Local Software Installs For Fun & Profit

As a systems administrator, I maintain a department full of computers for many users.  But as with anything else, people’s needs and tastes in software are all different.  In some cases, I can install multiple types of programs for anyone who asks, but some might be more difficult (relying on newer – or older – versions of software which needs to be installed as-is for the system to run properly).  Because of that, and because of my own laziness in not wanting to always install every software package in the same /usr/local dumping ground (which quickly becomes polluted) I came up with a method which works well and is usable on just about any UNIX-type system for anything.  If you run such a system, and are interested, read on for a lesson in local installs.

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Every Freaking Time!

I must be bad luck.  Every time we move, construction follows.  We moved to West Deptford, and 295 went under construction for a large section I had to travel daily.  We moved to Ewing, and various little construction bits popped up here and there.  We moved to Morrisville and the Route 1 bridge started construction.  Now that it’s almost completed, the Calhoun St. Bridge is now closed while they work in that.  I forgot the bridge was closed yesterday (though I don’t usually take it) and got to a logjam on Route 1 just in time to get off at 129, snaked down Cass St. to 29 and found all routes over to PA were jammed.  Drove up 29 towards Scudders Falls to find it too was crammed full of idiots.  Ended up taking an extra half hour to drive up to Washington’s Crossing and come back down – tonight I aim to head directly there instead.  Google tells me it’s a 52 minute drive, but 23 miles – so it adds about 10 miles to the commute, and a half hour.  Then again, I’m almost okay with a half hour longer commute if I get to keep driving the whole time and not deal with aggressive, moronic and mentally deficient drivers that appear to be the norm on Route 1 anyway.

Oh, and this is apparently the 200th post on here.  It’s only taken me what, seven years?  Not counting the Slashcode years anyway.

Getting Busy in May

May has always been a little bit of a busy month for us, but got a lot more busy lately.  My mother-in-law’s birthday is in the beginning of the month, and our anniversary is on the 20th (just celebrated nine years!).  Emily’s birthday is on the 14th, but we decided to have her party today since it was a bit more convenient – for one, her uncle would be up from college and able to attend too.  Our friends Will & Megan have their daughter’s birthday one week after Emily’s, and their party was yesterday, so this weekend is filled with baby celebrations.  Plus throw a mother’s day in there too, and every weekend we’ve had something planned.  We’re pretty sure that June has an open date or two…

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

As I concluded in yesterday’s post, the combination of melatonin and light therapy seems to be working.  I started it all last Friday night, and though I could have stayed up late since it’s a weekend I wanted to get things moving towards my weekly schedule right away.  So at around 9:30 I took a melatonin and laid down to listen to a podcast and catch up on my RSS feeds.  After a half hour or so, Stephanie wasn’t up to bed yet but I was pretty tired, so I put everything down and went to sleep, with the sunrise setting on the Dia2 turned on but no alarm set.  I was surprised by the result.

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That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be

For decades (sucks that I can actually say that) I’ve had trouble sleeping.  I remember back in high school, getting up to get showered and out the door was always a chore that involved my mother almost pushing me around the house through each step.  In college, it was no better, and the only times that I ever seemed to sleep normally was the few months I worked the night shift at a gas station (22:00-06:00) and any time I was left to my own sleep schedule.  I’d go to bed anywhere between 2 and 4am, sometimes as late as 6, and wake up roughly 8 hours after falling asleep with no alarm clock or outside influence.  But even recently if I tried going to sleep between 9-10pm I still had trouble getting out of bed at 6:30.  Finally, I may have found the answer to what was going on, and a solution to keep me awake during the day – and sleeping all night – on what “normal society” considers a regular schedule.

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Stephanie, AKA “Mom”

My wife has had a website for some time, and updates it infrequently.  Recently she started to get the bug to post more than just status updates on Facebook, and started a new site: Stephanie, AKA Mom.  Chock full of family goodness, recipes, money saving tips, and all other sorts of things my wife decides to tackle.  Go read it, subscribe to the RSS feed, send her comments and ideas and all that.  Tell her I sent you.

Going Mobile

You probably didn’t notice (how could you!) but there’s now a mobile version of the site setup.  I would keep seeing this when I browsed to places like Nerdist, but never bothered to look into how it was done.  Finally I did, and while there’s a bunch of choices I went with the one that seems to look the nicest in each available platform.  At least each one I can see anyway.  There’s a link to turn off the mobile site if you look and don’t like it, so there’s no harm done – but it does load a bit faster with it on too.  I’ll probably tweak settings here and there so don’t get too used to how it looks yet.

