Stressbusterz

Today I had a chance to attend a program called stressbusterz. It was conducted by ICPF ahmedabad to give students insights on how to deal with exam stress.

Here is the powerpoint presentation that was used in the event. It was created by Blesson Verghese.

Download

ICPF – Inter Collegiate Prayer Fellowship

ICPF Now for more than a year, I have been a part of ICPF. ICPF stands for Inter collegiate prayer fellowship. It's an organization that works among the youth to educate them about the love of Christ.

Let me tell you how I became a part of ICPF's ministry. Finz, a friend of mine invited me and my brother to a nearby cell group of ICPF. So I went there and I had a great time in the presence of God. So I started going there regularly. After that there was a retreat in August. I also attended that. But up until that time I was a part of ICPF just for the sake of being a part of it. Nothing more, nothing less. A big change happened in September 2010. When I attended the Restoration camp. It was a 3 day camp. I had not attended any camp of any kind before that, and I had no plans of attending this one either. But the camp site was very near to my house (about 2 kilo meters). The camp was going to start at 5 pm in the evening. They needed help in preparations, and I had noting else to do on that day so I went there. After the preparations I was going to leave but my friends from the cell group forced me to attend the first session and then they registered my name for the camp. And I'm glad they did that! I'm very thankful to both Jo and Finz. Thanks guys:). Because the second day of that camp was simply great. What happened on that day was a life changing experience. It was a great blessing. Now if I look back and search for the one experience why that camp had such a great impact on my life I find none. But if I remember how I was before the camp and after the camp I can say that I was changed for the better. I was truly restored.

After that I continued to attend the ICPF cell groups and other events. In November 2010 there was another camp called “Udaan” meaning (flight). It wasn't nearby my house. Quite the contrary, it was in Surendranagar. Plus I was pretty sick at that time. But I wasn't going to miss this camp for anything(can you see the difference?). So I went there & that was also a great blessing. There I met B Varghese. There I was controlling the projector through a laptop. So after we had lunch I went to my seat and he was sitting in the seat next to me and we talked about some things. At that time I didn't knew he was a pastor. Afterwards in the next session he was introduced properly and I thought what the heck? Is he a pastor? That's how I came to know him. After 2 and a half month later I knew that he is also director of an Italian company in India. That camp was also great.

After that there was a retreat in Aanand on the Christmas day. I also went there and had a great time. But the two camps influenced me a lot. Those two camps laid the foundation on which I am living now. So that's how it all started in the last quarter of the last year. After that A Markose, ICPF's staff worker in the state, asked me to join the student forum in the February, and I was more than happy to oblige. So that's how it all started.

On the ending note I'd like to say that in the last one year my life has been changed drastically for the better. And ICPF played a very big role in it. I thank God for all the things he has taught me in the past year in different ways and through different means.

This is just the beginning….

Alright. I admit I don't have very good relationship with my blog but want to change that.  So In the coming months I want to try and develop this site a little bit more.  And along with that I also want to develop a habit of blogging more frequently.The first thing I am going to do is catch up to my real life in my blog life(yeah, I know, last sentence doesn't make any sense).  What that means is that I'm going to blog about the major events in my life in the last one year.  So stay tuned. 

Conky System Monitor

I love to monitor my system. It's one of the things that I can spend my time doing. Not hours of time but I can just stare at the system monitor for like 5 minutes and observe and study which processes are taking most system resources and which processes are playing nicely. That's all nice and good but the most important thing for me to monitor is the bandwidth of my internet connection. It is a BSNL EVDO wireless data card. So the internet speed is not constant and it can vary from 10 kbps to over 200kbps of download speed. And the intriguing part of it is that if you move it just a couple of inches it can have dramatic changes in signal strength and it can change the download speed from 50kbps to 100kbps and vise versa.

So ranting aside, what I really want to talk about is Conky. It's a nifty little system monitor that can render itself right over your wallpaper or in my case just plain old black color(i have set it as my wallpaper:)). So you don't have to start any special application to monitor your system. And the good part about is it doesn't only monitor your system but you can also display the output of any terminal command in it. So the things you can display on you desktop are only limited by your imagination and your scripting or Google searching skills.

