Archive for November, 2011

Learning things via technology is … weird

Posted in default on November 26th, 2011 at 22:29:58

So, today I was just pondering the fact that I’ve been out of high school for almost 10 years now, and wondering if the school I went to does a 10-year reunion. From a brief search, I stumbled into the Wikipedia page about my high school.

A couple things came to my attention:
- At one point in the history of Wikipedia, I remember actively having a discussion about whether the school was notable enough for its own Wikipedia page. (Specifically, the fact that it was in a couple of non-local news articles for the mold outbreak in 2001 was brought up in discussion). I have no idea where those discussions went — they’re no longer on the talk page — but it’s interesting that the school now has a reasonably extensive Wikipedia page.
- In 2009, apparently “During the fall of 2009, many students came down with Swine Flu and other flus after attending the homecoming dance. The Monday after homecoming weekend, 611 students were sick. By Tuesday, 972 had called in sick.” This is a 2100 person school: that means that almost 1 out of every 2 students came down with a flu of some kind. I can’t really even imagine this. (Admittedly, as Jess points out, ‘Although I can’t imagine 1/2 of all the kids getting the flu, I can imagine half of them wanting to stay home, get high and play video games.’ Though in the town I grew up in, ‘drunk’ seems more likely.)

Nothing really special here, it’s just sort of … a weird feeling, to remember arguing that this school shouldn’t even have a Wikipedia page, and now to see that it has one that’s pretty long.

Why is wireless so hard?

Posted in default on November 20th, 2011 at 21:28:40

So, my N9 wireless hotspot didn’t work for a long time; it just returned a ‘not allowed’ error. Apparently, this ‘feature’ is because the N9 ships to… well, wherever this one happened to come from… with a disabled adhoc mode. The fix, provided by this thread, is trivial: Enable developer mode, open the terminal, and type:

devel-su
echo 1 > /sys/devices/platform/wl1271/allow_adhoc

(Note: ‘echo 1>’ is not the same as “echo 1 >”; oops.)

The password for devel-su on the N9 is apparently ‘rootme’ — simple.

But that just gives me adhoc wifi, and the Acer Iconia… not so happy with that. And unfortunately, unlike the N9, rooting the Iconia is decidedly more difficult.

So, the fix to get working Ad-hoc wireless support on the Iconia is to install a wpa_supplicant from another device that *does* support it. But that requires root. And there is no application out there that provides root for the Iconia running 3.2 — the ‘fix’ is to downgrade to an earlier version, then upgrade to 3.2 by running some different firmware that provides root out of the box.

So, I’d have to downgrade, then install a new firmware — not supported by the manufacturer, and probably losing my netflix access in the process — then install a modified wpa_supplicant which might or might not work. All just to get it so that I can use the wifi provided by my phone on my tablet.

Of course, this isn’t as bad as the Windows Phone, where I can’t even *do* that — there is simply no way to get ad-hoc wireless support on the Windows Phone that I can find, hacked or not. (mmm, closed source.)

Why must everything be so hard?

Livin’ la Vida Linux

Posted in default on November 17th, 2011 at 22:04:45

So, after 7 years of being a mac laptop user, I’m strongly considering switching back to Linux.

On Sunday, the hard drive in my (18 month old) Macbook died. Nothing super-serious, but unlike in the past, replacing the hard drive isn’t a 3-screws operation, so rather than rushing out and getting a new drive, I just waited until work on Monday and grabbed myself a Linux machine.

In using Linux for the past week, there’s relatively little that I miss from OS X. (The biggest drawback may be lack of Netflix; curse my addiction to DRMed streaming media!)

Although I’m on a bit of a beast of a machine — a Dell Precision M2400, hardly the prettiest of Linux machines — I’ve found that overall, Linux has most of the things that I use on a daily basis from OS X — in many cases easier than it would be to get them via OS X.

All of my nitpicks come down to minor differences than any switch would have — for example, I miss being able to quickly change between *applications*, instead of just windows of an application; I feel a bit slower on Linux than I did on Mac still, and for some reason my several attempts to install Flash don’t seem to have actually worked. I am missing having Exchange MAPI support in a mail client; with our Nokia mail setup, this means I can’t get my mail from outside the firewall except via webmail (ewww).

But a lot of the things that were problems in the past, just haven’t been issues. Sound and Power seem to work just as well as on OS X. Since I already use VLC, not much difference there. I miss Safari a little bit — not for any particular reason, just in the ‘getting used to things’ sense — but a full screen Firefox… version-whatever-I-Have (apparently, after checking, the answer is ‘6.0′) doesn’t feel particularly different in any significant way.

After 7 years of being on mac, and now switching back to Linux for the past week — I haven’t yet found anything that feels like a huge win for mac, and I have found many small wins for Linux. I expect that in the next couple weeks I’ll make a final decision on whether I want to make the jump and get a long-term computer that’s Linux, but right now, I’m leaning strongly towards “yes.”

I’ll just have to keep my tablet handy for watching Netflix.