Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

The Bad Juju that comes with the Aftermath

09/23/2015 Comments off

Michael’s First Blog on the Net | One of many blogs, this one dates back the farthest

Entry 09/23/2015 09:19:17 PM – Mentat 993

As of yesterday morning I’m through with all the things that I need to order and/or replace. The iPod was completed on Monday night (being in sometime the beginning of next week. The phone Tuesday Morning. The retractable baton is still in the wish list until such time as I have the money to pull from a new check rather than off of the current saved funds for the replacement windows rather than out of it and then shoveling the money back into it… Then again the other hesitation is that in carrying the weapon it opens myself up to different retaliation. Stopping by my mother’s house yesterday morning (I couldn’t remember whether today was included in the first of the morning walk), she tells me that my uncle’s promising to buy me a Taser. Uh, that’s going to be quite a problem during my walks and especially having it on me while at work. Hopefully the message will be received and if not, it’ll be happily laid off to the side at the house. Uh, yeah… No I don’t think so. Lovely sentiment but I’m having problems enough with the thought of arming myself given I’m a pacifist by nature. Even if the roughest thing out of me comes from my mouth.

I’m noticing as well that while the mouth is no longer bleeding and the ear isn’t looking like it lost a cage match; the rest of me is still feeling sore as hell. I think it has to deal with post adrenaline stress as the hoodlums were very specific with where they hit me… Legs, and parts of my abdomen. Just one of those things, I guess. That and apparently my resting pulse is up back to the stress-time I had during the desk moves that happened a couple of months ago. Seems like I might be going through some of post-traumatic stress of some sort or another… Which also probably explains the weird up and down feeling I’ve had going on through the night (and part of the morning), today.

So I’m sitting here at my desk, slouching for the moment while I’m brewing my coffee (I can smell some of it through I’m upwind from the pot), watching the folk chatting on dAmn, I’m pondering whether I want to take a break for the moment to get dressed up and walk the 800 or so steps to hit my daily 10K. I know I still have a little time… As I should also make the bed and take a shower. Perhaps even try cleaning myself up a bit in the shower. Yeah, slouch day for the weekend and I’m definitely slouching.

I know that I have one of those reality intruding in on my dream states thanks to my wonderful pain-in-the-ass cat. Seems that sometime during the afternoon after getting out of bed, when he came back in, he decided to knead around my buttocks. I remember it hurting a little bit, but in all honesty I think it was just some sort of unconscious reaction to his incessant kneading at me while he was getting comfortable. At least for the moment since getting up — he’s stopped sucking up to me and is sitting in the bed as usual. Good thing too, given that while I love his company, he’s making it a point not to sit anywhere on my lap, but instead on the back of the chair. But then again I digress from the original points that I was making.

All right, so this morning as I’m getting into the shower, I come to find out that the band on my FitBit is coming apart. Checking through the help forums, it appears that this was an issue with the earlier versions. I was just in time to put a call into support (they close at 23:00 pacific) and after explaining the issue, was able to get a replacement given the unit is under warranty for a year (and I’ve only owned this for just over 3 months). I should have that sometime at the beginning of next week.

Seriously, is there going to be anything else thrown in my direction when it comes to technology? And looking at the Ephemeris for 2015 it would appear that once again, there is some sort of bad juju going on since Friday night. Oh joy of joys there *sighs*.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, showered and dressed. Even got rid of the preamble for No-Shave November (or as most call it Movember) Chugging on the remains of my lukewarm coffee. Puss is sucking up for some love now that I’ve come back to the house to top off my 10,000 steps for the day… Just over sure, though with a quick trip around the block, I’m happy to have gotten the steps in for the day (to make up taking the day out of work Sunday night).

Work has been sort of all right. The manager who’s e-mails seemed to have changed approach from department first/employee health & safety second, seems a hell of a lot more sincere than the call that I mentioned in the last entry. Though, I have to say it’s confusing the wording of the correspondences. At first she seems to be asking for the details of the assault including whether or not I filed a police report because the company’s security was inquiring about it. When I supplied all the information; the very next correspondence seems to indicate that they never asked for that information and whether or not she had permission to forward it to security. Of course, was my response. Anything to assist Security come up with contingency plans for that to never happen to another employee works for me.

One of these days I think I’m going to have to completely sequester myself and try to sort out all the confusing and conflicting things I’ve learned about this job and the people I work with. There’s so much that I’ve learned about the environment and while there’s some really positive things, there’s a whole lot of other things that need to be addresses and/or improved.

And with that, I’m done covering the rest for the moment… Off to perhaps spend some time with the cat and ponder what I’m cooking for lunch today. Until the next time I surface from the underground world I often live in.


Coming up for Air

06/22/2015 Comments off

Entry 06/22/2015 12:11:24 AM – Mentat 929

I know, I know — no art…  Less of that lately (I’ll get to that in a minute), and a rather banal come all-over-the-place journal entry.  Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve written and some of the things I’m writing about seem to be “…the story already in progress…”  But then again since I’ve pulled my diary offline and written privately, those are the breaks.

So now that I’m entering into Monday morning and looking at the calendar, I’m reminded of my out-cry on my way in to work this evening that Emancipation Day is 3 days away and I haven’t thought of anything I want to be free of for the prior year.  Well other than perhaps the fact that I’ve had to wash quite a few freakishly odd queerfolk out of my life the last month alone:  Michael in Apple Valley who was coming off not only a few fries short of a Happy Meal™ but also somewhere between abrasive and abusive (verbally, definitely verbally).  While it was charming for a while, I got tired of hearing things like, “are you that gullible?” and “You have monumental baggage” routinely enough that it was a friendship that didn’t build up the person, but tore ’em down in order to make oneself feel better about it. Not that he was feeling any better really — he was damned busy whinging about not having a boyfriend and then doing nothing to modify the way modern queerfolk go about the whole dating thing.

The other man (I’ve had to watch out of my hair) was from Mississippi (I think his name was Richard, but I can’t be assed to remember it really) who seemed jovial though vapid in his e-mails who I suspected was a bit of a freak (of nature) only to have him turn out to be a real freak of nature with his sense of humor comments that didn’t feel the least bit jovial or jocular.  More like desperate, cloying and the sort of creepy that leaves you feeling like you need a shower afterward.  What I mean is that quite out of the blue from the usual conversation he starts asking for nudie pictures and making assertions of marrying him.  Uh, no thanks I don’t like marriage jokes when the conversations have been light (and vapid) and didn’t lead down anywhere that would have called for such intensity.  And let’s face it — anyone asking for nudes of is asking for trouble from the likes of me.

Although the true irony of that whole conversation had to do with the fact that the only reason why he started chatting me up had to do with the fact that I went checking out his profile while wearing the flag-mod hat and checking to see if the profile was another one of the cavalcade of fake users that routinely come onto OKC.  The only reason I was chatting with him is that his profile seemed to only point to wanting chat — and who am I to deny a good chat to anyone that wants it?

Then there was this kid (AKA under 30) that was trying to chat me up for god-only-knows what reason.  Seemed to be the sort of kid that lived off the attention until I noticed that his location changed from Fall River, MA to Bum-Fuck PA which sent up the usual warning bells of a fake user.  Tried to pull me over to KIK which is an automatic block as I can’t stand that bloody program (seems to be geared more towards those sort of vapid and attention whore sort of teens and 20-somethings that have nothing else better to do with their time).  Seriously, no thank you — I’ve had more than enough people of this caliber in my life, I don’t want any more of them.  Hell and what’s left of them in my life I don’t want them in there anymore…

About the only one that I’ve been entertained with has been the guy from New York City, but even then it’s more one-sided than I like.  Eh, I’ll give that a bit more time and see how that plays out.

