Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   old OSes on old laptops
Tuesday, February 3 2015
Outside, it was a cloudy brutally-cold morning, and the temperature in the living room was down to the 55 degree floor that its thermostat enforces. When I got out of bed to stoke the fire, Gretchen leapt up and ran down ahead of me, wanting to clean the woodstove's glass, something she had wanted to do yesterday but couldn't because it was about 500 degrees Fahrenheit at the time. With a little Windex and a paper towel, she managed to get it clean enough that the stove superficially looked like it didn't have any glass at all.
Since the fire had gone out and there were hardly any live coals in the ashes, I took advantage of the situation and removed the ashes for the first time since late December. I'd burned a lot of wood since then and so figured there would be a record amount of ashes, but all I managed to remove was 13.75 pounds. While one week of that period had been while we were in Belize, the period was 38 days long, meaning it still contained 31 days of woodburning. Perhaps the wood has been drier and I've been running the stove hotter, thus sending more ashes up the chimney. Or else I've been burning up a higher percentage of the carbon. I did notice that today's ashes contained an unusually small amount of black charcoal. In any case, as I do on ash removal days, here is the updated chart:

Number of daysAsh
Est. firewood burntEst. firewood/day
Nov 14-Dec 19 20133613.5 lbs0.27 cords29 lbs
Dec 20 2013-Jan 22 20143320.5 lbs0.41 cords48 lbs
Jan 23 2014-Feb 19 20142824 lbs0.48 cords66.23 lbs
Feb 20 2014-Mar 20 20142916 lbs0.32 cords42.63 lbs
Apr 21 2014-Aug 16 201411810.6 lbs0.21 cords6.94 lbs
Aug 17-Dec 12 201411820.8 lbs0.41 cords13.62 lbs
Dec 13-Dec 26 2014145.8 lbs0.116 cords32.02 lbs
Dec 27 2014-Feb 2 201538 (31)13.75 lbs0.275 cords27.96 lbs (34.27 lbs)

Figures in red limit the calculations to days of actual firewood heating.

Every so often I dip back into the world of alternative operating systems to see where it has advanced to since the last time I checked (usually several years before). I do this for Linux distributions, of course, but they're actually at the point now where I consider them usable as a desktop OS. In this case, though, I'm talking about obscure non-Linux distributions, some of which strip away all the onion layers of software stacks and crap necessary to run programs from the early 1980s. There's a part of me that wants to return to the brutal simplicity of Macintosh System 7, the environment in which I came to love graphical user interfaces (GUIs). When revisiting old alternative OSes, I'm always hoping that perhaps they have reached a threshold of usability, one that would cause me to install one or more of them on computers I use every day. I'm particularly referring to my trusty old MSI Wind U123. Its single-core processor seems to bog down with the kind of work I give it these days, which admittedly is harder work than I used to have for it. These days I frequently use Google Chrome with multiple open windows using different profiles, each with several open tabs. I've come to feel that, for example, I'm not really using Facebook effectively unless I am simultaneously logged in as myself and at least one of my trolls. So today I checked out a number of alternative operating systems. Though I started from an article written in 2011, all the OSes had advanced since I'd last checked in. I'm always particularly struck with KolbiriOS, the GUI OS that fits on a single floppy disk. It has networking and a text-based web browser, though when I tried it out on some of my older hardware, it failed to recognize my WiFi cards. It's a great OS, but I don't want to have to learn what I would need to know to get other networking hardware to work on it, so it's not a great choice. Then there's Haiku, which also seems like a fast OS. But there's something about it that seems unnecessarily obtuse. Sure, I can open folders and see stuff inside them. But what is what? Also, though it might be fast, it failed to boot an old monster laptop, a Dell Inspiron 7000 (featuring a 300 MHz Pentium II). I also checked out an interesting Linux-based distribution called Elementary OS, which appears to have everything I want in a Linux distribution, though it looks superficially like MacOS. Unfortunately, its LiveCD wouldn't boot my old Compaq Evo N410c (running a 1.2 GHz Pentium III), and it didn't recognized the MSI Wind's WiFi card, so I still don't have a use for it. Sadly, it looks as though Windows XP remains the best OS for crappy old hardware.

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