Posted by: reformedmusings | March 8, 2014

Uncle Sam’s healthcare scam – Dr. Seuss revisited

Awesome rework by Sarah Palin:

The words:

“I do not like this Uncle Sam. I do not like his health care scam. I do not like — oh, just you wait — I do not like these dirty crooks, or how they lie and cook the books. I do not like when Congress steals, I do not like their crony deals. I do not like this spying, man, I do not like, ‘Oh, Yes we can.’ I do not like this spending spree, we’re smart, we know there’s nothing free. I do not like reporters’ smug replies when I complain about their lies. I do not like this kind of hope, and we won’t take it, nope, nope, nope.”

Very clever and sadly true.

Posted by: reformedmusings | March 6, 2014

Paying it forward – from the mouths of babes

Speaks for itself:

It’s easy to criticize the media when the get it wrong, as they often do, but we must be willing to cheer them when they get it right. CBS’ Steve Hartman nailed this story, telling it perfectly by letting the participants do the talking and tying it together nicely.

The greatest honors come from the heart and arrive totally unexpected.

One of my strongest and most cherished memories from over 30 years of service came right after the barbarianism of 9/11. Many of us who had served a lot of years felt like our job was to prevent such a terrorist attack from ever happening and that we had failed. The magnitude of that failure played out on TV constantly that week.

Every week for about a year before 9/11/2001, usually on Fridays, I drove a little bit off of my usual path to the Produce Place of Suntree for fresh orange juice on my way home from work. That freshly squeezed juice came literally straight from the tree and I found it highly addicting. The taste of OJ that fresh varies significantly between the orchards and trees, and I thought the supplier for the Produce Place produced the finest OJ to my tastes. I still miss that freshness. By 9/11/2001, since I had been coming to the market for about a year, they knew me and were used to seeing me. Folks were very friendly, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The first time that I stopped at the market for my OJ after 9/11, the manager strode quickly and purposefully across that busy market and grabbed my hand to shake it. With tears in his eyes and a firm grip on my hand, he thanked me from deep in his heart for my service for our country. He caught me totally off guard and I didn’t know what to say. His heartfelt gesture deeply moved me. I think that I thanked him and said something like that it was an honor to serve, which, of course, it was. Those couple of seconds remain blurred by the emotional impact of the event. That memory will never leave me. The grateful manager paid it forward.

I accumulated a lot of ribbons and awards over 30 years, but the one that I wear every day in my heart is that Produce Place of Suntree Thank You for Your Service Award. I suspect that Lt Col Frank Dailey feels the same about that little green Post-It note from 8-year-old Myles Eckert, and how it came from deep in Myles heart.

Paying it forward makes an impact and changes lives.

Posted by: reformedmusings | January 6, 2014

CyanogenMod 11 M2 Snapshot and Samsung Galaxy s3

My last encounter early in the CyanogenMod 11 development didn’t go so well. CM 11 is based on Android 4.4.2, an update from the 4.3.1 I was using until now in CM 10.2.1. The ‘M’ releases aren’t as stable as release candidates, but are more stable than nightlies. With the release of M2, I decided to give CM 11 another go.

I downloaded the M2 snapshot from CyanogenMod, as well as the accompanying 20131208 version of gapps, then copied them to the root directory of my internal SD card on the S3. I then updated ROM Manager, which in turn updated ClockworkMod Recovery to 6.0.4.5. Upon restarting my phone into CWM, I installed M2 from the internal SD card, then flashed gapps, then restarted the phone.

This time, the Galaxy booted normally to the app optimization screen, then finished the boot normally. Awesome:

CM-11-M2-Snapshot

Android 4.4.2 running on my Galaxy S3, sweet!

Things worked so well, including the WiFi this time, that I updated to the 20140106 nightly to obtain some of the specific updates. I used the built-in CM updater and everything worked fine. So that’s what I’m using now.

The only issue that I’ve encountered is that the Privacy Guard icon and notification remain after the program that invoked PG has closed. I haven’t seen this before, but it’s a minor annoyance. All my apps seem to work fine, including Greenify and Xposed.

One disappointment is that CM 11 does not support ART, at least yet. I was looking forward to playing with ART, but repeated attempts to switch from davlik to ART produced promising reboots, but always back to using davlik. Perhaps down the road.

In the meantime, I’m groovin’ with CM 11 and Android 4.4.2.

