Monday, 30 December 2013

Work is quiet

Hardly anyone in today. Not surprising as tomorrow is New Year's Eve.

Had to call out the breakdown recovery as one of my rear tyres (on the car, not on me) decided to deflate and go down to the rim. Delighted to say the came out within the hour and fixed me up with my spare (which was flat...) on the work car park. Excellent stuff.

Set up a new project on sourceforge - tree-ident, the aim of which is to use pattern matching to identify trees from their leaves, which could then be GIS/GPS mapped to give some useful environmental data. If anyone is reading this (is anyone?!) who would like to join in, please do.

Did a little bit more thinking about card sleights today, some cosmology reading and that is pretty much my day. Excellent stuff.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Netbook update

Updated my Ubuntu netbook today. Toyed with wiping and going over to lubuntu but as I have lxde installed anyway I thought there was no real gain.

Deleted a load of emails and gmails, uninstalled some software, updated din is noise, got cheesed off by firefox wanting to reset and having to be resynced (why?!) and the battery running out during an install...

But all seems well. I was going to go to 13.10 but then decide 12.04 LTS was the smarter choice.

Tried elementary OS in a VM on the desktop and was a little underwhelmed. Looked nice, but not for me. Thought about going Mageia on the netbook but I am not keen on the KDE netbook interface.

A bit more card handling and stuff, tidied my G+ circles and all is well with the world.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Mostly most agreeable

A marvellous Christmas time had by all - way too much food and drink, but hey! it's (generally) only once a year.

Delighted to get a couple of books of the wish list, and have started working down the Royal Road - just a simple little sleight on a shuffle, but nice to start spending a few minutes a day on.

Not got around to rebuilding the netbook (yet), but have printed off a few more chapters of my cosmology textbook.

Which brings me to my moans...

1) Kubuntu took an inordinate amount of time to print the pdfs (from evince), and managed to make a meal of fonts and things, so...
2) I booted into Win7, which similarly took ages (thanks to Acrobat reader), and then decided it wanted to update and reboot overnight without my agreement, partway through a print run - aaagh!
3) And then I had to replace two cartridges in the printer, which cost me more failed print runs - aaagh!

Oh, and this OpenSUSE laptop refuses to find the printer over wifi. Grrr. And I refuse to manually tinker with CUPS, this is 2013 for goodness' sake!

Monday, 23 December 2013

The fun of finding things out

A bit of research tonight:

1) Yellowhammer dialects, as per previous posting
2) UK Constitutional Reform - thinking about Thomas Paine, here
3) Loqualia
4) Epimetric
5) Magic

And stuff like that.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

'Tis the season

As we head into the festive season, no doubt the rate of posting on this blog - which is already slower than I'd like - will slow even further.

But have no fear!

I have already started plans for 2014 - NOT New Year resolutions, but plans - which currently include:

1) More regular posting here
2) More progress with healthcare planning/Epimetric (probably with a new name)
3) Two new blogs, unconnected to this one
4) A new podcast - we've already had a go at recording, I reckon we should do it
5) Some kind of project on tree identification with GIS
6) Some kind of activity on Yellowhammer Dialects
7) Some kind of BSD-related activity, FreeBSD, PCBSD or FreeNAS
8) A home cloud server, ideally with email server capabilities
9) Progress on "The Empty Room"
10) Some more photography/video
11) More music
12) Philosophy stuff
13) Something with the RPi
14) Something hardware-related, maybe automotive with the RPi (?)
15) Learn some more coding stuff and develop my skills/knowledge there

I don't know if this will all come off, or even if any of it will, but planning it will help.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Travel and data

Spend a load of time on trains today, which should have meant I had plenty of time to think about writing something interesting.

Well, I did have plenty of time. And I thought about nothing, mainly.

I have downloaded a bunch of prescription data which I intend to start sifting, to give a postcode-based map of how much/many of a given drug is prescribed where - in the longer term I see this being cross-referenced with (for example) demographics and used predictively, but that is a way of yet.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

That Sunday night feeling

Remember when you used to get out of the bath on a Sunday night, and your heart would sink because you'd realise that you had a fresh week of school starting the next day?

Well, I have some of that feeling right now - another week of work looms.

On the upside, though, I have a wodge of job applications in, some of which sound quite promising, and some grand plans for 2014.

I had grand plans for 2012 and 2013 (in fact, all the way back to 2009), and some of the stuff I wanted to achieve I actually did, so I think that's a fine advert for the to-do list.

2014 is going to be marvellous, I am sure.

I know it's talking about the past, but as Dennis Hopper said in "Flashback":

"Once we get out of the eighties, the nineties are gonna make the sixties look like the fifties!"

Friday, 13 December 2013

Numbers, numbers everywhere

Just downloaded a whole bunch of data on prescriptions to look through to try and map a time series from - I have no idea at all whether or not I have what I need, or how I'm going to do it, but you know what? I don't care!

I just reckon that it's worth a go, because if it works it will help people.

At some point I think I want to switch to ZFS on this machine, by the way, so I've worked through a handy tutorial on - excellent stuff - ready for taking the plunge before the new year.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Mavis Beacon? Who she?

Pounding away on the keyboard on an email just now, it occurred to me that no-one seems to be that fussed about typing speed any more. Is it that touchscreens, predictive text and numeric keypad entry have become so common that the ability to navigate around QWERTY, QWERTZ or similar actually doesn't matter that much any more?

I'm actually reasonably nifty and accurate on the old keyboard, even if I do say so myself, so have never really been bothered about trying to learn "properly". Maybe I'm just too aware that ZX Spectrum keyword entry spoilt the chances of my learning to touch-type forever!

Other than that, mainly I've been thinking about Christmas, and getting myself geared up for buying the presents that I need to, writing the cards that I need to and generally entering into the spirit of things without wondering when/if I'll get a new job, which I am desperately trying to get to break out of the rut I feel myself getting into.

Quick question - can anybody recommend a good, reasonably light, multimedia/ogg/mp3 player for FreeBSD? Amarok seems to want to refuse to install, and XMMS is just a bit plain. I'm going to chuck gPodder on here for good measure, too, as I do like my podcasts.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Magic, mathematics and time to finish things

Today, in fact the past couple of days, I've been catching up with some guitar stuff - scales, and as I mentioned before trying to improve the consistency of my picking technique.

On top of that, picked up a couple of handy card moves - although I really need to work on these. I have a couple of splits down, but need some shuffles and forces better, as well as some coin moves.

What else? Oh yeah, been doing some cosmology stuff - bare bones of some assignment answers, which will need some tidying up and improvement. And I confess that I've steered clear of the maths-based stuff up to now, because I reckon I need a solid hour of concentration to do these.

This is what I want to get better at - setting time aside to do something to completion, rather than dabbling.

I need to install taskwarrior on all my machines, or work up the task manager I started writing. Probably the latter, as that will force me to learn to code properly, too!

Friday, 6 December 2013

General activity

More of a post for the sake of it than anything else, this one.

First up, my attempts to install Audacity either using pkg (yep, pkgng) and ports of FreeBSD failed for some reason, and tbh I thought I'd just leave it for now. Autoclean etc. just told me that there's nothing to do, too, so I'll just leave my working system working for now rather than mess any further.

Oh, and for good measure I just made a donation to FreeBSD - please do the same!

OpenSUSE is prompting for updates, Kubuntu has updated today, too and generally all is well with the world.

Waiting to hear on a few job applications - fingers firmly crossed here - and slotted in some guitar playing, working on my picking technique thanks to a really handy YouTube video, and even a bit of magic reading and stuff.

Where do I find the time?!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Treated myself to a proper, done-by-a-professional-not-done-myself-with-a-set-of-clippers haircut today.

Shaved all over, looking sleek and aerodynamic, even if I do say so myself.

Tonight I need to try and set up pkgng on the FreeBSD machine, and then download some data ready for the weekend and I should be all good to go.

Basically I'm resurrecting my healthcare trend mapping stuff, albeit with a slightly scaled back ambition (at least for now) but at least it's a start, eh?!

OOOOH! SciFi UK have just trailed "Robocroc" - I MUST SEE THIS FILM!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

OpenSUSE updated to 13.1

Updated the installation of OpenSUSE from 12.3 to 13.1 on this very laptop - a bit tense as it needed to download a load of data, and GRUB2 needed a bit of fiddling afterwards to show 13.1 rather than 12.3, but so far a success!

Oh, and the KDE login and logout sounds had to be reinstated after the update. Weird.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Quick BSD update

Updated to 9.2 tonight, set Konsole as my default terminal (bizarre bug with XFCE closing the term automatically and instantly), Vim, xchat - unconfigured as yet, and syncing Firefox.

I think that is about it...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Fitting a pottle into a pint pot

Not even a quart, but a whole pottle!

OpenMandriva continues to impress - a great return!

A day off today, and in between times I've managed to catch up on a few podcasts. If anyone is interested I'll post a list of ones I like.

