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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Mon, 07 Feb 2011

You do follow Debian on Identi.ca, don’t you?

If your idea of microblogging isn’t limited to Facebook and Twitter, Identi.ca includes a “group” membership mechanism through which you can more easily follow the kinds of notices that interest you than is possible on Twitter.

Once you join a group, all of the Identi.ca posts that include that group’s identifying tag, a word with an exclamation point before it — as in !Debian, will be included in your regular Identi.ca stream. It’s a great way to both read posts that interest you and to discover other people to follow who you might not have otherwise known about.

By the way, I have Identi.ca feeding Twitter (you can’t do it the other way around), so I’m on both services. It’s complicated enough that I have one source of news feeding Ping.fm, which in turn feeds Twitter, and then Identi.ca and Facebook.

But I use Identi.ca more than any of the others: It’s full of open-source-friendly people.

To see what Debian people are talking about on identi.ca, look at http://identi.ca/group/debian.

All you need to do, once you’re on identi.ca, is put a “bang” (or exclamation point, if you will) in front of the word that names your group.

Like this: !Debian

Firefox in Debian? It could happen

Word that the copyright/trademark issues that have had Debian renaming Firefox as Iceweasel might be resolved means that some day new users won’t be confused by a lack of Firefox and Thunderbird and the substitution of Iceweasel and Icedove (not to mention Iceape, Iceowl and whatever others I can’t remember).

I distinctly remember being puzzled when I ran my first Linux live CD, Knoppix, in late 2006. It took me a while before I figured out that Iceweasel looked and acted just like Firefox ...

‘Why Debian Matters More Than Ever,’ by Joe Brockmeier

Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier writes a timely and thoughtful article on “Why Debian Matters More Than Ever” to coincide with the release of Squeeze as the Debian Project’s stable release.

It is well worth reading.

A couple of tidbits:

Yes, Ubuntu has appealed to a wider audience than Debian ever did — but it was Debian that inspired Mark Shuttleworth in the first place to create Ubuntu. As Brian Eno once said of The Velvet Underground’s debut album, “Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band.” Likewise, Debian may enjoy a small percentage of the Linux market, but it’s inspired one hell of a lot of people to start their own distribution. … Debian’s most important contribution to the Linux community may be simply that it’s not controlled by a corporate entity. If 2010 taught us anything, it’s that having a single corporate sponsor can lead to a lot of uncertainty at best and total disruption at worst.
Sun, 06 Feb 2011

Debian Squeeze is now Stable

Now that this blog is running on Universal Time, I’m pretty sure that while it’s still Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011 in my particular time zone (Pacific), Monday has already been reached in UTC, and Debian Squeeze is now in its second day of being the Debian Project’s stable release.

And along with a “new” release, which many of us have been enjoying as Debian’s Testing distribution over the past months, there is also a brand new Debian web site. Even Planet Debian looks “refreshed.”

The best way to keep up with Debian news is via the project’s many mailing lists, a bunch of which I’ve been following of late. When that information is meant for the widest possible audience, it generally appears as part of the latest official news from the Debian Project.

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Sat, 05 Feb 2011

You can drop a photo into a FlatPress entry from the menu

Sweet! You CAN call in a photo from the menu after you’ve uploaded it. FlatPress uses BBCode to drop it in. I’m starting to think I need to learn a whole lot more BBCode than I do, even though FlatPress responds very well to straight-up HTML.

FlatPress themes

Look at the wiki for FlatPress themes. I’m overwhelmed a bit by how many themes there are to choose from, many of which have been ported from WordPress.

Fri, 04 Feb 2011

Two days till Debian Squeeze goes Stable

I’ve had this handy countdown graphic on Click for the past couple of weeks. Not that Debian is in the habit of setting release dates, but this particular image came about after the project itself announced that Feb. 5 or 6, 2011 would be the target date(s).

As I’ve written dozens of times by now. Debian Squeeze, still the project’s Testing branch, has been very stable for a very long time. To be sure, there have been little tweaks here and there, mostly in the design department from what I’ve noticed.

A lot of Debian users prefer running Unstable/Sid or Testing on the desktop. I may very well take that route myself. There’s also talk of a Constantly Usable Testing branch of Debian.

The last time I ran Debian full-time as my main desktop was with Lenny from late Dec. 2009 through mid-March 2010. I had everything running perfectly. If I had only known to (and how to) install a newer kernel before upgrading, my dist-upgrade to Squeeze way back then wouldn’t have gone as badly as it did.

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I haven’t started working on the design for I, Debian, but I will

I’ve made a few changes here and there, but thus far I haven’t started hacking into the CSS and the templates for this FlatPress blog.

But I will.

Thu, 03 Feb 2011

A Debian blog created with FlatPress

After writing my entry on CMS and blog software that doesn’t require a database, one of the commenters recommended FlatPress.

It’s not just the name (a play on WordPress, on the off-off-off chance that you missed that particular bit of wordplay). OK, a lot of it is the name. By way of explanation, it’s called FlatPress because it stores its data in “flat” files and not in a database, such as the MySQL that powers the back end of WordPress and innumerable other content-management platforms.

But it turns out that FlatPress is a very easy-to-install blogging platform that uses PHP, stores the entries in the aforementioned flat files, runs extremely fast, takes up very little disk space (1.9 MB after the files are uncompressed, 508 KB before you unpack it) and is refreshingly simple.

Part of that simplicity at the level this particular blog is at includes entering a lot of HTML (or BBCode) tags, and it’s not as easy to bring images into the system as it is with something like WordPress. But there is an uploader in the FlatPress software, and once you know where the files go, it’s easy enough to call them into the blog with the proper tags.

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This blog is set to Universal Time

I took the offset off of the UTC so this blog reflects when the entries were created in Universal Time.