Tag Archives: the battle of the computer

now that’s what i’m talkin’ ’bout!

i made the jump from kubuntu 18.04 to kubuntu 20.04 today, and it went smoother than i had ever hoped, in my wildest imagination… 😎

i’ve been slowly configuring the computer for about a month now, and i finally found an old debian CD that had the .deb file for sigrot, which i installed this morning… and that’s pretty much the last thing that i had to install from external sources.

my old .deb file for sigrot went away with the old cloud drive data, and they discontinued it around 2000, so it’s “no longer available”… but it turns out that i can purchase install CDs for old versions of debian from LinuxCollections dot com — apparently the modern version of CheapBytes dot com, which went out of business a while ago 😢 oh well… — and it turns out that the versions of debian called “slink” and “potato” have the most up to date version, and it works perfectly well on kubuntu 20.04…

and why wouldn’t it? ‼⁉ it’s a tiny little application that only interacts with plaintext files that I provide, and it only makes a .signature file, so it’s not relying on system calls or hardware requirements… why they would have discontinued it is beyond me… apart from the fact that, i’m fairly sure, nobody but me even uses a .signature file, these days… 😈

i already had to install gucharmap, because no KDE-based character map works as well for what i do, and i’ve also installed the “Deep Connections” gramplet in the new version of GRAMPS, which is A LOT easier than it has been in previous versions. i’m fairly sure that there will be other things that i will install as i use the machine more, but i’ve got the old machine set up next to me, and i can use its configuration as an example when i need to.

at this point, the system looks good, and the minor tweaks that it needs will get done when they come up, because this is good. 😉

but this is, far and away, the easiest complete system upgrade i have ever experienced. THIS is the way it SHOULD happen, ALL THE TIME!! 😁👍👍

also, i finally got a mouse whose third button works the way it’s supposed to, which means that, now, i have to UNLEARN the “copy-and-paste” gesture that i have been forced to use, because the old mouse had a third button that didn’t work consistently. new computers that work the way they’re supposed to, ROCK!!

umph!

i’ve come to a decision.

there are over 150,000 separate files, which takes up 4.5GB, in the .jpg directory alone, of the recovered data.

it took my computer half an hour of doing nothing but loading the directory, before it was completely loaded. every time i opened a file, it took 10 minutes to reload the directory.

i would have to open every one of them to determine if it’s corrupt or not, and if not (about ⅔ of the time), i would then have to determine what it is, and where to put it.

if it takes me (conservatively) 30 seconds per document to make those determinations, i will be doing this for the next 4,500,000 seconds, or more than 7 months of doing NOTHING but opening files to determine whether or not they’re corrupt… no eating, sleeping, shitting, busking or anything else, just slogging away in front of the computer.

factoring in those other things, i’m looking at a couple years, minimum. 😒

i may have been willing to do it at one time… who am i kidding, i’ve NEVER been willing to do that, for that long, for as little payment as i would get. 😒

it’s sad, but there it is: the last 6 years of my life, in pictures, and they’re all going down the toilet, along with a significant portion of my business, my music and artwork, and monique’s photos from the past 6 years.

now, do i keep the data on my new cloud drive, or do i delete it. i’ve also got it on the 1TB external drive that the data recovery folks sent me, so it wouldn’t be entirely deleted… but… 😭

this is one of the times the computer has won the battle. 😒

ETA: interesting, but extremely BIZARRE development is that, upon further investigation, there is a “.jpg” directory, and a “photos” directory, in the recovered data. the documents that are in the .jpg directory are about ⅔ usable files, but their names are gibberish, and there are more than 150,000 of them, all in one directory. however, for some strange reason, the files that are in the “photos” directory are in subdirectories that indicate the manufacturer of the camera, scanner or printer (of which there are about 50), and further subdirectories that indicate the make and model of the camera, scanner or printer (there are A LOT of them), and the files themselves, for the most part, contain the date they were taken in the filename… and, let me tell you, i have A LOT easier time figuring out what a photo is if it is named something like IMG_20061129_133315 (49EA1400).jpg than i do if it is named 80AB2B00.jpg… A LOT!

oh, alright… 😒

this is an update. what i’ve been doing:

busking. this has been a long time coming. it’s really good to get out and play music for people, and, so far, we’ve been averaging between $15 and $25 apiece for an hour or so of busking. now, instead of howlin’ hobbit and his ukulele, it’s thaddeus and his banjitar — an interesting hybrid, that looks like a banjo, but has six strings and is tuned like a guitar. as i’ve always said, the money is an extra, added bonus, for me, and it’s still true, even after a year and a half… but it’s always nice, and we’ve actually already got one “paying” gig as a result: the pike place market is putting on a “sunset supper”, and is hiring market buskers at $100 apiece for an hour of busking while rich people eat food… that is, most likely, NOT offered to the buskers, but they’re paying $100 apiece, so it’s sort of okay… the BSSB has started rehearsals again, too, which is another bonus. 😉

ripping CDs back into my music collection. i have only gotten the barest of starts sorting the recovery data, in spite of the fact that, in the small print, the data recovery people say that their “free” recovery media (a 1TB hard disk, in my case) only has a warranty of five DAYS — which, to me, says “if you don’t get your data off our recovery media post haste, we’re not going to guarantee that you’ll have ANYTHING, regardless of how much you may have paid us.” nevertheless, at this point, i’ve got all of the data that really made a difference (the panchamukhi ganesha from my car, the spreadsheet containing the data for the Incense of the Month Club, and the spreadsheet of blocked-for-spamming IP addresses), and, basically, if i had anything else i need, i don’t remember it, and probably won’t until i need that data again, which will mean that i’m probably going to have to keep going back to the recovery data on occasion, for the rest of my life… however, if i already have freshly ripped .flac files, then, when i finally get around to slogging through the 1TB MESS of recovered data, it will be slightly less of a concern if the archives i got are incomplete or corrupt. this is an ongoing project that is probably going to take several weeks to finish, and while it’s going on, i may not post here, as much.

hiding from the smoke and heat. it hasn’t been as bad as it was a couple years ago, but it’s definitely smoke season. i look out my office window and see orange skys and translucent air, and the AQI is 63, which is firmly in the “yellow” range. busking, yesterday, was an extra bonus, because it was around 10°F cooler at the market than it was at home… it’s 20° cooler than it was in june(!!), but it’s still in the high-90°s, which is extremely rare around here, in my experience. the government climate change investigatory committee just released the first part of their study, a few days ago, and it says what climat change activists have been saying for 30+ years, now, which is, basically, climate change is real, it’s happening, and it was definitely caused by humans… and then, two days later, 7 democrats switched positions, and voted with ALL the republicans, to pass a law making it illegal for the government to EVER ban fracking. 🤬 so, i guess that means that, ultimately, climate change will kill us all, but the rich people are going to die last. 🤬🤬 i have never wanted to, but it’s my impression that, soon, i will have to apologise to ezra for bringing him into a world where he may never reach his full potential, because of the thoughtlessness and carelessness of my immediate ancestors.

hiding from the virus. the delta variant is 1000 times more contagious than the original strain, and they’re saying that recipients of the pfizer vaccine, at least, will have to get a “booster” shot, but they’re not saying when it will be available, or how long we have to wait before getting one. in the mean time, schools have been making masks optional, and reopening, and then closing down again, when 40% of the students get COVID, while the right wing, q-anon devotee, anti-mask, anti-vax, trump morons are dying by the thousands, and STILL ranting their nonsense about it affecting pregnancies, or tracking microchips in the vaccine. there’s an image i saw on twitter that is, basically, a huge banner, strung between two cars, that says they’ll never get the vaccine, and that you’ll have to kill them… the ironic part is that, most likely, we won’t have to kill them, because the virus will do that for us, and we won’t have to do anything. hospitals are failing in missouri, texas, and florida, where the governors are particularly anti-mask and anti-vax, despite the surge in cases, and a vast majority of the fatalities have been people who refused the vaccine. at this rate, we’re going to be dealing with this pandemic for A LOT longer than the 1918 “spanish flu” pandemic, primarily because of STUPID people who won’t get the vaccine or wear masks, on account of their “freedom”. 🤬

gress

why is the opposite of “progress” not “congress” rather than “regress”?

i got in contact with the vehicle-wrap artist that did the actual artwork for the previous car, and he, also, sent me an .eps file containing the original artwork, so i’m sure i have backed it up, now… although i haven’t backed it up to the cloud drive, yet, because i can still only access it through a web browser on my linux box, and not at all on my mac laptop… and i am worried that they’re not going to be able to make it work on my mac laptop, because i did the steps to auto-mount a network drive, at startup, and it took my password and chewed on it for 30 seconds or so, and then rejected it… i THINK it’s because the cloud drive wants me to login to /cgi-bin/ but the ancient mac will only let me login to the base server URI. and on the linux box, it allows me to specify the login directory, and accepts my password, but never gets beyond that, to actually logging me in — it just repeats its request for a username and password, over, and over, and over, and over… 😕 hopefully, when the guy comes over this evening to give me the keys, he will be able to conclusively address these issues.

ETA: he addressed those issues like a boss, and had BOTH the ancient mac and my linux box wrapped around the NAS’s little finger in about 10 minutes… the old mac, apparently, doesn’t like the domain name, and REALLY doesn’t like the fact that my username has an @ symbol in it, but it eats up the intranet IP address like it’s going out of style, and, because of the fact that it’s ONLY addressing the NAS from the intranet, i just gave it the administrator username instead of my username… and the linux box was, basically, the same, once we figured out how to do it… and connecting monique’s computer was easiest of all: just gave it the intranet IP address and everything was kosher. 😎

there’s A LOT of music in .zip or .rar archives in my recovered data, so, once i get to the point of actually expanding those archives, i will have a significant part of my music collection back… for that matter, i’m pretty sure i “backed up” my music collection to CD, around 10 years ago or so, which means that, once i find where i’ve put it, there’s a good chance that my music collection will be back to 75% to 80% of what it was prior to the crack.

the western digital support personnel that i talked to on 210724, who said that someone would be calling me “monday or tuesday” lied, because it is now wednesday, and i HAVE NOT received a call from them… which only strengthens my suspicion that they are NOT going to try to contact me until after 210731, which is their deadline for making a claim through their data recovery program. 😒

the process of categorising partially corrupt files is both time-consuming, and ultimately frustrating, because, once i have rough-categorised the files, i have to go back through, re-open every file again to determine what it is, re-name the file, and then categorise it AGAIN… and A LOT of the file names started with the date that they were last looked at, which, frequently, is a complete mystery from inside the document, so even when i have them renamed, and categorised, i still can’t complete a time-line for stuff that was modified more than once… which will, very likely, cause major headaches in the future, particularly with documens created for other peoples’ printing. 😒

seriously, whatever anonymous skript-kiddie did this to me — who has never even met them before — just for “lulz” — better hope that i don’t run into them late at night in a dark alley, because, if that ever happens, the result will NOT be positive for anyone. 🤬

on a lighter note, i got my physical copies of questionable content, the electronic copies of which were lost… i’m slowly getting everything put back together.

but i still have to rewrite the IOTM blurb about patchouli for next month, because it’s coming up really soon, and it’s the only IOTM blurb that i didn’t get back… which is a real shame, because the old one was really amusing, and i don’t know if i can remember all of what i said.

new nas

lord buckley would love this…

but, unfortunately, lord buckley was part of the data that either wasn’t recovered, is corrupted, or i haven’t found it yet because i’m dealing with sixty gazillion files that are named something like 0SVP8382U794.mp3 or 3O1458DNLWO.jpg, because all of their meta-data has been deleted. 😒

anyway, the new NAS is up and running, although not completely configured yet. i have an “app” on my phone and tablet that gives me access to the cloud drive, and i can access it through a web browser on my antique mac and my linux box.

ETA: and accessing it through a web browser is an entirely new experience for me, because, despite the fact that it’s in a web browser, the “pages” are things like the file center, which allows me to “drag-and-drop” files from my local computer, to upload them. basically it acts like a window, even though it’s technically a web page. will wonders never cease?

although i’m fairly sure linux has a more direct way of accessing the cloud drive, the guy who came by to set it up wasn’t a linux geek, and, apparently, has never met a linux geek in the general public. he was astounded when i told him that i had been running linux for 20 years… 😉

but the new NAS is WAY cooler than the old cloud drive, primarily because it is, apparently, possible to edit files while they are still in the cloud, rather than having to download them, edit them locally, and then over-write the old file on the cloud. if what i have already experienced with audio files is true, the likelyhood of my losing any MORE music is practically eliminated. also, it appears to be possible to install executable code on the NAS, and run it locally, which would make things EXTRA SUPER COOL, but i’m not 100% sure of it, yet. 😉

ETA: the NAS has, apparently, either configured itself, or something has been installed remotely that allows it to communicate with my linux system via a number of different protocols, including SMB, MTP (whatever that is — Media Transfer Protocol… who knew?), HTTPS, and bluetooth… which is really odd, because my computer doesn’t even have a bluetooth reciever, so i kinda wonder where the “Bluetooth” icon in the remote network directory came from… unfortunately, i have been unable to connect with anything other than HTTPS, even though the SMB instance takes my password and doesn’t say it’s wrong, it just won’t log me in… which is something to take up with the configurators tomorrow.

the “twisted pair” who are whipping my computers into shape doing my configuration are going to be finished up tomorrow, at which point i hope to have the more direct method of connecting on at least the linux box (if they aren’t able to figure out the antique mac, i understand). i’ve already got a lot of stuff sorted out of the recovered data, including a whole bunch of music, embeded in .zip archives, which appears to be uncorrupted, so, initially, it appears that i may not have lost everything. oh, i also discovered a bunch of CDs that have the date 4/20/13 on them, that appear to be raw .wav files of my first three cassettes, originally produced in the 1980s. if they are as pristine as they appear, then i MIGHT NOT have lost all my old music.

AND western digital FINALLY got back to me — i originally reported the loss on 210624, and, since then, i have sent the drive to texas, waited two weeks, and had the people in texas deliver the drive back to me, which arrived ONE WEEK BEFORE the western digital team (which “values your data”) got around to contacting me… 😒 they said they couldn’t help me unless i uploaded the system logs, but when i plugged in the drive, it wouldn’t even mount on mac, which means that they couldn’t even talk me through the process of recovering the system logs, at which point the issue was “escalated”, and they are, alledgedly, going to call me back monday or tuesday. at this point, i would estimate that it’s NOT particularly likely that western digital is going to call me back before 210731, which is when their web site says i have to have contacted them regarding a data loss from CVE-2018-18472… because after 210731, they don’t have to do anything about it. 😒

MUA

today is the third day of NOT using Kontact, the MUA that i have been using pretty much ever since i switched to linux, back in the dark ages.

i really liked kontact. it did EXACTLY what i wanted it to do: it handled all of my email addresses in a logical way, made it easy to switch from one email address to another, worked well with my business set-up, my installation of sigrot

but it had a fatal flaw which i have been trying (and, mostly, succeeding) to work around for quite some time now, and that is its use of akonadi, which is the interface between the MUA and the SQL database that lives behind it.

for the first few years i didn’t even notice a problem, but then i upgraded my operating system, and everything blew up. i ended up installing the new operating system from scratch, and summarily trashing three or four years worth of collected email. it was a difficult process, but i got through it.

through the years, i have tried installing a number of MUAs, in order to try and get away from kontact, but either they didn’t do what i wanted, or they simply didn’t work at all, so i gave up and went back to fighting with kontact…

“the devil you know”, right?

after that, there were a number of times, primarily during updates or upgrades, when i had to battle with kontact/akonadi/SQL, to get it to work, and i had to trash a number of years of collected email at least one more time before reaching the point at which i am, now.

four days ago, i ran the operating system updates, and, after i was done, i tried starting up kontact, and nothing happened. i tried starting it from the konsole (rather than “clicking” on the “icon”, which is how you start it in the GUI), got a vaguely worded, cryptic message about being unable to start “hebrew.wgz.sizes.sonnet.plugins.hspell”, and then it hung up.

which is very odd, because i have never even installed the hebrew language pack, and have no idea why it would even be attempting to start the hebrew spelling dictionary…

i tried asking Kubuntu Forums for solutions, and got the same answer that i have gotten every OTHER time i have asked about how to fix kontact, which is “kontact is broken, install thunderbird instead”.

so i tried installing thunderbird (AGAIN), and, after having some “words” with my operating system about whether this new piece of software actually worked (or not), i successfully installed and more-or-less correctly configured it, and started using it.

it’s a little different than kontact… or, at least, my perception is that it is a little different than kontact. after some futzing around, i learned how to configure it to use more than one email address — actually, i may have done it “the other way” first, because the terminology for “accounts” and “identities” is slightly different on kontact — and, as far as i can tell, there is no easy way to add an “X-” header line to outgoing email, like there is in kontact, but that may just be because i have yet to find the place where such a thing is configured.

and, then, yesterday (after i had, more or less, given up on kontact), i discovered that kontact actually worked… it had been a few days since i had given up trying to start it, because of “hebrew.wgz.sizes.sonnet.plugins.hspell” not working, and, without thinking about it, i “clicked” on the “icon” and kontact sprang back to life!

so, the first thing i did was transfer all of my contacts, and most of my RSS feeds (i got bored and antsy, so i’ll finish them later) to thunderbird.

for some time, now, when i “quit” kontact (select “quit” from the “file” menu), i have had to go to the konsole, and “kill” the process that kontact was running, so that it would actually quit. i also discovered that “kill”ing kontact STILL allows incoming mail to be downloaded, a process that i don’t completely understand (it may have something to do with akonadi interacting with the POP3 mailserver).

also, for even longer (i recall at least two kontact upgrades that have had this behaviour, prior to the one i am currently (not) using), when i first start kontact, after booting up my computer in the morning, about 98.9% of the time it gets to the point where it’s displaying correctly on the screen, but before i have the chance to do anything, it puts up a dialogue box that says that there has been a fatal error and kontact will quit now. the dialogue doesn’t say what the fatal error is, and it only has an “OK” button, which makes everything disappear when i click it. under this circumstance, when i run “ps -u salamandir | grep kontact” in the konsole, kontact is, actually, not running (unlike when i select “quit” from the “file” menu), and if i restart kontact, it works without any further problems…

except that, sometimes (usually at least once a day), it freezes for anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and when it does, there’s a very good chance (greater than half the time) that it will crash. usually this happens when i have just selected a message to reply to, and/or usually it happens when it is in the process of downloading new mail or RSS feeds. sometimes i can anticipate when it’s going to happen, when i have to reply to a message and it is in the process of downloading.

thunderbird doesn’t have these problem. when i select “quit” from the “file” menu, in thunderbird, it actually quits, and doesn’t keep downloading mail anyway. thunderbird doesn’t crash for no reason, or freeze and crash. it may not be kontact, but on the other hand, it’s not kontact.

my impression is that the operating system struggles when there is more than one MUA running, and, because of the difficulties i’ve been having getting kontact to quit, i don’t like to keep both of them running for long periods of time, especially since, apparently, kontact’s interface with the POP3 mailserver takes precedence, even after i “quit” and “kill” it, and even when i start up thunderbird first (which it shouldn’t, but it goes to support the fact that “kontact is broken”).

victory… sort of…

once again, the most recent instance of the battle of the computer has come to a close, and, once again, i am victorious… sort of…

i just transferred ownership of the fremontplayers.com and fremontphilharmonic.com domains to someone else. i still host fremontphilharmonic, fremonstor.org and cirquedeflambe.org for the moment, but i hope to have them gone by may 1st.

