2016 — 21 August: Sunday

Yesterday's rain1 gave me a chance to study the behaviour of the revised, and repaired, guttering and roof tiles above and around the garage and the skylight — as I sat in the car on the drive, listening to my music and waiting for the shower to diminish. All is well, and the wet stuff all stays on the outside of my little above-ground cave. This is a Good Thing.

Skylark's surgery...

...is rescheduled for some time today. I'm assured I needn't comment out that /etc/fstab line beforehand. But why take chances? I'm pleased to have such convenient switching between the two i7 PCs, and the i5 NUC seems settled back in its old (new) position coupled to the hi-fi. But what I've most enjoyed recently is the successful Chromecasting of the BBC radio aided by the Android SHIELD Tablet PC. That's now conveniently atop the Rotel. And needed no special incantations this morning — largely because I just left things (Tablet and dongle) plugged in and powered overnight.

Continuing with my thoughts...

... on a 4K desktop display. Here's a part of my current main desktop, showing its size and clarity — that's the NUC's desktop in the "background" in its own NoMachine window:

Desktop fragment

Were I to equip myself with a 32" 4K display, all this text would (unless I changed the default scaling away from 100%) be some 25% smaller, though every bit as crisp. This simulates the effect...

Desktop fragment reduced by 25%

I shall continue to ponder. After all, prices may come down a bit.

On occasion...

... I turn to the right-wing rather than my (preferred) left-wing web watering holes just to keep my ideas shaken up a little...

Within living memory, this reached what seemed at the time to be an explosive peak during the 1960s and 1970s when the Vietnam War produced an organised resistance arguably more justified than the campaign against the Iraq war. But even in the midst of that mass revolt against government policy, and even when extreme ideologies were resurgent and dominating public discourse, the electoral scene was not peopled by leaders who talked outlandish gibberish. This really is quite new and startling. Something must be going very wrong with the way populations are being instructed in their civic responsibilities. A casual disrespect for politicians is not the same thing as contempt for the historical processes which guarantee the right to throw those politicians out of office.

Janet Daley in Torygraph

There, that wasn't so bad, was it? Depressing, yes, but hard to refute.


This sounds an intriguing documentary. "There's no story here, but if you do this story you will be sued into oblivion..." (YouTube review plus interview with the filmmaker.) Fascinating and weird.

Depressing, I agree, but...

... I found this piece resonated with my odd view of the world. Source and snippet:

After almost nine years, we are finally beginning to reap the political whirlwind of the financial crisis...
But the causes of this political crisis, glaringly evident on both sides of the Atlantic, are much deeper than simply the financial crisis and the virtually stillborn recovery of the last decade. They go to the heart of the neoliberal project that dates from the late 70s and the political rise of Reagan and Thatcher, and embraced at its core the idea of a global free market in goods, services and capital.

Martin Jacques in Grauniad

And hasn't that worked out well?

Skylark is...

... out of intensive care, and back at "work". The case notes are here. I fitted the 1TB drive, but decided that was enough to be going on with. So I opened a terminal in my /home partition and created a couple of symbolic links from there to the two data drives:

ln -s /backup Backup
ln -s /data Data

Both these drives are now mounted when the PC boots by their entries in etc/fstab

# /backup was on /dev/sda1 during installation
UUID=c3799616-e15f-48a2-821e-f054c3426f7a /backup         ext4    defaults        0       2
# /data is the WD 1TB spinning rust drive I added /dev/sdb1
UUID=a52b640f-8771-4db3-a83f-73905bc72d6e /data           ext4     defaults       0       2

I wonder how long things will remain this neat?

The data arena

In 1981, the first IBM mainframe I crashed my first VM on had assigned me 1MB of virtual memory. For a memo. Here — 35 years later — I have nearly 16,000 times as much real memory, and over 1.8 TB of local disk space.

It's finally time...

... to declare Skylark's Linux Mint 18 ready for business, and start putting on it the programs I use on BlackBeast. #1 is the PPA that hosts "get_iplayer". I've just downloaded last Friday evening's BBC "World on 3" (it was live from the Edinburgh Festival, so I'm not greatly enthralled by the noisy audience). And I'm playing it back via VLC on Skylark — using the optical digital audio from the Creative X-Fi sound card — while typing this update on BlackBeast. Then I shall check on the progress of "Jazz Record Requests" and others...

Scanning on Skylark?

Just plug the Epson's USB cable into the Dell screen (which will now share it between PCs as I switch screen inputs between them). Then install the Xsane plug-in before firing up the GIMP to capture and scale, as a test, ...

Scanner test

... this cover artwork of a (very good) CD lent to me by Brian.

Of course, with the Dell screen also being a four-port USB3 hub, I can use it to share and switch one of my 4TB external USB drives between the PCs — as long as I remember to unmount the thing each time before switching. All that takes is a simple right-click on "Safely remove". And the drive is promptly auto-mounted on whichever PC I switch to. Neat.

Re-installing software...

... is nearly done. #2 was Kodi. #3 the relatively-recently discovered OCR tool, YAGF. #4? DB Browser for SQLite. #5 was Asunder (having bought that little external USB DVD writer). #6 was Clementine, which is playing an album right now. #7? Handbrake. #8 was the Pulse Audio volume control, and #9 was the Thunar file manager (an escapee from my dalliance with Xfce a while back).

#10 will have to wait until tomorrow.


1  Timed — of course — to coincide with my return from the grocer.