When we bought our house, we knew there would be things that needed repairing/updating. Shortly after we moved in, we did convert the fireplaces from wood to gas. It was great because we could heat with them and not run the furnace so much. But now three years later, we did one of the things we’ve been talking about for a while. I knew when we moved in that the windows in the house were old. How old I didn’t know but I thought they were original to the house. We ordered new ones, and last Saturday, they came to install them. According to the installers, the windows were original to the house which was built in 1962. No wonder they were drafty. It took them about seven hours or so to replace them, and now we have discovered all the things they brought.
First, they are clean, and will be really easy to keep clean. Second and the most important thing is that they keep the heat and cold out. We haven’t run the air conditioner since they were installed, and yesterday it got to 90 degrees here. We had closed the windows early in the morning, and the house stayed very comfortable all day. Once the sun went down, we opened them up and the cool night air came in. It’s supposed to be hot today again, so we’ll see what happens. If this keeps up, we’ll have much lower energy bills and save a lot of money.
The other improvement we made was to have a stairlift put in to make it easier to go up and down the stairs. Both Jane and I have trouble with stairs, and it got to the point where I didn’t even attempt to go up and down. Just too much trouble. So I’ve been stuck upstairs for a while. Not any more. This thing is great. I can sit and ride it down, do what I have to do, and go back up when I want. It makes my life so much better.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. I want to see what happens to the utility bills, and how much savings we will get from these improvements.
Filed under: Computers, Raspberry Pi, SuSE Linux
At the beginning of the month, I got the latest issue of Linux Journal. In it is a lot of articles on a little computer called the Raspberry Pi. After reading some of the articles, I decided to order one. I mean, how much can you lose with a computer that only costs $35. I ordered the card along with some extra stuff like the power supply, a small case, and of course the operating system. The Raspberry Pi is an ARM powered self contained computer about the size of a credit card. Well, at least length and width. The version I bought has 512 meg of ram. It has two USB ports, and connections for the network cable, analog video, analog sound, and an HDMI port! Yep, that’s right. HDMI on it and it works quite nicely with my new monitor.
Credit for this picture goes to Switched on Tech Design(www.sotechdesign.com.au)
The little sdcard contains the operating system. One thing is that it runs linux. Yep, that’s it. Well, so far. According to the website, there are problems running Windows on this processor. Oh, well, I usually don’t do windows anyway. It came with the standard OS of Raspbian. It’s debian based and works OK. I’m not that familiar with Debian, so I had to do some research to get certain things done. Not hard at all. After that, I decided to find out if my old friend SuSE had an image. Yep, sure do. I downloaded it, and wrote it to another sdcard. Plugged it in, and it started right up. Sort of nice to have an old friend to work with. But there is work to be done on the image, so I’ll see what I can contribute.
As for what it can do, I’ve heard it makes a nice quiet file server, or a media server or even a webserver. Now that would be something. Low power consumption, and easy to work with. I’m not sure how well the webserver would work because of the processor, but the rest seem to be possible for a home network.
I’m off to play now, and see what I can do with it. I finally got a USB hub so that I can connect more things to the little box. Taking up one port with the keyboard doesn’t leave much space for the rest of the things I want to try.
Filed under: Computers, Fun Stuff, Uncategorized
Well, last night I turned my monitor off just as I’ve done for years. This morning when I started things up, no monitor. Dead. I tried everything I could think of to get it to work. I tried unplugging the power, holding the power on button while plugging in the power. Nothing. It is an older monitor, so I’ve been sort of expecting it to die. So I go down to Best Buy, one of my favorite stores, and pick up a new monitor. Not just any monitor though. It’s a 25in. HP IPS LED monitor. Damn, this is sweet. Picture is better, and of course bigger than the 22in. that I had before. It was also $60 off and that helped too.
