Saturday, December 31, 2005

First batch of pictures

I've put the first batch of pictures up. I'll be putting more up over the next few days and hopefully I'll get other people from the Birthright trip to add their pictures as well.

It's Shabbat here in Israel, and I'm in Tel Aviv. Where I want to be is a town right smack between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Needless to say, the buses don't run on Shabbat so it will be an interesting challenge.

I've been reflecting a bit more on how amazing the trip has been so far and what a change it is from being on a scheduled bus tour to trying to find my own way around. Both certainly have their benefits and drawbacks. So far, I've been able to get by in English with the odd difficulty here and there. I'm sure it will get more challenging as I travel more on my own, but OTOH I'll hopefully have picked up a bit more Hebrew by the time the trip is over.

Chag Samach and happy New Years.

Friday, December 30, 2005

First post from Israel

Well, here I am in Israel in the house of my cousin, his wife and their little boy. The past ten days in Israel have been an amazing blur of people, places, and emotions; an exhasting experience to say the least. Now that the first "tour" phase of my trip is over I'll hopefully be able to relax a bit more. Birthright is an amazing experience, one I'd recommend to anyone who hasn't done a group tour of Israel. Our tour leaders were amazing, and they really tried to show us as much of Israel as they could within the time given. Our group really bonded from the start with everyone getting along with everyone else. I'll speak more on the trip later once I've collected my thoughts a bit more. In the mean time, check out some photos on the Canada Israel Experience website.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

More on the latest Libranet update

From reading the Libranet Forum it seems that some people don't quite understand why I am taking a break from Libranet. With what I've been through in the last two years I'm just plain burned out. I'm not productive right now. Any work trying to develop and maintain Libranet would just be counter productive at this point, so I'm taking a break. I'll see how things look next year. One thing I know for sure is that I'm not going to continue Libranet as a small 1, 2 or 3 person project, so if Libranet does continue in a different form that the way things have been done until this point. I also may decide that I don't want to continue with Libranet at which point it will be a matter of deciding what to do with the Libranet tools and resources. I'm being upfront about this because I think the Libranet community will be stronger with a better idea of what the future might hold. I wish that there were some easier way through this time, but I have to work with reality, and the reality is that I need time to clear my head before moving forward.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thanks for all the fish

Thanks to all of those who have sent supporting words by email, in blog comments, or on the forum. It means a lot to me and brings a smile to my face.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ping

Hmm, yeah so not much happening at the moment. I'll be in Israel from mid December until the end of February, so I've got a metric tonne or two worth of things that I need to do to get ready, and as usually my sleep/awake hours are somewhat messed up ( as a clue, this entry was posted before going to bed, not after waking up :) ). Ah well, it'll all get done in the end.

I've also been doing some investigating on the camera front. I've got a Nikon FM10, but I really want a digital camera for my trip. The digital camera I've been using doesn't actually belong to me, and won't be available for my trip so it's time for me to purchase one.

So far I've got candidates from Nikon, Canon, and Panasonic. The Nikon Coolpix P1, Panasonic FX-9K, and Canon PowerShot A620 all look like really good cameras. The Panasonic looks to have the edge size wise, which is important since I want something I can stick in a pocket. The Panasonic also has image stabilization, which is crazy cool.

On the Libranet front, I hope to be able to post something more official soon, but basically the operation is shutting down. I don't know if this will be permanent or not, but it's the situation for now. I'm not a business man, and I can't run the company on my own so it's really the only choice for the moment. There is a possibility of finding some outside involvement to give Libranet a good kick in the pants and get it going again, but I'm not going to be able to even investigate anything along this path until I get back to Canada next spring. Still, if anyone out there is seriously interested (or knows of someone who is interested) in getting involved in the GNU/Linux world in a big way, don't hesitate to let me know.

Monday, October 24, 2005

More on the laptop

Well upgrading the Dell BIOS on my laptop from A04 to A05 gave me a good speed up on wireless transmission rates. Unfortunately it hasn't gotten ACPI power states working (yet). Doing echo mem > /sys/power/state puts the laptop to sleep nicely, but getting the laptop to wake up is another story. Pressing the power button seems to wake up the hardware (fans and disk powers up), but the LCD doesn't come back on and the system doesn't respond to anything. Trying to put the laptop into standby mode doesn't work with a message that the system doesn't support this power mode. I haven't even touched suspend to disk yet.

