XUBUNTU, what’s a XUBUNTU?

It’s a flavor of Linux, Ubuntu one of the big cat’s in the Linux pride these days with a little mousy desktop called xfce as the front end. It’s not exactly Windows or MAC OS but it’s a bit like both in some ways and different in others.

So why do I care? Well I have this old Thinkpad T42 I have done millions of words on (the A key is etched down into the plastic the S and D are mostly gone and the backspace is a bit finicky these days.  The Battery is long gone.  It’s run Window’s XP its whole life up till now.  But it and Office 03 ran slower and slower and slower as time progressed.  Around six months ago I got so fed up that I shut down the WiFi and stripped out all the superflous software anti virus, firewalls etc, etc.

This brought the T42 back up to being a very nice writing tool. But I had to sneaker net it and use my iPad as my web research link. This worked but I found that I was doing less writing since I have a life and getting into the frame of mind to write and keep at it can be a chore.  Any (even trivial) bump tends to make it feel less worthwhile which starts a viscous cycle.  Any one who has followed this log will have noticed my blogging has decreased over the past half year or so…this is the reason for that tapering off since the T42 is where 90% of my blogging got done (it’s where this is being written.)

I love computers but hate having to fiddle any more than I want to (ego centric I know) so have read about and wondered about converting to Linux for years.  So with a machine I love but was about to become a brick, I finally figured I would give it a hack.

Tried Ubuntu straight up but my processor is so old it is no longer compatible with the loader.  Saw some suggestions about XUBUNTU and gave it a wack.  Worked first time out of the box, even handles my beloved trackpoint mouse knob in the keyboard.

XUBUNTU loads a working computer’s tool set aboard as part of the install (this is actually part of xfce desktop) the choices come from the UBUNTU ‘app’ store.  Which also loads.   The Software Center looks a lot like the old Windows Software load/remove utility but its remote + local, tracking what is available as well as what you have loaded.  Really clean interface and the load of programs are useful full function tools.
xubuntu-logoIn fact I have only loaded a couple of other pieces of software.  One was CaligraWords to see if it was better at editing huge Word03 documents than AbiWord (it isn’t as far as I can see.) As well as a mind mapping tool, Feeplane, I want to try out for organizing some of my thoughts and ideas for my novels and posts.  But the best things so far is Variety, a live desktop picture system, it pulls photos off free sites on the Web and displays them as the background.  You can do all sorts of things, from leaving them as found to making them line drawings, but what I have found is that setting it as ‘oil’ brush stroke provides a remarkably pleasant but non-distracting background.  I contributed a bit to the jar on that one (and will be doing the same for xubuntu, AbiWord and others.)

I am not totally sold on Linux yet, but I have to admit that it has been a far simpler quicker and fun process than I had expected so far.  I hope it keep up.

National Novel Writing Month…

If you follow me and glance over ThisWoldAndOthers you will realize, I hope, that I write SciFi, not for a living but for relaxation and as an outlet. I have mentioned NaNoWriMo before but forgot to mention it this year, just in case someone passing by might be interested but not know about it. November is/was the month and I have participated in (and become a winner once more!)

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel. Here’s a little more about how it all works.

National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes your story matters. You know how writing makes the world a more creative, vibrant place. Through NaNoWriMo—as well as our Young Writers Program, the Come Write In program, and Camp NaNoWriMo—we work hard to empower and encourage that vibrant creativity around the world. We can’t do it without writers like you.

NaNoWriMo 2012 at a Glance

341,375 participants started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

648 volunteer Municipal Liaisons guided 586 regions on six continents.

82,554 students and educators created worlds with the Young Writers Program.

615 libraries opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.

And in 2013, 44,919 Campers participated in Camp NaNoWriMo’s online writing retreat.

The novels not done even at 50k+ words its about 1/2 way, but here is the draft cover….and synopsis…20131201-100915.jpg

War of the Worlds?

It’s a Black Swan event, a disaster no one was looking for, despite decades of discussion. A killer asteroid slingshots around the sun and is heading straight for the heart of the US.

A desperate shot with an experimental space plane and obsolete nation killer bomb may save the day. Except worse turns to weird when it becomes obvious that the incoming hundred thousand tons is not an asteroid but a derelict starship.

Weird turns to near certain war when the ‘derelict’ starts spinning out landing craft, does the President destroy it, do the aliens come in peace?

The story of the men and woman who get to put the answers together and live…if they survive…with the consequences.

20131201-100934.jpg

Now for something somewhat different

20130512-101241.jpg

In a gerotor motor, the outer ring’s gear teeth remain stationary while fluid flow turns the internal rotor. This drawing is of a six-pointed gerotor assembly. To see a motor’s internal components in action, view the YouTube video, Motion Study of the Gerotor Motor at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iooA0mJzEIE.

Machine Design has always been one of the best engineering teaching magazines out there and this article on hydraulic motors is an example of why. Informative and elegant graphics, straight forward, intelligent and direct (without dumbing down) explanatory prose. OK it’s about hydraulic motors but it’s cool, neat, etc, especially in this age of the maker revolution.

iPad next?

The iPad is the premier tablet and it’s probably nearly the perfect size and weight for its form factor.  That’s not to say that within the form factor there is no room for improvement. A screen that takes up most of the face should be a near term target, as should an auxiliary screen on the back face that provides bright light reading and low power / speed interactivity for those who don’t live indoors all the time.  To support the iPad as a companion device, multi level security is a growing need.

