marco’s gotten better, Iliana continues to as well. Today she started CRAWLING! It was awesome to see.

Adan & I had a little spat on Tuesday night while at the family night at his school. It was over a book of all things. They had a book fair and Adan really wanted to buy a book about foam airplanes. It wasn’t a how too book though, it had 10 foam “pages” each with popout foam pieces to make foam airplanes. I felt that I had to “help” him make a better decision for buying a book. It was a book fair, not a toy fair. After my suggestions didn’t work, I went the brut force method, “No, I am *NOT* buying that book. Period.”

After sleeping on it, I realized that the real point of the book fair was to allow him to actually make a decision and get whatever book he wanted even if it was a bad one. So I told him he could get it today when his class goes back to the book fair. Turns out Elizabeth found a better book about making paper airplanes which came with several sheets of designer paper to make very cool paper airplanes. The best part of this book is you can use any paper and it will last a lot longer.

In the end, Adan gave the foam book to another boy who really really wanted it, and he made the right decision and got the paper airplane book.

On the car front, yes the saga continues. A week after I got the car back from my major repair, the A/C compressor started to squeal like a banshee when the car started or idled. I ignored it as I always do hoping it would go away. Well, yesterday morning the car wouldn’t turn over. The starter and battery were doing their best, but with a stuck pulley it’s hard to keep the engine running. I scored the alternator, power steering and A/C pulleys to see which one was stuck. And sure enough the A/C compressor was the culprit. Not much of a surprise as it hasn’t cooled the car for almost a year now, and the mechanics at Carolina Auto Masters said it was shot. But $700 – $900 isn’t worth fixing the A/C. Thankfully, the fourth gen f-body’s have a nice A/C delete pulley that can be used to replace it. I don’t get any A/C, but the car loses like 12lbs and gains more horsepower.

A friend of mine mentioned a nice mechanic shop called Ronnie White’s in Youngsville. I used these guys the last time to tow my car, so I figured I’d give them a try. They’ve been very communicative and are working on the car. I went with the A/C delete because it’s only $250 worth of work 🙂

That’s it for the going’s on in my neck of the woods. It’s time for bed, it’s been a long week.

maven :(

Maven how I loathe the.

[jmrodri@firebird ~]$ sudo yum install maven2
Setting up Install Process
Parsing package install arguments
Resolving Dependencies
...

Transaction Summary
=============================================================================
Install     64 Package(s)
Update       0 Package(s)
Remove       0 Package(s)

Total download size: 25 M
Is this ok [y/N]: y

Why must you depend on the world!