See this fish? It wants to kill you. You and everyone you love.

See this fish? It wants to kill you. You and everyone you love.

This is the Giant Snakehead – a fish with a nasty gleam in it’s cold fishy eyes and the intent to leap at your throat. Sure, it looks mean, not like those friendly tuna or dolphins you find in cans at the grocery store but really, what’s there to worry about? Well for starters, LOOK AT THE TEETH! As if a Clint Eastwood glint wasn’t enough in a fish, these teeth belong to a dinosaur, not a fish. But wait, it gets better. These things can stroll out of the water and mosey around for up to four days. AND THEY EAT PEOPLE! Or at least, someone said they eat people and I read it on the internet so it must be true.

It gets worse though. These fish are normally found in and around Asia. Recently a specimen was caught in Leeds England though. LEEDS! Do you know what this means, to catch an air breathing, walking, man eating fish several thousand miles away from it’s normal habitat? No? Well lets go to the map:


I’ve added in a few custom graphics here to make this a bit clearer. See that bloody red circle in the lower right? That’s where old Clint normally spawns, lives, eats it’s share of humans and dies. Now look at the red speckled trail of blood leading across several countries, through France, across the channel and to England (highlighted by a red circle I turned into a sun in a fit of creative energy)! The red dots symbolize outbreaks of fear and paranoia, or possibly nice restaurants . It must have been a bloodbath! Why hasn’t CNN or FOX picked up on this trail of fishy carnage?

The Sun ran a report yesterday of this find with the catchy headline Psycho predator is Sid Fishious. Apparently there was widespread panic among anglers and conservationists. An unnamed agency known only as the Environment Agency was quoted as saying “Oh s***”. They’ve been practicing pronouncing several asterisks lined up for years now and finally got a chance to use it.

Andy, the dude who caught the fish, went on record as saying ” It had a gob full of razor-sharp teeth. To be honest it looked terrifying.” Off record he probably said something like “I plan on frying it up with some butter and mushy peas.”

These fish can grow up to 3 feet long, weigh in at as much as 44lbs., enjoy swimming in warm water, moonlit strolls on the beach and devouring babies stolen from their cribs in the dead of night. England – beware!

-Ben for ArsGeek insights


How to clone your bootable Ubuntu install to another drive

clone.jpgIf you’ve ever wanted to completely clone your Ubuntu install, with all of the tweaks, files you’ve downloaded and changes you’ve made to it, there’s a fairly simple way to do this. What you will learn in this ArsGeek tutorial is great if you want a complete backup, or if you’re looking to move your system to a newer (read: bigger, faster, stronger) hard drive or even just to clone your install to other business machines with the same hardware.

We’ll be using the terminal (Applications-> Accessories-> Terminal) and the dd command to do this. You’ll also need to have your second disk up and running when we get going. You can either have it installed and mounted internally or use an external disk enclosure and USB or Firewire. (Note: Doing this via USB 1 will be excruciatingly slow!)

You’ll also want to either be cloning your hard drive to one of the exact same size, or if you have a larger disk, make a partition of the same size on it and clone to that. Then, use an Ubuntu liveCD to change the partition size (System-> Administration-> Partition Editor). Lastly, you’ll need a Ubuntu LiveCD.

On to the good stuff. Got both disks plugged in? Good! Now you’ll need to figure out which disk you are copying from and which disk you are copying too. In your terminal, type:
df -h
Look first for the partition that’s mounted at root, or ‘/’. Here’s what my root partition looks like.
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1 71G 46G 22G 68% /

If you’re using a SATA drive it will appear like that. IDE should be /dev/hda1. See that slash below the Mounted on? That’s the root drive.

Now you’ve got to locate the drive you’re copying too. The same df -h command will do the trick. Look for another disk mounted on /dev/****. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, first run the df -h command without your second disk mounted. Then plug the 2nd disk in (be sure to shut down if you’re doing this inside your machine and not via USB or FireWire) and run the df -h command again. The newest partition that appears is what you’re looking for!

So if your current root partition is /dev/sda1 and the partition you’re going to copy to is /dev/sdb1 (a USB mounted drive) here’s the command you’ll need to type in your terminal:

sudo dd if=/dev/sda1 of=/dev/sdb1

Replace with the correct paths for your drives if they differ. It’s going to take a while, so grab a book or start up a movie. Maybe go to bed.

Once it’s complete, you’ve got yourself a brand new copy of your current Ubuntu install. You’re not quite done yet though. Now you’ve got to install Grub on your new disk so you can boot from it. Make sure your new disk is attached to your machine and your old disk is unplugged and boot into the Ubuntu LiveCD.

