This marks the first week for which, at N's suggestion, Colleen and I
prepared a weekly menu in advance. It came out fairly well -- you can see
it at the end of the notes. There were a couple of substitutions, but on
the whole it was a success. We did the same this week.
I got a fair amount done. Unfortunately, very little of it was my taxes;
that's the top project for this week. I did, however, get the Mac set up
and the program I still think of as TaxCut (currently called "H&R Block at
Home" or something like that) updated. The Mac, Whitewood, is set up on
my desk, with (ThinkPad) Raven next to it on a tray table. There's a
little story about that...
You see, sometime Friday morning I managed to spill some coffee onto my
little ThinkPad, Cygnus. I shut it down and left it to dry out. An hour
or so later, it booted, but some of the keys on the lower right-hand
corner were flaky, and I couldn't get it to accept my hard drive password.
That's when I set up Whitewood and Raven. Fortunately I had pushed
recently, so Raven was able to sync right up and be productive.
Then, since I had a Linux laptop and a Mac mini with a nice large monitor,
the obvious next step was to install x2vnc and share the Mac's keyboard (a
ThinkPad keyboard, of course -- I'd had it at work), trackball, and
mouse. I put those all on a KVM switch (which I don't use for monitors,
only for USB, because switching a VGA monitor confuses my computers).
Win. It took altogether too much time to figure out that the reason x2vnc
didn't seem to be connecting was that Apple's implementation puts up a
lock screen when you first connect. :P
x2vnc is pretty cool -- it lets you share a keyboard and mouse between two
computers, using VNC's screen-sharing in the input direction, but not
actually viewing the screen. Instead, you just move the cursor onto the
other machine's screen, across whichever edge you specify.
The other tech-related failure Friday was that my attempt to replace the
charging port on Colleen's old tablet was unsuccessful. Quite possibly
the flat cable isn't seated correctly. It was a bit of a long shot,
though I would have liked to be able to at least do a factory reset.
I spent quite a lot of time Friday looking up ways of unlocking a
password-protected hard drive when one doesn't have a working computer to
enter the password into. Apparently Lenovo changes their password hashing
algorithm every so often, so you have to get a ThinkPad that was made
close enough to the time your dead one was. Ouch! I didn't really care
too much about the data, since it was all backed up, but that was a
comparatively new SSD and I wanted to at least make it usable even if that
included wiping it.
Around 9:30 Friday evening I turned Cygnus on again and it booted. Not
wanting to push my luck I turned it off again almost immediately, but not
before I'd removed the password on the hard drive.
It turns out that password-locking a drive is a massively bad idea. Among
other things it means that you can't use it in an external enclosure, and
might not even be able to use it in another computer. It's better to use
your OS's "whole-disk" encryption, because that actually encrypts
everything but the boot partition, and it does so in a
standardized way so that you can use it anywhere as long as you have the
password. You can use a variant on the same encryption technique to
encrypt a single home directory, or even a single subdirectory.
Also Sunday, I discovered when I went to post last week's summary that my
ljupdate.el, doesn't work any more because Dreamwidth
has gone to SSL everywhere. I made several attempts to fix it, but so far
no joy. I'll probably have to cut-and-paste again. After I get my taxes
in, the first thing I want to do is write a new -- and more general --
posting client and integrate it with my build system (see MakeStuff).
This Saturday, though, N went to the Seattle Home Show and found a company
that was having a 2-for-1 deal on some pretty awesome scooters. They're
not exactly travel scooters -- they fold a little but don't come apart,
and they're pretty heavy, but they're designed to be roadworthy.
18mph with a 25-mile range. We'll probably have to replace the seat on
one for Colleen to be comfortable, but... She can definitely ride to
Freeland and back in one.
In all, a rather frustrating week, but it could have been a lot worse.
( Notes & links, as usual )