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: (grognard)
Gaming Geekery:

Years ago, on a whim, I picked up a big bag of plastic "gold pirate coins" from a Halloween store during their big November 1st sale. I've found they make terrific game counters; they're big and shiny and, compared to those defective marbles flat glass beads that most people use, much lighter to tote around and much harder to lose.

A year or two ago, I wandered through a party store around Mardi Gras time, and noted that they had even bigger bags of Mardi Gras coins, in gold, metallic green, and metallic purple.

So, after noting earlier in the week that Mardi Gras was in early March this year, I stopped by a local party store last week and got a bag.

I'm ab out to start a game of DC Adventures (a.k.a. Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition). DCA/M&M makes extensive use of "Hero Points", which allow PCs to do Cool Things Above and Beyond Their Character Sheet. They also have a "Luck Control" power which bestows Expendable Resources that aren't quite as flexible as a full Hero Point.

M&M originated the "Toughness Save" wound mechanic. Every time you fail a Toughness roll in DCA, you take a Wound, which gives you a -1 on further Toughness checks (and makes you more likely to take additional Conditions that lead up to Unconsciousness).

I've been using counters for Hero Points since M&M 1st Edition. M&M1 gave PCs a lot of Hero Points, and not only was it a lot easier to keep track of them when we used counters ... there was something viscerally satisfying about the sound they made when you dropped the glass-bead counter in the Big Jar. There's a psychological edge to using something tangible that you don't get just from marking a tally on a piece of paper.

While I was hypnotized by the shinies looking over three different colors of coins, I immediately designated Gold as Hero Points, and Green for Luck was a no-brainer. I wasn't quite sure what to do with the purple ones, at first, until I remembered that keeping track of Wounds was a bit of bookkeeping that would also benefit from counters. Just tossing a player a purple coin (or stacking one up on an NPC sheet) will make it a lot easier to track. "What's my penalty?" "How many coins do you have in your stack?"

And Purple is a vaguely bruise-like color, after all.



Computer Geekery:

After three-plus years of using Ubuntu Linux and Open Office on my home systems, I have just spent my first three weeks at a job where I am obligated to use industry-standard Microsoft products: Windows, Office, all the Usual Suspects.

I have to say ... I regret nothing! After running smoothly for more than two weeks, Office decided to be Inexplicably Glitchy this past week. Word just randomly slows to a stop periodically, interrupting my work flow to herald me with the icon that [livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty has so eloquently described as "a toilet-flushing circle".1 Excel, for its part, has decided that I don't really need cell heights to adjust automatically unless I close Excel entirely and re-open the worksheet in a fresh instance.

None of these quirks would be quite so irksome if the applications hadn't run just fine right up until Wednesday or Thursday.

I will say that there are a couple of Excel features that OpenOffice Calc doesn't implement quite as elegantly, most particularly in the little "cell border" button up in the toolbar. In Calc, that just calls up the "Format Border" dialogue. Excel lets you pick from an array of commonly-used border choices (such as "surround all these cells with a thick black line"), which makes it much simpler and faster to insure that your tables all have a uniform appearance. Still, Excel gives me just as many "why won't you do this simple obvious thing that Calc does?" moments as vice versa.

Oh, and Microsoft Visio is a gem of a layout/floorplan program that seems to have no direct Linux equivalent. In fact, it doesn't seem to have any significant Windows competitors. Nothing else seems to combine that "here's a bunch of commonly-used icons to drag and drop onto your layout" interface with the crisp, elegant lines that Viso produces.

Of course, the only credit Microsoft gets is for having the savvy to buy out the company and rebrand the software.


1 Obviously, the toilet is stopped up, since the circle doesn't change in size at all ...
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: (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: (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: (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)
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: [livejournal.com 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, https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6542 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)
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: [livejournal.com 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, https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6542 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: (weird science)
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.

Hmmmm...


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.

Hmmmm...


athelind: (coyote laughs)
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)
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: (clobberin' time)
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)
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: (work)
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.
SOLUTION:
  1. wget http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/get/flashplayer/current/install_flash_player_9_linux.tar.gz

  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 libflashplayer.so 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)
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.
SOLUTION:
  1. wget http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/get/flashplayer/current/install_flash_player_9_linux.tar.gz

  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 libflashplayer.so 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: (tech)
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, [livejournal.com profile] hinoki replaced the power supply in my shiny blue brick with [livejournal.com 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)
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, [livejournal.com profile] hinoki replaced the power supply in my shiny blue brick with [livejournal.com 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: (tech)
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 [livejournal.com 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)
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 [livejournal.com 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: (big ideas)
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)
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: (Superboy Punches The Universe)
The computer is a doorstop.

I opened it up, dusted it out, made sure all the internal power and data cables were secure, and yanked out the old CD-RW which hasn't worked properly in three years.

I plugged it back in, turned it on... and got nothing but the case lights. No BIOS screen. Nothing.

Just to see if the video card was screwed up, I unplugged one of the monitors from the card and plugged it into the onboard video (which was a workaround when I was having all the troubles with the Card From Hell that never did work in this machine).

Zilch.

I cycled the power button rapidly several times.

That had an effect: It now does nothing when I press the power button. Not even case lights.

That particular problem might just be a loose wire in the case power switch.

Or it could be the power supply.

The other problems I've been having make it almost certain that there are hardware issues besides a bad on/off switch, but whether they're in the power supply, the RAM, the motherboard, or the shiny new hard drive I just installed along with Ubuntu... I have no way of knowing.

And, in all likelihood, the problems in one part of the system have probably CREATED problems with the rest.

New Motherboard, at this point, means New Computer, since the old RAM and the old video card are obsolete.

And now, a Public Service Announcement.
"Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"
"Well, don't do that!"


If someone posts something saying that they're having trouble with Linux, comments to the effect of "Don't use Linux!" are not helpful in any way, shape or form.

I was very careful to phrase the first paragraph of my last post as "I don't know how to do X, and can't find any information on it", rather than "this doesn't work in Kubuntu."

That's because I want to learn this stuff. It's complicated, and it's kind of a pain in the ass, and the documentation is about as clear as sixty centimeters of reactor shielding, but I wouldn't be messing with Linux in the first place if I didn't want to learn new things.

At the moment, that's trumped by the need to have a computer that I can use comfortably for several hours at a stretch, looking for work and learning new work-related software. (The Transnote does not qualify. Squinting at this tiny screen gives me a headache.)

Once I find a Real Job (read: not consulting, most especially not consulting in a job that expects me to have my own hardware, I can take the time and effort to learn the ins and outs of X-Windows Configuration Scripts.

I should also note that Ubuntu installed seamlessly and is running smoothly on my grandspawn's system -- which is theoretically older, slower and more abused than my own.

November 2016

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