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Category Archives: Weekly Review

Well, it’s definitely been a long time since I’ve last posted. Lots going on, and I definitely will not bore my audience to tears giving the day-by-day account of the events of my life. I’ve been working at my part-time IT job, getting ready for Residence Life training in August, and spending lots of time thinking. It’s been good.

I find it really hard to believe that it’s almost the end of summer. It seems just like yesterday that I was just getting settled in for the long summer. Now it’s all gone, and training starts in less than two weeks. Amazing stuff. I’m really looking forward to being around lots of great folks in Res Life, and even more great folks when the student body returns to campus in September. Through this, I’ve come to realize how much I really value the people with which I share space. Relationships are a beautiful thing.

On the Linux front, I’m currently running Ubuntu 9.04, after encountering a weird phantom problem with Mint 7. It was progressively getting slower and less responsive, and it also would refuse to launch Firefox and Thunderbird, but keep the process running so I couldn’t simply whack it and try again. I think it was a fixable problem, but I just ran out of patience and installed Ubuntu. I’m quite happy with it at this point.

Did I mention that it’s currently 104 degrees here in Salem? One of my friends commented that “9/10 Oregonians agree on Facebook: it’s too damn hot.” Agreed. I’m definitely not used to this caliber of heat, and with any luck it’ll cool off a bit by the weekend. I’m not sure if I’m imagining this, but it feels like once the outside temperature reaches above body temperature, there’s a definite, palpable increase in the amount of felt heat. It just feels ten times hotter than it does at 90 degrees. Maybe it’s just me.

Coming up, I’m scheduled to work at my IT job all of next week (Glorious glorious air conditioning!), and the week after that I move into my dorm room and start RA training! Provided that I’m not totally exhausted at the end of the training day, I will post some updates about that, for those who might be interested in reading. Until then…

The collegiate life continues…

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This week was atypical of summer so far, as I had steady work all week. I’m not complaining by any stretch, as it’ll help me pay rent and all, but it was still unusually hectic.I was working at my usual school-year job at a college help desk, and I had all manner of calls. I felt like there were unusually more email client-related calls, with people misconfiguring their authenticated SMTP and all that. Between those calls, I had a few walk-ins with the hard drive “click of death”. To cap it all off, I had TWO calls about people using dial-up to access the campus network.

Say again, people still have dial-up? In 2009? Really? Stand by…

Ah, the joys of user-end tech support. To be honest, I much prefer working with people, rather than being hunched over a computer all day with no human interaction at all. I’ve noticed on those days when I’m just staring into a solitary screen, at the end of the day I just want to go home and collapse. I guess I’m a people-person after all, even if I am a bit socially awkward.

Linux-wise, I made the jump and upgraded to Linux Mint 7! (sort of) As it always seems to be, the story of my latest Linux feat is not without excitement, frustration, the potential for disaster, and a happy ending. Sort of like a a geeky plotless romance movie, minus the actual romance. Anyway, after making a Clonezilla image of all my hard drive partitions (Windoze XP, swap, Linux Mint 6, space for testing distros, /home, Windoze Recovery), I tried the graphical update-in-place option outlined by Clement Lefebvre in the Linux Mint Blog (1). It was merrily rolling along…until the upgrader locked up after a package didn’t install correctly. I tried everything I could think of to get the installer going again, but to no avail.

In that same aforementioned blog post, Clem strongly advocates for a fresh install of Mint (or any distro) instead of upgrading in place. He notes that a fresh install is much less prone to errors and general havoc than upgrading in place. With a deep sigh, I double-checked my backups, and wiped out my Mint 6 partition with my Puppy Linux Live CD. On another machine, I downloaded the Mint 7 ISO and created a UNetbootin usb stick.

The clean install itself was not that difficult, as running the installer from a USB stick, rather than from a Live CD saved a lot of time. It turns out that the read speeds are so much faster from a USB stick, compared to CD media. The install didn’t take more than ten minutes, once it had all my options and preferences.

