Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fixing/Repairing a Blank (Black) Screen in Ubuntu 13.04

I installed a new video card in my computer running Ubuntu 13.04. After rebooting I was greeted with a blank (black) screen. Bummer.

In my case, this was caused by the compiz and dconf files becoming corrupted in my home directory.  How they became corrupted is unknown.

One quick way to determine whether your compiz and dconf files in your home directory have become corrupted is to log into another user account on your computer and verify that a normal screen with the launcher/icons/notification areas are correctly displayed.  This proved to be the accidental clue that I needed to figure out to solve my blank screen.

Should you have a blank (black) screen resulting from this issue, you can still use the terminal and other short-cut keys to access/launch programs.

Please note that the compiz and dconf files are "hidden" files.

In researching this issue, I ran across two websites that offered potential solutions should you be experiencing a blank (black) screen.

Reset Unity and Gnome to default values [duplicate]

Please be aware that having a blank screen may result from a variety of issues.  This post is limited to suggesting how to restore the compiz and deconf files to a default state so that the launcher/icons/notification areas are restored.

Update: November 4, 2013. Updating to Ubuntu 13.10 resulted in a repeat of a blank (black) screen.  This was resolved by swapping the non-working Nvidia graphic card with another. A less than optimal solution for now. Evidently, it seems that Ubuntu is "slow" in recognizing certain graphic cards (Nvidia) during boot-up. Ubuntu should have identified that proprietary Nvidia drivers were available, but did not. The replacement graphic card was also an Nvidia card, but was recognized during boot-up. So, if you are experiencing the blank (black) screen this may be another consideration.

Update: November 15, 2013.  Well it appears that an associated, but unknown, Nvidia program may have caused the blank/black screen. The current Nvidia driver shown on another computer was 3.19. But for the problem computer it was still showing the Nvidia 3.04 driver.  After aggressively removing all Nvidia programs, the computer video worked as expected and was updated to version 3.19.

Update: December 7, 2013.  I ran across this post which attributes the blank (black) screen problem to nvidia-319-updates and nvidia-setting-319-updates.  Once these programs were removed it appears that the problem was solved. Please review the full thread: After upgrading black screen and cannot use gui on ubuntu 13.10.

Update: July 6, 2016. I ran across this post which is particularly good. The comments are instructive and educational. Basically, it solves the black screen problem by starting over.  How can I uninstall a nvidia driver completely ?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Advice to the Republican High Command

This Saturday morning I was watching MSNBC. Predictably the commentators were claiming that the Republicans would use The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the coming debt ceiling debate as excuses to shut-down the government. Unfortunately, these Democratic accusations have not been effectively refuted by the Republicans.  In fact the Democrats have been winning on the public relations front. Time for the Republicans to get their act together before they lose another round in the public arena.

Should a Republican with a degree of influence on Republican strategy accidentally stumble across Casual Observations, I would hope that they would encourage the Republicans strategy team incorporate some of the thoughts below.

The government can be funded without including funding for the Affordable Care Act.  Funding bills originate in the House, currently controlled by the Republicans.  If the Democrats are not willing to accept defunding or to suggest less onerous measures, the Republicans need to establish that it is the Democrats who are obstructing the development of a budget for FY-2014.

In terms of the debt ceiling, the solution is "simple"; stop spending.  Actually it is a combination of reduced spending and increased taxes.  The Republicans must consider increased taxes, but they must also propose real cuts. Again spending bills originate in the House and the House has not really taken an aggressive stance.  Consequently, the Democrats have successfully won two arguments, by claiming that Congress has mandated these expenses: 1. the need to increase the debt ceiling and 2. public relations. The Republicans have a bloody nose.

Since funding bills originate in the House, the Republicans need to propose a realistic budget that will not require an increase in the debt ceiling. Yes that will mean increased taxes.

Next, the Republicans need to implement a public relations campaign highlighting that the Obama administration is not being fiscally responsible since the Obama administration continues to spend fully knowing that they will bust the debt ceiling and expecting the House to simply role-over and accept this insult.  This is a slap-in-the face by the Obama administration. The House controls the "purse strings". Time for the House to stand-up on this issue and fight back.  If Obama does not accept his "allowance" it would be Obama who would be shutting the government down.

