November 7, 2008

What's New?

“There is nothing new in the world… except the history you do not know.”

H.S. Truman

May 11, 2008

Wir Haben Deine E-mail Erhalten

I'm sure the title of this post is not correct in any language, but it was the title of a bounced email I received, wherein my email address was associated with an email sender named "Unbelievable."

I feel pretty helpless because I'm sure that there isn't much I can to to stop the bot nets from using my name.

Today was a mild day. Of the 560 spam email messages I received in the last 12 hours, after I deleted the items that were in languages I couldn't read, had some variation of Viagra in the subject or sender, or that were sent by Post Master or System Administrator, that got me down to 147. It's not too bad to scan 147 messages.

It ebbs and flows. Seems like every three or four months my address is used for spam by someone.

I feel a little bad about it, but I know the subject lines or senders make it pretty clear the email is spam and the recipients probably don't give it much thought.

March 9, 2008

Can We Please, Please, Boycott DST?

This morning I awoke to confusion. Half of my clocks indicated the correct hour. Half were wrong.

The ones I hoped were correct... were not. Among these was the clock that alarmed me from slumber. This is a clock that allegedly sets itself. However, it did not seem to realize the importance of tracking the change from CST to CDT.

I am only angry that I didn't assume it wouldn't work. Shame on me, right?

Can we please end this charade? The shift of time does not change anything in my life. There is no gain.

So I skipped my morning bathing ritual, skipped making coffee or trying to eat, and even skipped trying to find clean clothes. I went straight to work without ado. I still arrived late.

For what?

February 25, 2008

Snow Angel

There really aren't words. We will dearly miss Raven. She was our "Snow Angel" and "Little Momma."

Her heart gave out today.

She was with Sommer for almost 16 years. She was a champion Cairn Terrier (Nightfalls Nevermore) and had birthed seven litters.

I don't know what I will miss most, it's so soon, but she was the cuddliest dog ever and the Queen of the House. She had the most adorable pink ears and button nose.

She lives on with us through her grandson Bear (Windways Amnot), but the house is definitely not the same without her.

Goodnight, baby girl. We love you.

January 20, 2008

Service Pack Did Not Install. Reverting Changes.

I attempted to install the Release Candidate of Vista Service Pack One.

I've been running Vista (non-Aero) on an old Dell laptop. It has been slow but stable. Mostly usable.

After the service pack allegedly reverts changes (I've tried twice) Vista doesn't do anything more annoying than tell me there is a new service pack update to install. There is no loss of data or functionality. No new error messages.

But it's pretty disappointing. The Release Candidate for XP SP3 worked like a charm on an even older laptop and Windows XP seems to perform as well as it always has, if not better.

At this point, the Vista laptop is looking like an excellent candidate for conversion to Ubuntu.

January 16, 2008

Open Letter to Tech Media

You know I love you, right?

I pretty much hang on your every word, most every day. I love keeping myself current with up-to-the-minute news and rumors. I love it. Please don't stop.

But I ask of you one thing: Please do not assume with every product release that the product was designed with you and only you in mind. Not every one has the same set of constraints as you, nor the same needs, nor the same ability to use technology.

Further, if the product does not meet your personal needs, please do not use your dismay as a launching point into the attack of a series of products or manufacturers.

It's OK to say "It won't work for me. And here is why..."

Recognize that while your point of view is valid, your experiences are unique and not the same as mine. There is a reasonably good chance I don't agree with everything you outline.

Something that you may not appreciate very much is something that I may hold very dear.

Stop the anger, please.

Give me "pros" and "cons."

December 21, 2007


Midwinter, by the old reckoning.

The shortest day of the year, and the birth of light.

I like learning about the old ways.

September 30, 2007

An Apple Slate?

There are rumor-mongers on the web suggesting that there is a new Apple hand-held device on the horizon. Some are calling it a successor to the Apple Newton.

I am excited, but guarded. For example, when the iPhone was officially announced, I really did believe it was the right device for me. But, in truth, even though the OS it runs resembles OS X at least superficially, that's not enough.

The fiasco recently with the breakage following the last iPhone system software update underscores what for me are critical failings of the device:

  • I can't install applications I want.
  • Applications written for OS X don't work, even if I could
  • It has to be activated before I can use it.

Let me be the first two say that if Apple released a portable device with wireless connectivity that got me around all of those issues, I would be in line.

I am not so enamored of my Treo, or the Blackberry, or Windows Mobile that I won't consider alternatives. And let me just say that I am actively looking for alternatives.

I want a portable device that's more portable than a notebook, that's as powerful as a notebook.

I want to be able to run a real web browser on it, including support for Flash and Java and tabbed browsing. FireFox or Opera, please!

I want to be able to install an RSS reader. I don't like web-based services.

I want to be able to run an FTP/SFTP client.

I want a real email client configurable for multiple providers.

