Tuesday, 16 December 2014

conspiracy theories and rejection of scientific consensus

In short: the mark of quackery or conspiracy theory is rejection of a rational scientific status quo consensus against the evidence, in order to establish the conspiracy theory as the new consensus.




Monday, 24 November 2014

good article on music sharing


Saturday, 22 November 2014

simple youtube downloader installation

sudo curl https://yt-dl.org/downloads/2014.11.21.1/youtube-dl -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

Sunday, 16 November 2014

dropbox never stops syncing: solved


I have resolved this problem.
There was a particular folder that was owned by someone else which I had moved. It contained a .dropbox dotfile, which I deleted. I then moved the contents out the folder and deleted the folder.
Steps to replicate.
1. Create shared folder
2. Invite multiple people who must accept
3. Place large data in folder, e.g. 20 files of 50 mb each
4. One of the persons accepting the sharing invite must move and rename the folder
5. Same person as in (4) must add data to folder
expected result:
6. Folder never finishes syncing. Dropbox.app maxes out CPU on Mac OS X
7. Go into folder on CLI, delete .dropbox (so as to unshare it), rename folder, move contents out, delete folder.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Friday, 24 October 2014

why conspiracy theorists, MLM salespersons, diet fad supporters, and religious fanatics, are the same thing

I finally figured out why MLM, religious fanaticism, diet fads, and conspiracy theorists all disturb me in the same way.

It’s because they ARE the same; they just have different objects of obsession.

A conspiracy theorist is obsessed with his secret knowledge of a nefarious plot by invisible agents. And  anyone who disagrees with the theory is not seeing the ‘truth’.

A religious fanatic is obsessed with his secret knowledge of a divine being that protects him from nefarious plots by invisible agents. And  anyone who disagrees with the system is not seeing the ‘truth’.

A MLM salesperson has secret knowledge of how to get rich and thinks that anyone who disagrees with the method is not seeing the ‘truth’.

A diet fadder has secret knowledge of this one diet that will make you lose tons of weight AND cure cancer AND cure autism AND cure diabetes… but only if you accept THEIR truth, which is to exclude X from your diet. Anyone who does not agree is going to DIE. 

Please note, I’m not saying you’re stupid if you’ve fallen for one of these. I’m just saying have a look at your motives; why you want to belong; why you get angry when others disagree with you; why you focus on what reassures you in your belief and do not look at countervailing evidence.







Mlm vs religion vs conspiracy

Thursday, 4 September 2014

etymology of first, former, and second.

It may have occurred to the reader that our ordinal series is rather odd.

Look; fourth, fifth, sixth, etc. make some sort of sense because they’re just the cardinal number followed by -th.

However, first, second, and to a lesser degree third, are odd.

Here’s the story.

Think of the word ‘former’; it means “what came before”, or something to that effect. It comes from Old English “Forman”, e.g. ‘forman sithe’ means “the first since”, or “the most recent”. So, by a bit of bad pronunciation, we can see that the fir- part of fir-st comes from ‘former’. Now, consider degrees of comparison; we have -st to indicate extremes. So; largest = most large; most = most more (more-est), fattest = most fat, etc. So, most former, formerest = first. Just a bit of bad pronunciation or laziness led to ‘first’ from ‘former’st’. Interestingly, Swedish has ‘först’ as well, pronounced the same.

Now, consider the Afrikaans word, ‘eerst’. It seems strange, but it’s not. In early modern English we have the word ‘ere’, meaning ‘before’. It survives in ‘early’ - meaning ‘before-like’. Similarly, ‘erstwhile’ - meaning ‘at first’ or ‘previously’. Erst being, then a combination of the extreme -st ending and 'ere.’  I seem to recall that the Old English was Aer. At any rate, why then did English favour ‘former’st’ rather than ‘erst’? I can’t tell. Perhaps ‘erst’ seemed too ambiguous?

Then let’s look at second. This one’s easy; it’s straight from Latin secundus. However, why would English have chosen that over, say, twoth, or twost? In German we have zweite, Afrikaans we have tweede, so we should have twoth or twooth or tweeth. But I suppose with the way we pronounce ‘two’ (too), it would sound like ‘tooth’, or ’teeth' and therefore be ambiguous. So it was discarded.

Then third. Again, this is easy. Vowels and R often swap around; consider OE “brid” (bird), or OE Thurh (Thru). So, ’thri’ (3) in old english, when made into an ordinal, became ’thrid’ or ’thri∂', which is easy to see how it would become ’third’. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

how to disable hover track changes tooltips in apple pages

how to disable hover track changes tooltips in apple pages

The symptom is you have change tracking enabled and whenever you stop your mouse movement for a few seconds, a tooltip appears blocking the text so you can’t read or edit.





