Saturday, September 26, 2015

Creating Chromebook Recovery Media on Linux

This should have been really easy. Like REALLY REALLY easy. Go and look up the instructions and you find out they have an app in Google Chrome for it. Cool, open up chrome, install the app, and find that it only supports Windows and Mac OSX.


Further down the page I found a "how to do this in Linux" (or something to that effect) link which downloads a script and tells you to change permissions and run it as root. And it fails...

So here's what to do. The reason the script seems to fail is that the file it uses to decide what image to download seems to have changed format or something. So, download that file.


This is the tricky bit. In a text editor (or using less or whatever), you need to find your model, or at the very least, make a reasonable guess to the correct model. If your chromebook is showing a sad chromebook face with a USB stick, then it's relatively easy. At the bottom of that screen if shows the hw identifier. It'll be something like ALEX ALPHA-DOGFOOD.

If you don't have that screen, you can probably just do a "powerwash". Instructions are here.

When you do a search, that model number should find something in a "hwimatch" block. Lower down in the stanza, you'll see a "url" block. Download that file. i.e. something like:


Unzip that file:


Make sure your usb stick is unplugged and run the following command:

 ls /dev/sd?  

Plug the usb stick in, wait a couple of seconds, and then run:

 ls /dev/sd?  

again. The device that has shown up is the usb stick. Now run:

 sudo dd bs=4194304 of=/dev/[usb_stick] if=[image file] conv=sync  
 sync ; sleep 1 ; sync 

And that's it! The recovery media should now be written and ready to use.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Race

Imagine you've been promised a big horse race with only 4 spots open.

Trainers may submit horses to enter and a committee exists to whittle those entrants down to 40, and then another group, the race organizers, pick from that 40 to give you the final 4.

This is a huge race! Everyone in the country has an stake in it. The list of 40 is fine but when it comes to the 4, things get a little hinky.

You're told that there are 4 horses, but there's only 3. One of the horses has been submitted and picked twice. The other 2 horses are sad affairs. One appears to be blind and tends to stand on the spot, whereas the final horse is missing a couple of legs.

Betting begins and people moan about the lack of choice. In reality, it's a single horse race. The leader of the organisation has already stated which horse he "thinks" will win before the final 4 were picked and has even gotten an irrelevant celebrity to state the same opinion.

Is this a fair race?

Due to public pressure, a fifth spot is opened up and a horse, who has kind of become a symbol for choice, is added.

The people are suddenly happy that they've gotten this "5th" choice. But if the race was fixed in the first place, and out of those "4" there was only 1 real choice anyway, a 5th "choice" isn't a 5th choice at all. 5th would imply that there were 4 other choices when there was only 1. It's a second choice...

Sure, the number of choices have doubled, but the nation was promised a 4 horse race. We're still short by 2.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Getting Familiar With Syria

Without the Daily Show with Jon Stewart I've been feeling a little bit lost in terms of International news. It says a lot of me that I rely on a comedy channel for news though, to my credit, I do tend to use it as a launching board i.e. I go and read up on the events portrayed on the show that pique my interest.

So when I saw a photo pop up on social media of a kid lying dead on a beach, I cried. It was horrific. Along with that photo, there was lots of "posting pictures of dead kids on FB is not cool" and cries of "that's shock porn!". So I decided it was time that I had a look at what the hell is going on there.

The extent of my knowledge: Back during the Arab spring, Syrians called for the resignation of their president. Unlike all of the others though, he didn't step down. He instead responded militarily. This is where I think the media often goes wrong. Rather than keeping with a story that's on a slow burn, we're treated to stories about what was trending on social media that day. Or we get to see someones next attempt of breaking some sort of record. Stuff that just doesn't belong on the news is on the news front and centre. It wasn't that long ago that I started this blog as a annoyed "that's not news!" outlet (5 years?). Does anyone know what's going on in Zimbabwe? Fiji? Even Christchurch? After the initial "holy crapballs on toast" response, we don't get much follow up.

