Friday Four

Friday, September 16, 2011

1. Proud Father Note: Last night, I reclined in our glider and seated our baby daughter on my chest. In the course of talking to her, I told her she looked "spiffy" in the pink-striped Polo onesie she received as a gift. This earned me my first laugh. I said it again and got another laugh. Oh, and when she's not happy, she has a priceless pout, too.

2. Over the course of taking my turn holding the baby for long stretches during her first few weeks, I entertained myself with the following one-handed computing activity: I got a more up-to-date (albeit less slick) version of a portable Ubuntu Linux to work. I mention this here because my old post on Portable Ubuntu still gets a trickle of hits and that project is poorly-supported, if it is supported at all. (And Portable Ubuntu Tres didn't work so well for me, even after I fixed its startup script.)

Follow these steps. I recommend using at least an 8 GB USB storage device.

  1. Download to the pen drive all files noted here, but ignore  the instructions for now.
  2. Download to the pen drive the ISO file for the latest "live", long-term-support version of Ubuntu.
  3. Use the Univeral USB Installer to install the Ubuntu ISO to the pen drive. Due to the maximum FAT32 file size limitation, you will be able to have at most only a 4 GB virtual hard drive image on your USB storage device.
  4. Extract the VirtualBox archive to the root directory of the pen drive.
  5. Start your new installation by clicking the "Virtualize this Key" icon in the "VirtualBox"  directory and following the pertinent instructions from the site linked above.
Changes you make, like adding users or system updates will be persistent (i.e., remain in force upon the next "boot." This runs more slowly than Portable Ubuntu does, and it runs within a VM window, rather than dispensing with its own window manager and simply using an application launcher within Windows. But you can run an updated version of Ubuntu from a pen drive under Windows, if you're in a pinch.

3. I have a working copy of the above on the storage media of my smart phone, too. Minus the need to rely on an external processor (rather than just use the one in my phone), my computing life is now even closer to where Eric Raymond once said his might look like in 2014. Oh, and my personal files are encrypted, and backed up that way in the cloud.

4. Allow me to make a very strong mobile app recommendation: Todo.txt Touch, by Gina Trapani. This is my kind of application, because it provides the convenience of mobile technology, while retaining the many virtues of the old, reliable, and standard ASCII text file format. I'd used Todo.txt for years from my laptops and workstations, so the big adjustment I had to make with the phone app was to relocate my to-do text file into another directory on any computer I normally use.

-- CAV


Lynne said...

Baby laughs are priceless.

Congratulations on your first catch!

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks! Elusive since, but I know more are coming...

Anonymous said...


Why do I have the inexplicable urge to write, "Todo, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore?"

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

To make me groan, C. To make me groan!