Saturday, September 25, 2010


I liked Boomer better than I like Kona.

Which is a short way of saying that if you're watching the re-make Hawaii Five-0 in order to see more of Grace Park, you're better off getting all the Battlestar Galactica disks from Netflix and watching them. Boomer/Sharon/Athena/Eight was interesting and sexy. Kona looks like a school girl. A painfully thin school girl.

To put it mildly, I'm unimpressed by the whole Five-0 experience. At the start, they do keep the same theme song, how could they not, but they make the images flash way too fast, and cut it short as well.

Then there's McGarrett. Not my idea of a NCIS/Seal/Cop. Well, maybe a Don Johnson-style cop, since he always needs a shave. But Alex O'Loughlin is no Jack Lord. Or Mark Harmon, for that matter.

I did like Danno. The first thing I thought was He reminds me of James Caan. Then I look up Scott Cann, and find that he's James Caan's son. This is one improvement over the old show, the old Danno was a wimp.

And I love the makeup work they did on Jean Smart, who plays the governor. She's my age, but they managed to make her look old.

OK, this is a meander, and not a review, but lets see — what was good and bad about the episode itself:

Good: There's an underlying mystery here, something only hinted at in the first episode. Sort of like in last year's The Good Wife, where we learn that there's some deep dark secret in Chicago politics (who knew?)

Bad: Jean Smart's roll is apparently going to be along the lines of:

McGarrett: You gave me unlimited authority!

Governor: And you exceeded it!

Implausible: McGarrett and Danno attack what is identified as a Chinese cargo ship. While there, they are attacked by a variety of bad guys, including the episode's main villain. They win easily, of course. In the entire scene we see not one person of Asian extraction.

I'll probably watch a few more episodes, as time permits, either on Hulu or with FIOS On Demand, but this isn't going to be one of those shows that's automatically DVR'd.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ubuntu and Flash

I've been running the 64-bit version of Ubuntu 10.04 for about five months, and have had few problems. Most of them you've heard about. Lately, though, I've had a major problem — Ubuntu's unbranded version of Google Chrome, aka chromium-browser, wouldn't run Flash.

If I tried to visit a flash site, I'd get something like this:


The apparent cause is a corrupted profile. Exactly what's corrupted, I couldn't say. Basically, to get Flash running again you need to wipe out all traces of chromium and start over. I did this, but I wanted to at least save my bookmarks. Here's how. Open a terminal and type in everything to the left of the # signs:

cd # Go to your home directory
mv .config/chromium chromium_old # save your old configuration, at least for now
chromium-browser # start the browser up.  Exit immediately.
cp chromium_old/Default/Bookmarks* .config/chromium/Default # restore you old bookmarks
chromium-browser # surf normally.

Of course, you've lost all your saved passwords, surfing history, etc. Think of it as a way of weeding out the chaff. A project, for someone who has the interest and time, would be to go through each file in the old profile and determine which one got corrupted. If you do that, feel free to let us know what you find.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back to Blogging

Well, not really, just another placeholder/bookmark entry. It was a busy summer, and now I'm coming up on Fiscal New Year's Day.

From our Department of Procrastination: I owe y'all a follow-up to Finding Your External IP Address, where I show you how to use the thing, i.e., log onto any computer in your house from anyplace else in the Universe. This is half-written, so maybe in a week or two it will actually get posted.

Book Reviews: I really want to mention the greatest history book ever written, Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. I lost the first edition long ago, but a second, substantially rewritten, edition is now out. Find it, buy it, read it. You won't agree with everything, but you'll agree that it's relevant.

Another one: Human Smoke, by Nicholson Baker. It's just a collection of quotations and stories from the end of World War I to the end of 1941. No one, and I mean no one, comes off well here. None of your heroes, and certainly none of your villains. You'll have to read it slowly, because it's just too damn depressing to read all at once. But read it. It covers that part of history that Loewen complains is left out of history books.

Tips and tricks: A recent update to my Chromium browser (Google Chrome, if you're using a branded version) left me without a bookmark toolbar. Annoying. Reading through this entire comment, and noting that I don't seem to have an option for this under the wrench, I found that Ctrl-Shift-B toggles the toolbar.

We'll get back to real live articles Real Soon Now. I hope.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Virtual Windows

Or virtual anything else: I've been playing around with the open source edition of VirtualBox, a utility from Oracle (boo!) that lets you run another operating system in a Window in your current operating system.

Any host operating system: Linux, Windows, OS X. Any target OS: Linux, Windows, OS X — well, maybe you'd better ask Steve about that. Tell him I said it was OK.

The open source version of VirtualBox is included in the Ubuntu repositories, so install it with:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose

On your Gnome menu you'll find and entry for VirtualBox OSE under Applications => Accessories

Click New and follow the directions. I was able to install Windows XP without the usual hassles. VB provided all the needed drivers.

OK, one problem. The virtual machine wouldn't boot. The problem turned out to be that VB was looking for a floppy disk drive, which Hal doesn't have. I had to click Settings => System, and then unclick the Floppy Drive label under Boot Order. After that, everything worked fine.

I was even able to stream Netflix movies in a browser under Windows, once I installed Silverlight.

Useful for the very few times I need Windows.