not an April Fool

Though it should probably count as one.  But then, sharkipedes are well known for occasional foolishness.

Everyone knows that the love of my computerized life (since I got it for Christmas) has been my little Eee PC ultracompact.   It’s small, it’s light, it has reasonably good battery life, and it does pretty everything I want right out of the box.  I can take it anywhere I can take a standard hardcover book, and for me that’s just about everywhere. 

This great little computer runs on Linux; a very odd, quirky proprietary version of Xandros.  A visit to the Eeeuser forums   will show that even Linux experts have to jump through hoops themselves to get the Eee to do any fancy tricks.   I’ve always been vaguely interested in Linux, and the Eee has made me want to do more with it. 

But I knew I had to start with an easier setup.  I asked around, did some research, and decided Ubuntu was the best distribution to get my feet wet.  Mr. Shark downloaded the ISO and burned me a disc, and I started looking for a cheap used laptop to put it on, since there is no available table space for another desktop here at Sharkipede HQ.

Then on Sunday morning Mr. Shark and I wandered into our local Best Buy for some pointless reason.  And I found this laptop … a discontinued Toshiba Satellite with 1 G of RAM and a 120 GB hard drive, looking oddly like what I’d specced out for a used laptop to play around with Linux on and also marked down from $499 to $285. 

I’m an idiot.  I bought it.  And yesterday we started it up, checked it out, admired the vast array of crapware that came preloaded with Vista, and shoved a Live CD of Gutsy Gibbon into the drive. 

I don’t know what I was expecting, but everything ran flawlessly, exactly as described in the pages of “Ubuntu for Non-Geeks”.  I looked at some of the sample files, ran the video and music clips, opened some of the software– it’s all there and looks fine.  Mr. Shark and I looked at each other.  Vista was poky and looked awful.  We have the recovery disks.  I closed up the example folder and hit “install”.

And a half hour and a few simple questions the dog could answer later,  I have an Ubuntu laptop.   I played some games, and made and colored a little scribble in the GIMP– nothing earth shattering but it all works. 

Things aren’t perfect– I’m going to have to download some “codecs” to get my DVD player to play, and there’s some other software I’m going to want.  This is going to be tough without a broadband connection at home, but I may be able to borrow one.   
I’m going to have a lot more questions, but it’s going excellently well so far.  This beast won’t replace my Eee, that’s for sure– it’s huge, heavy, noisy and eats batteries, so it’s been christened “Osborne”.

So now its time for anyone else out there who knows about Linux to come out of the wordwork to offer advice and suggestions.  Any beginner tips?  Software recommendations?  Books to read?  Websites and forums to check out?

And the most important question of all : am I becoming a late in life geek?


Published in: on April 2, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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blogging from the show floor, and from the Eee PC

Hi gang: I’ve recovered (mostly) from my finger injury– a bad cut to the pad of my left index that has kept me from typing for the last few days. I never realized how much my typing has improved until I tried to type with one hand and found myself in an enchanted world of gibberish.

If this still seems gibbery, I am posting this from the show floor at the SPACE convention in Columbus, OH. This is my first experiment with on the road wireless internet on the Eee PC. Luckily I am seated underneath a large smoke colored plastic box mounted high on the wall, which those in the know me is the antenna.

It has been a fun show. Business was good earlier in the day, with great interest shown in the box sets. Lately, we have been talking. Topics of conversation have included history, comics and general, inking techniques, the nature of the superhero, personal foibles of those who are not present, and the esoterics of digital printing. I have also drawn in some jam comics, and hope to do more.

This is all pretty much business as usual at a small con, but it’s an awfully good time, after being on my own most of the time all winter. I will be back tomorrow, and if anybody has anything they want me to report on, leave a comment.

Monthly recap and more Auto Show next week, assuming I don’t cut up any more of my fingers.

Oh, and Aaron and Bruce say hi.


Published in: on March 2, 2008 at 4:38 am  Comments (2)  
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Month’s end roundup, January 2008

It’s the last day of January already, and since one of the things I wanted to do with this new blog was sum up each month as it passes, it’s time to try it for the first time.  A month strikes me as the logical place to pause for an evaluation; not a short enough time that the thought is always breathing down one’s neck, but not long enough to forget all  about it and take one’s eye off the ball.

If one may be permitted to mix a metaphor.

This January has been a long month, and while I feel like I have been treading water, I’ve actually accomplished quite a lot.  I had my eyes examined, ordered new frames, had both pairs of my glasses made, and went through a particularly unpleasant Eyeball Twisting Week as my astigmatism was rather forcibly corrected by my own eye muscles.  It began a week ago yesterday and seems to be pretty much over.  My eyes haven’t watered at all today, and I’ve stopped having to blink to bring things into focus.  Very disconcerting, that.

