Friday, June 19, 2009

Linux Lead Me On, Broke My Heart and Left Me Hanging

My first Linux distro was Debian Sarge. Learning how to get 1024 X 768 video resolution and the sound running was a really geeky challenge but I figured it out and was really proud of myself. Then came Debian Etch and I no longer had to bother with the sound and video, they just worked, the first time, exactly as I wanted them to. Wow, what amazing progress. Now, Etch has become obsolete and Lenny has become the stable version of Linux only now my 16 Meg nVidia TNT cards come up with 800 X 600 video resolution and there's not a darn thing I can do about it. Nor is this 'interesting' phenomena confined to Debian, it's also true of the Ubuntu family (in all its many incarnations, or at least the ones I know about). Yes, I've tried to find a solution but, so far, nothing I've tried has had any affect on the problem (and yes, I'm grateful that the sound, at least, is still working as it should, for whatever that's worth). I'm not hard to please, I don't use Compiz or dual monitors, I don't need super high resolution and I'm not a gaming geek. I just want 1024 X 768 video resolution and I don't care if I'm required to go through some geeky stuff to get it (like I learned to do with Debian Sarge) but I don't like being made to feel like I can't get there from here even though my hardware worked great with an older distro. This makes me very unhappy.

As if this weren't enough to sour me attitude, KDE has, in their incredible wisdom, elected to castrate the finest file manager I've ever used. That's right, the 'new, spiffy' version of Konqueror is a total wimp compared to it's predecessor. Yeah, I know, Konqueror is supposed to be a browser, not a file manager, right? Bull, there are too many browsers out there already and I like all of them better than Konqueror but I've never used a file manager with as much power as Konqueror 3.5.5 (on my Debian Etch system). By comparison, Konqueror 4.2.4 is far prettier (as if all I cared about were cosmetics) while being substantially less user friendly. You want specifics? The home page on my Konqueror 3.5.5 (about:konqueror) offers me instant access to my home folder, storage media, network folders, trash, applications and desktop settings. The same page in Konqueror 4.2.4 offers instant access to the home folder, trash, network folders and bookmarks. Disregarding the bookmarks, since I'd never use Konqueror as a browser, what's left is exactly half the functionality of version 3.5.5. Now that's progress isn't it?

I've been using Debian stable with KDE for about four years now. No way am I ever going back to 'that other OS' (which doesn't deserve the publicity of a negative comment which mentions it by name). Now, suddenly, I'm left hanging. I can continue to use Etch, which currently meets all my expectations but will become steadily more obsolete or upgrade to Lenny which doesn't meet my expectations. Isn't it great to have options?

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Friends, good pennies and yo-yo's often return

Dad was career Army. That meant we never lived in one place more than three years. From late 1964 to late 1967 dad was assigned to Fort Ord, California. I have many fond memories of those years but the best and worst of them revolve around a girl named Randi. She was my first love and she was the most wonderful girl in the world. She was smart, she had a quick wit, she was pretty and she loved to laugh. I was madly in love with her and her fabulous family. Her mom encouraged me to be more outgoing and less worried about peer pressure. Her dad was a strong, quiet, intelligent man who wasn't at all intimidating to talk to. Her younger brother got me started playing the guitar. Her youngest brother was an impressive pianist and smart as a whip. I even loved their dog. Of course I was a teenager, knew everything and my world mostly revolved around my newly discovered libido so it was only natural for Randi to, finally, break up with me. In retrospect I can describe the two following years as my 'Gothic Emo' period but those words, in that context, didn't exist at the time. Suffice to say that I wore a lot of black and was extremely depressed most of the time. I refer to those as the 'hard years', by which I mean, it was always hard and I never got to use it. I poured all my passion into my guitar (excepting only the occasional bit that went into a kleenex).
Fast forward forty-some-odd years and I was able to track Randi down on the web. She has fond memories of me because she went on to meet lots of guys who were way bigger jerks than me. So now we're old friends, meaning sometimes we bicker, other times we ignore one another but beneath it all is a secure, comfortable bond, built on love. Sort of like family would be in a perfect world, but that's another story.