Friday, August 27, 2010


Since my favorite automatic wallpaper changer, wallpaper-tray, isn't available right now in Debian's Squeeze repos, I had to find another solution for my Squeeze GNOME desktop.

I ended up settling on Drapes, even though that app doesn't let you simply select a directory to use a source for your wallpapers.  I ended up using a work-around for Drapes as describe in this blog.

It'll work for now, but I still may go back to wallpaper-tray if it becomes available.

By the way, here's a link to Ubuntu Genius's Blog, the main page of the blog I mentioned above:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Chris Bosh, in a Sports Illustrated article, talking about loyalty: What place should loyalty have in free agency, from the perspective of the team and the player?
Bosh: It should have none. Loyalty is an added bonus. It's great that some guys want to be loyal, but you can be unhappy trying to be loyal, and there's no reason to bring loyalty into the business room. It's like if you try to buy something from your friend for five bucks and then find another guy is selling the same thing for four, and your friend wants to know, "What about the loyalty?" And you're thinking, "I don't want to spend five dollars."
People have to look at it as a business. Fans get very wrapped around it because it's a sport. And sports are a little different but they're businesses first and that's how we have to choose sometimes. Sometimes people understand, sometimes people don't.

I can see both sides of it.  As a pro athlete, you have to look out for #1.  But on the other hand, it's the fans who are a coughing up big bucks to go watch these guys play, and sports fans are loyal to a fault.

Like me, I'm a Raiders fan even though I can't stand Al Davis and I can't stand the losing over the past several years.  But it doesn't matter because I'm still gonna always be a Raiders fan.  Well, maybe not if they move back to L.A., but you get my drift.

So, why shouldn't the fans expect loyalty out of the players?  Brett Favre going to the Vikings and playing against Green Bay?  I just can't stomach it.  

Shaq with the Celtics?  Any team but the Celtics!  Well, almost any team, because Shaq playing for the Suns (and any true Suns fan can never really love the Lakers!) was almost as bad.  Almost, but not quite.

Yeah, I understand it's all business.  I understand that the owners aren't gonna show any loyalty to any player.  So, like I said, I see both sides of it.

But as a sports fan, I like it when a professional athlete sticks with one team throughout his career, or at least for as long as he realistically can.  Character has to mean something.  When a guy does like Johnny Damon or Shaq or Favre and goes and plays for an arch-rival like that, I mean it's like if Archie Griffin would have transferred to UofM, or Dennis Franklin suiting up for the Buckeyes.  Like Magic with the Celtics, or Bird with the Lakers.  I just can't see it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

tabbed application windows in kde4

Finally remembered to check out a "new" feature in KDE4 -- tabbed application windows.

This is something that I love to use in Fluxbox.  There, you simply drag a window's title bar onto another and you get one window with two tabs.  In KDE4, you right-click on a title bar, click on "Move Window to Group," and choose the group of applications that you want tabbed.

It's a great feature in Fluxbox, and a pretty good feature in KDE4.  I noticed, however, that switching between tabs in KDE4 isn't as snappy as it is in Fluxbox; and, the applications themselves seem a little bit slower when they're tabbed.  Because of these things, I'm not sure how much I'll use tabs in KDE4, but it's nice to have the feature available.

wnba leaders

Final results from the 2010 WNBA regular season:

Points per game:
1. Diana Taurasi, PHO, 22.7
2. Cappie Pondexter, NYL, 21.4
3. Angel McCoughtry, ATL, 21.1
4. Candace Parker, LOS, 20.6
5. Lauren Jackson, SEA, 20.5

Rebounds per game:
1. Tina Charles, CON, 11.7
2. Rebekka Brunson, MIN, 10.3
3. Candace Parker, LOS, 10.1
4. Sancho Lyttle, ATL, 9.9
5. Sylvia Fowles, CHI, 9.9

Assists per game:
1. Ticha Penicheiro, LOS, 6.9
2. Sue Bird, SEA, 5.8
3. Linday Whalen, MIN, 5.6
4. Becky Hammon, SAS, 5.4
5. Penny Taylor, PHO, 5.0

