Tech Tip: Several Tips

Starting libreoffice under X Window

Sometimes it will behave erratically (not displaying a menubar/etc.) until you do unset DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS on the command line which also often helps with other apps.

htop -C

This starts htop with no colours in case they are hard to read.

git stash

I recommend reading about git stash - it is useful.

VirtualBox Release Keyboard

When using VirtualBox one can use the right Ctrl key to release the keyboard and allow one to enter window manager key combinations such as switching to a different host workspace.

Testing executables using python

You can find a working example for testing executables using pytest / subprocess.py / python in this repository. Thanks in part to this post by Ynon.


Copyright by Shlomi Fish, 2018.

You can reuse this entry under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence, or at your option any later version of it. See the instructions on how to comply with it.


Tech Tip: How to properly sync the clock using NTP on Linux

In order to sync the clock using NTP, the network time protocol so your computer clock won't be skewed, one should run the following command as root: “ntpd -q -g -x”. This has been a constant problem for me in part because SSL/HTTPS sites may not work if your clock is out-of-date.

You can find the meaning of the individual flags in the ntpd man page.

Cheers and happy upcoming Purim in case you celebrate.


Copyright by Shlomi Fish, 2015.

You can reuse this entry under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence, or at your option any later version of it. See the instructions on how to comply with it.

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Tech Tip: Make Jamendo Playback Work in Firefox on Mageia Linux

If you’re having a problem playing Jamendo tracks after pressing the “Listen” button (such as on this page) on Firefox running on Linux, then try to install the packages «gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-good gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-mpeg gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg» (relevant to Mageia; try their equivalent in other distributions), restart Firefox and try again. The problem is that Firefox needs extra gstreamer plugins to play proprietary formats in HTML audio and video elements. Cheers!

(Thanks to “dolske” from #firefox on irc.mozilla.org for their help.)


You can reuse this entry under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence, or at your option any later version. See the instructions of how to comply with it.


Yom Kippur 2013 Summary

This Yom Kippur, I again went over my blogs from the last year, and tried to draw some conclusions. (It's already Sukkoth and Talk Like a Pirate Day, so I decided to blog about this already.). I again noticed that I didn't blog a lot most of the time, but I guess no real disaster occured due to that.

This year I had a lengthy hypomania, which was followed by a period of working a lot on code, and then a period of tiredness and feeling of lethargy (though I was almost always constantly doing something), and now I've started working as a software developer, which keeps me busy. The Hypomania made me realise several things that I have done or thought wrong, so it was not too bad.

This year I finished some books, watched some films, added a lot of content to my home site, and made some new friends online and offline, so I can be proud of myself.

There were a few times, when I got into some trouble or made people angry, especially during the hypomania, but I hope I have drawn the right conclusions.

Shanah Tovah, Gmar Hatimah Tovah, Happy Sukkoth, and Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day to everybody.


Blog Entry for my 36th Birthday

Being born on 5 May 1977, I turn 36 (= thirty six) on 5 May 2013. 36 is a special number for me in part because it is the square of 6, but more importantly because it is two times of 18. The age of 18 is considered the start of maturity in Israel when Israeli boys and girls gain the right to vote, and are supposed to enroll into the Israeli military, and normally hit sexual maturity at that point. The time I was 18, 19, 20 in 1995-1997, was very influential for me, and now I feel that I have achieved a second maturity.

I feel I have finally reached peace of mind, am enjoying all the little things in life, and can honestly see reality as it is, and see through many lies. Part of my problem was that for a long time I was playing the “Invisible”, which is something I decided to avoid from now on and work on better publicity. A different issue was me thinking of myself as The Eternal Jew, i.e: a profile, or a “god” in the stock exchange of the gods, which was an unhealthy tendency that I finally put to rest in a scene of my screenplay, Selina Mandrake - The Slayer (thanks to the wonderful protagonist there). Finally, yet another problem was that I have not accepted who I am, which is also something that I decided to avoid from now.

