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I’m still alive… and here to bid farewell to 2011

December 31, 2011 1 comment

I did not realise it’s been almost six weeks since my last post! The holiday season has been busy and enjoyable. And of course, Solstice/Christmas-time with a six and nine-year old was very fun. We visited friends in Olean, who I always wish lived closer! And it was nice to spend time with my family and Stephanie’s over the past month. I hope your December has been pleasant and not too stressful.

So on this last day of 2011, and my wife’s birthday, I’d like to reflect briefly upon the passing year.

First; I continue to be thankful that Stephanie has her job and that we, unlike millions of Americans, still enjoy a nice home and enough food to eat and that we live in a safe neighborhood surrounded by wonderful people. I’ve heard so many horror stories about what so many of our fellow Americans have gone through in the past year that it’s difficult not to be saddened. (And that’s just America; the rest of the human race has not been enjoying much prosperity, either!) Here’s hoping this coming year will see some improvement for everyone, except for the bankers and government officials and our Corporate Overlords, of course, who are faring just fine!

I continue to be amazed at how quickly our children grow and change. And I’m very happy, as a home schooling parent, that I get to spend so much time with them (well, most of the time, that is) and experience all the subtle little joys and tribulations and triumphs that make them who they are. I’ve really got a damn wonderful life here! My big resolution (I was hoping not to use that word!) for 2012 is that I make more time for writing and for painting and other creative endeavours.

And after so many years, I’m so glad that all of our troops are finally out of Iraq! That’s probably one of the best outcomes for this fading year. I just hope the misery of the Iraqi people will diminish as time goes on; but who can say?

On a lighter note; here are a few things I recently heard about that I’d like to share. The first is a tiny computer called the Raspberry Pi that sells for $35!! And it looks pretty decent! If you have a keyboard, monitor and mouse this is a great little device for setting up a home entertainment hub. They should be for sale very soon. This would be perfect for the kids! Or any body who wants to make documents, surf the web and watch videos. HERE is the official website.

Another cool thing about the Raspberry Pi is that there is a version of Bodhi Linux that is made specifically to run on the ARM processor that the Pi uses. And speaking of Linux (as I must) this year has certainly seen a lot of changes to desktop Linux distros. Over the last few weeks I’ve installed Linux Mint 12¬† and Bodhi Linux on separate partitions on our main computer’s hard drive to see how they run on this machine. I especially wanted to test Mint 12 with it’s tweaked version of Gnome 3 Shell. And after installing the extensions and playing around with it a while, I’ve discovered Mint’s Gnome 3 desktop environment is not bad. Still not as ‘tweakable’ as the discontinued Gnome 2, but quite attractive and usable. I think by the next release it will be really nice! Also, in the last month of 2011 two new desktop environments/window managers have come forth: Razor-qt, which is very lightweight and looks promising for the coming year; and¬†Clement Lefebvre of Linux Mint has come up with their own alternative to Gnome Shell called Cinnamon. This also looks very promising and functional. I’ll need to try this out in the next six months or so when Mint 13 is released.

But, after all that, I also installed the updated Bodhi Linux 1.3.0 with the Enlightenment desktop. After a few problems, which were quickly worked out, it is running beautifully on this machine and has become our default operating system. It’s just fast, uses less RAM, and I can have graphic effects that Gnome 3 does not support yet. Anyway, enough for now. I’ll save more Linux news for another time!

In entertainment news there’s a TV show I’d like to recommend. It’s Homeland on Showtime. I haven’t been watching many television shows lately, but this thing is riveting! The story, the cast: it’s amazing! And it’s got Mandy Patinkin, for God’s sake! Enough said.

Another delightful surprise for me in the past year is Harry Potter. My son started reading this series a few months ago; he’s on book five now and we’ve also been reading the first three Harry Potter books with my daughter Fiona, who’s six. She loves them! I had only seen the first two Harry Potter movies, and had not read the books, so I was wonderfully surprised that I’m really enjoying the series. Of course there’s so much more in the books. And the stories are very interesting and well-written! There’s a great deal more depth to them than I originally thought. But the films also do a great job; we’ve been watching them after Arthur reads the book they’re based on.

Well, that’s all I can say for now. We’re meeting some friends to see ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ in 3D this afternoon. Our kids have not seen a 3D film before, but I’m thinking this would be the one to see. Should be fun!

I’ll leave you with a few other links. See ya soon. Happy New Year!

Linux Desktop Environment Round Up

Fired Up: The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Fantasy

Why I am obsessed with old school Doctor Who

News about Linux Mint 12

I’ve been waiting patiently to hear some news (besides rumors) about the upcoming release of my favorite Linux distro, Mint 12. It’s supposed to come out sometime in November. So just now I happened to check the Linux Mint website and found this enlightening blog post about the new version of Linux Mint. This should be very interesting!

So here you go, Mint fans: Linux Mint 12 Preview

I’m actually a little scared about this, but also excited. If the Mint developers can take the good parts of Gnome 3 Shell (beautiful design, simplicity) and combine that with the functionality I love about Gnome 2, this could be really great! Right now I’ve been using Mint 10 on our main computer (Bodhi Linux on another desktop and laptop) and everything works perfectly. I’m still trying to decide if I want to take the plunge, maybe after a month or two, and install Mint 12. Eventually, I guess I’ll have to. I can’t wait to see the final release of the new Gnome 3 Linux Mint!

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