Monthly Archives: January 2006

Hawa – the Vision and Sadness


To get at the truth, visit the blog. Blogs definitely transcend us in so many ways and even when we can talk about the anthropology of blogging and its lofty goals, others use blogging as a way of presentation. Presentation of the life they see in their realities.

Take Hawa to a place and read it. Look at the photos and wonder at what is going on there. Then blog about it and ask the hard Why questions.

Ideas, Artifacts, Processes

Interesting perspectives from an old friend that does human osteology (or did). We talked via email about some of his changes and how after many years of traveling up to Alaska during the summers for work, this last summer of 2005 was his last. At 49 or so human years, he went through the requisite identity crises about the what and if things. What to do and if I don’t succeed? Luckily I guess, he is single. His home has been a backpack for years and his knowledgebase has been a laptop. While he is not a “techno-uber-geek”, he is quite good with understanding where ideas and artifacts intersect in his life. Now doing archeology and human osteology are artifacts of a previous life.

One of the things we discussed at length is change. Gentle reader, you ever noticed how change occurs even when you would really not have it? It tends to eat away the past, reseed the present, and redefine the future. In Theo’s case, it all came down to only days. Days to look, see, wonder. But an interesting question came up that I’ve wondered about:

How many archeologists and anthropologists have simply gone on to new things because of some change or requirement or need?

In my own case, I reached the point of that change years ago and a friend told me that most males go through three full career changes before they are done with careers. Jobs may have lots of small changes. Director of this, senior engineer of that. But as we go through our male lives, we tend to need that change or it puts the pressure on us.

A old friend, RWR, told me once “there is nothing so constant as change”.

it stuck with me through thick and thin. But one thing, as my wife says. You can take the person from archeology but you can never take the archeology from the person. Once an archeologist and anthropologist; always one. Its more than reading and testing and digging. Its a way we have of exploring our lives and building our conditions. It formulates my thoughts around blogging, about life in general, about how we puny humans experience things. I also get a view on how others do things.

One of the facts I learned early on is that archeologists are solitary human beings and they live a rich solitary tapestry but many of them are not good in sustained large group endeavors. They need the field, the empty spaces, the deserts and forests. It fuels some inward desire.

These days I feel still the same. The solitary moments where introspection runs high are the best for me. I love the aspect at work of building a team; of making that team do wondrous things. But my inner person turns to the deserts and forests still. I can still see the sunrises and sets, the desert glows in spring and the mountain forests.

A decided tapestry and a group of ideas, artifacts, and processes.

Mozilla Extensions Anyone and Linux Applications Roundup

Lets go over how the browser is our world, class. Repeat after me,

The browser is the world
The browser is not the world but with extensions…

I’ve been looking at a number of very powerful extensions like adblock, performancing, and a really nice weather one of late. This gets me to the point of being able to extend GNU/Linux on the desktop to areas that were lacking. Running things in browsers like RSS alligators are cool. Sage as an extension is very cool. But after a few posts on Linux applications and a lack here or lots there, I’ve come up with a few that we all just need. Lets start with Mozilla Extensions that work perfectly on Linux:

  • Performancing – try this one out if you post to a wordpress-powered weblog. It does so much and it runs in a window in the browser.
  • Sage – if you like RSS crocodiles and alligators; you’ll like Sage. It tucks away RSS into a panel and you can have all the power of the browser at the same time. Very nice
  • ForecastFox – weather when you need it! This is a nice weather alerter, forecast finder, etc.

There are so many more these days that you can definitely find the ways/means of extending your Firefox experience. You say you use IE? What in heck is IE? Is that one of them legacy web browsers? :-) But how to find them? Launch Firefox and go to “extensions” and find more. Simple. I won’t link to each one because you will definitely want to go shopping.

Now for some Linux applications that I’ve found do things which I need:

  • OODraw – I blogged this one before and got a nice comment about using it. OODraw does the wild and wooly connectors that make flowcharting fun and profitable. It runs on Linux very nicely but if you need it on other platforms, you got it! Its part of the projectand one of the nice things with the 2.x release is that one can launch it independently. I don’t recall this feature with the 1.x releases.
  • JBlogEditor – Well, you know if you blog, you don’t want to always have performancing open because it means running Firefox all the time. Its nice to find a multi-platform blog editor and JBlogEditor is it.
  • Freemind – Well, this one is common-sensical sort of. If you do flowcharting, you probably want to do mind-mapping. If you do mindmapping you may want to do outlining too. I think there is a continuum of use with these kinds of things. So I’ll link to a few outliners next… Anyways Freemind does wondrous things and its free and it installs nicely, and it does mindmaps. What’s a mindmap you may ask? Imagine a graphical representation of a project and links to tasks, ideas, requirements.
  • Along with mindmappers we need outliners and there are bunches. Some nice ones that are free that run on Windows are like Keynote. Nice, very nice! We have a few on Linux too. I’ve been using one called outliner which runs on Linux nicely. Its a basic thing but it can handle multiple files at the same time. Tuxcards is another one that you may like.

The last topical area on outliners is kinda weak when you compare it to things like KeyNotes. There are bunches on Windows out there now and we need more on Linux. An outliner is a wondrous thing to me because its situated inbetween a flat wordprocessor and a more graphical editor.

Well, there you have a few and some are java-based which make it nice. Others are based on a browser model and there are some that are just glue. OpenOffice is glue basically and it makes computing on Linux that much nicer. Thanks to all the folks that produce quality software. I use and like commercial and free stuff and I appreciate them all. Great work!!

Gathering the Table of Elements

Its come to me more than a few times that the world is made up of elements of various kinds and there is this table of periodic elements which are the maps and illustrations of our world. Some of the crystalline structures I’ve seen of silica, quartz, dolomitic cherts; are simply breathtaking in their elegance. Geologists have a wondrous world to work on and I think their tablet is the world-at-large and all its structure. I’ve envied them for more than a few reasons in the past because they take on time and space in a very interesting, provocative and wondrous way. As an archeologist at one time, we took on features, symmetry, logistics, space, and time as well. I was limited to 40k years though and geologists go on and back and even out into space. Wondrous! But prehistoric peoples touching their lives is also full of wonder…

It brings me to the periodic table of elements for people. We all seem to have shares of these common elements like truthfulness, honesty, equity, wonder and all the negative poles. In fact, in many people, most people, all people one can observe what element rules. We all want people to ascribe to higher moral, ethical, and other elements; but our makeup while cosmic in nature is human in composition. So we all have to share all of our elements and be just human but fly to the stars. Its what makes us the best and worst and other ways at things we do. But the real mystery is when you introduce others and their elements to the mix. As solitary human beings we sense out our own elemental lives; but people add a mix and complexity.

Its an interesting set of hypotheses to consider, fellow humans. As you blog out and in, consider what elements you are presenting for the rest of us. We all are made up of the materials that made the universe but we cull them all down to sets of principles, ethics, ideas, philosophies. Don’t tell me measurement of the way doesn’t matter and that results only do. Without measurements of effort, results don’t ever happen. So get honest with yourself in your periodic table of elements.

Lets all be good geologists, anthropologists, and scientists and redo our own particular table of elements.

Blogging in the Morning is Wierd

Well, its about 735am here and I just done perusing my morning news resources including here and there. There is the usual assortment of goods and bads; but it came to me in a flash of unusual morning brilliance. Why not write a blogpost in the morning? I also started wondering if there is a temporal element to when the bloggers start blogging. Do people blog morning thoughts? Do you wait until the day settles in a bit and then do the required reverse or forward or whatever chronological ordering of your thoughts?

I had not really considered why I feel more comfortable blogging after my day’s duties are fulfilled (at least my work day). Perhaps work now frames my day a bit. Perhaps work is a necessary thing I have to do and it forms boundaries for me for different existances I have to emote against. I do wonder how others feel the need. Is it a morning thing for those that blog a lot like Doc Searls?

For me, I blog when I blog. But this has to be a first. The clock is ticking around to almost 745 now and I have the kid duties emerging in my schedule. The 14-year old requires school delivery and the 7 year old requires tickling and teasing. Soon my more serious side will emerge and I’ll drive across the Bay and be that workaday person. But today is Friday!! And there is no more work after today. That makes it one of those days that we capture, monitor, and deal with differently. After all, work is work; but Saturday is not.

Bye all you morning bloggers! Perhaps I’ll find enough to blog about tonite. Perhaps I’ll just stop at a Starbuck’s or Borders today and consider the realities and fantasies from there on tmobile. Having a “office away from the office” is rather nice all told. I can do the wifi on my Debian laptop and feel escaped and not modulated to the office frequency.

Power Management Wows and Woes

After a brief absence, our hero returns from the land of suspend and software suspend and apm and acpi.  He is badly bruised but nonetheless happy and challenged. 

My older Dell Inspiron 4100 seems to all work under Linux these days and perhapts its gotten too old because suddenly now I have little suspend issues which I never had under a 2.4 kernel.  Most of the time, I close the lid on the laptop, apm kicks in and when I get home all is fine.  A few times though, there are these little lock icons on the top of the keyboard area by the power button that get me.  All three are blinking madly at me and the laptop will not come back.  The icons have a lock on them.  What in hell are they anyways?  They conquer me about 1 time out of 20 or so.  Why blink at me at all I wonder. 

I don’t run some smancy window manager or so-called desktop environment.  I still run WindowMaker because I can and its complex enough for me; but the whole power management or perhaps (mis)management thing gets me.  I like to have 100% functionality.  If I suspend that means I do not want to reboot.  It means come on back when I open the lid doggone it!

I don’t recall how XP ran on this laptop but perhaps all my laptops are too old for this stuff.  I got this dell laptop in 2001.  Five years old now.  Goodness!  How time flies.  When the laptop was like 2 years old, Linux just worked on it.  APM, Sound, networking.  I was in heaven.  I could close and open the lid, have the screen back without the little lock icons blinking madly at me.  What are they anyways?  Does anyone know?

Anyways, now it runs a 2.6.15 kernel with and APM compiled in as a module.  I am 95% there with things.  But suddenly after years of great performance,  little things start bugging me.  APM, ACPI… Someone once told me that ACPI stood for “Another Crummy Proprietary Interface”.  I don’t get ACPI at all; but I do know that my T23 likes it and my Inspiron does not.  Come on guys!  Can’t we all just get along?  Laptops are… portable.  You should be able to shut the lid and open the lid and it all just works.

Perhaps it does in other worlds.  And most of the time it does in this one.  I’d like a better than “most” experience though.   I’ll just go back to a 2.4 kernel since it seems to actually work better at most things.  But… 2.6 rocks the boat on USB stuff.  I am in desperate love with USB gadgets that all work now.

Oh well, I spent my blog-time discussing my little travails but perhaps everyone with a laptop has similar ones…  Laptops perhaps by their very nature offer a mix of ease of use and irritation.

On and on; off and off; yet we go

One thought… Its nice to find sets of applications that work, that you can use to fulfill requirements. On the Linux side, I had my short list (which is getting shorter by the day). I wanted a nice blog client and enter JBlogEditor. I was willing to give OODraw a chance to do some basic flow modeling/charting I needed. OODraw does simple flow modeling pretty decently; but the one feature which makes it worth its incredible expense (free?), is the PDF export. Perhaps others don’t use this as often; but I tend to share documents with a variety of users on a variety of OS’es. The PDF export in OpenOffice means I can write my documents or draw my stuff and never leave the OpenOffice interface/UI to build PDF files. Very handy if you need that sort of thing. The other big thing is that OpenOffice has grown a lot and the 2.0.x release in Debian Unstable provides a great set of functionality. I just wish they would shrink the size of the UI/Menu icons. They seem rather large to me.

At work, I have two laptops actually. One is my primary work machine running Linux. The other runs Windows XP Pro. I am on the Linux laptop about 95% of the time. That’s a good thing ™. But, I don’t really mind Windows either and I have some great XP applications there. Yes, Uncle Dan, there are nice Windows applications. There are nice applications across the board actually. Some we really don’t attribute the “nice” label to but irregardless they are nice. Little guys like screen and rsync that do these tasks for me that make life more bearable. There are bigger guys too. I’ve already talked about OpenOffice; but I really like a few of the multi-platform applications like Gaim, Firefox, Thunderbird, Xchat. Gaim by itself is worth the price of admission. I can always create a nice environment with just adding a few tools. One of them is is smtp services. I just don’t get why there is no SMTP server bundled. That’s just sorry. Out of the box, no way to send mail…

So, my reasons before for using Windows have shifted to my reasons for using Linux. My job demands I use Linux these days. But I will always run Debian here. I’ve tried others and they frustrate me.

Strange Days for Me N You

The weekend this weekend was an interesting mix of sorting out a few things I wanted to try on Linux, getting my XP desktop rebuilt, and thinking a lot about the strangeness of life in general. I had an opportunity to watch the last few minutes of the Broncos and Steelers. Yay Steelers! Its always good when the Horsey Boys lose and when they lose at a superbowl bid; its even better. Its mo bettah. If it cannot be to those Silver and Black folks, losing a superbowl appearance is just as sweet.

One of the things I’ve blogged a bit about is how I tend to be a habilis type person with computers and OS’es. I basically use the OS which facilitates my work or play. I don’t have a set of zealotry which extends to any of it. If I use Windows XP, I know what I need there. I need anti-virus, spyware protection, registry cleaning. Windows XP seems to just require more “mantenance”. On Linux, I tend to not worry and get completely lazy. I open up the zip archives that have things that make my windows AV go off. Call it curiousity. I also don’t worry about registry cleaners (doh… of course). And as I blogged there are lesser and lesser reasons for me needing Windows these days which is a good thing. I’ve been doing Linux for about 10 years now give or take a kernel release. Since I am not a developer, I characterize myself as a “user”. A tool user to be truthful. I use tools and computers are tools. If Linux fails me at a job, I just pack it in and move to something else. It was a reality that I could not do complex flowcharting when I needed to before so I used Visio. I still have a thing about Visio at a technical and use level. Its just wonderful software. It does what it needs and it makes it easy to get a thing done. There is still nothing really on Linux to match it; but these days I don’t need its complexity so I can use OpenOffice or StarOffice and its draw program. The OODraw program appears to do a passable job and has export to PDF which is really handy and its integration points into the other programs are great.

At my work location, I simply don’t need Windows nor do many of my cohorts which is very nice. They all run something else and I am the token Debian user. That’s okay by me. We all know that Debian is inherently superior and soon all will know :-)

Almost at the last paragraph now in this blog post. I’ve spent some years blogging the body anthropological because I enjoy now reclining in a chair and extrapolating the things, the ideas, the theories, and the worlds that make up the sciences I truly enjoy. Anthropology is one of those binding things to me. It gives me a thought process to understand, hypothesize, watch, and record events. When I was out stumbling the deserts in the American West, archeology was my mistress. She was a harsh and demanding one at times and made me walk a certain path. I had to walk the right-of-ways of bulldozers, pipelining equipment, powerlines. But I also did a lot of research that was funded by a variety of agencies. It all circles around on weekends and lets me dwell on the places and spaces and the desert sunsets I once saw. If there was one thing I loved truly and fully, it was the archeology. When I got into technology, the thing that shocked me the most was the way people dealt with each other. I remember thinking, “it cannot be this way”. People were and are treated like the software products they write or support or service. In vogue one year, gone and outdated the next. Geez. No wonder we have a disposable cuture at so many levels. In many cases in the past, the leadership was guilty of the same type of heresy; but they did their acts on living people and not services, products, or support.

My wife says it was all the same though. In archeology people did bad things too. I had a boss once we forced out of office for a variety of causes. It came down to me and a senior natural resource planner to take the action but it had to be.

So, its Sunday at almost 1600 now and I can see the places I want this blog to go next. Its always a mirror and I see things which need reflecting. If you don’t blog and perhaps you ask, “why should I”; I would challenge you to read a few weblogs and see if there is a thing which matches. Weblogs are growing at some rate and I think people need a medium to cuss and discuss.

Stand by for future transmissions from this channel. Mike out.

Second Tests, tastes, and other virtual wealth building exercises

So one of the things I like trying is new software. Of late, I’ve been looking at more than a few graphics programs but I really wanted a decent offline blog editor on Linux. The basic requirements are that I can do multiple “tags”, have a decent editing environment, be able to use colors, shapes, images, tables, lists, and the occasional quote or misquote. Now, I’m playing with JBlogEditor and it reminds me a bit of W.bloggar on XP. But of course I don’t need XP for it and its just one less application that I suddenly rely on on that other platform. Its at the 0.6 release and it requires a relatively recent Java download. I’ve also played a lot with RSSowl which is a really classy RSS/Atom/whatever feeder. It has that polished look that makes me happy to use it.

My primary goal is to not use Windows whenever I can these days and I think the OpenOffice drawing/charting program is another one that takes me to a place I need to be.

Finally, I wanted to be able to draw these so-called “mindmaps” for some work I am doing and Freemind really comes in handy there.

I’ll be blogging some more about a few interesting places I’ve been lately and how nice it is to see the applications maturing, new ones coming on board that extend Linux to new areas, and how nice it really is to just use Linux these days for things. Really great!!

this is a test

well here we are testing! This is a new blog client for linux. We’ll see how it goes. No place like home! Try out a few new tricks every day.