I returned to work on Thursday. The weather here proved to be colder than in Arkansas, though my family's home in Arkansas is two hundred forty miles north. I heard one of those little radio tags that last week marked the coldest 20 days this time of year since the 19th C.
Yesterday the temperature started around 41 degrees and stayed there all day. I took a short walk at Oak Point Park in Plano. The skies were overcast. The temperature was nippy. On the second half of the walk, a brisk breeze made its presence felt. I saw an eastern phoebe, a great blue heron, and mallard ducks, as well as a small hawk overhead. I also stopped by Bethany Lakes Park and watched the ducks.
My project to install a hard drive and then Linux into a computer I bought for less than a hundred dollars on eBay worked out great. I had installed the hard drive and had gotten Debian 7 to load. Debian 7 is good operating system, but it is not as "beginner-friendly" as some other distributions. When I stopped in at the Barnes & Noble across the street from my work, I found that Linux Format magazine had a special feature on best newbie-friendly distributions. The magazine came with a DVD of the two "winning" choices. I decided to install such a distribution on
the eBay computer.
First I loaded up Elementary O/S. Elementary O/S has been getting a great deal of press lately.
It was featured in Wired Magazine because of its stylish design. Its inventors are a group of 20something fellows who have made it a very popular distribution. Their formula is to use stunningly good design and graphics, coupled with an easy-to-use user interface. I loaded the operating system without any major hassle, and installed it to the hard disk. The system did look just lovely. Its design deserves the accolades.
I did encounter two problems, one a hassle and one a deal-killer. The first problem was that the codecs for flash and mp3s did not initially load up. This was surprising, because Elementary O/S is based on the Linux distribution Ubuntu, whose easy-to-use installer allows one to check a simple box to get all those things loaded on. I am used to dealing with installing flash and codecs because Fedora, the operating system I use, ships with only free software, and one has to enable a repository of software to get these proprietary codecs. This is not a big deal, because things one has to grab are not extensive. I usually just install the wonderful audio and video player VLC, which automatically grabs those dependent codecs.
But when I load Ubuntu, I expect to not have to do all that, but instead to check a box and have it done without further adieu. That's not a game-changer, though, because it is easily remedied.
The other issue, though, was a game-changer. The system sound was off. The sound would check fine on the diagnostic, but neither on-line audio nor audio through the audio player would make a sound. I suspect that the system was not recognizing the sound card for some purposes.
I did not spend much time to investigate, though. I simply replaced the installation of Elementary O/S with the other top-rated beginner's distro, Pinguy OS.
Pinguy is also based on Ubuntu, so it loaded quite easily. I am typing on this computer now.
It is really a pretty impressive distribution. It comes "out of the box" with almost all the key software a basic consumer would want to have. Its design is user-friendly, with a user interface which is based on Gnome 3 but a bit more classic in look. I've found it more or less problem free. A few minor quirks have arisen. The synaptic package manager, when loaded, gives out an error message about not being able to find the Medibuntu software repository. But this is understandable, because Ubuntu just folded that repository into its general Ubuntu repository. But Pinguy is in general just grand, and will be the workhorse for the job.
I picked up a DVD of the classic movie "Shane" for 3 dollars at Big Lots during an expedition for a computer case. I found the case itself at Goodwill for $ 9.99. Big Lots had lots of shoppers, but the checkout lines were well-managed. I mailed a holiday card to friends overseas, where the lines at the little storefront postal center was 12 folks long. I got nice poinsettia stamps to use on my other mailings. My holiday cards arrived in the mail this week, and look just right.
I took Beatrice for a walk in the park yesterday, after putting on her the little orange coat festooned with little milk bone designs we keep for wintry days. During our walk, we saw a mockingbird and a tree full of finches.
Last night my wife had a holiday party at a co-worker's house. I took the opportunity to have an evening indoors. I used a good bit of the evening trying to install Porteus Linux on a USB flash drive, that I will send to a friend who wants to try Linux out. I got it to install easily with the installation software unetbootin. I then added Audacity to the USB. A lot of my evening, though, was devoted to trying to add word processing software. The system could not resolve the dependencies for packages, including for a package in its own repository. Last night I tried to instead make a Lubuntu USB operating system, but it would not boot from the USB. This morning I figured out how to make a custom Porteus .iso with the word processing files included, but it would not boot. I have on hand, though, a Peppermint Linux operating system on a USB stick, and I will simply send that to my friend. Were I a more capable user, then some of these minor issues would be more easily solved.
The warm weather is set to return on Monday. While this cold snap has been interesting, I am ready to move back to a bit of Texas warmth.