Team Murder No Brain No Headache.


So Nearly Working

I've spent some time fiddling with Fairgame and the settings required by the software to accomplish what it is supposed to but I've yielded nothing but errors in the end. I usually end up with a copy of what seems like a complete .wav file on my desktop but always after this:

error. I've tried waiting (per the instructions) for fifteen or so minutes to see if this is some bit of scripting that I just didn't catch but it seems to hang up there. I may try it later this morning with virtual desktops disabled but otherwise I'm about out of ideas. Any clues?


Because Sometimes “It Works” Doesn’t Mean That It Works For Everyone

I'm grazing over yet another half bazillion unread feeds in my aggregator and I find this one from NewsForge that links an apparently unfavorable review of Slackware. I have a deep appreciation for Slackware in concept if not actually in usage. I've watched people build servers with Slack and marveled at the total ease with which they can administer those servers. On the flip side of that I haven't seen many of the aforementioned people use Slack on their desktops. I think that is what bothers me about review of Slackware 11 other than the fact that it isn't really a review (the author does properly classify all of this under a 'Rants' category which is fair) but an attack on Patrick who has been distributing the backup of his hard drive known as Slackware Linux for a couple of centuries ago. This is so reminiscent of the various assaults on Debian by people who happily use its derivatives who manage to download a stable ISO without knowing anything about the underlying philosophy that guides its development. That's fine yet unfortunate for the project leads and developers who get bitten in the ass by the 'get what you pay for' bug. I encourage these folks to proudly hoist the middle digit when necessary because not only can you not please all of the users all of the time but it is very likely that the users don't know what the fuck they're talking about most of the time.

I see Slackware as a tool that doesn't decide to change your configuration files when you upgrade things and leaves things you've set up for specific reasons alone. It stays out of your way and is a easier cross migration for people moving from Unix administration to the somewhat different land of Linux administration. Slack is a tool and not really a toy so it probably doesn't make for the exciting review fodder that other distributions might provide. Dude, this distro totally uses XGL for the desktop and it's cutting edge as fuck. Whoa. My desktop looks like fucking Duck Hunt, mang. I'm glad other people are making decisions based on their own needs and not listening to the toy collectors. Whooooa! Dude!. Onward and upward, cranky old men, onward and upward.

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Ubuntu Sounds A Little Broken

I'll be the first to admit that my experience with Ubuntu is limited as in most cases (two that I recall) I've installed something else over the top of it right after the install finished. There are a more than a handful of things that annoy me about the way Ubuntu does things. I've been reading all of the woeful tales of upgrades going horribly awry and trying to figure out exactly what the Ubuntu folks are doing since Debian upgrades with the notable exception of dist-upgrades when you've done major alterations to sources.list are accomplished pretty smoothly.

It seems like Ubuntu is drifting into releases territory where folks who use distributions based on RPM are used to inhabiting. That is pretty disappointing and seems contrary to what Ubuntu is supposed to accomplish in terms of being a simplified version of the Debian distribution with a turd-rific color scheme 'unifying' the user experience. The previous sentence made me throw up a little. Hard releases put a whole lot of responsibility on the user to download entire ISOs instead of continually doing incremental updates when there are patches or, if you're running testing or unstable, new versions of the packages as Debian does. Does backing up, wiping the old install, and going through the installation process again seem like it works for most people? It seems to be the only way, from what I've read this morning, to have predictable results especially since X seems to be the package that breaks most often. When I say breaks I mean is uninstalled as part of the dependency chain for another package without realizing that X should be a dependency for a good number of other packages and most of the tools Ubuntu supplies for administration tasks.

While I'm glad that another distribution has joined the flavor of the month roll call that Knoppix dominated for so long but I'm more than a little disappointed that the philosophy behind planning releases seems secondary to hype. I wasn't convinced then and I'm not convinced now.

