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Showing posts from 2008

24hrs Sinhala Blog Marathon Starts Today!

The Sinhala Bloggers Union is organizing a 24hrs Blog Marathon starting from 8pm local time today, 18th to the 19th. There are currently over 30 participating blogs, including our sister (or brother depending on where your from :) site sinhalenfoss.org. Each blogging site will be trying to reach a crazy difficult target of 96 posts! In otherwords, we're talking about a blog post appearing from each site every 15 min! Multiply that by 30+ sites and boy I hope the net doesn't crash :P

The easiest way to catch all the fun is to constantly reload http://marathon.sinhalabloggers.com/, the official blog aggregator (syndicator) for the event. But it doesn't stop there. These guys have created a custom Face Book application for the FB junkies, a twitter channel for twitter addicts like myself, a Yahoo Pipes mash up for the web services oriented and even IM based updates.

If your interested in blogging in Sinhala Unicode, it might not be too late to enroll your self by contacting the…

Best Last place to listen to Music

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If your a music lover and also inclined to discover new (&old) music then last.fm is the place to be. I've signed up a couple of months back and have really been enjoying music surfing. Thats right! similar to channel surfing last.fm is about discovering music based on what you like and what others who are like you like. There is plenty of research in this field, some of which are headed by the folks at lastfm, but what it essentially means is a good trip down music lane :)

You can sign up for a free account and search based on artist or a tag such as pop, rock, jazz or female vocalist. In any case your search result becomes a virtual radio station which goes off on all sorts of tangents discovering similar artists or similar artists, tags and so on. When you hear a song you really like, you can express your pleasure by marking it as loved, or display your hate by banning it and you shall never hear it. You can also skip tracks, unlike web streaming radio but can not seek withi…

Sinhalen FOSS Blogcast

Recently I've been trying to start a Blog and Podcast as a means of reducing the language barrier when it comes to learning and playing around with Free and Open Source Software, aka FOSS. So a couple of months back I started the Sinhalen FOSS Blog at Wordpress.com. The idea of the blog is really to introduce various aspects of FOSS such as howto's, command line tips/tricks etc. and provide a forum for other Bloggers to contribute related articles. In this regard, I am grateful to Lakmal and Kanchana for their contributions and hope more of you will take the challenge in installing Sinhala Unicode and getting in to the habbit of remembering to write in Sinhala :). Yes it can be a pain, especially with the current state of input methods. Yes there are always complexities in writing proper Sinhala. But as far as I'm concerned writing something is better than not trying at all. In this regards, I'd have to thank my mom who is my personal Sinhala specialist (she's got …

Good bye Gentoo - Hello Leopard

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The following post was an April Fools Hoax :) While bits of it are true such as I did finally move away from Gentoo as my primary distro its got more to do with lack of time and laziness to reinstall gentoo. Hopefully I'll do another post on me moving to Kubuntu (Ubuntu + kubuntu-desktop package). I did find few annoyances but one should expect that running a beta software. I am happily using kubuntu with full desktop effects that is far superior that of Apple of Microsoft.

I did buy the Mighty Mouse and Apple keyboard as mentioned I wanted a good portable bluetooth device and they worked effortlessly (almost :) on the latest Ubuntu 8.04.

No Leopard's were harmed in creating this hoax as the desktop your seeing on my Acer laptop is actually a full screen screenshot sent to me by Siraj using his Mac notebook which I loaded before taking the picture.


Its been a little over 3 years since I switched from Debian to Gentoo. I still remember my blog post titled "Goodbye Debian, Hel…

Wicked Shell Programming Workshop @ UCSC

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We had a nice couple of sessions on shell programming today at the LSF lab @ UCSC. Anuradha started off with a great introduction that set the stage for the rest of the day. I followed with my invent as I go style of presentation, which for the most part I believe (hope) made sense. Then Sapumal did the evening session on brining all of it together with an advanced session.

There was a good geek crowd that filled the small LSF room where geeks were seen on chairs, couches, on top of tables and on their feet. All of the speeches and some interludes were recorded and could go up youtube if and when someone gets around to it. Overall it was a good first day and more will follow tomorrow.

