Friday, July 27, 2007

My Amalgamation

Like the local governments of QLD I've amalgamated my websites into a new single site that incorporates aspects of them all and will be able to provide further interactive aspects that I've been thinking of implementing for a while.

My new site currently has a blog and a section where I can share my University papers and other writings. I'm also going to include a photo gallery, some audio clips of my band and some solo recordings of myself. The University papers and other writings section is still being populated, however, as the blog is fully functional I will be shifting my attention from this blog to my new one.

So, finally, where is this new site to be found? Head on over to

and do leave a comment or email me and let me know what you think and possibly pass on some ideas and suggestions.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ubuntu "Feisty Fawn" and Windows Vista Ultimate

The following is a video of some of the features of Windows Vista Ultimate alongside an Ubuntu "Feisty Fawn" install running Beryl. Watch the following clip and remember the price tags of the two operating systems...Windows Vista Ultimate is very expensive while Ubuntu "Feisty Fawn" with Beryl is completely free! (and open source :)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ubuntu "Feisty Fawn" on my Compaq V3000

UPDATE: This website is no longer maintained. This guide has been migrated to where you will find any updates. Please post any questions or comments at the new site.

This weekend I decided to take the plunge and install a Linux distro on my notebook PC. The reason I had not done so by now is because this particular notebook is well documented as being problematic under Linux, particularly the WiFi card as it is completely proprietary with no Linux drivers being available. I am now posting this using Linux while watching a DVD over a wireless network protected with WPA, the DVD is stored on a Windows XP machine running NTFS...I must have done something right. The following is a guide as to how I got Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” running with full functionality (actually better but more of that later) on a Compaq V3000 (V3118AU) model notebook.


After downloading the Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” iso and burning it on a CD I booted into the live distro. If you're using the same model notebook as me, or a Broadcom WiFi chipset, you'll notice in the boot procedure that there are two errors. The first error says 'PCI BUS BUG #81 [49435000]' and the second says something like 'error 983 with BCM43xx'. I've no idea what the first error means and I doubt that it's important, I'm still getting this error now and my system is functioning well. The second error is the one that we need to address. Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” comes with a generic BCM43xx (Broadcom WiFi) driver but it lacks the firmware files so fails to load. I'll address these two errors later.

Once the live CD boots up you can play around if you like or just move right on to the installation. I put 10GB aside for the install so just followed the instructions on installing Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” into the free space. Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” installed without any problems and I booted into it fine, with the same errors as mentioned before. To my surprise the only hardware not working 'out of the box' was the Broadcom WiFi card and the audio. In fact, I discovered that I have a working Bluetooth and IR system (tested both) that didn't show up under WinXP.


The first step was to get the WiFi working as I could then work on everything else. As the wired LAN was functioning I plugged into my router and downloaded NDISWrapper (I did first attempt to just add the firmware to the BCM43xx driver but it took too much effort and didn't function stably) -> System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager -> Search for NDISWrapper, click the check box and then Apply. Before you proceed make sure you have the Windows driver for the Broadcom card. You need to extract the .sys and .inf files from it. I placed mine on my Desktop.
Now pull up a terminal and type 'sudo rmmod bcm43xx'. This unloads the Broadcom driver from the system.
Type 'sudo rmmod ndiswrapper' to unload any instances of ndiswrapper that my be running. Type 'sudo ndiswrapper -i filename.inf' where filename.inf is the location of the driver, mine was ~/Desktop/filename.inf.
Type 'sudo ndiswrapper -l' and if the driver installed properly then you'll get a nice little list saying so.
To load NDISWrapper at startup type 'sudo ndiswrapper -m'.
Restart the computer and there you go, a working Broadcom WiFi. Mine picked up my WiFi from inside my main house and my neighbours WiFi signal too. I also get better signal strength than under WinXP. Also, I connected fine with WPA encryption thanks to the Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” network manager.


