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

Following [ profile] foofer's advice, [ 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: (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: (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: (Default)
This post from [ 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)
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)
Back in May, you may recall, [ 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)

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.

athelind: (Default)

AOL threatens former users with mystery bills

The link is to the BoingBoingGadgets article, but the original story is from the Wall Street Journal.

Apparently, AOL is "upgrading" customer accounts, then sending the bills off to collection agencies -- without actively notifying the customers in question.

This, it seems, includes people who have signed up for nothing more than AIM service.

Hooray. =P

athelind: (Default)
I want broken-image icons, dammit.

I am tired of Firefox not showin' anything when an image doesn't work. It's not useful or desirable in any way shape or form. Netscape did it. IE did it, or, if memory serves, it used to. Firefox doesn't show anything if an image doesn't load, and neither does Evolution (the GNOME browser that also comes with Ubuntu).

Broken-image icons let you know that you HAVE missed something, and give you a location to right-click on to try to force-load the image.

It's just STUPID. Who decided that NOT doing something that the very first GUI browsers did was a good idea? Can I punch them?

Does anyone out there know how to make Firefox DO this?

EDIT: [ profile] kyhwana knew!

"about:config" insisted that "browser.display.show_image_placeholder" was indeed set to "true", so that part of the browser is Just Plain Broken.

Thankfully, took care of it just fine -- in FF 3.0. For you folks who've already adopted 3.5, you're on your own.

Has anyone else had this problem with Firefox? You'd think if it was common, it would have been fixed by now. Since it's persisted through several full version numbers and two different operating systems, however, I have a hard time believing it's Just Me.

athelind: (Default)
You know, I've very quickly adapted to using a single monitor -- thanks in part to the quick-and-easy Desktop Switcher that Ubuntu has.

The whole system seems to be working much more smoothly than it has in a very long time.

After almost a full day of this, I've started to realize that all of my most blood-pressure-raising computer issues in the last few years have centered around my stubborn insistence at keeping the two-monitor set-up running.

Hell, if I recall correctly, that was what kept me from keeping that video card I got last year in the machine: it ran fine until I tried a second monitor.


athelind: (Default)
I'm getting used to one monitor, but so far, that's not the most annoying thing about the glitches in the Ubuntu display editors.

No, the most annoying thing is that, now that I'm only running one screen, all of the annoying little visual flourishes like expanding windows and transparent toolbars have activated -- and I CAN'T TURN THEM OFF.

It's taunting me.

athelind: (Default)
Well, over the last couple of weeks, I upgraded from Ubuntu 8.04 to 9.04, with a week or so at 8.10 just to make sure everything was stable.

Annoyingly, the jump to 9.X threw a wrench in my video drivers, and the setting software was cranky.

In the proces of trying to correct a minor glitch (that made Second Life almost unusable), I've once again completely cocked up my two-monitor browser settings. The second monitor refuses to set itself at the proper 1440x900 resolution -- it's turned into a 1024x768 monitor PANNING ACROSS a 1440x900 virtual screen.

That's worse than useless.

Once again, the only hints of help I can find online involve hand-editing the appropriate config files; meanwhile, finding useful information about just how to DO that elude me.

So, to hell with it. I'll just use one monitor, like everyone else does.

Ironically, I've got the replacement Eee working just fine under Eeebuntu.

athelind: (Default) a song whose signature line is "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave" really the best choice for tech support hold music?

EDIT: "Every word I say is true, this I promise you" is not much better for customer service. =P

athelind: (Default)
I can has netbook.

You can has, too, if you order before Sunday.

It just arrived today. Haven't really had time to play with it. I need to scream at the wireless router this weekend; it's being st00pid again. So far, though, the Eee is NICE. Tiny keyboard, but I'm getting used to it. The high resolution makes the little screen seem loads bigger than the grainy 600x800 of the Transnote.

If nothing else, I'll be able to curl up in my Comfy Chair and read ebooks!

All Better!

Jun. 1st, 2008 12:22 pm
athelind: (Default)
The CMOS Checksum Error was indeed the CMOS battery, and not some Prophecy of Horrible Catastrophe Looming to Strike.*

A quick confirmation of the battery type (CR2032, which is apparently the nigh-universal CMOS battery), a quick glance in the motherboard manual re: the error messaage, a quick run to Fry's, and Voila! No More Error.

Grand total: 60 cents and the remains of a Fry's gift card with $1.55 on it.

*This does not mean that Horrible Catastrophe is not Looming to strike, without the courtesy of prophecy. Remember: "No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow. … Boom, sooner or later. Boom!"

athelind: (Default)
This morning, upon booting up, I got a "CMOS Checksum Error" that stopped the boot-up. It gave me the option of entering the BIOS set-up menu, or just continuing with the boot. I entered the BIOS menu, quickly realized that, even if I was awake, I'd have no idea what I was looking for, and exited.

The system then proceeded to boot up normally.

I'm told that this could be the first sign of motherboard failure. Hooray! On the other claw, it could just be One Of Those Random Oddities that I'll never see again.

Frankly, this thing's probably been ready to go since I got it. It's always been kinda twitchy, and there just might be a reason for that. My old mobo just randomly died on me after we moved into our first apartment up here in San Jose. We replaced it -- and a few weeks later, the outlet I had my computer plugged into shorted out badly. I figure that the old mobo died because of an erratic outlet with dirty power, and this one was running in the same bad outlet for the first few weeks of its life.

That was 2003. Five years is old for ANY motherboard.

So... I need to shunt updated copies of all my job-hunting stuff onto the laptop today, in case this thing quits on me. Needless to say, replacing the motherboard until the job hunt is successful Just Ain't Gonna Happen.

This, incidentally, is an example of "Coyote Loves Me" -- a motherboard dying with no warning is a catastrophe. A motherboard dying with some advanced notice is an annoyance. Having that notice means that I can avoid the worst part of any unexpected systems failure: the stress, anger and panic on the operator side of the keyboard.

And that makes me happy.

athelind: (Default)
I fixed the Adobe Flash problem on both my Ubuntu machine and my grandson's.

I had to plough through the Ubuntu forums and combine two different responses before I could do it, though -- and the ultimate solution was far simpler than the first few pages of "all you have to do is..."

This is my biggest complaint about Linux. Open-source support is wonderful in theory -- if you do a Google search for just about any problem, you'll find a lot of people who've run into the same issue. Unfortunately, there's only a fraction of that number who can tell you how to fix it. Lots of cries for help, but very, very few rescues.

The problem I faced is apparently a common one: Fresh Ubuntu install, fresh Firefox install. Went to a page with Flash components. Got a dialogue box saying that I didn't have the right plug-in, and clicked the button to install the Adobe Flash non-free plug-in. Restarted Firefox. Went to the same page.

Got the same dialogue box.

Clicked it.

Got a dialogue box saying that it was already installed, and I needed to restart Firefox.

Restarted Firefox.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

The first few "solutions" in the Forums explain that Adobe hasn't yet updated the DEB installer package, and list multiple different ways to assemble one from scratch.

Finally, someone says that they just found grabbed the file from Adobe, pulled the plug-in file out of the compressed bundle, and pasted it directly into Firefox's plug-ins folder. It worked for them, with no hitch, and it worked for me, to.

So, here's the Step By Step, for any desperate soul who finds Your Obedient Serpent's blog through Google:

PROBLEM: In Ubuntu 7.10, Adobe Flash Plug-In will not install properly with Firefox 2.0.
  1. wget

  2. tar xvfz install_flash_player_9_linux.tar.gz

  3. nautilus install_flash_player_9_linux (This opens a File Manager window into the directory created when you untarred the tarball in the last step.)

  4. sudo nautilus /usr/lib/firefox/plugins (This opens a File Manager window with admin permissions into Firefox's plug-ins folder.)

  5. Cut from the first directory and psate it into the second.

  6. Restart Firefox.

  7. Laugh at those still trying to make their own DEB installers from stone knives and bearskins. A good Girl Genius Spark laugh. You know you want to.

And that's it. Download, unzip, cut, paste.
athelind: (Default)
So, I worked myself through all five stages of the Kubler-Ross model and achieved a nice, serene state of Acceptance.

And then, earlier this e'en, [ profile] hinoki replaced the power supply in my shiny blue brick with [ profile] andreal's discarded unit.

Lo, it works again!

Ubuntu's reinstalled; dragon mascot or no, I'm not going to try Kubuntu again until I have a better feel for configuring X the hard way, with config files and command lines and blood sacrifice.

Things are MOSTLY working smoothly at this stage, though Firefox is pulling one of those stupid "You need to install this plug-in/This plug-in is already installed/You need to restart Firefox/You need to install the SAME PLUG-IN" things. It should settle out somehow, though, thinking about it, my grandson's machine has run into the same problem.

Grrr, when stuff that Used To Work refuses to work, that means there's probably some sneaky little problem hiding somewhere.

Tomorrow, I have some quality time scheduled with Package Manager. Gnite!
athelind: (Default)
The desktop is currently a Big Blue Brick, as mentioned previously.

I'm working from my 2001-vintage IBM Transnote, a funky little specialized laptop that's nto well-suited as a desktop substitute. For those tasks that require a screen bigger than 800x600, I'm using [ profile] quelonzia's iMac.

Since I am still stuck in "consulting" mode (i.e., lots of hunt, not much job), and since Further Confusion is right around the corner, it's going to be a long while before I can remedy this situation.

Weep not for Your Obedient Serpent, however. I find this strangely liberating. The Transnote screen tightly restricts my ability to multi-task -- and so I find myself doing one thing, actually getting it done, and then moving onto the next, rather than my usual state of Doing So Much I Do Nothing At All. My years and years of bookmarks are locked onto my old hard drive, paring the time I waste web surfing to a minimum.

Needless to say, Second Life would make this poor thing explode like a breached warp core.

If I had actively resolved to "waste less time online" in the New Year, I could not have devised a better way to accomplish that goal.
athelind: (Default)
If there's a little crack in your windshield, it's not just going to spontaneously heal itself -- even if it's so small you can only see it at certain angles. It's just going to get bigger and bigger, so slowly you don't really notice, until, finally, kerSMASH.

This is a metaphor.
athelind: (Default)
I left the computer off for most of the day, as we were running around shopping, catching The Golden Compass, and cleaning house. I sat down for about half an hour of quick web-browsing, then left to watch the last two parts of Tin Man on Sci Fi.

When I came back four hours later, the thing had rebooted itself. For no apparent reason.

I think this is the second or third spontaneous reboot since loading Ubuntu a week ago Friday.

SOMETHING ain't stable. I don't know if it's the OS, or if long-term hardware problems that Windows just dumbed over are becoming more evident. After all, if I'd come back to a spontaneous reboot FNAR when this thing was still running Windows, I'd just have muttered something nasty about Microsoft.

I was HOPING that most of the hardware problems were centered in the 9-year-old hard drive that I yanked, but no such luck.



Nov. 2nd, 2007 03:27 pm
athelind: (Default)
I finally got Infra Recorder to cooperate with my CD/DVD burner. I am now posting to LJ via FireFox, from Ubuntu Live, running from DVD.

My second monitor is NOT happy, and is currently turned off to avoid the Dance of the Angry ASCII.

Tasks To Do:

  1. Figure out how to get my FireFox and Thunderbird config data from the Windows versions to the Linubuntunix versions. I have tons of bookmarks and eight friggin' email accounts, and redoing even the latter by hand would be traumatic.

  2. Figure out if Ubuntu is set up for a dual-boot install.

  3. Install Ubuntu on my old 80 GB "Data" drive for a "Test Run", using the dual-boot option and leaving the even older 20GB "OS and App" drive untouched.

  4. Make sure I can get the nVidia drivers up and running properly, with both monitors.

  5. Remove the 80 GB drive, and install the Shiny New 320 GB drive.

  6. Install Ubuntu with Dual-Boot option on the 320 GB. The "Second Boot" will be the 20 GB Windows XP drive. This is the "emergency exit".

  7. Temporarily unplug the 20 GB drive from the CD controller and power. Plug in the old 80 GB. Transfer all data into an "Archive" directory.*

  8. Buhbye, 80 Gig. You've served me well.

  9. And if Ubuntu is up, running and stable at this stage...

  10. Yank out the old nVidia card, install the 7600 GT, and see if the Linux drivers work on this hardware combination when the Windows drivers wouldn't.

  11. If so... buhbye, 20 Gig. Buhbye, Windoze.

*(Yes, it would be much simpler to have all three drives running at once, but I don't have any spare IDE connections... unless I yank out my old, half-functional, never-used CD-RW drive. And trying to figure out Master/Slave settings between THREE drives is scary.)

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