Category Archives: the battle of the computer

now…

i was going to post yesterday, but then i spent two nights ago not sleeping very well and having dreams that i wished i wasn’t having — and waking up on more than one occasion, specifically to end a particularly annoying dream, only to have it resume, more or less, when i succeeded in getting back to sleep — so when i finally got up yesterday i was already in a sour mood… and then i turned on my computer and the sour mood increased about ten-fold, which was not made any better by the fact that i couldn’t get my backups to work the way i wanted to, because of the fact that the crack used a “new, different” way of intruding, which the host provider was less than forthcoming about explaining…

i actually had everything fixed by 11:00 am or so, but my mood was so bad, and it was so hot, that, by that time, all i wanted to do was watch the god-damned-noisy-box, smoke cannabis and drink… first mountain dew, then water, then beer. seriously, the temperatures have been in the low-90s and upper-80s, but it has been more humid than i have ever seen before (around here, it’s par for the course in illinois and alabama), and the overall effect is that the temperature is oppressively hot, which made the god-damned-noisy-box even more inviting… if i had a swimming pool, it be a lot better…

but, unfortunately, if i had a swimming pool, realistically, it would only get used a week or so a year, and the rest of the time i would have to maintain it… so it’s probably better this way… it’s a lot more realistic to dream of a sauna, because i’d use that year round EXCEPT for the really hot days…

anyway, if i had posted yesterday, this would have been that post:

the oregon country fair is in a little more than a week. i had in mind to distribute QR code stickers for music at the fair, but they haven’t even contacted me with a shipping date yet, and i placed the order almost a month ago. so THIS is the reason why NOT to use StickerRobot when time is sensitive. they may make the best stickers in the world (for all i know, they haven’t delivered them yet), but if a simple, square, black-and-white sticker takes them a month, i am less than impressed.

the panto this year is Dick Whittington, which i have wanted to do for two years now. it should be a great show, although i haven’t seen it yet. we’ve got some of the music, we’re getting more tonight, and, as usual, we’re probably going to get new music when we arrive at the fair… at this point, the fact that we’ve never performed the panto all the way through, even once, doesn’t faze me very much… we have almost exactly the same routine every year, and it invariably comes out on the other end as a finished work of art. the real fun is working together to make it a work of art… and the reactions of the audiences when we perform.

garbage! 8/

so i finally got up the nerve, and got frustrated enough with kubuntu that i tried to switch distributions. i have already moved my “real” home directory (which is at /media/home/salamandir ) to another partition, and backed up my “actual” home directory (which is at /home/salamandir ) and put the debian squeeze live disk in… and it looked really pretty, so i clicked the “Debian Installer” icon. it gathered the appropriate information, and then…

HUNG UP when it got to the “Starting the partitioner” window…

TWICE!!

because of the fact that i was running a “live disk”, i was able to figure out how to switch tasks: hitting “ctrl + esc” brings up the system processes window and from that, you’re given a task bar, which has a “close” selection when you right-click on the tasks, and then you’re back at the “live disk” desktop. i tried it again, just to make sure, and it hung up in exactly the same place

i have been subscribed to the KDE-PIM mailing list for long enough that i have actually seen a person who said he had to downgrade from Kontact 4.8.5 (which is the version i am currently running) because there were so many bugs. i haven’t been able to find out any details on exactly how he did this, and i can’t seem to get any response from the mailing list. i have sent two messages, one subject line was “switching distributions, but keeping KDE… how do i migrate my email?” to which there were no responses, and one subject line was “kmail dispatcher agent is not remembering my SMTP password” which contained a detailed bug report… which has gotten NO responses… 😑

so now i don’t know whether i actually am going to upgrade to debian. at least with kubuntu, there’s a forum that offers some support…

grawlf…

i’m getting more and more convinced that what i really SHOULD do is drop kubuntu all together, and install debian with KDE. kmail is still doing bizarre, but not really obtrusive things, like “forgetting” my password, and losing mail if i move the folder that it’s in somewhere else. amarok still randomly stops playing occasionally, and crashes rather than shutting down “nicely” EVERY TIME… there are all kinds of minor annoyances that have crept into kubuntu that i strongly suspect would not be there in debian, and with KDE, i wouldn’t have to learn new software. the only thing i’m skeptical about is whether or not i will be able to transfer my mail to the new system, and (once again) whether or not i would be able to get all of my genealogical data back… both of those things are items that i could have the answers to, if i wrote to the appropriate user groups, i just haven’t gotten around to it.