Blocks per game:
1. Sylvia Fowles, CHI, 2.6
2. Candace Parker, LOS, 2.2
3. Tina Charles, CON, 1.7
4. Chante Black, TUL, 1.6
5. Tammy Sutton-Brown, IND, 1.6

Steals per game:
1. Tamika Catchings, IND, 2.3
2. Nicky Anosike, MIN, 2.0
3. Angel McCoughtry, ATL, 1.9
4. Candice Wiggins, MIN, 1.8
5. Jia Perkins, CHI, 1.7

3-pointers made per game:
1. Diana Taurasi, PHO, 2.6
2. Candice Wiggins, MIN, 2.6
3. Becky Hammon, SAS, 2.2
4. Leilani Mitchell, NYL, 2.1
5. Katie Douglas, IND, 2.0

Friday, August 20, 2010

college football

NCAA football will soon get under way.  The USAToday's pre-season rankings:

USA Today Ranking

RankTeamRecordPtsLast Week
1.Alabama (55)0-01469--
2.Ohio St. (4)0-01392--
5.Boise St.0-01215--
6.Virginia Tech0-01052--
13.Miami (FL)0-0728--
14.Penn St.0-0508--
17.Georgia Tech0-0455--
18.North Carolina0-0445--
20.Florida St.0-0374--
22.Oregon St.0-0263--
24.West Virginia0-0169--
Others Receiving Votes:
  • Cincinnati 135, 
  • Houston 76, 
  • BYU 66, 
  • Arizona 65, 
  • Mississippi 48, 
  • Clemson 44, 
  • Stanford 41, 
  • Connecticut 40, 
  • South Carolina 38, 
  • Notre Dame 38,
  • Washington 26, 
  • Missouri 23, 
  • Navy 12, 
  • Oklahoma St. 11, 
  • Michigan St. 10, 
  • Boston Coll. 10, 
  • California 6, 
  • Arizona St. 6, 
  • Texas Tech 5, 
  • South Florida 4,
  • Texas A&M 3, 
  • Temple 2, 
  • Northwestern 2, 
  • SMU 1, 
  • Northern Illinois 1, 
  • Nevada 1, 
  • Mississippi St. 1, 
  • Cent. Michigan 1


inxi is a script that shows system information.  For info on inxi and smxi, see:

Here's how I installed it in PCLinuxOS:

# cd /usr/bin
# wget -Nc && chmod +x inxi && inxi

The last "inxi" runs the script.

inxi -h gives you a list of options.  inxi -CFfpluorsic10 -t cm10 shows just about everything, but inxi -xrFA is a pretty good one to run:

Right-click and open in a new tab for a better view.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

dedoimedo on google docs

Dedoimedo:  "Google Docs -- Clouding with style"

I know that cloud-based apps are no more Dedoimedo's cup of tea than they are mine.  He seems to see them as another tool that's out there, but not necessarily something he'd want to use.  On the privacy issues, he says: 

To wrap the review, I must emphasize the importance of privacy and trust. I do not believe in evil corporations just waiting to suck your blood and turn it into electricity, but you might have qualms about storing your data offsite, on third-party servers far away from your home. And indeed you should. This is a very important thing to take into consideration.

As I've stated in Zoho review, I believe in a more classic, desktop oriented mode of work. However, I do see great merits in using a solution like Google Docs. It's free, secure and simple and runs well no matter what platform and browser you choose. You also gain flexibility and portability. You let go off compatibility and file format issues that normally arise when working with office documents of this and that sort. You're free to focus on your work, using a very simple and friendly interface. 
Well, that's it. I've played the Devil's Advocate part. It's up to you to make the right choice. I cannot make it for you. I can merely show you the technology wonders and let you decide.

I wouldn't feel comfortable using Google Docs for things I don't want prying eyes to see.  But web-based applications have a place, and there are times when they can come in handy.

Just another tool at your disposable; and a pretty nice one!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

pclos revisited

This week, I added PCLinuxOS KDE 2010.07 to my set-up.  My last PCLOS installation was the PCLOS 2007 version.

PCLOS is a great distro -- a user-friendly, quick-installing, single live CD distro along the lines of Linux Mint and Mepis. KDE 2010.07 version shipped with KDE 4.4.5, but I found updates for KDE 4.5.0 CE available, so I brought 'em in.

This installation may have been the quickest Linux installation I've ever done.  It took a little more than ten minutes.  PCLOS doesn't ship with OpenOffice, or any other office suite that I could see, but they put an icon on the desktop that makes it quite easy to install OpenOffice.

In the main menu, PCLOS puts an entry for the Repository Speed Test tool.  This tool came in handy for me because the default PCLOS repo source was much too slow.  The default settings for the Repository Speed Test didn't actually help me much, but after looking into things a little further, I was able to come up with a CLI command that helped me find the fastest repo source available.  The command I settled on was: -a 30 -t 10 -v

This gave me an allowed repo age of 30 days, a 10-second timeout before "fail," and verbose output.

This PCLOS installation gave me my first real look at the KDE4 desktop, so I had a lot to learn to be able to tweak things.  I'm starting to get the hang of the whole "Activities" concept, and I've managed to get different wallpaper set-ups on different virtual desktops, including one with a slideshow set-up, similar to how I've always set things up in KDE 3.5.  They also made the classic-style KDE menu the default, which I appreciated because I haven't yet warmed up to the Kickoff menu style.

I'm feeling good enough about KDE4 that I don't think I'll miss KDE 3.5 much at all.  Some of the concepts were kind of hard to wrap my mind around, like the idea that each Activity has its own set of virtual desktops.  But after playing around with things, I'm getting a feel for how things work.

Anyway, so far this experience with PCLinuxOS has been great.  I'm finding it difficult to break away and log into any of my other distros.  I don't think I'll be removing this system anytime soon.  Earlier, I'd downloaded the Linux Mint 9 (Isadora) KDE live DVD and played around with it a bit, but I decided against installing it, mainly because I already have the main (GNOME) version of Isadora installed.  I think it was a good decision; it gave me a chance to kinda go in a different direction (PCLOS is an .rpm distro, and all of the other distros I have in my set-up are Debian-based), and I seriously doubt that the Isadora KDE version is any better than PCLOS's KDE version.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

grub2 boot profiling

Booting times in Linux have never been a big deal to me.  Fast or slow, it really doesn't matter much, and it surprises me sometimes that folks pay so much attention to it.  It never seems that slow to me!  Maybe I should start using a stop-watch.

Anyway, I don't know if "boot profiling" in grub2 is a Ubuntu-only thing (I'd be surprised if it is), but so far I've only seen it mentioned for 'Buntu distros.  Kinda funny to me, because whether it's Lucid, Isadora, or Squeeze, the boot times here seem quite fast, except for when there's a hard drive check going on.

Anyway, here are the steps:

For grub2:  As root, open /etc/default/grub and add the word "profile" to the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT line.  My default in Ubuntu Lucid is:

So, that's changed to:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash profile"

Save; then, as root, run update-grub.

The next boot will be slower than usual while profiling takes place.

Go back to /etc/default/grub, remove the word "profile" that you added, save the file and run update-grub again.  Subsequent boots are supposed to be much faster than they were before the profiling.

I've seen these "boot profiling" steps mentioned for Linux Mint as well as for Ubuntu.  Haven't tried it in either distro.  

An alternate approach I found:
1. At your boot screen press “e” (for edit).
2. Use your arrow key and move down to the entry beginning with “kernel”.
3. Press “e” again.
4. Add “profile” (no quotes) at the end of this line.
5. Hit Enter.
6. Click “b” (for boot).

 Here's a Debian Wiki article that discusses using readahead to accomplish the same thing.  Looks like this is for grub-legacy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

side-stepping the hand-holding

For most Linux Mint users, updating is done with mintUpdate (the Update Manager), and installing and uninstalling is done with mintInstall (the Software Manager). To protect users (especially newbies) from borking their systems, each package is given a "level number" -- 1 to 5, with level 1 being the safest and level 5 being the most dangerous. By default, mintUpdate only shows level 1 through level 3 packages to the user, and makes only those packages available for installation. The the user can choose to make level 4 and level 5 packages available for installation.

