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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, 15 Oct 2012

Pencils -- it's a thing

Pencils are a thing. I started using pencils -- mechanical and wooden -- more and more over the past year.

I have lost most of my mechanical pencils. They seem to walk away. While I just bought a load of cheap Bics, I've been increasingly drawn to the traditional wooden pencil (ring the bell, take a drink, do what you would do whenever a bad pencil pun appears in an article about same).

Pens have lost their usefulness for me in my so-called work (writing, making and modifying lists, taking notes, etc). The ink bleeds, I make too many mistakes that need to be crossed out. With a well-sharpened pencil, my writing is clear. It's clean. I can erase. On paper, pencil marks don't smudge in the same way as those made with ballpoint (or gel) ink.

Overall, writing with a pencil is an enjoyable experience. That's the main thing.

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Raspberry Pi single-board $35 computer's RAM doubles from 256 to 512 MB

The all-the-rage Raspberry Pi single-board, ARM-based computer is a great device for embedded uses -- I'm eager to turn one into a print server -- but isn't well-appointed as a desktop substitute.

News that its memory is doubling to 512 MB (H-Online, RaspberryPi.org) and that all boards are being assembled in the U.K. instead of China while the price is sticking at is welcome.

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Fri, 12 Oct 2012

Developer not happy with direction of Ubuntu

Paul Tagliamonte writes a short post I found via Planet Debian titled Stuff that's bothering me about Ubuntu right now.

Many have complained about the Amazon results that pop up when you search even your local drive, but I haven't seen much reaction to Ubuntu's solicitation of donations in the boot screen for the live disc.

Paul is not in favor, and he frames it in an interesting way:

... begging for a handout when people Download Ubuntu — without an option to donate to Debian, which  composes over 70% of the Desktop, I get upset.

I feel cheated, and I’m not even involved on a day-to-day anymore.

I’m ashamed of what’s going on now, and I hope we find a better way to serve our users.
Sat, 06 Oct 2012

Google Chromebooks are looking better and better

Even though I guess I'm a "power user," I'm starting to agree with Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols' idea that Google's Chromebooks are a compelling choice.

If you're comfortable with Google services and doing everything in its cloud, or if you're doing it anyway, these devices are cheap enough, starting at , and due to their light Ubuntu-derived OS boot right away and run acceptably fast. They have a six-hour battery life. From an updates and security perspective, they're virtually maintenance-free.

If you lose one or it breaks, you just move on to a new one. All your stuff is in the cloud.

I'm pitching them to my company. Very soon now, we'll be able to do just about everything we do with a Chromebook. It's cheaper than an iPad, way more usable for things like writing, and the tight integration with Google is a win for those already committed to the search giant's services.