Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Errattic blogging for a while

Switching ISPs; won't be blogging for a while until we get this sorted out.

(That is: not to worry over the lack of blog entries.)

Will still type blog entries as text files, as the mood strikes me, and post them retroactively. Feel free to read, or skip -- as always, I suppose. :)


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Artifact of climbing the occupational scale

When I was in my lower-status jobs (movie theatre, sales clerk), I was happy for a chance to sit down.

Now that I'm at a white-collar desk job, I'm happy for a chance to stand up.

Not sure if that's truly progress -- getting paid more, for my legs to atrophy. ;)


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Gnome vs. KDE

Ah! Figured out how to switch between window managers, or desktop environments, or whatever these things are called. After looking all the heck over the place within the KDE options, it turns out you select it as you're logging in -- you just have to click the button at the bottom of the screen.

According to my Linux magazine, there's an ongoing debate between window managers, with Gnome and KDE being the two most popular. Each has their foundational orientation: KDE for mega-options, Gnome for being streamlined.

Based on the descriptions of each that I'd read, I'd always figured myself to be a Gnome-type guy. But now that I actually use them and look at them, I can see why KDE has such appeal. In brief, (1) it acts more like recent versions of Windows, whereas Gnome is more bare-bones-y, and (2) it has some nice newbie-friendly touches, like making it easier to get to your various drives, whereas in Gnome you have to poke arond for a bit.

Because of this, I've set The Lady's account to default to KDE. Mine is set for Gnome, because it does load a heck of a lot faster. And -- near as I can tell -- all the menu items are there.

Time will tell.


POST-SCRIPT: Under Gnome, I just couldn't figure out how to un-mount my USB key. Found a list of devices and drives, but it didn't seem to contain any ''un-mounting'' options. Switched over to KDE, and figured it out within about 30 seconds: Went to the ''Devices'' desktop icon; right-clicked on the ''removable storage device'' icon; and chose the ''un-mount device'' option.

But, in all fairness: Did a quick web search on how to un-mount USB keys via Gnome, and discovered that the Gnome version included with Mandriva 2006 is fairly outdated: 2.1, rather than 2.6 (current), or even 2.4 (reasonably recent). This kind of makes sense, since KDE (version 3.4) is the default environment - - but it appears that newer versions of Gnome now also have some useful ‘’go here’’ desktop icons.

And, the Gnome task bar at the top of the screen that I would occasionally manage to (accidentally) produce appears to be standard in more recent versions of Gnome.

So, not a completely fair test: a recent version of KDE, versus a mouldy version of Gnome. I'll have to install Ubuntu (which defaults to Gnome) on the mega-tower, and see how I like it.

But -- not tonight. ;)


Success!!! Mandriva wins!

Looked through my stash of Linux DVD-ROMs again, to see if I'd missed any options for installing Linux on the ''dead keyboard'' PC. Couldn't remember if I'd tried the Mandriva 2006 DVD, so gave it a shot. And -- it worked!!!

Granted, four bits of software didn't install: two having to do with Perl (IIRC), and two other misc. thingies. But at least the installation software was constructed well enough that it allowed me the option to continue on with the install, and to skip the dodgy parts -- which I did.

I went through all five of the accounts I created -- mine, The Lady's, Tall Guy’s, the Guest account, and The Kid's (yeah, she doesn't even talk yet; I'm being optimistic) -- and tweaked the Firefox (web browser) settings to be more secure (e.g. Do NOT remember my passwords for me, thank you very much!).

I still need to get the printer to work -- and either download the modem drivers, or else swap out the el cheapo, obscure modem for the better-known, Linux friendly one I bought for just such a purpose. And I'm mildly dissapointed that Mutt -- a text-based e-mail reader (I have a soft spot for them, given that my first exposure to e-mail was through PINE) -- didn't seem to get installed, despite my selecting it. Maybe it was one of the bits that had trouble getting installed.

But: I have a working OS on the machine!!!