Once your machine boots up, open up a terminal session and type:
sudo grub
Grub will launch and give you the grub> prompt. Here, type:
find /boot/grub/stage1
You should see something come back that looks like hd(0,0). Jot that down, you’ll need it in a second.

Now, still in the grub> prompt, type:
root hd(0,0)
You’ll put in whatever result you go above – it may be different than hd(0,0).

Once that completes, type:
setup (hd0)
Even if you got a result that differs from hd(0,0) above.

And you’re out of grub. Restart your machine, removing the LiveCD and you should be up and running on your new hard drive. You may also encounter a problem on your first boot where the system will try to scan your hard drive for bad sectors. If that fails, you’ll find yourself in a root terminal session. Just type:
Let the disk check finish and you should be good to go.


How to fix your Windows MBR with an Ubuntu liveCD

windows-mbr.jpgSomething happen to a windows Master Boot Record (MBR) that you’re responsible for? Want a very quick, very easy way to restore it with nothing but your craft, native intelligence and a liveCD?

Be cautious here – you’re working with your disks in a very direct manner. If you don’t have everything backed up or are unsure of anything, you may want to wait until you have a standard Windows CD/DVD.

Boot into your Ubuntu LiveCD on the offending machine. Once Ubuntu starts up, go to System -> Administration -> Software Sources and enable (by checking it off) the Universal repository.

Now, open a terminal session (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) and type the following:
sudo apt-get install ms-sys
ms-sys is a program used to write Microsoft compatible boot records.

Now you’ll need to figure out what partition is the one hosting your Windows operating system. Back in the command line, type:
sudo fdisk -l
That will list the available partitions. You’re looking for a partition that says something like
/dev/sda1 1 9327 74919096 83 NTFS
The two important bits are the ‘/dev/sda1‘ which is the partition itself and the ‘NTFS‘ which tells us it’s a Windows formatted partition. So your Windows partition exists on your drive sda and it’s partition 1. The MBR for drive sda (assuming you boot into windows using it’s native boot loader) is what you want to repair.

We want to fix the MBR on /dev/sda. To do so, type:
sudo ms-sys -m /dev/sda
You’ll want to change the ’sda’ bit if your results from ‘fdisk -l‘ are different. If for instance your windows install is on sdb or hda.

Once you do that, reboot the machine, removing the LiveCD from the drive and Windows should come back to you.

Sure, you could do this by inserting the correct Windows CD and booting into repair mode from it – but I find the Ubuntu way a bit faster and I’m more likely to have an Ubuntu LiveCD on me than a Windows CD. For alternative ways make sure to search through the posts on our homepage.


How to find your UUID’s for devices in Ubuntu (and other Debian based distros)

uuid.jpgHave a burning urge to discover the UUID’s of your disk partitions? Run Ubuntu or some other Debian based distro like maybe Debian? Well have I got the article for you friend! Here it is, two easy steps to discovering your UUID – and the best part? For two steps I’ll give you two different ways to get that pesky UUID on your screen.

But first, what exactly is a UUID? From Wikipedia we see that a UUID is a Universally Unique Identifier. “The intent of UUIDs is to enable distributed systems to uniquely identify information without significant central coordination. Thus, anyone can create a UUID and use it to identify something with reasonable confidence that the identifier will never be unintentionally used by anyone for anything else.”

For a little more trivia: A UUID is a 16-byte (128-bit) number. The number of theoretically possible UUIDs is therefore 216*8 = 2128 = 25616 or about 3.4 × 1038. This means that 1 trillion UUIDs would have to be created every nanosecond for 10 billion years to exhaust the number of UUIDs. That’s a lot of UUIDs.

These unique ID’s are used by Ubuntu to identify your various partitions for the system. So if you do a quick
cat /etc/fstab
You should see at least one, probably two and possibly more UUID’s in there. One for your primary partition and one for your swap partition, plus more if you have any removable devices, other drives or other partitions around. It will look something like UUID=1c9e4ae2-0ddc-4e3c-8758-4cdd6c90407a.

So how do you discover just what partition belongs to which UUID? Open up a terminal session (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) and type the following:
On my system, the output is as follows:
/dev/sda1: UUID=”1c9e4ae2-0ddc-4e3c-8758-4cdd6c90407a” SEC_TYPE=”ext2″ TYPE=”ext3″
/dev/sda5: UUID=”a647ea33-74ee-4123-84bf-7edc32e2e39b” TYPE=”swap”

So sda1 (my primary partition) and sda5 (my swap partition) are identified.

