Monthly Archives: September 2010

Goodbye Xmarks

Well, this does not make me too happy. I’ve been a happy foxmarks and then xmarks user for some years. Its meant the ability to travel and share bookmarks with all my computers running firefox. Then I happened to read this farewell from them. I tried to write this response on their blog but it did not seem to make it. Xmarks; I will pay 250.00 to a paypal account for an opt-in account and will then pay a commensurate annual fee if you agree to keep the service active. I don’t care if there are others. I want xmarks. I’ve donated to a variety of open source and community pages because it helps the developers and other users reach goals. I will do the same for xmarks. I strongly suggest you canvas your users. If each person would pay an opt-in amount and then agree to a yearly maintenance fee, would you stay in business?

Give it some thought xmarks.

Worky Work

Its been over a week of the “no job” thing. Last time I did this was at Levanta when I was told after a year I was not a good fit. I think what I figured out about Levanta was that it actually was not a good fit so it was terminated due to its lack of fit. I’m not sure this time what the time will be to be off work. I’d like to find something that would take me back to India because I cannot see not getting back there at some point. After almost 7 months there last year, I just feel the need to get back. I’ll miss the Diwali this year for the first time in a few years. I enjoyed the festival immensely on the rooftop of the Raintree Hotel on St Mary’s Road.

At this point, I’m unsure when I will make it back to Singapore or India but my feeling is that the job I find will provide me an opportunity to travel internationally again for work. I have a few opportunities which I’ll have to assess as time goes by. Not gonna jinx them with some pronouncement on a weblog.

I’ve decided to take the train up to Chico next week to see my friend Ed. I’ll probably spend 3 days and 2 nights there at a nicer hotel in downtown Chico. Drink some beer with Edster, eat some meals, get away from a bit. I still want to do this longer train trip that I had to cancel because of my last India trip. That one would go from Boston to Emeryville on Amtrak. I will do that one. Its a goal I have.

Ubuntu RC closeness

Ubuntu Maverick is nearing its RC date. Been running the beta now for about 2 weeks and its gotten nicer but the nvidia card issues still seem to be there with the boot splash thing. I get an ugly text mode boot splash where before on Lucid I had a very nice and graphical sequence. In 3 days or so, the beta will become the RC as if by magic. Then we have a bit over a week and the RC becomes gold. Its an exciting time to be tracking ubuntu.

Kid Resilience

My daughter is an amazing mix of female sensitivity and resilience. She startles me with her intuitiveness and then makes me laugh watching cartoon shows with her. When did she actually become human? :-) She is now this feature complete little being who understands things perhaps better than I do. The loss of the cat still wears on her. Perhaps on all of us. But we all have this method of reaching beyond.

Sad Day Today

Today was one of my running all around to stand still days. I had to pick up my daughter and her friends early because school had a minimum day. My daughter wanted to eat a special lunch so we did that. We got back and our family cat was under my daughter’s bed making unworldly sounds. We could simply not act decisively enough and she died under the bed. I ran around calling vet’s, animal hospitals, and trying desperately to figure out what to do. My daughter was heart-broken and cried all the way to the animal hospital. Our kindly vet told us she was gone. In a matter of minutes I had to decide what to tell my daughter. Arry loved the cat more than anything and Aurora would follow her around the house; settling in on my daughter’s lap, purring, starting up her motor. We used to sit and watch the cat manipulate our 90 pound golden retriever and the dog would just take it from a 10 pound cat. Now this was gone and I had to walk out of a small room and tell my sobbing daughter that her cat was gone.

This is not one of the jobs that is good. This hurts and it still hurts. I tried to think through whether I could have done anything different. Yes I could have. Could have acted faster. But in the end, it probably would not have mattered. I had the choice of getting a cat autopsy done and I said no.

Now its the time after with no black and white feline eyeing my lap, silently asking to be attended to. I’m not a cat person; but I’ll miss that cat that turned into a family member.

Signing off. Sayonara Aurora. You will be missed.

Richness of the Linux Console

Some  believe that to be a great application, a modern graphical user interface is a basic requirement. On Linux, we happen to have a rich heritage of console applications though. Everything from RSS feed aggregators to quite good audio players. The command line applications may look different, require different keys to make them do things, and take a bit of getting used to. As an example, I use this audio player called MOC or Music on Console. It has a rich set of commands, its very flexible and configurable, and I feel more in command with it than the graphical ones. It plays my mp3s, gets out of the way when I want, and it does a lot more which I have not learned yet. Looks kinda like this:

The top of the window is a playlist I created of Indigo Girls songs. The bottom is 50g of mp3s I have queued up to play for awhile. Why use this instead of rhythmbox, or songbird, or name that player though? I believe that console applications have a subtle elegance that is missing in the modern GUI. I always hated with some level of animosity that Windows seems to want to define a GUI for just about everything. It removes the user from the equation. Nothing is learned when you just click NEXT->NEXT. The applications like MOC give you a new look at how to manipulate things like mp3 files. But there are other more wondrous, powerful, unique applications as well. Email is one. I still use the mongrel of mailers to interact with gmail believe it or not. It gives me a fast view of email when I don’t want to run thunderbird, firefox or whatever. It works over slow SSH. No email client I have ever used has more power under the hood than mutt. Outlook is some kinda bastardization of 10 different things where none are done right.

On Linux, I often try to find a console applications which let me interact with files, copying, backup, recovery. I submit that one little beast called rsync takes the places of a few tools and its all given up for free. Combine it with ssh and you have a veritable gold-mine of use.

Try out a Linux distribution in VMware or Virtualbox. You’ll find an amazing diversity of applications. Some things are better viewed graphically; but Linux is rich in the console as well. Its well worth the experimentation. You will come away enriched and more capable. Not only I say so. Ask any of the true gurus out there.

Applying for Work

Its been roughly a week since I last worked. Been a pretty good one all told. I’ve been casting about a bit for work and have found some pretty interesting positions mostly at the consulting/contracting level. I’d probably take a 6 month to one year contract but I am actually in no big hurry at this point. Too much is going on at home now with jobs, schools, meetings, etc. My wife and I agree that its easier for me to not work. Not to say I would not take something if it were offered.

I’m pretty much windows free and loving it at this point. I have one system left with Windows 7 but that’s gonna go bye bye as soon as ubuntu 10.10 is final. Everything else has Linux on it as a server, desktop, laptop but its the beta for 10.10. There are some rough edges with it. I get crash notifications every so often for gnome-power-manager and once the xorg-core package failed. I report all the crashes using the bug reporter and most are duplicates of other issues; except for the xorg-core issue.

This beta has been a lot of fun but it will be interesting to see how things go over the next 10 days as we move from the beta to the RC release. On ubuntu, its just a “apt-get” away. Going from RC to final is the same. On the 10th of October, I’ll update that day and it will be the release version. That’s how difficult Linux is. Truthfully, after working around Windows updates, patches, security updates, service packs, hotfixes; it amazes me how they sustain the whole thing. Linux figured out the update thing years ago. I’ve also wondered why I have to reboot Windows boxen when I rename them? On Linux I edit the /etc/hostname file, perhaps change a entry in /etc/hosts and its done. Is there some reason why that simply renaming box prompts a reboot? I guess its better now than NT4 Workstation. The joke at the GAP was that you move the mousie anywhere near the network neighborhood thing and it signaled a reboot. Of course, Linux is just harder to figure out with its myriad text files that you have to learn how to edit. Blah, blah, blah.

Third thing is that I’m pretty happy with the Linux Mint Debian Edition and its nature. It rolls the updates continuously so you install once and it just keeps on cooking. Just like regular old Debian testing. You never really have to re-install a Debian testing box unless you commit the sin of “fubar”.

Someone asked me what I do to while away the days now. Most of the time I stop at this super-secret starbucks that has great wifi, lots of tables, and some pretty nice looking women. I sit there from 10am to 1130am and consider the world, my place in it, nature of the beast, technology, and a host of other things. Its a great rebooter for me each day and it clears the home cobwebs. Starbucks lets me sit for just about as long as I want/need/desire. I sometimes reflash my NexusOne phone or get it on the wifi as well and let it update the Android Market applications that have come out.

All in all, a very relaxing few days that turned into a week. I’ll take things into some other gear in October but I’ll also file for unemployment comps then.

Interesting OOBE

So, I was part of an interesting set of posts on facebook. A previous work colleague purchased a NexusOne phone and was completely disappointed. Alex said it did not do what he thought it would, the OOBE (out of box experience) was not what it should be, etc. This gave me a lot of room for thought. I came up with this fact. If you want a OOBE, then buy a consumer android phone like a Droid X or 2. For heaven’s sake don’t buy a developer phone that google is selling directly and then complain that it does not do this or that. We all knew when we purchased the NexusOne it was not some consumer thing. It was an experiment by google. Perhaps one that did not succeed. Yet the phone is a wonder after you apply the froyo update or root it and install CM6 or a Modaco ROM.

Don’t come complaining about the N1 and its OOBE. Because it ain’t got one. You want a OOBE and want a consumer device, go buy a Motorola Droid or something. Wanna play with ROMs, root the phone, install new MODs, make it do strange and wondrous things? Get a N1. Still.

Its a stupid idea that somehow the N1 will compete as a consumer device. You all know the consumer-ish phones. Samsung makes one. Motorola make a few. HTC seems to do this for some with the Sense UI on them; but the new G2 will be a basic Froyo build. I say hurrah! I’ll take something with no OOBE and then place my own POOBE (Perry out of box experience) on it.

Go buy an iphone or something and jailbreak it. Mkay?

Maverick 10.10 Beta Thots

Just a few if you have an interest that’s perking up to try out the newest:

  1. Installation on AMD64 if you have an nvidia card requires some manual hackery. Select “nomodeset” by getting to the install boot loader and select F6. Then hit CTRL-X too boot. After install, you have to manually edit the boot loader line and do the same. Remove in both cases the “splash quiet” settings and replace. After this, get the proprietary hardware drivers installed and reboot. Voila! All fixed… (for now)
  2. Updates are coming hella quick. Better have a nice fast internet connection. Dialup would be painful now. I see hundreds some days.
  3. Be prepared for some breakage. Some things don’t work or seem strange. Hell, computers are strange anyways. I did the first install on this system and lost the disk drive. Blech.
  4. Be ready for changes up to the RC date. Lots of changes. I did this last time too and things were quick paced. Again, fast network connections pay off.
  5. Have fun! Don’t take it all seriously and read the ubuntuforums Maverick beta test site. I post there on occasion and nothing is taken too badly. I’ve asked my share of stupid questions and got thoughtful answers and never insulting or demeaning ones. Its a beta, right?
  6. You will not have this much fun with Windoze or a MAC; guaran-fuckingteed. Linux is just more fun and it ain’t ever done. It makes using a computer an adventure. If you want it all cooked, don’t stop here. Try 10.04 Lucid. But truth is that ain’t cooked either. On the subject of Windows, I get bored with it. Linux rocks and it breaks and it fixes. At this point with ubuntu, its all about enjoyment to me.

Try it out. You may get frustrated, angry, or even laugh. But I got the feeling that’s what computers are supposed to actually do. If not, just buy a silo like a MAC or get Windows 7 and be set for a nice tan existence.

Bye Celestix and Thanks

I join the ranks of the unemployed. I was at Celestix Networks for 2.6 years. I enjoyed the time spent there immensely and enjoyed most everyone I worked with and for. There are a few notable exceptions but being a political animal I won’t name them. They probably can guess anyways that I never really cared for them. In the spirit of closing out this portion of my life; here are the things I truly enjoyed:

The people. I really liked all the people. Most of all I appreciated the folks in Celestix India and their can-do and will-do attitude and always going the extra yard during my visits to make sure I had stuff to do, great food to eat, beer to drink. Chennai truly is my second home.

The work. I found the work extremely challenging. I am not a big Windows guy but the challenge of bringing major products to market across multiple geographies, different team members, challenging technology terrains produced a very rich and textured work environment for me. I appreciate all that made this happen for me.

The times. I had some very rewarding times. The last trip to India was not too rewarding to tell the truth and I did not enjoy it that much. Going to a place to terminate almost 20 people is not a reason to rejoice. I would cap this entry by saying I did the difficult stuff for Celestix and when the times were difficult, I feel that I rose above and accomplished.

Thanks to everyone at Celestix Networks for always being there for me. I’ll resist stating those that should  get attitude adjustments, stop believing they are almost God-like, or operate in some exclusionary world. They are the minority and companies are made up of more than just those types.

Someone asked me what I’d do next. Why run Ubuntu Maverick 10.10 beta of course! Because Linux rules and Windoze Drools.

Buh Bye and Hello

I’m done at one thing and just starting at another. Starting another chapter of my life. Getting rid of the rather annoying Windows 7 systems today and putting on ubuntu 10.10 beta which I think all considered is more my cup of tea. Its definitely better as a beta than Windows 7 final.

Onward and upward to new things. Simpler things. Linux things. I feel better sitting in front of a ubuntu desktop or laptop than I ever could running Windoze. Refer to first paragraph above for why.

Other things have changed and I feel relieved.

Two things

In a previous blogpost I said I would take a short break. That’s over because news is big. One piece of news has to wait until next week but the second confirms what I’ve felt for awhile about the power and pervasiveness of Android. Read it! Android is a socially and technologically disruptive phenomena. It has the power and position to make Apple look like a paltry third wannabe. Why? For the reasons the article points out and what I’ve said. Its choice. You got choice with Android.

Its too late for iPhones now. There is no choice. No choice means no market, no market penetration, no critical decisions. Soon the android revolution will simply bypass whatever iPhone had. It does not need more market applications. It already has what it needs. Choice, open platforms. Very powerful alternatives. Apple shoulda, woulda, coulda. But its too late. The power of the green robot has begun.

All the apple fanbois can do is stand by. Moving the phone to verizon ain’t gonna matter. For every one phone you move, two more brand new android phones roll out. New OS’es, new form factors, new choice. How can apple hope to compete with their tired silo locking down choice?