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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, 31 Jan 2014

A great meditation -- in eight parts -- on programming from Perl coder Buddy Burden

Buddy Burden writes a great eight-part series, Perl and Me, on his approach to programming, how he came to code in Perl and what he thinks is wrong (and right) with the profession and teaching of programming.

It's not all about Perl, though much of it is. Every programmer should read it.

My favorite is Perl and Me, Part 7: The Most Powerful Weapon Which You Can Use to Change the World

I would offer a few quotes from Part 7, but the whole thing is so good that you should just go read it now), then go back to Part 1.

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Skype update for Linux fixes nothing

So I heard about an update to Skype for Linux (thanks, OMG!Ubuntu) that is supposed to fix some general noise and PulseAudio issues.

Since Skype's RPM for Fedora doesn't set up a repo, I had to download a new RPM from Skype and install it.

The new package, Version, runs as well as the old one. That means it fixed none of the audio issues I'm having, which include occasional noisy audio and intermittent lack of audio. The commonly accept fix doesn't help me, either.

Luckily I rarely use Skype, and usually only as an IM client, so I'll live.

For the freedom-lovers in the room, I did install the Ekiga softphone package in Fedora, and it kind of, sort of works. But the UI is HORRIBLE, and I doubt a non-geek could ever make it work. I need a better SIP package, and I'm open to suggestions.

BoingBoing: Why Dungeons & Dragons still matters

Most interesting read before 5 a.m. (yes, I'm up that early these days):

BoingBoing: At 40 Years Old, Dungeons & Dragons Still Matters -- Ethan Gilsdorf looks back on four decades of pen-and-paper role-playing tradition

Did I play D&D "back in the day"? A little bit. Would I play it again? I might.

Facebook tries to out-Medium its competition with new Paper interface

I'm not big on Facebook. Or Medium. It would be a different story if I were getting paid to write for one of those services, but since that isn't happening, I'm indifferent.

But in the face of interfaces that are inviting to authors, plus the promise of exposing your work to a potential audience of millions, a la Medium and the Huffington Post (why I pulled that one out of my unmentionables I don't know, but I just did), Facebook is releasing a mobile app called Paper that promises to remake the way you (and you) interact with the service, especially when it comes to shoveling your content into their always-burning furnace:

Re/code: Meet “Paper,” Facebook’s New Answer for Browsing — And Creating — Mobile Media -- By Mike Isaac

Just because you're a former Apple manager doesn't mean your iMac's getting fixed

An extremely cautionary tale on broken iMacs, Apple's relative indifference, and how barbaric this all seems in relation to hardware from other vendors:

Readwrite: How I Fixed An iLemon -- Repairing a Mac is no simple task — take it from someone who worked at Apple for 20 years by David Sobotta

Thu, 30 Jan 2014

Come toward the light

(Photo by Hans Gutknecht)


(Photo by Hans Gutknecht)

Wed, 29 Jan 2014

There a 'fediverse' out there waiting for you

I feel for Evan Prodromou, creator of Pump.io and Status.net before that -- both software platforms for his vitally important Identi.ca social network, which started as a free, open Twitter-like service when one was badly needed in 2008-9.

Running Identi.ca under Status.net required a whole lot of resources, and Evan was doing it for nothing (I think). Then he wanted to change everything about the software and hardware running the identi.ca service and did. So Identi.ca lives. But Identi.ca is not as feature-rich as it was when Status.net was the software behind it.

What's missing from the Pump.io version of Identi.ca for me are a search function and the tags and groups features of the original Identi.ca. I also miss being able to access Identi.ca in most mobile clients, especially Mustard. The new Pump-powered Puma -- with development led by Macno, the same developer who created Mustard -- is coming along, as is the desktop Pumpa client. Like Pump.io itself, neither client is terribly feature-rich at this point.

But what I miss most is the community of the original Identi.ca. I'm not sure how much of that community has scattered since Pump.io, but it sure looks like a lot.

Things that are great about the Pump.io-powered Identi.ca are the ability to do so much more in posts -- more than you can do with Twitter and the original Status.net-powered Identi.ca. But I've found that short Twitter-like posts work for me. It's all about the people ...

I like pump.io's Identi.ca, and I really like Evan. He's given a lot to the community in the form of the Identi.ca service itself and both of its platforms (Status.net and Pump.io).

Today I got a nudge from somebody (ironically via Google Plus) that there's a big #fediverse movement out there centered around the Status.net software.

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There's no AMD Catalyst for Fedora 20 in RPM Fusion, but the Fedora 19 packages just keep on getting updated

There still is a packaged version of the AMD Catalyst video driver in RPM Fusion, and it's being updated with each and every kernel release. For Fedora 19.

So what about Fedora 20? The maintainer has made it clear that he's no longer interested in building the package going forward for RPM Fusion, so Fedora 20 users have nothing.

It's lucky (for me anyway) that installing the Catalyst driver direct from AMD isn't as difficult as it was earlier in the F20 cycle. But it's not as easy as installing an RPM package.

If my laptop didn't choke on video (both full screen and windowed in VLC and Totem) and run 30 to 50 degrees hotter with the open Radeon driver, I wouldn't give a damn.

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Sun, 26 Jan 2014

Configuring Fedora 20 to print to HP LaserJet 1020 is a pain in the ass (and so far not doable)

Ah, the "good ol' days." Remember Configuring Fedora 18 to print to HP LaserJet 1020 is a pain in the ass? That was when getting the el-cheapo HP LaserJet 1020 to print in Fedora was merely troublesome.

In Fedora 20? So far it has been impossible. The printer is clearly recognized as being connected by USB because it's listed in the output of lsusb. But the printer is not recognized when I run hp-setup. I can't even get to the part when I download and add the proprietary firmware that should already be inside the printer but isn't because HP hates people.

At least there's already a Fedora bug filed on the problem (to which I've added a "me too.")

On this Fedora 20 system, I have no problem printing to any number of networked printers (all of which happen to be HP devices, but that's besides the point). But the USB printer I have at home? Nope. I'll have to try with a live Xubuntu system to see if the problem is Fedora-specific. (I'd say there's a 99 percent chance of that being the case).

I'd love to see a speedy resolution to this one. I don't print all that often, but it's nice to have the option ... to ... print. Right?