Up, Down, Up, Down, …

I guess that’s the way of this messed-up world. What goes up, must come crashing down; this seems to apply to my mental health too.

I feel overwhelmed. Someone came over to check the fusebox; just a standard check. I didn’t know, because I never went out to check my post in order to see the letter telling me about it! Oh, and by the way, missing an appointment, even one made without my knowledge, now constitutes a fine. Yay.

When the doorbell rang, I froze; panicked. I was going to ignore it like I’ve done before, but I could hear what sounded like a van outside the block of flats. The van was running and its radio could be heard. I thought maybe I best at least see who it was.

When I got to the living room window to peek through the curtains, that’s when I saw, as expected, a van, with the branding of what is essentially my landlord. I panicked further, now realising I actually might have to do the unthinkable.

Go outside and interact with a stranger.

I didn’t exactly leap at the chance to stumble through impersonal, weather chats, all while trying to muffle the screams of panic within. If I were going to leap anywhere, it would be far away! Unfortunately, I’m not on the ground floor, so I’d have to leap out of the window; not my thing.

I finally, somewhat frantically, got dressed into something halfway decent, “bottoms”, as they call them, and some random clean t-shirt. I feel almost naked without jeans on. I don’t go out without wearing jeans. Shorts, for example, are absolutely out of the question. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was the prudish, eccentric nature of my oh-so-wonderful mother who screwed with my brain as a kid.

I hesitated some more, wondering if I could just — not — go see whether it was for me, which was highly likely to be the case. Decided I had to “man up”, as they say.

I opened the front door then quickly went down the stairs, hoping nobody would see me. I opened the main door to the relentless, unforgiving world outside, then walked towards the van, the size of which I felt grew exponentially. The stress of the impending doom interaction and expectation bubbling away under the surface of social protocol.

After all that stress, the friendly chap was in for 5 minutes checking the fusebox; that’s it. Now I’m trying to unwind, because I’m all stressed. Printing these words out on the screen somehow helps. Maybe I can just pretend it’s a stupid story I’m writing and not actually the stupid stupidity of my stupidly stupid morning.

Funnily enough, I then get a text from my dad right after this happened, asking if I’d like to go to the town he’s in, to visit him. What do you suppose I thought to that?

‘Hell no!’

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The Bounceback

Hemorrhoids suck. For years I’ve had this horrible hemorrhoid. Well, it was horrible, but the majority of the time, it was manageable, so I sort of got used to it. Unfortunately it recently got worse, much worse. I decided to binge on pizza, eating disgusting amounts of it, thanks to my body craving carbs one sleep-deprived day.

The result? Tearing out my innards during a rather unpleasant bowel movement. I, however, was completely oblivious to what was to come. A couple of weeks later, and I’m okay again, having done unspeakable things to my arsehole. Not recommended!

Moral of the story? Leave the fucking pizza alone.

But that’s not what this entry’s about. As the title might suggest, I’ve somewhat bounced back. I think the aforementioned ordeal sort of told me I needed to sort my shit out. It’s not like I was doing too terribly, I was still cleaning, cooking, eating, and being productive.

The problem was that I was– am being so damn mediocre about it all. I am trying, but at the crux of it all, I’m more depressed than the keys on this keyboard.

I think I’ve gradually been getting better, though. I’m cooking more, cleaning more, eating better, and keeping very busy with programming and various Linux things. Still, it doesn’t seem to be enough. Still feels like I’m wading through an ocean of thick, chest-high mud.

Things have been difficult with the relationship. It’s not that we don’t love each other and all that jazz, it’s just that relationships are hard. Anybody who disagrees is either in the honeymoon phase or is a lucky fuckface who has everything go their way! But, here in the real world, things aren’t perfect.

I’m very in-love with my woman, though. She makes me happy. I seem to make her happy. It’s just understanding and working around our mental health situation that makes things difficult. Granted, my earlier fuckface statement may not apply to “normal” people. The distance is hard too, but I’m hoping that will be removed when Xmas comes around, as that’s the time we’ll hopefully finally meet.

