Teaching Linux

I have been using a *NIX system for a few decades now and it seems to become more challenging as time goes by to teach people about linux command line. I cannot tell if I’m turning into a crumudgeon or if there has been a fundamental shift in the mentality of computer users, especially new system administrators. Is learning a list of useful commands just not done today? Are people happy to use an interface to accomplish most things and then just go without advanced features? I don’t know, but I do know it seems harder now to teach command line usage than it was 5 years ago.

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Turning off a trackpad in Linux

My new HP Spectre laptop is good, but the touch pad is huge and the linux palm detection or turn off the trackpad when typing setting doesn’t work well.  For a few months I had to type slowly and carefully in order to not send the mouse across the screen or worse, move the cursor in vim while trying to code.

Here’s the magic, xinput

In a shell use xinput –list to list out the devices providing input to the GUI.  Find the overly sensitive trackpad’s number and then disable it with the command xinput disable 14

To make life even easier I’ve added the following aliases to my .login for easy toggling between a live or dead trackpad:

alias padon xinput enable `xinput --list | grep "Synaptics TouchPad" | sed -e 's/.*id=\([0-9]*\).*/\1/'`
alias padoff xinput disable `xinput --list | grep "Synaptics TouchPad" | sed -e 's/.*id=\([0-9]*\).*/\1/'`


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Using virtualization to model “real world” IT

One of the things I have been working on this semester is trying to make my IT related classes more “real world”.  I have setup Xencenter in the lab and have issued out VMs to lab teams where they can complete the assignments and have a persistent machine that won’t be re-imaged or lost between labs.  I used to use thumb drives, but students lose them or the drive fails and corrupts the vm.

Each lab is building one portion of an enterprise system.  DNS, Email, LAMP, Filesharing, etc.  Soon we’ll attempt to install Asterix and setup VoIP and dialplans.

It’s an interesting experiment because each system has dependencies on others.  The DNS lab is never really over because there are always more records to add as more services are put into “production”



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More work with my Hirst Arts molds

Dwarf gun emplacement as seen by the enemy

I have found some time to work with my Hirst Arts molds and built a gun emplacement for my Dwarf army artillery teams.  This is the last of my craft store plaster of paris.  The bricks are a little chalky and soak up ALOT of paint.  I’m trying model railroad hydrocal next.

The floor tiles on both levels are are glued to a thin piece of cardboard and need to be trimmed back a bit more so they are less visible when the roof is in place.

When I get more basic blocks I plan to build up the base more to give this a tower feel rather than it’s current bunker style.  The plan is to set this tower on the shelf to the far left and create a beer hall style structure for the rest of the army to hang out in while they wait to fight stinking elves.






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Finally! I win at Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is one of the hardest solo experiences I have had yet.  It’s wonderful to find a game that beats you, but still makes you want to play again.  I spent a long time trying to make it through the first six adventures.  Number six was finally finished this weekend with a win!

I had to add the dog; so it was the carpenter, the explorer, Friday, and the dog.  We won on the last turn by building the drums.  It probably took me a dozen plays to win mission six.  I always wound up with a -1 marker on the build space, or an event that trashed my wood.  Three times I pulled one of the events that makes you discard three invention cards 🙁

I can now move along to the expansion…

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The nered and white pokeballw Pokemon GO game has been released in the U.S. and it seems to be a pretty fun idea.  The augmented reality game connects with a Google Maps like system (could very well be Maps itself) to give the player a real world space to explore and look for pokemon.  I can help but notice the several warnings to remain aware of your surroundings and to not play the game while driving and to not wander away from your group to catch pokemon.  Let’s home the majority of Pokemon GO players are responsible and safe.

It looks like it will be a pokemon game that encourages players to move around.  I haven’t found an egg yet but the trailer video makes it look like you have to move a certain distance to get eggs to hatch.  That’s definitely going to get people up and out and on the move where previous pokemon games had to be played sitting down.

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Note4 vs iPhone almost a year in

It’s been almost a year since I switch from the Apple iPhone to the Samsung Note.  I rarely use my iPad anymore unless I’m playing one of the board games that I have previously purchased from the Apple App store.  Many of the things I thought I would miss from the Apple ecosystem just aren’t that important to me anymore.  iPhoto has changed to Photos and the cloud integration seems less stable than Google’s photo storage.   I don’t use my phone for music anymore since I just stream from the Internet rather than cart around a large collection of .mp3 files.  The integrated Google apps (calendar, email, and hangouts) replace the iCloud programs with equivalent features.

The big difference for me is the choice.  I can choose what program is used for what function on the phone in the Android world where I’m stuck in the Apple ecosystem.  I like having the choice and the customization that can happen because of the choice.  I’m no longer really interested in the new iPhones anymore.  3D touch isn’t really that compelling feature for me yet.




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Still working with my Note4

My first attempt to leave iPhone was a move to the Sony Xperia play.  It could have been a great phone, but the Sony ecosystem is very different that Apple.  You had to purchase everything several times.  Oh, you want that movie on your PS3 cash please… Now you want it on your Sony phone, more cash please… now you want to watch in on a computer, more cash again.

The Samsung phone has worked quite well for the past few months.   Some things are still unclear (like where and when photos are shared) and there are a few apps I haven’t re-purchased from Google Play simply because I have them on my iPad.

Weirdly enough I’ve stopped using the iPad a lot as well.  The larger format phone is enough for reading and note taking.

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Migration to android

I can’t take it anymore!  The iPhone’s new user interface is just too stark and bland and thin.  I had a long chat with an Apple employee about the philosophical reasons behind the abandonment of skeuomorphics.  The newest Mac OS is sporting a flattened and bland interface as well and no theme settings or adjustments.  I’m off, I’m outta here, see ya!  I’m slowly transitioning to a Note 4 and probably back to a linux distro sooner or later.

The Note 4 does remind me of my Newton MessagePad 2100.  I think I may really enjoy this switch…

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International Tabletop Day

 I went shopping on Tapletop day and acquired a number of games at huge discounts. I won the Munchkin Dungeon of Superior Shopping promo card at Epic Loot  SJ Games marketing is brilliant  I don’t have the munchkin expansion to use the card I won so now I’m on the lookout for yet another Munchkin expansion.

 It turned into a pirate themed day by accident.  I’ve after Pirate’s Cove for years as a boardgame version of Pirates! since everyone in my house loves the Sid Meiers video game.  Louis helped play test of few of these but I didn’t open/punch them until I got home.

 Louis posing with a pile of new games 

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