athelind: (Eye - VK)
... or rather, Dust in the Laptop.

My laptop is three years old, and I've been using it as my primary computer system for almost two years.

It's exhibiting the telltale signs of overheating -- lagged keyboard response time, stutters in streaming video, inexplicable lock-ups. If this were a desktop system, it would be a simple thing to open the case and empty a can or two of compressed air into it to blow the dust off the components.

Just how does one accomplish that with a sealed hunk of plastic like this? Aside from the battery compartment, there are a couple of removable panels on the back; I figure one gives access to the hard drive, and the other, to the RAM. Any suggestions before I risk disabling my sole connection to the Internet?

Edit: It's an Acer Aspire 5516, essentially a netbook with an oversized 15.6" screen. I have the manual now; if the KB is removable, there's no indication, but I can now confirm what all the panels on the back are.


athelind: (Eye: RCA Magic Eye)
He changed the world with good design.

Who could aspire to a better epitaph?


athelind: (loop)
When Your Obedient Serpent says "hoopy", he's not making a Douglas Adams reference.

A hoopy task or process is one that requires jumping through hoops: before you can perform the task, you have to perform another task, which in turn requires another task, and another. It's a highly gradable adjective: a process can be "a little hoopy, but worth the trouble", or "too bleeping hoopy to mess with". It's also a relative value, based on the quality of the end results: something that delivers amazing end results can be worth a few hoops.

Corollaries:

  • A moderately hoopy task only requires you to jump through the hoops the first time you set it up; a really hoopy task requires a series of hoops every time you perform it (and probably demanded different hoops for set-up.
  • If you jump the same hoops frequently, or in a wide range of tasks, they stop being visible as hoops. They don't go away, you just don't notice them. Come on: you know there are, say, common Windows tasks that you have to burrow through nested menus to find when it should be available on a right-click or a handy button, but you do them so often you just shrug and move on.
  • Hoops that could be automated are frustrating, because they should be.


Examples:

  • Running IrfanView on a Linux system using WINE is Moderately Hoopy: while it is vastly superior to any of the graphics viewing and conversion tools available natively on Linux, it is generally less trouble to use those inferior tools than Jump Through The Hoops when I just want to crop or resize a file or view a graphics directory in chronological order instead of alphabetical.
  • Torrenting and watching TV on my computer is hoopy.
  • Character creation in GURPS is hoopy. Character creation in Champions is hoopier. Character creation in The Dresden Files is even hoopier, but the hoops are entirely different than GURPS or Champions.
  • Changing software is always hoopy. "Yeah, that software has a lot of amazing feeps, but I've got all my stuff set up on this one. Changing now would be really hoopy."
  • Equal time for Microsoft: Specifying Spreadsheet Cell Borders in OpenOffice Calc is significantly hoopier than it is in MS-Excel. The "Format Cells" dialogue box are almost identical, but Excel has a nice little button in the toolbar that lets you select commonly-used patterns (say, Thick Solid Border Around All Selected Cells) and apply them with a single click. The similar button in Calc just calls up the dialogue box, and makes you specify your border pattern every time. Hoop, hoop, hoop.
  • Makers and programmers are people who have jumped through hoops to learn how to cut through other hoops. Bless you all. Now get to work.




athelind: (Default)

The Kno: A giant double-screen tablet to replace giant textbooks.



Kno Movie from Kno, Inc. on Vimeo.



I'm not much of a tech-fiend or an early adopter. My usual reaction at the Shiny Tech Toy of the Minute is, "huh, that's kinda cool", but it's seldom if ever "OMG I GOTTA HAVE IT".

Even now, as I'm looking at the Kno, my reaction is, "Yes, this is finally getting to what I want in the elusive 'electronic book' -- something that retains the utility of a hardcopy book while simultaneously taking advantage of the new medium."

