Monday, 14 November 2011

By on November 14th, 2011 in computing, dogs, writing

08:15 – Another Monday, which means Barbara is at work after a weekend, which means Colin is expecting me to play with him all day long. I can’t blame him for pestering constantly. He’s a nine-month-old Border Collie pup, and his priorities all involve constant work, which requires my involvement as well. If I try to ignore his requests he whimpers. If I ignore that, he starts climbing up on the arm of my chair and pawing me. If I ignore that, he takes my arm in his mouth (gently), and starts pulling me toward the front door. My only option is to use a baby gate to pen him outside my office. The problem with that is that I never know what he’ll get up to when he’s out of my sight. Usually something I don’t want him doing.

11:52 – Well, I’ve been trying to avoid this, but enough is enough. OpenOffice writer keeps hanging, and if there’s one thing I can’t tolerate while I’m writing, it’s an unreliable word processor. That was what motivated me to abandon MS Word for OOo Writer long before I converted to Linux.

My main system is old, really old. If it’s any indication, I’m currently running Ubuntu 9.04, which hasn’t been maintained for quite a while now. The system drive is a 500 GB Seagate Barracuda and the second hard drive is a 750 GB Seagate Barracuda that I installed before they were officially released. There used to be two of those 750 GB drives, as DATA_1 and DATA_2, but DATA_1 failed a couple of months ago. I should have stopped what I was doing then and built a new system, but I didn’t have time. I should stop what I’m doing now and build a new system, but I have even less time. So I’m going to nuke the current installation, run detailed scans on both drives, and (assuming they pass) re-install Linux.

The question is, which Linux? Ubuntu has gone off the rails, with Unity and Gnome 3.0. As ESR recently wrote, it’s not even worth messing with. He switched to KDE. Others have switched to Linux Mint. I think I’ll go with Kubuntu 11.10. Of course, that’s a major undertaking itself, just getting all my stuff migrated over. Don’t expect to hear from me for a while.

14:11 – I’m up on my knees at this point. I ended up pulling the original drives and replacing them with an old but unused 1.5 TB Seagate Barracuda. Kubuntu 11.10 is installed and updated, and I’m currently copying several hundred GB of data from an external backup drive. At this point, basically nothing is configured. I’m writing this in the default Kubuntu browser, which is called rekonq. I’ll install Firefox and/or Google Chrome when I get a moment. LibreOffice is installed by default, but I have a dozen or more key apps I’ll need to install before this system is really usable. Stuff like digikam, for example, not to mention one or more video-editing apps.

There are also a lot of minor annoyances to deal with. Sound isn’t working at all, for example, which is probably just a matter of finding and fixing a configuration setting somewhere in the KDE GUI. I’ll also try to find time to get my old Epson scanner working. It used to work perfectly and then one day it just stopped working. I don’t think the problem is the scanner, but just something that got borked on my increasingly cluttered Ubuntu 9.04 setup. We’ll see if a clean Kubuntu 11.10 will recognize and use the scanner.

I made a conscious decision to leave a lot of data behind. Stuff that I’ll never use again, such as hundreds of GB of raw .DV video files. When I finish transferring data, this 1.5 TB drive probably won’t be more than about half or two-thirds full. Barbara, being the thrower-away of the family, will be pleased that I, being the keeper of the family, have decided to throw out all this old stuff. We watched an episode of House, MD not long ago that featured a hoarder. During the scenes of the guy’s house, Barbara kept muttering, “Just like you…” Now, it’s true that I sometimes save things that nearly anyone would consider eminently throw-outable (such as burned out lightbulbs or dead alkaline cells), but there really is method to my madness. (In the first case, I wanted a small specimen of tungsten; in the second, I wanted to dissassemble the alkaline cells and compare them chemically to a new cell.)

Geez, I wish this copy would complete so that I could get back to writing. Once again, I’ve reorganized something. I had algae in with the Group VII lab sessions (protista), which is where they are categorized in some classification systems. But it’s equally valid to put algae in with plantae rather than protista. In fact, I think it makes more sense to do it that way, considering that grouping algae with plantae turns a polyphyletic grouping into a monophyletic one. So I moved algae into the Group IX lab sessions (plantae), immediately following Group VIII (fungi). Now if only I could start writing about them.