I use the Synaptic package manager in all my distros, and I prefer to use it in Mint as well. But the Mint devs, in another attempt to make things "safer" for users, removed the "Mark All Upgrades" button in Synaptic, making it impossible to mark all available upgrades for installation with a single click in the latest Linux Mint release.

I consider that to be hand-holding taken a bit too far. Removing the "Mark All Upgrades" button in Synaptic is something that no other distro does, that I'm aware of.

Here's the work-around I use to get around this issue:

First, I click on the "Reload" button to get any available upgrades to show up in Synaptic. Then, I click on the "Status" button down at the lower left of the Synaptic window, and select "Installed (Upgradable)." I click on any of the listed packages, do a ctrl+a to select all, right-click on any of the selected packages, and click on "Mark for Upgrade." Then I can click on the "Apply" button to apply the upgrades.

Certainly not as quick and easy as using the "Mark All Upgrades" button, but it does the trick.

Here's hoping that the Linux Mint developers will, at the least, give users the option to restore the "Mark All Upgrades" button in Mint's Synaptic.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

my fluxbox menu

Here's the Fluxbox menu I'm currently using in Linux Mint 9 (Isadora) (note that I installed the main GNOME version and then later added Fluxbox):


[begin] (fluxbox) {} <>

   [exec] (firefox 3.6) {/home/steve/firefox/firefox} <>
   [exec] (chromium) {chromium-browser} <>[exec] (dolphin) {dolphin} <>
   [exec] (gnome-terminal) {gnome-terminal} <>

   [submenu] (other file managers) {} <>
      [exec] (krusader) {krusader} <>
      [exec] (konqueror) {kfmclient openProfile filemanagement} <>
      [exec] (nautilus) {nautilus --no-desktop} <>

   [submenu] (other terminals) {} <>
      [exec] (xterm) {xterm} <>
      [exec] (konsole) {konsole} <>

   [submenu] (tools) {} <>
      [exec] (gcalctool) {gcalctool} <>
      [exec] (xcacl) {xcalc} <>
      [exec] (character map) {gucharmap} <> [exec] (yelp) {/usr/bin/yelp} <>

   [submenu] (administration) {} <>
      [exec] (synaptic) {gksu synaptic} <>
      [exec] (guarddog) {sudo guarddog} <>

   [submenu] (office) {} <> [exec] (kwrite) {kwrite} <>
      [exec] (gedit) {gedit} <>
      [exec] (OOo Calc) {oocalc} <>
      [exec] (OOo Writer) {oowriter} <>

   [submenu] (graphics & sounds) {} <>
      [exec] (ksnapshot) {ksnapshot} <>
      [exec] (geeqie) {geeqie} <>
      [exec] (amarok) {amarok} <> [exec] (rhythmbox) {rhythmbox} <>

   [submenu] (Fluxbox) {} <>
      [exec] (fluxconf) {/usr/bin/fluxconf} <>
      [exec] (fluxkeys) {/usr/bin/fluxkeys} <>
      [exec] (fluxmenu) {/usr/bin/fluxmenu} <>

   [config] (Configuration) {} <>

   [submenu] (Styles) {} <>
      [stylesdir] (/usr/share/fluxbox/styles) {} <>
      [stylesdir] (~/.fluxbox/styles) {} <>

   [workspaces] (Workspaces) {} <>
   [reconfig] (Reconfigure) {} <>
   [restart] (Restart) {} <>
   [exit] (Exit) {} <>


A sharp eye will notice that I'm using nautilus --no-desktop for my Nautilus command. This is because if you're using Fluxbox on a GNOME distro and you start Nautilus normally, GNOME takes control of the desktop.

I tried that just to see what would happen. The desktop went from Fluxbox to GNOME, but with the Fluxbox toolbar instead of a GNOME panel. I couldn't get out of the session. ctrl+alt+backspace didn't work (oh, yeah, I think that keystroke is disabled in recent Ubuntu and Mint versions!). So, I used the following command to reboot:

$ sudo shutdown -r now

Anyway, I put the above menu together by hand, using /etc/X11/fluxbox/fluxbox-menu as a reference. The changes take effect as soon as the ~/.fluxbox/menu file is saved. Nice menu -- works for me!

Here's what it looks like, with one of the submenus selected: