Thursday, June 21, 2018

Back to Solus

So I had mentioned in my previous post that I was back on linux.  My reason for LEAVING linux was actually quite sudden:  it stopped working.

Ha!  When I say it like that it sounds like linux has a problem but it did not, I did.  In an effort to always improve performance with my motherboard/CPU combination, I upgraded my BIOS to the most recent rev.  As soon as I did that linux started crashing on boot.

Now, I realized it was my BIOS update that caused the issue, and I tried to figure out what to do with it, including backing out to an older version of the BIOS... but then I would be losing performance enhancements that were specifically made for the CPU I am running.

So instead of losing that I went to Windows.  Heh, unfortunately for me, around the same time I became very disappointed in the frequency the bad capacitor in my monitor caused it to start flashing on and off.  So... I bought a new monitor.

Thing is, this new monitor looked HORRIBLE with Windows 10 font rendering.  The only thing that would fix it was to install an obscure program written in China (with much of the text not translated) that enabled Mac OS X-like font rendering on Windows.  But even that did not apply across all applications.

Sooooooo...  I worked HARDER to figure out why linux would not boot and found a flag I could set in my BIOS that enabled linux to continue past that crash-point during boot.  And here I am back on Solus, which is really the best distro of linux out there.  :)  Yeah I am biased I guess.  And oh... my fonts render beautifully, thank you very much.

PS - When I was troubleshooting the font rendering I first went to Samsung, they told me it was Windows problem.  I went to Windows and opened a case, they told me it was Samsung's problem... so yeah...

Back to Linux and a book review...

My journey has once again led back to linux.  I just cannot seem to escape it.  And that is fine.  Back on Solus and feeling calm about it.

Now onto my semi-review of an interesting book.

First, if you have read any of my blog (and let's face it, very few people have) you know I am a "conservative Christian" type of person, for the most part.  I have very strong feelings about some things, and not so strong feelings about others.  For example I am strongly opposed to the very idea of abortion.  I am also a software engineer, a father, a husband and love anything sci-fi and steam punk.

I may also seem to have an aversion toward science based on some of my other posts, but that is not the case at all.  I have an aversion to what I consider to be BAD science.  Science is somewhat in my blood as both of my parents were biologists, I am drawn to archeology, paleontology, linguistics, etc.  So it was no shock when my son bought me a new book for Father's day!

My son knows my love for all things ancient, including ancient life.  I have been CRAZY about ancient life since before I was in kindergarten.  With that thought in mind he bought me a book written by paleontologist Steve Brusatte entitled "The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs; A New History of a Lost World."

I was thrilled and set right out to read it!  Unfortunately my thrill ebbed and waned rather quickly as I read.  Don't get me wrong, I think the book is good, and it deserves to be read, especially if you are fan boy of paleontology like myself, but I have problems with it.  One of the problems I have is that while the book seems to claim it is novel and a slight rewrite of what we previously understood about early dinosaur development (at least in the early chapters) it really did not tell me anything I did not already know.  Furthermore, the author took some pot-shots at other paleontologists that were not only unnecessary, but not 100% accurate.

Disclaimer, when I was a kid, Ostrom was "the" paleontologist...  so that gives you an idea of my age.  Bakker was his young upstart who took something more than hinted at by Ostrom and ran with it.  I have no particular fondness of all the ideas Bakker has written about, but I do appreciate his enthusiasm (just as I appreciate Brusatte's obvious and unbridled enthusiasm) for his field.  That being said, at one point Brusatte makes the claim (somewhere around page 70-78 in the hard cover of his book) that Bakker "preached" about dinosaurs like they were the destined inheritors of the Earth when they appeared in the Triassic.  He went on to say he "felt uneasy" with Bakker's statements and ideas and was not surprised that he came off so "preachy" because he was also a part-time minister of some Christian faith.

He then went on to claim that Brusatte and his colleagues would go on to perform analysis that showed that dinosaurs were not dominant in the Triassic at all... but that IS NOT NEW.  WE ALREADY KNEW THAT decades ago.  It reminds me of the new Computer Scientists of this age taking hold of something Software Engineers did in the 70's or 80's, putting a name to it, and claiming it as their own idea; selling books, trademarking words, etc.  Kind of makes me feel a little queasy.

