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Journal Journal: The first 5 minutes with an iPad 9

Work is using iPad mini tablets for a project. They gave me one so that I could better support the project.

I've been busy and out of town so this morning I finally got to unbox it and set it up. The box is nice. The tablet itself feels heavy. The instructions to set it up and feedback were awkward. There was a little spinner thing and sometimes it would be spinning so I'd sit and wait to see what was going to happen but nothing would happen. It was waiting for me to hit "next". The next button was not always in the same place.

Whenever I had to type something I realized that the iOS keyboard is horrendous. It is so very, very bad. I always hear that people can't use Android because it isn't quite polished enough. How does any person use that horrible iOS keyboard, if they are picky about things. You can't even tell if you are typing upper or lower case unless you look to see what color the little shift key is. Unreal.

And it apparently wont charge off my desktop or laptop because those usb ports don't send enough power. Really? I read that turning off the screen will allow it to charge very slowly. So that's what I've done.

How do people make such a big deal about this platform. I haven't even gotten around to actually using it and I already don't like it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: DeviantArt thinks this is spam 2

[Just saving this here in case I need to point to it. Long story short - never try. Someone posted a question. I wrote an answer. Then wasted five minutes signing up because DA pretends you can comment when you don't have an account then hits you with the sign in barrier. So you sign up, enter lots of crap, open Yahoo mail to retreive the confirmation email, confirm, then you're landed me on an unrelated page. So I had to back out until I found the comment form in my history. Fortunately the comment was still there. Then I resubmitted it. "DeviantArt can't post this message because we think it is spam." Uh, what? So I cut the comment, reloaded the page - in case there were expired magic tokens or some other never-works-in-practice anti-spam crap, repasted, and got the same message.

So.... then I said "Screw it", and tried to cancel the account. Which it refused to do, because it had forgotten my password. I knew my password, but no, DeviantArt thought I didn't. (OK, perhaps I made a typo when setting it up, but just curious DA assholes: you prompted me twice for my email address, which I can read, and which you're going to send me a confirmation email to anyway, but only once for the password which I can't read because each letter's replaced by a black circle. Does this make sense to you? No? Me neither.)

But, of course, DeviantArt didn't need my password anyway, it jsut insisted on it. You see (1) I'm already logged in and (2) DA's going to send a confirmation email to that email address I had to enter twice. But, fuck, OK, send me my password reset thingie. What's that? You can't? Not until I log out? Oh. My. Fucking God.

Last action on my part while still logged in is to send a nastygram to the person who wanted help. OK, it was polite actually, but I was seething.I actually signed up to DeviantArt to show you. Unfortunately DA says my comment is "spam". There are no links, it's just a list of instructions. To add insult to injury I can't now cancel the account as it reports the password - the one I set five minutes ago - is incorrect.

So, anywho, log out, remind password, open Yahoo mail, click on link, reset password, log in, close account, yes I'm sure, re-enter password, open Yahoo mail, click on link, YES, I already said YES SEVERAL SODDING TIMES you DICK. Why? You're asking me WHY? You call me a fucking spammer because I try to help someone? Reason entered. Yes. OK. Closed.

No good deed goes unpunished.]

It's not pretty, but I found you can get by by using unity-2d-panel.

1. Make sure you have Cinnamon set up to only show a bottom panel.
2. Open a terminal and run "gnome-session-properties"
3. Click "Add", and in the dialog box that comes up enter "unity-2d-panels" in both the Name and Command field. Save and close.
4. Restart your Cinnamon session.

This, obviously, only works if you're running Ubuntu. It may not work in very recent Ubuntus - I recall reading somewhere Unity 2D is not supported in more recent versions (I'm running 12.04) - if in doubt, before doing any of this type "which unity-2d-panel" at the command line and see if it can find that application or gives you an error message.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chrome New Tab Behavior 4

Opened up Chrome this morning and the page it loads on start is not my apps - which is what I want to see immediately. I had set it to always start with apps. Thought to myself, "Huh, I must have accidentally switched it somehow." and started looking to fix it.

Noticed that there is a new item on my bookmark toolbar that is called apps.

Do a little searching and realize that this is how it works now. I can't change it back through settings - looks like it will take poking around in the guts of chrome or finding an extension that fixes this.

What do I get instead of my apps? 8 thumbnails of my most recently visited sites and a google search text box. Right below my omni bar which I use to search with google. Now I have to add in a click to a little icon up in the corner - it feels and looks very much like using the corners on my wife's new windows 8 machine. Which is pretty funny if you think about it.