In other news, one of the gifts I worked on buying for my birthday was a FitBit.  Part of the reason was I wanted to shed carrying around two phones (iPhone from AT&T that the contract has been cancelled and the Droid that I’m currently carrying).  The other part of the reason was I wanted to have something that integrated better with a fitness and health conscious program for tracking calories in and out.  While I don’t like the whole cloud integration for the program (it’s currently held on the website) I’m really liking the investment I made with the Fitbit HR.  While I haven’t used the actual caller-ID integration between it and the phone (apparently I need to load up the program for it as phone is not supported for direct integration) everything else about it seems pretty accurate…  Well other than perhaps sleeping.  It’s marking my restlessness as times that I’m awake and the thing about that is I’m not really awake.  My eyes didn’t open and I didn’t register anything consciously.  I think it’s just because the movements that I do through the night are enough to raise my pulse into the consciousness zone and that’s enough for it to mark me as awake.  Still though, it’s better than the Sleep Time app which seems to monitor not only my movements, but Moe’s as well.  And my cat has a nasty habit of getting up a whole lot more than I do.  While I might not be getting the full 5 day charge (I’m noticing it’s about 4 days according to YMMV) it’s not as though I need to wear the thing down to nothing as I’m close enough to both the charger and the dongle that I can sync and charge the thing up with little effort.

Oh yeah, the other thing I like about this unit is the fact that it works with a vibration for the alarm.  I saw Matt Inman over at The Oatmeal raving about the Taptic Engine in the Apple Watch and gave it a go with the silent alarm on the FitBit HR.  When I have slept long enough to catch the alarm, it actually wakes me up…  Though I suspect that the reason why I’ve been up a majority of the time before the alarm is because I fear I’m going to sleep through it.  I haven’t, but that doesn’t stop me from activating the Wonder Twin Power™ of self-consciousness.

I missed Providence Pride this year.  I’m not in the least bit surprised about that given 1. I was working that day and 2. I thought it was the last weekend of the month of June and not the third weekend when it was celebrated.  No big loss there in any case.  Though it did give the bus lines a bit of a problem given that Route 1 that I usually take the day I have to work over-time had to temporarily re-route away from Dorrance Street.  Although it was funny given that when it was heading down Washington Street I thought I had accidentally gotten on the Northbound bus instead of the Southbound.  But after that scare from the re-route, I was happily heading down to work for a couple of hours overtime to cover while the fuck-up second shift person can have his added time off for Father’s Day.  No names mentioned (publicly of course), but if you ask me, I’ll more than happily tell anyone privately.

Waking up today was like waking up in the Crotch of the Bible Belt:  I felt like I needed SCUBA gear in order to breathe properly.  And without the necessary exhaust vent it’s not as though I can run the portable AC unit for the time being.  At least the good news is that sometime this week the vents covers that I had ordered from Haier (that didn’t come with the package I purchased) should be in by the end of the week.   So hopefully, I’ll be able to run the A/C during the hottest parts of the summer.  And it’s looking like the humidity isn’t going to be going away any time soon.  Not sure what that’s all about, but it’s enough to annoy me.

Work…  I have positively no words for that circus.  Between the politics and the personal conflicts going on between the Manager and the Supervisor it’s a royal Charlie-Foxtrot.  All I’m doing for the moment is riding it through and hoping that it’ll clear itself out one way or another.  While it’s nice to being Nightbreed again and management is only seen sparingly the changes that seem to be going on boggles both the conscious mind and the imagination.  And that’s all I’m going to say on that subject in a public setting.

And with that — I think I’ve covered everything for the time being.  I’ll close it here for now and hopefully sometime this week, I’ll don the hat of the Mad Scientist™ and try to make another wallpaper.  Until the next time.

Ruminations from the Mad Scientist™

11/17/2014 Comments off

I have been an artist all of my life.  While I might not be the next Rembrandt or Picasso or Michelangelo, I have always felt that as long as my art brings just a little bit of happiness to someone’s life, then I’m content.  That my fulfilment comes from creating something that someone (anyone really) likes in one way or another is good enough for me.

While not actually painting, drawing, illuminating, sculpting, being a ceramicist/potter since leaving high school (having followed my path into computers after being introduced to them in high school and programming on the TRS-80), I continued to dabble when I could where I could and whenever I needed a creative outlet for whatever problem I had been working through at the time.  I remember being introduced to the first fractal making program back when I first owned a 386 computer in the early 90s. It worked on Mandelbrot’s main formula (with some added computations and variations), but it lacked the depth and resolution I had seen of CGI and technical effects I saw on the silver screen.  But it had promise as it was the first stages of programs for the home user to create works of art based on mathematics (something I was adept with), computers (which I had excelled in) and was a taste of things to come without the exorbitant price tag of some CGI programs on the market at the time…  I forgot about it  and programs like Bryce (and also Ray Dreams), focusing my attention on programs and mediums that furthered my skills in writing and socializing.

Then came the mid-to-late-90s.  A programmer from the UK created a program called Terragen that took the ideas from the more complex terrain and CGI programs on the market and allowed end-users to play with landscapes of their own and do so for cheap or free.  It allowed me to create landscapes near enough to what I saw on the Silver Screen and do so from the comfort of my home on my own computer and allowed me to produce something like this to wow friends and strangers alike while demonstrating both my inherent artistic abilities with how I harnessed the “magic” of computers:


More time passed: another decade in fact.  I stumbled across the program Chaoscope from one of the tech e-papers I used to read for work and after downloading it gave it a try..  It produced the exact qualities that I wanted to create: vibrant colors on a dark background and coupling it with mathematics, did so at speeds I had been accustomed when I had done speed sketches into my diary.  It also gave me the inspiration (and feeling) of when gods of lore harnessed the gases of the sun and infusing it in silicon, allowing me – a mere mortal – to create images of wonders to behold like this:

Taelon Life Pod

While Chaoscope had its potentials, it wasn’t quite for me.  It lacked the complexity that I was familiar with in database programming.  It also didn’t create imagery quite the way that I wanted:  taking up the majority (or the whole) of the monitor screen and do so in wondrous colors, shapes and patterns.  I kept at Chaoscope for as long as I could, until the day I had met Damion and he introduced me to Deviant Art.  That’s where on a random impulse, came across a piece of fractal art created by a program called Apophysis.  My fascination in that program started with this:

Prismagotronic Cloud

And the rest was – as we say – history.

Apophysis allowed me to combine the wild impulses of artistic creation, mathematics and programming.  It allowed me  the ability tinker and tweak the “guts” of the fractal (though the use of manipulating the “triangles” within the editor) until I was satisfied with what I was seeing; then to render what it was I wanted to share, and (in my hope) to confer the same feeling(s) to others I experienced in the creation of the piece:  the wonder that comes when maths are made into art.  Apophysis also opened up avenues that allowed me to marry an image created with words and apply it to an image of chaos made manifest, much like this one:

Spirit Day - A Message from a Survivor

And so, the Mad Scientist™ was born…  Well, he was already born…  This was the time the Mad Scientist™ matured into the adult.

And now for the change of direction (albeit briefly).

