no deal breakers?
Wednesday, July 30 2014
I've been interested in Linux since at least 1997, when I tried (seemingly unsuccessfully) to install it on one of several old i386 IBM PS/2s I'd dumpster dived. Obviously, I prefer the worldview of those building out the Linux ecosystem than I do the Windows or Macintosh ecosystems. But, in terms of the operating systems I actually use, it's mostly been Windows, with the occasional Macintosh. I've become dependent on features that only Windows OSes provide, particularly user-editable paths of Explorer windows (or the functionally-equivalent file system browser), something that is only found in Windows OSes and the KDE desktop on Linux. It's also important for me to easily be able to add a secondary monitor, which has traditionally been a problem in Linux. Recently, though, I've decided to give Debian with KDE another try, installing it on my the Lenovo T60p laptop, which I'd like to use as a "transportable" (as opposed to "portable") work environment. So far the building out of the Linux-based environment has been going okay. Last night, I was delighted to discover that KDE could dynamically add (and expand the desktop into) an additional monitor, thereby overcoming an important Linux dealbreaker. Today, though, I thought I'd found another dealbreaker when I tried to drag and drop a text file on the desktop icon of a freshly-installed copy of Sublime Text (yes, they make a Linux version!). That icon didn't change color, so I assumed that the drag-and-drop to perform an "open-with" wasn't going to work. Drag and drop is a very important feature in the way I use a computer GUI; I like to have my applications in known places on my desktop and I like to be able to drag and drop files from other windows on them as a way of saying what I want to open and what I want to open it with in a single gesture. It later turned out that this kind of drag-and-drop is supported in KDE; I just have to mentally overcome the failure of the application icon to change color when the document is hovering over it. So, as of now, I'm still on track to make a web development laptop using Debian Linux and the KDE desktop. I'll have access to familiar applications like Chrome, Sublime Text, Filezilla, Mozilla Thunderbird, though things will be a little dicier when I need to edit images (since there is no Adobe Photoshop for Linux, and I have doubts I can make it work well enough in Wine). I've also looked into running Windows on a virtual machine in Linux, but I'm intimidated by the steps necessary to get that to work (just installing VMWare Player was a major headache, starting with the long-winded terms of service that must be agreed to; if you scroll through it too far it starts from the beginning and you find yourself stepping gingerly through it line-by-line to find the line where it asks you to type Y (not "Yes") to signal you agree Surely nobody has ever read it.
This afternoon, before heading out on a limited mushroom hunting foray along the length of (and also just west of) the Farm Road, I sprayed myself thoroughly with Liquid Net insect repellant, an all-natural product that seems to work fairly well. Evidently it's been dry a bit too long for there to be many mushrooms, because mostly all I found was red Russulas, a few inedible Lactarius, and a lot of moth-eaten Boletes. I also found an old brown beer bottle and the remains of a hatched egg (it was the size of an acorn and white). So I won't be going mushroom hunting until it rains again. I should mention that I only use Liquid Net insect repellant when I absolutely must. Though it doesn't smell too bad, inevitably it somehow ends up in my mouth, and for hours afterwards I feel slightly poisoned.
This evening Gretchen and I went to drink wine on the porch with our new friends Lee & Juliana, who live just south of Woodstock. Gretchen knows them through a poetry reading, and while I don't know what Juliana does, I know that Lee makes furniture for the best-known chain of coffee shops in America. Their house is absolutely gorgeous. It's set on the remains of an old farm and is mostly open fields, which reach all the way down to the Sawkill (beyond which is the Comeau Property, that mostly-forested public park where we occasionally walk our dogs). It features a pond (complete with a fountain) and another fountain. When we arrived, the back field was just done being bushhogged. Inside, all the originally ugliness from the 1970s had been ripped out and replaced with tasteful and seemingly-ancient details that seemed in keeping with its 19th Century origins. Among the things removed were sheets of linoleum and cheap hardward flooring, beneath which were gorgeous wide-plank hemlock floor boards, all of which are now exposed, as are the ceiling joists and the undersides of the floorboards of the upstairs floor. Not only that, but there is lots of tasteful art on the wall, much of it done by Lee. Not only that, but everything is so clean, fresh, and uncluttered. It was enough to make Gretchen jealous.
We'd brought out dogs, and they spent a lot of time with L&J's dog Lulu running around in the fields near the house.
On several occasions it sounded like Ramona had treed a bear, but she always came back when we called her, something she wouldn't do if she'd actually treed a bear.
Meanwhile, we humans spent most of our time out on a huge screened-in porch, snacking on finger food and drinking wine. Conversation spent a surprisingly long time on the conflict between Isræl and Gaza, with Juliana offering statements more supportive of Isræl than I would expect to hear in our not-especially Zionist (though fairly Jewish) social circle. Admittedly, these supportive statements were only tentatively that way, though they seemed to grow out of her Jewish identity (meanwhile, under my influence, Gretchen's Jewishness has become less and less important to her, since it reflects something arbitrary and tribal that she had no control over). Juliana's Jewishness (or lack thereof; her father contributed her only Semitic genes) was a recurring topic, as was veganism (L&J are officially still just vegetarians), and childlessness (something all four of us are). Gretchen and I ended up staying a bit longer than I would have preferred. After dark, the air grew a bit too cold for someone like me dressed only in shorts and a teeshirt, and covering myself with pillows and snuggling against a dog was an imperfect solution solution at best. But Gretchen was having fun, so we stayed for something like five hours, grazing as we did on corn chips & hummus, pistachios, and some banana bread Gretchen had brought.
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