i had two gigs over the weekend: one with snake suspenderz at the gage drawing jam, and one with the sousa band at the phinney holiday festival. the gage was more or less as advertised, i.e. we sat in the back of the room and nobody paid attention to us, but there was no free beer this year. we made $50 a piece (because our drummer was not there). the gig at phinney was more crowded and chaotic than it has been in the past, because they put in an elevator and a fire-escape in the places where we used to fill up the hall, so they had to twist everything ninety degrees, which made the stage about a quarter of the size it used to be…

really, honestly, if they don’t provide us more roomy accomodations next year, i won’t be going. it’s crowded and chaotic enough already, but expecting a 40-piece band to fit in a room that is only big enough for about 75 people, and then cramming 200 more people into the space (most of whom aren’t even attending the concert in the first place), SIMPLY DOESN’T WORK… 😐

i’ve got a new web design client, for whom i’ve also (already) made business cards… and there’s a good chance that i will make at least 4 more business cards for him, and, once he gets is ducks in a row, there’s even a possibility that i will be doing a lot more printing for him as well. at this point, i haven’t done a lot with the web design part of it, in spite of the fact that he paid me what i consider to be A LOT of money up front which i haven’t even come close to spending yet… and it appears as though i may not have to do any of the actual design part of the job anyway. a member of the fremont players does web design “on the side” and knows A LOT more about HTML5 than i do, and, because of the fact that this guy has already paid me what i consider to be A LOT of money, i can actually afford to pay her $20 an hour to do the web design for me. 😎

the date is up

hipy papytoday is the fifth anniversary of my starting this blog. for the record, i’m still SO GLAD i got away from LiveJournal, despite the fact that i have a lot of friends who still use it.

i haven’t switched out the system on my computer yet, primarily because, after flipping out yesterday, it has settled down again, and isn’t producing the kind of errors that were making me think about switching distributions… but i’ve still got the debian live disk, and i’m just waiting for an excuse to wipe the whole system and try another one.

i’ve spent the past couple of days cleaning up my workshop. i have a lot of empty glass bottles waiting to be made into bongs on my main workbench, and a whole bunch of painting stuff left over from the summertime on my jewelry-making workbench, which i cleaned up to the point where i can actually work on both workbenches. i’ve got a whole bunch of things that could be made into earrings or pendants, but no real motivation to make anything out of them, despite the fact that the holidays are rapidly approaching.

BBWP patches

also, after having a number of difficulties getting emails to and from the lady who actually did the work, i now have 10 Big Boys With Poise jacket patches which i’m going to distribute to the other Big Boys (and other people) at monday’s rehearsal.

again…

i’ve “backed out” a number of adjustments that i made to my computer’s “appearance”, and that “appears” to have “fixed” whatever problems i was having with the email database… at least, so far today, i haven’t seen the “Retrieving folder contents” page, which was a common occurrence yesterday. at this point i strongly suspect the "GTK+ Appearance" changes, because i’ve made pretty much every other change with no consequences, but when i mess around with GTK+, my system goes wonky…

i suppose it’s sort of understandable, since i am using KDE and not GNOME, but if it was really that wonky, i wonder why they put it in to begin with. 😐

ON THE OTHER HAND… the debian live disk looks REALLY pretty on my mac, and usually the live disks don’t do very well on my mac… it even started a wireless network connection without too much difficulty… options, options… πŸ˜‰

sigh

so, abruptly, and for no very obvious reasons, my email client – which has been Kmail/Kontact for at least the past four years – has suddenly decided to be extremely slow reading the database – it puts up a “Kmail – Retrieving folder contents: Please wait…” page instead of displaying the selected message, sometimes for minutes at a time, sometimes actually crashing the program – combined with, randomly putting up a “Conflict resolution” error message that says that two different versions of a particular message (so far it’s been messages that i’ve already moved to the trash) exist, and wants me to determine which version of them to keep. also, it has taken up to five minutes to send an email message. i hit the “send” button, and the message just hangs there, not being sent to the “Sent Mail” folder, but i can’t edit it, or cancel sending, or do anything with the kontact interface until the message has disappeared.

