Monthly Archives: November 2008

November 2008 Round-up

It’s been a quiet month on the posting front, but here we go with the usual round-up.

Weight

November 4[1]: 216 pounds (15 stone 6 pounds, 98 kg)
November 30: 214 pounds (15 stone 4 pounds, 97.1 kg)
Difference: A probably quite random fall of 2 pounds (0.9 kg)

Eating

Yes, yes. Still overdoing it.

Exercise

Ah. Yes. Well. I sort of lost the will to record anything for a big chunk of the month, so I don’t have proper figures this month. Overall, I’d say I mostly walked to work, and almost entirely got the bus home. Much the same as last month, really.

Posting

Oh dear. an even deeper dip this month. Total for the month: 18.

Stuff

I managed to take a few pictures while I was in London last week, but otherwise I haven’t done much of interest.

[1] I was in London the first three days of the month

Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert

Like a lot of people, I’ve been a fan of Dilbert for many years. I buy the books, I get each day’s cartoon in my RSS reader, and generally enjoy it. While I buy the collections that come out a little more often than once a year[1], I’ve generally not bothered with the extra compilations that come out from time to time. As these generally include stuff I already have, they’re not really worth bothering with for me.

But the other day, I wandered into Waterstone’s and saw this. A huge slipcased hardback Dilbert collection. It was wrapped up so I couldn’t see the contents, but the label claimed it contained over 2,000 strips with lots of comments from Scott Adams and a disk with over 6,000 strips. The cover price was a rather hefty £50, so I didn’t buy it. But when I got back in front of a computer, I checked for more details on Amazon, where I found it at a rather more reasonable £24.99, which I couldn’t resist at all.

The next day, it was in my hands, and it’s everything you might wish for in a definitive Dilbert collection. There are some introductory notes from Scott – going into more detail on the origins of Dilbert than in previous books, early cartoons from before the strip was syndicated and lots of background notes and comments on selected strips. And nice little bonus items like the letter from some outraged square dancers. It’s all very nicely presented on heavy paper, with very clear reproductions of the strips.

The included CD (oddly described as a DVD in the packaging) quite simply contains image files of every Dilbert strip from the first published one up to May this year. No fancy viewers or awkward software, just the files to do with as you wish[2]. More recent strips can be found at the Dilbert website, of course.

I’d describe this as the ideal gift for any Dilbert fan. And for anyone who doesn’t have the full collection of books, it’s a very cost-effective way of getting a full set of Dilbert strips in a handy format.

[1] For reasons that might make sense in a parallel universe, rather than issuing a collection once a year with a whole year’s cartoons in it, they issue smaller books with about nine months cartoons. Except when they produce bigger ones with about twice as many. Most odd.
[2] Subject to copyright, etc, etc, etc

Acer Aspire One – Progress Report 1

It’s not quite four weeks since I got my sweet little netbook, but I’ve been using it quite a lot since then, so I thought it might be a good time to talk about how I’m getting on with it.

As it comes out of the box, it’s perfectly usable – there’s a simple interface which provides large friendly icons to launch the supplied applications, and it’s easy enough to get into the few settings that most non-geeky users are going to want – wireless network settings being the most obvious one. But being a geek, I wasn’t really satisfied with that. A bit of searching and reading led me to the very useful Aspire One User Forum, which led me to a long and detailed thread on how to switch to a standard desktop:

Get the Linux desktop you always wanted in 10 easy steps!

Following that with a bit of trial and error got me a proper desktop with a normal taskbar thingy. Much nicer.

I then decided that trying a few other species of Linux might be fun. Ubuntu is quite popular, and I’ve tried it out on full-sized machines where it works nicely. Would it work on the Aspire One? Well, yes. Quite well, really – though wireless networking needs a bit of manual tweaking to get working. But after a few days, I got a little irritated with the slower start up and what seemed like poorer battery life[1], so I popped in my recovery USB stick and reverted to the original installation[2]. Which I then tweaked again.

More reading led me to look at Mandriva. This installed beautifully. Wireless worked without tweaking. But on the 512MB Aspire One, it was sloooooooooooooooooooooow. Long lags between clicking things and anything happening, not just a slow start up.

So, it was back to the start again. I redid all my tweaking (upgrade to Firefox 3 and Open Office 3, standard desktop, disable automatic log in, etc) and got back to just using the computer. As all this tweaking takes a while, I needed a way to back up what I’d done, and more searching on the forum suggested a few methods of varying levels of ease. I settled on using PING (Partimage is not Ghost), which works with a bootable USB stick. Boot off the stick, and you get a moderately easy to use text-based interface that lets you take a compressed image of the whole 8GB SSD. This took about ten minutes on my not very full at all disk. I then deleted some stuff and used PING to restore the disk, which worked as advertised.

In between all this fiddling, I have been using the computer, of course. Mostly for web browsing, but I’ve had a bit of a play with the built in webcam, and I’m quite pleased with the image quality:

Tigger and Friend

Tigger and Friend

I’m now getting ready to do some more fiddling. A bit more reading led me to the discovery that the underlying version of Linux on the AAO (as its friends call it) is Fedora 8. Not the newest or fanciest, but particularly in its Linpus variant it works well on low power kit. But there is a potential problem: As Fedora 10 is about to be released, support for Fedora 8 is going to cease. Not all that important, but enough to make me give the pre-release version of Fedora 10 a go. According to a few reports, it works nicely. I’ll cover that in a future post…

[1] I didn’t actually measure it, it was just a (possibly incorrect) impression…
[2] Acer provide a bootable DVD for system recovery. Pop this into a PC with a suitable drive, add a 2GB USB memory key and you’ll have a nicely portable recovery “disk”

Weight Reports: Taking a Break

Well, as the weight thing seems to have stabilised at a level of heavier than I want to be but not heavy enough to motivate me to do anything about it, it seems a wee bit pointless posting the daily fluctuations, so I’m going to stop doing that until such a time as any changes become less boring.

I’ll continue to post other stuff here, and might even get the motivation together to sort out my new photo backlog….

Weight Report – 9 November 2008

Another minor variation today.

Had a lazy day today. I think the combination of working last weekend and having a cold was just enough to stop me wanting to do much of anything. I did start work on making my WordPress theme more 2.7 compatible (there are some things that won’t work with the current one), but didn’t get very far, as the brain cells that normally deal with CSS just didn’t want to know.

How the Stock Market Works

In these uncertain economic times, when so much odd stuff is going on that is very hard for most of us to understand, it’s good to finally find a clear explanation of how stock markets work:

How the Stock Market Works « All Things Cool

Go on, click and read. It’ll all be much more clear when you do.

Thanks to the essential Look at This for pointing me at that.