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Journal Journal: PackageKit and Apper

Fedora has yum for installing packages and I am a big fan. In front of yum is PackageKit. PackageKit checks for updates and does some work on my behalf. As I use KDE - the gui provided for interacting with PackageKit is Apper. Apper has been around for a long time and it's a nice way to look for packages and software that I might want. I like to browse through it sometimes and see what is up. When it installs updates for me it lets me know if I need to log out or reboot for everything to be in effect.
 
The down side is that Apper absolutely sucks at letting me know what is going on. During a normal update what it presents as information to the user is usually completely disconnecting from what is actually happening. It will, for example, say it is downloading and sit at 10% for a long time and then suddenly jump to cleaning up and some much higher percentage. If there is a problem it will fail without really giving any meaningful feedback on what went wrong.
 
It's interesting because I would assume the point is to make it easier for people but in reality it does just the opposite. I really need to stop using it for updates and stick to only using yum from the command line. If I open up console and run a 'yum update' I get constant feedback of exactly what is happening. I never have the issues I have with apper. If it fails it tells me why and often gives me very useful suggestions on what to do to fix things. I love yum and how friendly it is. Apper on the other hand is just a way to cause myself grief.
 
I'm thinking about this especially today because it made my morning difficult. I haven't been in the office in quite a while. I knew I'd have a lot of updates waiting for my desktop system. Sure enough the little notifier icon was there. Now - I didn't initiate the updates from there. KDE now has a little panel widget that will let you start updates without opening apper up - but it sucks too. It gets ahead of itself and tells you that you need to log out/reboot before the updates are even all applied. So when I see the icon there, I just opened apper to the updates tab. I looked over what was available and told it to start.
 
It chugged along for quite a while and ultimately just sat there - doing nothing that I could tell. There was no disk activity - I couldn't see anything going on but it hadn't finished either. Eventually I killed it and restarted the machine as there was a kernel update.
 
Well - that created quite a mess. With yum I was eventually able to get it all cleaned up. I had some duplicate packages, some unfinished transactions and some other nonsense. So as I said, my new promise to myself is that all future updates take place in bash with yum.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fedora 17 and Scanning from HP All-in-One 3

I have an HP Officejet J6480 All-in-One that we use for printing and scanning stuff. It works pretty well. I had managed to avoid inkjet printers until the kids got to school age and then we needed color. So the ink thing is crazy (and I can't find the cartridges here in Hungary - which is really annoying. I think HP limits what they sell in different regions to control pricing. Stupid.) But other than that, I've been pretty happy with it.
 
When I moved our PC in the office out to the living room and hooked it up to the TV - I put my old laptop running Fedora 17 in its place. I'd never used that machine with a scanner before so I had to figure out how to set it up. I googled around a bit and found a few things I needed to install but the various parts were spread around, so here it is all in one spot.
 
I probably didn't need to install all these things. But I figured some might be helpful so I grabbed them anyway. Disk space is cheap. The packages I installed were

  • sane
  • sane-backends-drivers-scanners
  • xsane
  • simple-scan
  • skanlite
  • hplip
  • hplip-gui

Now I think if I'd done hplip-gui it probably would have pulled hplip as a dependency. As it was this took very little time. Just quick "yum install" and the package name. Once I had them all I ran hp-setup and walked through a little wizard that made it all work. It was very easy. Skanlite is the main KDE scanning application I guess and since I use KDE that's what I went with. It works pretty well and does what I want. I have just scanned stuff as images. I haven't tried messing around with OCR. I haven't used simple-scan. I just grabbed it to have other options if I needed to trouble shoot any issues.
 
The printer/scanner is on the network and not connected to the computer via usb. The HP setup program handled this without issue. The whole thing was just very, very painless and I love sharing stories of when Linux works so well.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Pretty In Pink

Just watched it for the first time. Nostalgia city. They should have kept the original ending.

User Journal

Journal Journal: CiviCRM Lesson of the Day

I have a little project this summer that I am building on top of CiviCRM running on Drupal. Our organization uses CAS for single sign on. And it's nice on the account of there is an easy to install and configure Drupal CAS module that just drops in oh so pretty.
 
I set up the site I'll be using to work on the project and I installed Drupal, installed CiviCRM and then I installed CAS. Then I logged in via CAS and that created a second user. I made that second user an administrator and started to mess about. The problem was I couldn't get to a lot of things, the menus (or the lack thereof) didn't make a whole lot of sense. I've never really dug into CiviCRM before so I wasn't sure what was up.
 
