Testing Mint 18.2

I’m not a professional reviewer; I know exactly what I want for myself and know generally what most clueless home users will tolerate. I have some vague ideas about what business users like.

Mostly this is a matter of testing it on my Dell Precision M4400 laptop, which has been a little cranky up to now. It runs Vista okay, for which it was designed; it does Win7 less tolerably as some of the drivers are wonky. In terms of what an OS is supposed to do, Windows has been the most troublesome that I’ve tested. The suspend and hibernate work well enough, but the touchpad was an abomination no matter which of a half-dozen drivers I tried. It’s behavior is inconsistent and somewhat unpredictable. There were other issues, but that’s a sample.

Under Linux the touchpad is at least consistent. However, up to now, nothing I’ve tested works properly with suspend and hibernate. The fans are less active under Linux and the instructions for tuning are not easy to follow. Everyone expects you to know what you need in the first place, and that is highly unlikely with most users. However, I believe it tends to run cooler with Linux in the first place, so it may be working better than I know. It has never overheated on me, but it runs pretty hot compared to other laptops I’ve owned, so it requires bottom space for good ventilation, drawing fresh air through the bottom of the case.

With Mint 18.2 XFCE edition, we now have a fully functioning suspend and hibernate out-of-the-box. For the first time it has needed no tweaking to work properly. That’s a real plus for me. Little else has changed in terms of the hardware interaction. The nicest part was that Mint was very smart about default options, including good driver support without interaction; it was all installed by default. This is actually easier than installing Windows.

Side note: As part the user setup, Mint asks you if you would like to test other software repository mirrors to see if they are faster than the default. Once you click on the repository name, another window opens and tests each of the mirrors for response rate. I suggest that, if at any time, you see it offering the servers connected with Oklahoma University, you might want to bypass because that has been by far the most unreliable source I’ve used. Not only is it down too often, but it’s response can make the updater act a little nutty. I live geographically close to OU and it gives me trouble.

Mint also shines with things like WINE. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a backup copy of MS Office 2003, my favorite version. It didn’t install on Debian 9, but works just dandy with Mint 18.2. And I can now use the latest version of Notepad++ without any problems, aside from spiking the CPU just a little. Still, I use it for writing and editing posts and all my other stuff. The only problem is that you have to install Notepad++ plugins manually, but I’ve not had any real trouble finding the source for those and simply installing them by moving the file into the right folder.

It would be very easy to add a VM for more complicated needs. And for those who sense a need for network security, the firewall is very easy to setup and use. For now, I can’t see any reason a user would balk at choosing Mint if migrating to Linux seems like a good idea. Overall, I’m quite pleased with Mint and I can recommend this to Linux newbies with very little hand-holding.

Posted in computers | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Neither Technology nor Magic

I think I managed to save my laptop.

Folks, nobody has to tell me I’m not the greatest tech support guy ever. However, I’ve done it long enough to realize that if you have one kind of failure, you can usually figure it out. If you have two overlapping failures, you may never figure it out.

So while testing Debian 9 on the laptop, I suddenly found that Opera refused to run because I no longer had proper access to my own profile. This came after using it several times. Something changing permissions inside your own Home directory is virtually always a matter above my head. That is, I know that it happens, and I’ve tried to understand why, but I admit that it involves stuff over my head. At any rate, I had enough complaints with other issues to feel that Debian 9 wasn’t ready for prime time.

I note in passing that the release managers found some issues with the ISO files and have already pushed out another set, so I was justified in my assessment.

I tried to reinstall Xubuntu, but it failed to write some files to the disk. That smells like a hard drive failure, so I swapped out the drive with the old one. Same error again. That caused me to believe that either the RAM was bad or something else that controls how the installer writes to the disk. I gave up at that point, and posted it on the blog.

Over the next 24 hours or so, it began to trickle into my consciousness that I should at least run the onboard diagnostics and see if it tells me anything. Last night I did that, to include that hour-long RAM testing. It found no problems; even the hard drive was found healthy.

Maybe I should test Linux Mint? Then I remembered that my USB disk burner had fallen on the floor at least once in the past and decided not to trust it again. I burned the latest ISO on another machine and decided to give it one last shot. Lo and behold it installed just fine. So I’m running it through the paces and trying to see if this will work.

