Monday, November 15, 2010

Folding the flag : The cadet!!!

Dear Sir,

It is with regret and haste that I write this letter to you.  Regret that such a small misunderstanding could lead to the following circumstances, and haste in order that you will get this report before you form your own preconceived opinions from reports in the World Press.  For I am sure that they will tend to over dramatise the affair

We had just picked up the pilot, and the Apprentice had returned from changing the 'G' flag for the 'H', this being his first trip he was having difficulty in rolling the 'G' flag up for stowing away. I therefore proceeded to show him how.

Coming to the last part I told him to 'let go'.  The lad, although willing, is not too bright. I therefore had to repeat the order in a sharper tone.  At this moment the Chief Officer appeared from the Chartroom having been plotting the vessel's progress and thinking it was the anchors that were being referred to, repeated the 'let go order to the Third Officer on the forecastle.

The Port anchor, having been cleared away but not walked out, was promptly let go.  The effect of letting the anchor drop from the 'pipe while the vessel was proceeding at full harbour speed was too much for the windlass brake and the entire length of the Port cable was pulled out by its roots. I fear that the damage to the chain locker may be extensive.

The braking effect of the Port anchor naturally caused the vessel to sheer in that direction, right toward the swing bridge that spans a tributary to the river up which we were proceeding.

The swing bridge operator showed great presence of mind by opening the bridge for my vessel. Unfortunately he did not think to stop the vehicular traffic.  The result was that the bridge partly opened and deposited a Volkswagen, two cyclists and a cattle truck on the foredeck. My ship's company is at present rounding up the contents of the latter, which, from the noise I would say is pigs.

In his efforts to stop the progress of the vessel the Third Officer dropped the Starboard anchor too late to be of any practical use for it fell on the swing bridge operator's control cabin.

After the Port anchor was let go and the vessel started to sheer I gave a double ring Full Astern on the Engine Room telegraph and personally rang the Engine Room to order maximum astern revolutions.

I was informed that the sea temperature was 53 degrees, and asked if there was a film tonight. My reply would not act constructively to this report.

Up to now I have confined my report to the activities at the forward end of my vessel. Down at the after end they were having their own problems.  At the moment the Port anchor was let go, the Second Officer was supervising the making fast of the After Tug, and was lowering the ship's towing spring down onto the tug.  The sudden braking on the Port anchor caused the tug to 'run in' under the stern of my vessel just at the moment the propeller was answering my double ring Full Astern

The prompt action of the Second Officer in securing the inboard end of the towing spring, delayed the sinking of the tug by some minutes, thereby allowing the safe abandonment of that vessel.

It is strange, but at the very moment of letting go the port anchor there was a power cut ashore. The fact that we were passing over a 'cable area' at the time may suggest that we may have touched something on the river bed. It is perhaps lucky that the high tension cables brought down by the foremast were not live; possibly having been replaced by the underwater cable, but owing to the shoreside blackout it is impossible to say where the pylon fell.

It never fails to amaze me, the actions and behavior of foreigners during moments of minor crisis. The Pilot, for instance, is at this moment huddled in a corner of my day cabin alternately crooning to himself and crying, after consuming a bottle of Gin in a time that is worthy of inclusion
in the Guinness Book of Records. The tug Captain, on the other hand, reacted violently and had to be forcibly restrained by the Chief Steward who has him handcuffed in the ship's hospital, where he is telling me to do impossible things with my ship and my person.

I enclose the names and addresses of the drivers and insurance companies of the vehicles on my foredeck, which the Third Office collected after his somewhat hurried evacuation of the forecastle. These particulars will enable you to claim for the damage that they did to the railings of number one hold.

I am closing this preliminary report for I am finding it difficult to concentrate with the sound of police sirens and their flashing lights.

It is sad to think that had the Apprentice realised that there is no need to fly Pilot
flags after dark, none of this would have happened.

For weekly Accountability Report I will assign the following Casualty Numbers T/750101 to T/750199 inclusive.

Yours truly

Friday, November 12, 2010

Making sense of your email on Gmail - Take Control!!

Many moons back I had written about using multiple emails forwarding from one to the another etc to handle spam - well that is now done very well by Gmail. So out went Thunderbird [Mozilla email client] - it is still a fantastic product so long as only you use your desktop PC.

So you use Gmail and have been doing so for a while or have just started - never mind - there is always a starting point.

You should also be using Firefox or Google Chrome web browser - it has sooo many addons for Firefox. Chrome - as it is also known as Chromium - the source from which Chrome is compiled - also has addons.

I came across this fantastic addon - ActiveInbox - it uses labels to help you manage your email.

What is missing???

Google calender integration into gmail allowing me to put dates or flow control on my email - apparently the ActiveInbox Plus - the advanced version has it - but at a cost ;-).


SixthSense - a wearable gestural interface (MIT Media Lab)

SixthSense - a wearable gestural interface (MIT Media Lab): "'SixthSense' is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sending email to yourself on Gmail

Normally we send emails to ourself by just using yourid @

But this does not send you a copy - you just have a sent message.

I just found that if you send the mail with an email address such as - yes just add "+self" and you get an email sent you as well.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Adding an Action menu / service menu in kde4

Gnome has a much better way of handling bash scripts though once you get a hang of KDE was of doing things - it works out just fine.

We will use the last post for setting a wallpaper ans make it work in dolphin / konquerer file managers Action menu ;-)

  1. Make a new folder called ServiceMenus - normaly it does not exist by default

    mkdir /home/user/.kde4/share/kde4/services/ServiceMenus
  2. create a text file with .desktop extension
  3. copy the following text into it using the text editor of your choosing - I like nano or kate.

    [Desktop Entry]

    [Desktop Action chwall]
    Name=Change wallpaper
    Exec=/home/user/bin/scripts/ %f

  4. change the user with the account name of the user.
  5. right click on any image in the above file managers and you should see "Change wallpaper" option in  the Action menu.
Please post comments if there are any questions...

Monday, November 01, 2010

KDE 4.5.2 changing Wallpaper / background

This is for Arch Linux but should be usable on other distributions as well..

Changing wallpaper on the latest KDE is just a right lick and choosing "Desktop Settings"... but what if you had conky running and you wanted to change the wallpaper / background using command line - like from a batch file - that is a problem.

Shall detail running conky in another post ...

Things to have installed - KDE 4.5.2, eterm

Here we create a folder "walls" in home folder and another called "gamma" in walls - as I have all my wallpapers in walls folder - you can modify as you please. The gamma folder holds the copy of the same wallpaper as the one used except we use convert [from imagemagick] to darken the image.


fileext=`echo "$1"|awk -F . '{print $NF}'`;
filename=$(basename "$1" "$fileext");

rm ~/walls/gamma/*;

cd ~/walls/gamma;

convert "$1" -gamma 0.7,0.7,0.7 "$out_file";

kwriteconfig --file plasma-desktop-appletsrc --group Containments --group 1 --group Wallpaper --group image --key wallpaper "$1";

kquitapp plasma-desktop;

sleep 1;

plasma-desktop ;

~/bin/fbsetbg "$out_file";

The listed file is linked below and fbsetbg is a script file from fluxbox to set your wallpaper.

Back after such a looong time

A lot has happened since 2004 and now.

Have loads of stuff to share - from technology to networking ....