Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

October 8, 2022

Thoughts about some of the new TV shows

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 6:19 AM

Over the past few months there have been constant whining by a certain group of people who think they get to decide what should be shown on TV and anything that keeping with their view of what is right is ‘Woke’ and should be removed from TV and never shown to anyone. Never mind that they are a minority and almost everyone else likes the changes. These folks have been trying to stream roll Lord of the Rings: The rings of Power, Sandman (The Netflix show), She-Hulk and a bunch of other shows that dared to show non-white/non-male people in major roles.

This is the same nonsense they pulled with Star Wars, Ghostbusters amongst others, unfortunately it did work for the most part for in those instances as the studio rolled back some of the major changed. Thankfully, this time people have wised up to this tactic and with show runners like Neil Gaiman there is a snow-balls chance in hell that they will be listened to. In any case, in this post I just wanted to talk about some of the shows I have been watching and thoughts on them (Used to do this quite often in the early years of the blog but haven’t in a while):

Lord of the Rings: The rings of Power

I am not a fan of the LOTR, the movies were ok but nothing that I would go back and watch again and the books were painfully verbose. I don’t enjoy reading a multi-page description of a walk from one place to another along with a description of what they ate on the way and I still haven’t finished the 3rd book (don’t plan to either). But, the Rings of Power is a fantastic show and the cinematography is awesome. The show is enjoyable and has a consistent storyline that makes sense even to someone who doesn’t know the details of how the story ends in the future. There has been a lot of grumbling/whining about black people having a prominent role but they can suck it up. The characters are likable, believable and most of the time the decisions they make make sense. Which is not always the case in such stories as sometimes the decisions are made to further the story and that gets annoying. Looking forward to the season finale and the next 4 seasons of the show.

Sandman

I have not read the comics and will rectify that as soon as I finish watching the show (currently at episode 7 of 10). What a fantastic world and I love how it has been brought to life. The Lucifer TV show was a spin off from the Sandman comics so I was aware of them but never got around to reading the comics. One complaint a lot of people had was that they should have asked Tom Ellis and Lesley-Ann Brandt reprise their roles as Lucifer and Mazikeen in the show. I felt the same way initially but after I watched the episode I have changed my mind. Tom Ellis is a fantastic actor and his take on Lucifer is awesome but it wouldn’t have worked in Sandman as the tone mismatch between his take and the rest of the show would have been painful. Gwendoline Christie’s take was sublime and I loved it.

Can’t wait to see how the season ends so no spoilers please.

She-Hulk

Lots of crybabies have been complaining about the show and while it is not super brainy and serious it is a fun watch. You just need relax and enjoy the casual fun. They do tackle some serious themes that might not be obvious immediately such as the toxic comments and fandom. They have taken actual comments posted by folks and incorporated them into the show which in turn really pissed of the ‘fans’ making the comments in the first place. They talk about toxicity, the glass ceiling and a lot of serious topics in a fun and engaging way.

Not the most intellectual shows but is a lot of fun and you should check it out if you haven’t.

Vampire Academy

Its an interesting show based on a book series with a significant fan following. I haven’t read it yet and will prob do that once the show is over. I like the concept, the characters are interesting and believable and the storyline is engrossing. Not very gory like True Blood and very little nudity and sex. (Fans of Game of Thrones/True Blood will be disappointed)

Check it out if you like Vampire shows.

House of the Dragon

I did not like this spin-off just as I didn’t enjoy GoT. I barely got through half the first episode and stopped watching. The show is not my cup of tea even though it has a fantastic cast.

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

– Suramya

October 7, 2022

I am now a CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker)

Filed under: Computer Security,Linux/Unix Related,My Life — Suramya @ 6:23 PM

Gave my CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) exam on 3rd Oct and have successfully cleared it.


Certification Number Certification Name Issue Date Expiry Date
ECC8907421563 Certified Ethical Hacker October 3, 2022 October 02, 2025

The exam was interesting and required a bit of memorization but over all not bad. I do wish they allow us to access the books or use the tools on the computer. I have a hard time remembering the parameters for commands and there were a few questions in there about what parameter would you use to do x. Normally I would do a man command before running it but here I had to remember the commands so it was a bit more annoying and required some extra effort to memorize, other than that the questions were great and required a lot of thinking and knowing the system.