Awesome window manager

Last year there was a time when I was pretty much free to do whatever what I wanted to do. And in that time I did a lot of things for which I am happy that I did. One of the things I did at that time was testing different working environments. Before that I was using XFCE desktop environment. I still like it and have it installed on my pc. It is very light compared to GNOME and KDE. And it doesn't get in my way. So its good. But I had free time and nothing else to do. So I decided to test out different window managers.

The first I tested was OpenBox. And I really liked it. I understood why so many people advocate for using just a window manager and not a desktop environment. It's so snappy and light. So I configure it the way I wanted it. And then I went on a hunt for applications that had no dependencies or very few dependencies on major desktop environments. And I found applications that I liked. And I kept on configuring it the way I liked and set it up just the way I wanted it. I wasn't missing a single feature of my previous desktop environment XFCE. And I used it for like a week and was amazed at what that little program(OpenBox) can do with a little scripting and meddling in the configuration files. And then I was thinking what about other window managers? There are practically hundreds of them. I was like a kid at a fun fair. I was wondering what cool thing should I make it do next? And then I thought wait! There are hundreds of them so there must be at least one that is better suited for me. So I decided to venture in uncharted waters….

The next window manager I tried was FluxBox. It's good and has some pretty cool features like window tabbing. But I was bored from it pretty soon. Because it didn't offer anything new that was so cool that I would like to play with it for some time. So then I moved on. When I was messing with OpenBox and FluxBox I read a lot of great things about tilling window managers. I read about how tilling window managers depended on the keyboard for managing windows and how it helps to control windows form keyboard. So I was wondering hmm… a tilling window manager. Let's try it. So the first one I tried was Xmonad. And I was getting hang of it. I really started to like it. Because of Xmonad I had my first experience with Haskell. As you might know Haskell is a programming language with a rather intriguing syntax. Ten statements of c code can be written in 2 statements of Haskell. It's syntax is not very traditional and easy to understand but it's something that I wish to master someday. So using Haskell, I configured Xmonad and I liked it. And I would have stayed with it if it weren't for conky. Whatever I do, I wasn't able to properly set up conky in it. The problem was that if I wanted conky to be displayed without flickering I have to set it up in it's own window. And Xmonad would resize conky window to fill whole screen or if any other applications are running it will show the application side by side, and make it a huge mess. So I looked into alternatives of conky like Xmobar. And did set it up but ultimately I was still missing conky and so I finally gave up on Xmonad.

After that I tried a few other tilling window managers like dwm, ratpoison and poor man's tilling window manager. I liked the simplicity and speed of dwm. As a matter of fact I decided to keep it as a secondary environment along with XFCE and OpenBox. But I had the same problem with dwm. dwm also wasn't able to display conky properly. So moving on, Ratpoison is something else. I gave up on it after half an hour. And poor man's tilling window manager is just as the name suggests, poor man's tilling window manager. It isn't a real window manager. What it does is it tiles the windows in any floating window manager like OpenBox. There was one candidate remaining which I hadn't tested yet. Awesome. I hadn't touched it because of changing configuration files. It wouldn't be nice if I had to set up the window manager again every time there was an update. So I was away from it up until now but after all this I decided to give it a try.

So I tried to install it from Arch's AUR. But there was some problem in compiling the dependencies. Particularly cairo with xcb backend. I somehow sorted it out and compiled Awesome successfully. I installed it and then the first thing I tested was Conky. And it worked! I was so happy. So after that I delved into the configuration files and set it up the way I liked. The default configuration of Awesome is pretty usable so I didn't had to change much and it was pretty easy.So slowly I added things that I liked. And it all worked out in the end. So currently I am using this awesome tilling window manager known as Awesome. And in fact it is Awesome.

