2016 — 18 February: Thursday

Golly! I didn't know the radioactive isotopes used in slash and burn cancer "therapy" posed a weaponisable threat. Remind me again how far away southern Iraq is? And are they the good guys or the bad guys this week? One loses track of such social niceties — as well as stuff kept in heavy boxes with unmissable day-glo warning labels — it seems.

My own Kabuki...

... shadow play1 of dickie "boids" darting from branch to branch of the decorative Japanese cherry tree is visible should I look to my left. I have yet to see a squirrel join in the feeding frenzy.

I shall try to resist the temptation to overstuff the NUC with software; it will be an interesting exercise in minimalism to see how long I can survive on just the basic installed set. Last night I activated my email account and let Thunderbird stick its beak into the ever-growing accumulation that Mrs Google keeps copies of "in the cloud". It seemed perfectly content to sort it all out for me into the folder structures I set up over six years ago. And several PCs ago.

I'm pleased...

... to see Big Bro is back on the air with his rejuvenated Toshiba laptop hardware. He seems to have made the Great Leap forward (if that's what it is) into Windows 10, too. He wants to know if I can handle the "Word" document from Windows 10 he's just sent me, or whether I need the earlier version (which he also sent, just in case). I note my File Managers (both Caja and Thunar... don't ask) see them thus:

Two variants

And LibreOffice is equally happy to open either of them, displaying apparently identical content and layout. That led to a very minor morning muse as I waited 35 tedious seconds for the NUC to boot into the desktop:

I found both Windows and OS X a sometimes very smelly story. It was easy to freeze apps and crash the system, and seemed difficult to do some simple things. Linux? Some very nasty sharp edges. But it's free, can bring old PCs back from the dead, and on modern hardware it flies along. Supposedly.

The problem is the visually rich user interfaces. These are difficult to program well, and extremely resource-hungry. The world's wish to play games drives hardware development. Few predicted that, or that the world would now have six billion smartphones. All sending one another cat videos.

Date: today

My post-lunch...

... adventure — "just because I can" — has been to nuke the NUC and install Linux Mint 17.3 Xfce. I hope to find it a lighter-weight desktop manager than MATÉ, and I got on perfectly well with Xfce back in the distant days of my 40" 4K screen. The first re-installation left me with a broken Grub, displaying merely a subset BASH command line and, erm, nothing else... Not an encouraging sign.

The second (third? fourth? one loses track) attempt has just finished happily feasting on the accumulated updates since Len downloaded the ISO I've just used. A bit of customisation should soon have it looking "normal". The actual installation — when it finally deigns to let you perform it — including re-formatting the entire Linux partition, but leaving my /home partition untouched, takes less than five minutes, so it's not quite the end of the world.

Behavioural differences merely serve to keep me mentally agile. (Yeah, right!) It has a magnificent range of screensavers, too. I particularly like the Tower of Hanoi.

Edward Gorey...

... was one of those all-too-rare chaps who left our planet a better place than he2 found it. I've long been a fan, and Steven Heller is usually a reliable read, too:

Gorey book cover art

I spotted this on Monday's Soton jaunt, but decided 'speedyhen' was a better bet than submitting to the Waterstone's price gouging. Bite me.



1  On the still-drawn back curtains attenuating the 08:15 sunshine (what's happened to all that torrential rain we were confidently warned about?) before it reduces my capability to see anything but dust on the Dell screen.
2  Odd factoid: His parents divorced, then remarried some years later. In what could be called the gap years, his stepmother was for a while Corinna Mura, who (uncredited) sang the "Marseillaise" in that wonderful 1942 movie Casablanca.