Category Archives: Computer Stuff

CompuServe, I Hardly Knew Ye…

I started my electronic wandering here in the mid ‘80s with Compuserve, the first commercially successful on-line service. They finally closed their doors today.

Columbus, Ohio – The original commercially-successful online mail service, CompuServe, has been shut down by its owner, AOL.

The clunky but much-loved service debuted in 1979, offering electronic mail, technical support and moderated technical forums. In 1980, it became the first online service to offer real-time chat online with its CB Simulator. At its height in the early 1990s, the company boasted of having half a million users online simultaneously.

But after AOL bought the company in 1997, the brand was allowed to decline. The current version of the service’s client software, CompuServe for Windows NT 4.0.2, dates back to 1999.

I can’t even remember my user id, I’ve not messed with it for “decades.” Truthfully, I didn’t even know it was still around.  But I did cut my teeth on it learning my way around the precurser of the “IntarTubes!” You had to be careful, before they went to unlimited pricing, you could run up a big bill, real fast.  Using their service taught me a lot.

Goodbye, CompuServe!

Ubuntu Project on Hold

Hit a snag with my Ubuntu laptop testing program. I’ve really booogered up the installation by trying to convert it to Kubuntu (using the KDE window manager instead of Gnome). Somehow I got parts of version 4.0 and 3.51 running together and the whole thing is hosed. Thought I knew what I was doing, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

I was hoping to load up KDEnlive, a video editor for Linux that uses KDE, But with the mishmash, it would never properly startup. I have the idea to “drop back five yards and punt,” downloaded the Kubuntu ISO, burned a install CD and rebuild everything. Guess what? My laptop’s CD writer hardware is all crapped out. Now I got to find a DVD/CDRW drive for a Toshiba A55. Wish me luck…

Tonight I decided not to fart around with it anymore, I’m just gonna read some Neil Stephenson (from the Baroque Cycle) and just hang out here in Ft. Pierce. FL. I’m typing up this blog post on my cell phone. It worked good enough and doesn’t require WiFi.

Later I hope to do some work here regarding another project I’m working on, getting back into the film photography racket. Contrary to the Obituaries, FILM IS NOT DEAD!

Tired Of Being Cold

Got assigned a load around noon to pickup a load in Illinois. the drive from Ohio took a while as the weather was not helpful. When I finally got there, about a half-hour before closing, I was told the load could not be released because whoever paid for it was still a few dollars short. Of course by this time, the dispatch people had left for the night and the place I’m taking it to is just a port, so no help there. In the morning, we’ll track down who needs to pay for it and then I can run it to Florida.

Can’t wait to get south for a while and get out of this cold and snow shit. But consider that many times in FL I’ve had to wait a while for a load out, but I’m used to that. Might not be so bad, lots of auction yards down there that I’ve grabbed loads from. We’ll see.

On the Linux front, I’ve just spent the last few hours playing around with video editing in Ubuntu. Once I finally figured out how to setup the Firewire so that I might capture DV from my camcorder, it was just a matter of figuring out the strange editing software that came with it. Good enough for a little YouTube video, but not much else. If I can clean up the little vid of my kitty, Chester, spacing out with catnip, I’ll upload it.

Freezing Rain

Woke of this morning to the sound of frozen rain tapping on the fiberglass roof of my truck. Has to crank up the truck and defrost my windows before I could take off.  Then it was 15-20 mph up I-75 until I ran into better weather about 50 miles up the road.  No big deal really, I’ve driven in worse.

The folks I delivered to in Ohio were very nice, I was able to bring the entire truck into their shop to untarp and unchain. I managed to drop a dozen or so gallons of snow melt on their nice concrete floor but they were not too worried about it. I did all the untarping but they left me use their shop floor to roll them heavy tarps back up before I left. This is unusual but it was much appreciated.

Now I’m hanging out waiting for my next load, as usual. Hopefully something will come up tomorrow. It usually does…

In other news, my conversion to a Linux-head (is that what they are called?) is progressing smoothly.  For the past three hours I’ve been working on getting Photoshop Elements 5 to work in Ubuntu Linux with the WINE windows emulator.  Got lots  good info from the web and for the most part, it’s working.  Now I’m taking the bold step of upgrading Elements to the 5.0.2 version and that seems to be working as well.  More testing to come, but so far, so good.

Now of I can get my GPS mapping program to install, I’ll be extremely happy and my one day rid myself of the clunky, hanging, crappy Windoze forever!

First Look: Linux on my laptop

A long time ago and far, far away… (ugh) I was messing around with a very basic version of Linux, the free Unix clone on a Frankenstein PC I’d built up.  I wasn’t much impressed and soon forgot all about it.  Recently I got the itch to look at it again and downloaded a free distribution of Linux called Ubuntu.  This particular download involved using WUBI, an installer for Ubuntu that allowed me to install Linux on my laptop without screwing up my Windows XP install.  I found that I liked it.  I’ve not a lot of expereince here, but it looks like the closest thing going for a decent Linux desktop OS and its a world of difference from the ancient Red Hat version that I’d installed from floppy disks back in the ’90s.

(As an aside, I must mention that I had 15+ years in the computer business before economic forces turned me into a truck driver.  But I don’t think you need that kind of experience to do what I did.  But you really do need a more than casual understanding of how PCs work before you start messing with Linux and go poking at your PC or laptop.  I’m just sayin…)

Last month I got a book at Barnes and Noble all about Ubuntu 8.04 (The Official Ubuntu Book) that came with an install DVD and lots of info on how to install and run Ubuntu.  You can also run Ubuntu from the DVDROM and test drive it before you ever fart around with your hardware. So I took the plunge and decided to install it as a dual boot with it’s own partition on my laptop’s little 80 gb hard drive. But first I had to do some cleaning up of my old Windows in preparation for resizing the partitions on my hard drive.  Not a job for the faint of heart…

Of course all my data files are backed up, I use Mozy.com to send everything off to a secure place out there on the Internet and I had my Toshiba A55 recovery CD on hand before I did all this.  I cleaned out a lot of unused programs and files (and the WUBI install) and then got a freeware defragmenter program, JKDefrag, that optimized my hard drive and moved everything "Windows" to the front of the partition it was in.  Took about an hour but XP never blinked.  Then I ran the install program by booting from the DVDROM, shrunk the NTFS partition that Windows lived in to 60 gb and created a system (16 gb) and swap (4 gb) partition for Ubuntu. A half hour after that, Ubuntu was installed and I was able to dual boot between XP and Ubuntu and they both actually worked!  I was seriously afraid of killing my XP install, but after a disk check, the XP system ran like always.  When I start up the laptop a boot menu will let me pick what operating system I want to play with.

I’d been puttering around with Ubuntu for a couple of weeks and so far I like it.  The only things Ubuntu won’t do are play my DVD movies and run my GPS/Mapping program.  But other than that, I get OpenOffice for word processing, spreadsheets, etc and Firefox for my web browsing and many other fine program that came right from the DVDROM.  It hooked up easily to my laptop’s WiFi  and every other piece of hardware on my old Toshiba.  You can also load up a program called WINE and run some windows program right in Ubuntu.

I’m going to futz around with it some more and maybe I’ll post some more here if anyone is interested (as if anyone is reading this crap).  I’m down for the weekend at a Flying J in VA waiting for Monday to roll around, so I’ve nothing better to do…

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