ubuntu: the prequel

thinkpadMy first “writing only” computer was an IBM Thinkpad running Windows 2000. I’m a bigtime Mac user, but am familiar with Windows through having to use it in my 3D work. No big; writing feels pretty much the same, wherever you do it.

Only problem is, Windows is a hideosity. Disgusting to look at, and deal with (“idiotic” does not begin to describe what Microsoft considers to be “design,” in user interfaces). I LOVED the ThinkPad’s feel, though, including the “nipple” navigation (a tiny nub, embedded in the keyboard, that gives “joystick” fingertip control over the cursor). I loved not having to lift my fingers off the keyboard to use a “trackpad.”

So I loaded Linux. Which at the time, for me, meant Mandrake (now Mandriva). Free, robust, and almost there, useability-wise. Almost. Finally, I caved and bought an iBook. Love it. OS X is all the way there, rock-solid, etc. Gotten used to trackpad use (especially using this priceless utility). So, la-dee-da.

ubunto logoBut the idea of a Free OS (linux) stuck. Free OS, free software, smart folks all over making something because it’s cool. Now, years later, I find Ubuntu, quickly becoming the most popular “distro” of Linux around (and available for PPC machines, like my G4 iBook). I downloaded the “Live CD” and booted from it. Frickin’ nice. Smart, and SO much further along than when last I tried Linux.

So now I want to have a “dual-boot” iBook, running OS X and Ubuntu Linux. Folks all over are doing it, and so am I. This week, I think. Really. Details to come.

leaving las vegas

Fat Ladies In PoolNo, we didn’t come to drink ourselves to death. Tho after a couple of days here, that does start to occur to you as a viable option � the only place you might find some actual silence is in your hotel room. Like right now, just a bit before we’re checking out. (We are then zipping over to my friend’s wedding at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. I can’t wait — I’ve never been to an actual Las Vegas wedding… Nor a Mexican divorce, for that matter.)

But for now, blessed silence. I guess the ceaseless cacophony is just part of the clever psy-ops designed to part you from your cash, to never allow that moment of silence when, God forbid, you might stop and say “why am I shovelling my hard-earned cash into a f*cking machine!? That said, Vegas does have a terrible beauty all it’s own. Like the view by the pool. Which, here at the Mirage, actually is a lovely little oasis, with pounding waterfalls you can stand under (I did) and comfy lounge chairs that “breathe” (they do). After the wedding, a stop at the Liberace Museum, then home. ‘Til then, PING PING PING PING PING.


RAZR GirlRecently, I finally got around to consolidating my wife’s cell phone account with mine. We’re saving a buttload, now, plus my wife finally has a phone that will hold a charge, and work (plus take pictures, and God knows what else). Everything was fine, until I tried to use my phone the other day. “Not Authenticated.” Okay, fine.

I called, tried to take care of it. Long story short, the salesman at the Verizon store messed up, upgraded my service to reflect my having also purchased a newfangled phone, which I did not. Now — the nice man at Verizon Wireless informed me — my current phone cannot be activated! I told him I understood, but that this was not a concern of mine, it was their error, and I wanted a solution. Now, please. Squeaky wheel wants grease!

That’s when things got surreal… He said he could send me a new phone. Fine, I said (feigning disinterest), as long as it does what mine does (an older model, zero bells or whistles except the ability to use iSync � critical, if you’re me). I went to the Apple site and rattled off a few compatible models. No dice. With a knowing chuckle, he asked if the RAZR (a phone so slim, and so cool, the model in the picture will have sex with anyone who owns one � that’s my understanding) qualified. Yes, I told him, it did. Great, he said. He’ll overnight one to me.

So here I sit. In giddy anticipation of my newfangled RAZR, with camera, 30MB memory, Bluetooth, and many other features I’m sure I’ve never even heard of. Verizon, needless to say, has won a fan. Coming up next, a real-world tech review of the widget itself!

say no more

Fix NewsFinally, all pretense is finally dropped. Oh, Fox — could you be any more Fair and Balanced? I guess we’ll see what they’re really made of when the Bush Reign comes to a close.

her awesome beauty

Bird NestIt’s hard not to anthropomorphize. Especially when the little critters are forced to deal with catastrophe.

We live in a charming cottage-style home with high, peaked roofs. Adding to the charm are vines, creeping up from the sides of the house, writhing their way along the roofline, adding the perfect accent. Until, that is, they become overgrown. Then, it seems the only solution is to tear them down, clean up, and let them start anew (we’re not that dependable for “regular maintenance”).