I have read Bakker's works, I have read works he collaborated on and advised on.  NEVER did Bakker intimate that dinosaurs of the Triassic were the obvious world conquerors to be.  What Bakker DID espouse was that dinosaurs must have had some inherent advantage over the other reptiles of the Triassic that allowed them to survive and thrive when disaster struck in the late Triassic.  That, by the way is CLASSIC Darwinism (which I do not necessarily hold to).  Makes sense yes?  Dinosaurs must have survived because during their Triassic development, they evolved some advantage.

For Brusatte to say that Bakker was "preachy" about dinosaurs being a God-send to the animal kingdom (my words) is over the top.  Bakker was passionate about dinosaurs and had many theories of WHY they had advantages over other land reptiles, amphibians and mammals of the Triassic that included growth rates, air sacs, warm-bloodedness, etc.  One thing I do not remember Bakker ever doing was putting down the work of other paleontologists because he was "uneasy" with their ideas.  No, if he thought they were wrong he simply set out to prove it and provide data that would support his claims.  Nor did he ever claim HIS ideas were out-of-the-blue new!  He clearly stated his work was not only based on Ostrom, but also on some of the old-time paleontologists who had the common sense to see that if an animal LOOKS active and dynamic, it probably was.

Anyway, I should stop here.  I have more to read and I plan on finishing the book over tomorrow, after we go see Jurassic World...

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Rover and life on Mars

OK.  The pop media is at it again.

"Scientists find evidence for life on Mars!!"

No.  No they did not.  They found EVIDENCE for some of the COMPOUNDS that are used by living things.  BIG difference.  And, theoretically, wherever you find the right ingredients you could find those compounds.

I am not a proponent that there is life anywhere else out there, despite the vastness of space.  I am not saying it is not possible, but I do not think it is probable.  If someone can show me that life exists out there, then I will say "Wow!  That's awesome!"  But if you understand how unlikely it is for US to even be here (really, we shouldn't be) you would understand that this is pretty much a fantasy.

Someone might argue with me saying "well you believe in God and you can't see Him!"  We have much better evidence of a creator than we do of life in the universe.  I am not going into that here though.  Check out some of the work done by the scientists at "Reasons to Believe".

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Latest Windows 10

Because I like to change things up I had been using Solus linux over the past few months.  But as all roads eventually lead to change I shifted back to Windows 10.

I am running the Spring creators build, or whatever it is called these days.  I just call it Windows 10 Pro.  Microsoft has been steadily tweaking the interface and the attributes of Windows at a fairly regular pace.  Slowly but surely the interface (GUI) is improving so that the newer flat windows have become more attractive, font handling better, and the old elements are slowly fading away.

A recent edition I appreciate is the Microsoft gaming interface.  It now includes screen recording and wow... it isn't bad!  I'd say the quality is at least as good as that I achieve with Bandicam, but there are still some short comings.  For example with the games I play it often interrupts games after I stop recording to show me what it has been doing.  Yay.  I want to be able to play my games non-stop without interruption and start/stop recording at will.

I am sure it will improve with time.  For now I just may stick with Bandicam.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

This adding a little eye candy... linux info and keyboard.

Friday, March 9, 2018

New Keyboard and still on Solus

Been sticking with Solus operating system (linux).  The version is up to 3.99, alllllmooostt 4!  It should be incremental and likely not very noticeable.  I believe snap will be a bigger part of the store and open additional possibilities to grab software from other repos.

The only other thing regarding Solus is that they do plan on shifting their UI code base from GTK+ to Qt+ at some point.  I believe the work has already begun.

Keyboard... I love mechanical keyboards!  I have been using an alps-like switch keyboard from Matias for awhile now.  The only problem is you cannot find backlit keys for these switches...  and my room is always so dark it is impossible to see the keys.  I can generally type without looking but sometimes I get shifted and then have a hard time resetting.  With a backlit keyboard that takes a half second and I am back on track.

So... I decided to purchase another Pok3r.  Normally I purchase mechanicals that have the Cherry Brown keys, but this time I decided to try something different.  I have heard a lot of good things about the Cherry RED keys that I went with that.

