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GRAFFITI -- November 03 thru November 09, 2003

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Welcome to Orb Graffiti, a place for me to write daily about life and computers. Contrary to popular belief, the two are not interchangeable.   About eMail - I publish email sometimes. If you send me an email and you want privacy or anonymity, please say so clearly at the beginning of your message..


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Go read Brian and Tom's Linux Book NOW! MONDAY    Tues    Wed    Thu    Fri    Sat    Sun   
November 03, 2003 -    Updates at 0645

Good morning. Whew. That was one long weekend. I am so glad to be going to work, where I don't have to carry boxes up and down stairs, shampoo carpets, or anything like that for a few sweet hours. Oh, not to mention make a few bucks to pay the bank... Overall, though, I'm pretty happy. Sore, but happy. Yesterday I spent much of the day cleaning out the old place. I'm a bit old fashioned in that - I want to leave a place clean enough that if I were moving in to it the next day, I'd be happy about it. So I got the bathrooms done (except for floors), then vacuumed the whole house. Then I shampooed all the carpets in the house. That may seem excessive, but actually it's written into our lease, because of the dog. The last place took the carpet cleaning out of our deposit. I'd rather the 500 dollars stayed in our hands. After that, I loaded up the Santa Fe with stuff from the garage and shuttled it over here. Then I did another trip, and cleaned out the yardwork shed - gas powered tools, rakes, fertilizer, etc. I figure one more trip to get the last stuff from that plus the small cleaning remnants from the garage should do the trick. What's left to be done over there is a mopping of the hard floors, put a diffuser back on a water faucet, and blow the leaves off the concrete in the back yard. Poof, done with that place forever. We'll miss our neighbors, they were nice folks. But this is the house for us. While I was doing all that, Marcia unpacked most of the kitchen, and did more unpacking of clothes in the bedroom.

Last night I setup Marcia's network connections - for her desktop and work laptop. I'm doing it using a wireless bridge from Linksys. I finished with that about 9 PM, and called it a night. I figure that 12 hours on top of 16 hours worked Saturday following 14 on Friday makes me a dull boy indeed.

I see that another month snuck by when I wasn't looking. According to the stats, numbers were up a bit. But that isn't nearly as interesting as the search strings. I mean, where else do people go to find out the nitty-gritty about such subjects as vbs/terror. Yeah, that's right, bring it on. Frankly, VBS terrifies me, too. That's why I stick to Perl and Bash for most purposes. Oh, yeah, and I'm not usually running windows, either. Now grub boot... that's a little different. No, nothing steel-toed for the larval insect. Grub is actually an acronym (what else) for Grand Unified Boot Loader. Not only that, but you don't need Stephen Hawking to understand it. Grub rocks! Another searcher landed on this site looking for footbridge designs. Mmmm, I've never done one of those, nor written about it that I can recall. Let's see what the mighty Google says... Nothing! Weird, eh? Now search term number 69 is for beldar conehead's wife. Now, dude, I don't know from nuthin', but the numerology suggests that you plan on making Jane Curtain scream with pleasure, yes? No? Your call, but please don't let me know how it comes out, nor how long a sentance you receive on your stalking charge. And finally for now (yeah, I heard that sigh of relief, back in the corner over there), there was this search: hamster wheel odometer. Three words for you, mister: You're not right!

I guess I'd better be on my way. Have a lovely day, where ever you are. Once there's something to take pictures of beside piles of boxes, I'll put some together for you. Ta-ta.

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Use any browser you want Mon    TUESDAY    Wed    Thu    Fri    Sat    Sun   
November 04, 2003 -    Updates at 0700

Good morning. First off, I've completely forgotten the first thing I wanted to mention. Amazing what can happen in 5 minutes in the morning before the sun rises. So how about something else instead. In another forum, the question came up about IBM Thinkpads preinstalled with Linux. One respondent's short answer was "I don't think so." Here's what I wrote:

[Attribution removed]
>>Are Thinkpads available with Linux, preferably SuSE, installed?
> The short answer is: I don't think so.