The audio was a hassle as the card and driver were loading correctly at startup, I just got no audio. The first step I took, now that I had WiFi, was to update Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn”, this apdated ALSA. The correct driver for my hardware is the intel8x0 so I entered 'gksudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base' which opens the alsa configuration file. I then updated the snd-hda-intel entry to my driver, snd-hda-intel8x0 and rebooted. While the computer was just starting I went into the BIOS and disabled the audio options there. When Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” started back up I had audio.


Strictly speaking the video works with Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” with no mods. However, if you want 2D and 3D acceleration you need to install the nVidia driver. This couldn't be easier. All you need to do is select -> System -> Administration -> Restricted Drivers Manager and hit go, if you have a net connection that is. Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” downloads the current nVidia driver and installs it. After a restart you'll have full featured graphics.


The shortcut keys on my notebook all worked out of the box. The mute key and the volume keys work better than in WinXP as there is no delay in their actions. There is actually one key that appears not to work, the media centre key. This key actually does work, it is just not assigned any action, I assigned mine to open xmms. The touchpad is turned off on startup but if you have no mouse all you need to do is to hit the touchpad power key. Everything else works a treat. The two inbuilt microphones work well, the firewire and usb have no issues. My USB drives all auto mount and the five in one card reader works well.


Some other applications that I have found useful with this Ubuntu “Fesity Fawn” distro have been:
Thunderbird is a powerful open source email client. I use Thunderbird on WinXP and copied the profile folder over to my local Thunderbird directory. Now I've got all my mails and filters etc.
Beryl is a window manager with a difference. For the best GUI experience you'll get try Beryl...if you think Win Vista has good visuals then you'll be blown out of the water by this.
ALLTray is an app that will let you minimise any application to the task bar. I'm having troubles with ALLTray and Beryl though.
XMMS is a multimedia player that just works. Ubuntu "Feisty Fawn" does come with Rhythmbox but I just prefer XMMS as it is small, has many plugins and I've been using it for years.
Wine is an acronym for Wine Is Not an Emulator and allows (some) Windows based apps to run under Linux.
Azureus is a bit torrent client.
Bluefish Editor is a web site creation tool that works with all the major web based programming languages such as PHP/MySQL, HTML/XHTML etc.
Audacity is an audio recording and editing environment. It's a fantastic tool.
Filezilla is a full featured ftp client from Mozilla.
Gnome Baker is a CD/DVD creation environment.

So if you think that Linux isn't for notebooks then think again. At least with Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” you can have a fully featured Linux distro that will work on even the most proprietary of systems.

P.S. This is my 100th post so happy birthday to me!

UPDATE: This website is no longer maintained. This guide has been migrated to where you will find any updates. Please post any questions or comments at the new site.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Busy Week

What a week it's been. I've just finished drafting a letter to the Social Security Review Tribunal to appeal a decision regarding some money I think I'm owed...fingers crossed.

But what's really been consuming my time has been my new website I'm working on. You'll find the test site HERE if you feel inclined to take a look but it's not up-to-date and many of the features aren't working Live. I'm really testing everything well before I upload it. My intention is to update the test site every Friday at midnight AEST so, for example, all the revisions and additions I completed today (Saturday) won't be posted until next Friday.

Updates to the test site this week include:

  • A new site-wide theme.
  • A new Blog that incorporates this theme.
  • All new MySQL database design for faster and more reliable access.
  • A search feature in the header - currently searches the blog from the blog page and searches google from the home page.
  • New PHP 5.0 page design that allows for faster site-wide updating.
  • Implemented a neat little footnote script in the blog.
Updates that missed this week's review:
  • The new graphical navbar missed addition this week as I'm still tweaking the a:hover state of the buttons. The new navbar replaces the Photos link with Media.
  • I'm still using a separate Internet Explorer style sheet until I'm comfortable with the one I'm using on my localhost.
  • The Uni Paper's database is not live so the cool home page I'm working on on my localhost isn't available. The home page on my localhost so far includes a most recent Blog Post section and a most recent Uni Paper section.
What I'm working on this week:
  • Getting the style sheets to a single sheet for ie and other browsers.
  • Getting all my font styles the way I want. I'm open to suggestions regarding the font colours/faces in the body.
  • Writing the PHP code for the Uni Papers pages (expected to take more than a week).
  • Tweaking the Home page code that displays the most recent entries for Blog Posts and Uni Paper's. Uni Paper's is the tricky one as I have five separate tables that need to be referenced with the most recent entry amongst the five being displayed. I've no idea how I'll achieve this at the moment so I'm open to suggestions.
Once all of that is completed I'll move on to populating the Uni Papers database and creating the PHP search files for the Uni Paper's site so that I'll have a functional Uni Paper's Site, a functional Blog Site, and a functional Home page.