(e.g. using sudo vi)


/Applications/iWork\ \'09/Pages.app/Contents/Resources/Defaults.plist

change the key SFTDefaultShowTooltip from true to false:

search using 









To edit or make a change, cursor to the word "true" and press the X key four times... then press i to insert, type "false", press esc key, then :wq!


I don’t know if the following works, but it returns no error and makes no change: … please email me if you find a way to make this method work.

defaults write


SFTDefaultsShowTooltip -bool false


Saturday, 23 August 2014

etymology of ravens and crows

It just occurred to me that raven and crow are the same word.


Grimm’s law allows h <-> k/c/g between Latin and Germanic; here are some examples:

heart -> card (cardiac)  (h -> c)

garden (yard) -> hortis (horticulture) (g -> h)

hundred -> cent (century) (h -> c)

Examples of lenition (softening) of gutturals or stops in Germanic occurs in similar examples:

Ich (German)

Ik (Dutch)

Ek (Afrikaans)

Ic (Old English)

I (modern English)


Take old English Hraefn or Norse Hravn for Raven. Icelandic pronounces Hr as Kr. Similarly, assuming the H was pronounced and gradually lenited till it disappeared in modern English, we have Kravn -> Raven

But look.

Latin has Corvinus for Crow. (Crvn) Compare this now to the Kravn above.

Yet the Grimm’s law h->k/c shows that Corvin -> Horvin or Hrovin.

Crow and Raven are the same word from presumably a proto Indo European *Korvin or similar.

Now, how is Crow the same as Latin Corvinus? This is easy. Swapping letters around is commonplace; think of “third” vs “three”, or German “Durch” vs English “Through” (OE: Thurh). Thurh in Old English in particular gives three change examples: D in German to Th in English; UR/RU swap; and lenition of the guttural German CH to H in English. So… take Crow in English. W/V/U are interchangeable across Europe under Grimm’s law… (remember: V is actually just latin U, and W is called “double u," not "double vee")… so we get Crov. Then swap OR/RO like in Through/Durch or Three/Third… (OE: Thri; Thrid)… result: Corv; the Latin stem.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

mysql 5.0-5.6 upgrade error

InnoDB: Recalculation of persistent statistics requested for table "roundcubemail"."session" but the required persistent statistics storage is not present or is corrupted. Using transient stats instead"


between 5.0/5.1 and 5.5/5.6 they did some major re-working of the internal structure of the mysql main database. 


run commands to verify and then restart it in a safe mode.

so pretty much service mysqld stop, mysqld_safe, service mysqld stop, service mysqld start


ERROR 2049 (HY000): Connection using old (pre-4.1.1) authentication protocol refused (client option 'secure_auth' enabled)

This will happen usually when you upgrade from 5.0/5.1 to 5.5 or higher.

So, first thing, shutdown mysql:

shell> service mysqld stop

Then, check if the files / folders in your mysql directory have been changed to own by root, this happened with us.

shell> chown -R mysql.mysql /var/lib/mysql

Then restart and tell it to not worry about privileges / permissions:

shell> sudo mysqld --skip-grant-tables &

You will then be able to login without a username / password:

shell> mysql

mysql> UPDATE mysql.user SET Password=PASSWORD(’NEW_PASSWORD') where User='root’;


Stop Mysql and start it up again normally (not with the skip-grant tables)
shell> service mysqld stop

shell>sudo service mysqld start

Your new password should now work.

Then, run the command:

shell> mysql_upgrade -u root -p

this will check your tables and fix most problems, watch the output and make sure all is okay.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

how to fix landfill problems

make it mandatory that all packaging is cardboard (and waxed if it has to be waterproof)... manufactured from beeswax (for encouraging increasing bee populations)... and recycled/cultivated paper/wood... and then recycle it. The trouble with recycling is most products consist of multiple different substances, so you have to spend like 10 minutes per packaging item separating the plastic from the paper from the cellophane from the polystyrene, etc etc... and then the municipality doesn't provide separate bins... and then in your house you have to have four different dustbins in every room. It's BS. Choose one packaging material and stick with it.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014



Thursday, 26 June 2014

another arbitrary etymology: gaelic

if we take it that Grimm's law is right about gw <-> w <-> q

qui/quo -> who

quad -> what 

guerilla -> warrior

guerre -> war

guarantee -> warranty

we get that 

Celtic, Gaelic, Walloon, Wales, Welsh, Cornwall, Gallic, all refer to the same tribe of people.