In fact, I'm typing this entry right now on it, as a word-processing file, using

Of course, I also spent about twenty minutes, looking through every single screen-saver option. Dang! Huge, long list... ;)

But, because this machine, with its busted PS/2 ports that will take neither mouse nor keyboard, now recognizes the USB keyboard -- as such, it is OFFICIALLY ''salvaged''. ;)

Sorry, Tom Th. I guess I was premature in offering the machine to you. :)


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Archiving The Kid's moves

Whew! Drove just about everywhere to buy a certain model of a Sony digital video camera. For archiving The Kid's youth -- honest!

Went back to the shop where a co-worker's fiance works. Unfortunately, the model he showed us last week had since been sold, and was the last of its kind.

He looked up the inventories of the other branches of his store, and found a display model that was available. He phoned over, and they said that they weren't sure all the pieces were there -- but were a bit unhelpful, and didn't want to box it up and transfer it across stores. He also suggested the Sony factory outlet store, out by the Brisbane airport; phoned out there, and had a friend hold one for us, for the day.

We drove out to the other branch (which was reasonably close to the Sony outlet store, anyhow), but their model was missing the battery and pretty much everything else. So, we gave it a miss.

Went out to the Sony store, and got it for slightly cheaper than what we were expecting, based on the guy's phone call. Got it home, played around with it, and took some shots of The Kid and (un-enthusiastically, on her part) The Lady. As I may have mentioned before, I'm trying to record The Kid's body language and movement, and her tone of voice and how she talks (or babbles), across all of her developmental stages -- up to and including teen-age years. So, I needed to get some captures now, before I missed any stages.

Discovered it was missing the cleaning cloth, the remote control, and had the wrong cable included (for connecting it to the t.v., for playing back directly). But, I'm still pleased. Will have to phone the shop on Monday to ask about the missing pieces, and drive out there this weekend to pick them up. A bit of a nuisance, as it's a 20-minute (??) drive. But, more reliable than asking someone to mail them out to us.

Still: solid, and because it's discontinued, a verra good price. :)

We have now entered the Age of Video.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Happy to have spare parts

So, I'd gone through all of the versions of Linux on the CD-Rs that came with my Linux magazine -- and I'd pulled all the *.iso images off the DVD-Rs and burned them onto CD-R. I was feeling pretty stymied. Ah, if only the ''dead keyboard'' PC had a DVD-reader, instead of just a CD-RW drive...

Hey! Wait-a-sec!!!

Remembered that when I ''traded'' my wonky, higher-end machine for one that was being surplussed for $100 cheaper, part of my trade-in was a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive. Ahh....

Swapped it out (which means I now have an extra CD-RW drive, I suppose...) -- and Bob's yer uncle!

Tried SUSE 10.0, but as per usual, it wouldn't accept the USB keyboard until it was underway. In a bit of variation from the usual, however, the problem wasn't that it didn't have a time-out default. Instead, it's that the default option was ''Boot from hard drive''; option two (which I couldn't access, as the up/down arrow keys weren't yet recognized) was to install. Possibly an artifact of the Linux magazine's set-up of the DVD, since there was other stuff on there besides the SUSE installation things. But still: for my purposes, didn't work.

Tried CentOS -- apparently, a derivative of Red Hat/Fedora -- which timed out and began installing (after a loooong wait, though...). However, there was a ''fatal error'' during the installation. Gar.

Arch Linux (not to be confused with the earlier-mentioned ''Ark Linux'') and Debian 3.1 both required an ''Enter'' to continue. So, no dice there.

Fedora Core 4 auto-started, and things were looking hopeful. But, it froze up during the installation process -- while ''transferring intallation image to hard drive''. Not good.

Gentoo 2005.1 seemed to intall o.k. -- or maybe it didn't. It whirred for a bit, then dumped me at the command line. Uhr... now what? Regardless of whether it ''worked'' or not, it didn't serve my quasi-newbie purposes.

Slackware 10.1: no timeout boot.

Mandriva 2006: Auto-started, but then froze. Bah.

Tried CentOS again, but with fewer packages (bits of software) selected. Still jammed up.

I think I'm now officially out of Linux versions to try. Looks like I'll have to wait until the next edition of my Linux magazine hits the newsstands.

