New pictures of the fourfoots

Trouble – the black kind


Samantha, lying on her cat tree

These are the new pictures of the fourfoots.

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Disassembling the Nook Simple Touch

I couldn’t find any instructions on how to disassemble the Nook Simple Touch. Since I had to disassemble mine to solve a problem, here are the instructions:

  1. Remove the MicroSD card (if installed)
  2. Carefully pop off the power button on the rear of the unit
  3. Once you remove the power button, you will find a Torx screw covered by an anti-tamper sticker. Remove the sticker, then the screw.
  4. Place the unit face down on a non-scratching surface
  5. Push down on the unit, and then in the direction of the USB connector. The back will slide, and can then be very easily removed.

Assembly is the reverse of the above process. This will, of course, void your warranty.

NOTE: If your Nook Simple Touch is only locked up, you can usually reset it by holding down the power button on the rear of the unit for approx. 45 seconds, waiting a minute, than holding it down again for 15 seconds. The unit will power back on, and (usually) all will be well.


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While working with another package, I stumbled across a relatively new program for Linux called DVDisaster. What it does, effectively, is add ECC information to DVD images so that if you have media errors at some later date, you can run it again and reconstruct the original image.

I’ve checked it out and run my own tests, and it seems to be a good deal for what it does. For right now, I’m using it to augment my present data backup policy: two copies burned on DVD and stored at different locations. It seems to me that it’s cheap protection against minor media dropouts.

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Toaster or Lathe?

I keep hearing people complain about the usability of Linux as it compares to the usability of Windows or MacOS. The common complaint is that computers should be easy – even windows users complain that computers should “just work”. In response to this, I am asking my own question – do you want your computer to be a toaster or a lathe?

Toasters are easy. They do one thing – heat up slices of bread that you stick into them when you push the button. All you have to do is decide how much to heat things up, load your bread, push the button and wait. Very simple, very easy, and very limited. You can’t do much with a toaster other than what its designers anticipated. Ease of use — 10, Flexibility — 1.

A modern metal cutting lathe is an entirely different matter. It takes a great deal of training to accomplish anything but the simplest tasks, and even simple work requires understanding the work, the machine, and the underlying process on a fairly deep level. It takes years to learn to use one well. Even after a great deal of training, some users are still far more capable than others. Ease of use — 1 Flexibility — 10.

Modern computers are diverging right now. One one end, products like Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s IPad and Barnes and Noble’s Nook are heading in the direction of toasters. They’re simpler and easier to use. They are also locked down and limited. One the other end are netbooks, Google’s Android platform and other similar tools. These are unlocked, a bit more difficult to use, and endlessly flexible.

Underneath the skin, these are all “general purpose computers”. Some say that locking something like the IPad down as much as it is is a bad decision. I disagree. Today’s computing ecosystem has room for both lathes and toasters. I think it always will. There will always be a group of people who are more comfortable with single use devices for some jobs. There will always be others who find them too limited and/or confining. This is officially OK. There’s more than one way to be human.

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Time off from politics

I just finished taking a long time off from politics. It wasn’t a complete break, but it was fairly close. I did work for the Obama campaign a little bit, but that was really the exception that proved the rule…

This period coincided with a series of very large changes in my life. My health is better, I have moved into my own home, and I’m fixing it up. I’ve been spending more time outdoors, and studying Permaculture, water harvesting and organic gardening. Ive stepped far enough back to get some perspective and lose some of the anger and victim-conciousness. I think all these things are good.

I’m back to blogging. I made a bunch of changes to the back-end of this system, and put the blog on its own sub-domain. Watch this space for new developments 🙂

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It’s July Fourth. After another year of watching our elected leaders in Washington continue the process of turning a proud and powerful people into a petty and scared one, I have decided to make another attempt to wake some people up. Just this once, I decided to explain what patriotism means to me – in case some fool out there thinks that because I constantly criticize my government that I’m unpatriotic.

Patriotism is paying my taxes, even though I know the money will be used poorly and wind up doing no good. Patriotism is writing one more letter to that Senator or Representative, even though you heartily believe that it’s bound for the landfill instead of the desk. Patriotism is calling out a leader you like, and have much in common with for supporting a piece of legislation you despise – just because it’s bad law.

Patriotism is knowing that the telecommunications companies have spent the last decade cheating the American people – and then spending a great deal of time opposing telecomm immunity, and working for net neutrality. Patriotism is backing the creation of a national broadband infrastructure plan – knowing full well that it will put billions of dollars into the pockets of the same telecommunications companies that have spent decades ripping us off. Patriotism is swallowing your bile end doing it anyway so that some punk kid in East Podunk gets access to the great opportunities for education and personal growth that the Internet provides, and will provide.

Patriotism is being an author and still believing that copyright is too long, and too powerful right now. Patriotism is being a programmer and inventor and believing that patents, as they exist today, are evil. Patriotism is knowing that $4+/gal gasoline is bad for your wallet, and going straight into the pockets of people and companies you hate – and also knowing that expensive gas is good for our long term health as a nation. Patriotism is using a bicycle to go to the grocery store. Patriotism is voting your conscience instead of your wallet when the two differ.

Patriotism is caring enough about the troops that you did everything possible to keep them from going to war in the first place. Patriotism is understanding that if one or two come home in one piece it will be a miracle – and that the rest will bear scars, physical and mental, for the rest of their lives. Patriotism is doing everything possible to give those people a decent quality of life – even though it’s expensive, and even when you opposed the wars that got them hurt.

Patriotism is about getting your hands dirty. Patriotism is about doing the work – political and otherwise. Patriotism is about becoming, once again, a nation that is not afraid to be open, take risks and dare. It’s about being a people who rejects torture not because it can’t, in some circumstances, save a few lives – but because principles are important. It’s about saying “Americans don’t do that” – and holding our heads up, even when it’s difficult – and even when it hurts. Patriotism is about daring. It’s about being willing to dream, and willing to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work required to make those dreams real.

To hell with it. I’m done. No-one is going to read this damned thing anyway – and even if someone does it won’t do any good. Try to have a better 4th of July than me.

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