Obviously, the rooster association with France is because of the Latin stem gall- in gallus, meaning rooster, compare to the apparently unrelated pollo meaning chicken. It's possible that we have a p/q swap here, like penta/quint- (5), in which case gall-/poll- might be related (Q vs P gaelic, like welsh vs irish).

At any rate, this leads me to suggest that the Celts from France to Ireland originally called themselves *Gwal-, and my guess would be that it meant 'people', since that's more or less what other tribes call themselves, e.g. Bantu/Botho (people), Thiud/Deutsch/Dutch (people)... etc.

Obviously, there's a different tribe of Gaelic speaking people that take the name 'Brit' - as in Britain, Briton, Bretaigne, Brittany.

Some examples of Gaelic -> Latin:

righ -> rex -> German “recht” (as in ‘might is right’) - king

tarbh -> taurus (bull) … pronounced ‘tarv’, again we see Grimm’s law where v->u/w

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Friday, 2 May 2014

belief systems and their harm

If any belief system, whether secular or religious, sets out to do any of the following, I consider it bad for humankind:

a) It advocates harm to others, either as punishment or for merely disagreeing with it;
b) It is not based on empirical observation;
c) It claims that other belief systems are false on purely stated/a priori grounds, rather than empirical grounds (e.g. that they make no regular predictions).

I believe this list of criteria, if practiced, will solve humanity's problems. However, people are far too fond of doing the opposite:

a) Advocating harm to those who disagree or who do wrong as decided in an arbitrary set of rules;
b) Base things on what their parents or other elders told them;
c) Love stating that others are in moral or spiritual jeopardy for failing to recognise the legitimacy of the system, rather than on empirical (visible/measurable) grounds;

Moreover, I believe that any system which has the following requirements is inherently a cult and bad for humanity (whether a "scientific" system or a "spiritual" system:

a) It says that it is forbidden to question the leader(s) or belief system that they espouse;
b) it prohibits rejection of the system once it is accepted as "true"
c) it has special behavioural requirements such as dress or other visible markers to distinguish its practitioners as being "special" or "in touch with" some "higher" truth claims.

installing apache apr on tomcat

get apr from http://apr.apache.org
tar zxvf apr-1.4.2.tar.gz

make test (not necessary)
make install
(puts the files into /usr/local/apr)

yum install apr-devel openssl-devel

cd /usr/local/tomcat/bin
tar zxvf tomcat-native.tar.gz
cd tomcat-native-1.1.16-src
cd jni/native

./configure --with-apr=/usr/local/apr/ --with-java-home=$JAVA_HOME --prefix=$CATALINA_HOME --with-ssl=yes 

make install

cp .libs/libtcnative-1.* /usr/lib/java-latest/

make sure that the soft link is also copied, if not:
ln -s libtcnative-1.dylib  libtcnative-1.jnilib

make sure you do the below or it cannot find APR
vim /etc/profile.d/java.sh

you will also need apr-utils

so download from same page

cd into apr-utils src dir
./configure --with-apr=/usr/local/apr/ --with-ldap

make install

Restart tomcat.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

converting video with ffmpeg

useful guide:


this is also useful: how to extract images.


Friday, 4 April 2014


I hereby declare obviosity is so a word.


Google says it was coined in 1929, based on its search of the entire public domain English text corpus.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

roundcubemail customisation and installation


setting up roundcube mail

1. Install the RPM and dependencies.


      mysql -u root -p' .... ' < '


      create database roundcubemail;


      create user roundcube@localhost identified by 'somepass';


      grant all on roundcubemail.* to roundcube@localhost;


    flush privileges;'

3. then

mysql -u root -p roundcubemail < /usr/share/doc/roundcubemail-0.9.5/SQL/mysql.initial.sql

4. then


edit line to say

$rcmail_config['db_dsnw'] = 'mysql://roundcube:somepass@localhost/roundcubemail';

5. then


and add the following directive

      Alias /roundcube/ "/usr/share/roundcubemail/"


      <Directory "/usr/share/roundcubemail/">


      AllowOverride All


      Options Indexes All


      Order allow,deny


      Allow from all




6. Go to <your host domain name (not FQDN) > /roundcube/


1. ensure that /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs exists and is owned by apache. Create a file 'error' in there with the same ownership.

mkdir -p  /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs

touch /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs/error

chown -R apache:apache  /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs

chmod -R 775  /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs

2. set the same ownership on /etc/roundcubemail

the symptom is a white screen and this error in apache log:

DB Error: Configuration error. Unsupported database driver: in /usr/share/roundcubemail/program/lib/Roundcube/rcube_db. php on line 75 (GET /roundcubemail/)

              chown -R apache:apache    /etc/roundcubemail


               db.inc.php and put in the database password and username

3. Moaning about the timezone:

you have to edit the offending files and insert your timezone, e.g.


line 436 or thereabouts of file rcube_config.php is particularly different:


return $timezone; #; date_default_timezone_get();  /*jmo */

all other files you can just put


the file rcube.php (line 1023) needs this too. 

