Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Month: March, 2007

My Clip on NBC Nightly News

A while back, I uploaded clip I made on to my website. It was just a clip of us soldiers being silly. Anyway, after I came back from war, I uploaded that clip to YouTube. My initial comments were something like “lyk yeah whatevr that is so stupied”. I didn’t take those seriously, especially since it came from someone that couldn’t spell “stupid” correctly. I forgot about the clip until I received an email some months later from both NBC, and LMNOTV. NBC asked me if they could use my clip on their NBC Nightly News. I was surprised that my little clip would generate so much interest, and I went ahead and agreed. LMNOTV said that they might air my clip on their “My War Diary” show later this year. I’m going to send them a few more clips and pictures as well.

But anyway, check out NBC Nightly News tonight, and you may see my clip. Oh, and if you’re coming here because you saw my clip on NBC Nightly News, here are links to all my posts dealing with my experiences:

Running aterm (or any other X app) rootless, without a DOS console on Cygwin

This guide is outdated. Please check out the updated version of this guide here.

On any system that I plan to use for an extended period of time, I will always install Cygwin. This is mainly because I like have UNIX tools on Windows, and also so that I can use the console to do things that DOS is not able to do. I started using Cygwin in 2000, and I’ve continued using it since. One of the cool things you can do with Cygwin is run X, which means that you can have X applications running on the Windows desktop. When I was interning at Motorola, I used to run eXceed, with fvwm. This was where I first ran into aterm. What I liked most about aterm is the eye-candy. You can have transparent windows with shading effects and all sorts of other cool stuff. I tried to get aterm running on my machine at home by compiling it from source under Cygwin. I was eventually able to do this (install libjpeg, libpng, libAfterImage, zlib, and the X includes and libraries first), but what I didn’t like was the fact that you had to start up a Cygwin console to open up X, and then aterm. I wanted aterm to start up and run directly without that ugly DOS/Cygwin console window. Of course, you can’t simply run the aterm executable because it needs X and Cygwin to be running. I eventually figured it out (actually a few months before leaving on my “extended vacation”) by starting out with X running with a rootless window. Oh, and run.exe proved to be very helpful. Anyway, here is how you do it:

First you need to add C:\cygwin\bin to your PATH Environment Variable. You can do this from My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Environment Variables. You might also have to add C:\cygwin\usr\X11R6\bin to PATH.

Then you need to create two batch files. The first one is to start X, and the second one is to start aterm (or whatever X app you want to start). The example I’m going to show includes starting up X with a wallpaper (using xv), and then running aterm. I run aterm with a transparent background, using the X wallpaper. However, you can also load aterm with a background image of your choice.

The batch file to start X, which I call xwin.bat looks like this:

C:\cygwin\usr\X11R6\bin\run.exe C:\cygwin\usr\X11R6\bin\xwin.exe -multiwindow -clipboard -silent-dup-error
C:\cygwin\usr\X11R6\bin\run.exe C:\cygwin\usr\local\bin\xv.exe -display :0 -root -quit -be -maxpect /cygdrive/c/Wallpapers/upper_limit_wp_dark_1600.jpg

This will start up X in a rootless window with upper_limit_wp_dark_1600.jpg as your X wallpaper. Next, you write a batch file (aterm.bat) that will load aterm:

C:\cygwin\usr\X11R6\bin\run.exe C:\cygwin\bin\bash.exe --login -i -c "aterm -sh 50 -tr -trsb -fade 20 -tint gray -bl -sb -st -sr -sl 1000 -tn xterm"

This batch file will load aterm with the background image at 50% brightness, transparent background, transparent scrollbar, 20% fading on losing focus, gray tint, borderless window (sometimes works), scrollbar, trough-less scrollbar, scrollbar on the right, 1000 scrollback lines, and with xterm terminal emulation. One issue I have had with this, is that aterm may load up with the default (checkered) X background. This is because the xv did not properly execute in xwin.bat. I have no idea why this happens, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you can modify aterm.bat:

C:\cygwin\usr\X11R6\bin\run.exe C:\cygwin\bin\bash.exe --login -i -c "xv -display :0 -root -quit -be -max /cygdrive/c/Wallpapers/upper_limit_wp_dark_1600.jpg && aterm -sh 50 -tr -trsb -fade 20 -tint gray -bl -sb -st -sr -sl 1000 -tn xterm"

This batch file will load xv every time you start aterm, so there is a slight performance hit on startup. However, it’s not that big of a deal because the xv instance quits right after it sets up the wallpaper, and so you’re not loading a new instance of xv into the memory every time.

Well, there you have it. I hope it was helpful!

X with XP
Screenshot of my XP desktop, with aterm, xcalc, xclock, xeyes, and xterm running

Change

Sorry about not writing for so long. I was slowly getting back to “normal life” and I felt kinda apathetic about writing. Then when I actually felt like writing, my internet connection went down. It’s a long story, and I’ll talk about it later, but basically I have no more static IP’s. But I’m so glad there’s this.

