20100309

I'm watching the movie Tombstone. It is one of the better westerns. Early in the show there's a cool quote from Johnny Ringo:

Curly Bill: Hay, Johnny. What did that Mexican mean - a sick horse was gonna get us, huh?
Johnny Ringo: He was quoting the Bible. Revelations. "Behold, the pale horse -- the man who sat on him was Death and Hell followed with him."

Later in the movie, Wyatt Earp becomes a federal marshal. He goes after the cowboy gang. He tells Ike Clanton:

Alright Clanton! You called down the thunder. Well now you got it. The cowboys are finished. Do you understand me? I see a red sash. I kill the man who's wearing it. So run, you Cur. Tell all the other curs the law's coming! You tell 'em I'm coming and Hell's coming with me!

I have a new laptop computer. You know what a winD'OH!s (Windows) biggot I am. I barely tolerate winD'OH!s. The problem is, hardware manufacturers develop for winD'OH!s. They tell Bill Gates and company what drivers need to be incorporated into winD'OH!s before the hardware is even released. That means the hackers of my favorite operating systems (noteably, FreeBSD) have to write open-source drivers for the same equipment and often with no clues from the hardware makers. Another way to say it is: New hardware isn't supported right away unless you run winD'OH!s.

Well, this computer was on sale at Costco. I figured it wasn't THAT cutting edge. When I turned it on for the first time I plopped a FreeBSD 7.2 installation disk into the drive before winD'OH!s began to boot. It installed just fine; but neither network interface device (wired and wireless) worked. As I write this I could have left FreeBSD on my machine and just updated the source code (using a USB drive) once the appropriate drivers became available. Anyhow, I searched Distrowatch.

I finally ended up with a Linux distribution called Mint Linux. It's kind of a prettied-up version of Ubuntu; but I couldn't get Ubuntu to even boot up on this computer. Further, the version of Mint that I selected has Fluxbox as it's default window manager. Fluxbox is cool. I like it a lot better than Gnome or KDE.

I'm not a real fan of Linux. It may be because when I want to do some sort of configuration I don't know where to go to do it. I tried to manually (on the command line) configure my wireless device. Actually, I wanted to check to see what channels were being broadcast by the wireless access points near my home in Safford. On FreeBSD I would exectute a command like "$ ifconfig ath0 scan". There doesn't seem to be anything like that on Linux. If there is, I can't find it. I shouldn't have to spend more than 15 minutes looking for it. That's just an example.

Another annoying thing: The audio divices don't generally run from the Linux kernel. They run from an application called Alsa. Alsa has a huge bunch of audio drivers. It runs well; but it doesn't run until somebody logs into a windowing manager. Indeed. There is no running multimedia from the command line. That's really not the most annoying part. Alsa comes up with all the mixer volumes turned down to zero. There may be a way to set them at some given level when the program loads. Again: Steep learning curve. I tried some command line tools for setting the mixer settings upon my login. That would be fine if audio support was run from the kernel! Alsa loads after all my login scripts run. Ugh!

There is a feature that I am certain I would never incorporate in my own personally set up environment; but it sometimes catches my eye. Every time I open a terminal window a program called "furtune" runs. It runs inside another application called "cowsay." Here is a sample:

neshort@carmen ~ $ fortune
Q:      Why do people who live near Niagara Falls have flat foreheads?
A:      Because every morning they wake up thinking "What *is* that noise?
        Oh, right, *of course*!
neshort@carmen ~ $ cowsay blah
 ______
< blah >
 ------
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||
neshort@carmen ~ $ cowsay `fortune`
 _______________________________________
/ Q: What's tiny and yellow and very,   \
| very, dangerous? A: A canary with the |
\ super-user password.                  /
 ---------------------------------------
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

The standard login runs fortune inside of the cowsay app. I usually ignore it. Sometimes, however, the fortune is kind of interesting.


 _________________________________________
( Delores breezed along the surface of    )
( her life like a flat stone forever      )
( skipping along smooth water, rippling   )
( reality sporadically but oblivious to   )
( it consistently, until she finally lost )
( momentum, sank, and due to an overdose  )
( of flouride as a child which caused her )
( to suffer from chronic apathy, doomed   )
( herself to lie forever on the floor of  )
( her life as useless as an appendix and  )
( as lonely as a five-hundred pound       )
( barbell in a steroid-free fitness       )
( center.                                 )
(                                         )
( -- Winning sentence, 1990 Bulwer-Lytton )
( bad fiction contest.                    )
 -----------------------------------------
   o
    o
        .--.
       |o_o |
       |:_/ |
      //   \ \
     (|     | )
    /'\_   _/`\
    \___)=(___/


It gives me an idea for some curriculum I am roped into writing for a new highschool level course we are going to call Discrete Math. There's more in the course than discrete math. It's bloating into a monster; but I digress.

This little computer comes with a builtin camera. I haven't thought about how I plan to use it; but here's a snap from it. I pulled off my glasses since the computer screen was glaring in them. I didn't even sort-of think about the lighting. I have a reading light on right above my head in this picture.

Well, I need to wrap this thing up and hit the sack. I have an early start tomorrow. The students are gettng restless and hostile. There is less than two weeks to go before quarterly grades. Suddenly, students who have been loafing all quarter are wanting to sprint to get their homework done (a la: The Tortoise and the Hare).

One student asked me if she could take home my teacher's edition math book so she could use it to do her make-up work. I said, "no." and she said, "WHY!?" Good grief.