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The Misadventures of Quinxy von Besiex truths, lies, and everything in between

26Aug/140

The Magic of Cults

want_to_join_a_cultCults have always fascinated me.  It is only natural as several relatives of mine have been members of organizations which most people, myself included, would consider cults.  Of course these relatives don't believe their groups are cults, no cult member ever does.

The other day I had occasion to think about cults and it struck me that cults are really just magic shows on a grander stage, and with far more and lingering audience participation.  Everyone who joins a cult joins to see "magic" worked in their lives.  They can no longer wait for or no longer trust the more traditional routes to their better selves.   And so they seek out or end up at the doorstep of any of thousands of cults, religious or corporate, ready to be deconstructed and reconstructed.  And if they give the group their money, their time, their compliance, and often a bit of voluntary servitude, they just might become the people they imagined was lying beneath all the accumulated baggage from their many pre-enlightened lost years on this good earth.

But the magical analogy goes further, I think.  Because a magician's show is built as a collection of tricks.  And the tricks themselves are clever combinations of many discrete techniques chained together (e.g., the "force", the "dual reality").  These individual elements form the well used language of magicians. Each element might come in many variations, but at their core are the same trick.  Most magicians go to great lengths to make their shows feel new, fresh, exciting, draw in new paying audiences, but the reality is, there is little new in magic.  The presentation has been improved, the patter upgraded, but the fundamental building blocks and end result of the tricks remain the same.  And so, too, with the cult leaders, the gurus, and their groups.  For hundreds of years (at least) the new guru has relied mostly on repackaging the old guru's teachings and presenting them in language and formats more palatable to each more enlightened generation.  The Eastern-heavy new age movements of the 1970s become the more sophisticated Western, corporate awareness training.  But what's different about them really?

Cult leaders manipulate experiences, emotional states, and outcomes using a clever combination of discrete (primarily psychological) elements. For example, they might use "breaking", wherein members or staff within the group are encouraged/led to confront and challenge another participant in the group. It is a simple trick. When you have multiple people ganging up on someone using strong and challenging words/ideas, in a context in which the individual cannot easily escape, because leaving would be socially unacceptable, painful, awkward, etc. then you can create in that individual considerable doubt, desperation, and compliance, almost regardless of the content of the challenges.  We humans are social creatures, built to respond to significant doubts leveled at us with significant doubts bubbling within us.

Imagine if this happened in your life, perhaps you are at the wedding of your brother and four close family members come up to you saying they need to talk, they all tell you that they love you and that they are worried about you, that they believe your job is not good for you. You actually like your job. You politely try to explaining that to them, but they begin ad hominem attacks saying that you are just defending your job because you are too cowardly to face the real truth that your career is going nowhere. You try to end the conversation and move away but they follow you and insist that you are leaving the conversation because you know what they are saying is really true.  They say you are being disrespectful to move away because they are doing this out of love.  You stop.  You feel trapped and listen to them some more. After some period of time the episode ends, either because you have capitulated enough or because they feel the important seeds of doubt have been planted.  If you had even the slightest doubts about your life, your job, your career, their confrontation surely magnified them. Our brains are not meant for such circumstances.  These people seem to care about you, seem to have your best interests at heart, why would they lie to you?  It seems inconceivable.   They are saying everything so strongly, surely there must be some merit to what they are saying, usually when people speak so strongly it is because they have some basis for it.  You do want to move ahead in your career, maybe you are not moving as fast as some friends of yours, maybe you have seen others get a promotion you thought you deserved. In a matter of minutes or hours you go from happy with your job, with the normal level of dissatisfaction and hopes for more successful tomorrows that practically everyone feels, to thinking that perhaps you should quit your job, change careers, something.  Everyone has insecurities, doubts, weaknesses and cults know a host of methods by which they can magnify them to motivate you to some end, their end (which they insist is really in your best interest).

Another technique they use is "love bombing", creating situations and environments in which people experience a heightened sense of connection with those around them to the point that they feel a heightened sense of love from those around them. Who wouldn't respond positively to feeling more love from those around them? Participation in the group activities creates a feeling of love, an experience that can't be easily be gotten on demand outside the group. So you are trained to keep going to meetings.  There are many, many tricks that cults and groups use to gather and control their members. Some do it for power, some do it for money, all do it for allegedly noble reasons.

The feeling of awe the magician and the cult leader can generate is muted once you know some of their tricks, and see them being worked into their acts.  The magic is still fascinating, but no longer short-circuits your rationality.  In the cult setting, when you see most of a room of a hundred people reduced to broken, sobbing masses expressing their inner most limiting beliefs you do not ascribe this to the power of the truths being revealed by the leader, you ascribe it to the power of the psychological trick being used to manipulate the group.  You know that almost any cult leader could create the same response in any similarly ready group of people with "truths" that almost any rational person would reject.  The technique matters, not the guru, and certainly not the underlying truth.  But everyone in a cult always thinks on some level that they are smarter than that.  Just ask the participants in the Milgram experiment, they believed they were immune to authority.

The question I would ask of any cult or group is, what percentage of your members 10 years after first being introduced to the group believe the experience was positive and worth the time and money they invested in it? I would suspect that for almost all groups which use cult-ish methods the percentage of people indicating they were satisfied with the experience 10 years on is less than 10%.  I believe this anecdotally based on the people I have met who have been in cults, the experiences I've read about, and my belief that those entering these groups did not do so with sober minds, most of them were duped on some level, had their wills bent into participation. They did not make free, sober, rational decisions to participate. And this low satisfaction score (if it exists) would prove to me that the groups are fraudulent. The groups will blame the former members and say they chose to give up too soon, that they weren't the right sort of people, that they didn't keep learning what the group had to offer, that others have benefited so the people who didn't are solely responsible for their lack of benefit. But, to me it's a hollow kind of defense. People routinely make succeed and make millions selling bogus diet pills.  They achieve success because most people won't ask for a refund (most people will be as fat or fatter but will be too embarrassed or afraid of confrontation to complain), b) they always recommend combining exercise with the pills (and exercise does positively correlate to weight loss), c) the placebo effect will guarantee some percentage of users will find some new will to modify their behavior because of powers they ascribe to the pill. Just because 10% of the people buying a fat loss pill are satisfied doesn't mean the product contains any ingredients which actually work.

