LinuxChixer Sharon Levy presenting Zend Webinar on PHP Lambdas on March 29, 2012

Mar 24th, 2012 Posted in And You Did What? Where?, Sharing What Have I Learned | No Comments »

This year, to my great surprise, Zend has invited me to reprise the presentation I gave at ZendCon as a webinar. I am thrilled to have this opportunity although the thought of addressing an international audience is, frankly speaking, a bit daunting. But, sometimes a grrl just has to do, what a grrl has to do!

WEBINAR: The Truth About Lambdas and Closures in PHP
March 29, 2012: 9am PDT
One of PHP 5.3′s terrific features is the ability to use lambdas, a feature which will surely relegate PHP 5.0′s lambda-style in the guise of create_function() to the dust-bin of cyberspace. This presentation will focus on what exactly lambdas are as well as the difference between a lambda and a closure, or whether there is any given their implementation in PHP. In addition, we’ll have a look at improvements pertaining to closures in PHP 5.4. Far greater emphasis is on live code demonstrations as well as in-depth discussion about the code.

Presenters: Sharon Lee Levy & Kevin Schroeder

You may find that my presentation deviates from the dry fare that typically characterizes technical talks. My methods may be unconventional, but hopefully will aid in clarifying the subject of anonymous functions in PHP and at the same time, pique the interests of everyone, including women and girls so they may explore PHP and computer programming.
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Hacking Debian Linux on a Zipit Z2 Wireless Messenger!

Mar 22nd, 2011 Posted in And You Did What? Where?, Education, Sharing What Have I Learned | 1 Comment »


For $50.00 or under you can purchase a Zipit Z2 Wireless Messenger at or and make yourself an inexpensive mini Linux laptop/hacktop!

There are several different Linux distributions for the Zipit Z2:

My favorite flavor of Linux for the Zipit is the Root Nexus image which has the most updated version of Debian, Debian SID.  The Ubuntu image is wonderful also, but is a work in progress, and some of the hardware drivers are not quite working yet.  The Ubuntu distro shows great promise though and I am sure all the bugs will be worked out soon.

The most popular distribution for the Z2 is the Aliosa27 image, which uses an older stable version of Debian and the Fluxbox window manager. has a wonderful instructional video and article on how to flash the Zipit Z2 and install the Aliosa27 image:

Also and have great articles on flashing and installing Aliosa27′s image.  And, one of my favorite shows online, Hak5 of the Revision3 network has one of the most thorough and highest quality demos of flashing and installing a Zipit Z2 with the Aliosa27 Userland image and the Root Nexus image:

And,, of course, has many of the before mentioned videos and other how-to videos for the Zipit Z2:

Now, on to hacking your Zipit Z2!

Hardware requirements:

  • A computer running Linux of course :-)
  • A Zipit Z2 Wireless Messenger
  • A Micro SD card (Preferably 2Gigs or higher)
  • A Micro SD to Mini SD Adapter for your Zipit
  • A Micro SD USB Reader or a Micro SD to Standard SD Adapter for your computer

Files you need to download to your computer:

First we will flash the Linux kernel onto the Zipit:

  1. Extract the contents of the file you downloaded on your computer to the root of your Micro SD card
  2. Extract the zipit2-audio+x+mouse.gz file to an easy to find location on your computer
  3. Find the file zimage-2.6.29, and copy it to the root of the Micro SD card along with AutoFlasher files you extracted earlier
  4. Rename the file zimage-2.6.29 to kernel.bin
  5. Make sure your Zipit has a full battery or is plugged in
  6. Take the Micro SD card you just prepared on your computer and put it in the Micro SD to Mini SD Adapter.  And then put it into the Zipit Mini SD slot
  7. Turn the Zipit on and the Linux kernel flashing will begin
  8. Once the flashing completes, remove the SD card from your Zipit
  9. Then boot up the Zipit and you should see a screen that says OpenZipit with a Tasmanian Devil Linux Penguin and a solid cursor in the top left of the screen!
  10. You have just successfully flashed your Zipit and completed the  hardest part of hacking Linux on your Zipit Z2 :-)

Now for the fun part :-) , Imaging Debian Linux onto your Zipit Z2!

1.  For this tutorial we will use Aliosa27′s popular Zipit Z2 distro at

Download it to your computer

2.  Extract the image file to an easy to find location on your computer

3.  Plug the Micro SD card back into your computer.  Don’t worry about  the files on the card.  The imaging process will delete them.

4.  Open a terminal and as root find the location of your SD card.  I like to use the command fdisk -l to list all hard drive partitions/external devices and their locations

5.  Use dd to copy the extracted image from the computer to your SD card.  Change name_of _image.img to the name of your image and change sdx to the device location of your SD card:

dd if=name_of_image.img of=/dev/sdx

This command will write the image to your SD card, and set up proper partitions.  You will not receive any feedback from the terminal, but you should not get any errors either.  This could take a while to complete, 20 or 30 minutes, so be patient!