Tonight, I've taxed the car online - very quick and easy, I have to say, and have managed to read a bit more of Tarbell's Magic Course - got a few sleights to practice on coins, now, and a couple of card things to try out, too.

Brought the Ibanez downstairs and managed to run through a few scales earlier, hopefully I can squeeze 10 or 15 more minutes in later, too - little and often, little and often!

I also need to try and update a bit of code on SourceForge. I need to block myself out a couple of hours to do this, I've left it too long.

I have managed to knock another couple of little tasks off my to-do list over the past couple of days. Although I confess that replacing a sidelight bulb in a Vauxhall Vectra was given up as a bad job as it was simply too fiddly!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Software added, and some ZX Spectrum links

Managed to find a little time to set up my FreeBSD laptop, so Firefox is now up and running at least, alongside LibreOffice.

The excellent BSDNow podcast/vodcast has been a real help to me, particularly the recent episode on setting up a desktop. I was part way through doing a lot of the stuff, working through the handbook, but having this all in one quick guide is fantastic.

I've also had my interest in the ZX Spectrum and Z80 programming rekindled, partly by seeing some C64 4K demos and thinking back to how I swapped my Speccy for a C64, and how I preferred Z80 assembler to 6502.

Blog links:

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Installation, installation and reinstallation

Back to BSD.

Set up my new (to me) Thinkpad T42 last night - you really can't tell it's a refurb other than a few very light scratches, and the battery holding no more than a 41% (courtesy of KDE, that figure) charge.

Power up, and Windows XP started its installation. Hold in the power button and switch off, stick a USB key in there and into the BIOS (which appears to be a bit of an IBM custom job to me...) to choose the boot order and get ready to get a different OS on there.

First up - NetBSD.

What can I say about the installer, other than, IMHO, UGH.

I can't remember the last time I had to manually select partition sizes (yep, just like the old days, kids!), rather than it suggesting some sane defaults, and then trying to step back and ... having to go through the whole palaver again. Maybe I was doing something wrong, but for now I'll just stick with my VirtualBox version (with awesome) on my Kubuntu desktop.

Got it installed, had a little tinker and then.... decided to go with FreeBSD.

So, new USB key set up courtesy of a dd on another machine, plugged in and away we go.

Smooth as butter! Sane default partition sizes, wifi set up...

And then I decided to do it all over again. I forget why, but I have a feeling I forgot something so thought the quickest way to fix it was to spend ten minutes reinstalling.

Then came the setup - user added, check. User added to wheel, check. X installed, check. XFCE installed, check. KDE installed, check. KDM set to start on bootup check.

At this point I decided I didn't want KDM to start automatically, so after a bit of a fight with vi (as I decided to forget some commands... oops), which needed a quick reference to here and there to edit some config files, and then a forced pkg_delete to remove KDE (I think), I had a boot to the command line and XFCE starting up with X.

Next I just need to install some software, but so far so fantastic!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Just get it done

Checked back at my task management project, and here it is:

I was slightly, nay, totally amazed to see that the presentation dates back to March, which means I've neglected this thing for months.

Well, as I have a relatively free evening tomorrow, that is going to change. I have decided!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Good eating and task management

Went out yesterday and had a very nice lunch at The Coach and Horses in Shrewsbury, and then went out last night for a meal at Hadley Park House Hotel.

Both really nice - check my reviews on G+ and TripAdvisor for more.

Went to The Crown in Oakengates on Thursday night and had a few pints. Very nice, too.

Other than that I've been thinking about resurrecting my idea for a task management program. I'd find it pretty useful to have one that works just so, as even though taskwarrior is great it's maybe not quite what I really, really want.

I'll think about it a bit more and maybe make a start tomorrow, and if I do I'll link to it.

More in due course!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The delight of the unexpected telephone call

Took a call on my mobile this afternoon, asking if I was interested in applying for a job.

A quick run through the job description and the short answer was "Yes" - the long answer, for the record was "YES!!! IT SOUNDS FANTASTIC WHERE DO I SIGN IN BLOOD TO EVEN BE CONSIDERED?!?!"

Who knows if anything will come of it, but I've put my CV in and what-have-you, so we'll see what happens from here.

By the way I am open to any offers, if you're looking for a Project/Programme Manager and/or Business/Management Information Analyst...

Other than that, today was taken up bodging together a spreadsheet application (yep, VBA in Excel, badly written but doing the job as a proof of concept - I am most definitely not a programmer!) and a bit of guitar playing this evening.

Should have also mentioned yesterday that I took part in an online cosmology discussion - really interesting stuff.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sunday night relaxation

Mostly getting things straight again after decorating the bedroom yesterday.

Bit of fun (hah!) cutting a metal curtain pole down to size, done by working through all eight cutting disks with my little Dremel-alike. Got there in the end, which was the main thing.

Still not got the Thinkpad yet, hopefully that will come tomorrow and I can stick... hmmm, probably NetBSD on it for a change, although it could be FreeBSD (does it really matter? The point is it's not Windows...)

I'll probably go for XFCE as the DE, but I like Awesome, too so will maybe go for that instead/as well, and then some kind of login manager... any suggestions?

Managed to squeeze a bit of guitar playing in on the Axl today - great guitar and fantastic value by the way, nothing fancy just some scales work and general picking and strumming. Loads of fun!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Painting like an old master

Well, not exactly the work of a genius but today has been taken up painting the bedroom. Got to say that The Dick Turpin Roadshow is great to listen to while rolling and brushing away!

Quite a challenge to fit it in - ceiling, walls, glossing the woodwork, but we did it.

Tonight... relaxing with a couple of well-earned beers.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Laptop madness (slight return)

I got away from work a little bit later than ideally I would have liked, but still managed to make it to one unit on a nearby industrial estate to check out some refurbed laptops... good stuff, but not quite what I was looking for.

There was a decent Toshiba for £80, which was about what I was looking to spend to be honest (more on this later), but... you know when something just doesn't quite grab you?

So, back in the car and down the dual carriageway to the market - to find the stall I wanted to check out shut! To be fair it was the end of the trading day, so I couldn't really grumble.

Then a walk over to the supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread, some raspberry jam and some antipasti (hey, it was cheap!) - you really wanted to know that, didn't you? - and then home.

And then tonight I've ordered a used Thinkpad T42 for £79 including P&P, which I'm looking forward to playing with and sticking something interesting as an OS on.

Philosophy in Pubs tomorrow night - "Is it right to keep someone alive against their will?"

Personally I struggle to answer this as soon as I get to the word "right"...

Monday, 4 November 2013

Laptop madness

Hey, the start of another week, another dilemma.

Apparently there is a stall in the local market selling used laptops... and as I am looking for a low(ish) spec machine to run something or other - probably FreeBSD - to work up some database stuff that I want to do that doesn't need masses of CPU grunt, I need to check it out.

Balanced against that I can get a refurbed Thinkpad for £80... so I need to check this stall out pronto to decide what to do.


Luckily the market is on tomorrow, so I can check it out and make the move tomorrow night.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday... as ever

So, what has Sunday held in store for me?

Starting with yesterday, popped out for a few drinks which was cool, and the bus ride and mile walk home helped clear my head bit!

Well, some guitar noodling, reminding me just how fantastic my Ibanez Prestige is, and my Ibanez 7 string... followed by a run out shopping for some basics, which was fine although a little busy (I like it when the supermarkets are quiet), and then some pottering around the house.

Squeezed in some time on Kubuntu and OpenSUSE, and then installed an OpenBSD VM, too, although not tried to set it up yet.

Beyond that... not a lot. Oh, a bit of magic reading and stuff, but nothing amazing.

Apart, I should say, from reading this again. And again.

Seriously, the stuff that The Partially Examined Life has been doing on this has been awesome.

More to follow during this week.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Views and reviews

Just clattered the keys on a few Amazon reviews of recent purchases, and one on the Merchant of Magic, too.

Please feel free to click through to check them out, and maybe buy something while you are there?!

Plans - well, I want to try out openBSD next, having listened to the BSD podcast about it. It's never really caught my eye before, but I'm becoming a completist!

Monday, 28 October 2013

OS Reflections

You know, I've been thinking about why I've switched from the Linux (or GNU/Linux, if you prefer) distro I was primarily using, and why I chose what I chose to step into the breach.

OK - Ubuntu - a fine servant, and I've been using it (relatively) hassle-free for a few years now, pretty happily. Indeed, my main desktop still runs Kubuntu as the base OS, with everything else in VirtualBox VM's. And Lubuntu is great, too.

But - some of the direction decisions that Canonical/Ubuntu are taking just seem increasingly odd. I mean, Mir?! And that whole Edge thing, and the ridiculously defensive stance that they took (supported by the Ubuntu True Believers (TM)) just turned me off.

I flirted with Manjaro for a while, but the, er, approach of some of the Arch forum denizens put me off, although it is a rocking distro.