Or, your could type:
ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid
and see something like this:
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 2008-01-02 08:26 1c9e4ae2-0ddc-4e3c-8758-4cdd6c90407a -> ../../sda1
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 2008-01-02 08:26 a647ea33-74ee-4123-84bf-7edc32e2e39b -> ../../sda5

There you can get the UUID and also see who owns the partitions, when they were last touched, their permissions and finally, what they’re called (sda1 and sda5 in this case).

If you’re trying to pin down which UUID is associated with a particular thing, such as your root partition, you can cat /etc/fstab and look for the UUID associated with the mount point “/“.


Get USB devices mounted on your Virtualbox XP machine in Gutsy (Ubuntu 7.10)

vbox.pngThere’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to mount your USB devices in your virtual machines. Well, maybe there are lots of things that are more frustrating but this morning my inability to do something that should be simple, easy and fun was driving me nuts.

So I figured out how to do it and decided to share this software solution on Arsgeek. It’s not terribly pretty but here’s what you need to do.

First, Gutsy got rid of the previous versions of Ubuntu’s way of handling USB mounts by not using USBFS anymore. Doh. That’s an issue for Virtualbox and your virtual XP installs. So you’ll need to download and install the latest Vbox release, 1.5.2. Click on that link to download the .deb file. Save it on your desktop and then double click on it to install it.

For a quick and easy tutorial on using Virtualbox and installing a virtual XP instance, see UbuntuGeek.

Once you have your virtual XP machine running on your Gutsy host, it’s time to do a wee bit of hacking. Turn of your XP instance and let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

First, open a terminal session (Applications-> Accessories-> Terminal) and type in the following to edit a script file:
gksudo gedit /etc/init.d/
Once you’ve got that open in Gedit, type CTRL-F to search for a string. Search for ‘magic’ (sans quotes).

That should bring you to this:
# Magic to make /proc/bus/usb work
#mkdir -p /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs
#domount usbfs “” /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs -obusmode=0700,devmode=0600,listmode=0644
#ln -s .usbfs/devices /dev/bus/usb/devices
#mount –rbind /dev/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb

All those pound signs are comments. Remove them from the last four lines so you end up with this:
# Magic to make /proc/bus/usb work
mkdir -p /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs
domount usbfs “” /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs -obusmode=0700,devmode=0600,listmode=0644
ln -s .usbfs/devices /dev/bus/usb/devices
mount –rbind /dev/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb

Save the file and exit Gedit. Round one goes to the user!

Now we’re going to create a group called usbusers. Go to System-> Administration-> Users and Groups. Type in your password and then click the Manage Groups button. From there click the Add Group button and name it usbusers. Check off your username below. Exit these windows and round two goes to us.


Now we’ve got to change a file in udev. So, let’s gedit it and gedit over with. I’ll apologize for the bad jokes in a later post.
gksu gedit /etc/udev/rules.d/40-permissions.rules
Again, CTRL-F to bring up the search dialog and search for ‘usbfs replacement’ (again, sans quotes). Once you find it, you should be looking at this:
USB devices (usbfs replacement)
SUBSYSTEM==”usb_device”, MODE=”0664″

You’ll want to change it to this:
# USB devices (usbfs replacement)
SUBSYSTEM==”usb_device”, GROUP=”usbusers”, MODE=”0664″

Save your file and exit out of Gedit.

Now, the last bit of hackery which may or may not be required for you. It was for me. We’re going to add a mount to /etc/fstab for usb devices using usbfs.
gksudo gedit /etc/fstab
At the bottom, add the following line:
none /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=46,devmode=664 0 0
Save the file and exit Gedit. Phew! Now, the easiest way to get all of these changes working on your system is to restart it. So go ahead and do that and then I’ll see you back here in a few.

Back? Great. Time to plug in your USB device, whether it’s a thumb drive, an iPod or something else, plug it in and let Ubuntu detect it.

Now, we’re going to open up Virtualbox and make some changes to your XP machine BEFORE you start it up. So go to Applications-> System Tools-> Virtualbox and get it started up.

Highlight your XP machine (if it’s not the only instance of a virtual machine) and click the Settings button at the top of Virtualbox. You should now have a USB option on the left hand side of your settings. Click the add icon on the right hand side (see the pic below) and select the device from the list. In my example, it’s a 512MB memory key. Now click the Okay button.


Start up your virtual XP machine and you will see a notice pop up courtesy of Ubuntu about unsafe device removal. Nod your head sagely and let’s continue on. Once XP is up and running, it should automatically detect the new USB device, and do it’s best to install it. With my memory key, it was as simple as turning the virtual XP machine on and letting XP take care of it.

