mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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A good (very good?) day. OK, very good. It started with two huge, looming problems for me to beat myself up over, and ended with both problems happily resolved, and watching what's been called the best performance ever on Olympic ice, with Colleen and Naomi, followed by loverly snuggle.

The first problem was having signed for the hospital beds back on Wednesday without counting boxes. What was I thinking? Nevertheless, the seller (contacted via Amazon's online email form) found the mattresses in about an hour. They should be arriving today. Whew!

The second was that the backlight on the XO I'd given to Naomi to give to her daughter on her sixth birthday appeared to be turning off at roughly 10-minute intervals. That turned out to be the kid accidentally hitting the backlight-control keys, without knowing what they were! I'm particularly thrilled that the kid figured it out herself. Geek-grrl in the making?

Note to self: you have no future in online tech support. None.

And the women's figure skating was spectacular. Wow.

All's well that ends better? I'll take it. Links under the cut, as usual.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Quite a lot done, and a good step count thanks to an extra spin around the pond (six total). I like using coins as lap counters; that's a keeper.

Very busy with last-minute shopping, packing, and bill-paying. Plus several failed attempts to repair the trackpad on the XO. It's better, after having its cables re-seated a couple of times, but still not particularly usable. At least, I'm no longer intimidated by the task of disassembling an XO. Too many screws, but it's easy.

Plenty of good links under the cut.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Not a whole lot done yesterday. Calm, but not especially productive. No walk, no exercise.

Made my room reservations for Consonance and Norwescon. The con hotel for the latter is sold out (well, the con's room block and all the accessible rooms are sold out); I got a room at the nearby Hilton that the con specified as the alternate. Grump. Well, I know who to blame for that screw-up: me and my procrastination.

Dusted off the XO and upgraded it to the latest stable build. Painless. The trackpad is very flaky, and various attempts to recalibrate it were unsuccessful, so it will probably require disassembling the bottom and re-seating the cable. I'll pack a mouse just in case.

Attempts to install the Sugar desktop on my Debian desktop machine were similarly unsuccessful -- some parts appear to be incompatible with Gnome -- but that's a lot less important. Will try the USB bootable version at some point.

mdlbear: (xo)
... not to mention the XO, which hasn't told me its official name yet. Right now it's just going by "steve", which is the name I gave it when I first booted it. I think that, with a reasonable window manager on it instead of the kid-oriented sugar, it will probably be fine. Or maybe with Debian -- I've been noticing lots of ways in which Fedora's package manager sucks compared to apt.

The biggest problem so far is that it seems to use control-O -- even when you're in terminal mode and ssh'ed to a machine running emacs -- to open the journal application. This is Not A Good Thing when your favorite LJ and mail clients are emacs modes. I've been reluctant to find out what other pootentially-vital keystrokes it eats.

On the other hand, my scheme to carry a basically naked machine across the border and pull in my keys from an encrypted tarball from home worked perfectly. Actually i didn't bother encrypting my ssh identity because it's *already* encrypted with a good passphrase. And the tarball's been deleted by now; I only needed it for a day.

Note to self: if we're going to play this game on a regular basis, the travel keyboard and mouse are essential. I currently have the XO's screen flipped around (halfway to tablet mode) so I can use my Thinkpad keyboard and a travel mouse. Works great.
mdlbear: (xo)
I'm posting this on my XO in the living room of the Starport: there are five laptops (all but one runnng Linux) and two smartphones visible. I have my XO in tablet mode sitting on the music stand, with my thinkpad keyboard in my lap.

I love our parties!
mdlbear: (xo)

My OLPC XO finally arrived, sometime during the week! Did they send me email with a tracking number? No. Did they actually have my name on the damned box? No to that, too. But it found me anyway.

Squee! (Or as close as this old geek gets, anyway.)

The screen is fantastic. It's exactly 1/4 of a letter-sized page, and a full page of 12-point type is easily readable at arm's length. Even more so with the backlight off and good lighting for monochrome (reflective) mode. It's about twice the weight I'd like a book reader to be, and a little bigger -- the Asus Eee that I'm borrowing from work and lending to the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat is more the size I'd like. But its screen sucks by comparison.

There are places where a paper songbook would be more convenient, and it's certainly more readable. But if I had to take one or the other...

Grump

Jan. 20th, 2008 09:23 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Nova (the fileserver) fell over on its nose while I was printing some business cards. No damned reason for it; top shows that the rasterizer hardly uses any resources at all. (That's no explanation for why it's so slow, especially when printing to the inkjet, but...) It handled backups just fine.

So it's either memory, or something weird on the MB (possibly involving writing the disk). In either case, I don't have time to track it down. Sometime between now and Wednesday I'll swap disks with Harmony (my workstation) and worry about building a new workstation when I get back from Conflikt. One more fscking expense I don't need...