PC-BSD, moving away from Linux, sadly failed to really gel on my old laptop, and hung for a while whilst running from USB which put me off that as an option, nice though what little I saw of it working was.

I also tried Salix, Chakra, CentOS, AntiX, Gentoo and others, but they just didn't suit me.

My two final choices are precisely that for two sides of the same coin:

FreeBSD comes stripped back, and you have to get yourself into a particular mode of thinking - basically planning what you want to achieve before you hit the keyboard, which is an approach that I think many computer users have lost in recent years. This tabula rasa approach is really refreshing, and means that, as I found with my NetBSD VM on the desktop, you end up with a superbly quick, lean and flexible system that does what YOU want, the way YOU want it. But you have to know what you want first!

Conversely OpenSUSE comes with KDE pretty tightly integrated, and every fundamental covered with pre-installed applications. IRC? Got it. Torrents? Got it. Image editing? Got it. And so on. After a few weeks of using it I haven't had to install a single additional application. Some will accuse it of bloat, but you could equally argue that it's providing a flexible out-of-the-box system, albeit in a different way than FreeBSD.

Overall I reckon between the three - Kubuntu, FreeBSD and OpenSUSE - I've got a cracking little set of systems.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Work, culture and meaning

Saw a fantastic piece on Newsnight last night...

YouTube has Russell Brand interviewed by Jeremy Paxman here.

Now, the important takeaways here, in my opinion:

1) Just because you want a revolution doesn't mean you have to have an endgame in view - you can simply say that the current system dissatisfies you.
2) Russell Brand came out of this rather well.
3) The comments on Jeremy Paxman on "Who do you think you are?" and "emotional porn" were spot on.
4) I disagree to an extent with Russell Brand's views on voting, but his view that participation in the current system was tacit complicity in its perpetuation was an interesting one, and worth thinking about.

So... for me this echoed nicely with The Partially Examined Life's recent episode on Frithjof Bergmann and "New Work, New Culture".

Seriously, if you haven't listened to it then you should. And then listen again. And then again to make sure you really get how deeply, deeply relevant this is to your life right now.

Then visit the New Work New Culture website and soak even more in.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Calming chameleon

I really am loving this openSUSE stuff, apart from just one thing...

Why will it not detect my Epson SX435SW wifi printer?

I've tried, and tried, and tried in so many ways to add a printer, even getting into CUPS and working through that, and it resolutely refuses to even spot that there is a printer connected to the network.

The documentation is a bit pants, to be honest, so I think I'll have to resort to twitter or G+ to sort this one out.

Other than that... excellent.

Oh yeah, I should also mention that I'm still loving FreeBSD as well :-D

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A mixed bag

So a bit of a mix today, managed to clear a few items off the infamous to-do list, write a new to-do list (lots to do on Monday), and ... er ... go shopping.

Oh yeah, managed as well to fit in getting a tyre on the car fixed, which means I don't have to keep reinflating it every couple of days, as the rim was a bit corroded.

All done now, though.

More in due course.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

What a to-do!

Yep, I'm on openSuSE again - LOVE IT!

So I've been getting a bit handy with the old to-do list today.

I've updated a bunch of stuff on my to-do list (yes, it's all written, not done electronically) - I do really like taskwarrior, and I'll have to get around to installing it on this machine.

So what's still outstanding on that list?

Updating some VMs on my desktop machine (Virtualbox under Kubuntu), mainly Manjaro and netBSD, and running a fresh new FreeBSD install in a VM so I can take some screenshots for Shropshire Linux User Group.

Sending out some emails and stuff around epimetric and loqualia development - maybe a couple of google hangouts, too.

Working out on getting some media ideas going again - too many to bore you with here.

And finally I've got to, at some juncture soon, fire up the old RPi which is sitting a bit neglected behind the telly, so that it can update openelec at the very least!

Recent purchases from Amazon...?

The Norm Chronicles
Doctor Who and Philosophy
What is Good?
The Fabric of the Cosmos
Medieval Philosophy (shouldn't that be "Mediaeval"?)

Monday, 14 October 2013

Synchronisation is fab

I know there are privacy issues and so forth, but I tell you something... the convenience of a Google account where everything can be linked through one login, to give you your shared files and so forth is just... so tempting.

Similarly the Firefox sync is great when you have a bunch of bookmarks and cookies and so forth to match up, especially when it's forum passwords and so forth. BTW I'm currently loving the "seventies flower pattern" persona.

This openSuSE installation is working away nicely (partly I'm using this 15" laptop rather than the chunky 17" Ubuntu one because it's lighter on the lap!). It's been a great switch so far, and I think this could be - famous last words - a distro I stay with for a while.

I've also posted a whole load of Amazon reviews (well, two or three) and left some feedback for the vet (why not? They provide a great service) and entered a couple of competitions.

Great stuff.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Another day, another OS to choose from

Fresh from my qualified/tainted (see earlier posts) success in installing FreeBSD, I though I'd make use of another recon HDD in the trusty old Novatech laptop with a fresh install of openSuSE.

OK - at this point I will declare a bit of a bias.

The first two Linux distros I tried about 14 or 15 years ago were Mandrake - before it was Mandriva (PLEASE, openMandriva, get it right this time!) - and openSuSE, running KDE. I loved them both.

So, set up a torrent for a 32bit DVD of openSuSE, stuck it on a USB stick (strangely the same one as I'd used for FreeBSD, as it was to hand) and as I'd already got handy with the screwdriver to switch HDD while the torrent downloaded, started up.

First snag - there was a strange Windows partition on the HDD. That was soon wiped, despite the urge to have a peek and see what had been left behind ;-)

Installation was genuinely an absolute breeze - well done openSuSE folks, on a truly fantastic install procedure - with the only ponderous bit my trying to decide between KDE and XFCE.

Now, in my humble opinion, although Kubuntu does a really nice job with KDE (
this is my 64bit desktop setup), I reckon openSuSE has the best KDE integration around, so that's what I went for.

There was one more oddity after firing up the first time when wireless networking wasn't available at all, but this (thanks to a bit of internet searching) was found to be fixed with a reboot.

There was next a bit of time whilst all the requisite updates downloaded and installed, and then I was all set to go. What a fantastically smooth operation it all was - this has often been a sticking point for user adoption for Windows users, but quite honestly this installation was far, far less of a pain - and much quicker, with sensible defaults - than either WinXP or Win7.

So, now I just need to get things set up, get things booting from the SATA to USB HDD caddy I picked up dirt cheap off eBay and I have an embarrassment of riches to choose from in OS terms!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The apology

It had to come.

I need to apologise for a loosely-worded opening to my last blog post, where I may have inadvertently referred to BSD as a "Linux distro".

Someone tweeted me to say:

"great start :/"

I admitted my opening was worded badly, and apologised for doing so. They responded:

"because freebsd has nothing to do with linux and isn't a "distro." it's a little offensive to bsd users when people say that."

(My emphasis).

and followed up with a reply to my next apology, suggesting I wasn't cut out for "BSDclub" with:

"it's not a matter of "wording." you either knew freebsd wasn't linux and made a mistake or you didn't know, either way, now you do"

What a shame that my adoption of FreeBSD has been seriously, seriously soured (for me, at least) by this.

Why can't people just be happy that I'm using FreeBSD, find it powerful, flexible and fun?

What a shame.

Previous post now edited, BTW.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

FreeBSD at last, FreeBSD at last


Story so far.

I wanted to switch Linux distro, and had settled on either Manjaro or, moving away from Linux altogether, FreeBSD as my OS of choice, and had finally got around to starting switching seriously rather than just playing with VMs under Kubuntu.

Bought a 40Gb HDD (SATA, 2.5") off eBay. The one that was sent was an ex-Playstation job, not suitable for laptop use, but after a couple of emails back and forth with the vendor I thought what the hell.

So, into the Novatech laptop (around 6 years old) it went, replacing the already replaced HDD which was dual-booting AntiX and Lubuntu, stuck a USB stick with FreeBSD on it in, switched on and crossed my fingers.

Top tips:



3: Have second machine handy with the Handbook open on it.

4: Learn to love vi.

5: Have a second machine handy with a guide to vi on it.

6: As root set up X (BEWARE - you NEED to read the Handbook to pick up a couple of vital setup steps, using our old friend vi).

7: Install your desktop environment/window manager. I really like awesome but settled on XFCE as a nice balance of lightness and configurability without some of the headscratchiness of awesome or similar.

8: Install your global software as root - I just stuck to Firefox and LibreOffice using pkg_add -r.
One mistake I made was not setting the hostname as fully qualified (something.something.something) during installation which caused resolution timeouts on startup, but a bit of time with my good friend (now) vi helped resolved this in /etc/rc.conf

Make sure that you add yourself to the wheel user group, so that you can use su to install stuff:

#pw user mod username -G wheel

And then you can add software to your heart's content.

Overall, a slightly tense switch from Linux, as you start with a tabula rasa, but this is the beauty of a switch to BSD - YOU choose what YOU want from the off.