Hunt for the perfect operating system

Last week one of my hard drive failed. At that time I was dual booting XP & Ubuntu from that drive, so I lost my bootloader grub. I installed ubuntu on my other drive. Howerver, I have 512 mb ram in my pc. Ubuntu was running good but at times it seemed slow & the issues with my graphic card(intel 82845g/gl Brookedale) & linux has, worsened my situation. Because of my graphic card Ubuntu crashed alot. So I thought why not try out some other distro? So, for past week I was doing just that.

Prerequisites :
I wanted a distribution that was lightweight & customizable. Now, there are some great lightweight distributions like Puppy & Damn Small Linux, but my pc can handle a lot more than that. I wanted something more customizable, something that doesn't come with all the softwares you use & don't use preinstalled in it. In other words, I wanted to install a bare minimal system that was light on resources.

The Hunt begins….
When I was using ubuntu I knew that one could install a minimal command line installation(without any GUI) through alternative cd or minimal cd. So I thought, why not try it? So, I got myself a minimal cd & installed a command line version. Then I installed xorg & xfce4 desktop environment. It was definately lightweight & customizable. It did fulfill my needs. However it still crashed alot. So I told myself this won't work, I'll have to look elsewhere.

Now I was back to internet forums & they seemed to point me to Ubuntu's daddy. Yes, Debian. So, I went to their website, read a few things & everything seemed to check out. This one was also a minimal install at first & then you can install whatever you need. I downloaded their cd image & installed it. Again I installed xorg, xfce4 desktop environment & a few other applications that I use. Now dabian was definately more stable & faster than ubuntu. It did crash but not that much. But, the only problem I had with it was the packeges were outdated. Not too outdated, but still outdated. Now, I could add testing repositories & get more recent packeges but I am no veteran in linux & if something breaks, I might be able to fix it or I might not & in the end I might end up loosing some data. So adding testing repositories wasn't a wise choice. Now, having latest packeges wan't one of my priorities, but it still bugged me.

So again, I was back where I started : forums & discussion boards. This time I was considering Crunchbang, Vector, Zenwalk, Gentoo or linux from scratch. Now Crunchbang is a ubuntu derivative. It is said to be a very fast & lightweight version of Ubuntu & I love Ubuntu. But, as it is based on ubuntu, probably it will inherit the issues with graphics card & it will crash a lot. Vecor linux & zenwalk both seemed to be light & customizable but I wanted to start from a minimal installation. Gentoo has a reputation for being very customizabe. Basically because you build your whole system from compiling the source code, & creating a system specifically for your pc. The only problem with gentoo is it can take a very long time to compile & install large softwares. Linux from scratch is more like a big how to than a distribution. Because it has a very high learning curve & you will learn to build your system from scratch compiling every single module from source. Now I'd love to do that but need my pc up & running. I can't use my brother's pc for a month while I compile & build my LFS system. So I was leaning towards Gentoo. The only problem was compilation time. Now I have no experience with gentoo but I have read is some discussions that it can take whole night to compile & install openoffice suite. I wanted something like gentoo but without those long compilation times. & then I found Arch…

Archlinux is a distribution that is lightweight & highly customizable. At installation it installs minimal core packeges essential for running a command line interface & from there you can build arch into whatever you like. So I installed it & rebooted. Now I was at the command line. Before now I have used only Debian based distros. So, arch's packege manager was new for me. So I familiarized myself with the commands & started building my system. As before I started from installing xorg & xfce4. Everything was running great. Gradually I installed every application I use. The repositoris are great. I found every single software that I used to use in ubuntu plus some that weren't even in ubuntu's reposotories(like dropbox). It is very light on resources & I love every single bit of it. The greatest thing about arch is it doesn't crash. It does have some problems with graphics. If I run xserver constantly for more than 5-6 hours, sometimes the graphics becomes very choppy(you can notice it in opening/moving windows). At that time all I have to do is log out from xfce session to the command line & then start xorg again & all is back to normal again.

If you want to build similar system or need help in building something like this leave a comment & i'll create a how to & post it here.