6.  Once the command finishes, remove the SD card and put it in the Zipit.  You should boot into Debian and be prompted to login.  User is root, and password is debian.  If you can login successfully you now have a working version of Debian installed on your Zipit!  Yeeaaahhhh!!!!!

Although, the name of the image might be different and your login may differ, this technique works exactly the same for any Linux distribution you download for your Zipit Z2.  Have fun experimenting!

When in Terminal:

  • Make sure to change your root password with the command passwd in a terminal.
  • Run apt-get update to update the repository lists.
  • Then apt-get install any applications of your choice!
  • Use startx at the command line to start the Fluxbox etc. window manager.

I love the Window Maker window manager so I have been having fun

customizing it for my Zipit :-)

When in a Window Manager:

Pushing the [Options] button on the Zipit will enable mouse mode via the arrow keys on the top right of the keypad.  The middle button in the center of the arrow keys is the right click and the stop/play buttons to the left of the arrow keys function as the left click.  Clicking [Options] again will enable keyboard mode once again.  The “…” key is the Ctrl key for the Zipit keyboard.  And I have discovered that when it is in mouse mode the number keys become F1, F2 respectively.

Special thanks to

for the contents of this article

Jill Bryant


LinuxChix LA:

Created in Debian Linux for

SCALE 9x LinuxChix LA

Booth #8!

LinuxChix LA Booth at SCALE 9x!

Feb 22nd, 2011 Posted in Education, F/LOSS News, Sharing What Have I Learned, Tux for Fun, What Chix Think | No Comments »

Hello SCALE 9x!

The LinuxChix LA will be demonstrating Hacking Debian Linux on the Zipit Z2 Wireless Messenger :-)

For a small $2 dollar donation we will be raffling off a Zipit Z2 Sunday afternoon!

And for a $1 dollar donation we will also be raffling off two Hasbro I-CY Penguins, one Saturday and one Sunday.

Please visit LinuxChix LA at Booth #8!

Yours in Tux,

Jill Bryant (jillix), Betty Chung, Sharon Lake and the rest of the
LinuxChix LA team!

LinuxChix LA Logo

SCALE 8x Talks, Google I/O & Gina Trapani!

May 26th, 2010 Posted in F/LOSS News, Sharing What Have I Learned | No Comments »

Hello all Linux Chix!

First of all, just wanted to remind everyone that the SCALE 8x talks are available to listen to via mp3 downloads from the SCALE 8x Conference Schedule page:

Make sure to listen to the WIOS talks with Amber Graner; Rikki Kite; Malakai Wade, Mirano Cafiero, & Saskia Wade Etc. Etc. and many of the other talks at SCALE 8x that you may have missed!  I have been enjoying listening to the talks that I went to a second time as well as those I missed :-)

Second, last week was the Google I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco!  Some very important and exciting announcements about Android Frojo and Google TV where made.  Google gave out two Android smart phones, a Verizon Droid and the Sprint HTC Evo, to whoever attended the keynote speeches!  Make sure to watch Day 2 coverage of Google I/O 2010 on TWIT with Leo Laporte:

Third, I just discovered a wonderful new blog:

In the Women With Droids WWD Profiles section Gina Trapani, Google developer and tech-guru, is highlighted!  Here is a wonderful interview with Gina that is linked from the Women With Droids site:

I listen to the wonderfully talented and geeky Gina Trapani every week with Leo Leporte on the This Week in Google netcast.  A must listen for every Linux Chix:

And, of course, last week TWIG also covered Google I/O:

Tux Android For LinuxChix LA blog

Either by Tux or by Droid, Linux Rules The World!


Oh, spam, spam, spam, and malware

Apr 12th, 2010 Posted in Sharing What Have I Learned | No Comments »

This recent inbox deposit got my attention.

  • Subject: UPS Delivery Problem NR.6256171
  • (Visible) Sender: Manager Rosella Edwards
  • (Visible) Return email:


There was also a not implausible message body considering that is right around the time that lots of Xmas presents get shipped off to various locations.

Hello! We were not able to deliver the package you have sent on the 1st of December in time because the recipient’s address is inexact. Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our department. /S/ United Parcel Service of America.


Of course it was sent to a public ‘info’ address which is not generally used. First Flag. It contained a .zip which I was instructed to open. Second Flag. And the IP where the email was originally sent (obtained from the view headers option in my email client) pointed to a location in Silesia. And Delete.

No. I didn’t open the attachment, which likely contained some variant of a Windows executable malware that wouldn’t have affected my lovely Ubuntu system. I wasn’t that curious, but I was impressed with social engineering involved in this particular bit of malware delivery.

Lesson? Don’t open zips from UPS reporting delivery problems. You’d be p0nwed!

WordPress, Akismet, fsockopen, and cURL … Oh My!