I have also been on the Internet since before its popularity with the home user.  A full decade before.  I remember the various poor man’s Internet — the BBS system — sharing files, and pictures and sounds and programs at a whopping 150 baud (to 300, to 2400 and on).  I remember finding the Internet when working at a college and keeping that account for as long as possible.  I remember and became familiar with Eudora, Gopher, Usenet and FTP.  I remember tools that helped convert binaries to text and back again.  I remember the birth of IRC and the World Wide Web.  I remember when businesses were introduced to CompuServe and the home users being introduced to Prodigy and AOL through GeoNet.  I remember the birth and death of Netscape (and rebirth to Firefox).  I’ve seen the gestation of social tools like MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and ICQ give birth to the social media explosion that brought us Deviant Art, Facebook, YouTube, and on and on and on…

I am one of the few ancients that continues to make his presence felt online — at least with this incarnation — since at least 1994.  Well that and still boast about being from the early days, anyway.   There are others, but I’ve learned they don’t admit it as quickly or as readily as I do (without prompting such as this).

From the two, I’ve learned interesting lessons in the creation of my art, it’s attraction of others that see (and even download) and occasionally the offers that I’m offered for showing a greater audience (and always graciously turn down because I feel it would take from artists that need that attention more than I would as this is only a hobby and a great experiment for me).

I had to take a walk to sort the next part out. There was an impact I was hoping to make and felt I wasn’t going to be making it the way that I wanted.  I couldn’t shake the feeling…  was the very thing I loathe seeing from “people” following my blog on WordPress (e.g., the Advertisers trying to sell their “wonderful” little-work-yet-great-return-so-you-can-live-the-good-life product) or worse, the pontificating fool…  The fact is, I’m not trying to sell anything.  I give away what I’ve learned freely and though one person did in fact sparked the muse that inspired me in this (yes, that’s you Mr. R.), it is in good spirits and in kind heart that perhaps something can be learned from it.  Both for the person that inspired me to make this post and anyone else wanting to use and utilize the tools we have today.

They’re sort of rules…  And by rules I mean guidelines.  The sort of guidelines that had been passed on to me, and passed on to everyone that has ever made anything for people to view, experience, witness, like and share within the community of artists, musicians, celebrities, bloggers, vloggers and those inspired by the energies that create harmony through conflict.  That create beauty from the chaos within and without.  That want to inspire in others the spark we all contain within ourselves.

1. Let your art sell itself.  The first and best way you can make an impact is releasing that art to the wild.  Be it to your followers, viewers, friends, to even the world at large…  Put it out there without excessive tease, preamble or long introduction.  Let the audience that it was shared with digest and decide for themselves whether to like share, comment, etc.*  If you feel the need to hint – and people often do – let the hint go free and don’t hint at it anymore.  When the time comes (and goes), release it.  Hint at something too much and you might end up giving impressions you’re more talk than action.  There’s some really interesting lessons to be said about this approach.  You get an idea on the audience you’re reaching whether you do your art for free (like I do) or making money off of it (like some professional artists that I know and follow.  For example, in six years I’ve learned that women tend to favorite/favor warmer colors in the fractal art that I create with men gravitating more toward the cooler colors…  Or my personal favorite…  What I personally didn’t like ends up getting a metric shit-ton more views than the piece that earned an award for production.  Some art that I personally put in hours of work ends up being completely ignored.  Others rush, loved, complimented, liked, downloaded.  It’s from this that I learned the public has its own tastes and drives and no matter how much you might want the public to like something you’re proud of, the public has whims and tastes of its own.

2. To sell your art, you need to sell yourself.  I learned this from my years on Deviant Art.   It’s not about sending up messages advertising, “hey, I put something out, check it out..”  No, it’s more about interacting with your community at large.  Someone’s having a problem and you have advice?  Share it!  You like something they produced be it friend and/or stranger?  Comment!  Someone did something you could only wish you could?  Congratulate them in their success (and don’t be afraid to ask for some advice)!  They failed or had difficulty in the production of their art?  Give advice and pointers on what you did to overcome the difficulty they faced in that art’s creation.  Be effervescent in all responses (as my mother and grandmother used to tell me, “you’ll attract more bees with honey than vinegar.”)   And always, always, always favorite/like the things that impacted you.  You’ll find people that you’ve been following, watching, even commenting once or twice to, coming to check out what it is you’re producing.  Make it feel like you’re part of the community at large.

3. Once you release your art let the social media in question work its “magic”.  I’m not talking about re-sharing a compliment that you got for something they listened to,  I’m talking about something said to me about having to repeat things already said because of fans and followers being in different time zones.  This is the internet…  In it we feel the closeness regardless of the distance and we as a whole are beginning to work out all the time zones one way or another because of those distances.  Every bit of social media I have and had ever utilized has the inherent ability to filter.  I missed/can’t see a comment from a circle of friends in Australia?  A click or two later, all the other conversations in my timeline disappear and their comments/conversations come bubbling to the top.  There they are, my friends in Australia are having a discussion on who’s got the best ass on screen.  Another click and my timeline returns to normal.**  Because the negative to this is if you find yourself having to reference the same piece time and again, you run the risk of alienating the very people would want to “sell” to or even could get you recognized.

** I’m finding that 5 years later I’m still getting saves (it’s like favorites/likes but for personal collections) for the piece that I received an award for on one site and still get offers on the various artwork that’s available for older work that can be found through WordPress, Deviant Art and even Flickr.  How?  They found it through my postings on Twitter, WordPress, Flickr and even Facebook.  Not because I repeated them, but because it’s something that can be found in history.  And besides, I’ve learned people like a good treasure hunt.  It often gives people the feeling of accomplishment when they can find something memorable for themselves and want to treasure it.

When you’re properly working points 1, 2 and 3, you’ll find word of mouth will also in fact also work its magic.  Want proof?  Check out how Cosmo Jarvis’ Gay Pirates went viral.

Finally not necessarily a rule but I’ll number it anyway…

4. Know which social/media site will be the best place to showcase your art.  And then reference it in some way in the places you like to visit and especially if have some sort of presence.  Like how WordPress allows me to reference the last four pieces I’ve uploaded to Flickr.  Like how you’re given the ability to create an about page that you can tell more about yourself (and even how to get in contact and/or reference other locations…  Social sites allow for intermingling in some way or another.  Utilize them to the best of your ability.

It’s a strange set of lessons there, one that I’m not sure how to explain without simply giving the information and allowing you to sort it out yourself…  My Fractal Art tends to be primarily posted to Deviant Art and Flickr because of the visual art community at large.  WordPress?  One Drive?  Google+?  Well, I want to see how long it’s going to take before I max out the storage space after that I’ll be referencing/embedding from Deviant Art and/or Flickr.   I get more likes/downloads and especially comments from Deviant Art and Flickr than anywhere else that my fractals posted to.  Facebook comes in second because well, my friends and family are all as opinionated as I am so I look forward to their advice and comments.  Everywhere else is just icing on my cake and gets me recognized either by comment/contribution or piece that I made for the week.  And because of this…  My art inspired other artists to try their hand in media they were more familiar with, here and here (to name a couple off the top of my head).

It accomplishes what I set out to do when I started making my art digital: make the impact I wanted.  Inspire others to give it a try themselves.  I’ve also witness that it applies to what I’ve seen of those Vloggers known as YouTube Personalities, Musicians, Celebrities and so on that have impacted my life and so many other lives in the process.

That’s it from me…  I’ve said all that I can.  Now I’m off to give Moe some attention and then read and to bed.  Until the next time.