Dr. R. Scott Clark has posted Part 2 of his excellent interview of TE M. Jay Bennett on the TE Meyers’ Federal Vision trial. In case you missed Part 1, you can find it here. As you might expect, the two flow together.

Part 2 delves a bit more into the unseemly manoeuvring by TE Meyers and his friends in Missouri Presbytery (MOP) to limit the prosecution’s ability to function in accordance with the PCA Book of Church Order. The actions explained by TE Bennett severely hampered the prosecution, whilst providing easy avenues for the defense to “run out the clock”. The transcripts make the tactics obvious even after the fact. Given the magnitude of the issues at stake, the prosecution should have been given both adequate time to prepare and present its case. It was not.

I commented in this post about my involvement as a prosecution witness in the case. In light of TE Bennett’s comments on his cross-examination of TE Meyers, I need to point out that I was not present for that cross because I had to catch my flight home. So, I want to make it clear that my previous post should take nothing away from TE Bennett’s observations about his cross-examination of TE Meyers.

So, where does all this leave us in the PCA? Certainly, there are presbyteries like Missouri, Pacific Northwest, Siouxlands, and perhaps a few others in which faithful officers cannot recommend churches to inquirers without personally knowing individual pastors who are orthodox and confessional. It also means that transferees from said presbyteries must be carefully examined in detail for their views. We saw that with Lusk when he tried to transfer to Evangel Presbytery a few years ago, and Leithart most recently. Though Leithart has not yet been examined, his work out of bounds teaching Federal Vision doctrine in Evangel’s geographic area has been rejected in accordance with the BCO. Faithful presbyteries must be on the watch and guard their flocks from FV wolves.

Dr. Clark’s excellent post on the parallels between Federal Visionists today and Arminians in the Reformed church centuries ago captures this watchfulness issue well. While the Federal Visionists deny on one hand that they hold aberrant views, they openly teach them outside of the view of the PCA courts. Although Meyers, Leithart, et al, remain “in good standing” in the PCA just as James Arminius did in the Dutch church in his day, they would not and should not be welcome in many if not most pulpits in the PCA or should they be permitted to spread their poison at General Assembly seminars. If confessional elders would not invite Arminius or Pelagius into their pulpits, then how could they in faithfulness to their vows invite a Federal Visionist? They cannot.

Confessional, orthodox Reformed elders in the PCA must stay diligent and informed in these trying times until we can change the BCO to correct these recent travesties. In the meantime, although we cannot at this moment directly treat the cancer in some presbyteries, we can and must contain the disease.

Posted by: reformedmusings | December 14, 2013

Lessons learned with CyanogenMod 11 Nightly on Galaxy S3

So, I’ve been humming along with the last nightly of the CyanogenMod 10.2.0 release (actually the post-release 20131206 nightly) based on Android 4.3.1 on my Samsung Galaxy S3. The longer that I use CM, the more I like it. CM is fast, smooth, and offers a good balance of features and customizations. No worries.

Over the last week, CM has been releasing CM 11 nightlies based on Android 4.4.1 kitkat for general testing on the Galaxy S3. Although fully and happily operational on Android 4.3.1, I’ve been keeping my eye on 4.4 kitkat. This past Thursday’s nightly for the S3 jumped to Android 4.4.2. My kitkat lust became uncontrollable, so I decided to check the forums and Google+ for user issues. Some lost their WiFi on the international version and there are issues with some of the Google apps, some had worse problems like boot loops, but some had no significant issues with the nightlies. Armed with unbridled optimism that overrode my better judgement, I decided to take the plunge on the CM 11 20131212 nightly.

I took all reasonable precautions. I had the installation files to return to 10.2.0 and the matching gapps on my internal SD card. I also had the gapps for kitkat there ready to flash. I always have Titanium Backup Pro keeping a current backup of my apps and settings. My Clockwork Recovery Mod (CWM) version was up to date. Checklist complete.

Further, when I booted into CWM, I first erased both the cache and dalvik cache for a clean start. I then flashed the CM 11 nightly and gapps version 20131119, in that order, from my internal SD. That should have given me a clean CM 11 system whilst preserving my apps and app settings. After everything finished flashing, I restarted the Galaxy. That’s when the fun began.

At first, the boot process would lock up early. After pulling/replacing the battery twice and restarting, the boot process started looping into  an endless auto-restart. When I’d had enough of watching that, I pulled/replaced the battery again and booted into CWM by holding the volume up, home, and power buttons down until the initial boot screen appeared, then releasing ONLY the power button until CWM appeared. I reflashed both CM 11 and the appropriate gapps, then restarted the phone.

