Earth Day and Things

I have a couple things to say tonight.  First of all, happy Earth Day.  It was a pretty nice day today, and I’m looking forward to the weather getting springier and springier.  It’s a nice environment, let’s try not to go too far out of our way to destroy it.

Second of all, if you run or work at a restaurant, please, please avoid having wobbly tables.  It is annoying, especially when you’re risking getting a bowl of soup in your lap.  Tweak the table, call a fixit guy to come look at it, or even stick a matchbook or two under one of the legs if you have too.

Gentoo and Xorg Updates

Just a reminder to myself and others…  On Gentoo, at least on amd64, when updating X you sometimes find that your mouse and keyboard don’t work.  The solution to this, it seems, is to just reemerge xf86-input-evdev and then restart X.  I don’t remember what causes this, but luckily it’s not that time consuming to fix.

On a non-computer related note, it’s finally spring.  Last weekend (the 9th and 10th) represented the first truly nice days of the season, and while it’s a bit cooler now it’s fairly obvious that winter has left us.  So go outside, and enjoy the weather.

Japan

You hear about a lot of stuff on the news, a lot of it terrible, unfortunately.  But we go on, if it seems far away from us.  We don’t always think about bad things affecting us, be they crime, medical problems, or natural disasters.  Well, life has to go on.  But we should stop to think about how fortunate we are, especially when we can’t possibly fathom what others may be going through.  Consider the Pacific tsunami, namely these pictures:

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/03/massive_earthquake_hits_japan.html

All I can say is take a moment to think about this.  Have a moment of silence, say a prayer, whatever.  It’s times like these we have to realize that these are our brothers and sisters over there on the other side of the planet.  And if you can give, consider this:

http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2011/03/11/7-ways-your-family-can-help-victims-of-the-hawaii-tsunami-and-japan-earthquake/

Oil

Right now, there is a pipe sticking out of the seabed in the Gulf of Mexico, from which oil is billowing.  It is a huge environmental disaster, and most certainly a historical event if there ever was one.  But there is a hidden meaning there.  That pipe, with it’s relentless oil plume is a sign of the times.  Yes, it’s a sign that we’re too dependent on oil, etc.  But there’s more.

Think about it like this: we drilled a well 5000 feet below the surface of the ocean.  Lots of them, actually.  Sure, we’re not very good at it, as this whole disaster shows.  But from a technological standpoint there has been progress.  I’m not trying to excuse BP here, nor our sluggish lust for black gold (yes, I’m guilty of it, and you are too, what with cars and such).  But it’s still an accomplishment, and who knows where we’ll go from here?  Maybe it’ll only be a matter of time before we’re drilling on moons, other planets (cue Armageddon reference).

Again, I don’t mean to make light of the disaster.  I only want to try to stay optimistic about our civilization, and who knows, maybe whatever we can learn from this will help us out somehow later on.  Welcome to the future.

Misc. Stuff

So it is now fall.  The summer finished up nicely, we even got to go to Cape Cod.  (Photos will follow.)  I’m still working, with the intent of returning for classes in winter quarter.  Still playing music, still messing with Linux, still dreaming of getting all my power from the sun (or at least right now for my mail server), and above all playing with the cats when I can in Buffalo.  But first, some selected Cape pics:

So that’s been the highlight of the past month or so.  Work still drags on, this blog still collects spam, etc.

Battery Life and Other Nonsense

As I mentioned before, I have switched my laptop to Gentoo again after getting a new battery for it.  When I first finished my Gentoo install there was this beautiful feeling of euphoria…  It was just a raw Linux system, somewhat optimised for my machine.  It could be a normal Gnome desktop, it could be a mobile server…  It could be a workstation with no GUI at all…  So much potential, so many things I could do without having a predetermined computing environment like what Ubuntu provided.

Yeah, I ended up putting Gnome on it, along with the other types of apps normal people tend to put on their laptops: OpenOffice, Firefox, Pidgin (thus completing the desktop publishing-Web browsing-instant messaging trifecta), etc.  And now I find myself trying to replicate a lot of the things Ubuntu did configure out of the box.  Things like PulseAudio, multimedia codecs, and power management settings.

Actually the power management was a bit of a sticking point with Ubuntu.  I mean, it did provide decent control over LCD backlight brightness, and it configured CPU frequency scaling out of the box.  But at the same time I still never got the battery life I got in Windows.  The same is true for Gentoo.  I can get maybe four hours of life, which is nice.  But the older, smaller battery was rated for about this also.  Yeah, I know that rating’s a bit optimistic, but I sitll got maybe three of those hours on XP.  I’d like to get about 5 or 6 with this battery.

So I have some tweaking to do, no matter which distro I use on here.  I really do like having a less-bloated system, and at the very least Gentoo is a little more encouraging of tweaking, and is more familiar to me, so I may as well try diferent power saving methods on here for a while.  (Yeah, compiling software takes a bit of juice, but I do that when I’m plugged in anyway.)  Ubuntu 9.04 is coming out soon, and I’m thinking I might go and try it on here.

So, that’s that.  On an lighter note, the sun is coming out more and more here in Rochester.  We’re finally starting to get some Spring weather, even though we also just got some snow.  (I woke up one morning and it looked like it was winter outside.  It didn’t last long, but it was still weird.)  Though I do enjoy winter I am looking forward to the warmer weather a lot.  Soon it will be summer, and I will (hopefully) be working.  Getting away from class will be nice.

Winter Without Christmas

I believe that today is the Nativity, or the last day of Christmas or whatever.  It is also the day I am heading back to school, back to the daily grind…  Actually, I shouldn’t complain.  My quarter is relatively light, and I’m used to the schedule and the campus.  All and all it will be great, even if I do have to get up and think each day of the week.  (Well, think about school, not that I don’t think otherwise…  You get the idea.)

Well, as anyone who reads this blog regularly has probably figured out I like to talk about the weather.  And I must say it is looking great outside, snowy, and sunny.  Not too snowy, but it looks like winter.  Now that the first set of Winter holidays are wrapping up it is becoming quite clear that it is really only the beginning of winter.  Yes, we’ve got a ways to go, at least up here.

Now, the funny thing is, a lot of people complain about winter.  And rightfully so; I hate digging my car out and the like.  But I also love the snow, and I think more appreciation needs to be paid to it.  I mean, if you live in an are in which a huge snow storm is pretty much the worst disaster you would expect to occur somewhat regularly, consider yourself lucky, I say!  Because after all is said and done, it melts.

So I am looking forward to some nice days this winter.  The sun is there; the days have been getting longer since the Solstice, and they will continue to get longer until the summer.  Admittedly it’s harder to like winter without Christmas (at least I could see that), but it’s another season, and I say that as long as there’s sun out to keep the spirits high be happy.  Gray days suck, but they don’t last forever.

Well, on a different note I would just like to point out that this place actually gets a ton of comment spam.  You wouldn’t notice it thanks to the Askimet plugin I installed, which intelligently detects spam and marks it for me to look at and delete en masse.  Now, it’s not perfect, so I do check it over, but I will appologize now if I missed a legit comment.  If it was something basic, like “Thanks, great post” then it may get marked as spam and I might very well just delete it.  But I will do my best to look for intelligent thoughts.