If I were ever going to visit Fantastica, the land of imagination, I would need to be very careful from the wrath of the characters of my stories and screenplays, whom I have put to much suffering (but at least all of them, with an exception in The Enemy and How I Helped to Fight it, ended up alive at the end of the stories and happier than ever. However, all this suffering was secondary to my own which involved hypomanias, and even some Manias, which caused some deteriorated health, and unhappiness to my surrounding.

I have decided that from now on, I would like to socialise more. I was told and understood that the lack of socialisation was part of what is causing hypomanias, and the underlying reason behind Bipolar disorder. I have already attended one Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference in Tel Aviv, and it was a wonderful and colourful experience, and also proved a catalyst for coming up with the idea of a screenplay I have written. I want to do stuff like that more often which will hopefully mitigate my hypomanias problem.

On this occasion, I would like to thank the people who helped me and guided me throughout my journey to maturity: my psychotherapist (whom I won't mention by name, but who provided a lot of solid advice), and Dr. David Burns for his excellent book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy; my friends from the Technion, the Haifa Linux Club, and the Tel Aviv Open Source Club; my friends from the Internet, and my family members for being there when I needed them.

I would also like to thank my characters, who provided a window into my soul and my innermost desires:

  • The ex-Member of the Organisation from my first real novella The Enemy, who was full of mathematical logic and was practically inhuman.

  • The Friends in “The One with the Fountainhead” who were happy to play the characters from Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead while parodying and modernising it along the way. They signified what I was unhappy about the Fountainhead and also my growing interest in romantic relationships.

  • The Human Hacking Field Guide brings us Erisa→Eve, the sexy, mysterious, insurgent, and typical “bad girl” antagonist, who after becoming less of a rebel without a cause, and at the age of 18 felt like she can write her own replacement for In Search of Lost Time, and publish it, and it would be better than the original. Eve, I wish I knew I was reflecting on myself in this respect!

  • From Star Trek: “We, the Living Dead”, we find such characters as Q, my own Q2, Jadzia Dax, and my own Katie Jacobson, who face a mishmash of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Judaism, Julian Jaynes’ Bicameral Mind theory and other Near East history, open source hackerdom, and various Elders of Zion and Illuminati conspiracy theory, and survive to tell the tale, reflecting upon some of the farfetched stuff I thought to be true, during my “Great Mania”.

  • Finally, Selina from Selina Mandrake - The Slayer, handled the various vampires and demons she ran into in a graceful and natural way, and finally put my whole obsession with “The Eternal Jew”/“The Invisible”/“The Slayer”/ “The Dispeller”/“The Free”/etc. to rest. Selina, you are great - I love you!

During this period, I have also started writing Humanity - The Movie, which aims to be a parody of Humanity and modern life in particular, and which I originally imagined as being written and filmed by a Bajoran extraterrestrial who arrived at Earth, also during my “Great Mania”. I also began writing The Pope Died on Sunday, which tells the story of an atheist female graphic designer (and a software developer by training) in Milwaukee, during the summer of the year 2000, reflecting on an old mentality, and finally The Blue Rabbit Log, which is a Crazy Comedy parodying Role-Playing Games, and is based on an old idea of mine.

Anyway, right now, I feel like I have reached some greater and greater enlightenment and am more capable of handling life’s problems as I run into them. I have been realised more that the gods help them that help themselves, that I should be happy of what I am and proud of it, and that the people around me can often be dicks. I also realise now that my relentless policy for honesty and sincerity got me in a lot of trouble, because people don't want to face the Elephants in the room, but that I should still try to be more tactful in the future I also realised many people can often be jerks, and try to hurt you on purpose.

Cheers, and have a great 5 May day.

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About Female Action Heroes

(Note: this was originally written as a comment for a post on the excellent Action Flick Chick blog by Katrina Hill, but was eaten by the WordPress.org instance there, so I decided to publish it here, after a lot of editing and enhancements.)

