I think Greg Koukl makes some really good points here. One thing is that we, as Christians, shouldn’t bear some unnecessary burden of proof when the premise of the question is flawed to begin with. You end up just chasing your tail. Their really is no reason why you shouldn’t go to Christian sources for the definitive answer on what early Christians actually believed about the deity of Christ. That requirement is just made up and forced into the argument. It’s like asking George Bush what Barack Obama believes. Why not just ask him?
Man, if you are a freedom loving American these days you just have to shake your head and stare sometimes. Some days it just feels like it’s coming at you from all sides. But, you know, there’s just something really odd about some of the things going on right now. It’s not just the whole, racing down the road to socialism, thing. There has apparently been a little slight of hand going on at the top of the political playing field, and it seems that not a lot of people are noticing it. I’m talking about this article on the district 20 race going on in New York right now between Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy. The article explores an issue that I’ve only heard Rush mention before – how the Democrats have now become the big money party and the Republicans have morphed into fighting for the little guy.
The stereotypes we’ve grown up with in American politics just aren’t playing by the rules any more. We all grew up knowing that the Democrat party was fighting for the little guy, and the Republicans were the party of big money and big business. Republicans always outpaced Democrats in campaign donations because of their corporate, big business donors. And usually by a large margin. Things are oh so different now. Obama obliterated McCain in campaign money. And don’t fake yourself into believing it was all coming from small $20 little guy contributions. No, it was coming from Wall Street, Labour Unions, Energy, Foreign, etc. You name it, he got it. I already mentioned before how the top two recipients in congress of Wall Street donations are both Democrats.
And this is on display nowhere better than in the New York D20 race:
The special election in New York Congressional District 20 has emphasized a strange political irony.
The Democrats, who for decades have run a class warfare strategy of attacking Republican Wall Street fat cats, have nominated the very personification of what they have been saying is the worst America has to offer.
Scott Murphy(D) is a wealthy Wall Street mortgage banker who paid himself and his executives big bonuses, and he has outsourced jobs to India and lived a life of wealth and privilege.
By contrast, his opponent, Jim Tedisco(R), is a former school teacher and a Republican.
This really was inevitable though. Politics, as it is today, requires money. And you can’t get lots of money by appealing to the little guy. What you have to do is say the right things, then blackmail the right fat cats. This is exactly what the Democrats have constructed. A party that promises Joe the coal miner that they want to take care of all his needs, then go in the back room and blackmail his boss by threatening him with Cap and Trade. Joe probably loses his job in that deal, but he thinks his boss is evil and the Democrats still love him. Of course, it’s a willing media that makes this all possible to cover up, but eventually the truth will find it’s way out into the light of day. You can’t live a split personality forever. In the mean time we’ll just have to live in the twilight zone.
While I was figuring out how to boot SpinRite over PXE, it never actually dawned on me to just Google for “spinrite pxe”. But, I happened to use it on a laptop this morning and it crossed my mind to do so. Turns out that another guy had done it already back in 2007! Man, don’t you just love wasting your time re-inventing the wheel. Oh well. Looks like he used the exact same approach I did, except he took the SpinRite boot image straight from SpinRite itself. I built my own FreeDos image instead, because I found that using the one that Steve generates would frequently cause graphics mode issues when it displays the srsplash.sys file. When exiting SpinRite it would just dump you to a white screen in some wierd VESA mode. Also the custom boot image will auto-reboot after exiting SpinRite.
On a side note, this also shows how easy it is in the IT field to inadvertently duplicate someone’s work and never even know it. This is especially true with software development. Copyrights should be for products, not processes. The classic example: Carmack’s Reverse.
Wow! I can only assume that Gordon Brown had to call this guy before he left work for the day to ask if he could please have his manhood back. I would pay good money to see Ron Paul do this in the House. The Brittish have guts when they need them. That’s for sure. Wish the same could be said for us.
I saw this article linked on Drudge over the weekend and couldn’t help remembering back to the story earlier in the year about government seizure of private retirement accounts. I think everyone eventually let the story fade, but it’s the first thing I though of when I saw this. The thrust of the article – and it was all over the news – is how the administration is lobbying Congress to grant Treasury Secretary Geithner broad powers to sieze non-bank financial companies. Here’s the money quote:
The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.