Battery life for light usage (e.g. offline email with wireless radio turned off) looks to be around 3:30 give or take. Not to bad considering the 17" monitor and 100GB 7200RPM disk. The processor throttles back to 800MHz on battery rising to 1.3GHz on demand (or I can manually override all the way up to the full 2.0GHz).

At some point I'll write up all of the stuff that was necessary to get this machine configured. So far the only thing that really needs attention is the ACPI sleep issue.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Excitement ensues


My Inspiron 9300 arrived today. The system is quite amazing; I have to say I'm impressed with the build quality and the general feel of the machine. The 17" 1920x1200 LCD screen is absolutely amazing, and the video card is as fast as anything.

All the goodies that I've been able to test are working so far. I don't yet know if Bluetooth is supported/working, and the internal modem is probably going to be a no-go.

This computer contains the first copy of Microsoft software that I have bought (XP came with the laptop of course) since Windows 95. It's improved a lot since then, but it's still slow, frustrating, and boring compared to a Libranet system. I doubt I'll be using it for much at all.

I've settled on using Gnome for now, and have got panel monitors for such nifty things as battery life and the current Speedstep settings (the 2.0GHz processor dynamically scales back to 800MHz on battery to save on juice). I've only been running on AC for now, so I've yet to see what the actual battery life will be.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Apple iPod - 60 GB of fun

So the new Apple iPod looks freak'n cool. Very, very, tempting.

Of course, I would ideally prefer a player that supports Ogg and Flac, but I don't know of any small nice looking players that will do so. Oh, and the 20hour battery life and video play back is a BIG bonus.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Posting on the Libranet forum

Read my posting on the Libranet forum.


A 1CD version is not going to happen. 1CD just doesn't have enough room for a modern GNU/Linux system and a graphical installer (which takes up a fair amount of space on its own). Personally a single DVD would my favorite option, but it will be a while before everyone in the Libranet target market has a DVD-ROM drive.

As to other suggestions:

Going back to a text-mode installer isn't going to happen. It's just not needed on modern hardware. Same for a text-only Adminmenu. As for things like remote administration, web based interfaces or X tunneling over ssh are still more desirable than a text based interface.

Copying another distribution's model isn't going to work. Libranet has been and needs to stay unique. This is not to say that Libranet can't and hasn't learned from others. I have always felt that RedHat and SuSE are Libranet's biggest competition.

Sadcat is correct in stating that it is an impossible job for a small team to control the quality of thousands of software packages. However, with the help of the free software community and projects like Debian providing a pool of readily available packages providing a large high-quality set of packages is not just do-able, but desirable.

The "one app per task" doesn't really work for me. My choice of an application to get a given task done is very often different than another persons. The "one app per task" mindset works if you are pandering to the computer illiterate, which to be frank is the biggest market out there. However, Libranet isn't targeted to the computer as a appliance, what to I click to get to the internet crowd. I don't use “illiterate” as a derogatory term in this context. It is unreasonable to expect the average Joe to learn how a computer works just to be able to “use” a computer. As the internet expands into evermore areas of our lives computers will become much more like automobiles. Almost anyone can drive a car, but very few people know or care about how their car works. Fortunately it's not possible to get injured crashing a computer Smile Anyone remember Apple's “what's a dip” TV commercials from years ago?

In my mind Libranet has always been geared to the happy middle ground: those users who want an easy to maintain working system, but don't want someone to dictate how they go about doing their work.

That being said I don't think there is a need to provide every application on the planet, only those that do a good job. Providing both Firefox and Opera as web browsers makes sense, but adding little used “project” browsers adds little value since the type of users who would be using that type of software would be able to install the software themselves. Perhaps a better example is the world of email clients. There are many, many, different email clients available. What ones really bare inclusion? In my opinion: Thunderbird, Evolution, and Kmail.

The GNU/Linux system is going through the process of maturing from a hobbiest only system to a system usable by the everyday woman in the pub. The fact that there are distributions with so many different targets available is a testament to the diversity of the computer market and the ability of GNU/Linux systems to adapt to many different areas.

GNU/Linux is moving forward at a rapid and exciting pace, and I earnestly hope Libranet will be part of the big changes that we are beginning to see. To this I will add that I make no guarantees whatsoever as to the future of Libranet. At this point it's go big or go home; the two man distribution model just doesn't work for me anymore.

