Oneiric

Ubuntu

I noticed that the upgrade for Oneiric was available, so I decided to jump in & upgrade my Ubuntu machines. It has become the habit that I encounter all weird stuff & errors during such upgrades, but that's something specific to me, it seems ;)

On my desktop, I returned to the installation program 2 hours later after I started it, only to find a black screen with a mouse pointer. No possibility to restore the screen, so I had no other choice than to kill X, and resort to command-line mockery. I've learned by previous experience that rebooting the machine or restarting X at this point lead to major mayhem on my desktop, so I entered 'dpkg-reconfigure -a' to complete the setup, which it actually did, to my big surprise.

Since Natty, there has been much turmoil on the internetz about something Canonical enforced to the enduser, called Unity. I have skipped this enforced desktop in the past by reverting to the Gnome legacy mode, but it seemed that this was completely foobarred in the current Gnome3 in Oneiric. So what has a man to do in a completely changed environment ? Adapt. I decided actually to try out Unity, and lo and behold, it was actually quite usable. Unfortunately, Unity does not support gnome applets, but I resolved this by running Conky, which adds extra panache to the desktop experience.

There are off course still quirks in Unity. Mocking around with the Compizconfig settings can ruin your desktop experience, although not so disastrous as in Natty. On my netbook, Unity refused to start up, leaving me only with a empty wallpaper. I resolved this by setting the LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1 envvar in my .bashrc.

We'll see how this Gnome3/Unity combination goes. If it really turns out to be an atrocity, there's always KDE or XFCE to revert too...

HTC Desire

Mobile phones

My Nokia N97 phone is now 2 years old, and although the device got slaughtered in most user reviews, I must say I was fairly content with it. The problem with the device is that the experience got ruined by its software, Symbian S60v5, and its successor Symbian^2. Both were too 'heavy' for the N97 CPU, resulting in a slow operating of the device. But what's really drove me to buying a new handset, was the fact that the GPS took ages to activate (unless you enabled A-GPS), and the fact that the automated backups 'just stopped working'.

And then there's OVI suite. Please don't remind me of OVI Suite with its Nokia Software updater.

Nokia clearly has no clue what to do on the smartphone market, as indicated by the fact that the Meego-powered N9 is only available in some countries. The only one who is not aware that Symbian is dead, seems to be Nokia. And then there's the Microsoft deal.

Reasons enough to switch over to the Android camp. I was first thinking of getting the Wildfire S, but then I noticed that the Desire was equally priced. I must say I miss the N97's hardware keyboard, but all in all the Desire is a great device. Sleek, performant, and equipped with a great touch screen.

The end of the Space Shuttle era - and the absence of a replacement

Astronomy

The STS-135 flight was the last of any Space Shuttle flight, and this marks the end of the Space Shuttle era, which began some 30 years ago. The Space Shuttle, although quite flawed, was a pinnacle in space flight technology, but eventually was shut down due to too high costs. Here's an overview of this remarkable vehicle :

Some remarkable quotes :

  • "Most people lament the end of the Space Shuttle. What's really sad, is that there is nothing to replace it."
  • "1969 : The landing on the moon
    1981 : The start of the Space Shuttle era
    2011 : Nothing
    For anyone traveling backwards in time, the American Space program looks fabulous."

Review the phantom menace

Humor

Redlettermedia has the most disturbing, yet most humorist -and very true- review of the Phantom Menace, you'll ever have seen.
Also : review of Attack of the clones and Revenge of the Sith

Motif XS

Music

Yamaha keyboard owners are spoiled, it seems, with their keyboard sounds quality. This was demonstrated lately in music school when I had the change to play on a - rather old & battered, I must admit - Roland keyboard. The piano sounded like I was killing a kitten.

I've always been very content with my PSR-E413 keyboard, piano sounds on it are truly excellent. However, 32 note polyphony is quite a limitation. And as one progresses, and starts using arpeggios, this limit got hit quite frequently. And as my keyboard playing interest seemed something that wasn't a passing fling, I was looking around for more professional gear.

The Tyros 4 was just released, but its price tag was way beyond my reach, just as the Motif XF. I wanted a keyboard/synth with 70+ keys, both with keyboard accompaniment and virtual analog synth sounds. The Korg M3 and the Motif XS7 remained, from which I eventually chose the Motif.

Truly a great machine. It would take me over 2 days only to try out all presets on this machine. It has more than 6000 arpeggio's, which is amazing. Trying out all of these for half a minute would take me about 3 days.

Seems that I'm well-equipped now to take over the charts ;)

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