Electrofags and Linux

(Put the drink down. It’s one of those posts)

No, I have not yet managed to run an Electrofag on Linux but as it’s impossible, I just have to try. So far, flushed with success after making the little Acer run Linux Mint, I have made my Gateway laptop run Ubuntu, and that thing will have room to run both Ubuntu and Windows (although I don’t think I really need the Windows) once I decide whether it’s a dual-boot or a sod-Windows machine.

An ancient and somewhat dusty Acer Travelmate 240 laptop with a totally dead battery has so far failed to load Mint and cannot run Ubuntu. Hell, it barely works at all and can’t even hold the system time. Maybe I can fix it. Might as well take it apart and try, it’s worthless anyway. If I can get it at least functioning it will be my next donation to my friend (who is rapidly running out of fingers) to keep him amused. It has a DVD drive so he can even watch films on it and the necessity of always having to plug it in won’t bother him.

I want to get used to Linux on these old machines because the next desktop will be Linux. That decision is made. Windows updates just fill up a hard disk and the travelling machines can’t cope with that. They also don’t have easily upgraded hard drives. Linux has pretty much everything I want built in, it’s far smaller than Windows and it sells at my favourite price. Free.


Today’s Electrofag story consists of an attempt to run down some serious academics (yes, there are some left) who point out that, unknown as Electrofag’s long-term effects might be, they are as nothing compared to those attributed to smoking. Because the range of diseases attributed to smoking consists of pretty much all of them. Even cervical and arse cancers. If you are getting those cancers from smoking, you are doing it wrong. Just the thought of getting prostate cancer from smoking brings a tear to the eye.

The fact that Electrofag cannot possibly be blamed for all the things smoking gets blamed for is obvious to anyone who can boot up a brain cell even if it runs on CP/M (who remembers that one, eh?)

Let’s face it, if you add up everything attributed to smoking, it is safer to snort plutonium than to smoke. Acccording to all NHS predictions, I died in 1986. Of smoking-related dandruff complicated by smoking-related acne with a side order of smoker’s elbow.

We still hear about the ‘6000 toxins in every cigarette’. There are about 0.6 grams of tobacco in a typical readymade cigarette. If all of it combusts (ie no ash remaining at all) and since most of it is cellulose, there must be far less than 0.0001 grams of each toxin present. It’s hardly bloody Chernobyl, is it? It’s not even detectable in a second’s inhalation of street-level traffic fumes.

Electrofag has more chromium and nickel and other metals in its vapour than is found in tobacco smoke. Well duh. Electrofag is made of metal. Cigarettes are made of leaves. Leaves are not made of metal unless they are from the Cornish tin tree and that’s been extinct for three weeks. So yes, there are more metal ions emitted by Electrofag than by a burning leaf fragment. It’s like claiming that cigarette smoke contains more nicotine than a welding torch.

Trace amounts of metal ions are not dangerous at all and if there were more than that in the vapour, Electrofag would get shorter with use. It doesn’t. Some trace amouints of metals are essential. For example, you need a trace amount of copper to survive. Lots of copper and you die. As for zinc, that white cream you get for burns and skin abrasions contains zinc oxide. It speeds healing. I keep some in the kitchen. Many a time I have been saved by trying everything including the kitchen zinc.

If you have a metal shower head, there are metal ions in the steam you’re breathing in there. Just like in Electrofag. If you boil a kettle, metal ions from the element get into the water. Poison in your coffee, poison in your tea. I’ll get back to you on the caffeine since Experts will Soon Say that caffeine in tea is a gateway to harder stuff, like espresso and Pro Plus pills. Then you have to go and live in a clinic where an orderly will beat you to sleep with an oar every night. It’s the only reliable treatment known for caffeine overdose.

I left a few comments on the Mail’s (allegedly unmoderated) comment thread on hte Electrofag farcticle. So far none have appeared. I won’t be at all surprised if they don’t. I have commented on unmoderated threads before and fallen foul of the moderators on there.

Well, I am back at the Old Job tomorrow so best get some sleep. My conditions are that I will do Saturday and Sunday and occasional holiday cover. Any build-up and I just don’t turn up. The rest of the week is writing, model building and eBay – once the kitchen rebuild is complete (it nearly is). With a daily rant to keep me going. The tax office still has me as partly self-employed so even if I was sacked for shitting in the cherry display, my CV can pretend this job just didn’t happen. Oh, the power!

I’ve never been fired before but I suspect it’s the only way out of this one.