4. Moaning about missing tables:

login to mysql and create a database roundcubemail

create database roundcubemail character set utf8;

grant all on roundcubemail.* to 'roundcube'@'localhost' identified by 'somepass'; 

then on the commandline (bash):

             mysql roundcubemail -u root -p < /usr/share/doc/roundcubemail-0.9.5/SQL/mysql.initial.sql


5. Setting it to use Gmail:



and tell it

$rcmail_config['default_host'] = 'ssl://imap.gmail.com';

// TCP port used for IMAP connections
$rcmail_config['default_port'] = 993;

6. To customise it

             Edit /usr/share/roundcubemail/skins/larry or classic

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

php complaining about dates

If you get this error

date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier.

then just manually put the following code (With appropriate changes) into your code, just before any call to date() or anything related.


That fixes it.

Friday, 7 March 2014

the "hobbit" homo floresiensis

@katewong @sciam big diff betw. florensiensis and sediba. Face angle to start with. Age also differs by well over 2my

@johnostrowick Interested b/c both species show surprising combos of Australopithecus & Homo traits, & b/c flores ancestor is a big mystery

@katewong @sciam I "scarequoted" "new" as Jungers dates to 2009 - Vol 459|7 May 2009|doi:10.1038/nature07989 The foot of Homo floresiensis

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

vaccination is not eugenics.

Would you rather have a twisted, deformed child? Would you rather risk inflicting the same damage on other peoples' children? Polio has almost been eradicated except for ignorant backwaters.

The following is a HOAX and scare tactics. If 48 000 children had died, it would be world news! Yet this article appears only on about 100 FRAUD HOAX CONSPIRACY websites.


Wake Up Call • 48,000 Children in India Paralysed by Bill Gates’ Polio Vaccine (link)

India and Chad? Definitely part of the Illuminati eugenics agenda. Bill Gates waffles in reply to a journalist’s question quoting 48,000 Indian children paralysed. He doesn’t deny the figure. ‘Is the vaccination program in fact a eugenics program?’, he is asked. He explains how he believes in withdrawing care from old people as it’s too expensive, and he prefers to fund education, and vaccination instead. Hello Liverpool Care Pathway. The vaccines he distributes have also been shown to be causing the very diseases they are intended to prevent. Richard Branson and Ewen McGregor are publicly supporting his campaign, resulting in mass paralysis of children in India and Chad. The human abattoir is run by smiling, nice-looking people saying very nice words. Shame! They’re mass murderers. Source http://2012thebigpicture.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/48000-children-in-india-paralysed-by-bill-gates-polio-vaccine/ http://piereportnews.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/48000-children-in-india-paralysed-by-bill-gates-polio-vaccine/read full article



Sunday, 23 February 2014

some useful french etymologies

If like me you find french words frustrating because they're not always obviously latin (and therefore it's hard to guess what they're supposed to mean), here're three etymologies for three common words whose origins are apparently obscure at first sight.

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 9 24 53 PM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 9 27 35 PM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 9 32 53 PM

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Apple Pages Table of Contents problems

If you use Apple Pages you'll know that getting the table of contents (TOC) to cooperate isn't that easy.

see this page:


It doesn't tell you how to generate a TOC though. To do that, you have to select a few styles in the styles drawer, and use them, and then under the Inspector -> Document -> TOC choose those styles to appear in the TOC. Then go to Edit -> insert TOC.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

stolen phone in SA


If you get a smartphone, e.g. an iPhone, stolen in SA, this is what you have to do:

Day 1.

1. Login to Find my phone on apple's website and find the phone. Tell it to "remote erase". http://www.apple.com/icloud/find-my-iphone.html



If you didn't enable the self-destruct feature or the find-my-iphone app, you will remember to do so with your next one.

2. In the meantime, change your login password on the apple app store: http://appleid.apple.com

If you don't do this, they can buy apps in your name with your credit card details. They can also change your password and lock you out.

3. Find the box of your phone at home and phone your service provider (Cellular) and tell them the IMEI number and serial number of the stolen or lost phone. Ask them to block the SIM card and the phone serial number. They will ask you for a police case number. You have to call them back. If you don't do this, you will be paying someone else's phone bill. By doing this you stop them from using the phone. 

