Monthly Archives: February 2008

Personal Stories – Linuxed

Linux is the best thing that ever happened to my hard drive. Even with the best training in human relations, I cannot stress enough the benefits of running Linux. I personally feel empowered. The Linux contributors are legion and I have access to all of their information. Praise the freeness, the next best thing for computer users costs nothing.

Backstory. Last year, my big brother gave me his aged Dell laptop, the "Dell Beast Jr." as I call it. Well, my bro' forgot to give me the operating system. He'd really screwed up the machine, and I wanted to make a fresh install. Months later, still no operating system. My bro' is in the Army, so he should be good at  Then in October, while I was still high from playing "Halo 3", Dell Beast Jr. went FUBAR (that's an Army term, btw). No hatin' toward my big bro': he will be shipping off to Iraq soon and has plenty of his own problems.

I am no hacker. Years ago, I stopped caring about how my computer worked and what language its software was written in. I just want to know how it peformans (benchmark) and what it can do (what programs can it run.)

Enter Ubuntu. Dell Beast Jr. had a bad sector on the hard disk. Usually that's no big deal, except this one was right in the middle of a core component of Windows XP. At that moment, my middling laptop had zero performance and ran no programs. Forced to care about my computer, I endeavored to at least try a free operating system, Linux. Thanks to Engadget, I chose Ubuntu's Linux distribution.

The install did not begin well. I downloaded the ubuntu.iso (the entire OS installation) and burned an install CD. The install seems easy, just insert the CD, set the partition size, and continue forward. The install didn't work. I burned another install disk from a different computer. It didn't work again. Then I ordered a disk from Ubuntu for free. Ten days later, I tried again. Success?

The free CD installed Ubuntu Linux on the Dell Beast Jr. and included such lovely things as Firefox, open office, other Windows like applications, and the essential program that defines the PC era, solitaire. Right away, my wireless card did not function. Fortunately, the ethernet port did. A whole night was spent gnashing teeth and hoping a wireless connection would establish itself out of my frustration.

The problem with Linux is that it depends upon a populace of altruistic hax0rs. That means that something in Linux work only if someone had the spare time and inclination to make it work. Microsoft and Apple actually pay people to make their operating systems work. To fix my wireless networking problem, I had to find a fix that someone had created. Quickly I learned that there were other problems, like poor utilization of Dell Beast Jr.'s video graphics card. I told my wife "this Linux thing is not ready for prime time".

How wrong I was. The next day, I found my answer, posted by an altruistic hax0r who, 1337 or not, had the same problem and overcame it by hacking, caring about how his computer worked, and knowing a lot about the software. Then I found more answers, and more solution, and more tweaks. Now I have been able to do things in minutes I could never have done with Windows, like running a second monitor at its best resolution or installing 20 applications at once with Automatix. In fact, hardware problems seem beneath me now. I am too busy setting up Gmail as my default desktop mail client through a script I copied from an Unbuntu form. Maybe next I will fire up Warsow.

Gratuitous toddler photo to come.

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Political Stuff – Change

This year's Presidential election is all about change. Remember four years ago when the election theme was "stay the course". Apparently that didn't work for very long.

Just recently I have changed my support from John Edwards to Barack Obama. Edwards was great, but he is no longer running for President. And what better candidate to change allegiances to than Mr. Change himself, Barack Obama. What about Hillary Clinton? She's great, wasn't there already a Clinton in the White House? What about that moderate Republican who appeals to moderates and independents? As a conservative, McCain by definition tends to oppose change, and thus logically cannot be the change candidate. Hence, Obama is the ultimate change candidates of all remaining candidates with a chance of winning.

In the interest of change, I am now "fired up, ready to go!"

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