There is always a new cult, a new group selling a new method to solve a very human problem, an existential dissatisfaction, a sense that life can and should be more than it is.  It surprises me that cult-entering people can't see the pattern.  Can't see the endless stream of cults formed and reformed, regurgitating the same (but now repackaged) esoteric "truths".  But, alas they will not...  Cults will never run out of followers.

It reminds me of a line from the Sherlock Holmes story A Case of Identity by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  In it Holmes decides not to reveal to his client that her missing lover was actually her step-father trying to wound her into life long maidenhood so he could have her money.  Holmes explains to Watson his decision to keep quiet about it, "If I tell her she will not believe me. You may remember the old Persian saying, "'There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.'"  (I try to ignore the contextual misogyny, and see it as a truth which applies to deluded men and women alike.)

And I may be wrong of course...  but I do feel I at least have the carcasses of many abandoned cults and many disaffected followers adding weight to my side of the argument.

^ Q

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1Jul/140

My Confusion about the U.S. Civil War

civilwarFew things in American history confuse me like the U.S. Civil War.  I have spent time surrounded by its monuments, memorials, and museums, living for a few years outside Gettysburg, PA.  What I can't quite work out is why...?  Why would Northern brother, cousin, uncle be so willing to fight to their death against their Southern brother, cousin, uncle just to keep the United States of America as one nation?  So many questions...

Why is the right to secede not a right core to a democracy?  If a state feels so at odds and unrepresented by their parent nation why should they not be able to withdraw from it?  Is this freedom not one that should be most sacredly preserved when a nation is formed from many states?

In the Civil War the Northerners were certainly not primarily fighting for the freedom of African Americans.  That I could have understood as a reason to go to war, to liberate an oppressed people.  Giving your life for that sort of a cause makes sense to this modern, arguably enlightened man.  But while the North was somewhat more enlightened than the South on this issue, they certainly did not see African Americans as equals and it would be a rare Northerner willing to die for that particular cause.

Why could the North not just let the South go?  I vaguely understand the Northern industrial and free farming folks were in an economic battle with the almost wholly agrarian South and its plantation and cheaper slave labor.  But that's enough for a war, and not just a civilized parting of the union with peacefully signed free trade agreements?

What would it take for me now to be willing to take up arms against my cousin, uncle, or brother?  I can imagine nothing, certainly not a mere secession.  But 750,000 dead soldiers can't be wrong, they must have deeply felt their reasons were the right ones.  I just wish I understood them.

^ Q

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4Jan/140

A Happy ACA (Obamacare) Subscriber

The news is filled with people bemoaning the ACA (aka Obamacare).  I am not one of them.  My situation has greatly improved.  I was a single guy, no kids, early forties, paying $650/month for a HIPAA plan with very high copays and $5,000 deductible.  I am now paying $370/month for a platinum plan (10% copay) with $500 deductible.  I couldn't be happier.

I have always been a non-smoker, non-drinker, non-drug user, and reasonably healthy.  But no insurance company would give me an individual healthcare plan, not since I was 25.  I was rejected without explanation by many companies.  Presumably they rejected me based on pre-existing conditions, but my pre-existing conditions were trivial, some mild depression and anxiety, but never hospitalized for that or anything else.  I finally got insurance through work, and was able to transition to an individual HIPAA plan after becoming a consultant.  I could not switch to anything better or cheaper, though, still no company not forced by HIPAA to take me would have me.  And I looked into the "high risk" pool coverage (the only other option) that California offered and was shocked to find it was a) expensive, b) had a long waiting list to get in, c) provided really low and weak coverage.  So, until the ACA rolled out January 1, 2014 I was stuck.

The news reporting of others' experience with ACA plans has me a little confused.  The vast majority of people seem to have had really lousy policies which didn't offer much coverage and they are now complaining that they are forced to buy a more comprehensive policy and thus pay more for it.  I have somewhat limited sympathy for those situations, because I think the reality is that those cheap policies often just wind up shifting the cost to everyone when someone who has one of those policies gets seriously ill, finds their policy doesn't provide adequate coverage, and goes bankrupt or otherwise requires the hospitals and debt agencies to eat the loss when they can't pay their bills.  The people buying those policies may claim that it's the right plan for them, the right price, and that it's just what they need, but I have to believe on a macro scale that's just not born out, that the rest of society takes a financial hit for their stinginess.  If you know that to be false, please correct me.  For the remaining minority of people making the news whose prices have gone up significantly without an increase in coverage, and without any offsetting tax reduction, I do feel very badly, and hope cheaper options become available, or other corrective measures are taken.

If nothing else, I am very glad that the health insurance system was finally forced to move away from the cruel and capricious system of excluding people because of pre-existing conditions, it was a savage system that usually unfairly penalized people who had no hand in their conditions, leaving them to fend for themselves or pay dearly for rotten coverage.  Whatever people may say about the ACA, at least it did away with that...

^ Q

20Dec/120

Hate Windows 8? No, you don’t! You just need Start8 from Stardock!

start8With a cost of only $15 to upgrade recent computers from Windows 7 to Windows 8, many have been and will be tempted to upgrade.  If you're like me you'll find Windows 8 more frustrating than sublime.  Cobbling together a touch friendly UI meant for tablets with a decades old UI meant for mousing was an ambitiously lousy idea.  That having been said, everything else about Windows 8 I like; it is built upon the internal and external improvements of Windows 7.  But how could I return my Windows 8 computer back to the sanity of my mouse-friendly Windows 7-ish UI?  After trying some alternatives (including a month spent with the disappointing  StartMenuX), I finally arrived at the solution that was right for me: Start8 from Stardock.  For a very reasonable $4.99 you can (optionally) bypass the new Windows 8 start screen and return to a desktop with a wonderfully close facsimile of the previous Windows  start menu.  I've been a user of various Stardock software for a while, and though I've had my frustrations with some buggy and over-reaching software, when they get it right they really get it right, and this is one fine example.

Since going back my productivity is back to where it was and I feel saner than ever.

^ Quinxy

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8Jul/111

Unrewarding Responsibility

As I approach my 40th birth I can't help but reflect on the folly of my having attempted to be a responsible human being.  All around me I see the irresponsible inheriting the Earth, delighting in its rewards, and it makes me feel rather foolish and rather sad, for all I've missed out on.

There are two primary areas where my attempt to be responsible has seemed grossly the wrong thing: having children and home ownership.

I have always strongly believed that being a parent is the most important thing one can do, and one should not do it until they are mentally and financially prepared.  No parent is ever perfect, nor perfectly prepared, but the child suffers for the flaws of their parents, so it seems only reasonable that one would minimize their negative impact on their children, while maximizing their positive impact.  And it seems only reasonable that one would wait until they were in a relationship likely to last forever before kids were even considered.  But all around me people flout these rules, with no ill effects that anyone seems to openly acknowledge.  The harm done to the children is discounted, ignored as though that harm was unavoidable, as though all children can expect to be harmed in one way or another, so what's the big deal?

I have some relatives and friends who've had multiple kids with different fathers, having chosen to form unstable relationships, having chosen to forgo effective contraception, having chosen to engage in no serious employment, and having chosen to continue using drugs and alcohol.  And while no doubt everyone might casually acknowledge some poor choices, all choose to focus instead on the joy of the existence of these children, and the "marvelous" job the mothers are doing despite the situations they've created, and the choices they continue to make.  And I mean no discredit against the positive things the mothers do, and I certainly mean nothing against the innocent children brought into the situation, I just can't help but feel selfishly frustrated by the inequity of it all.  That I, who would be a wonderful father, who has made many, many right decisions for a child's benefit, am denied that joy, that satisfaction, that comfort, that opportunity, etc. while others who have taken the role so much less seriously get all those wonderful things.  It feels so cruelly unfair.  Obviously there's no one to blame, other than perhaps myself, or perhaps the universe.  It is I who has chosen to obey a rule I accept as in a child's best interest, and it's the universe which has created the other rules by which we are all bound.

Far less emotionally significant, but certainly frustrating nonetheless, I can't help but remark that I who have tried to be responsible by not buying a house I couldn't afford with a loan I might not have been able to pay back, am deeply annoyed and feel hard done by that others who made reckless home ownership decisions based on bogus beliefs in the housing market and interest rates are receiving sympathy and financial assistance.  Why not help those who did the right and good thing, who did not place our nation and economy at risk selfishly?  I understand the need to prop up those who have gotten themselves into trouble, lest our economy collapse even further, but how tired I am of irresponsibility being effectively rewarded, and with the resources and sweat of those who did no wrong.

Ah well, that's my useless, self-indulgent gripe of the week.

^ Quinxy

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1Apr/11286

Complete Guide to Installing, Configuring CyanogenMod 7 Stable Release (Android 2.3, Gingerbread) on the Nook Color

If you are new to Nook Color operating system and install options, I strongly recommend reading this guide to picking your Nook Color operating system and installer.  And if you're just starting to explore what Android is and are a little hesitant, you can always try Android for free on your computer with a virtual machine.

Within 30 minutes your Nook Color can be running the latest stable, available version of Google's Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS (technically the CyanogenMod 7 Stable manifestation of it), and thanks to its use of the SD card, all safely achieved without altering your existing Nook Color's setup or violating the warranty.  Included in all the new features, performance benefits, and elevation of your own personal coolness, you get Bluetooth support.  The Nook Color can do VOIP (e.g., Skype), GPS navigation, sending music to wireless headets or stereos, and much more!

My goal in this document is to help less technical people through the slightly more technical and slightly more we-assume-you-know what-you're-doing verygreen's CyanogenMod 7 (CM 7) to SD install instructions,  covering things left out, additional problems you might encounter, and configuration you might want to do post install.  If you have any basic questions or run into trouble, please check out this Nook Color Modding FAQ which might save us both some time.

Be aware, I experienced lingering and frustrating stability and file system corruption issues with several installs to several SD cards.  Other people are not having this experience, but if you do be aware that your SD cards may be too "fast".  Your choice is then to try and find other workable SD cards or do an eMMC (internal memory) install, such as you'll find in my guide to phiremod install on the Nook Color.

Step 1: Installing CM7 Stable to your SD card

The first step is to follow verygreen's instructions on how to take the SD card image he made, combined with the latest updated CM7 install, combined with the Google apps pack (gapps) to get a bootable system.

Before you begin, though, let me give you some tips.

