So this is my third blog post today. Huh. Something of a record. Mainly trying to test out posting in Markdown instead of using that God-awful Gutenberg. I’m trying to learn to love it, or at least tolerate it, but it is a struggle.
Just wanted to recount my recent adventures in using this aging MacBook Air with Linux instead of OS X for a couple months earlier this year. TLDR: I tried it, it was okay. I am back to using OS X.
For those more interested, here is a longer version. This laptop is a ten year old MacBook Air that has worked admirably. However, it no longer get software updates from Apple and it is stuck on High Sierra, which I think came out over 4 years ago now. No Mac OS X security updates; no Safari updates (not that I used that browser very much) and more importantly to me, no more Homebrew updates soon. I decided to try installing Ubuntu 20.04 on this machine back in February. It worked, but it was kind of pokey slow and was not the upgrade I was looking for. So I decided to give mxLinux a spin on this computer and I was pleasantly surprised. It ran well, I was able to install everything I needed and get updates on a regular basis. I know Debian well, and this distro had all that plus a bit extra tooling that I liked. I installed mxLinux in late February and used it for two and a half months.
So what happened? A few things :) – First and foremost, I borked the boot process one day when I overwrote my GRUB settings during an apt-get session. While I could have struggled through this issue and figured out how to fix the GRUB boot process and gotten back into mxLinux, I started thinking about some other issues that gave me pause. A couple things really stood out to me.
First, one of my biggest problems was the trackpad sensitivity and settings. Using mxLinux was frustrating me for weeks. Everytime I tried to type something, the heel of my hand inevitably would brush the trackpad, sending the mouse pointer into frenzies across the screen. I would lose my focus, or click away to another application. It was frustrating. I figured out a setting to disable the trackpad while I was typing, but then trying to use both trackpad and keyboard (like web browsing and scrolling through a page, filling in a form) became a slow… motion… pain… in… the… butt. Waiting a second or two everytime I switch between the two input modes slowly grew excruciating. But I could live with it.
Second was the realization that my battery life on Linux was just terrible. I just took the time and effort last fall to replace the battery in this laptop, and using OS X I got 3 – 4+ hours on a charge, using the computer almost constantly with either video or music playing in the background. Under Linux, I was lucky to get 2 hours out of the battery. Worse, the battery percentage was completely off kilter. It would say 62% charge remaining, then just completely die 3 minutes later. Not cool bro.
Lastly, I have to honestly say I missed some of the benefits of the Apple ecosystem. Turns out I like being able to take a Facetime on my computer instead of my iPhone. Managing the Apple family plan was easier on a computer instead of my iPhone too. Huh.
So I am back in the Apple fold for now. It was pretty easy to restore everything back to where I was in February. Thank you Time Machine. Only took about two hours to put everything back in place and get back to where I was on February 8, 2021. I got a lot of apps furiously updating themselves right now. Looking at you Firefox, and you VS Code, and you Kindle, and you WhatsApp desktop, and you Dropbox, and you Teams. Just not you Safari :)
I cannot image why anyone would still follow this blog. It is as crusty and stale as a bag of potato chips left in the trunk of my car for a week. But let’s roll with some updates…
My baby girl turned 10 in February. Wow time flies. Seems like only yesterday – or maybe a dozen blog posts ago – that she was a newborn and I was a anxious new dad. Now she is a vibrant girl, full of curiosity about the world and her place in it.
My son turned 7 last Sunday. Again tempus fugit. He’s not a little guy anymore, he is a full blown boy, rampaging the neighborhood in full on boy mood (wheelies on his bike, crazy antics on the trampoline, basketball, running around with his friends, climbing trees).
My brother passed away right before the new year after a long battle with cancer. Though he was 15 years my senior, he was a great big brother, full of life and laughter. He lived larger than life. It seems like I spent most of the 80’s as his indentured servant, conscripted into labor as he rehabbed one house after another. I miss him terribly.
Speaking of home improvement projects, seems like I have been spending every down moment over the past few months working around the house. Started with the exterior painting, then the interior painting. Now it’s the doors and closets that are being replaced, then the exterior doors and then painting the roof with the elastomeric paint to reflect the sunshine. Oh, and put in new refrigerator and a new air conditioner, and enclosed the back laundry.
While not quite the same as getting your kicks on Route 66, my high school comrade David Neale has been attempting to walk the Tokaido, an ancient road from Tokyo to Kyoto in Japan. Check out his travel log here at 2 Guyjin. Chock full of great photos.
I simply cannot believe how difficult this was to accomplish. I am still no entirely convinced this is a stable solution. It seemed like such a simple, common thing; embedding a google map onto a WordPress blog post. Silly me.
This is the result of three hours of work, and I still don’t have it the way I like. It is not formatting to the height or width I want…
[map lat=”13.5439194″ lng=”144.8842965″ height=’400px’ zoom=15]South Pacific Memorial Park, Yigo[/map]
At least the damn map is displaying at last.
Apparently something in this install of WordPress has disabled short codes, iframes and oembed, or has some sort of grievance with Google Maps. I tried over and over to drop a map into this post and nothing worked. I tried two or three methods mentioned in all the tutorials online in vain, then I went through four plugins to no avail, and finally edited in the functions.php file for this install. All for naught. Frustrating.
Finally got a plugin that seems to work at least. But none of the formatting options are working. Shouldn’t be this hard to embed a damn map.
UPDATE — Aha! The parameters need to be passed as numbers not strings. OR NOT. God this so frustrating. Only the zoom level parameter needs to be passed as an integer. Height and width are still not working. Either the parameter name is wrong (which I strongly suspect) or the format is wrong. I dunno and I don’t care anymore.
Final UPDATE — Okay. So the zoom level is set by an integer with no quotes. Latitude and Longitude are strings wrapped in double quotes, and map height is a string set by single quotes. However… The default map height overrides any customizations I make in the embed code. So I had to go edit the default map height parameter in the plugin settings page. Finally got my map at the height and zoom level I wanted. That only took four hours to figure out. Jesus.
Now, if I could just figure out how to enable satellite view instead of road map view…
Here is a sample of WordPress’ new audio player capabilities, which I find quite amazing.
When I think how difficult this was last time I tried something like this. Sheesh. That was back in 2005 or so, and I had to upload the audio file, map it to a flash player that I also had to upload and configure. Now I just drag and drop in WordPress and the file is there, and the audio player is built in – and it works cross platform, including mobile devices with HTML5. Very cool. Thanks MediaElement.js that is really cool.