Category Archives: Techy

…..end of line

I got home last night and started to get a message that my data drive is out of space.  A quick look and my 750GB drive is currently using 99.98% of space.  I find this weird since the last time I checked I had over 600GB free.  I look through all the files and nothing is adding up to 600GB until I check the hidden logfiles.  There lurking in the home folder is a 600GB logfile.  A couple clicks later the file has been deleted and I’m restarting my machine.  Login screen comes up and I type in my password and nothing happens.  I can’t log in, I broke Ubuntu again.

I have had it.  I don’t really have the time to support a system like this and I don’t really want to.  I’m sure that with time and training I could have this system up and running just like I want it, but not at this point in time.

I am done with Ubuntu, for now.  I am moving on, end of line.

I would like to try out ChromeOS ( but the USB drive I have today is not big enough to make a bootable install drive.  Tonight I start a Windows 7 install.   It’s not ideal, its not fast, but its easy and solid.

Custom to the smallest degree

I like to keep things as simple and as functional as possible. This is one of the major reasons I moved from iOS to android.   On the simple side of things my main beef was that to get any information or complete a task iOS required more motions and more time than I really want to use.  Most of the time I would simply not use my phone for a task.  For this post I’ll define a “motion” as a swipe, touch, or typing.

To illustrate, while on default iOS to do anything with my phone one has to unlock (2 motions), locate the desired app (1-3 or more motions), open the app (1 motion), wait for it to open and update  So 4-6 motions and 10+ seconds later I would FINALLY have access to the app I wanted.  This doesn’t include any motions or time from within the app.

The greater foul was that by default Applications on iOS have are organized by date of installation and to change it is a time consuming process or requires the use of a computer (insert snarking Post-PC-bullshit quip here).  The end result being rather ugly and even more confusing

To alevate this pain I turned toward jailbreaking my phone through a series of apps, extensions, coding, and themes my lockscreen looked like this

here is a guide to doing this.

Still this whole process only allows me to view information, I don’t think it allowed me reply to text, email, or access any other data.

Enter android.  As I have said before, “Where there is a will, there is code.”  Android provides developers  with not only an open platform they encourage and provides them with everything they need to make android their what ever they want for free.  The days were I needed to hack and slash code are gone.  Everything I needed to customize my phone was in Google Play Store.

I am running a beta build of CyanogenMod 9 on a Samsung Epic 4G, so I am as close to vanilla Android 4.0.4 as I can possibly get.  No carrier apps, no manufacture overlays and I disabled the status bar clock.  But everything here can be accomplished on any android phone.

Here is my current homescreen accessible but just pushing the power button (1 motion)

 From this homescreen I can get detailed weather,  toggle WiFi / GPS / tethering / Bluetooth / 4G, launch any app that has an active notifications,  respond to text, capture video/take pictures, check my calendars, , make a phone call, listen to voicemail, play music / podcasts / audiobooks, launch and read Facebook / Twitter / Google+, and open maps / gallery / Google reader.   All in two motions.

For three motions I could enable an alarm,  download / update apps, and search and launch anything on my phone including music, video, apps, and search pretty much anything else.

The awesome-ness comes in with zero motions I get time, battery info, current weather and forecast.  With one motion  I can read new emails, read text, open gchat, open a browser, open dialer, and get detailed weather information.

That quite a long list for 4 motions and all accomplished with a custom minimalistic visual experience.

I’d also say that the wait time for all of this to happen is <1sec and compare it to iOS, but my last experience was on an iPhone 3G which by default was a 620 MHz processor underclocked to 412 MHz.  Its probably not fair to compare that to a 1 GHz processor overclocked to 1.1 GHZ.

Any Android phone can look like this.  it doesn’t have to have ICS to accomplish it.  Its all possible with a few apps from the Play Store.

First is the launcher.  Which controls homescreens, the app drawer, and custom motion controls.  i use Apex Launcher (  Swipe up motion to open the  app drawer, vertical continuous app drawer, infinite scroll-able dock, locked wallpaper, and a few other tweaks here and there. The same effects can be accomplished with Nova LauncherADW launcher,  Go Launcher EX, or a variety of other launchers.

The clock / weather widget at the top of the screen is Simi Clock Widget, which really appeals to me due to the minimal nature of it.  I have also used  and loved Fancy Widgets and Beautiful Widgets.

 Last I got the wallpaper from Lifehacker.

And that’s it.  2 apps and image file.

Day 8

I’ve had Ubuntu for a couple of days now and figured out most of my basic stuff up, Chrome, dropbox, streaming to XBMC.  I still have to work on a lot of stuff before I am satisfied, streaming to the Xbox360, VNC maybe, desktop calendars (really maybe).   I have decided one thing beyond a doubt though.  I hate Ubuntu Unity.  The interface is awful, I don’t understand what is running in the background, how to access it, or how to change it.  It seems like the Ubuntu guys really wanted to make a launcher that is simple enough for people to use but they went to far and lost the tweakability that Linux is all about.

Where there is a will there is code, right?  I resolve to find something better.

I would seem that I am not the first person to voice disapproval of Unity.  Quickly I find many alternatives to Unity and being Linux, all are easy to install and configure.  The alternative that catches my eye is Gnome 3 (   two lines of code later

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell 
gnome-shell --replace

Bam! Instantly looking so much nicer.

