Sunday, March 15, 2015

Question about excellent writer Matt Hartley

Have you been following Matt Hartley?  Would you consider it?

Since I'm setting up a new System 76 laptop, I thought I'd search on the topic of  best practices, or suggestions, for setting up new linux computers.  Often, when I do a search like that, I end up reading something published by Matt Hartley

For example: Fifteen Must-Have Ubuntu Enhancements.

On his recommendation,  I will try Workrave.

as Matt explained, "Workrave – Running Redshift is helpful, but remembering to stretch and take breaks isn't that easy when you're elbows deep into a project. This is where Workrave comes into play. Designed to prompt you when it's time for a break, you can also setup the application up to offer arm and eye exercises to prevent issues with Repetitive Strain Injury. Features include micro-pause, regular breaks (including optional exercises) and a daily limit alert. I use all of these features and my fatigue and headaches have disappeared completely."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

System 76 Gazelle Professional - my experience with the keyboard

I do like the keyboard touch and feel!  The keys have a light touch, but give me a pleasant, dull clunk as I depress each key. That means I hear a reliable soft sound for each keystroke. The keyboard is comfortable. 

Here's a minor discovery about the keyboard layout of the Gazelle Pro keyboard layout:  I need to change a typing habit that accidentally sends unfinished Gmails. 

I spend 40+ hours per week using a windows laptop for work, doing apps dev, server scripts and data security.  As a result, I have many short-cut habits, developed over the years. One of them is using the right arrow key  at the extreme lower right of the keyboard.  I use it frequently, touch typing without even looking.

The keyboard's right side looks like -->

On my Gazelle Pro, the key at the extreme lower right is the Enter key of the number pad! So, if I'm composing in GMail,and use that key, email is sent immediately.

Now, to be clear, this is not a fault of the new laptop! However, it does mean that I'll need to develop a new habit of touch typing the right arrow key. New habits take a week or a month to establish, however.  Not a problem, just notation.

In the position where a windows key, or an apple command key would normally appear, there's an Ubuntu key.  One quick tap on that key and the scope/search window appears and allows me to search my machine, my software or internet locations - all from the same location. Personally, I like this and understand how to turn things on or off. Other fans of Ubuntu did not.  Where do you stand on that issue?  Let me know. - Jay

Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's been 3 hours since I fired up my System 76 Gazelle. So far, I am satisfied. The set up took about about 15 minutes. System updates took 5 more. I'm rolling. It will take me time to explore all the hardware.  When I learn something, I'll share it. 

The system was installed with Ubuntu 14.10, which in a word, is beautiful.

I did the software updates connected by a CAT5 cable to the router.  After that I switched to wifi, and checked it around the house, in different locations.  A streaming video ran flawlessly as I moved from room to room.

Initial steps were offering to encrypt my home folder.  Done.  Also installling something to allow flash to work. Done

I'm off & running I took pictures and notes on the packaging, and the installation. Oddly enough, there was only a tiny, single piece of paper; no other documentation.  The paper was a thank you, and the URLs for S76, and the Ubuntu Forums.  I'm no stranger there! 

more to follow... Jay

System 76 - tracking delivery steps

 As  you can imagine, with 859.00 on the line to System 76 (S76), I have been tracking the delivery route of my new laptop each day.   The web site provided a link to the UPS tracking page, so that I did not have type out the long tracking ID.  I appreciated that; the design of S76 web pages for Orders and Order Details was good - simple and easy to use.

I did not pay for short delivery. The standard delivery is expressed in business days, and crosses a weekend.  So when I ordered on 3/3/15, the delivery day turned out to be 3/12/15.  That's a total experience of 9 days, from start to finish. This was no problem to me, because I did not need a rush. S76 offers options to shorten the time frame. In business, time is money; but in this case I have the old laptop. 

Here's a screen scrape fo the shipment section:

Shipment Progress

Location Date Local TimeActivity
Auburn, ME, US 03/12/2015  6:34 A.M. Out For Delivery
Auburn, ME, US 03/11/2015 10:58 P.M. Arrival Scan
Chelmsford MA US  03/11/2015 7:44 P.M. Departure Scan
Chelmsford MA US 03/10/2015 3:10 P.M. Arrival Scan
Baldwin Pk CA  US 03/06/2015 1:00 A.M. Departure Scan
Baldwin Pk CA  US 03/05/2015 4:43 P.M. Pickup Scan
03/03/2015 5:28 P.M. Order Processed: Ready for UPS

Additional Information

10.00 lbs

Shipping Information

Pownal, ME 04069

Shipped By

UPS Ground

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The recycle option at System 76

At the time one orders from, they offer a 10 Dollar option for shipping back an old laptop for recycling.  I thought this was great, and took advantage of that.  I will ** destroy ** my old hard drive though. before I ship it back to them.  After a decade of all purpose use, I don't want any recoverable information left for review by someone else.

I want to say that the order page includes a link for easy tracking of the shipment via UPS, which is also helpful.

So far, my interaction with System 76 has been good.

EDIT - the shipping label for recycling an old laptop did not come in the box. 
When I realized that, I used the chat with service option at the website.  They responded quickly with a PDF to print for UPS shipment.   I wiped the old hard drive, and sent the old Acer to it's unknown destination.  At the moment, none of my friends need an old used laptop, so good riddance!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

System 76 and the Gazelles (not a band)

It's been a long time since I posted anything about Ubuntu! Nothing's wrong; it's just that work has been keeping me very busy, with a new role in data security.  But finally, I will soon have something to contribute: a review of a System 76 Gazelle Pro laptop. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a new machine, custom built for Linux/Ubuntu?

My personal machine for the last 12 years has been an Acer 5610, model BL50, running under Ubuntu, approximately.  I got it a Microcenter in Cambridge, MA, in 2003, and had them max out the RAM, every slot, at the time of purchase. Back then, it was great laptop, speedy with an excellent screen. As you can well imagine, it's now beat up and very tired. I dropped it several times in transit to night school after work.  I graduated in 2003!  Performance that seemed amazing back then, has slowed to a crawl under the load of modern graphics and highly scripted web pages.  It still works, but it's time to go to the recycle center. 

My new laptop should arrive this Thursday, March 12, 2015.  I'll post about my experience with the new machine, specifically built for Ubuntu.   I can say that my order at System 76 went well; they made me feel welcome. I called their numbers and hit voice mail.  I used the "Chat" widget, and it worked well. I looked them up at the BBB.  I read the Ubuntu forums to check for complaints.  There were a few, but they didn't seem to awful to me.  Several of them I could have solved on my own quickly.  So I plunged ahead with the order.   Within 10 minutes of purchasing, I received a call from Ian, who asked me if had any questions, or needed any more information.  I was surprised.  Nowadays, some businesses just take your money, then start avoiding you. So, the beginnings of this relationship were auspicious.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Read Matt Hartley's excellent article

This is an article that makes sense, is helpful and is quick & easy to read!

Now that I've been using Ubuntu for 5 years (maybe more), I rarely run into a problem with hardware or software.

If you are new to the territory, please review this targeted article from Matt Hartly.