My point here is that you can’t fail trusting your heart. I’ve already admitted that I couldn’t be half so useful at tech support if I didn’t first test with my convictions what I should or shouldn’t do. Computers, like anything else in Creation, will talk to us on the heart’s wavelength, though it won’t be the same as natural wild life. At least, they talk to me. At the very minimum, we should test our convictions to see if it’s worth the trouble in the first place. This time, it seems it was.

Granted, your calling from God may not have anything to do with computers. However, everyone whose heart is awakened does have a mission, and your heart knows that mission. You’ll be the heart-led servant of God in that calling.

Posted in computers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Damned Acquisitiveness

We need a different culture altogether.

During my time in the military, I labored under several conflicting moral influences. I knew I was bound to Christ and high moral standards. But I was falsely led to believe that such high morals should lead to concrete advantages, when the system insured they would not.

Do you understand what drove the Puritans to leave England, first to live in the Netherlands, and then to colonize America? They held to a powerful belief that their high moral purity must result in worldly prosperity. But it didn’t work in England because of the feudal corruption, so they rejected their home country as hopelessly damned. Finding some refuge in the Netherlands, they were harassed for trying to keep their kids out of the secularized education system. So when the chance came to start from scratch as “Pilgrims,” it seemed like the only way out for them. But of course, any prosperity they gained once settled in America was at the cost of disease and abuse against the natives.

It was a common Western cultural flaw going all the way back to the Judaizers and their attack on the otherworldly mindset of the first generation of Christians. The Puritans were a powerful influence on the ensuing birth of America. I grew up under a religious worldview that took much from the Puritan influence. And when it failed me in the the US Army, that was in spite of the promises from leaders who insisted it was all true.

Those were the very same leaders who frustrated me by giving the exact same rewards to me (leading to promotions) that they gave to the useless slugs who did all they could simply staying out of trouble. It’s not that there were no advantages in high moral standards, but no one was able to verbalize to me what those advantages were.

I didn’t leave the military broken in spirit, but in body. Still, it was frustrating and it took some years to explore the realms of moral truth more carefully and with a teachable spirit before I realized it: Walking by conviction is its own reward.

I can’t recall anyone in my youth who represented that idea. That’s because it is fundamentally foreign to the whole range of Western thinking. There were times it was hinted at by the religious teaching I received, but it was never fully explored.

You cannot convince me that children are inherently materialistic. Too often I’ve seen evidence quite the opposite in dealing with children myself. A primary need of childhood is security. Children taught to seek security from caring kinfolks typically evince a lack of selfishness with material objects. Those who grow up in a materialistic environment rarely go that way. It’s very hard to break that grasping mindset. I can recall weeping bitterly when someone took my favorite pencil and the teacher refused to make them give it back. My deep sense of loss meant I gained far too much security from a cheap object that just happened to be unique in the class. I didn’t have much internal security.

We have to break that bondage. It’s a part of our mission in heart-led faith. I know how hard it is in a lustful world that hates true faith, but this is our calling from God. We have to build that dominion that stakes out a different approach to reality.

Teach your kids how to be secure in something above this world.

Posted in eldercraft | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Catching up on Cycling

I need to catch up on some random shots worth sharing. This first is a prayer chapel I adopted on my last ride along the Oklahoma River. It was a cool shady spot with a strong breeze that day, perched above the middle dam on the Oklahoma River. Notice the bike is still decked out in commuter gear.

The last trip I took out to Draper, I spotted these sand plums. They are about the size of the end of my thumb, which is typical for this wild fruit. The crop is really very sparse this year; it’s the same with the blackberries. That bright red one is very nearly ripe — you look for translucence after it turns red. I found one that had dropped off and caught between two limbs, quite tasty but poor quality of flesh.

At the little park on the very south end of Draper I stopped and noticed that the large flat sandstone area is completely under water. All you can see of it is the faint coloration under the surface. The shelf runs way out and off to the right. That was my last ride out to Draper.

I noted the other day about riding around the new Trails Park up on NE 23rd, just east of Air Depot Boulevard. This is what the parking lot looks like. Notice that my bike is now stripped down. I had just finished taking all but the “black trail” because I wasn’t in the mood to explore it yet. The trail head is just to the left of the kiosk where you can look at a map of the trails. They run off to the right, but part of it is hidden by the tall grass in the background.

On this areal image, I outlined the parking area with a colored rectangle, and that curvy red loop shows the approximate area of where the trails run. It’s all single-track, just a few small and fairly shallow sand pits. The “white loop” is the easiest, running mostly through the grassy area on the north side. There’s a “green loop” which is all out-n-back that runs along the banks of Soldier Creek. The link between the green and back loops takes you across the creek on the bridge built for the oil well access road in the center of the image. The “blue loop” is mostly a long and wide one on the southern end. What makes it slightly more challenging is a lot of artificial humps and a few banked turns. I was able to ride the whole thing at a fairly quick pace, keeping it in the same B-4 gear the whole way except a brief shallow climb on as the back loop runs southward upslope toward the railroad tracks.

My whole point in riding is simply playing. It’s the joy of being in the midst of natural foliage and hearing the greetings and chatter of the trees. I want to get my workout without noticing, because I’m too busy focused on having a fun ride. It works quite well for that. It’s only 2.5 miles north from where I live, and after the ride I was pumped enough to ride across the empty grassy fields west of Crutcho Creek as I worked my way back to Air Depot Boulevard. I’m doing my best to shift over to shorter and more intense rides, and this was a great way to do it.

Posted in cycling | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Some More Bits and Pieces

Well, that was a disaster. I thought things were going okay with Debian 9 on my laptop, but something got really broken all of a sudden and it’s beyond me to diagnose, so I’m calling it a failed test and restoring it to Xubuntu.

Edit: It was a hard drive failure; I bought a used one that was faster, but it died. I simply put the old one back in and reinstalled Xubuntu on that.

Oops! Wrong again; the laptop itself is dying. How sad. God is in control.

Today I spent time converting my bike from commuter mode back to off-road. That meant removing a lot of accessories and putting the knobby tires back on. It weighs about half as much now. I haven’t lost interest in riding altogether, just riding on the road. I think something got lost in the process of all those super long rides and it was no longer fun any more. So taking it back to off-road setup will allow me to use it for just fun and games. I need to avoid road riding, but if I need to go some where, I can still put lights on it, for example.

I think I’ve discovered the limits of trust on something: The VA websites — all of them — refuse to let me use my account now. I think my account got associated with another Hurst somewhere and now I can’t use it for much of anything. And there’s no way to let them know, because all of the contact forms refuse to let me use my actual email address. Once again we demonstrate what incompetent boobs the US government uses for just about everything.

Posted in personal | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bits and Pieces 24

Two weeks ago, my desire to ride on the roads evaporated — poof! Yesterday was a little cool and I felt inclined to ride my bike at a new trails park that our city had constructed with a lot of volunteer help. Just a couple of miles away, I rode out there. It had four trails of varying difficulty, some loops and some out-n-back. Together they could offer almost 5 miles of trail. None of them were that tough for me, even with the bike set up for street riding and it was a decent workout. The best part was getting a good look at the last portion of Soldier Creek where it runs into Crutcho Creek; the trails hug the creeks.

On the way home, I knew that it was about time to convert the bike back to trail riding. I’ll be stripping off the street accessories and putting the knobbies back on the rims. There aren’t all that many places to ride in the summer heat, but that trail I tested yesterday will do fine if I get out there early enough in the day. Still, I’ll be walking more than riding in the near future.

Yesterday I decided to upgrade my laptop to the recently released Debian 9. It appears to work a little better than anything else so far on that hardware, but nothing will ever be perfect. Still, I have far more trust in Debian than just about anything, despite the lack of consumer-grade polish and automation. Debian is a massive volunteer project with a firm commitment to what they do best. Whatever happens in this crazy world, I’m convinced Debian would be the last Linux distribution still standing.

Over the past year or so, I’ve experienced some networking hassles. First it was my ISP’s crappy DNS service. I know that Google will snoop on everything I do, but their free DNS service is about the best there is. Yet I was still facing network blockage on some sites I visit, and I’m convinced it’s not just random. So I’ve been experimenting with browsers that offer ways to bypass such things.

