Tuesday 30 November 2010

Home from snowy Prague

to a snowy Somerton.

Just a few pics for now.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Hitting the cooking brandy

Times are tough in our household.

Well, maybe not *quite* that tough.

Last Saturday we had some friends over, and for various reasons had a substantial body of time to plan and shop for dinner with them, which was really nice. I knew she was vegetarian, so plumped for Fondue Savoy with a nice sweet salad, a good bottle of reisling and baked apples to follow. In order to perk the apples up a little I bought some cheap Tesco brandy to pour into the centres and around them to add flavour. I didn't know she was also teetotal, but ho hum, alcohol evaporates while cooking and no-one was any the wiser.

Tonight I had a 'wonder just how bad it is' moment and go the bottle out.

BAM! straight back to childhood.

My mother used to keep cognac for cooking, and occasionally I'd get the bottle down and take a tiny amount. This was when I was small - somewhere between 5 and 9 - but the flavour and general alcoholic overtones where just like that cognac for me. I guess that may be why I developed a taste for Whisky in my teenage years.

I've just tried a couple of new distros.

PCLinuxOS and Linux Mint KDE (9, not 10, unfortunately).

PCLOS is looking likely to become my next OS. From the CD it was fast, generally clean and is running KDE 4.5.3, Digikam 1.50. It felt as snappy as openSUSE, which was a good thing.

Mint is interesting in KDE 4.4 (possibly better in 4.5) with better font display than the gnome variant (which is pretty stinky, nearly as bad a Unbuntu, and similar to Fedora). It also came with Wine ready to run direct from the CD, which will be interesting as I'd like to start trying Windows apps on Linux. They even had the windows style font down pretty well, which was surprising.

Why look at other distros?

There was a Sabayon update last week, and my Sabayon drive is now inaccessible. Apparently because it's a logical volume, rather than partitioned conventionally I cannot see the small number of unique files I had on there (just a few images and emails). It might be possible to rescue the OS by editing the PAM file but I don't know enough command line stuff to do it and no-one on the Sabayon forum appears interested in helping. I could try to learn CLI and then attempt it, but frankly life is too short, and that OS is going to be toast shortly.

I really liked it while I used it: the best, crispest fonts this side of Microsoft, generally quick and responsive. It wasn't flawless, with an odd diminished volume issue forcing me to turn the amp up really high to hear DVDs, and printing was a bit skanky, though reliable once I'd sorted out HPLIP. I also had to reinstall VLC to get DVDs to play.

So another day, another OS by the look of things.

I'm posting from Mint 9 now - the fonts ARE too fuzzy, and this OS won't make it onto my hard drive.

Monday 22 November 2010

My age has become apparent

And my changing tastes.

The Register has produced a list of the 'top 10 arcade games of all time'. While I recognise and remember playing happily the first few, everything from 'Outrun' onward never caught my imagination or drew me in. Maybe it was because they were so generic (and heralded the early 1st person shooters, like Wolfenstein) but maybe also it was because I was married by then and 'had a life'.

There's a couple missing too:
Firebird Phoenix (IIRC) was highly addictive and a stage on from Space invaders and Galaxian.

Vanguard was another that we spent many happy hours feeding 10p pieces into.

Finally, whatever happened to Asteroids - a contemporary of Space Invaders, and one that saw at least as much play.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Charles was a ZX81

And William is an iPad.

It's deeply cynical

But I do quite like this version of the engagement. I can think of at least one wedding I'd prefer to see televised, but the individuals concerned are a little less wealthy and well known.

Bearing in mind the country of origin, perhaps it's not so surprising that it's so cynical.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

I've just signed up for sugarsync

But now I wonder if it would be my nightmare scenario?

The video linked above left me rather mentally gasping, feeling like I was being bombarded from my worst nightmare: never being able to escape. I've been careful to compartmentalise work and home, so the idea of seamlessly smearing the 2 together (and guess which one will win?) really is the stuff of bad dreams.

The idea of a log cabin somewhere remote or vows of silence in a monastery could become very appealing after a year of life like that.

Friday 12 November 2010


I have a working install of Sabayon 5.4 on my new replacement HDD.

And it's good.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Well that was a fine semi-waste of time.

I've given up and re-built the Macbook with OSX 10.5. However because I backed it up in the new configuration I cannot restore all settings backward, so have to manually restore. But at least I can use an external monitor.

I will not willingly buy another apple product in the future.

Monday 8 November 2010

I just hate OSX so much now.

Printing is now a lottery - sometimes my computer will deign to let me print.... and sometimes not. I still cannot connect to an external monitor. And the dropping letters when you type 'undocumented feature' is back sometimes. Emails with embedded images no longer have an option to display the images either.

I really, really wish I'd never decided to try the snow leper upgrade (and it's no longer new-install fast either). No one else to blame but Apple marketing and my own darn gullibility.

Saturday 6 November 2010

More pictures!

I've not had time until now to post the pix from when Randall, Laura and we went to Stratford, so here's an example, plus the gallery link (click the image).

Hi, my name's Toni and I do stuff in church.

Tonight I was introduced to someone by a friend as 'A Worship leader', a title that was haltingly whittled away at by myself over the next few minutes.

I'm not sure where this post is going, but something that's concerned me for some time now is 'who we are' in relation to the way we get introduced (or introduce ourselves - sometimes we're asked to say 'what we do' as a way of identifying ourselves).

The truth is, I do stuff in church, but I'm not the stuff I do. I do pastoral stuff sometimes (not much right now - trying to get my own life straight). I have lead worship in the past (what I'm doing now isn't really worship leading, but that's another discussion) and may even do so again. I sometimes teach, but not enough to really be a 'teacher'. I sometimes clear up cups and saucers, move chairs and sweep floors but I'm not really a janitor either.

Often we like to have a title, I think, because it can make us look good, and also because it gives us something to hide behind. This isn't something that my marvellous maturity and sense of self-worth has carried me beyond, but I have reached the stage where I don't really want to be known by whatever title makes me look good or a success. I just want to be know as me, with my weaknesses (they'll show up soon enough) and strengths (which are real enough too).

So.... My name is Toni, and I do stuff in church.

open SUSE is back.

After the tram-smash that is font display in Fedora I had to revert back. O'Suzy (as some call it) isn't *perfect* but it is quite usable. I still can't get Sabayon to install, but I think I know the reason now, and will take steps to sort that when the replacement HD arrives.

I don't know what the reason is: it's not KDE vs Gnome, because I did a full KDE dual desktop install, switching back and forth (you acquire a HUGE range of different applications that way - more than any Windows user could possible have and keep their machine running happily). It's also not the graphics driver, because both Fedora and SUSE are running the Noveaux OSS driver. And it's not the fonts themselves, because I changed the system fonts around from their default settings in Fed, and what worked at one size would then bleed yellow or blue in a different size.

I'm done with pUbuntu and related OSs for now. It's a real shame, but they just cannot seem to get that one fundamental requirement right.

Wonder when Sabayon 5.5 is out.....

Thursday 4 November 2010

I can feel another Mac rebuild approaching rapidly.

And reverting back to 10.5 Leopard.

Trying to get it to print is like playing eeny meeny miny moe. Sometimes it will and sometimes it won't.

The FAT32 partition on my external drive is now invisible. I asked it to save a file there >4Gb (4Gb is the limit for FAT32) but puh-lees, the drive doesn't have to become inaccessible because you couldn't store more data there!

Back to intensive spreadsheet work today.

I am absolutely not going to buy another apple computer for as long as their operating system cannot manage windows in a manner that does not interrupt and spoil workflow. Working with multiple excel windows open on a 13" screen is just a frustrating mess. Not for the first time do I regret the decision to buy a Mac.

As a toy for self gratification and entertainment the apple ethos works well - sales of the iPad and feedback from owners I've talked to confirm this. But as a serious work tool for handling data in tables this thing is just terrible. Every Linux mainstream distro uses a similar approach to windows, so why oh why can't Apple?

It's not so bad on a 20+" monitor, because one can size folders up and move them around more easily, but on a tiny screen it's just a nightmare. But of course I can't use my big screen because snow leper will not work with my apple adapter. In terms of productivity the windows approach is simply very much better at real world work tasks, and enormously less frustrating. When this machine is 3 years old and I can write it off - assuming I have enough income to do so - then it is going to be replaced, and good riddance!

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Fedora 14

has been downloaded, but not installed yet - apparently it's not a live disc like the CD-size versions. Having said that, it was listed as 3.1Gb and actually arrived as 3.4Gb - weird because the 64bit AMD version is only 3.3Gb (and they ALWAYS come up larger).

I like the look and feel of Fed 13, but some fonts are REALLY bad, with colour bleeding either side and smudgy patches. Some are fine, but not all applications can be instructed to use them, and this may be the deciding factor in the end. It would be nice to combine the best features of Fedora and SUSE, KDE and Gnome too, but then I'd probably end up with something very like Windows.

The dud Western Digital drive has got an RMA number and should be going tomorrow, so when it returns I'll do the install.

Still kind of wishing I'd bought a Solid State Drive instead of the Scorpio black, just to reduce the noise and heat a little more. The Scorpio is a great *performing* drive, but I wish it was quieter. Live & learn.