On a side note - Windows 8 isn't that bad in my opinion (for windows). My wife really likes it and I think it's pretty easy to use. It still has some annoyances that Windows has always had and maybe a couple new ones, but on the whole I think it's pretty similar to win 7 with some nice additions. Her laptop does not have touch but we haven't found it to be an issue. But I wander.

I guess Google beta tested this new tab behavior and received tons of negative feedback. I found this article saying be glad the new tab changes wont make it out of beta but unfortunately that guy was wrong. I found a google groups thread asking for feedback and it's almost completely against the change - but that apparently didn't outweigh whatever other considerations were pushing for the change.

I don't care if they want to play with the most viewed sites format - but I really don't understand taking away my ability to choose the apps view instead and forcing me to an extra mouse click to get to it. Seems to be the wrong direction.

Enough griping for today - got stuff to do.

User Journal

Journal Journal: California Scholarships for Undocumented Immigrants 2

I just read an article that interviewed a few kids taking advantage of college scholarships even though they aren't US citizens. Undocumented Students Get First Grants
I'm all for immigration reform and I think the US ought to be embracing immigration from Mexico in a big way. But this article made me sad. Look at what these kids want to study. Psychology? In my house we call that "getting a degree in retail management." Mostly because everyone I know with an undergrad degree in psych works as a manager in retail.
Please - give them scholarships - in fields that we need. medicine, technology, engineering - something. Not psychology and political science.


Journal Journal: On the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app" 9

In the past few weeks different people came to me with the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app". If you feel targeted, you probably are, but you're not the first, and you won't be the last. Some even trusted me enough to tell me what their great idea was. Many, though not all, couldn't code their way through a paper bag and thus they look for someone "to code the app for free".

You even might find someone like that, and if you do, it's someone with a lot of time on their hands like a student with not much experience.

What those ideas (if I get to hear them) all have in common is that they need infrastructure behind it. Uploading pictures, movies, heck, even simple text need a place to be stored. That's definitely not your phone, especially if others need to be able to access it. Yeah, you can start off with hosting a little database and web front end on your DSL line (if you have one), but in the long run this will require some serious money. I'm not even talking about the people managing and creating it for you. I'm just talking about bandwidth, storage, electricity.

So, if you have an app idea, assess where you want to store what: if you have no concrete answers to those questions, shelve your idea until you do.. An app is nothing magical, it requires real resources, real work and thus real money.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Windows Sound

I was doing some work and listening to music. The music was coming from the desktop that sits in my entertainment center, connected to my TV via hdmi. I'm no audiophile and my tv's audio is good enough for me. It was playing an Audioslave album in Google Music.

In the middle of a song the audio just cuts out. Total silence.

I kick over to a regular tv channel and it is fine. So the tv works.

I check the volume control and nothing is muted. Then I start digging around and there are a crazy number of places that have audio options/hardware settings. I was thinking, "Man I wish this was KDE - so much easier." I finally tracked it down. I'm not sure what happened - maybe an update to a driver for the audio stuff? There's a new audio manager program and I have no idea what started it or why it decided to change my default audio device, but it did. The machine had been up and running for quite a while. And the easy to find interface wouldn't let me switch the default. I had to find another menu via the control panel.

Pretty funny.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sunday Comics

I never thought about this before. I was 11 when Bloom County started and 26 when Calvin and Hobbes ended. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to read both as they were published.

I don't think either have been matched since. Not for a guy growing up anyway. I don't want to take anything away from Trudeau and others. But for me that was an amazing thing that my youth and those strips lined up so perfectly.

User Journal

Journal Journal: And the wheel turns 2

Yet another cutting edge, value adding software project cut because the stock market went down.

The manager who told me in 2001 that any project that takes over 4 months to be complete is a failure, has been proven right in my career more often than he's been proven wrong. 2 quarters, that's all you ever get to show success anymore.

Oh well. This one was good resume fodder for next time. But I'm glad I never got around to buying my own whiteboard pens.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Journal Archiving re-re-re-revisited 3

I have written many times about how much I'd like to have a tool to archive my journal entries here. I've also written about the very nice tool that LeoP made. (wow - I wrote about it four years ago) But that sucker is now broken.

It probably says a lot about me that I'm interested in saving these. It's just me rambling on and most of it is rather limited in the length of time that it is relevant. But there's a part of me that doesn't like the idea that if slashdot is shut down tomorrow that all my journal entries go with it.

So anyway - I took a couple stabs at getting things working but usually got stuck and just got busy with other stuff. But now I have a script that I think will work.

