January 28, 2008

Fedora Core 8...A week later

The great thing about using Linux is it's free and the rules are really basic. The bad thing about Linux is it's free and getting support can be a bit of a nightmare. It's been a week since I successfully installed Fedora Core 8. After using a variety of help guides I can say that it truly rocks. Whether or not I can use it productively is another question. You see I'm a .Net developer. which means I'm closely bound to the Windows side of doing things. On my ancient and underpowered laptop getting Windows to run on VMWare can be a virtual nightmare. While it's great as a server the GUI is pretty sluggish. But since connectivity is the safe word I can get around that by RDPing into a real windows machine.

I am a pragmatic and polyglot so I did install the Java IDE and Netbeans. Now seems like the perfect time to learn Java programming and compare it to C#.

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January 24, 2008

Fedora Core 8 install, testing and testing

My ageing Acer laptop was behaving strangely since lastweek. Windows would have nearly 100% kernel usage making it completely unusable for anything. It got so bad I couldn't get past the login screen without it locking up. System restore nor uninstalling new apps would fix this problem. Since I thought everything was lost I booted into safe mode and was able to work on the computer from there. But safe mode is not a longterm solution. Fearing the hard drive failing I ran every test I could think of to make sure. And nothing was reported out of the ordinary. As a last resort I did a reinstall of XP and after installing all the necessary drivers (sound, wifi, m/b, and graphics) the problem persisted. I tried this twice and would still end up with the same 100% kernel lockup. That's when I decided to take another look at linux.

I previously had experience with it in university when a neighbor (yay newman hall) gave me a Redhat CD. I've used it on and off since then but exclusively for servers. I tried Ubuntu but found the default interface to be really garish (okay, yucky background and the buttons are cartoonish) and the screenshots of fedora looked really slick. So I popped in the installer DVD and bang nothing happens. It hangs at the /usr/sbin load and just sits there. After 30 minutes the installer resumes but fails after writing the files to the hard drive. Not one to give up I use the live installer CD. Boots up right away and no problems this time. The wifi works and besides the lag of the CD drive spooling up everytime I use the menu it looks really put together. So using this guide I was able to get it working right away.

One thing I can say about Fedora is it doesn't have the ease of Ubuntu. I had to massage the system a little to get it working smoothly. But this can be expected on a laptop where a lot of the hardware is custom designed and poorly documented. I had to tighten down the font size and install the Webcore package from Microsoft. The default fonts are really ugly on my laptop for some reason. I'm still erked about the button arrangements. Some applications use huge icon sets for no reason. I'm sure the icons were designed by computer users who have vision problems. But on a laptop, where real estate is a premium it would be nice if the proportions were better. I like the well designed iTunes interface, Rhythmbox and Banshee are no iTunes is my conclusion. As a developer of web applications, some of the UI "features" are quirky. Gnome doesn't test to see if it has a good connection to a windows share until after you click on the icon. Shouldn't there be some testing done before it commits an object to the desktop. When I see "Joe's Work share" I assume the connection went through.

It's been installed for 4 days and I'm getting the hang of it. It brings back a lot of old memories of hacking an old alpha to run NetBSD (a server this weblog was hosted on ages ago, and a really useful foot warmer for those cold Virginia winters). It will be interesting to see how this side of the world lives.

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January 14, 2008

A lot of music a lot of cash

I hope everyone had a good weekend. The weather here was superb but the act of going outside to enjoy it was more than I was capable of doing. I did get a little reading done on Javascript (when I wasn't being interrupted). It's a language that has always fascinated me. And with more Web 2.0 apps using it, it means more to me now than ever. But all didn't go as planned. The laptop was having some sort of DPC (deferred procedure calls) error. It would be pegged at 100% all day and searching for the sympton and cure proved to be elusive. I decided that this was the moment I would give up windows and switch to Linux (Fedora or Ubuntu). Magically, Windows knew I was going to take my frustration out on it, because the next reboot everything returned to normal.

I was participating in a chat room on iTunes Music Store. I like the catalog and the layout. The DRM will hopefully be removed from the rest of the catalog. Some participants felt the store was doomed by the way the labels were ignoring Apple by giving DRM free music sales to other resellers. The behavior of the labels looks like they don't want Apple to have the influence it has over the sales of music. Apple didn't want to go album only (because some just suck). Apple didn't want to go to a more flexible pricing. The labels want to raise the prices of their music to $1.99 in some cases.

If you remember what a music store used to be then you'll remember how the record labels destroyed the business. While the cost of media, computers, and mp3 players were getting cheaper they jacked up the price of CDs to incredibly stupid rates. I remember when Notorious BIG "Life After Death" double CD was selling for $25 in most stores and $30 in others. Normal CDs were selling for $18 and it was the cheap non moving stuff that was in the $10 bin. I remember the times when I thought I got a bargain when buying a CD for $12-$13. Some of those cases still have the price sticker on them from stores that no longer exists (Camelot, Sam Good, fye, and Peaches). These stores were being put out of business by online stores (CDNOW and later Amazon) and Napster (before it became part of the borg). The customer was put off by the sticker shock of paying more and more for music and getting less (buying a CD with 15 tracks, 5 of them interludes, 2 hits, and 8 fillers).

There was a time I loved the music store and would spend hours in there. I was in love with the local Peaches (Ft. Lauderdale) and I tried to get a job there repeatedly. Really, who wasn't in love with the music store as a teenager. But, Peaches was developed around and finally developed over by a city with space problem. RIP Peaches RIP.

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January 7, 2008

TV Weekend

The past weekend was another Chin TV weekend. Since I'm sort of late getting caught up on watching my favourite programmes (can you taste the britishness) every now and then I dedicate the entire day to watching what's left of the TV shows in my queue. This weekend happened to be Veronica Mars S1 and Heroes S2. I tried to follow VM a long time ago when I lived in Miami and Boca. But I just didn't have the time.
The advantage of living in a subtropical area is you have a reason to go out. To the beach, to the mall, to the race track, you just go somewhere. Paris is cold and gray at the moment. You only go out if you have a death wish and love the cold. Plus, getting Mac ready is like putting a coat on wet noodle. In the end I lose because all the time I spent getting him ready is for not. Now he's hungry/wet/sleepy and it all has to be undone. So TV weekend it is.

I did make it to the BHV. And bought power tools. Lots of them. I'm still on the look for SMD desolderers and extra fine point soldering tip. And some electronics to hack.

I can't wait for the next productive TV Weekend

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January 3, 2008

Done and done...

I just took the time to upgrade my blog to Movabletype 4.0. It seems like it was ages ago I upgraded to 3.2 from 2.3. Before that I was writing blogs in pure html. Before I was really sure what blogging was. A lot has changed since those early days.

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January 1, 2008

2007 is done. Long live 2008

2007... for me it was one of the best years I've ever had. I got a real salaried job in Paris with a company that actually appreciates me. My son was born. And life in the Chin household is on track. It's been a hectic year too. I see that I wasn't posting as often as I wanted to on my blog. I still have the same camera that I started 2005 with, but I'm not taking as many pictures as I hope. I built a computer after sitting on the fence for ages (but it will never replace the love I have for a Mac).

Windows Vista proved to be as much of a disappointment as I had experienced it would be. I'm still burned that my laptop has a "Windows Vista Capable" sticker on the palmrest. Seriously, Microsoft, Acer, and I have a very different opinion of what capable actually means. I gave it a go, tried all the tweaks, but still couldn't get the performance that was mentioned on the brochure. Good thing it was a MSDN copy, because I would be really pissed if I spent money on it (which if you really think of it, I did)

I've come to the realization the Acura that I added to my resolution in 2005 wasn't going to happen in the near future. I'm a Parisian now. I'm limited to buses, the Metro, and Vespas. All the money I would need to finance, insure, and maintain a car are out of reach once you buy/rent property in the city. But you never know. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll buy a nice home with a garage and see to the car situation.

My son. he's growing up incredibly fast. It seems like yesterday I was coaxing him to drink a bottle. Now he's moved on to eating with a spoon. And he actually has preferences and not just fruity or chocolate milk. I guess as you get older times seems shorter. When I was a freshman in highschool graduation seemed a lifetime a way. When I was a freshman in college graduation seemed like a lifetime away. Now it seems like a year has gone by in the blink of an eye.

But this also affects how I see business. With my limited amount of free time I have more to do before the end of the day than I ever imagined. 30 days comes and goes so quickly. I'm glad I have my wife to help with keeping the bills in order. I used to laugh about subscribing to those automated bill paying systems (really, who would pay money for that?) but now the idea doesn't seem so far fetched.

The party in the appartement was a real blast. I used to try to go to the best places to spend new years eve: Times Square, South Beach, Champs Elysée, etc. But now I realize the best place to spend New Years is not with a crowd of strangers but with the ones you care about the most.

--Happy New Years

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