Monday, 26 November 2007

Finished Black Man

I've finally finished reading Richard Morgan's excellent novel Black Man just before 10pm today. Tomorrow I'll start reading The Dreaming Void at home and Mark Lynas's Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet on the train.

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Sunday, 25 November 2007

On and on...

Still ploughing through Black Man. I'm going to have to take it to work on the train again this week, otherwise I won't get through it. Unfortunately, I'm simply too busy most of the time to get round to reading it.
But I should finish it this week, then I'm going to start reading Peter F Hamilton's The Dreaming Void which I've been wanting to read for a long time.

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Saturday, 24 November 2007

More about gOS...

It appears I spoke too soon. On a whim, I decided to try gOS on my other laptop (which normally runs Kubuntu). Turns out it does support wireless out of the box, just clearly doesn't support the wireless card built into my Vista laptop, which is odd as that is supported in Ubuntu Gutsy, on which gOS is based. Although it doesn't have Network Manager installed, it does include Exalt, which does the same thing. It does still suffer from the DNS problem with my router which Gutsy also has, but I can resolve that easily enough in Firefox by disabling IPv6 using about:config, and if I were to install it permanently it would be easy to resolve it for all applications by editing a line in my /etc/modprobe.d/aliases from
alias net-pf-10 ipv6

alias net-pf-10 off

And it works like a charm! I'm actually posting this from within gOS running in LiveCD mode! I am seriously impressed. If ever I decide to get rid of this laptop and buy a new Dell with preinstalled Ubuntu instead, and give this one to my sister, I will be putting gOS on it. For the casual PC user, it is quite simply the simplest and most straightforward operating system I have EVER used. It has a wonderful look to it, it's made with a keen eye on what people use their computers for, and it's fast. For a budget PC, it's absolutely ideal. Give it to your kids, your elderly relatives, they'll all love it.
I'd like to see a vendor selling the Everex gPC with this preloaded here in the UK. As I've mentioned previously, Tesco are selling a £160 PC without a screen with Ubuntu Dapper preinstalled - since Asda is owned by Wal-Mart, maybe they will start selling this?

gOS - My Two-Pence Worth

I've downloaded a copy of gOS on Thursday, and earlier today I burned it to a CD and tried it on my Vista laptop. All I can say is "Wow!". I couldn't get the wireless working out of the box because it doesn't include Network Manager by default, but it does appear to be available on the CD-ROM image (if not it'll be available from the Ubuntu repositories anyway), and it does specifically state that you need to use an ethernet connection anyway. As I wasn't going to install it, I was just trying it out, I wasn't able to use the internet with it, but it didn't matter as I'm familiar with the websites it has links for.
It looks absolutely amazing - it has a very clean,simple interface that's kind of reminiscent of OS X (though I'm not really familiar with OS X, having never used a Mac). For the average computer owner - ie. someone who will use it to browse the Internet, read e-mail, chat via IM and maybe write the odd letter from time to time, it's the ideal OS. The fact that it's based on Ubuntu means you've got access to all the apps in the Ubuntu repositories (and remember, Ubuntu has big repositories, only Debian has more), so you could potentially install just about anything available from there.
It is a shame that it has Rhythmbox installed by default - I'd have preferred Amarok, but I'll freely concede that although Amarok is an awesome media player, it's quite complex, and Rhythmbox is probably easier to use.
Overall, I'm very impressed. Although I'd consider myself a somewhat more technically advanced user than the target audience, I really like gOS. I showed it to other members of my family and they quite liked it too, though they aren't Linuxphiles like me. If I had a computer-illiterate friend or relative who wanted a computer, and this OS was available preinstalled on a computer here in the UK, I'd certainly recommend they get it.
The Internet has become a killer app for the home computer, and this computer is built around that idea. In the process it may have become the killer app for desktop Linux...

Monday, 19 November 2007

PrayStation: The 6 Most Misguided Christian Video Games

A very entertaining article all about Christian Video Games down the years.

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Picture: A "Psychological" Optical Illusion

What you see will depend directly based on the world you live in.