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Spam Comment Autopsy

As often as I found myself gritting my teeth reading this post about the overhead that comment spam causes administrators of online content a little less rigidly defined than weblogs, forums in this case, a lot of the choices this admin made are pretty damned smart. Yes, the captcha in order to sign up for accounts is obvious but the requirement that emailed registration links be clicked within 30 minutes of the initial request is a much tighter gap. I tend to disagree with the value of blocking large numbers of IP addresses as this becomes outdated rapidly and tends to cause problems with legitimate users who draw from the same block as a machine compromised by spammers. This also creates process overhead for your server as the list become longer and longer. Other than that small disagreement I think this is a pretty good case study on getting comment spam under control at least from the perspective of freeing admins from spending huge amounts of time doing manual tweaks to configurations.

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Splinted With Filth

The dentist appointment was actually okay although the prognosis, as expected, was pretty grim for a good number of my teeth. The part that did surprise me was that decay wasn't rampant but gum disease was there to make up for its shortcomings. I need to lose about six teeth. Most of them are wisdom teeth that probably would have been extracted long ago had my parents felt any sense of responsibility. So, twenty years later I've got teeth grown in crazy directions and two teeth, bottom and in front, that are basically being held in place by splints made of tartar. This makes me feel like I need to continually rinse my mouth until all of my teeth fall out. The dentist said they'll probably just fall out when properly cleaned anyway so be careful what you wish for and pass the box of shotgun shells. I do have four cleanings scheduled before a surgeon can even get in there which is a lot more days of pain before things are cleared out and replaced with cheap, synthetic, and indestructible substitutes. Once again, good riddance.

I'd nearly forgotten that I had predicted losing eight teeth in an earlier post. Six sounds better in this context but not by much.

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Soiled Myself Reaching For The Stars

Six words is the new thing this week because the new black is, um, stupid and its most ardent cheerleaders are gunning for the anchor chair on something so awful it might be called multimedia. I blame Wired for this excursion ire-ward.

Shit, I'm on the news again

Man shot for fucking renting Riverdance

Idiot haiku is lame, stupid hipsters

Hemingway was joking. Stick with latchhook.


A Picture Is Worth A Handful Of Garbled Words

Robots pick the most random images and this is a fine example from Google News.

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Less Timely And More Relevant Software Stuff…

So, fuck, there has been a Intel build of Ecto out for nearly a month. This is, of course, unofficial and unsupported and probably cursed by a mummy or something but it is much, much zippier. Opening a preview pane or refreshing it seems much faster now. I will say absolutely nothing about stability because opening my mouth about any issue even peripheral to that of stability is a little like seeking shelter from a downpour of anvils beneath an electromagnetic umbrella. It is fast. I'll put that out there without having my hand bitten off.

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It’s Shiny, New, And Now Most Of My Extensions Are Broken

I guess we're all supposed to mention this release and go rambling on about all the usual bugbears that we always do now that the new version of Firefox is out in the wild. I dutifully yanked down a copy from the ether and was generally happy with most of the changes made that were immediately obvious.

One thing that immediately becomes obvious is the the dramatically less stupid handling of the tab bar. You can now scroll forward or back if your tabs get obscenely high in number. I tend to use the option-squiggly (that's the Apple key for those in on the lingo) in combination with arrow keys to navigate the twenty or so tabs that I have open but this is still a nice touch. I was going to mention something about the memory usage problem that comes up with legions of tabs under the default FF configuration but I've disabled all of that memory hogging bullshit. There is no reason, ever, that any single application that isn't launching moon shuttles and telepathically curing the bubonic plague should use more than a GB of RAM. Optimism browsing PR-speak or not this is unacceptable and hopefully will be eliminated or at least drastically reduced in the newer versions of the browser. It still irks me that somewhere between 10 to 15 tabs uses 156.5 MBs of real RAM and 392 MB of virtual memory. Apparently there is some brain surgery going on behind the scenes. It's really unfortunate that I check the Activity Monitor because I'm now just irritated because memory use actually seems worse rather than better. Half of a gig (where virtual memory is headed now that I've actually closed a couple of tabs) and rising is just plain wrong. I do like the new tab bar though.

There are some new options in the Preferences menu. I didn't notice any that immediately effected me but it seems like more of the innards are being exposed for those who feel up to the task of picking through them. That is a good thing. Don't hide from me or tell me lies and we'll be great friends. The new version also looks really nice. I've only seen the OS X client but I'm sure some idiotic notification will be waiting for me tomorrow morning so I'll be able to see what looks different in a Windows environment.

