Ubuntu Mate 17.10

Just spent some time trying various Linux distros. With this release (17.10) I have become a real fan of Mate. https://ubuntu-mate.org/

Solus is not far behind. https://solus-project.com/

Both projects are led by people that I respect.


Concerns Abound – Duly Warned

Here are two thoughtful analyses of what is happening in our world. One is about the descent into a world of “strong men.” The other is about Donald Trump’s mental illness as seen by mental health professionals.

from David Brooks: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/21/opinion/the-crisis-of-western-civ.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-3&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article&_r=2

from John Gartner: https://medium.com/the-fifth-estate/an-interview-with-dr-john-gartner-we-have-a-duty-to-warn-the-world-about-donald-trump-e1b54223c913 and https://www.change.org/p/trump-is-mentally-ill-and-must-be-removed

We are duly warned, the question remains about what we will do once warned. I think that every one of us should think hard about this. I think that we will have many reminders on a weekly or even daily basis.

Canonical Shift

I have to say that I was/am disappointed by the move away from convergence and mobile devices by Canonical. I was very hopeful that we would have options to the stock ones from MS, Apple, and Google.

Having said that, I appreciate the effort expended in what I think was a righteous cause, I understand the realities of markets and finances, and I wish Canonical great success with the new focus.

(I have also tried the existing Ubuntu Gnome distro, and I look forward to the contributions and improvements that will be made to it.)

Actions and Words Matter

I continue to be suspicious of DT’s ideas  and actions.  Over the last week, we have seen a military strike of questionable worth and radical shifts in thinking from our new leader.

Then there is the installation of his “beachhead” team. See the following.


I am still not convinced that he is fit for the position that he has.

[Added 4/18/2017: Recent related article by David Brooks is on-point. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/opinion/the-coming-incompetence-crisis.html?mc=aud_dev&mcid=keywee&mccr=domdesk&kwp_0=378548&kwp_4=1409519&kwp_1=620454&_r=1 ]

Germanic Genealogy Society of Minnesota Conference on March 25, 2017

The local Germanic Genealogy Society of Minnesota put on what I thought was one of their best conferences yesterday. It was held at Normandale Community College (Fine Arts bldg), and it was a full day with one speaker – Michael Lacopo.

At the last Minnesota Genealogical Society event, Lacopo gave a presentation about the history of diseases and social history. He is very big on understanding social history as a way to put ancestral actions in context. I think that it is an important point. At some point we should want to move past the simple facts like birth, marriage, death, and census data to understand what might have been going on in our ancestors’ daily lives.

His presentations yesterday are summarized below.

  • The German Immigrant Experience in the 18th Century – painted a picture of why people left the German States, how they traveled, and their experiences (mainly in PA).
  • How to Overcome Brick Wall Problems in Pennsylvania German Research – Dealing with the period in America when there was no census, he described various data sources and techniques for attacking research problems. He referenced the Family Search wiki entries for PA, church records, tax lists, court records,, business records, and assorted manuscript sources. He mentioned a source that I have not spent time with but feel I should investigate – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArchiveGrid .
  • De-constructing Your Family Tree: Re-evaluating the “Evidence” – This was a presentation focused on finding and correcting errors that you might have in your tree. In many ways it was a way of illustrating the genealogical proof standard explained in the Genealogical Standards Manual (https://books.google.com/books/about/The_BCG_Genealogical_Standards_Manual.html?id=5gVpVAjwNLMC) Briefly stated, the standard describes (1) conducting a reasonable exhaustive search, (2) including complete source documentation, (3) analysis and correlation of evidence and its quality, (4) resolution of conflicts, and (5) production of coherent written conclusions.
  • I’ve Had My DNA Tested! Now What? – This was a 90 minute presentation, much like the second half of my community ed genealogy class. This is a topic that deserves a lot more time, but he did a good job of presenting basic information as well as rules of thumb for using the match data.

If you want to see examples of Lacopo’s writing and analysis, try his blog.  I am told that it should be read from oldest entry to newest.  Here’s the url: https://roots4u.blogspot.com/

All Linux, all the time.

After years of wanting to, I have finally converted all of my home computing environments to Linux (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS). This includes one fairly new desktop machine, one old desktop, and one “middle-aged” laptop. It actually was not that hard to do. Networks work, printers and scanners work, and I have found open source software to do everything that I need to do (other than taxes, which are handled via the web).

So, I am not a spokesperson for Canonical, but I do find it liberating to be shed of Windows. It is also clear that the hardware is more efficiently used and performs much better.

I use the machines for . . . basic office documents, financial tracking and planning, email, genealogy, printing/scanning, music, photos, exploring other Linux distributions using virtualization, etc. Nothing complicated. This encourages me that this type of home computing solution could work for others. In many cases it would likely simplify their lives.

For others wanting to try this as well, there are a number of references that might help. – the main Ubuntu website, the international communities that have formed around Ubuntu and other Linux distributions, webcasts such as you can find at Jupiter Broadcasting and twit.tv, companies like System76 that provide hardware (and contribute software), etc.

I really do believe that Linux has matured to the point of being viable for home computing use. Thanks to all those people that have worked and do work in an open source community to make this all possible.


Dangerous Times

I really have tried to avoid saying much about politics over the last election cycle. However, I think that we have now gone beyond normal politics into a period of time that will be dangerous for our country. I feel compelled to publicly state the things that follow.

The current regime of D. Trump is ignorant, incompetent, and insane. I won’t try to justify this summary characterization here. It is easy to find rational analysts (conservative and liberal), who have explained why such a characterization is reasonable based on observable behaviors.

I hope that the political professionals that exist can come together to neutralize and remove this regime as quickly as possible. Perhaps such actions would demonstrate the power of cooperation and help lead us into better times.

Meanwhile, I hope that in our individual lives we can foster resistance to the current regime and demonstrate respect for those that may not outwardly appear to be like us. I have been lucky to have worked with people from various cultures. I have had the good fortune to know a gay woman, who showed me through her actions what it means to be different (at least in one way) from the people around her. And, I have found cousins, descended from slaves to whom I am probably related through an “encounter” with a distant cousin of mine of European descent. The point is that this is a complicated place. We should realize that, take it for what it is, and work together. Irrational fear and hate are not appropriate.

This will not be easy, but I think that we must denounce ignorance, incompetence and insanity and replace them with better aspects of our nature.