You may have to go to the Devices menu on your virtual machine (once it starts up) select USB Devices and then uncheck whatever it is you’re trying to mount. Repeat the process, this time checking it off and it should mount if it didn’t automatically.


Jonathon and the Comic con – help a 16 year old who has severe cerebral palsy achieve his dream (Updated 12/18)


Here’s our Eighth update on our quest to get Jonathon and Ghic Chic to New York ComicCon ‘08.

We did it! Thanks to EVERYONE who contributed, sent well wishes, donated equipment or spent some time spreading the word! And a very special thanks to the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation for matching the funds we’d raised and making this possible!

First, a little background. Jonathon was born with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. he’s spent his life in a wheelchair and although he has the mind of regular 15 year old, he is unable to utilize his body and has difficulty speaking. Jonathon has a wonderful mind and personality trapped inside his body.

Now available! Official Superhero Sidekick T-shirts!

Jonathon’s use of his body is limited to some use of his left hand. As such, he’s enriched his life through the idea of superheroes – people who can literally do anything. His love for superheroes and all that they stand for has helped him through some very rough times, for instance by taking on their persona before and after operations.

Jonathon has a true love for all things superhero. Comics, movies and video games, they have all given him joy and strength and he would like nothing more than to meet the people behind his passion. We’re going to do the best we can to see this dream come true.

Through our paypal button (upper right) we’ve raised $60 $110 $210 $230 $490 $500! $600! $700! $885 $1500! We now have the funds necessary to fly them out to New York. Next we need to raise money for lodging, food and some transportation costs. We’re shooting for $3,000 in funds total.

Thanks to the folks at Neuros Technology for providing Jonathon (and his geek Mom) with a Neuros OSD DVR. They know how much he loves superhero movies!
We’ve reserved hotel rooms – we now have a place to stay less than a half mile from the convention center!

Big news coming soon! We’ve just taken a huge step thanks to some very generous folks. More soon!

huge thanks to Casio, who graciously donated an Exilim EX-Z77 so Jonathon can remember his trip through photographs and video.


We’ve received a number of encouraging emails – thanks to everyone who’s sent thoughts our way!

A big thanks also to SciFiChick and MadMovieGuy for mentioning our story!

To see what we’ll need to get Jonathon to the convention and to read about our mission, have a look here.We’ve been talking to the folks over at BBT magazine, who attended the convention last year. We’ll be talking to them more about advice on going to Comic Con and possibly joining forces.

Jonathon is getting really excited about this event and also sends his thanks to everyone!

Update #2 – Hi folks, thanks to everyone for stopping by. We’ve gotten a few more donations and some kind folks have linked back to us, which I think is great! If you link to this article we’ll link back to you as one way of saying thanks.

Update #3 – We’ve had a number of donations come in which is really great and has pushed our money raised almost up to $500. We’re looking at about $800 in travel costs and about $1800 in lodging. Add to that money for food and other items necessary for the trip and we’re looking at raising a total of $3000 or having some of the big ticket items (room/travel) provided as a donation. $500 that we’ve raised so far is great! That’s 1/4 of the way there in just a few short weeks. Thanks to everyone who’s donated, commented, linked to us or emailed friends about this.

Update #4 – It looks like we’re going to need about $3,000 all told to get Jonathon and Ghic Chic out to New York, into a hotel and able to eat. We’re on our way to that goal!

Update #5 – We’ve go the money needed to fly Jonathon and Ghic Chic out to Florida. Thanks to all who’ve donated so far! Out of $3,000 we’ve raised $700 – leaving $2300 for us to come up with for food, lodging and other things, such as possibly renting an accessible van for transportation around the city.

Update #6 – A big thanks to Virgin Comics CEO Sharad Devarajan who’s helped us take a huge stride towards our goal! I’m hoping we can go into the holidays and raise even more funds towards our goal. We’re more than half way there!

Thought Hammer, purveyor of fine board games have provided us with 4 copies of the board game Manhattan to give away! Our contests includes linking back to this post.

Another huge thanks to Casio, who graciously donated an Exilim EX-Z77 so Jonathon can remember his trip through photographs and video.


The folks at ComicCon NY itself have also agreed to give us two tickets for Jonathon and Ghic Chic!

The folks at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art have given Jonathon two tickets to visit when he’s in New York!

Check out SF and Two great sites in their own right, who are bringing a bit of attention to our quest. Also thanks to Don over at!Thanks also to our friends who’ve donated! We’re getting there! Once we collect enough money to send him there, I will create a special announcement on ArsGeek, to mention all the businesses who donated.