So, that is sort of news.

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So, Like, Disc Images?

I grabbed a copy of the much anticipated Disco disc burning application that everyone has been drooling over for the past couple of weeks. That was kind of weird since I downloaded it right before leaving for work where no CDRs were available for me to burn needlessly. I have a feeling that my experience was not similar to what other folks encountered when opening it for the first time. I made the mistake of attempting to burn some ISOs as my first project and after I got over how pretty everything looked like so:

I was more than a little disappointed. Why? Despite the eyecandy my first burn using Disco was a coaster as was my second burn. I ended up just using Toast to get the fucking job done and will maybe come back to Disco when it can deal with an ISO image. It also seemed like it burned at about half the speed that Toast normally does. This becomes a total drag when paired with the lack of any way to adjust burning speed. I withhold any further assessment until I can file appropriate bug reports and get the install I was preparing to do finished. It does, as advertised, look really good. Now I just need it to be smarted than the blank CD it is supposed to burn. It is a beta so the moon isn't necessarily going to be delivered with the initial release but still...

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Paper Spam Assault Continues Unabated

I'm glad I'm not the only one completely annoyed by the persistent pushing of telephone directories into every available mail orifice. Geoff Wilson wrote a pretty good summary of why Yellow Pages and the like are worse than useless these days since they are a tool that benefits only the advertisers and the publishing company and a static tool on top of that. I understand that a large percentage of the folks who don't live near major metropolitan areas are kind of stuck using paper directories as backbone availability in the red state zone kind of sucks but that isn't me and I get just as annoyed by the pile of phone books on my porch every couple of weeks as I do by newspapers I didn't order or even want for free. They're similar in tactic -- well, we can sell advertising for this rate because we reach this many people which is discounted by the fact that most of the phone books I see are either in recycling bins or dumpsters. How long can a mostly closed loop between advertisers and those who take advertising dollars exist?

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Yeah And What Else Is New Particularly?

Noticed this post on O' about the supposed abandonment of the 'power user' with the new changes that MSFT has introduced with new versions of software (in this post Preston Gralla is talking about IE7) and presumably in the new version of the OS that may or not actually see release while anyone is still remotely interested. Has the power user been abandoned? I dunno but I've always felt like some of the coolest parts about Windows have been invisible to users or hidden somewhere in the phantom zone of 'administrator tools' or worse.

The part that I find most annoying about this tendency is that the man behind the curtain (sorry, that was a failed attempt at punning from the Wizard of Oz and the term 'wizard.' I apologize and promise not to try that again) although not programmed to ask you natural language questions about your issue seems more friendly to Joe Sixpack users than the wizards are. I am superstitious about stretching metaphors like taffy but it seems more sensible to simply introduce users to real terminology instead of making shit up to sound less technical and intimidating. The available utilities in the Control Panel are fucking toys. The one that can always whip me into a fresh rage is the 'Add Printer' dialog when you need to add a printer by its IP address. How intuitive is adding a network printer by choosing the 'printer connected directly to my computer' option? Invoking that option should be accompanied by the sound of hundreds of hands colliding with the foreheads of their owners without an option to disable the sound effect.

Power users have always been out of luck when it comes to effectively administering their machines. Yes there are some time saving tools in the admin toolkit but they aren't honest either. You can't trust an operating system that lies to you in three different ways in three different locations to do what you tell it to do. Whether that distrust between those who make the tools and those who are forced to use them is growing exponentially is more fit for talk radio than my tired ass. Personally, I'm pretty happy that I don't have to deal with that mess outside of work. When I come home the machines tell the truth even when it might bruise my inflated yet fragile ego and don't hide things from me purposefully.

