Friday, February 19, 2010

An Edubuntu Desktop Picture

It's not the right proportion for my screen, but it looks OK centered as opposed to zoomed. The background image is from the USGS and would be regarded as in the public domain by US taxpayers at the very least.

This photo makes a pretty good desktop, for me anyway, since it's by me from my neighborhood. It's not much different from a gradient.

In a similar vein, the cat that sat on Makuhari. These two cats are both strays/runaways/throwaways that live in the tetrablock beach near crematorium cove and the insane asylum. These are dedicated to the Year of the Tiger --almost, but not quite, a lucid lynx.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

RSS Screensaver Problem: OpenGL+NVIDIA+Compiz = X crash

Bad day simulation becomes real

There is a well-documented problem of using OpenGL with an NVIDIA video card in combination with Compiz. This is basically what I had been finding with the Mac Mini. I had a bad crash. Attempting to restart produced an "error: no such device. press any key to continue" but recovery worked. Also, I timed my slow motion bootup and it is 5 minutes 5 seconds from rEFIt to GRUB, then another minute or two to login and then the desktop.

Possible solutions are to turn off Compiz effects completely, turn off the screensaver, uninstall the OpenGL, stop using OpenGL (3D) screensavers, or stop using a random list of screensavers. I am changing back to Gnome screensaver, and setting the screensaver to Phosphor with an RSS news feed from Yahoo News, and hoping that will be stable and yet functional and informative.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Install and RSS xScreensaver update

I had to re-install Edubuntu to an external hard drive as the space in the 22GB "Boot Camp" partition quickly ran out after a few podcasts and photos were added. There was some progress as I hadn't been able to get the external USB HD to boot up previously. Most things are working the same or better, but some things are worse. Booting up from rEFIt to GRUB 2 (1.97) takes several minutes. I won't reboot very much, but something is dodgy. It must be 7-10 minutes to boot up, but I haven't timed it. At least GRUB 2 works. If there is anything Linux needs, it is a reliable boot loader that doesn't bork the systems. Speaking of Linux faults, I'm not yet satisfied with the music player, Rhythmbox. It sometimes fails to sync with the iPod, fails to download podcasts and fails to play files. I haven't found a better replacement yet. Everything else in Linux works equally well, except for sound. Work on a kinder, gentler bootloader, and sound.

But because I couldn't get Linux to boot on one day, I spent an entire day in the freedom-hating AAPL operating system. You know, the one they call MacAAPLx10.6SnowLeopard or something. After 2 months, I had forgotten how to do things and found the global menu and window buttons in the upperleft extremely annoying. Let me say a few good things about the corporate profit-centered user-abuser Mac OS: it looks good and boots nicely most of the time, it generally handles sound, music, and music players well, and, best of all, Firefox 3.6 is available! The newest Firefox looks good with the Personas personalization layer enabling you to remove that tired brushed metal skin AAPL inc has made you look at for the whole millenium or the pale Firefox look.

Instead of randomly modding the OS and forgetting what I've done, I'm carefully logging what I've done in a tableside notebook. A few things inexplicably work better now. Compiz Fusion advanced effects are not freezing the xscreensaver so are turned on and make switching apps and windows mucho conveniento. In the xscreensaver, I added a few modules to the RSS news screensaver function: Fontglide, which creates a crazed robotic news feed in various fonts gliding onto the screen and arranging themselves into words, and phosphor, which looks like someone is typing the news feed into an old green phosphor-type of monitor circa 1970 (or ????). There is another xscreensaver module called XanalogTV which simulates a broken old analog TV switching channels and simulating the rollover, static, discoloration, and other nostalgic analog TV effects. It uses the picture folder you specify (as I explained before) so choose carefully your target folder. It's eerie to see the still photos as though they were TV channels where nothing is happening. It reminded me of The Ring, actually.

There is another module which is very creative and Dada-esque but not safe for work or for family. That is the webcollage module. This one randomly grabs pictures off the web and collages them onto screen with the transparency you specify.

