Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Fri, 26 Sep 2014

I turned off automatic Windows updates

I'm not in Windows 8 so often (except for the past two days) that on the rare occasions when I do load it up I am at all happy to wait a half-hour or more for the machine to shut down because it's downloading and installing dozens of updates.

I turned automatic updates off. When I have time, I'll boot into Windows 8 and do the updates manually.

Thu, 25 Sep 2014

With dodgy broadband on dodgy apps via Citrix, I turn to Windows 8

I had a pretty good day yesterday running the dodgy over-Citrix apps I need for my . But when bandwidth is poor and I keep getting disconnected, the only way I can manage to keep working is to run the Citrix apps in Windows (in my case Windows 8, not even 8.1 because that update went pear-shaped when I tried it months ago).

What happens is the bits on my DSL connection stop flowing for a minute or so, and I get disconnected from my Citrix apps. In Windows, there's an option on the Citrix page in my browser to reconnect to my "paused" resources. That option doesn't exist on the web page in Linux. Could it be because I'm using a slightly older version of Citrix Receiver / Wfica / ICA / Whatever the hell it is in Linux?

All I know is that it's a pain in the ass. When I'm on a "strong" networking connection with a ton of bandwidth, this isn't a problem, and I can probably run the Citrix apps in Linux. But with my not-so-great home "broadband," I need the extra cushion of being able to easily reconnect to my Citrix apps in order to stay working.

Read the rest of this post

Wed, 24 Sep 2014

Hammering hard on Xfce 4.10 in Fedora 20

So I'm working from home today and doing the full breaking-news production routine (anything that nine websites throws at me plus other assorted sundries) in Fedora 20 with Xfce 4.10. When I'm at the office, I usually split the load between a monster ThinkCentre machine (8 GB RAM, AMD CPU with 4 cores) running Windows 7 and this less powerful laptop with Fedora/Xfce (3 GB RAM, AMD APU with 2 cores).

But today I only have the laptop.

First, my latest software change: It's been getting more and more difficult to run the AMD Catalyst driver in Fedora. For the past month and then some, running Google Chrome would crash X if I didn't start it with just the right command switch. Then Firefox started crashing X if I opened up certain web sites in a new tab. File that under "time to ditch Catalyst."

Read the rest of this post

Sure we need to kill e-mail dead, but here's an article with some interesting alternatives

In a business context, e-mail is horrible, outdated and a time-waster. With that (and more) in mind, Thomas Knoll of Primeloop writes for Medium, I banned email at my company.

Sure his reasons for ditching e-mail make sense, but what makes the article value is that Knoll mentions more than a few services that Primeloop is using to replace e-mail and help his team collaborate and communicate.

Among them are:

I'm still trying to wrap my head around what these services do and how/why to use them, but so far Slack and Hackpad look extremely promising for "situations," I find myself in.

It's not lost on me that the context of this article is a startup company leveraging the work of other startup companies, with all of that work being proprietary and hosted by said companies and not available for self-hosting at all. Even if a service is web-based, it's nice to have the option of loading it up yourself, on your server (or rough equivalent), and controlling it without a company getting in the way.

But a compelling service that fulfills an acute business need (or three) is well worth looking into and possibly adopting if that need is real (and unfulfilled). If/when the startup responsible for the product is acquired and said product is Hoovered up into the mothership, that's another problem, I guess.

Mon, 15 Sep 2014

I started my personal Fedora Wiki page

With inspiration from Paul Mellors, I decided to start my personal Fedora Wiki page. Yes, I am a Fedora member, though I haven't yet blossomed into an active one. At this point I try to answer questions on Ask Fedora, and I'd like to start contributing to the Fedora Magazine.

So I'm mostly just a user of Fedora. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't be a Fedora member, or have a wiki page. So I am. And I do.

Fri, 12 Sep 2014

Ruby's 'insert' method is something I'm definitely going to use

It's not a secret that I'm starting to look into the Ruby programming language. I've got a mess of second-hand books, plus there are plenty of helpful web sites.

I was looking into the gsub method of search/replacing in Ruby when I stumbled across something very useful: the insert method.

I'm sure there are plenty of better ways to do this, but the fact that I can do this and understand it ... that's something.

Here is what I'm talking about. I did it all in the interactive Ruby shell (aka irb) and have revised it because it's even easier to type out than I thought:

irb(main):017:0> phrase = "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back"
=> "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back"

irb(main):020:0> phrase.insert 0, "<bold>"
=> "<bold>The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back"

irb(main):024:0> phrase.insert -1, "</bold>"
=> "<bold>The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back</bold>"