Elon Musk, Mars Colonization, and me

Imagine you have lots of money, what do you do? Do you give it all to charity? Do you keep it until you’re 80 and then let your children fight over the will? Do you perhaps setup trust funds with altruistic goals, that end up eating most of the money for management overhead after you’re dead? (hey, execs need their bonuses, right?).

What I like about Elon Musk’s choices and initiatives is that he’s putting his money and energy into humanity’s future. He is not investing in its present or past problems, and he is not getting his hands dirty with politics.

What I realized today, is that if I had all that money, I would probably want to join him as a co-investor, and at the very least, I would try to get involved into one of the projects, even if just to help him reach his goals sooner.

I think of the countless times in my childhood when I really wished I could travel to the distant future. I did not like what I was seeing around me as a child engrossed in Science Fiction books that described partially utopian futures. I spent a lot of time thinking about how far I would have to travel into the future until I reached an era that might be to my liking. I figured at least 200 years into the future until most resource and religion wars are behind us, and the majority of humans have evolved enough to become decent human beings, with advanced, friendly philosophies that promote exploration, science, and simply being good to others (humans and non-humans).

What Elon Musk is doing is admirable because his actions bring this future into our present. This is the kind of atmosphere I want to live and work in. When you actively build the future, you invite it into your present life, and you become part of that future as much as that future becomes part of who you are. And let’s not neglect the gadgets: When you build futuristic gadgets, you live in the future right now.

This makes me want to focus even harder on my own business venture, with the goal of making enough money to be able to join Musk’s adventures.

Let’s hope I succeed! But whether I succeed or not, I am at least proud to belong to a species that produces people like Elon Musk, who are constantly pushing the envelope. They stay a tree is as tall as its many branches, I say the tree is tall as its highest branch / leaf / flower.

 

VMWare Perl SDK on Ubuntu Lucid (10.04 LTS)

I have recently found interest in a system called OpenQRM to manage Virtual Machines / Appliances, as well as Cloud Machines (Public / Private). One of the plugins bundled with OpenQRM allows you to manage VMWare ESX Servers. It will scan the network and auto-discover VMWare Servers, However unless you install the VMWare Perl SDK it will fail to connect to the remote VMWare.

I had some trouble installing the Perl SDK, and decided to share what I’ve done so others may have an easier time installing it on Ubuntu Lucid.

As a preparation step, install the following packages:

sudo apt-get install libarchive-zip-perl libcrypt-ssleay-perl libclass-methodmaker-perl libdata-dump-perl libsoap-lite-perl perl-doc libssl-dev libuuid-perl liburi-perl libxml-libxml-perl

Once that’s done, you need to download the actual SDK from VMWare.com – You need an account to access the download section. Once you are logged in, the URL to access the SDK is:

https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/get-download?downloadGroup=sdkperl50

When I ran the installer for the first time, it seemed as if it was done installing. There was a warning about HTTP and FTP Proxies not being defined, but I ignored it at first, thinking it was done but just complaining a bit. It turns out that it actually fails to install if those proxies are not defined.

To circumvent this, I just set them with empty values, and that did the trick:

export http_proxy=
export ftp_proxy=

Then unpack and run the installer:

tar xvzf VMware-vSphere-Perl-SDK-5.0.0-422456.i386.tar.gz
cd vmware-vsphere-cli-distrib
./vmware-install.pl

This time, the installer will install missing Perl module via CPAN, and after a few minutes (depending on how fast your system is), it will complete the installation.

Now when you add a VMWare ESX system within OpenQRM, it will manage to establish a connection to VMWare without a problem, and add the VMWare system to the Appliances database.

 

From Russia with Love?!

When I was very young, Russia was this “grey” and “evil” entity. Having lived in countries mainly under the influence of the west, this is no surprise. The impression was that the government is not very good for the people, as in, not very democratic.

However this is my third or fourth time to Russia, and what I discovered has changed how I think about countries and governments in general.

The first thing that shocked me was how popular virtual money is. When you are in the wallet business, you learn that in Russia the most popular valid form of payment is “Webmoney” but the reality is that many russian companies have wallets! What really matters, is that you can walk a short distance from your home and convert your real cash to virtual cash, with which you can then pay for services online. For that, a rampant network of money collection terminals exists, with fierce competition in some areas. The machines only take money, and produce a receipt.

