Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Giving Free a Try

This past weekend I had to take a class that would teach me about using the computer for my upcoming online program in which I will become a certified special education teacher.  Some parts of the class really felt like a waste of my time.  Not because the instructor was wasting my time, but because I had already had to learn to use some of the programs by taking online classes for the last two semesters.  There was plenty of helpful stuff too, but perhaps the most helpful to me was the extra attention I got for learning Ubuntu, a linux based operating system.

You see, Doug's laptop runs Windows Vista.  When we moved into our apartment 4 months ago, it was giving him so many troubles he quit using it and was using my desktop for all his computer needs.  But when my class said that a laptop was "highly recommended" in one place, and "required" in another, I figured it was time to give laptops a go again.

At first I emailed my Dad, the computer guy I trust most, about finding a good deal on a new laptop for school.  He suggested that in addition to looking at new computers, I also look at fixing Doug's up to meet specifications and reinstalling Windows.  Since I couldn't fix Vista without buying a new edition of software, I just reinstalled it, but took the time to upgrade hardware.  Seemed fixed, until the second day of class, when it crashed, like it always does.

Enter Ubuntu.  The guy who teaches the class I took was all about running open source software.  Somethings I was already running on my own and had been for years, like OpenOffice.  I had always been interested in Linux, but was worried I couldn't do it myself.  Turns out I was wrong.  The tech professor gave me a thumb drive with a copy of the installation software, and a print-out from his blog to get me started.  Saturday evening after class I spent a couple hours getting it up and running, downloading several free features to go along with it.

Back in class on Sunday I had only one problem: I couldn't get DVDs to work.  Tech professor to the rescue - he pointed me to a website that could get me through my problem, and then left me to follow directions.  It was actually really easy.  And now I am running Ubuntu on Doug's laptop, and it hasn't crashed since installation.  Not only has it worked as I want it to for the last few days, but it also boots up faster, connects to the internet faster, runs faster in general, and shuts down in seconds, as opposed to several minutes all those things took in Vista (if the machine didn't crash first).  Plus, it takes up MUCH less space on the computer.  And just in case I find I need Windows for something, it is still on the hard drive, I just have to tell the computer to boot Windows instead of Ubuntu.

I like free.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Plants

I've started growing a couple of different things. The first is broccoli.  I really like broccoli, and have been eating it in bunches. Good thing Doug likes it too.

I'm not really sure what is growing in this pot:

First I tried planting some herb seeds. The package I had was mixed, but I pulled out a few seeds that all looked the same, hoping for basil. After a few weeks when nothing happened, I decided to try bell pepper seeds instead. I figured that maybe the reason the last seeds didn't sprout was because my watering skills were junk. So I was better about watering. Instead of getting sprouts though, I ended up with moss.

Before trying anything else, I decided to see if stirring up the dirt would help.  It seemed rather compacted, so I figured it wouldn't hurt.  And now, a few days later, without planting anymore seeds, these two little guys popped up.  Guess I'll keep watering them and see what they become.  Hopefully I can tell soon, don't want to waste the pot on weeds.