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October 11, 2015

Finally managed to upgrade to latest Debian Testing without breaking my install completely

Filed under: Linux/Unix Related,My Life — Suramya @ 10:19 PM

Some of you might have wondered (for a very brief amount of time) based on my last post and then lack of activity if I had managed to get myself sent to Mars but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The problem was more mundane, basically I had somehow managed to get my desktop in a state WHERE it thought that it needed to uninstall KDE whenever I tried to upgrade to the latest Debian packages using ‘apt-get upgrade’ or for that matter when I tried to install any new package as well. After ignoring the issue for a while I decided to take the plunge and went ahead with the upgrade thinking that I would just reinstall KDE after the upgrade completed. Unfortunately that didn’t work out as planned and I had to do a full reinstall from scratch. It was something I thought about doing so that I could resize the partition allocation but didn’t have the time/incentive to do it. So this was the perfect time to take the plunge.

I re-partitioned the drive and started the install. The first few attempts failed quite spectacularly because apparently some of the packages in the ‘Unstable’ branch are broken (which is not unexpected because after all it *is* called the unstable branch.) After I switched to the Testing branch which is more stable than unstable I got a bit further along but hit another snag while installing KDE as during the upgrade systemd kept complaining about not being able to talk to policykit and died after giving the following error message a few hundred times:

Error getting authority: Error initializing authority: Error calling StartServiceByName for org.freedesktop.PolicyKit1: Timeout was reached (g-io-error-quark, 24)
Failed to execute operation: Connection timed out

This stumped me for a while since I didn’t have the energy at the time to research the issue in too much detail. I would have resolved it faster but as I had my laptop working I was able to get work done and access the net, (even if it wasn’t the most comfortable way to work.) which reduced the urgency to fix the problem. After a few weeks I finally got time to sit and work on the issue. Turns out the problem was caused because systemd was expecting a later version of policykit than what was installed and apt-get wasn’t upgrading policykit before it started installing KDE. The solution was quite simple after I figured out what the problem was, which was to upgrade policykit by issuing the following command as root before installing KDE:

apt-get install policykit-1

After running that command I was able to upgrade to the latest Debian Testing and with that I also got a newer version of KDE (5:90 is what apt-get calls it) which is nice and has a lot of eye candy. However as with all KDE releases/upgrades to a new system (Plasma) it still has issues/missing features. Annoying stuff that I have found so far is listed below:

  • There is no quick icon widget. I put all the software I regularly use in the Quick icon bar and not having it is really annoying. There is a temp workaround where I can right click on a window and select ‘Show as a Launcher when not running’ but it is not the same.
  • There is a bug that prevents you from disabling the beep for system events for all events. So everytime I try to delete sometime I get a loud and annoying beep. I can’t switch off all sounds because then I can’t hear my music either. Lots of folks have been complaining about this so hopefully there will be a fix out soon.
  • Not all software minimizes to the system tray. Specifically, Tomboy which I use to take notes exits completely when I close it instead of minimizing to the system tray which is what it used to do. I am sure there is a setting that I am missing but I haven’t found the fix yet.

There are other minor annoyances but they are mostly caused because the new version does things slightly differently so I guess I just need to get used to the new way. To top things off my UPS battery has gone for a toss and I get an amazing 0.2 mins of backup with a full charge. :( I have ordered new batteries but till they arrive I need to remember to power off the system when I am not around.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later (hopefully more regularly now that I have a working desktop again).

– Suramya

September 7, 2015

Sending my name to Mars on NASA’s InSight lander

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:50 PM

NASA has this thing where you can register to send your name to Mars on their InSight lander. Since it is free and seemed like an interesting idea I registered and got my very own boarding pass. So what does it actually mean? Basically my name will be etched on a micro-chip and blasted to Mars on the lander. Pretty cool right? (Just for my name though but still it is cool.Hopefully there will be actual flights to Mars in my lifetime.)

My Boarding pass

If you want to have your name sent then you have till tomorrow to register. You can do so here. More details on the process and the lander are at the NASA page, check it out if you have some time.

– Suramya

September 3, 2015

How easily do you get Bored?

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:00 AM

I have heard a lot of people complain being bored when they don’t have their phone or are away from TV. Thankfully I never had that problem because ever since we were kids me and my sister were taught that there is always something interesting to do, observe or think about so we were not allowed to say that we were bored.

So I rarely feel bored but till now there was no way for me to check if this was true scientifically. Folks over at the New Scientist have created a quiz that claims to check ‘How easily bored are you?’ by answering a bunch of questions. Now I don’t usually take such quizzes but its New Scientist which is a respectable magazine on Science so I decided to give it a try and this is what I scored:

Your score is 45. That means you have a very high boredom threshold – scores range between 28 (not easily bored) and 196 (very easily bored).

If you score below 63 you are in the 1 per cent of the population who are hardest to bore – you may never or rarely experience boredom. People like you tend to be curious and have good self-control.

If you are curious give the quiz a try: How easily bored are you? (Alternate link, in case the previous one doesn’t work) and do share the results.