In some apartment buildings the machine is in the lobby so you can go downstairs in your PJ’s and convert money to virtual value without braving the elements (visualize the Moscow winter to realize how practical this is!).

What makes this business thrive in Russia and Ukraine? What is the government doing or NOT doing, which allows wallets to be so popular? Is it the lack of trust in Russians banks? Is it some Russian cultural trait?

I welcome your feedback on this one.

R.I.P: Mogul (My good old MacBook Pro)

Last week “Mogul”, my trusty old Macbook Pro Unibody (circa 2008, basically the first model that came out) has decided to die a sudden death. 30 minutes before its sudden departure from this world, it helped me locate the address of a local motel where I then spent the night mourning its loss.

When you go through some rough times together with someone (or in this case, some object), you become attached to that object. It’s been there for you, and it served its purpose. Sometimes I feel It’s really like the Rifleman’s Creed, but my version is the version for geeks:

This is my Macbook. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My Macbook is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My Macbook, without me, is useless. Without my Macbook, I am useless. I must code with my Macbook true. I must code better than my competitor, who is trying to steal my market share. I must take market share, before he does. I will…

My Macbook and myself know that what counts in this war is not the software we write, the noise of our marketing department, nor the public relations we make. We know that it is the sales that count. We will sell…

My Macbook is human, even as I, because it is my Macbook. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its ports and its unix. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my Macbook clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…

Before the universe, I swear this creed. My Macbook and myself are the defenders of my company. We are the masters of our competitor. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is ours and the competitor is begging!

I then started going through the following stages of human grief:

Stage 1: Denial

I thought it was some sudden barometric pressure, humidity, or some weird voodoo in the firmware. Maybe a ZAP to the PROM? Maybe the battery died? Maybe it just needed a charge? I couldn’t believe at that stage that the computer died, even though the signs were not very encouraging. However every day, I tried to turn it on. Maybe today will be my lucky day? I said to myself. But its death was very real 🙁

Stage 2: Depression

I was sad and depressed. How could this happen to me? All those days of lost work, how will I ever catch up? What if the data is also gone? My last Time Machine backup is pretty recent, but still, a few weeks old…!

I spent the week without my Macbook pretty sad and lonely. What made this worse, is that I had to borrow a laptop from my dad. Guess what, it was an ASUS laptop, with Windows 7 on it. I was grateful to have a machine to work on, and I did manage to accomplish almost everything I needed to accomplish, but I suffered with that machine. I suffered bad. Microsoft’s platform is just plain horrible, even with their latest “achievement”, Windows 7.

Stage 3: Anger!

At this stage, I was angry. I was angry at Apple, at myself, and with the world in general. Here’s a list of what I was angry at, and why:

  • Apple – Because when I just bought the laptop, the hinge was already loose and holding the laptop at an angle the screen would close on my fingers. I brought it to the shop, and the Apple Geeks said that was normal. But the next Unibody revision saw this problem fixed!!! Grrrr!
  • Apple – Because after a few months, I discovered my optical drive did not work. I discovered this the first time I really needed it (to burn an ISO of a Linux OS that I needed to install on a server). I was traveling at a country without an Apple Store, so I decided I had enough time until my warranty expires, and I burned that ISO on an external burner. I then reached Munich (Germany) with my travels, where I took the Macbook into an official Apple store. They decided my cdrom was fine, and even came up with some logical sounding excuse: I had modified my EFI and the cdrom was affected by this, but when I left Munich I discovered they were wrong. I restored my EFI to the original firmware, and the cdrom still did not work. I couldn’t even boot from a brand new, store bought copy of Snow Leopard!!
  • Apple – Because the laptop only held a charge for 2 hours, even with a brand new battery! When I wanted to use the lower power nVidia, the screen was blinking, and even though many people report this problem, Apple won’t admit a fault in that series of Macbook, and won’t replace the motherboard! The solution: Use the higher power nVidia 9600GT, and the screen won’t blink.
  • Myself – Because I did not buy Apple Care! And if I had AppleCare, I would not have to buy a new Macbook like I did.
  • Myself – Because maybe I wasn’t gentle enough with my Macbook. Although I never dropped it, and for its age, it looks pretty damn near-mint condition.

Stage 4: Acceptance

I had to accept reality – My Macbook was RIP! And the sooner I repair it, or find a replacement, the better. The sooner I can get back to my Mac profile, the sooner I will get rid of the Windows laptop. It has become a holy goal, worthy of my time and energy.

