About The Penguin, Again

The Linux mascot is Tux the Penguin. He’s become a joke in the Fox Family, with Helaine often reminding me how the penguin and I don’t get along.

I’ve got two penguin problems – one at home and another at work.

First I was forced to upgrade my homebuilt DVR – a MythTV installation which runs under Linux&#185. It was unavoidable. The company that was providing the TV listings stops doing so this weekend. The new group (a non-profit) that will fill the void isn’t supported by my installed system. Newer software fixes that.

I did everything I was supposed to do and ended up with a machine that was missing its web interface… the place where I program the DVR! When I fixed the web server, I found another non-working piece that was hidden by the first problem. Once I fix that, I’ll probably find more that’s busted.

At work I switched Linux versions as I moved to a faster computer. My intention was to reinstall the software that produces our tide tables intact. Right!

When run as a scheduled event (a cron job), tide tables are produced for a few cities, then nothing. If I run the program manually, no problem. Everything works fine.

Try and troubleshoot that one! I’m three hours in and no closer to a solution.

I’ll be working on both problems from home this weekend. We’ll see if the penguin and I can have a reconciliation. It’s doubtful. And yet, I’m such a dweeb at heart there’s no doubt I’ll continue installing Linux in the future.

&#185 – I really should explain what Linux is. It is an operating system for computers.

No help, right?

Linux, like Windows or OSX for Macs, is what connects the programs you run to the computer that runs them. An operating system creates standard methods for accomplishing tasks. It keeps progammers from having to reinvent the wheel with each new application.

Most Windows programs have similarities. The same goes for Macs and Linux machines. That’s because the programs you use and tying into ‘hooks’ built into the operating system.

Mail Changes For Me

I’ve decided to make some mail changes. Nothing you’ll notice, but it’s a big change for me. I’ve moved all my mail to Gmail servers, run by Google.

Whatever your email address, someone is hosting two mailservers for you. There’s one to send (SMTP) and another to receive (POP). My servers had been at Hostforweb, who also maintains the server this blog sits on.

My problem is, I check email from a few machines at home and another at work. I had to make sure all my emails got to one specific machine for archiving. That meant if I looked at my mail on one of the other machines first, I’d see the same unread email over and over.

Moving to Gmail allows me to use a web interface. Anything I do on one machine is seen on any machine! No more repetition.

Unfortunately, a web interface is slower. That’s the price you pay. It’s even worse on my ‘desktop’ machine at work, an old Pentium 900 with 256 mb RAM, running Ubuntu Linux.

Here’s how it works. Geofffox.com mailserver is actually hosted by Google Apps. Once received, it is automatically forwarded to a Gmail account which also gets mail for a few other accounts I have.

I like Gmail, but I wish it were more versatile as far as ‘canned’ responses or signature files are concerned. There’s not much you can do there with pre-written files… though there’s lots I want to try.

As long as I’ve switched over to Gmail, I’ve also started using Google Calendar, which is integrated into the mail page. I’d like to be a little more organized. Maybe the ability to have this same calendar wherever I am will help me become more structured.

Google has a nice suite of applications, including online word processor and spreadsheet (which doesn’t read the overnight ratings I’m sent every day). Every part of it is free. It desparately needs a ‘to do’ list.

Switching to Gmail removed the spam filtering Hostforweb employs. H4W used to discard some email before they ever got to my inbox. Now everything gets to my account, though much is filtered into a spam folder.

I’m getting well over 100 spam a day on geofffox.com alone! Luckily, I only see them when I need to.