Up until now, the ebook readers I've seen haven't done either. They've been the Worst of Both Worlds: a static page without any of the convenient features that let the spine-bound book render the continuous scroll obsolete. That's fine for a novel, but for any kind of reference work at all, it's useless. If I'm, say, playing an RPG, and trying to run combat, even the best-organized rulebooks I've seen have me flipping back and forth between three or more widely-separated sections at once.

A reader-tablet that's set up to properly display two-page spreads, to let me jot notes, to let me flip back and forth casually between sections? One that's ALSO set up to hyperlink and cross-reference? And, of course, to have animated illustrations and even embedded video? To have two books open at once, or a full-on web browser on one screen with a textbook on the other?

This is the frakkin' Diamond Age, boys and girls. Or the first real stab at it, anyway.

[livejournal.com profile] halfelf is holding out for a tablet that has both a capacitive and a resistive screen, so you can do both the Cool iPhone Multi-Touch Tricks and the Pressure-sensitive Drawing Tablet Tricks. Call it the "fingerpaint interface".

It would be NICE to be able to use something like the Kno as a full-fledged graphics tablet, but it's not a deal-breaker for me. I can live without that. After all, I can't use my laptop as one, either.

In short: WANT. If this thing isn't just vaporware, I'll be eagerly awaiting announcements of price points.

Even if it is ... this is the interface of the future. This is what an "ebook reader" will have to look like to be as useful as a spine-bound book. It doesn't have to be this large, but it's going to have to be this flexible.

Take a good look, people. This could be the printkiller.
athelind: (Eye: RCA Magic Eye)
I just realized this morning that I have always and consistently been a technological iconoclast, as far as my choice of computing environment.

My systems have always run AMD processors, with the exception of the 8088 I had for less than a week before upgrading it to an AMD 286.

That machine also ran DR-DOS instead of MS-DOS; after a year or two, I installed an advanced, multi-tasking, multi-threading GUI with an office suite: GeoWorks Ensemble.

(That one was dubbed "Oracle", after an omniscient AI from my old Champions campaign; the character not only preceded the comic book character, but the software company. So nyaah.)

The 486 that followed ("Oracle II") continued with DR-DOS and GeoWorks.

My next system was a 686, since AMD continued with the "x86" numbering scheme after Intel started calling their CPUS "Pentiums". The need to establish software compatibility with campus systems necessitated a switch to Windows 3.1. The sheer physical size of the machine (Very Large CPU Tower, and a hitherto-unheard of seventeen inch monitor), combined with the stubborn determination of the operating system to make me do what it wanted, rather than vice-versa, earned it the name "Colossus" (and a Forbin Project desktop theme to match).

Colossus was succeeded by Rocinante, whose name, of course, was a multi-level reference to Cervantes, Steinbeck, Rush, and ... the EtherShip my character piloted in Mage: The Ascension. Rocinante began life as an AMD Athlon running Windows 98, I believe—only to slip further into iconoclasm when I installed the much-reviled Windows ME on the poor thing.

And that's where it gets odd. WinME was notoriously unstable, particularly if you just used the upgrade path instead of reformatting your drive and doing a clean installation—on every machine except this one. I ran ME for years with no trouble, right up until a power surge fried her original motherboard. Apparently, WinME liked that specific mobo, and not the computer; after a few weeks, I realized that suddenly, Rocinante was exhibiting every single reported misbehavior I'd ever heard about in an ME box.

That resulted in an upgrade to Windows XP.

Rocinante is George Washington's Axe, now: new motherboard, new case, new almost everything. She's got a modem that may not even work anymore, from one of her earlier incarnations, and her old 80 Gb hard drive is now strictly a back-up drive that I mostly leave unmounted. She's still running off that old mobo that I installed back in 2003; currently, she's running Ubuntu.

The closest I've come to a mainstream "Wintel" system was my IBM Transnote, with the crazy hybrid digitizing pen-and-ink notepad, purchased at a ridiculous discount from TigerDirect after they got remaindered. As off-beat as that model is, mine was even moreso: unlike the photographs in the linked article, I had a left-handed model, with the notepad on the port side and the computer to starboard.