this combined with the serious problems i have been having with amarok that are already fixed in the next version, which won’t be made available unless i upgrade the system to the next (non-LTS) version, have forced me to consider the option of switching distributions.

i have been considering debian for a long time: it is the operating system on which ubuntu/kubuntu is based, and it is one of the more stable distributions that i know of… but it is because they don’t update it as frequently. i’m not exactly sure where they are compared with what i need today, but i can’t imagine that they’d be too far behind where i am now. i already use a bunch of debian system-level controls instead of the ones provided by kubuntu, because i know they work better. i would have to learn how to install KDE, because, in spite of everything, i’m still the most comfortable with a familiar interface, but i get the impression that it’s really not that difficult.

ETA: it comes with KDE already installed, as one of the options, and after reading through the installation guide, it doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to install. i’m downloading a live disk of it now. πŸ˜‰

date: up

now that the battle of the computer is fading into the background, i actually have time to rant about other things. there’s still a few things that are wonky about the new operating system: amarok still has problems when i first start it up. it doesn’t show all of the current track’s tags until i “nudge” it a little bit, and when i close it down, i select “File -> Quit” and it quits, but it also shows a crash error shortly afterwards… i’ve tried to report the crash error (because it happenes EVERY time), but they say it’s fixed in the next version… which won’t be available for kubuntu 12.04.1 (Precise Pangolin) but is currently available for kubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) which i am not going to upgrade to, because it is not a “Long Term Support” version… also, for some unknown reason, amarok gives up and has to be restarted. it’s frustrating, but nowhere near as frustrating as playing multiple tracks at the same time, and not stopping when i select “File -> Quit”, which is what it had started doing prior to the system upgrade…

Snake Suspenderz played a gig at Wine World yesterday, as a part of our “official duties” as the “Official SACBO Band”. we played for 3 hours, and got “paid” with pizza, munchies, and all of the wine or beer we could sample. we should definitely play more frequently, but getting the entire band together is a chore i don’t want to undertake myself, because it would get really frustrating, really quickly, and then i wouldn’t want to do it any longer. 😐 we have upcoming shows on 1st december, 2012 at the drawing jam at the gage, and 10th january, 2013 at Smokin’ Pete’s Barbecue, but prior to that, our last gig was in august at the can can, and we haven’t all been in the same room since then, before yesterday…

WOO HOO!! 8)

i’m not exactly sure how, but i got my sound working on my computer! 😎

i think at least part of it is because the buttons in kubuntu 12.04.1 don’t actually look like buttons. they don’t have any clue that they can be selected, and don’t have outlines or anything that make them look like they can be selected… they just look like little icons. once i discovered that they are, in fact, buttons, i pushed one and, voilá!! my sound worked again!

unconditional victory has been achieved in the battle of the computer! πŸ˜€

whew!!!

i got my genealogical research back! πŸ˜€

i was looking at the .gramps file… i should have been looking at the .gramps subdirectory of my (backed-up) home directory.

instead of starting up gramps and making a “new” database, what i should have done is moved the old .gramps folder into my new home directory. because of the fact that i started gramps before i knew that, i already had a .gramps directory, so i found the old one and over-wrote the new directory.

of course, once i had the up-to-date version of the database open, i went in and told it where the new location of all my media sources were, and it said “oh, look… correct information… munch munch munch…” and it was back up and running in no time…

AND the new version of gramps has a “Create Backup” option, which saves ALL of the information, so i don’t have to freak out again… πŸ˜‰

the sound still doesn’t work, but i’m on the trail of tracking down a solution, and i’m already futzing around with possibilities for retrieving my email, address book, and rss feeds… things are looking up.

holy crap!

😑

somehow i managed to lose about ¾ of the genealogical research i have done over the past four years or so…

and, yes, i thought that the files that i needed were a part of the backup that i had been making every two weeks for the past four years… apparently they were not… 😐

and i still haven’t got my sound working, in spite of the fact that i reinstalled from scratch…

😑

sigh…

i’m installing clean. it’s too much of a hassle, and i’m too old and tired to be FUCKING around with a machine that doesn’t do what i want.