This time, after a few boot lockup – but each one further into the process – the phone booted all the way to the opening lock screen before rebooting on its own again. It did this three times, each time a message appeared about Android updating the messaging, media, and another database respectively. After that, it was more boot looping once CM reached the lock screen.

OK, I had seen enough. I pulled/replaced the battery and booted to CWM again. This time, I cleared both caches and flashed CM 10.2.0 and gapps 20130813, then restarted. The phone booted normally, but I had no WiFi. Ugh. After fiddling with that for a while, I decided to bite the bullet, wipe the phone to factory clean and start over from scratch. By now my 1 hour project was at 3 hours and still running.

But I made a critical error in judgement because apparently my optimism remained unbridled. Instead of returning to a known working configuration like the normally-disciplined, experienced tester that I am, I decided to try the CM 11 nightly again from that factory clean state along with its associated gapps. Bad move. I again experienced boot lockups and then boot loops. So, I rebooted to CWM and flashed back to CM 10.2.0 and its appropriate gapps. This once again recovered the phone except for WiFi, which remained inoperable. I restored the system using Titanium Pro. By then I’d had enough and call it quits for the night. Net time invested: 5+ hours. Net result: back where I started except for the loss of wifi capability.

After trying FXR WiFi Fixer and Recovery on Friday to no good end, I reasoned that the only way back to full functionality was to again go back to a factory wipe and flash CM 10.2.0 with is associated gapps from a totally clean state. Before doing so, I updated Titanium Pro’s backup to the latest complete setup. That was mistake #2.

This procedure brought me to a pristine CM 10.2.0 state. Although Google offered to restore my apps and data over WiFi, I elected to restore everything from my Ti backup. Mistake #3. Some messed-up system settings that existed from the CM 11 nightly fiasco apparently survived in the Ti backup of system settings. This resulted in an endless boot loop when restarting. This time I knew exactly what I did wrong and I finally reined in my optimism, so I again factory wiped the phone in CWM, reflashed 10.1.0 and gapps just for grins, then allowed Google to restore my apps and settings. Lastly, I restored all the app settings data ONLY from Ti’s current backup. Success!

General comments and observations:

1. None of this was CyanogenMod’s fault. They post clear warnings in every possible location that nightlies are likely unstable and not suitable for normal use. While most are actually fine, there’s always the possibility of something important being broken in a nightly. That’s especially the case early in the early builds for a new major system version as was the case here.

2. Never let your lust for shiny new things override your experienced judgement. Violating this rule bit me 3 times: first, running a nightly based on a brand new operating system port; 2) not returning to a known state after the nightly hosed my wifi; and 3) restoring a system settings back up from a system that had issues, especially not knowing what settings might have survived from the earlier adventure.

3. If you don’t use Clockwork Mod Recovery on your rooted phone, you should. CWM saved my bacon time and again throughout this process. Of course, it plays an integral role in flashing custom ROMs to start with, but it has powerful powers to recover otherwise bricked phones. Don’t leave home while rooted without it.

4. Always start ROM flashing projects with a full battery. You never know how long these things will take.

I am still looking forward to kitkat in CM 11 when CM releases a milestone version or better. Until then, I’m very happy with the CM 10.2.0 20131206 nightly and Android 4.3.1. Lesson learned.

Dr. R. Scott Clark, church historian, pastor, and Westminster Seminary California professor, interviewed Rev. M. Jay Bennett for the Heidelcast. Jay was the lead prosecutor for the TE Jeff Meyers’ Federal Vision trial in Missouri Presbytery. The interview comes in two parts, with the second part slated for next week. In the first part that’s posted now, Dr. Clark covers Teaching Elder Bennett’s background, a bit of Federal Vision (FV) background, and the timeline leading up to the Meyers trial. The latter provides some insight into how the discipline process in the PCA proceeds. As usual, Dr. Clark conducts an informative and engaging interview which I highly recommend. Scott and Jay discuss a few anomalies in the case history, but so far haven’t mentioned the big one in my opinion.