We may not have yet physically met, but I feel so comfortable with her in my life, that it’s almost as though she’s already here. She’s the one for me, that’s for sure. We’re practically made for each other. It’s just getting all the other bits and pieces into place.

In other news, my dad broke his leg. He’d just recovered (mostly) from his hernia operation, was finally able to get out and do normal things, then he hits the deck because of his ankle giving out.

Bit scary how easily and quickly shit can go awry.

The Fear of Losing You

I’ve been in-love before; felt the longing; the passion; the adoration. I’ve just not felt it quite like this. I’ve never laughed, smiled, or been so happy this much with a woman. I’ve never felt so loved; so needed; wanted.

We’re such a good match. We can communicate. We both have a great sense of humor. We’re both pretty open-minded and don’t have our heads far up above the clouds so high.

I love the way she smiles. She has many different kinds, as I’m sure we all do. Bet you don’t have a smile like hers, though. Bet your smile doesn’t light me up; get me so giddy it’s embarrassing.

I can be me with her. I love to wind her up. I want her to feel good. I know she feels like shit sometimes — I do too — and because of that understanding, I feel like every smile and laugh matters.

I don’t think I’ve ever really considered myself a particularly “needy” person. I usually like my own space. I like to do my own thing. I’m an introvert, so I’m sort of used to being alone.

That said, I need her. When you have something incredible, the last thing you want is for it to slip away. Good job she’s a tad needy as well, eh?

“I just love you.” – To quote her, but of course it’s a ditto from me.

Cheesy entry, I know.

Side note: I won’t be using Twitter anymore, simply because it wasn’t really being used. 3 followers in all this time? Nah. I’ll just stick with posting here.

Depression is Rotten

…or is it rotting? I sometimes feel like I’m just rotting away when I’m like this. I’ve been really depressed, lately. Certain life things have gone on, but I think some of it is also down to medication.

I recently went on sertraline and lymecycline, the latter of which is an anti-biotic and isn’t related to my mental health, but in-fact for the health of my scalp, as I have folliculitis. I’ve been on them for I think 30 days now.

I noticed quite the improvement with my anxiety and thus my OCD, but noticed no difference with the depression. After a while, my depression seemed to worsen. I’m trying to keep a hold of the blues, so I don’t end up entirely #0000ff.

One cool thing that came of this new (for me) medication, is that I created a small Linux program I shan’t name that logs when I’ve taken my medication, amongst other things. I worked on it for about 3 weeks, updating it here and there; cleaning the code and what-not. I’ve not missed a single day, thanks to the damn nag whenever I go on the computer! I hope to share it with the Linux world at some point, but not yet.

Back to depression…

I’ve even had old returning thoughts (or “urges”) of self-harm, which I absolutely have no intention of following; been there, done that, and got the ugly, badly-fitting, scratchy-as-fuck t-shirt. I don’t deserve that shit, despite my brain often thinking otherwise.

I don’t deserve an incredible girlfriend. I don’t deserve money. I don’t deserve such a wicked dad. I don’t deserve my best mate. A lot of negative thoughts fly around my head, these days.

Linux has been really important. I feel like I’m accomplishing something; working towards something. Staring at code all day on a bazillion command line windows really does discourage mindless, depressing, bullshit thoughts.

Are you depressed? Feel free to “wallow” with me.

“Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” – Alfred

As a side note to those of you who’ve followed me for some time now: thank you! I appreciate it, and I apologise if you’re annoyed by the lack of “life” posts and recent surge of nerd posts. What can I say, I’m a nerdy guy.

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Linux is Hard!

Or is it just different?

People used to walk everywhere, which is pretty easy, right? Unless of course you can’t walk, but let’s not be too pedantic here. Eventually, most of us learned to drive or ride a motorbike. Is that inherently easy? Could ease ever be described as something that needs contrast to be so?

I’ve always said that Linux has a steep learning curve, or something to that effect. I appreciate that about Linux now. Yes, it can be a tough nut to crack, particularly when compared to the likes of Windows and Mac. I know it sucks when things don’t work, but guess what, they can get it wrong too.