  • Windows users will need Win32DiskImager to flash the requisite .img file to your SD card.  It's free, download Win32DiskImager now.
  • Mac / Linux / FreeBSD users will use "dd" to flash the requisite .img file to your SD card.  The command you will execute looks like:
    # dd if=generic-sdcard-v1.1.img of=/dev/sdcard
    If needed, replace /dev/sdcard with the real path of your mounted SD card and specify the real path of the data image (after unpacking the gz version you downloaded).
  • I strongly recommend against using class 10 rated SD cards!  Testing over several days proved that my system would not run reliably (tons of "force close" errors and the file system reverting to read-only) on a class 10 rated card, the Patriot LX series.  Whereas the system works flawlessly on my PNY class 4 card, which cost less than half as much and actually operates just as fast, according to SD Tools it writes at 12 MB/s and reads at 84 MB/s read, which exceeds class 10.
  • If you insist on using a class 10 card, the verygreen install script will probably hang when it goes to create the disk structure.  A workaround for this is to first burn the image to a working (and dirt cheap, $7-10) class 4 PNY or Sandisk (or other) microSD card (of equivalent or, to be safe, smaller size) and then when you've got the install completed clone the microSD card by using Win32DiskImager to create a .img file of the working class 4 SD card and then write that image to your class 10 SD card.  It's a hassle, you'll be waiting 15 minutes to read, 15 minutes to write, but it works!  And you've now got a backup to boot.  Assuming your class 10 was larger than your class 4 SD card you can then expand the virtual SD partition using any non-destructive partitioning product (the partition is fat32) so that you get all your space used.  If you've got Windows 7, use its Disk Mangement feature to safely expand the partition, if you've got another Windows version you may need to use EASUS's Partition Master Professional Edition ($19)  or Acronis' DiskDirector ($49).
  • The CM7 build you want is "update-cm-7.0.0-encore-signed.zip", so make sure you get that one!  (Obviously if you're reading this document in the distant future, make your best choice!)
  • You might want to initially avoid the Dalingrin OC kernel/ROM upgrade instructions for now, I'll cover that separately below.
  • If you get hung up trying to install the Google apps pack because it seems like the recovery console isn't installing it, you may be going into the wrong recover mode or no mode at all!  Turn off the device and then turn it back on holding both power and N for 6 seconds, one to two seconds after the "Touch the Future of Reading" comes on the screen.  You'll see the Linux penguin at the top and a bunch of console messages, one of which will indicate it's looking for "gapps".  If you don't see that you're not in the right recovery screen!

Those tips being given:

Go to and follow carefully verygreen's CyanogenMod 7 (CM 7) to SD install instructions!

The entire process will only take you about 15 - 20 minutes.  If you were using a class 10 card you can do the class 4 to class 10 clone at this point, or at the very end when you've got everything set up, it's your choice.

 

Step 2: Turn on Bluetooth (optional)

If you're ready to turn on Bluetooth, there's a trick.  If you don't do this, Bluetooth will just refuse to turn on / be enabled.

  1. Turn off wifi (Settings > Wireless & Networks > Wi-Fi)
  2. Reboot
  3. Turn on Bluetooth (Settings > Wireless & Networks > Bluetooth)
  4. Turn on wifi

It seems a bit odd, but that's what you have to do.  From then on out it'll work fine.

Bluetooth Keyboard Instructions

Pair as you normally pair a Bluetooth keyboard, that all works just as you'd expect.  But, if you don't do this next step you'll likely want to throw your keyboard and Nook Color out the window within the first 30 minutes of typing.  When you type on your Bluetooth keyboard the virtual keyboard will very likely appear, or re-appear if you've hidden it.  I am not sure why this is.  You close the keyboard, you type, maybe it stays closed for a moment or two, but invariably it opens up again.  And, because it's open not only do you have much of your screen real estate wasted by a keyboard you're not using, your physical keyboard presses will often linger long enough to pop up the Gingerbread character selector.  In other words, type "e" on the keyboard and about 5% of the time it will think you held "e" down in order to bring up the list of international "e" variations, which you then need to close.  And, as if that's not annoying enough, the predictive text completion that will go on with the virtual keyboard open will lead to sometimes sluggish responses to your keypresses, and even missing text.  The solution?  Buy and install the Null Keyboard ($2)!  It's money well spent.  You install it, enable it in settings, and then when you are going to use your BT keyboard you hold your finger down on an input box for a few seconds, it asks you to choose your input method, you choose Null Keyboard, and voila!  You can now type on your BT keyboard with joy.  And when you put away the keyboard don't forget you'll need to switch the input back to your Android (or Gingerbread) keyboard next time you need to type with the virtual one.

 

Step 3: Adding Important Apps

CM7 is great, but you'll need some other free apps to really get the best experience out of it.  The list had gotten rather long so I have now put it on its own page.  I strongly recommend you go now and install all of the free Must Have Apps for your Nook Color.

Obviously you can add more apps beyond those, but you walking that list you will cover the basics and be in good shape to proceed.

 

Step 4: Overclocking!

If you want to at this point you can try some overclocking.  It appears to be pretty stable, pretty safe, and potentially makes your Nook Color 40% faster than when you bought it!  It can arguably run as fast as the Samsung Galaxy Tab!

This process is pretty simple, it involves replacing the uImage file on the SD partition of your microSD card with an alternative that has been "hacked" for performance (and/or features).  The one everyone is using now for CM7 is Dalingrin's.

  1. Download the 2.6.29 Dalingrin OC kernel (or earlier version, DO NOT DOWNLOAD THE LATEST) for CM7 on SD card.  You do not want to download the latest, it requires a test build of CM 7 that isn't stable.  Do not pick the wrong kernel!  Follow the link in Dalingrin's kernel announcement thread for the “Froyo and CM7 kernel”. Then choose the most recent dated folder, then pick the kernel called “update-CM7-dalingrin-OC-sd-MMDDYY.zip” (where the MMDDYY is replaced with the date of the recent version).  MAKE SURE YOU PICK THE ONE WITH "CM7" AND "SD" IN THE NAME!
  2. On your Nook Color go into the installed "Terminal Emulator" app, type "su" to make you the superuser.  You should see the prompt change to "#" instead of "$".  If this doesn't change, close out and try again. I've seen Terminal Emulator seem to have issues getting super user permission at first.  Once it has accepted your "su" and the prompt changes, type in "rm -rf /data/dalvik-cache/*".  As soon as this is done, shutdown your Nook Color (hold the power button down, then choose power off) and put the microSD card in your computer.
  3. Rename the existing file in your mounted SD card "uImage" as "uImage.original".
  4. Open the kernel file you downloaded and copy the "uImage" file inside it to the SD card, so it sits next to the original uImage file.
  5. Safely eject the SD card from your computer, pop it in your Nook Color and power on!

