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Year of the Linux Desktop: Reboot

Ok, so only a couple days in, and I've already installed a new distribution. Nothing against Debian really, but it just wasn't really bleeding edge enough for my desktop uses. I know in the previous post I said that I had tried Ubuntu before and that I wasn't really that fond of it, but I hadn't really given Unity a fair chance. And since this year will be all about giving Linux a fair chance, I figured I'd give Ubuntu a fair chance, since it seems that it is "The Desktop Distribution".

In order to be completely bleeding edge, I decided to install the new Quantal Quetzal version which isn't even released yet. It's still in beta which should make things really interesting. So far I've found at least a couple bugs, none of which are showstoppers but I hope they get fixed soon. The release is due out in October, so hopefully things will be pretty stable and most problems will be cleared up quickly.

I really did have a real reason for changing distributions, but for the life of me, I can't really recall what the final reason was. It just seemed like the thing to do. It's been a busy weekend.

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Year of the Linux Desktop

It's the beginning of a new year, or not by the calendar, but I've always considered September to be the beginning of a new year. Basically because that's when the new school year started. And after spending 20 years in school, it basically defined a pretty constant yearly cycle. And this year, I'm starting the year of the Linux desktop.

Every year it seems that some advancement is made in Linux, and people all around the internet that this is the year of the Linux Desktop. And they are always wrong. Well, I've decided to make my own year of the Linux Desktop, and use Linux exclusively on my laptop for an entire year.

I've been dabbling in Linux for about 13 years, but never really went full time with it. I've always at least dual booted, and mostly running Windows, and the last few years I've only run it in a virtual machine, because for the most part that was fast enough for my purposes.

In order to give it a full chance, I've decided to go a full year without any other OS on my main computer, which happens to be a laptop. My desktop mostly sits unused taping TV shows on a TV Tuner, and acting as a file storage server for stuff that I don't have space for on my laptop, or that I want backed up.

So this is my experiment. See if I can use Linux exclusively on this computer for the next full year. I'll try to blog a bit about my experiences, probably what most annoys me, but probably about other things I find pleasant too.

For those who are into Linux, I've decided that I'm going to run Debian. I've played with Ubuntu a bit, which is "The Linux for Desktops", but I can't say I've ever liked it that much. Years ago I would have gone with Mandriva (formerly Mandrake) but that seems to have fallen into disuse. And, since I've been running Debian on a virtual machine the last few years, I think that it is a pretty good distribution, and that it's stable and good enough that I could use it for a full year.

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The Christmas Blog

It's been a very long time since I've posted anything here. But it's almost Christmas, so I figure I should get something up before the new year is upon us. It's been a very warm December, and up until Wednesday when the freezing rain hit I had been biking to work. All except 2 days in November when there was also snow. It was a really great year for cycling, and I don't think I missed a day at all, save for those two in November. I wish I would have got more longer rides in though. I think next year that will be my plan. To do more recreational riding, and not just the commuting. Or to take the long way around more often when commuting. My ride is only 7 KM and sometimes it feels like it's over before it starts.

I've been keeping myself pretty busy, working on some interesting programming projects. At least stuff I find interesting. Not saying much about what it is, as I may or may not release anything out of it, but just having some fun writing C#. Being mostly a VB.Net programmer, it's not too hard to write C#, since they both have the same .Net framework, and I find that I'm able to switch between the syntaxes easily enough. Also being a web programmer, I find that switching between syntaxes is pretty much mandatory, as I do it many times a day anyway with VB.Net, Javascript and SQL.

Also finished a book lately. Speaker for the Dead. I had read Ender's Game previously, and enjoyed it immensely, although I think I found the ending a little too predictable, but I think it was supposed to be not so predictable, but I find that I have a knack for guessing how books are going to turn out. Anyway, Speaker for the Dead was completely different from Ender's game, even though it was the sequel. Because of that, I found it quite hard to get into, but once I was about halfway though I was hooked, and read the second half in about a week. Which is pretty good for me since I don't have a whole lot of time on my hands. I think I'll look into reading the rest of the series.

I guess that's about it for now. Can't wait for Christmas. The kids are extremely excited, except that Ramona and George aren't feeling so well. Winter always brings with it some kind of illness. Just a flu, so I hope they both feel better by Christmas morning, and that the rest of us are spared.

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Google Plus is Doubleplusgood

So, I finally got an invite to Google+ today. After a first cursory glance, I have to say, I like it better than Facebook. Definitely pluses are no advertisements and no game updates filling my message list. However, I really don't have much at all filling up my list of messages, as it's currently invite only. I've invited a few people, plus there's the guy who invited me, so hopefully that will clear up quite quickly. I have to wonder how long no advertisements will stick around. If they can keep it as clean as their search engine, I'm definitely dropping Facebook. Games aren't really that much of a problem, and are probably a necessary evil to get people to spend copious amounts of time on the site. Which is the primary objective of any of these social networking sites it seems.

I thought the circles things was going to be a lot more trouble, like having to select circles every time I post something. However, it seems to retain the last group of circles I selected so I don't have to continually select family and friends every time I post something. I also like the fact that I can create my own circles. Having an "Arch Enemies" circle is going to come in useful in the future. Even if that circle is currently represented by the empty set. I am also intrigued by the "following" circle, which seems to hint at a Twitter like feature. Although I can't quite see how to get a list of all posts by people I'm following, which would give me a Twitter-esque view, but I think it's there somewhere.

The photos feature seems to work really nice. I can just drop a bunch of photos on the browser and they are uploaded. Plain dumb simple. This is good. Even creates a new "album" with the date. This is also plain dumb simple. I really don't care about organizing photos into albums, which is why I use Dropshots. Just organize all the photos by date and be done with it.

Other than that, there doesn't seem to be anything really great about Google+. It lets you update your status. Lets you post photos. It lets you read the statuses and see the photos of other people. The circles thing is nice. Because I can easily share some things with some people, and not others. I'll have to see if enough people end up switching or getting a Google+ account at all to make it worth while. I feel like Facebook has a little bit too much momentum going to make enough people want to switch. And being on two social networking sites just seems like it would be doubly or even triply time consuming. Then again, it seems like most people despite using Facebook all the time seem to complain about it all the time. So maybe it does have a shot. Plus it could be a big time saver if it combined all the features of Twitter and Facebook under one roof. Anyway, this is all based on clicking around Google+ for about 10 minutes. I really need to look into this some more before I draw some real conclusions.

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Google introduces domain blocking on search. Plus Greasemonkey Script

So, I read on Slashdot that Google has implemented domain blocking on search. Which is a pretty cool feature. There's a lot of sites that pop up in search results that usually aren't what you're looking for, but usually game the searching algorithm to get more hits on their site. Of course the first recommendation for a block was Experts-Exchange. But some people brought up a good point. Sometimes the almighty hyphen has some good answers, and it's not much work to scroll down to the bottom of the page to get them. So I thought, there must be a way to resolve this conflict. The answer? Greasemonkey. In case you aren't familiar with it, Greasemonkey is a plugin for Firefox that allows you to run javascript after the page has loaded. I wrote a script that removed all the unpleasant bits of the Experts-Exchange site. Anyway, the following is the code. Let me know if you have any suggestions, problems or improvements.

// ==UserScript==
// @name           Fix The Hyphen Site
// @namespace      Kibbee
// @description    Fixes the evil hyphen site
// @include        http://www.experts-exchange.com/*
// ==/UserScript==


function HideByXPath(XPathToHide)
{
	var allDivs, thisDiv;
	allDivs = document.evaluate(
		XPathToHide,
		document,
		null,
		XPathResult.UNORDERED_NODE_SNAPSHOT_TYPE,
		null);
	for (var i = 0; i < allDivs.snapshotLength; i++) {
		thisDiv = allDivs.snapshotItem(i);
		thisDiv.style.display = 'none';
	}
}

HideByXPath("//div[@class='acceptedBlurredSolution']");
HideByXPath("//div[contains(@class,'relatedSolutionsContainer')]");
HideByXPath("//div[contains(@class,'allZonesMain')]");
HideByXPath("//div[@class='theAdvert']");
HideByXPath("//div[@id='navAdBanner']");
HideByXPath("//div[@id='pageRight']");
HideByXPath("//div[@id='topBanner']");
document.getElementById('pageHeader').style.height = '125px';