– Suramya

August 12, 2015

Taught my nephew how to call people using voice dialing

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 12:49 AM

So while I was at my sisters place over the weekend I decided to show Vir (my nephew) how to call people using voice dialing on the Moto 360. I used the command ‘Ok Google call Mom’ to have the phone call Mom as an example.  Then we decided to let Vir try it out and surprisingly the phone actually did call Mom when he tried it. (At least it did till he insisted on saying OK boogle instead of OK Google).

The fun started when he wanted the phone to call his mom (my sis) using the command ‘call mom’ and was unhappy when it kept calling my mom. So then I had to explain to him that since it was my phone it was calling my Mom and not his. Over all it was interesting to see how quickly he picked up how to use voice dialing.

Though in hindsight it might not have been the best idea since he will insist on using voice dialing to call people when I visit next. Ah well. Joys of playing with kids. :)

On a side note majority of this post was written using voice typing on my moto x. Now if only I could figure out how to add a full stop when dictating things would be perfect.

Well this is all for now I’ll write more later.



– Suramya

June 29, 2015

I have a new niece!!!

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 6:13 PM

At 4:32pm Sara Bhansali was born. Both mother and baby are doing great.

Will post pics later when I have a better net connection. For some reason my phone is refusing to upload a pic.

– Suramya

And the wait begins..

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 8:34 AM

At the hospital waiting to find out if I will have a new niece or a nephew.

Hopefully this time it will be less of a wait, but I am fully prepared in any case :)

Will keep folks posted.

– Suramya

June 25, 2015

Life in Bangalore’s fast lane with 3.8km/h speedy drives

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:56 PM

Today just as I was leaving for home Google Now messaged me that it would take me 53 mins to get home if I drove which was 14 mins more than normal. What makes it interesting is that I live 3.4 kms of driving and 1.6 km walking from work. This means that I would have been driving at an amazing speed of 3.8km/h tonight. How is that for a fast drive? No wonder it took me 2 1/2 hours to get back from Whitefield the last time I drove there.

We really need to do something about the traffic situation in Bangalore. The Roads in Bangalore are some of the most haphazard and ridiculously designed roads that I have ever seen. However the situation does seem to be improving a bit thanks to the newly built St Marks road which is very nicely done and for a change seems to be following a logical plan.

In case you are wondering, I decided to spend an hour more at work and then did the trip in 15 mins. Yes, I had the car today. It’s raining and once it rains the ‘sidewalks’ can be re-branded as swamps so I prefer to drive instead of walking.

– Suramya

June 14, 2015

Why cataloging all my books was a bad idea, sort of.

Filed under: Books Related,My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 8:53 PM

A little while ago there was a book sale happening and I wanted to buy a few books but couldn’t remember for sure if I had already bought them earlier or not and I couldn’t check because a lot of my books are in Delhi. I didn’t want to buy the same book twice so I ended up buying a different book but this made me think that I should keep a catalog of all the books I own so that I know which ones I need to buy. So I asked Surabhi to take a photo of all the books in Delhi and over the past few weeks I have been transcribing the names of the books to a text file.

As of today have a list of 334 books (excluding ebooks) that I own. I still have to go through another 5 shelves so the final count will be about another 125 books. Yes, that is a lot of books, but I did tell you that I read a lot.

During this time I realized that there are books from some of my favorite authors that I don’t have in my collection so I made a list of books that I need to buy to complete the collection. The list is not complete yet but I have already ended up buying 18 books in the past 2 months. Thankfully there were a couple of sales happening so I got a whole bunch of discounts but I need to start controlling my shopping sprees before my credit card files an official complain :) as this is turning out to be a very expensive undertaking.

The good part is that I now have complete collections for some of my favorite authors. The remaining books that I am missing are in my queue to be purchased and I will be buying them as and when I see a sale or a discount on books in any of the stores. Interestingly I found that Flipkart is no longer the cheapest source for books in India as beat their prices almost 90% of the time.

Well this is all for now, I am off to make space for the new books in my bookshelf here in Bangalore.

– Suramya

June 13, 2015

Watch Jurassic World if you haven’t seen it already

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:27 PM

Went to watch Jurassic World yesterday and I really loved the movie. When I first heard that they are making another Jurassic Park movie I was a bit skeptical but they did a great job. Thankfully it wasn’t a remake but a sequel. This installment is set 2 decades after the first Jurassic Park movie and has homages to the original all over the place. Basically this one manages to remove the bad taste the last installment in the series left in my mouth.

If you like the series and think you know the movies then you should check out the following quiz created by John Scalzi using
trivia from the first three Jurassic Park films. Get all of the quiz questions correct, and you survive. Miss one or more, and you get killed and possibly eaten by a dinosaur. Which dinosaur? It depends on how many questions you miss. Have fun.

After finishing the movie I was reminded why I loved the first one so much and how awesome the books were so I am going to spend my weekend re-reading the Jurassic Park and The Lost world by Michael Crichton.

Well this is all for now. Will write more later.

– Suramya

May 16, 2015

Testing Auto post publication to FB, Twitter

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 7:57 PM

Testing Auto post publication to FB, Twitter. If all goes well this should be posted to FB and Twitter automatically.

[UPDATE] Yay! It worked :)

– Suramya

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