What I need to do now is find partners who have an interest in seeing something amazing happen. It will take me a while to gather my thoughts and figure out how best to go about this.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What to do with all the music

I'm quite an avid music listener, and my tastes are quite varied. I listen to everything from The Matrix Reloaded Soundtrack (playing now), to Israeli dance music, to Pop and Hip-Hop, and on to Trance. Given this, having all my music on the computer is far easier than shuffling CDs around, but even on the computer it can be difficult to manage several thousand different songs.

XMMS used to be my music player of choice, but its playlist manager is not quite up to task. It's impossible to search, and having multiple playlists isn't easy. I've just started using Rhythmbox, and it is better than XMMS. Rhythmbox keeps track of when a song was last played and you can give songs ratings. I would still like to see something like XMMS's queing feature that allows you to queue the next song after which it will go back to playing the playlist in the previous order. Also, I would like to see the random play mode having a weightings feature. For example, give a greater weight to songs not played in a certain amount of time; give a smaller weight to low rated songs, etc.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bryan Masinick on Libranet

Bryan Masinick writes about Libranet.

For the record, Libra Computer Systems the company has been around since 1984. The Libranet GNU/Linux project was started in 1999.

As for turning over Libranet as a community project, I'm not going to do anything in this direction yet. My first preference is to have Libranet continue as a commercial product. If you look at open source projects that are doing well you will find that, with few exceptions, they have commercial backing. Commercial interests and open source ideals don't need to be at odds with each other. Redhat, SuSE, and Mandrake are all examples of commercial open source distributions.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Libranet restructuring

Okay, so first some basic background for clarity. Libra Computer Systems was started by my father, Jon, in 1984 (one year after I was born). In 1999 Jon became interested in Linux. He had never been satisfied with DOS or Windows having come from a Unix background, and began to explore using Linux as an alternative. In the process, he decided that Libra Computer Systems' next project would be to create an easy to use Linux system for desktop users. I first became involved with the project as a casual interest in what Jon was doing, but I soon became drawn into the world of Linux and started to become involved in the product.

As Libranet progressed in development, I became increasingly involved in both the development and technical support of Libranet. In the six years that Libranet has been around we have released well over 10 versions of the Libranet distribution, each improving over the last.

Unfortunately, in late 2003 Jon was diagnosed with cancer. As he became progressively sicker in the year and a half following his diagnoses I began to take a larger and larger responsibility in not just the technical development of Libranet, but in the running of the business as well. Jon's death left the running of Libranet solely in my hands.

Libranet has been a wonderful learning experience for me, and would very much like to continue the legacy that is not just my father's work, but very much mine as well. However, changes will be needed to move Libranet forward, and this is the point where I am now. I need to catch my breath then figure out how to move on.

I feel that Libranet is unique in the Linux world, not just because of its technical achievements, but because of the philosophy that is behind the Libranet system.

I hope that the strong Libranet community will be patient while the process of moving Libranet onwards takes place. I do not at this time know how long it will take or exactly what the outcome will be, but I will endeavor to keep the Libranet community informed.

As always I welcome correspondence from the Libranet community. Feel free to email at tal@libranet.com.

The Libranet Blog and Libranet Newsletter are the community's best resources for staying up to date on what is happening.

Daniel has posted his thoughts on the changes happening at Libranet.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Laptop goodness


So I finally did it. I ordered a Dell Inspiron 9300 today. The low down:

  • Pentium M 760 2.0GHz
  • 17" TrueLife WUXGA (1920 x 1200) screen
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 256MB DDR NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800
  • 100GB 7200RPM hard drive
  • 8x DVD+/-RW drive
The 7200RPM 100GB drives are on backorder so the laptop should take about a month to reach me. The decision on which model to go with was a tough one, but I think I made the right choice. A comparable laptop from another manufacturer would have cost a lot more than the Dell at least once an international three year warranty comes into consideration. On top of that, I got a pretty good deal on the laptop (I managed to get over $500 off the full price).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dancing away from piles of paper

The past several days have been kind of slow work wise. I've doing lots of administrative and paperwork type things which have to be done, but aren't really that fun.

On the bright side I'm now dancing four days a week which is lots of fun :)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Changed my mind

It was a tough decision to make, but I am, for the first time in 16 years, no longer a vegetarian. If you asked me 5 years ago if I thought that I'd be eating meat and fish again, I'd probably have said "no way", but my outlook on the topic has changed over the past two years or so. I feel good about my decision, and don't think I'll be looking back.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Libranet Blog

Libranet now has an "official" Libranet Blog. Updates on Libranet happenings will be posted here by Daniel and I.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Do you think you can dance?

I've been following the TV series So You Think You Can Dance. The premise is to find "America's best dancer" and reward them with $100 000 and a fancy New York apartment for a year. Blogcritics.org has summaries of the shows outlining what happened in each episode. I have commented on week 7 and week 8. This is the first "reality" show that I've followed, and I have to say that I'm really impressed with both the talent on the show and the format and production of the show.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Have laptop will travel...

... or at least that's the hope.

I'm looking to purchase a laptop. Unfortunately I'm quite picky on what I need:
  • NVidia graphics
  • 100GB or more HD space
  • Pentium M 1.86MHz or higher
  • 3 year warranty valid overseas (hopefully with something like Dell's Complete Care)
This seems to put me into the rarefied territory of "multimedia" laptops. My short list so far:
As far as I know Linux support is fine on the Dell, but I don't know yet about the Toshibas. The Dell has a much higher resolution screen than the Toshiba laptops, but I've heard some reports that it may not be as good.

The thing I like about the Dell is that I can configure a machine to my specs on Dell's website that beats the pants off any of the Toshiba offerings, but it ends up being very pricey. Also, the battery that comes with the Toshiba laptop is insufficient for this class of machine, so a CA$250 battery upgrade is going to be necessary.

On the other hand, if I drop the NVidia requirement from my list I can probably find a cheaper HP or Compaq laptop that will fit the bill. I'm just not sure if it's worth risking not having first class 3D support. ATI's drivers are notoriously sketchy especially when it comes to their mobile products.

The thing about laptops is that you basically have to order them as you want to keep them. Unlike a desktop computer upgrading select components later is either prohibitively expensive or just plain impossible.

So that means:
  • Go cheap and upgrade often
  • Go top of the line and get a laptop that will last a while
So far I'm leaning toward the second choice.

So far nothing has been able to beat the Dell on the perfomance/dollar aspect from what I can tell.

I'd love to hear anyone's comments, but remember if you are suggesting a laptop it has to be available for purchase in Canada.

Older than before


I had a fun weekend. I turned 22 on Saturday (yay me!) and celebrated Friday night with friends and on Saturday with family. It's amazing how different my life is since this same time last year.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New website draft

I've been working up on a new look for the Libranet website. Check the thumbnail for what I have so far. The challenge is to come up with a design that is simple yet striking. Technology wise the site is XHTML 1.1 + CSS 2.0 (same as the old design). Not sure if this will be the final new design. It still needs some work and testing before it will go live if this is the design that I do end up going with.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Plugged in

Got some new gear recently, notably a new mouse and headphones.

The headphones are Sennheiser HD500s, which, from the research I did, looked to be the best headphones I could get without getting astronomically expensive. They are certainly the best headphones I've ever used, but they make me realize that I really need to get a decent sound card for my main computer. Plugged into my Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers they sound terrific. They are an open design so they won't be the best choice if you want isolation from the person next to you. The HD500s also score well on comfort; they put almost no pressure on your head and I've worn them for hours with no discomfort.

 


The new mouse is a Logitech MX1000 cordless mouse. I initially wanted this mouse as a more egonomic upgrade to the Logitech OEM optical mouse I was using before, but I soon found that this mouse was leagues ahead in every way. This mouse has a high resolution laser sensor instead of the LED sensor on most optical mice. This makes the mouse much more smooth and acurate especially on surfaces that a standard optical mouse just can't handle (polished surfaces, glass, paper, etc.). So, not only is this mouse way more comfortable that my old one, but it's much better too. Going cordless was an added bounus. A rechargable non-replacable Lithium-Ion battery powers the mouse and can go about a week between charges. Three battery level LEDs let you know when to put the mouse on its charging base station. I have yet to get the multitude of buttons working as a newer version of X.org is needed.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Squiggley lines and flashing dots

The Not so Idiots Guide to IPSec looks to be an interesting read. Okay, okay it's really called An Illustrated Guide to IPSec, but I liked my title better. Anyway, it's got squiggley lines to help you understand IPSec so it can't be all bad.

On to flashing dots: If you stare at the center of this image for long enough something amazing will happen.



(Illusion via Random Good Stuff)

Monday, August 22, 2005

All jazzed up

So I took my second ever Jazz dance class this sunday, and wow what a difference from the first time around. I was much more comfortable this time around and am much more comfortable at the Intro level at this point. The difference between the intro level and level 1 was not so much the material covered, but the pace at which the material is covered. In the intro class much more time was taken to go over and correct different movements.

Now that I have found a class that I am comfortable with, I really feel that Jazz dance will help me improve my overall dance abilities as well as being another weekly event that I can look forward to.

The dance center is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver. I really ejoyed a sunny Sunday walk through the city, and I don't think riding the Seabus could ever get boring. This particular day I saw barges, cruise ships, a helecopter landing, and a seaplane landing; not to mention the spectacular views of the harbour, downtown, and the north shore.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Deep in Deep Cove

I guess it's called Deep for a reason. I spotted this megayacht complete with helicopter while visiting Deep Cove.



The area also has some beautiful houses and great scenery.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Danced my socks off

Last night I had the privilege of running the Israeli Folk Dancing group that I go to on Thursday nights. This meant teaching both the beginner and intermediate group as well as running the dance session. Our usual session leader/teacher was at a conference in Seattle and was expected to arrive at 8:00pm that evening. Her flight, however, was delayed and she didn't make it back until 9:30pm.

This was the first time that I had ever taught a dance class and run a dance session, so the whole evening was a new experience for me. I have to say that my experience last night has brought my respect for dance teachers and session leaders to a whole new level. I was less physically tired than I usually am after a night of dancing, but by the end I was mentally exhausted.

One of the most challenging aspects of the evening was to be able to vocalise dance steps during teaching and dancing of a new dance. I had a hard time separating my feet and brain to the extent where I could call out each step of a dance. Not only that, but breaking down a dance into teachable segments is quite difficult and at one point I completely lost the dance I was trying to teach for the intermediate group. I had the dance when the music was playing, but as soon as I tried to teach the steps .....

At any rate, the evening went pretty well for the most part. I'm very glad to have had the experience, and I know that I have a lot of work to do before I could consider myself proficient in this area.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Out and about

Visted Grandville Island recently. It was a beautiful sunny day and I took a load of pictures. Grandville Island is always a fun place with artists, shops, street performers, and large market.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Aunt in town

My Aunt is in town for the next three weeks or so. Lots of fun taking her around to see all the sights and sounds.

So I tried out a Jazz dance class tonight. It was quite challenging with the pace and style of dance being completely different than anything I have done before (I do Israeli dancing 2-3 times a week). Despite the fact that the class was advertised as a introduction/level 1 it was really more of a level 1 class according to the instructor. I really need an intro level course :) Next on my list of dance classes to try is Hip-hop.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Interesting weekend

On Saturday I went to the Powell Street Festival. This event is all about Japanese Canadian culture. My Karate Sensei was part of an Iaido demonstration which I unfortunately missed. There was a Kokoro dance performance in the afternoon which was quite interesting. I'd never seen this type of dance before, and I was impressed by the focus and strength of the performers. By an interesting coincidence this group practices at the same dance studio that I plan on checking out this week or the next.

In the evening I went to a dinner with a group of my sisters friends. For dessert we watched one of the Celebration of Light fireworks events.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And so bits of mail fly to places far and wide

Which is to say that Libranet 3.0 is now shipping! I'm glad that the wait is finally over. I will post a snapshot of what the package looks like in a bit.

It's also worth noting that 3.0 has been getting some really good reviews.

Look for a post on my experiences using a Linux system to prepare images/page layouts for press.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Keys go where?

Hmmm. Locking car keys in the car is not a great idea. After waiting almost an hour and a half for CAA to show up I got let back into the car.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Libranet 3.0 CD production almost complete

After several weeks of prep work the Libranet 3.0 CD sets are almost finished. I'll post a box shot of the final product after they arrive.

This means that we will soon start shipping 3.0 CD pre-orders and taking new CD orders.

It's been a long wait, but I think it will be worth while.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Starting a blog

I've finally decided to start a blog. Hell, might as well jump on the bandwagon at some point.

Work is going through some transitions at this point in time and I'm working on getting my days better organized. I've started using Evolution for calendering and task management which is working quite well so far. Version 2.0 is certaintly a big improvement over 1.4.