The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.
Giving the Treasury secretary authority over a broader range of companies would mark a significant shift from the existing model of financial regulation, which relies on independent agencies that are shielded from the political process. The Treasury secretary, a member of the president’s Cabinet, would exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators, according to the document.
The first thing you need to do when you see an article like this is ask yourself, why would they want this authority? Some have said that it’s because so many companies had to switch from investment banks to traditional banks in order to qualify for bailout money. Thus, this plan would allow the government to sieze companies as is, without the extra paperwork or whatever. That might be a reason, but it’s not logical. In reality, there are no more investment banks. From what I understand they all switched over by the end of last year in order to comply. That’s purely technical anyhow. It doesn’t feel right in my mind. Also remember, what allows the government to essentially take over a bank is the fractional reserve nature of that company. It’s already borrowing against a government credit line anyhow – The Fed.
This isn’t the case with other types of financial institutions. And that’s the rub. Remember the language here. This isn’t talking about bailouts to reserve banks. It’s talking about “large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds”. And it tells us why right in the article: “whose collapse would damage the broader economy”. Now, we have to assume that rules are coming down the pike on these exotic securities like credit default swaps and securitized debt securities. So things like that should, theoretically, not be an issue any more. What’s left?
Again, I think it’s right here in the article:
The government also would assume the authority to seize such firms if they totter toward failure.
Besides seizing a company outright, the document states, the Treasury Secretary could use a range of tools to prevent its collapse, such as guaranteeing losses, buying assets or taking a partial ownership stake. Such authority also would allow the government to break contracts…”
So the picture is of an “investment firm” that is “totter[ing] toward failure”. The government, under control of the White House, would swoop in and seize it’s assets. This is all proof enough that some major shenannigans are going on, but the real key is the last part of the above quote. The government would be able to “break contracts”. That is code for moving your 401k or IRA out of that company and into some kind of government plan. It fits so nicely with the article from a few months ago describing the potential takeover plan. Here’s the skinny:
Democrats in the U.S. House have been conducting hearings on proposals to confiscate workers’ personal retirement accounts — including 401(k)s and IRAs — and convert them to accounts managed by the Social Security Administration.
Triggered by the financial crisis the past two months, the hearings reportedly were meant to stem losses incurred by many workers and retirees whose 401(k) and IRA balances have been shrinking rapidly.
If that language doesn’t qualify as a “collapse [that] would damage the broader economy” then I don’t know what would. Do you see where this is going? They can’t just come in and flat out take it without a crisis to back it up and give it some semblance of legitimacy. And when this confiscation of billions of dollars of private savings is complete, what will happen to it? The same thing that happened to the social security “trust fund”. It will vanish, and all that will be left is a bunch of IOU’s and a Hallmark card. And this all fits in so perfectly with the ideological goals of the Obama administration. Redistributing the wealth of producers to non-producers to bring about “equality” in everything. Don’t believe me? Well, I’ll explain it next time. This is getting long.
I’ve realized in the last few months that the disconnect that we’ve been seeing for a long time now in the Republican/Conservative ranks is even greater in the Democrat/Liberal sphere. I know that sentence probably sounds meaningless at first blush, so let me flesh it out a bit. Everybody on the Republican side knows that Republican doesn’t equal conservative. And it definitely doesn’t equal religious. It’s just a fact that we live with. It’s as accepted as taxes and death. The disconnect between our leadership and the people who actually vote Republican is a chasm big enough to sail the Titanic through in most cases. We deal with this mostly by skewering our own leaders on a daily basis. Listen to Rush Limbaugh for a week. He spends as much time lambasting Congressional Republicans as he does bashing Liberals. It’s therapeutic I guess. It’s the way it should be. That’s how you hold your leaders accountable for making self-interested decisions. They have to lose elections sometimes. Call it cleansing.
