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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.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 with Unity (in beta/daily build) NOT suited to Thinkpad R32

I know ... Ubuntu 12.04 is in beta right now, I installed a daily build, and my Thinkpad R32 is 10 years old and has only 512 MB of RAM backing up a single-core Pentium 4 CPU.

But this is not the hardware that can adequately run Ubuntu 12.04 with Unity.

Everything was slow, the laptop was swapping like mad, the Software Center crashed more than a few times, and I couldn't make HUD work (not sure what it's for, to be honest, if it works this poorly -- I couldn't make it actually do anything).

Trust me, Debian Wheezy with GNOME 3 (which could only run in Classic mode) wasn't this bad.

I'm downloading ISOs of a Debian Wheezy daily (or is it weekly?) build and Bodhi Linux 1.4.0 to try now.

Debian Wheezy with GNOME 3 is up next (again). I'll let you know how it compares to Ubuntu 12.04 with Unity.

Sat, 17 Mar 2012

Debian Stable -- set it and forget it -- spoils me for fresh Linux Mint 12 on some very nice ZaReason hardware

Spending a couple of days intensely running Linux Mint 12 on a very nice desktop PC sent to me for review by ZaReason (much more about that later), I probably shouldn't have been surprised by the annoying bugs in Mint that made me a lot less productive than I am in the Debian Squeeze system I've been running on my laptop since late 2010.

Not that Debian is trouble-free. It's just that I've figured everything out. And I don't have to reinvent this particular wheel every six months. If I hadn't done so in the intervening year and few months since I began running Squeeze, I'd have moved on.

But you can almost always figure out Debian. It's set up the way I want it. GNOME 2.30 is solid in a way that GNOME 3-point-whatever-Mint-is-using is not.

Read the rest of this post

Thu, 15 Mar 2012

I'm thinking VPS

I can't say I really, truly need it just yet, but I'm thinking of getting a virtual private server (aka VPS).

While shared hosting is doing the job for me right now, the ability to know exactly what kind of resources I can rely on and set up services exactly the way I want is compelling.

I would consider a BSD-based VPS provider, but right now I'm looking at Linode, which allows users to run a number of different Linux distributions.

On the other hand, a good shared-hosting provider (like Hostgator, which I use) does tend to take care of you in terms of maintaining things. You don't get to chose what version you want of many things (though you can jump from PHP 5.2 to 5.3, as I did to tap the Calendar app in OwnCloud).

And for good or ill, Hostgator has been very forgiving, technically, in allowing me to run Perl scripts, create MySQL databases, etc., with less fail than other servers and sites. And though it may be boring, the CentOS Linux distribution upon which Hostgator builds its servers is extremely reliable.

But what if I wanted to experiment with nginx, thttpd (or Perl 5.12 or 5.14)? For that, a VPS would be perfect.

Wed, 14 Mar 2012

Firefox/Iceweasel 11 a huge improvement? (Answer: No)

I've only been using Firefox 11.0 (known as Iceweasel 11.0 in the world of Debian GNU/Linux) for about a half-hour, but I get the feeling that it's a whole lot faster on the desktop than Firefox 10.

I'll report back when I've been using it for a few hours.

A few hours later: Nope, same old Firefox. After a few hours, it eats enough CPU and memory that you need to quit and restart.

The next day: My first Iceweasel start of the day and the thing hangs. I have to force-quit out of it. Lovely. I'm now using Google Chrome (and will probably be using freer, less-spyish Chromium when I upgrade to Debian Wheezy).

Rob Reed's new Logic theme for Ode

The more I see Rob Reed's new version of Ode's default Logic theme, the more I like it. I'm thinking of giving it a tryout on this site.

See every post in this blog on a single page

Ode is magical, all right. Click here to see all 110 posts in the blog on a single HTML page.

Or see all 110 posts on a single page as RSS.

Iceweasel 11.0 now in the Debian Mozilla Team's stable archive

The Iceweasel 11.0 (aka rebranded Firefox) web browser just moved onto my Debian Squeeze system via the Debian Mozilla Team APT archive.

I'd like to thank the developers for providing this service. Having new Iceweasel browsers on a periodic basis is a great way to upgrade the application many of us use most without messing with the rest of a good thing (that "thing" being Debian Stable).

Newer versions of Iceweasel are available in the archive. Just go to the team's page to figure out how to set up your system for the Iceweasel you want.

Debian Multimedia has repositories for Stable, Testing, Unstable, Experimental, Old Stable and Stable Backports

While I always use Debian Multimedia to bring in those proprietarily oriented bits that make things like audio and video work in my Debian Stable systems, I wasn't sure how well Debian Multimedia took care of users of other Debian builds.

A check of the repositories shows that not only does Debian Multimedia provide packages for the Stable release, it also offers packages for the Testing (Wheezy), Unstable (Sid), Experimental, Old Stable and Stable Backports releases.

Theoretically anyway, that means you can run a Debian Wheezy system and get those bits you need from Debian Multimedia now -- and not have to wait until Wheeze itself becomes the Stable release.


Tue, 13 Mar 2012

I think I've got it now ...

Dlvr.it was pushing RSS to Identi.ca and Twitter, and since I have the Twitter bridge connected between both services, I was getting one entry in Identi.ca and two in Twitter.

I removed Twitter from dlvr.it, so now dlvr.it updates Identi.ca and Identi.ca updates Twitter.

Problem solved, I think.

A confusing array of services delivering RSS updates to other services

I'm constantly looking at situations where a bevy of services like Ping.fm, dlvr.it, Hootsuite, Shoutlet, RSS Graffiti and who knows what else are sending updates to various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Identi.ca and Diaspora.

And often the social networks themselves are interconnected and exchanging feeds and posts.

It can get confusing.

The primary purpose of this post is to see if I've successfully untangled things for this particular blog.