I have a session in the evening and will try to pop in and out between my usual Linux lectures at UCSC and the workshop. In the mine time, enjoy these few pics I took from day 1.

Our first IEEE paper has been published!

Dr. Ajantha came back from the "International Conference on Advanced Communication Technology" after submitting what appears to be our (that is myself and Wathsala's) first paper at an IEEE conference. The subject of the paper which you can download and read here, is about a Next Generation Proxy caching system which fuses the idea of Cached content and Bandwidth utilization with web 2.0/x.0 trends.

These ideas are the result of what we learned by implementing Bassa, an Open Source Next Generation Proxy Server (NGP) at UCSC. We are very excited about continuing our research and development to expand its scope.

Just another day @ the Sri Lanka Customs Office

Oh boy what a day it was! I spent a good 5 hrs at the Sri Lankan Airport cargo office on Friday trying to clear a 3" tiny piece of memory which I had ordered for my Toshiba L1 laptop.

I didn't really expect this to be held by customs in the first place, considering its size, weight, cost and the fact it was a 256MB chip (quite outdated by todays memory standards). I was also misled by FedEx's tracking comments which gave no indication of the shipment being held at customs but stated that it was on its way for delivery. It was only when the courier guy came and handed a letter I knew what happened. What was more amusing was the next update on FedEx's tracking site - Goods delivered.

I called up FedEx and they said in order for them to clear it I had to get apply for a VAT number which seemed like an unnecessary hassle. They did suggest I go to the customs and try to sort it out myself - thank you FedEx for getting me FedUp!

So I made my way to Katunayake which turned out …

IMPORTANT: Upgrade Linux kernel to fix possible root exploit

Its rare but sometimes it *can* happen. This is an important one to fix! If your running a GNU/Linux server (or desktop), running kernels from 2.6.17 - 2.6.24.1, it is HIGHLY recommended that you update the system using what ever package management system your distro provided, IMMEDIATELY.

If not updated, your system could be at risk allowing a normal shell user to gain root access (i.e root exploit).

A technical overview of the exploit and links to POC code and source code patch can be found here.

OLPC coming to Sri Lanka

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Last Friday, I had the privilege to attend a workshop on "One Lap Top Per Child" or OLPC as they call it, at HNB Towers. The OLPC is a marvellous piece of technology (note, I fell short of saying hardware). For instance it has a very low power processor that was developed by AMD to only consume 2 Watts of electricity, compared to 30 - 40W on other notebooks!

The battery has a life span of 4,000 hours compared to about 2,000 on others and only costs USD 10 to replace it (costs about USD 60 - 100 on our laptops). The screen works great in both indoors and in bright sunlight where it consumes less energy and has a higher resoultion in a black & white mode. The screen's back light can be replaced easily without having to replace the whole LCD panel and it only costs 25 cents to replace!

It has a WiFi like no other! It supports mesh computing, a standard known as 802.11s (as opposed to 802.11b/g). And still normal wireless devices are welcomed to connect as p2p devices (ad…

RMS events in Sri Lanka

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I've just come back from UCSC's roof top, where RMS came to say hi to the many geeks, students and staff as the last event before he heads back tomorrow noon.

The last couple days had been quite hectic, balancing between home, work and organizing RMS events. From before his arrival on the 14th to the present day, its been a juggling act of trying to stay on top of things. It was challenging and non trivial considering the nature and importance of the visitor (after all RMS started it all) and the fact we wanted to get so many different groups involved. There was ICTA, FOSS.lk (which in itself is a bunch of groups), SLIIT, UCSC, UoM, UoP, IIT, NIMB, APIT, PC House, Cannonical, Redhat, WSO2 and probably more. And looks like we pulled this one off quit well, phew!

RMS arrived in Sri Lanka on the 14th of Jan and I ended up tagging along with Himira of ICTA/LKLUG to the airport. The flight was supposed to be at 11:45am and we were doing the whole CIP (Commercially Important People …