Vacationing…

Ian on the Metro platformWe’re in Washington, DC, this week — in part for the CFUnited conference during the second half of the week, and in part just for some time together as a family (time which has been tough to find recently). Ian has never been to DC before, Deb and I spent a day back here when my younger brother graduated from college, and I have been back here several times over the past 6 years or so with work-related travel. This, however, is our first trip back here together and with time to just do what we want.

I love Washington, DC — at least as a place to visit. Good public transportation, a buzzillion things to do and see, lots of decent places to eat, and I have been here often enough that I know my way around (pretty much — at least enough not to get lost on the Metro). I am looking forward to sharing some of that with Deb and Ian this week. We are actually staying out in Rockville at the hotel that is hosting the CFUnited conference, so we will get to spend a bit of time on the Metro getting to and from wherever we go and watching people.

The weather today is supposed to be pretty lousy, so we are headed for some of the Smithsonian’s museums and we have tickets to the Holocaust museum for this afternoon.

Part of my enjoyment of travelling is food — Jeff always gives me a bad time about how much I love food. And it’s true — food is a wonderful thing, and I love trying new and different things. And food can be (and should be) a social experience. Dinner, for instance, last night more than made up for the lack of anything resembling food on the flight from way out West to DC: a deep dish three cheese pizza at Armand’s Pizzeria and Grill in Rockville, and a Sam Adams. Simple and good.

Great Expectations

Ian has a reading project on tap for his summer break ahead of an honors-level English course next Fall. The assignment: read (and then write about) Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. I’ve never read much Dickens, having survived my school experience without it (although I do remember at one point finding a copy of “A Tale of Two Cities” at a library book sale or a garage sale of some sort, but only made it through the first couple of pages before losing interest).

Given some of our other reading lately, particularly stuff by Jasper Fforde and his Thursday Next books with their foundation in old lit, I am actually looking forward to digging into “Great Expectations”. After reading (and loving!) FForde’s “The Eyre Affair”, Deb and I both read “Jane Eyre” and loved it. I guess there may be a reason some of these are considered “classic” literature. So we are treating GE as a family reading project for the summer (although Ian gets the solo pleasure of the writing portion of the project that goes along with it in preparation for school next Fall).

And there is something about just the title of this particular work that seems like it fits my life right now…

New WordPress

I took the plunge this morning and upgraded we3geeks — or more correctly, I suppose, I upgraded WordPress upon which we3geeks is based — from v. 1.5.2 to v. 2.0.2. It went flawlessly. That is one of the things that I have always liked about WordPress: great installation/upgrade instructions and I have never had a problem moving from one version to another…

I don’t feel too bad about it taking this long, considering that v. 2 originally came out right at the end of 2005. Now if I could just find some time to work on a new theme for this blog, and to update the content (particularly the “reading” section)…

Back to Ubuntu

Well, I’m back to Ubuntu. This is starting to be a common theme: new release of what appears to be a promising distribution appears, download it, install it, play with it, wipe it, reinstall Ubuntu…

I spent a couple of weeks running the then newly-released Fedora Core 5 on almost all of my boxes. Initially, it seemed promising. Having read several reviews of different releases that incorporated Gnome 2.14, I was anxious to play with some of the shiny new stuff. When Ubuntu announced that they were delaying the release of Dapper Drake until June, I felt like I couldn’t wait that long and wasn’t really all that interested in running a pre-release version of Dapper on my boxes. “Probably not stable enough”, I told myself.

Well, I’m back to Ubuntu on all of my boxes. The experiment with FC5 got off to a promising start with a relatively unexciting installation on my Dell laptop. Wireless just worked. So did pretty much everything else I really care about on the box. My dual-boot desktop at work was a different story: something about the way in which grub gets installed on that box just doesn’t work (it seems to have something to do with the presence of 2 IDE hard drives, with Windows XP installed on the first). Clobbered the Windows XP installation so that the box wouldn’t boot either OS. Sigh…

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth, accompanied by promises (subsequently broken) of regular backups of some sort later, I managed to recover all (or at least, I think, all) of my work-related files from the corrupted Windows XP drive. At that point, I decided perhaps I would try that box as just a Linux box, and installed FC5 on the primary drive. That worked and life was good. I even went so far as to drop Ubuntu from my home system and installed FC5 there.

All was good. Time passed. A couple of weeks later, a kernel update on my desktop box at work left it unbootable again. “Enough!”, I told myself.

I pulled down the latest beta of Ubuntu (beta 2, at that point) and installed it, starting with my then-unbootable desktop at work. Slick installation process that has been completely and totally overhauled compared to other versions of Ubuntu. Up and running in less than 20 minutes (followed, of course, by the obligatory download of 200+ MB of software updates that is normal for any pre-release of a distro). It seemed solid enough — and high enough on the cool meter — to give it a shot on my laptop. Same thing: flawless installation, good performance, zero stability problems. After that, I clobbered the FC5 partitions on my home system, and installed Ubuntu there again. I timed the whole process: just under 17 minutes from the time I booted Windows XP to clobber the FC5 partitions until I rebooted under a fully-functional, Internet-connected Ubuntu system from the hard drive. I’m on DSL at home, so the big update took another couple of hours, but that installation process from the live CD image is pretty amazing.

For a pre-release, this system is incredibly stable! Others’ experience may differ, but I have had zero problems. At this point, we are still in the daily update mode of anywhere from 10 to 100 MB of updates each day as we get closer and closer to the real version of it in a couple of weeks. I have absolutely no regrets about jumping back, even though this is just a pre-release. I will probably never leave Ubuntu again…

Yeah, right…

If only Ubuntu would come up with a graphical boot loader as attactive as the one Red Hat and Fedora have…