I want my calendar and contacts. I need them to be available when I don't have access to the web.

I want real document editing capabilities including spell-check.

Right now, my Treo does most of this in a fashion that's workable until I can get to a computer. But the web browser and browsing experience are big, big turn offs. Composing an entry for this web journal on my Treo is so painful that I have stopped trying. I can't use the web interface built-in to the software and the third-party applications I have tried offer some functionality but are not at all what I would call rich clients.

Give me a portable computer.

Don't make me activate it with any provider.

Don't force me to use the synchronization tools provided with a single commercial operating system.

Give me the freedom to install the applications I need. Support third-party development.

Apple could run away with more of my money. I want my next laptop to be an Apple. I'm looking at running an Apple server at my house in the long-term.

But, if Apple keeps putting up more walled gardens, I'm out. I will switch to Linux to get out from DRM and I won't look back.

Intel's work on Linux and Palm's work on Linux could prove to be the right way to go. I still believe Palm has it in them to pull out a winner.

If there is a known-good Linux distro to install on one of the current UMPCs... You will definitely have my attention. If Ubuntu will install and be fully functional on the ASUS EEE PC? Then all of this discussion might be moot.

August 31, 2007

Updated: Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon Tribe 5 on a Dell Latitude D600

Update: 9/13/07

Desktop Effects stopped working for me today after running the latest Gutsy updates.

Attempts to turn Desktop Effects on were met with an error message indicating Desktop Effects could not be enabled.

Running compiz from the command line gave me the following output:

Checking for Xgl: not present.
Blacklisted 'ati' driver is in use
aborting and using fallback: /usr/bin/metacity

I found the fix here:

Bug #139384 is not in Ubuntu

I am happy again!

Ignorance being bliss, earlier I had written the following:

It's true.

Even a long-time Windows guy can learn to appreciate the true joys of open-source and free software.

Now, I am not a rich man. I am running on a laptop that is close to four years old. Be that as it may, I am also not content to leave well enough alone. Yes, I am a tweaker. And l like a pretty operating system. I like Vista better than XP. And I really like Mac OS X.

So, when I installed Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon Tribe 5), I had to see what the desktop effects were.

On a Dell Latitude D600 with a 1400x1050 display, the effects were... disappointing. At first. In fact, they didn't work.

Let me first say the Ubuntu installer did detect the correct display resolution and 24-bit color depth. This is an improvement over 6.10, which detected the correct resolution but only 16-bit color.

So, off the bat, I was really pleased. It took me a while to learn what and how to edit to fix the issues in the past. So not having to edit the xorg.conf file immediately was a nice plus.

Until it was time to try the Desktop Effects.

Lucky for me, because of the wonders of the intarweb, I was able to find a lot of different advice on things to try to get 3D (and therefore the Compiz-Beryl Ubuntu Desktop Effects) working. I know that on a newer chipset the benefits are even more fluid and dramatic, but I'm pretty happy with what I got the old laptop to do.

My config is not flawless, but it does use the open source drivers. There is a pretty detailed explanation of how to use the proprietary ATI drivers, but it didn't work on my laptop. This didn't shock me because the instructions were written for 7.04, which I am clearly not using.

Anything that did not work was stricken from my config files. For example, setting the AGP hardware speed turned out to be detrimental. Setting the write speed killed my display entirely. Out those options went.

I edited the following files like 50 times:



I added this file because otherwise I would have had to reduce my color depth to 16-bit:


Don't try any of the changes I made unless you feel comfortable with editing text files as root. And certainly don't make any changes without first backing up your original configuration files and without knowing how to revert to those files when something goes wrong. Trust me. The display going black is one thing. The display turning off is alarming.


Bug 80940
HOWTO: ATI Mobility XGL/Compiz Radeon
D600 xorg.conf
beryl + ubuntu edgy on dell latitude d600

And God bless Google.


Also of note? I set the Synaptics trackpad to be the CorePointer, relegating the mouse to "SendCoreEvents." This works wonderfully with external USB mice, yet allows the mouse preferences to actually affect the behavior of the trackpad. The default Ubuntu config still doesn't get this right, even starting with a fresh reformat and the newest installer.

No other changes were required to enable tap-to-click. Tap-and-scroll still doesn't work like it does in other operating systems, but the scrolling zones are enabled, which I can learn to love.

Overall? This is my favorite Ubuntu to date.

August 1, 2007

Wow! My Condolences and Sympathy to Anyone Affected by the 35W Bridge Collapse

Sommer and I were not affected. My greatest wish to you dear reader is that you were not affected either.

See the Pioneer Press or StarTribune for local updates.

Under the circumstances, it looks like cell service has been cut off in favor or emergency services. I do not know if we will be reachable by telephone, but email and instant messaging work just fine.

I'm not trying to make this all about me, just trying to communicate when some normal channels are not available.