I got the monitors switched, and started the computer. A few things flash, and then the picture comes up. Boy, talk about pretty. And it’s so big. I’m seeing little things that I don’t remember seeing before. It’s nice and I’m pleased. This one is definitely a keeper.
I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my internet connection. I’ve been cruising along with a 20meg down/876k up for a while and thought I’d take a look to see what was available. My ISP offered 40m down/5meg up. Yes, there was a price increase, but it isn’t that much. I order it last week, and they turned it on overnight. Regular pages aren’t that much different, but oh, what a difference it makes with downloads. I’ve got the openSUSE 12.3 install dvd going as I write this, and the download speed has doubled from yesterday. It bounces between 4.8 and 5.2m throughput. Amazing. Most I had with the old setup was 2.2meg and that was on a good day. I think I’m going to really like this new speed.
Now I’m off the play some more.
Many years ago, I started using SuSE linux because it was the only distribution that had support for ISDN. Well, that and I lived just down the road from the company headquarters. I bought my first version 5.3 from their office. Just something I remember. Now on to the latest version.
I don’t usually change versions that often. I ran 10.0 for years for my webserver because it just worked. No reason to change it. Then it was 11.0 for quite a while then 11.4 because it worked. But the service life runs out, and so it’s time to move on. I’ve been running 12.1 for quite some time, and liked it, but kept watching the later versions. There wasn’t enough of a change to get me to move to 12.2 so I didn’t worry about it. When 12.3 came out I watched the factory mail list and folks were saying good things about it. I decided to check it out. I have the ability to multi-boot from the bios, and not have to set things up with the boot loader. I kept upgrading the 12.3 computer and liked what I saw. When it went gold I decided that I’d go ahead and try to move my 12.1 install to this version.
I put in a new hard drive and started the install. Everything went quite well, and the initial setup went quite well. Now to begin the migration. There are several things that I do immediately after starting and I’ll list them.
1. Update the repositories and add Packman and Libdvdcss. The reason is to get the necessary codecs to use my collection of mp3s and other things. That part always goes well, and I did the necessary updates.
2. Add the FGLRX drivers for my graphics card. I know that a lot of folks don’t do this, nor use the ATI cards, but I’ve always had good luck with them so I keep doing it. As usual I had good luck and the graphics are great.
3. Move my mail and get Kmail working. I copied my mail and config file and all was well.
This is one of the best installs I’ve had in a while. It’s boots quickly and I’m up and running. So far everything works, and I’m quite happy. I think I’m going to rearrange my system and hard drives so that I can disconnect some of the drives until they are needed. I love the new SATA drives that let you just plug them in and use them as necessary.
I bought the upgrade to Snow Leopard for Jane’s iMac a couple of weeks ago. Before it arrived I started reading little things that might happen, and that perhaps I should wait for the first update to fix some of the problems. So I waited. Mainly because of everything I’d heard about problems with HP printers. We have a 2600n Color Laserjet, and it had been working quite nicely with all the computers in the house.
Yesterday I got the bug, and started the upgrade. It was easy and came right up. But not so unexpectedly, the HP printer was gone. My little brother Laser printer was found and properly installed. No problem, I’ll just re-install the HP. First I got the updates to 10.6 and that went well. But still no HP fix. I checked around the net, and found an update to the HP drivers for the Mac. I downloaded that, did the install, and still nothing. I worked on it for quite a while without any luck. Now where is that install disk for the printer. Searched the room, but couldn’t find it. No problem. I’ll just download it. Still no luck. I quit. Better to stop, than get frustrated, and throw the computer out the window.. 😉
I came back this morning, and found the disk. It was right beside the mac. I put it in, did the install, and then checked. There was still a problem, and it couldn’t find the right driver. But I clicked on something and up popped the printer with a strange name. I said install it, the mac said OK, and all is well.
Are there improvements? I think so. But she’s up to date now, and so far it works as it did when I bought it. It is nice to not have to worry about updating the virus protection, and so forth.