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Unboxing the Everex $200 Linux / Google Computer

Matt Cutts opens up the new $200 Everex computer being sold at Wal-Mart. Great pictures for the curious!

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Gosh, gOS is good

More about gOS!

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The Rise of a Planet [pic]

An absolutely breathtaking image - I have this as the wallpaper on both my laptops now!

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Why does Facebook Hate me?

A little something I found on Digg. If they had done this to me, I might have had second thoughts about joining...

read more | digg story

A few ideas

I just had an idea - a comedy blog called The New Adventures of Jesus. Bear with me. Basically, it would be about Jesus coming back and documents the things he encounters - things like self-righteous Christians who treat him badly, and him laying into idiots who follow the exact word of the Bible. It would be very cynical and likely offend a lot of people. Anyone like the idea?
Another idea I had recently was for a collaborative science fiction novel, written as a blog with each chapter being submitted as a blog entry by one of a number of authors. It'd be a near-future cyberpunk type thing. If anyone else likes the idea and would like to participate, I might look into it further.
So let me know if you like either idea.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


Yes, I've joined another couple of online services! I signed up for a Ning ID yesterday, and I may use it to start my own social network at some time in the future, but I'd want to integrate IM into it so members can easily chat, and unfortunately that's not available yet (though apparently it's slated to arrive in summer 08).
I've also joined Twitter. I would rather have joined Jaiku or Pownce, as I like the look of them better, but both are currently closed to new members, and I couldn't be bothered to wait. I may try both once they are opened to new members. I like the features of Pownce, but Jaiku is now owned by Google and so it'll probably be linked into some other aspects of Google that I already use, such as Orkut. For the moment, I'm going to see what Twitter is like - I have a suspicion that it's just like the status updates from Facebook, so I may find it redundant.
I've added links to my Twitter profile and my MySpace (as I've neglected to do that to date). Feel free to drop in on me!

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gOS - a Linux Distro for Granny?

As regular readers may be aware, I'm quite a vocal proponent of Linux. I've therefore been very interested to read about the popularity of a new Everex PC preinstalled with gOS that has been sold in Wal-Mart in the US. You may have seen my previous post about Tesco in the UK selling a similar PC with Ubuntu Dapper preinstalled, and I think this is a very positive trend.
I may have to give gOS a try - I use a lot of Google applications myself, as well as Facebook, Meebo and Blogger, so it might be useful. It certainly sounds like the ideal OS for your grandma, and completely blows out of the water the old complaint that Linux is hard to use - the only reason people EVER say that is because they have to install it. Believe me, Windows XP is actually a harder install most of the time than any Linux distro.
I've mentioned previously why I think Linux will profit from the growth in use of web-based applications, and the immense popularity of gOS is showing this better than anything I could have said. If you use web-based apps, then performance is going to be better on a lightweight OS than a bloated monster like Windows Vista. These PCs with gOS preinstalled are not very powerful, but because they use gOS they're still fast enough.

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Friday, 9 November 2007


Last night, on a whim, I downloaded trial versions of Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 and Adobe Cold Fusion to my Vista laptop to give them a try. Surprisingly, there's a Linux version of Cold Fusion, but it doesn't mention being compatible with Ubuntu, only with Red Hat and SuSE. But I haven't installed that yet as it needs a web server.
Dreamweaver doesn't really seem that great, to be fair. It seems to me you still have to know everything you'd need to know to hand-code HTML and CSS, but it just makes it more long winded (but then I'm used to the Linux command line and using text editors, so I'm speaking from the perspective of someone used to hand-coding, after all installing from Adept Manager is more long-winded than using apt-get). The only thing it seems to be able to do that things like KompoZer can't is to do with Flash. Still, I'll have a further play around with it, as it seems likely that once I start working professionally creating websites, I'll probably have to use it.
Personally, I'm more interested in the server-side aspect of things - you know, the actual coding behind it. I want to learn to use Ruby on Rails in particular. There's plenty of people who have more flair for design than I do, I'm more interested in what makes a website tick.

