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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.

Fri, 19 Jul 2013

The H is closing down: A sad day for open-source news, for @fabsh and for the rest of us

I was saddened today to learn that The H, the English-language arm of Heise, is closing down. The reason given is the usual one: lack of revenue from advertising. It's hard to sustain an online news site with any kind of staff -- that much I know.

Caught in the middle of this is Fabian A. Scherschel, aka @fabsh (or just Fab), co-host of Linux Outlaws, who had been working for The H for about a year and a half. He already wrote his farewell to the site.

Becoming a working journalist really sharpened up Fab's patter on LO, and I hope he is able to continue in tech journalism, even if it's for the German-language Heise.

I'd like to take this opportunity to let you know that journalism, as an enterprise and a career, is pretty damn precarious these days. The pay-to-read model, in its current incarnations, is mostly a non-starter (though I really hope it's working for LWN), and it's hard to make money from traditional display or text advertising unless you have massive scale in terms of traffic and minimum cost in terms of staff.

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Tue, 16 Jul 2013

I never used Google Reader, but now I'm using Liferea, and it's changing the way I read the web

I've spent plenty of time generating RSS feeds as part of my day job, but I spent very little time consuming them.

I never used the now-dead Google Reader.

But all of the news of its demise led me to look into the idea of an RSS reader and what it could do to make the web more manageable.

That happened. I took the easiest route as a Linux desktop user and installed Liferea.

It's a great application. I've pumped in about 30 feeds of varying heft, and I can confirm that an RSS reader is a great way to read the web.

Mon, 15 Jul 2013

From the Guardian: We want privacy from the government, but we're open-freaking books on social media

An interesting piece from Lindsey Bever of the Guardian: We want privacy from the government, but we're an open book on social media: There's outrage about the NSA's 'spying' on citizens, but many of us are willing to share our personal lives and locations daily

The short version: Corporations know your every move because you're letting them track you. It's more like science-fiction-come-true than not.

Personally I don't let Twitter track my movements (though the Android app does ask), and I don't allow tracking in most any app I use on my phone.

But Google probably knows where I am due to data being sent from the Android device itself. We clearly need a way of anonimizing our web activity, especially from mobile devices that have tracking via GPS and cell towers pretty much baked into their hardware and firmware.

Readwrite.com: Why Citizen Developers Are the Future of Programming

A very thought-provoking article from Readwrite.com: Why Citizen Developers Are the Future of Programming: Just How Necessary is That Computer Science Degree?

Aside from the whole idea that what you did -- and how you did at it -- in college doesn't matter so much to the coder-hiring Googles of the world, this article shows how anybody with a desire to learn to code can in all likelihood make a living doing so.

As it's called in this article, the "self-taught coding movement" is a powerful way to immerse yourself in something and then find yourself quite employable as a result.

Igloo -- a 'hosted' intranet/social/collaboration platform

I actually clicked on an ad.

It was a sponsorship on John Gruber's Daring Fireball for Igloo, which offers Intranet-style collaboration and social tools for business of all sizes.

It's a way to share things and collaborate in the social style of Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive and more -- without the messiness of trying to do this in any kind of private or semi-private way on a wide-open social network.

Here's Igloo's less-than-50-word description:

Igloo is a modern intranet. It helps you work better with other people by keeping your content and conversations in one place. (It's also hosted and managed, so you can focus on your work, not your IT budget)

I know little more beyond what's on the page linked above, but I do know that for small businesses it's free for up to 10 users, and per user after that.

In terms of apps, here's what the Kitchener, Canada-based Igloo says about itself:

Every digital workplace includes team spaces; file sharing and document storage; activity streams; unlimited blogs, microblogs, forums, calendars and wikis; member directories and profiles.

Once you start really scaling up in terms of users, it gets expensive, but if you build your business around these tools, it might be worth it -- and per employee per month for this kind of functionality doesn't seem like much. If it delivers.

Have you heard about Igloo, or used it? Let me know.

Wed, 10 Jul 2013


From https://tent.io/:

Tent is a protocol that puts users back in control.

Users should control the data they create, choose who can access it, and change service providers without losing their social graph.

Tent is a protocol, not a platform. Like email, anyone can build Tent apps or host Tent servers, all Tent servers can talk to each other, and there is no central authority to restrict users or developers. 

Tent helps you keep all your data in one place that you control. You can choose a hosting provider or run your own server. If you want to move hosts later your data and relationships come with you.

Sounds pretty good to me. Here's more about it. You can try it here: https://tent.is/

Later: Looking at both of these sites, I can see using https://tent.is/ for traditional microblogging (Question: Can I feed it RSS?), but I'm not at all getting the bigger picture.

Marco Arment on why Internet lockdown is bad -- and happening all over again (and yes, that means Facebook is today's AOL)

Marco Arment: http://www.marco.org/2013/07/03/lockdown

Fedora 19: The laptop seems to be running cooler

I could be imagining this, but from what I can tell with my very scientific method, aka "feeling around the CPU fan," my laptop appears to be running much cooler under Fedora 19 than it did with F18.

For those keeping score, this is Fedora 19 with Xfce on an HP Pavilion g6-2210us with the AMD A4-4300M APU.

In an equally unscientific assessment, the hard drive seems no cooler than in F18.

But a cooler CPU/APU? I'll take it.

Re-adding Fedora to your EFI boot menu if you (like me) have the audacity to disconnect your hard drive

I'm now running Fedora 19, but this happened when I was still running Fedora 18 with UEFI on my HP Pavilion g6-2210us.

The Fedora installation created an entry in the laptop's EFI boot menu for Fedora 18. But when I disconnected the hard drive, replaced it with another for some testing, then reconnected the original drive, Fedora was no longer in the EFI menu.

I was still able to boot Fedora by navigating to it via the "boot from EFI file" function in the UEFI menu, so I knew where the bodies (i.e. Fedora's EFI partition) were buried.

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Tue, 09 Jul 2013

Fedora 18 to 19 upgrade with fedup: It's alive!

(Click the image for a full-size look at my admittedly vanilla Fedora 19 Xfce desktop)

Update: A preliminary test revealed that my fedup problems were networking-related. I'll try again with my home network tonight.

Further update: My home network was amenable to fedup. It wasn't pretty; the fedup process needs work. But it did work, and not only do I have a working Fedora 19 installation, I now have the AMD Catalyst 13.6 beta video driver via RPM Fusion, and my 3D acceleration problems with my new AMD APU have been solved.

Even further update: With the AMD Catalyst 13.6 beta video driver from RPM Fusion, I'm lacking the small lines on either side of my application windows, but I do have 3D acceleration, and -- more importantly -- for the first time in Linux on this laptop, I now have working suspend/resume, which you'll have to pry from my cold, dead hands.

A still further update: This bug report appears to address the lack of those small lines on the sides of windows.

Here I begin.

After a shaky start with Fedora's fedup update tool to bring my Fedora 18 with Xfce system to Fedora 19, I did manage to successfully upgrade my HP Pavilion g6-2210us (with AMD A4-4300M APU, which features AMD Radeon HD 7420G graphics).

After a curl error on my work network, I started the process on my much slower home network, quickly bypassed the error and started on the slow process of downloading 1,800+ packages.

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