My Ubuntu Life: F-Spot

I spent almost a full day goofing off on the internet with my Ubuntu machine.  I watched Hulu with it and had no problems.  I figured out how to change my background, screen saver, and screen resolution (that helped with the font size on every screen).  I opened Word Processor and closed it after a second.  With nothing to type in there and no real reason to work with it yet, it didn’t make sense to mess with the program yet.  DH said my expression said “OMG the 90s just shat on my computer.”  It wasn’t that bad, but I don’t think I’m ready to mess with it too much yet.

Today I played with F-Spot.  I took pictures of DH’s cooking adventures today and used them to test out F-Spot.  I only took 11 photos, so I don’t know how well it does with bigger uploads.  It seemed to work just fine for my needs.

Basically, I took my SD card out of the slot in my camera, plugged it into the slot on my computer.  Ubuntu immediately recognized it and asked what to do with the info on the card.  I chose F-Spot from the drop down menu, added my tags and clicked upload.  I could edit the photos if I wanted to but nothing really needed very much work, plus I know nothing about editing, except for removing red eye.

I really liked that I could use F-Spot to upload my photos directly to Flickr.  I just had to give my approval on both programs and click “complete.”  I couldn’t see a way to do it as easily with Snapfish but I’m pretty sure that it’ll be just as easy to upload as with Windows.

Although I haven’t had a chance to mess with everything F-Spot has to offer, it seems to work well enough for my needs.  So far open source isn’t too bad!

My Ubuntu Life 2/25/11

DH and I planned on using my old laptop as a Linux/Ubuntu machine once I got a new one.  I’ve been interested in learning about open source software from a user’s perspective for awhile now, but I wasn’t willing to make the leap and ditch Windows completely.  Getting a new laptop (which I sorely needed) for my regular internetting/gaming/productive needs would allow me to also learn about open source stuff on my old laptop.  Well, things happened as they often do.  Even though I got a new laptop we ran into problems installing Ubuntu on my old machine, so it sat unused in our second bedroom until now.

I’m off on Fridays and DH chose to work from home today.  Today I took care of mom so my sister could go to her follow-up appointment for her ankle.  When I came home I found my old laptop right next to my new one.  “Check it out!” DH said.  “I broke your laptop for you!”  I turned on my old laptop and found that he had “broken” it and turned it into an Ubuntu machine.  So here’s a question… do I call my old laptop my Ubuntu machine or my Linux machine?  I want to be mostly correct when I talk about these things, and I’m tired of writing old laptop.  I guess I’ll call it Ubuntu machine unless I hear differently from all of you internetters out there.

Why Explore Open Source?

As many of you know, I work in a public library.  As some of you may be aware, libraries don’t necessarily have a lot of money but we serve a population of hundreds of thousands (depending on the size of the system/region served).  We need computerized systems that allow us to create library accounts for patrons; circulate library materials; bill for lost, damaged or late materials; add and delete materials for the system; and provide an easily searched catalog of these materials for our patrons and staff.  The library term for these is an integrated library system (ILS).  There are a number of ILSes available in the wide wide world and they can be very expensive.  Once a library has signed on with a particular ILS it seems as though they’re partners for life.  There’s a running joke among some ILS customers that if your system wants a new feature for your ILS it’ll cost you $10,000.  Sad, but true.

We all know how difficult the current economy is and how huge the deficits are.  Unemployment rates are still sky high, and those who haven’t been laid off are living as though tomorrow will be the day they get a pink slip of their very own.  Historically speaking, library use rises while library funding is decreased during recessions.  This recession is no different.  If things continue as they are, I think it will become very difficult for libraries to pay such high fees for many of these ILSes.

So, why not look at open source?  There are a few open source ILSes out there.  Unfortunately I don’t know enough about open source anything to speak knowledgeably about deploying and using it in a community so slow to accept change as many library systems are.  (Please don’t get me wrong!  There are a lot of nimble, change oriented library systems out there, but there’s a reason libraries have the reputation for being stuffy, dusty and old fashioned.)  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to be able to be the person that knows about open source products and can speak from experience when guiding people towards or away from these products.

My First Impression

The desktop is very clean looking.  I like that there aren’t any icons cluttering it up but I’m also glad that DH installed the dock (that bar thingie with magic buttons).  I immediately gravitated towards that and started looking at all the stuff that popped up.  Big blank screens with nothing but a menu at the top are a bit intimidating for someone used to icons for everything even though I often use the menu in Windows.  The dock definitely made Ubuntu more welcoming for a first time user.

I also like how quickly everything loads.  I can remember how slowly this particular laptop moved and how painful it was to goof off on the internet.  Everything looks really weird though.  The fonts are different and they’re small.  I’ll play with the settings in a minute to see if I can figure out how to improve this part of the Ubuntu experience.  Also, I’m coming from a completely Windows user background, so I’m used to the way clicking/double-clicking works there.  Here it’s different, so I’ll have to learn this style of clicking.

OK, so I’m gonna go explore some more… try different things and see what I can learn without resorting to books, videos, and how-to guides.  I’ll report back as I learn!

My New Toptop

I must confess that I’ve been using my old laptop (AKA toptop) for a long time now.  Since what… 2005 or so?  It’s been a good machine, helping me through both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.  I’ve used it for so long that we had to replace the keyboard when several of the keys fell off and I couldn’t get them back on.  And I’ve even worn the silver away on the left click mouse button… which has finally decided to stop popping back up.

DH and I had been kicking around the idea of replacing my old monster for awhile.  Every time we found a replacement that sounded good, something else would come up or they would sell out.  Such is life.  Then on Monday he attempted to install MS Project.  He was completely disgusted by how slow my toptop was.

He bemoaned the state of my toptop: “How do you live with this?”

I’ve just learned to be patient with it.  It’ll respond to the clicks and other requests you make… eventually.  Well, his experience pretty much sealed the deal – I’d be getting a new toptop for Christmas.

We went out to play with the floor models for a bit.  As an IT professional he was concerned with the specs.  Me?  I only cared about the keyboard.  I type A LOT.  If I can’t use the keyboard comfortably then I might as well not use it at all.  So, I played with the keyboards and found that I hate Toshiba keyboards (something about the small space bar and oversized alt keys).  I also lusted after the extra number keypad on the side.  It would make all of our banking and calculating so much quicker and easier.

After playing for awhile we headed home to consider our options.  We looked around online to find the best deal and then realized that I would need this new toptop pretty darn quick if I’m supposed to take it with me to CLA.  With shipping we would end up paying just as much as finding one on sale in a store.  So back out we went and we picked up my new toptop.

It’s all configured and pretty and clean!  It even smells new!

We’re hanging onto the box it came in so that he can wrap it up for Christmas. 😉

So what’s to be done with my old toptop?  DH will be wiping it clean and installing Ubuntu on it.  That’ll give me a chance to play with open source stuff and learn more about it.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering about the use of the word “toptop” instead of laptop.  Well, when my nephew was really little, he kept trying to say laptop, but it kept coming out as toptop.  It kinda stuck so now all of my laptops are now toptops.  I do have to be careful to use the correct word at work, but when I’m home it’s my toptop.

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