Happy summer solstice

It’s June 21st! Summer solstice. Longest day of the year.

These days, at the latitude I’m at, the skies are still quite light well past 10 PM. There’s been a lot of rain and storm clouds lately but on a clear night the sky is still lit up to nearly 11 PM.

Any New Agers out there might be interested to know that Stonehenge, which is managed by the English Heritage, was open from yesterday evening to this morning for wannabe druids and drum beaters. You can actually touch and sleep amongst the stones, which some people really believe are sacred and all. You know, ley lines and such. I don’t believe in that sort of thing but I can’t help but marvel at the amount of time and effort that was put into constructing all the various stone circles around the UK and Europe.

I’ve known a couple of people that were into drum circles…one a former housemate in California (I’ll tell you how Californian he is: he invited me to a clothing-optional New Year’s Eve party once!) and one a former boss who believed in divining and ley lines, and spent his weekends camping with friends at a nearby stone circle he says he’d give his life to protect. Nice guys, both of them. But not folks I’d want to hang out with!

Linux update

Recently (well, recently in home computer use time, in real time it’s maybe 2 months ago!) I got a new hard drive for my main computer at home. It’s a 250gb SATA drive to replace the two 120gb IDE drives that I had installed previously. The IDE drives will go to: A) a local server/bittorrent client file server machine that I need to finish building, and B) a media PC that I need to finish building, which will act like Tivo/Sky+ for me.

I realized after I had everything installed and running on the new drive that I should have gotten a 500gb drive instead of the 250gb, after all why upgrade to a single drive that’s marginally bigger than the drives I had installed (even if it is much faster) when I could more than double my hard drive space for not much more money? Oh well, live and learn. By the time I actually fill the new drive, prices will probably be even lower than they are now, and besides I’ll be shifting a lot of the stuff on the drive to the file server anyway.

So anyway I’ve been struggling recently with crashes when using my Ubuntu Linux, at first it seemed that Firefox was the problem so I tried different browsers but that didn’t fully solve the problem. CPU time and memory usage seemed to be the indicators, and Firefox is notoriously memory-hungry. With help from various users on the Ubuntu Forums I was able to sort out what it was: I hadn’t installed the current video drivers on the machine, and the system wasn’t able to handle the load and would dump me to the login screen.

I’d been meaning to anyway, but I was encouraged to load in the Envy script for Ubuntu, which basically autodetects your video card, installs the latest correct driver for it, sets the video settings for Ubuntu and lets you go on your merry way. This is awesome because ATI is notoriously bad for providing Linux support (well, ‘bad’ in that Nvidia, their only competition, provides good Linux support for their stuff!), and this guy basically wrote a program that does all the file finding and conversions, etc., for you. Err…me.

While I was at it, I installed user Kilz’s script for enabling 64-bit Flash in Firefox, which is amazing. It’s amazing because Adobe (who bought Macromedia recently, the people who made Flash in the first place) is notoriously bad for providing Linux support for their products. Having a functional YouTube site (or any other video site) is awesome because since I installed Ubuntu Linux in March I haven’t been able to see Flash videos on websites!

It’s getting better and better, really it is.

Next up for the Linux machine is:
1. setting up Azureus (the top BitTorrent downloading client) to optimize it fully
2. setting up the DVD burning solution (k3b and dvdcopy in Wine Windows emulator
3. setting up Cedega so I can play games like Civilization 4, Warcraft 3 and others