Tag Archives: computers

Well, Shoot.

Since I primarily use a Linux operating system on my computer(s), finding alternatives to popular Windows or Mac software can occasionally be difficult.  For cataloging, organizing, and editing photos, the common Windows players are Adobe products — Lightroom and Photoshop.  In Ubuntu, I used Shotwell for a quite a while, then about 2+ years ago, switched over to DigiKam.

When I recently built a new desktop machine and started running Fedora as my OS, the version of DigiKam in the repos was 3.5 (I had been running version 4).  The switch prompted me to look at Shotwell (the default photo manager for Gnome 3) again.  Like I said, it’s been a couple years, so even though the Fedora 20 repos aren’t up to the latest version of Shotwell, version 0.15.1 constitutes an upgrade from what I was last using.

I started with a (mostly) clean /home directory when I installed Fedora, so I needed to rebuild my Shotwell database completely. I was impressed that this version correctly pulled in all the meta tags and organized my photos into “Events” by date, making them a bit easier to sift through and work with. In the past, the software had trouble with certain cameras or images (particularly those that I had scanned). I haven’t looked through all 23 thousand pictures, but a glance through the last couple years appears to have sorted everything correctly. I also don’t have a folder labeled “Dec 31 1970,” which appeared to the be default applied to those images that made Shotwell throw its hands up in the past.

I haven’t tested all the plugins for web services yet, but it at least offers options for all the popular ones. I want to test out the Flickr plugin for sure, since all accounts come with a terabyte of storage — that means Flickr could be my web-based backup for all my pictures…

It’s probably at least partially a byproduct of the hardware upgrades that I’ve done with this machine (16 gigs of RAM, all SATA-3 SSD drives), but I found that the “helper” apps for editing images loaded up much more quickly than I remember. That gives Shotwell the benefit of being the place you “live” with your photos, while the other programs (like GIMP, RawTherapee, DarkTable) almost function as extensions.

Looks like I’m sold on Shotwell again for the time being.

Another Little Linux Project

In case you didn’t infer it from the title of this post, there is some serious geekery ahead.  You’ve been warned…

So last night, just before I went to sleep, I fired up the laptop to do whip out a little blog post for Friday, and in the midst of doing that, the system just totally froze up.  Like, it came to a screeching halt.  And when I tried to reboot later, I had a system that would power on, but not actually boot or do anything useful.  I did just a little troubleshooting, and I figured out that that problem lay somewhere besides the hard drive.  That was good and bad.  Good that I still have that data, bad that I now have no way of accessing it (for the time being).

So, during the day today, I spent a little time shopping around the internets for new laptops.  Wanted to get the lay of the land and figure out what could be had at what price.  I have recently been thinking about a netbook for later in 2009, but without a reliable, “full-size” laptop to fall back on, I’m just not sure.  I looked at the offerings from Dell, Lenovo, and HP, and I decided that if I am getting a new one, I should probably go ahead and get something with a 64-bit processor.  I’d like a new machine to last a while.

This got me into researching the advantages and drawbacks of 64-bit Ubuntu.  There’s a thread in the forums there where they’ve been discussing it for about 2 years now, but the good news is that at this point, there don’t seem to be any serious shortcomings at all; in the early 64-bit days, there wasn’t enough software that worked on those processors, but this is no longer an issue.

So, blah-blah-blah, reading-reading-reading, and I realize, “hey– I think my desktop machine, although not a dual-core, could run a 64-bit OS…”  Kept hunting about on the ‘tubes, and ultimately found that, yes: my P4 HT processor can do it.  What with Ubuntu 9.04 hitting the web just a couple days ago, this seems like a reasonable time to give it a try.  I had been planning on waiting for the bugs to settle out of the new version, but I figure if I’m going to make a big change like this and do a clean install, I might as well go for broke.

I do continue to keep /home on its own partition, so I never lose my personal data, program settings, etc., but I will need to reinstall all my software.  I found an easy way to do that, but with the switchover from 32- to 64-bit, there will probably be plenty of packages in that list that I can’t use anymore.  I’m hoping that the ones that won’t work will simply error out in apt.  One thing that I imagine will actually work BETTER with a 64-bit OS is the video card support– I am running the server kernel on my desktop machine at present, in order to take advantage of the 5 gigs of RAM I have installed in this 32-bit environment.  I had to do a bit of dicking around to get the nVidia drivers to work appropriately with this kernel (the standard one was easy).

Well, my disc image will be done downloading in a few seconds, so I’ll be back to report to myself here on how it went…

Easy Way Out vs Frustrating Hobby

Had a bizarre sort of set of issues with my home server setup during the course of the day that had me frustrated to the point of wondering if it was worth it to even run the damn thing.  I caught myself thinking, I don’t really need to have my own server.  I could pay for hosting and run something like Google Apps for mail.  Why am I doing to this to myself?