So far so good.  They  are quieter than the browns, and are linear (smooth stroke from start to finish, no catch to indicate activation).  They have about the same spring rating so the keys to have a bit of firmness to them which I like.  I am often a bottom out typist, even with the browns or alps, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference to me in how it has affected my typing speed (which was always abysmal anyway).

I purchased the Pok3r LE which is like the normal Pok3r but MUCH heavier and more solidly built.  Honestly I could use it as a deadly weapon it is so stiff and heavy.  The more robust packaging does cost a little extra.  Most people would probably be better off with a regular Pok3r... The LE also comes with PBT keycaps as opposed to ABS.

I don't know if most people care about the keycaps...  PBT is stiffer and heavier than ABS.  PBT also retains more color over time and does not wear as quickly.  Over time you might notice your ABS keycaps develop a shine (from your fingers smacking/rubbing them constantly).  Because PBT is heavier, it has a slightly deeper tone to it as you type (especially when you bottom out).

I BELIEVE the keycaps are also double shot and PBT for the Pok3r, which also adds to the cost.

Either way, so far it FEELS like it is worth the money and it is barely the tiniest bit louder than my matias quiet click keyboard it is replacing, and it feels pretty good to type on.

Tactile switches (like the Matias alps or Cherry browns) are generally better for typing, while linear switches are generally better for gaming.  Tactile switches often come with a sound indicator... they are called "clicky".  Cherry makes another type of switch called the Cherry Blue which is tactile AND noisy (on purpose).  This click is an audible version of the tactile part of the key press.  Many pure typists like that.

So now, at home, I am using my Cherry Red keys and at work my Cherry Browns.  In storage I have a Cherry Blue and a Matias Alp/quiet keyboard.  I like both of them, especially the Matias, and while the Cherry Blue keyboard has backlighting, the clicky sounds actually drive me a little bonkers.

That's it for now!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Continuing foray back into the linux world: Solus

So Elementary OS was fine!  Gorgeous linux.  I wanted something a little different.

Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu, all well and good as Ubuntu does excellent work to put out a version of linux that everyone can use, everyday.

So after I got ElementaryOS working juuuuuuuuust the way I wanted it to work, I scrapped it and installed Solus.

Solus is an equally pretty OS, very nice to look at and the UI is somewhat configurable/theme-able based on Gnome/GTK3+...  But Solus is not otherwise based on an existing distribution.  It is a hand-crafted linux ( that has its strong and weak points as almost any linux does.

Strong points:
1. hand crafted with love
2. attractive
3. low resource usage
4. rolling updates
5. nothing set in stone

Weak points:
1. nothing set in stone
2. uses its own packaging system
3. limited applications/libraries in software store/repositories

Solus supports multiple UIs, including Mate, Cinnamon, etc.  I chose the home-crafted UI called Budgie.  It is pretty much gnome compatible (based on GTK3+).  I have read that in the future (next year?) it will be converted to QT (of KDE underpinnings fame).  That could have some serious "native" application repercussions, it will be interesting to see how it is handled.

To date I have been able to get my computer back to where I can do everything I want to do, email (though I preferred ElementaryOS's homegrown email application over Thunderbird), browsing, gaming (Star Stable Online and Diablo 3, plus native linux games on Steam), coding (some nice syntax editors available), and office-work (excel, word, etc.).

That is pretty much all I *need* to do on this computer and I am able to do it.

It has been pretty stable, except for one update that hosed my task bar a little, but that was very easy to fix.

INSTALLING Solus gave me a bit of a headache, but in the end it turned out that it was my fault for a lack of observance.  Once I looked CLOSELY at the installation application I figured out what I was doing wrong and remedied the situation.  Also, the fancy automated disk took isn't half bad... and I was able to mount my extra disks and shove my documents, and other large data folders off onto other drives, create a gaming drive, etc.

One weird thing, the choices of disk format support that comes with Solus was different from Elementary OS and is likely very different from Ubuntu.  It was a little annoying to not have the FULL RANGE of file system types to choose from when initializing my drives.  Like... why ReiserFS (3) and not Reiser4?  Why not XFS?  I don't NEED those and, in fact in the case of some Steam games cannot USE those file systems because of their addressing, so I just ended up using venerable ext4 for everything.  It works.  I would like to have tried btrfs though...