Sunday, June 29, 2008
On the Rainslick: AUR package. You're Welcome.
I made another submission to the AUR today. This time it was my newly found game "On the Rainslick: The Precipice of Darkness". I'm quite proud of it, personally. You can go check it out, if you want. I mean, I'm not pushing you to, or anything. You don't have to.

But you should.
Friday, June 27, 2008
My (adopted) AUR packages
I decided after reading this Arch Linux thread to adopt a package or two from the AUR. I decided to do this because I wanted so badly to be able to give back to the Linux community. What better way to do this than to maintain packages?

After perusing the AUR for a little bit, I noticed that gtim and config (which is a python module required by gtim) were orphaned. This was great news for me. Two packages that I use/need in my work environment just sitting out in the open, begging to be maintained. I quickly snatched these up. Right away I remembered that the config PKGBUILD was a bit unfinished. After upgrading the version to the latest and adding the arch= flag, I re-uploaded the .tar.gz file. Bam. The package was automatically upgraded.

gtim didn't need anything done to it, really. I just selected that I'd like to maintain the file. I'll be ready if a new version ever comes around. Edit: Correction. There were a few things that needed to be corrected in the PKGBUILD. Thanks to pkgman, this took less than one minute.

I thought, "Wow... that was a bit... easy." I was really hoping for more of a challenge. What better way to test my skills than to submit my OWN PKGBUILD not already existing in AUR? I noticed that gbatt, a nice python tool for checking battery status was not yet submitted. I personally didn't use the program before, but now I will. This nifty little guy is perfect for my Openbox tray on my laptop. After a bit of reading up and learning, I was ready to submit my PKGBUILD. Stythys in the #archlinux IRC channel pointed me to pkgman and suggested its use for automation of the creation and submission of AUR packages. Thanks again, Stythys.

You can check out packages maintained by Factory (me) here. Feel free to yell at/degrade me for sloppy PKGBUILD techniques. I'm still new and love to learn about this stuff.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
HIIT Followup, LXDE, idesk
Remember when I said I'd created an mp3 to play while doing HIIT exercises? Turns out that was a DEFINITE good idea. It's much much easier than looking at your watch frantically while trying to run full speed. I created my mp3 in audacity, a free, open source audio editor/recorder. I "mixed" two songs by Aponaut together (I say mixed with quotes because I am by no standards a DJ), and then just imported an easy-to-listen-to beep sound that I found on FindSounds. You can get the file here for free, since Aponaut made their music freely available on the net a long time ago.

I also installed LXDE just to give it a try. I was inspired by gcarrier's post in relation to lxnm. I really like how the whole DE is modular, in that you can mix-and-match programs to your liking. It's also pretty cool that these guys created a good amount of their own software to better suit the needs of the DE. I'm not the biggest fan of pcmanfm, though. I'm much more interested in Thunar. However, this takes away the ability to have a desktop background + icons. I would use nitrogen (or feh) + idesk for this solution.

And this thought led me to try out idesk for the first time. Let me tell you first and foremost that I LOVE aur. I found a nice easy gui tool that creates the icon for you (idesk-extras). Nifty difty. I'm thinking about installing idesk on my step mother's computer just to see if this eases her annoyances.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
My Friend's Aleutia + Arch article
While I wait for this mp3 player to charge, I'll post a link to my friend's wiki article about setting up Arch on the Aleutia. He put a decent amount of time into it, so give it a read-through. It might convince you to pick up one of these dinky lil' guys.
Installing Archlinux on Aleutia E2
Spring, Precipice, HIIT, and mpd stuffs
Before I go out for my run this evening, I'll tell you what I blew away a good couple of hours on my day off with: Attempting to get Spring and SpringLobby to work correctly in Arch. Everything would have gone smoothly had the aur pkgbuild made the appropriate directories in my home directory, but nooooo. I also had to copy over files from the official website as described in steps here. Big thanks to everyone in IRC who helped me figure stuff out (mostly a guy by the name of BrainDamage... Go figure).

Anywho, this game looks potentially fun. I plan on bringing it up in future LANs or next year in the dormitory.