BUT unlike last time, i only lost my address book… and all of my old emails back to 2009 (which is the last time it happened). and, because of the fact that i backed up all of my email directories, i MAY not have even lost them, but if i did, so be it. it wouldn’t be the first time.

huge sigh of relief…

i don’t have an emoticon for a “huge sigh of relief” (yet), but i should… it wouldn’t get used often, but it would be entirely appropriate here…

kmail works, akgregator works… amarok mostly works (it still has this problem determining track lengths), but i can deal with that… the file manager(s) works again… and now i’ve got this nifty icon in the task bar that gives me access to USB devices, tells me when they’re plugged in and gives me the ability to unplug them without the rigamarole that i used to have to go through when i wanted to unplug the USB devices: now i go to the icon in the task bar, select the device i want and select “Remove Device” from the menu, then i can unplug it. before i had to open the disk in the file manager, then select the actual device, right click, select “Eject USB Device” from the menu, and wait for the light to stop flashing before i unplugged it, otherwise it gave me this dire warning that said i unplugged the device before it was ready, and that there may be damage to the files (which there never was, but it made me nervous when it appeared).

the interface is somewhat different… some of the icons are not what i expected: the network icon in the task bar, instead of looking like a networked computer, now looks like the CAT5 network cable connecter going into the network connection. there’s a new “klipper” icon that wasn’t there before, and the “notifications” icon is different, but mostly it looks the same… of course that’s probably at least partially because i have customised my interface pretty heavily to start out with… i have the task bar at the top of the screen (like it was on old macs) and i have desktop patterns that change every five minutes or so, from a directory of pictures…

i may have the latest unicode fonts installed by default… i have noticed a number of scripts that i don’t remember seeing before (including mah-jong tiles, dominoes, egyptian heiroglyphics, tifnagh, and that sort of thing)…

i’ve still got a lot to do, moving my home directory, which involves figuring out why kubuntu doesn’t mount my second internal hard disk on bootup (like it apparently does to the two USB hard disks that i keep plugged in pretty much all the time), and figuring out how to partition my new 3tb hard disk…

but, for the time being, i’m breathing a HUGE sigh of relief.

holding my breath…

i worried and fretted about my computer all day today, but i didn’t actually do anything about it… i just waited for kubuntuforums.net to come up with an answer that i hadn’t tried yet. to keep my mind off the computer, i went out and bought new batteries for lucy’s training collar, bread, bagles and dishwasher detergent, and a three terabyte USB hard disk, which i intend on partitioning approximately 1tb/2tb, and throwing my ENTIRE home directory, and my entire 200gb music collection into the 1tb side, and using the 2tb side as backup storage…

and i AM going to use something like Keep to back up my ENTIRE home directory about twice a month…

so that this kind of thing WON’T happen again… πŸ˜›

and when i got home, kubuntuforums.net had come up with an answer i hadn’t tried. a kubuntu expert from indonesia suggested apt-get install libakonadi-contact4, and when i did that, kmail, kaddressbook, and akregator all started without a problem.

and it works… so far… if it works again tomorrow, i’ll feel a lot better.

amarok still has difficulty telling how long tracks are, but at this point, i’m SO relieved to have kmail back that i’ll let it be wonky for a while…

more GROAN!… 8P

i got up this morning and nothing (and i mean nothing) had changed. kontact still wouldn’t start, nobody had responded to my many varied requests for help, and, according to skype-friend “You are now solidly into the area of problems that Kubuntu added to Debian”… πŸ˜›

so i put “kontact can’t find libkontactinterface.so.4 in kubuntu 10.04” into google, and came up with this article in kubuntuforums.net, which suggested reinstalling kdepim for a person who was having almost the same problem in maverick (kubuntu 10.10). so i tried sudo apt-get --reinstall install kdepim and then i read a little further in the article and discovered that it was also suggested that i try sudo apt-get --reinstall install libkontactinterface4, which resulted in some change… unfortunately, not in the desired direction. now kontact says kontact: error while loading shared libraries: libakonadi-contact.so.4: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory… essentially the same error as before, only now it’s looking for libakonadi-contact.so.4 instead of libkontactinterface.so.4

i feel like i should be making progress, but i honestly don’t know what to do next… πŸ™

i’m going to try putting libakonadi-contact.so.4 into google and see if that comes up with any new, relevant information that i haven’t already read… πŸ™