But the real reason is: I enjoy the frustration, I guess.  By the end of the day (before I went to sleep, anyway), I had everything figured out put back together again.  All’s well that ends as such.  I learned a couple more things in the process and might not spend as much time on a similar problem the next time through.

People have asked me more than once how or why I could enjoy all the inherent tinkering and tweaking and troubleshooting that comes along with this sort of setup.  In my mind, they system is never perfect; it’s never working exactly as well as it should.  There is always something extra I could be doing, and that voyage of discovery is what I enjoy and what makes this a hobby.  Make no mistake, it is one that drives me nuts and keeps me up nights on occasion, but I don’t think I’ll actually be selling out to Google and giving up on it any time soon.

… Just don’t ever ask me the same question while I’m the middle of an upgrade (!!!).

Everything's Coming Up Milhouse!

What a wonderful synergy of delivers at my home and work today– I made a rare midday run back to my apartment, where I found that my SATA cables had arrived by mail.  The FedEx doortag that I was hoping to see wasn’t there yet, but things got even better very quickly: I was in the house about five minutes, making a sandwich, when the doorbell rang and the dude dropped off my replacement phone.

At work, the UPS guy dropped off my new harddrive and video card to get the TV box rokkin once again– I am looking forward to being able to watch my Internetty TV on a normal-sized television.  From the couch.  It WILL ROCK.

Fifteen minutes to go…

A Vision of The FUTURE

I guess somebody at Microsoft has seen Minority Report.  Because apparently that is their vision of computers in our future– no keyboards or nuthin’

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&#038;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Just for comparison’s sake:

Personally, I have a lot more interest in those self-driving cars.

Minor Accomplishments

Yesterday I didn’t leave the house for a very long time; I think I was gone a total of 40 minutes, but I felt good at the end, having gotten a ton of little stuff done.  I got my kitchen and bedroom cleaned up, did a ton of laundry, and I figured out two or three little nagging problems I was having with computers for quite a while.

It’s rare that I feel good enough about what I did during the day that I’m OK with just kicking back and relaxing in the evening, but Saturday was just such a day.  I think tackle another room or two and get some writing done today…

Damn You, iPod. DAMN. YOU.

Michelle is in the air at the moment, probably rapidly descending into New York by now.  Last night, one of the things that she asked me to help her out with was getting access to the iTunes Music Store and her iPod itself on her computer at home.

She runs the latest version of Ubuntu, at her own request.*  I thought that this should pretty easy anyway, since she has a virtual Windows installation on there for stuff that you, well, y’know, have to have Windows for.**  I would just make sure I could get the USB rokkin on the virtual machine, install iTunes, and she’d be done and done.

That turned out to be a lot more complex than I thought it would be.  I never did manage to get USB working in VirtualBox OSE, but I’ve got it all set in my VMWare Windows machine on the laptop.  I probably spent an hour or more trying to get it fixed on her desktop.  The recent upgrade that I did complicated running the virtual machine itself, so there was a good chunk of that hour wasted right there…

Then when I moved this iTunes-installing-and-using operation over to MY laptop, there was a whole different problem of just being able to get the virtual machine to recognize that the iPod was plugged in.  It was as if Ubuntu didn’t want to completely give it up.  Finally, I managed to get that to happen, too, but I quickly managed to initiate a process of “sync”-ing the iPod, which, apparently, will go ahead and wipe everything off of it.  Which is on one hand, total bullshit, and on the other, awfully disheartening when you’ve been working on getting this damn thing to work for 3 hours.  This is not to mention to fact that the syncing process took FOREVER, given that the USB support, while present in VMWare, is merely of the version 1.1 variety (versus the standard, commonly recognized, vastly superior, HIGH-SPEED USB 2.0).

I do understand, on a basic level, why these frakkin iPods are so locked down and a pain the ass to try to work with.  I dig that you can’t use the Music Store with anything but a Mac or a Windows PC.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about it.  I thought it was a profound drag that I spent so much time dicking around with this problem that I’ve never had copying mp3s over to an SD card and plugging it into my PDA, for example.

What this did make me decide I should do, though, is come up with an more effective means of using Windows on the desktop machine.  Dual-booting would be one option, but I don’t know if I’m interested in blowing the hard disk space or the partitioning effort on that.  How often do I really need to use Windows?  I think I can count all the occasions in the year on one hand.  I’ve become much more interested in scoping out this Windows-on-a-thumb-drive option.  Not only is it more complex than re-partitioning and installing Windows on the side, I’ve never done it before, so it will require quite a bit more effort.  Right up my alley, where personal computing is concerned.

