Tuesday, 13 May 2014

08:40 – I’m now running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on my main system. At the moment, I don’t care much for it–they seem to take pleasure in making simple things difficult–but it’s supported for five years and I’m sure I’ll get used to it. Fortunately, the Firefox and Thunderbird data transferred seamlessly. I just fired them both up and was back where I was.

Linux Mint 15 shot craps on me late yesterday afternoon. Suddenly I had no network connection. At first, I thought our Internet connection was down, but it wasn’t. So I rebooted the system, and it still didn’t work. At that point, I began to think that the Ethernet adapter had died. Only a couple days ago, I’d downloaded the ISO for Ubuntu 14.04, so I stuck the DVD in the drive and rebooted again. Ubuntu came up in try-before-you-buy mode, and was able to access the Internet with no problem. Okay, enough of Linux Mint, which has always been flaky anyway.

I had multiple recent backups, both to external hard drive and USB flash sticks, but I decided to pull another full copy to another hard drive. That ran overnight. This morning, I disconnected the external hard drive, rebooted the system to the Ubuntu 14.04 DVD, and installed. That took only a few minutes, and I was up and running. I still have to transfer over the bulk of my data, get printers configured, and so on, but on balance I’m glad to be back on Ubuntu.

Kit-wise, this has gone from a slowish month to a reasonable one, all because we just got an order for 30 CK01A chemistry kits from a Florida state university. Unfortunately, we have only a couple dozen of those kits in stock at the moment, so I’m just going to build another batch of 30 specifically for this order.


35 thoughts on “Tuesday, 13 May 2014”

  1. Hi Bob,

    I use openSuSE on my desktop, but lately I’ve been having lockups, as in pull the plug. Also, Firefox is very unstable under openSuSE on my machine.

    On the Kids’ machines I use a Mepis 12 beta (Debian Wheezy-based) with a newer kernel from Wheezy backports, and it is rock solid. Unfortunately, I’m not sure about Mepis’ future viability, as there hasn’t been a new beta since last August.
    http://www.mepis.org/

    I also played with KWheezy for the Kids’ machines, and it was also very good, but I went with Mepis because it used less memory.
    http://www.kwheezy.com/en/

    As an aside, FireFox 29 forces it’s UI settings upon its users; Tabs are on top and can’t move them down, and it sets up the tool bar it’s way. If I wanted the user interface to look like Chrome, I’d use Chrome, which doesn’t crash three times a day. (I’d probably use Chrome exclusively if there were an “Are you Sure” dialog when hitting the close button….)

    Cheers,
    Rod Schaffter

  2. The problem I have with Chrome is its lack of configurability. As just one example, users have been asking for years to be able to choose how many recently-used sites to display icons for on the opening screen. That was originally nine, IIRC, and they actually *reduced* it to eight some years ago. I have room on my display for at least 30, and it’d be nice to be able to specify.

    The other problem is that I don’t trust Google not to watch everything I do.

    And speaking of major companies being evil, did you see that Amazon has patented taking photographs against a white background? I am not making this up.

  3. Plenty of prior art on that. What in the F-*-C-K does our Congress do? This country has gone just plain stupid. And dangerous. It is broke (in more ways than one) and just does not work anymore.

    Install the Mozilla plug-in called Classic Theme Restorer and it will return you to pre-29.x set-ups (see my post from a few days ago). IGNORE the warning that ‘this download does not work on your version of Firefox’. It will. Just install it.

    I’m on Mint 15 and will move to 17 (LTS) when it comes out later in the month. My personal preference, as it is closer to Windows than any distro I have tried. Actually, I forgot that I DID update Mint a couple weeks ago. It was missing a dependency for something I was trying to install, and I updated the system to get it. That has to account for my loss of being able to see the Windows machine on the network. I tried OFD’s recommendation of pulling the plug on Windows and letting it sit, then rebooting and waiting for network propogation. No joy. But these days, I actually trust M$ more than Linux. I think the problem is the Linux machine, not the Windows one. Son is coming to visit next week, and if he can see the Windows machine, I will know where the problem is.

