This is perhaps one of the strangest ways and yet also perhaps the straightest way to start the blog post. For the past weeks/months, a strange experience has been there. I am using a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse for almost a decade. Now, for the past few months and weeks we observed a somewhat rare ‘phenomena’. While in-between us we have a single desktop computer. So me and mum take turns to be on the Desktop. At times, however, the system would sit idle and after some time it goes to low-power mode/sleep mode after 30 minutes.
Then, when you want to come back, you obviously have to give your login credentials. At times, the keyboard refuses to input any data in the login screen. Interestingly, the mouse still functions. Much more interesting is the fact that both the mouse and the keyboard use the same transceiver sensor to send data. And I had changed batteries to ensure it was not a power issue but still no input :(.
While my mother uses and used the power switch (I did teach her how to hold it for few minutes and then let it go) but for self, tried another thing. Using the mouse I logged of the session thinking perhaps some race condition or something might be in the session which was not letting the keystrokes be inputted into the system and having a new session might resolve it. But this was not to be 😦
Luckily, on the screen you do have the option to reboot or power off. I did a reboot and lo, behold the system was able to input characters again. And this has happened time and again. I tried to find GOK and failed to remember that GOK had been retired. I looked up the accessibility page on Debian wiki. Very interesting, very detailed but sadly it did not and does not provide the backup I needed. I tried out florence but found that the app. is buggy.
Moreover, the instructions provided on the lightdm screen does not work. I do not get the on-screen keyboard while I followed the instructions. Just to be clear this is all on Debian testing which is gonna be Debian stable soonish 🙂
I even tried the same with xvkbd but no avail. I do use mate as my desktop-manager so maybe the instructions need some refinement ????
$ cat /etc/lightdm/lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf | grep keyboard
# a11y-states = states of accessibility features: “name” – save state on exit, “-name”
– disabled at start (default value for unlisted), “+name” – enabled at start. Allowed names: contrast, font, keyboard, reader.
keyboard=xvkbd –no-gnome –focus &
# keyboard-position = x y[;width height] (“50%,center -0;50% 25%” by default) Works only for “onboard”
Interestingly, Debian does provide two more on-screen keyboards, matchbox as well as ‘onboard’ which comes from Ubuntu. While I have both of them installed. I find xvkbd to be enough for my work, the only issue seems to be I cannot get it from the drop-down box of accessibility at the login screen. Just to make sure that I have not gone to Gnome-display manager, I did run
$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm3
Only to find out that I am indeed running lightdm. So I am a bit confused why it doesn’t come up as an option when I have the login window/login manager running. FWIW I do run metacity as the window manager as it plays nice with all the various desktop environments I have, almost all of them.
So this is where I’m stuck. If I do get any help, I probably would also add those instructions to the wiki page, so it would be convenient to the next person who comes with the same issue.
I also need to figure out some way to know whether there is some race-condition or something which is happening, have no clue how would I go about it without having whole lot of noise. I am sure there are others who may have more of an idea. FWIW, I did search unix.stackexchange as well as reddit/debian to see if I could see any meaningful posts but came up empty.
I had not been using IRC for quite some time now. The reasons have been multiple issues with Riot (now element) taking the whole space on my desktop. I did get alerted to the whole thing about a week after the whole thing went down. Somebody messaged me DM. I *think* I put up a thread or a mini-thread about IRC or something in response to somebody praising telegram/WhatsApp or one of those apps. That probably triggered the DM.
It was also interesting to see that some communities were thinking of moving to some other obscure platform, which again could be held hostage to the same thing. One could argue one way or the other, but that would be tiresome and fact is any network needs lot of help to be grown and nurtured, whether it is online or offline.
I also saw that Libera was also using a software Solanum which is ircv3 compliant. Now having done this initial investigation, it was time to move to an IRC client. The Libera documentation is and was pretty helpful in telling which IRC clients would be good with their network. So I first tried hexchat. I installed it and tried to add Libera server credentials, it didn’t work. Did see that they had fixed the bug in sid/unstable and now it’s in testing. But at the time it was in sid, the bug-fixed and I wanted to have something which just ran the damn thing. I chanced upon quassel. I had played around with quassel quite a number of times before, so I knew I could play/use it. Hence, I installed it and was able to use it on the first try. I did use the encrypted server and just had to tweak some settings before I could use it with some help with their documentation. Although, have to say that even quassel upstream needs to get its documentation in order. It is just all over the place, and they haven’t put any effort into streamlining the documentation, so that finding things becomes easier. But that can be said of many projects upstream.