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Heartbreak In Toothache City

Ouch has been the theme for the last seven or so days. I have some wrecked teeth and they have not let me forget their current condition or how much pain they can produce when provoked. I'm diabetic so my teeth are obviously doomed but I had no idea that so many would decide to cry out for exodus at the same time. Front and bottom row, from canine to canine are killing me and when they're not killing me they're making me anxious with fear for the oncoming hours of ceaseless throbbing and pounding that has become the torturous soundtrack for my shitty arthouse movie life. Eight days from today I will plop my ass into a dentist's chair for the first time in nearly twenty years and provided that the train wreck I affectionately refer to as my mouth doesn't cause any hygienists to fall into fainting spells I will start down the long and painful path to recovery or at least the drastic lessening of pain. Right now that day might as well be a year from now. If I had more choice in the matter I would simply have them all removed along with the exploding bulb string of Xmas lights that serves as a feed back to my main nervous system. I don't feel any need to keep any of them and could easily have them replaced with wood blocks or thumbscrews or something which could easily be replaced when worn down into cinders. My guess is that at least eight of them will have to go before the year counter flips over. Godspeed and good riddance you evil little bastards who sap my will to live and/or eat anything crunchy or that breaks into small pieces when consumed ever again.

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Much Much Cooler

Earlier today Slashdot mentioned an application for keeping Macbooks and Macbook Pros cooler by controlling the fan speed. I'm of the opinion that options like this should be rolled into the System Preferences panel but I'm a control freak Linux user so that may just be my opinion emerging once I'm presented with a real set of options. In any case, go grab a copy of smcFanControl and have your laptop on your lap without having any of those 'Jesus Christ!' moments when you have to put the machine to sleep for ten minutes in order to get the case temperature down to something sane and/or bearable. My MBP is running consistently at 77 degrees and I'm pretty happy with that.

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The Honeymoon Has Quit Due To Broken Dependencies

When I put my two Linux boxes back to work after a four month break I spaced a little on what a pain in the ass this can be. The day-to-day maintenance of most *nix machines is pretty trivial and usually amounts to editing a configuration file here and there. Gentoo is an entirely different animal when it comes to configuration. Besides depending on the alarmingly dangerous etc-update (and I am fully aware that there are intended replacements for it but none of them have been unmasked yet) you'll also occasionally find yourself against the wall of revdep-rebuild which in theory will let you correct broken reverse dependencies by running the script and waiting around for many hours. I'm doing that right now and I'm not liking it much at all. I'm hoping that by tomorrow morning I'll be able to actually get real work done. If not I might have another Debian box in the house because time is short and so is my patience. Gentoo is a really fun distribution to use if you don't have anything crucial that you need to be doing on that machine. When it isn't working it is the least fun distribution. I am not having fun right now. Debian isn't exactly fun but it doesn't break often. These are the sorts of decisions that frustrate me endlessly.

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Nostalgia For A Machine You’ve Never Touched

I know that this NeXTSTEP demo by Steve Jobs has been about linked to death by the various aggregators of news and whatnot but if you have yet to check it out then you really should. It should shame developers of more modern operating systems into relative silence when pitching their advanced features. I have yet to be able to successfully watch the Interface Builder portion of it (browser crashing mayhem each and every time) but the portion I have seen is pretty damned amazing. It looks a whole lot like the Interface Builder from Xcode now. As many others have mentioned it really is baffling that more of these implementations haven't been included in other OS versions over the past fourteen years and only superficially so in the Mac OS.

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Iceweasel, Firefox, and Other Words That Spell Checkers Dislike

I've been watching the ongoing ongoing discussions between Mozilla folks and Debian folks for the past couple days and it has been interesting to say the very least. The actual issues of trademark are less interesting as this exact issue has come up before a long while ago. What is more interesting about this batch of turd flinging is how differently Firefox is seen by users, more notably Windows users which as time goes on seem to the audience that Moz developers are targeting their efforts towards. This makes perfect sense as the default option, Internet Explorer, was the web browsing equivalent of the old 'grease the floors and demanding users run with knives' routine that everyone is accustomed to when the issue of poorly maintained default applications are in question. Firefox has changed that a little bit by spending a huge amount of marketing energy letting people know that FF exists and that it is a viable alternate to clicking on the big blue 'E' just because it is there on the desktop.

The eventual problem that I see with Firefox is that it is no longer the new hotness and isn't the more lightweight and streamlined browser it was designed to be. For my own use, I try to avoid it because it leaks memory like a motherfucker (by design, of course) and tends to be a resource hog that oddly Seamonkey isn't these days. The older version of the browser that everyone hated because it came as an application suite instead of just a browser blazes in comparison. I've switched from an early adopter (Phoenix for chrissakes when the installer on Win32 broke everything and the Linux install meant creating a directory in /home for it to live in) to an early dropper. Firefox has transitioned well from a new and exciting thing to a depressingly bloated alt-default. It is better than IE6 for Windows users but I'm less certain now than I have ever been that it is the best solution. Consistency between platforms is what the Mozilla developers say drives the protection on the Firefox name and icons. That is a noble goal and has been at least partially achieved. I know now that I cannot leave an instance of FF running on any platform without watching the memory usage climb exponentially as time passes.

Bitching aside, the Mozilla Foundation claims that they are worried about trademark dilution with regard to quality of releases. This makes perfect sense for ISP specific versions of the browser or whatever that are 'optimized' (read: larded down with a lot of shit that no one needs added on in order to make money for the company) that won't work as well with other providers or whatever that should not be filed under the generic name Firefox (and it is kind of generic since it spans a couple of different releases with their cute codenames and incompatibilities between extension versions) because some fundamental way it functions has been purposefully changed. That is just plain sensible and really does fall under the necessity to protect trademarks rule.

Assuming that Debian would somehow break quality is a pretty strange idea to operate under. Debian's QA is in/famous for taking as long as is necessary to produce a working package that plays nice with a few thousand other packages and making sure that those packages work on far too many architectures. I have given some thought to whether this will change since there seems to be more impetus from within the project to get releases out despite the fact that they're basically meaningless to folks already using the distribution. The race to release is always a nightmare in terms of QA and I hope that doesn't adversely affect the quality of Debian release. I can't imagine Debian ever sacrificing the quality of a release in order to meet some imagined demand but this seeming need to crank up the speed of releases is somewhat worrying.

Of course, none of this really matters as the agreement or disagreement is between the Debian folks and the Mozilla folks and there is actually an out for both parties. I am eagerly awaiting the next fork in the Mozilla code base so we can expect another small, fast, and most importantly fun browser again. What will happen when IE7 is deployed and users find that the big blue 'E' now has many of the features that were formerly Firefox only (and probably implemented by Opera six or seven years ago)? It doesn't matter to me but I have a feeling it's going to matter to the Mozilla Foundation...

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The Money Maker Has Inadvertently Been Shaken

I'm hearing too much buzz and blah blah blah about the big Google buyout of YouTube. Yes, Google Video is complete shit and the chance for YT to have really big piles of money stacked behind their technology is an offer that few could resist. The problem with this is that there is suddenly money in the equation that was not available for litigation purposes before. This is blood in the water and the lawyers, as is their customer, will be the first to smell it. Perhaps Google will just open a lawsuit express lane but maybe just maybe this will throw some money into the game against folks that want to extend copyright into infinity. Good luck kids...

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I’m Not Sure Who I Would Root For In All Honesty

Man, if this were an actual movie I would so totally go see it. Luckily there are others to compile and edit the dream for us -- a world where robots are fighting it out and one of them is not currently the governor of California. This is really well done and looks so freakishly close to an actual trailer that I found myself trying to think of clever titles for it. It is a distant dream but one we must pursue nonetheless:


I Don’t Understand This Slider, Man

Yes, a few days have passed and I'm spending more time working with a whole bunch of Perl and the latest and greatest web technology from 1996 than doing anything fun or even anything I want to do. In order to keep myself from just smashing all of my computers and securing a rewarding job working somewhere where food is always handy I often resort to meandering through some of the feeds I subscribe to. Chances are that 98% of everything I subscribe to will pass through my reader without being so much as glanced at outside of two pieces of possible criteria that will grab my attention these days: tell me something I've never heard before or totally piss me off.

I'm not sure that this exactly pisses me off but it is irritating in a you should really consider what you're saying before opening your fucking mouth sort of way. I'm not even going to go into specific details of the article that bother me because those aren't the aspects that push buttons for me. The thing that irks me beyond compare is the "I'm a lifelong user of X and now Y operating system is difficult for me to master in 24 hours." There are too many issues here than are worth exploring in great depth but that 'power user' tag fucking kills me especially as a person who used to do multiple re-images in every month for people who considered themselves power users. This, from an observer's perspective, means that the person in question knows just enough to fuck their OS installs up with their own two hands instead of simple software and hardware complications that plague the 'user' class of users.

My transition from a full time Linux user to a some of the time OS X wasn't instantaneous and I would never expect it to be. I've learned quite a bit which includes getting all services that I need up and running with very little pain and suffering. What magic did I use? Some really, really advanced techniques that I'm sure would have Windows users completely baffled and hammering Clippy with absurd numbers of queries. Then again, I'm a guy who spent five years fixing broken Windows machines without using Windows at all and arguing with power users who thought that feeding me gibberish lines about how the various system utilities they're running would somehow counteract the need to reboot their machines when instructed to. It baffles me that following fucking instructions should be so difficult and provoke such resistance from users. I'm still looking for a Win32 utility to reimage brains with a new more pliable version of the OS and all accounts demoted to just plain 'user'. Oh, and no you cannot have the admin password and that is final.

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Explanation Cuts The Rage, Sort Of

I fucking hate the OS X finder. It is a case study on how to design something to drive people insane. It forgets your settings. It pulls settings from the root account whenever it is enabled. It drops .DS_Store files everywhere it goes like rabbit droppings and must even leave a mess in newly mounted disk images all so it can suffer from schizophrenic amnesia minutes later. Arno's explanation of how that accursed litter came to be and what the original rationale behind it really was tempers the kill-smash reaction that I have when confronted with the Finder. Why it is still there after all these years especially since Spotlight seems to do perfectly well without these files is another question entirely.

I nearly forgot that I do choose to display hidden files. I don't like it when the OS lies to me so I keep an eye on OS X because it likes to fib and obfuscate.

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I really am more comfortable in a Linux desktop environment. I've had this Macbook Pro for four months now and tried to work exclusively on it for the entire time that I've owned it. This has been successful to some degree as there are enough things that don't work particularly well under Linux (and I'm talking about Gentoo here just to make things clear and brand name-rific) that work exceedingly well with OS X. Things involving video and sound with stranger codecs are one example although I find myself using Mplayer and VLC more often than anything else rather than the Quicktime player. It probably suffices to say that since I haven't worked on any major chunks of coding for the past couple of months unless you count editing some stray and broken Perl at work which I don't that I've been a pretty happy tourist for the most part with the occasional platform hiccup or realization that I just can't approach a problem in the way I've usually done so. I'd begun to consider myself a full timer until this weekend when I made some discoveries during the course of undoing some badness caused by the Coke of operating systems to Apple's Pepsi.

When I was job hunting more earnestly than I'm doing now I set up a test Windows machine in order to go through some Win32 specific books on desktop stuff. It was a quick and sloppy install on a spare drive that I had laying around so I didn't put a whole lot of thought towards installing for the ages or anything other than just running all of the Windows updates and whatnot. A few months later this yields the sounds of strange and frantic disk activity as I pass through the room. Given my utter lack of patience for fixing my own Windows machines though I've made a living fixing them for other people I decided to just do a quick Debian install and deal with what I imagined were going to be the hardships of setting up a shared printer under Linux. For some reason the idea had worked itself into my head that this procedure was difficult and was going to be time consuming. I was completely and totally wrong as I had a working machine up and running in half an hour and a working printer share (under CUPS -- until yesterday I didn't know that it was a matter of checking a box and little else) plus OpenSWAN and a few other essential goodies in just under an hour. Apparently enough time spend piddling around in Aqua land has tainted my perspective completely.