A quick switch of


Now that’s an interface that I understand.  One last it of code to enable gnome-shell by default

sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults --session gnome-shell

Reboot and Success!

Day 1

I woke up this morning at 4:45 to change Michaela and didn’t see the point in sleeping anymore, so I hopped on the computer.

Booted up and into a updated system.  I had started the updates previous.  My goal this morning was to implement my 2 HDD system/data model.  First step is format my old data drive.  A quick search brought me to Gparted (link).  I installed and formated /dev/sdb1 to ext3.  I have no plans on going back to Windows and I am not going to make it easy for myself to do it.

My Newly formatted drive mounted itself as /media/Data.  I’m still very new at the file structure  in linux and the lack of drive names continues to throw me for a loop.  The only reason why have a clue on this is that my Android phone operates with the same file structure.

Ubuntu has a “My Documents” analog as /home/user.  In this directory all the documents, videos, picture and music are store and also have handy system shortcuts.  So my goal is to mount /dev/sdb1 (newly formatted) as /home.  This was easy enough to do in windows (right click My Documents….properties…..Move target) but it seems to be a little more complicated in Ubuntu.   I am finding out in linux, where there is a will there is a way and plenty of forums to help you.

I found this forumof another chap in my situation.  Seems easy enough.  I fire up gedit and add UUID=xxxx /home ext3 defaults 0 2  to /etc/fstab And reboot.  And then I can’t login anymore.  Stuck at login screen and nothing happens when I put my password in.  The best help i can find is on yahoo answers.  I opt to start over.

Quick wipe and re-install and 11 minutes later I’m back where I started the morning at.  This time I get the idea to FIRST copy the contents of /home to /dev/sdb1 before I reboot.  I try to copy the contents and i get an error that I don’t have permission to write to the drive.  Time for more google.  I learn about the chown command and a quick

sudo chown -R skyjedi:skyjedi /dev/sdb1

I own the drive now.

sudo cp /home to /dev/sdb1

After one failed attempt at manually editing /etc/fstab I opt for a gui approach.

sudo apt-get install pysdm
sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak
gksu pysdm &

Point /dev/sdb1 to /home/skyjedi with pysdm

I cross my fingers and reboot.  IT WORKS!  Login and look at /home and it looks good.  I confirm that /dev/sdb1 is mounted at /home in gparted.   I start copying all my data into /home and confirm that /dev/sdb1 is taking the data and not /dev/sda1.

2 drive lifestyle continues!

That’s it for the day.

Day 0

Andrea is out running, Michaela is asleep, 45 minutes before the movie theater requires me at my post, the perfect time to take the massive leap into a new OS.

I have already downloaded Ubuntu 11.10 64 bit and made a bootable USB key from here.  I take one last look at Windows 7 and reboot into Ubuntu Install.  Where I see this:

Since I started building my own computer I have used a two HDD method where one HDD is just for the OS, another is just for data, and never the twain shall meet.  This enables me to nuke my OS install and always have my data safe and untouched from the process.  The same can be achieved by partitioning a single HDD but I’m paranoid of drive failure and HDDs are cheap as mud so I use two physical discs.

It eludes me as to why my two HDD are partitioned into three drives, which partitions are on which drives, and why one of them is labeled OS X.   I am also unfamiliar with this partition manager so reboot back to windows!  Where I see this.

160GB System Drive? Check.  750GB data drive?  Split into 2 partitions of 542GB and 156GB.  Mysterious ~156GB Partition, Check.  Wait WHAT?!?  Then it hits me.  I installed OS X 10.5(.6?) onto this machine back in ’10.  I must have had the great idea to break my Data and System “never the twain shall meet” rule and play with of OS X on my data drive.  I can only assume that OS X didn’t pan out since I have forgotten all of this.

Quick check on Michaela, still sleeping like an Angel.  WHICH SHE IS!

Alright, hmmm how to proceed at this point?  I remember that NTFS works but is not preferred in a Linux environment.  I decide to format the 160GB HDD for the OS install and deal with his weird partitioning on the 750GB data drive later.  To be safe I pull out my trusty 300GB external HDD and backup of all my data ~120GB off the data drive.  Calculating time of transfer…….about an hour.  Well that’s it till after the theater.

(Movie theater job interlude)

Get home, the ladies are already asleep. 😦 The backup is done, a quick random check to verify, and reboot back into Ubuntu Install.

Select format and install onto /dev/sda, my 160GB system drive, and leave the 750GB Data drive alone for now (his day will come).  Ubuntu takes care of all the partitioning, which is good because I don’t know the difference between a primary partition, a swap partition, a logical partition, or a well dug hole in the ground.  The process starts.  It asks for a few things, username, password, region, and offers to download updates during install.  Only then do I realize that the computer is connected to the internet, on my wireless network,  in the installation instance, without futzing with drivers. Score one for Ubuntu.

The worst fears over hardware and unforeseen complications begin to wane.   After a rocky start this whole process finally gets moving and things are looking up.  The installation starts and a progress bar begins to progress mere 10 minutes since I got home.  Done with computers for the day, time for bed.

Hop in the shower and head towards the bed, and BAM!  I wake Michaela up.  Ooops.