[Edit:  Silly me.  Up to my tits in a lot of things and forgot 2 links in the last section.  Back and added…]

Seriously… What’s so bloody important?

11/12/2014 Comments off

Entry 11/10/2014 12:46:41 PM – Mentat 788

 It’s a long weekend here in the Tundras of New England. Veteran’s Day falling toward the beginning of the week allows me a little peace and tranquility from the nutcases, douchebags, assholes and generally the sort of people that give me that routine bolster of misanthropy that makes me just so charming and curmudgeonly. I saw some interesting sites through the old neighborhood that I lived in more than 25 years ago (one of which I shared the picture on Instagram). I had some interesting nostalgia seeing the old house on Vernon Street and a shade envious that the house looks so much better in navy blue with lemon yellow trimming than the jaundice yellow and shit brown trimming that it had when I lived there.

Hell, the daily walks through the neighborhood were doing me a world of better as I was getting regular exercise while checking out the sights of the area, when during one of my walks to the supermarket for a couple of necessities as I got the crossing signal began my saunter across Eagle Street when some mad cow with a phone attached to his ear and looking only to the traffic that had already been stopped almost hit me when I was in the crosswalk. He didn’t look and it was apparent he didn’t care for anything other than the end of his nose and the opportunity to take a right on red. His attention only seemed to be with whoever was on his phone and the opposing traffic that was stopped for the crossing signal.

Believe me when I say, I yelled loud enough to get everyone’s attention at the signal. One woman who just took the phone off her ear at the stop light, shook her head in disbelief as she witnessed the man’s ignorance to the intersection and the pedestrian.

I simply looked at her without a smile and thought “pot, meet kettle. You’re both black…” As I finished crossing the street with the modest fear of someone else wanting to take a right turn and not seeing me — the pedestrian — in the crosswalk.

I went about my life as I do, fuming a bit at the inconsideration and the self-centeredness of the world at large.

The next day with earbuds on and softer than normal, I went about my walk for exercise and other necessities and sundries through the next four days. What I saw has not only disgusted me, but in a way has made me reinforce the Luddite qualities I have been slowly picking up as I’m over the half-century mark.

I have seen at least three people on the side/back roads of my neighborhood, trying to hide their texting activities as they’re driving. One of which is a repeat offender, almost hitting me not two weeks prior as he was paying more attention to his phone hidden against the front of his steering wheel than the road in from of him.

I have seen various women with that glazed over look in their eyes as they hold their cell phones to their ears with their shoulder oblivious to not only their shrieking children in the car, but the world around them in general.

I’ve seen various men with that glazed over look as well and demonstrating various levels of disgust at people in the roads cutting them off because those people have the right of way if the driver on the cell phone were actually paying attention to their driving.

I’ve seen couples in the car with both of them on the phone ignoring each other while in their own world.

I’ve counted more than a handful of men and women at the supermarket walking like zombies with the phone attached to their ear, muttering “yeah…” in a way that to me seems to only be half-listening to even the people on the phone.

I’ve watched these mobile zombies on the street, swinging bags (shopping, or personal handbags) in one hand with the other hand attaching the phone to their ear as they’re walking sidewalks and even crossing the street completely oblivious of oncoming traffic.

And if that don’t beat all, I’ve seen people on bikes trying to juggle balancing on two wheels with one hand holding a phone up to their ear while riding their bikes on pedestrian sidewalks. Or better, in the bike lanes of the road going against traffic.

I’m not even talking about the ones that generate more noise pollution as they hold the phones away from their ear and talk loud enough to compete with the jackhammers being used on road work here in the city. Those lovely examples of humanity make such a cacophony of noise at places like Kennedy Plaza (the central transit hub in Providence, RI) that it’s impossible for me to think straight even with my earbuds in and have the volume on my music set to full blast. But I covered this elsewhere in my rants against children thinking the world is their playground, sort of here.

It leaves me asking the question, “Seriously… What’s so bloody important that you have to have that phone attached to your ear?”

I remember seeing someone else rant about this not too long ago. It’s not so much that it’s important, it’s the fact that people can’t stand the feeling of being disconnected from their circle of friends. They want to be constantly connected. Have that constant input from friends, acquaintances, family and loved ones.

 However, there’s a line between acting responsibly and gross negligence because of self-centeredness; with many of the examples I’ve witnessed either teeter way too close to that line to gross over it so badly it leaves the transgressor in another part of the universe. And I ask them, “What’s it going to take for you to snap the hell out of this before realize your irresponsible actions are going to hurt, maim and/or kill a human being?”

I’m not a fan of “Mommy Government”. I have always believed that the best sort of government is the one that works on the principle that laws should be used to govern the general population, not police them. But more and more, I’m finding this “second class” attitude given to me and others walking the streets and trying to cross them… Well let’s just say I’ve had more than enough of it that I’m thinking of wanting to do something about it. Be it activism. Be it deputization. Be it humiliation. I haven’t decided yet what I want done about it. But when I do, I plan on making it a roar. Until the next time.

Hot Days, Cool Days, Scares and Contemplations

05/30/2014 Comments off

Entry 05/30/2014 09:59:56 AM – Mentat 701

So it’s hit my attention this week that the program that I had originally thought of showing the douchebag landlord on better organizing the work that he needed to dole out to his “employees” is closing in less than a month. Springpad — a program that I had only modestly attempted to use — is set to close 25, June (which on my calendar is coincidentally Emancipation Day). Of course, the folk at Springpad are suggesting I move my data to Evernote, which I’m having issues at the thought for a couple of reasons. The first has to do with the fact that the icon for it, the elephant, while it symbolizes the memory of an elephant never forgetting, instead gives me the feeling of being huge and bulky… The second (and more importantly), shortly after considering the migration, I was met with problems. You see, I never set up an account with Springpad — having opted to use my Google+ account login instead. Then, I was mat with problems migrating. And finally after thinking, “oh not a problem, I’ll go through the export and decided to import it into Evernote instead.” That’s all well and good, but what I was greeted with once I finished the e-mail verification was advertising to “Go Premium”.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate when a company that offers a good product is looking for money from their user-base (to expand the use). If their product is good, then yeah, I’ll throw money in their direction. What I don’t like seeing is the advertisement for that money on every screen that I’m on when I’m trying to use their product. That’s way too invasive (not to mention desperate) for my taste. So, three minutes after creating the account and seeing the costs for use and ‘Go Premium’, there I went deleting the account. Screw them and screw that. I only need it for an organized (and mobile) to-do list or six. I didn’t really use Springpad for picture and recipes, etc. What won out for what I have been looking for was Google’s Keep.

I might have considered using OneNote instead (and still do when it comes to the desktop), but the problem is that since transferring to an iPhone instead of a WM or another Droid, the manner for which synching information between phone and desktop is… well, messy. Not to mention relies entirely too much on SkyDrive: a product a lot of multi-platform users have had issues (security, taste and synching concerns) with the product on the Mac Forums. So in the end, Keep was precisely what I was looking for without all the hipster bullshit associated to sites like *dry heave* Pinterest or Evernote.

Still… it’s sad that Springpad’s being discontinued, although stumbling across an article while looking for the replacement for Springpad’s service I found a posting that talks about a sort of planned obsolescence scheme to such cloud-based services. A planned obsolescence scheme that definitely raises an eyebrow (as well as several speculative concerns) to present and future services of similar nature. An approach that I strongly believe has its roots in the crash of the early 21st century and will continue to generate continued distrust to products offered “in the cloud” for free or with no visible catches for use of their service.

