Early mornings

Today, for some unknown reason, I woke up at 4:53am and am unable to go back to sleep. I feel tired, but not too tired and I have decided to force myself to get up.

First task for the day, clear off my desk, get a bigger monitor and set up some semblance of a working area. Normally, I work from my ThinkPad X201 exclusively, loving its perfect keyboard and tiny tiny screen. Today, I have my ThinkPad attached to a rather large monitor. 1900×1200 according to ‘xrandr‘, which is significantly bigger already, as I can have the copy of GNU Emacs I’m writing this in, as well as a terminal telling me the resolution of my screen open at the same time. I suppose this is what progress looks like.

For my sins, I am forced to use the only external USB keyboard and mouse I have. They are the exact kind of keyboard and mouse I don’t much care for, the cheap $5 versions you get when you buy a new computer. These came with the slimline Dell machine I use for an HTPC, and as such are very slimline indeed. I am however able to type quite nicely on this keyboard, but the mouse and indeed all mice, leave something to be desired versus the little red nubby thing on my ThinkPad.

There are many fringe benefits to working in this manner — a nice external USB hard disk with a decent capacity makes me yearn for the days of affordable SSD drives with a large capacity. Once you go to SSD, you can never, ever go back it seems.

This has not been a good week for me and computers. In the last three days, one of the speakers on my laptop has blown, I lost my entire GRUB configuration when doing a routine upgrade and Libre.fm was down (hard) for a day, due to leap-seconds. Pausing for slightly more than a leap-second to consider the implications of such things, I have to look up the Wikipedia article on leap-seconds to figure out what they are, before blaming myself (indirectly) and my fellow British people who invented time back in the 1930s.

‘Fixing’ the speaker just means I’ll wear headphones more than I already do. This lets me take advantage of being able to listen to the same seven Buzzcocks, Joy Division and Smiths songs I like to listen to lately when I’m writing, at any time of day. 7:25am, for example.

As it turns out, I knew more about GRUB2 than I thought. I was able to boot my computer back to a GUI by simply typing:

set root=(hd0,0)
linux /boot/vmlinux-3.0.0.21-generic root=/dev/sda1
initrd /boot/initrd-3.0.0.21-generic
boot

I was going to make a joke here about how easy free software is to use. In reality, fixing that under Windows or OS X would probably be even more complicated.

Feeling good about myself, I successfully upgrade two servers on opposite ends of the world to Debian Wheezy. They both reboot successfully. I take note of the fact I need to back up the 267Gb of information on one of them and continue writing.

I’ve been reading ‘Hackers — Heroes of the Computer Revolution’ on my smartphone on the bus/subway. FBreader on my phone is actually preferable to either of my eInk devices, and not just because I’ve lost the free-ish one, and misplaced my Kindle — well, partly because of that I guess. The reality is I don’t really lose my phone anywhere near as often or for as long. Anyway, the book has really sparked my interest. So much so that I intend to hit up the TMRC at MIT on Wednesday. I stop to think that if I get into model trains, I will finally hit full-blown nerd, as if painting plastic dwarves wasn’t already firmly planting me in that camp. I think it’s also the first time I’ve actually really enjoyed reading an ebook — so thanks O’Reilly for supporting the Day Against DRM.

Anyway, I should get back to whatever I was going to do. Maybe getting up early will work out for me. I want to do more work on my TV pilot script today.

Rob suggests I publish my blog post when I wake up. “Shut up”, I tell him, before realizing I failed to hit the Publish button in WordPress after all, writing this additional line, and swallowing another mouthful of ‘Code Red’ Mountain Dew.

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