My primary system now is my laptop, Dancing Star, named after the vessel in my Unwritten Magnum Opus, which in turn takes her name from a Nietzsche quote referenced in the Principia Discordia. Yes, once again, it's an AMD processor, and it's running Ubuntu. Like the TransNote, it's More Nonstandard Than Nonstandard: inside, it's effectively a netbook, with the almost-universal 2009 Netbook Standard Array: 1.6 GHz processor, 2GB memory, blah blah blah. However, it's got a 15.6" widescreen monitor, a number pad alongside the keyboard, and a DVD drive.

That's right, she's got the power of a netbook and the portability of a widescreen laptop. One would almost say it's the worst of both worlds, but you know what?

She works, and works very well indeed. Other than the graphics, in fact, she's faster and more powerful than Rocinante.

But still. An oddball machine, like all of my computers.

And that's the way I like'em.


athelind: (Warning: Self-Improving Software)
Arrrgh.

Last weekend, I spent Sunday upgrading Ubuntu to 9.10 (Karmic Koala).

When I'm at my desk, I plug my desktop speakers into my laptop. Out in the living room, obviously, I don't.

Last night, when I unplugged my desktop speakers, my laptop speakers didn't kick in.

This morning, after a kernel update and reboot, THE LAPTOP SPEAKERS KEEP PLAYING WHEN SOMETHING IS PLUGGED INTO THE JACK. Desktop speakers, headphone, whatever.

And, for the record, their sound quality REEKS (as my gaming group will tell you without hesitation).

Ah, well. I was planning to upgrade the OS to 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) this weekend, anyway. Hopefully, it's a release-specific glitch.


athelind: (Warning: Lack of Internet)

Duke University Shuts Down Their Usenet Server



USENET started at Duke, back in 1980.

This is a Sad. I met my wife on the USENET group alt.fan.dragons.


Edit: Please note that, as far as I can tell, USENET is still active on other servers, as is a.f.d. But still, let's hoist a glass.
athelind: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Do you give your vehicles names? If so, what are they?

My vehicles name themselves, except when they don't.

My first vehicle was a '71 Chevy van, dubbed "Baby" (her full name was "Come on, Baby, please start, don't do this to me again").

A decade later, I found myself with a Camaro of similar vintage. It never really had a name besides "The Camaro".

The car I owned the longest and loved the most was, of course, my '97 Ford Aspire. I attempted to dub it something else, originally, but two different people looked at this small, round, purplish-blue thing, and proclaimed, "It's a grape!" And lo, she was indeed The Grape*.

After six months, the Saturn Station Wagon still hasn't told me her name. We're still getting to know each other, really, even though we've already had a pretty spectacular adventure together.**

I also name my computers. My first one, a 286, was named "Oracle" (after a cybernetic "Ghost in the Machine" from my early '80s Champions campaign). My second had a huge (17"!!) monitor, a huge CPU case, and an operating system that stubbornly demanded that I do things the way it wanted; I dubbed it "Colossus", and gave it a desktop theme from The Forbin Project.

"Rocinante" is my current desktop machine; it's been piecemeal-replaced over the years and now has no components in common with the original version, but there was enough continuity that I never bothered to change the name. Besides, I like it.

Rocinante's been sitting quietly for the last few months, though. My current primary machine is an Acer Aspire laptop, tentatively dubbed "Dancing Star".

I've toyed with renaming it "The Grape", in honor of my last Aspire, though.


*I need to go and tag the earlier entries about that little purple car; we had a lot of adventures over the years, and not ALL of them involved repairs. For that matter, I need to tag the entries about her ignominious demise, as well.
Dammit, I'm all misty again. I loved that little car as much as any dog or cat I've known.

**...okay, "Silver Lady" has suggested itself a few times, but I already call someone else by that name now and then, so it might be a little awkward. Of course, people name boats after their Significant Others all the time ....

athelind: (Warning: Self-Improving Software)

Vulnerability found that allows PDF documents to run arbitrary code.



There's no hacking, cracking, or exploits here: this is just using features built into the format.