Another thing that hit my attention a couple of days ago was the Ransonware exploit aimed primarily at iPhone users in Australia and New Zealand; though I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it makes its way to the States (and the rest of the world). Lifehacker (via Gizmodo) has a detailed article covering this rather annoying (and for some, frightening) exploit including on how to overcome it. Fortunately for me, while it might be moderately easy to hack my KeePass master password, all the other passwords that I use on the Internet are 16 – 22 character alpha-numeric-special character monstrosities and unique for each and every service that I have; with only a handful of them being interconnected.

Further, I just did a quick check after re-reviewing the information I passed on here and it seems that I forgot to log in my phone to iCloud. Which means that until I log in my phone to it — it’s pretty safe from being exploited. So it’s one less thing to be worried about until such time as the perpetrator of this exploit is removed from the system (read: arrested).

I don’t understand Moe’s patterns at all. Up until the one day where it was warmer than usual — Moe was slowly changing over from cloying and clingy to completely standoffish and aloof. He didn’t want to be touched, picked up, petted, given attention (other than his usual chasing the little red laser dot around the kitchen). Then when it hit the low 80s F/26+ C, he wanted positively nothing to do with playing or me. Then the day after when the temperatures turned raw and colder than usual (52 F/11 C was the high for that day), it wasn’t until I simply held up so that he could straddle over my shoulder did is personality change to being cuddly. Now that the days are once again Spring-like and comfortable has he become completely clingy, cloying and wanting. Through most of the morning he’s been crying for attention and only until I took my quick little power nap shortly after lunch (and him sleeping on me) have I gotten a moment’s rest from his neediness. What’s worse is I’m sure that when it warms up again in the week (or so) to come it’ll be back to his being standoffish and aloof.

I can only attribute his patterns of personality to my being like the third owner in a chain of them. That the first owner was the person that he completely imprinted on, and everyone since are just the consolation prize (so to speak) for his needs. Sure, the plus side is that he rarely if ever hides from me and is beginning to run to the door when I come home. But everyone else? Gone in three seconds to becoming a lump under the covers in the bedroom. And anything else? Well it’s all dependent on what he needs and when. If he doesn’t need anything, off he goes to sleep on the bed, or some cubby away from the noise and occasional chaos of the neighborhood.

Overall though — he’s good and eating his fair share for the spring and summer; drinking where he can. I gave up trying to break him of licking the bathtub faucet for his water. If it’s complete shut off, he’ll drink from his bowl, if not — I can see his ass sticking out from the rim of the tub and the gentle cat-like licking of the faucet. He’s more stubborn than Cricket ever was (and she was a Japanese Bobtail) and nothing will break him of what he’d rather do.

As for me, I spent yesterday helping my aunt with her laptop problem.. And by problem I mean non-issue for me. Seems that she wanted to use her laptop in peace and quiet somewhere in her house and thought that the Internet connectivity was broken. But sitting there yesterday while she had my mother helping her with filling out this incredibly long medical form, she handed me her case and said, “take this home and fix it when you can…” Which translates in my speak as, “fix it immediately”, I plugged it in, turned it on, got to desktop and saw immediately what the problem was: with long periods of being unplugged and the battery losing all charge — she didn’t realize that the Wireless Controls were shut off. Showing her how to turn if on (and changing the icon from orange to blue), that problem was fixed. Well that and a quick explanation of how laptops work.

I’ve had more than a few rage-like flare-ups/episodes since the last journal entry; of which I’m not sure whether it’s from the weird and sometimes troubling dreams that I’ve had (and fortunately for me, I’ve tried not to remember them when I reached full consciousness)… Whether it’s because I’ve been suppressing some of my anger on other things (like the douchey people on the Hill during the warmer parts of the day, Tammany Hall at closing time)… Or whether it’s all of the above. It hasn’t reached a point where I had the shakes from the rage; I was able to cool it off quickly enough when I realized what was happening — but it was enough for me to realize I wasn’t letting go again.

Sure, I know… two steps forward and one step back. I know it happens when something has been ingrained for as long as it had been with me. And two years of this sort of bullshit happening practically every day is more than long enough for it to be ingrained with me. I’m not scolding myself, at all in this. I’m not holding myself in guilt because it happened. I had a moment of guilt that it happened, sure… Though I worked through that peacefully. Right now, reflecting back on it, I just wonder why and what the causes of that were…

More on that the next time it’ll happen (and I’m sure it will).

Since my last journal entry, I’ve also watched Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The Lego Movie and RoboCop. The Lego Movie was a combination of commercialism and camp… of things children would love and humour also aimed at adults. While I felt the overpowering need to ignore Will Ferrell when his ugly mug showed up on the screen during the last portions of the film, at least he wasn’t the complete ass-hat that I loathed from his raping Land of the Lost or his pedantic and asinine attempts at humour in movies like Elf and Step Brothers. Had he turned into that sort of comic, I guarantee I wouldn’t have watched that movie to the end.

RoboCop on the other hand, while I was entertained by the movie on the whole, the jury’s still out as to whether or not I ultimately enjoyed the film. For one, I found the angstiness of the Murphy’s plot to be too… heavy handed. Heavy handed to the point where I was muttering on more than one occasion, “enough of this, already…” along with making the usual gestures of wanting to slit my wrists at how angsty it was. Once the movie shook itself off of the angst and started focusing on the action, it moved along at a decent clip. Michael Keaton out-douched Ronny Cox from the original movie and reminded me of the “shit don’t stick to me” attitude that the late Steve Jobs had during many of this press conferences when defending Apple/Mac products. Gary Oldman was almost Knight in Shining Armour as he was in the revamped Batman franchise and was a welcome sight being goody-goody about the morals surrounding the creation of Murphy-come-RoboCop. And finally, Joel Kinnaman… There’s something oddly familiar about his looks that makes me think of another actor. Looking through his filmography, I realize that I’ve seen none of the works he’s been in… But that lingering déjà vu feeling I get seeing him in the Robo-suit keeps haunting me. On the whole though, the black armour that RoboCop/Murphy was given, Jay Baruchel as an PR-executive and the vigilantism of the three corrupt cops that had turned Murphy into RoboCop was enough to keep me from fully immersing.

And finally… worst than last week’s watching The Legend of Hercules with crayon-chewing Kellan Lutz, goes to Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Man the awful things I had to say to family and friends on that atrocity and celluloid abomination!!! Since watching that awful piece of work, I’ve come to the conclusion that Kenneth Branagh should either direct or star in a film; but not both. Branagh should also not be allowed to make action film because he simply sucks the life out of them. In the first forty minutes there was entirely too much blah and not enough action followed by my ability to suspend disbelief was completely shattered and destroyed because everything established within the CIA between analyst and operative was completely thrown out the window.

“But he had Marine training…” naysayers would say.

“Analysts have desk jobs. Operative are like James Bond. They are trained that way for many more months than analysts are in order to work in the field. What Ryan did transitioning between the two doesn’t work for this particular story….”

Further the terrorist against the whole country message is tired. It’s been overplayed. Beaten to death and like a dead horse continues to be beaten… Give it up… Patriotism on this level is two-dimensional. There are bigger issues with the world, and the USA being saved constantly and is the bastion of Freedom sounded as badly as the soundtrack picked for this film.

Did I watch it to the end? Absolutely? Did I take a million breaks when the story took another leap into the unbelievable? You betcha. Do I want the time I wasted watching this film back? Absolutely.

