2050 (II)

The food printer delivers me a very nice hamburger. I bite it, doubtful, but I don’t feel anything wrong. It does look and it tastes like a big mac.

– Are you ready to tell me how do you feel? – My doctor is eating something different, a wrap-type-of-thing. I heard mini-kebab when he asked for it. We both sip from a plastic glass. My drink is deep blue, cola, his drink is orange.

– Sure. What do you want to know? – I munch my hamburger. God, it tastes so real.

– Well, for us it is important to know if we achieved the goal we wanted before we connected you to the MR system. – MR: memory recovery system. The network displays the definition in my eyes. – You may not remember yet, but your brain is quite deteriorated. You’re on the verge of stop being a rational man, actually. Can I be sincere? – I nod- Speaking about percentages, if this treatment doesn’t work, you have 90% of probabilities of becoming a walking zombie in less than a year, with your motor skills maybe in automatic, but not being able to act and react as a person. The network may help you to move around, but you will not be more than a puppet. – Oddly, I feel fine about it.- What we try now is to force your brain to recover the missing links by bringing your conscience to a previous state and convince your body that you’re really there. By the way, this is the second time I explain this to you – my eyes open wide – since the first one was a complete failure.

– Thanks doctor – I don’t know what else to say. – Alright, about my feelings…I feel young. I know my body is not, but that’s not the point, isnt? – he nods.- I feel a little uncomfortable here, to be sincere, but I don’t feel ill, or something. Just a little out of place.

– This may be due to the time difference. You said your black tower was in 1993, right?  – Yes, I say. – So maybe your brain is still there. Actually I can’t imagine it: a world without internet, not smart, everybody speaking. Everything going very slow. – I smile. – No disrespect here. I’m a professional, I’m just saying the truth, I can’t really imagine it. In the same way you can’t really imagine in enough detail how the Homo Erectus lived when he arrived to Europe. It doesn’t matter how much information you put into it, it will not build up a realistic scenario, not realistic enough.

– I understand. No disrespect. – I don’t know where are we going now. I finish my printed burger. – Let’s say I managed to win your memory game. Its effect, are they permanent?


2050 (III)

– Are you with us? – I slowly take conscious of myself. I am laying on a bed. The bed is partially reclined. I have something complicated wrapped around, strings, stripes, something. Over me, still blurry, a big helmet of some kind. The light is soft, but it comes from everywhere. – Raise your left hand, please, if you’re with us .- I do so. It feels heavy. Maybe I wear some kind of glove. – Now the right one.- I  do as asked. – We’re going to completely remove the heavy equipment now. I know you feel disoriented. You’ve been in your memories for almost 24 hours, so you must be hungry also. Food is on its way. Do you have questions?

– Yes. Where am I?

– The Dream Institute. You don’t remember it?

– Last thing I remember is the dark tower. 1993.

– Good. Because that is one of the reference points you gave us. So did you reach it?

– Not yet. Should I? – I incorporate myself. My eyes start to focus. Probably I have some kind of mechanical lenses. I don’t remember having then, but it feels like that. I try to call the network. A light blink on the corner of my left eye. I’m online. The man in front of me is dressed like a doctor. I ask the network about him. I don’t know very well how, by the way. The letters floating at his side read Dr. Hiram Rashim, MD. There is also a logo, that I can’t identify but I guess is from the institution we are now. He looks at me and smiles. I wonder if he can detect what I’m doing, since I don’t remember a lot, actually. I just do it.

–  I see you’re connected. Excelent. Do you remember who we are and why you’re here? – I’m tempted to ask the network, but obviously that’s not the idea.

– No, sorry. It looks like I remember a few things, like how to connect, but the rest is unclear. Is it bad? – Dr. Rashim comes closer to me, to help me get rid of the stripes.

– In principle yes. But a lot of dreamers are logically disoriented when they come back. – He smiles. His teeth are perfect, like his haircut. Maybe he’s a robot or something? – Right. So before we have a proper debriefing, I want to tell you that I’m very happy of any progress you do, independently of how big it is. Damaged memory can not be recovered in one day, or even in a week. And sometimes, simply the patient doesn’t want to remember. Ignorance is bliss, that they say. – The cables and stripes I’m removing are retracting themselves, like snakes. I wear some kind of full-body suit, where the snakes were connected. Suddenly some kind of door opens at the back of Dr. Rashim.

– Doctor? The food arrived. – Another man, this one blonde, comes into the room carrying an awfully complicated trolley. I ask the network. A food printer.

– Super. Please leave it here. So what do you want for lunch?

HOWTO find serial numbers

Machines don’t cheat. At least, most of the machines don’t. Lately it looks like they learned to play poker so from there to tell us lies there’s only a conceptual step. So instead of sticking labels that can be removed, that already gave me quite some headaches, I try always to have a software tool to give me the serial number of the computer I need to bookkeep. This is done, for example, from the Windows Command Prompt. Type

wmic bios get serialnumber

to get your hardware information. You can find more info here. On linux, you can install lshw, and grep “serial” like this.

yum install lshw
lshw | grep serial

Be aware you will get all the serial numbers (for example of the GPUs) so maybe it is convenient to run once “lshw” to have a look first. Alternatively, you can use dmidecode (explained here).  For macs, it is pretty easy, so I’m not going to explain it to you. Or am I? OK, I tell you. Click on the apple, and choose “About this mac”. There you have it. Happy? Of course not. We don’t want to press buttons, we need a command line tool. Like this command:

 ioreg -l | grep IOPlatformSerialNumber 
    |   "IOPlatformSerialNumber" = "XXXYYY$$$666"

The way to do it is well known. What you can do with it is not. And that’s it for today. I need to come back home. As usual, I will update this post when I find something else related with this.

The black tower (II)

Pitlochry. I never heard about the place before I decided to come. Expecting nothing, therefore I was gladly surprised of finding something. To be tested was if my position was a good equilibrium between civilization and a nice job. My friend ended up accepting a job to work on a field, picking up strawberries or something like that. He had experience on it, apparently, and he was happy to join when he found out that he was getting three times the salary he obtained before, doing the same. It didn’t matter my reasoning: here it is much colder, you don’t speak the language, and so on. He was decided to go, and there he went. From one day to the other, I was alone.

We found out we were not the only travellers that ended up coming to the repurposed student’s residence at the top of the hill. One guy that we met in the common kitchen happened to just come back from a failing job interview. We asked him how he got his interview, he mysteriously grabbed something from his pocket and left it over the dining table.  A black brick with a little screen and numbers. A mobile phone, and a number to call. “Yes” he said “I know it sounds stupid to go everywhere with a phone, but I really needed a contact number”. He explained us for the first time about well-known by now vicious circle: you need a phone to get a job, you need a house to get a phone,  and you need a job to get a house. We were having “covered” the house, while he had covered also the phone. “Can we get a phone?” I asked. Maybe it was a nice investment for the future. “No if you give this address” was his simple answer.

So we asked him to find us a job. And he did, quite kindly, by phoning his manager and explaining him our situation. Maybe the rhum of my friend helped. Or the other goods he kindly shared. As I said, my friend went happily for the strawberry picking. Unfortunately, I was not happy or not qualified for the offers the guy got for us, so I decided to wait another day, before giving up.

The next morning my friend left for his strawberry fields. And the new guy told me he was again leaving, direction Edimbourg, the day after. But he will ask the last time his manager for something for me. In the afternoon I chose Pitlochry, one of his options. I never saw him again.

The black tower (I)

– Excuse me Sir – the guy at the other side of the window was looking really desperate. I was using the last light of the day to read my recently purchased book on the circular balcony of the youth hostel. In fact, the hostel was already closed. Which explains the insistency of the man. I look at the clock, 10:30 PM, and I look to the man, that has black hair and what you could call a “student” look. Hesitating, I partially open the window. – Can you please let me in? – he quickly says. – I have a room already! – he shows me a key that I know as a proof. – Please, I was  delayed by some friends. – His accent is familiar to me, I could say, he’s from Madrid or Valencia. Which explains without any doubt the reason of his delay.

– How can I do that? – I ask. He tells me.

– Just go to the front door, and open it. It’s not locked from inside. – I do as suggested, and soon the yougster is in. – Thanks a lot! You know, how difficult it can be to arrive here in time. – The hostel was upon a hill. It was taking like 10 minutes to walk to the center of the village, but that kind of planning is already very big depending on the person. – My name is Fernando. I’m 20 years old and I come from Madrid. – After such a dumb introduction I doubt if to reveal my real name and origin, but finally I do. – Thanks again for letting me in. I’m looking for a permanent room to stay, but it’s not yet settled. That’s why in the meantime I stay here. – Like me, I could say. – Do you want something to drink? Wine, beer? I have both. – I accept the second.

– So nice you were here. – He repeats again. We cling the bottles. We sit where I was sitting. The sun is finally gone, and we switched on one of the small and cute lamps in a close table. – The agency that brought me here didn’t expect me to arrive so early, or something like that. So I was forced to stay here. But they close the doors before the pub! And the pub closes quite early. At 10. – I nod. – How do you like Pitlochry? Do you work somewhere? Because you don’t look like a golf player. – I laugh.

– Yes I found a job. At the Old Smithe. It’s not the best, but they treat me well, and the payment is not bad. People are nice, and you get big tips! The problem is, I don’t have accommodation also.

– Yes I know. It’s so fucking difficult to find something here. This village is so small…I’ll tell you what: since you helped me, as soon as I get accommodation on the hotel I work, I’ll make you space, OK?

– You don’t need to. After all, we just met!

