A photo from today’s walk to the International District.

A winter sky peeps above the dramatic arched windows in an old-style brick building.

All La Croix is a lie, but Peach-Pear is the most convincing deception. 😜

When only the best will do.

Comparison meme: Winnie the Pooh: Book Title vs Winnie the Pooh in a tuxedo: Book Title: A NOVEL

Linux: First Impressions

I’ve been running Linux for a couple days now, and I think it’s spiffy! Here are my first impressions:

Challenges

Missing Software

Not all software is available on Linux. So you need to check out the programs you use and look for their Linux equivalents.

An Intimidating Install

I won’t lie: Installing Linux was a bitch and a half. Granted, Patrick did my install while I watched and asked questions, so I had plenty of help. And he was doing complicated things. He shrunk my Windows install, and he added a partition to my machine (plus a special boot partition to make Windows play nicer with Linux), and then he used something called Architect to install Manjaro with lots of custom settings.

If I didn’t have help, would I have been able to install Linux? Yes, but I think the dual boot thing may have been beyond my ability. If I were installing Linux on its own machine, and if I used the normal installer, I probably could have gotten it done without help.

Tweaking Things to Make Them Work & Accepting Limitations

Linux requires some tweaking and troubleshooting. Not all hardware is equally supported. For example, my touch screen kept glitching. This is horrible when you’re trying to fill out a web form and the screen keeps “touching” the wrong buttons. We were able to figure out how to turn my touch screen OFF, which ended up being our intermediate solution.

On Linux, some hardware simply won’t work at all. Manjaro doesn’t seem to be compatible with my built-in webcam. The next time we have a video call, I’ll either need to plug in an external webcam or boot back into Windows.

Why it’s Worth It

Making My Computer My Own

Pretty much everything in Linux is customizable. I chose Manjaro KDE in part because it’s what Patrick uses (and therefore I have an in-house expert) but also because it’s downright pretty. Do you want fatter menu bars? You can have fatter menu bars. Do you want windows to lock together a certain way? Have at it. Do you want a special symbol connected to a keyboard stroke? Just add it.

I’ve only scratched the surface, but I already like it.

Privacy is Baked In

Windows sends a crap-ton of data back to Microsoft without my explicit permission. If your computer is off, it will simply package that data up and wait for the next opportunity. I never quite know what it’s sending or why. Some people don’t care about this. I do.

I love-love-love that I can run Linux without an open internet channel between me and who-the-fuck-knows on some corporate server. And I love-love-love that the software I use is open source. Even as a non-programmer, the knowledge that Linux OSes and Linux software are being poured over by salty, privacy-obsessed nerds is a great comfort to me.

Better Software

For lack of a better word, I find Linux to be a very considerate operating system. I’m constantly running into small design decisions that are better than what I’m used to. Here are a few examples:

When logging into Windows, I usually need to bang my keyboard a few times to bring up the login menu, and then I can enter my password.

When logging into Linux, I just type my password. By the time the computer wakes up, those key strokes have been entered into the login box.

When using the app selector in Windows, it can take a while to find the right app, select it, and open it. I use the mouse, and the menu always pulls up crap I don’t need.

When using the app selector in Linux, I can just type the first four letters of the app and hit enter. I hardly even need to look at the menu. I can trust the application is there, opening up.

I’m not a huge “keyboard command” person but Linux makes keyboard navigation so fast and easy to use that I’m spending less time mousing around. I have a feeling that once I find my groove, Linux is going to be super-fast and far more convenient. Using Linux, I feel like I’m constantly bumping into easier and faster ways to move through my machine and get things done.

Linux and I are still getting acquainted so there’s plenty to learn. But so far, so good! I’ll also note that I keep all my data on a household server, not on my local machine, so if Linux decides to explode one afternoon I’m not going to lose my data. Given that Linux has a reputation of being touchy, I think it’s wise to avoid putting your data-eggs into a Linux basket.

That’s all for now! Happy computing.

If you like crime thrillers, The Invisible Guest on Netflix is excellent!

Liked: Why Generation X will save the web.

Liked: B&N Press Announces a Flat 70% Royalty on eBook Sales

Barnes & Noble is the second ebook retailer to improve its royalty terms in recent months.

I think the other retailers are tired of having Kindle Unlimited eat their lunch.

This post is coming to you live from my Linux machine. 😃

Thanks for getting me set up, @Optiksage.

I like an OS with a touch of snark. 😏

A linux login screen reminds me that with great power comes great responsibility

The 2014 Godzilla movie was better than I remembered.

I love that the military kept trying to nuke the kaiju but the monsters kept picking up the nukes and eating them like tic-tacs.