As always, you'll have to remove (Gnome)"Screensaver" from your Startup Applications in System--Preferences and add "xscreensaver" instead.

BTW, Jamie Zawinski is responsible for xscreensaver and many of the modules.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Character Palette Panel Applet and Ringing Home

Danke schön, Señor Gagné. That answers a lot of questions for me. The Character Palette panel applet (say fast 5 times) is now living in my top panel.

On a completely unrelated note, as Monsieur Gagné has noted on his blog, you don't need to harbor any negative thoughts about the moon breaking up or our planet being eventually ringed with space junk. It turns out it's awfully pretty that way. Puts the moon to shame. The visual persuasion is below.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Civilization and its Discontents

I was addicted to Civ 1 but successfully overcame the addiction in the early days, knowing it was as dangerous as crack or meth. I think it was on Mac OS 8 or 9. Oddly, I continued to buy multiple editions of Civilization--but resisted playing the game. The software is still in the boxes, unopened, for OS platforms (10.2?, 10.3?) becoming obsolete now. None of that matters now, because on the Linux platform, there is FreeCiv. That's like giving free drugs to the recovering addict. Worse still, puts it out on the internet. As great and dangerous as that is, an antidote exists. The solution is as simple as the problem. Should you ever find yourself not sleeping for days on end due to ongoing disputes with Mao Zedong, Lincoln, Caesar, and/or Catherine the Great, Civilization Anonymous, or CivAnon, offers peer support and explains the dangers. If you experience any of the symptoms, see how other addicts have clawed their way back to a partial, tentative recovery.

Ubuntu User

Ubuntu User Issue #1 is available as a free download. It's 42 MB of high-quality, useful articles covering nearly 100 pages. I've already learned some new things about OpenOffice extensions and using Freemind. The only bad point is that this issue is approaching one year old, so some details about Jaunty Jackalope may be starting to go out of date in the era of Karmic Koala and with Lucid Lynx coming. If you see a newsstand issue of this, it looks like a good buy. It might be worth subscribing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Up the wrong tree?

BowLingual for the iPhone will have twitter support so that your dog's thoughts can be effortlessly tweeted.

Via Asiajin via Tokyo Mango

WTF'in' around with QR-codes

I've been listening to WTF with Marc Maron, as mentioned in a previous post. I've gone through most of the backlog and have to conclude that this is a better situation for Marc in that he is producing better, more timeless and higher-quality comedy-centered content now.

I tried to integrate a QR code into the (existing WTF) show graphic, so I could learn how to use the G.I.M.P. a little more, and maybe even contribute something back to Marc.

I used the Google chart API to make a URL like this or this with error correction level H (allowing 30% of the code to go missing).
My first idea was to go with Marc's face. Hmmm. It's not great but I suppose his face would be enough to remind people what the link was for.
My second attempt was the weirdo-at-the-screendoor effect, in 2 versions. Git yer gun, Pa!

(click for full size)
It doesn't really work unless you see it at full size; the grid doesn't scale.
I tried this blue 600 pixel hippie gif because I didn't like the Huck Finn quality of the existing letters WTF.
I'm not really satisfied with any of these. All of this "code" may be out of date soon as you can apparently just point your cellphone camera at buildings and things and have them recognized.

BTW, since I was working on this in the presence of a 7-year old, WTF now stands for Where's the fish?, What's that fish?, or What's that for?

This final one looks like it wouldn't work, but it scans in very quickly.

The GIMP is better than Photoshop. It's almost the same ease of use (if you start from zero), is cheaper at 0 yen vs $700, and is guilt-free for pirates. And although I personally like the gimpy-sounding name, I would propose the next version be called "The PIMP", Photographic Image Manipulation Program, or Professional Image Manipulation Program, to satisfy the people who are uncomfortable with the name. Hell, why even wait for someone else to change the name? Change the branding yourself just for your own personal use. The Windows version should go with the WIMP as the name, and perhaps The ChIMP would be appropriate for Christians or anyone who can think of a good acronymical reason for that.