In the trial record of case, on page 872, you see that Missouri Presbytery (MOP) was basically pushing TE Bennett out of the presbytery, which would, of course, make him unable to complain against the decision in the Meyers case. In the end, MOP succeeded and the PCA Standing Judicial Commission apparently let MOP get away with this ploy without even reading the record of the case. The bigger story is that MOP had kept men like TE Mark Horne, another Federal Visionist like Meyers, without call for over 3 years. Yet, TE Bennett, who opposes the unreformed FV, was being bounced almost immediately. The politics is pretty clear when looking at the bigger picture.

To be totally up front, I signed the original letter of concern mentioned in the interview and was a witness for the prosecution in the Meyers case, flying to St. Louis on my own nickle (i.e., at no cost to MOP) for the trial. I worked with Jay on my testimony, and found him a fair, honorable, and confessional teaching elder who deeply loves the Reformed Faith and understood the unconfessional nuances in the Federal Vision. The PCA owes TE Bennett a great debt of gratitude for standing firmly for the gospel in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Don’t miss part 1 of the interview, and check back next week for part 2. And you could benefit greatly by following Dr. Clark’s Heidelblog as many of us do.

I would be remiss without adding that Jeff Meyers, after being acquitted by MOP, now teaches with all the FV heavyweights at an FV school. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Posted by: reformedmusings | December 5, 2013

Greenify for Android a must-have to increase battery life!

Like most smartphone users, I crave more battery. Battery can be conserved by disabling all push notifications as well as location services, active screensavers, turn off radios not being used, etc. Even then, some programs insist on loading themselves into memory and eating your nanos and battery. There are programs that will auto-kill apps, but that can actually eat CPU time as well as the killed apps continually try to reload.

Virtually all social media apps load themselves, but so do most browsers, news apps, even shopping apps. Facebook and Google+ are amongst the worst offenders, but ESPN Score Center seems to want to vie for the top annoying position. It’s absurd that these programs always want to run in the background, eating your nanos and battery.

Enter Greenify. It doesn’t kill apps, but hibernates them. You can still call them back in the same state in which you left them. But in the meantime, they don’t eat your nanos or your battery. Awesome idea.

Greenify itself will automatically hibernate the list of user-installed apps that you specify. To hibernate system apps, you must use the donate version in combination with Xposed. Xposed is a framework that allows system changes to Android without having to flash new ROM pieces. It sounds scary, and should be used with caution, but actually works well. Be sure to read the background and instructions at this link.

Don’t Greenify everything. Nothing is free and Greenifying the wrong apps can cause issues with them. That’s especially true for system apps. For example, using the donate version of Greenify with Xposed, I added Google Play services to the hibernate list because is seemed to eat more nanos than warranted according to System Tuner Pro. That started some bizarre Android behavior until I took Play services off of the list. So far, that’s the only issue that I’ve encountered.

Does it work? You bet. Using Better Battery Stats, my Galaxy S3 ate between 2.5% with virtually no usage and over 4% of the battery per hour of normal use on a good day. A bad day could run 8 – 9%/hour or higher. Disabling location services and all push notifications helped, but I was still stuck with 3 – 4%/hour on a good day. With Greenify, battery drain dropped to less than 2%/hour consistently in my normal daily usage pattern tested for over a week. That’s about a 50-100% increase in battery life!

Greenify is a cinch to use, sporting a very user-friendly interface and good help available. I highly recommend Greenify, especially the donate version, as a valuable tool to speed up your phone and increase your battery life.

Posted by: reformedmusings | December 2, 2013

CyanogenMod 10.2 Released!

CyanogenMod released CM 10.2.0 based on Android 4.3. You can download it here, or simply update from your previous version:

galaxy-s3_CM10_2_0

The release candidate works great, so I expect even better things from the release.

This also means the work on CM 11.0 based on Android 4.4 will proceed at a greater pace. I’m hoping that the CM folks address some of the silliness that Google baked into 4.4, like losing the Recent Calls list.

Posted by: reformedmusings | November 24, 2013

CyanogenMod 10.2 Release Candidate 1 Available

The CyanogenMod team has been moving very quickly with version 10.2 development based on Android 4.3.1. This weekend, the first release candidate hit the download sites. I had been playing with a few nightlies, which have also proven stable, but there’s no guarantee with nightlies.

CM 10.2 RC1 is fast and stable. Updating went smoothly and I’ve encountered no issues so far:

galaxy-s3-10_2-rc1

The CM team is working on version 11, based on Android 4.4, in parallel with finishing the 10.2 development. I’m not thrilled with some of the changes in Android 4.4, especially losing the recent call list and incorporating Google+ data into everything, including caller ID. This approach seems to kill any hope of privacy even on your own phone. Hopefully, the CM team can correct these defects.

