Archive for December 2012

Virtual Machine Moving Day

28 December 2012

virtual machinesI have an old program on an old Ubuntu OS that I still need. It’s computer died after many years of reliable service. I imaged it’s disk and now it lives on in a virtual machine on a real machine running Mandriva. That story is here.

The Mandriva machine has been popping up reminders to do a distribution upgrade for a while now. I’ve been afraid to do a distro upgrade for fear of the virtual machine not working after. Sure wish the virtual machine was on the box that’s running the new(er) Ubuntu 12.04 Long Term Support distro! (Why didn’t I put it there in the first place? I don’t know!)

Today I decided to try moving the virtual machine.

Installed VirtualBox on the Ubuntu machine. Some concern that the Mandriva machine uses Virtual Box 3.1.8_OSE while the Ubuntu machine uses 4.1.12_Ubuntu, but we’ll see how it goes.

Moved my .vdi file by scp from the Mandriva machine to the Ubuntu machine.

Made a new virtual machine on the Ubuntu machine, choosing the .vdi file as the hard drive. Start it up.

Seems like it’s going to go, old OS splash screen appears, but then it fails with “/dev/hda5 does not exist”. Not happy.

Check md5sums on .vdi files. They don’t match. Probably not surprising… still, just in case, copy the .vdi file again. This takes an hour by scp as the file is nearly 40 Gb. I go shovel dirt. (Isn’t that what everyone does while waiting for things?)

Come back. Check md5sums. They match.
Delete the first virtual machine. Make another. Try to start it. Same error!

Notice the .vdi is attached to the virtual machine’s SATA controller. OK, in hindsight this should have been obvious. The error did say hda. Remove the .vdi from the SATA controller and attach it to the IDE controller. Start the virtual machine and voilà!

The old program I need is running on the machine with long term support! I can upgrade Mandriva! Happy New Year!

All I want for Christmas is a more ambitious Canada

14 December 2012

Shell’s “Energy Senarios 2050 (pdf)” speaks of two scenarios in relation to energy and climate change. “Scramble” and “Blueprints”.

In Scramble, governments respond reactively and short-sightedly to climate change, doing too little too late and leaving us faced with “expensive consequences beyond 2050.”

In Blueprints, local actions from the grassroots and at the level of cities and regions help slow carbon emissions. Leadership from the bottom up helps corporations find opportunities in new technologies. The prevailing wind of public opinion allows national governments to follow with some actions that help. There are still turbulent times, but the outcome is certainly better than the Scramble scenario.

It seems like a pretty good, though mild, assessment aside from obviously partisan bits like “misjudged attempts to moderate energy demand through the knee-jerk removal of subsidies“.

However, I am left wondering why in this and so many other papers looking at possible scenarios there so rarely seems to be one that considers a path where governments look forward, see the danger, and act. Really act. Proactively, with courage, and on a scale commensurate with the scope of the problem.

Isn’t that what governments are supposed to do?

Instead, at least among major emitters and in Canada’s case particularly, it’s as though it were 1940 and instead of saying “victory, however long and hard the road may be” Churchill was to say “Hey, we can sell arms to Hitler. Sure the outcome will be catastrophic, but what else can you do?

We need a Churchill to stand up and say;

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our home, to ride out the storms, and to outlive the menace of climate change, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of the government — every person of it. That is the will of the people and the nations. The developed and the developing, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their air, water and soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of the world and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the oil corporations and all the odious apparatus of fossil fuels, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength for the air, we shall defend our planet, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

In fact we do have a handful of leaders saying such things. Elizabeth May here in Canada, leaders in the Seychelles, Bolivia and some others.

Unfortunately these leaders are too few and not in positions to harness people and industry on a war-time scale to attack the problem.

Canada in past wars fought well above its weight class. Some say it was because we were a nation of farmers and loggers and the like. People accustomed to hard work outdoors. Looking at the lives of my own grandfather and father I can’t help think my generation are pretty soft. Were it WWI or WWII now, would we rise to the fight? It seems doubtful. The fight was risky and uncomfortable. The battlefield hours long and pay small with nary a big-screen tv to be found. Our soldiers are probably every bit as good as they’ve ever been, but there are few of them and I think on the whole our population are too well fed and comfortable to face a tough fight. Fortunately the climate change war is not necessarily one to be fought in muddy trenches.

The task is still daunting. Wealthy and powerful forces are entrenched in the status quo. So out of touch with reality are our current crop of politicians that the premier of BC touts growth of natural gas extraction in BC as the next tar sands, as though that was a good thing! Like if we just make enough money selling fossil fuels we can all buy houses outside of the environment! And by the way Ms Clark, Alberta is running a $2-3 billion deficit currently while Athabascan First Nations fight for their way of life and their lives. We want to emulate this in BC?

Having been fed the “jobs and the economy” mantra over and over, many Canadians feel powerless to change. “We need fossil fuels! To drive our cars! To heat our homes!” many lament. What, and we don’t need a stable climate?

What we need is a vision of a Canada without this fossil fuel addiction — and the courage to pursue that vision.

We need to drive our cars? Why? Why do we still build sprawling communities? Why do we still allow industrial parks where the businesses that inhabit them cry for public transit for their employees while by design the area is impossible to serve with public transit economically? Why don’t we build more walkable, cycleable neighbourhoods? Why do we accept spending $2.5 billion on a new Port Mann bridge, but resist any investment in public transit? If you must drive your car, is it so hard to imagine that it be an electric car charged with renewable energy?

We need to heat our homes? Why? Why don’t we build to passive house standards?

We need the jobs fossil fuel extraction provides? Why? We can’t imagine ourselves as anything other than a resource colony for foreign interests?

The foremost manufacturer of mid-sized wind turbines in the world is based in BC. Where are their markets? Not here. Why?

We build warships that are as good as anyones. Yet we assemble Japanese and American cars. Why don’t we build the best electric car the world has seen and sell it to everyone else? Our engineers are not as good as anyone’s? Our workers can’t be as productive?

Climate change is upon us. It is not good enough for governments to ignore it or pay lip service to transitioning away from fossil fuels. We need all the grassroots efforts of individuals, communities and regions. We need those grassroots to get out and vote in leaders not politicians. We need businesses to take responsibility for everything they do and do not do that could help. We need everyone to stop looking for somebody to make a difference and realize, as lily Tomlin said, “I am somebody”.

The changes necessary are vast. The result — better communities, better transportation systems, better quality of life, a less disrupted climate.

Some object that such changes will take decades! Well yes. Better get started!