I'm really looking forward to getting this "just so".

Some handy links for you:

Monday, 30 September 2013


As in "taking the plunge".

Right, so I've ordered a nice new (well, OK refurbed) HDD for my trusty old Novatech laptop, which has already had a new (to me) HDD stuck in it for dual-booting Lubuntu and Antix, ready for sticking PCBSD on it.

That's the plan, anyway. The fallback position is that if PCBSD refuses to play nicely I'll be sticking Manjaro on there.

So, 40Gb for £11.95 inc P&P didn't seem bad to me, off eBay, and then I followed it up with the purchase of a SATA to USB 2.5" caddy for those times when I just HAVE to play on my SEGA Megadrive emulator (MESS, BTW).

So there you go.

More to report in due course.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

What am I talking about?

Very good question.

It's the monthly meeting of SLUG (Shropshire Linux User Group) tomorrow night, and I think, in the absence of anyone else stepping up to the plate, I am going to be the one giving some kind of talk.

Fine... but I have no idea what I'm going to talk about. I could throw together a presentation, but why bother? I think instead I'm just going to big up the BSD distributions and Manjaro that I've been playing with, and try and get other people to talk about which distros they use.

Other than that not a lot going on. More in a couple of days, please keep checking back for more!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Big data

I've been attempting to revive Epimetric as a project over the last few days and weeks, so have started with Talend tools to see if there is something that I can use there to at least try making it work.

I stuck an outline presentation on what the project is about and where I'd like to take it on there - please do check it out.

Tomorrow I foresee a day of a whole load of telephone calls in an attempt to get a better job, trying to get collaborators for Epimetric and Loqualia and other ideas I have, and generally trying everything I can to be in a position to do what I love rather than what I have to.

I have now resolved that my next machine will be BSD-driven, probably FreeBSD or PCBSD, and I'm going to get my skills in PHP up so that I can actually do something fairly useful with it.

Broke out a set of Bicycle playing cards - WOW. The quality of these things is outstanding, it really is. Started working on some shuffles and forces, very tentatively I should say, and really enjoyed it. I'm going to try and build this into every day, even if only for 15 minutes or so.

Podcast recording tonight, should be fun as we build up our catalogue ready for a launch at some point. I've also sketched out some more theme music ideas as I've thrashed about on guitar, so that's really cool.

Oh, and Ableton Live 9 is really, really good!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Distro hopping

Yep, back to the subject of moving to another Linux distro.

Well, actually I'm thinking of going over to a BSD variant.

I'm loving PCBSD at the mo', although it is slow running of a USB stick as a live persistent image, and how I wish it used XFCE rather than LXDE by default, although I understand the rationale. And don't even offer me Gnome...!

GhostBSD FLIES off a USB stick, but refuses to either boot on this laptop (trying to use a 32bit version for max flexibility, and this machine is 64bit AMD) or detect my wifi setup on my AMD A8 desktop machine.

So the plan is to get a cheap little laptop and run NetBSD  with Awesome and XFCE on it, even with all the pain of X configuration.

The other option is Manjaro...

Maybe a dual-boot?!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Been a long time away

I think the past week or so has seen me drive more miles than I've done in years.

The positive aspect is that I've caught up on so many podcasts! I'm even clearing a few from the old backlog, so I'm actually WAITING for new episodes.

I've also had some email exchanges with folks about guitar effects, hardware hacking and a slightly weird idea I have for using mobile phones in astronomy.

Oh yeah, I also caught up on a Horizon I'd recorded and was knocked out by someone using social patterns to determine epidemiological spreads - which is something I've been trying to push forward for nigh on three years now. I must drop a line out this weekend to try and get things moving AGAIN.

What else? Oh yeah, some cool guitar and magic practice, which has filled some spare time nicely, and I've really, really enjoyed just plugging in, turning up and wailing away on the old Ibanez for even a few minutes, without working through scales or anything.

Next up - a brief return to reality tomorrow, and then a weekend of fun, hopefully! In between writing a piece for another blog and recording a podcast, obviously.

And with luck I've get PCBSD running just how I want, too. I had the adapter PSU on this laptop (the 17" Acer 64-bit) give up a couple of days ago, but handily I pulled a spare out of the loft this afternoon. The man who has everything, eh?!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Test passed. YES!

Had a listen back to bursts of the podcast recording, which I'm delighted to say the GDrive share worked for, and it sounded OK. And that's without any Audacity editing.

Next time round I think I'll record in mono - I am at a loss as to why I chose to record in stereo, but I suppose the benefit is that on a two-person call you can easily mute one person! I also need to write some music for intro and outro at least, which I'll try and get done over the next couple of weeks and schedule up the next recording.

Other than that been having a few interesting emails and telephone calls with various people - can't say too much at this stage as I don't want to jinx anything!

Reading nicely through "1984", too, which I've owned since I was 14 (some years ago now), and I'm sure read but only passingly at the time. I'm liking it, although... well, I don't want to spoil it. Just buy it and read it, and then you too can understand just how badly misunderstood the book is...!

Played a bit with lubuntu, upgraded the antiX installation and even had a chance to think about going back to openSuSE, but Manjaro is current migration target, with a side order of NetBSD or PCBSD (which I FINALLY got booting of a live USB, although it doesn't like my nVidia video card!).

Had some fun on the Ibanez, too, thrashing through a few songs - mainly just songs that are fun to play through.

The Clash
Agnostic Front
Faith No More

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Testing, testing

Less than an hour to go before the test recording of the universe's best new podcast.

More anon.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

All systems go


I must at some point update my Salix stick, and my AntiX installation, while I think about it.

Managed to pump out a couple more job applications tonight, too, which is cool - and had a bit of fun playing on my Ibanez Prestige, and updating (at the same time) my Win7 installation on the desktop.

I'd not logged into Win7 for a couple of months, so it had some fairly hefty updates to download, but at least I could play with tuxguitar while it tried to drag itself into 2013.

More anon.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Reviews, reviews, reviews and stuff

Right, a fairly rapid run through here:

1) Posted some reviews on TripAdvisor and Google+ Local, which was fun.
2) Started sketching out podcast episodes, because I think we're going for a test run this Sunday.
3) Had a great call with a recruiter, who sounded hopeful. I know that's what they're there to do, but let's keep hoping, eh?

What else? Oh yeah, got stuff about enrolment in my cosmology course, and lots of other stuff, like clearing a load of podcasts that were sitting in my listen queue.

Actually, had real pain of a time on Friday when Podkicker Pro (yes, I paid for my podcast client!) decided to lose ALL my downloaded episodes and subscriptions. GRRRR!

On a positive note, it did need rationalising, because I was starting to struggle with keeping up to date with everything. I've got it more manageable now.

Here's a thought for you - why are the advocates of "information wants to be free" so keen on telling you their public encryption keys?

Monday, 12 August 2013

BSD USB persistence woes

Well, I'm trying to work out how I can get a persistent NetBSD install on a USB stick, and a Manjaro one, and guess what?

Yep, even using munch I CAN'T GET IT TO WORK.

Frustrated, I reckon the way to go may be with a cheap laptop/netbook and a new HDD, but to be honest I'd prefer the portability.

I even have my software wish-list ready :-(

Other than that, nothing else to report today.

If anyone can tell me how to get NetBSD or FreeBSD on a persistent USB stick install, please do share!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Small yet perfectly formed

Yup, I'm writing this thanks to Salix on a USB stick, with XFCE and persistence - NICE!

I am really liking this, although I did enjoy a small battle with NetBSD in a VM on my dekstop machine earlier (does configuration really have to be such an effort? I should have gone for XFCE there as well, maybe, and pkg_add DOES NOT WORK, you have to do pkg_install...). I like PCBSD, maybe I'll try that, too. Oh, and I have Kali on a USB, too.

Overall I'm pretty sure that my next main machine will be either Manjaro or Salix. I like both, and even though I still have a soft spot for Debian derivatives (AntiX with iceWM or fluxbox is really cool) and KDE I feel I need a change. Even openSuSE did re-enter the running for a while, but... I dunno.

Anyway, what else?

Got a new guitar FX kit, which I hope to have running fairly soon for some Screaming Bird-type action, got some YouTube stuff to watch (mainly guitar), need to upload some YouTube stuff, need to sketch out a possible podcast - hangout next week to discuss - and er, stuff like that.

Oh yeah, and got my place on cosmology course confirmed. Unless something amazing happens I'm deferring the philosophy course I want to do until next year to ease the financial strain.

And I've been pumping in job applications like nobody's business, although I need to revisit my CV and do some additional stuff around that to get more moving further quicker.

Joined a discussion group on Codeacademy.

PLUS more on "The Empty Room", which I want to have a showreel of sooner rather than later.

More anon.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Next session

So... the next session of Philosophy in Pubs is set for this week, I've finished Eric and Enide by Chretien de Troye and am all set for a Manjaro switch.

Other than that... got some guitar to play.

