Showing posts from October, 2007

It isn't worth the trouble any more

I haven't posted in some time because of Life and Work. Life has intruded with regards to my wife's health, both girls at college, as well as other issues, and Work has intruded as it always does. This leaves little time to 'play'. With such pressures coming from so many directions I have little patience left to dole out.

This post is about Linux, and the problems I've been dogged with since making the decision to upgrade to the latest versions of Ubuntu (7.10) and openSUSE (10.3). You can find all sorts of glowing reviews of both distributions without too much trouble, but the problem with these reviews is that nobody seems to be really doing anything non-trivial with them before they write their reviews. I was trying to upgrade to the latest version of Linux to get the latest kernel, libraries, and developer tools. And I also did something that in hindsight I probably should not have done, at least under Linux.

I upgraded my ATI 9700 Pro (R300) video card to a more…

Ubuntu 7.10 RC: Still won't boot completely on algol (UPDATED)

Algol is my dual core (Core Duo) notebook with the nVidia GeForce Go 7800 adapter. I already have openSUSE 10.2 running on the notebook, and running at the full 1680 x 1050 resolution. But when Ubuntu 7.10 boots on this machine I get the black screen of death. I can still get to a text console and check that the OS is running, but there is no graphic desktop. This problem isn't limited to Ubuntu, Fedora 8 Beta 3 (7.92) has it as well. Older versions of these distributions boot just fine on algol, but something with the newer ones is causing a problem, and I'm pretty sure that something is the 3D graphics eye candy that everyone is so hell-bent to push.

I am, in a word, pissed.

Update Friday 10/12

Well, leave it to me to shoot my mouth off without checking all the possible boot capabilities. Booting in safe graphics mode (second selection on the initial boot menu) allowed RC1 to boot into a graphics desktop at 1280 x 1024. This was enough to post this update as well as check out o…

419ers still out there, still trying to defraud

In spite of the story where 77 "419" email scammers were arrested and 2.1 billion in fraudulent checks were recovered, I still continue to get such emails on a nearly daily basis. For example:
Dear Friend,

Good day to you. I write to seek your cooperation as my foreign partner and your assistance to enable us to own properties and invest in the stable economy of your country. I apologize if this mail does not suit your personal or business ethics.

My name is Dr. Terry Mambo, my colleagues and I am making this venture proposal to you in strict confidence. As senior civil servants in the South Africa Government, the South African civil service laws (Code of Conduct bureau) forbid us to own foreign accounts. The money we have in our possession is an overdue payment bill totaling Twenty Six Million, Four Hundred and Twenty Six Thousand US Dollars ($26,426,000.00) which we want to transfer abroad with the assistance and co-operation of a company / or an individual to receive the sai…

Ubuntu 7.10: Visual Effects interfere with OpenGL

I've discovered that I can have visual effects on europa identical to what I now experience with rhea and its Ubuntu installation, or I can have OpenGL functionality, but not both. Normal visual effects and OpenGL work fine together on rhea. The difference between europa and rhea is that europa has an ATI graphics card (9700Pro) while rhea has an nVidia graphics card (7600GT). Both have the respective "restricted" drivers installed. And it's the drivers that make the difference.

I was able to enable graphics effects on europa by installing xserver_xgl via Synaptic. Once installed, I restarted the X server, logged back in, and was able to select normal visual effects. And it worked. Unfortunately Google Earth hung at the splash screen, glxgears emitted warning messages, fgl_glxgears refused to run, and WorldWind-based Java projects refused to execute properly either. So, in the end, I uninstalled xerver_xgl and went back to plain old (none) visual effects. Which, frank…

English as daft as Americans

I thought we Americans were totally asinine when it comes to sharing music. I was wrong. As I was checking the BBC News Online, I came across not one, but two stories about the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and its war on listening to music in public, music that hasn't been properly paid for.

The first story is about it's £200,000 damages claim in the Court of Session in Edinburgh against Kwik-Fit, a local car repair chain. What is Kwik-Fit guilty of? Its employees are guilty of playing their personal radios while on the job, loud enough that customers can hear the music. We're not talking about streaming illegal MP3s across the web. We're talking about turning on a radio loud enough to hear. Complete with the Scottish equivalent of DJs, ads, and other unique Scottish social elements (I wonder if Sir Sean does commercial voice-overs?)

The second story is about the PRS going after much smaller game. Bedlam Scooters on the Elms Industrial Estate in Bedford is being din…

Hey Sony, I guess I'm a pirate

I missed this last week, but according to Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, in testimony she gave in the trial Capitol Records, et al v. Jammie Thomas:
Gabriel asked if it was wrong for consumers to make copies of music which they have purchased, even just one copy. Pariser replied, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'," she said.So there you have it. If I rip any of the CDs I've purchased since the music CD was cheap enough for me to afford in the mid 1980s, then I'm a pirate. And I guess you can throw in all those DVDs I've been ripping lately as well, and leaving them on my home-brew DVR to play back and watch.

Why have I been ripping?
The primary reason is preservation. A number of the CDs and DVDs I own are rare/out of print, and I wanted to make my own copy and then p…

Category clouds and the New Blogger

I wanted a category cloud like those I've seen on other blogs and other sites. The new Blogger has a category listing feature, but nothing like a category cloud. Well, Google is your friend, so I went googling for 'blogger category cloud' and sure enough the first page contained a link to phydeaux3 and the provocative entry "Setup and configuration for New Blogger Tag Cloud / Label Cloud." Read phydeaux3's blog entry through first, then follow the directions, primarily cutting and pasting. The only thing I did was to change the title from 'Label Cloud' to 'Category Cloud', but that was it. Oh. One little gotcha about this interesting hack. If you go back in and edit in HTML mode then all the code in the Labels widget gets wiped out. If you edit the widget (change the title with the Blogger tool) the internal code gets wiped out. All the other code snippets hang around.

