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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.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Stuff Stoolpigeons Like 2

I finished the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix and I liked it. I'm almost done with Eureka and have started watching Longmire, which I really enjoy so far. (I think I'm 7 episodes in.) I have fun spotting BSG people when they pop up in stuff - caught a couple in the new Superman movie over the week-end. My family really liked Man of Steel. I've never been able to really get into Superman as a super hero.

I'm driving down to Vlora, Albania in a couple weeks to work at an English camp. Then we are going to take a ferry to Italy and drive home up through Italy with a stop to check out Pompeii and the area around there. Should be a lot of fun. We'll drive down through Serbia and Macedonia. All new places for me so I'm looking forward to it.

We've had a really strange spring and summer here, weather wise. It was cold, then it was flooding, then it got hot. Now it's nice again. Due in large part to the flooding (my guess) we have a lot of mosquitoes about so it makes it more difficult to enjoy the very pleasant evenings that have arrived. I'm so picky. I'm enjoying the weather though (and I never would have guessed this) I find myself looking forward to fall and cooler weather. I don't like bitter cold but fall and winter here are pretty mild and that I like a lot.

AWOLNATION - it's not life changing music but Sail is a fun song. I'm not afraid to like pop stuff.

I enjoy watching StarCraft replays. I pretty much only watch stuff produced by HuskyStarcraft. The guy is a great broadcaster. He has a series - Bronze League Heroes. I highly recommend it. A lot of fun to watch and makes me feel less bad about my StarCraft skills - or more appropriately the lack thereof.

Croatia is in the EU now. Just need to get it in the Schengen and I'll be a happy camper. Beautiful, beautiful country and not having to stop at the border will make it just that much more of an easy choice when we have some time off. GIS Split or Plitvice and you'll see what I mean.

I've enjoyed reading about the new consoles coming out - but it's funny - we have our wii and mostly still play gamecube games on it. We play a couple wii games but the most popular are the older games. By the time the consoles after these new consoles come out my son will be a teenager and we'll probably upgrade then. Though he plays a lot of minecraft - so that's newer so maybe we'll just stick to pc stuff. I dunno. He really wants a tablet - so we are waiting to see what the new Nexus 7 looks like.

Myself - I'm a casual gamer right now. I just don't have the time to dig into something that takes more commitment. I never even got very far into Skyward Sword. And that's just messed up. In fact if I did have time, that's probably what I would play.

All right - that's the current state of the entertainment world for the stoolpigeon. I'm not reading anything for fun right now - so no books. Maybe later.

User Journal

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.

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.

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