Excellent feature! I greatly enjoyed it (just note that I'm a guy) - thanks for sharing and I hope the panel was nice. I hope to see and welcome many talented and resourceful female writers and authors of sci-fi and action, who will collaborate to create part of the next generation of female heroines who are intelligent, resourceful, competent, and talented, yet still sexy, and feminine. Naturally, as a male writer (see the stories and screenplays section of my homepage), I am not going to stand idle and let my peers, whether male or female, surpass me easily, but I suppose that there's always a place for more people competing for that.

Buffy Summers was an awesome character, and I was totally into her and Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was the superb actress and martial artist, who played her, back in the wild wild Web 1.0 days and the first seasons of Buffy (before Buffy graduated from high school and when Faith was still around). That was shortly after I graduated from high school, had lots of raging hormones, and worked in several workplaces as a programmer, and was about to start my college degree. I think Buffy was the “perfection achieved” (or epitome or whatever it is called) version of the fighting lady, whom girls could relate to, look up to as a role model, and found it easy to feel empathy for, and that not only were guys not intimidated by her, but found her extremely attractive.

Anyway, Buffy and other shows I watched in this period such as Friends and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, provided a lot of inspiration and fodder for my stories and screenplays, and I have also created a world titled the Selinaverse that crosses many such influences (what can I say - bipolar disorder / manic-depresssive disorder can be fun sometimes… ;-)) along with other things. Even my most normal story yet - The Human Hacking Field Guide, which tells the story of several high school teenagers in 2005 Los Angeles, who deal extensively in working on open source software (and to a lesser extent free/open “content”), drew inspiration from the characters of Buffy and Faith for the protagonist (Jennifer Raymond) and the antagonist (Eve “Erisa” Siegel) respectively.

I think part of the problem with the realisation of female heroines and even female authors, was the traditional Judeo-Christian Ethics value system which limited the amount of activities women were able to do to exclude philosophy, most important artworks, writing, poetry and being a scholar, the performing arts, and naturally - fighting. Furthermore, the names of most of the most important action heroines in the Bible were deemed inauspicious in the Jewish tradition (the Halakhah), only to become popular among Jews after the Zionist revolution. An action hero or a “hacker” (see the essay titled The Word “Hacker” by Paul Graham) is someone who bends the rules, makes up his or her own rules, takes decisive actions, and controls his or her own destiny, even if they are completely not violent. See what I have written about the David who fought Goliath. This is while a tragic hero accepts his own fate, is bound by many invisible rules, and does not take decisive action - the exact opposite of an action hero. (That put aside, I feel that in art, action heroes and heroines often also initially have hubris (= excessive human pride) and undergo a sort of Catharsis (= a humbling process), although it is a more subtle than the one experienced by tragic heroes in tragedies.)

In any case, I think there's some bitter justice in the fact that there have been several important Jewesses who championed the break from the Judeo-Christian ethical system:

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar.

  • Alisa Rosenbaum → Ayn Rand, who despite her many faults in personality and in her philosophical work, and the fact that she often fell victim to the falsehoods and moral fashions of her time, greatly helped lay the ground for the move away from the traditional Judeo-Christian ethics (and not just the sexual/romantic ones).

    I was told that Ayn Rand’s philosophy was criticised for being not very “original”, but this kind of “originality” in copyright, having original ideas, patents, and even trade secrets (and what open source/open content/etc. like to call being “proprietary”), was a 20th century fad, and Rand still deserves credit for having a retro, but right-in-the-spotlight philosophy. I am well aware that Rand kinda professed to have supported this “originality/anti-open” philosophy in her works, but in her deeds, she was almost always “if you do not publish - you perish”, in the sense of making her opinions and thoughts known and given to the public consumption, even if she was criticised for them.

  • Marta Kauffman, who co-created the Television show Friends, which despite superficial appearances to the contrary, took a large part in championing an Aristotelian society, a positive sense-of-life, resourcefulness, passion for life, gender equality, and critical thought - including of many modernist and post-modern scientific beliefs.

P.S: you should watch the three episodes of the Parody: A Love Story (Twilight, Harry Potter, Karate Kid, and Buffy parody) video on YouTube, which sports a chubby girl, who seems unattractive at first, but ends up learning and doing some mean Karate in a typical Buffy-like hotness.

Anyway, thanks for the excellent write up and sorry for getting carried away.

Best regards,

— Mr. Shlomi Fish (a.k.a “Rindolf”) of Tel Aviv, Israel.


I had a great meta section, but it was too infinite in length to fit inside this limited length text area. Or more seriously - I have plenty to write about in it, but I'm too anxious to get this post out of the door. Publish early - publish often. Cheers anyway, and I'm mostly fine.


Book Report: Catch 22

The book Catch-22 by Joseph Heller has a reputation as one of the greatest books of the 20th century. One of my family members bought it, and I recently finished reading it, and would like to state my opinion.

While the book is well-written, I didn't really find it enjoyable. On the other hand, there wasn't any particular obstacle to stop me from finishing to read it (unlike some books I recently tried to read by Tom Wolfe), so I guess it could have been worse. The humour in the book is sarcastic and dry, and I usually did not find it funny.

At least now I can boast that I have read Catch-22, and other people may find it more enjoyable. Bye for now.

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“Like A Bad White Guy Party Gangnam Style” Mirrored

The YouTube video “Like A Bad White Guy Party Gangnam Style - PSY, LMFAO, Dev, Offspring, Bloodhound Gang (Mashup)”, which I have been greatly enjoying has now been mirrored on my personal web site. Follow the link to download it and view it.

The YouTube original is no longer available due to a copyright claim by YG Entertainment Inc. (whoever they may be). I wish all copyright cartels will be banished to the tenth level of hell (which was created especially for them because the first nine levels were too mild).

For related reading, see:

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Yom Kippur 2012 Summary

This Yom Kippur, I again went over my blogs from the last year, and tried to draw some conclusions. Most of my blog posts were in my technical blogs: shlomif-tech, and my blogs.perl.org blog. Nevertheless, I did not blog too much. Instead, I worked a lot on code, wrote E-mails, chatted on IRC, and helped maintain such projects as the Mageia Linux distribution. So I guess it's not so bad, because writing and publishing essays has a tendency to make me nervous.

I was employed for about 7 months this year in a part-time job, which I expected to be more permanent and turned out to be more temporary. I also did not have substantial hypomanias, though I had some periods of stress or anger, and annoyingly, I got into a short period of hypomania yesterday, but luckily was quickly able to recover from it.

I still maintained some sites such as my home-site or the Perl Beginners’s site, and it often kept me busy.

So overall a good year.


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Getting Your Job Ad Replied To

Joel Spolsky had published an essay titled “Getting Your Résumé Read” on his Joel on Software site, which gives very good advice for job candidates who want to apply for work. Today, I am going to cover the opposite direction: give some advice for employers who publish job ads in hopes of finding employees. I have seen my share of bad practises among the many job ads I have read, and can tell which ones make me more willing to apply.

Before I start, I am going to share a small item, which I originally planned to publish as is, and later decided to expand into this post, which I have titled “The Worst Job Offer Ever”. After I wrote it, I thought that posting something like that on my blog will make no one want to hire me ever again, so don’t take it too seriously. I am not singling any particular “wanted” adverts.

From: lamejob@gmail.com
To: programmersforum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: BEST JOB!!!

A promising startup with a young, dynamic, environment is looking for a
talented software developer with the following skills:

* Team-player.
* Independent.
* Detail-oriented.
* Considers the big picture.
* Ability to work under pressure.
* Willing to work for stock options.
* B.Sc./B.A. in Computer Science/Software Engineering or equivalent from a
prestigious university with an average of 93.1415% or above.
** M.Sc. an advantage.
* 10 years of experience in JAVA.
* 25 years of experience in php/Mysql.
* 1-3 years of experience in PERL, PYTHON, ror - an advantage.
* 10 years of OOP/OOD experience in C++ and COBOL - a must.
* windows/unix/LINUX sys admin experience (3-5 years).