I am not a proper programmer like Leo. There is no error handling. You need to put your username and password into the script. And I ran into a really odd case that I haven't handled yet that made it break. I had a journal entry listed, but when I followed the link to the entry I got a message about it not being there or that I couldn't see it. Strange. I hit the "edit" link from the list. That brought it up. I saved it from there and now it seems to be working properly. I've started the script again to see if it gets past it. (it did)

I'll post the script here and link to it so you can grab it if you are interested. I don't know what happens if you don't have a subscription. All this is built around how the site works for me right now.

I think it is also worth pointing out that it is rather slow. It takes anywhere from 1.5 - 3 seconds per journal entry. It took 52 minutes to download my 1,436 entries (Don't look at me like that). It doesn't look like it is doing anything when I run it in Konsole - that is because it outputs the html of each page and they always end the same. But it should either print out DONE when it finishes - or stop when it hits an error. I know, pretty amazing work.

Each entry is written to a text file. In the file is the url to the entry, the timestamp from when it was written, the title and the body. The body is in html format with the div that is wrapped around it in place.

Another file is created, linklist which will have every journal url in it. (without the http: part - it starts //)

I have not done anything to save comments yet - though I think I'd like to get that in there too. Quite a few of my entries are worthless without them. But that will have to wait for another time.

You can see it below or just download it.

It should also be obvious - but just in case- you will need Python 2, twill and beautifulsoup installed to use it.

from twill.commands import *
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup

nick = 'your nickname here'
password = 'your password here'
uid = 'your user id here'



all_links = showlinks()
lf = open("linklist",'w')

urllen = 25 + len(nick)

for item in all_links:

        if item.url[:urllen-1] == "//"+nick+"/journal" and len(item.url)>urllen:
                jurl = "http:" + item.url
                soup = BeautifulSoup(show())

                journalid = soup.find('span',{'class':'sd-key-firehose-id'})
                bodytag = "text-" + journalid.string
                titletag = "title-" + journalid.string
                entrydate = soup.time.string[3:]
                entrytitle = soup.find('span',{'id':titletag}).text
                entrybody = soup.find('div', {'id': bodytag}).prettify()
                journalfile= "jfile" + journalid.string

                f = open(journalfile,'w')


User Journal

Journal Journal: An interesting satori 1

I am significantly less bothered by individual acts of sin, both in others and myself, than I am by collective attempts to redefine sin as not-sin.
Even in authoritarian terms, forgiveness outweighs justice.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Pulled the Plug on Nvidia

I couldn't take all the problems and constantly fighting with my system any more. This morning I took the Nvidia card out of my Linux desktop. I plugged the second monitor into my little Windows laptop and I hooked up my main monitor to the on-board intel video.

All my issues are gone. All my software runs, the system does what it should, looks the way it should, etc. I'm not thrilled to have to work this way - synergy makes it a little more palatable but this is where I'm at for the time being. A little while down the road I'll try it again and see if things improve but for now I've got stuff to do.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Recent Travel 1

The family and I spent a couple weeks out and about. It was pretty fun - and a little stressful at a couple points. The stress parts were due to our ignorance mostly.

July 12th we drove from our home near Budapest down to Tetovo, Macedonia where we spent the night. Tetovo was a bigger place than I anticipated and I did not know it's inhabitants are mostly Albanian and Muslim. So when we rolled into town around 9 pm it was super busy as the sun had gone down and folks were out and about. It was a lot of fun. We had a light dinner and crashed as we were hitting the road again the next day.

Oh - when we crossed the border into Serbia they gave us a flyer encouraging us to drive safely. That's the first time I've seen that and I thought it was smart. I don't know if it helps but it seems worth making the effort.

We left Macedonia in the morning, on our way to meet friends in Tirana, Albania. All our driving to this point had been on good motorways. As we got closer to the Albanian border it switched. I was following the GPS and we'd never driven this way before. Our Garmin and my lack of familiarity with driving outside EU/Schengen were about to make the day interesting. The first wrinkle came as we were winding our way through the mountains - I looked at our track and realized we weren't doing what I'd seen when I'd previously looked over the route on google maps. We'd swung north when I thought we'd head south. I called my buddy in Tirana, but just as I started talking to him we rolled into the border crossing. So I got off the phone and told him I'd call him back once we were through into Albania.

