Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ghadilla vs Unicornian

I just have to share this. My friend and colleague Colin made this with his kids and it's just plain awesome!


I just got myself a new laptop- an Acer C720 Chromebook. This is a small (11.6" screen) machine, built to run Google's Chrome OS, that goes for just under $200. The Chrome OS basically does everything on the "cloud" using Googles Chrome Browser and lots of cloud apps like Google Docs, Maps and Calendar etc. This video explains it a bit-

As my main laptop is now pretty much permanently tethered to my desk monitor for photo editing and is running Windows so I can use Lightroom (why did I wait so long?) I had resurrected my old Z61 to use for web browsing etc. when sitting in front of the TV etc., but unfortunately it just couldn't handle it and I was getting more and more frustrated waiting for it to load web pages and watching stuttery videos.

The Chromebook seemed built to fit the bill (although I was a little nervous as it only sports 2gb of RAM) and so it has proved :) I can't believe how zippy this thing is- with even 20 or so tabs open it doesn't seem to bog down at all and scrolling is smooth as are videos.

BUT- and this is the good part- it runs a full distro of Linux beautifully too! And you don't even need to dual boot (which is when you run one OS and then shut down to boot into another), as Chrome OS is based on Linux one of the Google developers has written a script that you can run to download one of many variations of Ubuntu and just switch between the 2 with a simple key combination.

The script is called Crouton, and I followed the instructions on these websites (here, here and here) to load the latest Ubuntu release (Saucy Salamander) with my favourite KDE GUI. And it is absolutely startling how well it runs even intensive programs like GIMP and LibreOffice! I think the newish "Haswell" architecture of the Intel CPU in this thing handles memory in a different way, but it's almost unbelievable how well it runs on only 2gb of RAM (for a brief while there was a 4gb version for sale, but they are impossible to get) which is good as the RAM is soldered to the motherboard and is not upgradeable. I did get the cheapest version with the 16gb SSD drive (Chrome is supposed to store everything in the cloud) rather than paying the $50 more for the 32gb one, but that was because I suspected that if it did run Linux as well as people said it did I would want to upgrade it anyway and a 128gb compatible SSD is available for not much more if you're prepared to void the warranty by cracking open the case to put it in ;) We'll see, but I probably will end up doing that soon enough.

So, all in all I am a very happy camper :) I will probably use it in Chrome 90% of the time, but it's very cool that I can simply slip right into a full KDE Ubuntu environment with just a couple of clicks if I want to do anything more complicated than Chrome can handle!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cool snow terrain

In the woods with the dog and we found all these cool little mounds in the snow.

I think it's where the snow has been blown around all the little twigs sticking up, but it looks like a little village :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


For no particular reason, she's just being cute this evening.

Cold and Windy!

Time to go and shovel. The plows have already hit the parking lot, but it looks like a lot of snow has already blown back; it's 4F but -19F with the wind chill... brrr!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pepperoni Bread...

...from the new bread machine :)

This is what I was trying to make last week when the old one died, this turned out much better!

Hot dog?

In the woods with the dog- it's a little warmer than it has been, but surely not warm enough for this!

I guess if you chase tennis balls hard enough it is :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Father Rhinehardt (me, the traitor) in the basement, chasing Heather Granville and Ox Bellows (Colin and Christie respectively, the heroes) on the ground floor.

This game is very Scooby Doo :)

Ice patterns...

... on the roof of my car this morning :)


The last load of bread out of our old bread machine didn't come out so well and I suspected the motor was shot. So I put the ingredients in for a small loaf to see if there was any life left in it, and sadly the answer was no.

But rather than waste the ingredients I decided to do it the old fashioned way and knead and bake it by hand... and it came out rather well :)

-but I've ordered a new bread machine anyway ;)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Confirmation Saturday

The guys from the homeless shelter are coming back to spend the night here tonight, so we've baked brownies for them and set up their cots, and now we're finishing off with a quick round of Wits & Wagers :)

Cool water effect

This looks like one of those fancy, long-exposure pictures of a stream with the silky water effect, but it's just the ice with the water from all the rain flowing over it :)

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Hulking great teenager...

... but he'll still hold his mother's hand :)

More Lightroom Fun ;)

Still having fun finding out what Lightroom can do...

I have now discovered presets (little files that can set a "feel" for a picture with one click) so I downloaded a bunch last night. Here are some pictures from today's walk in the woods :)

The effects on some of these are a little extreme in some cases, but it's a fun way to find out what presets can do as I start to design my own :)

Friday, January 03, 2014


A few pretty pictures I took around the church after I had finished shoveling today :)

Since getting my new camera and finding that the RAW software I was using does not support it yet (well, it does, but only with some hacking) I have switched to Adobe Lightroom (thanks to Colin for giving me a trusted voice of advice). I just got in on a very nice deal to get both Lightroom and Photoshop in their "Creative Cloud" for $10 a month :).

This does mean I now have to run a Windows machine as Lightroom will not run on Linux (natively or in Wine) but I have resurrected my old Z61t Thinkpad with Kubuntu and a fast SSD to be my living room in-front-of-the-TV computer, and my newer T'padE420 in now running Windows 7 and is semi-permanently connected to my IPS monitor in the office. And with a nice large 2TB external drive to store my RAW files on this is a much better set up.

And I have to say that the advantages of Lightroom more than make it worth it!

For a southern lady...

... she sure does love the snow :)

Snow dog

She doesn't mind the cold, she has her coat and a stick to chase :)

Snowshoe time

Shoveling done so it's off to the woods with my trusty snowshoes :)

Looks like a couple of cross-country skiers have beaten us here.

We're in the northern section of the woods where we don't usually come, but the entrance and the parking wasn't plowed at all where we usually go.

Wicked cold, 14F, but it's fine as long as you keep moving ;)

It's bloody cold!

6F, but -16F with the wind chill!

(yes, that's ice in my beard)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Cliche cat

Someone is very interested to learn that Jackie has taken up knitting :)