Monday, April 18, 2011

Talking about a song in my collection

Steve Burns - Mighty Little Man
Album: Songs for Dustmites

A tired man in his chair
Doesn't move he only stares
At the machine across the room
There's nothing there; it's not getting through
He shakes his head, finally stands up
Throws his hands up in the air
A blinding flash across the room
A sudden crash, a sonic boom
Changes everything he knew
It's everything he's never seen
The biggest deal there's ever been
Described in light upon the screen
(It said)
Nobody else is stronger than I am
Yesterday I moved a mountain
I bet I could be your hero
I am a mighty little man

From way up here you can't look down
As of now there is no ground
The microscope is turned around
Don't be alarmed, don't make a fuss
He's still like you; he's one of us
And he'll come back before too long
He takes a breath and clears his mind
Grabs his coat and steps outside
An empty street, there's no one there
He lifts himself into the air
A billion thoughts expressed as one
Etched in words across the sun
(It said)
Nobody else is stronger than I am
Yesterday I moved a mountain
I bet I could be your hero
I am a mighty little man

This was one of my favourite songs for as long as I can remember having favourite songs*.
Yes, this is the Steve Burns of "Blue's Clues" fame. Yes, when Mum got the CD when it came out, she was like, this has nothing to do with Blue's Clues. I said, "Okay." Or, at least I thought about saying "okay." I was never much of a talker.

The thing I like the /most/ about this song is the syncopated rhythm of the chorus. I do not really know what the song is about - what it all means and stuff - I just always took my own little meaning out of it. I was a new fencer back then, and winning bouts against much bigger people than myself. It was a time when I was really struggling with my disposition on life, the universe and everything. I internalized everything - to a fault - and left little indication of anything that I liked or did not like. More so even than now. I was a hollow, empty shell of myself trying to refill me with an identity I could believe in. Although I wanted this song to help me believe in myself, it did not do that. But it does have musical awesomeness.

Take Care

*Well, not really. I was ten when it came out, but it was one of the early ones. Before The Short List, some songs were just more fun to sing along with or listen to than others. Notable other faves on The Short List back then were like a-ha: Sycamore Leaves, Talking Heads: Stay Up Late, Information Society: Still Here, Tones on Tail: Slender Fungus, White Zombie: More Human than Human and pretty much the entire Young Einstein soundtrack. (Clearly influenced by a substantial exposure to Eighties music.) This was in my pre-SKA phase - the SKA phase came very shortly after from playing DoB: XBV for hours on end just to listen to Reel Big Fish.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kubuntu 11.04 (64bit)

As some of you know, I like KDE. I like it a lot, but starting with 4.x, I was very limited on using it. I like lightweight desktop environments. For me, personally, using a computer is rather utilitarian. The machine and OS should be there to let me do what I want to do on it, not get in the way. Yet I like KDE for a number of reasons, though I do not use it an dhave not really done so in some time. So, when /someone/ said, "Hey, how about you review this distro because you have been a fan of KDE," a certain part of me was jumping up and down with excitement to play around with KDE.

Kubuntu, as the name implies, is a Ubuntu based distribution, focusing on KDE.
Now, my "test" environments are somewhat limited. There is the machine on which I run virtual machines. Typically, this is where I do most testing. Sometimes, I will grab an old machine that is good for little else. (Note: old machines with big volumes and fast NIC's make really good file servers, but are not so good at checking out this sort of distribution.) Because this is KDE and Unbuntu that we are talking about, I did not want to use a low-resource machine, or a virtual machine because I want to see what the OS can do, not see what it can do with chains and shackles.
This leaves me testing this out on my "standard system" - my netbook. AMD 64, dual core, blah, blah, stat this, stat that. So, okay, here was my experience.
1) Download the ISO (CD)
There were a few options for downloading Kubuntu 11.04. Reading the differences, it seemed that the CD one was the best for me as I did not need extensive language packs.
2) UNetBootIN to flash
Okay, for all of you out there what are not "Linux users" - you want to get unetbootin. It is available for Win (patui) Mac and Linux. It is a tool that will make bootable USB sticks for, like, whatever OS. It can pull distro's off the interwebz, or in this case, from a local ISO. I used a 1G stick for this operation, so obviously there is not a huge investment required here.
3) Backup
4) Boot and test live
So, I booted and took a look at the "Live" boot. (This means that I have booted off and am running from the ISO image on the USB stick. Nothing on my HDD was changed, but I still get to check out Kubuntu. This is a great way to sample Linux OS's - hint hint.)
What can I say - it is KDE. Big, pretty icons, applets and widgets all over the place. Everything that is "there" in Linux is there is one way or another. There is the panel - up top by default. More little applets and launchers can be added to it. The "Menu" though is (a la Mac) in the context of the focussed app. Also, and this may be because of the netbook-ness of things, it wants to run everything maximized - even otherwise small dialogs.
5) Reboot and choose to install.
This is not a requirement. I /could/ have installed from the running Live, but I chose instead to just run the installer, as I was not sure what I was in for.
6) "Prepare"
Plugged in to power - check
4 GB HDD - check
Internet connection - check
3rd pty Software prompt - yeah, sure, give'em to me.
Download updates during installation. Yep... gonna have to do updates anyway.
7) "Disk Setup"
Well, I /could/ use the entire disk for Kubuntu - just let it have it.
Or - I /could/ set it all up manually.
Or - Take the prompted side-by-side installation where it wants to resize the partition and make a new one with Kubuntu. Hmmm... I think this is the option I want because then I can just blow away the partition I do not want when all is said and done and fix the bootloader.
Taking a quick peak at the "Manual" options. Okay, they look pretty standard - I can make new partitions, resize, format / and leave /home alone.
Next step it install. Did I mention that I had already backed up?
8) "Timezone"
(After the spinning cursor...)
Okay, there was a list to pick from.
9) "Keyboard"
10) "Install"
Well, it had been working on that since it finished setting up the partitions.
And, installing the updates... zzzz..... (Slow connection, not the distro's fault.)
11) Okay, done installing and rebooting. Yes, it looks very KDEy. (Kay-Dee-Eee-ee) This much KDE-ness may be a little much for a netbook.
12) The user experience:
Out of the box, this feels a lot like "Here, this is what you want to do... it is all right here, in your face... games, interwebz AND office productivity." So, I have a lot of things to turn off, but at least the system settings app it right there on top with my e-mail, because, you know, right aft I check my e-mail, I am always going to adjust my system settings.
Oh, and having a "menu" with one item - "Close" - makes me really want to use it, but that is me.
So, there are "pages" instead of "workspaces"
I have to give it "props" for defaulting the theme to "Air - for netbooks"
Oh, and I should go on to say that for pretty, KDE has always done it well.
Also, KDE has done settings rather well. They are easy to find and fix, you know? Even the one that I am resisting much - Put away the toys and just gimme a desktop.
Also, also, is the "Live" really does represent the installed product quite well. If you have unfamiliar with KDE, PLEASE play with the "Live" for a while first.
And look - there is Amarok. Hi, Amarok - how is it going?
Oh-Kay... "Page One" is not a desktop/workspace... it is ... a widget? Yeah, well, it seems like that sidebar that Vista likes so much, but full-screen. I /could/ set this up with toys and apps... It does get out of the way fairly well; just sitting there in the background.
It (the desktop manager) seems rather keen on a cloud-type desktop. There was this login-thing that just said "You need to log in to access this site" - What site? Really, I would like to know. Maybe later.
Whoa! I was looking for like, the apps, and not finding them, clicked on "search and launch" - presto - back to that first screen I got. It was a bit of a face-palm moment. Let me just get out to the interwebz for a moment.
Got distracted again. You know what I do not like about having this, "search and launch" thing for all my launching needs? I have to go to it to use is. I want to just click on my launcher. Okay, but so it has "apt" but it cannot find my online backup package... will have to "go get" it. Sigh... going to look around a little bit more before I do that.
Installing sshfs - mounting my lan mounts. No, that is not something dirty.
This is _so_ Mac-like that it is a little creepy. I think I have a one-button mouse around here somewhere.
So, I was, then, adding some things to the panel, task-swapping, setting up backgrounds and whatnot, and I seem to have dragged my mouse somewhere I should not have. It gave me that little "tab" to adjust the applet and ... well, so my DESKTOP MANAGER was not responding. I could not clear the thing, and could not put focus back on the taskbar or anything. It finally said - hey, that thing is not responding, wanna close it. I said "sure, it is not like it is doing anything." Then I lost it all. Had to use the power button.
Okay, back up and playing around again... stripping things back down - removing widgets, etc.
13) Wrapping things up
I have more apps to install, and more playing around to do. As for right now, this thing is cool - fun and pretty as expected. Yes, I am going to see how "thin" I can get it, but I am not going to hold up this review for that.
14) Another thing on the positive side:
No extra drivers to install afterward. Worked fine with wireless and display and figured out that it was a netbook all on its own.
15) Final assessment:
This is an excellent distribution for someone who wants a nice, good-looking system handed to them with what they need to get going. There is a lot there to get news and information at your fingertips straight away.
The Live bootup provides an excellent preview of exactly what to expect with the desktop. And, like one would expect from a Live boot with installation, the system is available for use during the installation. (Not that I took that option - but I /could/have.)
The installation package is one I have seen before, nice, up-to-date and working well; but not the only place to get it.
Not the thinnest running system out there today - KDE was never meant for that - so it will not replace my standard system distro, but I think this is right there, good as any, for one of those entertainment-system setups.
I highly recommend this distribution for human usage. In particular for humans who plan on interacting socially via the interwebz, watching movies and listening to music. (It will, of course, do way more than that, mind you. Way more.)

Take Care

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Linux Mint Xfce (201104)

Some may notice that there is no "release number" there, for example - Linux Mint Xfce 10
That is because this the the Debian base, as opposed to the Ubuntu base.

Going back a little bit, I was very happy when Linux Mint began the Debian based branch. For one thing, it is lighter and faster. I had played around with different distributions to find lightweight ones that I liked, but always came back to Linux Mint for my "main" system, if you will. (Zenwalk has been good to me and I will always give props to Slax.) ["Props?" Really?] {whatever. hush.}

Another reason for wanting the Debian base, was the rolling distribution. There is no "system release" as such. No need to "Reinstall" to get the latest. In other words, the distribution as a whole is "update-able" just like the applications. There is an XKCD png illustrating a weakness here, but.... pfffft.

So, only the Gnome "edition" was available in the Debian tree here with Linux Mint, I installed it. All was good, but I was never a big fan of Gnome - favouring thinner desktop managers like Xfce, Fluxbox and LXDE. Not a problem, I simply installed Xfce and I could choose between Gnome and Xfce at login.

"Okay, Elqueue," you may be saying, "I thought you wanted to avoid doing re-installs, but you just did that for... what - loosing gnome?"

Kinda. I am rather quite fickle.

First step was DL'ing the iso. I torrent it whene'er possible. And that took much of yesterday. I then left the torrent running through the night to help seed. Then there was the backup. FORTUNATELY, my porn folder was kinda small. That was a joke. There were things I had to back up, but for a large part, the media (music and movies) are on a file server, scripts that are NOT part of... well, never-you-mind that... are kept in sync with an on-line backup. And google docs has most of my fiction and whatnot.

Backing up would have, more or less, been a bit of a technicality as I did not /have/ to format my /home - it is on its own volume - but it is good practice. AND I planned on formatting /home too so I could get the "clean" experience. (Yes, I could have gotten the "clean" experience by installing it in a VM, but this was good for me. Really. In ways I could not begin to describe.)

Okay - backups done and final tweeting ... tweeted ... time to boot up to the live DVD.


Yes, this is a good thing; installing from a Live media - I was tweeting and whatnot during the installation.

Okay, so install done, rebooted, next thing, as always, is the update/upgrade. Yes, I use apt from the command line. This took a long time too. I may set up my display /before/ doing this in the future because I was stuck at a low rez until that was done.

Then there are the screen tweaks - UI this and that which will be poked at for a while. Not a requirement, but fun nonetheless.

Let us look at that more slowly - the process was so slick and easy that it kinda went by you there, didn't it.

-Download the ISO. Yea! What fun!
Booted to it on a usb stick. More like a tiny postage stamp, but it still gets called a stick, right?

-Backed up. Okay, cool. I have been good about keeping the backup fairly current anywho.
This is like a one click action because I have already had it set up. I /could/ have just copied /home/lq/what.I.want* to the network share, but that is not always the best practice.

-The Live DVD. Yep, plenty to have fun with while the install is going, but that was not that long anywho.
Click install, select English, time zone, keyboard, user name, computer name, password, select the volume mount point (and hey, they already expect / and /home and swap, so that is just confirmation. And I did click the checkbox to format my /home - it does not by default.) Then there was the grub install option and away it went.
Launch FireFox and surf away.

-First boot. Sure, the updates took longer than the install, but my connection is not that fast. Would have been the same no matter the distro.
Again, FireFox was available for this. And creating other mountpoints, ln -s's, and whatnot while all that was going on.

-Set the display, reboot, start with my add-ons. Including getting the media, that was like, 5 painless steps.

Well, obviously, I cannot count for diddly, but you get the idea.

Now, one of those things that needed setting up after the updates was the on-line backup sync. My "toolbox" folder is in there with all my little scripts for doing other things (like tweeting #fortunes and building slideshows out of image directories, and... well, all my scripts). So they take a moment to make sym-links into a bin dir. But all this stuff is "fun" anyway when you do not have to do it often and it is by choice.

Another was google-chrome. It syncs up as well so all my bookmarks and settings and addons are all there.

And, to be fare, there were a few apps I removed and daemons to turn off.

Then the blog. I /could/ have been working on it during the process, but I did not feel so ambitious.

Will I install gnome libraries on top? Well, I am sure that sooner or later some app that I install will need some piece of gnome or KDE. And that is not a big deal.

Was all this worth it? Sure, yeah.

What about all kinds of extras and addons and devices and drivers and things? Not a biggie for me, anywho. I attach very little and that what I do is very plug-n-play friendly.

Will it be this easy for everyone? Meh - I am not everyone. But for just about any standard user (gamers notwithstanding) with any reasonably resent computer (and this is a netbook for mercy's sake) this really should be about what you experience. If this "review" seems to be lacking detail, it is because this is just so simple and easy. Sure, I /could/ have gotten rather verbose about it. (I am typing in my desired username now: l followed directly by a q. Now I am entering my password... twice. I received a message that my password was strong. That is good. My hostname must be all lower case... careful now... Okay. I manged to type it all without hitting the shift key.)

If you really want a blow-by-blow because "I am a windoze user and I want to quit getting viruses - what exactly do I need to do?" Let me know and I will make a step-by-step walk-through. from start to finish - how to make a bootable usb device with Linux Mint Xfce (201104) on it and everything. Because, OBVIOUSLY I have no life. =^_^=

Simply send one 2GB (or more) flash drive to the [hey, let me just take that back out] Airport c/o me and if you get it back - ever - then you did not send it correctly.

But seriously, I will post a walk-through if I get feedback requesting one.

Oh, and it is snowing, so I am posting this "early" rather than taking a bike ride. I am not even scheduling it to post later.

Take Care.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sookie Stackhouse, Sam Merlotte, True Blood

It is Friday again, right?

Today I am going to talk a little bit about the show True Blood and the book series from whence it came.

This morning, I was (carefully) watching more of season one of the show - about fifteen minutes at a time or so. I have read a number of the books, but had gotten kinda fed up with Bill. Point being, while I never really thought that Sam and Sookie ought to hook up, I always liked Sam a lot.

Now, watching the series, thinking about what I know now of the character, vs what the audience knows about him so early on, it is kinda cool.

Not the least of which is just him running the bar. He has his little place, that is fulfilling a local need, and still out there, far enough from the beaten path to give him the freedom he needs. And that get us to what this post is all about - I think that would be cool, owning-running a little bar and grill. There are, like, the ones I visit. I may like having one down town where I could live in the up-stairs. Or opening/taking one over out on the corridor.

That's it.

Oh, and I would still kinda like to be a radio dj.

Take Care!