The Macedonian border guard took our passports and car papers. He asked for our "green paper" and I said, "You have it there." I thought he meant our vehicle registration. What he actually meant was our insurance paperwork for the car. I had a paper proving I had paid for insurance but the not green paper showing what countries they covered. I had until this point never known we had or would need such a thing. (Being an American with little experience driving about here bites me in the butt on occasion. I'm learning slowly.) He said, "Well, we don't know what we are going to do with you. You should not have been allowed into Macedonia, you shouldn't have been driving around in our country without proper insurance." So it was a little tense for a while as we waited and a few men conferred. This guy was rather imposing and took some time to shout at some Albanians for a while who were coming into Macedonia. Finally he said, "We are just going to let you go. You are leaving, so you can't have problems here now. But this is a once in a lifetime, never again thing. When you get to the Albanian crossing they will make you buy insurance." We were just relieved to get going and we moved ahead to the Albanian side. They didn't ask or say anything about the insurance, so we were good.

Once I got through all that I called my friend back. He said, "You went the wrong way and you need to turn around and go back." I said, "I really don't want to try to go back into Macedonia. I feel fortunate to just have gotten out without any trouble." He said, "Well you are on a bad road and it is going to take you a lot longer."

He was right and it probably added 3 hours or so onto our trip to Tirana. The Garmin didn't have correct data to differentiate between different roads. What we were on was rough but it kept wanting me to turn onto stuff that was completely impassable in our Avensis. So we stopped occasionally to ask for directions. We stopped occasionally for sheep and cows too. The scenery was stunning. We were in the mountains and saw beautiful rivers, farms and lakes. It was just very, very slow.

We made it to Tirana and driving around in that city made me yearn for the country roads. It was an insane free for all of traffic. The city population has outgrown the infrastructure and it was like muscling yourself through a packed crowd in a club - but behind the wheel. Fortunately after meeting our friends and getting a quick lunch we were on our way down to Vlora.

Vlora is south, on the coast. Driving continued to be a bit crazy but when we got to our hotel the scenery was just breathtaking. We loved it. We were there a week, tutoring Albanian students in English. It was a blast. I'm a pretty reserved guy. My wife was thrilled when we learned to dance in traditional Albanian style and danced together for the first time since our wedding. (The first and only time I've ever danced prior to this trip.) The students were mostly university students from the area, with a few highschool students mixed in. They were a blast. When the young guys found out I worked in IT they would always ask me if I "hack". It was pretty funny. They weren't using it in the positive sense at all and I always laughed and told them I spend some amount of time working on not being hacked rather than trying to hack others.

The food was good, the music was good, the scenery was stunning and it was just a super pleasant time. I like the Albanians relaxed take on time. I never felt like I was in a rush. I also had a friend back in Hungary get the insurance papers I needed and he emailed me a copy of them and I printed that out.

When we were done, rather than going home the way we came we took a ferry from Vlora to Brindisi, Italy. We drove from Brindisi to Pompei. It was beautiful countryside and my first visit to Italy. It was amazing and I had to be careful to keep my eyes on the road. We spent the better part of a day touring the ruins of Pompeii. The next day we went to the top of Mount Vesuvius. We went right from there up to Florence. (We didn't have a lot of time before I needed to get back to work.) We didn't scratch the surface of Florence but walked around to a lot of the more popular sites, visited the DaVinci museum and the Academia museum. We were there two nights and then we drove back home. It's about 10 hours from Florence to where we live. How close things are in Europe still blows my mind, especially when I actually experience it.

I don't know if my kids really appreciate how fortunate they are to get to see and experience all of this. My son's favorite part of the whole trip was looking for cool rocks on Mount Vesuvius. I think he gets burned out pretty quickly on looking at old churches and statues. My wife and I though, we were just in awe for almost all the time we were gone.

We were in down town Budapest this last week-end. (Not many people out - maybe because it was crazy hot or maybe everyone was up at the Hungaroring track, either way it was fun to have so few tourists around on a summer day.) And I have to confess, having visited Florence has tempered some of my view of the city. Which bothers me a little. But Florence was just so crazy amazing. And I love Budapest but man. It gives me interesting stuff to think about anyway.

I'm back in my office. We wont go anywhere for a bit. In September I'll be back in Albania but that will be a short trip to train some people. And we have so many, many places we still need to see but a part of me just wants to go back to Italy and see all the other things we haven't seen yet. Though I think our next family trip will be to Germany. We still haven't visited my mother-in-law's home town there. My wife really wants to do that and so do I. And while I love the Mediterranean flare for life and food, I look forward to the German approach to driving.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Video Sadness

I was reading this front page story about a 3 monitor set up and I have to confess that it made me feel rather inadequate. I don't want three monitors - I just want two but it's a real pain. I got home and back in the office last week and ran updates on my fedora machine. I don't remember where things stood last I checked but as of that update - starting Firefox means my systems completely locks up and I have to force it to shut down with the power button. Chrome works - but if I close it after using it for a bit - same deal. The entire system locks up and nothing I do with keyboard or mouse has any effect. I have to power it down and start it up again. This is all with the Nvidia drivers. If I try to run the Nouveau drivers I can't get the system to boot at all - which is fine as they didn't work well before anyway. The proprietary drivers sort of work - with the exceptions noted above.