Posted by: reformedmusings | November 22, 2013

Windows 8.1 in WMWare Workstation 10 under Ubuntu Linux

First and to be perfectly clear, I am not even remotely considering going back to Windows. Good, we got that out of the way up front.

I have been running WinXP under VMWare Workstation in Linux for years for three reasons: Logos Bible Software, Turbo Tax, and Garmin GPS updates. That’s it, but all three are important to me and have no Linux alternatives. Logos 5 now only works in Win7 and higher, presenting a dilemma. I actually decided to abandon Logos and did so for a few months, but then found a Window 8.1 CD at Discount Mountain Software for just under $100 and I found it painful to abandon several thousand dollars of resources under Logos. DMS shipped promptly and I had the CD in just 3 days.

My reasoning in picking Win8.1 over Win7 was simple – I didn’t want to have to buy a new OS for my VM very often. Going with the latest for relatively cheap extends the time when I may have to do this again.

Installing Win8.1 into VMWare Workstation 10 proved a snap. Workstation automatically installed the operating system upon creation and also installed VMWare Tools for me. Whereas WinXP took 45 minutes to an hour to install from scratch, Win8.1 took just 16 minutes or so.

Win8.1 turned out to be as bad or even worse than I’ve read about. It may work fine on a touch screen, but it stinks on a desktop computer. This is what you get on startup:

win81-start-tiles

You’ve got to be kidding me! If you dare click on one of those tiles, it then owns the screen and some useless box appears about how to swipe between programs. REALLY??? On a desktop??? They’re on some mighty powerful pharmaceuticals in Redmond. It took me a while to lose the stupid swipe hint box and I have no idea how I did it. I made the mistake of opening a picture and then couldn’t get rid of the full-screen app with no visible controls. I finally used the task switcher (upper left corner of the screen) to switch to the desktop and then used Task Manager to kill the app. There’s probably an approved way to do the same thing, but I didn’t find it in a reasonable time.

If you click on the little arrow in the lower left of the screen, you can swap to an applications list which is somewhat more useful:

win81-app-list

I discovered that by hitting the escape key, I can get to a real desktop (pictured with a custom theme that I added later; the standard themes are incredibly lame):

win81-desktop

That allowed me to install Logos 5, the Garmin Express updater, Olive Tree’s Bible Study, and eventually Turbo Tax when I get the download link. Good enough on that count, but how do I get rid of the stupid “Start” screen with the tiles?

The answer lies in the Control Panel -> Taskbar and Navigation controls (you can get to the control panel by moving the mouse pointer to the lower right corner of the screen, then clicking on the gear icon on the pop-up panel, then select Control Panel):

win81-control-panel-tan

That dialog contains all the controls needed to bring sanity to Win8.1:

navigation-settings-dialog

For a change, the settings proved self-explanatory. I unchecked showing Start screen with the tiles, substituting the app list display when I click on the “Start” icon. If you have a lot of apps, this app list could get very difficult to scan. Since I only use a handful of apps that I pinned to the task bar, I don’t need that screen often at all.

For completeness, here’s a Logos 5 screen showing the Passage Guide on Psalm 11 with some of my resources:

win81-logos5-ps11

The Exegetical Guide for Psalm 11 looks like this:

win81-logos5-ps11-exegetical

Before closing, I have to sing the praises of Workstation 10. Workstation 10 is the nicest upgrade yet from WMWare. It supports advanced 3D graphics modes for Linux and Windows guests. I gave the Windows 8.1 VM 1 processor with 2 cores, 3 GB of RAM, and a 60 GB hard drive. That provided excellent performance. Because Workstation will mount a virtual disk in Linux when the VM isn’t running, I was able to transfer the data files I desired from the WinXP virtual hard drive to Win8.1 by sharing the appropriate folders through Linux and Workstation. Very simple and effective. I had a lot of old garbage in the WinXP VM, so had to transfer very little data to Win8.1.

One last observation on Windows 8.1. The transition for a normal user from WinXP or even Win7 to Ubuntu or similar Linux distribution would be far easier than the transition to Win8 – FAR easier. I use Win7 at work and have used WinXP since its introduction, and I had great difficulty trying to figure out how to do simple tasks in Win8.1 until I discovered how to keep the “obsolete” desktop as the primary display to make it work roughly like Win7. I still don’t know how to close a full-screen app from the tiles or app screen without using Task Manager to kill it, and I’ve been using and mastering computers in every form since the early 70′s. Win8 may be OK on a tablet, I don’t know, but it’s a disaster on a non-touch screen desktop computer. Ubuntu Unity is a breeze to use by comparison. I have set up complete computer novices on Ubuntu and they have zero difficulty with Unity. I wouldn’t think of giving them Win8, especially if I had to support them after setting them up.

So, I now have Logos 5 running like a top, and at the same time positioned myself for another long stretch without sending more money to Micro$oft. Mission accomplished for years to come.

Posted by: reformedmusings | November 3, 2013

Lightning Calendar Problems with Thunderbird on Linux

The Thunderbird team recently surprised the Lightning team with compatibility issues. Thunderbird 2.6.x broke something concerning the Lightning calendar extension, but apparently only under Linux. The Lightning team performed magnificently, putting out quick fixes within a few days of each issue. The Lightning Project blog has an excellent explanation and a version compatibility matrix. I recovered my calendar capability on Thunderbird with that post’s help.

That’s what I love about open source – pride in their product and rapid response to issues.

Posted by: reformedmusings | November 2, 2013

CyanogenMod 10.2 M1 with Android 4.3.1

So I noticed the announcement of CyanogenMod 10.2 M1 and decided to give it a go on my Samsung Galaxy S3. I had earlier decided to stick with “stable” builds, but “milestone” builds are near-release candidate quality and users reported the recent “dailies” as being very stable. CM 10.1.3 works great, but I really wanted to try Android 4.3.

Because Google Apps changed compatibility in 4.3, Google Apps for Android 4.2 won’t work in 4.3. This requires flashing CM 10.2 M1 in recovery mode, followed by flashing Google Apps for Android 4.3 before restarting your device. I downloaded the 10.2 M1 ROM from CM’s repository, then Google Apps from here. I followed the directions on CyanogenMod’s forum exactly. Everything worked perfectly. Ensure that you have plenty of battery available just in case. Mine only used 7% in the upgrade, buy YMMV.

Net result:

galaxy-s3-cm10_2_m1

Awesome!

Read the notes carefully at the end of the CM forum post. I had to fix my phone link as noted there because Google changed it in Android 4.3. There are other changes in 4.3.1, so read Google’s page and play around. I did some customizing, but have not had any issues.

Posted by: reformedmusings | October 21, 2013

Monitoring system sensors in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

I had been using indicator-sensors for several years to monitor my system. It worked great and did exactly what I wanted. However, the pull-down display of all the sensors didn’t work correctly. A shorter list appeared that had two sensors, some blank space, and then the menu items. I tried reinstalling, but no change.

So, I again tried Psensors again. A few years ago, it did not do what I wanted. Since then, Psensors has been greatly improved. It now sports a useful top panel icon and displays the sensor value of choice on the Unity launcher panel.

The top panel icon doesn’t look like much:

psensor-panel-icon

It’s the thermometer icon on the left. But click on the thermometer, and you hit paydirt:

psensor-menu

All the sensors appear! The “Show” item at the top displays the graphs:

Psensor-Temperature-Monitor

The history is interesting, but the min and max value could be helpful in spotting trouble coming.

Then on the Unity launcher panel, the selected value from the graph window displays in the Psensor icon (second from the top, 43 deg C):

psensor-unity-launcher

So now Psensor gives me a real-time temperature of interest and quick access to the entire sensor array. That’s a winner for me at this point. I’d rather have the temperature value on the top panel and not eat a Unity launcher position, but there’s still hope!

Posted by: reformedmusings | October 20, 2013

Dual display with NVidia in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

My DVD player died over a year ago. I occasionally watched DVDs on my computer, but that prevents me from effectively multi-tasking. So, I picked up another DVI-D cable yesterday and hooked up my small HDTV to my desktop. My NVidia 8800 GTS video card will drive 2 monitors in 3D, so no problem there, but the DVI cable turned out to be the wrong cable choice for my TV. Although Ubuntu immediately detected and used the TV as a second display with the DVI cable, the screen dimensions weren’t quite right.

I hadn’t read the TV’s specs in years. The TV’s manual explicitly says that it doesn’t support a PC connection through DVI. Ouch. So, I had to hunt down the DVI-VGA adaptors for my NVidia 8800 GTS card, then a VGA cable. Once I squared that away, life was good.

Under older Ubuntu versions, hooking up two monitors required editing /etc/X11/xorg.conf, but no longer. I simply connected the TV to the 8800 GTS card with a VGA cable and Saucy immediately recognized the new monitor and started using it in Twinview mode, Still, I went into System Settings -> Displays because Saucy put the TV electronically on the right of my monitor, but they are physically the other way around. I simply dragged the TV icon to the right of my monitor to match the physical layout:

Displays-syncmaster

Clicking on the TV icon shows its correct characteristics:

Displays-tv

The sticky edges prevent the mouse pointer from crossing the screens too easily. I find it handy, but others may find it annoying and wish to turn sticky edges off. I only wanted the Unity launcher on the monitor, so I set that from the pull-down list:

Displays-unity-bar

Since Ubuntu used the same name for both displays, I used the icon colors to distinguish them in the list.

In order to ensure that the monitor remained the primary display, I went into NVidia X Sever Settings and selected the monitor as primary:

NVIDIA X Server Settings

The whole process is much easier than it used to be. The proprietary NVidia driver in Ubuntu recognized the possible and preferred settings for both the TV and monitor. I can easily drag stuff across displays. Awesome.

I did find a few potential gotchas. First was the boot screen. After connecting the TV to the PC, the PC wanted to use the TV as the boot display. I assumed that the upper connector on the 8800 GTS was primary for boot, but that did not turn out to be the case. After playing with the BIOS settings for a while without improvement, I finally swapped the cables on the card, Problem solved.

Second, even though I set the Syncmaster monitor as the primary display, Ubuntu insists on starting some programs on the TV display. That’s OK if the TV display is up, but most of the time I want to watch TV on it. In order to ensure that applications start on the monitor screen when the TV is otherwise occupied, I turn the TV display off in System Settings -> Displays at the top of the settings panel. That reverts the TV to being on the right, but is easily fixed when turning the display back on.

I use 4 workspaces in Ubuntu. By default, the video or movie on the TV display stays with its assigned workspace when I change spaces on the monitor. To “fix” that, I simply right-click on the title bar of the video app on the TV screen and select “Always on Visible Workspace”. That way the movie or whatever stays visible on the TV whilst I work unimpeded on the PC. Piece of cake.

Everything is working just as I wanted. Multiple monitor support has been available from NVidia using Twinview in Linux for years, but it continues to improve. Under Saucy, it’s simple to set up and use.

Posted by: reformedmusings | October 18, 2013

Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander Upgrade

I noted that I started my upgrade last night. The servers were obviously hammered by early adopters, so I left the download running after I went to bed. When I woke up this morning, the installation was mostly complete. Ubuntu was waiting for my decision on the network configuration file, which I promptly provided. The installation finished minutes later and the system rebooted.

Net result? Perfect. No issues at all. My NVidia video worked, and my entire setup was nicely preserved. On the surface and using email, etc., you wouldn’t even know that an upgrade had been accomplished, Perfect.

I notice that the Firestarter firewall  manager has been decommissioned although it was fully functional. I’ll have to hunt down a new manager. Also, according to the release notes, Saucy will only be supported for 9 months instead of the customary 18 months. I presume this has to do with Canonical’s proposed move to rolling releases.

Anyway, Saucy upgraded perfectly here. Although YMMV, it looks like the water is fine fur jumping in here!

Posted by: reformedmusings | October 17, 2013

Downloading Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

Saucy Salamander was released today by Ubuntu. Like the fool that I am, I am watching my 50 Gb/sec Internet connection download Saucy at about 53 Kb/sec. 570 of 2260 files so far after about 40 minutes. It looks like I’m not the only one who had the idea of upgrading today. So, I am posting this by dictating it in Dragon on my Android. The estimated download time is three hours. I will be asleep by then, but it will carry on by itself. I watch you know how it turns out tomorrow.

By the way, don’t get any ideas about downloading Saucy yourself tonight. That will only slow down my download.

Posted by: reformedmusings | October 2, 2013

Control evil, not guns

Gutfeld’s must-see comments on evil acting in NYC without guns. Of course, in NYC ordinary subjects have no means of defense, unlike citizens here in VA. Same with the family terrorized and beaten by a biker gang in NY, a fairly common occrrence. I wonder if Obama could have been those biker thugs, or they could have been his sons. Welcome to Obamerica. More object lessons that the unarmed are simply prey for vicious predators.