Your Nook Color will now be running the latest kernel!

To turn on the overclocking, go to Settings > CyanogenMod Settings > Performance > CPU Settings > Max CPU Frequency.

If something goes wrong and your device won't boot or in some other way seems seriously screwed up, just shut down, pop out the microSD card, put it back into your computer and delete the "uImage" file, and rename the "uImage.original" to "uImage".  Dealing with any problems is beyond the scope of this article, your best bet for support would be the people in this thread. And don't forget, we're doing all this on the microSD, you can always pop-out the microSD and your original Nook Color is still there.

 

Step 5: Backup

You really should back up at this point.  Shut down and make an image of your SD card if possible.  Things can easily get screwed up, corrupted, etc. with an alpha-stage release like this, so it's best to be able to easily get back to where you were.  I've seen a lot of things get corrupted and had to reinstall more than a few things.  Better safe than sorry.  Also, use Titanium Backup to backup your app data!

 

Step 6: Keeping Up to Date

Once you've got your system up and running you'll inevitably want to update it as new bug fixes and features are released.  This process is a lot less painful than it used to be, thanks to the clever way these installs are distributed and also thanks to the great apps available for backup and restore.

I do not recommend people update to the 2.6.32 kernel yet, since it requires the test/dev version of CM 7 and isn't ready for prime time yet.  If you do you'll also need to update u-boot file.

The details of how you do this are too big to insert here, but can be found in this separate guide to keeping your Nook Color up to date.

 

Post Script - Addendum

Stability Problems?

If you see a lot of "force close" events happening randomly or you find that files you were working on suddenly become unusable, your problem is most likely with your SD cards.  You can try to find other SD cards that will work, or you can try an eMMC (internal memory) install such as the one I describe in my guide to phiremod install on the Nook Color.

First Impressions

I've been running CM7 for a week now, and tried quite a few kernels along the way.  I am mostly thrilled.  My setup has been stable ever since I ditched the class 10 rated cards.  Everything I need works, including most notably Bluetooth!  Admittedly the range is terrible, but good enough for my purposes, and I'm sure range will improve soon.  Wifi is stable, since the device never sleeps.  And battery life is good, though because the device never sleeps it isn't nearly as good as a stock Nook Color.  The video is works at very respectable frame rate since the RC4 update.  And I've had no trouble with overclocking.

CM7 Versus Froyo

CM7 feels much faster than Froyo, the responsiveness of the interfaces, the boot time, maybe it's all in my head, but hopefully not.  One major issue gone is the crippling slowness of Market downloads/etc. I experienced with Froyo on a class 4 SD card were totally gone on CM7 with the same class 4 SD card.

Don't Forget to Use Your Internal Memory!

You can access the contents of your Nook Color's original, internal memory within your CM7 OS by browsing to /mnt/emmc with an appropriate file manager (see above).  In this way you can still use most (5+ GB) of your internal storage for things like music and video files (not apps, since the system doesn't know to use that location).  So don't forget that space is available if you need it.

Responding to Force Close Messages

Unfortunately at this stage you can expect some instability in the OS, and this seems to manifest itself primarily as "force close" messages when an app fails.  My experience suggests the best thing to do when you get any such message is to reboot.  On my system a force close can correspond with the file system having become or about to become read only.  I assume the OS tries to protect itself by becoming read only and once the system starts going, baby, it's gone!  So, the best policy seems to be to immediately reboot, and if you have any more problems on reboot do the "rm -rf /data/dalvik-cache/*" and reboot again.

One particular force close message I got frequently was from Google apps ("gapps") and Google framework.  I suspect the issue related to network issues, perhaps it trying to run when the wifi wasn't yet reconnected after a wake.  I was able to eliminate this by disabling the automatic sync, go to  Settings > Accounts & sync > Auto-sync and set it to unchecked.  This means my email won't automatically come in, but I can manually retrieve it by choosing "Refresh" from the Gmail menu.  Personally, my phone alerts me on every email, so it's not vital for my tablet to do it as well.  Warning, do not uncheck the "Background data" checkbox on the same page, Market and a few other more vital things will refuse to work if you do that.

Another cause of force closes seems to be corrupted installs / configuration / filesystem.  If an app in particular isn't working try the following, first one, then if you're still having the problem go to the next one, and so on:

  • Clear dalvik-cache and reboot (rm -rf /data/dalvik-cache/*).  Then reboot.
  • Use ClockwordMod's permission fix option.  Then reboot.
  • Backup your data related to the app (using Titanium Backup) then uninstall and reinstall the app using Market.  And only if the app is working try to restore the data (only) from the backup you made.

This approach has resolved several different force close problems I had.

(FYI, ClockworkMod still crashes and reboots the NC when I try to back up a ROM, and refuses utterly to enter CWM recovery on a reboot.)

As I mentioned above, further testing has suggested that most of my were the result of my using a class 10 card.  Since I cloned my SD card from class 10 to class 4 I've seen almost no instability, and what problems remain are likely down to problems with individual applications and their compatibility.  I'd encourage people to just use class 4 or 6...  And as I mentioned, my PNY class 4 cards all perform as well as my class 10 card, but with greater stability!

Which Kernel?

Dalingrin is frequently releasing new kernels, and it's tempting to jump to the latest, but always check the change log first (in the beginning of his thread) to see if it resolves any problems you have.  Sometimes you may wish to hold off and see how others embrace it.  Ultimately it's a matter of the bugs you can live with versus the ones you can't.

Mobility

I'm thrilled with my new mobile set up, which was only possible with the Bluetooth ability of CM7! I used to do the same with my OQO Model 02, but sadly that device was a little before its time...

(The iGo Stowaway keyboard is the single great gadget I've ever had! I got it for $30 at a Tuesday Morning discount store, and four or five years later it's still the best mobile keyboard I've seen, and they are so loved you can't get an old stock one online for less than $175!)

^ Quinxy

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14Mar/110

Reasons I Don’t Believe in God #1: The Mutual Ridiculousness of Spontaneous Somethingness

The faithful like to argue that the universe could not have created itself out of nothing in the moment of the Big Bang, that the idea is absolutely nonsensical. I agree. But what seems so curiously hypocritical to me is that those faithful are promoting exactly the same sort of nonsense, that either God somehow created Himself out of nothingness or that He somehow always existed. Both those something-in-spite-of-nothing beliefs make no more sense than the prevailing scientific theories about how matter and energy might have come to be in the Big Bang. Forced to choose between multiple ridiculous ideas, I'll choose to believe the most direct and least complicated one.

^ Quinxy

17Feb/119

The New Virtual Machine Way to Migrate your Old PC

Buying a new computer should be a joyous event, whipping all the geeky portions of the brain into delighted merriment. But those geeky neurons can sometimes barely crack a smile, knowing what's in store for them, days upon days of mental effort wasted on a dreaded migration of applications and data accumulated over many years. But, my friends, there is a new and wonderful way to migrate your PC! In less than a day you can shelve your old PC, having moved everything flawlessly to your new PC! The secret? The virtual machine!

Instead of the old methods of manually copying your data and reinstalling your old applications or using automated tools of varying (but always failing) quality to assist, this new approach converts your old system into a virtual machine that will run inside your new machine exactly as it had. All your data and all your applications will work just as they had because the old computer's entire hard disk, operating system, applications, and data were moved. And because everything is by default encapsulated within this virtual machine, you won't clutter up your beautiful new machine with old software meant for a now antiquated operating system, nor will you be forced to buy upgrades to that old software to get it to work in your new operating system. It is as flawless a migration solution as you can expect in the Windows world.

As beautiful as this solution is, there are a few issues of which you need to be made aware. Since your old hard drive is being copied to your new computer you will be giving up that space on the new computer, but only an amount equivalent to the used portion on the old computer's disks. This usually isn't a serious problem since your technology evolves rapidly and your new computer probably has vastly more space than you'll actually use any time soon. Since your old computer is being run inside a virtual machine you may see a change in performance, relative to what you experienced being on the old physical machine. Advances in computing power and disk speed may actually make the experience better, but with two computers, one physical and one virtual, competing for one set of physical resources (memory, disk, and CPU) performance can be a real problem if you're not sensible about what you're trying to do.

In this series of articles I'll discuss how to do a migration with a virtual machine running under the free VMware Player and its more sophisticated but costly VMware Workstation. While there are a few commercial products which do sell themselves as easy solutions to this very problem of migrating your old PC into your new PC via virtualization, the many reviews of those products have not impressed me; I have used VMware for many years now and been perpetually impressed by the quality of their products and by the large support community available should things go wrong.

Quick Guide to Virtualizing Your Old Computer

For those who want the synopsis and do not need a detailed walk through or notes on getting the most from your set up I'll describe the process very briefly.  In the next article I'll discuss recommendations for moving certain content outside of your old machine before building the virtual machine, optimizations you can ultimately make to ensure the virtual machine is as speedy as it can be, creating the most seamless experience with VMware's Unity feature and sharing options, and more.

Step 1: Backup Your Computer

Do not proceed if you aren't going to back up your computer.  Seriously.  Backups are a pain and will take hours to run, but you are about to do something very, very serious.  While you probably won't have any problems, you'd be a fool not to obviate a potential disaster.  I strongly recommend Acronis True Image Home.  I have used them for years and it's fantastically good software for a really good price ($49); this is not a sponsored recommendation, this is my opinion.

Step 2: Build Your Virtual Machine Image

VMware has a free product called VMware Converter which lets you build a VMware compatible image you will move to your new computer and run with their WMware Player or VMware Workstation products.

VMware Converter will run build the VM image while letting you continue to use Windows but I strongly recommend you leave it running overnight and not use the computer during this time.  Since you will of course need a great deal of disk space for this image, and since there will be a lot of disk access, it's far better to use an external drive.  By using an external drive you reduce disk contention during the creation of the VM image and you make it dead simple to move the VM image  to the new computer.  I've had good luck with the Western Digital My Book drives.  If you've got a new PC which supports USB 3.0 I'd strongly recommend you buy a drive which supports 3.0 (it will also support your old computer's 2.0 interface); you'll appreciate the hours you will ultimately save with this much faster drive.

When you're ready, download VMware Converter. Run it, and follow its instructions.

Step 3: Install VMware on the New PC

You will need to install the free VMware Player or the paid VMware Workstation on your new PC.  Download one of those and install it.  VMware Player is sufficient for almost everyone but developers or software testers.

Step 4: Copy your Virtual Machine Disk to the New PC

From the location where you created the virtual machine disk with the VMware Converter, hopefully an external drive, copy the relevant folder to your new PC.  VMware uses a folder to house all the related files of a virtual machine and it is this folder, not just any single file in it, that you'll need to copy.  Choose any location you like on the new machine, but for sanity's sake you may wish to use the default location VMware uses (My Virtual Machines in the My Documents folder of the home directory of the user who created the virtual machines).  I recommend copying instead of moving so that you can recopy in case anything goes wrong when you first try to get the new image working.