I think I’ll get started on it now, since it’s relatively early and the Brewers are getting smoked once again

* – Granted, her request was not necessarily for Ubuntu, but when I set up this machine that she has right now and offered to install XP, she said, “Well, I don’t really want Windows…”  Very sexy.

** – Those would be things Netflix, TurboTax, and goddamned iTunes.


Picked up this link from the AP tech wire: Electronics makers to create home networking standard

I’m totally shooting from the hip here, but my first thought was “well, duh.”  But to be honest, I’m a little surprised that A) people aren’t more annoyed yet that bringing any new device into your home requires the stringing, plugging, and inevitable tangling of MORE FRACKING WIRES, and B) principle to this discussion by “electronics makers” is not necessarily the development of a full-duplex wireless communication standard for all this stuff to start talking to each other.

I know that bluetooth is sort of supposed to be that solution, but last time I checked, a scenario whereby your plug in your TV, and set your stereo receiver and your PlayStation 4 right next to it, and surround the room with your 7.1 DTS speakers and everything would just WORK, without being wired together, was a bit out of the realm of possibility for this technology as it currently exists.

Ah, well.  Sometimes I forget that living in the Future still means that there’s a future of the Future.

Hardy and SMBFS — A Change of Syntax?

As I’ve made known here previously, I am one of those “dangerous-but-not-really-very-knowledgeable” types, particularly when it comes to the command line and certain config setups in Ubuntu.  That said, I found a solution to the problem I was having with mounting my server using smbfs.  I thought I would post it for the Google-pilgrims that might need a hand in the future…

Ever since Dapper, I have had a line in my /etc/fstab that looked like this:

//<server IP>/<share> /home/jason/Server cifs credentials=<credentials file>,lfs,dmask=777,fmask=777  0    0

This stopped working in Hardy.  After installing smbfs, the share would still mount, but I would get errors saying the following:

WARNING: 'dmask' not expressed in octal.
WARNING: CIFS mount option 'dmask' is deprecated. Use 'dir_mode' instead.
WARNING: 'fmask' not expressed in octal.
WARNING: CIFS mount option 'fmask' is deprecated. Use 'file_mode' instead.

I could read everything from the server, but I had lost my permission to write there.  After finding this bug that was filed at the end of March, I thought, “what the hell, I’ll try mounting the way this guy’s doing it:

//<server IP>/<share> /home/jason/Server cifs credentials=<credentials file>,lfs,file_mode=0777,dir_mode=0777,uid=1000,gid=1000 0 0

And now all is well.  DVD playback– fixed.  Server share– fixed.  What else did I need?  Oh, right, nothing.


Hardy Heron Post-Install #1

Sorry if there are a few über-geeky posts in the next couple days.  But, I did say that I would share my experiences with running Ubuntu…

Forgot a few things in my post(s) from the last few days.  There were a number of additional packages I could have mentioned, but here are the highlights…

First, turn on all those non-default software repositories (except maybe the bleeding-edge development channels), then get all the gstreamer plugins, the microsoft core fonts, and thumb through the add/remove software window.  I like to sort by popularity, because there’s usually a reason that a lot of people are downloading it.  You can find a number of the packages that I mentioned the other day using this method.

I was glad that my monitor worked out of the box, at the right resolution and frequency.  A welcome change.  I also noticed that SeaMonkey was in the software channels now, so that kind of makes ubuntuzilla an unneeded commodity for me.

I forgot to mention how to get DVDs running.  Take a look at medibuntu for more info on that.  Or, is Automatix still around?  I haven’t used it in a while…  Oh, I guess not.

The thing that’s really sticking in my craw right now is the wealth of issues (well, just two I guess– but big ones) that I had with samba immediately upon installation.  In the past, I have run samba on my desktop machine because it was an easy way to share files back and forth between my desktop and laptop (in case I didn’t need or want to use the server as an intermediary).  Well, samba crashed every time I tried to start it so far.

The second problem (MUCH bigger) was getting my server mounted with full read/write access at startup.  This absolutely has to work for me.  At this point, I can get the share to mount (although not where I tell it to, for whatever reason), but I can’t write to it.  I’m going to check around the forums a bit today when I have time, and see if I can get these things resolved.  If it looks like there’s going to be a wait for a fix of some kind, I’d probably go back to Gutsy and wait for a while.

Oh, and finally (almost forgot)– Firefox 3 is the default browser for Hardy, even though it’s stil in Beta.  Granted, they’re on like the 5th or 6th beta version now, but fact is this: almost none of my extensions work, or a couple of them work wrongly.  I can still install Firefox 2, but I’ve never had to change the “default browser” in Ubuntu.  I’m sure it’s not too tough.  But maybe ubuntuzilla won’t be obsolete after all…

firing from the hip since 2002