That’s when I started to look for solutions, and I found not one, but two solutions!

Solution 1: I went to a local “Market” and found this cool merchant dealing only with Mac stuff. He had a lot of Apple laptops, but one laptop was particularly interesting for me: An almost new Macbook Pro 15″, with an i7 processor running at 2.66Ghz, 8gb of RAM, and 500gb 7200RPM drive. The advantage: An American Keyboard! This was a dream come true, and cost just 20,000 DHM (That’s around $2445 at the current going rate). I took the S/N and checked that it wasn’t stolen, and was still eligible for AppleCare, and it was! Awesome!

Solution 2: The same merchant told me about some Moroccan berber guy who had a broken 15″ of the same series as mine, and was using it in the desert. His screen was broken, and he was using it with an external display, but he was getting sick of it and decided to replace it. The merchant promised me the motherboard for 2000 to 2500 DHM (~$240). This means that if the motherboard works in my MBP, my wife would have a cool 15″ MBP, which is way better than her regular 13″ Macbook Unibody.

I then formulated a plan: I would buy the first laptop, sell my wife’s 13″ laptop, obtain that motherboard and fix Mogul. My and my wife will then both have 15″ MBP’s!

Update #1: Solution 1 achieved. I am now back online with a new 15″ i7 MBP!!! Now to try and get that motherboard for my dead Mogul before I fly to Russia!

Update #2: My brother flew to Morocco to visit my dad, and he brought my dead MacBook Pro with him back to New York. Here, we found a chinese lab that fixes any dead Mac motherboard for a flat fee of $250. They fixed it and it’s back to life!

Stay away from UltraHosting

Today I have been burned with UltraHosting.

They want me to pay $75 just to boot a rescue CD on my machine which failed to boot a new kernel, around 24 hours ago (it has failed, because they initially set only 46mb to my /boot/ partition, which is not enough for modern kernels). So basically, my data is being held hostage for a $75 ransom, until next month where I am entitled to another 15 minutes of free support. Then I will be able to ask them to spend the 2 minutes to boot a rescue CD. Then I will be able to SSH into the box, and get my data.

Besides, Their support staff takes hours to respond, their billing staff even longer, and they are not helpful at all, leaving you on the edge, eating your own fingernails. I mean, around 18 hours until receiving the answer from them that they won’t help me without me paying the $75…??

Why anyone works with them is beyond me, especially when there are so many superior competitors in the market, with Remote Boot and KVM-IP features (Hey, With those features I could have fixed my own server in less than 10 minutes! been there, done that!).

Goodbye Ultrahosting… and “good luck” surviving as a hosting company…

RabbitMQ for Beginners

Or shall we call this “The missing beginner walkthrough”? Another name I liked and saw on the web was “The Attention Deficit Disorder Guide to …” 🙂

In this short post, I describe how to get RabbitMQ up and running very quickly, on Ubuntu 9.10 Server. Although this will probably apply to other operating systems, since most of the issues are with RabbitMQ configuration and principles.

Click to continue reading “RabbitMQ for Beginners”

Or shall we call this “The missing beginner walkthrough”? Another name I liked and saw on the web was “The Attention Deficit Disorder Guide to …” 🙂

In this short post, I describe how to get RabbitMQ up and running very quickly, on Ubuntu 9.10 Server. Although this will probably apply to other operating systems, since most of the issues are with RabbitMQ configuration and principles.

Click to continue reading “RabbitMQ for Beginners”

Singularity very near

When you read articles such as this one: Will a Computer be Implanted in Future Human Brains? you can’t help but say: Ah, the singularity is closer than ever.

For me there is no doubt that eventually, small parts of my brain will be enhanced and replaced, and eventually, all of it will be replaced. It will create a new me out of me, with extra dimensions. I’m betting it will also help me revive very old memories that lost certain associations and are stranded (Some brain “doctor” software will find and fix corruptions in my memory).

It is at this point that I will have the option to become immortal, by uploading my consciousness to a central hive mind, where I will be able to live in a virtual reality, and later, as more advanced robots exist, I will be able to inhabit a body that looks and feels like a real human body (kinda like what the Cylons did, in Battlestar Galactica).

I’ll try to cover more on this subject in my blog from now on, since this subject interests me a lot! 🙂

Update: Another article about controlling something with the mind: In the Future You Will Control Machines With Your Mind