Also, no I haven't bought the key for PoD yet. I will, though. Maybe tonight, even. We shall see. Right now, though, I just finished putting together a 17+ minute long mp3 for HIIT stuff, so it's now time to go test that baby out.

Also also, my future roommate is warming up to the idea of using mpd on the file server to play music and control it remotely. This is mostly because I sent him a HUGE list of clients that are available for mpd. I must admit, I was fairly surprised myself, as I mostly stick to ncmpc and Sonata.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
On the Rainslick: PoD. Yes, my children, there is a Linux version.
If you haven't already, give the game from the Penny Arcade guys a try. I just played through their demo and it's pretty fun. I'm considering buying the key needed for the full version for 20 dollars. There is, after all, a Linux version, and I'd like to support the idea of cross-platform gaming.

The only thing stopping me from buying is I'm wondering if the key can be used multiple times. I do have a few computers and I wouldn't mind installing it more than once.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Sweet Neptune's Ghost!
I got wireless setup at a family friend's house. FINALLY. I come here (to their house) every once in a while to watch after their kid while they have work, and I usually bring my laptop. I would normally leech off the neighbor's 10% signal, and that was getting old fast. They were originally using just a straight connection from Modem to Desktop. I noticed, though, that they had a Netgear router lying next to the computer, completely untouched and packaged in original store packaging. "Hmm..." I thought, "A wonderful opportunity to help both them and myself out at the same time. Excellent!"

So it's done. I'm getting about a 60% signal one floor up from the router which really isn't that bad when you consider I'm running my wireless with ndiswrapper. Now I'll just have to help them out with setting up their computer on the third floor. They plan on running a wire all the way up through their house. Whatever the case, I'll be helping them out with that, too.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008
Google's Services or Why I <3 Google
There are an unbelievable amount of Google services out there, ranging from note-taking, to word processing, to email, to photo collecting, to instant messaging and even social networking. It seems that Google is becoming (or is) a very viable Web-Based Operating System.

Alright, you Technical Tommys. Google isn't really an OS, but it has most of the programs available online (for free) that most people use on a day-to-day basis. Heck, even Walmart was selling (still is?) the super cheap computers running gOS based mostly on web apps.

Ugh... I just went to that site after the longest time... an operating system aimed at MySpace users? Ugh... ugh...

This post isn't about gOS or the fact that it got really cheesed up since I've last seen it and now looks a LOT like Mac OS X. So let's get back on track.

I personally used Google Docs like a mad man during my first two college semesters. I probably will use it again when the next semester kicks off. After I started to use Docs, I had virtually no use for my USB drives. They became backup slaves just in case Google dropped off the face of the earth. All of the computers on campus that I used had internet access, so I had to spend minimal time using Microsoft Word. I did, however, still need to make use of a word processor in order to format the page to my liking. Perhaps I was too lazy or just overlooked some great feature used by Docs for formatting. I'll look into that.

Google Calendar also came in handy more than once during the semester. I could schedule classes, appointments, and anything else I needed to remember. The day of, I could have a text message sent to me 15 minutes (or any amount of time, depending on how much time I needed) before the even happened. I, of course, would always check Google Calendar in the morning to see if anything needed to be done that day, but the reminder via text message was crucial sometimes and saved my skin more than once.

I never got into taking notes with Google Notebook mostly because I wasn't always fortunate enough to be able to get onto my Uni's wireless signal in class (or at all, for that matter... damn you, Broadcom). They've said this will change next year, as they're adding many more hotspots around campus, so fingers crossed. The interface for Google Notebook is very intuitive for in-class notes.

I'm not sure what's scaring me away from using it as my primary source for storing notes, though. It would be almost useless to me for Math notes as I require plenty of space to let my mind organize itself (or explode) on paper rather than line-by-line word processing. However, for classes that deal with historical facts, famous research information, or for anything else that can be easily dictated, this service would be ultra useful. We shall see, though. I'm still waiting on Google to allow for colored section headers and linking between notes.

