Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Place

I've been off-line for a while now. Not completely offline, but just out of my usual comfortable routine and not quite able to think of things to post about. Right now I'm in the middle of deciding which I like better, living by myself, or having half my expenses paid for. I think I've found the solution in a likely roommate who will spend most of the time in his room, doesn't throw big parties and has a cat, so I get to have a cat in the house and not have to worry about it living to be 23 years old like the cat I had growing up.

The new place is pretty nice, it's on a quiet street, a bit close to the sketchy part of town, but in a nice little enclave. Last night there was a bit too much noise for my liking, the kind of people who honestly do not have any consideration for other people. Like, they might be perfectly great to each of their friends, but jsut simply don't extend any consideration of humanity to those not in their immediate view.

Anyway, that's enough complaining. Getting worked up doesn't help re-balance my sleeping schedule.

I've decided that my rule for picking a place to live is that it must be close to a Lebanese convenience store. Especially one that sells burgers. I've just recently become a fan of Cy's, his new French fries are great, and he's got scallop burgers and milkshakes and falafel. And all for less money than to get the ingredients and cook it yourself. Once or twice a week to not have to cook when it's so monstrously hot out sounds good to me.

By al - 4:39 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bad RAM? Maybe not

I just got a RAM upgrade for my work laptop, and it looked like the RAM was bad, memtest was failing, and I was getting random reboots.

But instead of ditching it, our IT support guy cleaned the RAM and the connectors on my computer with isopropyl alcohol and compressed air and put it back in. So far so good.

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By al - 11:57 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Ultimate Ubuntu Test

So I think Linux is finally ready to be used by actual, you know, people. I have an old laptop that I got 2 yeears ago for $800 which was 2 years old at the time, still a good machine, 2GHz, 512MB RAM, etc., but just nothing I needed a use for since I already have the work laptop and the iMac, so I figured I'd give it to the parents since their last hand-me-down computer was my 500MHz HP Pavilion.

It had Windows XP Home on it, the original install. If I had more initiative I'd have probably removed that and put in Windows 2000 but I never got around to it. But there were just enough flaky, weird things going on with it that I didn't want to give it to them as-is. So the Ubuntu 7.04 CD that I burned for the heck of it came in quite handy.

Installing Linux has always been easy ever since RedHat 6.0 or so. Anyone who thinks it's hard has never installed Windows from scratch and realized that your network card didn't have any drivers and no way of easily seeing what model it was from software. But now I didn't even have dig out my old Partition Magic floppies to partition the hard drive. It had a nice drag-stuff-around interface for clearing space, and worked fine resizing NTFS partitions. Still not something my parents could have done themselves but that's not really expected.

The one really great thing I found when installing Ubuntu was that you could tie a user account on it to a Windows user account, and it will automatically link the Documents and Music and other folders to the respective folders on the Windows partition. It's something I always do manually so it was nice to have it done for me, and the shortcuts in all the file dialogs were all that seem to be needed to aleviate any anxiety my parents had about finding their files.

Hardware-wide I've had no problems so far, and this is on a laptop, and those have always been pretty sketchy for Linux support. Even the wireless card I slapped in there was detected fine, and Ubuntu developers have finally come to the realization that no one should have to enter a root password just to switch wireless networks. In fact, doing that is easier than on windows, there's just an icon in the task bar that drops down with the list of networks, just like in OS X.

My general rule here is that if I can teach my parents to do it and they acutally remember then it must be easy, and for the most part using Ubuntu is pretty much no different for them than using windows. They even moved the task bar from the top of the screen to the bottom, just to make it look the way windows looked, and all the icons for OpenOffice and Firefox and all the rest all look the same as the programs they were already used to. At this point an Operating system is largely irrelevant.

I had to do a little tweaking to remove some annoyances, like demanding a login password every time the laptop lid was closed, but to be fair the same amount of tweaking is considered necessary to make any windows installation bearable.

The one major criticism I had was the process for installing software that isn't in the Ubuntu repository, specifically Google Earth. There is simply no way my parents would have known that they had to open a terminal window, change the downloaded .bin file permissions to make it executable, su to root, execute the file, and know to put it in /opt. Funny that once it was installed Ubuntu silently inserted it into the application menu, but there's just no way I'd have known how to install it without knowing a fair amount about Unix. Maybe if Ubuntu takes a stranglehold on the desktop Linux market software makers will just put their programs in the Ubuntu repository, and have some way of getting to them from a web browser.

There's still nothing that comes close to Mac OS X's method of installing and removing software, by just dragging the program to your applications folder and then to the trash to uninstall. Maybe Ubuntu could take a sharper departure from its Unix roots like Apple has an create something like software bundles, the directories that look just like a single file to the end-user. There's no reason a user needs to see all of the files that make up an application program.

All in all, though, I think I can leave them with this setup and the fact that I won't have to come over every couple of weeks to remove spyware and fix accidentally-changed settings is a big thumbs up for Ubuntu.

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By al - 10:05 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, July 02, 2007

Broke into the old apartment..

I walked for hours this morning after a party I was at. Was going to just walk home but kept going up side streets I'd never seen before, so many really nice houses in the west royalty-ish area. Never realized charlottetown had such a massive upper middle class that huddled together so closely and copied each others houses so completely. It was rather dreary.

Then I walked past the house I grew up in, and was horrified to see that my perfect little house has had a giant, gaudy, two-storey extension built onto it. I wanted to ring the doorbell and puch the lights out of whoever answered. Little houses are wonderful things, don't go raping them like that.

There is a wooded lot we used to call the Fort that the kids in my neighbourhood all used to play in. I checked it out this morning, judging by the undergrowth no one has played in there since we grew up / moved away

I guess in between soccer practise and every other scheduled activity kids have these days there's no time where the parts just kick them out the door and tell them not to come back until dinner time.

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By al - 2:49 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

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