I just opened the test file using Adobe Reader under Ubuntu 9.04, and nothing popped up. This seems to be another Windows-Exclusive feature, brought to you by the fine folks in Renton. Any Mac users out there to try it?

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking for pointing this out. I'm just passing on the word.

Edit: [livejournal.com profile] aeto and [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking have pointed out that, of course, the embedded command in the text file is, specifically, a Windows command. Of course it's not going to work in Mac or Linux.

The question is, if the function call is replaced by the appropriate 'Nix command, will it work? And if it doesn't work, is that due to "superior OS security", or just the erratic feature support that us Linux users all bitch about when it interferes with things we want to do, and gloat about when it interferes with potential hazards?

I lack the 'Fu to make the appropriate test files myself, but one of the commenters linked to a file that includes the commands for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Using that, under Ubuntu 9.04:

In Evince: nothing.

In Acrobat Reader 9.3.1: warning pop-up, but nothing opens when I click the button to allow it to open.

I've confirmed that xcalc is, indeed, in usr/bin/, as the text file assumes.

So: is this a Linux security feature, or a Linux compatibility bug?



I need a real warning icon for posts like this.
athelind: (Eye: RCA Magic Eye)
Question for the Hive Mind:

I am using Ubuntu Linux 9.04.

I want to simply hash up a text file, so I can just push a button or enter a short password to unlock it. This doesn't need to be bulletproof; when I was running Windows, I used EditPad Lite's ROT-13 function for the same purpose. It does, however, need to be portable: I want to be able to encrypt a file on the laptop, and open it on the desktop using the same application.

The gedit GNOME text editor has an Encrypt/Decrypt plug-in, but it drops into the OpenPGP "Passwords and Encryption Keys" application, which is a) incomprehensible gobbledygook1, b) overkill worthy of SlitherSting2, and, most importantly c) not, insofar as I can tell, particularly portable: any pass phrase I come up with will be linked to a locally-stored Encryption Key File.

That last one HAS to be wrong. The whole point of PGP is to pass encrypted files around, right?

OpenPGP also makes passwords pass phrases encryption keys thingamabobs that expire after a maximum of six months, and I don't want that. Yes, I know, blah blah blah security blah blah, but I'm not a Swiss bank. I want to be able to hash a file, ignore it for a couple of years, and then open it up and still be able to use it, even if it's on a different machine.

Heck, I've got a command-line ROT-13 hash app for Ubuntu. If I knew enough about the Ubuntu equivalent of a DOS .BAT file, I'd whip something up that just let me enter "Innocuous Command" at the command prompt, and it would turn it into "Decrypt location/hashfu.bar > location/useful.txt", and another one to go the other way.

Now, I wouldn't mind PGP-level security, if I could make it portable and access it with a minimum of fuss.


1"Ubuntu" is not in the default dictionary for the spell-checker in Ubuntu, but "gobbledygook" and "thingamabobs" are.
2Yes, that will get an Argot entry eventually.



You know, I'm gonna Andy Rooney here for a minute.

There's an ongoing and, as far as I can tell, unsolved conflict between Keeping Your Data Secure and Actually Being Able To Use It Yourself.

I constantly hear that :

  • Passwords should be hard to guess.
    • This, of course, makes them hard to remember.

  • The best passwords are completely random.
    • ... making them impossible to remember.

  • You should have different passwords for every site and log-on.
    • ... giving you vast amounts to remember.

  • You should change your passwords regularly.
    • Ibid.

  • You should never, ever write them down, because anyone who finds your password book has access to your whole life.
    • Not that you have much of a life, since you spend all your time trying to access sites whose passwords you no longer remember.

  • You shouldn't store them on your computer, either, because anyone with physical access to your machine will, again, have full access to Your Whole Life.
    • Besides, if anything happens to your computer, or if you have to use a different one, you'll have totally forgotten all your passwords.


Summary: Online Security and Password Protection lie somewhere between Catch-22 and Kobayashi Maru. Unless you spent the points for Full Eidetic Memory, you have to compromise on at least one of the above, and probably more.