Step 5: Boot Your Virtual Old PC

Start VMware Player or VMware Workstation on your new PC and run the virtual machine image you built of your old PC.  You may encounter a few hiccups during your initial use of this virtual machine, so be prepared for some possible frustration and head scratching.

The first thing that might happen is you might be asked whether you moved or copied the virtual machine image.  While either is a safe option, you may wish to choose "moved" if this is the final resting place of the virtual machine; if you choose copy it recreates some unique identifiers in the image, including things like network card MAC address.

If you have trouble booting up your virtualized system one of the first things to try is booting it into safe mode (by hitting F8 as soon as Windows starts to boot) and go into the driver section of the Computer Management Console and remove any unusable legacy drivers which don't apply to your current system, in particular the video drivers; other drives to look at for removal are disk controller drivers for physical disk controllers you had in your old system, as well as sound card drivers for a device which was only physically in the old computer.  Try removing these drivers one at a time and rebooting.  And only remove drivers which truly don't apply to the new virtual system, your virtual machine will have video, disk controller, sound card, and other drivers which are virtualized, so leave those untouched; I am only recommending removing those drivers which are still in the system but which the system cannot use and may be causing trouble.  If you make things worse, don't worry, that's why I recommended copying the files from your external drive.  All you need to do is shut down the VMware software and recopy the files to go back to where you were and start again.  Another option worth pursuing if your computer can't even boot into safe mode is to use the phenomenal and free Autoruns program to edit the drivers, services, and start up programs of a running or offline computer.  You would need to mount the virtual disk from the dead computer and then run Autoruns as Admininstrator and choose the File > Analyze Offline System... menu item.

If you still have problems booting your system after removing drivers you should seek help in the support forums at VMware; they are very helpful and should solve any remaining problems.

And voila, your old PC has now been successfully placed inside your new computer, ready to use any time you want with all your old software and data!  You can now manually migrate only the data and applications you want from the virtual old PC to the new one, and you can do it at whatever pace you like, because it's all there.

Don't forget to wipe your old computer's hard drive before donating or storing it; if your computer has a special boot mode which allows it to re-image itself, make sure you safely wipe the partition where your data lived before re-imaging it!

^Quinxy

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5Aug/100

The Misadventures Of Quinxy

Poetry, religion, lifestyle, politics, technology, thoughts, humor – these are just a few of the main things you are going to discover on the Quinxy web site. I invite you to enter my world, sit back, relax, and get inside my mind, if you will. I am an open book and I find the ability to express myself like this quite soothing, so I am probably going to be doing it a really long time from now on. So if you find my ideas interesting, keep on reading. And in the meanwhile, I would like to share with you some information I came across on poker bonuses – I am developing a brand new hobby and it has a lot to do with casino gambling and online poker gambling in particular.  

 

Bonus Types You Might Not Be Familiar With
 

If you are one who is much more interested in actually going online, finding a decent poker room to gamble and using your bankroll to try to come up with some nice winnings at the end of the night, you are probably not paying a great deal of attention to the matter of an online poker bonus. You are either not really interested in knowing all of the advantages that such a bonus could be bringing you face to face with, you have no clue which are these perks or you are simply way too busy to take some time and do a little research. Let me tell you that I did things you own way a while back – and boy, did I grow to regret it later on! I decided to learn more about the various poker bonus types when my fiancée (who is now my wife) started an argument with me on the eternal money problem and my recent online casino gambling “addiction”.

 

No Addiction There

She soon began to realize that I wasn’t suffering from any kind of addition concerning my gambling, but I was rather turning into a pro – but that’s a whole different story for you guys. The truth is she started complaining on how easily was I spending a great deal of money on practicing my poker skills night after night (I was playing for real money quite a bit since the very beginning) and she mentioned something like “Can’t you hack into some ewallet system and get some poker money? I need to buy a new pair of shoes this month!” Of course I thought her saying was hilarious, but it also made me realize I never actually paid any real attention to the matter of collecting a poker bonus and see it for what’s it truly worth. I never knew just how many various online poker bonus types were out there and I never understood what was the correct way of grasping their meaning. So I started doing some research and here’s what I came up with:

 

No Deposit Bonuses

 

These types of poker bonuses are normally not going to require any sort of depositing on your behalf, so they might sound like some of the most appealing types of bonuses that are currently available over the Interne. Free poker rounds could be also the form in which these bonuses might come in – but you might also need to watch pit for some harsh and often times rather “hidden” wagering conditions that you might be forced to respect in order to collect your whole poker bonus. The great news is that the moment you are going to manage to transform this bonus into your very own bankroll (provided you happen to win a few hands), you shall get to become the owner of your bonus and see it get transformed into real money. All of this talk about bonuses has made me seriously consider finding some online blackjack lessons as well.

  

Choosing Reload Bonuses

 

These bonuses are going to come in the shape of an email on behalf of your favorite poker casino, asking you to deposit a certain amount of money so that you can collect a certain percentage of that bonus of yours.

 

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16Jul/100

Things I Hate & Love About Women: Volume XXIV

I started to write a very short list of two or three semi-humorous, semi-curious things I look to avoid in women and it somehow morphed into a longer, stranger list which would surely suggest many a neurosis to a trained psychoanalyst.  Ah well...  If one such therapist is reading, enjoy, and tell me what I've got and what pill will cure me. :)  Obviously there are no hard and fast rules in love, I'm sure I'd forgive a girl nearly every item on this list if I loved her so and so.