  Then today I took another stab at it and decided to turn CAS off and log in with my initial account. And it was all sunshine and happiness. Stuff worked, whole new menus appeared. Stayed logged in there, turned CAS back on and logged in with the other account in another browser and it's borked. I was a tad stumped. I dug around, looked at records in the database, and in general pondered. On a lark I pulled up the CAS user's profile in Drupal and filled in the fields that the module didn't fill in when it created the user. That did it. I'm not sure exactly why. Not sure if I will bother finding out. Just need to make sure going forward profiles are completed. Now you know too.

Security

Journal Journal: LuxTrust on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 3

Intro: I was complaining on social networks that the LuxTrust hardware tokens are forced upon all teachers in my country. That's a huge problem because I got my mother in law on Linux and this thing is very very badly supported. Officially the website say "Ubuntu 10.04" supported. Funnily enough, their website also doesn't mention Windows 8 as supported. Anyway, they're a useless company in my eyes... I wish them the most ill possible.

Here is my little test run:

So, I decided to test the LuxTrust support under Ubuntu GNU/Linux 12.04 LTS i686[1]. I installed a virtual machine from the ISO, and from that blank slate, I wanted to try how "easy" this is. Well, there you go, I downloaded their "middleware".

The good news: Ubuntu Software center presented it as installable and it installed it without apparently problems after clicking the Install. Good! If this were enough, I'd say "it's supported"[2]. Let's test it. So, I go to CCP-Connect, one of the few banks known to work well with LuxTrust under Linux. The thing needs Java[3], and I as expected, and I don't have it installed. I get redirected, at once to http://www.oracle.com/java. The sheer number of options is intimidating. If I weren't very familiar with Java, I wouldn't have a clue what to select. Now, this might be P&T Luxembourg doing it wrong, but the site you should send end-users to is http://www.java.com/. Never send an end-user to a developer site, it's a horrible mistake.

Anyway, I do what is needed and surprise[4], there is no Oracle Java for Ubuntu. A RPM and a tar.gz. Now, if I weren't who I am, I would be blocked again. So, I download the tar.gz and I'll be honest to you, dropped right to the command line, tar zxvf later to /opt, and doing an update-alternatives --install of the new java, oh, and while we're at it, make a symlink for the plugin [5]. Now, of course, I understand it's Oracle whom I have a problem with, but I bet that you won't get this documentation at LuxTrust and they sure as hell can't walk you though this. Of course, the way I did this, I'm now responsible for updating my Java. Of course, there is a PPA, but can I trust that? (I'll have to, if I want automatic updates, but you get the point, no?)

Now, going back to the banking site, it seems to run. I get to the point where I have to select their product and then a screen saying there is no signing stick. (Obviously, I don't have one.)

For kicks 'n giggles, I tried OpenJDK/JRE with the icedtea plugin. No surprise, but that doesn't work: gray pane instead of the applet, but other java applets works fine. So, Oracle Java mandatory. Heck, even Minecraft runs op OpenJDK for crying out loud!

At least their middleware didn't install some kind of daemon, which I what I would have expected with something called "Middleware".
Funny also: The Oracle Java VM warns you from running applets all the time, even the test applet on the java.com site. Scary. Well, not to me, but to a normal end user.

[1] i686 for a good reason, from what I read getting it to run is significantly harder on amd64.
[2] I knew that it wasn't going to work
[3] Wait, isn't that what dependencies are for... Naaaah, dependencies. Who uses that?
[4] Not really, I've been here before
[5] Probably better use update-alternatives for that one too!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Weird Youtube Chrome Thing 2

I have the oddest thing going on. Youtube videos that I play in Chrome on my Fedora box give the people high pitched voices. If I switch to Firefox on the same machine it is fine. So strange. I don't know if things are slightly sped up or what. Right now I just watch youtube videos in Firefox. I think vimeo or other sites work fine.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Netflix 4

There are 3 Netflix generated series that I know of - Lilyhammer, House of Cards and the 4th season of Arrested Development.

Lillyhammer looked a little interesting to me but I never got around to watching it. From what I saw it looked like it would get violent and that meant I'd be watching alone and I had other stuff I wanted to see with that time. Breaking Bad being the main thing. I only have so much free time for shows and even less for stuff on my own.

My wife was interested in House of Cards so we've checked it out. I don't know if we'll keep watching. It has some good acting and I really enjoy a lot of it. But there are portions that just push too far into my 'icky' zone. I think a lot of crummy stuff goes on in Washington but I'd like to hope that so much of it isn't concentrated into one couple. And if so, I probably just don't want to know. When episodes finish I just feel sad and I don't see that getting better. At first I liked it because no one was getting killed so that made it kind of relaxing. But it's gotten a little too gross for me. And I'm having a hard time with how he rubs what he does in the face of so many. I think the guy would go down eventually if that were the case. Anyway - I may just watch it occasionally to see if it gets better or if I get completely turned off to it. (so I just reread this in the preview and I'm cracking up - don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't watched but a lot of unintentional double entendre there.)