That's not really a question. It's just me bitching.


athelind: (Eye - VK)
This is a follow-up to this post.

Following [livejournal.com profile] foofer's advice, [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia got me a wireless bridge for my birthday, so I could finally get my desktop system back online. (Thank you, sweetness!)


The specific unit is a D-Link DAP-1522, purchased new from Fry's after a recommendation from Buy More's Nerd Herd Best Buy's Geek Squad.

I cannot configure the wireless settings for it.

It hooks up fine to the computer, and the Setup Wizard sees. the household wireless network, but the settings the Wizard imposes don't seem to take. It tells me that it's connected when I go to the bridge's Status page, but it doesn't actually connect.

According to the manual, when I go to the wireless setup page, I should see a nice, long pageful of wireless settings. )

What I actually see is a pair of buttons, a header, and nothing underneath. )

Something Is Wrong, obviously. Is that Something in the Operator or the Device? Am I screwing something up, or do I need to just return this and get a new unit?


athelind: (Eye - VK)
This is a follow-up to this post.

Following [livejournal.com profile] foofer's advice, [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia got me a wireless bridge for my birthday, so I could finally get my desktop system back online. (Thank you, sweetness!)


The specific unit is a D-Link DAP-1522, purchased new from Fry's after a recommendation from Buy More's Nerd Herd Best Buy's Geek Squad.

I cannot configure the wireless settings for it.

It hooks up fine to the computer, and the Setup Wizard sees. the household wireless network, but the settings the Wizard imposes don't seem to take. It tells me that it's connected when I go to the bridge's Status page, but it doesn't actually connect.

According to the manual, when I go to the wireless setup page, I should see a nice, long pageful of wireless settings. )

What I actually see is a pair of buttons, a header, and nothing underneath. )

Something Is Wrong, obviously. Is that Something in the Operator or the Device? Am I screwing something up, or do I need to just return this and get a new unit?


athelind: (Eye - VK)
Okay, here's the deal.

I currently only have wireless internet access -- which means that, for most of what I require, I'm limited to my laptop, and my desktop is a Giant Blue Paperweight. My laptop is doing a fine job as Primary System -- it's actually newer and faster than the desktop -- but having to rely on it exclusively means that I've had to load it down with a lot of extraneous applications, rather than keeping it the Lean Mean Portable Productivity Machine that would be my preference.

My birthday is coming up soon, and when Quelonzia asked me what I wanted, the only thing I could think of was a wireless card.

Now, Ubuntu has a long list of supported wireless cards, but it's a long and poorly-organized list, hinging largely on information about internal chipsets that doesn't pop up in most advertising copy. It's also a list of cards that Ubuntu will recognize during the installation of the operating system -- it doesn't really say if you can plug a new card onto an existing Ubuntu box and have the appropriate drivers pop up.

I am polling the LiveJournal Hive Mind for wireless card recommendations.



I need something that is:

  1. Ubuntu Compatible.
  2. Old-skool PCI bus: my motherboard is Vintage 2003.
  3. Reliable.
  4. Available new.


If folks who Know Enough About Stuff To Have Opinions About Brands And Models could peruse the list and make suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it.


athelind: (Eye - VK)
Okay, here's the deal.

I currently only have wireless internet access -- which means that, for most of what I require, I'm limited to my laptop, and my desktop is a Giant Blue Paperweight. My laptop is doing a fine job as Primary System -- it's actually newer and faster than the desktop -- but having to rely on it exclusively means that I've had to load it down with a lot of extraneous applications, rather than keeping it the Lean Mean Portable Productivity Machine that would be my preference.

My birthday is coming up soon, and when Quelonzia asked me what I wanted, the only thing I could think of was a wireless card.

Now, Ubuntu has a long list of supported wireless cards, but it's a long and poorly-organized list, hinging largely on information about internal chipsets that doesn't pop up in most advertising copy. It's also a list of cards that Ubuntu will recognize during the installation of the operating system -- it doesn't really say if you can plug a new card onto an existing Ubuntu box and have the appropriate drivers pop up.