4. Go to Twitter, Facebook, Google, and any other subscription-based sites you signed up for, and change your password immediately. Look in your iTunes on your PC/Mac and see what apps you had installed. Go to the web sites of all those apps and change your password(s). Otherwise your facebook account, for example, might start sending requests for financial assistance to your entire friend list - and you won't be able to log in and stop it. Importantly, login to services like Dropbox and others that store/memorise which device is linked to your account, and remove the device that was stolen. (All cloud services do this).  

5. Go to iTunes > Store > View Account > Account Information > Deauthorise All ; Manage Devices > and remove the offending device.

6. Go to the police and get your case number, and phone it through to your insurance company.

7. Phone your bank and ask them to change your banking PIN and disable internet banking access for that phone. 

8. Make voodoo doll of suspected thief and stab repeatedly with a pin.*  


Day 2. 

9. Wait for insurance company to contact you. They will order a new phone from a supplier. You will have to go to the supplier to collect it, most likely.

10. Take the new phone to your service provider (cellular). Any one of their stores will do. Take your utility bill and your ID, as they will need to "RICA" you again. Ask for a "SIM Swap". Tell them your old IMEI/SIM number and ask them to move your previous phone number to a new SIM. They will charge you R 20 or so for this apart from the cost of the new SIM.

The reason you do step 10 after step 9 is that your new phone might take a different size of SIM card, so you need to know which phone they're giving you. In my case, I had an iPhone 4 and was moved to a 4S, so I had to get a micro SIM.

11. Insert SIM in new phone and keep phone off and charging for 24 hours.

Day 3

12. Boot up your phone, and start reinstalling your apps. If the phone says there's no connection to the cellular network, then that means the SIM swap didn't work - go back to step 10.

13. Turn on passwording and require a PIN to unlock the phone.

14. Install Find my iPhone from the app store.

Monday, 27 January 2014

vodafone mobile phone on mac os x

For some reason, when you install a vodafone wifi 3g modem, it has this obnoxious thing that it does wherein it sets your home page of your web browser to the modem's administrative IP address ( or similar). Then, no matter how many times you reset your homepage in your web browser, it has no effect. Moreover it doesn't officially tamper with this; it sets it somewhere else. It's almost as if it intercepts every first attempt to connect to the web and displays the admin screen instead. This is particularly annoying as it does it every time you open a new web browser.

To stop this behaviour, you have to do the following:

1. Open the terminal and type


sudo su

and give your password when prompted.


2. Relocate the Vodafone drivers


mkdir /var/root/junk/

mv /usr/local/bin/VMRServer /var/root/junk/

mv /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/de.novamedia.VMRServer.plist /var/root/junk/ 


3. Remove all the stuff in


pertaining to novamedia


               ls /var/db/receipts/*novamedia* | xargs rm

4. Remove all the stuff in /var/db/BootCaches/ pertaining to novamedia (it will be in some long-serial-number folder).. try

               find /var/db/BootCaches/ -name *novamedia*

5. Remove vodafone.wifi from your hosts file

              sudo  vi /etc/hosts

remove the line 


by typing


on the line

6. Reboot or type

               killall VMRServer


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Peugeot 407 cruise control weirdness

I've seen many posts on Peugeot chat sites without a clear solution.

The Peugeot 407 (2004 or thereabouts) has a tricky cruise control system.

In particular, if you press the plus or minus button on the stick, it just blinks at you instead of setting the speed.

Do the following.

1. Get into 5th gear (if applicable)

2. Take your foot off the clutch and or brake. Completely off.

3. Accelerate to the desired speed and hold it there.

4. Turn the cruise control dial to "on". As far as I can see, you can permanently leave it in this position.

5. Press the plus button behind the cruise control stick (on the back side).


To disengage cruise control, do any of the following:

1. Press the Pause button on the end of the cruise control stick

2. Press the brake or clutch

To speed up or down when in cruise control mode, simply use the + or - set buttons on the stick. Change speed slowly otherwise it won't work and will start blinking again. In particular, do not do this to overtake or slow down behind a truck, say. Its response time is too slow. Revert to full manual control in overtaking situations, it's much safer.

New slides


I presented the following set of slides (per voice) at the most recent PSSA conference in Bloemfontein.

It deals with the Libet debate and the question of free-will, that is, whether Libet's evidence that we perform actions unconsciously due to neurological events, rather than "freely choose" to "consciously" perform "actions".


php 7 nightmare

OK so Centos 6 insists on installing php 5.3 and even if you download other RPMs and install them, they do not replace the existing 5.3 whic...