sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I'm posting from a PC running Windows 7 instead of linux. Alas and alack.

Still, it's gone pretty well so far. I brought the machine home from the computer shop Thursday morning, then promptly put it aside while I dealt with other chores. I was able to spent an hour or two on it that afternoon, doing New Computer Housekeeping. Which in my case, meant:

Plug in the ethernet cable. Open Internet Explorer. IMMEDIATELY download the latest Firefox. Close IE and consign it to the dustbin of history. Add Password Exporter, then import my passwords from the old machine. Import bookmarks. Redeploy AdBlock Plus, NoScript, etc.

Then it was off to pick up my lovely and talented wife and head out for a night of playing D&D (she's joined my regular Thursday night gaming group). We had fun. Once I'd put her to bed at home, I spent hours more on the computer. I downloaded Seamonkey and ran through the same housekeeping chores for that program.

Why two web browsers? Well, I'll tell you. I have two online identities. This one (Sinanju) and Gail Roarke, my erotica/romance pen name. I frequent a lot of the same internet corners (Yahoo, LiveJournal, Dreamwidth, and numerous websites) in both identities. Using one web browser for both IDs requires signing in and out all the damn time. It's a pain in the ass. So I segregated Gail Roarke to Seamonkey. Now I can remain signed in as me on Firefox and as Gail on Seamonkey. It's much easier.

Anyhow, I then installed Xmarks, to keep my bookmarks synched between the desktop PC and my laptop. And then Jungledisk, to back up my files.

Then it was time to tackle the wirelessness. I'd tried when I first got the machine home, but couldn't manage. I didn't know why, and didn't have time to mess with it, so I just plugged in the ethernet cable from the router and used that. After gaming, I went at it again. I spent two or three hours trying to get that damn wireless card to work, to no avail. Seeing as how I'd given up my linux box in large part because of the need/desire to go wireless, I was...aggravated.

This morning I called the computer shop to ask for help. It went something like this:

Me: "Hi, I picked up my computer from you guys yesterday."
Computer Guy: "Yes, how can I help you?"
Me: "When you assembled the system, you checked that the wireless card worked--right?"
CG: "Yes."
Me: "That's what I figured. So maybe you can help me. I can't get the wireless to work."
CG: "Are the antennas attached to the wireless card?"
Me: "....what antennas?"
CG: Tells me that there are a couple of antennas (that screw onto the wireless card) in a small box (which held the wireless card originally) inside the box that contained the motherboard. [It also contained boxes holding the Windows 7 and Microsoft Office DVDs, which I knew.]
Me: "Well, that's probably the problem, then."
CG: "Yeah. It worked in the shop without the antennas, but you might need to use them."

And so it was. I found said antennas (yeah, yeah, antennae), screwed them into place and--presto!--suddenly the wireless card connected to our router.

I felt pretty silly. Not entirely silly, mind you. They never said a word yesterday about any antennas, or the possibility that I might need to attach them. I assumed that the system was ready to go.

But the important thing is, the wireless works. The whole system far, he said darkly. It's Windows. I don't entirely trust it. But it's what I'm going to use now. And so far, so good.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
On the writing front, I've gotten eight stories back into the (e)mail. One got rejected the next day and resubmitted elsewhere, but it still only counts for one point. The seven stories I haven't resubmitted are candidates for self-publication. I'm currently working on that. My score to date:

Stories published online: 7 (1 point each)
Stories submitted to editors: 8 (1 point each)
Novel query packages: 2 (5 points each)
Total: 25 points (plus 7 from the last report)

I'm doing a lot of driving these days, and it looks like I'll soon be doing more. I drive my lovely and talented wife to work every morning, and pick her up every evening, as I've done since getting laid off. It gives us time together to talk, forces me to keep to a daytime schedule*, saves us having to pay the exorbitant downtown parking rates**, and saves her having to drive herself.

Now that we've moved to the new apartment, what had originally been a 10-15 minute commute is now a 30-45 minute commute, depending on traffic conditions. One way. So I'm spending considerably more time in the car these days--between two and three hours all told. Still, it's not bad. I talk to my sweetie when we're together; I listen to the radio when I'm alone. And I still have plenty of time during the day to run errands, do chores, and write, now that I'm back to writing.

Once I start driving Twoson to or from school (he's starting massage school shortly) two evenings a week, it'll be even more. He's learning to drive, so eventually I'll be off the hook for that, but the daily commute to Snippy's office won't change. It's just part of the new normal for us.

And speaking of chores--I had to be here between 10 a.m. and noon today for the cable guy. See, we got phone, internet, and cable service from Comcast in the new place. We'd rather have had DirecTV (which we loved for years), but our apartment faces north, not south. So no dice. We also got DVRs for the living room and master bedroom.

Comcast DVRs (by Motorola). They sucked. We can live with cable rather than satellite. But after being spoiled by Tivo, the Motorola DVRs were bigger, slower, and crappier in every way. They were slow to respond, sometimes failing to respond to the remote at all the first time you pushed a button. You could turn them off all too easily***--and a DVR that's been turned off doesn't record anything...which is the whole point of having a DVR. Worse, they had an aggravating habit of turning themselves off at random, or losing their tiny electronic minds and turning into paperweights until we called Comcast and got them reinitialized.

Even the remotes were bigger, clunkier, and less user-friendly than the Tivo remotes. In short, they sucked. So we bought a couple of Tivos and signed up for Tivo's service. We had to have the Comcast tech come out to provide the cable cards to allow them to work with the cable system. (When I called to arrange that, and to cancel our DVR service, the customer service gal didn't ask why. I suspect we're far from alone in our assessment of the Motorola DVRs.)

The Comcast technician turned up on time. He was friendly and helpful. We started up the Tivos, he installed the cable cards, and then went through the start-up procedure on one--the one wired directly into our network router. The other was supposed to connect via a wireless adapter we also bought from Tivo. We couldn't get it to work--it couldn't connect to the network. Eventually I figured out, by reading the router manual, and the Tivo website, how to make it connect. Then it worked fine. All in all, a painless customer service experience.

Once the Tivo in the living room was fully functioning, I played with it a bit. Ah, it was so much better than the Motorola DVR. Until four hours later, when Twoson alerted me to the Green Screen of Death. Yes, four hours after we set it up, the Tivo in the living room suffered a complete hard drive failure. There followed much swearing by Yours Truly. Hours later, all efforts to reboot it (in the vain hope that it wsa simply a data corruption issue, as sometimes results in the GSOD) had failed. I called Tivo customer service, which was an adventure in itself I don't care to dwell on.

The short version: that Tivo is really most sincerely dead. So we've ordered a new one, and will be shipping this one back to them for credit. So we're without a DVR (or cable box) of ANY kind in the living room for the next few days. Fortunately the Tivo in the bedroom is working properly, so we can at least record our shows in the interim. I'd say "so much for the vaunted Tivo brand," except that nobody's perfect. Hardware failures may be rare, but they're not impossible. We had years of reliable Tivo service in the house, and I expect years of reliable service now. Once, you know, we get another Tivo....

In still other news, I think I'm going to raise the white flag and buy myself a new Windows machine. I love my linux box. I really do. But the cumulative issues of working with it have simply become enough--in aggregate--that I think I'll be better off going back to Windows. Between the .rtf format issues in OpenOffice (a known and unfixed problem that is unacceptable when some markets for my writing insist on .rtf submissions), my inability to read Word notes in OpenOffice, my inability to get any sort of wireless networking to function on my machine, the possibility of playing some of my old Windows games again, and the ability to use various other programs available for Windows but not linux...well, I think the handwriting is on the wall.

It feels like a defeat, but I'm trying to think of it as a compromise instead.

*Left to my own devices, I'd develop a nocturnal schedule.

**We're buying more gas, and putting more mileage on the car, but not as much more as you might think. It's not distance so much as traffic that lengthens our commute. And even so, I think we still come out ahead.

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I continue to struggle with getting my linux box to communicate with the wireless router. For the moment I've moved the cable connecting my computer to the router so it runs around the edges of the room and is less obtrusive, but it's a stopgap. I still want to get the damned wireless adapter to work, but so far no dice. I've been communicating with people on the OpenSuse forums as well as the Portland Linux Users Group (PLUG) mailing list. I've made some progress, I think; I now have the right drivers and firmware for my chosen adapter on my system...but I can't get my computer to see the USB adapter.