I picked a new blogging site, and started this nifty new blog.  And, to my delight, a lot of you followed me here and have even posted comments.  Thank you muchly.

I’ve made surprising advances in my on-and-off interest in computers.  Most of this can be attributed to my growing affection for my new ASUS Eee PC,  which was a Christmas gift from Mr. Shark.  I’m using it a lot for writing and editing, and it has inspired in me a vague desire to learn something about Linux.   How weird is that?  I’ve acquired a couple of books and a disk with a core install of Fedora and some basic apps, and Mr. Shark says he will build me a Linux box to mess around with out of spare parts (apparently it doesn’t have to be particularly state of the art) as soon as he has finished building his own new PC.  In the interests of furthering my education he let me install the OS on his new system (under careful supervision, of course) and it was actually pretty cool.  More to come on this, I think.

But the Eee is proving practical right now, since I’m getting a lot of extra writing done in my spare time.  One of the projects that have moved to the new platform is writing “Hopelessly Lost, But Making Good Time”, my monthly column for Sequential Tart.  I’ve started a new series about superhero characters in comics, and the next few installments are already outlined.  Part one is finished and should be out on February first, at

I finished the script for my next minicomic, very moody and experimental, discovered the seed for an upcoming issue of Kekionga, and finished both covers for  Kekionga #2.  Random pages are partially pencilled, and the whole issue is thumbnailed.  This is where the month kind of fell down–I was hoping to be a little further along with that comic at this point, but part of that can be blamed on the damned Eyeball Twisting. 

Otherwise, it was a cold, snowy January.  I walked when I could, and will always remember Toby showing me the hawk.  Chester is doing well, in spite of the cold, which is hard on an old dog.  I worked well enough, making real progress every day, if not always on the “right” projects. 

My goal for next month is to work substantially, every day, on finished pages for Kekionga #2, and to get ready for SPACE,  my first con of the year, at the end of the month.  If I do anything new for the show, it will be produced in my spare time and will not interfere with the first goal. I hope.

And February is the month of the Auto Show, which means NSC will be returning, at long last, to its roots as an occasional car blog.  

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll stick around for the second month of version 2.0.


Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 4:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Starting the year off right

It’s nice when your belongings, old and new, start the year off right by behaving themselves.

The weather has been ghastly here at Sharkipede World Headquarters, some of the worst winter we’ve seen in several years, with heavy snow earlier in the week followed by below zero temperatures over the last two days.  It’s certainly the coldest and snowiest it’s been since I learned to drive, and I’ve been doing a little dogsitting over the holiday.

So I’ve been doing some winter driving, and Junior has been coming up aces.

For those of you who may be newcomers to NSC, Junior is my 1997 Buick Century Limited,  just exactly like this,  Sandhurst beige over matching leather:
Junior is possibly the most boring car in the known universe.  This model, in this color, is a favorite of local retirees and serves admirably as a “stealth car”.  Even I have trouble finding it in crowded parking lots.

But Junior is 100% reliable in all local weather (so far), with a nuclear powered heater and defroster, and plenty of room in the footwell for driving in snow boots.   Nothing like good old fashioned American iron.  Icontinue to be quite glad I made a conservative choice and did not indulge my taste for “interesting” cars that probably don’t start and run in single digit temps.

There are a lot of these nice cars around used at moderate prices, and they are well regarded by consumer organizations.  Smooth, comfortable, and quite peppy, but inclined to gasket problems (mine have all been replaced) and not exactly fuel economy champs.  But if you don’t drive a lot of miles,  you might want to consider one.  And no one will see you coming.

On the other hand, interesting computers are hard to resist, particularly when they too seem to work reliably.   I got a wonderful Christmas present this year– an Eee PC from ASUS, and it’s a terrific little item.

(Mine’s black and I think it looks way cooler than the white one shown in the official pictures.)

I’d been wanting one of these for a while, being amazed by its small size and light weight and intrigued by the idea of using a computer with open source software.  So far  it’s been more fun than I could have imagined.  The Open Office word processor seems to be 100% compatible with Word on my Home Base PC, and the included graphics programs are really powerful and lots of fun to use.  I can see myself making a whole comic on my Eee PC quite soon.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone else out there who is messing around with an Eee, particularly anyone who is using the Linux graphics software to make comics.

And anyone else, of course.  Don’t be worried if your comments don’t show up right away.  The default here at WordPress seems to be that comments are moderated by the blogholder, and I’m going to leave it that way for now.  Don’t worry, though.  I won’t censor you, my loyal readers!


Published in: on January 4, 2008 at 8:44 am  Comments (1)  
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