NOM NOM

I’m installing Linux on my machine today. 😬

Manjaro / KDE Plasma

See ya on the other side!

Free Today: Savage Stars: 7 Space Opera Novels 📚

Why writing takes forever:

  1. Look up “capri pants” to see if capri is capitalized.
  2. See that it can be.
  3. Hmm. Are people in Capri known for wearing short pants?
  4. RANDOM RESEARCH MONTAGE

Fun Fact: I’m so short that sometimes I wear capri pants as regular pants.

Leaping toward Linux

After flirting with the idea for over a year, I’ve asked my husband to help me set up Linux on my computer. (I’ll dual boot with Windows.) Yikes! Am I ready for this? I hope so.

Why Linux?

I’m not enjoying Windows as much as I used to. It feels like Windows and Macintosh are moving toward becoming closed systems, much like iOS. They’ve become complicated black boxes, always sending out telemetry to some distant mothership, and they make a lot of choices for me.

I was lucky enough to get introduced to computers via UNIX as a teenager, and perhaps I’m feeling nostalgic. I’d prefer to have more control over my own machine. User friendliness is important for most folks, but my tech muscles have grown soft and flabby under Windows 7-10.

I have no beef with Windows or Mac. But I’m in the mood for something different. Something less prescriptive. I want my computer to do exactly what I ask it to, nothing more and nothing less.

My Hurdles

I’ve had good reason to avoid Linux until now. The two software programs I use more than any other are Scrivener and Photoshop. I use Scrivener to write my books, and Photoshop to make my covers and website images. It seemed foolish to switch to Linux if I’d lose 80% of my utility.

So what’s changed? Well, I think I’m ready to move away from Scrivener. Scrivener has a ton of powerful features for writers, but lately, the complexity feels unnecessary. Give me a blank page and a cursor!

I’m enjoying the simplicity of old-school word processing.

And I really like Writer by Libre Office. It’s more intuitive than Word! I used to love Word, but it took a big step back when they moved to ribbon-style menus. I waste a lot of time flipping menus and hunting for things.

Still I’m not 100% sure I’m ready to make the leap to Writer. For example, I need to export an ODT document into Word format, send it off, get it back with “track changes” on, and be able to view those changes. From what I hear, it should work, but I want to see that with my own eyes.

I may need to keep Photoshop on my Windows partition for the forseeable future. GIMP looks good for 90% of what I need, but it lacks CMYK color management, and I need that feature for producing paperback covers.

Rumor has it that color management is coming to GIMP, so perhaps I’ll be able to move my cover design work to Linux too. We’ll see.

Am I Techie Enough?

I doubt I’d be trying out Linux if it wasn’t for two things: learning about electronics and working on my new website.

My electronics hobby has made me a bit more comfortable with computer technology. I’m still not a coder, although I’ve written a few Arduino sketches and CircuitPython scripts with the help of tutorials. There’s something exciting about direct communication with computers. I tell an LED to light up when a switch is pressed, and that’s what it does. There’s a precision to coding that I never encounter in my non-STEM universe, and I like it. It really appeals to my inner control freak.

Working on my professional website with my husband has forced me to get comfortable with using a command line interface and working with code repositories. I say forced because there was a fair amount of whining on my part. But now that I’m over the hump I’m less intimidated by some of the things I’ll need to do in Linux. One example: the VPN I use operates on the command line in Linux. That used to intimidate me, but now it’s no big deal.

Wish me luck, fellow Linuxians!

Can anyone recommend a small household printer with non-scammy ink?

I know myself. The first time a printer “pretends” to be out of ink because (PROFIT MARGIN) I’ll heave it out my window and accidentally crush a tourist down below.

Can’t have that. 🤭

The US Government: Here’s some straightforward information about what happened today and why we did what we did. Any questions?

Millions of Americans: SWOON

Today’s view from Pier 62!

Dark blue ripply waters of Elliott Bay. The Great Wheel (Ferris wheel) and the container shipyards in the distance.

If you’ve been using cloth masks because particulate masks have been out of stock for so long, it’s worth checking again. KN95s (and equivalents) are showing up in places like Costco.com

The Godzilla vs Kong trailer is out! ❤️❤️❤️

A hazy day at Kerry Park.

Downtown Seattle and the space needle as viewed from Queen Anne hill. Blue skies and blue hazy skyscrapers with a foreground of green park.

Here I Go, Touching the Hot Stove Again

Hahahahahahaaaaaa….