It took me a while to realise this myself, but a heck of a lot of people go into Linux with Windows firmly in mind, expecting it to be Windows, however, it’s a totally different operating system; an entirely different platform! That’s like stepping into a car and expecting it to drive like a motorbike.

I watched a video recently of a guy raging because he couldn’t deal with Linux not working as he expected. I’m not going to spout nonsense about how Linux always works or something, because the truth is it can be a major PITA. That said, this comes to mind:

“You are like this cup; you are full of ideas. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup.” – Master Ryutan.

Granted, you can’t really get a fair chance to mess with your cup if the thing doesn’t even work at all, which is why it took a while to get to the point at which I could learn all this stuff and get so involved with GNU/Linux, as some people insist on calling it.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully accept and understand that it’s not everyone’s idea of fun to fill your screen with virtual terminals and type out command after command. I know many people feel typing jargon is like going back to the days of MS-DOS, when such apparent gibberish meant you got something done.

Well, you still can get things done, and far more efficiently — why do you think the Linux command line has survived all this time, even in the age of such excessive hand-holding like the so-called “free” Windows 10? Your games and programs were created from lines and lines of code, or a program with a UI made from yet more lines and lines of code.

I loved Windows for years, but Windows 10 was the final straw. Ultimately, Micro$oft and Mac lock you down, but, provided it works on your hardware, then Linux will set you free. Is that always a good thing? No, as there are many opportunities to screw up if you overlook something, especially for a “power user” like me who loves to tinker and tweak.

I hope Linux will continue to mature and rise up to the challenge of appealing more to those whom refuse to use a terminal and want a more “user-friendly” environment. I want those things too — I’d love not to need the terminal for anything, and that’s coming from someone who loves it! I want the option not the necessity to use it.

Linux has achieved a lot, but there’s still quite the journey ahead for desktop users.

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Search Linux Apps without Fluff

Thought I’d try this while messing around in the repos on my PeppermintOS 7 installation of Linux, or GNU/Linux, if you prefer. I found it useful, because I was sick of browsing through the repositories only to find fluff after fluff.

Using wc -l at the end shows 9,691 which is still pretty sizable. I’m sure quite a few are being filtered out, unfortunately, but I can’t think of a way to avoid that at the moment. I’m quite happy with this many for now!

apt-cache search " " | sed '/[a-z;0-9]-/d; s/ - /£/' | column -t -s £ | sort | less

If you want to see only the package names on one column:

apt-cache search " " | sed '/[a-z;0-9]-/d; s/ - /£/' | awk -F "£" '{print $1}d' | less

This one could be a good base to use for searching. So, you could add this function to your .bashrc for more user-friendly searches:

function acs(){
read -p "Package name to search for: " package_search
apt-cache search " " | sed '/[a-z;0-9]-/d; s/ - /£ /' | awk -F "£" '{print $1}d' | grep "$package_search"
return
}

The 2nd line within that function, replace it with the following line if you want to see the descriptions as well:

apt-cache search " " | sed '/[a-z;0-9]-/d; s/ - /£/' | column -t -s "£" | grep "$package_search"

Yeah, so some of that isn’t exactly necessary, but I like playing around with this stuff and getting a layout that appeals to me.

I’m not sure what this will and won’t work on, so you’ll have to just give it a try. It probably will only work on Ubuntu-based installations, however. I’m using bash 4.3.46(1)-release, if that helps at all.

Let me know if you find this useful.

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Linux and Microsoft

Windows 8.1 is still being supported, and they say will be until  January 9th, 2018. Windows 7 has, according to their site, been cut off though. A terrible decision, in my opinion, given the huge success of that OS. A lot of people have jumped ship because of Windows 10, and I don’t blame them.

Linux has a bit over 3% of the market share, according to Wiki’s graphs. Linux has been gaining ground for many years, while interest in various Windows iterations is dropping. Fewer people are using Windows as time goes by.