Furthermore, the Obama administration itself has also not made any realistic budget proposals.  It's literally tax and spend more.  The Democrats now make no pretence towards implementing a balanced budget.  Republicans need to highlight this continued never ending fiscal irresponsibility and implement a public relations campaign documenting that the President must work within the budget that Congress gives him.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Defunding the Affordable Care Act - Who's to Blame?

Politics is a game of words and posturing. It's all about structuring the argument.  As US the approaches the necessity to adopt a new budget for FY-2014, there have been initiatives raised that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) be defunded for at least one year since the Obama administration is not ready to implement it.  Those who support the Affordable Care Act (including some who oppose it) claim that defunding it will shut-down the government. Amazingly even the Republicans seem to view a potential defunding as implying that the government would be shut-down and that they (Republicans) will be lambasted.

Wrong. It is the President, Obama in this case, who makes the final decision and signs any budget or appropriation bills that have been passed by Congress. Therefore, if Obama refuses to sign a spending bill that does not include funding for the Affordable Care Act, it is Obama who is shutting down the government. Obama has the choice.

Those in opposition to the funding the Affordable Care Act need to articulate that the government can be funded without funding the Affordable Care Act. Should Obama refuse to sign such a spending bill, the responsibility for shutting down the government rests with Obama.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

An Aside on Obama's Lame Purusit of Snowden

Edward Snowden recently released a bunch of classified documents to the world. The US now wants to arrest him for that egregious action, but Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum.  Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post reported that Obama was disappointed by Russia granting asylum to Snowden. In an unbecoming un-presidential hissy-fit Obama went on to cancel a proposed meeting with Putin.

Lost in the swirl of events is the hypocrisy of the Obama adminstration concerning asylum. To my knowledge, the US has not returned any defectors to the countries wanting them back to face prosecution for supposed crimes.  Techdirt has a very informative article: US Hypocrisy Exposed: Has A Long History Of Rejecting Extradition Requests.

I commented, as a response to that article, ""While not specifically a US incident, Jordan granted asylum to a Syrian pilot that "stole" a Syrian jet to defect to Jordan. Here is what the Obama administration stated according to CNN.

"Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said, "We welcome this pilot's decision to do the right thing. We have long called for the military and members of the Syrian regime to defect and abandon their positions rather than be complicit in the regime's atrocities. (emphasis added)

"This is just one of countless instances where Syrians, including members of the security forces, have rejected the horrific actions of the Assad regime, and it certainly will not be the last."

So the Obama administration, on one hand, encourages the committing commission of illegal acts and claims that stealing and defecting is doing the right thing; but then when it comes to Snowden and Manning they claim that vile traitors traitorous acts were committed.

Particularly valuable was the comment by Andrew D. Todd who wrote: "The classic example of that kind of thing is Lieutenant Belenko, who was actually given American citizenship by a special act of congress, after defecting with a Soviet (Russian) Mig-25 fighter".

Wikipedia writes:  "His name became known worldwide on November 10, 1976, when he successfully defected to the West, flying his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 "Foxbat" jet fighter to Hakodate, Japan. This was the first time that Western experts were able to get a close look at the aircraft, and it revealed many secrets and surprises. His defection caused a lot of damage to the Soviet Union Air Force. Belenko was granted asylum by U.S. President Gerald Ford, and a trust fund was set up for him, granting him a very comfortable living in later years. The U.S. Government interrogated and debriefed him for five months after his defection, and employed him as a consultant for several years thereafter.  ... In 1980, the U.S. Congress enacted S. 2961, authorizing citizenship for Belenko. It was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on October 14, 1980, as Private Law 96-62." (emphasis added).