I'll cut it short here. This is already a long enough post.
Friday, June 13, 2008
gtim: The result of way too much searching
I've finally found an app to display the time and date in the dock of Openbox. I know, it seems silly that I haven't been able to find one after all this time. However, if you know me at all, you know that I'm very fussy about my apps. If they don't behave just so, I won't use them.

gtim does exactly what I want it to do: display the time in plain text in my Openbox dock. Nothing more, nothing less. I edited the .py file a tad so that it'd show the date in a nice fasion, too.

Right clicking produces this little menu. Nifty difty.

And for the sake of showing off that I managed to match colors, here's a full screenshot of gtim in action:

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Mmmmm... Smooth, Easy Guild Wars
Planning on selling ALL of my old gameboy games (original, color) to Game Stop, I packed my 2 old gameboy colors, screen magnifier, and cartridges into a plastic bag. After a quick drive to Game Stop, I found myself prepared to sell the toys of my childhood for cold, hard cash. Whoops... I meant store credit.

To my dismay, Game Stop no longer buys GB cartridges. They stopped back in April, so I missed the boat by a little more than a month. Damn.

I did end up selling a single GBA game I wasn't playing, though. I don't remember the exact title, but it was some Kirby game. I got 10 bucks of in-store Game Stop credit. "Oh great," I thought, "Like I'm ever going to use th--." And there it was: Guild Wars: Eye of the North on sale for 15 bucks. FIFTEEN DOLLARS. Just so you're with me, I'm looking at a purchase of one of my favorite games of all time for a lump sum of five dollars out of my pocket. Sweet.

This would be the perfect opportunity for me to 1.)reformat, 2.) reinstall Windows on a small partition, and 3.) reinstall Arch with LVM. I bought the game, went home, and began the fun. After a few annoying stumbling blocks, I was happily downloading the updates for Guild Wars. In Windows.

Now I'm torn. I feel a sense of guilt for advocating Linux while keeping Windows installed on my system. Oh well... at least Guild Wars is running at a smooth 60 fps with all of the settings turned up. Delicious.

As a side note, Saga doesn't even work in Windows. It crashes directly after the patcher. Now I don't feel so bad... Afterall, I got further with Wine + Linux.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Update on the Koala Mini
Hey guys, just an update about the Koala. Remember when I said I'd email the System76 dudes? Well... uh... I did. Here's their answer:

Thank you for your interest in System76.

Power consumption estimates for the Koala are as follows:

active 46.1 W
idle 23.4 W
shut down 2.9 W

Best Regards,
Tom Aaron
System 76 Technical Support
720-226-9269 x603

Sweet. This might be doable in the near future.

PS., if you haven't noticed, I say things like that all the time in order to procrastinate.
Kernel Compilation: My first step into Linux manhood?
I guess I could have entitled this post "Am I cool yet?"

Just a few nights ago, I compiled my own kernel. Apart from screwing with the way fstab is setup, I had zero problems. The problem, which isn't really a problem, per se, was my newly compiled kernel wasn't picking up on my harddrives like the default kernel compile was. In other words, the hard drives weren't arranged in the same sda1, sda2 order. I don't know what order they were in, because I didn't bother to check. I just reformatted my fstab by setting it up to mount the drives via their UUID (now done by default with the 2008 Arch discs).

I must say, the whole process was very straight forward. I don't think I did too much in the way of "customization," but I turned some stuff off and some other stuff on. In the end, I really just wanted to be able to compile my own kernel for the first time. Feels good.

Now that I know I can do that, it's time to learn what happens during boot times. I know the basics; I know something is done with the initramfs image and the kernel image, then the modules are loaded, then the network is started, then the daemons, blah blah blah. However, I'd like to know more about the first bit: What the heck is the role of the init image? This can be learned easily, I know, by a simple wiki search. This will be done in the very near future.

First thing's first, though: repartitioning and reinstalling. I need, no, WANT, to have my Linux partitions arranged in an LVM. After messing around with an LVM system (a few, actually) in virtual box and on a test machine, their benefits far outweigh the trouble it takes to set them up (which is almost non existent). I'd also like to have a spare 20GB or less set aside for a Windows environment. Hold onto your pants. I'll explain: Next year, my friend (the aleutia kid) and I plan on rooming together. Since he's only going to have a low powered pc (which will only run Linux, I assume), I need to have an environment setup so we can play through a single player game every once in a while. If you say you don't sit down and cooperatively play through a single player game with a friend once in a while, I'll know you're lying.

