This time, I chose the upgrade using the Update Manager. Naturally, due to the massive competition from thousands of others doing the same thing, it took five hours over my cable connection. That’s no big deal. The jump from 9.10 to 10.04 was otherwise pretty smooth.
I am in no position to test everything, nor even the most commonly used applications. That’s not how I work. However, I did test the things I use. So the upgrade-in-place left my default browser — Chrome — working just fine. Stuff I built on Karmic still works fine in Lucid. The upgrade picked up everything I had installed from the standard repositories. Yet, not all of my settings were preserved, and a few things were downright broken.
We have already heard much about the changed window frame buttons, but I didn’t get any frames at all on first reboot. Indeed, the primary graphic display took a long time to come up on my fast card. I did appreciate not having to fool with the Fglrx driver installation, but I had to go and select a theme, because no part of the default, about which everyone was kvetching, appeared. Nothing, and no multiple desktops, etc. Once I chose the Human theme, everything was pretty much back to normal.
I despise the Gnome Screensaver. It is a badly crippled version of the old Xscreensaver, lacking some critical fine granularity in options, so I usually substitute. This time I actually had to uninstall the Gnome version, because it insisted on running after I killed it repeatedly, and disabled it in my options. It still came up. It’s gone now.
Evolution reminds me every time this is GNOME. It hangs, some frequently used options are hidden, some keystrokes are broken, and so forth. Though it’s not the best browser, Opera is a superior mail client. That’s what I use.
Alsa reads my onboard chipset fine, but does less to accommodate than the previous release. I had to add several lines to get the minimum controls in the mixer. And why Lucid decided I had to have a
/dev/fd0 when I never had one before, I can’t comprehend. The error created massive logs before I noticed it.
There were other minor glitches, but it was pretty much worth upgrading. For those of you who insist I should file bug reports, you need to understand my history. Apparently I am utterly incompetent in writing them, because over the past decade, they were all deleted, on every buglist I joined. From the GNOME folks especially, I’ve been told to get lost. It’s possible I annoyed someone important, though I have no idea how. Thus, I don’t even get the faint moment of warm glow knowing I’ve helped others. Besides, the developers have no interest, and are sometimes hostile, if you dare to request a fix for the previous release. Everything is rolled into the next release, and I am somehow evil for daring to suggest anything different.
So every OS stinks, and right now, Lucid Lynx stinks least. We’ll see how long that lasts, because I really like the idea of the LTS.
All browsers stink. Some are simply able to choke you less.
I am fully aware Google lies about compromising your privacy. Very early on I knew they were allied with the CIA and other clandestine agencies of the US government through investment funding, and they allow the likes of NSA full run of their massive data on Internet user habits. They threw a very public fit about China cracking their mail system, but I’m pretty sure NSA has carte blanche to read anything they please from that same mail system. If you are worried about privacy, stay off the Internet. Or, you can take my path, which is utter transparency. I don’t hide my despite for the US federal government, but I am no real threat, since my allegiance is utterly outside this world.
The real issue is not paranoid privacy, but keeping the advertisers from annoying you while you try to surf the web for information which actually matters. Aside from restricting yourself to plain text browsers, you can use browsers which permit a certain amount of crippling the normal browser functions. So I give kudos to Opera for allowing the placement of settings in the browser interface itself. Explore the various interface toolbars and discover you can put the cookies button there and turn them on or off depending on the sites you visit. Most websites still allow you to see them without any cookies at all. The Mozilla gang at least allows you to set the browser to ask you for each different server, and making them all session cookies is a nice option. The whole idea is avoiding advertisers using those websites as a way to assign you a tracking ID by which they present ever more intrusive advertising aimed at your “profile” of behavior. It’s creepy, unwarranted, and in my opinion justifies any action you can take to frustrate it.
The Mozilla gang changes their stuff so often, you might as well get used to building it yourself. Way too many Linux distros do not track Firefox properly when security fixes are released. Then again, Firefox makes no path for upgrading modular elements, so you have to build the whole darn thing. Fortunately, they at least make it fairly easy for mainstream distros with relatively easy instructions for those who have built anything at all from source. It works a whole lot better built on my machine: faster, sharper fonts, etc. I do it with every new release, primarily because the underlying rendering engine is the best there is for turning complex webpages into simple text. That’s about the only reason I use it.
Enter Google’s Chrome browser. Since I’m running Ubuntu, it’s pretty simple to download the Debian-based build. It’s faster than most other graphical browsers, far more stable with scripts, and plugins work much better. For example, after watching a Flash video the browser does not continue hogging the CPU. It manages to disengage the FlashPlayer until I need it again. Rendering is much quicker on everything, and fonts are pretty sharp. The drawback is the optional controls. Right now, you cannot turn off animated GIF images. I see dozens of requests for it, and I suppose they might actually implement it, since every other graphical browser does. Even if it required editing the configuration file manually, I’d be happy. On pages with too many moving GIFs, I simply use another browser, or have to turn off all images for that server. There are some extension modules you can download, such as FlashBlock and AdBlock, both of which save you from distractions, but the implementation is far from simple to use. AdBlock is pretty much all-or-nothing.
There are some other flaws, such as no option to treat cookies on the fly as session cookies. You either accept them or not. Also, I cannot get the Linux version to honor any sort of user CSS file, which is a basic requirement under the standards. Plenty of other fine-grained controls are missing, and some of the chatter on their developer lists indicates a poor attitude on some issues. Yet, in the balance of things, simply because what it does, it does better, I have made it my default browser. Give it a test drive.
After 30+ years, I confirm today I could not have made a better choice in whom to marry. It won’t matter how you choose to measure such things; my wife is the one smartest decision I ever made.
You would not call her “a hot babe.” She was cute enough in her youth, but never what most Westerners call “beautiful.” Nor was I madly in love, as most people would phrase it, when I sought her hand in marriage. I had only one thing on my mind: Would she support the calling and mission of God in my life?
It didn’t matter how little I knew of where that calling would take me over the years ahead. The question was primarily one of commitment to faith. Hers had to be the equivalent of mine. Otherwise, no other variable would make a bit of difference. You may not have such a sense of calling, but I’ll wager if you take the time to get to know yourself and what really and truly matters to you, you’ll also realize what you have to have in a spouse. If you don’t know yourself well enough to even think that way, don’t bother pretending you even understand romance enough to go out on a single date. If you aren’t aiming at longevity and stability under the fancy paint job called “romance,” shame on you.
Already, we have probably eliminated the vast majority of females you are likely to have encountered in your world. That is to say, the vast majority of Western women have no clue what they are supposed to be, how they should view themselves in the mirror of the soul. What we see with our eyes will surely call out to the hormones here in the Western world, but it is easily the biggest lie. So utterly false is our culture on this, I can state with utter confidence the correlation between physical attractiveness and marriage failure is far, far higher than mere chance. If she really appeals to your eyes, she’s probably the wrong gal for you.
Since we lack the fundamental understanding of human nature in the West to make assisted mate selection work properly, I am left warning you men of good conscience to close your eyes when you consider anything beyond cold and calculating acquaintance with a female. The very moment you seek warmth with any female not close enough to qualify as incest, close your eyes. Don’t think about the rush of hormonal urges; don’t let the hormones vote. Your personal taste is not a reliable indicator. Stop and consider in full depth whether it would actually work. You have to be utterly cruel to yourself for this to make any useful difference.
Yes, a big chunk of this depends entirely on how you are put together, and how you rate with the women, and many other factors. Just because you are utterly certain she’s the perfect fit does not oblige her to respond favorably. Don’t forget the constant factor of truth: You can’t take yourself too seriously, and can’t trust your own judgment on everything. In the end, you really must get help from those who care about you and know you best. At the same time, if she’s really right, it will eventually work out. You have to make yourself care most about the long term.
Aside from all this business of getting your head on straight first — insofar as that’s possible — there is one eternal principle you must seize upon and never let go. True lasting marital love and peace arises from a wise choice; it comes behind the commitment, not before. Choose wisely and the true romance will come later. We are built that way. Romantic love is not some unstoppable force which drags you into a relationship; it is sheer madness to think that way. True love comes later, and rightly so.
The other half of my complaint — too much of Open Source is so developer centric it can quickly become anti-user — is sometimes the user wants the wrong thing.
But it’s not so easy to untangle this mess, since there are more than two actors in every scene. We might attempt to say the old “customer is king” approach is a major element in what makes Windows vulnerable to every drive-by infection and hijacking. Actually, that becomes the excuse for doing things wrong which encourages the hijackings. Never forget, you who buy a Windows PC are not the customer; advertisers are the customer. Your eyeballs are sold to advertisers. Windows is merely a platform for delivering the user to commercial interests.
Thus, we identify a very real world power which goes by many names, but perhaps a tamer label would be the global merchant culture. It has its own language, customs, and concerns. You might also call it the corporate culture, since that’s how we experience it most of the time. Corporations compete vividly amongst themselves, but will present a united front against government and customer interference. You only think you know what you want because the merchants have manipulated us forever, it seems. Do some research into the background of Edward Bernays. His ilk have sought, and mostly succeeded, in shaping demand to whatever the corporations determine will make them the most money.
Apple does this, too, but simply uses a different flavor of manipulation.
What we are getting at here is nobody really cares what you want. Whether manipulated or not, some of what you might want is plain evil. I can assure you some of what I want is evil, and I struggle to quiet that lustful nagging. There is a God in Heaven to Whom we are accountable. At the same time, He has forbidden me exercising all my options for limiting your evil choices, since I have too much to do limiting my own.
In my computer ministry, I don’t much care what people want to do with their computers. I care in the sense I will pray for porn addicts, but the real issue for me is not their porn habit. The real issue is how insecure computer OSes and software makes the Internet a very much worse place than it has to be. If there were not so much money to be made in keeping computers vulnerable, the Net would be more boring, but more usable to me, at least. The most marketable, most sought after data passed over the Net wires happens to be consumable only with the the most vulnerable junk software available. The vast majority of the people using the Internet want things which get in the way of what the Net is all about in the first place.
But I am in no position to dictate my wishes to the world. We already have enough of that arrogance, so I’m always crushing down my urges in that direction and simply doing what little I can to help. Whenever possible, I try to convince people to use Ubuntu or CentOS. All software stinks, but those two stink least in my nostrils. For now. This at least offers a great deal more protection than any version of Windows with any amount of protective add-ons when facing the predator-infested waters of the Internet. Every so often, researchers who aren’t beholden to the corporate culture will reveal some new way in which MS delivers clients to their partners in corporate perfidy. If I were really worried about morality viewed in the typical logic of Western absolutes, I would be trying to destroy all computers.
Thus, bad as Open Source may be, it’s slightly better than Windows. Apple is some of both, just snottier and more expensive. Then again, if I could afford a really nice Mac, I’d use that simply because it’s a better Unix than Linux, and a whole lot prettier to view.
For the past decade or so I have offered as much computer help as I could for free. People did sometimes offer money, but it was never required. I did what I could because I really like people. In my world, computers serve people, or computers have no reason to exist.
A great many readers have passed through here objecting to my posts about Linux, often with such ugliness I had to delete their comments. I’m reluctant to do that, but particularly among the Linux hobby users and enthusiasts, there is a powerful streak of anti-human sentiment. To understand Open Source, you have to grasp the idea the entire field of endeavor is developer centric, as opposed to user centered. Or perhaps we might say it is centered on the science and art of computer coding, and users be damned. It’s less so than when I first tasted Linux 15 years ago, and there has been a recent upswing in reaching for the user’s favor. I liken it to a very awkward geek trying hard to figure out how to speak to a lovely lass — they are trying, but often miss the point.
With Ubuntu, we have a solid couple of layers between developers and users. While this means the developers get less useful feedback from the Ubuntu community, at least the users are treated better. For older hardware, or simply utility computer use, I still recommend CentOS, but for home desktop users, Ubuntu reigns. This past week I installed it on a lady’s machine, and she appears to have adapted quickly. Perhaps that’s because she does so little with a computer in the first place, but that’s what Ubuntu is designed to cover. All of her hardware works with Karmic Koala, and in a month or so we’ll upgrade to Lucid Lynx. She will be much more comfortable with that Long Term Support, since frequent re-releases would annoy her.
While I could steer most folks to the Ubuntu forums, frankly that thing has swollen to such a scale it’s hard to get involved. I have tried to offer my help suggestions there, but it’s just too hard to keep up with the high traffic. I gave up for the most part. I’ll keep my comments here.
For the most part, I’ll still be supporting the various iterations of Windows, but my primary efforts will be aimed at migrating folks to Linux. It seems to me, after all my years of effort, a couple of Linux companies understand the idea that frequent wholesale upgrades were driving ordinary users away. With all the hassles they experience with Windows, it’s a much easier sell these days. Now that I have more time for this, it seems it might finally fly.
Her costume was assertively African. The colors, the cut of her dress, the accouterments — in every detail it spoke loudly of her heritage. It was actually quite attractive.
He sat in a folding chair on the platform, his impassive blue eyes scanning the audience while the lady spoke. Nothing about her words surprised him; she was nothing if not consistent. In her element now, she played the audience, saying all the things she said before in countless other speeches. Every gesture, shift in the tone of voice, even down to the blinking of her eyes, was carefully scripted. The only variations were the many different ways of expressing the theme of racism.
Finally, she turned to him directly. “And Mr. Brolin, I believe it is racist of you to propose such a thing.” She moved from the podium and sat down to hoots, cheers and scattered applause. The booing was rather muted.
Nothing in his face or movements evinced the least bit of agitation. He stood and walked to the podium. “Thank you, Mrs. Jackson. Food for thought. I know a lot about racism, myself.”
He paused, and was rewarded by audible sounds of surprise and scorn. “My people face racial oppression, too. Your ancestors were brought to this nation in chains, and treated as property. Mine were here already here when the Caucasians of Europe invaded, and we were simply slaughtered.”
The mood of audience was very unsettled now. “Do you assume simply because of my blue eyes I cannot claim a minority heritage? That goes to very heart of racism itself. My appearance is deceiving for the simple reason many of my ancestors were not racist, but felt the differences were of no consequence. Yet today I can easily take my place on the Tribal Roll. I choose not to, simply because I find it has been reduced to mere political propaganda.
“Instead, I simply maintain my ties to my Native American heritage by promoting the values I learned from my elders. My proposal is not a White thing, but a tribal thing.”
Turning to his opponent, he asked, “Should I assume your ancestors understood living under a tribal social structure?” Her face was a frozen mask of anger, as she stared straight ahead without meeting his gaze. In that brief pause waiting to see if she would answer, the chorus of laughter, cheering and applause rose swiftly in the audience.
I empathize; I understand completely.
Imagine living in a world where you see the most massive storm blowing in — so huge, it seems to take forever, creeping ever closer. You see it, feel the stiffening cold wind, smell the ozone from a million bolts of lightening. And everyone around you ignores it. Not just don’t bother looking up, they don’t comment on it, but talk and act as if no storm exists. They wipe away imaginary sweat, discuss the bright sunny heat, turn up the A/C and pray for rain. If you dare to mention it, they look at you as if you were nuts.
If you stay in such a society, you will be treated as a nut, even to the point of persecution. If you go away, keep to yourself and avoid the fools while you prepare for this storm, you at least avoid the hassles. In some parts of academia, it’s called the Elijah Experience. You may recall the crazy prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the Omride Dynasty. Queen Jezebel tried to have him killed because he dared to speak the truth of things.
I’m not called to prophesy like Elijah. That lets me off the hook in may ways. Still, I am not allowed to remain silent. The one current soapbox God allows me is this blogging stuff. I’ve tried quite a few different other ways of letting folks know there’s a storm overhead, ready to start making a mess of things any day now, but most of the time I’m treated like a madman. It no longer gets under my skin. Nowadays, it’s almost amusing, in that I grin and laugh to keep from collapsing in tears.
I realize there is nothing I can do to make people hear or see. That’s not in my hands. At the same time, I can’t simply give in to the hermit impulse, not entirely. Sure, I live out in the boonies, and in flyover country at that. And there was a time when I preached to fairly large crowds, but that was back when my message was familiar to them. I saw the storm on the far horizon then, but hadn’t started talking about it much. The closer it seemed to me, the more I talked about it, and the more they pushed me off the platform to silence me. Making signs and clever t-shirt messages didn’t help much, nor vast libraries of writing. No, those who see the storm as I do are quite few.
There is no way I can guess whether God has plans to change the current efforts He has placed in my hands, but for now, it seems altogether unlikely. I’ll continue dealing with one or two, here and there, and a small portion of family and friends who already believe. I’ll keep writing on this and my other blog, and keeping the better stuff on my static archive site. I’ll keep messing around with computers because they are my most important tool for now. When God decides there is something else I need to do, I’ll get on it.
Meanwhile, there’s an awfully big storm overhead. It’s God’s wrath about to fall on America, and many parts of the rest of the world. But I’m not called to those other parts right now, so it’s all I can do to see how bad it is right here. Gonna be a big’un. Got yourself a storm shelter?