In other news, my XO still hasn't arrived, and I got an email from them saying they didn't have my complete shipping address. More likely their cobbled-together software thinks that "suite 115" refers to a mailbox and not a connected set of offices. (I almost wrote "office suite", but that would be something else again.)

mdlbear: (xo)
Pixel Qi - Home
What computing can be, the XO laptop was just the first step.

Pixel Qi is currently pursuing the $75 laptop, while also aiming to bring sunlight readable, low-cost and low-power screens into mainstream laptops, cellphones and digital cameras.

Spinning out from OLPC enables the development of a new machine, beyond the XO, while leveraging a larger market for new technologies, beyond just OLPC: prices for next-generation hardware can be brought down by allowing multiple uses of the key technology advances. Pixel Qi will give OLPC products at cost, while also selling the sub-systems and devices at a profit for commercial use.
Posts in engadget and gizmodo try hard to make it sound like this is a bad thing; the NY Times article is a little more balanced. They all try to make it sound as though the OLPC is doomed. It isn't.

Note that Pixel Qi is licensing the display technology from OLPC. This does two things: gives the OLPC a revenue stream that doesn't depend on the whims of government contracts, and lowers the price of their most expensive component by raising the volume. What's wrong with that?

And if the side effect is gadgets that look good, have fantastic screens and great battery life, run Linux, and cost under $100, I'm all for it.
mdlbear: (xo)

From Technoshaman we get a link to this post on groklaw where PJ describes her first encounter with her very own OLPC XO. It was given to her in a restaurant...

A younger guy sitting at a nearby table then piped up, "Just use Google Docs if you need Word documents." My brain about exploded. Of course! What can't you do that a businessman might typically want to do that he can't do on Google Docs? Note to countries thinking about whether or not to get the OLPC laptop and worrying about Word and Excel and all that: not only does the OLPC have equivalents, but if you want the kids to be able to function in a Microsoft environment, let them go to Google Docs and they can even share the work. An entire class and the teacher can all work on a project together. Here's how some others in the world are already using Google Docs.

"Nobody needs a hard drive any more," the young guy said. And you know what? It's true. So down topples another piece of anti-OLPC FUD.

But here's the best part. After we talked a while, I see a mom with her son, about 7 or 8 walking toward us. He's pulling on her hand, and from across the room, I can see the boy's eyes are fixed on the laptop and he is grinning from ear to ear. He looked like he'd just seen a dear friend. He walked right up to the table, and I immediately turned it his way so he could play, which he did without hesitation, without a word, still grinning.

His mother was nervous, thinking maybe he'd break it, or was being rude to butt in, but I told her I wanted him to play with it, so I could see what he did. He had absolutely NO difficulty at all, asked no one any questions, ignored us all totally, and played and played and played, grinning from ear to ear the entire time.

It's a kid magnet.

He wasn't intimidated by the laptop at all. It was like it was his, that it naturally belonged to him to play with. It was so cute. They have designed something so adorable that children, I saw, are drawn to it.

Kids just get it without a manual, but we, the adults, didn't.

I can't wait to get my hot little hands on mine... It's coming. Real Soon Now.

Maybe I should order another one?

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Current plan is to fly to SeaTac for Conflikt on Thursday January 24th; I'll probably get in late afternoon. I'll look around for a rental car on Monday so I'll be relatively mobile. Probably head home on Wednesday the 30th unless somebody gives me a good reason to stay through Thursday. I'll be making my plane reservation sometime this week.

Besides the departure date, about the only other things that need deciding are what gear to take. First category is instruments: I need to decide whether to take Plink, my travel guitar, or Ruby, my usually gig guitar. I'm leaning toward Plink, since I'm flying, and she sounds really good plugged in through a direct box.

The other question is computer hardware. I'm leaning toward taking the Macbook Pro and (assuming it arrives when it's supposed to) the OLPC. I don't think I'm quite crazy enough to attempt the trip with nothing but the OLPC or even the OLPC, an external keyboard, and a massive USB hard drive. I might, however, take the OLPC instead of my songbook.

Added: Comments on this post would be a convenient place to discuss trip logistics.

mdlbear: (xo)

Got email from OLPC this morning saying my XO won't be here for Christmas -- which I'd already suspected. Supposed to be arriving by Jan. 15, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of comparison articles: XO vs. Kindle on O'Reilly, and XO vs. Eee on [livejournal.com profile] sdorn.

Of course, what I really want is the XO's hardware in the Eee's case, with an IBM laptop keyboard. Hmm - I can buy one of those...

(Update 9:51: ordered. Lenovo's web shop sucks.)

mdlbear: (xo)

The One Laptop per Child Give one, get one program just started, and will end on November 26. I've ordered mine -- it's not often that you can donate to a worthy cause and get the world's most advanced educational computer system for your kids as a premium.

Not that I expect my kids to be particularly interested. MINE!!

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