Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Due to Illness, the part of CJ will be played by...

... YOU! 


Looks as though I've caught the nasty virus Jillian had, meaning I'm going to be bedridden for the next few days.  This is going to cut into my blogging and forum-trolling time, as well as push back the release of the inaugural episode of my podcast a week.  It'll probably affect my day job too, but that's largely unimportant to the proceedings.

Just like any good daily soap opera (is there such a thing?), the show must go on... so I am currently looking for "guest stars", an ersatz CJ or two.  Or three.  Or eight.  Special preference given to local Winnipeg bloggers, but Hell, I'll take anybody if the submission is somewhat close to adequate!

If you're interested in filling in here on Conceit & Sociopathy, please email me your submissions (remove the gutteral scream to reply) with the following info:

1. Your name (or alias)
2. Your blog or website address, if applicable(I'll link to both at the beginning of each post)
3. Your submission(s), complete with text, pictures, etc.

That's pretty much it, really.  You can pretend to be me, you can pretend to be yourself, you can write about the same kind of crap I write, or you could do something out of character for this blog and write something intelligent.  Write once, or even a few times for the next week or so.  Either way, I'll read all submissions.

The only real guidelines I have are:

1. Keep the language (and content) fairly clean.  I don't mind a bit of vulgarity, but let's not go overboard.

2. Don't attack others, unless it's in obvious jest.  Self-depreciation is encouraged to an extent.

3. Make some attempt at humour.

4. Take it easy on the formatted text or HTML.  Try to submit articles in plain text when possible.

All submissions will remain your own, free to be posted wherever and whenever you see fit.

There's no set deadline, so keep 'em rolling in until I post here saying to stop... or you receive a friendly Cease and Desist from the C&S legal team.

As far as remuneration is concerned, I'm broke!  After all, we have a wedding to pay for!  All I can offer you is the reassurance that any works appearing here will be read by at least a dozen people a day! 

...and I'll buy the best couple of writers a beer or two.

Now if you'll excuse me, my sinuses are killing me, and I need to lie down.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Stewardship Part Two

Well, I did find a use for the VNC server on Cinq, my Sun Ultra 5... to serve as a companion to Nadia.

One complaint I have about using my Powerbook Lombard is the lack of a current web browser for Mac OS X 10.9.3. Sure, I can function quite nicely on the modern web, but every so often, a site comes along that just buggers it all up... Blogger's new-fangled interface, for example, as well as Twitter and Facebook. This wouldn't be so bad, but they're the three sites I happen to view the most.

I discovered a final solution for the Facebook and Twitter problems, however, by pointing Nadia's browser to the mobile versions of the two sites (m.facebook.com and m.twitter.com, respectively). Worked like a charm. Blogger's new interface has been a non-issue on Nadia, simply because I've been use a blogging app called Ecto for the past six years.

But life's no fun when things work out, so I'll tell you about Plan B.

Fresh from yesterday's successful VNC experiment, I figured I'd try to replicate that success with another machine... and today's unwitting victim was my gal Friday, Nadia. Success was rapidly forthcoming, as I had a copy of "Chicken of the VNC" on a flash drive. Not twenty seconds after installing, Nadia was connected to the Ultra 5. Ten seconds after that, I was surfing the net using the latest build of Firefox on the Ultra 5. I also downloaded the MasterGear emulator for Solaris and played a few rounds of Double Dragon, but that's not important.

Pictured above: a great waste of time.  Really great!

So this whole VNC business has served a practical purpose after all, allowing me to extend the useful life of my beloved Nadia by giving me access to a newer, more modern browser, as well as a better office suite in Open Office... and a better Unix in Solaris.

Tune in tomorrow when I attempt to do it all over again using my old 68k Mac LC475 and MacVNC.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Good Stewardship, or Testing, Testing!

I've spent the day playing around with my Sun Ultra 5 workstation.

A month ago, I downloaded the latest version of Solaris 10 from Oracle, patched it, and have been tweaking and upgrading it (off and on) for the last couple of weeks.  Solaris isn't what I'd call a "desktop" operating system, ie meant for your average home end-user, and as such is lacking many of the amenities normally found in your average Linux distro.  Things like a blogging client, for example, and decent IM client.

But then, people who use Solaris (and other Unixes) generally know what they are doing when it comes to building apps from source code.  Myself, I know a fair bit, but there are gaps in my knowledge big enough to drive a bus through.  But I'm learning... slowly.

Such was my conundrum this past week.  After tweaking Solaris 10 to the point where it was usable to me,  I started exploring its capabilities and put it under a bit of pressure.  The built-in IM clients sucked (MSN and ICQ won't authenticate), and trying to blog using Firefox was a painful experience.  I found a couple of blogging clients that would supposedly work under Solaris 10, but had absolutely no luck getting them to compile.  Fought for a few days, and finally gave up.

Yesterday, during a slow work day, I had a look at the VNC client installed on my office PC.  I forgot I'd installed a VNC server on a fellow employee's computer in order to help him out when he got stuck (he's not very computer-savvy).  After spending a few minutes messing with the guy's mind, I decided to research the VNC server that was bundled with Solaris 10.  I printed off a few instructions and helpful hints, and brought them with me when I left for home.

Setting the VNC server up on my Ultra 5 was dirt simple.  Run the server once, kill it, then edit the configuration files it creates on its initial run.  Done!

I took note of my IP address, set the vnc server running, and fired up my Linux box.  Added the Ultra 5's info into the Linux box's VNC client, and managed to connect!  Unfortunately, the client displayed nothing but the generic X-windows checkerboard pattern and hourglass mouse pointer.  Crap.  So much for that.

I did a bit of tweaking on the Ultra 5, but nothing happened.

It wasn't until this morning that it hit me... the client won't display the Ultra 5's desktop in a VNC client IF I'M ALREADY LOGGED INTO THE ULTRA 5 AND USING A GRAPHICAL ENVIRONMENT.  Duh.

So, I logged out of the Java Desktop Environment (aka Gnome) on the Ultra 5, and logged back in using a console log-in.  I made sure the VNC server was running, ran back to the Linux box, fired up the VNC client, aaaaannnnd.... success!


I can now access my Ultra 5 remotely if need be.  Of course, I usually turn the machine off when it's not in use, as I'm rather paranoid that way, but it's nice to know the capability is there should I need it.  It also lends itself to experimentation, as I have VNC clients for a number of my other machines, including my old 68K Macs.  Might have to give that a go in the future.

After I'd done that, the sheer pointlessness of it all hit me.  I mean, sure, I can access my Ultra 5 from my Linux box, but why?  My Linux box can already do everything the Ultra 5 can do and more... not to mention do it faster (3.2GHz Linux box vs 440MHz Ultra 5).  So this afternoon, I set about to level the playing field somewhat.

I found a great blogging client called ScribeFire, which is an add-on for Firefox.  This post was written largely as a test run, and I'm happy to say it works quite nicely.  Found a couple of Twitter add-ons for Firefox, but they were largely underwhelming (except for Power Twitter, which I love).  Added in an ad-blocker, and I find web pages load that much faster.

Now, my Ultra 5 will never come close to catching my Linux box in terms of speed and functionality, but it's great to be able to keep the ol' boy functional and useful instead of throwing it out...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wide Awake in Winnipeg (UPDATED!)

I have insomnia.

For the last two weeks, I have been largely unable to sleep at night.

I can't figure out why.  I'm not under any more (or less) stress than usual, there are no lingering issues at the back of my mind, and I've gotten over my repeated bouts with "the bug that's going around".

My mind hasn't been racing when I turn in, my diet is as good as it (n)ever was, and I'm not taking in much (if any) caffeine or sugar in the hours before repose.  I don't nap during the day, and our environment is largely quiet, so that's not an issue.

I just can't figure it out.

Being unable to sleep at night leaves me feeling exhausted during the day, which has been fine up until now, as I've been on holidays... however I'm back at work tomorrow.

If I don't get some shut-eye tonight, my customers may find me surlier than usual tomorrow.

Perhaps it's time I returned to my old method of having a couple of shots (bourbon, whisky, etc) before turning in..?

I can deal with being hung-over.

That said, Happy New Year to all my faithful.

Insomnia or not, I've refrained from doing a year-end roundup post.  I think the last time I did one was back in 2005 on the main website.  My memory ain't what it used to be, and there was a lot about 2011 to remember... things like:

January:  Announcing to the world that Jillian and I are engaged, and moving her in two weeks later.  Hell also froze over... I bought my first cellphone: a 2004 vintage Palm Treo 650.  Bought for $5 on eBay.

February: Taking the day off work, Jill and I spent my 38th birthday shopping and hanging out at my old haunts, having breakfast at the new Salisbury House on Leila, running around downtown and Polo Park, and capping it all with dinner at the Spicy Noodle House in the Osborne Village.  February also marked my return to the church after a 30 year absence (albeit in a different church, in a different denomination).

March:  I announce to my family that I've decided to convert to Catholicism.  It met with a little tension (I was raised Anglican).  March also marked the first time I observed Lent, which was a character building experience.

April:  Found out I missed a hero of mine, former hacker Kevin Mitnick, on his visit to Winnipeg.  I gave up the Internet for Lent, and as such was not aware of his visit until he'd left.  After Lent, I finally brought Nadia back from the dead for the third time, which enabled my return to mobile blogging.

May:  The TRS-80 Model 100 community lost a great friend when Rick Hanson, proprietor of Club 100, succumbed to cancer.  In happier news, Jillian returned to work full-time, enabling us to...

June:  ... buy a SUV, a 2006 Ford Escape.  For the first time in fifteen years (apart from a couple of months when my '86 Daytona Turbo Z was running) I didn't have to take the bus.  Funny how grocery shopping is less of a chore when you have a vehicle.  It also came in handy when we had to rush my cat, Ethin, to the animal hospital on an emergency basis.  Almost lost him, but thanks to the quality care he received, he is still with us.

July: Unfortunately, no animal hospital could save the New Winnipeg forum, which shut its virtual doors in July.

August:  A few of us from the New Winnipeg community got together for one last hurrah.  It was fun, and one of the regulars proposed starting a new forum to take its place.  I also discovered the joys of Bluetooth devices, and the attendant fun that one could have.

September:  Began planning in earnest for the main website's 10th aniversary in February 2012.  I also started a design company after being inspired by a lamp a friend's daughter created in her university design class.  I ain't gonna be outdone by no teenage girl!  ;)

October:  Realized I'm being called to work with the poor, hungry, and downtrodden.  Once our wedding and honeymoon are over, I will be entering the fray.

November:  I'd finally had enough of Tripod's blog interface, and migrated my blog back to Blogger.  I haven't looked back since.  My traffic has increased tenfold, and I've had a much more positive response.  I also enjoy blogging again.

December:  The planned follow-on for New Winnipeg, the WinnipegZoom forum, opens.  The imminent demise of print media is again predicted (not gonna happen in my lifetime).  The world loses Vaclav Havel.  December 23rd marks the one year anniversary of the day I proposed to Jillian.  I also announce a forthcoming podcast, starting in February 2012.

Well heck, I've gone and done a Year in Review post anyway... I seem to be resurrecting a lot of my old traditions lately.