Change of scenery and new blog title

I will now be posting to rather than will probably die soon, to be replaced with a new domain name, so I thought I’d switch to for domain continuity apart from anything.

Another reason for this change is to become more of a tech blog and less of a personal blog.  Also, because updates itself and provides a bunch of features not available to the downloaded version of wordpress I was using previously.  It’s also free.

And I love the SAAS model.

And it reduces the load on my server (lol, as if).

And stuff.


Have fun hacking!


Followup: Installing Ubuntu from Windows

Ok, so I got unetbootin installed and rebooted.  But I’m hit with a Windows error message saying it can’t boot.

I’ve edited boot.ini thusly:

< F:\ubnldr.mbr="UNetbootin"
> multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\ubnldr.mbr="UNetbootin"
9c9< F:\ubnldr.mbr="UNetbootin"---> multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\ubnldr.mbr="UNetbootin"

This -should- allow me to boot into ubuntu.  Fingers crossed.  Will edit if not.

EDIT1: This did not work.  Windows’ bootloader thought unetbootin was a Windows operating system, and was therefore expecting files which are clearly not present.  I’m therefore re-installing unetbootin in the vain hope that it will work.  Will edit again when it doesn’t.

EDIT2: This did not work.  Windows’ bootloader STILL thinks unetbootin is a Windows operating system despite several variations in my installation procedure.  I think the only way to convince my computer otherwise is to take the decision out of Windows’ hands.  That requires waiting for Mike to wake up and give me a blank CD though (his LiveCD of Ubuntu is 64bit and my processor is somewhat deficient in bits.  It only has 32, bless it…)  Another edit will follow with tales of my success once I have a CD in my hands…

EDIT3: Day 2 of using Ubuntu again and I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier.  Windows XP is probably never going to see the light of day again.  I’m home!!! SO happy!

Installing Ubuntu from Windows

I recently ran into the problem of using wubi.exe (Ubuntu’s Windows installer) to install Ubuntu 10.10 and hitting a “try (hd0,0): EXT2:” hang.  Information on the internet is sporadic and confusing at best so I thought I’d post a run-down of what steps I took, what worked and what didn’t.

Note that this whole procedure would’ve been a lot easier if I had a blank CD or a LiveCD of Ubuntu to hand, but I don’t, so never mind.

Ok, so when I hit the error I gave it time to complete what it was doing, it was definitely hung.  So I rebooted back into Windows and tried a different .iso image.  Same issue.  So I tried a different wubi.exe (specifically, the one on the 10.10 i386 iso rather than the one you get if you choose to download it from  Same issue.  At this point I ran around the net in circles for about an hour getting nowhere fast but eventually stumbling upon some people reporting the issue affecting EasyBCD.  So I looked into what exactly EasyBCD was, it turns out it’s a way to modify the Windows Vista/7 bootloader.  Since the SP3 bootloader is nigh-identical to the Vista/7 one, I thought EasyBCD might help.  Unfortunately, it’s only superficially identical, and despite following a “howto use EasyBCD on Windows XP” tutorial, I managed to completely remove the Windows XP bootloader menu, replacing it with a black screen that flashes for a second then boots into windows.  Great.  So now I can’t even -try- to boot wubi.

It was at this point I hit the ‘net again, and after another hour or two of circular google-forum-google work I eventually hit upon “Unetbootin”.  I knew of Unetbootin before but only very vaguely, had once used it to try out a few OSes.  It turns out that Unetbootin can mimick wubi, almost, but in a much more sane way.  What Unetbootin does is perform a ‘frugal install’, in other words using your hard disk as a LiveCD.  Sort of a LiveHDD idea.  Perfect!  Once you’re in the Live environment, performing an install to an already-prepped Ubuntu partition (which I just so happen to have) is trivial.  I’ll post a follow-up detailing my success with this (it’s currently halfway through installing).

Check back later!

Emma the OS

It’s been a while since my rather heartbroken post in August entitled “Long Time No Post” to which my last comment was proven true (no replies…) I’ve since managed to repair my xbox, but it broke again shortly afterwards and this time I shall have to replace it. It is decidedly irreparable (several unsuccessful attempts have been made).

I have not made any progress on the “finishing what I start” quest, but that’s not really the purpose of this post.

I have started an Operating System project called Emma. So far I’ve only written the bootloader, and it’s a very simplistic bootloader at that. It doesn’t even load a kernel yet. It does, however, go over its 512 byte mark, which means I now have to learn how to make a two-stage loader because it don’t fit in the bootsector of a floppy.

The Makefile I’m very impressed with myself at though. I don’t have to type the usual 5 or 6 commands to recompile and test the OS, all I have to do is type “make” and up pops a virtual machine running Emma 0.0.1! woo!

Here’s some sample output:

Welcome to Emma version 0.0.1.
Detecting RAM… 637KB [OK]
Loading Kernel..[ERR]
Error reading floppy:[A]

It should be noted that the Error in this output is because the kernel doesn’t exist (and I’m pretty sure my loader code is fucked anyway) and the A next to floppy doesn’t mean Drive A:, it’s -supposed- to be a hexadecimal representation of the error code (stored in AH, should be TWO hex bits long) but the routine for printing said code appears to be… well, it obviously doesn’t work.

Hooray for it actually outputting anything though! You wouldn’t believe how excited I was just to get the thing booting yesterday, I’m telling ya! ^_^

Long time no post!

Ok so a lot has happened.  Rachael left me for a fella named Tom Coutts.  All the best to them, it was a totally painful experience at the time but I’ve realised that anybody who’s going to leave me for somebody else isn’t worth getting upset about.  No offence, Rachael, and yes I know you said it was for umpteen other reasons but frankly you’re not going to be able to bullshit me with that “it’s your own fault” rubbish if you go out with someone else 2 weeks after we broke up.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Ok so in lighter news, I’ve made some new friends, discovered a love for Bon Jovi and that’s about it.  Still no direction in my life, but I’d like to take an LPI exam so I can become a Linux System Administrator.  That costs money though, and I really don’t know where I can get £120 from.

So yeah, life is still its usual roller coaster.  Everything broke in the last 2 months or so, and I’m gradually fixing what I can – my desktop was the first to officially be labelled “mended”.  My phone, my netbook and my relationship with Rachael have all be written off as irreparable.  Next thing to work on is my ability to finish projects (something I’ve never really had fixed).  Any help with that would be appreciated, but I don’t know who I’m talking to.  I don’t really have a support network.  Oh well.

Responses to Open Letter

These are the responses from the three candidates to the open letter I sent last night.  First the conservative, who deigned to visit upon my inbox all manner of HTML goodness (that’s sarcasm, I hate HTML formatted emails):

Dear Mr Browne
Thank you for your email. I’m afraid I’m not too well up with IT! However, I regret the fact that this Bill was rushed through the Commons with little time for us to scrutinise and debate it. I therefore hope that we can return to this matter after the election and look forwrd to doing so. But for now, thank you for letting me have your views.
Best wishes,
Laurence Robertson The Conservative Party Candidate

The Green Party response was sent in a plaintext email (thankfully!):

Dear Christopher

Thankyou for bringing these issues to my attention.

I am pleased to say that the Green Party propose laws that diminish, not
increase, copyright and intellectual property rights.

I agree with you that the powers brought in by the Digital Economy Act
represent an infringement of civil liberties, and I would oppose use of
these powers for that reason.

Of course, whilst criminals and abusers profit from cyberspace, measures
must be taken to protect the rest of us from their malicious use of it.
Achieving a balance between civil liberty and civil security is always
difficult, and I must confess that I am no expert on the matter. All I feel
prepared to say on this is that we should always be on guard against
'mission creep' in security measures, and be vigilant in safeguarding ourt
civil liberties

Were I elected I would join with others to vigorously oppose powers that
remove people from internet use in response to copyright violation. I feel
that this sets an alarming precedent.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Sidford

Finally, here is the response from Alistair Cameron, the Liberal Democrat candidate (multipart/alternative mime type):

Dear Mr Browne,

Thank you for contacting me about the Digital Economy Act and a number of of related issues.

We have been highly critical about the so called “wash-up” process which has enabled this Act to pass with limited Parliamentary scrutiny before the General Election. The “wash-up” of the Digital Economy Bill was essentially a carve up between the Labour and Conservative parties that ignored Liberal Democrat arguments to consult more widely before introducing a measure to introduce web-blocking for copyright infringement. Liberal Democrats voted against the Bill at 3rd Reading in the House of Commons and against the Labour and Conservatives web-blocking amendment in both the Lords and the Commons.

Liberal Democrats remain to be convinced about the necessity for technical measures, which could include disconnection from the internet. Liberal Democrats were successful in getting the Government to agree to a period of at least a year in which no technical measures can be considered and then to undertake a process of rigorous analysis and consultation into the need for any such measures. We also believe that the music, film and other content industries must work more urgently to develop easy and affordable ways for people to legally access their products.

The recent Liberal Democrat conference in March voted to establish a party working group to look into further detail about the issues raised by the Act.

You raised a number of related questions about the internet, cyber crime and cyber terrorism. I will need more time to get back to you with a considered response to these questions.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Alistair Cameron

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate

I’ll let you decide for yourself which is your favourite response.

The open letter is released under the same license as this entire blog (Creative Commons Share and Share Alike Attribution Non-commercial license).  The responses hold views that belong to the indicated parliamentary candidates; I accept no responsibility nor liability for their views.  On request from the owner or a person legally representing him/her, I will remove a response.  I have not edited and will not edit any of the responses for any reason whatsoever.

Open Letter to three Tewkesbury Candidates (Alistair Cameron, Laurence Robertson and Matthew Sidford)

Dear Tewkesbury Candidates (or at least, the ones who publish their email address),

I’m a constituent living in Tewkesbury, trying to decide who I should vote for on thursday.

I would like to know each of your opinions on the Digital Economy Act. I would like to know your more general opinion of Copyright vs Copyleft, and whether internet censorship is a justifiable enforcement of copyright law.

I would also like to know what operating systems you are each familiar with and to what extent you are familiar with each. After all, if you are passing legislation regarding digital media and the use/abuse thereof, I should hope you are at least aware of a significant range of operating systems, their distribution methods and their compatibility with Digital Rights Management.

The Internet, and legislation surrounding it, affects us all. I would like to be reassured that those who are creating this legislation understand the core principles of it. Concisely, what is the internet for?

Cybercrime and cyberterrorism are also immediate threats to the safety and welfare of United Kingdom residents. What safeguards are being taken to ensure users of the internet are protected against security crackers, malicious software, privacy invasion and internet-based attacks; do you feel the current legislation is sufficient? Does it protect without infringing on civil liberties?

Remote devices – such as smart phones, tablet PCs and laptops – often include Digital Rights Management software to prevent users from infringing copyright. Have you ever been unable to use any device in the way in which you want to due to this software? Do you think the software is justifiably restrictive?

There are many software platforms available on the market today, but the main three are NT (eg Microsoft Windows), BSD (eg Apple Mac OSX) and Linux (eg GNU/Linux). Which of these (or any other) do you use? Which of these (or any other) do you think represents the most accurate analogy for your political party, and why?

I look forward to hearing from you before the general election. I appreciate I may not receive my answers until after I have voted due to the busy nature of yourselves at this time.


Christopher Browne