I am polling the LiveJournal Hive Mind for wireless card recommendations.



I need something that is:

  1. Ubuntu Compatible.
  2. Old-skool PCI bus: my motherboard is Vintage 2003.
  3. Reliable.
  4. Available new.


If folks who Know Enough About Stuff To Have Opinions About Brands And Models could peruse the list and make suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it.


athelind: (Magnum Opus)
Since my brain is currently actively engaged in other matters, my Magnum Opus* has finally decided that it wants my attention, as well.

(Obviously, this only happens when there are other things that Actively Need Doing; I don't think I've really done any serious work on the Opus since I finished my capstone, though I was actively working on other story ideas over the long commute during my three months with the civil engineering firm.)

I'm looking for good software to help me organize my plot -- and just to make it hard on the audience, I'm looking for Ubuntu software.

If I were doing this analogue, I'd get a pack of 3"x5" cards, and write down the Important Plot Moments that Must Stay In No Matter What, figure out what order to put them in, and start "inbetweening", as the animators say: adding the transitions and the bridge scenes and the character development moments that get me from Scene to Scene to Scene.

If the inbetweening process suggests a different order for the Keystone Scenes, I could then start shuffling them around.

I'd like to find software that does this sort of thing gracefully. Wikis don't work (I've tried'em). Mindmap software is kind of close (discrete ideas in boxes on a blank desktop), but the radial paradigm is all wrong.

I'm downloading a few outliners from the Ubuntu repositories, and I'll mess around with'em later. I was wondering if any of you out there in LJ Land might have some suggestions for something more graphical, more like a Big Ol' Bulletin Board/Table Top that will let me have a bunch of ideas and plot elements all out in front of me at the same time, and shuffle them around without awkward copypasta. Don't be hesitant to suggest Windows Application X or Mac Application Y -- I can always use them as a search term to find open-source software that's like those programs.


* No, I'm not going to give any details about the Magnum Opus at this stage of the game. I will say that, yes, it has dragons. And dinosaurs. And sorcerors. And maybe even swords.
athelind: (Default)
Since my brain is currently actively engaged in other matters, my Magnum Opus* has finally decided that it wants my attention, as well.

(Obviously, this only happens when there are other things that Actively Need Doing; I don't think I've really done any serious work on the Opus since I finished my capstone, though I was actively working on other story ideas over the long commute during my three months with the civil engineering firm.)

I'm looking for good software to help me organize my plot -- and just to make it hard on the audience, I'm looking for Ubuntu software.

If I were doing this analogue, I'd get a pack of 3"x5" cards, and write down the Important Plot Moments that Must Stay In No Matter What, figure out what order to put them in, and start "inbetweening", as the animators say: adding the transitions and the bridge scenes and the character development moments that get me from Scene to Scene to Scene.

If the inbetweening process suggests a different order for the Keystone Scenes, I could then start shuffling them around.

I'd like to find software that does this sort of thing gracefully. Wikis don't work (I've tried'em). Mindmap software is kind of close (discrete ideas in boxes on a blank desktop), but the radial paradigm is all wrong.

I'm downloading a few outliners from the Ubuntu repositories, and I'll mess around with'em later. I was wondering if any of you out there in LJ Land might have some suggestions for something more graphical, more like a Big Ol' Bulletin Board/Table Top that will let me have a bunch of ideas and plot elements all out in front of me at the same time, and shuffle them around without awkward copypasta. Don't be hesitant to suggest Windows Application X or Mac Application Y -- I can always use them as a search term to find open-source software that's like those programs.


* No, I'm not going to give any details about the Magnum Opus at this stage of the game. I will say that, yes, it has dragons. And dinosaurs. And sorcerors. And maybe even swords.
athelind: (happy)
Does anyone out there know how to open/convert/break down an .avb avatar file from the old, old Microsoft Comic Chat program? Way back in the Dark Ages, Malathar made a custom file for me, and I'd like to convert the various emotions and gestures into LiveJournal icons.

athelind: (Default)
Does anyone out there know how to open/convert/break down an .avb avatar file from the old, old Microsoft Comic Chat program? Way back in the Dark Ages, Malathar made a custom file for me, and I'd like to convert the various emotions and gestures into LiveJournal icons.

athelind: (His Master's Voice)
This post from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking prompted this admission:

I still don't get Facebook. What is it? I can't see any pages, and all anyone will say is that it's a "social networking site".

I "get" LiveJournal. It's a blog site that makes it simple to aggregate blogs you like to read into a "friends" list, and allow certain levels of trusted access to the people on that list. I get what people DO here; it's a BLOG. Same with DeviantArt; it's an art site with interactive comments and journals. At its core, though, people post ART.

Hell, I even get MySpace: it's Geocities 2.0.

But I don't get Facebook. From all the descriptions I've heard, it's Links Without Content.

I've had a few people say, "why don't you just sign up and see for yourself?"

... is it just me, or is there something inherently cultish about that phrase?

Edit: BoingBoing just provided a link to an image that pretty much answers my question:


"Facebook: The Medium is the Message." Elegant.


athelind: (Default)
This post from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking prompted this admission:

I still don't get Facebook. What is it? I can't see any pages, and all anyone will say is that it's a "social networking site".

I "get" LiveJournal. It's a blog site that makes it simple to aggregate blogs you like to read into a "friends" list, and allow certain levels of trusted access to the people on that list. I get what people DO here; it's a BLOG. Same with DeviantArt; it's an art site with interactive comments and journals. At its core, though, people post ART.

Hell, I even get MySpace: it's Geocities 2.0.

But I don't get Facebook. From all the descriptions I've heard, it's Links Without Content.

I've had a few people say, "why don't you just sign up and see for yourself?"

... is it just me, or is there something inherently cultish about that phrase?

Edit: BoingBoing just provided a link to an image that pretty much answers my question:


"Facebook: The Medium is the Message." Elegant.


athelind: (tech)
I meant to post this when it first showed up, but...



This is actually the first indication I've had that the stuttery, spazzy, laggy video I get from YouTube and its ilk isn't just due to my ancient 2003-era motherboard and underpowered video card.

athelind: (Default)
I meant to post this when it first showed up, but...



This is actually the first indication I've had that the stuttery, spazzy, laggy video I get from YouTube and its ilk isn't just due to my ancient 2003-era motherboard and underpowered video card.

athelind: (weird science)
Back in May, you may recall, [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia got me a toy: a refurbished Asus Eee 900a Netbook.

And then I said nothing about it.

Well, the reason why I said nothing about it was because, after a couple of weeks, the thing started locking up in mid-boot. It came with a recovery DVD that could make a bootable USB Thumb Drive or SD card -- but the software on the DVD demanded Windows, and, well, there's not a Windows machine in the house.

Please note that the Eee runs a Linux variant, yet did not come with Linux recovery tools. *headdesk*

So, I talked to technical support, and, lacking the ability to make a recovery drive, they had me send it back for a replacement.

When the replacement arrived, it pulled the no-boot trick on the first day. This time, however, I had an SD card* with Eeebuntu loaded on it.

(Eeebuntu, as the name suggests, is an Eee-specific version of Ubuntu, the Linux distro I use on my desktop. I'd been planning to put Eeebuntu on the Eee all along, since I wanted more flexibility than the dumbed-down Linux that's loaded by the factory. The stock Eee OS won't even let you install new applications, at least not easily.)

This was a Monday. The thing ran happily on Eeebuntu until that Friday... when it locked up in mid-boot again.

Eeebunto, however, is a bit more verbose than the stock Eee OS. It actually told me that there were bad sectors on the Solid-State Drive (SSD).

I tried a few more things -- including using someone else's Windows machine to make a Recovery SD Card. That actually worked -- once. I was able to install it and get it to boot -- but not to REboot.

