Vacation-man posts again

So i’m on week two of my four-week summer vacation. Still reading Broken Angels. I’m at the part with the scary nano tech. Thing.

I tried kernel 3.0 from the kernel ppa for ubuntu, but that didn’t work out too well. I guess fglrx is to blame, because i received errors about it during kernel installation. It booted fine, but graphics were.. well there were no graphics. I decided to wait for a while with 3.0. I’ve been practicing a bit of perl during my off hours; just basic scripts and stuff. It’s funny that i actually started out with perl during elementary school. We had this computer club that was i think once a week, and we had a guy from TKK come and teach us. He taught us perl at the tender age of.. what eight? Anyway. I remember it fairly well and it’s fun to do perl again. Back then it was simple stuff, but a good foundation, now that i look back at it.

Google+ is.. well it’s there. It’s not like i’m using it or anything. It’s just there. Many of my friends have moved a lot of their stuff (or so i surmise) to Google+ but for me it’s just another platform to voice thoughts and place comments. I do like the integration of media, and how easy it is to upload photos or other stuff. I haven’t tried the Hangout-thing yet, i don’t have a webcam, except in my work-Thinkpad. I spend maybe 30 minutes a week on Google+ i’d say. I’m not sure i’ll stay.

It’s still unbearably hot in here. It’s Finland for fucks sake. I didn’t sign up for this. All my hardware has been running admirably, though, which is a bonus. I haven’t spent as much time at the summerhouse as i’d like to, but that’s due to other circumstances that i will not go into here. There’s still a lot to do there, and i hope i can go next week.

Been playing a lot of (for me anyway) Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I have clocked a total of.. 88.5 hours of BC2. And it’s still one of the best multiplayer FPS’s if you ask me!

My little mini-garden on the balcony is bearing “fruit”. I’ve got a bunch of salad, and the basil is coming along nicely. As it is still very hot and nice, i’m considering other stuff as well. Here’s a pic!

Isn’t it fucking great?

I found out that the apartment does have a 10/10mbit connection that is part of the rent. Provided by Elisa. Latencies were fuck-all, so it’s probably very close to fiber. I do also have fiber up to the apartment, but no card with an SC connector to try it out with. Care to sponsor one for me? Heh, thought so. Not sure it’s even hooked up. It probably needs to be ordered separately. Anyway.

Have a nice day.

Random Friday Ubuntu Tip

I was trying to customize Ubuntu just a bit, in regards to the “special folders”, that is, ~/Public, ~/Videos etc. These are special, in that they are recreated and/or renamed every time you log in, back to their defaults. Where are these defaults you ask? So did i, and the answer is pretty simple, and easy to fix.

The main reason, not that anyone gives two shits, is that i wanted the directories to be lowercase only, because i hate hitting shift all the time to refer to the directories. Also, i don’t like directories that i can’t rename, remove or do whatever i like to. Kills the linux ethos in my humble opinion. Anyways, to the fix:

To rename the folders:

Edit a file in your home directory called .config/user-dirs.dirs. Syntax should be obvious.

To remove one or more folders and stop them from being recreated:

Edit a file called /etc/xdg/user-dirs.conf. Change the enabled=True, to enabled=False

Any renames or removes of the directories will keep after this.

Note that you have to atleast log out and then back in for the settings to be applied.

Thanks for this tip goes to


Marvelous miscellania

Amazon delivered my copy of “Just for Fun” by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond. It’s going to be a good read, i can feel it! In parallel i am still reading “Broken Angels” by Richard Morgan. Still recommend the latter.

I am also still on Ubuntu 11.04, but without Unity. I can’t do it. I can’t deal with unity, i can’t seem to configure it so that i can use it sensibly. I can’t deal with the side-menu thing popping in and out. I can’t deal with not seeing the toolbars at all times, i can’t deal with having the max,min and close buttons be on the left side if i maximize the window, when I’ve specified in gconf that i want them on the right side. I realize that i can configure these things somewhere. What i don’t realize is why make things like this by default? Unless you’ve never used Ubuntu before, you’re going to shit a brick. Me. No. Understandy.

Something i also realized was that something that changed in the propietary ATI driver, or Compiz, or some other relating concept messed up h.264 playback in Ubuntu. VLC would act as if something was wrong with the overlay.. The video was either entirely black, but with audio playing perfectly. Or, i’d get the video, but it was the top most level of everything. Try to open a menu like File in VLC, and the video would overlap that menu, so you wouldn’t see it. Very annoying, and made watching video nearly impossible. The fix, or workaround for now, was to disable compiz entirely. Another annoying feature of Ubuntu 11.04 – The System – >  Preferences – > Appearance tab that controlled compiz is gone. No way to disable it that way. You even have to download the compiz configuration manager separately if you want to configure it! So i did the metacity –replace trick to kill compiz and replace it with metacity, that does away with the overlay-problem.

