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)
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 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)
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)
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).


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.
athelind: (Default)
After difficulties installing Kubuntu at all, I discovered that a) to get two monitors running, I needed to directly modifiy the XWindows configuration files -- which don't seem to have any beginner's tutorials or documentation.

But that's not the big problem, so please don't address it in the comments.

The live CD wouldn't let me access my hard drives. It gave me a response that was something like "UID 99 Not Recognized".

I shrugged, and installed anyway.

It wouldn't let me access my old 80GB -- which, you'll recall, is where I stash pretty much everything.

Making it useless to me.

Please note that the drive was MOUNTED. It just would not allow me ACCESS.

Soooo... now I've got a fresh, shiny Ubuntu-with-Gnome Live CD running.

And it doesn't recognize EITHER hard drive, at ALL. They don't show up in the file manager. Trying to "mount hda0" or "sudo mount hda0" yields "mount: can't find hda0 in /etc/fstab or /etc/mtab".

This sounds like a hardware problem. Especially considering all the times I had boots that didn't quite work, and a least one instance where the system simply would not START. Not not-boot -- the power button did NOTHING. No lights. Nothing.

I'm gonna see if it's something stupid-simple, like loose cables.

Otherwise, I have to conduct my whole life through this little tiny low-rez laptop screen.


Jan. 5th, 2008 03:45 am
athelind: (Default)
I've been dealing with the Gnome-based version of Ubuntu for a month or so, and, honestly, it's just not workin' for me. It's cranky and spazzy and has some kind of memory leak.

I downloaded both Xubuntu, which uses Xfce, and Kubuntu, which uses KDE, and burned'em both to bootable CDs.

Xubutnu didn't seem to like my system much at all, but Kubuntu seems to be running faster off the CD than the Gnome version does from the Hard Drive. The interface is also more comfortable and intuitive, thus far. I'm using KDE's own "kustom" browser, Konqueror, to make this post -- it's fast and elegant, and maybe it won't have that distressing FireFox memory leak.

And KDE's mascot is a dragon. Sold!

Just need to move some stuff from the 320-gig to the 80-gig, and it's Clean Install Time!
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.

athelind: (Default)
The default music player in GNOME/Ubuntu is Rhythmbox, which works in exactly the way I don't want: the "Music Library" model.

"Music Library" apps sift through your directories, find your music files, and use filenames and ID3 tags to organize them by Artist, Album, Title, Genre, and other parameters. Some "Library" apps will immediately start searching as soon as you install and open them. Rhythmbox is more well-behaved, and won't do that until you add a "folder" to its list.

However, as far as I can tell, it will only sort music and generate playlists according to those categories.

I have my music files, OGG and MP3, organized into directories. These directories are based on my own peculiar categorization: "Protest Songs." "Music for the End of the World". "Filk Songs." "Soundtrack for Mage: the Ascension." "TV Theme Music." "Soundtrack For My Unfinished Webcomic." Some songs fit into more than one category, and hence can be found in more than one directory.

Rhythmbox will not recognize my organization. Rhythmbox will let me dump the contents of a directory into a playlist, but will not let me change the order of the songs unless it's by Track Number, Title, Genre, Artist, Album or Time. If I add songs from another directory, it will only integrate them into my list. If I added all my music to its library, I would have a mess.

I certainly wouldn't have what I wanted to listen to.

I have more control over my CD player.

The Totem Media Player also comes with Ubuntu. Despite being primarily a video player, it allows me to make spontaneous mix lists with a minimum of hassle. Still, it's a kludge. I'd prefer dedicated music software that gave me more flexibility.

I know the "mix tape" is considered something of a street-level art form these days. Surely, there has to be some Linux-compatible software that lets you make them?

Suggestions requested.
athelind: (Default)
EDIT: It's fixed!

The Problem )
athelind: (Default) the man said to himself as he passed by each floor as he fell from the skyscraper.

The new 320 Gb hard drive is in, Ubuntu is installed on it, and everything seems to be running smoothly.

Ubuntu immediately recognized the graphics card, informed me that the proper drivers weren't open source, and asked me if I wanted to install them anyway. After a bit of (ahem) discussion, both monitors are up and running happily.

My AIM account is working in Pidgin, the IM client that comes with Ubuntu; I've blown off ICQ entirely.

The data from my old D: drive is intact and fully accessible.

Now I just have to figure out how to install new software!
athelind: (Default)
All right, wish me luck.

After weeks... okay, MONTHS... of procrastinating, I'm finally going to shut down my desktop machine, yank its almost-decade-old 20-gig C: drive, plug in a new 320-gig drive, and install Ubuntu. All in one swell foop.

My laptop is up and running, so I'll still have web access and access to FurryMUCK if things go south.

Unfortunately, my long-time ICQ account may go bye-bye. I simply can't change my password on ICQ -- it stubbornly refuses to send new passwords to the email address it shows in the frakkin' Personal Details.

I have one possible Gordian solution, though: I'm using an old, old version of ICQ, because all the subsequent ones suck.

(No, I'm not using Trillian or whatever... because I can't remember my blippin' password.)

It's possible that the protocols for stuff like password confirmations have changed.

So... maybe... if I download the latest version, it'll read all the stuff from my OLD copy, and transfer it over, and then let me CHANGE stuff because IT has the right protocol.

And if it eats my old ICQ and doesn't do what I want it to do -- WHO CARES? I'm without my preferred version of an IM client that I don't even use much these days, on a HARD DRIVE THAT WON'T EVEN BE IN MY COMPUTER ANYMORE.
athelind: (Default)
I have been cautioned against trying to install Ubuntu onto the 80 GB, since it's full of years and years of data that would make me cry if it went away.

I need a decent backup system. There's just no good way to BACK UP that much data.

I also need to clean off my desk; the drive-juggling will go much faster if I don't have to keep running back and forth to the kitchen table to do surgery.


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.)
athelind: (Default)
Okay, computer folks out there in Friends List Land, I'm looking for suggestions

At this point, I'm leaning toward an Ubuntu release. From the reviews I've read and the feedback I've gotten, it sounds like it's the simplest to install and configure, and the most transparent to use.

Ubuntu has three main variations: Ubuntu, which uses the GNOME environment; Kubuntu, which uses KDE; and Xubuntu, which uses Xfce, and is intended for older systems or for people who want better performance and less system overhead. Feedback on these environments would be nice; I know a lot of the difference between GNOME and KDE boils down to Personal Preference, so discussions of functional differences will be more useful than "Ewww, GNOME sucks!!"

For those who've used Xfce, what "fat" does it leave out? Does it make a noticable impact on ease of use?

Nota Bene: My primary goal is not to become Super L33t *NIX Power User IT Guru Man. My computer is a tool that I use to do other things, and I want to spend my time and energy on doing those other things, rather than figuring out how to get my computer to let me do them.

So: Easy Use trumps Power Use. Spoon feed me!

My two biggest potential technical obstacles:

  1. I run a two-monitor setup, and I want to continue to do so. At the moment, I have an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 running dual 19" Trinitron CRTs at 1280x960. Eventually, I plan to upgrade those to LCDs, and upgrade the video card accordingly.

  2. I keep my Data and Documents on their own drive, separate from my Application Drive. The Data Drive is in FAT32 format; does Linux read that natively? I know there are some propriatary Windows formats that Linux can't read, but I don't know which ones are which.

Suggestions on good *NIX MUCK and IM clients would be helpful, too.
athelind: (Default)
Through my college years, I ran Windows because all of the applications that I needed for school would run under it, and there were a few vitally important applications that would only run under it. I disliked the Microsoft monopoly, and I disliked the ever-more-intrusive "features" they were including with each subsequent "upgrade". I liked the open-source philosophy, but at the time, Linux, BSD, and other open-source OSs were difficult to install. Applications were few and far between, and their compatability with The Stuff I Had To Use was questionable at best.

After I graduated, my first couple of jobs involved extensions of my college capstone (that's basically a "Bachelor's Thesis", for those who weren't reading this journal back then). I needed MS Office to make sure that my Office-generated documents didn't lose any vital formatting, and I had a legacy copy of the Industry-Standard GIS Software that, again, was a strictly Windows application.

Over the years, OpenOffice became increasingly adept at opening MS Office documents, and more than one open-source GIS package has emerged. The one thing keeping me in Windows was that Industry-Standard GIS Software; map files created in it are notoriously twitchy about migrating even to other copies of the same software.

Well, as I mentioned before, that application has completely given up the ghost.

There is now nothing that I do with this system that I cannot do with Linux.

It's time to seriously look into migrating.

March 2010

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