This was a mobile update by the way hence the brevity.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Device not partition

Successful install AT LAST of Kali, after finally realising I needed to address the drive, not the partition - sdb, not sdb1.

Also successfully got persistence and XFCE (because I don't like Gnome particularly, personally) set up - looking forward to trying a few things out with this little set up! And because I used the 32bit image, it will be portable between devices!

Also started setting up a plan for guitar effects, planned out some new music for recording, failed to get Loqualia set up as a YouTube channel - just a bit of a disaster zone that attempt, had to end up deleting the Google account for some bizarre reason, but DID manage to set up:

GhostlightTV - The YouTube channel that blows the lid on the paranormal, hauntings and spooky goings-on.

So, next comes the content!

I still need to get a Podbean account set up to start podcasting, but need to script a few episodes first.

Cleared a load of recorded TV last night, and podcasts, so am finally getting to a stable base to move forward from!

Monday, 22 July 2013

So much going on

Had a great Loqualia planning call, thanks to Google Hangouts on Friday, and am setting up accounts on the back of it.

Tried out a few new distros - frustrated by the lack of a BSD-based easy-install distro, but... decision is to switch to Manjaro next time around, with low spec machines on either AntiX, Lubuntu or NetBSD with XFCE/fluxbox. So there.

What else?

Errr... it will come to me.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Work continues apace on the upcoming psychodrama-horror...!

Multimedia multitude


So I have MAME and MESS runnning under lubuntu. Great. I'm trying AGAIN to install PCBSD in a VM to test. I'm still quite liking the idea of a really small footprint NetBSD/Openbox/LXDE system, if I can procure another cheap laptop.

But the big news, barring something remarkable happening:

Loqualia launches this weekend - with YouTube channel, G+ account and blogspot site for feedback and discussion.

Three other channels will also launch:

CryptidTV - a YouTube channel, blog and G+ devoted to cryptozoology from a realistic standpoint.

LGSATV - a YouTube channel, blog and G+ devoted to UFOs and everything extra-terrestrial, with objectivity the watchword.

OcculTV - The hidden, mysterious and supernatural through YouTube, blog and G+ media.

All will be launched by the end of July, with any content submissions welcome, and merchandise available to support them.


Monday, 8 July 2013

Emulator highs and lows

So, here am I on my lubuntu 13.04 laptop, with a rather neat GFCE Ultra NES emulator working, but with MESS steadfastly refusing to find ROM files, despite my best Leafpad editing of the ini file. Grrr!

I had hoped to get this working tonight, but evidently it was not to be.

On a more positive note, if I can get all my machines onto 64 bits it is looking increasingly likely that I'll make a switch to Manjaro with XFCE (rather than KDE) as my main desktop installation, although I do like lubuntu a lot, because it is clean and quick.

Had some fun playing with AntiX yesterday, too, but I think that this 32bit machine will be just for that - playing with, whilst the heavy lifting will be with 64 bits. Although I am really enjoying using the machine for just getting stuff done right now!

Also made a few inroads into film making, and have a meeting on Wednesday about that. More in due course.

And Loqualia is coming along nicely, as is an idea I have for guitar effects pedals.

Hopefully I can make a million in the next 12 months, eh?! ;-)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Mobile update... PCBSD

Yes.. PCBSD is STILL installing in a VM... dunno why it is taking so long. Ah well more tomorrow.

Chakra... not for me. Salix updated... nice but not for me I think.

Liking Manjaro but XFCE is not for me I think. Prefer LXDE in the lightweight stakes, or maybe fluxbox or openbox. KDE is awesome but heavy on resources so maybe installed on my next (PCBSD) machine as a backup as probably won't have a monster spec as I simply don't need it.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Not quite a code ninja, but..

So, finished the PHP track on, which is cool - skimmed through some of it so my coding probably wasn't all that neat but hey ho it's another track completed, and I think I get the hang of basic stuff.

What else?

Oh yeah, PCBSD in SLOOOOOOW to install in a VM - had to suspend and will go back tomorrow to complete. Admittedly I chose an XFCE install with loads of optional unsupported WM's like Enlightenment, so we'll see how that goes.

Started planning a blog, and a podcast, and tidied up a load of CD's and books.

Need to find somewhere to sell the books next!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Variations on a theme

Watched the Linux Action Show's review of PC BSD last night, and have to say that it looks more impressive than I remember it.

Similarly CentOS...

As a desktop I think that PC BSD looks more likely, so going to try that out in a VM pretty soon.

Watched some more AVGN stuff, and found the movie-making talk pretty inspirational. Great stuff.

Had some good guitar practice in, as well, which is cool.

More anon.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Awesome X


Got both awesome and fluxbox installed via the magic of pkgin in my NetBSD and had some fun with vi - well, if you can call it fun - editing config files to switch between the two.

Next I need to find a decent login manager (lightdm?) and get it starting up X automatically...

If I'd thought ahead I may have used a 32bit version instead of 64 to allow me to base my future installations on any machine by copying across the vdi, but hey ho I didn't plan that far ahead.

One thing I dislike about fluxbox - you have to seriously edit the menus...

Next stop, choosing software to install and play with. I think I'll try and keep it fairly light, but I am afraid Firefox is a given as I have so much plumbed into my sync!

Ubuntu One client, some sort of text editor (Kate?) and maybe a nice IDE just for jolly.

I'll have a think about it, anyway.

Just had a weird urge to try JoliOS, too...

Monday, 17 June 2013

The joy of X

After a few rather stalled attempts I now have a sort of working VM of NetBSD, thanks to both the rather good (for the most part) documentation and the help of this blog.

Other than that I've decide to try the awesome window manager, and we'll see how that goes.

I've also thrown some Manjaro versions onto VM's, too, both the Openbox and XFCE (which tbh I've never really liked before) just for jolly. Had another play with antiX, and although I like it I don't think it's my long-term solution, NetBSD looks likelier, or Manjaro).

What else? Oh yeah, thanks to some super-rapid customer service from Strings Direct I've changed strings on my RG2550Z and AS103 - and before you ask I did put 10's on the latter and 9's on the former - Legacy brand (their own) which are excellent value and I think pretty long-lasting.

Had some success at ploughing through my to-do list - hopefully more tonight.

Read more of Sean Carroll, and added more to my Amazon wishlist.

Found cheap recon laptops - could be useful. Ask me for a link if you're interested.

Booked up on some talks and stuff, which should be fun. Also had quite a bit of dealings with SLUG, which is cool. And some other stuff, too.

Next update will hopefully be sooner than this one was.


Monday, 10 June 2013

Just another update


So I've started playing with FreeBSD in a VM, NetBSD will be next, I think.

I'm still looking to switch OS, and have so far narrowed (!) my choices as follows:

openSuSE - nice, but... just not for me
Chakra - nice, but not sure...
Manjaro - I like this, especially the KDE spin. But I also like LXDE so that could be an option
Lubuntu - I like this one - really quick and smooth
Kubuntu - I have this on the desktop machine and really like it
FreeBSD - just need to play with it and try it out with LXDE and KDE
Ubuntu - hmmm... dunno
Mint - awful IMHO. Just not for me
Fuduntu - was an option until the FuSE with Consort (!) decision
Debian - maybe...
antiX - I like this one, but maybe too much effort to kick off the config.
Fedora - no.
openMandriva - I had high hopes, I hope they can bring it back
Mageia - didn't really excite me
Gentoo - digital masochism
Toorox - nice, maybe better in German ;-)
Slackware - nice!
Salix - as nice as Slackware!
netBSD - need to play with it more
Ubuntu - just not quite there for me at the mo', much as I think it is just so reliable (despite what some detractors may say). I find it pretty solid, and Unity works fine for me

So overall maybe onto Manjaro as 1st choice, with Kubuntu 2nd and Lubuntu 3rd and FreeBSD 4th.

Maybe I'll run Kubuntu with the others in VMs as now, or hang them off VMs on a server...!

What else? Oh yeah, done some reading and stuff but nothing startling worth particularly thrashing the keys about at this stage, I think.

See you next time.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Circuit breakers and circuit fixers

Met up with a guy called Gary yesterday, who has very kindly offered to fix the FX pedal I was rather ham-fistedly attempting to build, and correct my wayward soldering. Hopefully he can do it...

In other news - it's Philosophy in Pubs tonight ("Is there a soul and if so where is it?"), basically about consciousness and identity, I reckon. Parallelism FTW!

What else? Oh yeah, still got to pump on with Talend for Epimetric, and tinker with some PHP as I work through the track on CodeAcademy.

Had a chat with Chris and hopefully we can get a podcast going as well - should be fun! Here's hoping, anyway, as we have to work out the parameters we'd be working within. As well as getting Loqualia started!

Also got some magic stuff to work through and masses of podcasts. If only there were more hours in the day!

Thursday, 30 May 2013


Fine evening this evening, presenting a short video to Shropshire Linux User Group (SLUG), made with Kazam, Openshot and Audacity.