Opera has a built-in proxy that can help to speed things up for some folks. They call it “turbo” and it’s mostly about the speed, but it works as a proxy. There is also a built-in VPN option, but that isn’t about speed; it pushes your activity through Canada and changes the response you get from sites that filter for different jurisdictions. Canada is recognized as network neutral on most things. However, Opera has always had one flaw: A lot of the captcha stuff doesn’t work properly.

So I also tested the Tor Browser. Routing your surfing through Tor is the ultimate VPN/proxy. I’ll tell you that it’s a little slower than a direct connection, but it’s very hard for anyone to know where you are and who you are when you go through Tor. As I expected, my ISP blocks direct connections to Tor, so I had to look up the “bridging” option that comes with the Tor Browser. This is where you pay a visit to the Tor site and request a bridge link (3 IP addresses) to act as a proxy. The Tor Browser cloaks it’s requests through these bridge sites and hides it from your ISP. I don’t use the Tor Browser a lot right now, but it’s handy to have for things you know are going to raise eyebrows.

We should expect to see more of that kind of general need to work around snooping. The US is long past the day when innocence was enough; the paranoia of bureaucracies treats us all as threats, and accepts no evidence of innocence. As time goes on, sneaking will be routine, required just to read your own local news or clean out your spam box. A mark of the rising Networked Civilization will be the elevation of the social geek factor — you’ll need a good bit of technical expertise and savvy just to live in this world. For those who’ve read The Dosadai Experiment, it’s just a little bit of that.

One final prophetic note: God’s wrath rests on the US and things will go downhill. Part of that is, if we do not surrender our imperialist arrogance, it will be crushed. Our military will soon prove it is no longer the biggest and baddest on the planet. That day may come very soon. I still believe our plutocrats are determined to take over a chunk of Syria and this will be exceedingly expensive in military terms. Most of what the Pentagon says about their activities there is a lie.

So when we shot down that Syrian jet yesterday? The Pentagon lied about why. Syria didn’t hit the Kurds we are sponsoring; Syria was hitting ISIS. It’s the worst kept secret that we created ISIS and keep it alive so we have an excuse to stick our nose into the Middle East. Syria was cutting off the escape route for ISIS troops to leave Raqqa and concentrate forces around Deir Ezzor. The situation has come to the point where Russia will get directly involved against the US. Whatever their actual capabilities, Russia doesn’t bluster like the US does.

I can’t say how the details will turn out, but in the long run, God will use this friction as part of His destruction of the US. Keep your eye on the longer term wrath of God. That said, I tend to think some major surprises are right on top of us, starting this week.

Posted in sanity | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Requiem for the West

I’m going to miss Europe.

I lived there long enough to know that the people no longer have the stomach for what it would take to save their way of life. Their culture and heritage bore the seeds of its own destruction. I’ve shared my thoughts on that enough on this blog: The West has always been hopelessly materialistic, so whatever vitality it brought into the world had a distinct limit.

This is the end of Western Civilization. Here’s an example: German government has surrendered to non-Western criminal clans. This really is not a matter of Islam as a religion, and it’s not about “Christianity” defending itself. This is a culture clash, and the invaders have won. This is the wrath of God on the West.

I believe the Father has somewhat less painful plans for the US. We are still going to see the end of Western Civilization, but our transition will be different. An obvious symptom of difference is that the bulk of our population is more willing to fight the arrogant governmental system, and has retained the means for personal resistance. A significant portion of the American population understands the serious threat to their way of life inherent in progressivism, and they understand that government is almost entirely leftist to varying degrees.

Not everything on the left is immoral or evil, but in this time of crisis, the threat is clear: The left hates everyone else. They are eager to take everything from the majority and leave them naked on the streets, fully delighted at the idea of letting them die in the worst way possible. Folks on the right are aware of this to varying degrees, and are slowly being stirred to action. The majority is reluctant, but willing to do what it takes to keep from losing everything, in contrast to Europeans.

Europe faces an apocalypse, but America will tribulate in a different way. The reasons for God’s mercy are inscrutable. This is hardly the case as it was with Noah where we have somehow gained God’s favor; we shall likewise be drowned in wrath, but in a different way.

So long, Western Civilization.

Posted in eldercraft | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment