Stefano Rivera (tumbleweed)'s Website, Blog, collected bits of code, cruft and other stuff.

migrating to aptitiude

After reading an article about using aptitude properly, I decided that it’s time to make the switch from apt-get. Sure, on some really low memory systems, running aptitude isn’t an option, but for most machines, keeping track of which packages were installed as dependancies really helps keep a system trimmed.

I didn’t like the way that the author did it, I opted for a variant of one of the comments:

aptitude markauto ‘~i!~M!~nbuild-essential!~nsubversion!~nlibncurses5-dev!~npython’ \

While rather a monster command, it does a good job of selecting things that were probably installed as dependancies. If you see anything in the list of things to be removed that you want to keep, you just add in an !~npackagename. Then after that, I run aptitude, limit to ~i!~M (installed, but not automatically) and mark everything that should be a dependancy with M.

Then, it’s simply a case of only ever using aptitude, and your system will be kept nice and clean :-)

Aptitude search patterns are really powerful, instead of having to do the whole dpkg -l | grep ^r type mission, you can just do aptitude search '~c'.

Letter to Acer 2

Gianfranco Lanci
Acer Europe SA

RE: Extended Warranty not valid outside country of purchase.
Pages: 1 (including this)

Dear Sir,

I faxed your office on the 13th of November, concerning my Acer Ferrari 4005WMLi laptop (with an Acer Advantage Extended Warranty), that my UK employer bought me, out of my salary while I was working there. The laptop’s motherboard has failed, about 14 months after it was purchased. When I tried to get it repaired by Acer South Africa, they said that my extended warranty isn’t valid outside UK. I bought the warranty because I was explicitly told it would be valid Internationally (by the sales staff at Easy Computers).

You can read the rest of my previous fax here

I’ve since heard from Dave Malherbe of Acer South Africa, who told me that your office had authorised reducing the cost of repairs from R6 099 to R4 400. That’s hardly much of a discount, and I could still buy an entire new laptop for less than that. After a few phone-calls back and forth, he even agreed to drop it to R2 250, on condition that Acer SA kept my damaged motherboard. While I appreciate this discount, it’s not what I was looking for. I want the repair done entirely at Acer’s cost, as I purchased an Extended Warranty that (I believed) entitles me to this.

I’ve seen that other people are having major hassles with Acer support, so I weighed in as well, and made my impressions of Acer public, on my blog. It’s not my intention to rage about how terrible Acer’s support is, but rather to warn others away from the nightmares I’ve had to deal with. I’ve highly recommended the Acer Ferrari 4000 to everyone who asked me about it (or high end laptops in general), and I hope that none of them ever have to deal with these kind of support issues.

Please can you organise for my laptop to be repaired at Acer’s expense, under warranty, in South Africa. I’d really like this to end amicably. I’m not enjoying life on my old substitute HP laptop very much, at all, and I’d love to have my Ferrari back in working condition.


Stefano Rivera

Playing with a server

I’m having fun with a dedicated server.

A video-hosting site that I admin is currently hosted on a colo box with some very expensive bandwith. While the burstable bandwidth we can get on it is amazing, it’s staggeringly expensive, and we have a small quota. Thus we can’t sustain too much traffic.

For poorer customers, I want to look at some cheaper bandwidth… are having a special where you can try a dedicated box for £0.99 for it’s first month. With 2TiB of traffic / month (2 orders of magnitude more than the co-lo box) it is more than up to the job, and upgrading to an un-metered 10M link is cheap.

So, I’m trying out the mid-range option. I get a GiB of RAM, 80GB HDD, and more bandwidth than I know what to do with. A bittorent :-) test shows that it’s reasonably well connected.

Now to set up a demo website and see how it compares to our current uber-expensive box.

Acer Laptop woes - part 3

I got a reply!

Dave Malherbe from Acer South Africa called me, and after a chain of “returning your call” voicemails, we spoke yesterday. He told me that my request has gone up the chain of command at Acer HQ in Europe, all they way to the President (or at least his PA), and he’d been authorised to give me a discount on my repair.

He could drop the cost from over R6 000 down to around R4 400 (+VAT). Not much of a discount. For something that escalated so high, I wasn’t very impressed. I said that I’d rather get it repaired in UK (if you factor in courier costs, it’s still cheaper to send it there).

We then discussed my extended warranty, and he said I’d need to pry it out of Easy Computers (my supplier in UK who’d sent me the wrong laptop). So I fired off an e-mail to them. It’s gone backwards and forwards a few times, and they told me to contact Acer again. So I sent a very strong e-mail back to them:

We are sorry you are experiencing technical difficulties with your goods. All manufacturers have dedicated support lines staffed by trained personnel. We strongly recommend that you contact the appropriate manufacturer of your product:

I did that. Over a year ago, in fact. And they did nothing. Eventually, this week, they told me to contact you guys, as you didn’t supply me with the extended warranty pack that I paid you for.

If this is going to be a problem, please speak to my Acer contact who I’ve been dealing with: David Malherbe +27 11 233 XXXX. He knows all about my case, and if you mention my name, he should know who I am. He says that you guys need to supply me, you say they need to supply me, please can your sort it out between yourselves.


We’ll see…

I spoke to Dave again, this morning, and he offered me an even bigger discount. If I didn’t want my motherboard back, he could discount it to R1 999 + labour (R250) and VAT. That’s starting to sound reasonable. I still think I should get it for free, but I’m almost prepared to pay that kind of price, just to save myself further hassle…

Wordpress getting set up

OK. I’ve switched over to a reasonable looking non-default theme. (Although I’ll still write my own at some point…)

My personal tastes would have preferred a flat-file based bloging system. But none of the ones out there seem to come close to Wordpress in terms of features, or style (technical style, naturally)

And I’ve decided that Wordpress’ built in HTML markup-er sucks big time. Markdown, on the other hand, is fantastic. I can’t believe that it’s gone from being the default in the past to being left out of the distribution entirely these days… Tsk tsk

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