Friday, November 22, 2013

OS Upgrade ... (Part 2)

Well, last post I touched briefly on starting a new operating system (OS) upgrade. Rather like what you do with Microsoft when you upgrade from Windows XP to Vista or Win7 or Win8. You hold your breath and pray. Really really hard. To all the Gods you can find mention of!

Well, the reason I was upgrading was that Ubuntu (and all Linuxes, in fact) do a kind of rolling release schedule, where the Upgrade Manager (or similarly-named program) polls the sources for all the software you have installed. If any change it makes a note of what's changed and what things it depends on. Then it periodically announces that you have upgrades waiting (I set that to weekly).

Pretty much always it goes off without a hitch, and you just keep working while it's doing its thing. A couple of weeks ago, however, it downloaded and installed new software to control my (NVIDIA) graphics card. That would have been fine, except that there has to be a corresponding alteration in the software that uses it - the kernel software. Unfortunately that didn't happen, so when I rebooted next I didn't get any GUI. All the programs were there - they just didn't show anything!

So after a couple of days I decided that as I was only at version 12.04, which was about 18 months old, I could surely migrate forwards and hopefully things would get better. Unfortunately not. So I bought a new hard drive ($70 for 500 GB), pulled the main drive of my laptop and plugged in the new one, put a bootable DVD in the drive with Linux Mint 14 on it, booted and installed.

At this stage I had no idea whether I would get a usable system - all I knew was that the image I saw from the live (bootable) CD was rendered by something called "Gallium 0.4 on NVCF". It turns out that this is the front of a driver software from a group called nouveau, and that it works very well indeed!

So, for non-standard software, I run the following:
  • Oracle VirtualBox - Provides me a virtual computer within which I can launch something else. Mainly this is Windows, as my email runs in Windows and I work with MS SQL Server, so my work is there too.
  • dvgrab - A command-line program that records video from the IEEE port. Right now I'm recording a copy of an old Jay Leno program so my wife can watch it - she's with some friends who live "BC" - "Beyond Cable"! They're "BC" - "Beyond Cell" too!!
  • K3B - A program to burn CDs, DVDs, and BluRay discs.
  • Quod Libet - This is a small audio player.
  • Chrome browser.
  • xSane - A program to work the scanner part of my hp psc 2410 MFP.
  • RipperX - This rips CDs. That's it. Sooo convenient!
  • UltraEdit - The best text editor, hands down!
  • Geany - Programmer's IDE.
  • Hugin Panorama Creator for creating single images from multiple shots, so I can make photos of wide or tall buildings.
  • Calibre and FBReader for managing and reading eBooks
  • VLC Media Player for movies (also available on Windows & Mac)
I'll probably get FireBird (i.e. InterBase) running eventually.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Coming to Thanksgiving

Lots of little snippets this time.
My Laptop
As I'm sure you're all aware, I'm a programmer. In fact, I'm a database developer, ETL and reports developer, data analyst, and DBA. I use mostly SQL Server, but am known to help people out who are using VB, ASP, PHP, MySQL, Oracle, and other things too! I just got Guru level accolade on Experts-Exchange for helping people with SQL Server 2008 problems.

Anyhow, a while back (November 2011), I bought a new laptop, 'cos mine was getting a little long in the tooth. The wife practically collapsed at the price (>$1500!), and I've upgraded it since, but it was a really good deal for a 17.4" screen, 8-core Intel i7 cpu, 500 GB drive, and 12 GB of RAM. I've since expanded it a bit - another 500 GB of a second disk and maxed out the RAM at 32 GB.  I think I reviewed it back then: here's another review from about the same time that I've found.

So, to get to date, I've had this monster for just on two years now. It really doesn't seem that long, and I haven't seen anything out there to beat it down! In a year or so I'll probably start looking for a replacement - they've added a few features to it (System-76 are here) but I doubt I'll be replacing it any time soon, as it's doing fine. Right now I'm upgrading operating system versions, which is always fraught, but there you go!

My wife, OTOH, the AG of legend, has a little Asus netbook running Windows XP. It's fine, except that Windows XP is running out of support, meaning that I really have to get her to something more modern before the malware attacks start in earnest.

Aah! Food!!
  1. Get a couple of pounds of chuck and cube it (1"). Brown it well, and put it into a slow cooker. 
  2. Get about a pound of sliced mushrooms and heat them on medium-low heat and stir occasionally After a few minutes they'll start giving off liquid. 
  3. After about ten minutes in all sprinkle about three tablespoons of flour, mix it into the mushrooms, and  cook on for about a minute (no more!).
  4. Next add in a couple of bottles of brown ale (Sam Smith's Nut Brown Ale or Theakstone's Old Peculier are great) and stir well.
  5. Bring to a light boil and stir while the liquid thickens. Then pour into the slow cooker.
  6. Add a chopped up large onion and about a pound of chopped carrots. Also a bay leaf, some pepper and a little salt, and a little caraway seed. 
  7. Leave on low for about eight hours.
  8. Serve with boiled new potatoes or, as I did, with freshly-baked bread (did I tell you what a wonderful cook the AG is?). Her bread is wonderful!