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.

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Power from a distance, a new way and good state of the tech synopsis

Wireless power: could Cota make it long-distance and mainstream?
IN DEPTH Is power over Wi-Fi the future of cord-free tech? At TechRadar: By Mary Branscombe
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Hatem Zeiner and the prototype Cota array

And it’ll never rust….

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3D printing company Solid Concepts announced it has manufactured the world’s first 3D Printed Metal Gun using a laser sintering process and powdered metals.
The gun, a 1911 classic design, has already handled 50 rounds of successful firing. It is composed of 33 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components, and decked with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip.

at 3ders.org

Smart lighting idea…but in some ways it’s back to the future…

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This diagram shows how the University of Cincinnati’s SmartLight can direct sunlight from the outside of a building (far right) to the inner part of a building and to a centralized harvesting- and energy-storage hub (far left). Credit: Anton Harfmann, U?
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-smartlight-bright-idea-revolution-interior.html#jCp

Very cool but think about this, a century ago buildings had tall ceilings transoms, etc to duct light and air around, then we invented air conditioning and electric lights…and we got lazy. Sounds like the naked monkeys at it again.

Interesting, a wind jammer for the 21st century

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The Norwegian Vindskip design from Lade AS uses a specially shaped hull to capture the wind and convert it into forward motion.

Natural gas fired Gas Turbines to get wind speed on the right ‘quarter’ and the combined wind speed provides a boost to get up to 60% fuel savings. All very well till you get in a real blow, it does look like it’ll be a bit of a handful in bad weather, it has big stabilizers like a sailing yacht so maybe it’ll work…anyway it’ll be a figment of computer simulation sthen tank testing for a few years yet.

Build your own device Motorola’s (Google’s) next cell phone play

Motorola Announces “Project Ara,” a modular phone hardware platform20131030-225519.jpg20131030-225530.jpg

Motorola has announced a free open hardware platform for smartphones called “Project Ara.” The goal is to create a modular smartphone that would allow users to swap hardware components at will. Motorola says it wants to “do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.”

looks cool seems reasonable for the large geek, nerd, techie, metro, hip, individualist, contingents out there. Making it rugged and relatively ‘duh’ proof will be a challenge.

Too quiet to be a race car

Do we really go to the races for the visceral shiver a race car’s engine can give you, the aching memory frisson that the stink of castrol can trigger?
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Formula One dominator Sebastian Vettel gave short shrift Saturday to the new, electric Formula E series, saying it would be far too quiet and was “not the future”.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-10-vettel-formula-future.html#jCp