Well this is all for now, will write more later.

– Suramya

October 6, 2022

Why you should High-Five your child often and frequently tell them that you love them

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 1:46 AM

Saw this on Twitter earlier this week and I was flabbergasted to know that people have such high/strong opinions about high-fiving. This person is a strong believer in the fiction that children should be seen and not heard. Some of what he says I do agree with, such as “Children should not call parents by their first names” and “Should not be allowed to watch certain movies that their parents watch”, but the rest of it is nonsense. Before we start with the critique, you should first read the op-ed in question and then we can proceed.

The whole article is a mess but I especially love the way he explains his objections to his son when their grandkid (5 years old at the time) didn’t understand why they wouldn’t high-five them. The answer given was “I don’t expect him to understand and I am not going to explain it to him”. When the son responded saying that they don’t understand either, instead of explaining the logic the response given was “I am not going to explain myself to you either”. This is not the response you expect from someone who is sure of why they are doing something, this is the answer you get from someone who thinks they are always right and anyone not agreeing with them is wrong. Basically the typical strong/alpha man response where any sign of affection or love was a sign of weakness. The best way to get someone to understand why you are doing something is to explain it to them, decree’s like this are not the way and sure as hell don’t make you loved or liked.

Lets step back a bit to look at the meaning of High Five, according to Cambridge Dictionary it is a “greeting or an expression of admiration in which two people each raise a hand above their shoulder and bring the fronts of their hands together with force”. Every other definition that I have been able to find is similar and no where does it say that the people have to be at the same age, equality, gender, economical status. Of course practically speaking, I am not going to go high five a random grandmother or someone walking on the road. But there have been instances where this has happened and is appropriate. For example, if a big win happens or something worth celebrating (such as a rocket launch, or a sports win, or massive sales) everyone will be celebrating it and you will have random people high fiving and giving hugs to celebrate. It is normal behavior.

Another reason to high five someone is to encourage them and acknowledge their work, especially a kid. It is a way to make them know that people around them are proud of them and this doesn’t have to be for major tasks. Sometimes it is the acknowledgement from small achievements that stays with you the longest. If a five year old is taught to set the table for visitors and they do it well, a simple high five will let them know that their work was appreciated or if they managed to recite their alphabets correctly for the first time they need to be supported, celebrated and encouraged. A high five is a simple easy way of doing that…

Your relationship with your kid is not the same as the one you have with your boss. Treating both the same way is a recipe for disaster. You can celebrate the small wins , be approachable but still maintain discipline. I know I don’t have kids so there is a limit to how much I know about raising kids. However, I am the self appointed cool mama who gets to teach the kids about cool stuff I find and while the kids will come to me with any questions they have no disrespect is tolerated.

Interestingly, this view is a minority view and folks across the internet are speaking up against this. As per a 2015 study by researchers at Notre Dame, it was found that “parental soothing, constant physical presence with plenty of affectionate touch and playful interactions with caregivers are vital to a child’s wellbeing as an adult. Without parent touch, play and support, the research says children have “poorer mental health, more distress in social situations and are less able to take another’s point of view.”. Giving a high-five is a simple tactile way of showing the approval and love.

When questioned about the negative response to his op-ed, John’s response was blunt, condescending and dismissive stating:

“The reaction was also HUGELY negative, and I still stand my anti-high-five position. ”

“The majority of respondents failed miserably at countering my opinion with intelligent opinion of their own; rather, they engaged in ad hominem, which is the refuge of the inarticulate. I’m perfectly willing to engage in intelligent discourse on the subject. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any,”

The way John wants to raise their kids and grandkids is how the old British folks used to do, where any love or affection shown was a sign of weakness. Personally I think that is a miserable way to live. I much rather have folks show their love and regard honestly. I still give my parents, relatives a hug when I meet them. For some I touch their feet, for others I try to lift them up (or now more frequently they try to lift me). We all know our place and the relations are bound with love and mutual respect rather than obligation.

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

– Suramya

October 5, 2022

3D Scanning was used over 160 years ago to create photosculptures

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 1:32 PM

When we talk about 3D scanning we all assume it is one of the emerging technologies and with the recent advances it has been growing more and more popular. A usecase that is becoming popular is to scan a sculpture or art installations so that the scans are published online and can be converted to VR or used to 3D print an exact replica. For example, The State Darwin Museum in Europe has been slowly digitizing / 3D scanning its collection. Other museums have been doing the same as well.

But interestingly, this is not a new technology and it was in use over 160 years ago to create what is known as photosculptures. A recent article on Hackaday.com talks about how in the late 19th century (1861) the art of creating realistic, 3-dimensional replicas using a series of 24 photos that were combined to create a 3D image was extremely popular. This process was called photosculpture and was invented by François Willème, a French painter, photographer and sculptor.


Example of a photosculpture created using this technique. (PC: University of Virginia: Department of Art)

He perfected the art of taking photos from 24 camera’s in a circle with the subject standing in the middle, synchronizing them to create a 3D model that could be projected on a screen. Then a pantograph was used to cut the layers of the picture into thin sheets of wood. The artist would then assemble the cuttings to create a rough 3D replica of the object. Once the base was created they would fill in the details using materials such as bronze, plaster of Paris and terra cotta to create a realistic result.


A visual overview of how Photosculptures were created

This whole process was a lot cheaper than having a sculpture created via the normal process and a lot faster so it became quite popular for a while with the public. But with other competitors patenting their own versions and the demand reducing he had to shutdown the studio by late 1868. Check out the following article for more details on the process More than 100 Years before 3D Printers, We had Photosculpture which is quite fascinating.

It made me think that we have this unspoken assumption that the previous generations were not as smart/advanced as we were and only in the modern world we have these amazing breakthroughs that wouldn’t have been possible earlier and then you read about these inventions and techniques that were there hundreds of years ago that does the same thing (albeit a bit more crudely) as our modern cutting edge technologies. There was a lot of scientific advances done historically that were lost due to various reasons and sometimes I dream about how the world would have been if we had not lost the Library of Alexandria or the Nalanda University which were amongst the many institutes destroyed by invaders and their staff & students slaughtered. Imagine how many advances were lost, how much wisdom was lost over the years due to this…

– Suramya

October 4, 2022

Workaround for VPN Unlimited connection issues with latest Debian

VPN’s are a great way to ensure that your communication remains private when using a pubic internet connection such as when you are connected to an Airport or Coffee shop Wifi. Plus they are good for getting access when a site is blocked where you are, for example in India VideoLan.org the main site for VLC Media player has been blocked for a while. I primarily use VPN Unlimited on all my systems as I have a lifetime subscription though I also have other VPN’s that I use sometimes.

Unfortunately, the native VPN Unlimited application for Linux has stopped working a while ago due to a compatibility issue with SSL. When I upgraded to the latest version of Debian back in July 2022 it suddenly stopped working with the following error message:

vpn-unlimited: symbol lookup error: /lib/libvpnu_private_sdk.so.1: undefined symbol: EVP_CIPHER_block_size

Reinstalling the software didn’t resolve the issue and neither did a search on the internet help. When I reached out to support they told me that Debian 11 wasn’t yet supported and they didn’t have an ETA for the new version to be released. They did recommend that I manually create & download an openvpn config from their site that would allow me to connect to the VPN manually using OpenVPN instead of the App. Unfortunately, the config generated didn’t work either as it would fail to connect with the following error message in the logs:

Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight NetworkManager[1123]:  [1663709215.0845]vpn[0x559d7fc46900,833a72d8-a08a-474e-a854-c926cd6c694a,"VPN Unlimited"]: starting openvpn
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight NetworkManager[1123]:  [1663709215.0847] audit: op="connection-activate" uuid="833a72d8-a08a-474e-a854-c926cd6c694a" name="VPN Unlimited" pid=2829 uid=1000 result="success"
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight kded5[2780]: org.kde.plasma.nm.kded: Unhandled VPN connection state change: 2
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight kded5[2780]: org.kde.plasma.nm.kded: Unhandled VPN connection state change: 3
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight NetworkManager[233850]: 2022-09-21 02:56:55 WARNING: Compression for receiving enabled. Compression has been used in the past to break encryption. Sent packets are not compressed unless
"allow-compression yes" is also set.
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight nm-openvpn[233850]: DEPRECATED OPTION: --cipher set to 'AES-256-CBC' but missing in --data-ciphers (AES-256-GCM:AES-128-GCM:CHACHA20-POLY1305). OpenVPN ignores --cipher for cipher negotiations.
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight nm-openvpn[233850]: OpenVPN 2.6_git x86_64-pc-linux-gnu [SSL (OpenSSL)] [LZO] [LZ4] [EPOLL] [PKCS11] [MH/PKTINFO] [AEAD] [DCO]
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight nm-openvpn[233850]: library versions: OpenSSL 3.0.5 5 Jul 2022, LZO 2.10
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight nm-openvpn[233850]: WARNING: No server certificate verification method has been enabled. See http://openvpn.net/howto.html#mitm for more info.
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight nm-openvpn[233850]: NOTE: the current --script-security setting may allow this configuration to call user-defined scripts
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight nm-openvpn[233850]: OpenSSL: error:0A00018E:SSL routines::ca md too weak
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight nm-openvpn[233850]: Cannot load certificate file /home/suramya/.local/share/networkmanagement/certificates/E87E7A7D6DA16A89C7B4565273D3A792_hk_openvpn/cert.crt
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight nm-openvpn[233850]: Exiting due to fatal error
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight NetworkManager[1123]:  [1663709215.1095] vpn[0x559d7fc46900,833a72d8-a08a-474e-a854-c926cd6c694a,"VPN Unlimited"]: dbus: failure: connect-failed (1)
Sep 21 02:56:55 StarKnight NetworkManager[1123]:  [1663709215.1095] vpn[0x559d7fc46900,833a72d8-a08a-474e-a854-c926cd6c694a,"VPN Unlimited"]: dbus: failure: connect-failed (1)

After a little more back and forth with the support team (which was extremely responsive and quick) which in turn reached out to their developers we identified the issue with the OpenVPN config. The fix for this will be deployed to all their servers by the end of this month. In the mean time I was given a workaround that resolved the issue for me. To fix the issue add this line to your OVPN file under the VPN section:

tls-cipher=DEFAULT:@SECLEVEL=0 

More information on this is available in the OpenVPN forum. Keep in mind that this is not a really secure configuration and if you are working on something really top secret you should use another VPN till the issue is actually fixed instead of this workaround as it is not secure.

However, just wanted to share this here for others who might be having this same issue. Hope this helps.

– Suramya

October 3, 2022

Debian to allow non-free firmware in its default installer

Filed under: Linux/Unix Related,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 10:19 AM

One of the problems preventing new users from using Debian is that if your hardware is not supported by an Open (‘free’) driver/firmware then the system doesn’t install any and then it is a painful process to download and install the driver, especially if it is for the Wireless card. In earlier laptops you could always connect via a network cable to install the drivers but the newer systems don’t come with a LAN connection (which I think sucks BTW) so installing Debian on those systems is a pain.

Debian leadership has been debating on how to fix this over the past few months and there was a vote to decide Debian would handle non-free firmware going forward. Now the voting has completed and the verdict is in, Debian has decided that the Debian Official Installer Media can include firmware that is otherwise not part of the Debian system. The non-free firmware would be automatically installed and activated when the installer determines that it is needed for the OS to function. The setup would notify the user in such cases and provide instructions on how to disable the changes if required.

The Debian Project also makes the following statement:

We will include non-free firmware packages from the “non-free-firmware” section of the Debian archive on our official media (installer images and live images). The included firmware binaries will normally be enabled by default where the system determines that they are required, but where possible we will include ways for users to disable this at boot (boot menu option, kernel command line etc.).