I never watched Arrested Development before beyond a couple episodes. A while back I started from the beginning and it just cracks me up. I find myself laughing so hard that sometimes I have to go back a bit because I miss stuff. I am in the third season now and we'll see how the new fourth season holds up. It is one of the funniest shows I've seen in a while. Right up there with the earlier parts of the American version of The Office.

The part that is interesting in a way is that on the one hand, this platform lets shows get made that I would never have seen on regular broadcast television. But it also lets the creators take it in directions that are more than I can handle from entertainment with some of the content. Not held back they can pretty easily exceed my rather conservative take on violence, sex, and morality in general. I can handle all that pretty easily in comedy because it is satire or farcical but when it is more serious I have a hard time. So I am at once hopeful for a Netflix original sci-fi series while at the same time nervous about the prospect. Not that it in some way harms me if someone makes a show I don't watch.

User Journal

Journal Journal: GameChanger.io

This is about baseball and feel free to read or ignore accordingly.
 
My son plays on a little league team. This year we started using the software associated with GameChanger.io And I have to say that it is really slick.
 
I should start with an admission that I never learned to score baseball games. I don't know what little things to write in the little boxes and other than K for strike I don't know what it all means. Of course beyond knowing how to fill in a score sheet there is all the knowledge required of knowing what the heck just happened and what you call it. A lot of it is subjective but not all of it - lots of rules and such come into play.
 
GameChanger doesn't make it so that anyone can sit down and score a game but it makes it a heck of a lot easier. First off - you don't need to know the little symbols and such any more. The app for scoring is very visible and walks you through what is happening. Now I'll be the first to say that a person who knows what they are doing with a scoring sheet has got to be faster on paper than a person using the app. I'll give that - and learning can't be that hard. But after the game is over, this thing is awesome.
 
Once the game is over I go home and sync the data. (If I run the app on my phone with data connectivity then it's constantly updating and people could even "watch" the game on-line.) Then I instantly have access to a wide array of stats for the game. It also generates a summary of the game that reads like a newspaper report - highlighting players who had a big influence and key plays. I have to think this thing is popular in the U.S. The headline to our last recap was "The DiÃsd Dodgers (Majors) can't capture shootout, lose 14-12 to the Ãrd Indians" It has a lot of highlights naming specific kids.
 
Another cool feature is that it's possible to have 3 coaches/admins for free. So we don't have to pay to use this. If parents want full access to all data they need to subscribe. I think it's a great business model and I know we sure appreciate being able to use it. Getting new equipment and even new balls is so expensive for us here that we appreciate anywhere we can save. And when I have any extra we try to invest that in outfitting the Hungarian kids with better equipment.
 
It's some really well done software and if you are involved in any kind of youth or recreational baseball program I really recommend checking it out.
 
It's funny having baseball here. On the one hand I'm stoked my son gets to play at all. We didn't expect that. The down side is that the level of play is really low. We lost last night because we finally played a team that wasn't horrible. Until now we've been undefeated but not because we are all that good. It was good for the kids to see that. I think they knew it intellectually but not in their gut. We play some other better teams next week-end.
 
My son had a great game except for the fact that he pitched for the second time ever (in a game) and struggled. I liked that too though. It gives him a chance to learn how to deal with struggling and adversity. I was curious if after the game he would say something about not wanting to pitch any more. He didn't. He said he wants to keep going. I try hard to make sure he always knows he only has to do that stuff as much as he wants to. I don't want to push him at all. But I prefer to see him not give up when he runs into some bumps. I want to see that carry over to things that are more important than sports.
 
He hit very well, except for his last at bat which came after his tough time pitching. He was still upset and struck out. He'd already had a walk and two hits so it wasn't a big deal but I hope it helps him see that emotions can put you in a downward spiral. That's another life lesson I want him to pick up on. I love that he's a big hearted kid and he really cares about things. But in life there are times when performance is crucial and performing your best means shutting down the anger/sadness/fear. A lot of that comes from repetition and getting used to the environment but on the other side is just learning to maintain calm and keep moving.
 
It's a lot of fun coaching and being out there. It's always amazing to me. I'll stand there and think, "I'm at a baseball game in the middle of Hungary. This is crazy." Pretty cool.

United States

Journal Journal: The Sexual Revolution Jumps the Shark 18

Three stories caught my eye this week, and a fourth hidden story was found because of the other three.

