On my morning commute today I realised that I am actually living in the future. I remember when I got involved in the PythonCard project 10 years ago one of the major questions on the mailing list was why we were building a GUI toolkit when the future was the web. It wasn’t true then but I think that it is now.
Why do I think we have moved now? It is in large part thanks to a book I have started reading called Python for Data Analysis. I have a copy of the book in ePub format and wanted to read it on my laptop. After some research instead of an e-reader I actually installed a web browser plugin called Readium to view the book.
I then wanted to set up an environment for working through the examples from the book. I created a virtualenv on my Ubuntu server based VM and installed the required modules. After a couple of pages I realised that I needed some sort of graphical environment for rendering graphs. Rather than move to a desktop virtual machine I decided to go for another option. I read the documents and fired up an IPython notebook with remote access. The only thing missing from my useful toolset is a VIM instance. I’m sure that can’t be far away.
All of which means that within a single browser (on separate tabs) I am both reading a book and interactively working through the Python code examples from it. I appreciate that there are back end processes involved especially with the IPython notebook. But here in 2012 it is possible to do some amazing things in the browser that I wouldn’t have imagined even a couple of years ago. Did I mention that I really like living in the future?
Due to a recent accounting error (on my part and in my favour) I recently found myself in possession of a netbook. I know that makes me a luddite and I should have bought a tablet. Call me a throwback. In my defence it was half the price of an iPad and a lot more practical for me. The major deal breaker for me is that iPad’s don’t come with a command line client and can’t (to the best of my knowledge) run the only editor worth having. Also, iPad’s don’t run free software and that is becoming more important to me. So I bought a netbook.
As it came with Windows installed my first task was to install a decent operating system. I’m a fan of Xubuntu so I grabbed the latest release and then … stopped. Because my first thought was to burn the Xubuntu .iso file to a disk and install from that, but my netbook doesn’t have a CD drive. I’ve never installed from anything else in the past so I was a bit stuck.
The good news is that it is 2011 and Google came to the rescue. After a couple of false turns, and via Pendrivelinux.com, I found the rather wonderful LinuxLive USB Creator. Whilst it isn’t an exhaustive test, and don’t come to me with your problems, I simply installed and started LiLi, pointed it at my USB stick and the .iso file I had downloaded and 10 minutes later I had a bootable copy of Xubuntu.
Some words of praise, too, for the (X)ubuntu installer folks who have made getting their operating system on a new machine a complete breeze. Thanks everyone, top job.
Now all I’ve got to do is install all of the software that I rely on, configure the thing and I can start using it. At my pace that should only take a week or two. I’ll be back then.
I just got my Powerbook back from the repair shop, and after six weeks of Windows and Ubuntu use I noticed one missing feature – quick locking of the screen from a keyboard shortcut.
In Windows XP you can do this with Windows-L (if you have a Windows key on your keyboard – bad luck Thinkpad users), and in KDE you can use Ctrl-Alt-L (sorry, don’t know what the combination is in Gnome, but I’m sure there is one). But back in Mac OSX there isn’t an easy option that I could find.
Luckily, I have Quicksilver. Thanks to some hints in the unofficial users guide I now have a solution.
Oh, you want to know what it is? OK. Essentially we tie the Fast Logout script supplied with Quicksilver to a hot key trigger. Here’s how to do it;
- First, enable the User Accounts Module and Extra Scripts plug-ins. You may also need to activate the HotKey Triggers plug-in, but it looks like its on by default in my version.
- Then, in QS itself, type the letters FAST LOGOUT until the Fast Logout option appears. The action for this should be ‘Run’. Give it a try and see if it works. If it does you will need to log back in.
- Bring up the Triggers preference pane in QS and press the plus sign at the bottom (and the HotKey option) to create a new one. If you done nothing with QS since the last item then it should automatically include Fast Logout in the Select an item dialogue box that appears. If it doesn’t select them the way you would normally.
- Save your trigger and then assign a Trigger key combination to it. I’ve used Ctrl-Apple-L.
Bob will then be your Aunty’s live in lover.