Sep 12th, 2009 Posted in Sharing What Have I Learned | No Comments »

UPDATE 9/15: Issue is gone (I hope!). Everything I wrote about fsockopen, cURL, etc. forget it. It was a server firewall issue. The reason for the ad hoc creation of dynamic rules which intermittently blocked outbound http requests is still under investigation, but the installation of a firewall that had better integration with the backend web administration interface looks to have helped.
UPDATE 9/13: Issue is back. All outside connections, including rss feeds, are out. Damn.
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Linux USB Flash Drive Recovery!!!

Apr 22nd, 2009 Posted in And You Did What? Where?, Sharing What Have I Learned, System Administration, Useful Applications | 3 Comments »

Hi Betty!, and to all those LinuxChix and LinuxGuys who need to recover files
or partitions off dead flash drives, usually fried by Windows, or any hard drive
or removable media :-)

Here is the website for the TestDisk and PhotoRec software that
was used to recover your flash drive in Linux at our last LinuxChixLa meeting at

It is also available for Windows and Mac OSX.

To install and run TestDisk and PhotoRec In Ubuntu Linux:

“sudo apt-get install testdisk” from a terminal and then run
“sudo testdisk” or “sudo photorec”
Both the photo recovery program and test disk are included in the
debian package.
The PhotoRec software is what was used to recover the files off your
dead flash drive.  It will recover many types of files, not just multimedia :-)

The detailed instructions for running PhotoRec are demonstrated on the
PhotoRec main site:

TestDIsk/PhotoRec is usually faster at data recovery than Ddrescue, but
Ddrescue is more thorough and efficient:
Ddrescue and fdisk is what I always used to use until Chad gave us the heads-up
on TestDisk :-)

Knoppix Linux Live CD has TestDisk/PhotoRec and Ddrescue already installed!
Here are the instructions for using these utilities in Knoppix:

The Ubuntu Rescue Remix Live CD ( is also a great option.  It includes TestDisk and Ddrescue as well.

And the Ultimate Boot CD (, one of my favorite
boot cds, includes TestDisk as well.

Have fun recovering files :-)


How NOT to archive files

Apr 18th, 2009 Posted in Sharing What Have I Learned | No Comments »

I ‘fess. I’m a packrat. I save everything. And since I’m ‘fessing things, I admit to not having a good system, well, ANY system, to archive digital files.

When I either change or upgrade my hardware I’ve copied my old home directories and saved them in their entirety as a archive folder in my new fresh clean home directory, and then move individual files up to work on them as needed. The plan was always to go back and systematically organize and consolidate the contents. Which never happened.

The folly of my packrat ways was highlighted when I made a backup of the files on my penultimate computer to an external usb harddrive in preparation to wipe and install a home server. Well, 5 hours and 25 GBs later the archived home directories from my last five computers finished the transfer.

So my external drive now contains the nested archived home directories from:
-> hardy.laptop
—> gutsy.laptop
—–> dapper.desktop
——-> redhat73.desktop
———> windows98.desktop

So I’ve learned that I have to Organize, Consolidate, and Delete: a.k.a. OCD ;)

Short and Sweet *nix tips from nixCraft

Apr 6th, 2009 Posted in Sharing What Have I Learned | No Comments »

Wandering out on the web in search of apache python information and found a sweet site with some quick tips for all things *nix from nixCraft. I found what I needed on configuring Apache2 with mod_python (and you’ll be hearing all about it at our April 19th meeting), plus so much more. If the sampling below doesn’t inspire you to add the nixCraft FAQ to your RSS reader of choice, me and my minions are coming to your house and taking all your penguins away.

From that fabulous time waster 'i Can Haz Cheezburger'

Image from that fabulous time-waster 'i Can Haz Cheezburger'

Ada Lovelace, Tasmanian Devils, and SysAdmining

Mar 24th, 2009 Posted in And You Did What? Where?, System Administration | 4 Comments »



What’s the connection? On behalf of Ada Lovelace Day LinuxChix Los Angeles is highlighting Terri Haber’s in-the-trenches-sysadmin presentation at in Hobert, Tasmania. And Terri brought back a Tuz from! And what’s a Tuz? In addition to being the mascot for, Linus Torvald is replacing Tux with Tuz for the Linux kernel release 2.6.29 to highlight the plight of the endangered Tasmanian Devils whose population is plummeting in the wild due to a contagious facial tumor disease.

Terri, Tuz, Linus, and Bdale at

Terri, Tuz, Linus, and Bdale at

And yes, that is Terri watching Linus save shave the 27 year-old-beard of Bdale Garbee to benefit Save the Tasmanian Devil foundation. (Complete slide show of the shave.)

Now back to LinuxChix Los Angeles and our contribution to Ada Lovelace Day. Ada Lovelace Day is all about highlighting the contributions of women in technology. So why Terri? Because Terri did a most difficult thing, she contributed. Contributing is hard, being visible is hard, and Terri was visibly contributing when she shared what she knew at And in her contribution, Terri advanced women’s visibility in technology. So thanks Terri, thanks for visibly contributing.