    SuSE has been abandoned by everybody I trust. And reports keep coming in that since Novell and SuSE were bought out in 2011, it has been all downhill for both at an ever-increasing rate.

    From a forum for broadcasters that specializes in Linux, many techs report best success with Debian Stable. No bells and whistles, but it is hard to break, according to reports there.

  4. “The other problem is that I don’t trust Google not to watch everything I do.”

    That hoss has already left the gate. OTOH, we do what we can to make it more difficult for the bastards. IE is a major problem now and FF has become a PITA; so I’ve been using Chrome, which I’ve used since it came out. It occasionally hiccups but on the whole it’s been more reliable than the other two and I’ve configured it the way I want it with other security stuff enabled anyway. Gmail, however, is pissing me off; at this point I’m looking for an excuse to dump it, but Mrs. OFD has multiple accounts; I’d have to get her stuff moved over to another platform safely. Mine I’m not that worried about.

    Gotta say, we have Windows 8.1 as the main machine here, mainly for the wife’s work-related stuff (although she could use her laptop if she wanted to set it up here for that) and media streaming. The rest of the machines are Linux for me to play with, or learn stuff on. We’re not running a small business off any of them yet, but that may change, and if it does, we’re likely to do it via Windows, if for no other reason that if I spend all day working somewhere on IT issues, I don’t necessarily wanna do it at home every night and on weekends, too. But I suspect I’ll be doing it anyway, Windows or not.

    Recruiters in Boston and now Portland, Maine contacting me; I tell them I gotta either have something within a thirty-mile radius again and/or ability to work remote from home. Not moving, and not commuting again beyond that.

    The economy and jobs situation here in semi-rural and rural northern New England is such that we end up doing a little of this and a little of that, to make ends meet. Talked to a guy at the recycling plant/dump yesterday who commutes to that low-paying gig from the actual sticks for the exercise; his regular gig is as a gunsmith. He buys the parts each month for an AR and then builds them to customer specs and nets a nice profit on each one. Sez AR’s are going like hotcakes.

    I can see me transitioning into that along with other firearms-related stuff, such as local instructor; plus doing the term paper and tutoring gigs and the occasional IT slot somewhere. A little of this, a little of that; careers and actual jobs are kaput.

    Mrs. OFD has already been transitioning, somewhat, into her internet and locally-based jewelry business. It’s kinda labor-intensive, though; I don’t see how she could ramp up enough to make a decent go of it. It takes her all day to make a few pieces and she gets the materials from her various trips to the West Coast and the lake here, beach glass, shells, clay, etc. Great stuff and people love it, but I don’t see the volume happening. She also hasn’t been charging enough for it; she could easily double or triple her prices. We shall see.

  5. (I’d probably use Chrome exclusively if there were an “Are you Sure” dialog when hitting the close button….)

    Hey Rod, I used to find this annoying, but then I realised I could just reopen a closed window with ctrl+shift+tab.

    The other problem is that I don’t trust Google not to watch everything I do.
    What about Chromium, the open-source browser on which Chrome is based?

  6. I had both Chrome and Chromium installed until this morning. I guess I trust Chromium a bit more on the theory that it is open-source, but on the other hand, who actually looks at stuff to figure out if Google is being evil? Assuming they’d even notice. Google obviously has a ton of excellent programmers.

  7. My problem is that I trust very few people or organizations nowadays. I’ve even wondered if one of you guys is actually a government bot.

  8. The Classic Theme Restorer works good on the latest FF, no warnings, no error mss., got it back where I, and apparently countless others, want it.

    Isn’t it Chromium that is the default version installed when you download it to a Linux machine? Or is there a choice; I forget.

  9. I just took a look at the Chromium sites; it’s basically a beta test browser at any given stage and sorta like the Fedora builds. With a warning that it can crash at any time, etc., etc. Use it out here and we’re pretty much guinea pigs depending on the extent to which we wanna get involved, play with it ourselves, etc.

    I also notice that many of the top security bonzes have among their recommendations getting out of the whole Google thing, whether browsers, email or Earth, or whatever, for the reasons Bob cites. I’m thinking about it seriously.

  10. 40’s for the high in Kansas yesterday. That cold is headed my way, but it will probably moderate before it gets here. So far, I have managed to avoid switching on the central air and shooting the electric bill into the stratosphere. Never had to switch on the air before about the second week in June in long bygone years. Last year I had it running in late April.

  11. I guess I trust Chromium a bit more on the theory that it is open-source, but on the other hand, who actually looks at stuff to figure out if Google is being evil? Assuming they’d even notice.

    It’s a fair point. I think people look at it with reasonable scrutiny, and I doubt they’d manage to hide a phone-home backdoor in there, but it could conceivably happen. I think I have more trust for Google: I don’t especially trust Google’s owners and management, but I trust its programmers. A lot of Google engineers were pissed off when they learned the full extent of the NSA’s snooping.

    Isn’t it Chromium that is the default version installed when you download it to a Linux machine? Or is there a choice; I forget.
    From memory, Chromium ships with a few distros by default, but if you try to download Chrome from Google, you’ll still get Chrome. I don’t know what yum/apt/similar default to: I know some of those package managers shy away from closed-source stuff altogether.

  12. I just took a look at the Chromium sites; it’s basically a beta test browser at any given stage and sorta like the Fedora builds. With a warning that it can crash at any time, etc., etc. Use it out here and we’re pretty much guinea pigs depending on the extent to which we wanna get involved, play with it ourselves, etc.

    Not wholly true. The stable channel is pretty… well… stable. I’ve never had a problem with it. The dev/beta channels can be a little buggy like that.

  13. I’ve even wondered if one of you guys is actually a government bot.

    I can assure you that I am not an artificial intelligence. I’m an all-natural dumbassigence.

  14. I’ll probably take a look at Chromium, the current version for Windows is “Canary,” and otherwise have been using only FF on the Linux machines so far. For email I already have an overseas client but it bounces through various servers and is a tad slow. Not sure if I wanna mess with T-Bird on here. And I’ve liked DuckDuckGo for a search engine in lieu of Google.

    I have the Windows Defender and firewall stuff set up here along with Avast anti-virus, which seems to update definitions at least daily. I could set up CryptoHippie’s Road Warrior again but it made things a little slower, again, because of overseas server bounces, and it tended to often render pages in German, which doesn’t bother me that much but annoyed Mrs. OFD. Encrypting email seems to be more trouble than it’s worth and only good if your other contact/s use it, too.

    And using Tor and Tails and suchlike is good but can also actually *attract* unwanted attention, at least until such time as more people use them. If I had to, which is doubtful at this point, I could boot any machine anywhere with a persistence-enabled Tails USB stick, I guess, and the default browser then is Tor anyway.

    YMMV.

  15. I also notice that many of the top security bonzes have among their recommendations getting out of the whole Google thing, whether browsers, email or Earth, or whatever, for the reasons Bob cites. I’m thinking about it seriously.

    I’d call M$ and Amazon with my SSN before I’d google something. My distrust of all things google means that I never use the search engine, avoid map links, have never looked at earth and have no gmail account – most of the time, it’s all I can do to even reply to a message from a gmail address.

    For several years, I’ve used the content blocker in Opera (removed after ver. 12.16, sadly) to block anything that matches *google* and have done the same with any FF extension that offered blocking and/or filtering. I recognize that I’m nowhere near bulletproof, but I do what I can.

    In the vein of recent hospitalization/Mother’s Day coments here, my mom has been in the hospital on Bob’s side of town since last Monday with pneumonia and, now, a UTI as well. They’re teasing us with going home today.

    I left my job in Dec. 2009 to stay home with her full-time, so I’ve been following with interest all of the recent family issues dealt with by the regulars here. Mom will be 84 next month and, despite a chronic lung affliction and something on the dementia/Alzheimer’s end of the spectrum, is still doing pretty well. My belated condolences to Barbara and the others who’ve recently experienced a family loss.

  16. I am not a fan of the Debian/Ubuntu flavors of Linux in general, but I found *L*ubuntu tolerable when I had to go with one of the distributions for my Mininet-based grad school work. Xubuntu is also worth a look.

  17. I’m an all-natural dumbassigence.

    Then you qualify as a government worker. Should make a good project manager on the Obamacare website project.

  18. And remember, on gummint jobs and even some corporate ones, the ratio of “project manglers,” or PIMPS (for that PMP cert that some of them sport) to actual worker drones is usually two or three to one. This proved to be such a resounding success at **Health Care that the number of vehicles out in their parking lots up here has dwindled by two-thirds over the past four years since I worked what turned out to only be a 90-day temp gig there. Of course, I dunno, maybe they’re all working remote now; the PIMPs were certainly remote.

    Another outfit up here also has all their actual hw out in San Diego, RHEL, too, but here in Vermont they have brightly colored cube farms and post-it notes by the tens of thousands and they stand to every morning and for fifteen minutes do that “Scrum” thing, part of the Agile fad that seems to be such a hit with the commie and granola-head types. “What I did yesterday, what I’m working on today, and what I’ll be hacking on tomorrow, and any obstacles or roadblocks I’m having…” The handful of actual IT hw guys there hate it.

  19. My problem is that I trust very few people or organizations nowadays. I’ve even wondered if one of you guys is actually a government bot.

    Oh bother, I’ve been found out! Wait, no, it is not me. It is OFD.

  20. We got about 5 to 6 inches of Global Warming XXXXXXX Climate Change XXXXXXX Climate Disruption last night. Finally! We did get about 1/2 inch of rain last Friday night but the ground immediately soaked it all up. My ponds actually caught 8 to 10 inches of water in them and the swimming pool overflowed. Hopefully we will get more tonight as the rest of the cool front blows through.

  21. Hey, I found a new tv show last and watched five episodes. Normally, I hate reality tv shows but this one is cool. It is called “Buying Alaska” and follows couples around with a realtor as they look at three houses to buy in Alaska. Each show is 30 minutes (with 8 minutes of commercials) and also states the pricing of the homes along with the couples decisions. Sometimes they state what the couple paid for the home and their planned changes to better meet their needs.
    http://www.destinationamerica.com/tv-shows/buying-alaska

  22. I figured out long before I started business school that any organization that has more than three levels of management is going to spend too much time and resources “managing” and too little on actually producing. I think the ideal structure has at most: one captain (in the ship sense), some lieutenants who all report directly to the captain, and the appropriate number of sergeants reporting to each lieutenant.

    The captain should be able to handle at least ten direct reports, as should each of his ten lieutenants. So there are 100 sergeants/foremen, each of whom should be able to handle at least 100 workers. That’s a minimum of 10,111 total employees, more if there are more direct reports at each level. That should suffice for 99.99% of the companies out there.

  23. Agreed on organizational structure; take a look sometime at the comparison between the bureaucracy used to run the NYC publik skool system and the one that’s run the parochial (Roman Catholic) system. Plus the public system tasked itself with catering to 100 different languages.

    There is also a gigantic discrepancy here between what the captains earn and what the privates make, almost so wide a gap as to be bizarre and cartoonish, like the caricatures in the old days of the robber barons. Even on the whaling ships in their heyday off New Bedford and the Islands there was not this huge a gap between captain and crews.

  24. Hey, I found a new tv show last and watched five episodes. Normally, I hate reality tv shows but this one is cool. It is called “Buying Alaska” and follows couples around with a realtor as they look at three houses to buy in Alaska. Each show is 30 minutes (with 8 minutes of commercials) and also states the pricing of the homes along with the couples decisions. Sometimes they state what the couple paid for the home and their planned changes to better meet their needs.
    http://www.destinationamerica.com/tv-shows/buying-alaska

    Wow, after rereading that, I am definitely a bot.

  25. Not to worry; our programmers are using the latest open-sauce code to expunge you from this formerly pristine system.

  26. There is also a gigantic discrepancy here between what the captains earn and what the privates make, almost so wide a gap as to be bizarre and cartoonish, like the caricatures in the old days of the robber barons. Even on the whaling ships in their heyday off New Bedford and the Islands there was not this huge a gap between captain and crews.

    I have no problem with a business owner making tons of money. If his average employee makes $30,000/year and he makes $30 million or $300 million/year, that’s fine with me. What I object to is paid employees in league with corporate boards being paid ridiculous sums. In those cases, it’s the stockholders who are being ripped off. There’s a huge difference between an entrepreneur/owner and a salaried manager.

  27. Roger that. And that is what we see too much of; the board/CEO shenanigans and the ongoing claims that great talent is in huge demand and itself demands the highest possible pay, except that some of these guys run those companies into the ground. Then they get golden parachutes and skate away into the sunset.

  28. The captain should be able to handle at least ten direct reports, as should each of his ten lieutenants. So there are 100 sergeants/foremen, each of whom should be able to handle at least 100 workers. That’s a minimum of 10,111 total employees, more if there are more direct reports at each level. That should suffice for 99.99% of the companies out there.

    Sounds like a Roman Legion.

  29. I am amazed at how much archival stuff gets up on YouTube. Where does it all come from? There must be a legion of TV techs, raiding the vaults. Some of this stuff clearly had to be mastered on 2″ videotape machines, and I have not seen one of those in operation in 20 years. Here’s Paul Anka from an obscure Saturday night TV show Dick Clark hosted, which had a very short run.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKcCaCgMLBE

    The IFIC badges are for Flavor-ific, which was the slogan for Beechnut gum back in 1959, who sponsored the show.

    Over the years, Paul Anka and Donnie Osmond have been my picks for the smoothest on-camera male performers — especially in ad-lib situations. As a teenager, Osmond handled Johnny Carson’s show with more cool than most adults did.

  30. Have y’all heard about the recent European court decision?

    A Spanish businessman went bankrupt many years ago, and his house was auctioned off. This appeared in the newspapers of the time, and their articles are online.

    This displeases him, as potential clients/employers come across this and gain a negative opinion of him. So he sued to have the newspaper take its articles offline and Google should delete any links it has.

    Well, unsurprisingly, the Spanish courts ruled that newspapers report, and don’t have to tailor their reporting – the articles stay.

    However, he appealed the Google aspect up the line. Now the “Court of Justice of the European Union” has officially ruled that individuals may tell the search engines to remove links to “inadequate or irrelevant” information.

    The tech world doesn’t seem to have yet grasped what this means. As far as I can see, the implications are absolutely huge. Public information exists, but services like search engines must selectively tailor their public directories according to the whims of millions of individuals? How are they to decide what is “inadequate or irrelevant”? How do they check that the person requesting a link deletion is the person affected? What about links to information affecting many different people?

    Once again, a court makes a decision that demonstrates its own technical ignorance. Unfortunately, the tech world will have to find some way to live with this – the effects on the Internet as a whole could, in the worst case, be pretty horrible…

  31. John Marshall The Court of Justice of the European Union has made their decision; now let them enforce it.

    The Court of Derp doesn’t matter. The EU doesn’t matter.

    Google holds patents on many aspects of the web search business. Much as I despise software patents, I think Google should pull out of all EU nations and block traffic coming from them. Refuse to allow any other company to use their patents and sue over violations. Either force EU nations to go back to 1995 web indexing technology or show that the EU is not following its own laws, in which case Google can go back in and ignore all court blathering.

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