they are, now, officially, SEP. 👍

of course i strongly suspect that they are going to try to wheedle me back into working with their site again, especially since it’s pretty clear that they don’t know what they’re doing, which is why it is now hosted by wix…

which, in my opinion, is probably several steps backward… but it is, officially, SEP, and i’m done with being actively involved in the administration of web hosting clients.

i also bit the bullet and opened yet another ticket with the VPN provider, which took the form of an extended chat session in which the technician claimed that they responded when they didn’t… which is, apparently, the reason they ignored my SIX EMAILS from 190405 (two weeks ago) until 190415 (today)… 😒

but, in the end, i got that fixed, as well, so now i can send email from my local computer, using SMTP, instead of having to login to a web site and send mail using IMAP, which i DO NOT LIKE!

but now it’s better, and i don’t have the added stress of a mailing list whose members send email to the wrong address and get MY PERSONAL EMAIL blacklisted and threatened with having to move.

oy! 😖

the continuing saga of the mailing list fiasco has reached a new plateau:

so, it started out that one of the subscribers to the list sent a message to the list that didn’t go through, for some unknown reason (demons).

when his message didn’t go through IMMEDIATELY — as he was used to them doing — he started looking around for other addresses, and he found two of them. one goes to the list owner, and one is a “machine only” address that sends bounce notices to the owner. it is not for sending email TO, and it is definitely not for sending mail to when your message doesn’t go through, because that triggers the MTA on the user end to blacklist your message.

i found out about this whole fiasco about 6 hours into it, when he sent mail to my personal address, asking me if there was something wrong. i noticed that he had sent mail to the machine-only address, and got blacklisted by micro$awful, so i wrote to the host provider to see if there was something that could be done to reverse the problem.

the host provider’s response was to accuse me (and my mailing list) of sending spam, and they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sending spam. 😒

they generously offered to set me up with a new IP address instead of arbitrarily closing my account, but the new IP address they gave me didn’t have a PTR (pointer) record, or a RDNS (Reverse DNS) record, which only made the machine that controls the email list mad, because usual mailing lists have a PTR and a RDNS record, and the end result was that i was blacklisted by a number of services with which i have been exchanging emails without a problem for years.

fortunately, these other services were ones for which i could submit delisting requests myself, which takes the host provider and their sensitivity about spam and spammers out of the loop.

nevertheless, i started losing patience, and i might have said some things in my communications with the host provider which ended up making things a whole lot worse, ending up with yesterday, when they asked me to move my web sites to a different host provider immediately.

at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME, the PTR and RDNS records that they installed on my new IP address took effect, which meant that i can no longer send email from my local email client, because it’s not the same server that my VPN has been talking to for more than a year, and i lost it. i didn’t actually curse at them, but i did everything but that.

while i was in the process of figuring out that it was my VPN that was my primary problem, i had, simultaneously, to explain the mistake to the guy who sent the original message, re-assure the members of the mailing list who were trying — and failing — to send messages to the list that they weren’t actually the problem, despite the fact that their email addresses were not interacting correctly with the mailing list, and fend off the more and more insistent demands that i leave, immediately, from the host provider.

long story short, i didn’t sleep very well last night. 😠

at about 3:30 this morning, i finally wrote a letter to macque, saying that i was no longer able to host the web sites he has me hosting, i was no longer able to maintain the mailing list, and that i was retiring from the hosting business.

then i checked, once again, with micro$awful, and determined that I HADN’T ACTUALLY BEEN BLACKLISTED AT ALL!

the WHOLE THING had been caused by “demons” in the machine! 😖

and, to top things all off, we’re scheduled to go to the beach for a week, starting monday, which meant that, if i was going to move, i would have to find a new host and give them the information they need to move my web sites in 3 days, or wait a week, and do the same thing when i got back from vacation. both of these options made going on vacation TO BEGIN WITH not a very exciting prospect, and i was getting severely depressed about it.

and, to put the cherry on top, it turns out that sketch, the drummer for Snake Suspenderz, died yesterday, which made me even more depressed… primarily because he, being dead, didn’t have to worry about all the CRAP that has been going on in the world, while i, being not dead, had to deal with seven times MORE CRAP and had no say in the matter, whatsoever.

then, things started to get better… kind of…

the first thing that happened is that, when i told them that i would be moving my web site in two weeks, that micro$awful hadn’t really blacklisted my IP address, and that i had dumped the client that had caused the whole fiasco, they let up a little bit, and allowed that, since i had paid access until july, that i could stay until then. with a bit more discussion back and forth, they relented even further, and allowed me to keep my web sites where they are.

but i’m still giving up being a host provider for people who don’t know how it works, because it’s WAY too stressful.

so, in the end, i can go on vacation without having to worry about internet SHIT, either while i am on vacation, or after i get home; i will no longer have to deal with people who don’t know doing things that they shouldn’t do and feeling awful about it afterwards, and i won’t ACTUALLY have to move my web sites that aren’t going away anyway (which is an entirely different ball of wax)…

but sketch is still dead, which means that, either, Snake Suspenderz will break up, or that we will find a new drummer… neither of which are very attractive alternatives at this point.

bleh 11

#drumpf. 🖕 the less said about him, the better.

🍄 one mushroom yesterday. i went out for a walk and had pretty much the entire “trip” while i was out, which wasn’t very much. depression sneaking back in, but not in unmanagable amounts… yet… fewer mushrooms every time this happens, and eventually i’ll run out. hopefully i will have either wildcrafted, or obtained some more by then, but who knows… they are illegal, after all, even though my doctor counsellor recommended them… 😒

trolloween on wednesday. i’m doing sound effects, which means bullroarer “pre-show” and thunder for the first part of the show. nothing else, which means that i’ll be able to actually haunt fremont, for the first time ever… i’ve been a part of the show at the troll, and the dance afterwards many, many times, but i’ve never gotten to go on the haunt… mushrooms? it’s possible… but i think i’d have to find a place to crash in town, if so. i’ll ask macque…

so, in the realm of the computer, i’ve decided that, if i tiptoe around this version of kubuntu, it works 95% of the time. i have, literally, changed the way i interact with the computer interface, in order to prevent it from crashing on a more regular basis: kontact/kmail/akregator — which used to be a relatively stable part of the distribution — has become something which works if i DON’T do things like try to open links in akregator using the middle mouse button (right click and choose “open in external browser” works, though, which is annoying), or forward a message, about half of the time (which is something i do on a regular basis when i’m reporting spam). and kubuntu, itself, has got some annoying bugs which i don’t know to whom to report… which, in itself, is annoying… when i boot the computer, the desktop wallpaper appears to be set to “blur” around the background, even though when i look at the configure panel, it’s set to “solid color”, and when i set it to “blur”, nothing happens, but if i, then, set it back to “solid color”, lo-and-behold, it suddenly displays with a solid colour background. and, because of the fact that it’s part of the system settings, i don’t have the first clue who should get the bug report.

and i’ve, basically, given up on amarok. i love the interface, but the fact is, my music is on a disk that isn’t mounted at startup — because it is a NAS, mounted via WIFI — and amarok refuses to see it. i haven’t figured out how to get it to mount at startup, and it appears that the amarok user list is, for all intents and purposes, dead… which is really annoying.

on the other hand, i’ve figured out a way to play the music on my NAS from my phone, my tablet, and from the linux box, at the same time, using the same application, which is VLC media player. i don’t love the interface, but it’s definitely better than nothing, and the fact that i can play my music, basically, anywhere, without having to make copies of it, should make the copyright drones happy.

and i found the disks containing approximately 10,000 fonts, left over from when i worked in a print shop… and i can get around 90% to 95% of them to work on both my mac and my linux box, also from my NAS, which makes sharing documents a lot more reliable.

grr update

i installed the debugging packages for both kontact and dolphin, thinking that would help me get a better idea of what’s going on.

it’s a little difficult with dolphin, because it doesn’t actually crash, it just gives me an “unknown error” message.

with kontact/akregator, it made a considerable difference, but i’m not sure how much it helps: now, instead of crashing about half the time when i middle-click on a link (which would produce the backtrace for which i installed the debugging packages), it doesn’t crash at all… it still does nothing when i middle-click on a link — now 100% of the time — and it still works exactly as advertised when i right-click and choose “open link in external browser”… 😠

ETA: this is the primary reason why, if there was ANY other alternative, i would use that instead of linux: i looked at the URI in dolphin, after it gave me the weird “unknown error”, and it said “smb://@/” which i thought looked kind of odd… so i put the username for the drive to the left of the @ sign, and the name of the drive to the right of the @ sign…

and it worked. 😕

no clue how it got that way, no clue why it worked before, with no username in the picture, and doesn’t now, no clue what the error messages mean, i have absolutely NO CLUE why it works now and didn’t before…

but it does. 😕

grr…

i’m still having random annoying problems with bionic beaver:

when i start it up in the morning, it loads my desktop wallpaper image with a “blur” in the background, which is not what i want. i have to right-click, choose “Configure desktop”, choose “blur”, hit “apply”, choose “Solid color” and hit “apply” before it correctly shows a solid colour background around my wallpaper images. 😕

sometimes, randomly, the “Device Notifier” shows me the three USB hard disks i have inserted, and mounted, even when i am doing nothing that involves any of them. i don’t know why.

akregator randomly crashes when i try to open a link with the middle mouse button (which is normally set to “open in external browser”). it works okay if i right-click and choose “open in external browser” from the context menu, but if i middle-click, sometimes nothing happens, and sometimes akregator crashes. also, it doesn’t give me enough information in the trace to make the bug reports any good. i wrote to the KDE-PIM users list, but not with this problem, because i hadn’t figured out exacly what happened at that time. now i get the very strong impression that the response will be to upgrade to a more recent version, but that version hasn’t been added to the upgrades for bionic yet, so i’m kinda stuck.

dolphin allows me to make icons for places i go to regularly, and organise them in the left hand side of the window. i set up some network folders, by selecting “Network”, then selecting “Add Network Folder” and setting up a micro$not windows folder at smb://salamandircloud.local. it worked fine for about 3 days, but now, when i select any of the network folders at salamandircloud.local, it tells me

Internal Error
Please send a full bug report at http://bugs.kde.org
Unknown error condition in stat: Unknown error 8216

only sometimes, instead of “Unknown error 8216” it says “Unknown error” or “File exists” or “Software caused connection abort”. i went to http://bugs.kde.org and discovered a duplicate bug that says it’s “solved”, but it doesn’t give any clear indication of how it was solved. the end result is that now i no longer have access to my cloud drive from my linux machine. 👎

because of the fact that i can’t access salamandirCloud, i can’t access my music from my linux machine, but even when i could access salamandirCloud, amarok couldn’t access my music files. apparently it wants them on a local drive… and, because of the fact that, when i could access my cloud drive, it was through a SMB connection, i can’t use the standard NFS to automatically mount the drive at startup. i wrote to the amarok users list, but nobody’s home there, and i don’t expect an answer any time soon. 😠

i keep going back to the advice i was offered by Ralf Mardorf on the debian users list, back in 2012, when i was playing around with (and failing to install) a debian live disk. he said

Because I needed new hardware I couldn’t keep a stable Linux install that satisfied my needs.