Well that’s it for the time being. I’m off to have the rest of my coffee; iced. And perhaps contemplate something to eat for supper. Until the next time.

The Mobile is dead, long live the Mobile

05/22/2014 Comments off

Entry 5/22/2014 10:41:33 AM – Mentat 700

Oh it has certainly been a week to remember and to forget.

For starters, the middle front fan on the PC tower for the hulking monster of a desktop had finally given up the necessary lubrication and needed to be re-oiled. So confirming that the same method of fixing the issue was valid for newer fans as they used to be for the older ones, off we went a couple of days ago to Wal*Mart to pick up some sewing machine oil. And after getting home and applying the oil to the rumbling fan, the fan is once again humming quietly as it should A sound I have to admit wasn’t something I have heard in quite some time. Oh don’t get me wrong… it wasn’t as though it was whining and rumbling too loudly the last year or so. But now that it’s purring like a kitten — it’s like a sound I’m not quite familiar with. It makes me wonder if the fan had been needing a quick oiling since the time I got the replacement case.

So going back a couple of more days. It’s Saturday early afternoon. The coffee I had in the morning is completely out of my system, I’ve had lunch and my brain crashed. Naptime for me that doesn’t normally last longer than ½ hour. I woke up when Moe got tired of laying on me and crawled off to sleep next to me instead.

I grabbed my phone and hit the power button to check to see if I received any message.

The display didn’t come on.

I unplugged it and noticed that the charge light didn’t shut off.

Not good, I thought, this is the sign of a problem.

Deducing that some time between when I last used it and my checking on it at that moment, one of the apps that I had on it might have auto-updated and FUBAR’d the OS, I was able to get to the settings and perform a factory reset on the phone. It went through the usual screens for it and then one came up that I really didn’t recognize… It looked like it was having problems performing the factory reset and that the screen that came up was indicating a problem with the Micro-memory Card. It sort of came up again after that — but really wasn’t acting properly then either.

I dialed into AT&T Technical Support Chat on the website, I spoke with Kathryn who walked me through a boot level reset. This went moderately better… I was going through the new user set up but then when I got to the part about the wireless set up, it simply stopped. Ground to a halt. Tried it a second time, and I couldn’t even get to the lock screen. At this point the phone was clearly bricked.. Wasn’t even a “fun” paperweight either because I couldn’t access any of the standard operating system functions.

Kathryn was more than happy to oblige me with the information between going the route of filing a claim for a replacement phone or going the upgrade route. Insurance which I’ve had, is a great piece of work if you have the phone within the warranty period. They will take a credit card number to ship out the replacement phone and pay for everything else when they receive the broken phone. Outside of the warranty period, it’s a bit uglier and involves a $125.00 deducible. And as mentioned to Kathryn while she was discussing this option, I had this sort of plan with Sprint when I used to have the Angry Cricket and they shipped the “equivalent” as a replacement. If by equivalent, Sprint’s Insurance Company meant same price depreciated at the time of the theft but not same quality at all. I ended up with a POS phone that didn’t have a tenth of the features as the Angry Cricket. I bitched up a storm at them for, for which both Sprint and the Insurance Company said, “Oh well, you should’ve gotten a smartphone instead.

The other option was to go the upgrade route and for $36.00 (and any additional costs for the purchase of the phone), and re-establishing a 2-year contract, I could have a new phone. That in itself has a different set of pitfalls. I have a minute plan (with rollover) that is no longer provided. Which is amusing given that the current mobile calling plan involves 450 anytime minutes with rollover and my current rollover minutes is more than 8 days of talk time. I also have a grandfathered unlimited data plan that cannot be throttled quite like the newer plans due to a Lawsuit against AT&T years ago.

I thought about it for the next day and a half as to what option I was going to take, shopping through the AT&T website for the cheapest method for replacing my bricked phone.

Sunday mid-morning, I was able to contact the Insurance Company through their chat interface and they were able to confirm that to replace my Inspire would be with whatever phone they had available at the time. They couldn’t even confirm it would be even an HTC equivalent.

on Monday morning, I decided that the upgrade route was going to be the best (and cheapest) choice. Going back to the AT&T website, I tried to see if I could order the thing through their website and was faced with the problem I had some years back when I tried to upgrade my older Samsung phone. Because the data plan is grandfathered, it prevents me to keeping/replacing the data plan without human intervention. I contacted a sales support person through the online service and see if they could solve the problem by pushing the order through. I didn’t get quite as far as I hoped. While the technician was checking with their supervisor, my laptop had locked up to the point where the only option was to shut down Chrome altogether.

Fine, I’ll make a call into their sales department and start from scratch…

I got in touch with Sarah explaining the situation and like all sales people says that she’ll more than happily help. At the point where my mother had offered as a birthday present to pay the grand total of $1.06 for the item (I got Sarah to waive the shipping costs), She explains that there might be a problem given that her name and mine aren’t the same. So Sarah makes a call down to the shipping department to ensure.

A couple of minutes later and two attempts to getting back to me to ensure that she’s trying to get such an issue resolved, on the third attempt she puts me on hold, I was greeted with the fast busy that her phone glitched the call.

Taking a deep breath and calling back in the hopes I would get her again, I ended up getting Cody from the Texas area. Explaining the situation to him for the second time, including all the information I had gone through with Sarah. He got a chuckle out of it when I was repeating back to him the Terms & Conditions part of the script he was supposed to read to me. At the end of the call (that Cody didn’t disconnect), the order was placed, I was given the order number and informed that I would be receiving an e-mail for accepting the new terms and conditions and another when the order was shipped including tracking number.

The Terms & Conditions e-mail was received and I accepted it within 15 minutes of the call.

One day passed without the second e-mail.

Two days…

On the morning of the third day and not receiving the e-mail, I went to check my orders on the AT&T Website.


It’s 6:30 in the morning and I’m seeing that on my screen. I haven’t even started getting cleaned up or ready. I haven’t had my breakfast or morning coffee. The good ol’ ADD his screaming into overtime with barrages of thoughts I wanted answered and strings of cussing that would make a sailor blush. Forcing myself to calm down by going through my morning habits, by just after 7 AM, I was washed, dressed, the house was in semi-order and had a cup of coffee on the desk while I started the chat with AT&T…

LaShanna’s the winner of this aggravation this morning… And she didn’t help matters any. She gave generic answers, she did not seem to want to take responsibility for handling the situation trying to hand it off to anyone she could. She couldn’t answer the questions as to why the order was cancelled. When asked if I could place the order through her and have the unit picked up at the store, she said to me that the retail stores only had “new phones” and not the one that I was wanting. I got pretty vicious in my use of words telling her that the site I’m connected through is telling me the particular store had them. She tried to say it was refurbished. Told her that perhaps if she researched it on her own site, she’d see it’s new.

What’s worse is that near the beginning of the discussion she copy & pasted a scripted answer that clearly sounded like she was closing the call when she shouldn’t have. I put the fear of god into her a moment when I requested to know which call center she was working in and what her supervisor was. While in the end I felt like I was going nowhere with her, I stopped the conversation before I lectured her at the lack of responsibility for handling the situation — even transferring it to someone that could handle it. Although I will looking be looking for a method for me to write to AT&T about such customer service, the story did however continue…

I went out with my mother yesterday to do my part as a mule while she picked up water (for the house and the dog) as well as various sundries that I forgot to pick up Monday when I went shopping for groceries.

