Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The HP X4000b Is Great For Toddlers!

A while back I wrote about my experiences with Linux Mint and the HP X4000b Bluetooth Mouse. As far as bluetooth devices go this one definitely isn't the worst ever, but quite possibly the most disappointing ever. The experience started out really well, with only the occasional drop in connection between the mouse and my Linux Minted Macbook. However, has time passed it became more and more painful to use as the device would simply cease to operate regardless of whether it registered as paired with my laptop or not. I blamed batteries, I blamed Linux, and I even speculated that maybe I kid had gotten a hold and dropped it a good too many times. Turns out it was none of the above.

Windows 8.1 came with my new Lenovo. I had a good feeling about my X4000b and this system. New OS, new hardware, surely it would work. It was worse. From my own limited experience I can only say that Linux has better bluetooth support than Windows, and my mouse? Well I replaced it with a wireless Logitech that uses a USB dongle for it's connection instead of bluetooth. My HP X4000b on the other hand, has become a wonderful little decoy for my 17-month-old to steal when he's after a piece of my technology.

An Honest Review of The Land Across

I have to admit I've been struggling getting through Wolfe's latest novel, "The Land Across." It's not that it's written poorly or that it isn't interesting, it's that it just doesn't compete well with all the distractions in my life, and so I find myself in no hurry to return to its pages to find out what will happen next.

Stephen Case's review of the book is the best and most honest I've seen so far. It's a good read for any Wolfe fan (like myself) who might feel a little bad for not enjoying Wolfe's newest work as much as they hoped they would.

Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm Not Mad At Windows 8.1

It's been a while since I've posted, and in that time I've been a full time Linux Mint user. My Macbook handled like a champ and every day computing on Linux was pleasant and ideal. My only complaint was that I couldn't connect my iPhone and my Bluetooth mouse would occasionally drop it's connection. On a whole though, no complaints. Linux Mint is definitely my OS of choice.

Still, as content as I was, I wasn't totally satisfied. I didn't have a dedicated graphics card and simple things like visiting Facebook would still cause my browser to stall. My laptop was more than six years old and it was time to upgrade. I wanted another Mac, but the truth about how expensive they were was finally very apparent to me, and I found that the Lenovo u530 would more than meet all my needs.


I knew that buying a Lenovo would mean great support for Linux, but it would also mean a system pre-loaded with Windows 8.1. I decided this would be a great opportunity to give 8.1 a try and have the chance to dual boot between the two operating systems so I could have the best of both worlds. Going in I had no expectations for Windows 8.1.  I use Windows 7 every day at work and found it to be bearable, but I knew I'd be anxious to get my Linux partition set up as soon as possible. So I set off to Best Buy (I know, keep your comments to yourself!) and picked up my first non-Apple machine in 15 years.

I've learned a lot in the past week with my new Lenovo. First, Windows 8.1 isn't all that bad. I can't hate it. I kind of wanted to hate it, but as I come home and use it every day I can't say it's been much of an obstruction to my regular computing needs. In fact, it's been pretty easy to use. Metro is definitely a bit annoying, but it's easy to leave alone (and I'm sure as time goes on they'll let the user turn it off completely). 8.1 is better than 7. It's cleaner and more stable, and I'm content using it. Anyone who knows me knows that it's a rather big deal for me to be so open to using Windows. And the truth is if you set every choice in front of me I would still choose Linux Mint and OS X over Windows without a second thought, but the reality of it is that my laptop would have been another $1700 if I wanted to run OS X, and so running Linux next to Windows was actually the most practical of choices.

The second thing I learned was that Linux Mint was not the cause of my bluetooth mouse dropping it's connection on a regular basis. Turns out bluetooth is just a crappy way to connect devices to computers, and Windows dropped the mouse even more than Linux did. I've since upgraded to a regular wireless mouse (with USB receiver/dongle) and it's worked flawlessly.

Lastly, I learned that most machines now come with a UEFI boot manager that makes installing Linux next to Windows 8.1 and dual booting a lot trickier than installing Linux by it self on an older machine with a regular BIOS. This has stalled my install of Linux Mint and today I learned version 17 is due out at the end of May, and I've decided that for the next couple of months, until its release, I'll be fine as a Windows user. I hope to update this blog with my Linux install and share my experience with everyone.

On a final note, I can't say enough about how much I like the Lenovo hardware. The u530 is a fantastic machine that is under $1000 and very close in configuration to the $2499 Macbook pro. It's thin, light, and has a dedicated graphics card that has really brought back the joy of PC gaming for me. If a friend came to me  today and wanted a new computer I'd tell them Lenovo was the way to go and if you can use Linux Mint on it then all the better, but Windows isn't the piece of crap it used to be. I hope Microsoft continues to improve upon itself, it's good to see a company with such an enormous market share still attempting to enhance the user experience.

My new Windows 8.1 desktop

Monday, March 17, 2014

MakeHuman 1.0 on Linux Mint

I installed MakeHuman 1.0 on my Linux Mint system today. Went beautifully. Looking forward to playing with it. It reminds me of the Second Life character creation system. Easy to use and thorough.




Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Time Traveler's Almanac

Gene Wolfe has two pieces included in a new collection of short stories entitled, "The Time Traveler's Alamac." The book is described as being one of the largest collection of time travel stories ever published with "The Lost Pilgrim" and "Against The Lafayette Escadrille" being the Wolfe stories among its pages. Other authors in the collection include well known names such as Douglas Adams, H.G. Wells, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Ray Bradbury. There are even some non-fiction articles for your reading pleasure. eBook, paperback and hard bound versions are due for release on March 18th, but there have been accounts of some Barnes & Nobles putting it on the shelves a bit early over the weekend.