Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saturday roundup

A bunch of BLL

After a round of eliminating sites without the required ring code, Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left includes 35 web sites. While those sites comprise a wide range of opinions, I think that we're at or approaching the point of "critical mass," where we can actually be effective when and if we want to pick a topic and press it. 35 blogs posting on the same topic or advocating the same action in concert should make a blip on the blogosphere radar. Of course, like I said, there's diversity of opinion. Some of the sites are anti-political, some of them partyarchist, etc. But it's still cool and I think we'll make our mark sooner rather than later -- the ring itself has already delivered in excess of 20,000 hits to its member sites (more than that, actually, as I'm not counting traffic to the sites which have been eliminated).

Is your site part of the Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left? If not, why not change that?

Some recent ring site highlights: Kenneth R. Gregg on Proudhon; Brad Spangler announces the launch of (visit the new site for a new booklet by BLL member Wally Conger, foreward by Brad); freeman, libertarian critter on the Olympics v. individualism; Wally Conger on the LP's Rothbard Caucus and Rothbard's strategic insights (and another piece on the lost/secret memo; James Leroy Wilson on "Neocons, Dershowitz and the value of predictions;" and that's just five of the ring's 35 sites (I'm going to start occasionally picking five to flog until I've promoted them all, then start all over again).

Any port in a storm

On the one hand, when left and right agree, I get suspicious and tend to assume that they're both on the wrong side. On the other hand, when leftists and rightists start citing me, they're obviously frolicking at the trailhead of the One True Path. I'm pleased and flattered to find myself approvingly referred to by both the Louisiana Conservative and Battlepanda on the Dubai Ports World issue. It's going to be interesting to see how this one plays out, but it's nice to know that there's still room to make an argument and have it considered.

Computer capers

As I mentioned a few days ago, I had a complete computer meltdown last weekend. I'm pretty much fully back up now, and I'd like to hand out the roses and razzes involved.

Hardware: I got my new Microtel PC because my older (given me by a friend) CompUSA job was running like a snail with a stomach-ache, because I was hesitant to tear into the box (better a slow computer than no computer), and because I was asked to do a job that the computer seemed like a good fee-in-kind for. I went cheap because I didn't want to rip the client off. And, frankly, I think Microtel ripped me off. The machine never recognized its internal modem (I strapped on an external). It was obviously thrown together cheaply. I could deal with those things, but not with it laying down and dying after a month. I'm still convinced that the problem was in the switch or power supply, but it doesn't really matter ... it wouldn't be worth shipping the damn thing back and forth to get it fixed, I'm not convinced that it would arrive back from being fixed in operating condition, and I'm not convinced it would be more than another month before something else went wrong. In short, I won't be dealing with Microtel any more. On the other hand, the parts I cannibalized (I naturally removed the floppy, hard drive, CD-RW/DVD combo, modem, RAM and Intel 2.8GHz processor before throwing away the case) will probably come in handy; maybe the sum of the parts was worth more than the whole.

In any case, I threw a salvaged hard drive (and shortly after, a salvaged CD-ROM) into the old CompUSA rig, and it perked right up. It has a slower chip speed (650MHz) and less RAM (128Mb instead of 256Mb) than the Microtel (I wasn't able to get it to recognize the Microtel PC's RAM, but may try some other things), but it runs okay.

Software: I started by trying to install VectorLinux SOHO 5.x; no go (I think it was due to scratches on the install CD, but I went ahead and replaced the CD-ROM anyway, and still no go). I like Vector, but I wasn't too worried about it. I couldn't get Xandros to install, but I can't remember if that was before or after the CD replacement -- more below). I had Mandrake Linux 9.0 install CDs, but didn't want to fall back that far. Finally, I settled on Knoppix 3.02, a "boot directly from CD" fork of Debian Linux. Worked okay, but still an older version. After installing it to the hard drive, it worked fine for awhile, then had problems with the modem, even though it still worked fine on a CD boot. And then I accidentally erased the hard drive install while futzing with it. So, I tried Xandros again, and ...

I have nothing but good things to say about Xandros SurfSide Linux. It runs about $50, but I got mine OEM with the Microtel PC, and so far as I can tell I'm entitled to continue running one copy -- the machine that it came on is dead. On the second attempt, it went like a breeze -- quick install, flawless operation. Xandros is another riff on Debian, but it comes with lots of extras, including "Xandros Networks," which makes downloading and installing applications (something I've always found problematic in Linux) a snap. It's just a damn good operating system. It only runs noticeably more slowly on half the RAM when I really load up a bunch of apps or windows. An allure of most Linux distros is that they're "free," but if I'd paid (directly) for Xandros, I'd have felt like I was getting my money's worth from the extras, the well-put-togetheredness of it all, etc.. I paid twice as much for Windows 95 in 1995, and Xandros is, even in the context of a decade of change, a better OS.

So: Roses to Xandros, razzes to Microtel.

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