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Thursday, 8 November 2007

The Sims 2 Castaway

I've had a PS2 for about 7 1/2 years now, and I'm still amazed by the quality of the games that are made for it. My favourite at the moment is, yes, you guessed it, The Sims 2 Castaway. Think The Sims do Lost, but without the weirdness.Image of a shipwrecked Sim in The Sims 2 Castaway
Essentially, the plot is that a group of Sims (one of whom you control) get shipwrecked and separated. You wash up on a tropical island and you have to fend for yourself, find the other Sims and ultimately escape. There's actually a total of three islands and you have to build a raft to get from the first one to the second one, where you meet up with the other Sims. Then you have to build a canoe to get to the third one, a volcanic island (but I haven't reached that yet).
It's tremendously playable, and an excellent variation on the usual Sims theme. I'm a huge fan of the Sims range. I'm a bit evil when I play it though - I like to make their lives absolute hell! I've starved entire families to death in it! I've also lost count of the number of times my Sims have had their children taken away by the Social Services - once the Seasons add-on pack came out, I put the toddler and the newborn baby outside in the middle of winter and left them in the middle of the snow!
One of my classic Sims moments (which to my eternal regret I didn't record) was one time I killed a couple off, and the Grim Reaper came round and took them away - then used their lavatory on the way out! I was absolutely gobsmacked! It was hilarious!
Anyone else got any good Sims death stories?

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Ubuntu for 'em

I've posted a thread on the Ubuntu forums about the Flock 1.0 .deb package being available from GetDeb, so that my fellow Ubuntu users know it's there. I've also asked what others think of it - so I can gauge how well it's going down. I've also put on a thread asking for people's opinions of, and that seems to be mostly positive as well.
I was never a great user of the Ubuntu forums, but I've started joining in over the last couple of days - perhaps I was getting a bit sick of all the squabbling on Digg, and being Dugg down when you make a perfectly reasonable comment. I mean, I've made a point never to get involved in flame wars on there - but still you often get people being downright nasty about issues on there.
By comparison, the Ubuntu forums are a breath of fresh air. They're well run, and the general atmosphere is friendly. While debate can sometimes get a bit heated, it almost never descends into nastiness.
While for a long time, my favourite things about Ubuntu and its related projects were how easy they were to get going and the philosophy behind it, I'm starting to see that the real strength of Ubuntu is its community. It's welcoming to newbies, you don't get a response of "RTFM" if you ask a question, and people are generally friendly.
I've slightly changed the name of this blog - it's now Far Beyond the Edge of Reason: Confessions of a Kubuntu Linux user. Nice, huh?
I've had this week off work, and I've spent it going through a book about creating web pages using HTML and CSS, which is teaching me a lot, as it goes into much further detail than the first module of my course. I'm hoping that eventually I'll be able to create a brand new layout for this blog - I was thinking a sort of Star-Wars style theme, with the title sort of back-tilted the way the intro text to a Star Wars film always is. Still, I'm not quite ready for that yet!

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Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Impatient? Naughty!

On a whim, I just now decided to look at GetDeb to see if they had packaged Flock 1.0 for Ubuntu Gutsy. Incredibly, they have! So of course I had to uninstall my existing copy from my home folder and download the deb package, then install that using sudo dpkg -i.
I do wish I'd had the patience to wait - then again, I didn't know how long it would take. But I've actually now submitted a proposal to the ideas pool for Hardy Heron (the next version of Ubuntu, which will be the second Long Term Support version), to include Flock in the repositories.
I also said can they reinstate the easy Gmail/Googlemail setup in Thunderbird - why wasn't that present in Gutsy? I've tried the Windows version of Thunderbird 2, as well as the Linux version direct from Mozilla's website, and both had that option, yet the version in the Ubuntu repositories doesn't include that. Anyone know a good reason for that?
I am growing to slowly love GetDeb - it's a great source of packages. I got FreeCol from there (a free software version of Sid Meier's Colonisation), as well as several other applications when I was running Feisty that are now in the repositories for Gutsy. There does seem to be less need for it in Gutsy - I've only gotten FreeCol and Flock from there for Gutsy, although ultimately that could change as Gutsy is only just out - a few months down the line and there could be some killer app I just have to have (maybe Amarok 2.0?).