Please send your CVs in MS Word format to lamejob-jobs@gmail.com .
Sent from my iPhone.

I hope you agree that it is pretty bad. Now for the rest of the advice:

  1. The first thing you should do is to spell the requirements precisely. What does the candidate must know for the job? Please consider avoiding giving a number of years of experience because this is annoying. “1-3 years of Java experience” — are people with 4 years of Java experience underqualified?

  2. You should also give a precise description of the job: something like “Ruby-on-Rails expert”, “Perl expert”, “UNIX Systems Administrator”, “PHP expert” etc. That way people who do not match this description will know better than to apply.

  3. You should also use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax. Perl is not spelled “PERL”, Python is not spelled “PYTHON”, and it's MySQL - not “MYSQL”, “Mysql” or “mySQL”. It's also “PHP” - not “Php” or “php”.

  4. If you have a successful business or planning on having one, then you should get your own DNS domain such as mycompany.com, set up E-mail hosting for it, and send the job posts from there. Sending from a Webmail provider such as “@gmail.com”, “@hotmail.com” or “@yahoo.com” will make a bad impression, and indicate lack of professionalism.

  5. You should also use a standard desktop, or a comfortable laptop computer to type and phrase the message - not a mobile device which results in more error-prone and less Netiquette -conforming messages. Make sure that your E-mail lacks any of the branding or advertising signatures such as “Sent from my iPhone”.

  6. Specify the formats in which it is possible to send the résumé, for example Microsoft Word, OpenDocument Text, XHTML or PDF. This way the candidates will know which formats they should send and you will have less problems reading their E-mails. That is one thing the worst job advert I gave did right, but naturally many people will appreciate the ability to send in different formats to the proprietary Microsoft Word format.

    Also specify whether it would be possible to send a link to an online version of the résumé for easy viewing using your favourite browser, and avoid the hassles of opening attachments and their myriad formats.

  7. Please don't require an “ability to work under pressure”. Most developers are naturally going to perform worse under pressure, and you should make sure you avoid pressuring them as much as possible. In order to attract developers, it is a good idea to advertise that your company normally operates on no more than 40 hours of work in a week — see what Evan Robinson has written about it in “Why Crunch Modes Doesn’t Work: Six Lessons”.

    If you do have a pressured environment (which is unfortunate but a fact of life), say “We have a pressured environment.” instead.

  8. Another good idea is to encourage candidates to show off their open-source projects and web-presence (home sites, blogs, etc.). However, “show me your GitHub page” may work for some people, but will leave a bad taste in the mouth, and will offend some other people, because some people prefer some of its alternatives (include me).

  9. You should spell the location of your offices (at least roughly) and specify how much one can telecommute, if at all.

  10. Whatever you do, please don’t post the job ad to the same forum more than once every few months. Posting the exact same position several times will make people annoyed and they may complain, filter your messages, or request that you get banned from posting on the forum.

  11. It is a good idea to mention some of the software management practices your company employs, such as using version control, writing automated tests, performing code reviews, refactoring, or pair programming.

  12. Finally, as Joel mentions in the original essay, you should make your ad stand out. One good example was once posted to the Israeli Ruby developers mailing list:

    Subject: Developers Developers Developers
    Looking for developers who:
    * want a full time, salaried position
    * want to work in a fun, young workplace
    * want to work in an environment that allows them to use (just about)
    whatever tools they wish to get the job done
    * know and love ruby
    * ideally have experience with php and python
    * want to work on large scale rails/merb projects that have nothing to
    do with "the social web"
    * want to drown a puppy every time they hear phrases like "the social

    This job ad (and especially the two last items) makes a stance, and makes the readers feel empathic towards it.

  13. Good luck!

Copyright and Licence

This document is Copyright by Shlomi Fish, 2012, and is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0 Unported (or at your option any later version).

For securing additional rights, please contact Shlomi Fish and see the explicit requirements that are being spelt from abiding by that licence.

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