– Don’t worry man. Friends are for that, aren’t them? Besides, if you don’t open me up, I could have ended tonight in jail, and tomorrow deported! If not frozen right there! – He does a sudden movement with his hand, pointing to the outside esplanade around the balcony, and a little bit of his beer is dropped around. Also, he increased the volume of his voice. Concerned, I look around, but still it looks like we are alone.

– Don’t be so extreme. They like us. We are their future.

– I’m not their future. I want my own future! This is just a training, after this, I will come back to Madrid and start a Master on Finances. And in 5 years, I will be coming back here just to play golf!

– You bet it! – I say. Dreams are free. I look at the wall clock. – But now, we need to go to bed, or at least, I need to go to bed. Tomorrow I have a morning shift. – I hesitate to ask, but I’m human, after all. And my friends here are gone, or lost. – So shall we meet tomorrow afternoon here, maybe?

– Yes, sure! I’ll pass by as soon as I’m free. At around 6 PM? – I nod. – 6 PM them. Good night and thanks again!

In the night (II)

I’m not a native English speaker. Far from that, I still need to go to the dictionary to find the meaning of some slang, not to speak about the dialects. But I myself am coming from a region with its own dialect, so I understand the feeling of rejection or incomprehension because of the way you speak. So first time I arrived to Scotland, I carefully tried to blend with the locals, forgetting the way you should speak British English.

I partially managed. I actually acted as an interpreter for my friend, who didn’t know or didn’t care about those subtleties. After a short presentation and a beer invitation, he was fully engaged with a girl. I actually didn’t realized until I stopped speaking with her friend and turned my head to him. Which lead me to this philosophical point. To wait or not to wait, that was the question. We are grown adults, I have money, he has money, and he knows where we stay. So I decided to let him enjoy the situation, and take responsibility about the consequences. By the way, the girl is not red-haired.

– Do you think they’re fine? – I asked her friend. The music, loud as hell, masked out my pronunciation. Not that they care, I think, my guess is that what is important from them is that we are not English.

– Don’t worry man. – She comes closer to me, and touches my cheek with her palm, slowly, in a theatrical way. But I don’t react. – I know her, she will take care of your friend.

– I can imagine you know her, but do you know him? – She heads back, like pulled by a spring. She smiles. And she comes closer again. This time she takes my face with both hands, and kiss me in the lips. I feel her warmth. I don’t resist, but also, I don’t reply to it. She is beautiful, but I’m drunken, and I’m not as relaxed as I should, despite of the alcohol. I touch her cheek also.

– I think she knows what she does. The question is, does your friend knows?

– If you want to know the truth, I think he doesn’t care. – She laughs, violently, with the mouth open, moving all her body while doing it. The couple close to us, my friend and her friend, look at us alarmed, then, when they find out it’s us, they come back to the kissing.

– He should. Oh you bastards. Sometimes I really think you come from a fairy land.

OSX and Mac tips

macSorry but I have no better title for this post. I wanted to compile (and get rid?) of all the knowledge I gathered 😀 on the last 5 years working with macs. I need to start saying that, before my current work, I was a hardcore windows user, but a linux programmer. Meaning I was using Windows at home, and Linux for programming.

Those were ol good times. Now this distinction doesn’t make sense anymore. We can have a real ubuntu shell on Windows 10 and so I have (still testing). But I must say when I got my first mac (a MacBook Pro) I was gladly surprised of its shell. You can even enable a root user, so that you can work in your shell in a more comfortable way. As a root, you can set the hostname, computername and bonjour name via the command line.

I don’t want to speak about programming on a mac. That may be the subject of a (far future) post. I want to comment how I did (how you can do) certain things on a mac.

It’s not anymore so useful, but the knowledge is there. Why would you like to know how to create a bootable installer for Mac OSX? Very simple: sometimes you don’t have internet around. Or I could say you didn’t have. So it’s nice to know you can store your Mac OS also on a pendrive. Apparently it’s not always so easy, so, here you have the HOWTO for Mavericks.   And here you have the procedure for Yosemite.

One of the annoyances of the macs is the obsolescence.  You can’t update forever. You can try, as it is described on this post, to install Mavericks on a MacPro 2.1, but personally, I gave up and installed first Scientific Linux 7, then CentOS 7. And I’m happy with the result. Speaking about, you may wonder if it is possible to downgrade your OSX to a previous version. Apparently, it is not. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea, if you have a screwdriver, always to remove the old hard disk and install the system on a new one. Then you just need to migrate from the old disk to the new one. I recommend, by the way, to clean the disk before a migration. Otherwise, the migration can take up to 24 hours.

The problem with OSX, for me, is that it’s no more trustable. I’m not the only one saying this, and there are people moving to Windows because of that (not so many). There are fixes, like this for connecting on Mavericks to an SMB drive, but the average user doesn’t want to fight with fixes.

I still need to put my hands on a new MacBook Pro. I will keep you updated with more mac tips when available. Have a nice weekend!