Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sabbatical Report: Lazy Week

Welcome to Sabbatical Report #4; for explanations, you may want to read Sabbatical Report 1.

Just a quick update this week, as I still have several things to do before we leave tomorrow for Lake Cachuma.

First of all, last week I outlined my recurring personal goals during sabbatical.  Quick refresher: 100 emails cleared out of my inbox per week, 5 tasks permanently removed from my todo list per week, and 20 hours working on personal projects per week.  Well, this week I realized that 20 hours per week was just too ambitious.  So I’ve downgraded to 15 hours per week.  Roughly half as much time as I would spend on $work.  That’s still reasonable, right?

So where are at the end of week 2?  Well, I’ve expunged 202 emails, so I’m still a little ahead of schedule on that one.  I’ve still only managed to remove 4 todo tasks (yes, yes: exactly the same as last week), so I’m less than halfway there on that one.  I’m behind on projects too, even with my revised goal: only 22.5 hours out of 30, so about three-quarters of the way for that one.

In terms of project accomplishments, I’ve moved a bit farther along on identifying any files I may need to get off this laptop.  I’ve also started on (just barely, in most cases) 4 new projects.

First, I’m planning to check all my configuration files into a GitHub repository.  I’ve been carrying around my Linux config files and personal scripts and all that sort of stuff for years using Unison.  Then I switched to Dropbox, but still use Unison occasionally for places (mainly at work) where sysadmins don’t care for Dropbox’s constant pinging out to the Internet.  Now, of course, all the rage is just to check all that stuff into GitHub and then check it out on each new machine.  Since I already have a system to get what I want onto new boxes, I don’t care much about the convenience aspect of it.  But creating a config repo also gets you versioning, so you can check what changes you’ve made over time, which is nice.  Still wouldn’t be enough to push me to make the switch, but the really nice thing about using GitHub is it makes it easy to share your personal scripts with your friends.  That’s what finally decided me.  So now I’m working on cleaning up my config stuff: paring it down, removing anything I don’t have permission to share, making sure I didn’t leave any personal info (like passwords) in the files, etc.

Next is working on my custom Heroscape figures rebasing.  I’ve talked about our C3V work before, and I mentioned that we take figures from other games and reuse them as Heroscape figures.  Some of those other figures have bases that are very similar to Heroscape bases.  And some have bases that are very not.  Those latter have to be cut off their old bases and glued onto new ones.  So far, I’ve purchased the new bases, organized all the figures to get them ready for rebasing, and located all my supplies.  Except I seem to have lost or destroyed my utility knife.  So I need to get one of those.  But I’ve still actually managed to get two figs rebased, including the quite awesome dragon Quahon.

Next up, I made a suggestion to the author of Pod::WikiDoc on some alternate syntax.  I want to start using this awesome module for documenting my own modules—I personally find POD unberably ugly—but I always hate retraining my fingers.  Besides underscore-surrounded words just look like italics to me now.  (Tildes? not so much.)  I’ve forked the repo, cloned it, and started staring at the source in order to figure out the best way to make the alternate syntax work.  This includes brushing up on my Parse::RecDescent skills, which have never been more than neotenous.

Finally, I’ve started doing the background research for choosing a Linux laptop.  I know that Mac Airbooks are all the geek rage these days—the prices aren’t as shockingly out of reach (still a bit shocking), and Mac OSX is based on a version of Unix, and you certainly can’t say it doesn’t just work right out the box—but I’m a keyboard person at heart.  I use the mouse mainly when I’m forced to.  And I had a Mac laptop for a while, and it forces you to a lot.  Like, a whole lot.  Drove me absolutely insane.  Just simple stuff like selecting words without the mouse I found impossible (or so close to it to be not worth making the fine distinction).  Maybe it’s better these days.  Maybe I don’t want to spend the time or effort to find out.  I do want a laptop that just plain works, sure: but Linux has come a long way.  The desktop versions pretty much do work straight out of the box.  The laptops are just lagging behind.  So I’m probably going to end up paying about twice what I would for a Windows laptop that I would strip down and Linux-ize myself, but not the three times as much that a Mac would cost me, which I couldn’t strip down if I wanted to.  I’ve spent many many hours installing / configuring / maintaining Linux on my own.  I’m ready to pay a little extra for the privelege of having someone else deal with it.  So I’ve started the research, and right now I’m leaning towards ZaReason.  Partly because they’ve got some great machines, but partly because they’ll put something other than Ubuntu on it, which I hate.  I’ve tried many many versions of Linux throughout the years—Slackware, Debian, RedHat, Mandrake, Gentoo, Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mandriva, that I can remember—and Ubuntu is close to the botom of that list.  Many people like it, I presume because it’s very “Microsofty” (that is, it’s convinced it knows what you want better than you do).  I, of course, hate it for that very reason.  But I’m really getting disgusted with Fedora these days too.  The incessant need to jam Gnome 3 down my throat, the ridiculously short support windows, and of course the install program snafu that cost me several gigabytes of data that I’m still trying to recover over four years later.  So I’m leaning towards trying out a new option: Linux Mint.  I’m particularly excited to explore the differences between MATE and Cinnamon, and the ease of switching back and forth between the two sounds heavenly.  Anyway, that’s where I’m leaning at the moment.  But I’m still going to do some more research.

So that’s it for my personal goals.  Moving onto the family time for this week.

Monday we were going to go to the National History Museum, but it was rainy and cold, so we decided to do some Christmas shopping instead.  Typically we do the bulk of the Christmas shopping online so we don’t have to deal with any crowds.  But we figured, pre-Christmas-break, on a weekday, in the middle of the day, at our local Town Center strip mall instead of a major indoor mall, we’d probably be okay.  Which we were, other than the persistent danger of freezing to death.  We bought some Christmas candy, went to The Mother‘s favorite jewelry store, ate hot dogs on a stick,* and hung out with some old fat dude who dresses funny.**

Wednesday we were supposed to go see the Christmas lights in Griffith Park, but again that didn’t happen.  We were just being majorly lazy this week.

Friday we did a homeschool field trip to the Getty Villa.  They’re having a Pompeii exhibit.  Want to know what I learned at the Getty Villa?

  1. There were lots of naked women at Pompeii.
  2. There were a few naked men too.  But mostly naked women.
  3. Hercules was so cool that everything he did was immortalized.  This includes taking a piss.
  4. The only piece of art at the Getty Villa that you’re actually allowed to touch is a marble statue of a naked woman.  Seriously, guys: my teenage boy does not need the encouragement.

So that was fun.

And that about wraps it up for this week.  Next week, as I said up top, we’re off to a cabin by the lake.  Which hopefully is quite different from a cabin in the woods.

* Honestly, only the Smaller Animal had hot dogs on a stick.  But we all had the fries, and dug the cherry lemonade.  Yum.

** Note: If you’re not friends with me on Facebook, that picture may not load for you.  But, then again, if you’re not friends with me on Facebook, why do you want to see pictures of my family anyway?  Don’t be pervy, man.

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