Never change a winning team!

If there’s no need to update, keep a stable install, make backups and to test newer Linux versions at least have a dual-boot.

If I could use my old stable install, I still would use it. In your case I would reinstall the old Ubuntu that fit to your needs and I would install a second Linux and try to get it working, when ever I would have time to do it.

You know it yourself, I don’t need to write this words to you ;).

which, to me, means “IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT!”

except, of course, trusty was broke, it was just broke in different ways than bionic is. now all i gotta do is figure out what the fixes are. 😖

wow!

well, it’s done… and, so far, i think i like it…

i reformatted the USB drive, made a startup disk out of it with “Startup Disk Creator”, actually INSTALLED kubuntu bionic on my computer, without remembering to back up the last few items on my list (which were desktop settings that i probably would have immediately changed anyway), and finished up yesterday with the search for how to get my cloud drive to show up. today, it started with the search for how to get my cloud drive to show up, and, with a few false starts — i had to search for the correct file system, install autofs and cifs-utils, and then discover that i didn’t need them — i managed to get my cloud drive to show up, which meant that i could restore the backup of my email and the backup of my browser bookmarks…

and now it’s more or less finished.

i still have to figure out why the new OS isn’t finding my mailserver all the time — sometimes it finds it without any problems, and other times it can’t find it, and says the socket operation has timed out — but i think that may just be new shit getting it’s shit together, so i’m not going to sweat it until later in the week…

and i still haven’t installed the new hard disk i bought, specifically for the task of upgrading the OS, because i discovered that i could do it with a USB stick instead… so now i have to figure out whether i want to install the new SSD and have another terabyte of goodness hanging around, or whether i want to return it and have an extra $300 in my pocket.

ETA: there is now a problem with kontact: i sent a message, but i apparently moved it from the “sent mail” folder too quickly, because, now, when i start kontact, it loads two windows: the kontact window, and the message composer window, with the message in it… and then it hangs up, and when i try to do anything more than move windows around, it crashes… and it eventually crashes anyway. ☹ NOT GOOD!

ETA: it may just be everything settling into its new places… i started kmail separately from kontact (yes, you can do that, no, i did not know that), and resolved the conflict with the sent mail message, which hadn’t actually been sent. who knows what happened to it the first time around, but when i processed it with just kmail, it did exactly what it was supposed to do. then, i started kontact and it had a tizzy, but instead of killing it and starting over, i went for a walk, and when i came back, it was in the middle of a totally unrelated process that looked like the aggregator synching its database… which is a totally normal thing to do, and i wish kontact would have put up a status bar or something to indicate that it was, actually, doing stuff and not just hanging up. 😐

um… some new, interesting developments…

so i talked to my web developer guru, and he talked with his web developer guru (who is a guy at godaddy… which, in my impression, means either that he knows a lot and doesn’t get the chance to actually touch any of the machines, or he knows practically nothing and has his hands inside a lot of machines), and they both agreed that the evidence pointed towards me having a spammer in my email system. the primary reason for this was that, despite the fact that i have email with chinese characters automatically sent to /dev/null, i’m still getting spam with chinese characters in the subject line.

at the bottom of the global email filters window, there is a place where you can test email filters, to see what they do. after the first few, i just assumed that they worked, because they always did, so i didn’t pay much attention to the filter tester. it turns out that you can run mail that has already been delivered through the filter tester, to determine which filters caused it to end up in the wrong place.

what i discovered is that the chinese email filters work fine, but if the filter encounters an element that has a different rule than sending it to /dev/null, then it will do that, instead. once i resolved the conflict over which rule to use, the emails that are supposed to be getting delivered, are getting delivered, and the mail that is supposed to be deleted, goes to /dev/null

i still have a whole bunch of directories that have the name of my old host provider in my email system, that i really want removed, if it is possible, but the fact that it now looks like i DO NOT have a spammer/cracker nesting in my system is a great weight off my mind… and it means that i can put switching to gsuites on the back burner for the time being. 👍

ETA: i also discovered, using the same reverse-filter-testing procedure described above, why some random emails that don’t have any obvious reasons to be filtered, were getting filtered anyway. it turns out that i’ve got a whole bunch of filters that look for TLDs, such as .bid, .host, .win and so forth. except that the filter doesn’t care whether it’s a TLD, somewhere in the middle of the URI, or in some javacript code that is in the body of the email. so a MTA named “mailpod.hostingplatform.com” was getting filtered because it contained “.host”, and another mail was filtered because it had a javascript variable named “character.bidirectional”, which contains “.bid”…

i changed all of the TLD filters to look for an extra character that differentiates it from things that aren’t TLDs: the “dot letters” combination, followed by a forward slash — / — is what MAKES IT a TLD. why i didn’t think of that when i originally made the first filter is a gross act of stupidity on my part. 😕

start — stop — start — stop…

so according to two different experts, there’s a good chance that i’ve got a spammer that has cracked my email server. if that is the case, then changing my IP address will only be a temporary solution, and what everybody is recommending is the third party “gsuites” which is, basically, a google relay to my email service. i continue hosting the web sites, but the MX records for every domain i have gets changed to google’s IP addresses, and they basically take over managing all of my email services for me…

except i still don’t know how much it will cost: potentially $10 per user per month, and i’ve got 5 or 6 email addresses, just for myself… and i WILL NOT pay more for email services alone than i am for the entire hosting package i currently have.

apparently there’s another alternative, which also costs more money, which is a virtual private server, which would allow me to do things like summarily block all email from a country — brazil, china and russia immediatey come to mind…

and then, on the other hand, i’ve also been seriously considering giving up being an internet “reseller”; giving up my hosting clients, and focusing on MY web site (and my wife’s web site) without all this extra stuff adding chaos to the whole scene.

and then there’s the local computer upgrade, which was put on hold while i figure out the whole email fiasco. it turns out KDE has this nifty “Startup Disk Creator” application, which installs a bootable copy of the operating system on a removable USB flash drive… except that it doesn’t work if the USB flash drive is formatted FAT32, and they don’t tell you in the user interface that the beginning of the process is changing the BIOS of the computer to boot from the USB drive… which i had to find out the hard way… 😕 i actually succeeded in wresting control of my computer back from the jaws of certain disaster before that disaster actually happened, and i actually figured out how to reformat the flash drive to EXT4 so that the startup disk creator is more likely to work this time, but with the whole email fiasco, plus the screen door installation tomorrow, plus time for me to settle down and quit panicking over the computer that wouldn’t boot when the BIOS had been changed and i didn’t realise it…

means i’m probably not going to try again for a couple of days.

seriously, this is ridiculous, and there’s no way it’s going to get any less complicated any time soon. it would be just as well for me to get out of the business of providing internet services to other people before i truly get myself in trouble. 😕

the scary part

i’ve reached the scary part of computer upgrades: that part in between the point where i’ve got everything backed up (except for the invisible directories in ~/home which are waiting until the last possible moment), i’m reading up on what i should do if the worst happens, i’ve downloaded the operating system, but i still haven’t bought the drive, or actually done anything to move the project forwards.

apart from backing up all my data, for the first time EVER… which is a big thing, i suppose…

tomorrow i am going to refill my water bottles, hopefully with my mother-in-law, nancy, in attendence. then, if there is time, i’m going to buy the drive. if there isn’t time tomorrow, then it happens tuesday. this means that some time between tuesday and friday, or so, next week, i should have a new operating system, and, hopefully, working email addresses and an existent contact list.

so far, i don’t have any reason to believe that it won’t happen exactly the way i have stated.

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

a wise old linux guru told me this, a few years ago, and i’ve found myself smack in the middle of what happens when you follow that maxim… and it doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, at this point.

i have been happily running kubuntu trusty since 2014, which means that, now, there are TWO LTS releases to bring me up to date… Bionic Beaver, and the interim release, Xenial Xerus, which had some notable problems that were notable enough that i decided that… IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT.

now, i’ve actually heard some good things about the new LTS release, and, strangely enough, Amarok broke about two weeks ago (and the amarok user list has gone quiet the past few months, which makes me wonder who to contact), so i’ve been having to resort to qmmp to play music… so i decided to upgrade.

i’ve had some AWFUL experiences upgrading operating systems, and linux is no exception. the last time i upgraded linux, it took me three days to get my computer back. in an attempt to avoid that possibility this time, i have finished uploading my ENTIRE /home directory to the cloud, and am in the process of uploading my ENTIRE music collection to the cloud.

then, on the advice of the linux gurus over at Kubuntu Forums (who have saved my ass more than once), i’m going to go out and get a 2TB SSD on which to install bionic.

the only problem is that i still am not completely sure that my email is going to transfer, because i know that kontact was one of the notable problems i read about with xenial that made me want to avoid upgrading… and i’m not sure the standard “back up everything including the hidden directories from /home” is going to work this time, because i’ve heard that bionic uses something other than akonadi, which was, apparently, the source of the problems with xenial… which would mean that potentially i could lose 7 years worth of email and contact information. 😒

so, we’ll just have to see how it goes… 😐

now that it’s over…

i discovered that the reason i, and, significantly, my clients, including the fremont players, were getting our emails “randomly” blocked by places like @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @msn.com and so forth, was because my host provider’s data center was a known spam haven. my impression is that everybody knows to avoid Limestone Networks — the one admin i was able to convince to talk to me, said the following:

To give you an idea of the problem Limestone is we escalated the /18 your IP is in more than 6 years ago (March, 2011 to be exact), and despite rejecting several thousand emails a day since then in all that time I am aware of exactly one legitimate sender this has affected: You.

