Thursday, December 23, 2010

Out Sick

I've been sick for a while and won't be posting till I'm better and more focused.  Everyone at work seems to have caught this lovely stomach flu (what a surprise since I work at a hospital) and I had to be a victim too. I've also had a respiratory thing going for on a while that I can't shake.

On a side note, I think I'm switching my college major from paramedic to horticulture.  What a leap, right?  It should be more apropos for me and I've been getting burnt out in medicine for a while.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Problem With Green Retrofitting Today

Cash for Caulkers is a lovely program.  Let's give people a financial incentive to upgrade to more energy efficient appliances, lay down some insulation, even install a newer furnace or wood stove.  It works well too.  People have taken advantage of the program.

Here's my problem:  Upfront spending.  The tax credits involved are wonderful for people who have the money in the first place.  These are the people that recognize that these upgrades will ultimately save them money through energy efficiency and they're recouping part of their investment anyway.  These are also people who probably can afford not to make the upgrades.  The people who need these upgrades the most, the ones that would be benefit the greatest, are the ones who don't have the money to spend in the first place.  Their old furnace, wood stove, water heater, windows, doors are all adequate and won't be replaced till its dire.  They're lucky if they have insulation in their walls or attic.  They're equally fortunate to have storm windows over their existing windows.

Now, you may ask, aren't their programs to help these people?  Sure.  First, you have to actually find the programs.  Second, make it through all the red tape.  Lastly, hope the money is still available.  Many programs have limited funding and are difficult to locate.  If you can deal with that, just hope you qualify.  I fall into a bracket where we don't really have the money to upgrade anything but we aren't quite poor enough to qualify for grants.  HUD does offer some help for those that are interested.

Honestly, I'm not sure what to do.  I don't really have a proposal.  I just think that all that money spent bailing out banks and car makers probably would have helped the economy more by buying a bunch of windows and insulation.  Imagine paying ten of thousands (or more) of workers across the country to install all these upgrades for people.  Then you have a whole class of people who previously spent a sizable portion of their income on heating and cooling that will now have a lot of free income to hopefully invest wisely or at least spend elsewhere, further helping the economy.

I may sound like a quack or a pinko commie but I do believe in taking care of each other.  If I was rich, I'd help the poor.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

DockbarX

DockbarX is a sweet panel applet.  It let's you group windows together as well as pin launchers to it.  I'm trying it now on top of a regular menu.  It can also be used as a part of AWN where it does look nice.


This is just the sample from my desktop.  There are more screenshots available from Ubuntu Geek and Ubuntu Life.  More info (and a couple more shots) are on the GNOME-Looks page and Launchpad sites.

To install in Ubuntu, open up the Terminal...
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dockbar-main/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install dockbarx dockbarx-themes-extra
 Once installed, right click the panel you want it on, select Add to Panel and scroll till you find it.  You can then customize DockbarX with additional themes and change its behavior.

The Social Network?

Seriously, Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook to get back his ex girlfriend?  And I started this blog to impress my wife.

(Spoilers enclosed)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Trouble in Palm Pre Land

Karma really sucks.  I had recommended to a friend that she get the Palm Pre Plus from Verizon (this was some time ago and they still had it available).  Instead, she was convinced she would like the LG Ally better.  I caught up with her recently to find that her Ally was being troublesome.  I'm not knocking the Ally since I considered it too.  I bragged on my Pre though.  I gushed over the multi tasking and how I have not had a single problem.

This is where karma comes in.  I'm sorry, I won't brag or be proud anymore, Karma.  Please accept my apologies.

My Palm Pre has held up well even though I only bought it in August and its now December.  Despite the hardware warnings I've read, its done fine.  Its not done the Oreo twist but its not the snug device it once was either.  Regardless, that's not where my problem comes in.  Actually, it was all software and I cannot explain it.


App Updates
I've installed a whole lot of apps to try and update my phone regularly.  Somewhere, sometime this went awry.  It may have been one of those late night updates when I hit it before going to sleep.  Soon after, I came across an odd blank app.  At the top of my update list was an app slot with no name, nothing.  Palm sure wanted to update it though.  Clicking on it returned an error message.  Hmm...  Strange indeed.

Virus?!
I was actually worried that in all the apps, including homebrew, I had downloaded a malicious one, perhaps opening a backdoor to viruses.  Was that blank app a virus? I pondered.  Nah.  Its built on Linux.  If its a virus it won't do much damage.  As a side note, I have heard of a few exploits in webOS but no real viruses.

App Catalog Errors
Searching for this error brought back a lot of hits.  Apparently there was some great App Catalog failure before I bought the Pre.  A lot of forum posts were over that but no one seemed to have a good answer.  I tried the few ideas including Pausing All Downloads and Deleting All Downloads without success.  I'm still not sure what all I deleted.  This was turning grave.  I was up late worried about my sick Pre.  I had to find a solution.

Visiting the Doctor
Part of the reason I chose webOS was the webOS Doctor.  After my wife's Droid bricked during the update to Android 2.2, I knew that Android was out (we had to take it and she received a replacement phone--what a joke!).  The Doctor will reload the software on your Palm should the worst happen.  This is like a brain transplant for someone and only webOS has it.  If you're using an Android phone, well, you don't have a brain anyway because you're a robot, at least partly.

I felt I had no other choice.  I was going to wipe my phone and start over.  Sure, webOS lives in the cloud and would reload everything but it was the point.  The App Catalog shouldn't have erred like that.

I started downloading the Doc but while I did,  I continued looking for one last solution.  Ha, there's a built in reset option!  How could I have missed that one?!  With four options including a total Full Erase, I was prepared to try it.  At worst, I was going to use Doc anyway.

I used the Erase Apps & Data option and waited for the reboot.  webOS came back up asking for logins.  I was quickly logged into Palm, Google and Yahoo accounts.  My apps started downloading and my personal information was still available.

Did It Work?
Yep.  Once the accounts were finished syncing I updated the phone, installed more apps, and updated again.  Its still working fine actually.

Here's the How To
Palm has the how to article online but to save time and trouble, here's the synopsis.

  • Backup your phone first (or don't) - type Backup to take care of your Palm profile including what apps you have installed.  Plugging in your phone and downloading your files from the USB drive is a good idea too.
  • Type Device Info and open Reset Options
  • Try Erase Apps & Data first.  It won't touch your USB drive files and will probably fix your problem.  Move onto Full Erase if you don't care about your files or are worried they're part of the problem. (Note, older versions may say Partial Erase)
Precentral also has a helpful piece on this called How To: Restore a Seriously Ill Pre.  They outline the procedure more specifically and also go into detail on webOS Doctor.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Distro Hopping

Ubuntu to Fedora to Suse to Ubuntu.  Wow.  Yes, that's what I recently did.

Driver Problems
I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) when it came available.  Not at any real fault of Canonical, my ATI card didn't work properly.  It seemed that there was some driver incompatibility there.  Every time I logged in, I had to play with the settings to enable the title bar and correct the resolution.  I searched for a solution but only found that the driver would be fixed soon.  Ha, whenever soon is.