There is one thing though that all of these IRC clients lack. The lack of a password manager. Now till that isn’t fixed it will suck because you need another secure place to put your password/s. You either put it on your desktop somewhere (insecure) or store it in the cloud somewhere (somewhat secure but again need to remember that password), whatever you do is extra work. I am sure there will be a day when authenticating with Nickserv will be an automated task and people can just get on talking on channels and figuring out how to be part of the various communities. As can be seen, even now there is a bit of a learning curve for both newbies and people who know a bit about systems to get it working.
Now, I know there are a lot of things that need to be fixed in the anonymity, security place if I put that sort of hat. For e.g. wouldn’t it be cool if either the IRC client or one of its add-on gave throwaway usernames and passwords. The passwords would be complex. This would make it easier who are paranoid about security and many do and would have. As an example we can see of Fuchs.
Now if the gentleman or lady is working in a professional capacity and would come to know of their real identity and perceive rightly or wrongly the role of that person, it will affect their career. Now, should it? I am sure a lot of people would be divided on the issue. Personally, as far as I am concerned, I would say no because whether right or wrong, whatever they were doing they were doing on their own time. Not on company time. So it doesn’t concern the company at all. If we were to let companies police the behavior outside the time, individuals would be in a lot of trouble.
Although, have to say that is a trend that has been seen in companies that are firing people either on the left or right. A recent example that comes to mind is Emily Wilder who was fired by Associated Press. Interestingly, she was interviewed by Democracy now, and it did come out that she is a Jew. As can be seen and understood there is a lot of nuance to her story and not the way she was fired. It doesn’t give a good taste in the mouth, but then getting fired nobody does. On few forums, people did share of people getting fired of their job because they were dancing (cops). Again, it all depends, for me again, hats off to anybody who feels like dancing or whatever because there are just so many depressing stories all around.
Banned and FOE
On few forums I was banned because I was talking about Brexit and American imperialism, both of which are seem to ruffle a few feathers in quite a few places. For instance, many people for obvious reasons do not like this video –
Now I’m sorry I am not able to and have not been able to give invidious links for the past few months. The reason being invidious itself went through some changes and the changes are good and bad. For e.g. now you need to share your google id with a third-party which at least to my mind is not a good idea. But that probably is another story altogether and it probably will need its own place.
Coming back to the video itself, this was shared by Anthony hazard and the Title is “The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you”. I did see this video quite a few years ago and still find it hard to swallow that tens of millions of Africans were bought as slaves to the Americas, although to be fair it does start with the Spanish settlement in the land which would be called the U.S. but they bought slaves with themselves. They even got the American natives, i.e. people from different tribes which made up America at that point. One point to note is that U.S. got its independence on July 4, 1776 so all the people before that were called as European settlers for want of a better word. Some or many of these European settlers would be convicts who were sent from UK. But as shared in the article, that would only happen with U.S. itself is mature and open enough for that discussion. Going back to the original point though, these ‘European or American settlers’ bought lot of slaves from Africa. The video does also shed some of the cruelty the Europeans or Americans did on the slaves, men and women in different ways. The most revelatory part though which I also forget many a times that because lot of people were taken from Africa and many of them men, it did lead to imbalances in the African societies not just in weddings but economics in general. It also developed a theory called ‘Critical Race theory‘ in which it tries to paint the Africans as an inferior race otherwise how would Christianity work where their own good book says ‘All men are born equal ‘.
That does in part explain why the African countries are still so far behind their European or American counterparts. But Africa can still be proud as they are richer than us, yup India. Sadly, I don’t think America is ready to have that conversation anytime soon or if ever. And if it were to do, it would have to out-do any truth and reconciliation Committee which the world has seen. A mere apology or two would not just cut it. The problems of America sadly are not limited to just Africans but the natives of the land, for e.g. the Lakota people. In 1868, they put a letter stating we will give the land back to the Lakota people forever, but then the gold rush happened. In 2007, when the Lakota stated their proposal for independence, the U.S. through its force denied. So much for the paper, it was written on.