29 thoughts on “Electrofags and Linux

  1. Hi, most of your readers probably read Frank too but I did say I would let everyone know how I got on with my four year scan, everything went fine. The surgeon did ask if I still smoked, of course I said yes and he did say it didn’t seem to be doing me any harm. Wonders will never cease, I go against everything he believes about smoking, my skin is fine and I heal very quickly and, until the lung cancer which I firmly believe was triggered by the stress of my husbands very sudden death, I was rarely ill. Still he doesn’t lecture me which is an improvement on some Drs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Leg, you’ve hit another one: “It’s like claiming that cigarette smoke contains more nicotine than a welding torch.” Wonderful imagery evoked: “Sucking on a lit welding torch is safer than smoking a cigarette.” Maybe we could popularize a “Welding Torch Challenge” amongst Antismokers! Just think of the fun YouTube Videos! And the wonderful peace and quiet from them for a few months (or more) after they take the Challenge!

    An idea whose time has come!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Do go ahead with Mint or Ubuntu. You may find there are some aspects you are not used to but overall you will be happier for making the change.
    There are many “flavours” of Linux – pick the one that you like. Mint and Ubuntu are the two that you will find easiest to understand. And there is lots of support out there to soleve any problems you might have.


    • The little Acer is definitely getting Minted.

      The Gateway, I think, will have Windows eradicated and replaced with Ubuntu. It’s Vista on that one. I never liked it. I picked up a book on Ubuntu – with a disk inside – in Poundland a while back. Finally got around to trying it. It looks really good and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.


        • I tried the ‘sample version’ of Ubuntu – boot from CD and don’t mess anything up – and it does look similar to Windows. The taskbar is at the top instead of the bottom but I expect it’s possible to move that.

          There are a few things that are new to me but it really doesn’t look like a difficult transition.


  4. Go ahead with Ubuntu, but be aware that as installed there isn’t a firewall on it. There also isn’t protection against brute-force ssh attacking on it either, though you need only worry there if you have openssh-server on a machine. The following commands will take care of the firewall stuff:

    sudo apt-get -y update && apt-get -y dist-upgrade
    sudo apt-get -y install ntp ufw vim

    sudo ufw default deny incoming
    sudo ufw default allow outgoing
    sudo ufw logging low
    sudo ufw enable

    That little lot updates the repositories (hint: enable the Universe one; gives you more stuff to look at) and upgrades the machine to the latest package versions. It installs Network Time Protocol, to keep the clock set correctly (needed for auto-updates to work). The second block switches on the firewall.

    Further to this, going into the updates manager and turning on automatic installation of security updates is a good idea.

    I have a Perl script I can send you which does all this automatically; I wrote it, so it is mine to use and give away as needed. As I’ve said before, Linux is my job these days, though I started out my life as one of the world’s few experts in the sex pheromones of plant parasitic nematodes. I also know a great deal about mammalian sex pheromones; the human section of this market is a sub-set of the pig farming industry (and not a lot of people know that, you know).


    • I installed Ubuntu 12.04 on the working laptop tonight. It wanted to upgrade at once to 14.04 but warned that it might take several hours to complete. I’ll do that tomorrow.

      The laptop is now dual-boot (Vista and Ubuntu) but I won’t do that again. Right pain in the sphincter. All other computers will be clean-install Ubuntu or Mint (for the ones that can’t handle Ubuntu). All the old ones have XP or earlier on them. Microsoft have cut that loose in the hope we’ll all pay loads of money for their latest bloated monster. No chance, when there is a free alternative!

      I have a 12.04 disk with a book around it that I bought in Poundland a while ago. Might be easier and more efficient to download a new Ubuntu and burn it to disk, as I did with Mint. Then it won’t need several hours of upgrading!

      Thanks for the heads-up on the firewall. I don’t run a server but I do feel better with a firewall turned on.


      • If you upgrade a 14.04 system to 14.04, then you run quite a high risk of the upgrade not working. At least, this is my experience of the matter and I have done several of these sorts of upgrades. A better plan is to back the system up completely and do a clean install of 14.04; this also lets you replace ext4 with btrfs, which is supposed to be somewhat better.

        As far as Ubuntu goes, new to 14.04 is the Unity Tweak Tool, an ugly name for the settings configurator that should have shipped with Unity right from the start. Install this at the beginning, and in the search bar type “drivers”. This should bring up an icon of a PCI card; this is the proprietary drivers dialogue.

        Quite a lot of systems have graphics cards which work much, much better with proprietary, binary-only drivers. Ubuntu does not install these by default, as they’re not GPL-compliant, so you have to do this afterwards.

        A final trick is to edit the file /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades and uncomment the bits about security updates. Specifically, uncomment the security allowed-origin, the MinimalSteps “true” and the Remove-Unused-Dependencies “true” options.

        This lets the system auto-install security updates as and when they become available, and de-install unwanted software. Pretty much all of the time, this is safe to do, and keeps the machine up to date without bothering you.


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