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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Things  §

You can seriously develop a relationship with your children while they are still in utero.

I have switched to a left-handed mouse on the theory that regularly engaging in alternate-hemisphere motor tasks somehow enhances cognition, and because I am getting that damned carpal tunnel numbness in my right hand again.

For a moment, iPhone unlock/jailbreak is in the wild for all OS versions, all baseband versions, all boot loaders.

For 48 hours I have forgotten to wash my Oxo coffee mug. This is likely to incur labor time expenses later on.

The Tamron Adaptall 80-210mm f/3.8 lens is one of the best I've ever used.

In another life I could have been a photographer.

I saw my first firefly ever when I came to NYC in 2006. Now I see them every night.

Dogs are socially precocious animals.

Once a battery of any kind leaks inside a compartment, all batteries you insert into that compartment subsequent to the leak event will also leak, until you submerge the entire set of surfaces in an acid like white vinegar.

It has been years since I created any of my nonphotographic/postphotographic visual pieces.

It has been more years since I wrote fiction.

Time flies.

Out west, driving is like traversing a network. In the northeast, driving is like navigating an obstacle course.

When it comes to books, there is a state between "read" and "unread" that is perhaps more practically desirable. You don't discover this state until you're older and have many, many books and people begin to ask whether you've "read them all."

Childhood doesn't return to you when you have kids; it becomes a form of praxis.

New York has a way of inducing a kind of myopia  §

into perspectival vision that isn't easy to overcome. The rest of the world and even the nuances of long-held identities elsewhere seem to recede, to fade into irrelevance somehow in this city that is such a universe unto itself.

Often it is one thing and one thing only, the sensuous faculties and the fleeting impressions that they leave, that can carry one back to places, times, and aspirations long forgotten.

A little gust of air, just a little one through the kitchen window, has restored to me autumn and lawns and leaves and pumpkins and large, fogging windows overlooking bucolic suburbias, along with a particular autumn smell—the smell of time—that doesn't exist in New York City, or that I have not, at the very least, thus far detected here.

Somewhere beneath it all there still lurks a small cache of insouciant dreams in a particularly lush shade of dewey green carrying with it hints of lawn clippings and browning leaves, where traffic can't quite be heard but red paint on thick siding fills one's field of vision.

The land! The land!

No, I was never a farmer, nor a rural boy, but I did spend my formative decades in a place with rolling hills, forests of aspen and spruce, buoyant, twelve-thousand-foot mountain peaks, and houses able to "nestle" into foliage and obscurity, rather than into townhouse splints.

Bowie Ashes  §

Do you remember a guy that’s been
In such an early song
I’ve heard a rumor from Ground Control
Oh no, don’t say it’s true
They got a message from the Action Man
I’m happy, hope you’re happy too
I’ve loved all I’ve needed love
Sordid details following
The shrieking of nothing is killing
Just pictures of Jap girls in synthesis and I
Ain’t got no money and I ain’t got no hair
But I’m hoping to kick but the planet it’s glowing
Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie

Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low
Time and again I tell myself
I’ll stay clean tonight
But the little green wheels are following me
Oh no, not again
I’m stuck with a valuable friend
I’m happy, hope you’re happy too
One flash of light but no smoking pistol
I never done good things
I never done bad things
I never did anything out of the blue
Want an axe to break the ice
Wanna come down right now
Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low
My mother said to get things done
You’d better not mess with Major Tom

In the strangest possible way,  §

New York City this evening smells like the Salt Lake City in which I grew up. I can't put my finger on the reason for this; it's some combination of humidity, temperature, air motility, particulate matter suspension, and god knows what else. No matter the reason, tonight it smells in flat, ocean-bound New York like I remember it smelling in mountainous, desert-bound Salt Lake City as a kid.

Once upon a time I blogged. Not "blogged" as in "practiced a kind of thin, independent, crowdsourced journalism online" but blogged as in the mid-'90s conception from which the term is derived: personal web log (i.e. "blog").

I essentially stopped gradually in recent years as my professional life became more and more important to me.

I miss it.

