New ways of doing old things

This weekend I decided to try and use different tools to perform my usual computer-based tasks.

Yesterday, I tried to do everything in Mac OS X (Leopard), and also tested out Thunderbird 3. I reckon I could live with a Mac as my only computer, and the only thing that bugged me was the speed (my Mac is somewhat ancient now). I especially liked iCal, and how it integrates perfectly with the Google calendars that map out my whole life, and I love the way OS X renders fonts and colours. Thunderbird 3 was a nice surprise, and I love the way it integrates with Gmail. Maybe I’ll consider switching back to Thunderbird the next time Evolution does something to annoy me.

Today I’ve been using the daily build of Chromium on my netbook. It’s seriously faster than Firefox, and I’m finding that I can do pretty much everything I need to do without a plethora of extensions. This might be one to keep I think.

I’m also having monitor envy. Or possibly screen resolution envy. I think I may be nearly ready to consider spending my day looking at something larger than a laptop screen.

A fairly morbid post

This morning I’ve been thinking about mortality, and about all the people I see and talk to (and all the people I don’t see and don’t talk to but still care about). If I knew that I only had one remaining conversation with each person, what would that conversation involve? What things have remained unsaid that should have been said years ago? What unfinished business needs to be resolved before it is too late?

The truth is, none of us know how long we’ve got. Maybe it’s time to start treating every conversation as the last one we might have with that person, because, eventually, one of them will be.

A week off work

This week I have been on leave. I’ve not really been anywhere, but have largely spent the week either at home, or out with family.

My plans for the week were to reinstall my laptop, get my hair cut off, and do something about de-cluttering the house. It’s now Thursday, and I’m well on track to get all of the above done (with only some of the clutter still outstanding). I’ve also eaten well, slept properly, and generally managed to avoid stress, impossible people, and other such things.

On a technical level. I’ve not done anything too productive, but have been playing around with Google Sites to see what sort of things it is capable of. So far I like the RSS features, but am not really seeing anything that would make me move away from WordPress in the near future.

I’m back to work on Monday, and am sort of looking forward to it. I think this probably makes me sad.

Reinstalling Ubuntu

This weekend I decided to reinstall my laptop. Largely because it’s been through two Ubuntu upgrades (8.10 –> 9.04 –> 9.10), and also because it was still on an ex3 file system and my netbook on ex4 is a lot snappier with less memory. I also wanted to reclaim the disk space previously used for Vista, which was largely going to waste.

My method for re-installation is as follows:

  1. Back up the whole of my home directory (including hidden files). In my case this was about 83Gb.
  2. Do a clean install of Ubuntu 9.10 from USB. This took under 10 minutes, which was a record for me.
  3. Do software updates and installation of anything outside the base install that I need (very little in my case). This required a reboot for a new kernel.
  4. Copy back the home directory, trying not to do anything else at the same time to avoid config files getting overwritten.
  5. Download and install dropbox.
  6. Log out, and log back in.

After an hour or so (of copying data) I found myself with an identical looking interface, but with a lot more extra space, a snappier feel, and no loss of data.

It probably took about 2 hours in total (of which 90% was copying data), and I didn’t have to do anything I’d regard as too scary for a non-technical user.

The move to Google Reader

For a good few years I’ve been using Livejournal as a feed reader, with the idea being that if I was reading what my friends were up to anyway, I might as well intersperse it with news and other things that interested me.

Fast forward a few years, and I realise that over 95% of what I get through LJ comprises of feeds from other websites. So this weekend I’ve been setting up my Google Reader account to pull in every single unauthenticated feed I currently view through LJ, as well as feeds of every website I visit at least once a day (including a few from Facebook which deserve a post of their own at some point due to the pain of getting them working). The theory is that I will be able to access most of what I want to read in one place, and that when I’m doing my daily trawl of interesting things I won’t get distracted by memes, games and other less educational content.

Of course, I have no intention of leaving LJ and Facebook behind (just yet). I’ll just be using them for their intended purpose rather than trying to shoehorn them into directions they were not meant to go.