HOWTO: Read Vista-burnt UDF DVDs on Ubuntu Linux

June 14, 2008

Recently I got my hands on a DVD which I couldn’t get to mount. The message that appeared consistently in dmesg was:

UDF-fs: No fileset found

Searching the forums I found out that this is a widespread problem. Vista uses some kind of non-standard UDF which only Windows can read. I was very tempted to run to the Windows PC in the other room and let it eat the disc, but I was curious if there was any other solution.

Many suggested mounting manually with -t udf, but that didn’t work. Another suggestion was patching and recompiling the kernel. I was obviously NOT in the mood to do that. Digging a bit deeper I found that there is actually a less greasy solution. The two relevant links are one and two. I will describe now the exact procedure I used to get my Linux box to recognize the Vista-burnt DVD. Note that, because of the rapidly changing environment, this will probably NOT work on anything OTHER than *Ubuntu Hardy with kernel version 2.6.24.

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Stumbling on Happiness

June 10, 2008

You may have noticed how ridiculously small the TV-screens are in most old sci-fi movies. Or how that low exam score moved from “catastrophe” to “oh well” within a few hours. Or how that long-awaited vacation is so disappointing now that it’s finally there. Or how an I love you written years ago seems so fake now. You may have wondered how you could possibly have had such thoughts or made such decisions. Now you’ve got answers.

From the also-available-in-audio shelf comes Daniel Gilbert with his great non-fiction book called Stumbling on Happiness. The author tries to answer the question of why happiness is so elusive and unpredictable.

What the book basically tells you is:

  • experience is subjective;
  • your imagination lies to you all the time;
  • your memories lie to you all the time;
  • your predictions can never be accurate;
  • you make ridiculous choices all the time;
  • you can never be sure of anything, past, present or future;
  • you are not unique.

Pretty tough truths, huh? Well, I’ve actually exaggerated quite a bit. Besides the fact that it points out uncomfortable things, I loved everything about this book:

  • It’s written in a very accessible and succinct style. If your attention slips for even a few seconds, you’ll have to rewind.
  • The author has a great sense of humor (I rarely laugh out loud).
  • Every chapter starts with a quotation from Shakespeare.
  • It will not trigger your “citation needed” alarm. In fact, it has such a solid scientific basis that the most frequent word combination after “for example” is probably “in one study”.
  • The examples given are logical and straightforward. Hey, the guy’s a Harvard professor!
  • The audio version is read by the author himself. That’s a plus because his tone of voice shows you exactly what he means.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to find out the inner workings of memory, imagination, and future prediction. It’s so good that I’ll probably want to go through it again in a few months. For a more thorough summary check the Wikipedia page.

Enigma Otiliei

June 2, 2008

de George Călinescu.

(spoiler warning)

Autorul este un campion la lungimea descrierilor, detaliile sale devenind de o minuţiozitate dureroasă. Abundenţa termenilor în franceză (cu presupunerea că toată lumea o cunoaşte) măreşte tentaţia de a abandona opera

Dacă romanul ar fi divizat în două părţi: (1) poveste de dragoste şi (2) despre moştenire şi familie; aş fi renunţat fără mari regrete la partea a doua. Combinaţia acestora stă să demonstreze, probabil, că drumul prin viaţă nu este niciodată o linie dreaptă. Chiar înarmat cu aceste idei, sfârşitul m-a lăsat cu gura căscată:

“Cine a fost în stare de atîta stăpînire, e capabil să învingă şi o dragoste nepotrivită pentru marele lui viitor.


    Două lucruri care m-au surprins:

    • expresia “& co.” atât de frecventă în ziua de azi era folosită chiar şi 100 de ani în urmă, în forma “et Co”.
    • calificativele “fain”, “faină” erau folosite de pe atunci (din germană, nu din engleză cum credeam).

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