You can search for those packages easily enough ;-)

What else? Nothing exciting.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Short round-up


First, everyone should watch Star Trek Continues, which is great fun.

Second, everyone should visit The Merchant of Magic, buy loads of stuff and learn.

Third, check out Guitar Noize for some really great stuff.

Apart from that I've been reading more of From Eternity to Here by Sean Carroll, which is fantastic.

I've now got to come up with something to talk about to SLUG on Thursday - I'll have to try and do that over the next couple of days, but should be able to rustle something up. The website says I'll talk about screen grabbing, so I may as well :-)

Oh, and next weekend I have a visit planned to Barcamp Birmingham, and then that's swiftly followed by Philosophy in Pubs.

Still really enjoying Manjaro, going to try netBSD and FreeBSD too! I did try FreeBSD years ago and really liked it - wonder if I'll feel the same 10 years later?


Monday, 20 May 2013

Like Amy Johnson said.... "CONTACT!"

Yep, made contact with chakra to discuss their installer, really good chat with them on IRC.

Made a couple of additional approaches to Talend, hoping we can work something out here.

Started new job - cool.

What else? Dunno.

That will do for now, I reckon.

BTW - Amy Johnson.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Several updates

Right, here we go for a whistle-stop tour of events.

I've installed Chakra and Manjaro in VM's under Kubuntu on my desktop machine, and so far my thoughts are ...

1) I LOVE KDE as a desktop.
2) The installers need serious work, particularly the Chakra one - what, I have to choose partitions and use a partitioning tool to set up my home directory, even on a clean install on a blank VM disk? Where are the defaults? This is going to be a major obstacle to widespread adoption IMHO.
3) The Chakra packages/bundles system is a very neat idea - and there could be scope for, for example, corporate customisation of easy provisioning across functions (maybe using The Foreman or similar?)
4) Manjaro is very quick and slick.

I need to drop the good people at Talend an email tonight to move things on there with regards to my long-standing healthcare planning/provisioning project.

I've got some stuff from the Merchant of Magic which I need to work with a practice - very good for focussing the mind.

Put some plants in the greenhouse - hoping for some tomatoes and habaneros in a few weeks.

Jet-washed the patio. That was dull in the extreme, but had to be done, and cut the lawns front and back, which was also a trial of mental endurance.

Other than that I've been very much enjoying watching the Angry Video Game Nerd (strong language!) which I find really funny.

The Skepticule episode on which I appear is now out, although I've not yet listened.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Excitement (largely) unbridled

OK - enjoying Eurovision semi-final #2. Latvia are.... yes.

Seriously disappointed that openMandriva went with... openMandriva as the name of the new distro. Still better than "FuSE", though, IMHO.

Still got to try out Manjaro and Chakra distros, but that should come this weekend.

Next week I start a new job back in project management/governance. Excellent.

Er, other than that just ticking over.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Good book

Just a very quick update to tell you that this "From Eternity To Here" by Sean Carroll is a jolly interesting book, which covers what time is and so forth.

Very, very good reading from a metaphysics and physics point of view, IMHO, and full of relevance for anyone with an interest in something like cosmology and stuff.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Strange days

Strange days. Definitely.

Not sure whether I am happy or not. It's hard to actually describe how I feel.

Am I upset? No.

Am I angry? No.

Am I sad? No.

I'm in one of those... "not sure" frames.

There probably is a word for it. But I don't know it yet.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Distro fun

Been doing some experimentation to see about a switch of main distro. Here are my findings. If I could be bothered I'd link stuff, but I'm sure you can search yourself.

Lubuntu - that's what I'm working on here, 13.04 to be precise (or raring!). Quick and clean, I like it. But not likely to be my longterm choice

Kubuntu 12.04 - main desktop, I like KDE again, it appears to have speeded up. Ubuntu variation gives a solid base but I am worried about some of the longterm direction.

openSUSE - nice, but a bit slow and large. May as well use Kubuntu, in a way

Fuduntu - No. Not now. Hate Gnome 2, anyway. Unconvinced about choice of Consort for FuSE, too

AntiX - nice, but support may be a bit variable as a bit niche. Also haven't got the will to endlessly edit config files, although I do recognise that this is the best way to get it right for YOU

Toorox - I like the idea, but the installer fails in a VM so I need to be persuaded

Gentoo - digital masochism

CentOS - really nice, but possibly not as an everyday desktop distro

Kali - would convince me more if the installer had worked in a VM. May try again, but not sure I have the enthusiasm for another lengthy installation session only to find a failure

Manjaro -  I like this a lot, going to try the KDE and LXDE variants in VMs. Community are really nice folk, too, plus it rolls and has Arch behind it.

Salix - nice, but didn't excite me

Mageia - not for me, sorry

openMandriva - nothing to see here, move along

BSD - hmm, including PCBSD et al just not doing it for me

Fedora - have you tried that installer?! No.

Ubuntu - I actually don't mind Unity, but as above I worry about where they are headed. They are aiming at consumer devices having not quite, IMHO, made serious inroads into the server market (unlike RedHat ergo CentOS)

In short, once I've tried Manjaro for a bit I'll be in a better position to pick. I'll probably still keep this Lubuntu/AntiX machine, and so forth, but the migration will probably kick off in about a month's time. Unless I change my mind. Again.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Two screens.

Evening all.

Spent two hours in an IRC chat re: FuSE - the new incarnation of Fuduntu. A bit disappointed, personally, that Consort got the nod over KDE/Klyde as the DE, but happy that it's going to be evaluated so this is up to users.

Also had a quick look at funding for Loqualia and sent some ideas off to the man who needs to know ;-)

Subscribed to Linux Pro magazine, and generally had a cracking little evening with laptop in front of me and TV in the background.

Shame the OpenMandriva is so quiet on IRC and what have you, though. I will need to drop them an email to get involved as it's showing some promise and I want to get in there.

What else? Oh yeah, tried toorox in a VM and the installation process was horrible - I need to give them some feedback on this. Didn't seem to work at all, which was a pain as I was really looking forward to trying it out.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013



I'm a bit torn. I like Ubuntu, but prefer Kubuntu. Yeah, I know the nay-sayers try and liken KDE to Windows, but they're just IMHO missing the point. KDE has so much power it's untrue!

I like the idea of Arch, I like the idea of Funduntu, but... well, Fuduntu is hitting EOL (Gnome2?! Seriously?!) and Arch is...

CentOS is cool. Gentoo is digital masochism.

I'm loving my Kubuntu desktop (Lubuntu on one laptop, which I like) which is sort of leading me to openSUSE, which I've been playing with in a VM.

But now OpenMandriva is here... Exciting thought to be an early adopter!

I'll get a new HDD for the desktop, bung it in (moving the Windows 7 one to an external caddy) and maybe dual-boot openSUSE and OpenMandriva. Or just pick one.

Why is it so hard to choose?!

In other news, have prepared a screencast for SLUG next week. Cool!

Thursday, 11 April 2013


OK, I may link in this, I may not. I'll see if I can remember what I'm doing.

Installed taskwarrior on my desktop machine, 'cos I like it. Similarly installed zotonic for the same reason, and started playing with that. I really need to plan what I'm doing with this Loqualia thing to get it going, but I reckon it's not rocket science.

Spoke to someone about Biobus for the UK yesterday - not sure if they'll have the time to do, but let's hope.

Tried out Kazam screen recorder for my short film what I've decided to make - "5 websites you've probably never visited but should".

What else? Can't think, quite frankly, so this will have to do.

Hopefully I'll also finish "The thoughts of Marcus Aurelius" in the next couple of days, too.

Still loving KDE, by the way!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Keeping talking

A bit of a quiet week on the old blogging front, but back here with a new post tonight. Written on Chromium under Lubuntu, by the way.

Right, first up I posted something on the Zotonic developer's group to try and kick off the Loqualia project. I think this sounds like a nice scalable CMS platform, let's see what, if anything happens from there.

What else? Oh yeah, done a bit of guitar playing, which has been fun, although seriously cheesed off with gdigi stopping working (both 0.2 and 0.4) under Ubuntu 12.04 for some reason. Ah well, just have to put up with that for now, but I'll try it with openSUSE when I switch to that fully. Already getting some practice in with Kubuntu - really cheesed off when I found that the widget view persisted from one activity to another. GRRRRR!

Also made some nice contact with Biobus, and hopefully I can help that start up in the UK later in the year if I can find the time. In the meantime, find out about it!

Also committed to making a short video for SLUG, so been playing with the old digital camera (which shoots mov files) and casting around for a video editor to work under KDE. Shouldn't be a problem, just need to shoot some content over the next few days.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


Had an interview today - seemed to go OK, but no doubt it will have been a disaster. Ah well, we shall see.

Built a whole new to-do list. If I'd had my laptop with me I'd have done it in Taskwarrior, but I didn't so I didn't. Managed to clear a few items this evening (updating this blog is one), but more to do before settling into a routine.

Decided to go with openSUSE on my desktop - probably on a new HDD, when I can find one at a decent price, and provided that my PSU will provide the juice. If not then the 1GB drive with Win7 on it will just have to go in a caddy and be USB pluggable to make room instead.

To be honest I can't remember really when I last booted into Win7 - I think it was to scan something because I couldn't remember how to do it in Ubuntu. Less of a problem if you stop scanning stuff!

As far as Ubuntu goes I'll also start moving over to Lubuntu, I think, as I'm getting more interested in zippiness than the fancy-dan stuff of Unity. I'll keep an AntiX installation going on my old Vista laptop, though, as I really like that.

I'll need to plan it all out properly, though, and use those USB sticks I have lying around to make sure I have PLENTY of backups...

Oh, and I'll start the Codeacademy PHP track before the week's out, too.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Moving away from Ubuntu?

I'm becoming more and more ambivalent towards Ubuntu. I've switched partially onto Lubuntu but today have installed CentOS and openSuSE into VMs to try them out.

Not sure why I'm just not feeling it with Ubuntu, but it just seems to be a bit less clear where it's headed at the moment, at least to me. Hence choosing the LXDE spin instead. Might stick with the super-nice Antix for my experimental fix.

Well, openSuSE is nice... a little slow to start with the KDE desktop, but partially I guess this is down to being in a VM. I've always like KDE - ever since I first tried SuSE and Mandrake back about 10 years ago, although I do feel that it needs serious time invested in setting it up just so.

In the case of CentOS I initially made the mistake of choosing a minimal install. Oops! Went back and chose a desktop setting, and was a bit, if I'm honest disappointed to find a Gnome setup. Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid!

I'll keep trying them out and see whether to switch full time. I'm leaning towards CentOS but with something like KDE on top, but might go for openSuSE as I am really impressed with how nicely put together it is.

I'll let you know when I've chosen, and how it's all worked out in terms of migration.

Oh, and added a whole new bunch of IRC channels to get involved in!

Friday, 29 March 2013

We have lift off

Right, a slightly fuller post this time around.

So - had an interesting excursion yesterday, met someone in the pub who has some interesting contacts around healthcare, so hoping that I/we can start to move epimetric on a bit. Possibly basing this around Talend studio will do the job.

Done some research on Loqualia, and I think a decent CMS will do the job. I'm currently leaning towards Zotonic, but might go with a PHP (CakePHP for example) or Perl-based one instead. More thinking required.

Also did some planning for taskdone, which I'm thinking of switching from javascript to Dart for no other reason than I can. Not decided yet, I'll have to spend a few solid hours just coding and getting it sketched up before finally committing to one language or another.

And finally, done some guitar stuff, including watching a couple of incredible Mattias Eklundh videos.

Monday, 25 March 2013

The perfect face for radio

Delighted to say that I joined the Skepticule podcast last night. Slightly dodgy sound on my CLI Skype recorder, but hopefully something of my rather brilliant Sneck Lifter and Hobgoblin-fuelled ramblings.

Today I've been doing some more thinking about Loqualia, and healthcare reporting, and project management tools... so I know what I'll be trying to find time to do this Bank Holiday weekend!

Also caught up on a whole load of podcasts thanks to a delayed train today, and some reading (Sean Carroll's "From Eternity to Here")... but totally worn out tonight.

Great stuff. Let's hope I can make things happen this weekend!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Local news for local people

Kicked off an interesting little project this week, enabling people to raise local issues, discuss them and generally get involved in making their world that little bit better.

Quite excited about this, so have started planning and getting people on board.

It's not completely new, but I hope can synthesise a few ideas into something that adds value to lives and brings change for the better.

Keep an eye out for it!


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Work, and how much I hate it

A title that I'm sure everyone can empathise with.

For the past few weeks I've gradually come to the conclusion that the place where I'm stuck now is doing me no good at all. The undermining, dare I say bullying behaviour of some is seriously, seriously getting me down.

So, I've resolved to do something about it.

I've kept records of everything, just in case.

Sadly I've not got a level move to another area, but I still have a couple more applications in. I just hope that something comes up from one of them.

Really, though, I need a completely new scene, a new employer and a new outlook on work, because the place where I am now is positively stultifying, if that isn't a contradiction in terms. I'm sure you know what I mean, anyway.

If anyone can offer me a job, please do!

Friday, 15 March 2013

That's logistics!

Right, very quick update with definitely no linking today.

A bit of a mish-mash day, where I successfully managed to fail to dial into a telecon at the first three attempts, installed a webcam and Skype on my desktop machine, sent a couple of emails and texts and wrote a new to-do list.

And as if that wasn't enough I've also managed to squeeze in a quick look through a guitar magazine, polishing and dusting a bit, doing a load of washing (second one to do next), have my dinner and decided to push ahead on only a couple of fronts rather than about eight hundred.


Oh yeah, I have also decided to start the CodeAcademy PHP track for something to do in the intervening ten minutes. And I'll probably start moving away from Ubuntu, but don't know yet what to. Maybe Antix, Salix or netBSD.

It would be great if I could finish something for once, though.

Sunday, 10 March 2013



Right, finished "The Philosopher and the Wolf" by Mark Rowlands - excellent.

Pushed along with Kensington Gore's diary - very funny.

Struggled with a risk assessment, especially as Ubuntu One is failing to connect at the mo'. Grr. Will have to switch back to desktop machine to finish that one off.

Done some pointless typing. Will do more later.

Started a job application, will crack on with that tonight.

Plans in hand to make my life better. Much better.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Decisions, decisions

Got some stuff to do. Need to look into:


Was going to do this tonight but lacking time. Ah well.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Keep it short, stupid

Short update. Asked for a transfer at work today - reasons many, varied and difficult to describe without undue emotion.

Got a copy of a cool book on epistemology, which I should start reading soon. In fact I used to own a copy many, many years ago, but now have no or little idea where it is.

What else? Not a lot, really. More in due course.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Active and productive?!

A fairly productive couple of days this weekend. Resolved to start up some learning on Talend and the School of Data, whilst also managing to bang in a quick job application, and start uploading some files to my new SourceForge project, TaskDone, which is pretty sketchy but is partly a learning experience for me, partly a task/project manager. If it works, great, if not who cares?

I've also been invited onto Skepticule's podcast, which I hope to do in a couple of weeks' time. I do need to set up Skype, and indeed even purchase a headset so that I can do this, but it should be fun and maybe open up some more possibilities for me!

What else? Oh yeah, have walked a few miles with the dog, very pleasant, and submitted some entries for the lubuntu wallpaper contest for 13.04, which I encourage anyone who happens upon them to vote for! You should be able to guess that mine are the "Stuz719" ones. Sadly I forgot to set the names to anything meaningful, but at least I got it done!

More soon, I'm sure.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Just done!

Managed to crack a few things today. Started a new project: Task Done on Sourceforge, which I envisage as a pretty versatile to-do list/workflow management tool.

Now, if I start writing some code this week I reckon I can have something moving ahead within a week. Take that as a public commitment!

Been doing some additional reading and podcast listening, too, mainly around philosophy and suchlike. I never realised I was so interested in metaphysics and epistemology! Or that I actually understood so much, and was so sympathetic to the continental school!

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Oops, simply not taken the time to update here, nor in fact to do very much at all.

Managed to find some time to go to the 1st Shropshire Rebellion web conference in Shrewsbury earlier tonight - very interesting, but to be honest I must have had my cynical head on because although I heard about user-centric design I found myself worrying about user acceptance testing and accessibility testing, without really getting the sense that they were really feasible within 6 week code sprints.

Also listened to FLOSS weekly today - very impressed at the sound of Zotonic!

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Sorry for the two posts - for some inexplicable reason I left my last epistle in draft.

So, failed to start on my latest projects, haven't updated my to-do list, and generally haven't done a lot.

Not strictly true, actually - more updates this week!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A little local difficulty

Right... mucho frustration as Code Academy managed to have some technical difficulties which wiped out a load of my progress on the Javascript track. Now rectified, and I've reworked some units and am now at 100%. Phew!

What else? Well, still have a load of stuff to do, cleared out some books, sorted out my bookshelves with some luvverly new philosophy texts, sorted out a load of CD's to sell, thrown away a bunch of tat and so much more.

Probably upset people on a G+ Ubuntu thread by suggesting Salix as an install on an "old Dell laptop", too. But hey, what could be finer?! Only thing better might be a dual-boot with AntiX (which I love dearly, a really nice environment to work in). If it has to be 'buntu, then Lubuntu would be my choice.

And yesterday was my birthday. What could be better? A large glass of Californian red (Merlot) beckons tonight...

Monday, 11 February 2013

Media stardom beckons

Well, maybe.

Amazed today when listening to Skepticule ep#39 when my feedback on a previous episode was discussed. Well, if what they said was for real I'm more than happy to try and set something up to go on the show to discuss stuff.

Other than that, the usual progress on JavaScript, a couple of job rejections (ho hum) and a desperate need to find some time to contact people who know people and so forth.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

It's all about time

Rapid update tonight, as I'm squeezing this in between other stuff, as usual.

Done a tiny bit on Code Academy, not managed to set up my new AntiX / Lubuntu with software yet, I think I'll need to sit down and write out what I want on there. Also whacked in a quick job application (copy and paste, I'm afraid, but pressed for time so hey ho) and made quite a nice spicy tea.

Need to update my notebook (as in old fashioned pen and paper job, not as in laptop computer) to reflect what I've done, and check my (again pen and paper) to-do list.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Choosing the right filesystem


Yes, I've just had to perform multiple reinstalls, because in its infinite wisdom the first go at sticking Lubuntu on top of a working AntiX system failed to recognise that I'd used ext2 for speed, and so ate up the whole disk.

Cue a reinstall of AntiX first, then Lubuntu (which then insisted on using the WHOLE empty space...) and then back into AntiX to use GParted to resize, and Robert is your mother's brother!

What else?

Oh yeah, work is as tedious as ever, I still have a to-do list that is far too long that I should stick in taskwarrior anyway, and it's nearly the weekend.

Finished Julian Baggini's "Philosophy: all that matters" and found it OK, although I think he seriously misses some points on basic logic and syllogisms (but that could just be me) - check it out, it's only a fiver on Kindle. As long as you don't expect too much analysis of some pretty powerful stuff - for example, more on Hegel and Kant would have been nice, but there I'm showing my bias!

Oh, and check out Phizzer's blog OK?!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Task lists

Updating my to-do list today, I've managed to tick a few items off.

First up, I've typed up and printed off a couple of letters which have been kicking around for over a week - probably more like two so that's good. I still have one more to do, which I'm going to start as soon as I've posted this blog entry.

I've also updated the desktop background on this laptop (my 17" one) with a nice silhouette-y picture of a crow I took today. Not sure I like the monochromatic nature, though, so I need to download a photo editor to have a play with the colour filters to make the sky bluer, I reckon.

I also need to promote my Cafepress shop again, in the hope of selling some more stuff. I'll do that with a tweet.

Dropped an email with regards to my healthcare project, which I am strangely hoping has actually taken on a life without me in a way - but who knows I may still have a role to play in it!

Did some more Javascript units at Code Academy.

Disappointed at how long some people take to respond to emails, but I guess that's just the nature of the beast - as I think I've already said I've got some wacky ideas for TV series' and a short film, so I still have my fingers crossed!

Also listened to a fantastic Partially Examined Life podcast about Marx - really interesting, although a bit of a slog at 2 hours long! But worth it, definitely worth it. If you haven't checked PEL out yet, then you should!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Writer's block? Pffft, I flex at your so-called "writer's block"!

Note for those interested - for a change I'm typing this on my netbook, and sorting my emails at the same time.

Today has been a keyboard-torturing day, thrashing out an outline for a TV series involving music, "the man in the street", rock stars and loud guitars. I need to now hawk this idea, and another one involving talking about random subjects to some production companies in the vague hope that someone will pay me some money for them.

Also finished the outline treatment of my mystery/horror story, and checked out some further lessons on objects in Javascript on Code Academy.

Got annoyed when someone on G+ didn't know the difference between Java and Javascript, and assumed that Java vulnerabilities also affected Javascript by default, then realised just how geeky I was being and calmed down.

Realised I now actually have to do some programming and build some kind of a web interface, as well as write a couple of business plans.

Was dismayed to find I'd managed to delete some html and code files I thought I had saved in Bluefish, but hey ho, grabbed the code from my website instead. I really should bung it in my Google code repository instead, or Sourceforge.

Tweeted a link to my Cafepress shop with some suitable hashtags in the hope of getting some more sales through there.

Just got to update my notebook now with a short few words about what I've done today.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Great meeting

Really great meeting at Shropshire Linux User Group (SLUG) tonight, talking through a wired home, firewalls and more...

Had some thoughts around training, and conferences, and listened to a whole bunch of podcasts... My favourite being, as is often the case, the Partially Examined Life, in particular the episode on Foucault on power.

What else... can't think of much at the moment, but I am sure more will come.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Join in and learn

Everybody should head over to Ubuntu Developer Week on IRC...

Today has already been productive, finished my 3,000 word story treatment (sort of mystery/horror story) ready for a proof-read and hawking around, tidied up some files, started building a website with Bluefish, applied for two jobs, got in touch with Makers Academy and so much more!


Oh, and big thanks to Dave from DVD infatuation 2,500 movies challenge for the RT of this blog!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Frustration and non-frustration

I'll be honest. I couldn't think of an antonym for "frustration".

More progress on Javascript on Code Academy, moving onto objects which (personally) I've thus far found more straightforward than in Python or (gasp!) C++.

Managed to get a job application submitted yesterday, which is good - be nice to think that it'll get somewhere. I have a few more to fill in tomorrow, which to be frank I'll probably do with a copy and paste and fingers crossed.

Also made contact with Remember The Milk with some crazy ideas - did I say that yesterday? I can't remember now.

What else... oh yeah, spent a day staring at spreadsheets full of numbers, got home with a splitting headache, have a serious caffeine deficit and missed large chunks of Ubuntu Developer Week. I did catch the end of one IRC session, which was good - hope I can do more tomorrow.

Also listened to a History of Philosophy podcast or three about Platonism (the cave and all that), which was a really useful experience. And started a PEL podcast about Nietzsche, which is always fun... I could actually empathise with the view that truth started as a way of warning about poison and predators...

Have fun, people.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Wanting but waiting. And plugging (away). And plugging.

Now up to 41% on the Code Academy javascript track - plugging away nicely.

Update the RPi (again), and had a couple of Spectrum games. Loads of fun. Need to update openelec next.

Got some further stuff to do on job applications - sadly had to miss the Oxford NHSHackday this weekend... gutted! But I'm hoping I can pick some stuff up on related subjects tomorrow.

What else... oh yeah, got some TWiT stuff to watch (FLOSS, Security Now) at some point, cleared some podcast backlogs (History of Philosophy bits, and Boys and Ghouls), and some other bits.

Didn't finish a lot, but made progress, and can't say fairer than that.

And I found a cheap vintage guitar - if it's still there on Friday I'll buy it - and decided I'd like a new (additional) netbook.

Oh yeah... quick plug for my online shop!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Briefly updated!

Further into the Code Academy Javascript course, a few more badges earned and getting on top of some the slightly baffling ways of doing things. Curly braces are just SOOOOO 1980's!

Had some fun on the RPi, too, having a bash at a Scott Adams adventure (The Sorceror of Claymorgue Castle, by the way) and the classic Time Gate, which I finished quickly on level 1.

What else... well, not a lot, really. This has just been a quick update. I have a lot more to do...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Racked up a few more courses on Code Academy, ripping through the Javascript course nicely, although I have slowed down a little bit after the initial burst!

I'm hoping to have this finished in the next week or so, so if anyone wants to then pay me inordinate amounts of money to code (and yes I know that these sort of sites aren't "proper" whatever that means).

AND... intrigued by some Coursera stuff, but I need to think hard about how much time I want to set aside to this on top of everything else, and not over-commit.

There is more I could blast out here, like how I've found the Speaker's Chair which is jolly interesting - in a way I like the impartiality, but in a way I wish it actually had a bit of an agenda.

More in due course.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Codeacademy and other things

Finished the first section on Javascript on Code Academy, actually quite impressed with this - it works really well and actually progresses at a fair old lick. I like it!

Started a job application, got more to do on this tomorrow.

New TV this morning - the old one gave up after 5 years' loyal service, which was a shame, but the new one is bigger, less than half the price and has multiple HDMI inputs, and a USB port - yay!

I will need to set up the display modes on my four RPi images, but this is a small price to pay, really. I should get around to this tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 January 2013


Quick update from the netbook.

Yep, really happy with Lubuntu and if I get chance I'd like to submit an entry for the community wallpaper.

Also had a play on a couple of guitars today, and made a decision to make a push on three fronts over the next couple of days around a piece of fiction where I'd like to develop a couple of themes as I think I know the outlet I'd like to work with, some mathematical modelling (making contact with other projects) and finally some community activities.

But I know this will be fluid to-do list...

Oh, and I wonder if there'd be any takers for a GUI for taskwarrior, which I think is excellent?

Oh, and how is exactly Brian Cox going to describe how science explains life using "the fundamental laws of physics", when there is no clear definition of what "life" is, anyway? Hey, even Schrodinger struggled with that one!


Interesting that I'm typing this on my Windows laptop, running Lubuntu 12.10 from a LiveCD.

Really nice - Chromium browser is superquick, but I think I'll stick with Firefox when I install for real.

Nice experiment anyway, and it's made my mind up to go with Lubuntu when I do install.

Hopefully I'll get to try Scratch out on the RPi a bit more later, too.