Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 is "mostly" great

I have been using Ubuntu 10.04 on my Thinkpad for about a week now. I have to say, there are great enhancements on the Operating System. For one thing, the boot-up time is just about unbelievable. To shut-down, suspend or shut-down your machine have all become rather synonymous. The GUI has also be enhanced considerably and I find myself quite happy to start working on my laptop if you get me !! Moreover, I believe it is ever easier at this point to work with scanners and printers and other external hardware.

The other day, I needed to scan a paper, and whilst I was at my friends house, we could not use his laptop (which still had Windows XP installed) to connect to the scanner since the scanner driver CD was lost. We hooked the scanner to my laptop, et voilĂ  !! I could scan my document and everything went superbly.

However, life is not all beer and skittles (not for all of us anyway) !! There are some problems when dealing with the new OS. For one thing, there are some problems with the new version of Firefox: When using Firefox with any Extensions, I could not use my keyboard to move around. copy and paste or use the tab key. I believe there is a fault in some upgrade file.

All in all, it is quite interesting to see that Ubuntu is becoming a more mature and more user friendly. My mother, recently quite IT-illiterate currently uses Ubuntu to, inter alia, surf the net and listen to music !! This, in my view means that with time, Ubuntu, and other types of Linux distributions will become more user friendly, easier to use and maintain their main allure as well, namely: no license fee, and most importantly, no vendor-lock.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to convert other image-format files to pfd format and vice versa under Linux

Have you ever been in need of converting a jpg file to a pdf file or the other way around? Well, I have recently.

Under Linux, all you have to do is to open up a terminal and type:

convert oldfile.jpg newfile.pdf

Is this not beautiful ? :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to merge or reduce pdf file-size under Linux Distributions

How many times were you in a position in which you needed to merge, or reduce the size of some .pdf files ? If you are using a Linux distribution, then you can rely on some simple command-line instructions to allow you to do so easily.

First, in order to start editing the pdf files, you have to install two packages, namely Ghostscript and PDFTK. Now, in order to merge the two files enter the following in the terminal:

gs -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOUTPUTFILE=firstANDsecond.pdf -dBATCH first.pdf second.pdf

Notice the "AND" between the first and second files.

Now, in order to reduce the size of the pdf files, you will have to type the following in the terminal:

gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/screen -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile=output.pdf input.pdf

I hope this post is helpful.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So, a Staring Contest it is: When will the other fellow blink?

Due to the economic meltdown that we have hearing about so much lately, many governments are nowadays searching for a better manner in which to carry out business.One of these governments is the Canadian government.

Because of the need for a stimulus package akin to that launched in the US, the Canadian economy has registered the first deficit in so long as a decade. Usually, when in a recession (or its wicked brother the depression) governments tend to spend more in order to revitalize the economy. The Canadian government therefore, is not looking for ways to decrease expenditure, rather, the government is thinking of ways to "spend smarter". Along comes open source software. The government has merely " issued an official Request For Information (RFI)". However, the fact that they are willing to go down this innovative road is in its own right, quite interesting. You can read the full story here. This move was also augmented by another one calling for a move towards Open Source Software when an open letter was sent to president Obama calling for the US government to rely more on open source software in its upcoming projects.

On the other side of the Atlantic, things are not looking so good for closed source software either -in this case Microsoft. The EU has much stronger antitrust laws than those in the US(antitrust laws are those that ensure that a specific company is not gaining enough clout in the market to become a monopoly), and the EC (European Commission) has determined that Microsoft has abused its position as a dominant company in the OS sector through bundling IE to Windows. There are a lot of accusations to Microsoft that it does not follow the standards and some are arguing that building software strictly along set standards should be mandatory. You can read this story here .

There is a staring contest in which closed source software companies were looking their counterparts in the open source industry eye-ball to eye-ball, and I believe the former just blinked and that the latter still have a lot to reveal. To view some of the interesting developments for Open Source Software see

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Netherlands? Holland ?

One of the most interesting, vibrant and advanced countries in the world today is the Netherlands. This beautiful small country in northern Europe is one of the most interesting nations worldwide. although it is quite small, this country has been quite opulent throughout history. The Netherlands has also obtained a number of colonies in Africa and South East Asia. Its control over some of these countries has ebbed only after the end of the second world war. At this time, it is one of the leading global countries when it comes to international law and international tribunals.

Today, I want to answer a very important question pertinent to the Netherlands namely is the Netherlands Holland? It turns out the answer is : no!!! The two names are not interchangeable. North and south Holland are both constituent states of the Netherlands. Parts of the Netherlands (the lowlands) are actually below sea level. The sea was literally dried to allow the area to be inhabited. This lead to the well known Dutch aphorism "God made the earth, but the Dutch made Holland".

Hope that I could clear up that misunderstanding!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Done at last

It is all over. The stay-up all night working on the report. The exams. The books. The endless bickering over how to solve something. All over. I can hardly believe it myself. However, I think it quite important to go back throughout the past four years and think about the effect this incredible endeavor has left on my character.

First and foremost, I think it is fairly easy to say that Tawfiq today is nothing like Tawfig of 2004. I understand now many things I did not before. My horizons have been widened. Most importantly however, I think that it is the people whom I met throughout this period of time that affected me the most. I will not name any of them since I am destined to forget a name or two. They know who they are and they know how important they are to me.

The most important and enduring effect of my university years will not be the sleepless nights, neither will they be the endless bickering, they will be the great friendships I have built in these five years. It is important to note that the effect of people on one's life is in some ways stronger than that of books, lectures and exams.

To all those who have been friends to me in the past five years, I say thank you and I hope we will remain to be friends for years to come. You have each made my life, the life of the featherless, a bit more tolerable in one way or another!! WOO HOO

Friday, October 10, 2008

Faith in Fate anyone ?

One of the most important questions ever asked in my view is the inevitability of what is referred to generally as fate. Fate is usually defined as the state in which you will inevitably find yourself in any futuristic point. Please notice something here. In this piece, I am more interested in the belief in fate itself, not any religious beliefs. What I mean is essentially, do you as a person believe that there is a fixed unavoidable chain of events carved for you and that you are merely going to go through that path whether you like it or not?

I myself am not content with the idea of a prefixed path. I believe that we make our paths on our own. Each and every choice we make contributes to this path. However, I have to say that I am still uncomfortable with my own definition to this point. The reason for this is that, as we all know every theory has to go through a number of tests in order to be accepted.These tests are administered throughout a process known as the scientific method. Although this is a method usually used to explain scientific phenomena, I think it should also be used to prove or disprove any new statement, social and scientific alike.

The first step in the scientific method is to look through the surroundings and make observations along with a description. Next, we have to propose an idea (hypothesis that is) to explain the observations. The hypothesis should be able to explain existing conditions and (as accurately as possible) predict what might happen in the future. Finally, that theory has to be tested. The results of those tests will eventually prove or disprove the hypothesis.

I do not want the following to sound as though it is cant, gibberish chutzpas, therefore, I will try to be as concise and clear as I can. My original hypothesis is that we make our own choices and that they lead us through life. Here is an example: I decide to go to university. This in turn means that I want to receive a degree. It also entails that I am ready to go through all the hardships of college life. If I choose not to accept the burden of college hardships in all their forms, then I am reneging on the vow I made initially and therefore, cannot in any way achieve the initial goal, at least not as efficiently as I originally intended. However, here comes the real problem, pickle, or for those who are more acquainted with Physics, Shrudinger's cat. Some people are endowed with some capabilities that others do not possess. For instance, some people have a great affinity to mathematics or Physics and can excel at them. Others are really good at learning languages. Yet others do not possess either of these properties but are quite humorous and easily approachable (have charisma) and can therefore build social networks quickly and efficiently . What I mean to say is that one's decisions and choices are affected to large degree with what the person is endowed with originally. That conflicts with the main idea. Therefore, this merits rethinking the basis of the hypothesis itself.

This post is mainly the result of a conversation in which I was challenged to show that my hypothesis is true. The person on the other end of the conversation said that I should place my trust in God almighty. I in turn said that I do not mind placing faith in God. But that is as far as I am prepared to go when it comes to divinity. When something goes wrong, I need to identify the error and try to change the conditions which in my view caused the final result. In other words, I need to find a strong enough cause and effect link. Still, there was a chink in the chain and my opponent was quick to throw all her argumentative ordnance in that direction. Being docile, I kept from attacking the falsehoods in her own argument, namely that if we had our lives planned at the onset of our lives, then how can we gauge success. Anyway, although I did have to agree that my hypothesis had some holes in it to say the least, I still held my own and like many of the conversations of the philosophers in ancient Greece, the duel ended in virtual deadlock.

However, I still feel the wrath of being pushed in the corner. Usually, I do it to others but at that day, I tasted my own medicine and God help me it was quite bitter. I tried to present a new modified hypothesis. This hypothesis states that the real world is too wide and there are too many variables. Therefore, the myriad of possibilities cannot be narrowly explained by a simple concise theory. The new hypothesis somewhat amalgamated both of the hypothesis presented in this post to this point. It states that a person is endowed with specific advantages and constraints when he/she is born. Later on in life, the choices of the person will determine the efficacy with which that person can make use of his powers. The choices will also determine how well the person can control and reduce his/her inherent limitations.

I do not know how coherent the final proposal is. However, I would like to hear your ideas. I hope you can help unlock this mystery, wrapped in an enigma engulfed in a conundrum, in other words fate!!!