That's all for now, I think. This post kind-of went off the Topic sentence. Oh well. My college professor of Writing Comp. would say I just took you, the reader(s), on a journey through my thought process. I hope you kept your hands and feet inside the car at all times.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Lil' dinky guys
My friend recently purchased an E2 from Aleutia. He's on a whole environmentalist kick (not that he wasn't before), so the fact that this baby weighs in at only 8 watts meant that this was right up his alley. The price is affordable, too. If you don't feel like doing the math, Google says the price of £199 comes out to be (roughly) $392.01. Not too shabby if you're concerned about your waste output.

He installed Arch on it (of course) and, with very little fiddling, got things working nicely. He even has Gnome running on it nicely. Obviously there was some noticeable slow-down when messing with themes or heavily graphical tasks due to the underpowered hardware, but still.

This machine reminded me of something I saw from System76: The Koala Mini. It may not be as low wattage as the Aleutia E2, but it's still rockin' the miniature look. I emailed their staff about how much power would be consumed, so hopefully I get a response soon. Supposedly their tech support is REALLY nice, so I'm sure I'll be answered promptly.

If I didn't love Arch, I'd buy all of my laptops from the System76 guys.

Actually, I probably still could. However, I already have a laptop. I'll just point my friends in their direction in the future.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Vidya Gamin' (or at least trying to)
As the summer slowly begins, I find myself in the position of having some amount of free time on my hands. Granted I work WAY more than I used to, but even so, spare times comes about once in a while. During this time, I'd usually entertain myself with some crappy Korean Grind game for a few hours and then go to bed. However, now that I've switched to Linux, a fair amount of these games have been closed off from my reach, mostly because of the GameGuard utility that so many MMOs make use of these days. Therefor, I must now fill this void with searches for games that run in Wine.

I tried for a very long time the other day to get Saga of Ryzom working. However, the installer utility didn't seem to connect to its intended server. I tried this in a vbox instance of XP and it still didn't go through. I didn't try natively, though. It would be nice to poke my head into Ryzom's world after so much time has passed since my first play with it. Wow... I think Ryzom was actually the first MMORPG I'd ever tried. Ever. That's quite a few years ago.

I then tried Saga (hur hur, yes, the two names are similar). I still haven't gotten to actually play this one yet, either, as the patcher doesn't seem to work correctly, even after acquiring the correct dll (MSVBVM60.DLL). It, like the Ryzom installer, just appears to hang after being started, never connecting to a server. I will attempt to manually patch that right after this post.

If I DID get Saga working, though... oh man... I think I would be playing that one for a while. I need to work on my RTS gaming ability.

Speaking of Wine, the program is at rc4 for it's first "stable" release. I wonder how far they are from the full release and what this will mean for the project. The program is far from perfect, but it has made great progress in time I've been watching it. Perhaps some day we will see certain programs running 100 percent as well as they do on Windows under Linux.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Goodbye pypanel, Hello stalonetray
I've been messing around with my interface lately after being ridiculed for having two clocks on my computer; For a while I had a nice large time display in conky and also in pypanel. One of them had to leave. Simply put, the app that lost out was pypanel. pypanel was a convenience for a while, but it was an eyesore as well as a waste of space.

A waste of space... it was only 16 pixels... something is wrong with me.

Anyhow, stalonetray is now my new friend, sitting comfortably in the Openbox dock at the bottom of my screen. I can middle click the mouse on the desktop to switch to minimized windows. This really allows for a much cleaner/nicer looking environment, if you ask me. Here's what my laptop looks like now:

And the Desktop:

Yes, I have problems with colors sometimes, so forgive me if you think the Openbox Theme doesn't mesh well with the background; I'm working on my decorative skills :).

And yes, that is Pokemon you see.

Let it be known that my step mother is still dealing with Linux. I haven't had the time to reinstall Windows, so she's been sitting on the same setup for some time now. I'm hoping that it grows on her after some time, but if it doesn't, I will do my duty and install whatever she wants.

Lastly, am I the only one not using /home/username as their blog name? How did I not think of this before getting Semidigerati?

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