I'd completely forgotten how at home I was on pretty much any Linux machine. After I'd botched one key setup for OpenSWAN it was just a matter of 'dpkg-reconfigure' and I was functional a few minutes later. Despite all the controversy generated by Dunc-Tank, late releases, and all of the other criticisms of Debian that have pretty much become expected and despised it really is stupidly easy to get up and running provided you don't need a whole lot of desktop slickness to get what you need done. I did install a bunch of desktop crap but it was another matter of a few minutes invested and less configuration questions than I remember being asked in the process. Was it ever a lot? It seemed that way but other than updated and otherwise maintaining Yoon's laptop I haven't laid hands on a Debian machine for real in a couple of years. A lot has changed since the last time I looked at the installer and experienced the hardware detection which has improved drastically to the point where I did almost zero post-install tweaking. The font display still sucks and I can't remember how to make it not totally suck but that is not something I'm overly concerned with especially since the goal of this outing was really to quickly setup a print share.

Speaking of which, CUPS makes this process insanely easy. I thought that Windows printer sharing was okay although somewhat frustrating to configure with non-Win32 machines through Samba. A CUPS share, when set up properly, was auto-detected by both the other Debian laptop and my Macbook Pro. Very, very cool and surprisingly streamlined other than a driver misconfiguration early in the process that momentarily confused me. The path is much simpler this way as well. That's opinion but it brought the configuration time from pretty short to absolute zero. I like that.

During this process I had a epiphany of sorts that I really did like the way my two distributions of choice got things done and found myself actively missing it. I decided to stop with the missing and drag out the other laptop and get it up and active again. This was a longer process as four months of updates with Gentoo is a more significant problem than it is for a Debian machine. The emerge sync took something like 30 minutes as did an emerge -p world which yielded about five screens worth of ebuilds blocking each other. That machine is still sitting unused on my dining room floor as I try to decide whether a reinstall is in order or whether I would save time by trying to manually pick my way through the long series of broken-ness. is already unmerged as it was blocking everything but I haven't been able to update a single thing other than portage itself without portage falling over dead. Despite the passage of time basically breaking the install it was still exciting to hit the terminal with real intent and the knowledge that I was really getting things done and that process was entirely transparent to me.

Things that I noticed immediately when moving from an OS X environment to a Linux environment. Some of these annoyed me and others were closer to mere curiosities:

1. Font display. I know this is a typical complaint made by an OSNews reader about how Linux will never be used in a desktop environment but it is really is startling when moving from OS X where font display is uniformly gorgeous. This wasn't the case on the Gentoo box as it was an old install that I'd already spent a fair amount of time tweaking and configuring but the font display in Debian was pretty bad especially under Fluxbox. Both Gnome and KDE was pretty capable when rendering fonts (after enabling anti-aliasing and switching from the default set to the Bitstream Vera families) but everything else was pretty craprific. I'm tempted to blame this on installing from the tasks installer menu during the Debian install as I've experienced weird difficulties with this in the past. I dunno but it is something I won't take the time to fix until it really starts to bother me. This probably won't be until I do some actually work on the local machine so no time in the immediate future.

2. Tilt wheel. Duh. This should surprise no one much less me but I was a little annoyed the first time I tried to tilt wheel across a wide browser window and nothing happened. Is this even worth mentioning? Probably not but I did notice it. Also, I recently bought a wireless laser mouse for dining room table use and really noticed how sensitive it feels under Linux. OS X seems to purposely slow mouse tracking speed down so the difference between a standard wireless optical mouse and the laser version was imperceptible until now. Again, this is a matter of editing some config files but it was a little weird to watch the pointer dart around the screen wildly the first time I used a desktop. This is somewhat balanced by how much it pissed me off being unable to switch virtual desktops using the mouse wheel like in Fluxbox like God intended it.

3. Widescreen. I wouldn't even have noticed the tilt wheel had it not been for another weird transition from widescreen format to the more traditional layout. Everything seems really boxy and the resolution I usually setup on these machine (1024x768) seemed gigantic and cartoonish. Again, this is really a matter of one laptop being outrageously expensive while the other is insanely cheap but it was a little bit eye straining at first. The effect was less pronounced on a CRT but I still found myself trying to straighten it out in the config files before I figured it that it was just a different screen footprint altogether. This doesn't really fit into the category of annoying or even as a feature of the operating system/platform but it was visually jarring for a little while.

I'd thought of more than rapidly forgot all of them. I will add more to this as I think of them or rather remember them. Does this mean that I have a MBP for sale? No, it doesn't mean anything like that you vulture.