When the installer/live system is running we will provide information to the user about what firmware has been loaded (both free and non-free), and we will also store that information on the target system such that users will be able to find it later. Where non-free firmware is found to be necessary, the target system will also be configured to use the non-free-firmware component by default in the apt sources.list file. Our users should receive security updates and important fixes to firmware binaries just like any other installed software.

We will publish these images as official Debian media, replacing the current media sets that do not include non-free firmware packages.

This is a great choice and will allow the installer to work pretty seamlessly for most users. I know there are purists who will be shouting and screaming that this is not the ‘true way for free software‘ but they will be a minority for the most part. Installers need to be simple, while allowing power users more granular control of the process. This change removes a major barrier in the adoption of Debian and makes the lives of millions of system administrators a lot easier.

Source: Slashdot: Debian Considers Changing How It Handles Non-Free Firmware
More details at: Debian Choose A Reasonable, Common Sense Solution To Dealing With Non-Free Firmware

– Suramya

October 2, 2022

Upgrading Debian Unstable – How to avoid obvious problems

Filed under: Computer Tips,Linux/Unix Related,Tech Related — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

If you are using Debian Unstable there is a possibility that your system might not work correctly after an upgrade, because as the name states it is an ‘unstable’ distribution that might have bugs. I use it because Debian Stable has older versions of the software available and I want to the latest versions if possible. Plus I don’t mind tinkering with the system if things break so that helps as well. Over the years I have found some easy ways to prevent the most obvious problems when upgrading and I will share them here.

First option is to upgrade the system regularly. You can decide what the frequency of the upgrade is but do it regularly. I upgrade twice a month and that ensures that the system has the latest updates and we are not so far out of sync that we need to download a ton of files for the upgrade. This is very useful when you don’t have much free space available in the root partition as the longer you wait the more files you have to download and the less free space we have for the actual upgrade.

Another thing I do that has helped me a lot is to ensure that you look at the packages being upgraded, specifically any packages being removed. Don’t upgrade if there are a lot of packages being removed without updated versions being installed. To give an example, I tried upgrading my system yesterday and it told me that it was going to “457 upgraded, 11 newly installed, 297 to remove and 0 not upgraded.” Looking at the packages it was going to remove I found that if I had blindly allowed the upgrade to proceed it would have ended up uninstalling my entire KDE install, VPN server and a whole bunch of other stuff. I waited for a day and tried again and the bug that was causing the system to insist on removing KDE during the upgrade was resolved and I was able to upgrade successfully.

I also pipe the output from the apt-get dist-upgrade command to a log file so that I have a log of what was changed and any errors are logged so I can look at it later in case there are issue. The command I use for that is as below:

apt-get dist-upgrade 2>&1 |tee ~suramya/Documents/Suramya/Computer\ Update\ Logs/StarKnight/2022/10032022

I keep all the logs from the upgrades so I can see exactly what was changed on the system and when. Makes it a lot easier to troubleshoot issues caused due to an upgrade.

If you have multiple systems, then I recommend you don’t upgrade all of them at the same time. I stagger them by a day or two so that in case of issues I have a working system. This has saved my sanity a few times.

Well, this is all for now. Do share any tips you might have for avoiding issues during an upgrade.

– Suramya

September 25, 2022

How is everyone ok that Windows is showing advertisements everywhere in the system?

Filed under: Computer Software,My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 11:55 PM

Linux is an Open Source operating system that is available for free while Windows is a paid OS that costs a fair bit of money (~$200 per license). One would think that because we are getting something for free when using Linux then we are the product. Strangely this is not the case and it is Windows that is showing me advertisements like I got it for free and even more strangely people seem to be ok with it.

My Linux setup has 0 ads on it that are pushed to it by the OS, Windows on the other hand seems to be determined to put advertisements where ever it can find some space. For example, you get ads in the Start Menu, the lock screen, Windows Explorer etc etc. If I am paying money for the OS I don’t want to have ads pushed to me that I can’t get rid of. I mean the folks over at How to Geek have a 14 page document explaining how to disable all the built-in advertising in Windows 10, which shows how strongly MS is trying to push advertisements on their platform.

