Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Envy 14 Installation and HW stats

For the technically inclined - here's the stats off the terminal:
simon@envoy:~$ uname -r
simon@envoy:~$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor DRAM Controller (rev 02)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor PCI Express x16 Root Port (rev 02)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 02)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset HECI Controller (rev 06)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset USB2 Enhanced Host Controller (rev 05)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset High Definition Audio (rev 05)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset PCI Express Root Port 1 (rev 05)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset PCI Express Root Port 2 (rev 05)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset USB2 Enhanced Host Controller (rev 05)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev a5)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 5 Series Chipset LPC Interface Controller (rev 05)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset 4 port SATA AHCI Controller (rev 05)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset SMBus Controller (rev 05)
00:1f.6 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset Thermal Subsystem (rev 05)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Redwood [Radeon HD 5600 Series]
01:00.1 Audio device: ATI Technologies Inc Redwood HDMI Audio [Radeon HD 5600 Series]
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 03)
03:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation Device 4353 (rev 01)
ff:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor QuickPath Architecture Generic Non-core Registers (rev 05)
ff:00.1 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor QuickPath Architecture System Address Decoder (rev 05)
ff:02.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor QPI Link 0 (rev 05)
ff:02.1 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor QPI Physical 0 (rev 05)
ff:02.2 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor Reserved (rev 05)
ff:02.3 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor Reserved (rev 05)

Xmas is survived

... and I have installed Ubuntu 10.04 to my wonder machine. Interestingly, while the live CD used the ATI gfx card by default, the installed edition uses the integrated intel one. Researching solutions to change this - though the intel card works very well for OpenGL stuff like compiz.

In comparison with others, the only thing conspicuously not going is the touchpad switch - tap the corner twice to disable the touchpad... useful when doing a lot of typing. Turns out it is not a switch but an "actve corner". OTOH: the pad buttons work fine (though simulating a center-click by depressing both buttons does not seem to be supported). Multi-touch works out of the box in a limited capacity for multitouch - two-finger zoom for eg works as a scroll-wheel (which, in linux, is a zoom for applications that want it).

Under Ubuntu, the wireless driver is an automatic install - loads the proprietary firmware into the bc43xx driver. This practise is frowned upon in the free software world, but I can always use a dongle instead.

I have not tried the external video or the mic.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Envy + Ubuntu - initial testing

The Ubuntu 10.10 CDs just failed somehow - either hanging after any menu selection or going to a black screen - but all is not lost: the 10.04LTS edition will not only boot but live mode runs everything except the weird corner-tap that turns the touchpad on and off. Sp I am back at netspace today so I can install while on a fast connection :)

More later.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

New Lappy for me :)

Have just purchased an hp Envy 14 - ex-display machine from Bond and Bond downtown. I've been resisting because most of the price on these things is the magnesium-titanium alloy case and fancy design work, but I got the salesdrone to drop the price in-line with comparable drab machines.

It comes with Windows 7 Home-Premium, which means it is not as broken as the usual Home offering. There are nice touches like switchable GPUs and a switch to turn the touchpad off. The touchpad supports multitouch too - can't wait to get linux on it.

Using it I miss multi-desktops and the ability to use the edge of the pad as a scroll-wheel (it uses 2-finger scrolling in 2D but is finicky). There is an element of freedom gone too - I've got so used to the linux/unix way of doing things that the windows world is no longer "intuitive".

I'm downloading Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit right now. I'll post updates as I figure stuff out. Meantime, I found this review for OpenSUSE, and a cool discussion for Ubuntu, which I'll be following. Its an old enough machine that most of the kinks have been worked out.

Smeagol Update 2

Smeag has been back for his post-op checkup and passed. His jaw has solidified and he is no longer in pain - eating properly. (He was actually pestering me for his meds at the start.) Its set a little crooked, so one tooth sticks out a bit giving him a snear - but those teeth need seeing to anyway and that one in particular is to be removed.

He's lost weight - since he won't eat soft food. So - back on kibbles and we'll feed him up. He slept right next to my pillow last night.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Smeagol Update

My slinky black cat has been to the vets and he is recovering at home. It turned out that the funny angle on the tooth was because he had a broken jaw! So the poor guy has been in a lot of pain for quite a while now - no wonder he was eating so lightly.

The vet wired it back in shape. He gets daily pain killers and soft food. This last is problematic because he does not like the kind of fancy pet foods that other cats yum up. He'll only eat dry kibbles (wetting them doesn't help) so he's losing weight while his jaw heals. Presumably he's also hunting. So it is likely that he'll have a permanently wonky jaw...

The vet service cost $800 - including antibiotics and x-rays.

Curiously, this vet also sells homeopathic remedies for animals - so we had a discussion about the placebo effect in animals, which he had not thought possible. He thought that animals do not get this effect since how would they know what is supposed to happen? However, there are many reasons that observers will report improvement in pet or livestock condition after administering a placebo (McMillan 1999). This is why even trials in lab rats have to be double-blind.