The slightly longer (but not really long) answer is, yes. 

Emperor Linux (http://www.emperorlinux.com/) sells all sorts of laptops with Linux preinstalled
on them.They also appear to offer depot service to install Linux on your laptop for you. For new 
models, those from IBM are:

Raven (Thinkpad X30/X31) http://www.emperorlinux.com/raven.html
Toucan (Thinkpad T40 series) http://www.emperorlinux.com/toucan.html
Auk (Thinkpad G40 series) http://www.emperorlinux.com/auk.html

Some of them are only available with specific preloads - their "specialty", it appears, is Emperor 
Linux, a Red Hat install configured for the laptop in question. The total variety of Linux distros that 
*may* be supported/preinstalled on any given model is here:


Note that I've not done business with these folks, but they've been around for a few years now, 
and Googling for problems or complaints with their product/service/whatever doesn't yield 
results. No results *can* be a good thing, eh?

Additionally, addressing the original poster, SUSE does have a page showing certification for 
assorted laptop models against SUSE versions:




Brian Bilbrey: bilbrey near orbdesigns point com and http://www.orbdesigns.com/
    The record companies pretend they're protecting the rights of 
    the musicians, but you have to be deeply dumb to believe that.
			- Orson Scott Card via ornery.org

Ah, of course, now I remember. A new feature, not regular perhaps, but aperiodically repeating: Recommended Reading. This week I offer for your perusal the Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide, which looks like a good resource. From the TOC, I give you the document summary paragraph:

This tutorial assumes no previous knowledge of scripting or programming, but progresses rapidly toward an intermediate/advanced level of instruction . . . all the while sneaking in little snippets of UNIX® wisdom and lore. It serves as a textbook, a manual for self-study, and a reference and source of knowledge on shell scripting techniques. The exercises and heavily-commented examples invite active reader participation, under the premise that the only way to really learn scripting is to write scripts.

I learned something new just reading the first two chapters. Enjoy!

I didn't do as much last night, just unpacked the books to the shelves in my office. But I'm even more tired this morning, and we've got final cleanup in the old place tonight. Well, I've only got to survive the week, then I can relax a bit this weekend I hope. But it's our first trash/recycling morning here in the neighborhood, so I'd best be getting that done, then rousing myself to get on the road to work. Have a great day.

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I run Gentoo, do you? Mon    Tues    WEDNESDAY    Thu    Fri    Sat    Sun   
November 05, 2003 -    Updates at 0658

Good morning. Is it the middle of the week already? Oh, goody. Our friends the Kitterman's dropped by last night to see the new place and blessed us with a flowering plant of some Mumm variety - very lovely and great thanks! They popped over shortly after I got home from the last round of cleaning at the prior house, and the bringing over of the final load of boxes and such. Tonight we'll do the walkthrough with the landlady, and collect our deposit as well as the agreed upon payment for the appliances that we are leaving behind. I'll tell you, that's one clean property. There's nothing that needs to be done by the new tenant, and that's a good thing as they'll probably start putting stuff in tomorrow night 15 minutes after we hand over the keys, if I have my information right.

My friend Carl wrote an email the other day, looking for an update to the Linux book (http://linuxbook.orbdesigns.com/). I'm making note of that request both here and on LinuxMuse to gauge a couple of things: the level of interest in such a project, and what the perceived value of this might hold for people. While the writing of the book originally was fun (in a particularly warped and masochistic way), and taught me a lot, it paid rather less than serving coffee at Starbucks. It's pretty challenging work, really. So what do you think?

It's a funny confluence... The question in my mind the other night was "What relation does 'knowing' someone by their online presence hold to knowing them in person?" I started thinking about my voice here, and how I present who and what I am. Face it, there are lots of people who write personal material online, with varying degrees of veracity and verisimilitude. After all, I remember Kay Cee, the imaginary dying young woman. And with imagination, I imagine that I know a great number of people whom I have only ever "met" or simply experienced online. But it's important to remember that what I read is what others want to present. That may be dead bone truth, or highest fantasy, or any of the infinite places between Chaos and Amber.

It happens that something comes down, and I don't even see it coming. This happened recently, when we found out the Dr. and Mrs. Keyboard are headed off into different sunsets. These things happen, and it's sad in a way, but being both an ending and a beginning, separation and divorce create other opportunities. After all, I'm terribly glad to have my Marcia with me - in other universes, we didn't happen. But after reading steadily online for a while, my read on other people is that they're as direct and unhindered as I am here. That's my particular bit of imagination, and it leads me into believing that I know people better than I do.

I happen to believe that I present strongly, just as I am. Bob Thompson does, as does Dan Bowman (and my buddy Tom, when he's writing). I know this for fact because I've met and spent time with ALL of them. The picture they paint of themselves is a true and large subset of who they really are. I hope and believe that I do the same. This place does also function as a mirror for me, please recall. I'm sure I'll get feedback on this one, so I'll hold the rest of the topic for another day...

I might have had something else to say...

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The Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression

Mon    Tues    Wed    THURSDAY    Fri    Sat    Sun   
November 06, 2003 -    Updates at 0655

Howdy. Wow, the week is winding down. Not as quickly as I am, unfortunately, but winding down all the same. I received some interesting feedback on the part of yesterday's post about my voice online. I'll continue to let the ideas ferment for a while before returning to the topic, though. And thanks to that special correspondent - yeah, I *like* being strange.

I wrote the following in another forum last night:


I find that the FREE (as in beer) portion of Linux best serves me in allowing me to try various things. When I use software in production or commercial uses (personally or for clients), I generally find a way to BUY the software in question. Not because I have to, oh no! But on the other hand, cash is the sincerest form of flattery, and as an added bonus, developers who do work that I find useful often continue to do so if there's food on the table, and a roof over that food on that table. I support the packages I use, one way or another.

A community composed of a small group who give and give and give to a large group who only take - I see that as a recipe for long-term disaster.

Enough philosophy - For clients currently running Red Hat that don't want to pay to use RH Enterprise, I'm planning on migrating them generally to Debian.

One problem I'm running into is that some important packages, like IBM's Websphere and Portal products, are only certified for RH7.3. I've shoehorned it onto 8 (but not 9) 7.3 and 8 both EOL in about 60 days. Urk! I haven't yet gotten an answer about supported distros, going forward.

Personally, I use Debian for my home server (P3-933/512M/180G), Gentoo for my workstation (Dual Athlon MP-1900/1024M/240G), and I've got an old Gateway P2-233 running RH7.3 as a dev box for a production 7.3 server in a colo facility. On my laptop (Vaio P4-2.4G/512M/40G), for work, I'm currently running RH9 with Ximian Desktop 2 overlaid, mostly as a sop to clients who want to see Red Hat in action. I also boot Debian and Gentoo on that laptop, just to show options, do testing, etc.



Joy of joys, Marcia noticed a few minutes ago that the main phone line is dead. After wrangling with the stinking voice mail/recognition/maze thing that Verizon has installed, I managed to talk to a live human, and schedule service on the line, unfortunately for tomorrow. They're a bit busy with downed lines from yesterday's lighning, rain and tornado fun. Yeah, a tornado. If it isn't one thing, it's another. Sheesh.

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Why not visit LinuxMuse today? Mon    Tues    Wed    Thu    FRIDAY    Sat    Sun   
November 07, 2003 -    Updates at 0717

Good morning. Yeah, it's Friday. I am so glad. Of course I'm not likely to slow down much over the weekend - there's too much left to be done - but I could, and it's the thought that counts... right?

Verizon called by mid-afternoon yesterday on my cell phone, to tell me that our main line at the house was fixed. During the heavy, heavy rains on Wednesday, apparently water got into a splice someplace. He asked if I could test it - of course I couldn't since I wasn't home yet. By the time I did get home, Marcia had already determined that we had tone on the line again. One teensy little problem remains: it's not our tone. We now have someone else's number, and they have ours. I'm not sure why Verizon doesn't check their work after pulling something apart and putting it back together, that the right circuits are attached to the right house! They promise now that this new issue will be fixed by noon today. We'll see what new mischief they can get into.

I trialled the installation of Fedora Core last night. I did a kitchen sink install - it took up 5.2G of disk when all was said and done. It looks nice enough, really. There isn't much change in layout or offering from RH9, although a number of packages are updated. More on that topic when I've had time to muck with it some more.

While I'm making a late start this morning (on purpose, since the client office doesn't open until 9 am), I suppose that I ought to get my motors running, suck down some coffee, and organize to get out of here for the day. Have a good 'un, yourself.

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Drop in on my better half... Mon    Tues    Wed    Thu    Fri    SATURDAY    Sun   
November 08, 2003 -    Updates at 0900 and 1513

Okay, okay... I'm out of bed. A successful day at work yesterday, a bit more furniture assembly and positioning last night, and a good long night's sleep. Now I'll get some coffee, a bite to eat, then we're going grocery shopping. The move threw us off schedule and we're out of some important supplies. I'll be back later. See you then.

1513 - Well, it's mid-afternoon, we've picked up a snowblower (Marcia insisted), a generator (necessary for sump pump and fridges in an extended power outage, and done our weekendly shopping already. The latter included being shanghied into purchasing cookies by little girls. Yes, I've already eaten half a box of Thin Mints, my favorite. Once we got home I started working on understanding the phone wiring, so I could do a fax line drop into Marcia's office. After a bit of experimentation, I've identified the right pair, and I've got a line attached up in the attic, so the fax line's there. Now to do the drop down to her office. That may get tricky. Later...

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What Comes Next???

Mon    Tues    Wed    Thu    Fri    Sat    SUNDAY  
November 09, 2003 -    Updates at 0923

Geek Test results: 59.1716% - Extreme Geek Woo-hoo... but wait. Only 59%? Where have I gone wrong...

The fax line is working in Marcia's office. The answer was incredibly annoying. I went into her "Fabric and Cutting" room next door, to steal the dual outlet from there (since she doesn't need phones in that room), and when I popped the wallplate, I found the black wire broken. Feh. Once I spliced that all back together, the second pair in her office just started working, rendering redundant all of the work I'd done in the attic. Oh, well, I'm pre-prepped for secondary drops virtually anyplace on the second floor, if I so desire. Bob offered me use of his 6 foot bellhanger bit if I needed it (necessary to drill from above through the firestop blocks in the interior wall framing). Those cost a pretty penny, and it might have been worth the drive down to NC just for that, if I needed it badly enough. But I could always have done a wall-tack of some low-profile station wire as a temporary if I hadn't been able to solve the problem quickly any other way.

The lunar eclipse last night was pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, we had high thin clouds through most of it. While we could see the whole thing, it wasn't very sharp. And I don't have any pictures, as my camera doesn't do low light well, and doesn't zoom enough to give us good snaps of something like the moon, that only distends about 30 arc-minutes by bare eye. Since my optical zoom is but 3X, it doesn't buy me much. But with the naked eye alone, it was a good eclipse.

Today we're going to wander over to Ikea, to see if we can find something to hold DVD and video cases. The bookshelves we're pretty much consigning to the "formal" living room, which we'll probably use as a library. I guess I'd better get ready to go...

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Visit the rest of the DAYNOTES GANG, a collection of bright minds and sharp wits. Really, I don't know why they tolerate me <grin>. My personal inspiration for these pages is Dr. Jerry Pournelle. I am also indebted to Bob Thompson and Tom Syroid for their patience, guidance and feedback. Of course, I am sustained by and beholden to my lovely wife, Marcia. You can find her online too, at http://www.dutchgirl.net/. Thanks for dropping by.

All Content Copyright © 1999-2003 Brian P. Bilbrey.