And ISIS/ISIL/IS (whatever the abbreviation is now) have taken over areas in Iraq and some place else - which turns out to be Syria.

What are the bits that I was missing? Well... Things erupted into a big arse civil war. Rather than being the government against protestors, it turned sectarian with various rebel groups, ISIS, having originated in Iraq, being but one.

So we've now got various rebel groups fighting each other, the Syrian government trying to keep some sort of control via military means. There's be use of chemical weapons which has involved the use of sarin, chlorine and ammonia though the government blame the rebels and the rebels the government (though I'm pretty sure the jury is in on this one. The government's stockpile has been dismantled though there have been some more reports). The large scale bombing is mostly done by the Syrian armed forces (government) though the rebels have employed suicide bombings.

This all leads us to refugees... There are people, not involved in the fighting, in danger of their lives, in the middle of a war zone where "control" can suddenly change overnight and individuals/families persecuted for silly things like the religion they follow or what sect of Islam (or is it better described as tribe? I'm really not clear on this point) they are. The sane response is to try and find safety. Away from the fighting. Remembering that this started back in 2011.

Honestly, I'm disgusted. The response to refugees has been horrendous. If a simple photo had me in tears, it's the things that I associate to being a New Zealander being completely trampled upon by a morally bereft ruling party that keeps me up at night. We had a reason once to be proud. Now... I honestly don't recognize this moralless, neoliberal place I'm seeing around me. It's a no-brainer. EVERY OTHER party in parliament have stood on the side of taking in more refugees. And our PM's compromise is to take in an additional 600 refugees over 3 years. Just 200 more a year for 3 years.

Australia, with it's detention centres and associated human rights violations, have offered to resettle 12,000 refugees. This is a Tony Abbott government we're talking about. Putting NZ to shame on humanitarian issues...

Germans and Austrians (individuals) are driving over the border to Turkey to transport refugees while food and shelter is being set up around train stations. Mean while, homes earmarked for refugees in Germany have been victim to arson attacks.

Okay... a picture of a dead child might bruise your sensibilities. The callous attitude toward real people trying to find safety injures mine.

Pray I never meet Winston Peters. I'm not good at violence, but for that special penis head, I'll give it a good go. It would be for my country I'd be fighting...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Picking a Banner

Something occurred to me today about NZ's flag referendum.

I'm not sure I've said much about Tangleball. Initially we referred to it as a "creative space" so as not to get tied up in the negative press around the term "hacker". i.e. traditionally they're called "Hacker Spaces".

So when it came to picking a name, these names were kind of chucked around. Hacker.... Maker... Brain... Mind.... etc. All of the obvious suspects. But nothing felt right. If I remember it rightly someone jokingly said we needed something different. Original. Unused and undefined. Like Tangleball. Or something. And suddenly there was a movement. There were those who hated it. And those who fought tooth and nail for the name.

Jump forward to now. We have this opportunity to change our flag. To have a discussion about our identity. And what do we get? 3 designs based upon the NZ sporting icon of the silver fern, and something that looks kind of like a monkey's butt.

They didn't go that next step when choosing a design. There wasn't the "So there are the usual suspects. How about something different?" step. And this, in essence, is what we're all a bit upset about.

Two of the designs are exactly the same except for a change to one of the colours used, a koru gone terribly wrong, and the NZ Trade and Enterprise logo.

While we're being told that the silver fern is about more than just sports, looking at the history of if, and it's usage now, it seems a bit of a stretch.

The silver fern first became a symbol in 1886 and applied to a sports uniform in 1888. Nowadays it's used almost exclusively in relation to sports. The NZRU (New Zealand Rugby Union) own the copyright to the traditional silver fern logo. The New Zealand netball team are called "The Silver Ferns".

Sure, it shows up in other places. Mostly branding (fernleaf butter), logos (NZ Trade and Enterprise) and previously on money (the now no longer in use $0.01 coin). This should not distract from the fact that when we see it, we instantly think "sports".

It'd be like the England flag being replaced with the three lions. While it represents some people of England - probably quite a large proportion of them - it doesn't say anything of their culture unless their culture revolves around football violence.

Those of us not in the "we have things to be proud of and that we identify with that are not rugby related" camp are more than just a little miffed. While the majority will probably win with what's been dubbed the "Weetbix" design or the very similar (same) design with black instead of the red, not due to popularity but more so out of an unwillingness to be in that group that doesn't win (this happens during elections as well i.e. the polls say X is going to win so I will vote X), the miscontents out there have become split though the result is likely to be the same.

One side of this split is saying "Give us this option":

Whereas the other side are saying "Why do we need a flag change at all?"

I didn't like the red peak at first. Hell, I didn't like the name "Tangleball" to begin with either. But it's the most abstract, "let's build a national identity under this" flag that could have been a possibility. At the very least it's a cry of  "give us an option that isn't a fucking fern".

Of course, it's reliant on being able to make it an option. The prime minister, John Key, specified his preference for the fern before the final 4 were announced and articles everywhere keep pointing out that a local sports star (a rugby player) expressed the same preference. The PM has stated that he will not drop one of the other designs (seriously... did we really need two of the same flag?) in favour of this one nor is he willing to go through the law change needed to offer up a 5th choice.

The end result? While one camp, those who want the red peak, acknowledge that the old flag, being a symbol of a bygone colonial past, needs to go, will likely vote for the old flag to stay over any of the other designs offered. Noting that only 3 other countries currently have the Union Jack as part of their flags (ignoring Great Britain which is an odd one i.e. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own flags):
  • Tuvalu
  • Australia
  • Fiji
With Fiji wanting to remove it and other two in no real hurry.

Those who think this whole process has been a vanity project for the PM to establish his legacy as a rugby loving leader, will also likely vote for the flag to stay the same.

However, the PM has ensured that there's no chance of  a split vote. What's twice as expensive as a referendum? 2 referendums! The first to decide the most preferred of the limited 4 options (they're not options if they feel all the same with a token one thrown in there), and the second to decide between that design and the current flag.

Will it be a close vote? It's hard to gauge via social media. The people I tend to talk to are the ones who happen to agree with me about this being a farce.

What it all comes down to for me though: What is our national identity? Is it tied into sport? How about the things in our past we were most proud of? In no particular order, these are the things that I think have shaped who we are and how we see ourselves:
  • Our willingness to look after each other.
    • From 1935 to 1949, the first Labour government of NZ established a welfare state. Policies that would set a tone for this country and its policies right up until the 1980's. Michael Joeseph Savage, the PM at the time, is one of our most revered prime ministers.
    • In 1893, NZ became the first self-governing country in the world where all woman had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
    • The Treaty of Waitangi. While relations are somewhat strenuous and often shrouded in media inspired "What do the Maori people want now?!?" sentiments, it is to be noted that the Treaty of Waitangi is given due recognition most of the time. In fact, it's this recognition that allows the Maori to cover our arses from unscrupulous governments (water rights when selling off power plants for example).
  • Our stance against nuclear weapons. In 1984, David Lange, then PM of The Labour Party (and drinking buddy of my grandfather), signed the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act banning nuclear propelled vessels in NZ waters (though strangely, does not ban nuclear power plants on NZ land).
  • The Springbok Tour. In 1981, the NZ Rugby Union agreed to the then apartheid South African rugby team, known as the Springboks, to tour NZ. While the government was appealed to to stop the tour from happening, the government chose not to let politics get in the way of sport (separation of government and sport... interesting). This at least proves that there is a large proportion of NZ who are more than willing to put ethics before sport.
Meanwhile, looking at NZ's history to the Rugby World Cup (there is a point to this, I promise), NZ has won 2. 1987, at the first Rugby World Cup, and 2011. Already, thus far, there has been a newspaper article branding a punter a "traitor" for betting against the All Blacks in the upcoming rugby world cup.

Is that the national identity our flag is meant to convey?