After all of this I intend to move on to creating the media site where I'll host photos, videos, audio and some other papers and documents that I've written such as my Beginning the Tabla book. I'm not even thinking of how I'm going to lay this site out yet so don't ask, although, like above, I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Orientalism in Australia: the Middle Eastern Mongrel

This morning I was enjoying myself at one of our local markets when my wife and I overheard some fellow market goers talking about a shopkeepers dog. Being the eavesdroppers that we are, my wife and I adamantly listened in. This group, the fellow market goers (I'll call them a group, I assume that's an appropriate collective noun for market patrons), some middle aged to elderly ladies, were discussing 'what was in the dog'. By this they were attempting to discern what 'breeds' of dog were present in this apparent mongrel. As an aside, the dog in question was a very healthy and happy looking creature.

My wife and I were unable to listen in to the entire conversation as the group moved along but this got us talking. My wife is a Sociology/Community Development major so she's quite interested in a lot of the same concepts as I. We were both of the same opinion that this was a case of 'othering' or 'orientalism'. I put it this way: The group attempted to put the dog into a 'class', in a sense labeling the dog. This then allows them to discuss the value of the dog in relation to other designated 'classes', maybe in relation to the 'class' we would call 'purebred'. From this division of 'classes' and value distinctions we are left with a social system created entirely by the observer.

It is easy to observe a correlate 'racialisation' in the contemporary world, particularly Australia at present. We (I use this term loosely) assign characteristics to this 'other' no matter how diverse they may possibly be. I'll use the example of the Middle East here as it is particularly relevant. Middle Eastern people have been racialised in Australia in a very similar way to mongrel dogs. Despite their diverse social systems, religions, and ethnicities, they are lumped in to a socially constructed mongrel class. As Scott Poynting, Greg Noble, Paul Tabar and Jock Collins show in their recent book Bin Laden in the Suburbs: Criminalising the Arab Other (2004, p.49), 'Middle Eastern [has] become conflated with Arab, Arab with Muslim, Muslim with rapist, rapist with gang, gang with terrorist, terrorist with 'boat people', 'boat people' with barbaric, and so on...'. Now while all of these characteristics may not be applied to all Middle Eastern people all of the time most of them are. It is an interesting exercise to ask people on the street to define the Middle East. Most people point to a geographical area on a map, most of these people, however, disagree where the boundaries are. It is interesting, or perhaps sad, to see this though; many people will include India in their Middle East map and many Australians, and I can only assume people of other nationalities too, are loath to include Israel, although most do if they are pointing to a map that isn't labeled. You see Israel is geographically part of the Middle East but is ethnically separate, or so they say...(Maybe more on this another time)

But the entire Middle East is a diverse area. There have been, and continue to be, numerous religions present and the diverse social systems can be quite contrasting. Even throwing the label Muslim around is part of the same problem, mongreling this Middle Eastern other. The Middle East is a 'Western' Orientalist experiment gone wrong; because the diversity was never recognised, even to this day, the Middle East is simply a mongrel.

Like the mongrel dog at the market today, the Middle East and the many and diverse people who reside there, and the many and diverse people who reside here in Australia, Australian citizens...people born here, people with Middle Eastern heritage, will never be fully valued. By making this statement I am in no way claiming that people who are from the Middle East, or who's ancestors were/are, are in any way to be thought of as a dog, I am simply saying that Australian society treats them that way, as a mongrel. We have created a single class of people from a diverse social group and assigned them characteristics that many of them have never possessed. Australia created the Middle Eastern other in our national psyche, it is not an organic feature of the world. Australia has created the Middle Eastern Mongrel.