A big sigh. But at least it works now.

It’s also time to head out of the city and into the untamed wilderness known as our summer cottage. I started my four-week vacation, and i intend to spend a lot of the time out there. If i can. My allergies are acting up, and if they get bad enough, i can’t stay there. Which blows.There’s lots to do there. Some trees to cut down and chainsaw into pieces, a new balcony-thing to build. Some electrical work at the Sauna.

There’s a shortage of podcasts to listen to in Summertime. Somehow. Or then there is too much time vs. the amount of podcasts, which is static.

I should try the 3.0 RC kernel. I have a colleague who’s tried it under VMware Workstation, and says that it works well. There was some issue with it, but it was patched by someone ™. I also read an interesting article that B pasted to me on the end of the AltQ in OpenBSD. You can read that here. PF has been serving me well since version 3.7 or 3.8, in a modest box sitting beneath my desk here, diligently filtering through all of my Internet traffic. It rarely breaks. And when it does, it’s due to some syntax error in my configuration, or failing hardware. In any case, it’s a great product.

A few minutes before writing this post, the Space Shuttle Atlantis separated from the International Space Station for the last time in Space Shuttle history. A sad moment. The end of an era. In all, the space shuttles spent over 300 days docked to the ISS. Sad to see it just floating away, the thrusters firing somberly to adjust slightly. I get a slight scifi kick from it all. Seeing the planet drift by below at blistering speeds. To see an orbital sunrise live from my own PC. A final victory lap around the station, and she is gone. Starting de-orbiting procedures. After this, the US has no way to get people into orbit, without help from the Russians. Next up, perhaps a commercial alternative. The Atlas V? Some rocket-based system in any case. Waiting for the Chinese to do their thing. Seeing the Russians put people up like they have for 50 years.No more space planes for a while. Not in the governmental sector anyway. Private spaceflight is the way to go for the next decades, mark my word.

Ok time to end this blabber and prepare for a departure of my own, to the summer house.

Distrohopping like a Motherfucker

Like the topic sez. I’ve been trying out different distros over the past weeks, and landed right back where i started. Basically. I’ve gone through Arch, Archbang, Xubuntu, Debian 6, and finally Ubuntu. This is sad to admit, but in all other distros, i had some deal breaker problems that i was unable to solve in a decent amount of time, and ended up valuing the fact that most things work pretty much out of the box on Ubuntu. I can’t believe that i’m actually giving Unity a try as well! It’s probably going out of the window pretty soon, because i just can’t get a hang of how to use this most effectively. Things are sliding in and out of view.. i can’t see what i’m running, i can’t see the menu bar until i hover over it, and.. oh god. It’s just not Gnome 2, y’know?

Arch i like. I like pacman, it feels right. It feels like 10 years ago, in a good way. But i ran into some stupid audio problems. And automounting usb sticks and the likes didn’t work as well as i hoped it would. Now, I’m not saying the issues are unsolvable, they are not. But i gave them a reasonable amount of effort, and if it didn’t work, then it was out of the game. For instance, Archbang, which is a bleeding edge rolling distro, like Arch, had massive problems with audio. Alsa lost my cards, or some mixer element, and i’m talking lost the entire /dev devices that were supposed to be there. The excellent Alsa Troubleshooting page was not able to save me, at least not as far as i could deduce. I was going to download Alsa and compile from source, but i said fuck that noise.

So here I am, typing away on Ubuntu 11.04, with Unity (shrug), and waiting for something to break so i can say “Aha! Told you so!”. Deep down i know it won’t break, not that badly anyway. Sure it’s not a rolling distro. Sure it’s for “noobs” but whatever. I mean i like to have a tool that gets the job done. Ubuntu has done a bad thing by taking in Unity, at least that’s what i feel now. I guess I’m just getting too old. But it is *still* a pretty good out-of-the-box experience. No matter how you turn it. You can still do the Gnome Classic thing, and run with what you’re used to. Xubuntu worked quite well too, but there were some issues there too. XFCE4 is pretty damn brilliant. KDE is just something i haven’t touched for so many years.. It hurt me back then. Left me creepy voicemails. I’m not taking her back.

I’ve also been giving Google+ a whirl, mainly because it is not Facebook. I hopped off that wagon over a year ago, and i haven’t looked back. Look, i don’t care how many fucking melons your Farmville farm grows. I don’t. Twitter is opt-in which i like, and you can easily grasp the concept, and with a short glance, see what people are saying. That’s the main reason for using Twitter. Brevity. Now,  Google+ is a new thing from Google. So naturally i had to try it. I got an invite from an old boss of mine, and soon i was typing away at something that is kind of like.. Facebook way back. Or an unbloated Facebook. But also not. It has some novel concepts, like the Circles, as a way to limit the distribution of whatever it is you are sharing. It’s much more multimedia oriented, which i like. It has the whole Hangout thing. It has no Farmville.

But still I’m not sure what it gives me over using Twitter. It’s status messages. It’s people’s doings and goings. It’s Google. I dunno. I probably won’t stick around, but I’ll give it a run for it’s money, that’s for sure.

At home, we’re still putting the finishing touches on the place. We’re having some people over tomorrow, god knows what that’ll be like. Tomorrow also marks the day i start my summer vacation. It could be in more relaxed circumstances, as I’ve been dealing with some nightmarish problems at work this past week. Somehow, even though i know i shouldn’t bring my work home, i end up doing that anyway. Because i feel that it’s somehow my duty. I want to do a good job, even if it means long hours. I want to make sure things are running smoothly. But i also know i desperately need a vacation. And the following four weeks are just what the doctor ordered.

Some Android bits and bobs: I’ve been running GingerReal 7.1.3 for the better part of a week now, and fucking hell it is a good ROM! My Galaxy S has longer battery life than ever, and the UI is snappy as hell. I’ll probably do a proper writeup once I’ve played around with it some more. I’ve now had my Galaxy S for a year, and the only complaint i really have is the lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard. My next phone will have that, for sure, but I might go with the Galaxy S for as long as it goes. It’s a solid phone, with a great community around it.


Weekend Activities

This week i have been mostly reading…NOTHING

Poor reference to some British comedy of the not-so-recent past. Anyway, what i want to say is I am currently re-reading the sequel (Broken Angels) to the excellent book by Richard Morgan, “Altered Carbon”. If you like high-flying Sci-Fi, you’ll like Richard Morgan’s books. The paperbacks cost next to nothing on for instance, so order up. Meanwhile, back at the point, i’m looking for something to read. The last “new” book i read was “Burning Chrome”, by William Gibson, which was brilliant. The one before that was Zero Day, by Mark Russinovich which was a load of bollocks. The one before that was Kingpin by Kevin Poulsen, which was again a winner.

Any recommendations are welcome. And nothing that will bore me or insult me.

This weekend I’ve spent with my son. Later today, H will come back from a road trip to the untamed wilds of north-eastern Finland. Or somewhere. Before that i intend to clean the place, and do some re-wiring because the current wiring looks like un-diluted ass. A great inspiration to this was that Stefan Didak, workstation-GOD, has been posting a few things about his… 7th iteration of his famous home office. Check out his new posts here. If i had a billion googolplex of money, i’d do the same thing, but i’m stuck with my same old, same old. My next buy’s will probably be an SSD drive for the operating system, as I’ve grown very fond of the Thinkpad T410s i have at work. Boot times are fast, well, it’s a Thinkpad on top of that. Godlike. I willingly gave up my 17″ pimped out Macbook Pro to get that Thinkpad. Many will say i am crazy, but I’ve found I’m much more a Thinkpad-guy than an Apple-guy. Other areas are really not an issue at the moment. RAM is enough at 4GB, and the graphics card, though old, (a Radeon 4850), is more than enough for the games i play. The past year i’ve played mostly Bad Company 2, and Civilization 5. Both of which run brilliantly on this card. Sure it’s not 9001 FPS, but enough for me. CPU is quad-core and more than enough also. I would like a second screen, and that Ergotron arm that i originally set my sights on from a Stefan Didak post on his v. 6.0 home office.

I could also pick up on a new TV show. True Blood has continued, but no in Finland of course, so officially one cannot get any episodes yet. Same with Game of Thrones which was recently recommended to me by some younger geeks.

That was an adventure all on it’s own, let me tell you. I was at this birthday party of a friend of H’s. People.. 5-7 years younger than me, and apologizing in advance for being so geeky. I laughed and said i bet i’m more geeky than any of them. But i found that the term geek has now changed. I fiddled around with computers before these people were born! And they are seriously trying to over-geek me. But the thing is, geekdom is different. I was considered odd for not watching Anime. Or not having seen Game of Thrones (no time to watch that…yet), and so on. I did know nyan cat, but that’s just because i hang around 4chan way too much. But basically i got comments like “How can you call yourself a geek!”. I was stumped. I can install Gentoo! I can compile a kernel, while remotely installing a Solaris 10 server on the other side of the world. But.. i guess being a geek isn’t just what it used to be. I really didn’t fit into that crowd.  “Have you watched Naruto?” -“Uh..what’s a Naruto?”. And then I’m faced with some apparently funny “music video” from some anime called Naruto. And inside, i was crying.