McMillan F.D. (1999) J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1999 Oct 1;215(7):992-9.
(This one is a review of studies, Google Scholar has lots of others you can read if you don't have access to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.)

Christianity Question #s 11 & 12

What about other religions? Will not God accept those of other religions who are sincere?
Not every religion can be true. Most are mutually contradictory. Either one is true and the others are false, or they are all false. Either Christ is who he said He is or He is not. If He is not, then He was lying, He was sincerely deluded, or the stories were all made up about Him.
If Jesus is who He said He is, then Christianity is true and He is the only way to God.
... so if you believe in Christ, then you also believe that only Christians can go to heaven. Which is a bit hard on all those people born before Christ who were promised all kinds of stuff by God. Was God lying? Perhaps only people born after Christ who are christians can go to heaven and only Jews before Christ? Schaefer addresses the question of those who have not heard about Christ and so have had no opportunity to become Christian, later.

Note that not all Christians take the line that only Christians go to Heaven, they interpret John 14:6 as referring to generally living a good life as described by Jesus rather than a literal "you must be a Christian". They'd point out that Christianity did not exist at the time - Jesus was Jewish.

We are saved all this trouble if we just accept that Jesus was deluded (or mis-quoted, or fictionalised to some extent.) Certainly the Bible has Jesus saying a lot of vague mystical metaphorical things which can be interpreted to mean that he says he is God. But he also says "I am a vine" (John 15) "I am a door" (John 10)... was he either of those things? Clearly believers will pick and choose their interpretations to fit their beliefs. Perhaps it is the modern followers of Jesus that are deluded?

Christianity Question #10

Doesn’t the uneven geographical distribution of Christianity around the globe prove that it must not be a universal truth?

Nope. No more that the uneven distribution of the understanding of calculus around the world proves that calculus is untrue. Something does not have to be universally believed to be universally true.

Calculus is much more accepted that Christianity though.
Schaefer is sort-of equating disbelief in Christianity with disbelief in calculus though. In other words, people would believe in Christ if only they knew about him and understood him properly. Unfortunately, every major religion makes the same claim.

This is not a problem that would vex an intellectual - it is a tenet of Christianity that belief is a matter of free will. The uneven distribution just shows that not everyone chooses the same way. No biggie.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Christianity Question #9

Why do bad things happen to good people

This is a special case of the problem of Evil, which relates to justice. The problem of evil is "why do bad things happen at all?" Schaeffer provides the answer already in question 4: "God is not literally omnipotent".

Schaefer's actual argument starts out:
A creation without evil would involve contradictions, which God cannot do due to q4.

In other words, Scheaffer is confusing this question of Justice with the Problem of Evil. But his answer to both would appear to be the same: an all-Just (all-Good) Universe would involve some sort of contradiction or limitation which is lessened in a Universe which allows some Evil and some Injustice.

He prefers the Best of all Possible Worlds hypothesis in which we imagine a range of possible, logically consistent, Worlds, and claim that God has created the one with the most good in it, rather than the one with the least evil. This is an important distinction since it does not require that the World be good on balance. Thus, there exist some good things which require evil in order to exist, in order to include these good things in the Universe, God is constrained to also include the evil. Conversely, a World with no evil at all would also be less Good.

Which is fine as far as it goes - except that this means that Heaven, being a World without Evil, is not much of a reward for good behavior in this one. Since Heaven must be, by definition, the best of all possible worlds, the problem of evil in this context reduces to "why not just create us in Heaven in the first place?"

The solution most Christians I meet seem to prefer is that God is not Good in the way the problem of evil proposes. He may be Good more in the manner of a good parent ... sometimes a parent has to be cruel to be kind. Thus, God hurts us in order to help us. We need not be too surprised that a Just God did not make Justice one of the Universes built-in properties.

Of course, atheism simplifies this immensely

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Smeagol Sick

Poor Smeagol, has to spend the night at the vets. His overall health is good but his teeth turn out to be quite bad. His canines are broken, and he has some rotten teeth in the back.

It's obviously been like this for a while. He's eating OK but I noticed that he was reluctant and showing distress and I had been catching glimpses of a tooth sitting at the wrong angle. So he has a bunch of dental work, extractions, and I've ordered a basic blood workup as well while he's there.

Dentist tried to get me to sign off on FIV and FeLV tests/vaccinations. I thought the offer of a vaccine was a bit suspect and looking it up suggests I was right: there is no effective vaccine and the ones on offer are considered "non core" -- which means you don't want to use them as a matter of routine. OTOH: there is a treatment that assists with FeLV and happens to be good for FIV as well - but it is not a vaccine and not a cure.

So I am not about to buy-in to these treatments without actually seeing symptoms. Also means the vet just lost my trust.