So, I sent a very detailed description to Customer Service, and they had me send it back. They confirmed the problem... and said that they couldn't replace it right away, and would we accept a refund instead?

At this point, I'm gun-shy about old, refurbished Eees with Solid-State Drives. A refund sounds a lot better than getting another 900A and just waiting for the drive to fail again.

So I have no toy, and I am a sad dragon. =(

On top of that, I failed yet again in upgrading my old wheezer video card.


*While both the packaged and online instructions insist that the Eee can boot from a USB thumb drive, I was never able to make that work.
athelind: (Default)
Back in May, you may recall, [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia got me a toy: a refurbished Asus Eee 900a Netbook.

And then I said nothing about it.

Well, the reason why I said nothing about it was because, after a couple of weeks, the thing started locking up in mid-boot. It came with a recovery DVD that could make a bootable USB Thumb Drive or SD card -- but the software on the DVD demanded Windows, and, well, there's not a Windows machine in the house.

Please note that the Eee runs a Linux variant, yet did not come with Linux recovery tools. *headdesk*

So, I talked to technical support, and, lacking the ability to make a recovery drive, they had me send it back for a replacement.

When the replacement arrived, it pulled the no-boot trick on the first day. This time, however, I had an SD card* with Eeebuntu loaded on it.

(Eeebuntu, as the name suggests, is an Eee-specific version of Ubuntu, the Linux distro I use on my desktop. I'd been planning to put Eeebuntu on the Eee all along, since I wanted more flexibility than the dumbed-down Linux that's loaded by the factory. The stock Eee OS won't even let you install new applications, at least not easily.)

This was a Monday. The thing ran happily on Eeebuntu until that Friday... when it locked up in mid-boot again.

Eeebunto, however, is a bit more verbose than the stock Eee OS. It actually told me that there were bad sectors on the Solid-State Drive (SSD).

I tried a few more things -- including using someone else's Windows machine to make a Recovery SD Card. That actually worked -- once. I was able to install it and get it to boot -- but not to REboot.

So, I sent a very detailed description to Customer Service, and they had me send it back. They confirmed the problem... and said that they couldn't replace it right away, and would we accept a refund instead?

At this point, I'm gun-shy about old, refurbished Eees with Solid-State Drives. A refund sounds a lot better than getting another 900A and just waiting for the drive to fail again.

So I have no toy, and I am a sad dragon. =(

On top of that, I failed yet again in upgrading my old wheezer video card.


*While both the packaged and online instructions insist that the Eee can boot from a USB thumb drive, I was never able to make that work.
athelind: (weird science)

Douglas Rushkoff insists that Google Chrome OS will CHANGE EVERYTHING.



Some of Rushkoff's arguments are less than convincing to a Linux user, I'm afraid. I'm not "locked into Microsoft Office". I use Open Office, and when an MS user simply HAS to see my work, I export -- which I'd have to do with GoogleApps anyway.


I'm simply not comfortable working "in the cloud". The privacy issues Rushkoff so cavalierly dismisses as "false" are still there; if I'm working on a confidential report, I don't want it on a drive whose access I can't control. I don't want to be dependent on the reliability of my Internet connection to access it myself, either. If I'm working on the Great American Novel, can I be sure that Google or whoever winds up running their servers will keep my file safe? Will I see it at Borders with someone else's name on the cover? If their system crashes so catastrophically that my work can't be recovered, will they be liable?

And gods forbid The Authorities should ever decide that I'm a Person of Interest. Shoot, I don't even have to assume they'll single me out; it's no great stretch to think that they'll decide that having the ability to pick through everyone's conveniently-accessible personal files is the same as having both the right and the obligation to do so.

It's not like they haven't before.

GoogleApps are convenient collaboration tools, but I don't think they can our should replace local computing.

This doesn't mean I won't try GoogleChrome if I can ever get a functioning NetBook (I'm about to send the second Eee back due to SSD failure). I can see a lot of uses for the paradigm.

I just don't plan to do anything important with it.


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