Now from what I came to know over the years, the American natives are called ‘First nations’. Time and time again the American Govt. has tried or been foul towards them. Some of the examples include ‘The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository‘. The same is and was the case with The Keystone pipeline which is now dead. Now one could say that it is America’s internal matter and I would fully agree but when they speak of internal matters of other countries, then we should have the same freedom.
But this is not restricted to just internal matters, sadly. Since the 1950’s i.e. the advent of the cold war, America’s foreign policy made Regime changes all around the world. Sharing some of the examples from the Cold War –
Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960
Republic of Ghana 1966
1. Destabilization through CIA assets
2. Arming the Contras
El Salvador 1980-92
Even after the Cold War ended the situation was anonymolus, meaning they still continued with their old behavior.
After the end of Cold War
Afghanistan – 2001 – ongoing
There is a helpful Wikipedia article titled ‘History of CIA‘ which basically lists most of the covert regime changes done by U.S. The abvoe is merely a sub-set of the actions done by U.S.
Now are all the behaviors above of a ‘civilized nation’? And if one cares to notice, one would notice that all the above countries in the list which had the regime change had either Oil or precious metals. So U.S. is and was being what it accuses China, a profiteer. But this isn’t just the U.S. – China story but more about the American abuse of its power.
My own country, India paid IMF loans till 1991 and we paid through the nose. There were economic sanctions against India. But then, this is again not just about U.S. – India. Even with Europe or more precisely Norway which didn’t want to side with America because their intelligence showed that no WMD were present in Iraq, the relationship still has issues.
Pandemic and the World
So I do find that this whole blaming of China by U.S. quite theatrical and full of double-triple standards. Very early during the debates, it came to light that the ‘Spanish Flu’ actually originated in Kensas, U.S.
What was also interesting as I found in the ‘Pentagon Papers’ much before ‘The Watergate scandal’ came out that U.S. had realized that China would be more of a competitor than Russia. And this itself was in 1960’s itself. This shows the level of intelligence that the Americans had. From what I can recollect from whatever I have read of that era, China was still mostly an agri-based economy. So, how the U.S. was able to deduce that China will surpass other economies is beyond me even now. They surely must have known something that even we today do not.
One of the other interesting observations and understanding that I got while researching that every year we transfer an average of 7500 diseases from animal to humans and that should be a scary figure. I think more than anything else, loss of habitat and use of animals from food to clothing to medicine is probably the reason we are getting such diseases. I am also sure that there probably are and have been similar number of transfer of diseases from humans to animals as well but for well-known biases and whatnot those studies are neither done or are under-funded. There are and have been reports of something like 850,000 undiscovered viruses which various mammals and birds have.
Also I did find that most of such pandemics are hard to identify, for e.g. SARS 1 took about 15 years, Ebola we don’t know till date from where it came. Even HIV has questions for us. Hell, even why does hearing go away is a mystery to us. In all of this, we want to say China is culpable. And while China may or may not be culpable, only time will tell, this is surely the opportunity for all countries to spend and make capacities in public health. Countries which will take lessons from it and improve their public healthcare models will hopefully will not suffer as those who will suffer and are continuing to suffer now 😦
To those who feel that habitat loss of animals is untrue, I would suggest them to see ‘Sherni‘ which depicts the human/animal conflict in all its brutality. I am gonna warn in advance that the ending is not nice but what can you expect from a country in which forest area cover has constantly declined and the Govt. itself is only interested in headline management 😦
The only positive story I can share from India is that finally the Modi Govt. has said we will do free vaccine immunization for everybody. Although the pace is nothing to write home about. One additional thing they relaxed was instead of going to Cowin or any other portal, people could simply walk in using their identity papers. Although, given the pace of vaccinations, it is going to take anywhere between 13-18 months or more depending on availability of vaccines.
Looking forward to all and any replies have a virtual keyboard, preferably xvkbd as that is good enough for my use-case.