Out of morbid curiosity, I poked my nose into Twitter for the first time in over two months. I wanted to see if things were any different now that Trump has been banned. Could one overdue banning make an actual difference? Along with him, 70,000+ QAnon bot accounts are gone. As an extra measure, I unfollowed most everyone except for my fellow writers (those I trust) and a few people I know in the real.

I might be smoking crack, but mostly I see a mellow and friendly collection of voices this week. It almost felt like Twitter 2012. There were a lot of memes. Some corny jokes. People talking about how they were feeling, and what they were doing. Most importantly, there was lots of writer-talk, the one thing I can’t get in quantity here on micro.blog.

But hey, if I whine about my blisters next week, feel free to tell me I had it coming. That I should have known better than to touch the hot stove.

I won’t argue with ya. 😉

I’m really looking forward to the noise and bustle of the city coming back to life.

Groundhog’s Day: Reader Edition

The dawning realization that you’re struggling through a book that you already DNF’d two years ago.

I need to keep better records! 😏

Where We Left Off

I woke up this morning and I could see the last four years resting in my hands. It was as if I could take all the experiences from the last four years and roll them up into a ball between my palms like Play-Doh. All the horrid emotions of living through the Trump era were right there, blended in with my life. Some things can’t be unmixed. The colors smush together and you’re left with a slushy gray.

These last four years have chipped away at my idealism, and my easy privilege, and my simplistic way of dividing people into “mostly good” and “a few bad.” Looking back from this vantage point, post-Trump, I can see that I’ve lost friends. Not in a dramatic fashion. But time will bear out what my heart already knows.

He said he cared about disabled people, but his actions proved otherwise.

He shrugged at Trump’s first term and went back for a second helping of cruelty.

She was happy enough to say nothing, to do nothing, to see nothing, when horrors unfolded.

My point isn’t that we can’t move forward. But I choose not to forget. Forgetting feels dangerous. In a world where so many people “go with the flow” the flow can shift so quickly that it leaves you gasping for air. We all thought we were better than the Germans in WWII, turning a blind eye to what was happening. But we’re not. We’ve had a taste of that in America, and it’s a fucked-up thing to go through. To see how corruptible your community is. To sit in mute shock while your government steals babies from the arms of refugees. To hear someone you know infer his daughter was a slut for dating a black athlete.

Holy shit! Where did this come from? Has it been here the whole time?

And our black and brown neighbors say in one voice: Yes. This is what we’ve been trying to tell you.

Last year, in Tennessee, a black friend of mine sat at a coffee shop while a huge confederate parade marched down the street outside. She looked around the coffee shop and saw that no one else even batted an eye. There are places in this country I no longer want to visit. My mind has formed a map, not of red and blue, but of safe and unsafe. And the lines aren’t as obvious as you might expect.

Back in 2017, there was a video circulating of a Nazi in Seattle. This was back before the events of Charlottesville, and the mere sight of someone openly wearing a swastika was shocking. In the video, the Nazi holds up his hands to the guy across from him, a “let’s be reasonable” gesture. The other guy punched him square in the face and knocked him out cold. The Nazi lay there, on the concrete, outside the rail station just a quarter mile from my house. At the time, I remember there being this big debate online, and in my own home, about whether or not it was right to use violence in that way. Is it wrong to attack someone before they’ve been violent?

I guess I’ve changed? I’d rather live in a place where literal Nazis are preemptively punched in the face, versus places where confederate flag parades don’t get so much as a dirty look from the average citizen. My tolerance ends at the line where genocidal ideologies live. I’ve seen where unchecked hate can lead, and you need to rip that shit out at the root. We came so so close to losing everything. Heck, we still could.

Biden wants unity, and I’m on board! But I think it’s important that we get clear on what we’re unifying around. And white supremacy ain’t it. Conspiracy theory ‘patriotism’ isn’t it either. In his speech, I think he made those boundaries clear. Let’s walk the talk, even when it hurts.

Today marks the start of a new era. The post-Trump era. May it shine! And having spent the last four years cycling between denial, bargaining, and anger, I feel like I can finally grieve what we’ve lost. Our innocence and arrogance, I suppose. Not to mention all the lives lost or ruined. Families torn apart. Friendships ended. And maybe after grieving, I can accept where we’ve landed?

Not accept as in “this is fine.” I’m talking about the kind of acceptance that says “We live in an unjust world, filled with selfish and ignorant hearts, including our own.” An acceptance that insists there will always be work to be done to make ourselves better. A “let’s get busy” kind of acceptance.

I am not the same person I was before Trump rose to power. That’s hard, but it’s also good.

Today, I enjoyed menacing my husband with a homemade UFO. (instructions here) 👽