I know the USB port works. I can plug other USB items into it (like my Nook ereader) and they work just fine. I don't know if there's something wrong in my operating system or hardware or whether perhaps the adapter itself is borked. I'm waiting to see if anyone can tell me definitively which--or even how to test to find out. It's really frustrating me--I know it should work. Other people running linux use this very software and hardware. I don't know why mine won't work.

In other news, we discarded (sold, donated, gave away or simply junked) a lot of furniture during the prep for moving out of our house and into the apartment. Some of it was just stuff we didn't use anymore. Some of it was stuff we'd never really liked anyhow. Some of it was furniture we didn't want to bring with because it's fabric covered and could (and no does does) harbor dust mites, to which my lovely and talented wife is allergic. So we took this move as an opportunity to make changes.

We're replacing a number of things. Dressers, computer desks, lamps, side tables, chairs and a sofa. We've bought a couple of recliners and a sofa loveseat from Ikea. They all have leather upholstery instead of fabric, to minimize the mite problem. The loveseat is smaller than our original couch so Snippy and I can sit close even when occupying opposite ends of it. The recliners are incredibly comfortable. We like very much.

I spent all day today assembling furniture. A large new dresser for me to replace the one I've been using, which Snippy will take over (she likes it). I adding shelving to a bathroom cabinet. I also assembled her new standing computer desk. There's more to do tomorrow, but I'm done for tonight.

I got a rejection today on a short story from Sniplits. I haven't checked my spreadsheet yet, but I have the sense that it was out for quite a long while. But then, I haven't done anything on the writing front in a long while. That's going to change. Now that the prep for and the move are behind us, and we're settling into the new place, I can focus on my writing again. I'm looking forward to it.

I think I'm going to track my progress with Dean Wesley Smith's "race" approach in 2011. You give yourself points for everything you have out in circulation, and you can compare your score with other writers who are doing likewise. You get 1 point for each short story, 3 points for every novel submission package (chapters and an outline) and 8 points for every full novel manuscript you have circulating. As things sell, you take them off the list. If you're losing points faster than you can add them, well, that's a problem you want to have.

He posted about it just today, and discussed the differences in scoring between traditional publications and epublishing (specifically, self-publishing via Kindle, SmashWords and other venues). The scoring for epublication is a bit different: 1 point per short story, 3 points per collection, and 5 points for novels. Novels get fewer points because they don't have to be nearly as long in this venue as in traditional publishing; "the pulps" are making a comeback, now that short novels can be produced and sold again. Also, you don't take things off the list when they sell. Epublication can be forever; it costs you nothing to leave a publication up for sale indefinitely. So the goal is simply to rack up as many points as humanly possible.

Anyhow, I intend to start writing short stories again, as well as longer works. Last year I focused on writing a couple of full-length novels and abandoned short stories. I don't want to do that again. I've been studying up on story structure and plotting, which are my weakness as a seat-of-my-pants writer, and I think I can learn more by practicing with short stories. I will, however, also keep working on novels (viewing anything of 15,000 words or more as at least a short novel).

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Hate My Operating System

It appears that I spoke prematurely last night. The seemingly successful update from OpenSUSE 10.3 to OpenSUSE 11.2--emphasis on "seemingly"--went belly up today.

From the beginning it was a little buggy. It always booted into text mode instead of the graphical X Windows system. Not a huge problem, because I could then launch the GUI, but mildly annoying. Also, some odd user password issues. Again, nothing huge, but an annoyance.

I asked about these issues on the OpenSUSE forums today, and was told that I had "borked" my system during the install. These things were merely artifacts of more serious underlying problems. A diagnosis I confirmed for myself when I ran the "repair installation" option from the installation DVD. It found several serious problems and was unable to correct a couple of them.

So  reinstalled 11.2. And it wouldn't work at all. Not even as well as it did previously. (I installed in text only mode last night, and I suspect that I may have selected some incorrect settings while fumbling through the text install screens--they looked like blocky, multi-colored old-style DOS screens.)

Feeling a little desperate now, I tried to install 11.1 from an older installation DVD I had lying around. It seemed to install okay--no hiccups, no error messages, no frozen screens. But whenever it should have launched the GUI, I got a dark screen...but with a perfectly responsive mouse pointer. Weird.

Just to be sure the initial problem wasn't due to a bad installation disk (I've had that problem in the past), I ran an MD5 checksum of the installation DVD I'd burned. No, it came out okay. The installation file was not the culprit.