Sony Bones Customers Again, Customers Somehow Surprised

I got a PlayStation 3 some time ago, and one of the things I really liked about it was the ability to install Linux and emulators. Some people see that as an esoteric function that only a geek would want, but then they play Super Mario Brothers on my PS3 and forget that it’s being emulated through a program running on Linux. Or we play a game of Blue Max, an Atari 8-bit game I have setup when you start the Atari 800 emulator. Or even playing Asteroids (Atari 2600), Super Metroid (SNES), or Leisure Suit Larry (DosBOX). None of these would be possible for a home user to install on a PS3 without the ability to run Linux on it.

Which means, after Thursday, none of this will be possible again. That’s when Sony releases PS3 firmware version 3.21 which adds zero features, but removes the “Other OS” feature from the PlayStation entirely (both the ability to install it, and the ability to run it). Their reasoning for this is some vague notion of security, though many have already pieced together the timing between this and “geohot” gaining full access to the PS3 running Linux. Supposedly turning off Linux support will “help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system”; in other words, they need to fix their content jail or the providers will pull out and disallow movie downloads and such.

Hey Sony!  Here’s an idea.  Why not fix your jail instead, and allow not only the PS3 owners to continue to have access to the stuff they paid for, but allow the content creators who might (or might not) be getting their panties in a bunch to be happy?  After all, I paid for my PS3, and now you’re ensuring that I cannot have access to one of the features which I bought.  And I might know a thing or two about what “the people” are interested in seeing, what with “PS3 linux” and “emulation” being some of the top reasons people find this site, and the above linked article.  Just sayin’…

EDIT: Earlier this morning, I submitted a new “share” idea to put Other OS back in the firmware; if/when that goes live, I’ll provide a link.

PECO: More Suck, Less Lawfulness!

I didn’t mention it when it happened – in part because I was too pissed to write anything more coherent than a string of obscenities – but PECO turned off our power again a little while ago.  This time the overdue amount was just under $200, and again there was no contact made to Stephanie or I about turning it off.  Of course, like last time if you asked them about that, they’d say of course they contacted us, and provide dates and times when they talked to someone on the phone.  Mysteriously though, the recordings of those conversations would not be available, so there would be no proof that they actually talked to someone – just a line on a computer screen with a date and time.  Well, I did a little poking around last night, and found some interesting information.. while it’s hard to prove a negative (that they didn’t actually contact us this time, or the last time) there’s one thing that is easy to prove: This last time, they turned off the power on a Friday (October 30th 2009, I paid on my credit card so the date is easily verifiable too).  Now according to Pa. Code § 56.82, “Except in emergencies—which include unauthorized use of utility service—service shall not be terminated, for nonpayment of charges or for any other reason, during the following periods: (1)  On Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.”  So now I contacted the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to find out what can be done to make sure PECO stops breaking the law.

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Is Verizon Scamming People Into FiOS?

When I got home from work yesterday, Stephanie told me there was a message on the answering machine from Verizon, calling to confirm our “recent order”. She left it, because it mentioned a phone number, and she didn’t know if I had changed our phone or DSL service and just not mentioned it. I listened to the message, and while the computer’s voice sounded kinda like the Verizon voice mail tree, something seemed odd. A quick look up of the 1-800 number did show it was really them (1-800-VERIZON, or 1-800-837-4966, is their new all-in-one support phone number) so I called them back. Took a little while to get through voice mail since the system had no idea where to send me, but eventually I got someone who sent me to a CSR to answer my questions. After a little digging they figured out what the mysterious call was about. Somehow an order to upgrade us to FiOS was placed, and the call was to confirm it. Interesting since we can’t really do that; my job pays fo my DSL access so I can work from home if needed (to fix things on off-hours without having to get to the office) but I don’t think they’d want to pay for my landline and TV service too. Plus I’m quite happy with DirecTV, not to mention we’re constantly debating getting rid of the landline and either using our cells or getting VoIP. So this person sent me over to “the elite team” to cancel the order. I explained to her what happened, she offered to see if a TV and phone bundle was available, and when I said we were happy with our TV service she put in the cancellation right away, no questions asked. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.

So why does the title of this article ask if Verizon is scamming people? Because about two weeks ago, in the rain, some guy was coming door to door trying to sell FiOS service. Of course he knocked on our door too, and doing so woke up Emily – therefore Stephanie already wasn’t happy when she opened the door. When he started the pitch, she said no and started to close the door. He then tried to keep selling to her, and argued when she said we couldn’t bundle our Internet service with phone and TV (her and I had just talked about the problem a couple days before when a mailed postcard from Verizon gave her the idea). She just about had to slam the door in his face to get him to leave. Then a week or so later we’re magically signed up for FiOS? Sounds quite a bit fishy to me; wonder if anyone else in the area had similar experiences – if they even know that they are signed up for it, or will find out before a tech shows up with the equipment to start the changeover. Now I’m debating if I want to spend the probably close to an hour on the phone to find out where that order originated, and bring to the attention of someone with firing power that it didn’t come from us.