Posted by: reformedmusings | September 26, 2013

Mathematics and zombies

A friend sent me this. Don’t underestimate the power of a good plan for the coming zombie apocalypse, or algebra:

algbra-and-zombies

Now I just need to tie zombies to calculus.

Posted by: reformedmusings | September 26, 2013

The Linux world

A friend found and sent me this, and it’s excellent:

linux-world-map-large

I live somewhere in the mountains on the Unity side next to the Canonical Sea.

Posted by: reformedmusings | September 24, 2013

Defending against the barbarians at the gate

Barbarian: A fierce, brutal, or cruel person.

Once again, Islamist terrorists have demonstrated their cowardice by slaughtering unarmed civilians. See a trend (21640 terrorist attacks around the world since 9/11)? Everywhere that the jihadists have face a trained military like in Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, Philippines, and Somalia, the military wipes the floor with the slime. So, the cowards have to attack unarmed women and children to have any chance.

This time the Islamists attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, executing non-Muslim women, children, and men. They killed 68 and wounded 175 unarmed civilians at last count. Wow, how brave.

Bill O’Reilly gave a great summary of what motivates the barbarians. O’Reilly posits that the Islamist cowards simply want to kill Christians and Jews. O-Reilly has the cowardly Islamist attack that killed 81 unarmed Christians in Pakistan to support his point. I think that there’s certainly a large element of truth there, but these barbarians are also just like those that preceded them in the dustbin of history – they want power and control. They hate the freedom that we enjoy in the West and desire to impose their perverted dictatorship on people through terror. The barbarians cannot defeat us directly, so they attack unarmed women and children.

The jihadists have advertised repeatedly that they want to perform these cowardly attacks here in America. They like soft targets like malls and schools as demonstrated in Mumbai, Nairobi and Beslan. Islamists particularly stated that Beslan served as a dressed rehearsal for attacks in the U.S. The problem for the cowardly jihadists is that we have the 2nd Amendment in the U.S.

Security at the perimeter of any soft target has little chance of success against a well-planned terrorist attack. The mall in Nairobi and the Washington Naval Yard both had armed guards. The attackers merely overwhelmed them in seconds. Success is found with defense in depth as Israel practices – armed defenders ready to fight back. I’ve personally witnessed this in Israel, and it’s very effective. In Nairobi, an armed former British Marine saved 100 lives. One armed citizen stopped the attack on a mall in Clackamas, Oregon. There’s quite a list of such mass murders stopped by armed citizens in the U.S. The 2nd Amendment works.

Do Americans get it? Apparently not the Obama government, the state media, or even some so-called security professionals. One so-called specialist suggests always looking for places to hide or escape. That’s great if you cannot or will not take responsibility for your safety and that of your family, delegating your protection to police who will be late to the party and generally ineffective after the first few minutes as the situation devolves into a hostage scenario. On the other hand, being armed and trained may save yours, your families, and others’ lives. Remember that the Islamic terrorists don’t plan on surviving, and murdering hostages it their cowardly way of life. Think that you can beg or negotiate with suicidal barbarians? Good luck.

The myth that anti-liberty types promulgate is that one or a few armed citizens could not defeat determined mass murderers. First, that’s not necessarily the case. Second, you don’t have to defeat the entire attack. Simply either disrupting the initial phase of attack with unexpected resistance and/or holding an exit open long enough for large numbers to escape will save lives. That’s all that’s necessary and a very realistic outcome during the initial, chaotic moments of an attack.

Obama, Biden, Bloomberg, and their anti-liberty friends want to make America safe for Islamic terrorists and other mass murderers and wide open for another Nairobi, Mumbai, or Beslan. Our founding fathers possessed the wisdom to preserve the liberty necessary to prevent and/or disrupt these mass murders and enshrined that wisdom in the 2nd Amendment. Don’t believe the anti-liberty lies.

Today, New York, Chicago, California, Maryland, Washington D.C., et al, present soft targets desirable to Islamic cowards. Even without terrorists, gun-control-heaven Chicago is the murder capital of the country., surpassing the leading gun-control-heaven of Washington D.C. What individual violent predators can do now, terrorists could multiply a hundred fold in the soft-target-rich gun-free zones.

Be ready. Arm yourself and get good training. It beats hiding under a table and praying that the murderous cowards don’t find you, or worse, watching them murder your spouse and children.

which-sign-works

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