Tech Tab Sweep

Krita appears to be Gimp spelled sideways, but cross-platform, or more accurately, Gimp:Photoshop::Krita:Painter.

OpenSSH best practices. Mac OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” takes SSH security so seriously that after you upgrade, you can’t log in remotely. Even if you tell it you want to.

Use Ruby to make your graphs look hand-drawn, like the ones in XKCD.

Via RubyFlow: A set of step-by-step TDD tutorials, a library for importing real-world CSV data.

Gruff: a library for creating beautiful charts in Ruby. Use capture3 instead of backticks: capturing I/O from shell commands. I should be using pry instead of irb, and when I switch, here’s how to work with exceptions in pry.

Microsoft promises that you can clean install Windows 10 after upgrading. Hanselman confirms, but look at the questions in people’s comments. Someone at Microsoft should be asking, why don’t they trust us, and what do we have to do so they start?

Google’s new build tool: Bazel. What are the odds I’d switch when I’m still learning Rake?

Windows 8 Setup (Continued)

I’m moving from a Mac to a Windows PC at work, and I’ve been blogging some of the things I’m doing to set up my computer.

There’s two things I wish I could just set up: rsync¬†and a decent command shell.


I don’t know how you write a server for Windows, but it’s amazing to me that Rsync hasn’t caught on there. Especially since it was developed by the same guy who gave us Samba. (Maybe that’s the point. Note the direction of the copying arrow.) (Don’t tell me about DeltaCopy. It may be great for moving things between Windows machines, but I’m not hoping to do that a lot. I want a cross-platform solution. I need to explore cwrsync.)


Cygwin gives you a pretty good set of proper command line utilities. The biggest problem is that it needs a command-line tool like apt or yum to keep it up-to-date. I’m looking into apt-cyg.

But a shell needs a terminal emulator to run in, and Cmd.exe doesn’t cut it. Again, I’m puzzled by the dearth of alternatives, especially since the one Microsoft included¬†was so crappy. There are probably a dozen decent terminal emulators in the Linux world, and a couple for Mac OS X.

So right now I’m trying to figure out cmder. It appears to be a fresh implementation of a terminal emulator.

Windows PC Start-up List

Download a copy of PC-Decrapifier (or Decrap) and Should I Remove It. (You’ll need to get other things from Ninite (below) but start by getting Revo Uninstaller in case you’re having trouble decrapifying something.)

Product Key Finder by Magical Jellybean.

From create installers for:

  • Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. You can’t have too many alternatives to Exploder.
  • Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • Notepad++, Python, WinSCP, Putty, and WinMerge
  • LibreOffice

vim and gow (Gnu on Windows) and maybe Cygwin.

Ruby Windows Installer.


Telegram Desktop

MarkdownPad (or pay $15 and get Pro)

Be not slow to consult Alternative To.

And when you’re ready, make a backup image using Clonezilla. Or at least a system restore point.

Command Line Interfaces of the Future

This cracks me up: the Windows 8 server is going to nudge, and eventually force, administrators to give up their point-and-click interfaces in favor of something a little more up-to-date.

(I could have told you they’d eventually wind up here, after struggling for years with COMMAND.COM and CMD.EXE, only to see them finally produce a halfway decent shell—long after I’d moved on.)

(Via RedmondMag via someone I’ve forgotten (sorry).)

Windows 7 setup

Well, my laptop won’t be the only functioning computer at church any more. I got the secretary’s new computer set up today.

Secretary's Computer

It’s an Inspiron Desktop 570 MiniTower, and features:

  • AMD Athlon II X2 240 (2.8GHz, 2MB) processor
  • 640 GB SATA II Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
  • 4 GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz (4 DIMMs)
  • FAX/modem (!!!)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium

All that plus a 1-year warranty of sorts. And the amazing thing, to an old duffer like me, was the cost. We didn’t buy a monitor, so the total, including tax and free shipping was $368.66 from the Dell Outlet.

It only took me about an hour to get the software configured. XP used to took forever. Partly this is because Dell seems to be including substantially less crapware that has to be removed.

It would have taken forever, though, if not for If you still run Windows and you’re not using Ninite, you’re wasting your time.

Linux to the Rescue (Again)

My secretary’s machine blue-screened a couple of days ago with a STOP 24 message, which tells you (or rather, doesn’t tell you) that either the disk or the filesystem is broken.

Crash 1 - Windows PC

Fortunately(!) we’d just gone through a couple of weeks restoring everything after a virus infestation, so there wasn’t much on it of value, except for the Quicken bookkeeping data.

I spent awhile learning about Windows recovery disks, and made a WinPE disk that I ought to have been able to boot off. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t, and — honestly — I don’t have time to figure out how to route around Microsoft stupidity.

Today, finally, I had a half hour to spare, so I extracted the hard drive from the Windows box, slapped it into an external USB housing, and connected it to my linux backup server. (Elapsed time: about 10 minutes. That’s too long, but I didn’t have a good phillips screwdriver and had to use my leatherman. Also I was flummoxed briefly by the easy-to-open case on the Dell Dimension 3000.)

Sadly, it didn’t automount on my desktop. I run Ubuntu 9.10, and have become accustomed to it “just working” no matter what I need doing. But apparently support for NTFS USB drives doesn’t come in the out-of-box configuration.

No matter. I hit the internet (specifically, I did a single Google search for “ubuntu external drive ntfs“) and found out I needed to install ntfs-config. The search and subsequent installation took about 2 minutes. I cycled the power on the external drive, and — voila! — there was the drive. I popped into terminal, ran a quick find|cpio, and Bob’s your uncle.

Last Laughs

My secretary’s PC crashed today. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, and didn’t have time to investigate. So I made some obnoxious Mac fanboy-type remarks about silly Microsoft and its sad excuses for operating systems. (Then I told her to make do as well as she could with a pencil and calculator.)

So this afternoon, my MacBook Pro BSOD’d on me:

Crash 2 - MacBook

Ah, snap! I really liked that email!

Which is pretty shocking. I’m not sure if this might be the first time it’s done that. I know I’ve seen this BSOD screen before today, but it might have been on the iMac at work, or the other Mac at home.

But I just got a second chance to study the phenomenon. Just as I was blogging the above, it panicked again:

Mac Crash 2

A BSOD, Apple-style

Twice. In one day. The day my secretary’s ancient PC belly-upped and I made superior remarks about the sad, sad mistake called Windows XP. Oh the irony of it all.

What the heck did Apple put in that last Security Update? Or was it Snow Leopard 10.6.3?

Blue Screens

Man, I’m sick of Windows. The secretary’s machine at church got infected with something a couple of weeks ago. I was only able to get rid of it by reinstalling Windows. I got an antivirus solution set-up and spent, well, a couple of hours, but it seemed like a month, uninstalling all the crap-ware and getting everything down to the bare minimum. My next project was to make a Ghost-type image, to avoid all that work the next time. But I don’t know how to make a Ghost image on Windows, so I put it off until I had a couple of hours to figure out what to do.

That was a bad decision. Today, we got this:

Crash 1 - Windows PC

The infamous Blue Screen of Death

And we got it every time we rebooted, early in the boot process. So early, I don’t know any way past it. So now I need to come up with some kind of recovery media and boot off that, and save all her data.

Then I need to migrate us away from using Quicken and replace it with some kind of cloud-based Web 2.0 service in its place.

And, honestly, if I get that far, then we’re replacing Windows with Linux, because Quicken is the last Windows-only app we use.