I use Linux (PeppermintOS 7, built on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS) more than ever now; it’s my primary OS and I rarely go near Windows. Thanks to privacy and glaring security concerns, I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe using Windows anymore, despite having used and loved them since Windows 3.1 at primary school. Linux has opened my eyes to a new way, ‘though it wasn’t an easy journey.

I don’t like the way Microsoft conducts their business and I don’t think they care about the customers at all, only money. I find them deceptive, manipulative, and underhanded.

Linux, however, is open source; it’s all about sharing, creativity, and freedom. There’s even a Hannah Montana distribution; ridiculous? Sure, but wonderful that someone was able to create that and freely share it. At least if you don’t like a developer of your chosen distribution, you can jump to another; it’s not like you’re short of options.

That said, I am, or at least was a gamer. I still dabble. I’d need Windows for gaming. Linux does support games, and I do have Steam on it, but the graphical performance in many games seems terrible or lackluster in comparison, at least in my experience.

I have a feeling I’ll eventually just let go of the many Windows-only games on my Steam account and stick with Linux indefinitely. I barely game anymore anyway.

With Linux gradually gaining ground and Windows steadfastly losing it, that leaves Linux an opportunity to really step up. I think it needs some serious work in both gaming performance and a more approachable UI for those uninterested in the command line interface (Terminal) before it’ll have a shot at some day besting Windows.

I’m all for choice though, so if Microsoft is offering what you want, that’s fine. There’s a lot of Linux fans that generally make it all really personal against users of Windows and probably Mac too, but that’s not where I’m coming from here — not at all.

My issue is with Microsoft.

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Finally Back on Medication

A long, long time ago I took Citalopram for probably over 3 years — not fun. Much later, I took Fluoxetine (Prozac) for about 2-3 years; eventually moved on to just beta blockers for my anxiety problems; Propranolol. I’ve been med-less for about a year and a half now. Since I’ve been struggling so much, I figured now is the time to do something about it.

I had to find where the health center even is before I could do much of anything about the medication. After finding one about a 15 minutes walk away from home, I scouted it out, in order to keep my anxiety prepared. Some time later, I went there with my dad and sorted out getting me a new GP in this new town.

The new GP seems like a cool bloke; communicates well, and didn’t make me feel like I’m nothing but a number. He also seemed to have a bit of a sense of humor, which is great, because I tend to crack jokes when I’m stressed out!

So now I have two packs of 50MG of an SSRI called Sertraline to deploy onto the battlefield; apparently it’ll hit my OCD, depression, and anxiety. I’m worried though, because my GP said they can make anxiety quite a bit worse for 2-3 days at first — my anxiety is bad enough as it is! Guess I’ll just have to power through.

Another concern of mine is that I’ll go further coo-coo from the medication, so much so that my girlfriend won’t be able to deal with it. Then again, if she’s stuck around for as long as she has, I could probably point a bazooka to her head and she’d be all, “It’s okay. I love you.” That’s weird, right? I know that’s weird.

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Safely Insecure

There’s something special about filling two monitors with terminal windows on Linux, then smashing the keyboard until you fill each black space with jargon. I digress, before I’ve even started!

Today, I focused on accessing Android devices (3 mobile phones) via the USB Debugging feature within the Developer Options found or unlocked on most Android phones. I was even able to rescue all the files off an SD Card I previously deemed non-functional. Once I’d used and reused the CLI program adb – freely available on Linux, Windows, and Mac – I then focused my energies on trying to get my PC to communicate with my laptop.

Side note: I’ve truly come to appreciate just how open Linux is, but with that, also the risks involved.

Did you know that your router very probably has something called Mac Filtering, which’ll let you strictly set which devices can connect to your network? Your ISP likely gave you information, perhaps on a little card, that has your router’s local IP address; use this in the URL field on your browse of choice, then supply the login credentials your ISP gave you, in order to change these settings. Fair warning though, some settings on routers can seriously mess with your Internet connection and may end up costing you time and cash to remedy the screw-up. Proceed with caution.