Make the bezel the same on the iPad as minimal as possible (get rid of the push button) push the screen out to the edge, don’t change the shell size. This with continued pixel densification will put the screen on another level altogether.  Make thumb and palm detection native and intelligent enough to enable me to rest my palm on the screen and write with a stylus as if the screen were regular paper.

Put an eInk reader panel on the back to enable the display of text and graphic art, this will enable high light low power reading applications and some other limited visual bandwidth applications such as phone etc. (This will be accomplished with a smart cover but it would be cool if it were integral with the iPad.)

The radio suite & battery life along with the camera, face time, GPS, and other built in sensors are probably good enough not to call for increases in size weight, but neither should they be decremented.

The iPad is far to big a part of many people’s eLives to leave to the pitiful protection it has today.  We need multi level security, enable me to turn the iPad on as if there is no security for consuming web pages, playing games, and using certain apps.  But for other functions use face recognition, symbolic coding other than a number pad, voice recognition, retina image recognition and even finger print recognition in combination to protect various levels of data in the unit.

Enable cyber security with one or more over watch processors that is not linked to the outside world for some level of checking to make sure that the tablet has not been compromised.   A version of this ‘chip’ may be linked to a secure remote system (short-range) so businesses or organizations can disable certain functions of the iPad remotely to make sure that pictures, audio, or other data cannot be put into memory without authorization.  This Big Brother functionality is a bit daunting but at least the over watch processor is probably going to be needed.  The full BB may be an external attachment and not integral so one can shed it easily….

Ike

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Ike and the Generals
By Evan Thomas Published December 16, 2012FoxNews.com

I like Ike more every time I read about him, I seems to me that he may well be the most under rated president of the modern era.  Many will say that he’s remembered for his glory in WWII and that this has covered up the fact that he was past it when it came time to be president and just yucked and golfed his way through eight years with no real threats.  And yet its was this period in the 50′s that was probably the most risky insofar as the chances of nuclear war went, because of Soviet Military Weakness and US Military Arrogance.  Evan Thomas’ argument is that Ike bluffed both sides into quiescence by essentially posing an all or nothing threat over everyone’s head.

Warning, my interpretation of what I’ve read in the above article and elsewhere:  Why would he have had to hold something over the head of his own generals?  Because they had developed their own power base (military industrial complex, remember) and were if not out of control, then out to control the narrative regarding the Red menace and the solution to said menace.  Ike realized that he did not have enough direct control over his generals to stop an accidental or ‘accidental’ escalation from taking place.  So he put forth a strategy of massive retaliation and pulled US forces back to positions where they were not in direct confrontation.  He then supported the technology that would give the president the best and most immediate information about the enemies capabilities and to some extent intentions (spy planes, spy satellites, the NSA etc) so he and future presidents would have the tools to keep the generals flights of fancy (missile gap, bomber gap, etc) in check.   He also started the process of professionalization of the nuclear triad that essentially created a grand strategy / strategic viewpoint that made it harder for high-octane hot heads like Le May etc to become threats to peace and human survival.

NaNoWriMo 2012, water under the bridge and other thoughts…

So obviously I dropped the ball on NaNoWriMo 2012, and I started out doing so well with all the best intentions.   However with a daughter’s wedding and thanksgiving to survive and real work requiring attention so we can continue to pay the bills (not to mention a semi major home construction project gone a lot over schedule) I just ran out of the mental and chronological resources to ‘get-er-done’ as it were.

Catching the Watcher is not done-fore however I have continued to work on it though at a lot slower rate.  Its now upwards of 40K words and (I think) roughly half done, hopefully I can wrap it up sometime in January.

So obviously I am not a ‘real’ blogger either  … real life intervened and I heeded the call.  Despite all my toys and channels of access I still could not find it in me to even put a few thoughts down, post a picture, etc.   Maybe I should blame it on the new iPad with its beguilingly sharp yet tiny text and butter smooth reaction to my every touch, along with the strikingly fast LTE link and up-rated WiFi.  But then again I can do all sorts of blogging from the iPad so it should really be an enabler of more doing not more slacking off.

I could blame it all on others or on my own failures as a person.  But the fact is that life is impossible to regulate.  There is only one me on this thread of time from past to future and a practical infinity of other threads are bustling against me at the wave front of now.  To change frames, the water is flowing under my bridge and it will never come back.  But its good to watch it slide past every once in a while and realize that in no possible world can I ever realistically aspire to perfection, let alone reach it, but in aspiring to do the best I can with the now I have, I at least make progress in a direction I get to call ‘right’ as in right for me and the world as I understand it.

Falling behind….NaNoWriMo 2012 | Day 14

Catching the Watcher:

I need to catch some time with the keyboard … I have the basic story line in my head, need to get it out. But too many distractions, like work, life, Thanksgiving, construction delays, daughters wedding … Yeehaa …

  • Words Written Today 1,655
  • Target Word Count 50,000 Target Average Words Per Day 1,667
  • Current Day 14
  • Total Words Written 23,426
  • Your Average Per Day 1,673
  • Words Remaining 26,574
  • Days Remaining 17
  • At This Rate I might Finish On November 29, 2012
  • Words Per Day To Finish On Time 1,564