Oh - shut down/restart wont work from the launcher. Nothing happens. I have to open a terminal and shut down from the cli. Locking works but only to lock and unlock. Trying to switch users ends up with a non-responsive machine that must be hard powered down.

It got to me enough today that I thought about switching distros. Because I see a lot of people are using KDE and Nvidia and not having all these issues. But maybe it is my card and so it wouldn't matter. Plus I know Fedora best so I'm reluctant to change. I could go back to using the on board video and one screen but I really don't like working that way. Maybe I will have to do it though. I'll give that some serious consideration this week. A lot of what I do on the second screen is looking up documentation and what not - windows is good enough for that so my little travel laptop hooked up to the second monitor would suffice.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I Can't Leave Well Enough Alone 10

My desktop machine at work is now running Fedora 19. It just came out, I'm busy - what the heck is wrong with me?

So something about how stuff works regarding the nvidia drivers, the kernel and what not changed. So that saga continues. Getting both my monitors working was a real exercise in pain. I tried a lot of stuff before I ended up with it working and I went down so many different trails that I don't remember for sure how I got here so I'm not even help to anyone else. Stand out moments were that lots of paths that included just plugging in the card and both monitors led to lock ups at various points in the booting up or getting KDE going process. So while I don't remember specifics I can say that in general- I did the main install using the on board video (intel) and a single monitor. When I got that all working (mostly) then I put in the Nvidia card and hooked it up to a single monitor. Then I installed the nvidia drivers. All was fine (mostly) and it was hooking up that second that made everything go square shaped.

What fixed it? I don't freaking know. The order of how things went? What was hooked up first and then second? I really don't know. I just know now that the nvidia drivers are working and it is using both screens and they look rather nice. That's all I know.

Oh but get this -- I posted a lot about my struggles with Firefox. Well right at this moment Chrome crashes X and kicks me back to logging in. Firefox works fine - and google hangouts works fine with Firefox. What?! I don't know. I can't explain it. It just is what it is. Starting Chrome makes SELinux complain - maybe that's related. Maybe the Google folks will fix it at some point. They update Chrome pretty regularly. I like Fedora better anyway. And Opera works fine. Konqueror too of course. Oh man - there were some early attempts where Konqueror was all that worked and those were fun times.

I've got the new kscreen deal for setting up screens. And it's so much better than the old stuff but frankly I'm terrified to go anywhere near it right now. I'm sort of scared of messing stuff up. The nvidia x server settings program runs and that seems sufficient. I had fun earlier when using either of them locked up the system and it wouldn't take input from the keyboard. That went away do to some amazing, smart thing I did without knowing it.

It's not all that crazy different from my F18 setup. Oh - I've got MariaDB now instead of MySQL and they don't have the MySQL workbench (data modeling is still borked) in the repos any more. I can't say I'm totally on board with this decision. Now I've got to keep track of it and update it when appropriate. And I get that Oracle is the evil - but whatever. If I'd been running the world back in the when it would be PostgreSQL everywhere and I wouldn't even have to worry about this.

Here's a fun error message that apparently doesn't really matter - "A start job is running for Wait for Plymouth Boot Screen to Quit." Have fun parsing that puppy.

User Journal

Journal Journal: MySQL Workbench on Fedora 18 64 bit - Updated

Update -- The query and admin functionality all seem fine. It's just the modelling portion that tanks.

Not sure what happened but the data modeling portion (maybe more - haven't checked) of MySQL workbench is completely unusable on my Fedora 18 machine. I've tried everything I can think of and Google doesn't turn up anything - so I don't know what the cause is, but I can't use it. Which is too bad. I like the tool a lot. I get it up and going but pretty quickly it becomes slow to the point of appearing unresponsive. Later when I feel like messing with it more I'll try to dig around and see if I can figure it out. I don't have to use it - I can just write out everything but sometimes visual tools like that help me process - and I could draw it on paper but it's nice to make my picture and then just get my sql with it automagically.

And while I'm here - in somewhat related news - I reported earlier that swing fonts were looking better on my system and I wasn't sure why. I can now confirm that if I don't use OpenGL as my compositing type they don't look so good. The java options for font rendering seem to have no impact but if I switch compositing to XRender the font appearance become crappy. This is with the NVidia driver. So that feels a little bit like less of a mystery.

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I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman