53 New Posts

So, you might have noticed (okay, probably not) that I am now on post number 159.  Yup, that’s a big jump from the 100-post mark a few days ago.  How did I do that, you ask?  Well, for one, I finally realized that I could still import posts from my original WordPress.com blog (duh.  I’ve even done it before).  So I added those 53 posts from late 2009/early 2010 – sweet!  Now you can search back through the glorious dorkiness of my pre-grad school days.  Well, actually my between grad school days.  I used to be so into linux and python.  What happened?  I am going to make an effort to get back into it.  What better time then summer, during the few sunny days we get here in Seattle.

Kim was asking me lots of questions about Python and Linux this afternoon before she left.  It made me realize just how much I’ve forgotten (or how little I knew to begin with).  And it was a good kick in the butt to remind me to get back to learning about, and embracing, the world of Ubuntu and Numpy and Matplotlib…  Nerdy posts will resume!  But since a few people very dear to me enjoy my daily sketches, I will endeavor to continue those as well.  (I love you guys!)

Maverick Meercat on the netbook

I have all but abandoned all things Linux for several months, pretty much since I started at the UW.  But tonight, while working on my seismology homework, I decided to play around a bit.  I upgraded my Eee Netbook from Ubuntu 10.04 to 10.10.  And then, since I still wasn’t done my seismology homework by the time I finished with that, I decided to go ahead and try out the Netbook remix, just for fun.  The last time I tested it was over a year ago.  I started off running it directly from the USB drive.  As expected, this method was a bit slow – but enough to make me wonder if I’d given up on Netbook remixes too soon (um, I don’t even think anyone calls it a “netbook remix” any more.  I’m so behind the times).  Which led me to a quick search for Jolicloud, to see what they’ve been up to lately.  And it looks pretty fancy.  Perhaps I’ll give it a go, just for fun… it looks way different than how I remember it.  More webby….

Weak wireless

Grrr….I’m having all sorts of problems connecting to wireless in Fredericton.  I have my eee 1000HE netbook with me, and I am having a hard time connecting to wireless routers anywhere, even when sitting at my parents’ house, right beside their router!  It worked yesterday, and then got more and more flaky.  My iPhone can see wireless just fine.

I can see the wireless networks come up up in the taskbar at the top of the screen, and they are showing various levels connectivity, looking pretty normal, really.  But when I try to select on of them, it sits there and thinks about it forever with the spinner going, and then just tells me that the wireless network is disconnected.  Then if I actually do manage to connect, it’s just really really slooooowwww.

I wondered if I had done something wonky to my settings in Ubuntu, so I tried booting Moblin from my USB flash drive.  It did the same thing.  🙁  So is there something wrong with my hardware?  I don’t remember ever having so many problems with wireless.  I couldn’t even upload a single picture to Facebook because it would just times out!  It’s all very frustrating.  I should note that if I’m plugged into a wired network, it’s all fine.  Slow, but at least it works reliably.

I’m sitting at Read’s coffee shop/bookstore downtown, and I’m able to connect to the Fred e-zone, but it’s only showing between 2-15% at any point in time.

Well, there’s my rant for today.  I don’t rant very often, but I’m just not sure what else to try, and it’s very frustrating.   Maybe my netbook just doesn’t like Canadian wireless?

Maybe I just need to calm down, put my netbook away, drink a few glasses of mulled wine and enjoy the snowy beauty of my hometown 🙂

Learn LaTeX again?

On the drive home, I thought of other things.  Such as how much I missed writing up neat little documents in LaTeX.  They turn out so sharp and professional-looking, much better than I’d generally ever get out of Microsoft Word.  I did my thesis in LaTeX, which still left me quite far from expert status, although I like to think I know a bit more about this typesetting language than the average person on the street (by a tiny margin).

As I drove down the free-way, exhausted from a long day on the water, I actually contemplated writing up some of my longer test procedures in a LaTeX document.  It’s really so much cleaner-looking.  Creating tables, references, embedding scripts, and showing equations would be easy, and look great. When I got home, I dug out my old “LaTeX Companion” book – a 1090 page, dog-eared, coffee covered, cross-referenced LaTex reference bible.  I can’t quite see a truly good reason to actually write anything in LaTex. No one else at work uses it, so if I wrote a test document, no one but me could edit it.  Which is really quite short-sighted.  Still, I can’t help but want to do it.

The LaTex website recommends using Tex Live for Linux operating systems.  I can’t remember what I used for my thesis, it was a full GUI program in Windows (TeXnicCenter, maybe?).  I kind of remember one of my profs doing all of his LaTex stuff on the command line – that seems much more difficult.  But I think it’s always cooler to be able to lightning-type in the terminal to make things happen.  It makes it seem like magic (Arthur C. Clarke did say that “Any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic).

Checking out Moblin

I can’t resist.  I am letting myself get completely sidetracked because I’m curious about a new operating system.  I will try to restrain myself and only run it from a USB stick.  I will resist the urge to (once again) completely wipe my hard drive with the belief that I will find the perfect OS.  I’m actually very happy with Ubuntu 9.10, and have no desire to switch.  Especially after I went through all the trouble of customizing Emacs for Python and downloading all the bits and pieces I think I’m going to need.

I’m going for it – creating bootable USB…

Based on the comments on the Moblin website, I have a feeling my wireless connectivity will be a problem.  Again.  It’s this weird wireless driver in the Eee 1000HE.  Problematic!

Hey hey – it’s a few minutes later.  Moblin is cute.  I think that I’d like it if I had a ‘normal’ desktop computer, and could just use the little netbook for playing around.  It’s certainly unique.  It seems like things are pretty intuitive.  But it seems more like a fun toy than a functional OS.  But I haven’t given up yet – if I can get Skype and flash plugins on there pretty easily, that will be a good sign.  One bad point – I dropped wireless once during he 20 minutes or so that I was running it.  Not a good sign.

Moblin OS

I was just sort of surfing around, and came across Moblin OS.  I had seen it in passing before, but I actually went to the site and had a look around.  It’s an OS that is built for mobile devices and netbooks.  I looked at some images of the desktop, and it looks really different from either Ubuntu or Ubuntu Netbook Remix / Jolicloud.  Moblin is NOT designed for desktops or even regular laptops.  It was designed to work with Netbooks, and primarily netbooks that are built on Intel Atom hardware.  Check out Netbook Screenshots – it looks really unique.  I wonder if I could run everything that I’m running on Ubuntu now…  it would be tough to switch away from Karmic since it has worked so well for me.

I think I might give it a try just booting from USB, and see how it goes.

Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) – so far so good

Just a quick update – I’ve been running Karmic for about a week now, and I am very happy with it.  It’s working great, running on my EEE 1000HE.  I’m excited to try it out on a ‘real’ computer (not just my wimpy – but awesome – little netbook).  I sort of got swept away by Jolicloud, and its pretty colors.  Oh yeah, and that invite thing always makes things seem that much more special.  Until that part wears off.  Jolicloud is made installing things really easy, but one thing that I started to realise after a while was that a lot of the ‘apps’ in the jolicloud ‘app store’ were actually just websites that were displayed on the desktop using Prism.

I’ve been able to get pretty much everything I want (so far) to run on Karmic, with pretty minimal effort – both Skype and the Flash plugin were really easy.  The Software Center makes installing standard software very straightforward too.

Emacs and Python

How do I actually take advantage of Emacs as a Python IDE?  A quick google search turned up this:  Enigma Curry blog post. This post is somewhat beyond me, and makes me a bit scared to try to configure my Emacs to to work with Python.  But I now feel like doing anything else would be wimpy.  I guess there’s also IDLE, which provides a GUI for Python development – and it’s a standard part of the Python system.  But Emacs is cooler, right?

It turns out that if I want to customize Emacs for Python, I’m going to have to find and edit a file called .emacs.  It says that this file should be in the $home_directory, along with a directory called .emacs.d.  I found the .emacs.d directory, but not the .emacs file.  I am missing something obvious, still unsure what I’m doing wrong.

Okay, I just created a .emacs file from one I found online – and I now have a working .emacs file.  The one I’ve got right now has a black background and a different font.  Now to make it do Python stuff.  I’m following a tutorial that can be found here (Setup Perfect Python Environment – Sunshine and Rain of a Developer).  I’m starting off by downloading several packages: python-mode.el , pymacs0.24 , auto-complete.el,  yasnippet.el, rope and  ropemacs.

Later the same night…  I have finally got my very first emacs configuration file.  Here it is (.emacs):

(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/plugins")
(require 'auto-complete)
(global-auto-complete-mode t)
(require 'yasnippet-bundle)
(load-library "init_python")

I had to do the whole thing twice too, because I messed up somewhere along the way, and nothing was working at all.  But honestly, I don’t fully know what all this is going to do for me in the end.  Hopefully make my life easier!

Oh, one more note – I had to install Pymacs along the way.  At least, I had a problem, thought installing Pymacs would fix it, installed Pymacs, and it may or may not have fixed the original problem.

Jolicloud woes

I should probably start with the one main reason that made me want to start a blog.  It’s my Jolicloud experience.  Actually my linux experience.  I’ve been messing around with Linux, mainly Ubuntu, for about a year now.  And I’m sick of forgetting everything I learn, and then having to look it up again later.  TOTAL pain in the ass.

I used to have some older version of Ubuntu on my netbook.  I think it was 8.04, jaunty jackalope, or fiesty fawn, or something.  I was okay with it. But I started reading articles on the Google Chrome OS, just out of curiosity.  I soon discovered that this was not so interesting to me.  It’s not coming out for a year, it’s going to be built for very specific netbooks (I think they actually have hardware partnerships), and it seems like the OS is pretty much just Google Chrome browser.  ONLY google chrome browser.  I’m not saying I’ll never use it, just that as much as I love google stuff, I will need some more convincing on this one.

SO (it’s late.  I’m rambling) – I saw someone comment on Google Chrome OS that Jolicloud is better.  I looked up Jolicloud, and it  looked really cool.  Got myself an invite, and I was up and running.  Loved it.  I watched Hulu.  I watched YouTube.  I tweeted.  I skyped.  I was happy.  Then my wireless started dropping.  First just a bit.  Then it got so bad that I couldn’t even stay online for more than a couple of minutes.  Pathetic.  I even went out to Best Buy and bought a shiny new wireless router.  Which I will now have to return.  Because it was not the wireless router’s fault.  It was the driver for my laptop’s wireless adapter (Atheros something, I can’t remember right now).  After a few hours of searching, I finally realised that I was not going to get it working any time soon.  Or at least it would require that I spend a lot of time learning a lot of linuxy stuff.

See this:
Ubuntu wiki – Hardware issues

Bug discussion

After spending several hours on the suggested solution near the end of that second link (I did consider it a valiant effort), I gave up and reinstalled Ubuntu.  But not he same Ubuntu.  I installed the new 9.10.  It’s pretty similar from what I can tell, but the booting up screen shows a pretty Ubuntu symbol bathed in the soft glow of an imaginary spotlight somewhere above the screen…Oh right, and there is a new “software center”.  Which is pretty much like Synaptic.

But I’m happy for now.  I had Jolicloud for just long enough to see that for all it’s pretty colors and bright lights, it wasn’t necessarily the right OS for me.  Maybe in January when they release their own interface (down with UNR!).