Linux: why?

Martin's Annual Linux Experience 2002I’ve been running with SuSE Linux 8.1 for just under three weeks now, and the niggles are definitely setting in. They were there from the start, really, but I was enjoying the challenge of dealing with them, finding workarounds, and tweaking the system.

But perpetual fiddling palls. I don’t own a computer so that I can spend all my time messing about with its innards. I do like to do some actual work on it every now and then. (“Work” includes simple stuff like browsing the web and email, as well as more serious projects.) It’s a question of content: do you love a tool for its own sake, or for what you can produce with it? Do you buy an Xbox because of its spiffy hardware, or do you go with the PS2 because it has the games you want to play?

So let me take a look at what I can do with Linux, versus what I normally do with Windows:

Continue reading “Linux: why?”


Especially for Spence, I’ve put up an RSS (0.91) feed for this site.

To keep track of all of the blogs I read on a regular basis, I use the “Open all Folder Items” feature in Opera. I have all of my regular reading in a single bookmark folder, and the “Open all…” feature allows me to open all of these, in separate tabs, with a single mouse click.

But then I have to read them all, which is taking longer and longer the more new blogs I read…

RSS is the obvious solution to all of this. In theory, you have an application that scans the RSS feeds for each blog, and then displays all of the new headlines, in an easily scannable way. Then, you can click on a link to go to any entry that looks interesting.

The only problem is that I haven’t found an RSS aggregator that I like. I’ve tried AmphetaDesk and Aggie, but they just don’t strike me right. I think that for the moment, I’m just going to continue with the Opera way, until my list gets really unwieldy, and then I’ll put the effort into writing my own transforms and stylesheets to produce Aggie/AmphetaDesk output I can live with.

But just because I don’t use an aggregator, doesn’t mean that other people don’t. I imagine that if you use RSS as your primary blogscanning tool, you probably get a bit annoyed whenever you come across a blog that you want to follow, but that doesn’t have an XML feed. Especially when they’re so easy to implement. And especially when Movable Type provides you with a default RSS template already…

Ulp. Excuse the laziness please, and thanks to Spence for the prod.

Dim Sum

For some time now, we’ve been looking for a good (or indeed any) Dim Sum restaurant in Edinburgh. Today, we visited the Hong Kong Martell restaurant on Newington Road. And, yum, was it good!

The restaurant used to be the Martell Casino, but it has been the Hong Kong Martell since June, and according to the owners it is now the largest Chinese restaurant in Edinburgh. They have a dedicated seafood room, a main dining room, a Karaoke room, and a function suite for parties.

We went along at about half past two this afternoon, and got a table for six easily–no need to book beforehand. The Dim Sum menu was extensive and varied, with prices ranging from £2-5 for most portions. We ordered a whole bunch of stuff, but the things that stick out for me were the sticky rice parcels, and the scallop parcels, but the vegetable spring rolls were quite special, too.

Their main menu looked equally tempting. We’re already making plans to leave Alex behind for an evening soon, so we can go back!

Ken MacLeod and Richard Morgan

Abi is down in London for a few days, so Alex and I are on our own for a while. Partaaay!

Well, it is if you call going out to science fiction author readings partaaaying. Ken MacLeod and Richard Morgan were in session at Waterstones this evening. Before it started, I asked them if it would be okay if we sat right at the back, where Alex would have some space to sit and play, and they said that would be fine. I had bought him a couple of new books, and I was hoping that would keep him quiet for at least some of the time.

On the whole, Alex was pretty well behaved. There was some noisy plumbing in the back of the room which probably masked some of his cooings and mumblings, but there were occasions where he got very excited at having nifty plastic chairs to climb on. A couple of times he seemed too energetic, and I took him out of the room. Through the fire escape at the back there was a staff private where he could play a bit more loudly. (Fortunately, the staff didn’t seem to mind.)

Although I am completely smitten with Alex (obviously), I do know that not everyone is quite so fond of children. And when you go along to an author event, you probably don’t want the constant burblings of a toddler interrupting the flow. I do feel bad about possibly having disturbed some people’s enjoyment of the evening. Plus, having to pay half a brain’s worth of attention to Alex all the time (combined with the joys of Obscure Auditory Dysfunction), meant that I probably didn’t even catch half of the conversation between Messrs MacLeod and Morgan. So although it was a fun adventure for us, as an author event it was only a mixed success.

I did, however, get to pick up the last volume of Ken MacLeod’s Engines Of Light trilogy, Engine City, and get it signed. Amazon reckons it isn’t released until 7th November, so that’s a bonus–especially as I’m a quarter of the way through Dark Light already, and will probably finish it in another few days.

And finally, I managed to ask Richard Morgan to sign a book…that he’d signed already. Abi bought a copy of Altered Carbon earlier this year, and it must have been pre-signed when she bought it. Mr. Morgan was game enough to sign it again, though, and add a humorous little message as well.