I threw together a simpler sampler plugin for kicks. Like the other plugins it sounds fairly underwhelming. Next challenge will probably be to try plugging in some real LV2 plugins.
After spending much time trying to choose the perfect Ultrabook, I came to the conclusion that it is either not made, or is prohibitively expensive. In the meantime I ordered a Novatech nFinity n1410 (14″ Intel Core i5 3317 Mobile Processor – 8GB DDR3 Memory) for just £450 (plus VAT).
My expectations were fairly low, given the price, but I expected something that would be adequate and I was pleased to be able to buy a laptop without a Microsoft operating system pre-installed.
Purchase and delivery were quick and painless, thanks to Novatech.
My first impressions were very agreeable, it looked much better than expected with a metal top. The dimensions were just as I had expected – it would fit in my briefcase and be light and portable, but still have a decent sized screen.
Then I went to switch the n1410 on, oh dear, the power switch is terrible! Cheap, nasty, with a horrible unsatisfactory movement. It still irritates me every time I use it. It glows blue when powered and red with disk activity. Once I went to put the laptop in my briefcase and the flashing blue button reminded me that it was still in standby – so yes the button is clearly functional - but still I hate it.
Installing Ubuntu 12.10 was very simple, with no issues whatsoever. With Ubuntu installed and working well, it was time to reboot. I made the mistake of glancing away from the screen for few seconds, and it was already sitting at the login prompt. It boots in less than 15s, it takes longer to shutdown, but this is a great benefit for a portable laptop.
Logging in and things just got better – the buttons all work, including the FN buttons like brightness and media playback. This is seriously impressive and the Ubuntu community deserve congratulations, as this is no mean feat. Given how painless the installation is, you can’t but wonder why Novatech don’t offer Ubuntu as an option.
This all seemed to good to be true, and it was, suddenly the wireless signal dropped out, despite my sitting less than a metre away from the wireless access point. And this kept happening. Googling for an answer I ended up adding the following line to the end of /etc/modprobe.d/iwlwifi.conf:options iwlwifi 11n_disable=1 bt_coex_active=N
This seemed to make the laptop usable, but it is not a long-term solution. I was advised to try a newer kernel, and I am now on 3.6.3, but it seems no different. The problem seems to be a bug with the iwlwifi module, and it does seem to be known about, so hopefully a fix will wander down to Ubuntu soon. Maybe upgrading to 13.04 will fix all, but that is one for another day.
I tried closing the laptop, whilst still on, and it promptly went into standby mode. I opened the lid again and the laptop sprung back into life, although the wireless was not connected. Restarting network-manager revived the wireless connection. I can live with that. In fact I do find that I frequently need to restart network manager when first powering up, which may well be more evidence of the flaws in iwlwifi.
The screen is glossy, which is never a good thing, but other than that I cannot fault it. The speakers are a little tinny, but I suspect that that is par for the course with an Ultrabook. The keyboard feels a bit cheap and I keep missing letters, or getting letters twice. I hope I get used to this, but it has to be said that the keyboard is not a pleasure to use.
I am also struggling with the trackpad. My previous laptops have had smaller trackpads, which I would occasionally catch when typing. This laptop has a large trackpad, which I am constantly catching, and it is driving me slightly mad. I am not sure that this is the fault of Novatech though, in theory Ubuntu should disable the trackpad when typing, but in my experience it could work better. Maybe I can improve this is some way and I will do further research.
Another trackpad irritation is that the right hand side of the pad seems to be the right-mouse-click, and the left hand side – the left mouse click. Whilst flawlessly logical, it means that right handed users have to travel a long way for left click. I suspect that this is a trait of new Xorg versions, but I have done no research on the matter. Maybe I will get used to it.
The trackpad does have buttons below it, but they are simply horrible to use, requiring a considerable pressure to work, for that reason I tend to only use the trackpad itself.
Sticking with the default 128gb SSD was a mistake though, as I could not even transfer my Pictures folder (blame my young family and camera touting wife!). I knew that popey had added an mSATA drive to his Lenovo X220, and I telephoned Novatech to find out if this would be possible with the n1410. The answer was that yes it had an mSATA port, but that it was limited to 32gb and would only be used to improve the boot speed. I was not convinced that they were correct and Googling the subject showed that Dell had said the same about their laptops, and it was not true. With some concern I ordered a Crucial CT256M4SSD3 256GB m4 mSATA 6Gb/s Internal SSD. To cut a long story short- this proved successful and I intend writing up the experience in a separate post.
Battery life seems excellent – with past laptops I have generally used them connected to the mains, but the battery life on the n1410 is good enough that I am finding myself using it more like a tablet, in leaving it on most of the time. I believe 5 hours should be possible.
Overall this is a very good value Ultrabook. Clearly it is not perfect, but I never expected it to be, I expected it to be adequate and functional, and that it certainly is. That it is also attractive, with a reasonable screen, battery life and all working with Ubuntu is just fantastic. All in all I am very pleased with my new Ultrabook.
This just popped up in my Google alerts: https://github.com/M2IHP13-admin/JonesForth-arm
Curiosity got the better of me. Having seen a few YouTube demos of the new Ubuntu touch interface on the phone, I was excited to learn that the developer preview was going to be released for the Nexus 10. Not that I am a developer though.
First thing I needed to do was decide that there was nothing on my tablet that I needed. Once I was happy about that, I went ahead and followed the instructions. The only problem I had was after unlocking the boot-loader the tablet would not boot up. It was stuck at the boot animation. As I needed to be in Android to complete the next step, I had to reinstall Android first.
After that little hiccup, it all went fine. Then I was presented with the image above.
There is still allot that does not work. Most of what does work, works well. There are many rough edges, and a few little quirks that no doubt will be adjusted over the next few months. The one thing that did strike me was the lack of a back button. That was probably the most unintuitive aspect to the interface.
It seemed that allot of what was working were internet apps. Gmail, Maps, Twitter, Facebook etc. And they all thought they were running on an iPad.
So far it seems like a good effort. Not sure I fully grasp the point though. It seems to be trying to do what Android does, but differently. What I was hoping for was something more like the Ubuntu Desktop. For that I would need at least a terminal, ssh, vim, LaTeX, apt-get etc. If proper user access control is implemented, that could be a real advantage.
In the meantime, I will be running Android on my tablet, as I only have the one. It would be nice to have a spare that I could keep on Ubuntu so that the development can be tracked. In a few months time, it may be worth trying again.
It is going to be interesting to see where this goes.
Novice #CQ tip: sidebar on left is the Content Finder. Disable it by taking cf# from URL, e.g. /cf#/content/foo.html to /content/foo.html
defaults write com.apple.desktopservices DSDontWriteNetworkStores true
My day: expletive java expletive mvn expletive docs expletive deprecated expletive missing expletive examples expletive
Don’t code with flu.
A few days ago we announced Ubuntu for Tablets; the next piece on our wider Ubuntu convergence story. The tablet joins the Phone, TV, Ubuntu for Android, and the Desktop. See an excellent hands-on video review of the current developer build from Engadget.
Today the source and images for Ubuntu for Phones and Tablets (collectively known as Ubuntu Touch) was released.
I know there is some anticipation regarding this release and I just wanted to share a few facts to ensure we are all on the same page:
I am sure you are now chomping at the bit to grab the images, check out the code, and get the new SDK release! Go and find all the details here.
The Baremetal MIDI file player was cool, but not quite as cool as a real instrument.
I wired up a MIDI In port along the lines of This one here, messed with the code a bit and voila (and potentially viola), I can play LV2 instrument plugins using a MIDI keyboard:
When I say "LV2 synth plugins", I should clarify that I'm only using the LV2 plugin C API, not the whole .ttl text file shebangle. I hope to get around to that at some point but it will be a while before you can directly plug LV2s into this and expect them to just work.
The constitution of the debian operating system project says things like “consistent with the consensus of the opinions of the Developers” at various points but doesn’t say how strong a consensus or how the project will test for consensus. I think those were mistakes, breaking a couple of the conditions for consensus.
Wikipedia’s understanding of consensus is even worse. Wikipedia seems to treat consensus as a synonym for unanimity. Its testing methods allow an infinite loop to form where the casual observer can’t differentiate between a controversial proposal and consensus. I think those were mistakes.
These famous-but-imperfect implementations frequently lead to misdirected rants which seem to misunderstand consensus as requiring perpetual bikeshedding. Apache’s implementation is rather better – and it may surprise you to learn that our co-op is mostly run by consensus.
