Sometimes even spectacles can’t help us see more clearly

Last night, my mouse left-click stopped working.
Cursed, changed batteries (wireless mouse) no good.
Tried another wireless mouse, batteries were dead, no spares arghh!
Shutdown (Ctrl-alt -F2, it’s a Linux box) and went to bed.
This morning, dug out spare USB mouse from parts bin, booted up- no left click!

Then I noticed that my spare (metal framed) glasses were sitting on my Wacom tablet, which uses a magnetic field to detect the pen- Doh!

Upgrading the Acer Aspire one

Well, my Acer is no longer in warranty, and although its great, it is a little slow updating web pages, etc.
So I decided to upgrade it to a 16GB SSD read/write 40/80, add an extra 1Gb of memory, and swap the wifi card for an 11n one.
Followed tnkgrl’s excellent video, and all went smoothly. Now web pages load instantly, and I can stream video in real time from my mythTV box:)

Windows 7 and the lost 4 hours

The previous post was written when 7 first arrived.
However, we have recently been forced by an XP update trashing 2 HP PCs, to “upgrade” them to Vista, so that the network cards would work!
These 2 PCs came with a “free” (cost £21 each) upgrade voucher for 7, so decided to test 7.


I have a nice, if rather heavy, Dell laptop, it came with XP, and I have installed OpenSuse 11.2 on it.
all works, but decided to bite the bullet and install 7.
The initial install went OK, used all the 200GB free space on my disk, but I can change that later…
Of course my OpenSuse distro was unreachable, so popped the OpenSuse disc in and recreated the boot manager.
all ok, then decided to install Office 2007.

All went well, up until the blue-screen that is.
After Office 2007 had crashed my PC, Windows7 tried to repair it and my OpenSuse install disappeared. Tried to reinstall Office, no go. after various attempts, safe mode logins, etc. and following instructions from various Microsoft help links, gave up and wiped 7 and started again.
This time, the mouse stopped working half way through the install…ho hum, wipe and try again.
So far, this time it seems to be working, but I still haven’t got an OpenSuse boot option.

Now I know how Linux newbies feel….

Update:windows XP no longer boots either…..

Windows 7

Well, Our Microsoft Action Pack disks for Windows 7 arrived today.
Installing as an upgrade to a largely unused Vista Ultimate install. (only used for testing media centre)
Was a little nonplussed when it said “upgrading your installation may take several Hours”!
As it happened, it did take nearly 3.
First it insisted on updating Vista, which as it hadn’t been used for a couple of months, took a fair while.
Then after all the file copying and compulsory reboots, it launched.

Quite impressed by the user experience, quite unimpressed by the fact that every management task seems to need at least one more click, or strange manoeuvres to reveal the hidden tools.

Everything seems to work OK.
The media centre is pants though.

How much can we simplify Linux?

I just had a “First steps with Linux” article printed in a popular UK computer Magazine.

It was designed to tell  the new user what to do after they had successfully installed UBuntu.

The Distro was chosen as being the most mainstream, and I thought that too many articles on Linux drop the user after installation.

Most of the feedback on the Magazine’s forum was positive and complimetary.

Except one.

The post in question was a request for a “total idiots guide to Linux”.

Well  I thought that was what I had provided.

The poster went on to mention unfamiliar terms like “distro” and “grub” (both of which were explained in the text), followed by a

complaint about “typing symbols” and “Where should they be typed”

(again this was explained in the text)

The CLI “taster” section was less than half a page of an 8 page, 6000 word  article.

I did hesitate to include  it, but felt that it was necessary for completeness.

The poster must have skimmed the article without reading it, and picked anything that he did not instantly recognise as a problem, and then complained.

I suppose for users like that, the best advice with regard to Linux is “forget it, unless you can get someone else to set it up for you.”

I have several Linux users who would have no idea about installing or maintaining Linux, who happily use it on a daily basis, with no problems.

All the real complaints come when windows users try to install it themselves.

KDE4- the revelation

Well, after a long time as a KDE3 user, I was staring into the barrel of a warm gun.
Opensuse 11.2- KDE4.
I had to decide, move to KDE4, become (shudder) a Gnome user, or move to my best alternative- XFCE.
I had tried KDE4 in earlier incarnations, stability and usability issues stopped me experimenting further.
I finally bit the bullet and installed in a VM to test.
At first it was confusing, but once I threw away all convention and read the manual, it worked well.
After a short period of acclimatisation, it just works so well for me, I am astounded by the logicality of it all!
I have played with various GUIs, and this is a real revelation.
Not the half hearted redraw of Vista or win7, but a new, well thought out approach.

As for Opensuse, my dual monitors were identified and configured, along with my Wacom Bamboo tablet, I now have seperate Xserver settings for each login, and it just works smoothly, including interfacing to Exchange on the laptop.

Yes, it is still in development and there is the odd rough spot, but overall, a real advance in usability.
It now sits happily on my main desktop and my dual boot Work Laptop.

Bravo KDE team, and plaudits for the OpenSuse team too!

Remote control final post

Well, we did have some issues with NTR Pro struggling to connect 2 out of 3 times, (we had trialled the  Ultimate version, not Pro) but they turned out to be due to the Physical quality of our ADSL line.

We moved last week to an LLU connection, so now we go through a new Line, and third party switches at the exchange.

End of packet fragmentation issues!

NTR pro now works well, nice and responsive, and the authentication issues have disappeared.

Our VPN should work too, will try it out when I get back from holiday.

Mythzoneminder update

after fiddling with this for ages, I installed the MySQL admin tool, logged into the zm database and did a clean up.
Deleted all the monitors from the console, reinput the settings, and Bingo! a picture of my living room 🙂
I’ll have to put it all together into a howto.
UCV streamer is a little low res, but it is a good “proof of concept”
I’ll have to try out a better quality camera, one that doesn’t need ucv streamer .

Remote control software decision

Well, we have signed up today with NTR for their pro package, got an “end of the month trying for sales target” price for our first year’s subscription.
Their package is good, and we got a good price. the software is simple to use, and optimises graphics for the speed of the link.
We did also get the free and excellent VNCSC working, but this solution is more flexible, we don’t need ports open in the firewall, we can use it from any location, we just need to use one username and password for all techs, and it is unlikely that we will need more than one operator logged in at a time.
This is fine for our situation, we do not need a full time support app, and we may only use this once or twice a week. (although the “stay connected” sessions may be useful for monitoring servers)

Mythzoneminder pause

Well, it all looks right, just no pics.
Shame, as the MythZoneMinder plugin looks good, and the ZoneMinder itself looks good too.
Unfortunately, I have to concentrate on getting the New Company Website off the ground. The person delegated to run it will need a lot of hand-holding, and the integration with our Universe Database will take some thought.
I have a pretty good relationship with the guys at our software providers, as we are their flagship Linux implementation, so it should not be too much trouble.