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shameless pleading





January 2013 Issue

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi


What about December? You mean December of last year? Sheesh. I think it’s best if we all just look forward, y’know? There’s nothing to be gained by pointing fingers and dwelling on the missteps of the past. Things happened, mistakes were made, water under the bridge, ship sailed, case closed. Besides, what we have here in our shiny new January is one of those increasingly special times when I post an issue of this little circus in the same month as it says at the top of the page.

Anyway, ave atque vale, annus terribilis 2012. Meanwhile, thanks to all our friends who have subscribed and otherwise contributed to our well-being over the past few months. Quite apart from the fact that your support literally makes this site possible, the morale boost it furnishes is the reason I don’t spend my days watching Family Feud reruns.

As for the Great Thanksgiving Norovirus Adventure, I am better now, but not entirely up to snuff yet. Having missed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years entirely, I hope to be completely well soon, because I have a lot riding on Arbor Day. Anyway, I have all sorts of fun medical appointments scheduled (I seem to be anemic, among other things). I also have an ophthalmic exam coming up, which I hope will fix my inability to read anything. Seriously. I’ve spent the past two months with vision so blurred that I’m almost completely unable to make out lines of type on a computer screen. I am really hoping that the problem can be resolved by new glasses and isn’t a sudden increase in the irreversible loss of vision associated with multiple sclerosis.

Speaking of computer screens, my big LCD monitor gave up the ghost last year, and after spending a week or so struggling to use an old, dim and yellow 17-inch Dell LCD monitor I had left over from about 2001, I went online at (the totally awesome opposite of larcenous dumps like Best Buy) to see what I could reasonably afford. I discovered that while I was sleeping, the world had dumped the old LCD technology, CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent lamp) backlighting, and taken up with the cheaper, “greener” LED backlighting. OK. Whatever. So I hunted around a bit and found a suspiciously cheap (~$125) 24-inch Dell LED LCD monitor. (I think the deal must have been a drastic sale, actually, because the same monitor is now almost $200). So it comes, I plug it in, and boy howdy, that thing would have been visible from space. I’m now running it at 40% brightness. It looks like it might be sharper than my old LCD, but it’s hard to say because, as I said, I can’t actually read anything on the screen. Grrr.

So at the moment I’m relying on my aging but trusty T60 ThinkPad laptop, which has a slightly dim screen (which is OK because everything around me seems way too bright), but also sports 1024 x 768 resolution (a la 2004) and thus is much easier to read. I love my T60.

But speaking of ThinkPads, Lenovo, the Chinese company that bought IBM’s personal computer division several years ago, has announced that, after keeping the ThinkPad line largely intact so far, they have decided to change the classic ThinkPad keyboard as part of an ill-advised attempt to compete in the “glamor” market with the MacBook. This is a terrible idea, as outlined here and here. ThinkPads have always had the best keyboards on the market, so good that IBM actually sold them as stand-alone keyboards for desktop PCs. This decision is stupid and depressing.

On the bright side, we have headlines such as this —  Windows 8 Killed My PC — to keep us warm and cozy with schadenfreude. Having played with this misbegotten system while killing time in Staples recently, I can believe every word of that article. I abandoned Windows back in 2005 or so in favor of Linux, but my experiences with Microsoft crap during the preceding twelve years left me with a visceral revulsion toward anything Redmond produces. I actually have a computer with a Windows 7 partition on it, but I’ve never been able to bear using Win 7 for more than about ten minutes at a time. It’s just too damn annoying. As for Windows 8, which is essentially a tablet OS, many folks predict that the whole touchscreen desktop shebang will fail because of “gorilla arm” syndrome, the fatigue and weird feeling that you get in your arms and hands after a while from reaching out to use a touchscreen that you’re not holding close to your body.

Personally, I’m still using Ubuntu 10.04, a three-year old version,  because every subsequent version of Ubuntu has been screwed up in very Microsoft ways, and the most attractive alternative, Linux Mint, is buggy and not really ready for primetime. Hey, this works, which is all I want.

So that’s the news from East Bump. Please consider subscribing.

2 comments to January 2013 Issue

  • I’m kind of with you on the direction of Ubuntu. They need to play to their strengths, not with Microsoft’s weaknesses. Fortunately, older versions are always available.

  • Sr. Wences

    Senor Word Detective,

    I am also a Ubuntu type of guy. I am running 12.10 on my personal machine, but I set up a laptop for my dad using Ubuntu 12.04 and using Gnome instead of Unity. It works well and I like having the latest updates on kernels and such. 12.04 is the last version to support Gnome out of the box.

    By the way, I am still digesting the “busman’s holiday” posting. Makes me want to start reading more Dickens.

    Pip-pip and all that rot!

    Sr. Wences

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