20 Comments and discussion on "Monday, 14 November 2011"

  1. Dave B. says:

    I work at home and have two dogs. The only way I get work done is put the dogs in our fenced in back yard in the morning. If weather permits, I can leave them out long enough that they’ll be tired enough that they’ll want to rest all afternoon.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Alas, we don’t have a fenced yard. Even if we did, I’d hesitate to allow a BC, particularly a pup, to remain unobserved for long.

    I’ll never forget Kerry when he was a pup. My parents had to leave the house for some reason, and asked me to stop over to check on Kerry. They’d penned him in the laundry room, leaving the main door to the backyard open, but the wooden screen door closed. I arrived about an hour after they’d left, and found that Kerry had chewed a hole through the wooden panel at the bottom of the door that was large enough for him to get through and into the (fenced) back yard. On another occasion, Kerry had entertained himself by getting a fang under the corner of a sheet vinyl floor and then pulling up the entire sheet of vinyl. When I arrived that time, I found he’d already started chewing a hole in the plywood underlayment.

    A bored BC pup is very likely to entertain himself in ways you really, really don’t want him doing.

  3. Dave B. says:

    Our dogs aren’t Border Collies, but still they do react negatively to being left alone at times. Frequently they will empty a trash can onto the floor when they think we’ve been gone too long. Also I think it’s time for me to walk around the inside perimeter of the fence to fill in any holes. At least we’ve broken them of their cable chewing habits.

  4. chris els says:

    You’ll have to get a flock of sheep and 2 pens, so Colin can herd them from one to the other. Might save Barbara some mowing, and provide fresh meat when you go into survival mode.

  5. BGrigg says:

    My Golden Retriever just lays down and waits for death when I leave. It is during these times that the cat dish fairies must come out of hiding and clean up, as the dishes are almost always pristine upon my return.

    I am beginning to suspect that the dog is actually the cat dish fairy. She of course denies everything and won’t even look at them when I point.

  6. BGrigg says:

    You’ll have to get a flock of sheep and 2 pens, so Colin can herd them from one to the other. Might save Barbara some mowing, and provide fresh meat when you go into survival mode.

    This strikes me as slightly dangerous. We’ll not hear from Bob for days, thinking “what a hard worker he is, cracking down on the book” and his first new post will be that Mary had rescued him, Barbara, and Paul (who had gone to check earlier that day), along with a courier, a mailman letter carrier, and some girl guides now bereft of their cookies, from one pen, while the lambs had been herded into the other.

  7. Jim C says:

    Using sheep would be too conventional. A dozen ducklings in the house so that Colin could herd them from room to room would be ideal. Of course the increased house cleaning might slow down the book a bit, but roast duck would add some variety to the dinner menu.

  8. Rod Schaffter says:

    I haven’t used OO.O since it forked to LibreOffice and openSUSE started including it in their distro a while back.

    I haven’t had any significant issues with it…


  9. Miles_Teg says:

    RBT wrote:

    “A bored BC pup is very likely to entertain himself in ways you really, really don’t want him doing.”

    Perhaps he wants some female (BC) company?

  10. Dave B. says:

    I’d suggest going with the LTS (Long Term Stable) Kubuntu version if for no other reason than it means fewer upgrades. Also, you’ll find the upgrade path less painful if you upgrade before support expires. Take it from someone who realized in July that he should have upgraded a couple of Ubuntu 6.06 LTS servers in the spring.

  11. Rick says:

    I would suggest that you use a solid state drive as the boot drive for any new system with a large data drive. The Intel 120 gb SSD sells for under $200 and the performance difference is significant.

    Rick in Portland

  12. OFD says:

    I’ve been happy with, and no complaints for, Ubuntu 11.10, and there is a simple fix to get out of Unity and put Gnome Classic back on it and have the choice when you log in and out.

    In a terminal do:

    sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback

    Log out and then log back in. Click on the little gear to the upper right of the login box and choose Gnome Classic and Bob’s yer uncle. Or maybe you don’t really want Bob for an uncle. He is very large, costs a lot to feed, insists on border collies for his dogz, is known to have firearms on the premises, known to experiment with dangerous chemicals, and to top it off, is an atheist. Your call, Grasshopper.

    On the office sw, I’ve used both OO and Libre and while I don’t have complaints, Mrs. OFD has and does, mainly concerning compatibility with PowerPoint stuff and saving of files in certain formats. Depending on the tasks needed, I guess I am not much help here. I only use the writing apps, and even that, rarely. Most of the writing I’ve done is very short, in the form of notes, emails, journal entries, etc. No long-term book projects like Robert. I only offer my condolences and best wishes finding something that works.

  13. Andy Preston says:

    OpenSuse’s latest incarnation, 12.1, is scheduled to be released to the world on Wednesday, November 16 2011. Their variant of Linux has always been stable & useable, IMHO; right now I’m running 11.0 on one desktop and on my laptop.

  14. SteveF says:

    I wish this copy would complete so that I could get back to writing.

    Sheesh, you whine like a modern-day teenager. Why, in my day we didn’t have these fancy computers and word processors for our writing. No, we had to write on paper! And we were grateful! Even though we had to make the paper ourselves! From the mightiest tree in the forest! And we had to cut it down with a herring!

    Or maybe you don’t really want Bob for an uncle. He is very large, costs a lot to feed, insists on border collies for his dogz, is known to have firearms on the premises, known to experiment with dangerous chemicals, and to top it off, is an atheist.

    Sounds like an all-around win, if you ask me. Was there some downside you were working your way up to?

  15. OFD says:

    A downside to Bob? You mean, besides being costly to feed and has the sort of dogz that one must keep a tight leash on or the alternative is to allow them to herd bunches of other animals around whenever the urge strikes them, which is, in fact, always?

    He also smokes a pipe, and uses sexist pronouns.

    What more of a downside do you want here?

  16. brad says:

    Yeah, the new Ubuntu is a mess. And they are discontinuing (have discontinued?) the fallback to Gnome 2. I am currently using Xubuntu, which is reasonable similar to Gnome 2 – however, it has a number of irritating little problems.

    I looked at Mint, but wasn’t particularly impressed. On my home system, I have the *last* Ubuntu LTS – which was great, but slowly the software is getting out-dated, and updating individual packages is a road to chaos.

    I really don’t get Ubuntu. Unity might be a great interface for a tablet (actually, not, but that’s clearly what it’s meant for). However, it is simply a disaster for a normal laptop or desktop. Why does Ubuntu think the same interface is appropriate for completely different types of devices? Does MacOS use the same interface as an iPhone?

  17. Miles_Teg says:

    So, Ubuntu sucks but Kubuntu is okay? Is it completely okay or just better than Windows?

  18. Chuck Waggoner says:

    No! Except for the desktop, Kubuntu is the same under the hood as Ubuntu. It is derived from Ubuntu. My strong recommendation is to abandon K/Ubuntu for Debian or CentOS. I am on Debian, now, and will try CentOS in a few weeks.

    Also, (and I have been following this, too) SuSE is being abandoned in large numbers, as lots of developers/users fear a buyout by M$ and are jumping ship before that can happen. SuSE still has a large, undented following in Germany, however.

    As far as Gnome goes, v3 will be a significant break with v2. Every desktop known to man seems intent on killing itself. Word is that Win8 will be so different from previous versions, that nobody will know how to use it. Ballmer has claimed that he is essentially betting the company on a complete change in direction of the desktop.

    You are going to have your productivity messed with, whether you want it or not. This is a war between developers and users, and corporate execs are handing the victory to developers. Screw the user. Customers are the enemy after all.

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    We have Office 2003 and Windows XP at work. Works okay except that I sometimes get Office files that won’t open in ’03.

  20. Chuck Waggoner says:

    LibreOffice or OpenOffice will open those. Then you can save them to a format that Office2k3 can open, if the company requires.

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