I dislike:

  • Pointy "witch" shoes.  The ones that were popular a few years ago.  Freaks me out.  I do not want to date a witch!!!  I don't not want to date a woman with voluntarily deformed feet.  I don't like sharp angles.  I mean, if you are an ice climber and these are for ice climbing, awesome, otherwise, NOOOO!
  • Makeup.  I never like it, but if you insist on wearing it, please don't use it to look unnatural.
  • Red nail polish.  I'm not really a fan of nail polish in general, but if you're going to do it, have fun, pick unconventional colors.  The classic red is so done...  Glow in the dark nail polish is a winner, black is a bit goth but I won't mind, grey might be cool, even orange or blue.  No nail art, though!
  • No long nails!!!  I don't mind if a girl's nails are an 1/4" of an inch or something, the better she can play guitar with, but if your nails are long enough that you can't do some things, or they break, then ick!  I have no idea why long nails would be fun or sexy for anyone.  It's a whole lot of scratchy, scratchy, pokey, pokey, uselessness.
  • High heeled shoes.  Not a fan.  I like tall women, sure, but I'd rather you just be your real height.  We can pause sometimes on stairs and pretend if you want to imagine you are taller.  I like Chuck Taylor Converse shoes on my women.  Or other funky, fun shoes.  I never want to hear a girl say to me, "Oh, I can't walk that far, because my shoes..."  We are ambulatory people!  Wear shoes you can walk, run, dance, play in!  I don't like those odoriferous Petri dishes they call Uggz.
  • Beer taste on the lips/breath.  Ugh.  Wine taste is slightly preferable, but still not my favorite.  My favorite?  Jolly Ranchers.  I wish all women were always sucking on Jolly Ranchers, but from a variety pack, ideally reflecting their mood towards me.  When they smelled of watermelon I'd know it was on...
  • Lacy underwear or underwear with flowers.  What makes that stuff sexy?  I have no idea, they turn me off.  Grandmothers wear that sort of stuff.  Oddly, though, I find fishnet stockings sexy (though I've never encountered any in real life).  I hope I'll be surprised with fishnets some day.
  • Dainty watches.  I hate that women are encouraged to wear tiny, dainty, functionless watches.  Poor dears, they deserve the same rights to wear watches with tons of features like the men's.  I once had a crush on a girl in a college physics class because she had a watch with a chronograph!  A year later I was in a math class with her and I discovered that my crush was all built on a lie!  The chronograph dials on the watch were just printed on the watch dial.  The story of my life.
  • Women who live within the limits of an inherited, "Women should do...".  Some people just seem to think the world should be a certain way, and I'm no fan of that.  I think the world should be the way you want it, screw society and its expectations; hard to do, but fight the good fight...
  • Women who "know" they are very attractive.  Nothing is uglier than arrogance.  Confidence, being comfortable with yourself,  feeling secure, those are grand things.  Arrogance is quite another.  Too many people on both side of the gender fence get their ego a bit stroked as a youth and spend the rest of their lives making people around them miserable.
  • Women who use their feminine wiles to get men to do things for them (pay bills, buy dinners, move furniture, etc.).  Using people sucks.  You're one step up below an escort, at least escorts can be respected for their relative honesty and straightforwardness in their social exchanges.  I haven't run into many of this sort, though.  I did make a friend who soon after  revealed to me she was sleeping with a guy because he would fill up her gas tank, and she was sleeping with another guy (at the same time) because he would take her grocery shopping, and another who...  Oh dear, she was physically a beautiful girl, but not so much inside. Our friendship was short lived.
  • Cowboy boots.  I'm sure cowboy boots are probably perfectly suited for cowboys.  But there is no excuse for any non-cowboys to be wearing them.  A woman or man in cowboy boots in a city makes as little sense as them wearing ski boots.
  • Smoking.  Ugh.  You have taken from me every ounce of interest I might have had in you and crushed it like you do your cigarette butts.  You smell like an ashtray, you taste like an ashtray, and you reek of addictive behavior.   Not for me.
  • "Nude" Pantyhose.  Ugh.  I used to think I hated pantyhose generally, but now I realize it's just the "nude" or sheer kind I dislike, mostly because I don't like something pretending to be skin color, that's just creepy like a snake shedding its skin.  And then at the crotch area the stitching on sheer pantyhose is right there, with flaps, and extra material, and I don't know...  it's just weirdly complicated and unattractive.

Things I love with women:

  • Winter wear!  Hats, coats, sweaters, mittens/gloves!  How I love layers!  Women look pretty in them, and when the time comes for their removal it just makes things so much more fun!  And put a woman in the snow, and wow!  I like it when pretty white flakes of snow land on their noses.  I would have been a very randy Eskimo.
  • Women who like driving.  There's something sexy about a woman who takes pride in her driving.
  • Sweetness, tenderness, vulnerability.  'nough said.
  • Multicolored socks/stockings.  Japanese girls sometimes rock this look.  But I don't know any.  And I am a little afraid of the Japanese when it comes to the bedroom and their tentacle porn.  :(
  • Dancing.  I'm a bit too self conscious to really enjoy dancing myself, but I like women who don't have that shyness and might move me past mine.  I was once in a a gas station, in line, waiting to pay with my girlfriend of that time, and she started to dance subtly to whatever was on the radio they were playing.  It was a truly beautiful moment; I loved her so very greatly in that instant.
  • A yielding sexual aggressiveness.  I don't want a woman to be all corpse-y, that's no good.  But, neither do I want to be their bitch (nor they mine).  I advocate for a position of relative, exchangeable equality, with each person taking that controlling interest at different times, a communism of sex.  To each according to their sexual needs of the moment, from each according to their sexual ability of the moment, etc.
  • Creativity.  One of the most attractive things for me is creativity (however it is expressed, in their art, writing, or just the play of brilliant banter).
  • Freethinkingnes-ish.  In theory I like women who are freethinkers, but freethinking can also lead to freeacting which might include daily orgies and drug induced stupors and I'm not so keen on those.  I'm looking for someone who's probably a bit like me, freethinking in mind, but more conservative (cowardly?) in action.
  • Smilers.  I love women whose smiles elevate me, and everyone else.

^Quinxy