General interests that may or may not fit anywhere else.

101 Years of Xexyl…

… for those who can count in binary, at least; indeed it was five years ago yesterday that I registered I would have never suspected I would have what I have here, today. I would never ever imagined having my own RPM repository and yet that is only one of the accomplishments here (for whatever they are each worth).

I fully admit I live in something of a fantasy world (which is something of a paradox: if I admit it does that make it real? If it is real then what is fantasy and how real is it?) and so it seems appropriate that, given the anniversary of, I reflect upon the history of and some of the views I have shared (the namesake is much older, as I have made aware in the about section. It was many years ago that I played the game Xexyz and it clearly made an impact – perhaps not unlike the space rocket that was launched in to the moon, some years back… – in me. But is only five years old and while I have older domains, this is the first one I really feel is part of me).

I have written quite some off the wall, completely bizarre and (pseudo) random articles, but I try to always have some meaning to them (no matter how small or large and no matter how obvious or not) even if the meanings are somewhat ambiguous, cryptic and vague (as hard as it is to imagine that someone who elaborates as much as I do on any one topic, I do in fact abuse ambiguity and vagueness and much of what I write and indeed say, is cryptic). I do know however that I do not succeed in this attempt. To suggest anything else is to believe in perfection in the sense of no room for improvement.

I strongly believe that there is one kind of perfection that people should strive for, something that many might not think of as ‘perfect': constantly improving yourself, eternally evolving as a person. When you learn something new or accomplish something (no matter how small or large), rather than think you are finished (something that one definition of ‘perfect’ suggests) you should think of it as a percentage: every time you reach ‘perfection’ – as 100% – you should strive for 200% of the last mile (200% of 1 is 2, 200% of 2 is 4, 200% of 4 is 8, etc.). This is, interestingly enough, exactly like binary: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512 and so on (each increment is a two times the previous value). In between the powers of 2 you make use of the other bits. For example, 1b + 1b (1 + 1 decimal) is 10b (2 decimal). 10b + 1b (2 + 1 decimal) is 11b (3 decimal). 11b + 1b (3 + 1 decimal) is 100b (4 decimal). This repeats in powers of 2 because binary is base 2. I’ve written about this before but this is what I will call – from this point onward – ‘binary perfection’. It is also the only ideal perfection exactly because it is constantly evolving. This may very well be an eccentric way to look at it but I am incredibly eccentric person. Still, this is the ‘perfect analogy’ and I daresay is a brilliant and accurate analogy.

As always, true to my word, I will continue this when I can. Because as long as I admit my mistakes I am not in denial; as long as I am not in denial, I can learn more, improve myself and those around me. While I do it for myself (this is one of the rare things I consider myself and myself alone), if it betters anyone else, then I will consider it a positive side effect. But indeed there are times where I am inactive for long periods of time and there are other times where I have a couple or more posts in a month (or a fortnight or whatever it is). This is because of what I have pointed out: I do this for me but I also believe in openness with respect to sharing knowledge and experience. This includes but is not limited to programming (and by programming I refer to experience, concepts as well as published works, whether my work alone or my contributions to others’ works). But I am not an open person and I never have been. Perhaps this is best: I am a rather dark, twisted individual, an individual possessed by many demons. These demons are insidious monsters of fire that lash out at me (and at times my surroundings) but they are MY demons and I’ll be damned if anyone tries to take them away from me.

I am Xexyl and this is my manifesto of and for eternal madness…

2014 ID10T World Champion

There are two things I want to point out. The first one is noting that my mistake is not as bad as it initially seems because prior to systemd, this would not have been a problem at all. Second, I am remarking on why I admit to these types of things:

First, and perhaps the most frustrating for me (but what is done is done and I cannot change it but only accept it and move on) is that previously, before /bin, /sbin, /lib and /lib64 were made symbolic links to /usr/bin, /usr/sbin, /usr/lib and /usr/lib64, I would have been fine. Indeed, I can see that is where my mind was, besides the other part I discussed (about how files can be deleted yet still used as long as a reference is available; it is only once all references to the file are closed that the file is no longer usable). Where was mount, umount before this? And did it use /usr/lib64 or was it /lib64 ? The annoying thing is: it was under /bin and /lib64 which means that it used to be – but is not in systemd – on the root volume. So umount on /usr would have meant /usr would be gone but however /bin would still be there. So I would have still had access to /bin/mount. Alas, that is one of the things I didn’t like about some changes over the years, and it hit me hard. Eventually I will laugh at it entirely but for now I can only laugh in some ways (it IS funny but I’m more annoyed at myself currently). As I get to in my second point, I’m not renaming this post (dignity remains strong) even though it is not as bad as I made it sound, initially. While I would argue it was a rather stupid mistake, I don’t know if champion is still correct. Maybe better is last place in the final round, is more correct. Maybe not even that. Regardless, the title (for once the pun is not intended) is remaining the same.

Second, some might wonder why I admit to such a thing as below (as well as other things like when I messed up Apache logs… or other things I’m sure I have written about, before… and will in the future…) when is more about computers in general, primarily focusing on programming, Linux (typically Red Hat based distributions) and security. The reason I include things like the below is that I know that my greatest strength is that I’m willing to accept mistakes that I make; I don’t ever place the blame on someone or something else if I am responsible. Equally I address my mistakes in the best way possible. Now ask yourself this: If I don’t accept my mistakes, can I possibly take care of the problem? If I did not make a mistake – which is what being in denial really is – then there isn’t a problem at all. So how can I fix a problem that isn’t a problem? No one is perfect, and my typical joke aside (I consider myself, much of the time, to be no one, and “no one is perfect”), it is my thinking that if I can publicly admit to mistakes then it shows just how serious I am when I suggest to others (for example, here) that the only mistake is not accepting your own mistakes. So to that end, I made a mistake. Life goes on…

There are various web pages out there about computer user errors. A fun one that I’m aware of is top 10 worst mistakes at the command line. While I certainly cannot make claim to some of the obvious ones known, I am by no means perfect. Indeed, I have made many mistakes over the years and I wouldn’t have it any other way: the only mistake would be to not accept the mistake(s) and therefore not learn from them (although the mistake I’ll reveal here is one that is hard to learn from in some ways, as I explain: fatigue is something that is very hard to determine and by extension being tired means you don’t even know you are as tired as you are). Since I often call myself a no-one or nobody (exactly what Nemo in Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea means, in Latin), I have a great deal of amusement from the idea of “no one is perfect” exactly because of what I consider myself. But humour aside I am not perfect at all. While I have remarked on this before, I think the gem of them all is this:

There is no such thing as human weakness, there is only
strength and… those blinded by… the fallacy of perfection.
— Xexyl

If you can accept that truth then you can always learn, always expand yourself, always improve yourself and potentially those around you. This is hard for some to accept but those who do accept it know exactly what I mean. I assure everyone, you are not perfect!

So with that out of the way, let me get to the point of this post. I admit that mistakes of the past fail to come to my mind although I know I’ve made many and some more idiotic than others. However, around 6:00 today I made what is absolutely my worst mistake ever, and one that gives me the honour and privilege to be the holder of the title:  2014 IDI0T World Champion.

What is it? Prepare yourselves and challenge yourself as well. A while back I renamed the LVM volume group on my server. Something however, occurred to me, being that – obviously – some file systems are not able to be umounted in order to be mounted to the new volume group. That doesn’t mean that files at the current mount point cannot be accessed. What it does mean, however, is that if I update the kernel I will have in the bootloader a reference to the old volume group. This means I will have to update the entry the next time I reboot. I did keep this in mind and I almost went this route until this morning when I got the wise (which is to say really, really stupid) idea of running:

# init S

in order to get to single user mode, thereby making most filesystems easier to umount. Of course, I had already fixed /home, /opt and a few others that don’t have to be open. I was not thinking in full here, however, and it went from this to much worse. After logging in as root (again, obviously) to “fix” things, I went to tackle /usr which is where all hell broke loose…

It used to be that you would have /bin and /sbin on a different file system (or if nothing else, not be the same as) than /usr/bin and /usr/sbin. However, in more modern systems, you have the following:

$ ls -l /{,s}bin
lrwxrwxrwx. 1 root root 7 Dec 18  2013 /bin -> usr/bin
lrwxrwxrwx. 1 root root 8 Dec 18  2013 /sbin -> usr/sbin

which means that anything that used to be under /bin would now be /usr/bin. In addition, you also had /lib and (for 64-bit builds) /lib64. However, similar to the above, you also have:

$ ls -l /lib{,64}
lrwxrwxrwx. 1 root root 7 Dec 18  2013 /lib -> usr/lib
lrwxrwxrwx. 1 root root 9 Dec 18  2013 /lib64 -> usr/lib64

which means you absolutely need /usr to be mounted! Even if I had (a recent upgrade to latest release of server combined with me not installing busybox again for statically linked commands) busybox (or similar) installed, I would have been screwed over by the simple fact that once /usr is umounted and therefore I have no way to run mount again! Most disturbing is that I knew what I was about to do was risky, and risky because I was going to use an option that had potential for risk without the worry as I just described. However, as soon as I ran the command but before I confirmed it, I knew I would be forced to do a hard reboot. The command is as such:

# /usr/bin/umount -l /usr

Indeed, I just made it impossible to mount, change run level, do much of anything other than reboot (and not by command! That was already made impossible by my idiocy!). And so I did. Of course, I still had to update the boot entry. While that is the least of my worries (was no problem), it is ironic indeed because I would have had to do that regardless of when I rebooted next. So all things considered, for the time being, I am, I fear, the 2014 World Holder of the ID 10 T award. Indeed, I’m calling myself an idiot. I would argue that idiot is putting it way too nicely.

As for the -l option, given the description in umount(1), the hour it was and the sleep I did (not) get last night, I was thinking along the lines of (and this is why I didn’t think beyond it, stupid as that is!) as long as you have a reference to a file, even if it is deleted, you still can use it and even have the chance to restore it (or execute it or… keep it running). Once all file references are gone, if it is deleted, then it is gone. So when I read:

-l, –lazy
Lazy unmount. Detach the filesystem from the filesystem hierarchy now, and cleanup all references to the filesystem as soon as it is not busy anymore. (Requires kernel 2.4.11 or later.)

I only thought of the latter part and not the detach NOW portion. In addition, I wasn’t thinking of the commands themselves. Clearly if programs are under /usr then I might need /usr to … run mount! This is a perfect example, I might add, of how dangerous being tired is: you might think you have the clarity to work on something but the reality is if you don’t have that clarity then you don’t have the clarity to determine whether or not you have ability to judge any of it in the first place. This implies I likely won’t get much done today but at least I did do one thing: I fixed the logical volume rename issue. That is something even if it obliterated my (good) system uptime and at the same time revealing how bad MY uptime was (I should not have been at the server let alone up at all!).

Death Valley, California, Safety Tips and Harry Potter

I guess this might be the most bizarre title for a post yet but it is a take on real life and fantasy and particularly the Harry Potter series. I am implying two things with real life. I will get to the Harry Potter part later. While it is a specific tragedy in Death Valley it is not an uncommon event and since I have many fond memories of Death Valley (and know the risks), I want to reflect on it all (because indeed fantasy is very much part of me, perhaps too much so).

For the first ten years of my life (approximate) I visited Death Valley each year, in November. It is a beautiful place with many wonderful sights. I have many fond memories of playing on the old kind of Tonka trucks (which is a very good example of “they don’t make [it] like they used to” as nowadays it is made out of plastic and what I’m about to describe would be impossible). My brother and I would take a quick climb up the hill right behind our tent, get on our Tonka trucks (each our own) and ride down, crashing or not, but having a lot of fun regardless. I remember the amazing sand dunes with the wind blowing like it tends to in a desert. I remember being fortunate enough that there was a ghost town with a person living there who could supply me with electricity for my nebulizer for an asthma attack (and fortunate enough to see many ghost towns from where miners in the California Gold Rush would have resided). I remember, absolutely, Furnace Creek with the visitor centre and how nice everyone was there. I even remember the garbage truck driver who let my brother and me activate the mechanism to pick up the bin. I remember the many rides on family friends’ dune buggies. The amazing hikes in the many canyons is probably a highlight (but certainly not the only highlight). Then there is Scotty’s Castle (they had a haunted house during Halloween if I recall). There is actually an underground river (which is an inspiration to another work I did but that is another story entirely). They have a swimming pool that is naturally warm. I remember all these things and more even if most of it is vague. It truly is a wonderful place.

Unfortunately, because of the vast area which spans more than 3,373,000 acres (according to Wiki which I seem to remember is about the right area – I’m sure the official Death Valley site would have more on this) and the very fact it is the hottest place on Earth (despite some claims; I am referring to officially acknowledged records) at  134.6 F / 57 C. That was, ironically enough, recorded this very month in 1913, on July 10 (again according to Wiki but from memory, other sources do have it in the early 1900s). This is an important bit (the day of the month in particular) for when I get to fantasy, by the way. Interestingly, the area I live in has a higher record for December and January than Death Valley by a few degrees (Death Valley: December and January at 89 F / 32 C ; my location I know I have seen on the thermostat at least 95 F / 35 C for both months although it could have been higher too). Regardless, Death Valley has a higher record by 10 C higher (my location record: 47 C / 116.6 F; Death Valley as above). And if you think of the size (as listed above) and that much of it is unknown territory for all but seasoned campers (which my family would fit that category), you have to be prepared. Make no mistake people: Death Valley and deserts in general, can be very, very dangerous. Always make sure you keep yourself hydrated. What is hydration though, for humans? It is keeping your electrolytes at a balanced level. This means that indeed too much water is as dangerous as too little water. As a general rule of thumb that was given to me by the RN (registered nurse) for a hematologist I had (another story entirely, as well, as for why I had one): if you are thirsty you waited too long. Furthermore, for Death Valley (for example) make sure you either have a guide or you know your way around (and keep track – no matter how you do this – where you go). That may include maps, compass, landmarks, and any other number of techniques. But it is absolutely critical. I have time and again read articles on the BBC where someone (or some people) from the UK or parts of Europe were unprepared and were found dead. It is a wonderful place but be prepared. Although this should be obvious, it often isn’t: Death Valley is better visited in the cooler months (close to Winter or even in Winter). I promise you this: it won’t be cold by any means. Even if you are used to blizzards in your area, you will still have plenty of heat year round in Death Valley. I should actually restate that slightly, thinking about a specific risk (and possibility). Deserts can drop to freezing temperatures! It is rare yes, but when it does it still will be cold. Furthermore, deserts can see lots of rain, even flash floods! Yes, I’ve experienced this exactly. Furthermore, as for risks, if it looks cloudy (or if you have a sense of smell like mine where you can smell rain that is about to drop, and no that is not an exaggeration – my sense of smell is incredibly strong) or there is a drizzle (or otherwise light rain) or more than that, do not even think about hiking the canyons! It is incredibly dangerous to attempt it! This cannot be stressed enough. As for deserts and freezing temperature, I live in a desert (most of Southern California is a desert) and while it was over 22 years ago (approximately) we still have seen snow on our yard. So desert does not mean no rain or no snow. I’ve seen people write about hot and dry climates and deserts (comparing the two) but that is exactly what a desert is: a hot and dry climate! But climate does not by any means somehow restrict what can or cannot happen. Just like Europe can see mid 30s (centigrade) so too can deserts see less than zero. And all this brings me to the last part: fantasy.

One of my favourite genres (reading – I rarely watch TV or films) is fantasy. While this is not the only series I have read, the Harry Potter series is one that I am referring to in particular to, as I already highlighted. Indeed, everything in Harry Potter has a reason, has a purpose and in general will be part of the entire story! That is how good it is and that is how much I enjoyed it (I also love puzzles so putting things together, or rather the need to do that, was a very nice treat indeed). I’m thankful for a friend that finally got me to read it (I had the books actually but never got around to reading the ones that were out, which would be up to and including book 3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). The last two books I read the day it came out, in full, with hours to spare. Well, why on Earth would I be writing about fantasy, specifically Harry Potter, and Death Valley, together? I just read on the BBC, that Harry Potter Actor Dave Legeno has been found dead in Death Valley. He played the werewolf Fenrir Greyback. I will note the irony that today, the 12th of July, this year it is a full moon. I will also readily admit that in fantasy, not counting races by themselves (e.g., Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, …) werewolves are my favourite type of creature. I find the idea fascinating and there is a large part of me that wishes they were real. (As for my favourite race it would likely be Elves) I didn’t know the actor, of course, but the very fact he was British makes me think he too fell to the – if you will excuse the pun which is by no means meant to be offensive to his family or anyone else – fantasy of experiencing Death Valley, and unfortunately it was fatal. And remember I specifically wrote 1913, July 10 as the record temperature for Death Valley? Well, I did mean it when I wrote it has significance here: he was found dead on July 11 of this year. Whether that means he died on the 11th is not exactly known yet (it is indeed a very large expansion and it is only that hikers found him, that it is known) but that it was one day off is ironic indeed. It is completely possible he died on the 10th and it is also possible it was days before or even the 11th. This is one of those things that will be known after autopsy occurs as well as backtracking (by witnesses and other evidence) and not until then. Until then, it is anyone’s guess (and merely speculation). Regardless of this, it is another person who was unaware of the risks of which there are many (depending on where in Death Valley you might be in a vehicle; what happens if you run out of fuel and only have enough water for three days? There are so many scenarios but they are far too often not thought of or simply neglected). Two other critical bits of advice: don’t ignore the signs left all around the park (giving warnings) and always, without fail, tell someone where you will be! If someone knew where he was and knew approximately when he should be back (which should always be considered when telling someone else where you’ll be) they could have gone looking for him. This piece of advice, I might add, goes for hiking, canoeing and anything else (outside of Death Valley, this is a general rule), especially if you are alone (but truthfully – and I get the impression he WAS alone – you should not be alone in a place as large as Death Valley because there are many places to fall, there are animals that could harm you, and instead of having a story to bring home you risk not coming home at all). There are just so many risks so always be aware of that and prepare ahead of time. Regardless, I want to thank Dave for playing Fenrir Greyback. I don’t know if [you] played in any other films and I do not know anything about you or your past but I wish you knew the risks beforehand and my condolences (for whatever they can be and whatever they are worth) to your friends and family. I know that most will find this post out of character (again if you will excuse the indeed intended pun) for what I typically write about, but fantasy is something I am very fond of, and I have fond memories of Death Valley as well.

“I ‘Told’ You So!”

Update on 2014/06/25: Added a word that makes something more clear (specifically the pilots were not BEING responsible but I wrote “were not responsible”).

I was just checking the BBC live news feed I have in my bookmark bar in Firefox and I noticed something of interest. What is that? How automated vehicle systems (whether controlled by humans or not it is still created by and automation itself has its own flaws) are indeed dangerous. Now why is that interesting to me? Because I have written about this before in more than one way! So let us break this article down a bit:

The crew of the Asiana flight that crashed in San Francisco “over-relied on automated systems” the head of the US transport safety agency has said.

How many times have I written about things being dumbed down to the point where people are unable – or refuse – to think and act accordingly to X, Y and Z? I know it has been more than once but apparently it was not enough! Actually, I would rather state: apparently not enough people are thinking at all. That is certainly a concern to any rational being. Or it should be.

Chris Hart, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said such systems were allowing serious errors to occur.

Clearly. As the title suggests: I ‘told’ you so!

The NTSB said the 6 July 2013 crash, which killed three, was caused by pilot mismanagement of the plane’s descent.

Again: relying on “smart” technology is relying on the smartest of the designer and the user (which doesn’t leave much chance, does it?). But actually in this case it is even worse. The reasons: First, they are endangering others lives (and three died – is that enough yet?). Second is the fact that they are operating machinery, not using a stupid (which is what a “smart” phone is) phone. I specifically wrote about emergency vehicles and this and here we are, where exactly the situation arises: there are events that absolutely cannot be accounted for automatically and require that a person is paying attention and using the tool responsibly!

During the meeting on Tuesday, Mr Hart said the Asiana crew did not fully understand the automated systems on the Boeing 777, but the issues they encountered were not unique.

This is also called “dumbing the system down” isn’t it? Yes, because when you are no longer required to think and know how something works, you cannot fix problems!

“In their efforts to compensate for the unreliability of human performance, the designers of automated control systems have unwittingly created opportunities for new error types that can be even more serious than those they were seeking to avoid,” Mr Hart said.

Much like I wrote about related to all of and then some: computer security, computer problems, emergency vehicles and in general automated vehicles. This is another example.

The South Korea-based airline said those flying the plane reasonably believed the automatic throttle would keep the plane flying fast enough to land safely.

Making assumptions at the risk of others lives is irresponsible and frankly reprehensible! I would argue it is potentially – and in this case, is – murderous!

But that feature was shut off after a pilot idled it to correct an unexplained climb earlier in the landing.

Does all of this start to make sense? No? It should. Look what the pilot did? Why? A stupid mistake or an evil gremlin took over him momentarily? Maybe the gremlin IS their stupidity.

The airline argued the automated system should have been designed so that the auto throttle would maintain the proper speed after the pilot put it in “hold mode”.

They should rather be saying sorry and then some. They should also be taking care of the mistake THEY made (at least as much as they can; they already killed – and yes, that is the proper way of wording it – three people)!

Boeing has been warned about this feature by US and European airline regulators.

The blame shouldn’t be placed on Boeing if they didn’t actually neglect and they are doing what it seems everyone wants: automation. Is that such a good idea? As I pointed out many times: no. Let me reword that a bit. Is Honda responsible for a drunk getting behind the wheel and then killing a family of five, four, three, two or even one person (themselves included – realistically that would be the only one who is not innocent!)? No? Then why the hell should Boeing be blamed for a pilot misusing the equipment? The pilot is not being responsible and the reason (and how) the pilot is not being responsible is irrelevant!

“Asiana has a point, but this is not the first time it has happened,” John Cox, an aviation safety consultant, told the Associated Press news agency.

It won’t be the last, either. Mark my words. I wish I was wrong but until people wake up it won’t be fixed (that isn’t even including the planes already in commission).

“Any of these highly automated airplanes have these conditions that require special training and pilot awareness. … This is something that has been known for many years.”

And neglected. Because why? Here I go again: it is so dumbed down, so automatic that the burden shouldn’t be placed on the operators! Well guess what? Life isn’t fair. Maybe you didn’t notice that or you like to ignore the bad parts of life, but the fact remains life isn’t fair and they (the pilots and in general the airliner) are playing the pathetic blame game (which really is saying “I’m too immature and irresponsible and not only that I cannot dare admit that I am not perfect. Because of that it HAS to be someone else who is at fault!”).

Among the recommendations the NTSB made in its report:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration should require Boeing to develop “enhanced” training for automated systems, including editing the training manual to adequately describe the auto-throttle programme.
  • Asiana should change its automated flying policy to include more manual flight both in training and during normal operations
  • Boeing should develop a change to its automatic flight control systems to make sure the plane “energy state” remains at or above minimum level needed to stay aloft during the entire flight.

My rebuttal to the three points:

  • They should actually insist upon “improving” the fully automated system (like scrapping the idea). True, this wasn’t completely automated but it seems that many want that (Google self driving cars, anyone?). Because let’s all be real, are they of use here? No, they are not. They’re killing – scrap that, murdering! – people. And that is how it always will be! There is never enough training. There is always the need to stay in the loop. The same applies to medicine, science, security (computer, network and otherwise), and pretty much everything in life!
  • Great idea. A bit late of them though, isn’t it? In fact, a bit late of all airliners that rely on such a stupid design!
  • Well they could always improve but the same thing can be said for cars, computers, medicinal science, other science, and here we go again: everything in this world! But bottom line is this: it is not at all Boeing’s fault. They’re doing what everyone seems to want.

And people STILL want flying cars? Really? How can anyone be THAT stupid? While I don’t find it hard to believe such people exist, I still find it shocking. To close this, I’ll make a few final remarks:

This might be the wrong time, according to some, since it is just reported. But it is not! If it is not the right time now, then when? This same thing happens with everything of this nature! Humans always wait until a disaster (natural or man made) happens until doing something. And then they pretend (lying about it in the process) to be better but what happens next? They do the same thing all over again. And guess what also happens at that time? The same damned discussions (that I dissected, above) occurs! Here’s a computer security example: I’ve lost count with the number of times NASA has suggested they would be improving policies with their network and I have also lost count of times they then went on to LATER be compromised AGAIN with the SAME or EQUALLY stupid CAUSE! Why is this? Irresponsibility and complete and utter stupidity. Aside from the fact that the only thing we learn thing from history is that – and yes, pun is most definitely intended - we do not learn a bloody thing from history! And that is because of stupidity and irresponsibility.

Make no mistake, people:

  1. This will continue happening until humans wake up (which I fear that since even in 2014 ‘they’ have not woken up, they never will!).
  2. I told you so, I was right then and I am still right!
  3. Not only did I tell you so about computer security (in the context of automation) I also told you about real life incidents, including emergencies. And I was right then and I am still right!

Hurts? Well some times that’s the best way. Build some pain threshold as you’ll certainly need it. If only it was everyone’s head at risk, because they’re so thick that they’d survive! Instead we all are at risk because of others (including ourselves, our families, everyone’s families, et al.). Even those like me who suggest this time and again are at risk (because they are either forced in to using the automation or they are surrounded by drones – any pun is much intended here, as well – who willingly use their “smart” everything… smart everything except their brain, that is!

In Memory of C.S. Lewis: 50 Years Later

Some time earlier this year or perhaps last year, I found out that C.S. Lewis died on the same day that JFK was assassinated. As would be expected, this meant hardly anything was said of Lewis and I find this sad to say the least. Since this is not at all a political site (and I assure you it never ever will be turned into such a cesspool!) or a news site, and since I have written before about fantasy – albeit briefly – I think it is about time C.S. Lewis is remembered. To be fair, the BBC did mention this fact the other day, but of course the real interest to most is that it is 50 years since JFK was assassinated and not 50 years since C.S. Lewis died. Well, for me it is 50 years since Lewis died, too.

I remember when I was in grade school the class had to read The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and how much I enjoyed it. I was probably 5 and I had to read the entire series (my choice – the class only had to read the first) and I did it and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. It was my first exposure to fantasy and I’ve never looked back. Sure, my favourite author is Jules Verne who wrote more of adventures and science fiction (a combination of) but the truth is fantasy is very much a part of my life. Perhaps because of a specific multiuser dungeon (MUD) that I am a developer and designer for (which by itself is a wonderful thing: use my mind with programming and at the same time use my imagination), it is one of the most important things to me. Many would find MUDs destroyed their life because of addiction (and I admit I was at a time addicted to this MUD but my pleasure from playing was always overpowered by the prospect of programming for it, to which is another ‘addiction’ of mine but it is healthy as it brings me a lot of experience at the same time as joy) but it is the exact opposite for me. It was the first real project I was part of (a significant project, anyway) and it was a team project at that. But who cares about that? I’m going off topic. The point is fantasy is something that matters to me a great deal and C.S. Lewis is the author of the very first book I read in that genre.

There isn’t much to be said at this time, I admit, and part of that is I delayed this until the end of the day (I forgot to write it earlier) and I want to finish up. But one thing I find most interesting is that he was friends with Tolkien and while I’m not into religion, it is interesting to note that Tolkien was religious and is the very reason, I believe, that Lewis opened up to religion. Yet, even though I’m not into [that], I can find a sense of enjoyment from what he wrote. True, Narnia was in the fantasy genre and not a work of theology but it really shows how variety and/or differences is (are) not always a bad thing. Indeed, we would be extinct, I am sure of it, if we were all the same (not to mention it would be a boring life, at least it would to me). But the more we are open to others, the more we can learn and the more we can better ourselves. This very concept is how and why technology evolves as does anything else that evolves does. This very concept is part of evolving, period. Naturally we each go our own path and some will agree and some will disagree. That doesn’t matter to me either because that is exactly why we’re still here. After all, if everyone agreed with everything I said, this world might not be boring but that’s because I’m something of a lunatic – not because everyone agreed with me (I would find it pretty awkward if everyone did agree with me and I’m not always right and I’m willing to accept and admit that). Everyone has their own belief structure and their own goals, and I approve of that just as I approve of Lewis’ having his own beliefs (or what beliefs he had).

Thanks, C.S. Lewis, for your wonderful series involving the wonderful fantasy world called ‘Narnia’. It provided me much enjoyment and still does when I think of it.