I vented out my frustrations on this while at the same time came to the conclusion that I would make one more try through with the local store and if that didn’t work, my relationship with AT&T was going to end right there.

Calling down to the Providence Place Retail Store, I asked whether they had the phone I was looking for — and they said they did. I explained the situation I had experienced online and after being transferred to another sales associate the man told me I could come into the store and they would match the price and keep the plans that I had established. I warned him that I didn’t want to have any of my plan changed, that I didn’t want to have any sort of bait and switch, and I most certainly didn’t want any up-sell.

The man chuckled, told me that he hears that quite often from New Englanders and assured me he would get my order fulfilled with the littlest of inconvenience.

Thirty minutes later (15 minutes to the retail store as it’s a 1 mile/1.6 km walk from the house) I was walking out of the store with the phone I tried ordering two days earlier and paying the exact same price I was promised to owe when I spoke with Cody: $1.06.

The Inspire is dead, long live the iPhone 4S.

Honestly as I explained a couple of times over the course of the last 5 days, the only other phones that matched what I was looking for in the Droid Market (and for the same price) had an entirely different set of software: Samsung. I have enough software on my system (and HTC’s is currently on the chopping block for removal as that phone is now a handy paperweight). I already had iTunes loaded up on my machine, so with the price it became the next choice for phones. Not to mention that a majority of programs that I use are also available for free on the store. Well, save one… KeePass. Apparently that comes with a price tag (I refuse to pay) not to mention it’s next to impossible to sync up the KeePass file without using something like Google Drive or… ugh, Dropbox. I was aware that it’s a hell of a walled garden, but it’s something I can live with for as long as I don’t need to load up more software in the process.

Heh, then there’s the inconvenience and annoyances this morning. Thirty minutes after getting the phone fully charged yesterday, hooked up the phone to iTunes, get the programs that I used to use a lot on my Inspire into the Apps queue, the next thing I see in iTunes is that the iOS needs to be updated to 7.1.1.

All right, it’s in the queue for tomorrow (today). And I might as well update iTunes as it’s been bugging me the last time I’ve loaded it up.

This morning I did iTunes first and it went without a hitch. Did the software upgrade with the phone shortly after that. Took a bit longer to restart once the download and install had been verified, but I kept busy doing other things while I waited to see the icons of the Welcome Screen.

Ten minutes after that, I remember that iTunes also loads up the Bonjour file sharing tool and go about what I normally do about uninstalling that (it’s a useless service for Windows and as iTunes is loaded up on a desktop without Wi-Fi it’s bloat). Went about finishing what I started around the house. When I come to sit down to write this journal entry, I load up OneNote… I load up iTunes. I take a deep breath…

And iTunes crashes without me doing anything with it. I was able to re-create this crash more times than I wanted.

So, off to the forums to find fixes and ended up unsuccessful on all but one solution: uninstalling everything associated to iTunes, the folders within the \Program Files and \Program Files (x86) folders, restarting and reinstalling. While I’m fortunate that the music is stored within the \Users folder(s) and the configuration files (including the acceptance of the licensing agreement and configuration files) for iTunes are stored in the \AppData\Roaming folders I was back to up and running in about 20 minutes.

Looking back at all this for the last 5 days, I have to say that in spite of the occasional flare-ups I had handled my anger remarkably well. And even when I was angry, it was more a matter of frustration than actual anger. I did have an almost-rage moment this morning in the shower when I had a flash back to the time when I lived with douchebag #1 and had one of those moments of savage glee that comes from the thought of flattening his nose with my fist. Repeatedly… Though I’ll admit it wasn’t as strong as it was 6 months ago, and certainly was something I could easily handle.

It makes me wonder if that’s actually improvement. It certainly feels like improvement as I’ve noticed I’m not prone to being too angry… Loud? Sure.. I’ve always been loud. But not raging… And certainly not stewing as I used to for hours at a time.

I’ll be back in a bit to wrap this up. Right now it’s supper with the family and that means tonight. Homemade Spaghetti with Meatballs and Sausages… Until then.

[Last Edited: 05/22/2014 6:24:43 PM]

After getting thoroughly stuffed, I remembered the final thing I wanted to talk about: The Legend of Hercules (2014). What an absolute abomination of a film that was. I was only able to get to about an 1 hour 18 minutes (which incidentally was somewhere around the time Lutz gave his pep-talk speech to the forces that joined him) and even then it wasn’t to actually watch Lutz’ rippling pecs and 6-pack abs either. No sir, I was more interested in his side-kick that played Sotiris (played by Liam McIntyre) and even then I was writing slash in my head about him and Hercules as entertainment more than the movie I was trying to watch. Because in spite of the award Lutz got from People Magazine about being one of the “50 Most Amazing Bodies”, there was just something off-putting about him being shirtless. It was like his head was too round and his eyes weren’t quite in the right place making his face look… piggy. Listening to him give his speech, I got three impressions… 1. Lutz struck me of someone that was a fat kid in school that worked out to get over his fat. 2. The way he talked struck me that as a toddler, he was the kind of child to chew on those thick toddler Crayola Crayons… and 3. he licked chalk.

It was at that point, I gave up on that atrocity. Gone were the 10 Labors and in its place was a re-told story of Cain & Abel that had no place in this Greek Myth.

Well that’s about it for the time being. Off to watch an episode of Doctor Who and then perhaps play a game or two. Until the next time.

My Drive through Linux Hell

11/25/2013 Comments off

Entry Monday, 11/25/2013 12:59:59 PM – Mentat 687

Sometime last week while I was over my mother’s house babysitting her dog Jack, I had gotten completely fed up with my rather long in the tooth notebook. I had purchased the thing about 4 years ago (with it being already 1 year old by the time I had purchased it) and with Windows XP taking upward to 20 minutes to normalize coupled with the support for XP coming to a close soon… I thought it a good time to extend the life of the notebook by installing Linux instead of Microsoft. After all, I have moderate experience in Linux from years ago when I was experimenting with dual boot systems on my desk-side and while the tips and tricks I had learned from the UI might have been a bit rusty, at the time I was pretty confident that I could slosh through an installation and getting a few more years from the notebook.

Heh, I couldn’t be more misplaced with this confidence, let me tell you.

First off, I decided that choosing the xfce UI would be best mainly because I’m running a Notebook with a 1 GHz Atom Processor with 1 GB of RAM. Xfce has a low overhead memory requirements and lower need for processor. But then again I only learned this when I loaded up the LTS version of Ubuntu and ended up breaking Unity within an hour of installation… That and Mint Cinnamon which while being faster than Ubuntu 12.04 LTS seemed to lag in weird places and at arbitrary times.

Testing was sort of a strange combination of a standard and capriciousness. The standards I tried to use when reviewing each of the distros that I had tried out of speed of load up/programs once at the desktop, familiarity with the guts of the OS, ease of finding solutions to problems (using a standard Google Search), and familiarity with the installed hardware just to name a couple off the top of my head. The capriciousness was more along the lines of prejudiced dislike of experience I’ve had from working with Ubuntu from years ago… This included:

1. My inherent disgust and repulsion to the Ubuntu community at large. Saying “it worked for me” when someone posted a question for troubleshooting is not helping the original poster nor giving a solution to the problem posed. An attitude I see is still propagating the Forums even to this day.