But -- at least the DVD-ROM drive works! ;)


Soliciting future bandmates

Running errands at the local mall with The Lady and The Bub, I bought -- with The Lady's major assistance -- a mystery novel for my mom, for Mother's Day. As we were purchasing it, I noted that the sales clerk guy that worked there a lot seemd like a nice fella. Decided to try out my new approach to rounding up bandmates. Instead of posting ads in the local music magazines, soliciting those of similar musical tastes, I'd go personality first: If the person seems swell, see if they play an instrument, and go from there.

So, I asked him if he plays an instrument. He said he used to play bass, but not any more. Why not? I asked. Busy with university: he's in his final year. I probed further, and apparently he's an fine arts major, specializing in film and video prodcution-type things. I mentioned my interest in shooting a few music videos -- When I Finish My Dissertation (TM) -- and he seemed somewhat interested. Either that, or he was humouring a mildly-deranged customer. Either way, I'll follow up on the possibility when I indeed FMD.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Continued attempts

Tried the Mandake/Mandriva installation again, but it keeps getting stuck, for one reason or another. Thought maybe it's because I dared to defy the default window manager (KDE) by requesting Gnome in addition -- so I tried it without. No difference.

Did a new burn of Ark Linux 2005.1, direct from DVD to hard drive to CD-R, with no CD-RW in the middle (via the Win XP machine that I bought from work). No improvement.

Also tried another distro I haven't heard of, from my Linux magazine DVD: Deep Water Linux 0.4.0-beta. (Deep Water... ooooh....!) But, as with many of them, it requires hitting ''Enter'' to actually get going. Foo.

But -- I have hope! :)


Thursday, May 04, 2006

The perfect guitar?

I'm always on the prowl for additional, inexpensive, good-quality guitars. My criteria are that they have to be solid, useable instruments (i.e. ''no junk''); different from the guitars I already have; and at a bargain price (which at the moment is less than AU$200/US$150).

Since The Lady was working from home today, and I was thus driving home by myself, I took the opportunity to stop in to a pawn shop that we drive directly past on our way home from work. I stopped by around 5:05pm, and was there until about 5:20pm; they close at 5:30.

Found an 18'' crash cymbal for AU$45, and a (discounted!) 14'' crash for AU$17 (!!!). The discounted crash sounded ''trashy'' -- kind of ''China crash'' for those who play drums -- but that's fine by me (and at that price...!).

Took one last look around. Off to the side, I spied a green steel-string acoustic guitar. My preference is for electric guitars, but I am lacking -- and missing -- a non-nylon string guitar -- seeing as how Roberto (my black, ''Johnny Cash'' acoustic guitar) was lost in the break-in. Went over and checked it out. AU$299 -- a bit more than my usual limit -- but, Ah!, such a lovely shade of green!

Looked at it some more. Hey -- what's the brand name on the headstock? Looks like ''Cravis''... that's a weird brand name. Looked through the sound hole at the maker's sticker inside: Ah! It's a ''Travis''-brand guitar.

A green guitar... Travis brand. Now, how could I pass that up?

A bit past my usual price, though. Talked it over with The Lady, though, and we've agreed I can seize it and stash it away for a birthday present (early November...).

Cosmic convergences...


No security access

Came in to work Saturday -- the official final day of my contract -- to do more work on the data set I'm preparing for archiving. Toyed with coming in Sunday and Monday as well, but didn't: partly because I was tired of working holidays and weekends (Monday was Labor Day), but mostly because I was afraid that my magnetic strip on my staff card would no longer let me in the building. Didn't want to drive a half hour in to work, only to find I couldn't get in to the building.

Just phoned campus security today. I was right: my access expired. So, I made the right call in not coming in on the weekend.

Plus, I had a very enjoyable, relaxing two days with my family. :)


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Further Linux attempts

My futher adventures on trying to install Linux on a machine that won't recognize the USB keyboard -- until **after** the intallation is already underway.

The main criterion, then, is that it'll install without requiring me to ''Hit 'Enter' to continue.''

Tried Trustix 3.0 (supposed to be ultra-secure!) and Zenwalk 1.2 (small and zippy), but both required ''Enter'' to continue -- so they didn't work.

Also tried Ark Linux 2005.1 (aimed at newbies), and it began to install. But then it got stuck somewhere. Bah!