So today, down they came. It wasn’t that hard; the roots don’t attache that firmly. After the first major chunk came down, I noticed a neat little nest, tucked high in the branches. I pointed it out to my wife, and we marveled at the intricate weave of twigs, strands, and ferns, so perfect it looked like a decoration. I was relieved, at first, to find it empty. Then I noticed a tiny egg nearby, paper-thin, cracked and leaking. Later, I came across evidence of a second, a smear of yolk on a windowsill. Needless to say, this cast a pall on the remainder of the job. When I uncovered an enormous black widow, then was harrassed by a hovering wasp, it only seemed fitting.

When the job was finished, I took the nest back to our potting shed. It was too beautiful, and too heartbreaking, to throw away. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with it, and I can’t help but imagine the parent birds returning after all the ruckus died down, to have their worst fears realized. Augh.

passing gas

Exxon CEOOh, just shut the f*ck up. That’s what I say to those wailing and beating their chests these days about skyrocketing gas prices. Put a lid on it. Stop driving. Buy a hybrid. Use public transpo. Of course, it’s easy for me to say. I work at home.

Speaking of working, Exxon’s CEO/COO/whatever just got a $400 Million + severance package for retiring. Which begs the question, what did he make for actually working? Not enough, apparently, since prices were kept relatively low ’til he left. I think. Anyway, I say charge $10 per gallon for gas. Then apply the $6-7 surcharge to alternative fuel development.

don’t be a cock

RoosterI found this via one of my favorite miscellany sites: An article titled “How to Become an Early Riser.” It’s long, but here’s the closing bit:

So if you want to become an early riser (or just exert more control over your sleep patterns), then try this: Go to bed only when you’re too sleepy to stay up, and get up at a fixed time every morning.

Sounds reasonable. Only I’d change the second bit to “Get up when you wake” or “when you feel like it.” Or when you know your wife is making breakfast. Or maybe when your cat’s commentary takes on an urgent tone, or he sits there staring at you.

I usually turn in around 1:30AM, and rise around 8:30AM. That’s 7 hours by my math, plenty if you’re me. Of course, sometimes that’s more like 3AM to 9:30AM. 10AM is too late, makes me groggy all day. A short nap around Siesta Time (4ish) is nice, but most of the time I just lie down on the couch with the puggie for a little while. This usually leads to a short nap, but that’s usually right when our Mailman delivers, and the little guy (who has been known to bark at me, if I’m wearing something different) unloads. Such as he does. And that’s no way to wake from a nap, let me tell you. So there. What?

recursive pug

Bacci BoyIt occured to me, reviewing the copious results of a search for pug info, that a User Group for Pugs would have quite a clever acronym built right in… Reminds me of what a geek friend of mine once explained as the origins of the name for [what I understand is] a flavor of Unix, called “GNU,” a name he described as “recursive” (if you think about it in geek terms): “Gnu’s Not Unix.”

The idea of a Pug User Group (PUG) actually makes a lot of sense, and if I were of the mind to manage such a thing, I’m sure I could leverage it into some sort of high effort/minimal returns-style operation, yet another Great Idea that sucks hours out of an already achingly short day. Lord knows, people love their damn pugs. We sure as hell do… That’s our boy Bacci, above. Grinning.

movie magic

Jake iPodOn this year’s Oscars, Jake Gyllenhaal intro’d a montage of Epic Movie Clips by reading a message about how powerfully magical The Movies really are, and how we simply could not experience this on a mere TV screen, much less a “portable player.” Clearly scripted, and clearly a desperate plea from the studios for us to please go back to the theaters. The ensuing montage was pretty impressive, I must say. It successfully reminded me just how magical The Movies can be.

But wait… How did the Academy, in all its wisdon, decide to give me this experiece? To prove to me that paying $10-15 for the privilege of watching a dozen TV COMMERCIALS (before the studio trailers even begin) is nothing, given the Magic they had edited together for me…?

That’s right. On my TV. They played the Powerful Montage, skillfully edited and scored to move and inspire, during a television broadcast. So we could all watch it on our televisions, and wonder what the f*ck the problem was that they were just talking about. Doh.

nice unit

Dennis HaysbertI recently had the pleasure of attending a repeat telecast party with the people behind The Unit, a new series on CBS. My wife is friends with the wife of the guy who wrote the book that inspired the series � your standard “6 degrees” kind of thing. Okay, 2 degrees. 3? Anyway, there I was, chatting with one of the founding members of Delta Force, along with the actors playing characters based on him, including Dennis Haysbert (he of the beautiful and memorable Far From Heaven. Everyone was very nice, even one presumably recognizable actor I idiotically asked “So, what do you do?”

The epitome of something was achieved when a tense scene featuring Haysbert set up a commercial break, and the first commercial featured Haysbert again, this time as spokesman for Allstate Insurance. Everybody teased him, like it was his fault that he had suddenly dominated the TV. He smiled his gentle giant smile and joked back in that inimitable baritone of his… I know, it’s silly. But don’t you love it when your favorite actors look and sound “just like they do”, in person? I do.