My whole vacation was about “change”. Scratch that. Going to war, coming back, and settling into normal life has been about change. Usually I’m averse to change. Yeah, I’m that guy who orders the same damn thing everytime I go to a restaurant. Mostly because I really like the dish. It’s not so much I like being in a rut (I don’t), but it’s more that once I am comfortable with something, I don’t like changing it. Change makes me stressful and agitated and I usually don’t like it. I like to have a handle on every aspect of the situation and I hate “unknowns”. But if anything, I think I’ve learned how to deal with change.

I find myself thinking of the “good old days” a lot. I get patronizing scoffs from older people (people in their 40’s or 50’s) when I say this, but seriously; it’s true. After college, a lot of things changed. I started working, I got a house, and then I went to war. I listen to music on the radio, and I say “What is this shit? Music was so much better in the 90’s!”. That’s also when I realize that I sound like my father (of course, he claims music was better in the 70’s). But again, it’s more than that. I think I’m in that gray area when you realize that you’re actually starting to become a “grown-up”. Some people say it’s because you lose the clichéed “innocence of childhood”. But I think calling it the “ignorance of childhood” is more apposite, and as we all know, another cliché tells us that “ignorance is bliss”. My view of the world has become significantly grayer and duller over the years by layers and layers of cynicism. I don’t mean this just figuratively. No, really – I distinctly remember the days being brighter when I was younger. Is that what happens when you “grow up”? I remember wonderful summers in India, when I was seven or eight. There is this tree in our backyard that we children would play around. The sunlight was brighter, and butterflies would be flitting around us as we played. I didn’t see that many butterflies when I went to India this time, or the last time for that matter. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough.

When you grow up there are a lot of new things you learn, things you wished you didn’t know. You are expected to take part in “grown up” discussions and things like that. Stuff that’s really tiresome. Sometimes I feel that everyone talks, but nothing gets done. That’s really frustrating for an engineer, who’s whole life revolves around solving problems. I’d say for the most part of the eight years since I left highschool, my life was constant. But I think it was the going away for a year that made me realize how much had really changed. Being out there for a year made me re-evaluate so many things, especially my personal relationships (these especially for the better). I think part of it was because I was a passive spectator to my own life, one that was moving along without me. I mean, life wasn’t really “going on” for me. Life for me, was Arizona and I sure as hell wasn’t in Arizona for a year. It’s funny when I try to place things or relate to things and I realize that my point of reference is from two years ago. It’s very disorienting to immerse yourself into an environment that’s a year ahead of you… like stepping into a moving train.

One of the major “changes” I’ve had to deal with is my little sister’s marriage. I knew it was going to happen one day, but it was more of an abstract concept than something concrete. But yeah, my baby sister is getting married – later this year in fact. It’s a happy occasion, but still different than what I’ve been used to. Some changes haven’t been so happy. It’s sad when you look at an old photograph and realize some of the people are no longer around… and that some of them won’t be around much longer. I wonder if cynicism is the inevitable consequence of knowledge and adulthood. I do find myself looking at a lot of things through jaded eyes. Somewhere along the way I lost the sense of wonder I had during my childhood, or even in my early college-years. I guess I still believe in the goodness of things, but more often than not I am surprised by it.

I think it will get better though. Being in touch with my family, being around my family, and in the company of old friends helps it out quite a bit. Just like anything else, it’s always only a matter of time…

I’ve got a few pictures here from my trip in India. There are a few missing which I will upload later. There are also others that I lost when the drive on my laptod died (this always happens to me). I’m going to try and salvage what I can from it this weekend and see if I can get the pictures back. I’ve got pictures of my highschool teachers and highschool principal here. The feeling I have towards them can only be called “reverence”. In Hinduism they say that the Guru (teacher) is equal to God. Nothing could be further from the truth when describing my teachers. I would not be where I am today, without their help.

Acha
Acha

Amma
Amma

Big Doggie
A Newfoundland I met at JFK.

Honeymoney
The cutest doggie in the world.

Mr. Andrews, Mr. Dogra, and I
Mr. Andrews, Mr. Dogra, and I.

Mr. Bhatnagar and I
One of the most amazing persons I have ever known.

Mr. Joy and I
My old class-teacher, Mr. Joy standing in front of good old 12 A!

Mrs. Ghosh and I
Mrs. Ghosh, my old Ibri house house-mistress. She never actually taught me, but that seems irrelevant. I still remember reciting a piece from G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion for the House Recitation compeition.

Mr. Srinivas and I
I certainly wouldn’t have understoon Electricity and Magnetism if it wasn’t for Mr. Srinivas. One of the most interesting and engaging teachers I’ve had.

Mr. Stanislaus and I
Mr. Stanislaus wouldn’t let me synthesize RDX in the Chemistry Lab. That was probably a good thing. It’s also because of him that I can still amaze Chemistry Geeks with my random bits of Chem knowledge.

Poochas
Our cats in Muscat. Thomas, Sundari (meaning “pretty one” in Malayalam), Karamban (meaning “black one” in Malayalam), and Tiger Poocha (literally translated, “Tiger Cat”. It’s a name I made up).

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