Discontinued Distribution

There are times, I am told, when only violence will settle a problem. No, I don’t mean pogroms or what is inaccurately called genocide. Since the only genus we have left is homo, what with the Romans being reduced to not a city state, so genocide only applies if we are going to extinguish humanity. Which is a bit much for this nuisance.

My primary gripe with Linux is upgrades. They are the riskiest aspect of using the OS. They are what almost completely generates the term “nuke and pave”. Which I hope is self-explanatory? 

Anyway, I have been doing a lot of N&P (hopefully that is also self-explanatory) the last year. Mostly due to a combination of hard drive failures and something really whacked in an install of Ubuntu with KDE grafted on since Unity is so painful and aproductive. But for the last two months I have been getting increasingly stressed as a new Long Term Support release loomed, arrived, and I waited for the upgrade release.

Several years ago the hassle of selling actual media got to be too much for Canonical, probably offended some financial delusion of Saint Mark, and they started trumpeting the idea of direct by internet upgrades. Updates direct by internet were working pretty well, as they still do, but that’s nominally a few Mb rather than a few Gb! But they offered downloadable CD/DVD image files of the upgrades as well.

That turned out to be a necessity for me. Being a good user, I tried the direct by internet upgrade. I forget the numbers but it was one of those half-year things. If failed spectacularly. I downloaded a DVD image of the new release and did an N&P. Six months later I tried again and again downloaded a DVD image of the new release and did an N&P.

Thereafter I downloaded an upgrade DVD image and that worked pretty well. But when the next LTS (Long Term Support – read organizational version) came out I camped. And when a new LTS came out every two years I downloaded an upgrade DVD image and upgraded.

This year they announced that they were discontinuing the upgrade DVD image. Exclamation point. I was left with three choices: do nothing – not a good security strategy; try the direct internet upgrade; or N&P. I opted for the latter since if it failed, as I expected, I would have to exercise the third anyway.

So I did all the back up stuff, engaged the upgrade process, and it failed spectacularly!  The good news is that I now have statistical significance! The direct by internet upgrade process does NOT work! At least here in the hinterland. The other good news is that I am cutting ties with Canonical. If they can’t support me minimally with an upgrade DVD image then I ain’t going to support them. My deskboxes are now Ubuntu-free. They are still running Debian based distros but not Ubuntu based. And the few lapboxes I have still running Ubuntu based will be replaced as I can touch them. 

Canonical, you are herewith discontinued in Castellum SCP. The pony to poo ratio has finally gotten TOO low!


One of the most wonderful and enjoyable things about buying a refurbished computer is powering it up, inserting a Linux DVD, booting it, and overwriting Winders Ate with a usable and enjoyable OS. 

Its rather like taking a horrible disease and making something wonderful and useful out of it. 

I think Temujin said something about this sort of thing?

Change of Path

Almost to week out. And schule is resessioned? Maybe? Sorta? I am confused, mostly because I was told they were earlier in the week and then yesterday I drove past the terminal schule and the place only had educationalist motorcars in the park. And the bandwidth still is abysmal.

Off to the park this morning with a bit of difference. My usual constitutional diversion podcast seems to have dissipated and so I switched to listening to the lees of this week’s Linux Luddites podcast. I alternate this podcast with the Ubuntu podcast from the land of tyrants so I am not sure what I will listen next week but that’s then. Anyway it was a bit strange. Real English, albeit a but butchered, instead of an oleo of Jawjan and Brit, and techninal instead of geek. And the negative comments about the ubuquitous shitty keyboard were enjoyable but a mixed bag of (semi) lauding Unity but trashing Ubuntu (by a correspondent) was a bit confusing. Anyway, not the effect I am used to so this may be a bit of finding Livingston.

I did see a compliment of MegaHard, albeit at the expense of Fruit, the other day. Some journalist was asking why MegaHard could do a decent (??????) slab keyboard and Fruit couldn’t. Maybe the keyboard wasn’t made in the Heavenly Kingdom? This is sort of a mind gristle. Fruit has always extruded these strange keyboards. Like the keys HP put on their calculators in the middle years. Like chicklet gum with that didn’t crunch. MegaHard, on the other hand, has always extruded keyboards that are best used by people how lack sensation in their upper phalanges. I had an employee once who was addicted to one of MegaHard’s “ergonomic” keyboards. The ones that looked like a Hollywood swimming pool. Turned out that was symptomatic of other problems between the ears.

That’s the problem with the world these days. Not Global Climate Change and the extinction of humanity. Not the civil war between Democruds and Repulsians, which admittedly does give some intriguing insights into how far society lets the metally ill demonstrate and destroy before (ever?) restraining them for the common good. Where is that common good these days? Certainly not keyboards!

I am currently using a DAS. It is a dim shadow of a decent keyboard like a Northgate or the original Itty Bitty Machine keyboard. But it is the best of a soory despicable lot that I have been able to find. Evidently no one wants to do I/O these days. It took me a while to notice but the resolution of monitors these days is rather sparse and getting high resolution is tragically expensive. Comparable to buying your own third world country. With or without Ebola.

One of my coleagues has suggested that this is part of the robot conspiracy. Its a campaign to divorce us from doing constructive work with computers. Then we will be helpless when the computers rebel and dispose of the politicians. And probably the rest of us. Unless climate change gets there first and the computers get the planet from us the same we we got them from the dinosaurs.

But I’m going to keep looking. Because with the right keyboard we can make the politicians either behave or sit in rubber rooms.

See! I told you that walk was different.

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Towers Toppling

Summer endeth! Schule resessions tomorrow and the educationalists must report today so in the most local of terms, thus endeth summer. And I rather regret it in a way. Now the gym will be flooded with arrogance and people and noise and annoyance and bullying and all those things that have been absent the last couple of months. And being thus depressed I turned to matters of similar gloom.

The first is a gloom for Apple and MegaHard and even, amusingly, Mozilla. It seems [Link] that android OS cellular telephones make up 0.85 of the global cellular telephone market. Since this is greater than 0.793, android may be considered to hold a Lanchestrian monopoly of the cellular telephone marketplace. So long as they have this monopoly they dominate the marketplace. Which means things are pretty dismal for the other players.

What is amusing is that the previous Lanchestrian monopoly in the digital electronics/computer market was held by MegaHard with Internet Stumbler. And that monopoly was broken by Mozilla with FireFox. So these monopolies don;t last forever but they do last too long – usually. And have rather nasty effects.

I have to admit that I use an android cellular telephone. Can’t abide Apple. Dark side from my POV. And MegaHard is worse. But I would switch to FireFoxFone in a flash if I could.

The second gloom is that tablet sales are somewhere between even and declining. And the flagship manufacturers are definitely declining. Apple is close to hurting, making this gloom 2 for them. And MegaHard is evidently irrelevant except among anal retentive corporations who buy employees MegaSlabs that get left at office. The antithesis of BYOD evidently. And I suspect totally ignored beyond the bullpen?

What is not clear is whether we are seeing the beginning of the end of MegaHard? They are fast losing ground in all theaters. Unless they have a “wonder weapon” hid back they are likely going to be overrun or, at least, marginalized.

And I shall be happy. At least as soon as Scientific Word 6 comes out.

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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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