2. The draconian method that Canonical did for changing the operating system by adding features that the community at large didn’t want in the first place. A move that I often described as the best cock-sucker or ass-kisser getting what he wanted. The “Software Manager” being the prime candidate for proof to this given the amount of heat that generated when it was added in the one of the October releases. Or better still changing the ALSA sound drivers to PulseAudio; a move that even the developers in Dev Tracking forums said “…was not ready for release at the present time…”

3. My personal favorite, how close the distro was to forking from Ubuntu. The closer the fork, the more suspicious I was of it.

So with this in mind, anything Canonical was off the slate to testing on the notebook. Oh, but even then don’t let that fool you… I tried them anyway — like the masochist that I can be. As I said a couple of moments ago, I downloaded Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and broke Unity within an hour. Pretty awesome too given the community gave instructions for how to recover it and they only made things worse. Xubuntu 12.04 LTS while being the xfce UI was still stalling in places that it shouldn’t, and 13.10… HA HA HA.. Let’s just say that it didn’t like my laptop hardware and shouldn’t, and 13.10… Let’s just say that it didn’t like my laptop hardware and seemed to think that dimming the screen constantly was good for it. So good for it in fact, my laptop was overheating from it constantly being on.

Following is the list of Distros I worked with, and my initial responses to them:

Fedora: I actually considered this one for a short time, in spite of the fact that it would be like learning new commands (YUM instead of APT-GET, etc.)… Plopping in the live “CD” (this notebook is capable of booting off a thumb drive like my desktop) I realized that the Live couldn’t and wouldn’t find the wireless even after trying to check through the web on my desk-side, so I continued to try to install it anyway… When it got to formatting the drive and demanding not only should I encrypt the HDD but also to install LVM and encrypt the drive in spite of the fact that no other Gnome/KDE/XFCE that I’ve dabbled with needed it… I stopped right there and then. Too much learning, and couple this with what they say about the cons for Fedora on Distrowatch that “…occasionally alienate some desktop users…” was a major turn off. The thumb-drive was formatted as quick as you can say, “…the hell with that…”

SolydX: At first I thought that this was going to be an all right installation. Sure it’s a fork off of Ubuntu and contains within it the dreaded “Software Manager”, but unlike Xubuntu, it didn’t have the wretched push for Steam — something that this computer definitely doesn’t need. I went through the installation the first time, choosing to install their proprietary “Plymouth” (which is basically the black screen that blocks seeing all the tty commands running prior to the X UI loading up), which was broke in the distro (Yes, I checked the MD5 and it was all right). Rebooted and tried again, this time un-checking Plymouth. Loaded up like a charm. So I began to check for which programs I wanted to load up. 10 minutes into that, I get a notification from the “Update Manager” that a whopping 460 MiB needed to be patched in for the update. Not good. Did it and upon reboot, saw that the GRUB-loader had added two more lines to choose from. Basically like Ubuntu used to, whenever a major patching was done, it gave the user the choice between the new version and the old to boot up from. Definitely not good. So, I chose the newer version and what do my eyes see when it’s loading up… Debian screens from a previous attempt at the program. Then at desktop instead of seeing SolydX’s info, it was a Debian desktop before it swapped over to SolydX. Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone!

Debian Live CD: what a love/hate I have for this Distro. I attempted installing it several times. The Live CD looked good.. While the windows were a bit chunky and looking more than a bit out-dated (compared to Mint, Xubuntu (in LTS and cutting-edge distros), even SolydX it had the speed even booting from USB that made it appealing. I knew from friends that Debian can be more than a little bit puritanical about software to load up on its Operating System… It’s sources.list only tends to point to Debian software that the team believes should be run on it. The live CD seemed to have worked up until it got to the GRUB loader and then stopped working. GRUB wouldn’t load no matter what instructions I found on the Internet. 45 minutes of trying to trudge through fixing this, I gave up and moved on.

Mint: Another Ubuntu fork. The masochist that I am tried to use the “Software Manager” to run the installs, hoping — perhaps even praying — that since it was first introduced, things would work out for the best for it. Nope. Didn’t. Not at all.. I watched it tick through some of the programs that said it had successfully installed: only ended up being partially to not at all installed. Sometimes it even stopped and didn’t install anything else. When I went checking on the packages that only half-loaded in Synaptic I marked for re-installation and only then did they get fixed. Not a promising start, but at least I was able to fix things. The clincher though was loading up Chrome. Slogged down the system to the point of unusable. I understand how Chrome works in Linux and Windows 7 – it checks for updates upon first load up. That’s part of the reason why I stopped using XP because it took a full 10 minutes for Chrome to finish checking (which only made disk-writing take all that much longer to stop). With Linux? It seemed to check for updates longer than it should and trying to use it seemed to have put a burden on the system itself. Gave that up and said, screw it… It’s on the back burner unless I can find the system itself. Gave that up and said, screw it… something better.

ZenWalk: Started off not too promising right from the start when it told me that it couldn’t recognize the resolution of the monitor. Giving me a list to choose from all of the options were standard 4:3 monitors (squares, not widescreens). I didn’t like that at all, but I continued with the installation. Got to the part where I had to choose what sort of installation I wanted to perform with it — and in spite of choosing the guided/complete install for ZenWalk it still kicked into fdisk for formatting the drive. Didn’t like that as it was more occult and menu driven (really 100+ choices for format times is too much) so I decided to abort the installation. The thing about Linux installations that I’ve experienced so far is that when you reach the disc formatting, unless you say “yes” to commit to these changes, the drive is basically left the way it was prior to boot up from USB/CD/DVD. Not with ZenWalk. No, it made changes to the disk and did so removing 6 GiB of the total 120 GiB for its own installation in spite of aborting.

Because of ZenWalk I was up against a wall trying to get this to work because I prefer using Windows’ FDISK to fix the problem (it’s far easier to use than any Linux command prompt program… I gave up and hoped that one of the other Linux distros would fix what this horrible Distro did.

Debian Install DVD: this is where the love (turns to anger) came in. Debian ignored the partitions that ZenWalk had laid out and put everything back to normal: 118 GiB to the main partition. 1 GiB to the Swap and 1 GiB to extended (basically the catalog for ext4). Grub loaded up from the installation USB without a hitch and things were running the way I had expected and seen from the Live CD. I began going through adding more sources to the sources.list and then installing programs that I wanted installed to make my notebook “workable”. So just when I was done the first round of installs, I reached the point where I had installed KeePass and needed to get to my passwords to load up my mail accounts… Popped in the Thumb-drive.. Nothing. Didn’t auto-mount. Checked the settings in the Desktop Settings, checked them on. Did a restart just to be on the safe side. Still nothing. An hour and a half later of troubleshooting a half-dozen alternatives, all the while watching in fdisk Debian changing the drive assignment from /dev/sdb1, sdc1, sdd1 and on and on and on… I gave up.

And the winner is…

Mint… At least for the moment. After doing everything from command line (and sometimes from Synaptic Package Manager), not loading up Chrome (at all), and generally taking my time working with Firefox, this time it seems to be doing rather well. Got a strange start-up and shut-down splash showing Ubuntu 15, but according to this forum thread I realize it might have been my own doing given that I was hellbent on installing the latest version of Red Notebook (which uses Ubuntu PPAs)… At the time of this entry, I went with shutting down the splash screen and that makes me happier. Not to mention it gives the illusion as though it’s working faster given that it’s flying through the daemon launches and shut downs. If I have to reinstall… eh.. It’ll be another distro.. Just not sure which.

Anyway, that’s the reason why I haven’t been around for a bit making my fractals. Now that everything’s back to working on the notebook, I’ll be back to my usual dailies.. Off to make supper. Until the next time.