Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, February 12, 2010

  Rebooting for 2010

Computationally, I've limping along, flying on the shreds of one wing. My quad core box died in August, my laptop died in December, and I killed Pocobelle back in November.

The quad-core? Dead beyond repair. I tried replacing the fan, the cpu, and the memory. Pocobelle requires some finicky jtag work to repair and was at the end of it's useful life anyway, so I replaced it with an open-rd box.

And, rather than fix the laptop, I ended up building a new machine (specific to a project I can't talk about), in x86 mode. "Buddy" is a nice machine, a dual core atom, and the zotac nvidia graphics interface is amazingly fast, even with driving two screens. I don't miss my old power sucking quad core box, except when compiling kernels and ardour. I should have made buddy be x86_64, however, so I could just clone the laptop...

Back in august, I switched over to using emacs for chat, email, news. I took major steps to try and integrate chat, in particular, into emacs - using bitlebee and znc to integrate skype, irc, and jabber into one interface. It worked great!

I do the majority of my writing and coding in emacs, already, so I ended up with two fullscreen windows that used every pixel I had available, sparingly.

I wasn't done, in particular I started working on some new blogging software and got stuck on it, and the machine I was developing it on, pocobelle, died also, and the memory stick it ran on is around here... Somewhere...

It took a LOT of work to setup all that I haven't replicated on the new box. It would have been easy had I stuck with x86_64 mode instead of reverting to x86. Instead I switched to using the new thunderbird for mail, dropped netnews entirely, and went back to pidgin for chat, because it was easier to set those up quickly. And went from the keyboard driven window manager I like, back to gnome. A major mistake, I'm thinking all that was, but I did get a chance to try some new tools.

Thunderbird 3 is awesome, in particular the tabbed searching facility is to die for. But I haven't got around to sorting my mailboxes with the same level of filtering I had with emacs. Due to switching to using imap for the email backend, I'm not sure how hard it's going to be to use emacs for mail again, and I'd rather like to keep thunderbird around as an option.

I HATE the gnome window manager. It's so dumbed down as to make me feel like Harrison Bergeron.

Pidgin is good but...

The thing is, I can feel the productivity seeping out of me every time I switch from one glossy white (web,chat,news) window to another. I feel far less productive minute by minute, hour by hour, by using these tools not integrated into my main editing interface. My personal, searchable database of everything I do was all living in emacs, and it was letting me manage far more "stuff" than I can without these tools integrated.

Sigh. So I kind of need to reboot my life - repairing the dead laptop, resurrecting pocobelle, getting a new desk made, laying out all the stuff that needs repair or upgrades on a workbench...
and some time all by myself to methodically go through it all.

Facebook has finally adopted a standards based chat system, built around XMPP. That's one timesump I can just move to being chat. There's also a fix for yahoo out there in bitlbee. My first attempt at integrating the yahoo and otr patches into bitlebee did not go well, I hope someone else has fixed it.

I built out my email systems using digital certificates. They are about to expire and the cert I had for the website to un-expire them is on the dead laptop....

Hopefully I'll find the time this month to rebuild my environment to where I feel productive again. What I really want to be able to do is wake up, and sit down, and work, without having to reboot my world every time I get up. Solving THAT problem is going to require I get a solar/battery/inverter system so that I can keep the core systems powered up, and/or that I simplify my environment a lot more... need money for the inverter system...

Maybe I can outsource some of the backlog. Need money for that. Guess I need to work some, first.

While all that stuff was going backwards I did make major forward progress with "jaco", the open-rd replacement for pocobelle. It's a darn nice box.

At one point I had high hopes I could actually use jaco for a desktop replacement. At 11 watts, it eats ~1/4th the power of the atom, and runs emacs just fine. Given that my display eats 20watts, I could halve my power consumption and double run time on battery. (Lest you think this is an obscure requirement, I frequently undergo day long power failures, and running the generator for long periods is both annoying and expensive, and my existing UPS lasts about 3 hours on the atom)

The video driver, however, is so horribly slow that I just can't stand using it as a desktop.

Jaco is great for everything else though. I have it running zoneminder, in particular, as part of my home security system, in addition to it being primary DNS, squid cache, web server, bittorrent client, ipv6 gateway, mesh networking, email/imap, znc, jabber server, music and I forget what else.

I have had so much fun developing stuff to work on the open-rd that I've been afraid to turn it to the production use I'd planned for it, namely replacing my router/firewall. I guess I need to get another one, or wait for the new "guruplug"s to arrive.

First up this morning - make an outline of everything I need to do this month. Importantly, this has to include revenue generating stuff, as I burned myself out back in December and need to get on the stick, but also importantly it has to get me to where I can "wake up and work"....

Second up this morning - fix the !@#@! Laptop. To do that, I need to find the pesky little screws for a new DVD drive, and burn a new cd, and that new DVD drive is going into the box I'm typing this on so I guess I'll have to power off in a sec before I can develop more of an outl

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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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