It appears to be different on the Liberal side though. There is a wierd sort of pseudo-reverence placed upon the leadership of the Democrats by the grassroots. I was reading just today how Obama has his organizing machine out and about in Birmingham trying to sell his budget at the roots level. I can only assume one thing: these people don’t understand who politicians are and that they do not give a rat’s rear-end about us. If that sounds cynical, it’s not. It’s a fact. Does anyone think for one minute that Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama care one iota for anything other than their own political careers and personal enrichment? Come on people. I expect that kind of blind loyalty from Ralph Nader’s crew, but not from the broad base of people that voted for Obama in the last election. Where is the inherent skepticism of government and it’s motives? Where’s all this free thinking that we hear about from lefties. It’s time for you people to wise up to what’s really going on.
I am most stupified by how blindly the technorati, science establishment and religious left has bought into Obama. It’s like they’ve checked their brains at the door. I remember seeing a post on Slashdot a few years ago where some Democrat congressmen had come out against Net Neutrality. The comments on that post were one after another of amazement. Stuff like, “I can’t believe these Democrats are siding with big business” and stuff like that. I couldn’t help shaking my head. Of course they are going to side with big business on some issues. If he gave them money they would side with Bugs Bunny for crying out loud. Just look at Chris Dodd and how he inserted the exclusion into the stimulus bill to exempt the AIG bonuses. Turns out he was one of the top two recipents of campaign contributions from AIG. So much for Democrats being for the little guy.
And the free-speech technorati must be totally schizophrenic to think that Democrat leadership is a friend of free speech. You must have missed the little nugget that Waxman wants to look into regulating internet speech issues. How could you think that the people who brought us political correctness could want anything less than total control over all speech outlets? Wise up!
And that brings me to the scientific community. The so called titans of skepticism. You are skeptical of televangelists, but politicians get a free pass?! Come on. Even Christopher Hitchens said Obama was over-rated and the endorsement he gave was basically one of last resort, given a McCain alternative. He even said that there wasn’t much difference between the two candidates other than temperament. Think about that for a minute. Not much difference between McCain and Obama? He’s right. They would both sell their own soul for the presidency. As it becomes plainer and plainer that all we are going to get from Obama is a wrecked economy and a smothering nanny state, how long are you going to hang on to the dream? How long before you realize that when it comes down to votes vs. truth, all politicians across party lines are going to choose votes every time.
I’m perhaps mostly upset by the devotion of the religious community. When did we start voting for people just because they claimed to care about the poor? Doesn’t that claim require some proof? Well, it doesn’t show up with any of the current crop of Democrat leadership. Cap and Trade?! That is going to raise basic energy rates by huge percentages. How does it help the poor to raise their heating, cooling and gasoline bills by 40%? How does it help the poor to implement a national healthcare system that guarantees that they will be relegated to sub-par public clinics while the leaders like Obama enjoy private, high-dollar treatment? How does it help the poor for Obama and his Democrat buddies to be partying every Wednesday night eating Wagyu beef and Champagne on tax payer money? How does it help the poor to take away their vouchers so they can’t send their kids to private schools like the Obamas do? How does it help the poor to reduce the charitable tax deduction on contributions? Such blatant, utter hypocrisy! Wake up people. My God. Bring back Clinton and Daschle or something. Anything but these lying poachers.
I understand the draw of liberalism, even if I don’t agree with it. What I don’t understand is the blind faith in a politician. Politics deserves our deepest most severe skepticism on a minute by minute basis. Placing trust in the machine is suicide. Never forget what happens when you place blind faith in government.
So, last time around I mentioned that we set up a PXE boot system to allow us to run tools such as SpinRite and Memtest over the network at the office. That post was mostly for people who were generally familiar with the basics of network booting but just might need some help getting a DOS application like SpinRite to work. I want to expand this into a full PXE tutorial this time, so that even those folks who don’t understand it can get up and running if you want to. As is so often the case with just Googling around for info, you’ll tend to get fragments of what you need instead of the whole picture. I’ll do my best to make this clear and step by step.
Network booting has been around for a long time. When I was first getting into network administration, around 1997, network cards came with a socket on board. This socket was so that you could plug in a boot rom chip that you had to buy extra. I don’t remember ever seeing anyone use them, but I’m sure a lot of people used it to boot thin clients for IBM dumb terminal type scenarios. Now days the PXE standard is pretty much universal in PC’s. It’s a great spec that makes the whole process easy. It also helps that PC’s have tons of RAM to be able to handle large boot images. But, enough history though. What exactly happens during the PXE boot process? I’ll quote this from the SpinRite post:
BIOS passes execution to the PXE boot rom.
PXE broadcasts for a DHCP server.
DHCP server gives back an address packet
PXE extracts the TFTP server address and boot filename from DHCP packet
PXE downloads the boot file from the TFTP server and executes it
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. You can think of it the same way as booting from a CDROM or floppy disk, except that the binary being booted is coming from a TFTP(Trivial File Transfer Protocol) server on your network. PXE knows what TFTP server to contact and what boot image to download because you will specify them in every DHCP response packet by configuring your DHCP server to do so. The process really couldn’t be simpler. So, armed with this info, let’s see what you need to get started:
A network – if you don’t have a network just move along.
A workstation with PXE capabilities built in the BIOS(almost universal).
* I’m using Linux as my server in this tutorial, but you could easily use a Windows server instead, as long as the TFTP server you choose supports file size reporting.
That’s pretty much it. Once you’ve grabbed all the packages, you can now start assembling the pieces. I’m going to use the standard folder locations, but you can put them anywhere you like. Just remember to change my commands to fit your changes. Also, this will all be shown using Ubuntu, so you’ll have to sort out what packages to get on your own if you use another distro. Or just download and compile them from source. It’s easy with a few Google searches. Now then, the first thing to do is make sure your TFTP server is set up right. It can be run standalone, but most people run it from the INETD wrapper daemon. Create a file in “/etc/xinetd.d/” called tftp. Open it and edit as such:
disable = no
socket_type = dgram
protocol = udp
wait = yes
user = root
server = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
server_args = -s /var/lib/tftpboot
per_source = 11
cps = 100 2
flags = IPv4
Now, let’s make the TFTP root directory structure and copy the needed files in like this:
At this point your TFTP server and folder structure is ready to go, except for the default configuration file. PXELINUX will look for it’s configuration file in a certain order. It looks for a file in the “pxelinux.cfg” directory named after the mac address of the booting machine first, and then downward in descending order using the hex encoded IP address of the machine minus 1 character, until it falls back finally to a file called default. This allows for grouping of machines based on address. Since we don’t group machines, we’ll put everything in the default file. So create a file in “/var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg” called default and put this in it:
MENU TITLE Network Boot Menu
menu label ^Windows
menu label ^Memory Scanner
menu label ^Disk Scanner
This syntax feels very much like LILO syntax if you are familiar with that. DEFAULT is the file it will download and execute. In our case we are using the graphical menu executable generated by vesamenu.c32. It looks very nice. “PROMPT 0″ tells it to skip the command line type LILO style stuff and go straight to our graphical menu. TIMEOUT is the menu timeout in tenth’s of a second. So 50, here, means 5 seconds. The rest of it is pretty self explanatory. Arrowing down and hitting Enter on the “Memory Scanner” option will cause PXE to download and pass execution to the memtest.x86 executable file. In SpinRite’s case, memdisk is a sort of stub that you can append a boot image to in order to get a mini-environment that some software needs.
Now for phase two. None of this TFTP stuff will do you any good if your DHCP server isn’t handing out the proper information. So let’s edit your DHCP setup. Open the file called “/etc/dhcp3/dhcpd.conf” and find your subnet section. Then add these two directives:
Now, bounce the DHCPD daemon and the XINETD server to get them active with their new configurations:
And voila! You now have a functional PXE server. When you boot your desktop computer, go into the BIOS and set the boot priority to make “Network” or “PXE” first in the list. Now restart the machine and you’ll see your beautiful new PXE boot menu. If you’d rather not set PXE as the default boot device, you can usually still boot it at will by hitting a function key during the POST. It’s usually F9 or F12 to bring up a boot menu and select “Network”. And just to finish this off, here is a video of the finished product:
I bookmarked a UK Telegraph story a week or so ago and just got around to skimming it today. It was pretty standard fair – crying foul over bonuses to employees of now government owned banks. Yawn. But then, later in the article I came across this section:
As the recession deepens, so does the divide between those who are paid by private companies, and those who are paid by the state, and nowhere is the division starker than in the matter of pensions. A decade or so ago, before Gordon Brown began his reshaping of the economy, people went to work in the public sector on the understanding that they would probably be paid less than their counterparts in the private sector. But they were fortified by the knowledge that they were serving their country or their community, and that their jobs and pensions were more secure.
After 10 years of Labour, those assumptions, and that essential symmetry, have been abolished. Not only has the public sector been so massively swollen that some parts of the North East are run on more or less Soviet lines, with well over 60 per cent of the workforce employed by the state. There has been a complete transformation in the relationship between private and public sector reward.
The Prime Minister’s great pensions raid made it all but impossible for private sector companies to keep up their final salary pension schemes, so that most private sector employees are finding their retirement looking ever leaner, while the state sector has been miraculously insulated.
Wow. That is exactly what I was talking about in this post back in February. It seems that the U.S. isn’t the only country on the fast track to socialism. Once the tipping point is reached where it’s more beneficial and lucrative to get a state job than a private one, that’s when all kinds of bad economic laws kick in. And when I say laws, I mean it. You just can’t run afoul of basic economics and expect a favorable result. It’s like taking all the antivirus software and security patches off your computer and sticking it out there on the internet. Bad things are inevitable.
But it gets better:
It is incredible but true that the average public sector wage is now higher than the average private sector wage; and public sector pensioners can still generally expect a final salary pension scheme – and these can be very generous indeed. In local government, for instance, you can expect to be awarded one sixtieth of your final salary for every year of service. So if you are a chief executive or other senior official, on a salary of more than £200,000, and you have worked for 30 years – well, you do the maths.
Again, it’s the same thing. I just didn’t realize that we had elected the Labour party here in the U.S. Evidently, it doesn’t matter whether you speak with a Liverpool accent or a southern drawl. Money is money and economics are concrete. It’s a funny thing about math. When you give away more than you take in, guess what happens? The phrase, this isn’t rocket science comes to mind right now. But, since the politicians in charge at the moment are complete morons I guess that rings hollow. But, ol’ Boris ends on the right note:
That’s why the public pension funds have their great yawning deficits, and we can either cover those deficits with massive tax increases, or else we can reform.
It is time for a grown-up national conversation about the way out of this mess, and I suggest we begin by looking at the way we treat older workers. It is mad and vindictive to tell 65 year olds that they are suddenly surplus to national requirements, that they have no more to contribute. We all know talented men and women who have been pensioned off, protesting bitterly, when their continued employment – perhaps part-time – could have been good for them and for the economy.
We need to think much more flexibly about older workers, and their vast and growing productive power; we need to junk the idea that your career comes to a juddering halt at 65; and we need to recognise that age discrimination is not only insane – it is also unaffordable.
GASP!! You mean we aren’t guaranteed by The Almighty to never work again from age 66 to death?!! It’s funny how thousands of years of human history provided no idea of “retirement”. But F.D.R. changed all that. Suddenly everyone was supposed to hit 65 and drop out of the workforce. Well, the lie has been put to that silently in the last two decades. Not only is it darn near impossible to reliably save that much for retirement. The constantly flowering inflation rate insures that your nest egg becomes less valuable every single day. If you retired in 1989 with a 500,000 in the bank you thought you were in heaven. No more work for you, right? But, how’s that looking today when the gallon of milk that was $2.00 then is now almost $6.00. Welcome to the stark reality that most everyone has known for a long time already. Retirement is a pipe dream. Unless your boss is Uncle Sam that is.
My company has about 100 employees now and, as a small IT department, we are constantly trying to find ways to streamline things to reduce repitition, downtime, etc. One thing I’ve been wanting to do for a while now to facilitate this is implement PXE boot menus to allow us to launch some pre-os utilities like SpinRite and MemTest for basic troubleshooting of PC’s in place. Memtest was easy, since it’s packaged into a bootable image already. SpinRite was going to prove harder since it needs a DOS environment to run in. We got it working though and I have to say the results are sweet.
Let me give a brief PXE overview just for getting oriented. If you aren’t familiar with PXE(Preboot Execution Environment), it’s a spec developed by Intel that allows for booting a computer over a network right after the POST by allowing you to specify the location of bootable image files in your DHCP packets. You set this up on the PC side in the BIOS by changing the boot order to make “Network” the first in the list. This will make your PC call out to the network for a DHCP server to get an IP address and basic network boot information. Here are the basic steps that happen:
BIOS passes execution to the PXE boot rom.
PXE broadcasts for a DHCP server.
DHCP server gives back an address packet
PXE extracts the TFTP server address and boot filename from DHCP packet
PXE downloads the boot file from the TFTP server and executes it
So the basic idea is that every time a machine on the network boots up, it first grabs a PXE boot image from the network and executes it. In our case, this just presents a basic menu to the user written in PXELINUX’s menu language. If no menu selection is made, it times out very quickly(3 seconds) and the computer is booted from the local drive like usual into Windows. But for us, as network admins, we put a link on the menu to Memtest and SpinRite. The full topic of setting up PXE is best covered here, so check it out first to get a working PXE setup. But, enough theory! Here’s how to make SpinRite work.
First, go buy SpinRite if you don’t own it already so Steve can buy some more PDP-8’s. Corporate users will need to buy four licenses in order to get a site license for commercial use. Then, download the FreeDOS bootable floppy image from the FreeDOS website. The FreeDOS boot image gives you a fully bootable image with a DOS environment that can be booted by PXELINUX’s memdisk program. The trick is getting the spinrite.exe executable onto the image and launching it automatically when the DOS environment loads. Here’s how in Linux:
dave@localhost$> mkdir mnt/loop
dave@localhost$> mount -t vfat -o loop fdboot.img mnt/loop
dave@localhost$> cp spinrite.exe mnt/loop
dave@localhost$> pico -w mnt/loop/freedos/fdauto.bat
[...add a call to "spinrite.exe" in here...]
dave@localhost$> pico -w mnt/loop/fdconfig.sys
[...remove all the config.sys menu language...]
dave@localhost$> umount mnt/loop
dave@localhost$> mv fdboot.img spinrite.x86
What we just did is mount the FreeDOS boot image as a loopback device, add spinrite.exe to it’s filesystem, remove all the config.sys menu garbage and add a call to spinrite.exe to the autoexec file. This process is very easy to do under Linux as long as you have loopback block device support compiled into your kernel. Most people should. This leaves us with the equivelant of a bootable spinrite floppy disk in a single file named spinrite.x86. We can now drop this in our TFTP boot folder and put a call in the PXE boot menu file like this:
menu label ^SpinRite
Just make sure you have copied the memdisk file over to your TFTP boot directory as well and you’re good to go. Now you can boot any machine on your network and run SpinRite without having to lug discs around or bring it back down to the computer room. The beauty of this technique is that it’s so expandable. Any DOS program can be run this way. Also, you could even setup BIOS time of day auto-power-up and have all your PC’s automatically boot at a certain time of night, scan themselves with SpinRite, then shut down when finished. You’d have to swap in a specially crafted version of the PXE boot files and spinrite.x86 with a cron job maybe once a month. This is all assuming that SpinRite accepts command line arguments for autoscanning, which I’m not sure about. Sounds plausible though.
I was excited about this project and it turned out great. I hope this helps someone else as well. I’ll post a YouTube video later showing it in action.
I just realized that with a lot of younger sysadmins out there now, that quite a few might not be familiar with DOS. Or at least not comfortable enough with it to know what does what. So, just especially for you newer (or old and lazy) system administrators out there, I’ve put a skeleton boot image up for download that has everything you need, except the SpinRite executable. Just download the boot image, mount it, and drop your licensed copy of spinrite.exe in it. Your good to go. I pared this image down to the barest essentials needed. Here’s the file list:
So this is just the basics needed to get a bootable DOS environment and run something. The only thing I added is the power management command so that the computer reboots automatically now as soon as you exit SpinRite. Enjoy!