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Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Assessment done

I've just done the assessment for my web design course's first part (Introduction to HTML). I'm very pleased to report that I got 15 out of 17! I was surprised that it was a multiple choice test, though - I was expecting it'd be something like "Build this website" or something like that.
Anyway, glad that's over with. I've got a load of other HTML and CSS books that I want to go through, so I've now started going through Build your own Web Site the Right Way using HTML and CSS by Ian Lloyd. CSS in particular is something that I really think I need to know more about - I've seen some of the amazing things you can do with it on CSS Zen Garden.
Also, I want to get cracking on the next module. It's Internet Business Foundations and is all about the more technical stuff around websites and networking.
As you may have seen from previous posts, I like the sound of Google's Open Social initiative. I'm already on Orkut (unfortunately, none of my friends are, so it's not much of a social network at the moment!) and I also recently joined MySpace (basically because I want to have a profile I can tinker with to make it look really cool, and since MySpace allows you to use HTML and CSS, I'm now developing the skills needed to make a good job of it). Once I know a bit more, I can start pimping my blog as well!

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Monday, 5 November 2007

Flock in Kubuntu

Re my previous post, I love Flock so much, I just had to install it on Kubuntu. It really is a great browser for if you're just using it for things like Facebook and blogging. As I mentioned, there isn't yet an official package for Ubuntu, so I just installed it to my home directory - at least that means it'll be easy to delete it and remove the menu entry once a package for Ubuntu appears in GetDeb. I really hope that it appears in the repositories when Hardy Heron is released in April.
You may notice a slight difference if you subscribe to this blog - I've burned my feed using Feedburner. I'll have to see if it makes any difference to how many comments I get.

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Preaching to the Flock

I've heard a lot of buzz about Flock, the social networking browser. Today I saw that version 1.0 had been released, so I decided to try it out. As it's not packaged for Ubuntu yet (although GetDeb has a previous version, so there's hope), I decided to try it out on my Windows laptop.

Wow. It's brilliant - the first thing I've found with full Blogger integration, as well as built in functionality similar to Facebook Toolbar for Firefox. It doesn't yet support every single social network, but it does support a fair few.

It's really good - I'd certainly recommend it if you use the web for social networking, blogging or similar things. As a serious web browser, I think Firefox is probably better, but for those things, Flock rules! I'm probably going to keep using both.

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Saturday, 3 November 2007

A few reflections on Google's Open Social...

I've now had the time to reflect on what Google's Open Social means, and look at some of the posts on Digg about it, and the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this is going to completely change the social networking landscape. Before, I was a bit uncertain, but now that MySpace is participating, all the major players except for Facebook have signed up. Despite the fact that Facebook is on the up, MySpace alone still outnumbers them. I believe that Bebo is also quite large, and Orkut is big (it's just not popular in the US and Europe, in India and Brazil it's huge).
This puts Facebook in a difficult position - a new industry standard for designing applications has sprung up almost overnight, and they're the only major player not using it. This means that in terms of applications, they're likely to become increasingly sidelined unless they adopt the new standard.

As a supporter of Free and Open Source Software, I'm all for Open Social. Proprietary walled gardens just lead to problems with interoperability. For instance, instant messaging is a pain because every provider has their own protocols and they don't generally interoperate - that really gets my goat! If your friends are all on MSN, you have to use MSN to talk to them, and if one is on AIM, you can't talk to them. Imagine if e-mail worked that way - it'd be a nightmare.

Time will tell as to whether Facebook chooses to participate or not - word is that they have been approached by Google to discuss it.

Interview with gOS Founder: "Linux For Human Beings (Who Shop At WAL*Mart)"

gOS is an extremely functional operating system that hits the sweet spot of the “online desktop” cliché with professional quality, utilizing Google Applications in a easy to use and graphically rich environment.Check out this article from Digg. I love the desktop - the way the shortcuts are arranged in a toolbar on the desktop is great.

read more | digg story