Setting a longer password, with uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols really does affect the security of that password. They don’t say it for funsies; it really does make it more time-consuming to crack. The longer and more obnoxious your wifi password is, the less likely anyone will sit outside your house for years in order to get access. You should be using the best encryption method your router allows for your wifi connection as well. While it helps to hide your SSID, it’s possible to see right past that with little effort, so I wouldn’t rely on it.

By the way, if you see an unsecure wireless network and think you might just log in to browse the interwebs for some much needed tweets and status updates, think again! These can be a very nasty trap. Commercially available networks can be different, but I’d still not trust a great deal to the offered free wifi of, say, McDonald’s.

“Get some work done, check your email or connect with friends. With free Wi-Fi at more than 11,500 participating restaurants, customers can access the Internet using their laptops or mobile devices at no charge. So grab a McCafé® Latte and log on. The Wi-Fi is on us!” – McDonald’s official website; link.

Notice the zero mention of security? This would suggest it’s really not that important to them, or perhaps they just don’t think it’s important to the majority of us. Either way, I’m concerned.

Ultimately, for the best security, use Ethernet cables and be done with wireless! Safe in the knowledge that the only way someone will get your data, is if they physically break into your home, which isn’t all that likely, unless you stick up a big billboard next to your home which reads, “Government secrets stored on servers inside this building.”

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Discovering Linux Commands

I’m reminded of the early stages of language learning; like when I was learning words the likes of die Katze and der Hund in German. It’s quite exciting. Of course, instead of German, it’s computer jargon!

I’ve been quite busy again today, trying to shovel more commands into my brain; really exercising that wonderful hippocampus. My focus for a large part of the day was both security and seeing what Mint 18 with the XFCE desktop environment is like. I wasn’t disappointed.

I now have a much firmer grasp of WAN security. Not in a super-scientific way, but an in-depth look into wifi security without crunching numbers and eating computer science books.

I again looked into Kali Linux (an OS used to test systems and their security) and learned about the little CLI program called wifite which, it turns out, can be installed from the default Mint 18 repositories, and I assume also the PeppermintOS 7 ones.

As for now, I discovered a document online (the link to which I’ve sadly lost) which shows rather a lot of Linux commands, however outdated they may now be. I’m able to tote the incredibly intelligent cal and date commands. However, something occurred to me: would it be possible to insert two commands at once? As it turns out, the answer is yes.

If you type > between commands, you can output the data into a file. If you type | between commands, you can “pipe” the command into another command (such as less) which is very handy for commands that have a rather large output.

Armed with this knowledge, it occurred to me that another similar symbol would suffice for typing in multiple commands. It wasn’t long before I stumbled onto the semi-colon. If you type, for example, cal ; time into the Terminal, it’ll indeed run both commands at the same time. Bonus! Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work for 3 or more commands at once.

The oft used sudo apt-get install, sudo apt-get remove, sudo apt-get autoremove, and sudo add-apt-repository ppa:[name] commands are mostly seared onto my head now, thankfully. I remember hating the need to ever type in all that when installing and uninstalling a program; it doesn’t really bother me now.

As I understand it, when you want to install a program that isn’t in your repository, the process is as follows:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:[name]
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install [name]

Usually at this point, it’ll be done and dusted, but in some cases you may need or want to update the program you downloaded, if for some reason it doesn’t come  updated. As for uninstalling, this is my usual method of choice, although I’d like to incorporate the –purge bit at some point:

sudo apt-get-remove [name]
sudo apt-get autoremove
sudo add-apt-repository -r ppa:[name]

Of course, if there was no need to add a special repository for the program, you can just ignore the add-apt-repository part. This is what works for me, but I’m lead to believe –purge goes above and beyond the call of duty to clean your system of a program.

You can just skip all the sudo-ing and start the commanding with sudo su, to permanently log in as Root (at least in that session) with an exit command to leave, but I’m advised against doing so as it can apparently be dangerous.

I’m getting tired typing all this out, so I’ll continue this in the next entry! I’m looking forward to some day reading all this again, then laughing at my relative Noob status.

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