A Random Pattern

August 21, 2006

Update your subscriptions or bookmarks. I’ve moved!

Filed under: blogging,personal — randomstep @ 9:29 am

This will be the last time I do this to you! I’ve moved web homes to a more permanent location. If you’re subscribed, I may figure out a way to automatically move the feed, but in the meantime you’ll miss a lot of content. So if you want, just hop over and subscribe. Or here’s the address for the feed.

August 12, 2006

Update on past week, new web home (finally!)

Filed under: blogging,computers,linux,personal — randomstep @ 5:12 pm

I haven’t posted much this week, but a lot’s happened in the background. Here’s a quick summary, and you can expect me to return to a more normal posting schedule.

The Ubuntu box is back up – I ran a memory test, then rebooted a few times and it started up fine. During the memory test I discovered my RAM is bad, so that’s probably the reason for all the startup issues with that computer.

I also had a little trouble getting Remote Desktop working again, until I remembered to check my configuration for Firestarter (the firewall). Sure enough, I had momentarily lost power, so my laptop had a new IP address. I learned how to allow access to a whole range of IP’s through firestarter’s help site (though it was a little hard to understand). Here’s the short version: IP address/netmask. So if you want everything on 192.168.0.x to have access, add 192.168.0.1/255.255.255.0 to Firestarter’s “allow” list.

The frequent (brief) losses of power here probably don’t help any of my computers, so time to look into a UPS. Any recommendations for home use?

Today I finally got my own domain: ransomedhome.com. It’s a little raw right now, but I’ll be cleaning it up over the next few weeks, and moving everything there. In fact, I’m already importing my posts from here, and this may be my last post here (so update your bookmarks / feeds!) I will post a few more times to remind everyone of the move…

If you’re curious about string theory, or what in the world 10 dimensions mean, here’s a really nice graphical demonstration to confuse you explain everything.

That’s it, folks.  More to follow soon.

August 10, 2006

Computer not booting

Filed under: computers,Ubuntu — randomstep @ 9:52 am

uh oh.  I came back from a trip to D.C. and Pittsburgh to discover my old PC, the one with Ubuntu installed, wasn’t on.  When I tried to turn it on, it gives me a boot manager with a choice of 2 kernels, plus recovery mode for each, as well as my Win XP installation.  The first time,  I wasn’t even paying attention, until I saw a blue Kubuntu boot up screen.  It’s supposed to boot into regular Ubuntu, though I had switched sessions temporarily to a KDE session.  Anyways, trying any of the 4 kernel options results in weird display followed by restarting.  I guess I really am going to have to fix what’s wrong with this pc.  ;)  Only I have no idea what that is, at the moment.

August 9, 2006

Dapper Expectations?

Filed under: Apple,Leopard,linux,philosophy,Ubuntu — randomstep @ 12:53 am

Mark Shuttleworth, benevolent sponsor and launcher of Ubuntu, posted an email discussing what went wrong with communication / setting of expectations for what the latest Ubuntu release would deliver. He also points out the very good “problem” of Ubuntu being compared to Windows.

Among other linux-y items, Jorge has this response:

I think that it’s difficult to gauge exactly what users expect. Pre-warty’s users (like me) were usually experienced Linux users who enjoyed being lazy and having things Just Work(tm). By the time Dapper rolled around, if it wasn’t doing your laundry, then it’s game over. I’m sure those of us that advocate Ubuntu regularly run into this all the time …

I think people on the web just get their expectations set too high regardless – some high profile blogger makes a small, unsubstantiated statement with no real concrete communication, and next thing you know the whole blogosphere undergoes a severe case of speaker feedback, until one of the speakers blows.  The next round of feedback starts, since the blogosphere is recursive in nature, and …

Anyways, back to my topic.   Oh, yeah, Ubuntu and Dapper Drake.  Well, I think Mark’s right about “polished” not being a good word to use.  For example I, as a new user to Ubuntu (and Linux), just assumed that of course there was a graphical installer.  It didn’t cross my mind that there wouldn’t be, and I certainly didn’t know it was the first time one had been included!

I’m a fairly technical person, so it’s not an issue for me.  But I’m really interested in seeing (at least one) mainstream challenger to Windows, with significant market share (preferably two or more).   So when I hear that Dapper Drake is “LTS” (Long Term Support) and “polished”, I’m thinking Windows and Mac (and hoping as good or better in all areas).  Some might laugh to see Windows and polished in the same sentence, as I am.  But you have to remember that the world sees computers as Windows.  Linux is better in myriad ways, as is Mac OS X.  And each is good for specific purposes.  But unless Ubuntu has immediate, short-term benefits over Windows, you are going to be hard-pressed to get Windows users to switch.  (I’ve got a screenshot I’ll put up later illustrating how an old-school linux user’s worldview differs from your average citizen, and why it has been hard for linux to take over the desktop market.)

This, by the way, is the reason that the first thing I did on Ubuntu was check out the games, looking for Spider in particular.  That’s because that’s what my mother-in-law does on the computer – plays Spider.  If she can do that as well or better on Ubuntu, fine.  If not, go away.

One last comment, since I brought up Apple and inflated expectations earlier.  I was quite pleased with WWDC, and I suspect anyone who was displeased wasn’t really grounded in this universe before the keynote.  The indications were all over the place from most respectable bloggers on what to expect (linked post is from after the keynote, but reflects my thoughts).  I’m happy, because it sounds like Apple will again deliver things I actually need (eeeaasy backup) and want (spaces).  They seem to be pretty good at doing that.

August 7, 2006

Remote Desktop: quick update

Filed under: computers,linux,Ubuntu — randomstep @ 9:34 pm

I’m away from home currently, so haven’t been able to play with Remote Desktop into Ubuntu. i’m going to list out things I’ve done so far, and what I still want to setup, for reference later.

1. Changed the IP address from Dynamic (DHCP) to static (typed in a specific address, i.e. 192.168.1.200). This actually was extremely easy, and I didn’t have to restart anything. I have a linksys router, and when I changed the ip address it went live.

1. I set up VNC by installing VNC4Server using Synaptics. This was probably unnecessary, though I haven’t fully verified that.

2. I used this (with TightVNC viewer on the Win XP laptop) to view an Ubuntu X-session across my home network, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. It gave me a grey window with a terminal section. I was able to launch a few games, but of course performance was terrible.

3. I found “Remote Desktop” already available under Ubuntu’s [System | Preference] menu. There’s only a few options, and they’re not hard to get right. Make sure to require a password, but you probably don’t want to require acceptance at the computer you are setting up for remote use – unless this is to help a friend or family member without having to go over to their computer :).

4. Run TightVNC again, but this time remember that you need to give the ip address AND display (i.e. 192.168.1.200:0 is default).

Things left to do:

1. Get Remote Desktop (Sharing?) working on KDE – or verify that it won’t work?

2. Figure out sessions, how to change session numbers (why does my alternate KDE session start at 20? How can I make it easier to choose whether to log in to Gnome or KDE?).

3. Try to get Remote Desktop working not just on intranet, but when I’m not at home. Probably a pre-cursor to this is getting a domain name (or two).

4. enough Remote Desktop, move on to “Backing up”. :)  Oh, and I need to write a post on partitions.
Any advice, links, et cetera is quite welcome.  I will be sure to post what I learn.

August 6, 2006

Kitchen Remodel – Video Recap

Filed under: personal,pictures,video — randomstep @ 11:54 pm

Here’s a short slideshow video of our kitchen remodel.  It’s meant only to whet your appetite, and give a quick overview.  A more extensive video is in the works.  Oh, and if you don’t have much bandwidth (if you’re using dial-up), you may not want to follow the link.  Wait until I get a smaller version or collection of pictures up.

Remote Desktop, KDE install

Filed under: computers,linux,Ubuntu,web technologies — randomstep @ 12:33 am

I got Kubuntu installed. I first made the mistake of just installing KDE-desktop and some other important-looking KDE packages. Then, once I figured out how to log into a KDE session (log off, go to “Options” in the lower left corner, select “Session” then “KDE”) I got into IRC chat and learned that the easy way would have been to install Kubuntu-desktop. I did that, and KDE looked much better, had things in the right place, etc.

However, I still couldn’t get Remote Desktop working. For one thing, it was called “Sharing” instead of “Remote Desktop” (as it is under Gnome). For another, as I eventually discovered, I had left the firewall (Firestarter) running. Even though it hadn’t blocked my other PC the night previously, once I disconnected it started blocking that incoming connection (makes sense since I hadn’t made it an exception). For a third, I finally discovered my KDE session was 20, so trying “ipaddress:0″ or “:1″ or without colon obviously wasn’t going to work.

I still don’t have desktop sharing / remote desktop working for KDE, but I can remote into Gnome anytime I please. I think the VNC viewer and/or server might not allow sharing up to 20, maybe it only allows the first 5 or something. I haven’t looked into it yet, so if you know please tell me. I also don’t know why KDE starts at 20, instead of something much lower (the Gnome session is 0). One thing left to try is making KDE default – so far I’ve kept Gnome as default and just temporarily logged into KDE. This whole ‘session’ concept is still a little foggy for me. There are workspaces, displays, screens, sessions….I know there are differences, I just haven’t figured them all quite out yet. I’ll probably blog more on this.

One other item that was frustrating me until someone on the Kubuntu IRC channel pointed out the obvious: My display was just a few pixels wider than my actual monitor’s screen, and it was bugging me. I was looking for a software adjustment, when someone suggested I use the buttons on my monitor. Duh! The guys on #Ubuntu and on #Kubuntu have helped me out a few times, and I appreciate the community support. Sometimes the only solution is to figure it out yourself, but at least they’ll give you moral support. :)

August 4, 2006

New countertops

Filed under: personal,pictures — randomstep @ 5:22 pm

Quick link to pictures:  Granite counter top web album

Followup: Ubuntu and Remote Desktop

Filed under: computers,linux — randomstep @ 4:41 pm

Well, I made that harder than it had to be. Instead of installing VNC stuff, I could have just looked in the System Menu, for the “Remote Desktop” option under “Preferences”. (By the way, I’m using it now to verify the wording of everything.)

Then I just use a VNC Viewer, and there we go, I’m seeing and using my Ubuntu desktop from my Win XP laptop. Of course, quality’s a little low, but I think that’s b/c my wireless signal is weak this far from my router. I need to get the ethernet run and set back up, and this will give me the motivation to do that. I’ll report on how it looks after that.

Also, I found “ALE”, the Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts. Lucky me, there are other geeks around!

August 3, 2006

Remote Desktop Control and Ubuntu

Filed under: computers,linux,web technologies — randomstep @ 11:33 am

I set up VNC from my work PC to my Ubuntu box last night.  It was actually really easy, went much smoother than I had expected.  For one thing, Ubuntu gave me no hassle about changing to a static IP, and neither did my Linksys router.  I did have to look around for a minute or two to find how to set it up, but that’s no different than in Windows.  Not to mention it was actually easier than Windows, no rebooting or anything.

It did take a while to figure out how what to use to do remote desktop.  I just want to go over my intranet for now, I’m not (yet) trying to open it up to access from the internet.  I decided to just pick VNC and go with it, since I’m somewhat familiar with that on Windows boxes.  From there, I just used the package manager to find vnc4server, and a few quick downloads, installs, and command-line checks later I thought I might have it setup.

The longest part of the setup was actually picking which VNC viewer I wanted on my Win XP installation.  Someone I respect (Tony A) had recommended UltraVNC, but when I looked at it it wasn’t what I remembered.  I’d also seen TightVNC referred to a lot, and decided to go with that as it looked open-source and ‘linux-friendly’.  The install was again quick.

One tricky part was that I needed to not just specify the server ip address, but also the x-display (like this: 192.168.1.100:1).  That’s an example using default numbers, btw, which no one should ever use (but most people do).  Once I figured that out, BAM!  I was in!

Now for the surprise – it wasn’t quite what I expected.  I didn’t get my whole linux graphical desktop, instead I got a terminal (or command line).  I could type in and run some graphical programs (somewhat slowly), but definitely not what I expected.

Things left to do:

1. See if I can put TightVNC server on Ubuntu, which might give me more what I want.

2. See if VNC is the right path, or if there’s some other type of Remote Desktop option.

3. Start looking into configuring my Ubuntu box as a server, with all the attendant benefits.

4. Help my dad get his old HP (running Win 98!) updated to Ubuntu.  Hopefully this goes well.

Anyone with questions on how I did what I did, or looking for more information / screenshots on what was accomplished?

Anyone have more information on how to set up some sort of Remote Desktop thing?  I’d love to learn, and I’ll point at any blog or resource you send me that is helpful.

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