Tried Ubuntu 5.10. Again, got stuck at the ''Hit Enter to Continue'' stage. Will still try it on the mega-tower, though.

Mandriva Linux 2005, Limited Edition seemed like it was working: I even got as far as entering user names and passwords for Root, me, The Lady, TG, and a guest user. But then I accidentally left the installation CD in when it was time to let it reboot, and it seemed to botch something. Tried re-doing the installation process, but it seems messed up now. Bah.


A day with The Kid

We usually like to give Mum a day off one day a week, so I took The Kid for the day. Hadn't been home during ''business hours'' for quite a while, so I took the opportunity to make the loop of my favorite guitar-sellling pawn shops, to see if anything caught my fancy.

This tour included seeing if a small pawn shop in Wynnum still had this electric guitar, and electric bass, that I'd seen there back in November. Both had been distinctive, and both had been reasonably priced: about AU$150 each, IIRC.

Had meant to go check it out again, but they're only open M-F, and a half-day on Saturday. Wasn't sure if the guitars were still there.

Stopped on by. Either the guitar and bass were gone -- I didn't remember exactly what they looked like, just that they looked ''distinctive'' and ''neat-o'' -- or else my tastes had changed, because I didn't see anything there I desperately wanted. Saw an electric guitar, and an electric bass there that might have been the instruments in question. But, eh.

Anyhow, a good day, hanging with The Kid. ;)

Beats workin'.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Helen Keller moment

For the longest time, I've been seeing if I can get The Kid to blow on a trumpet, the correct way: buzzing yer lips.

Whenever I take out my trumpet -- one of the few instrument where I can get out of its hiding place easily, and doesn't require much set-up -- she'll come over to where I'm sitting on the sofa, climb up, and sit next to me. (O.k. -- sometimes I lift her up, and sometimes she stands in front of me.)

I'll toodle away on it, and she'll reach out and grab the mouthpice, and put it in her mouth, and blow. And of course, there' s no particular sound, because with trumpets (and other brass instruments), you gotta buzz your lips to get a sound.

I'll gently take it out of her mouth, and show her, ''No, no -- you need to buzz your lips -- like this'' -- and I'll demonstrate. She'll blow a rasperry, and I'll hand the trumpet end back to her -- at which point she stops buzzing, and engulfs the entire mouthpiece. Repeat, repeat.

Tonight, however, on the second time, she actually continued buzzing -- and got a trumpet sound! And, she continued doing it. Pretty decent tone, too -- considering she's only 20 months old, and doesn't talk yet.

I call this a ''Helen Keller'' moment: When Anne Sullivan was trying to show Helen that all the different things had names, and kept fingerspelling the names of items -- and Helen finally twigged to it with water: ''W-A-T-E-R'' = ''that cold wet stuff coming out of the pump''? Kinda like that.

The Kid seemed pleased with herself. Kept tooting and tooting and tooting: started getting a little light-headed/hyperventillated, I think. ;)

Showed The Kid's trumpet-playing skills to The Lady, fearing it was just a fluke and not reproduceable. But, The Kid did it again.

A good parlour trick. ;)

(O.k. -- that's probably enough of the ''proud parent'' posts for a while. Hearing about other people's kids' accomplishments can be a bit... boring.) ;)


Monday, May 01, 2006

Australian Labor Day

Today's Labor Day here in Aussie-land: a Federal holiday. For that reason, nearly all of the shops are closed, so there's no point running ''buying things'' types of errands.

The Lady and I took The Kid to a local park -- first time in a long time I've done this. Then we spent a few hours at a plant nursery, pondering all the different plants and trees and shrubs we'll -- some day, eventually -- plant.

Then did some puttering over on the Middle Block -- the lot where our house will be built. Filled in a bandicoot hole (i.e. one that was dug by a bandicoot), so no one would step in it and twist an ankle. Filled in a hole where there used to be a fence post. Dug up a few different instances of non-native plants (invasive species! bad!). I'd hoped to also mow the lawn, but by now it was getting near dark, so I'll have to do it another time.

On the computer front, I did a disk scan on the ''new-used'', Win XP computer I bought off work. All cleear, looks good.