ETA: from what little reading i’ve done, it would appear that akonadi (the personal information management software that makes kontact work, and the thing that needs libakonadi-contact.so.4) doesn’t work that well (or, depending on where you read, at all) on 10.04 either, and the recommendation is to upgrade to 10.10… which isn’t a LTS… more motivation for me to switch distributions to debian (the parent distro to *ubuntu). this would obviously mean going back to KDE4.5, or KDE4.3, or something like that… but, as i said to skype-friend, i don’t need all these fancy bells and whistles, i just need it to work… reliably, consistently, and with a lot less effort than i have put into it over the past three days… i admit that, on the whole, kubuntu has been FAR better than windoesn’t, and even gives mac a run for its money, but when it comes to upgrading, kubuntu SUCKS!! πŸ˜›

prophylaxis!

i figured that, since i got paid(!) for the panto, and i got paid(!!) for first night, i would arbitrarily do something for both my wife and myself, keeping in mind that we have both fought valiantly in the battle of several computers recently, and we have both bought (or are buying) new computers recently, so i went out and bought a 2 terabyte USB hard drive, and i’m going to start making regular backups of all the computers in the house, so that the next time one or more of the computers goes tits up, we won’t have to run around like the proverbial chicken.

i hope you don’t mind sweetie, i did this without checking with you first, but i’m sure you’ll agree that it is $150 well spent, and Hybrid Elephant paid for it.

but while i’m at it, i want to marvel in awe, once again, at the place we’ve got to, technologically. i was raised around computers that talked in bits and bytes, before anyone ever dreamed of a personal “hard disk”… the first actual hard disk i ever worked with was an 80 megabyte monster, easily four times as big as the model currently on my desk, with a fraction of the capacity, and at the time, i was under the impression that it was an electronic “black hole” into which i could throw data forever, and never fill it up.4GB memory i remember when i couldn’t afford more than 16 megabytes of RAM (on a mac LCII), because it was $150 for a 1MB SIMM chip, which was about the same size as my cell phone… and now they make things like the one seen on the right, which is a four gigabyte memory chip that goes in my cell phone. when i was working at openwave, a few years ago, i worked on a solaris machine with a 4 terabyte hard disk array, which was a box about a quarter of the size of my desk, and sat in a corner of the santa barbara office (i logged in and worked remotely, from an office in bellevue), and this 2 terabyte disk i just bought is the size of a small book.

i’m not gonna claim that this is an electronic black hole, but i can’t imagine how i will fill up a 2 terabyte disk, except for backing up multiple computers, multiple times, for several years…

REJOICE!

the battle of the computer is over! the linux guru (whose name is francis) and i got my computer working, after three days of mucking about in the inner (read “command-line interface”) workings of the underpinning of kubuntu. when you dig down that deep, you’re not running k/x/ed/ubuntu any longer, it’s actually debian, which is, apparently, a rock-solid piece of software capable of doing many things that k/x/ed/ubuntu screws up, or can’t do at all. it’s now running jaunty jackalope, after having the innards of hardy heron ripped out from its smouldering carcass and having kde4 and the latest linux kernel forcably overwritten. i’m not sure if i really like it yet (it looks way too much like windoesn’t XP), but i can probably get used to it, and/or configure the parts that i don’t like so that they won’t be so annoying.

progress?

i’ve discovered what the problem is with my linux box: i tried to upgrade directly from hardy to jaunty without going through intrepid first. it really wasn’t my fault, i just did what the upgrade application told me to, but that doesn’t make my box any less broken. fortunately, i appear to have found a linux guru on kubuntuforums.net who is the eternal optimist and thinks that i can probably rescue my box without having to reinstall. i’m up for it, but i would also be up for reinstalling if it doesn’t work out. meanwhile i’m learning all about aptitude -f install and dpkg --force-overwrite -i and other arcane goodies that go over the heads of about 90% of the other kubuntu users out there. and my linux box is still broken. oh well…

i got an order for 3000 postcards yesterday, which will ultimately be sent to japan, and i mowed the lawn for the first time this year as well. also i’ve got a BSSB rehearsal later this evening, so despite my broken linux box and my ongoing depression, i’m keeping busy enough that it doesn’t hurt as much.

ETA, 5:00pm: the linux guru i met turned me on to skype, which i now have installed on my mac, so if any of you are inclined to actually talk to me, i can be reached at przxqgl. we didn’t get very far, but i am more convinced than ever that we will actually be able to rescue this box instead of reinstalling it. i’m now doing a remote ssh to the linux box and running all the commands on my mac, which saves me getting confused over which keyboard i’m typing into.

HAH!… sort of… i guess… 8/

so my linux box had a bunch of package updates that it had to install, so i finally got around to installing them today, and when they were done, it told me that i had a version upgrade (jaunty jackalope) that i could install, and so i decided to install it as well. strangely enough, there was something wrong with the upgrade and the ultimate result was that it lost the mouse and keyboard, which meant that i couldn’t log in.

fortunately (sort of), i have the /home on a secondary disk, and i have my calendar backed up on google, so the only thing i can’t immediately access is my email database. i have access to my email accounts, just not the already sent and received email that i have on my computer.

so, the battle of the computer begins again, but it’s all a lot more under control, sort of, than it has been in the past. i have to figure out why the computer apparently isn’t seeing the CD-ROM drive on startup, and i have to figure out why the computer isn’t seeing the mouse and keyboard when it boots from the hard disk, but i have a computer, and a calendar, and the ability to fill orders (if i get any) without too much difficulty, so it’s not a reason to panic and run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off…

coming to the end of another moisture festival

i met ukulele dick at the moisture festival the other day. his “real name”, acording to his schtick, is Banjo Penis. i traded him a copy of serpentine for a copy of his ukulele dick cd and a copy of his “Dick Dujour” cd, Music to Scare Children by. i’ve been listening to them on and off throughout the day, and i must say, the guy is more than just a ukulele player. i also made buttons for him that say “Act Dorky, Live Forever”. i’ve got performances on friday and sunday for sure, and possibly saturday.

the big news, or maybe not so big if you hang out with the right people, i guess, is that circus contraption is breaking up. i have no idea why, but i can imagine, as with most artistic organisations like that, that there were some artistic differences somewhere along the lines.

other news: my SSDI hearing is the 24th. i’m approaching it with an interesting mixture of hilarity and dread. i got to see part of the forms ned was filling out earlier in the week, and he said about 10 things, of which i would think that 1 of which should be enough to get me on the “disabled” list in a perfect world, but because of the fact that the world is decidedly imperfect, i don’t know if it will help or not. we’re going to work on it some more after the moisture festival is over.

also i’m getting ready to be able to accept credit cards on hybrid elephant, but i’ve only gotten one order since i went live with the new site, so i’m wondering if i can’t put it off for another month until i get more of an idea about whether or not people are going to notice it.

despite the fact that i won the battle of the computer in record time – this time – i learned a bunch of things that i didn’t know in the process. the main thing i learned is that the intermittent quiet scratching noise coming from the computer is the power supply fan, which, instead of turning on and doing what it is supposed to do when power is applied, in fact, it rotates weakly, not anywhere near fast enough to be anything like the heat sink that it’s supposed to be, and intermittently emits a scratching sound that makes me think that it, too, is not long for this world.

<stewie>victory is mine!</stewie>

linux computer is back up and working! i backed up my calendar and now i have it on both my main computers – with them cross-connected so that any changes i make on one will automatically show up on the other (which, it’s my understanding, that you can’t do on windoesn’t without a significant amount more futzing about than i was willing to put into the whole deal – thank you linus torvalds and steve jobs, fuck you bill gates), and i am currently backing up my /home directory (with all of my email) which is something that i was going to do right before the computer died, so that if it happens again i’ll be even more prepared the next time.

apparently i fried the processor. the guy i took it to, which is right down the hill from my house (extremely convenient) said that the processor heat-sink was installed backwards – thank you re-pc – but he just happened to have another processor of the same size and speed. it turned out that he had a huge box of brand new processors, one of which he installed, then put the heat-sink back the correct way, and hooked up the LEDs on the front of the computer (which i had never bothered to connect because they don’t actually do anything other than light up), and he only charged me $50, which makes him my new best friend.