Apparently, homosexuals with the help of religious zealots have gained a new level of equality this week, with Lesbians in Florida now able to be charged with statutory rape under a rather odd rape law that that calls statutory rape "lewd or lascivious battery on child". I think that means seduction is now rape. And speaking of seduction being rape, while discussing this case, I had cause to look up The age of consent in Massachusetts, where I leanred that there too, seduction = statutory rape, but ONLY if the person under the age of 18 is "chaste". Elsewhere in Massachusetts law, apparently, is a stricter version which is about sexual penetration and only applies to girls younger than 16. So if you are a slut, you can't cry rape in Massachusetts.
 
This all jives in with the story from Elizabeth Smart on how overzealous Christian sex ed led her into a polygamous marriage with her kidnapper. I think the same people who wrote that Mormon sex ed curriculum wrote the Massachusetts law on age of consent.
 
And finally, just to bring it back around to homosexuality the Department of Justice now requires employees to have some pro-gay paraphanilia in their workspace- J. Edgar Hoover and his closet full of dresses would be so proud!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Distros and Packaging 1

I've been using Linux for a while now. I had a few false starts but once I was using it for work that was pretty much it and I don't think there's been any time since then that I haven't had at least one machine I use on a daily basis with some Linux distro on it. Almost exclusively RedHat/Fedora stuff but sometimes others for short periods of time.
 
For a long time I didn't really have a mental concept of the distro and all the software that it packaged as separate things. I just saw it all as one whole. And it's a really nice way to manage things. I've grown to really love the fact that when I pull updates for my system, I'm updating almost everything - not just the OS. I don't have too many programs installed that I didn't get via my package manager.
 
As I've continued to learn and I've become more cognizant of the projects that provide that software I've been able to see one of the down sides. I tend to not be as aware of software that isn't available that route. Or things are not as up to date many times. Another issue can be stuff that just isn't available at all. It's not really the end of the world, just something I've been thinking about a bit lately.
 
A good example is the python plugin for KDevelop. It's ready and it's out there, just not through the Fedora repos. This is open, community built stuff so I saw it as a chance to chip in. I found the people who package the other KDevelop stuff for Fedora and asked about getting involved, maybe in packaging this plugin. They got back to me quickly and were very kind. They gave me links to the appropriate documentation and suggested that I might want to start with something already in the system. As I read through all that I realized that getting involved and learning all the processes and what not wouldn't be a trivial task. I can totally understand how and why it would be this way. It's just that I don't have the time to navigate it all. So I just check periodically to see if what I want shows up as available. It hasn't yet but I think it's just a matter of time.
 
I wouldn't want to move away from this model. I do think there are opportunities to lower the barriers to entry. Maybe this is because I just don't understand the issues involved. I certainly want to be able to trust the Fedora repos. I don't want my machine compromised because any idiot can throw stuff in there. I wonder if there are ways to mitigate risks but make it easier to contribute.
 
I do think this is one huge plus for Linux over Windows. I really like my update/install mechanism on Linux much better than what I've got on my win machines. And I mean the way it can be used for everything. The repos I have enabled right now are from Fedora, RPMFusion, Google and Adobe. So it's not just the stuff from the distro itself.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Couple Reviews Coming Up

I've submitted a review for "The Human Division" by John Scalzi. I usually have pretty good luck with those getting accepted but if it doesn't I'll post it here in the journal. It's the latest (fifth I think) book in the Old Man's War series and it's pretty stinking good I think.

As soon as I finished it I started reading "Portal" by Eric Flint and Ryk Spoor. It's the third in the Boundary series. I read the first two over the last couple of weeks (with a break in the middle to read The Human Division) and I'm really liking the series. It's under the hard sci-fi category and I have had a ton of fun with it. It's also much more in the style of what I think of as more positive, adventure oriented sci-fi. It feels a lot like a bunch of my favorite stuff from the 50s. I'll review Portal as well once I get it done.

May cover some tech books this summer if I have time. I haven't written many reviews in a while and it's something I really enjoy. I just haven't had the time for a while. Anyway - I recommend both books mentioned above. The Boundary series really needs to be read in order. The Human Division does not require reading the other OMW books first. It wouldn't hurt but this doesn't rest too heavily on the previous books. In fact - if you wanted - you could read this latest and then go back and read the others and really enjoy it I think. Though the first 3 do need to be read in order. And the 4th is pretty optional. That's Zoe's Tale which is a retelling of The Last Colony from a different perspective. I enjoyed it but I think some people thought it was just the third book over.

