Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Make-a-friend with a New Syrian Family Program - Call for volunteers

As you already know, there is a large number Syrian newcomers to the Ottawa area that are being settled.

To help them get acquainted with the Canadian way of life, we are looking for volunteers to spare ~5 hrs/week to help them. We ask that fluent Arabic and English speakers only apply please.

Tasks include:

  • Helping them do basic things like navigate the ATM machine, where to buy groceries and how to purchase things. How to pay by Debit Card. 
  • Take them to the English assessment centre to get the adults and the kids evaluated. and help register them in school 
  • Drive them around town and show them the area they live in and what amenities are available 
  • Introduce them to community centres 
  • Give them your phone number so they can call you in case they have questions. 
We have 17 families that need friends and we expect that number to rise. If you are interested, please fill the form below

Volunteer Signup Form

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring) on ThinkPad X1 Carbon Experience

I have been using ThinkPads for the past seven plus years. I love the design, reliability and excellent Linux compatibility not to mention the best typing experience money can buy.

After three years of 10+ hours/day  and countless trips, my ThinkPad X201 finally started to act up.  Wireless  reception degraded quite a bit, track light is gone and the palm rests are broken and had to be taped to the chassis. It was time to get a new machine as I have some important business trips to attend to and being caught with a dead laptop is a show stopper.

Naturally, my target was another ThinkPad. However, I wasn't sure which model was best.  I know I couldn't wait so I had to make my choice soon. My criteria was simple. I needed something light < 3.5 lbs. with a large screen. My peepers are not what they used to be :-).  After some research, I discovered the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Of course Linux compatibility was a concern so I scoured the net looking for people who used it with Ubuntu. Luckily, there weren't any red flags so I plunked my hard earned money on a new laptop.

Upon receiving it, I immediately backed up my MS Windows 8 recovery partition to a USB key and installed Ubuntu 13.04 (still under development) and started using it on a daily basis.  Almost everything worked except the screen brightness, which is already logged here.   BT, WIFI, USB, Display Port, Camera, Mic, Audio, Suspend and Resume, etc. all worked out of the box.

Battery life was excellent. I managed to get solid ~5 hours worth of office-type work, which is very respectable for a large LCD (14") laptop. I guess you can say I am a happy camper.  On  the HW side, the machine is very well designed, stiff, and very professional looking and feeling, but suffered some blemishes that are direct result of Lenovo's manufacturing.

When I buy a top of the line ThinkPad, I expect a certain level of perfection. Unfortunately, Lenovo couldn't measure up. First, the "X1 Carbon" silk screening on the bottom right corner of the LCD is slanted by a few degrees. It is enough to immediately spot.  The Power button is not sitting horizontally. It too is slanted, which is also very visible. Finally, the top left corner of the LCD front bezel has some sort of plastic or tape sticking from it (~1 mm), which you can clearly see when the LCD is off.  These deficiencies don't affect the machine's functionality. However, they don't inspire confidence and leave you wondering what else is wrong  under the keyboard cover.  I hope Lenovo corrects these issues ASAP since they are easy to remedy.

Other than that, I love the machine and I look forward to another three years of service.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fix auto-loading packages in Emacs 24

This post is to help you get your installed packages working automatically when Emacs 24 starts.  If you don't know much about packages in Emacs 24, Google for it.

I installed several packages and themes but found they don't work upon starting Emacs 24. If I load them manually, they function with out issue.  To fix it, I added


to the very top of my .emacs file and right after my elpa load path.

(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/elpa")  ;; add elpa load paths

With these in place, I managed to make all my installed themes and packages available to me right when Emacs starts. No more "can't find this file" errors.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Emacs keybidings in Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise)

I am an Emacs lover. Here I admit it :-). One of the things I loved about my previous days with Mac OS X, was the Emacs keybindings (shortcuts) when editing text. CTRL-A, CTRL-K, CTRL-E are some I can't live without when editing e-mails and text docs.

If you want to enabled Emacs keybindings (shortcuts) in Ubuntu 12.04 (Unity or GNOME3) just open a Terminal and paste the following line:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-key-theme "Emacs"


Friday, March 2, 2012

Admin BIP (IRC Proxy) remotely

At work, I use BIP as a proxy server to keep me on IRC so I can see what I missed and respond to any pings while I was sleeping. As the admin for our instance of BIP, I hated having to restart it every time I added a new user. Little did I know, you can administer BIP remotely if you are are setup as the admin. Here is how to set it up and use it. 

Designate your account as admin:
  1. Open bip.conf found in /etc (I use Ubuntu)
  2. Add  admin = true;
  3. Restart BIP
More information are in the bip.conf man page.

Admin BIP from your favourite IRC client

Go to your favourite IRC client that is connected to BIP and type

/quote BIP HELP

Voila. You are prsented with a list of commands you can pass bip. My favourite is RELOAD.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ubuntu Precise is the good stuff

I have been running Ubuntu Precise and so far so good. It works very well on my ThinkPad X201 including Dual screen support. Unity is solid as a rock and the docking station works like a charm. There are a few rough edges like power management efficiency changing on a daily basis but I expect that to stabilize once the release date approaches. If you haven't tried Precise, then you are in for a treat.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Syria through the eyes of its own people

Saw this list of pictures of Syria on the BBC website. Here they are.