Things are better than I think they are, better than they've ever been. I have to continue to remember this. Somehow, in the space of daily practice and experience, it's easy to lose sight of context. I am precisely at the place I've spent most of my life wanting to reach. When the world is made of rainbows and gold, it's easy to get upset when a lone cockroach scurries across your path or a spec of dust lands in your eye. You can't, however, let it get to you if the world is indeed made of rainbows and gold where you stand.

And where we stand right now, it is.

The most difficult part of professional academic life so far  §

is convincing my subconscious that that it is okay to spend time reading and writing in a self-directed fashion, for hours on end and according to my own judgment, even if I can't explicitly tie a given day's reading or writing activity to a particular pile of dollars or a directly identifiable paycheck.

After a lifetime's conditioning in the labor market, it's very difficult to allow yourself the time to simply read and write about your interests. It continually feels as though you're slacking/self-indulging/hiding/wasting time. Ironically, this sensation, which is all about the need to feel as though one is engaged in productive work, also makes it precisely impossible to work productively in this particular profession.

KDE4 Remains a Disaster  §

In 1997 I began using KDE on my Linux desktop, a practice that continued until 2008 with the release of KDE 4.0, which was an absolute disaster—a software release with 20 percent of the functionality but 1000 percent more instability and bugginess whose only claim to fame was that it took every single feature and habit that you liked about KDE and stole them away from you.

At that time in 2008, I switched to GNOME and have actually grown fond of and happy with it. GNOME 2.x is fast, friendly, reasonably powerful, reasonably simple, and super-stable.

Unfortunately, I recently got wind of the fact that GNOME has decided to do the same thing KDE did a couple years ago. That is to say that in less than a year, GNOME plans to completely dismantle everything users like about it in the interest of "innovation" (read: removing 80 percent of the functionality while making the system 1000 percent more labor- and thought-intensive to use for the same purposes).

Meanwhile, over the last two years, KDE has gone from 4.0 to 4.4.x releases and I'd heard that it was now stable and useful and polished.

So, the other day, I decided to get all forward-thinking and to grit my teeth and switch from GNOME back to KDE, in hopes of avoiding the GNOME disaster to come.

Unfortunately, KDE is still an unmitigated disaster. Two years on KDE 4.x remains no more usable than it was on the day it was released:

  • It loses settings at random
  • There is no single, integrated, professional appearance/theme for it; everything is "eye candy"
  • It's catastrophically slow compared to GNOME
  • Random crashes of components (plasmoids, plasma, applications, etc.) are common
  • Configuration remains extremely bizarre (two dozen options to configure deeply obscure arcana you'll never encounter, zero options to configure the stuff you encounter constantly)
  • The user interface is beyond clunky (browse a device, mount a device, eject a device all in opposite areas and tools of the screen, for example)
  • The plasmoids don't work as well as GNOME applets (less compatible, fewer features)

But perhaps the biggest anecdotal evidence for the disastrous crappiness that continues to be KDE4 are these facts:

  • It took me about 9 hours work across two evenings to switch to KDE4 and get it working well
  • In the process I had to erase all the dotfiles (configuration) and start from scratch
  • When it was "done" I was never quite satisfied and found myself constantly "tweaking" settings without ever feeling good about them
  • I never quite got it stable, and experienced window manager crashes, app crashes, screen corruption, and more
  • I submitted the better part of a dozen bug reports in two days of subsequent use
  • To which I got replies like "WONTFIX" altogether too often

And the thing that seals the deal is this:

  • After I decided to switch back to GNOME tonight, the entire process took an hour
  • And the result is integrated, clean, fast, stable, and much more functional that the KDE4 desktop I'm losing once again

I'm absolutely mortified and frustrated by the fact that GNOME has decided to duplicate the total disaster that is KDE4 with the release of GNOME3, which does much the same thing: throws away the entire Linux desktop as it's become known and "innovatively" replaces it with an unconfigurable, unstable mess that doubles the number of clicks and amount of complexity needed to accomplish any task, while pursuing a general program of incompatibility with other Linux/UNIX software under the theory that they're "doing it the Right way, so everyone else be damned" which is coincidentally the same theory that the KDE project adopted somewhere in the mid '00s that led to KDE4.

Soon it will be all about XFCE. The state of the Linux desktop has gone from "We've finally arrived!" to very grim in the space of a year or two.