Limestone is not the worst spam haven on the Internet, but it’s not for lack of trying.

so they do business, or, more likely, have someone else do business for them, as IonBlade. i was desperate when they stepped in and assured me that they could fix everything — it turns out that my problem was my VPN provider all along, but i didn’t know that at the time — and i was already 6 months in before anything started to seem wrong.

so, i started looking for a new host provider in january, did my homework this time, and settled on WebHostPython, which actually offers me about 5 times what anyone else has offered, for a little bit less money… a definite step in the right direction.

however, i still had to notify the VPN provider of the change in my IP address, and while they dragged their feet getting it straightened out, i went for a couple of weeks not being able to send SMTP mail. of course i could use IMAP, but i don’t like keeping potentially incriminating evidence on someone else’s computer, and, these days, you just never know what they’ll decide is incriminating evidence… my SMTP started working yesterday, which brings to a close the battle of (someone else’s) computer, once again.

webhostpython has already helped me clear up a lot of IP and DNS cruft left over from 10 years of switching web hosts and not knowing what to clean up. i’m hoping that they’re still going to be my host provider 10 years from now, because, honestly, i’m FED UP with switching host providers. 😐

and so, once again…

and so, once again, the battle of (someone else’s) computer has come to an inconclusive end.

i still have one open ticket with the VPN folks: they updated the VPN software for the tablet, which means that now it’ll connect after i reboot it, but if it comes disconnected for some reason, the only way to get it to reconnect is to reboot the entire tablet… which, while better than not being able to connect at all, is still a major hassle. i’m not holding my breath that it’s going to get fixed soon, as my current tablet can’t be upgraded beyond a version that is three full versions behind the current one… 😐

my email works — or, rather, isn’t giving me timeout errors every time i send email. monique’s email is working again, although she’s lost her address book and her signature files, and the two mailing lists of which i am in charge, seem to be working, with third-party verification. i’m also paying about twice as much as i was with the old host provider, but, with the new host provider, i’m actually an “official” reseller, which means that, now, i have access to WHM, which i never have before… but i’m not sure, at this point, whether or not it’s a “good” thing. at this point, i have updated all of my domains’ MX records to the new host provider (something i was never able to do before), without knowing for sure whether or not i have done the right thing. at this point, two days later, it still works as far as i have been able to tell, nothing has broken as far as i can tell, and nobody has complained to me that their shit isn’t working, so i’m nominally calling it complete, but i wish there were some way that i could be sure…

the battle…

the battle of other peoples’ computer started before i left for the fair.

about a week before the fair, my (now former) host provider decided to move the machine on which all of my web sites live from californa to florida. in the move, they somehow freaked out my VPN, because it started giving me an error that said “socket operation timed out” whenever i tried to send email. i could receive email just fine, but no sending.

and, because of the fact that the VPN isn’t SUPPOSED to interfere with normal network functions, i didn’t suspect that was the cause.

then my clients started reporting intermittent email failures. so i contacted my (now former) host provider and inquired about answers to what you would expect to be their problem (since they are, now “were”, my host provider).

as the week progressed, there was also concern that my scheduled web maintenance (which i wanted to have happen before the fair) was not possible, because of the ongoing problems with the web server, combined with the host-provider-support-drones who couldn’t speak english, answered (or not) only one question at a time, and who persisted in giving me scripted instructions for how (not) to fix the problem on a windoesn’t machine.

fortunately, most of my clients were also at the fair, and couldn’t access their email anyway. i gave up after being there one day, and only getting spotty WIFI coverage on my personal hotspot.

when i got home, much to my surprise, the ticket i had opened to fix the problem had been closed, but there had been no “fixing”… they closed the ticket because i hadn’t responded to it in three days, not because they had fixed the problem. almost as though they thought, if i wasn’t there to harrass them, there wasn’t a problem that they needed to work on.

i reprimanded them, and proceded to deal with my, now worsening, email problem. macque couldn’t access the list, monique’s email was spotty at best, a number of people said they had “given up” on getting messages to the list, and i STILL could only receive email, but not send.

i tried to deal with the now former web host for another week, getting less and less actual information, and more and more frustrated with my inability to communicate in anything like english (which strikes me as somewhat odd, given that it’s a british company, located in london). finally i had enough, and switched host providers…

AGAIN… 8/

it’s been about five years since i switched to EZPZ and ended my spree of switching host providers about every 6 months for a couple of years, and, at first, they were cheap AND excellent host providers… but in the past couple of years, i guess they must have outsourced their support, or something, because suddenly their tech support got CONSIDERABLY worse, and their language skills steadily decreased to the point where i would have to, DELIBERATELY avoid asking more than one question per ticket, in order to get anything close to a complete answer…

so, i switched host providers about a week ago. they quickly diagnosed my VPN problem, and got monique’s email working, sort of… but i forgot that i don’t have complete control over all my domains (Rev. Guido DeLuxe is actually the owner of two of them), and, instead of getting better, monique’s email problem actually got worse…

and the new host provider — ionblade — had conveniently forgotten to add “mailing lists” to my cpanel, so the two mailing lists i manage were completely offline…

and, meanwhile, i had to explain to macque that sending to “official-list-owner” sent mail to me, while sending to “official-list” sent mail to the list, and, because of the fact that i couldn’t send email, i couldn’t actually do something sensible, like forward his message… and even if i had been able to forward his message, i would have gotten a bounce also, because the FUCKING EMAIL LIST WAS DOWN!!

i actually helped them diagnose the VPN problem: i learned that i could access webmail at hybridelephant, but that it forwarded me to their server, and i could send from that, which i did for about a week. then the VPN updated, and quit working all together on my tablet, which meant that i had to do the “run-around” on my linux box when i absolutely HAD to respond to someone. basically, i took the message to which i had to respond, responded in my email client, copied the message, switched to a browser with webmail open, hit “compose new message” and pasted the message into that, in order to be able to send. when i couldn’t do that, either because my computer was down for the night, or i didn’t have access to it, i would use the browser on my tablet to respond. at some point within the past few days, it dawned on me that if i could send from webmail from port 80, even though my VPN was up, maybe the VPN was getting in the way, so i tried disabling it, and — lo and behold — the message went through. i enabled the VPN again, tried sending a message, and “socket operation timed out”. disabling the VPN made the message go through almost immediately.

so, i opened TWO tickets at the VPN provider, one about my tablet, and one to find out if there is some way to un-block my SMTP service on port 465. i (FINALLY) convinced the (new) host provider to re-add “mailing lists” to my cpanel, and, like magic, i suddenly had email lists that work (i think) again.

i (still) have two open tickets with the VPN provider, but my impression is that if they’ve got a bug that affects the connection of my tablet, it has probably struck a lot of people with similar tablets, so they’ve got a lot to deal with.

and i’ve still got web updates to get to, but the web update guy says that they can wait for a month or so, at which point there will probably be more anyway…

raghr! 😠

i got back from OCF to discover that the email problem i had when i left was still there, and EZPZ had closed the ticket, because i wasn’t there to egg them on.

it’s still broken, so i decided to switch host providers… AGAIN! 😑

some day, everything will just WORK, and there won’t have to be providers that don’t know how to fix things… 😐

sigh…

so, it has been a couple days since my computer fell back into place, and i can definitely say that the past couple of weeks have been among the most stressful battles of the computer i have ever experienced… and it still isn’t back to 100%. 😠

my external, backup drive mounts when i first turn the machine on in the morning, but if i have to restart it for any reason — security upgrades, for example — i have to completely shut down the machine and start it up from power-off, rather than “restarting” it, because the disk only mounts if it starts up from power-off… if the machine restarts, it doesn’t power-off, and it loses the backup drive when it has restarted.

i am fairly sure that this can be taken care of relatively easily, by adding a line of text to a particular settings file somewhere, but i don’t remember where, and, at this point, i am so relieved to have a computer that actually works at all, that i’m willing to overlook this relatively minor inconvenience for the moment.

wrap up

i got my email working late friday. when i booted the machine yesterday, i still didn’t have my backup disk, and, while i futzed around and rebooted a couple of times, i couldn’t get it to mount. also, in spite of the fact that i had the cable plugged into the right hole, the sound still didn’t work, but i was going to bellingharm, so i figured i would save it until later.

i went to bellingham yesterday. ken and kamala have found a new place to live, but serentipity is going away, after 40 years that i know of. i got home at 11:00 last night, and was too tired to mess around with the computer.

this morning i got up, and booted up the computer, and, for some unknown reason, the backup disk mounted. i shut it down and started it up several times, and i still have a backup disk. it fixed itself. weird… so then i pulled the audio cable and plugged it into the front, where i can see what it’s doing. it worked. i plugged it into the back, and it still worked. so, the sound fixed itself as well. double weird… 8/

also, i screwed around with cron for about 5 minutes total (it actually took about 20 minutes, but it was screw with cron for a few seconds and then wait 5 minutes for the changes to take effect, or not), and got sigrot to work the way it’s supposed to.