Bluntly, if the US grants asylum to traitors the US has no moral high ground on which to demand with inane gestures of exaggerated indignation that US "traitors" be returned to the US for prosecution.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Obama Latest Publicity Stunt - Closing Embassies

The Washington Post is reporting that: "The State Department extended the closure through Saturday for 19 embassies, consulates and smaller posts “out of an abundance of caution,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a written statement Sunday. Several other posts, including embassies in Kabul and Baghdad, will reopen Monday."  One has to wonder if this isn't really just a manufactured high visibility publicity stunt along the lines of "Wag the Dog".  After all, the growing scandals of the Obama administration "force" Obama to come-up with diversions, distractions, and distortions to get the public's mind off the scandals.

Closing the diplomatic facilities overtly means that the terrorists have won another round. Instead of taking an offensive action of some type, the US is assuming a bunker mentality. Hardly an appropriate course of action for a supposed superpower.

Closing the diplomatic facilities is a false solution. The US media is broadcasting these closures to the world. As one pundit expressed, the terrorists simply wait till they open again.

Many pundits, when Snowden absconded with NSA secrets, claimed that he had done irreparable harm since the terrorists would now know how to circumvent NSA technologies. If that is the case, how would we know of the supposed chatter?  Not to mention, that the terrorists may have simply planted fake chatter knowing that the NSA was listening in and would mindlessly spread FUD.

Getting back to Snowden, if his leaks were so damaging, why is the administration itself leaking information?  It is my understanding, that the leaking of classified information by the Obama administration resulted in a Pakistani doctor (Shakeel Afridi) going to jail. Which of course raises the issue, will the disclosure of this information result in some US intelligence assets being compromised?

Benghazi - Hillary Clinton's Disgraceful Comments

When the US facility at Benghazi was attacked on Sept. 11, 2012 the Obama administration claimed that the attack was in reaction to a vile anti-Islamic video. Those who committed the violence, it was claimed, were outraged by that video. On Sept. 15, 2012, this U-Tube video was posted: "Hillary Clinton blames Anti-Islam Film for violence in Mid East" In that video, Ms. Clinton never once placed blame on those committing the acts of violence. Instead, she disparagingly refers to how repulsive this video is. What's wrong?

Well, Ms. Clinton at the time was US Secretary of State. In the US we supposedly have the right to freedom of expression, even if it repulsive. As US Secretary of State Ms. Clinton should have been outraged over those committing the violence and defended the right to freedom of expression by those who created the video (Nakoula Basseley Nakoula). Essentially, Ms. Clinton - as US Secretary of State - was disgracefully undermining the US and giving tacit approval to those committing the violence. Or to phrase this a bit differently, Ms. Clinton was essentially blaming the victim of a rape (for his/her freedom of expression) and not the rapist (who committed the act of violence).

In doing the background search for this post, Ms. Clinton - in another - U-Tube video did lay appropriate blame on those who committed the violence. "Obama and Hillary Blame Youtube Video for Benghazi Terrorist Attack as Coffins Arrive". However, words for politicians are incredibly "cheap". Did Ms. Clinton actually mean what she said or was her statement simply a polished "evolution" of empty talking points as a half-hearted attempt to address criticism of her prior unrealized misstatements?

Furthermore, Ms. Clinton spoke of getting to the bottom of this issue. But is the administration doing that? Fox News, on January 23, 2013, reported Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) as saying: "The only people I know who are in jail right now is the filmmaker. Isn't that disconcerting?".  Obama recently referred to the growing list of scandals as being "phony".

Moreover, Wikipedia writes: "On November 28, 2012, an Egyptian court sentenced him [Nakoula Basseley Nakoula], along with several other Coptic Christians and anti-Islam preacher Terry Jones, to death in absentia for defaming Islam." So Ms. Clinton expresses, in a public forum, extreme outrage against an anti-Islamic video claiming that it is repulsive. Yet when it came to this inappropriate "death sentence" imposed by the Islamic culture, Ms. Clinton is apparently conveniently silent. Clearly Ms. Clinton, when she was Secretary of State, failed to defend freedom of speech ands was indirectly undermining the US by inappropriately "accepting blame" instead of pointing out that persons who are Muslim do not have a right to commit violence based on some perceived "offense".