Windows, Ubuntu and a USB flash drive.

So a couple of days, I came into possession of a small USB drive. It’s one of those small things that can hold something like 125MB, and be carried around. I’m planning on putting Damn Small Linux on it and scaring a couple of my friends with a “Oh my god! I accidentally installed Linux on your computer and wiped out your Windows!” .So anyway, I wanted to try it out. On Ubuntu this is quite simple:

  • ls /dev/sd*
    That bit was because I’d also tried out a digital camera that day, and so I didn’t want to mount the wrong drive (obviously!)
  • sudo mount /dev/sda1 /drives/usb
    Since that was the only one there, it had to be my USB drive. I’d already made that folder there and a link to it from my home directory.

That was it. After that worked, I added it to my gkrellm drives krell and now it’s a one-touch mount/unmount. I still have to enter the sudo password, but I consider that a feature and I’m told I can remove it if I wanted.

On Windows 98SE, this was a little harder, in fact, had I not had Ubuntu, it would have been impossible. As soon as I plugged it in I got a message saying a new piece of hardware had been detected and that the computer was going to install drivers. The USB stick came with a little (literally, half the diameter of a normal disc) CD which was marked USB Flash Disk Driver. “Alright, this should be straightforward.”, I said to myself. I was wrong. When I went through the whole search routine (with both that Internet and the CD option enabled) Windows gave me a “couldn’t find the driver” dialog.

Fine, I may not know the intricacies of the system, but I know of the magical “Have Disk…” option hidden away somewhere. So I got there, and when I tried to open the relevant folder on the disc, I got a “Folder doesn’t exist” message. This was ridiculous! I couldn’t open anything on that little disc. I did the standard reboot, no help. The eject CD, adjust position, reinsert didn’t work either.

Now, a little annoyed, I rebooted to Ubuntu, and opened the CD, and strangely enough, I could see every folder. So I copied the contents onto my hard disc, then onto my FAT partition, then rebooted to Windows, and used the drivers. Finally, I was done. I could use it!

PS: Windows still doesn’t open the Driver CD, Ubuntu still does.

Of Forwards and crushes

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of forwards. Funny stuff, these forwards. People seem to really want to know what other people’s crushes are really badly. All this started when orkut started getting popular among the girls and boys who were once my classmates in school. Then they started pulling all these funny forwards out of their hats.

In the last two weeks I’ve encountered:

  • The add-your-name-to-get-money mail: This one is very interesting. You add your name to the top of the list, and forward it to the next person, and it keeps going until it reaches the person who starts it, then she gives everyone money. Funny.
  • The sick kid mail: You’ve all seen this one. You forward it to the next person and AOL pays the sick kid 2 cents. Amusing. Lots of variations, with most starting with the “You will be the most hard hearted person if you delete this.” or some such.
  • The crushlist mail: Apparently, a crush list is a list of all the crushes you’ve ever had. Why people would keep such a list only god knows. So anyway, there are many different kinds of this mail. I’ve got two so far. Let’s quote quote.

    C_var_crsLst=1 {1,0}

    Send this to every one in your friends list, and you should be able to
    see the crush lists of everybody in your friends, it actually works

    And the other:

    man this is creepy its called mind reader. send this to every1 on ur list and then press F8 and ur crushes name will appear on ur screen

    Quite frankly hilarious.

I rate the last one, best. It’s the funniest I’ve seen in a long while.

Soft Drinks and Pesticides

After 3 and a half years it’s back again, the whole “soft drinks have pesticides” issue. The funny thing here is that no one did anything back then and no one is going to do anything now. Nice try Mr. NGO, but it’s the government who can decide on regulations.

So while the Government Man is sitting on his ass dithering, the United States warns that India won’t get any foreign investment the way it’s acting. As much as I hate to identify particularly with any single country, I live here, and this sure as heck annoys me. So anyway, here’s what the BBC says,

A US official has warned India that bans imposed on soft drinks like Coca Cola and Pepsi could blight its hopes of attracting American investment.

Ah, ha, perhaps you mean,

Drink our poison, or we’ll choke you.

Interestingly, I haven’t touched a soft drink in many months (probably even a year) now. My water, though, is bottled by the same company that sells these drinks and I think I should be a bit careful now.

Two weeks of Airtel Prepaid

SIM card shop locationTwo weeks ago, I got a mobile phone. A simple Nokia 1100. Apparently, getting a phone is the simplest part of getting a mobile phone number that you can be called at. Getting the SIM card necessary involves provoking arguments among your friends over which Service Provider is the best and why the one they use is the best they’ve ever used and stuff like that.

After much discussion and argument, I chose Airtel because:

  • An Aircel or Hutch connection lost the signal inside my Computer lab while Airtel held.
  • Most of my friends have Airtel.
  • Hutch makes the maximum revenue per customer and owns 49% of Aircel.
  • My mom uses Hutch, and she frequently loses signal while we’re in my grandparents home near the Anna Flyover
  • SMSs from/to Hutch phones seem to take hours. I often see my friends getting messages 30 minutes to 4 hours after the message was sent
  • Hutch is pink and owns 49% of Aircel, hence Aircel is half-pink

So anyway, I went to the little shop that was advertising selling these things that was near my house and asked for a SIM card. That’s when he started asking for my identification, proof of residence and photographs. Fortunately, home’s nearby so I hopped in the car, and fetched my stuff. After a little waiting for the fellow in front of me to finish, and after choosing my number and filling in a form, I had my phone with the card in it.

Interestingly, I couldn’t use my phone at this point. I had to wait for a message to the phone, and then call a number and set my language. After this, it was supposed to work. It didn’t. So now I went trudging back to the man and then he went all apologetic and called someone and then informed me (and 3 others having the same problem) that Airtel was having a little trouble with new registrations and that it would take another half-hour. Knowing that this was India, I expected this to take a couple of days (you know, 30 minutes GMT = rand(1,2) days IST), and went about the rest of my work grumpily. Surprisingly, within 20 minutes I had a message from the fellows at Airtel telling me I was good to go. That was impressive.

Now came the second hurdle, I, ignorant nut that I was, had chosen the Talk More plan . After consultations with Chetan, I concluded that I would not be able to switch plans to the Student Pack and would have to go through the whole routine again, so I proceeded to burn off the cash in the card. Fortunately, sleep interrupted me, and the card was saved. The next day in college, in the famed computer lab, my friend Daniel T fixed the whole problem while talking continuously of how dumb I’d been. I forgave him the second part because of the first part. Anyway, the solution to switching your pack is,
SMS STUD to 404
They replied saying the pack would be changed in 4 hours. And in 4 hours, voilà , I had my student pack minus the Rs. 20 I’d burnt off the previous night.

Since then, I’ve had little trouble with Airtel. There’s no signal near the Airport, or at Nungambakkam rail station, but else-wise, it’s been very good. So here’s the guidelines to save you trouble:

At 200 something messages a day, I spend 10 bucks off my card every day. That’s pretty reasonable. In fact, when the validity expires tomorrow I’ll probably still have 5 bucks left on it. Of course I plan to recharge today anyway.

You can see a little argument over service providers here.