What took hours was copying back all my data and the countless tweaks to make Mint uniquely my own. There were themes, packages, and config files to install, drivers to upgrade, and tons of data and personal detritus to copy back over to my /home partition. Finally though, when the dust settled and I was done biting my nails over the unstable graphics drivers I had to install (to overcome a Mint 7/Ubuntu 9.04 known issue with my graphics hardware), I am pleased to report that Mint 7 is working extremely well. It is somewhat “snappier” and more responsive than Mint 6, and it has not shown the x.org freezes that were so prevalent in Jaunty bug reports with my model of graphics hardware.

In the more personal realm, I’ve found myself thinking about the idea of intentionality in relationships a lot this week. At one time, I recall my mother telling me “Being there for people doesn’t require effort, you just do it.” At least in my own experience, I believe that successful relationships require constant and very intentional effort and work. This is not to say that maintaining relationships need to be taxing or stressful. It means that it is potentially so easy to not be mindful and caring for other people, that we must be intentional with our efforts to express love. This is very much an idea in concept for me, so to be continued…

Next week, it’s looking pretty quiet. It doesn’t look like either of my jobs have anything for me to do, so I’ll most likely be taking it easy, and maybe heading up to Portland. I get paid on Tuesday, so that’s exciting too.

The collegiate life continues…

This week was an interesting one, as it was my first full week of work at my summer tech job. Monday was a bit torturous, as I spent most of my working day putting out fires on the new website that my workplace is rolling out. It is built on the Joomla! Open-source content management system, which is exciting to see. However, staring into a screen for five hours, with the only human interaction in that time being my boss walking in and telling me to switch gears and work on a different part of the website every twenty minutes got old pretty fast. I’m definitely more in my element at the Help Desk, assisting people with their computer problems (PEBKAC, hehe).

Tuesday was (as far as I remember) a carbon-copy of Monday, except that I showed up to work fifteen minutes earlier. Oooh, amazing. More website development, less human interaction, more boss interruptions.

Wednesday was an adventure, to say the least. While I was working on the website, I decided to pursue a side project and try moving my /home directory to its own partition. There was a very nicely written tutorial on Psychocats that made it look relatively doable. So, during a lull at work, I booted into the Linux Mint 6 live CD I carry around and went through the tutorial. Let’s just say I borked it, on the only machine I had to work on the web dev project. I ended up having to boot into the trusty Puppy Linux CD I carry around, just to recover my critical data before whacking all my Linux partitions and reinstalling. Needless to say, that was incredibly stupid. I won’t be attempting that again, especially during the work day on my mission-critical computer. Also, I have discovered the infinite glory of CloneZilla, one of the fine FOSS alternatives to proprietary disk-cloning software, such as Ghost.

Thursday was better. I didn’t tell my computer to do anything really stupid, and I got to have lunch with a good friend (and my future boss in Res Life). I also got to hang out with a number of my Japanese friends, who I don’t get to see that often, as my job keeps my interaction with the surface-dwellers to a minimum.

Friday (today) was the one day I really felt like I earned my pay. Instead of the web dev stuff I had been plodding away at all week, my boss had me moving boxes upon boxes of stuff from the current IT office to the IT storage room and their new offices on the other side of the building. Apparently the IT department and the accounting department are playing a lame version of Trading Spaces (the cool version is the one in which nobody has to sweat and strain muscles). I was packing, moving, and sorting the infinite detritus of this IT department. It sounds a lot more lamentable than it really was, because I was able to be around more people than I had all week. I do smell pretty rank at the moment, but it was worth it. On top of that, my boss gave me a full-size desk to take home. I’m using it right now, and I must say that I am quite pleased.

I shamelessly ganked the idea for this post from the “Weekly Rewind” series on Dan Lynch’s blog Adventures in Open Source, as well as from the GTD concept of the weekly review, to look back on the week, sum up the salient points, and take note of all the “open loops” of unfinished commitments and projects still on one’s plate.

Now, shower time. Yess.