so, basically, i got through the whole battle of the computer, and i only lost my fonts and my email filters… and i didn’t lose ALL of the email filters, only the “actions” for the filters… and i didn’t really lose the fonts, but i think they’re actually living on the other computer, which i haven’t booted up since the new computer made its appearance, so i’m still hoping that’ll fix itself as well…

i don’t know why, but i’m not arguing. this is the best outcome i have ever experienced in the battle of the computer, although it took quite a bit longer to come to this resolution than it has in the past.

sigh…

i’m giving up, copying the data back on to the 3TB hard disk (which has now been reformatted as a 3TB disk), wiping the machine and starting over. this is ridiculous.

basically, over the past three days, i’ve been trying this thing, and that thing, and not being able to get my email back. i’ve been getting more and more anxious and more and more frustrated, and making more and more anxious decisions which turn out to be the wrong ones, which makes figuring out what went wrong more difficult…

and, the fact is, i’ve got this backup, which is all i really need apart from the data.

today i learned that you need to restore more than just the ~/.kde/share/apps/kmail directory, if you want to restore kmail. there’s a long list of directories and files, but what it comes down to is that if i restore ~/.config, ~/.kde, and ~/.local i’ll get not only all of my mail and contacts, but also all of my desktop settings.

also, i discovered that, for gawd-knows-what reason, the default for a new installation instance of Ark, the archiving program for KDE, is to “Extract Selected Files” rather than to “Extract All Files”… which is part of the reason i haven’t been able to extract all of the files i thought i was dealing with.

the end result is that, even if i could figure out what i need to replace, and what needs to stay to get things more or less back to normal, without a great deal of help, it would take a lot longer than it will to give up and start over.

significantly, i also learned that i’ve got all my shit, and now that i know what to do with it, if i start over, there’s a good chance that i will have everything back up and running, and have it a lot closer to the way i want it, as early as tomorrow.

computer, you’ve won this round, but watch out, because i will defeat you. πŸ‘Ώ

every time i think i see light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out to be the headlight of an oncoming train…

the host provider moved my hosting services, and gave me a new IP address, the ramifications of which started on the 21st, and are still going on. literally. i tried to SEND email at 5:30 this morning, only to get an error message from my email client that the RECIPIENT “[email protected]” was rejected by the server… and this is on MY server… for some unknown reason, if i send from webmail, it doesn’t happen, but i despise webmail and will do anything to avoid it, because it’s too easy to spam and get away with it if you use the web for mail, rather than for web-related stuff. also, if i use IMAP (webmail), the mail is retained on a server over which i have no control, which means that anyone who can crack into the server potentially has access to my mail… and this is, for some unknown reason, not an issue for the technicians (if i can call them that) from the host service.

add to this nightmare, the fact that i’m still working on getting my new computer set up… it’s taken 3 days to figure out where my two USB drives are, move the data off of them, and reformat them, because, unbeknownst to me, they were formatted FAT32, which can’t see files that are more than 4GB, and i had been storing files on one of the disks that are >7GB, for quite some time. so, once i’d figured out how to mount them (because they had screwed up partition tables) i had to move all the data off of the disk (fortunately i have a new 1TB internal hard disk that was just aching to have ¾ of it taken up with old data), and reformat the drive EXT4… which means NO interaction with windoesn’t is possible — who cares about micro$lop anyway — but it will now see files that are as big as i want to make them…

AND, because of the fact that, apparently, i don’t know how to correctly backup my email files, i’m STILL having to battle with kmail/kontact/KDE-PIM to get things back in line — they still AREN’T, and — you guessed it — i’m having to use webmail to straighten things out, because Mail (on my ipad) gives me this weird error message, and kmail isn’t working…

FURTHERMORE, i don’t have things set up the way i want them on the new machine yet… i still have to figure out why gucharmap doesn’t have emoticons, even though they’re supposed to be part of the unicode standard at this point; now that i’ve got the disk reformatted to EXT4, i’ve got to figure out how to mount it at startup, so that it will be able to use the new backup software i installed; and, undoubtedly, there are a myriad of other, less important things that i have neglected to mention, simply because they haven’t happened yet, which are making my life unbelievably difficult, and leaving no end in sight. 😑

oy… 😠

all i had to do was mention the fact that i am getting a new computer, and it automatically triggered one of the worst battles of the computer that i have ever seen.

they moved my hosting accounts from us10.la.thewebhostserver.com, which is being retired, to a new server, mars-la.thewebhostserver.com. it had an IP address assigned to it that was ALREADY LISTED in four different spam-filtering services (that i know about), so they gave me a new IP address, which doesn’t have a rDNS record, and also doesn’t have a DNS PTR record (which is, apparently, different from an rDNS record), which means that i can only send email to about a third of the people to whom i need to send email, and the rest of them generate bounce notices.

this has been going on ever since the 21st, which is the last time i posted here, and, while it has definitely been on its way to getting fixed, they have been taking their bloody time about it, and i have been getting more and more convinced that, once again, i should probably think about finding a new host provider. 😑

and, while i have it sitting on my desk next to me, the new computer still is not hooked up or working yet, because i want to be sure that everything is working the way it is supposed to work BEFORE i do something that i know to be destructive to my system.

the battle is joined

i’m getting a new computer. the primary hard disk on the current computer says this:

[email protected]:~$ sudo smartctl -l selftest /dev/sda
smartctl 6.2 2013-07-26 r3841 [i686-linux-3.13.0-63-generic] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-13, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num Test_Description Status Remaining LifeTime(hours) LBA_of_first_error
# 1 Short offline Completed: read failure 90% 29056 323066047
# 2 Short offline Completed: read failure 90% 29025 323066047

[email protected]:~$ sudo smartctl -l selftest /dev/sdb
smartctl 6.2 2013-07-26 r3841 [i686-linux-3.13.0-63-generic] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-13, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num Test_Description Status Remaining LifeTime(hours) LBA_of_first_error
# 1 Short offline Completed without error 00% 38197 -

which means, basically, that the primary hard disk – /dev/sda – has a read failure, and the secondary hard disk is okay… but i just copied all of the data off the secondary hard disk today anyway… and they’re 180gb and 200gb respectively, which means i can replace both of them with a brand new 1TB disk for about the same price that i could search out two used drives of the same size, and for a little bit more, i can replace the whole machine, with 4 times the RAM.

which sounds like a very good idea to me. so, i’m doing that. i’ll probably be offline for a day or so, within the next few days, but i don’t anticipate a major ordeal.

the battle of moe’s computer

friday and saturday, moe spent most of the day upgrading the powerpoint presentations that she has to present on thursday, at the largest veterinary conference in the world. saturday night night, she tried backing up her computer, but it wasn’t finished by the time i went to sleep. sunday morning, after discovering that the backup didn’t work, she attempted to do another backup and produced an error on her computer that, in the thirty years i have been working with apple/macintosh computers, i have never seen before: a “Kernel Panic” error… it was quite alarming, i can tell you, and even moreso because ALL of moe’s data for the presentations was on that computer… she had made backups, but not before she did eight hours of work, and, because of the fact that she’s been having more than the normal amount of chaos at work, she doesn’t have the time to do everything again before thursday.

needless to say, she freaked out.

the fact that she freaked out, freaked me out. seriously, i have been married to this woman for almost 17 years, and i have never seen her lose it quite so dramatically. i did what i could, which was to make the first available appointment at the apple store in tacoma mall, which was for monday afternoon, and then i went into survival mode, keeping my head down until things changed.

while i was hiding, moe talked to a couple of friends who know more about modern macs than i do, and was able to rescue the most important of her data, i.e. the stuff for the presentations that she has to give on thursday, which made me breathe a little easier, but she still didn’t have a computer, and thursday was looming…

i took the computer in to the shop on monday, and described to the “genius” what had happened. we booted up the computer, and it hadn’t even completed the POST before it demonstrated the “Kernel Panic” error again, which was all the guy needed to see. after booting from the network and running a test, it appeared that the RAM was faulty, so he took it back behind the mysterious door in the back of the shop where all the technicians and magic smoke machines live.

about 45 minutes later, he came back and the computer booted up just like normal. he said that he “reseated the RAM” and that he had booted and shut it down about 6 times, just to make sure, but he recommended that we replace the hard disk, as well. seeing as how, just about a month ago, we had to have the logic board and the monitor replaced, and it was still under warranty, i agreed without hesitation. he checked, and they don’t make 250G hard disks for that computer any longer, so he put the last 500G disk they had in stock aside for me, with my name on it. the plan was that i would take the computer home, back it up properly, and then bring it back on tuesday to get the hard disk repaced.

so, after backing it up, i took moe’s computer in to have the hard disk replaced tuesday. i got to the apple store before they opened, waited until they opened, went in and explained (again) why i was there, they sat me down at the “genius bar” (by the way, i should point out that i have been using macs for longer than most of the “geniuses” have been alive) and told me that there would be someone to help me “shortly”… about an hour later, a guy showed up and immediately started trying to convince me that the hard disk didn’t REALLY need to be replaced… i told him what happened yesterday, including the part where the guy assured me that it actually DID need replacing, and that he had set aside a disk with my name on it, to facilitate the process. the guy said he would check, and came back to inform me that there wasn’t a disk with my name on it, and that they didn’t have any disks in stock at the moment. after some more convincing arguments, i insisted that he check again, and, sure enough, he came back and said that there actually WAS a disk with my name on it, and that everything would be taken care of in a couple hours.

i came back to the apple store in a couple hours, and, once again, they had me sit at the “genius bar” to wait for the computer to appear from the mysterious door at the back of the shop. after about 45 minutes (what ever happened to the 2 hour time frame the guy gave me??) the computer finally appeared, but it hadn’t had any of the data transferred, so the person who delivered it to me suggested that i restore the backup right then, before leaving the store. after i had already started the process, she said “oh, by the way, this may take a while…”

1 hour and 30 minutes later, the backup was restored, and moe now has an (allegedly) functioning computer again.

and i can say, conclusively, that the tacoma mall is one of the most ghettofabulous places i have ever had the priveledge of hanging out… if i never go there again, it will probably be too soon…

moe came home and checked her computer, and everything is back to the way it should be… which is a very good thing, because this has been a trying time for both of us… 😕

now THAT’S the way things should work ALL the time!

i reported a bug in kontact 4.13.1 yesterday. they fixed it (almost immediately, which leads me to believe that i wasn’t the only one who had the problem, but i’m the one whose name ended up on top of the bug report) this morning, and, with the kubuntu-updates ppa (which i hadn’t installed, because of the fact that i didn’t know it existed) my installation of kontact 4.13.2 is working wonderfully, less than 24 hours after the bug was first reported.

given my experience as a software tester, i don’t have to wonder what the process would have been like for mac or windoesn’t, especially with as important a communication tool as kontact…

THIS is the reason i am a linux geek… πŸ˜€

bugger +1

according to this, the bug that i reported yesterday has been “RESOLVED FIXED” in Kontact 4.13.2…

i am running 4.13.1, so it should be an easy upgrade…

this guy recommends that i use PPA/Backports to install 4.13.2, but 4.13.2 is not a part of the current PPA/Backports repository, and there’s no telling when (or even if) it will be added…

in other words, they fixed the bug that i am experiencing, but i can’t get to the proper repository to install the fix because i choose not to run on “the bleeding edge” and like to keep my installation on the “Long Term Service” (LTS) version as long as possible.

ETA: i tried removing and reinstalling kontact 4.13.1… it didn’t help.

<repeated head-to-desk maneuver> 😑

bugger! 8/

i was responding to an email, and i was trying to attatch a file, when my email client crashed.

now it was a file that was located on a SMB-mounted disk that i was trying to attatch, and i believe that my email client has trouble doing that, but it has responded “gracefully” (or “not at all”) when i have done this in the past, and… hey, it’s a SMB-mounted disk… so what if it’s not part of the “local” system or not, if a file that i need to attatch to an email lives on a SMB-mounted disk, i should at least get a warning that the file “couldn’t be found” or some such thing as that…

what i don’t expect is that the client crashes, and then, when i try to restart it, it crashes again, and again, and again… and again… 😐

and again… 😑

i get the impression that SMTP (incoming) mail is working, because when i logged into webmail on my linux box (after having discovered that the POP3 client wasn’t starting) messages would appear and vanish without my doing anything to them, a situation that doesn’t happen when i’m logged into webmail from my mac (which i am, now).

i’m sure the problem is fixable, in the long run, but i need to be able to mail the SANCApators, and the fremont phil, and snake suspenderz, in the short term, and having my email “vanish” before i can respond is not helping that AT ALL

this is the reason i think it’s going to get fixed eventually, but at this point, nobody knows when that “eventually” actually is… 😐

now that i’m getting used to it, i definitely like it, but…

now that i’m getting used to it, i definitely like it, but getting there was a real roller coaster ride, lemme tell ya’… 😐

my last post was sounding like it was the beginning of another one of those multi-day fiascos that i have come to tag as “the battle of the computer”… and it was touch and go for a while, although more with my mental state than anything else.

my post at kubuntu forums has the bare bones, but what i actually did was as a direct result of what i have learned from previous, desperate visits to kubuntu forums. basically i did it all from the terminal login until i was absolutely certain that it was going to work with a GUI, and then i made triple sure that everything was as it should be before i started to diagnose the real problem (which was that my email client had disappeared).

with the result that i got my email back, i didn’t lose anything, i didn’t have to rebuild my address book, even my sigrot made it to the new version, i actually got a new version of kubuntu (Trusty Tahr, 14.04), and it didn’t take a week, or even three days, like it has in the past.

now that everything has calmed down to the dull roar i interpret as “normal”, i’m going to go take a shower and test out the new showerhead, and shut down the computers for a while… because it’s too hot for them anyway.

blood pressure through the roof… 8/

i installed the daily security updates, and it removed my ability to send and receive email. 😑

it’s getting towards time for me to re-evaluate my dependence on computers.

ETA: so i decided that it was time to upgrade distributions, because precise is coming up against its EOL in a year or so. i upgraded to trusty, and things got distinctly WORSE: i am now looking at a “system loading” screen that has had a “progress” meter (which is just an animated graphic that has 5 dots that go from one colour to a different colour, and back, one dot at a time, to show you that “something’s happening”) for about half an hour with no change…

i posted once at kubuntu forums but there has been no response yet… 😐

i wonder how long it’s gonna take this time? 😑 if it’s anything like the last couple of times, it could take as much as a week to get things back to “normal” again… 😐

bleh

the days keep going by.

i got my computer fixed by the kubuntu gods at Kubuntu Forums, where they are quite a bit better than just about anybody else at diagnosing and helping to fix any problems that one might have with one’s kubuntu system… and, by the way, it wasn’t the video drivers. the people who put together the update packages left out an important part of the desktop manager, and released a new update that had that important part in it the next day… πŸ˜‰ i suppose that’s what i get for using a free, community-based operating system.

it could be worse. i could be using <shudder> micro$lop…

moe returned very early friday morning, so the doggies have calmed back down to their standard level of chaos.

i’ve got a rehearsal later on this evening with the fremont philharmonic, whose moisture festival dates are april 2nd through april 6th. we’ve only had one rehearsal, we still don’t know exactly who is playing when, and there’s a WHOLE BUNCH of new music that we haven’t learned yet. then i’ve got a rehearsal with the SANCApators (which is eben sprinsock‘s other band) on wednesday. they’ve got two rehearsals, and then i’m playing with them at the moisture festival on march 23rd. then i’ve got a rehearsal with snake suspenderz on thursday. snake suspenderz is playing a private gig at a corporate party on saturday, and a public gig on sunday, at C&P Coffee in west seattle, if you’re interested in seeing us play: we’re doing a special performance with Katy Webber, who is a FANTASTIC jazz singer (who also played the part of Dick Whittington in the most recent panto)… snake suspenderz is also playing as a “pit band” at the moisture festival march 26th through march 30th. i don’t know if we’re going to have any “on stage” performances this year, but even still, i’ve got a total of 19 performances, which should make up for any loss that i experience due to the fact that i’ve gotten paid less per share than last year (grumble, mutter).

i’ve got a whole bunch more moisture festival performances this year than i had last year, and a combination of widely varying circumstances means that they’re actually taking snake suspenderz seriously this year, but if they maintain the new “tradition” of paying a smaller share than they did last year (which started last year), this will probably be the last year that i participate in the moisture festival in the way that i have been for the past ELEVEN YEARS now… πŸ˜› of course i don’t know that they’re going to pay less per share than they did last year, but at this point i don’t trust the board of directors to do anything rational any longer.

and before any of that happens, moe and i are going to heppner oregon again (like we did last year), and after that, we’re going to the ocean for a few days. we’re going to a place that DOES NOT have wifi, so it’s going to mean that we’re going to have to exist for a few days without our smart-phones, or ipads, or laptops… we’re going to have to do with kites, dogs, beach, and each other… like in olden times.

it was another one of “those” days… 8P

i didn’t wake up in the best of moods today. the dogs wanted to get up about 2 hours before i was ready to get up – moe is in las vegas at a vet conference and gets back tonight. the dogs are always worried when she leaves for more than a day, and they’ve been getting more and more antsy the longer she’s away. i’ve been running rye and lucy until their tongues hang out, and that’s been keeping them sort of quiet, but it doesn’t work first thing in the morning…

so, i got the (3) dogs, and the (1) cat, and the (2) birds fed, and started up my computer, and, of course, there were system updates that came in overnight, so i installed them and rebooted the computer… and the computer wouldn’t reboot. πŸ˜› i posted in kubuntu forums, and the current theory is that xorg stopped supporting my video, which doesn’t strike me as being particurlarly likely, as this is a 4-to-5-year-old computer that had not-quite-top-of-the-line components installed when it was first built… but it is also based on guesses more than anything else, at this point.

so, i decided to do it the “hard” way (whoever thought that getting mail on my laptop would be the “hard” way?), so i fired up my mac, logged in, and pointed my browser at my webmail page… and i COULDN’T LOG IN… πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

and then i had an appointment with gary from Giant Atomic Robots about the Hybrid Elephant web site, and i was about ⅔ of the way there when i realised that, despite the fact that i planned on taking my laptop, and i even went so far as to disconnect it and put it in the same place that i had put everything else that i succeeded in remembering, i actually FORGOT my laptop!

after i returned home from my meeting with the giant atomic robot gary, i determined that the reason i couldn’t log into my email was not because of my VPN as i suspected, but because they had actually MOVED the entire webmail site to a different server, and, because of the fact that i don’t use webmail on a regular basis (POP mail is still the safest way to go!), i didn’t get the message…

i’m running really thin on spoons today, and i don’t get to go to sleep until after i pick moe up, at 1:00 in the morning… πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

latest battle news

things keep fixing themselves, and/or i find out how to fix them: i figured out how to make my secondary internal ext3 disk mount at boot, and the version of KDE that has the fix for the recently used documents bug came down the line a couple of days ago… there’s still some things that haven’t completely worked their way out yet, but i keep creeping up on where i used to be before “the disaster” happened.

on the other hand, i recently discovered that the IP address for hybridelephant.com (and all other domains that i host) has, once again, found itself on the CBL, and the sysadmins are just as clueless and stubborn about fixing it as they were last year. i reported the problem, and they immediately got back to me and said that they had suspended a suspicious user and that the problem was resolved. problem was, they didn’t actually fix the problem, and i told them so, with references to back up my case. once again, they told me the problem was solved, and that i shouldn’t worry about it. at the same time, my IP address was listed in the CBL, and had been for the past 14 hours. i pointed this out to them, and they told me that it was “a misconfigured exim” and that the problem really was resolved… now it’s just a matter of waiting to see if that really has fixed the problem. i’m not holding my breath, but so far it’s not been re-listed. we’ll see how it goes.

also, i bought a new (reconditioned) mac the other day. it’s allegedly going to be delivered on the 16th.

Continue reading latest battle news

the most recent iteration of the battle of the computer is winding down…

i got my dropbox fixed. i still don’t know why or how, but at least it’s working. 😐

i just discovered that the issue with my “Recently Used Documents” menu is due to a bug in KDE4.11.0 which is why they’ve already released KDE4.11.1, but that doesn’t come until later… because apparently the KDE for kubuntu 12.04 is 4.8.5, which may mean that there’s something else bizarre going on… means that i have kubuntu backports ppa enabled (because of a problem that i was having with amarok, about a year ago) in my repositories list, and i’m not going to turn them off now… 😐

there’s a whole bunch of “new” information, via hobbit, regarding the linux compose key, which while not “new” to the world in general, is very new and interesting to me… and with a minimum amount of twangling, i got it set up. unfortunately, it doesn’t work when publishing to the web (which is not particuarly surprising), so a demonstration of it on this page would be extremely disappointing. πŸ˜‰

battle

so, the battle of the computer is largely over, but there are a few weird things, that i suspect are going to be more and more annoying as time goes on and they don’t get fixed, but at the same time, they are practically impossible to describe, and i don’t know how i’m ever going to fix them if i can’t even describe them reliably.

there have been some peculiarities that i have been able to adjust: my default browser changed from firefox to rekonq in the System Settings, but nowhere else, and it went back to doing what it was supposed to once i changed it, but i had to check two or three other places, because it wasn’t changed in my email client or ANY of my browsers.

also, immediately after i recovered from “the disaster”, i noticed that some, but, curiously, not all of my email filters weren’t working. when i went into the “Configure Filters” dialogue, all of the filters were there, but they didn’t do anything. once i re-established the things that each of them were supposed to do, they all worked the way they were supposed to.

however, there are some things that worked fine before, are non-functional now, and i don’t have the first clue how to fix them:

before the disaster, when i opened a URL from my email client, it immediately switched to the browser, and proceded to open the URL without making any sound. after the disaster, it opens the URL in a new browser window, but it doesn’t immediately switch to it, and sometimes (but not always) it makes a “swishyswishy” sound that i haven’t been able to figure out where it’s coming from, and (naturally) haven’t been able to figure out how to turn it off.

before my disaster, i had the ability to change my volume by pushing buttons on my keyboard, but since the disaster, my sound system settings are completely wonky, the buttons on the keyboard no longer work, and i can’t figure out how to make them right: instead of having two channels in my “Volume” settings (in the systray), one of which controled the volume for everything, i have three, or four if there’s a youtube video in my browser, and one channel controls the settings for the system bell, another channel controls the volume in amarok, and one channel controls the volume in the youtube video… i believe that, when i’m using something like VLC Media Player, i can show another channel in my mixer.

task-barthere’s one, in particular, that i already find fairly annoying: i have a “K” menu (rather like the “Start” menu in windoesn’t, but not so confusing) in my task bar, which has a “Recently Used” tab – recently used
but the fact is the recently used documents part of the tab hasn’t updated since i recovered my data… the recently used applications seems to work as expected, but the recently used documents hasn’t updated at all since i recovered my data.

i have a “0 B Removable Media” that appears to be a floppy drive in my devices menu, but i don’t have a floppy drive at all… i seem to recall being able to turn drives that i don’t have off in the devices menu, but there’s nothing in System Settings -> Removable Devices that does anything. also, my secondary internal drive, which should mount automatically at boot time, doesn’t actually mount until i click on it, at which point it demands a password before i can access any of its contents.

my “Dropbox” folder is no longer linked, and i can’t figure out how to re-link it. it was “moved” when it went from /media/home/salamandir/Dropbox to /media/salamandir/home/salamandir/Dropbox and when i finally figured out how to get it back to /media/home/salamandir/Dropbox it still told me that my dropbox folder wasn’t installed in the correct place, and instructed me to reinstall dropbox, but when i did, it didn’t do any good, so i “unlinked” my linux box from my dropbox account, and now i can’t figure out how to re-link it… BUT, for some unknown reason, my “Fremont Philharmonic” dropbox is still working the way i expect it to… which is REALLY weird…

more battle

okay, i’ve got my /media/home and /media/backup partitions back where they’re supposed to be, however… 😐

when i view /media/home with the file manager, what i see is two empty directories, /Desktop and /Downloads. however, when i right click and choose “Properties”, it tells me that 31.3GB are being used out of the 1TB partition, for 45,227 files…

which means that the data is there, i just can’t see it.

the technical side of the story is here for anyone who is interested. it continues to develop. my guess is that, soon, i’ll have all of my data back…

either that, or i won’t. πŸ˜›

ETA: the battle of the computer is over. i have won, once again… i just wish the computer could get the idea that it’s not good to anger the creator…

there has been enough stress in the past 3 days to last me a few years… i wasn’t kidding about taking a break from computers for a while. at this point, email/RSS and posting on my own blog about stuff is verging on too much. we’ll see about other things as they come up, but… 😐

new information

i haven’t turned on my linux box in two days. i’ve been afraid to turn it on, because something might happen to change the already tenuous hold i have on the concept that, maybe, possibly things can be made right without losing all of my data for the past two years.

during the past two days, i have discovered that KDE (the window manager for kubuntu) has changed the way it mounts USB drives, from /media/drive to /media/username/drive (which has actually been a standard with ubuntu for a couple of years now, and KDE is only “just catching up”). the way to force the system to go back to “the old way” of doing things, is to sudo make a text file with a VERY SPECIFIC filename, that contains a single line of arcane gibberish (the text is actually ENV{ID_FS_USAGE}=="filesystem", ENV{UDISKS_FILESYSTEM_SHARED}="1"), and then sudo reload the process that looks at that file.

which is, pretty much, what i expected the answer was going to be: a very simple line of code that causes the operating system to do something so far under the radar that ordinary “normal” computer users wouldn’t be able to figure it out in a million years.

once i have my drives mounting in the place that they’re supposed to mount, i don’t know for sure what comes next, but it includes the possibility of removing my ~/.kde directory and then rebooting, which will cause kde to re-create a “default” of all of the system settings (including my home directory, and all of my paths)… at which point, it is remotely possible that all of my lost data will suddenly reappear.

that is the best case scenario, and the one that i am hoping will happen. i haven’t actually done it yet, because i’m still working out the details… “doing the leg work” is what moe says… but i’m hoping that, tomorrow at the earliest, my linux box will be back up and running again.

OY!

a while back — a year and a half ago, or thereabouts — i decided that i was going to make a separate directory, on an external hard disk, that contained all of my essential data, data that i had created, so that when i upgraded my system, i wouldn’t face the potential of losing everything when a system upgrade didn’t go the way it was supposed to… and, the last time i did a major upgrade of my system, it worked exactly the way i expected it to work, and i was very happy.

basically, instead of my “home” directory being at /home/salamandir on the primary hard disk of the computer, i had a home directory at /media/home/salamandir and everything was fine, i just had to remember to change directories when i was downloading something, because i knew (from first-hand experience) that if i forgot, and downloaded to /home/salamandir/Downloads i would have difficulty finding the data afterwards.

so i did the intermediary system upgrades on my linux box, yesterday. it wasn’t a full upgrade, but there were some more things than normal, and it “hung up” when it got to the point where it asked me if i wanted to keep the configuration file that “i” had “modified”, or if i wanted to download a new configuration file, but when i answered that i wanted to keep the configuration file that “i” had “modified”, the installation procedure proceded as normal.

then i rebooted my computer, because i like to do that, to make sure there aren’t any delayed configurations, or things that don’t get installed at reboot that aren’t working the way they’re supposed to, and that’s where the problems started.

i rebooted, and the first thing i noticed was that the external disks, including the 3TB disk that i have partitioned into a “home” and a “backup” partition, weren’t mounting the way they were supposed to. i didn’t notice this until later, but the reason why the “home” and “backup” partitions weren’t mounting correctly was because, for some (as yet unknown) reason, they had been converted from /media/home and /media/backup to /media/salamandir/home and /media/salamandir/backup

what this meant in the short run is that it couldn’t find the directory that contains my wallpaper graphics, and my “dropbox” folder was “moved” from where it was supposed to be.

this would have been an entirely different problem if i had noticed that immediately, but as it is, i tried to re-establish my directories where they should be, and succeeded only in overwriting (or something, i still don’t know what) the directory in /media/salamandir/home/salamandir — which is where ALL my data from the LAST time this happened, now lives… because i was under the impression that if i kept my data on an external hard drive, that it would be safe from random deletion and/or disasters… like this one is turning out to be.

/media/salamandir/backup (which contains backups of my “real” home directory: i.e. configuration files and nothing else) is still intact, /media/salamandir/home/salamandir-new (a directory i created when i was still trying to deal with the loss of data the last time) is still intact, but /media/salamandir/home/salamandir is NOT intact… which includes all of the printing clients that i have worked for in the past year-and-a-half, ALL of my genealogy data, a huge pile of my (irreplaceable) music files, and who knows what else.

the only good part about this whole thing is that i BELIEVE all of the data is still there: usually it takes a while for the computer to actually delete a couple of gigabytes of information (which /media/salamandir/home/salamandir certainly is), and it didn’t actually do anything that seems like actual deleting, so what i suspect is that i just overwrote the file that tells the computer where everything is, and if i could just replace that, everything would be cool…

but, so far, i haven’t been able to figure out how to do that. 😐

the last time this happened, my computer was down for 5 days, and it was only because of the fact that i was willing to let go of a whole bunch of my data that things eventually made their way back to “normal” again. i’m pretty sure i DON’T want to go through that again. 😐

i think it’s time for me to take a break from my computer for a few weeks… possibly longer… 😐

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…

😑