Return of the Jeddack

To quote someone whose name I cannot recall, "I’m back!" The last few days have been quite trying.

Sadly it has been such a blur that I can’t recall dates too well, but basically, I did an update on Kubuntu and did the required restart. That’s when things went from mediocre and annoying to flaming pit of Tartarus bad. Basically I got advised that the system couldn’t find the boot sector or several other sectors. I ran repair and finally, after a liter or so of perspiration, got the system to boot and immediately was confronted with the direst SMART warning I have ever seen. According to that, my hard drive was breathing its last.

This is not the first time this has happened. It’s the third. Once with Ubuntu running KDE and Unity, twice with Kubuntu running just KDE. So yes, the correlation is that KDE or some foible of (K)Ubuntu is to fault. Happily I don’t store anything on my OS HD in the way of data than I have to. (There’s also this thing under Ubuntus that the data drive periodically (?) loses its permissions and I have to reset them.) So I decided that I needed to expand the range of the experimentation.

I went into the corpus and extracted the old HD, still bright and shiny but with really RED SMART indicators and implanted a new, smaller HD. Incidentally, it is getting harder and harder to find small (100-500 Mb) hard drives. And I switched from Kubuntu to Debian Wheezy. Still running KDE because I do like my eyecandy. (Hey, I’m an ORF. I have an inalienable right to moose heads and antimacassars!) And that has been a bit of an experience.

I have always been told by colleagues that Debian is a somewhat stogy distribution favored by power users. The last few days have given me great insight into this. Or at least, more insight than I would have liked. The stogy is demonstrated by the lack of "APT-ADD-REPOSITORY" from the catalog of Python scripts. The distro also installed without either an app store or a discrete package manager. Right there about half of my vectors of working with repositories were in a null space.

Happily, I could add Synaptic and Apper is better than Manjaro’s Octopus (or whatever it’s called?) But finding repositories has proven to be harder than Livingston to find. And the version is a bit antiquated, at least compared to the Ubuntus. I can’t even install Typecatcher because the library won’t support it. And it is still using FF 17. Which is great because I want to use ScribeFire old version. Although I am using Blogilio now and it’s actually got spell check which I have NEVER seen before in any other distro.

I keep think of Goethe and his "That which does not kill us makes us stringer." Definitely applicable. I now have a growing appreciation of how the Ubuntus are for nebishes and wimps, and I don’t mean particles in the latter. Shuttleworth is definitely a democrud. One of the "I’m an aristocrat and everyone else is mentally incompetent" variety.

Anyway, maybe now I can get back to issuing some blots. They won’t be any better, but my Heinlein sense has been renewed.

Broken Society

Alas, now is the summer of our disservice. Yesterday was a foul day. The new part for my primary motorcar, necessary for my self-transport, did not arrive as promised by the warehouse and hence the date when I can retrieve the motorcar from the dealer’s maintenance shop is delayed. The fellow from the fencing company scheduled to repair FD SCP’s marvelous and recently purchased fence was totally unpresent. And the electrician to repair various things I am unpermitted to assay was late unto almost nil.

And because of the electrical work I had to shut down my deskboxes and I have still not gotten them back to minimum performance.

Happily the walk in the park was modestly pleasant, I had the facility to myself, no feral felines nor conscript parents – the latter are venomous and scabrous, you know, and the podcast did not trigger regurgitation.

On a brighter side I ran across an article [Link] that basically announced that W8 is one with Vister for inept incompetence. And MegaHard has already announced W9 for later this year.

Frankly, beyond the confirmation that MegaHard has gone whackers I am not greatly interested. But I was interested enough to view another article [Link] That indicates that Apple is also losing ground. It is almost enough for one to entertain, frivolously, that rationality is spreading.

This is one of those times when I am glad that I am neither a Winders nor an Apple user. I do still use a WXP client for my writing but that is only until the next version release of the client which is supposed to support Linux. With that I can consign MegaHard to the pit. Except for FD SCP’s sewing stuff.

So maybe there is some hope for the day after all?

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Patriotic Computing

Not a bad day so far although the weather beavers are foretelling a return to typical temperatures. The walk in the park was passable, temperatures were up a bit and so the experience wasn’t as brisk. And the podcast episode was fair although it did stir my righteous indignation a couple of times so I may have to excrete a blot on the matter of pens at some time.

For now however, I feel compelled to mumble about the Yankee government’s National eSpionage Agency’s labeling of Linux folk as “Extremists”. My colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, who admits freely to the perversion that is FaceScroll but mitigates by noting he also is ORF and hence has need of some relatively mechanistic (and obvious) means of social contact with old acquaintances. I have to agree that the other, now more popular, social networking “places” don’t quite make enough sense to use commonly.

I conjecture, probably inaccurately, that at least some of this is about length of expression. After all, we are mostly ORF and hence seniors and thereby garrulous. Further, we have lived long enough that we have used up a lot of our hurry, and wish we had used up our wait, so why limit ourself to High Noon Gary Cooper style of communication. My colleague and I have commented several times how inadequate FaceScroll is that it doesn’t offer a decent (or any) equation editor. How can one maintain social contact with old acquaintances and colleagues if one can’t math?

One of the articles [Link] I was sent contains a few snippets of code that indicate what key words the NSA is supposedly watching for to identify “extremists”. I quote:
“word(‘tails’ or ‘Amnesiac Incognito Live System’) and word(‘linux’ or ‘ USB ‘ or ‘ CD ‘ or ‘secure desktop’ or ‘ IRC ‘ or ‘truecrypt’ or ‘ tor ‘)”
I have to admit that I was greatly relieved once I saw this. If the Yankee government was paying special attention to Linux folk then I would be rather concerned since we are a relatively small number and easily overwhelmed by the might and force of the YG. But if they are targeting people who use words like “Linux” or “USB” or “CD” … then the fraction of population being targeted is considerably larger than the number of folks who work for the YG. In fact, the only person I know and am conscirously sure of who does not use the term “USB” is my year+ aged (post partum) grandchild. And maybe my nonagenarian parent. Although she does surprise me. So I would feel safe in estimating this captures at least (modulo) half of the population of the Yankee republic. Even of the old Confederacy.

I also received a puff piece [Link] from the Electronic Freedom Foundation along the lines that it is a citizen’s duty to be targeted by the YG and use TOR to assure our freedom and privacy. Once I got over the initial humor of considering whether a Fermion can actually be free unless alone I decided the point was valid. I am not at all sure this will be understood by bogs, especially bogs who are adherents of political parties. At least democruds and repulsians. But I am not sure they know the words anyway. That’s one of the joys one obtains when less than half the electorate adhere to a political party. They tend to get excluded from the mode. Now if the same will just occur for religionists.

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Broken Internet

OK, can we get back to some semblance of modality now?

FD SCP and I survived dawg sittin’ although I am still suffering from a bit of allergy reaction that – again – puts me in mind of both Lester Sprague DeCamp’s “Lest Darkness Fall” and the Gahan Wilson cartoon about life being better without dogs. Not that I really credit the latter, not after something like 15 KY of communality. But I don’t think I would pick dogs large enough to send me to hospital by nudging me and not large enough to ride. But the DeCamp bit still applies.

The cold front was again enjoyed this morning as I constituted through the park. And I managed to take the MP3 player with me this morning so I had a bit of a diversion as I attempt to increase my duration. The penalty is paid in the small of my back.

Speaking of which, I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

just yesterday and I was struck by its accuracy. Except for the last frame, of course. Let us face it, Gooey may be backed by a bunch of high tension pseudo-engineering, but it reflects a web that is predominantly bog and whack content.

Nonetheless, I do use Gooey, primarily Gooey Scholar, to help me survey what is going on in my micro-disciplines of research and thought. Of course, internet did not really exist when I was in graduate schule so from the get-go of internet and internet search, the pickings in my field(s) were extremely slim to nil and often whackoid stercus. Of course some of the people who put out that stercus hold that my stuff is stercus. And that volume has waxed and waned over the years as the search capabilities evolved and the internet rotted.

Yes, I am going to proselyte a bit that there was a golden age of the internet and it ended with Amazing and all the other internet commerce biggies beginning. The internet used to be about information. That’s why it was called the information revolution. Now it’s just about internet stuff and money. Yes, the revolution flopped. The new feudalism has arrived.

But to return to the cartoon, when I do technical searches on the stuff that I am doing research on, I get very few responses. And almost all of them – more than Ivory soap stats – are myself or people I know. Newness is the exception. And Gooey is almost useless. Because it tries to offer up money sites and that at least makes for a sort of galgenhumor. Like Stalin’s comment about capitalists. But there are other search engines that do better. At least in terms of not offering to sell me stercus. Stercus information maybe, and in small quantity, but not good and services.

But I haven’t broken Gooey. Simply put Gooey broke Gooey. Or rather capitalism and greed and all that good human stuff broke Gooey. And I feel not at all sad.

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Feces and FORTRAN

Two days now without precipitation. A statement like that wouldn’t normally be joyous, except around Noah time, perhaps, but it is. And the walk in the park this morning was passable. Even the podcast episode had relatively few grammar obnoxities. So I can do a bit of wandering about this morning.

Given the general tenor it seems appropriate to note that Drum Castle in Scotland is the seat of an investigation into fourteenth century micturation and defecation. [Link] Nothing says real archaeology like mucking about in cess pits and the like. Not an activity we can easily picture the hatted one performing.

On a similar azimuth, a U Virginia study [Link] indicates that the kids who are “cool” in high schule are more likely to have social and emotional problems – like being criminals – than the uncool kids. Nerds score again! Bogs get sucked down!

Further, the founding ancestor of Linux has defecated upon the idea that everyone should learn how to code.[Link]  The quote is worth presenting

“I actually don’t believe that everybody should necessarily try to learn to code,” Torvalds said. “I think it’s reasonably specialized, and nobody really expects most people to have to do it. It’s not like knowing how to read and write and do basic math.”

since the majority of folks can’t do basic maths. The article also contrasted to the English government coding mandate

‘the idea that “getting to know code is really important” and that “not just rocket scientists” should learn programming.’

The problem is that coding isn’t rocket science. One of the advantages of being a rocket scientist is that one has a fairly good idea of what rocket science is and basically coding, in and of itself, isn’t. It’s a tool, like a Craftsman adjustable spanner, or an integral table, but that’s about it. You do need coding to get to Mars but coding, in and of itself, won’t get you there.

In fact, scientists don’t do the kind of coding that is associated with the program. We do problem solving, number crunching coding, not people caring coding. Perhaps the best illustration of this difference is that we code in FORTRAN (and maybe a couple of other languages but FORTRAN is the intense one.) It’s not the same thing.

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Days of DOS and Work

Good start. Got to the park and it was lightly raining. Made for a most enjoyable walk although I am a bit damp. And since FD SCP and I had to haul to the Salvation Army store – the Downtown Rescue Mission having failed to pick up our excess on Freya’s day – we also whacked the Yankee postal brick and mortar, saving me the visit this morning, and the Tractor Supply to replenish the store of seed for the tree mammals and the dinosaur descendants. And since it is now ice cream day I need to ‘hawg’ some tabs.

First, and this one is really a bit dated, a bit [Link] about the fantasy author George R. R. Martin on his writing model. I have to admit to not reading Martin’s works. Not because I dislike them or find his composition defective, just that what he writes – fantasy – is too alien to me. My tastes run to golden age into the Campbell era and my taste for pseudo-medieval runs to Gordon Dickson and such. But I was rather taken by Mr. Martin stating that he writes his books on a DOS box using WordStar. I can empathize if not agree.

On the DOS box I am in fairly strong agreement. I try very hard not to be a multi-tasker although I do try to be a highly structured serial mono-tasker. And for such people a DOS box is very good. Better at least than the finger smasher that is CPM but maybe not quite as god as the old Amiga boxes? I know I got a lot more work done, with greater satisfaction, with a DOS box than with any GUI box.

But if we are stuck with a GUI box, Linux is at least 10 dB better than Winders or AppleOS. And it isn’t clear that going back is a choice.

But WordStar? No thank you. Horrible choice. Simple reason. WordStar is a one page word processor. You key a page, save it, and then key another page. Each page a file. It has utilities to let you string files together but no dynamic pagination. My favorite was a garage coding project, “The Bonnie Blue” (alluding to IBM) that had the advantages of being cheap and very productive. It’s a lot better than WORD. In either incarnation. But it doesn’t do equations so eventually I had to switch to WordPerfect and then, to get WYSIWYG, Winders. And that’s the road to Tartarus. Equations.

I have to admit that I never did LaTeX under DOS. I finished my dissertation on an IBM Selectric back when all we had was mainframes and stand alone word processors that would barely do ASCII, much less equations. No, equations on the PC had to basically wait for the laser printer. When I got my first laser printer – and no longer had to hack my dot matrix Epson clone printer to print equation – was when I began to move to LaTeX. And I still prefer it for doing real composing and not just blogging and email. And simply put, there are no good email or blog editors any more just like there aren’t good keyboards. I’m writing this on a DAS and it is about -10 dB of an Avant Stellar which is -3dB of a NorthGate. IMHO.

But I am getting back to an ansatz of the DOS days. Now that WXP is abandoned by MegaHard I can use it without connecting to the Internet so it is sorta like using DOS. And I look forward to that.

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Throw Away Code

Well, back to week in, and to gym. Rather misty bordering on fog this morning but cleared mostly by now. The gym was a bit sparse as schule sags down, and the podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about Waldensian witchery. The podcast interviewees uniformly portrayed the witch hunts of history as evil but my thought kept turning to how likely they are here in Greater Metropolitan Arab where there are more churches than businesses. We humans do not have to blame evil on some mystical creature; there is plenty within us. And we frequently let it out.

Speaking of evil within us, I noted an article [Link] this weekend about a tweet by the former guvnuh of Alasker encouraging people to purchase assault rifles (or one specific) as gifts for loved ones. I have always noted that true families do kill things together. I have to admit that I find this amusing, that someone who seems to jockey to be the first woman POTUS, and we like to compare with the democcrud former first lady (?) who also wants to be on top. Neither, it seems, is flattered by the comparison, not exalted. I do however consider it rather fitting of the political genre to recommend a gift that is rather good for maiming and crippling but not at all good at its intended purpose.

On which note, I almost simultaneously noted an article [Link] about an Alaskern man who shot himself, apparently in the external ear flap, and self-treated with polysporin for a week before finally succumbing to voices of reason and seeking actual medical treatment. I had heard that Alasker (and maybe southern convict colony) were the last refuges of “real men” but evidently they are also enormous forests of fools. Fools that is, who evidently believe that any medical care is a surrender to socialized governance and death by incompetence and infection is preferable to rationality and perhaps, good sense.

In an adjacent azimuth, it seems that the work load in the banking/money/investments business is so low (and the salaries so high) that one geek there has built an in-browser emulator of the old BBC computer. [Link] I was first struck by this fellow being an actuality of what the ear shot fellow in Alasker wanted to be. But then I got to thinking of just how equally useless both efforts were. And I say that despite a great deal of attachment for the BBC computer. Back in the pre-PC days, I had a cHong Kong clone, a Dragon by name, of the BBC computer. I also has a Wireless Hut Color Computer and the former was vastly better than the latter and less costly as well.

Those were rather strange days. The last pitiful stirrings of Wireless Hut before it was hammered into slime by HAL and others. A brief period when British home computers were years ahead of American home computers (despite Americans inventing BASIC.) Of having to enter code by hand, either self-composed or plagiarized from a computer periodical, and no way to store it except on a cassette tape that might or not (more likely) record, and might or not (more likely) not read in. It was a time of personal competence and determination, and learning how to write throw away code. Overall, one of the better periods of my life.

And it didn’t involve very many ear shootings. Although they are, shootings at least, common in Alibam. In that regard, we are like Alasker but without the general level of smarts.

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Amusement from Statistics

The weather beavers foretell that falling is coming this afternoon but all I saw this morning during my morning constitutional in the park was white flakes. I am not sure what they are. They seem too big for pollen but I haven’t noticed any aerial flowers. I had to watch out for runners this morning. I am not sure what they do the rest of the year but once the weather gets above 60 degF or so they appear. Summer soldiers, so to speak, if I am misuse the old phrase. There is no communication between us, we just sometimes occupy the same parking lot with our motorcars. And I have to be alert enough to look as I enter and depart the AO.

I was rather amused by MegaHard’s insecurity this week, fixing the XP problem with its browser. I have to admit to being a bit surprised, more by the absurd number of people who still use IE [Link]

than with the insecurity itself. This is not our grandparent’s robber barons. They  have to stay hidden and pretend to be nice so that their stuff doesn’t get spurned. Not that it seems likely that anyone among the serfs can spurn MegaHard.

I gave up on IE back when FF came along. In those days the allure wasn’t openness nor extensibility but functionality. FF was just flat out a better browser, and it could be controlled rather than controlling you. Evidently that outlook is still rare.

I am also a bit amused at the (essentially) dead heat among FF, Chrome, and Safari. It is not clear there is a real competition here. For example, I have both FF and Chrome loaded on most of my boxes, and I use them for different purposes. Chrome is faster but its add-ins are often spoiled chitlings. Of course FF has a habit – learned from MegaHard? – of leaving useful add-ins behind and that is my primary use of FF. So I don’t use it when I need security. I also have to have some other browser for when I visit Yankee government sites. Despite their claims they are definitely “other” browser unfriendly. So the simpler the browser, the better it works.

I was also unsurprised by the OS stats:

I quit getting concerned with how few were using good OS when I realized that the stats are very close to my own observations of the prevalence of people. Approximately 0.9 of everyone is a bog – Sturgeon’s Rule – and 0.9 of what is left are geeks, leaving the rest for the nerds. We are a minority and not unproud of that.

I’m not going to quibble on the Winders stats. They are humorous enough as they stand. It will be entertaining to watch how MegaHard tries to extricate itself from the grave pit it appears to have dug for itself.

I’m also not going to spoil the morning by munching on Alibam politics now that the primaries are nearing. But that is humorous too. Especially on how every repulsian is running on a tyranny platform.

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Hamlet Question

The dihydrogen oxide has ceased to fall in bothersome quantity. I understand, from the weather beavers, that more is coming and flooding in the lowlands – not here on top of Brindlee – is foretold. But by the time I roused myself from bed – the second time, the first an hour earlier at the modal hour to micturate – and gotten the morning routine of cleaning and clothing done, I could venture the park for a constitutional and only wet the soles of my shoes.

My headlamp, a nasty thing because of all the straps, was almost unnecessary by the time I concluded and, back aching, I returned to Castellum SCP. Here now to consider yet another article [Link] on replacing WXP with some flavor of Linux. I had read one [Link] in Infoworld that was strangely strained and indecisive until I figured out it was a grudging cave to MegaHard. And hence to be ignored as propaganda.

The former article is a bit confusing in terms of who the audience is: user or IT guy. It seems to satisfy neither. The unsentient IT guy these days is still pro-winders. If his organization adopts Linux then he has a lot of thankless and repetitive stuff to do in the near term, including actually having to talk to users, and the prospect of looking for a new job in the far term. Alternately, the content is also antithetical to the user base since the average MegaHard serf is almost genetically disinclined to become a Linux user, to say nothing of the IT guy not wanting that transition either. Despite the prevarications and worst efforts of Cannonical, one cannot be a Linux user as ignorant and slime moldish as a Winders user. That’s the fundamental reason why I wait for someone to demonstrate sincere willingness to change before helping them make the leap.

As the Yankees discovered after THE war, some slaves cannot be freed. And it may be criminal to free others, those too old to care for themselves, e.g. That doesn’t justify slavery but it does recognize irreversible dynamics. Not all Winders users can change, and we should not force them to; MegaHard is already doing that and the crime can sit upon their heads. The question should not be posed on whether WXP users shoudl switch to Linux, but if WXP users have decided to switch, what should they switch to? That question is less ethically compromised.

Not that we can expect journalists nor corporationists to have any concern for ethics.

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Adventure in the Journey

Well, I survived another expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. Other than having to put my motorcar in hospital for a bit of bashing and and smashing, the trip was only onerous and tiring. Even the density of kamikaze drivers was low.

So I had occasion this morning to enjoy a new podcast, an episode of “The Linux Luddites” that is neither eroded by excessive (and obnoxious) commericals nor absent of technical content. And the readers are both pingers of overstuffed Canonical and Saint Mark, with a tasteful British accent and phraseology, so the general environment is conducive and congenial. They made mention of an intriguing claim, that corporate organizations are switching from WXP to Chrome to avoid the recurring MegaHard taxation.

While this rationale makes eminent sense, I am not sure about the choice of Chrome. Unless one’s client (app) base, for the entire organization, is web based, this is a recipe for a Death-by-a-thousand-cuts. More intriguingly, the media has been totally silent on this, at least from my POV. All I see is journalists bemoaning the abandonment of MegaHard for Linux. This has evolved from outright horror and revulsion to nauseous (and grudging) acceptance. Just this morning I ran across an article [Link] that dictated a list of to-dos after one had converted. As with most such lists it is flawed; as with most such journalist lists it is deeply flawed to the point of error.

It amuses me that most journalists use some form of specialized software in their writing but they somehow totally ignore, or are oblivious, that anyone else may have to use some specialized software. Only the slimiest mold of bogs are not in this situation, and nerds are most deeply mired in it. I for one am quite pleased that WXP has reached EOL since now I can disconnect my WXP boxes from the network and actually get more work done. I may even at some point put XP on one of my Linux boxes in a virtual engine. (Quantum foam in place of steam?)

The point remains, as I now realize, that when VISTER and W7 came out, WXP was left behind and all those accustomed WXP clients didn;t work right or at all. So for those of us with a tool orientation, then was a good time to sever our relationship with MegaHard.

I also ran across a cartoon: [Link]

and realized this can be seen as a metaphor for switching from MegaHard to Linux. It is a grand destination with some adventure in the journey.

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