Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

25Feb/15Off

I Moved, Sort Of

I started (like minutes ago) writing over at Functional Entropy instead of here. I needed a fresh start so I just made something new instead of dealing with this mess. It will all remain here because I don't feel like tearing it down. Come visit. I've missed you. Sort of.

8Oct/13Off

OpenSUSE and Btrfs?

I can't say that I'm floored by the news/rumor that OpenSUSE is weighing Btrfs as the default filesystem as SUSE has often leaned towards the experimental even when they were selling boxed sets for use on the desktop.

I personally haven't had great experiences with btrfs on desktop machines, but that was mainly due to the lack of tools included in distributions to deal with things like hard freezes and the like. It sounds like OpenSUSE users have already run into this issue in the recent past regarding the lack of file system utilities as dependencies for using the file system. My phobias regarding file systems that aren't JFS aside, I'm glad to see btrfs getting more coverage (and hopefully more help in development and testing) and perhaps is eyeballed by more distributions for potential inclusion. I'm glad that it's happening and hopeful that other distributions that I'd install for purposes other than 'wonder what this looks like these days' will eventually include it in their repositories with a full set of tools behind it.  

8May/11Off

Write Some Bullshit Because I Cannot Sleep Yet

I'm not going to explain why I haven't posted anything for months because that shit is frankly more boring than a nine year old weblog that never receives new posts. That, at best, is completely tedious.

So far I am not a fan of Gnome 3 . I've worked with it a bit on both Arch and Ubuntu and have found myself regretting either enabling the PPA to install gnome-shell or being stupid enough to allow it to upgrade. I've long since adopted Gnome as my default desktop on pretty much every platform, so having that stripped down, but oh-so-functional work flow completely disassembled has been nothing short of disastrous for me. Only one of the machines is actually a 'real' machine (it was a test beta install of Natty that flipped over to a release while I was messing with something else for a couple of weeks) and I've been able to route around the damage by just installing Xfce4 and pretending that it is a functional Gnome. Close enough for hackery, I guess. I am annoyed at having an old, reliable friend relegated to the dustbin for a gimmicky, phone-like interface. Sorry, but I need virtual desktops that work around applications not more context menus. Maybe next release or maybe I'll just switch permanently to Xfce on all distributions. I don't take useless stabs at usability for thumb typers at the expense of people who've used the environment for years as lightly as I probably should.

Baseball has also been a pretty huge distraction for me, at least since opening day this year. I signed up for the MLB.tv deal instead of the cable package ($100 less for a lot more flexibility) only to discover that the only real time streaming works (and god help you if you're interested in local teams - ie. the Colorado Rockies in my case) is during the week as MLB fucks its users over with blackouts for most weekend game times. I may just do the stupid cable package next year despite the $200 price tag and the additional $15 a month just to watch Rockies games. I am, on the other hand, watching a fuckton of Rangers, Athletics, and Giants games.

In theory, I should hear about a job I really want either tomorrow or the next day. This waiting is more or less the impetus for the spastic need to write something here. I'm really hoping for some good news although the potential commute is going to be terrible (Boulder is not close) and I'll be accepting a informal demotion from a system administrator who spends all of his time working on desktop support issues to a desktop support admin who crosses over into server-side problems whenever times allows and coincidentally is paid more money and has access to better coffee. I'm sure someone would tell me that this is career suicide, but my present job is already doing a fine job of making technology tedious and panic attack inducing so I think it's kind of a wash. Look for utter silence here for a while if I do get the job or bitter whining if I don't.

23Mar/10Off

The First Of Many I’m Sure

I was inspecting the pile of links over yonder on the right looking for mildly entertaining content to read while trying to eat lunch. Seeing my old pal Planet Sun there made me think I might find some drama/insight into what those who were consumed by Oracle are up to these days. I've never been a huge fan of anything Sun in general but most of the planet postings were longer and more in depth that what you'd expect to be aggregated into a planet. Instead, we get a notice of closure and a redirect. How unfortunate.

18Jan/10Off

Less Misery Please…

It's that magical, magical time again when I've grown completely frustrated with my feed reader and am looking for recommendations for a Linux feed reader that isn't a machine killing hog.

Liferea (1.6.1-1) used to be my default choice but its performance over the past couple of months has caused me a ton of frustrating downtime where my desktop is completely unusable while Liferea updates 130 feeds or so. It might be Arch's package or not but it isn't really an option. I thought about building it from and then decided against it.

I also tried Akregator for a while and it was a lot less antagonistic towards my CPU(s). It also has some pretty buggy behavior, though, and instances like the below finally convinced me that it was a stopgap rather than a good replacement for Liferea. It's also a KDE which makes it look pretty strange in Gtk-land.

I even fired up Flock with the intent of using is just for feed reading. It doesn't work so swell these days -- a bit too monolithic and tuned for its own purposes rather than mine. I toyed with it for awhile and then shuffled it off to /dev/null.

So, anyone have any good suggestions for me? I like lightweight, GUI (preferably Gtk+ but I can deal with whatever for the sake of working), and capable of importing OPML. Thanks

3Nov/09Off

Wherein The Whiny Consider the (In)Human Elements In Employment And Ponder Building a Rocket Ship And Leaving Earth Permanently

I've been looking for a new job for the past couple of months and I've reached an epiphany of sorts about it. I'm starting not to care at all about potential environments and thinking more about the potential money. This is probably a pretty solid indicator that I need to move on to something else. I've grown pretty weary of the dichotomy between HR-heavy interviews where I'm asked too many questions about teamwork and the developer-esque interviews where people try to stump me according to their favorite hangups and and amounts to a dick measuring contest. Although I really do want another job that doesn't require me to jump through so many ridiculous hoops crafted from years of laziness and incompetence, I'm also less willing than I've ever been to keep cranking on the dimmer switch for my actual personality predictively for each and every loathesome interview. Perhaps the more correct methodology would be to wear a tiara and just answer: a best effort to fix all of your broken shit because I hate things that don't work the way they're supposed to. Also, I'm tired of simultaneously nodding and rolling my eyes when asked about Vista experience without screaming "You deployed that bullshit!?!?" at people interviewing me.

School? Shit, maybe.

2Jul/09Off

More ‘Our’ And Less ‘Yours’

I'm guessing that I'm one of the few who finds the news that WordPress themes are also included in the GPL license that covers its original release. I originally switched (in a matter of hours) from Movable Type to WordPress because of the MP licensing flap. I don't like using tools that can be yanked out from underneath me. I'm sure someone is going to bring up my generalized ambivalence towards Mono here as a point of argument but they're two different animals: ambiguous threats to act on unnamed patents on a project that generally uses the more permissive FOSS licenses for its work and something that seemed an awful lot like a bait and switch at the time.

Again, all the folks who do the actual smashing of thumbs work on WP are to be thanked and congratulated for sticking with the license and checking with SFLC to clarify how the GPL impacts third party themes. Theme developers who are all pissed about WP.org 'fucking you over' should consider that staying true to the spirit of the GPL in the organization of promoted plug-ins and themes has less to do with you than 'us'.

27Jun/09Off

The End Isn’t Nigh

The weird pissing fight that this current Mono controversy has become had a reality check in the form of rms posting a cautionary note about dependence on Mono applications in case some sort of magic bullet patent is fished out of cold storage to fuck with Mono. This is a measured and sane warning from a person I respect tremendously but the response to it has been largely to read the first three lines and proclaim righteous victory over the oppressive forces of whoever is supposed to be a tool of the evil empire this month.

So, here are some things you should consider before shooting off your stupid mouth:

1. C#'s specification (the HIV to Mono's AIDS if you're batshit crazy) is recognized as an ECMA standard specification is is not in fact some kind of nutty language library neutron bomb created to rid the world of Linux.

2. The GNU project actually has their own version of this functionality called Portable.NET. Chances are given that C# is a specification and not a curse muttered by an Egyptian king before his death should some legal action be taken against Mono implementation that existing applications could be adapted to use the GNU runtime.

3. I have absolutely nothing to say about the Ubuntu forum controversies because I avoid both that distribution and its acolytes like the plague on common sense that they are.

24Jun/09Off

Because You’re The First Person In The World To Ever Think Of That, Kid

Since crying foul on the use of Mono in basic distribution installs is apparently the new cool thing to do: I encourage you to read the Mono project's licensing page wherein they explain that they've actually thought about software patents, possibly before you even personally invented Ubuntu to be cooler than all your friends, and have a pretty thorough explanation of what their exit strategy might be if the bloody shirt of software patents ever gets waved around.

Sound good? Gooood. Now you can go back to ranting about how KDE4 is causing people to turn into werewolves. Awesome.

6Jun/09Off

Man, That Nap Was Long and Kind Of Sucked

For whatever it's worth, I've decided to start writing here again and not worry so much about whether what my spleen decides to excrete and I pass along to you is consistent with thematic concerns. Apparently sometime around last October I had some kind of existential crisis and decided that Team Murder was some kind of thematically pure endeavor. The other name for this is temporary brain damage. I'm sort of back with less a little less time (fatherhood) and less patience (duh) so I'm leaving things just like that.

20Oct/08Off

Hiatus…

I set up Invest In Kevlar last night so I'm officially ceasing to post here for at least a little while (ah, specificity) because I don't pay much attention to technology these days. I do spend a lot of time thinking about books and politics, though. I'm not sure exactly what that makes me.

24Mar/08Off

Worse Is Better (For Us)

There is a frightening article at Reuters about the expansion of payday loan operations as the housing/mortgage crisis expands. No one has labored under the illusion that those paycheck loan places were there to help any one but given their rate of expansion in Ohio:

Bill Faith, executive director of COHHIO, an umbrella group representing some 600 nonprofit agencies in Ohio, said the state is home to some 1,650 pay day loan lenders -- more than all of Ohio's McDonald's, Burger Kings and Wendy's fast food franchises put together.

With outrageous interest rates they're a sure way to go from being broke to completely fucked forever in just a few short steps. I wonder how long it will take for companies like this to partner up with private prison companies to build debtor's prison equivalents and play both sides of the court. Chances are that the savings won't be passed on to you.

1Jan/08Off

Another Year Goes Whizzing By

I have no resolutions to make. I have some secrets that I'm not ready to disclose. I have also observed that if you haven't watched the Dick Clark NYE show in many, many years then hearing Dick Clark speak in his new slurred post-stroke voice will scare the living shit out of you. In the future I will have to endeavor to research these things more carefully lest Yoon and I spend yet more time staring at each other in horror while things that always maintained the illusion of permanence fly apart into gravelly and tortured syllables. Okay, onward...

28Dec/07Off

So, More Ham-Fisted Attempts At Social Networking Sites Now?

The Netscape browser is officially over. I’m not as surprised and appalled as many of the folks commenting on the bit of news are but I’m not terribly optimistic about the future of Netscape sans browser to steer people towards their crap, um, portal. Any guesses as to how long it will take before the whole whatever the hell Netscape is these days collapses and disappears completely?

1Sep/07Off

Don’t Panic For Me

I'm working on a redesign of this site and since I don't strap the word designer on the end of my name I'll be rolling bits and pieces out live. Anyway, things will appear broken because they are broken but I won't cry if you don't. The main reason I'm putting this up is that I tend to get strange and alarm-ed/ing email when I'm fucking around with things. Don't. Thanks.

A Fine Example Of Why Not To Announce Shit Unless You Are Actually In The Middle Of It
So, this never really happened. I could pretend that I was laboring hammer and tongs on something that never actually happened but that isn't how I really work so the grey, grey tedium is sticking around for a while or two.

25Jul/07Off

Stupid Things To Do Before Leaving The Country

I'm not the best traveller in the world. I'm even worse at packing to go elsewhere (meaning anywhere but the U.S. and by that I really mean further away than a bus could take me in a single day; I'm a little phobic about leaving my comfort zone which really means leaving my dining room table where all of my stuff is) much less for more than a handful of days. I'm not exactly having a nervous breakdown but I don't really want to sleep either.

This is some really superior planning. The logic is relatively sound: stay up, keep moving, have bonus time to forget and then remember things that must be done, and so on including haircuts and doing some laundry. Then I forget that I have a really difficult time sleeping on airplanes so I'm likely to stay awake for more than twenty four hours. This is a kickass strategy because it not only assures that I will adapt to the time change rapidly but also that I will show up in another country babbling like a sleep deprived idiot in an American accent. What more could you really ask for?

16Apr/07Off

The Bread Crumb Trail To Hell

Not sure who to blame for the breadcrumbs at the top of this image over at the Denver Post but it ain't pretty:


31Mar/07Off

The Use Of Your Rights Involves Litigation Of Course

I'm pretty happy to hear about the lawsuit by students against Turn It In since the question they're asking is one that has bothered me for a long time. This is probably compounded by the incredibly aggressive spidering they employ to herd stuff into their databases. I've had to ban them by IP address as they do not conform to the robots.txt standard.

How do you handle something like this best? Do students suspend their copyright to submitted papers when turning them in for grading? If this is the case then graduate level work at universities that buy this software (well, it's less software than service but indulge me here) is going to become a legal minefield. This is one those questions that opens a seemingly unlimited series of canned worms. I'm sure someone more familiar with all of the copyright issues rolled into this could construct a legal textbook based on all of the questions potentially posed here.

Here are mine:

1. Do public schools who use Turnitin then require students to suspend their copyright ownership while this is being funded by public funds?

2. Who becomes the copyright holder? Does a state institution transfer the ownership of a copyrighted work created by a minor to a private corporation?

3. Because school attendance is legally mandated does a requirement like this place the onus probandi on students by insisting that they surrender legal rights in order to fulfill another legal requirement?

I'm operating under a lot of assumptions here and as IANAL I might be missing some or all of the precedent here but the situations I can imagine resulting from this are uncomfortable at very best.

Some more
In the comments attached to the news story above I found a link to collection of quotes and back story on Turnitin that has some pretty valid points and the juxtaposition of some quotes from people who run the company. Grrr.

27Mar/07Off

Maybe They Should Change That Part Of The Name To ‘Uneasy’

I should be more upset about Best Buy acquiring Speakeasy but I'm really not. Yet. I got the email about it this morning and read it with my stomach churning away about the fact that what I consider a nearly perfect ISP (other than price which is always arguable) could be fiddled with by a company all but infamous for its tenuous grip on the legal system like the MSN debacle, the strategy for placing the brunt of loss prevention on the shoulders of their customers, or any other number of rumors, substantiated or not, that seem to continually circle around the collective head of Best Buy.

I cannot say that I'm particularly excited but, if we're really lucky and think only good, positive, rainbow thought, BB will be smart enough to realize that they can sell the Speakeasy product without completely fucking it up by tampering with what is already a successful model that works for all parties involved. This is what I'm hoping. The release says that nothing will change for current customers and I'm trying really hard to drink that Koolaid. Speakeasy is really easy to deal with and allows you to use your connection however you see fit. They're also really forthcoming about outage notifications and also allow me to escape the shadow of the dark ages by having a DSL connection without necessitating a land line.

They're also fucking expensive so I expect the level of service I've grown accustomed to. I have zero complaints about either time (twice, kids, twice) that I've had to contact support directly especially since their response time seems to be something like an hour or less. That is fabulous but if that level should lapse I will go elsewhere. That is the definite downside for the consumer side of the fence: perception is part of the equation now that Speakeasy is owned by the man (who keeps us all down). As incorrect as that perception might be I can't help but feel like I'd need to move on if things became subpar. I would feel better about handing my hardly earned cash over to a struggling little guy than a little guy subsidized and controlled by a corporate entity. It's based on emotional attachment and makes zero sense but...

I'm sincerely hoping that none of the above happens. I would much rather stick with the service I have and continue to experience stellar service than I would accept limited functionality or mediocre service without the big company shit sandwich attached. They are decidedly non-delicious.

27Mar/07Off

Blogsnow Is Offline (As Of Over A Month Ago)

I just noticed that Blogsnow has been taken offline. That this happened in February is a solid measure of my inability to keep up with, well, anything. It's unfortunate that spammers have become so ubiquitous and pernicious enough to make projects like these more pain than they're worth to their creators. My hat is off to Andreas for pulling the plug when it was necessary, though and I hope we'll eventually see Blogsnow up and running again as it was one of my favorite aggregation sites if only because it was simple and to the point.

26Mar/07Off

Request For The Clarification Of ‘Real’

In the American lexicon there is a flexibility when employing terms that calls out, wails with the might of a thousand damned souls at times, for some kind of narrowing of definition. I believe this NYTimes article's final paragraph sums this need up in a way that makes my stomach a little icky:

“We’re living our lives more and more in front of a screen,” Mr. Heiferman said. “You can easily go through a good part of life just looking at your iPod, your cellphone, the computer, the TV, and I think there’s a feeling of, ‘O.K., I need the real world and real people and real teddy bears and real community.’ ”

I'm feeling like I need some distance from real. I'm thinking the back slowly away while wielding a cross fashioned out of popsicle sticks sort of distance.

Oh, and there is the pink, pink miasma of amusement if you're wondering what all the hype is about or if you're a ten year old girl. Neither of those is necessarily a bad thing by itself but I'm just saying...

I'm an idiot
That was actually the Meetup guy. Argh.

19Mar/07Off

Do Your Own Thing Like Everyone Else

So, mere days (okay, it's been a week or two at least) after I wondered out loud about what the hell the point of Twitter might be there have been a whole lot of people wondering similar things, Nicholas Carr's being my favorite so far. It's a sort of easy target, like making Dan Quayle jokes or something. I'll grant that weblogging in general has had a few too many moments in the sun for what amounts to a brief sizzle and spit on the grill of cultural relevance. There isn't a whole more to it than people talking and whether this is to themselves or with an audience of a hojillion it amounts to a conversation, or more properly a dialog, that people can read and gain interest in over time.

Twitter seems the opposite of this: you're famous, you dribble out soundbytes, and people who care wait there for them to drop like golden poops from heaven. Yes, there is a bit of this involved in weblogs and probably more than any of us participating would like to admit but there is at least a contextual base for what all of these words mean when collected together. Tweeting (I may actually hate this term more than 'blogging' which really says a lot since I can hardly type it without enclosing it in quotes so you can be absolutely and totally sure that it is not terminology found in my functional lexicon) assumes that you have some context as a person before anyone would be interested in your clipped output. There is nothing I could ever say in that few characters that even I would want to read.

The part that makes the whole thing somewhat creepy is the comparison that others have made to instant messaging only without an intended recipient. Yes, there are friends among twitter-ers but there isn't a relationship other than that of an eavesdropper on a web celebrity to flesh those relationships out. It is a little creepy and weirds me out more than a little but I like knowing that the piles of words amount to something, at least in my own mind, and that people can say 'Hi' or tell me that I'm completely wrong explicitly.

How much am I missing here because I would love to be proven wrong. This becomes even more important as so many folks that normally squeeze good or at least coherent things out during their 'on' hours have wasted so much brain juice on what seems like a black hole for ideas.

5Jan/07Off

Scandal And Idle

Haven't had a whole lot to say lately at least via keyboard as I took a pretty bad fall on the post-blizzard ice pack and managed to make my left wrist little more than a swollen source of pain that wouldn't bend in the ways that I wanted it to. The recuperation is most of the way complete now as I can actually use the shift key in conjunction with number keys (I won't even mention how using Emacs was next to impossible for a few days) and feeling less crippled. It is snowing again today so I'm home from work and in the mood to do something other than cradle my wounded paw and mess around with images in the Photoshop beta.

I've been following the conflict between Garrett Murray, the xPad developer, and Brian Ball, of MacZOT fame/infamy pretty closely and it has been continuously interesting. What should probably be said here is that I don't have any particular love for the xPad application. I own a license for it, obtained through MacZOT in one of those train wreck mystery zots that I was stupid enough to purchase, but I've only opened it a couple of times for reasons that should be pretty obvious to those who've been around Team Murder for a while; I'm a completely insane kook about text editors and most of them fill me with the rage the first second I try to use them. This is because I'm completely nuts but others seem to really love xPad. I'm willing to concede to that gestalt opinion because I obviously cannot be trusted.

What I feel like I've learned from all of this is that shareware is odd territory and that contracts between small fries is a sure fire path to disaster. People have said in various comments about this issue that the Mac community that actually uses non-commercial applications is a tiny and close knit community. I'm not sure if this is the case in those exact terms but I know a whole bunch of opinions about both Garrett and the business practices of MacZOT have been set in stone.

I think what complicates this more than anything else is the actual personal connection to their software that shareware developers feel and the fact that they've usually invested much more in their work than your average commercial application developer. I don't mean that in quantifiable units like man hours (yeah, I know) or marketing dollars spent or whatever but more in hazy areas like the anal retentive perfectionism that comes from working on a project a little larger than what is really possible given limited time/resources to devote to that particular project. When you've basically bet the farm on what is essentially a losing bet against the software industry (or music cabal or the freemasons or whatever your favorite shadowy conspiracy organization that keeps us all down might be) I guess that entitles you to feel a little cheated when the world isn't as enthusiastic about the fruit of your labors as you are.

I think this also reasonably allows the dev in question to be a little more upset when loopholes in the contract he is under are exploited by the party in the contract with more available resources. The funny part is that more damage has done to MacZOT than anyone else by this sketchiness. Garrett took back his stuff, considered that people were still interested in the application outside of the magical land of scandal, and freed both the application itself and the source code. Brian Ball, in contrast, though he just fucked up on a contractual obligation looks like a disorganized schmuck at best and like a backstabbing snake in the grass if you're feeling empathetically betrayed by his actions. The continued sales of applications licenses after breaking the contract is what is unforgivable to me. That said, I won't be buying any more MacZOTs because I don't believe that the business is set up to benefit anyone other than MacZOT no matter how much the PR fluff would argue otherwise.

17Dec/06Off

The Canary Is Sort Of Dead

Anyone else noticed the recent and somewhat weird blacklist poisoning attempts from comment spam 'bots? I've seen 100-250 in the last week or so (odd because I've been posting next to nothing) that have a bunch of penis enlargement/russian brides text but link exclusively to Google or Amazon. I'm sure this is going to cause some complications for the folks who administer comment spam killers but it doesn't seem like a particularly effective tactic since most comments, either malignant or benign, aren't using URLs that include the big names. I imagine this won't be the case for a whole lot longer as the A-list webloggers are probably next in line for the carpeting and would be much easier to mess with than 800 pound dot coms.

9Dec/06Off

Signed In (Someone Else’s) Blood

Fuck. I was hypnotized by the sea of labels and annoying people at the grocery store and didn't realize what the hell I was throwing in the cart other than the fact that it was on sale and for cheap. I ended up with this:

Crap. If nothing else it is kind of tasty and is mostly composed of corn syrup instead of the ground up kittens and shrapnel I assumed that it would be made of. Go check out the Hooah! bar web site for loads of unintentional humor and the hilarious and somewhat homoerotic image of the guy in short shorts blazing down an aircraft carrier runway to the approving gestures of two other guys wearing too much gear. Add another mistake to my long list. Maybe with the aid of this slab of corn syrup COBRA will finally be brought to justice.

23Nov/06Off

A Reluctant Nod In The General Direction of Holiday-ness

One thing that really upsets me about our Thanksgiving this year is that I will not be swilling cheap beer and eating deep fried turkey. For as much 'oh-noeeee'-ing as most news sites are doing about the dangers of frying turkey you would think that a person or two would have:

a) actually eaten fried turkey before which is delicious and makes that sliceable pile of rubbery sand that is the oven cooked turkey look like the culinary tumbleweed that it really is. If you're not a fucking idiot (an unsafe assumption I acknowledge) you exist by eating some foods that are not fried and can actually eat something that isn't without having a heart attack in midst of forkful. If you can't tear yourself away the television while eating Cheez Whiz with a spoon then fried turkey may not be the dish for you.

b) Frying turkey does indeed involve a large vat of very hot peanut oil and could be dangerous if you're a fucking moron. Thanksgiving closes the banks but it does not postpone or cancel physical laws. You're going to do this to eat not to burn alive or simulate the Pompeii experience so move that shit away from things that might catch on fire if spattered with hot oil. This also means that you should be a responsible pet owner and/or parent and keep your little idiots away from the bubbling cauldron of red hot death for the stupid. This seems like it ought to be common sense. Obviously you're not going to heat gallons of oil to 375 degrees inside your house. Duh.

That bitterness vented, I will not be taking part in the fry fest this year as we're doing a more traditional T-day this year with family. I have decided that in the future when doing the fried turkey and cheap beer disaster in the future that doing things unsafely should be mandated. I'm thinking of requiring frozen turkey free throws from at least ten feet away in order to facilitate the danger that everyone enjoys harping on so much.

Update. Sort of.
My friend Tony mailed me about this post over at Jalopnik about how to fry a turkey without killing yourself and involving some of those expensive tools/toys. The advice given comes from folks who have, I know this is crazy, actually fried a turkey before. They get bonus points for using crazy big machinery that normally would hoist an engine block. Awesome.

19Nov/06Off

Done, Done, And Done

After too many inexplicable crashes in Firefox I've decided to quit fucking using it. This is kind of sad since I've run it since it was called Phoenix and didn't work really well. I was willing to put up with all of its quirks and shortcomings simply because it was fast as hell and primarily stayed out of the way. FF has suffered from explosive memory usage since it became FF (that is the first I recall having to stop the browser two or three times a day at least to free up some memory) and despite the fact that I experience the same behavior on clean installs the developers have found the penultimate scapegoat with extensions and given up on anything other than public relations spiel. This frustration has gone on for a long time and seems to correlate with the success of FF. This makes me look like a dick who hates everything the moment it becomes popular. Fine.

The issue that finally drove me over the edge was memory usage. I have 2 GB of RAM installed in this machine which is the maximum. As a 1.83 Macbook Pro it is no longer the new, new sexy but I'm thinking that it should be capable of running a web browser without routinely bringing the system to its knees. I've watched its usage routinely spike over the 76% marker when I have a couple of tabs open (no Flash crap on any of those tabs either) for more than twenty minutes. If I walk away from my machine for more than a few minutes I pretty much have to start the application again. In the past I'd laid most of the blame for this sort of misbehavior on the magical combination of Linux and Flash but the abuse of resources follows me across platforms and environments. I'm worn out and tired of making excuses to myself. So, I've going to quit Firefox completely with the intent of doing so permanently.

Safari just isn't an option as I'm not a fan of many of its quirks. I don't exactly have problems with it but the few times that I have used it I wasn't happy with its performance. Camino falls into a similar category as its configuration just isn't um configurable enough for my tastes. I settled on trying Opera full time for a while. The only thing I'm really lacking (other than StumbleUpon) is the hojillion saved passwords and login names that I've entrusted to FF in the past. That transfer will take time and cause frustration but I need to shelve FF until it stops being marketed and starts being developed again. Onward and whatever-ward...

2Oct/06Off

Homecoming

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. X.org 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 X.org 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.