Which is ridiculous, I mean I would complain about this much ads on a system that I didn’t pay for but apparently it is fine for a billion dollar company to waste my screen viewing estate, bandwidth and processor power to show me advertisements on a OS that I paid money for. If a system is showing me ads then they should be making the OS free so at least they have some excuse for the behavior, similar to what Netflix is doing where the plan with the advertisements in the programing is cheaper than the one without.

What do you think?

– Suramya

September 24, 2022

Keep your disk temperatures below 40 Deg C to increase their life

Filed under: My Thoughts,Tech Related — Suramya @ 12:18 PM

Over the past few decades since I got my first computer, Hard Drive failures have been a problem for me till recently as my disks would last about a max of 2 years before I started seeing errors & disk failure on them. I tried all the brands including Segate, WD and a couple of others but still had the same issue. It had gotten bad enough that I was looking at buying enterprise hard disks instead of the Desktop versions even though the enterprise versions are a lot more expensive.

Then one day I was randomly looking at the temperature sensors for the system, I noticed that the hard drive temperature for 2 of the disks was at 41 Deg C. Plus the logs on the disk showed that this was a common occurrence for the disks. Then a quick Google search told me that the drives should be kept below 40 Deg to avoid disk failures. So I opened up the case and added a couple of more fans in the casing so that I had a constant flow of air over the disks. Took me about 20 mins and I already had the extra fans lying around. With the new fans the disk temperatures dropped to an between of 33-35 Deg C and I left it as is.

This was about 5 years ago. Today I was running my quarterly SMART scan of all my disks and noticed that the disks have been running for an average of 50k hours now (one of the disks is at 2k, but all others have been running constantly for a while). The max value of lifetime hours for my system is currently at: 52381 hours -> 2182.5 days -> 5.97 hours. That is a massive improvement over the previous average of <2 years. I am sure the same would be true for laptops as well but it is difficult to add another fan to a laptop so haven’t tested it. Plus my laptop doesn’t get used as often as my desktop since I mainly only use it while traveling whereas the desktop has been running pretty much 24×7 since I got it.

This shows that having your CPU/devices at the recommended temperature is essential for a longer life of the components. This is one of the reasons that all data-centers are cooled to the degree they are and any increase in the temperature maintained needs to be carefully tested before implementation.

– Suramya

September 22, 2022

Do kids make the world better? (A: Of course they do…)

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:22 AM

There is this quote floating around from a person who should know better, asking “What has any 5th grader done to make the world better because he or she is in it?” in response to a message at a school telling kids that they are loved and the world is better because they are in it. The question has stuck in my head and made me think a lot. There are so many ways kids make things better by being in it and though I never want to have kids even I can see how they make the world a better place when they are in it. Only selfish fools that measure value by what you own and what your bank balance can’t see this and I feel sorry for them as they don’t know what it is like to be loved.

It also made me think about all the times a kid has made things better for me so am sharing some random thoughts and examples from my life where a kid definitely made things better:

  • Kids will show unconditional love to those who love them, will come and cuddle with you and tell you stories about their day and what they learned that will make you forget your troubles for a bit
  • The hug you get when they see you after a while will make you forget a bad day at work…
  • Make you laugh so hard that your sides hurt with their explanations on why & how things work or why they did a certain thing.
  • Give you that look that tells you that you are the most important person in their world right now
  • Come up with really corny nicknames for you that you grow to love, Mine is ‘shu mama’ or shoe-mama as per my niece and nephew…
  • Watching kids play will show that not everything in the world is about money or being selfish. A little while ago I was playing with Vir and I jokingly told him that I was going to eat his nose. He told me no so I responded saying that I was really hungry. He looked at me for a few seconds and then looked at his hands; thought for a bit and then told me that I only have one nose but you can eat a finger as I have 10 of them.

There are so many examples but I don’t think any of them will make this person change their mind because they only look at the world with a mindset that values people only based on their bank balance, things they have accumulated and how useful the person is going to be for them personally. There is more to the world than how it can be used and how to make money from it. If you can’t see that then I feel sorry for you.

Well this is all for now. More later.

– Suramya

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