Just look to the right to see the results.

Ubuntu 7.10: Changing Nautilus' view pane background

Nautilus has basic configuration capabilities, one of which is the ability to change the background of the view pane (the large panel on the right). To change the background, select the Edit menu and "Backgrounds and Emblems..."

This will then bring up the Backgrounds and Emblems dialog. You can select a texture or a color. To apply a texture or a color, select one and then drag it from the Backgrounds and Emblems dialog to the Nautilus' view pane.

You can find more information in Help, Working with Files -> (s6.8) Modifying the Appearance of Files and Folders -> (s6.8.5) Changing Backgrounds.

Ubuntu 7.10 beta replaces openSUSE 10.3 GM

I finally followed through my on my threat to replace openSUSE with Ubuntu. I've replaced openSUSE 10.3 GM with Ubuntu 7.10 Beta 1. Based on my experiences with both on my machines, I consider Ubuntu 7.10, even though it is still in beta, to be the better of the two distributions.

I tried to do this once before with openSUSE 10.2 and Ubuntu 7.04. In the end I went back to openSUSE 10.2 and stayed there until now. This time the transition is considerably different, and considerably smoother. A lot of the ease of transition can be attributed to both distributions using Gnome 2.20, and to how I went about switching from openSUSE to Ubuntu.

Upgrading openSUSE

The first (un)planned step in migrating from openSUSE to Ubuntu was a planned step to migrate from openSUSE 10.2 to openSUSE 10.3. I had every intention of upgrading when 10.3 came out, and to start that migration I installed openSUSE 10.3 RC1 on europa. I wasn't particularly pleased with how it occurred. There were issues with …

Digg news widget is gone

I had the Digg widget off to the right, displaying the top 10 stories about Linux. It was good for a few days until I noticed that blog page rendering slowed down significantly while waiting for the Digg widget to finish loading. I've removed it and now the page is rendering faster again. I may turn off more widgets to get back more performance.

Ubuntu 7.10: Lockups

Nothing to show in pictures, but there is a lockup problem that has occurred twice now with Ubuntu 7.10 running on rhea when
I select Extra or Custom on the Visual Effects tab (Appearance Preferences)The screen saver kicks in.I have never had this problem with Ubuntu 7.04, and I don't have this problem with either Normal Visual Effects or None.

Again, this is a beta, so it's to be expected.

Ubuntu 7.10: Changing the look

Someone asked in the last post how to change features on the desktop. I'd like to show folks, both old and new, how easy it is on this latest version.

Move the mouse to somewhere on the desktop. Right click to bring up the desktop menu, and select "Change Desktop Background." This brings up Appearance Preferences, with the Background wallpaper tab selected. Appearance Preferences under Gnome 2.20 combines all the individual applets from earlier versions of Gnome that could effect the desktop appearance, into one convenient tool.

To change the window border, icons, and general theme, select the Theme tab. On the main Theme window you can select a specific theme or you can fine tune the one currently selected.

To fine tune a theme click the Customize button at the bottom. This will bring up the "Customize Theme" dialog. If you wanted to use the latest Gnome theme you downloaded from Gnome Looks, then you'd click on the Install button or else drag-and-drop the sa…

Ubuntu 7.10: Tweaks make it smoother running

It didn't take much to get rhea running smoothly again after the upgrade from 7.04 to 7.10. The first thing I did was ignore the shiny shiny and turn of all visual effects. That seemed to help tremendously. I then began to change the desktop elements into something I liked that also was reasonably light on the system:
selected a simple JPEG wallpaper via MacWallpapers,selected Clearlooks controls (the latest version to ship with Gnome 2.20)picked up and installed Humanoid-OSXand selected the Mist icon set.Once all that's done you have the following reasonable desktop (below).

You're looking at an NTFS volume in Nautilus from the days when rhea ran Windows 2000. It stopped running Win2K when I swapped out the original motherboard for the current one, and Win2K stopped working because the drivers for the old motherboard wouldn't work with the new one. However, the Linux distribution installed on it at the time, SuSE Professional 9.3, continued to operate and booted right u…

Remeber when Apple actually "Thought Different?"

(As narrated by Richard Dreyfuss)

Here's to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The trouble-makers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They're not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo
You can quote them,
Disagree with them,
Glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the "crazy ones",
We see genius
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the World
Are the ones who do.

And the original ad.


Here's a longer transcription of the ad I found, but no link to the video.

Here's to the Crazy Ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They're not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only…

If you were a computer programmer like Bill here...

Here I am, a long, long way away in time from 1975 and the IMSAI 8080. All I ever aspired to do was write some interesting software on what I thought at the time was the absolute epitome of cybernetic technology. And truth be told, gaze in lust on those fabulous front-mounted panel switches and watch those awesome blinkin' red LEDs. I thought I had arrived and that it could get no better than that. It was a very simple and wonderfully naive time. No Bill Gates and Micro-Soft. No Novell. No Linux (but Unix was out there). Funny, but I never did log into WOPR. Oh well.