I ran the 11.0 LiveCD and got that working, as I'd done before. It didn't help, but it proved that my system was fundamentally sound--just having...issues with the software.

Now that I knew the 11.2 installation disk was okay, and with nothing else left to try, I popped it into the DVD drive and started a fresh installation. And then I walked away. I watched House with my lovely and talented wife. (Okay, I popped in occasionally to check up on the system.)

And lo and behold, it appears (I say appears--I won't be confident of that for a day or two this time) to have installed without a hitch and to be working just fine now. No mysterious booting to runlevel 3 (text) far. No screen far. No frozen far. So far, so good.

Further announcements as events warrant.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
After consulting with the collective intelligence of the OpenSUSE forums for the last few days, I finally--with much fear and trepidation--updated my PC from OpenSUSE 10.3 to OpenSUSE 11.2.

It was quite a big leap. I'd tried to update to 11.0 or 11.1 at various points, but whenever the updated kernel started loading, I lost my video feed. The monitor went dark and I get an INPUT SIGNAL OUT OF RANGE error message from the monitor. I had no idea why, or how to fix it. I eventually learned that the ATI Radeon video card I'm using was known to have some driver issues with later versions of SUSE. There were a number of potential fixes to be found online, but after spending a couple of days struggling to get the video system working again after a major failure during one such attempted fix, I've been leery of trying.

On the other hand, 10.3 was past the end of its support life cycle. No more automatic updates. No more manual updates from the no longer available online repositories of software. Plus, my video issues were only getting worse with time. Flash videos were increasingly unavailable because I couldn't/wouldn't update my flash plug-ins for my browsers. Worse, I'd reached the point where simply trying access certain web pages (primarily those with embedded video, but also simply web pages with long URLs), my browsers would crash the entire X Windows (graphic interface) system.

My monitor would go dark for a moment, then I'd find myself at a log-in screen to relaunch the graphic user interface. It was getting to be a real pain in the ass. But I was still gunshy of messing with the video drivers because I'd had such trouble the last time.

I posted to the OpenSUSE forums, asking questions nad soliciting advice. I discovered a way to launch the 11.0 LiveCD in text mode, then bootstrap my way to a graphical interface. If worse came to worst during an installation now, I knew I could still get the video to work. So today I downloaded the .iso image for the OpenSUSE 11.2 installation DVD. I verified the MD5 checksum, burned it to DVD, reverified the checksum to make sure I had a valid image. And then tonight I bit the bullet and started the installation.

I'm now posting from my PC running OpenSUSE 11.2. It's working fine. No video issues. Hurrah!

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Victory is mine! On this eighteen day of November, Two thousand and nine, I finished my Nanowrimo project well ahead of schedule. I have a novel under my belt. Not a good one--but a novel nonetheless. I'm very pleased.

In other news...I'm posting from my wife's computer because I've royally fucked mine up. One of the good things about Linux is that you are not at the mercy of Microsoft. You have far more control over what your computer does and doesn't do, than most Windows users.

The bad thing about Linux have far more control over what your computer does and doesn't do than most Windows users.

In my case, I was trying to get more resolution from my video driver software. It isn't using the current monitor to its full extent. More importantly, I can't update my operating system (OpenSuse 10.3 at the moment) to anything more current because anytime I try i get a black screen and the error message "Input Signal Out of Range". That's been the case since I bought my widescreen LCD monitor, but it wasn't an issue until recently.

OpenSuse 10.3 has officially reached the end of its support cycle. No more updates or patches. I need to update my OS. Which wouldn't be a problem...except that my video card and/or drivers can't handle the newer versions. I saw a message today on the OpenSuse forums that yes, this is a well known issue. My Radeon 9200 video card is officially legacy hardware.

I was hoping to use a fix i read about on the forums to give me a little bit more performance. Alas, now my system won't boot into the GUI. it crashes back to the command line. I've tried almost everything _I_ know to try. Now I'm asking for help on the OpenSuse forums. If all else fails, I can always reinstall 10.3 from scratch. it will be a pain in the ass, and take a couple of hours...but I can do it, if I have to.

I'd rather not. it would still leave me with the original problem. If that's the case, I'd rather just get a quick fix and then address the underlying problem. Which is that I'm going to have to bite the bullet and upgrade my video card--which means I need to figure out what newer video cards a) will work with my equally antiquated motherboard (Microstar International's MS-7104), and b) will work and play well with OpenSuse and my Hanns-G HW191 monitor.

It's annoying, but it's also my own damn fault. I clicked 'yes' when I wasn't absolutely sure it would work. That'll teach me, I guess.

Project: Strange Attractors
New Words Written: 3,313 (very good)
Present Total Word Count: 50,445 words (50,082 according to the NaNoWriMo word verification page, but what do THEY know)
Goal: 50,000 words by November 30

Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 20
Stories Accepted: THREE!

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I've been pretty pleased with how my linux experience has gone overall. There've been times when I've been horribly frustrated by it not doing something that ought to be simple, or doing things I didn't want it to do. As a rule, I've been able to hammer out the issues sooner or later, even if sometimes it required a complete reinstall--though that hasn't happened in a long time now.

On the other hand, I had the same experience with Windows, so "user friendliness" or the lack of same, is hardly unique to Linux.

On the other hand, of late I've been having more and more difficulty with getting videos or java applications to work. I kept getting "you need to update to the latest java" messages--and no matter how many times I tried to download and install it, the problem didn't go away. So this morning, when I got that message again, I started Googling for answers.

I began to get an inkling of the problem. I opened YAST and looked for Firefox. I saw that the latest version was available but not installed. Funny--I HAVE the latest version installed. And that was the clue I needed. I had manually installed Firefox to the wrong directory. It worked...mostly. But the OS wasn't seeing it, so some of the addons and plugins that should have been cooperating weren't.

I installed the latest Firefox via YAST and fired it up. Now when I type "about:plugins" in the Firefox bar, I get a long, long list of plugins I wasn't seeing before. Yay! No more issues with java apps or videos not running. Now I've uninstalled the erroneous installation (and checked, and the correct installation still works as it should). Hurrah!

Now, if only I could upgrade to a more current version of OpenSUSE. I'm still running 10.3 and they're up to 11.something. Alas, when I've tried to begin upgrading, I lose my monitor. I don't think that's a Suse issue, though. It's a monitor/video card issue.

I installed a wide-screen flatscreen monitor a year or two ago. Alas, my (old) video card doesn't have the capability of doing true wide-screen imaging. It's just sort of...stretching the images horizontally a bit to fill the screen. Which is an adequate work-around until I figure out what sort of video card WILL provide true wide-screen imaging AND will work with my several-years-old motherboard...but apparently, trying to upgrade the OS causes the system to default to a format that doesn't register.

Again, I'm sure there's a way around this, but I haven't been willing to invest the time and effort to find it, since I suspect it would require finally figuring out what video card will work with my motherboard and also give me the video performance I'd need. That, and I don't want to spend any money on it just now.
sinanju: The Shadow (Professor Farnsworth)
The other day [ profile] snippy and I got home from work and brought some groceries into the house. At some point I happened to glance at my computer and noticed that it was running, with the BIOS password box on the monitor. I was puzzled. I didn't remember turning it on, but it's possible that I flipped the switch in passing with the idea of having it ready when I was ready to sit down. Odd.

Yesterday I got home and saw that it was on again. Same situation. It was waiting for the BIOS password. This time I know I didn't turn it on, and I was sure I'd turned it off the night before--I'd waited to be sure it was completely shut down (screen blank, power light on the box dark, no fan or CD movement). Snippy suggested that perhaps I'd only restarted it. Unlikely, I thought, but certainly possible.

So last night I very carefully made sure I selected log out on the shutdown menu (SuSE 9.0), the same as I've always used. I waited until the system shut down. Screen dark, power light out, no signs of any kind of activity in the computer box. I waited a couple of minutes to be sure. Nothing.

This morning I got up to find the BIOS password screen on the monitor again. So, assuming that neither Snippy nor Twoson are gaslighting me, and that I don't have a ghost trying desperately to boot up my computer...what the heck is going on? I'd have thought that it was impossible for the system to boot up this way once I'd shut it down, but--clearly--I'm wrong.

At this point I can only assume that shutting down via the log off command is not, in fact, truly equivalent to holding in the power switch til the power shuts off, as I'd thought. But if it's simply rebooting, why doesn't it reboot immediately? If it doesn't reboot immediately, how can it reboot when the system is (seemingly) powered down? Is it a software issue? A hardware issue? Enquiring minds want to know.


sinanju: The Shadow (Default)

August 2017

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