Friday, 21 April 2017

Since we're talking IT - CRTs!

In the lab below where I presently sit there's a CRT monitor for a 10 year old computer (running Windows XP) and driving a microplate reader.

Yesterday I was working away analysing some data when one of our tenants wandered across and commented along the lines of "didn't it belong in a museum?" and about how large it was. The we actually started looking at the screen - rather than just reading the information - and realised that despite being only 17" across and 1024X768 resolution, it was displaying the information in a way that was clear, detailed and pleasing to the eyes. We could see individual pixels, but instead of being harsh and jaggy like a LCD, it was smooth and easy on the eye.

I'm typing this on my (old) 20" Sansung at 1680X1050, the main screen at home is a Dell 2412M running 1920X1200 and my laptop does 3840X2160, and is astonishingly crisp and clear. I don't miss the bulk of the old CRTs, nor their power consumption & the subsequent heat they produced, but I do somewhat miss the kind of image that they produced.

Ubuntu does something radical.

It's been a while since I posted anything about Linux, and more of my visitors use Macs than Linux boxes, but this seemed interesting.

Some years ago Ubuntu was the leading Linux distro. It was used as the basis for many other Linux flavours including Pear linux (that I used to love) Mint and a bunch of less memorable names.

There came a time when it seemed like the Linux desktop environment was trying to go all bleeding edge and make radical changes. Gnome (previously a conservative appearing design) launched version 3, dramatically different from before and somewhat difficult to use, losing a lot of users. Then Ubuntu went all Windows 8 and released the Unity desktop: designed to work the same across phones, tablets and even ordinary computers. Some lauded it, most either just got on & tried to use it or rapidly migrated to Mint with either Cinnamon or Mate desktops and safe familiarity. I tried it early on - it was fairly horrible, not very stable, and made Windows 8 seem intuitive and polished - but quickly binned it, sticking with openSUSE and then various flavours of Mint.

The world turns.

And so I've just heard that Ubuntu have ditched Unity as a desktop and gone to Gnome 3 as their default, now many iterations on and much better. And it also now looks like Fedora, apparently. I'm tempted to try it on my 'testing' drive, over-writing whatever is there at the moment (might even be Fedora - can't remember right now) just to see.

It would be nice if the creator of  the first Linux distro originally suggested to replace Windows on the desktop has found a formula that will give it as more mainstream appeal.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Like a well-used camping pump

Is how my lungs sounded this evening.

It's time to try to stop the bloat - I've reached 13 stone = 182lb = 81Kg - and so went for a run for the first time since August.

Managed the first mile without stopping, then paused at the turn-around point, gasping & trying to get my breath back without much success, before eventually conceding defeat on that point and running/walking the second mile home again.

Now dinner is done it's time for a shower and then a well-earned slouch on the couch with a DVD.

And a good cough.

Fake news and social media

More than a year ago I ditched my old Facebook account - it simply isn't helpful knowing what people and their children think, and I realised that I had become deeply ungracious towards what seemed like stupidity and worse.


A few people we care about communicate almost exclusively through facebook, and eventually I gave in just to keep in touch, restarting under a pseudonym. :p

Now here's the odd thing. I normally browse using ad blockers, and in the time away FB managed to find a way around them. That's fine - no amount of ads on FB will make a difference and I pretty much screen them out anyway. But this time the ads were different. Instead of fashion items it started out with ads offering to help me meet 'singles' who were, from the pictures, all US based and pneumatic to a degree that defies population distribution and normal physiology. Then I started seeing adverts telling me that famous people had died despite them still being very much alive.

For example:

It seems that fake news isn't just about politicians. I can understand about businessmen like Richard Branson (his 'death' was reported many times) for potential profit, but why actors, musicians or scientists?

It seems to me that there is a determined effort going on to undermine the concept of truth and how reality is perceived through the media, and it's not restricted to elections. I wonder what this is building up to (other than the next step on from post-modernist relativism). And yes, I do blame post-modern thinking for softening society to the point where it now accepts blatant untruths as real.

*edit* 24.04.2017
And another one.

Monday, 10 April 2017

The (other) great getaway.

So we're looking for a holiday later in the year. Our original plan was for a week in Crete, and we'd found what looked like a good deal with Thomas cook for an all-inclusive just outside Rethymno, but when I tried to book it a couple of weeks ago the transaction failed at the final hurdle, and their helpline had a 25min wait at 10pm. The website also advised not immediately re-booking, just in case the transaction had completed, so we left it & of course it hadn't gone through.

2 weeks on all the decent flights have gone and the price has gone up. :-((

Idle lunchtime doodling encourages freer thinking, and I just found flights and accommodation in Whistler for 1 week at <£700 each. A quick google for directions shows one has to drive past Furry Creek, which is a wonderful euphemism akin to beaver valley or something similar. And it's only 2 hours drive/140km from the airport.

But being practical, it's much more likely that we'll end up at the invitingly named Filoxenia hotel at a lower cost and about 40% of the travelling time. It will also be warm instead of cold.

But it IS tempting.

Now booked for Rethymno. Sorted. worked OK, though there was a hiccup that nearly scuppered things (selected flights, only for the site to decide the holiday wan't available when we tried to book) and it then selected Chania airport instead of Heraklion. Perseverance is the name of the game.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Backups are a good idea

But it's better to do them regularly.

I have just under 800GB to back up from this computer to an external HDD (USB3) with Duplicati doing the backup, indexing files etc. It's been going since around 1.30am this morning, and is about 40% finished. Most of that is images & related sidecar files. :-P

As of Monday morning it's about 85% done. I left the Dell behind to complete and took the Macbook to work instead: it's really odd using OSX again, and a bit clunky after using W10, plus everything runs ssllloooowwwwwwwlllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyy despite the SSD. Guess there's no substitute for raw computing power.

*edit 2*
Backup completed around 1.11pm this afternoon - that's 2.5 days almost exactly for >700GB data.

Good morning

Also known as another night where sleep is scarce. Had a glorious 6 hours last night, from 11 until 5am, and tonight the sleep thing isn't happening, at least from 11.20 to 1am.

I'm told it's over-rated anyway.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Just when you thought it was safe.

I got a cold back in January, with a vicious cough and a body that really didn't love me. Re-infection came along at the end of Feb, at the same time a Chris went down with a nasty cold, although that time I managed without time off. It grinds you down. The end of last week and beginning of this one was the first time I could reply, when asked how I was "I'm great, thanks".

Just when I thought it was safe.

We had a great weekend, out all day Saturday with some guys we'd never met before from all using their *film* cameras around Oxford. Pleased with my output from that, even though it was digital.

Monday night - nearly no sleep - and crept into work on Tuesday. Today I'm coughing again, though not as badly and don't feel as miserable as I have. It makes me want to ask sometimes, will I ever be well again?

Probably. Eventually.