There are two key differences which I feel makes consensus work for us: we’ve set limits beforehand on some decisions where we need to act fast – where not making a decision would usually be the same as making a bad decision – and our methods of testing for consensus are better. We test for consensus with secret-at-vote-time-but-published-after straw polls, or using Crowd Wise by email.
I summarise Crowd Wise as follows: gather all ideas plus option 0 (do nothing) if possible, carry out a de Borda (preference) voting round 1, merge/amend/consolidate ideas, voting round 2 if needed. It does still work better if participants put their ego aside a little and co-operate, but it does put limits on non-co-operators.
Anyway, as described in Xana/ xana2/ bamamba/ Why Russ is wrong, debian isn’t exactly using consensus much at the moment, anyway. Should we try to fix its bugs? Do you know other projects where consensus is working?
Whilst my Company is predominantly a Linux user, it has not been without its problems. OpenOffice in particular struggles with some newer Powerpoint presentations and the lack of the Calibri font seems to cause layout issues. More recently, our primary system vendor has introduced “Business Intelligence” as a product and we would like to take the benefit of that. Unfortunately most of those benefits are only available if you are also running Microsoft Excel 2010 and later, whilst we of course use OpenOffice.
So, with a heavy heart I reached for my dog-eared copy of the Internet, to see what this would cost me. I knew I needed Microsoft Office Professional, as Microsoft Access is occasionally needed. I found that a full retail licence from BT Business Direct cost £205 plus VAT, not so bad after all.
I considered buying 12 of these full retail licences, but decided in the end to contact our BT account manager to request a quote. I was informed by BT that the full retail licences could not be used on a server; no explanation was given for this, but I was assured that this was the case. The result was that the cost would in fact be £288 each, an additional £1000. A rather strange reversal of the usual – the more you buy, the lower the unit price.
As I was going to be installing on a virtual machine, I was also interested in knowing that I would be able to reinstall on a new virtual machine, if for any reason I needed to rebuild. For some reason this seemed far less clear than I would have liked, but ultimately I did receive that assurance; albeit in a way that left me wondering if that would indeed ultimately prove to be the case.
One additional confusion is that 2013 is just out, and so there was a choice of 2010 or 2013, we had been told to buy 2010 or later, in order to work with Business Intelligence, but then I read an article on ZDNet Can Microsoft bring BI to the masses if the Excel 2013 masses can’t get BI?. The upshot seems to be that Microsoft Office Professional 2013 may not be enough – I might need Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013, which as far as I can see is not even listed on BT Business Direct.
I visited the Microsoft page on Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013 but this left me none the wiser. Following the link to Licensing Options looked promising, but was not. Following the link to View Licensing Options - seemed to suggest that the only option was a three year Enterprise Agreement, but there was no pricing shown, not even under the “Volume Pricing” heading.
So now I need to re-contact BT to find out if they offer Professional Plus 2013 and try and find out if this is what I need and whether I can in fact reinstall on different hardware.
To seasoned purchasers of proprietary software this might all seem par for the course, or perhaps there is an easier way that I have not yet found? I suspect that the truth is that we are too large a company for buying single licences, but too small a company for an enterprise agreement. Neither fish nor fowl, as the saying goes.
But, for the past 5 years or so, I have not had to think about licensing once. If I need a copy of office, then I download OpenOffice (or more recently LibreOffice); if I need a desktop publishing program, then I download Scribus; a graphics editor, the GIMP; an illustrator, Inkscape. And for each of those programs I can install it for all staff without even a thought about how many licences I might have available.
There is no way out for me, sadly, and I will need to navigate these difficult waters whether I like it or not, but there is a better way and that way is Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS).
For others searching on twitter: low or no water pressure in Lewisham SE13? A leak on Lee High Road is the cause says @thameswater helpline.
Charged phone all day. Upgraded to #iOS 6.1.2 last night. Phone totally dead this morning. Seems like the battery issues just got worse
My blog has been on Posterous for some years now and it's been awesome. The best thing about it is that you just email a bunch of stuff, with whatever attachments in whatever format are relevant, and they just work.Sadly they're shutting down following their talent acquisition by Twitter. That's a real shame. Now I have to find an alternative. Requirements: