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.

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