I have really enjoyed everything by Scalzi that I've read except for Redshirts. Didn't care for that at all. But I will say this - he is efficient. I would say that Zoe's Tale and Fuzzy Nation are both smart ways to capitalize on his current position. And I don't say that as a bad thing - because I really enjoyed them both and frankly anything that keeps the guy writing more sci-fi is fine with me. So some may criticize the guy but I think he's smart. Now if either of those sucked I'd be less positive about it - but the guy is just solid.

Not sure what I'll be reading for fun next after Portal. I've been casting about for some good fantasy after all this sci-fi but haven't bumped into anything that really grabbed me yet. Feel free to throw me some suggestions below.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The New Google Maps

I requested and got access to the new google maps. I would imagine they are rolling it out pretty quickly.

It's pretty nice. I think the search interface is much better. It's easier to look at the results as they are shown on the map. It's pretty spotty for where I live. I did a search for tire places and some showed up but lots of them around me did not. I'm not sure how they get on there - if it is something the businesses need to do themselves or there is a missing link in the chain somewhere else. I still saw more than I expected to find. I needed to search in Hungarian but that makes sense.

A search for restaurants by where I live was really lacking. This makes me wonder how useful maps will be for travel.

The cards that come up for search results are really nice. I like that interface quite a bit. I like how it fits in with the way that Google Now presents information. The only issue I've had with Google Now so far is that it tries to anticipate what you want and can give you information you don't want. To be specific, when the Penguins were playing the Islanders in the first round - I googled the Islanders following one of the games to look at the team roster. A day or two later, google now gave me a card showing the results of the previous nights game - that I hadn't watched yet. I removed the card and the alerts stopped. I'm glad I hadn't googled the Penguins or maybe I'd have kept getting updates.

This is also a reminder that everything I search or do logged in with my google account is being recorded and acted upon in one way or another. I know this wont sit well at all with some people.

Finally - I can't see all the features of the new google maps. It tells me I'm running in "Lite Mode" because I'm on Linux. You only get the full experience on Mac, Windows or Chrome.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I'm not dead yet 1

Haven't been posting much - life has been keeping me busy. What are the latest haps in the pigeon roost?

Welllll - let's see. My wife is going to the US in June and my girls are going to a summer camp while she is gone. That means the boy and I get a week to kick it together. I'm really looking forward to that. He's 10 now and we have hit a point where we can have a lot of fun together. I help coach his baseball team, we have a little running foosball competition and we've had a blast watching ice hockey together this year - Go Pens! So I'm really looking forward to that.

In July the whole family will be spending about a week in VlorÃ, Albania. It's an old city - so old I'm really having a hard time getting my head around it. We'll be helping to staff an English camp there. After we will try to take a little holiday - maybe to Greece or Italy. Depends on the budget and time considerations.

Around all that I'll be working on building a contact management system for our campus team in Lviv, Ukraine. I'm not sure just what I am going to do - I'm a bit resource constrained. Right now I'm looking at building something using CiviCRM as a base. It's just me and no money - so I need a platform that will do most of the work for me right out of the box. We'll see. If it goes well I think I'll be able to bring some dollars to the process and get someone to build something beefier.

I've got some mobile dev work I want to start planning out as well. Which will also probably end up being contracted out. I sort of wish I could still spend day to day time writing code but it isn't in the cards. When I do have time I'm just too stinking slow and what I write probably has immense issues I don't even see. Got to leave that for the hobby stuff on my own time.

Weather is really nice right now here in the Budapest area. I need to get down town more. I was thinking about that today. Need to start taking some long lunches downtown. Bring my tablet and do some work from a cafe or something. I don't want to end up reaching the end of our time here and realizing I didn't take advantage of the location enough.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Android Studio

Announced at the google thing - Android Studio. It's an Android IDE built on the community version of the IntelliJ IDE by JetBrains. Here is a video of the demo. It jumps about half an hour into a much longer video and runs a couple minutes or so - then they move on to other stuff I didn't watch.

I own a couple JetBrain products - the pro version of IntelliJ IDEA and PyCharm. I probably posted about it when I bought them - I like the tools but the fonts are just a wreck on my 64 bit Fedora box. So much so that I just don't use it. With the Python plugin and php support on KDevelop I haven't thought about them much. (On an unrelated note - another editor I really like Komodo Edit - since it is built on Firefox tech it has the opengl issues I've mentioned here before.) Anyway I downloaded Android Studio to see - as all it cost me was a few minutes of time and some hard drive space.

I fired it up and created a little fake project. The fonts look good. This made me curious. I fired up IntelliJ, saw that there was a new version, installed that - and it looks good too. This is so sweet. And I don't know if this is because something is now better in Java, IntelliJ or Fedora - and I don't care.

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