New Computer Fund

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My LinuxMint 17.1 Evaluation

First, not going to work for my Toshiba Satellite this go around.  The main reason is the WiFi connection isn't very stable.  Wouldn't be a a fatal flaw except that the security camera kinda depends on a reasonably stable WiFi connection.  I end up getting some router and camera passwords scrambled which bombed out the ZoneMinder package.  Probably my fault, but I doubt completely since that seems to be related to some of the common ZoneMinder questions.

Second, there is a graphics issue with the Toshiba and Linux in general.  The Satellite model I have is one of the few not supported at all by Linux.  Since several closely related models are, I thought I could get it to work.  From what I have seen perusing the blogs, a few have Linux running on the same machine but without some of the infra net functions I was playing to use to stream the security camera video.

Reverting back to Windows 7 wasn't too bad but could have been done with a bit more class.  LinuxMint created three windows boots and I had to experiment with all three before I hit a working combination.  I still have mint on the machine and may plan on giving it another shot, but not until I have learned a bit more about the Sricam options.

Other than the couple of screen freezes that required hard restarts, most of the package was pretty slick.  I was able to do a lot of things at once without putting half as much pressure of the CPU.  Firefox is the main browser and worked just fine.  The Sricam though is pretty much hard wired for Internet Explorer if you want admin access.  I could bypass that, but would nearly have to rewrite ZoneMinder which recommends using IE for a number of camera admin functions anyway, see the first issue.  Other than a few quick patches I am not really in the mood to learn another couple of languages and sort through a dozen different package builds to fix things.

Because of the various builds in use, getting quick and accurate help is almost impossible if you need something other than a reminder to check power.  This seems to be due to some of the problem child extra features built into CPU/GPU for laptops.  It seems my particular CPU has scale-able speed for a reason.  I will need to track down that particular adjustment in the next Linux trail since that is likely related to both of the main issues I was having.

On a brighter note though, there are several, few generations back, laptops that seem to have been focused on by various Linux groups.  Plus I have a crap Dell desktop with one of the more favored AMD CPUs from the Vista era that might make a fair Home Network server if I 86 the crap HDD in favor of a 128 GB USB memory stick that is about twice the capacity of the crap HDD and costs less than 25 bucks.

Anywho, for now I am back up with windows and have the Sricam running on iSpy with most of the basic features and I have access to an easier to patch xml driver that I can fiddle around with.  There is even a facial recognition feature that I might get to work with a Bluetooth electronic deadbolt.  Most likely just another never to be finished project, but it doesn't look all that difficult.

btw, without antivirus and mals, internet surfing was a BLAST and the numerous restarts I had to do only about 30 seconds each. So if there is a next time I will likely be a complete Linux convert.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Linuxmint experiment - Pantum 2010 installation

Since my old laptop is dragging butt I thought I would clean things up.  I have been hearing good things about the new LinuxMint version 17.1 so I found a usb memory stick to boot off for a few days and finally bit the bullet and installed it along side Windows. 

The reason I bit the bullet is because running off the stick I was losing that I was figuring out along the way.  Once I finally figured out how to install my cheap Chinese knock off laser printer,  I decided to make it official. 

I believe one reason Linux has been a bit slow to take off is because they have some of the stranger geeks playing.  I looked through a few of the forums and found a few dozen folks asking how to install the exact same printer from over two years ago with not a single "easy" solution and most of the "solutions" created more problems than they fixed. 

There is a fairly simple way to install and unsupported printer starting with downloading the "linux" version of the driver from the OEM website.  "linux" is in quotes because the driver is in a .RPM format which isn't clearly supported by the Mint version of Linux.  There is a Redhat version that much have tickled the fancy of most manufacturers that does use the .RPM format. 

There is a supported Linux application called Alien that will convert a .RPM version into a .DEB version.  Sounds great right?  Nope, Mint needs a PostsScript Document Driver (.PPD) version and the .DEB is actually a PPD filter.  The printer install not so much a wizard, Wizard asks for a .PPD, url or you can select from the list of "supported" printers.  Not very obvious on the printer wizard apprentice is a search lens labled FILTER.  Once you create the .DEB file just cut and paste it in the search box.  Tadah, the printer prints.

I wasted about 8 hours between the install and searching out how to install the printer.  That is the easy part.  The real reason I thought about Linux is because I installed one of those cheap Chinese knock off security cameras with night vision, pan and tilt, zoom, motion detector, audio and a hand full of other features plus the absolute worst documentation in the world.  Streaming security camera video on an already slow Windows 7 laptop really was grinding things to a halt.

ZoneMinder is a "free" linux supposed security camera program with Geek^3 documentation.  There were so many alternates and alternate install procedures that I decided to print them out so I could make some sense of the mess.  Oops, there started the printer challenge.  Anywho, the LinuxMint 17.1 version happens to have a few unsupported files required for most the ZoneMinder install "recommendations".  From the forum reviews of ZoneMinder I have seen, I may learn a few new cuss words before I get that up and running.

This post may seem a bit odd for a Climate Change related blog, but actually it is a perfect  fit.  The "key" for solving climate change as I read in one climate paper, is to decouple wealth from energy.  These cheap Chinese knockoffs are in many cases fairly well made and close to dirt cheap because you are not paying the 150% to 250% mark up.  200% mark up as you know is 4 times real cost for the OEM aka intellectual property holder, which means way back when the warm and fuzzies were talking about the $100 laptop for the third world masses it already existed.  Just get rid of Microsoft, Intel and big boxes and there you go, $35 for a tablet and around $99 for a laptop.  We just start decoupling that wealth from the warm and fuzzies that have all these grand schemes to save the world and we will start making a dent in our carbon foot print. I have a couple of those $35 including shipping tablets on the way right now.

Alien, btw was written by Joel Hess and has some information on Wikipedia.  Pay attention to the last bit, ".., and using install scripts automatically converted from an Alien format may break the system."

Break might be a bit harsh, but do try and be careful now, ya hear?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Always Question Your Data or Respect Murphy's Law

This aggravates the hell out of the minions of the Great and Powerful Carbon.  The primary law of the human part of the universe is Murphy's.  People screw up.  So with the typical irrational comments on Climate Etc. concerning CO2 and "closing" the Mass Balance, here  is a little illustration.

Here are two CO2 reconstruction from the Antarctic, the Vostok/dome C composite and the high resolution Law Dome.  The two agree very well over the common period, but the longer term Composite has an upward trend starting about in the middle of the Holocene.  ~20 ppmv over almost 7000 years isn't much, but it is interesting.

It is interesting because until mankind started burning demon coal it should have been a downward trend.  Now I have removed the industrial part of the Law Dome data because I want to focus on this pre-industrial period.

This super high quality and nothing but the finest science product from NASA indicates the peak Holocene temperature was about 7000 years ago, about the same time as the Composite CO2 trend shifted to positive.  This seems odd since the Great and Powerful Carbon should be driving temperature or at least following it.

Some suspect that this discrepancy is due to "natural" smoothing or diffusion of CO2 in the Antarctic ice and snow that creates the CO2 record.  That smoothing would reduce peaks/valley amplitude and shift the CO2 record so that it lags temperature.  Real scientists know that you should check to make sure there isn't bird shit on your radio telescope antenna and that you thermocouples are not self heating before you announce your unprecedented discoveries to the world, Murphy's Law.

This particular discrepancy may not amount to a hill of beans or it might be something.  It could be useful for say pointing out other scientists that might have bird shit in their methods.

 There are some young up and comers in the paleo ocean field we might want to check.

Nope, their work agree pretty well so no obvious bird shit there.

Heck,their work even agrees pretty well with some of the retro climate science.

Their work and the Law Dome CO2 record doesn't agree all that well with this guy's work though.  I suspect bird shit.

I think Murphy's Law has bitten someone in the butt.