Back to Linux – PeppermintOS 7

I might continue this as a new series of blog posts regarding my return to and journey through Linux via the distribution (distro) PeppermintOS 7, based on Ubuntu 16.04 with the default desktop environment (DE) of LXDE. If you’d like to see more entries in this area, please do let me know.

My previous experience with Linux was less than favorable, which I posted rather negatively about over in this entry: Linux fails me yet again! Granted, it was more of a rant than anything, but it’s a stark contrast to my recent experience, that’s for sure!

As for now? Glorious. I did run into issues getting Netflix to behave, but it took a few hours to find a solution as to how to get Netflix to work on PeppermintOS 7. So basically Netflix uses either HTML5 or the now discontinued Silverlight, version 4 or 5.

Silverlight is the only option here, it seems. That left me to search for an open-source alternative: the solution was something called Pipelight. There’s another bit of software called Moonlight, but if I remember correctly, it’s not longer in development.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just as simple as installing Pipelight. I had to install an extension called UAControl on Firefox to tell Netflix I’m not on Linux. Because for some reason, the people behind Netflix indeed give a damn, and stop you playing media on it, simply because you’re on Linux. Way to make some money, guys! In the end, the problem was solved.

I’ve been saving notes, links, and other stuff for future reference, which I’m finding is an absolute necessity when dealing with a new language, as well as a new UI with new ways to install things; it can get quite overwhelming. Linux seems to be a case of it’s great if you know what to do, but if not, then it’s painful searches through site after site to find a potential solution.

Everything else seems fine. Skype is installed and working, thanks to the official site being kind enough to put up a deb for it; I’m surprised M$ provided that. Audio is working, video is working, and LAN is working. I’m very pleased. Oh yes, and f.lux is installed and functioning as intended.

I’ve had to do plenty of Terminal stuff, sadly. Some of it was complicated, but I guess prior experience has helped me better understand what I’m doing, rather than my just following commands blindly. The Terminal is required less, sure, but still not yet perfect. Deb files are the best though; they’re like actual setup executables you get in Windows; the way it should be!

In other news, today I got my hands on a nice lil HP 635 laptop on which a barebones, legitimate copy of Windows 7 – Professional was originally installed. Despite its AMD, APU graphics, PeppermintOS 7 seems to work on it just fine, showing the same experience I’ve had on the computer. It somewhat miraculously got the wireless, ethernet, sound, graphics, touchpad, and whatever else to work straight from the LiveUSB without even any Internet connection needed.

I’m feeling more comfortable with the Terminal and its commands, although I’m still far from being anything other than an amateur Terminal user. Now that I have a distro and/or DE that actually works, I feel like I can make some decent progress in better understanding Linux, and with that, better understanding the Windows iterations I’ve been using since I was a lil kid some bazillions of years ago.

On a side note, I learned about Domain Name System attacks recently, which was really eye-opening and helped me better appreciate not only how DNS works, but how to block sites from running or reroute them to something more appropriate, simply by editing the hosts file with a word processor; handy stuff!

I’m excited to see what I’ll discover next.

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I Don’t Like Halloween

I ignore trick or treaters. I’ve not been where I’m currently living long enough to see any, but I’m sure I will soon! Luckily I’m in an apartment block, but I’m sure that brings its own problems as there are some kids in the building. I’ll just ignore them though; pretend like I’m out if it gets particularly dodgy over here.

The very term “trick of treat” gets my back up, as I interpret it as a threat. I feel like there are better, less potentially oppressive ways to celebrate Halloween. Why is this still encouraged?

I’m more against kids and parents that kick up a fuss if they don’t get their candy, maybe even being abusive or damaging property, as though we’re somehow obligated to go to the shops to buy them candy purely because of the time of the year. It reminds me of bullies at school prowling the corridors for kids’ lunch money.

I have a very, very strong dislike of people trying to manipulate me, or pushing a sense of obligation onto me. I especially don’t like those who assume I should do something out of some arbitrary reason, then pretty it up as a threat, even if that threat is just social disapproval because I didn’t do what they wanted me to do. I guess I’m just different like that.

I suppose at some point I had a crappy experience which gave me these very strong core beliefs. In any case, I’m not against people having fun, provided it’s not at the expense of others, so I hope y’all have a good time on Halloween; for me, however, it’s yet another source of stress, so I’ll be hiding away like the stubborn fucker I am.

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Yes, it’s Long Distance

Being in a long-distance relationship kinda sucks. It’s bad enough having my own depressing doubts without feeling scrutinized by other people as well.

“So you’ve never met each other, then?”

No, we haven’t. I know it isn’t traditional. Does that mean it’s not important? That it doesn’t matter? Just because we haven’t met yet, doesn’t mean we never will.

We haven’t physically met, but that doesn’t mean we’ve not seen each other, heard each other, or even had a level of physical intimacy, albeit not in person. This is 2016; we’re long past the days of dial-up Internet.

“You can’t really love somebody you’ve never met.”

You absolutely can. You can develop a strong connection with anything. If Raj from Big Bang Theory can fall in love with Siri, then I can fall in love with a wonderful woman in another country.

While it’s not all Sleepless in Seattle, it can and does sometimes work.

“You don’t even know each other.”

You try talking to someone to whom you find yourself getting closer and closer, almost daily, for a year, and tell me you don’t know them. When you go through stuff in life together, talking about all sorts, of course you learn plenty about one another.

I’m not delusional. I’ve battled this beast before. I know there are things that come up if we do finally meet and end up living together. That, however, doesn’t make what we’ve experienced inconsequential.

Since the physical side of things is mostly not possible, you’re left with a chance for a rich, vibrant line of communication that even many married couples don’t have. I’d rather that, than a relationship based entirely on sex; a relationship in which we never truly connect.

“She could be a nutcase for all you know.”

So could you.

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Blue Light Can be Bad

Lately I’ve been getting quite proactive about my health. In doing so, I stumbled across something that’s all the rage, these days:

Blue light.

Okay, so we’ve had blue light for a while now, but, as technology becomes more apparent, and many of us humans get further glued to the many screens at our disposal, it’s become apparent that this blue light is a problem.

Assuming I’m understanding the science behind it, when we’re exposed to blue light, it typically suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for helping us to sleep at night. It’s a natural occurrence, as the sun itself produces blue light which of course helps keep us awake during the day.

If you’re like me, you’re on the computer late at night, then go to bed and stare at your phone for a little while, only to wake up and do it all over again! This can mess with our circadian rhythm.

Solution?

Well, aside from switching off your screens, you can install something like the small, free program called f.lux on the PC, or a similar app for your mobile phone. I’ve been trying f.lux tonight and have found it to be very nice on the eyes, although a little strange at first. I’m getting used to it. I don’t feel as alert as I usually would around this time, and it’s only just gone 9pm! I’m usually up at around 4-5am before I go to sleep, these days.

So, I’d recommend giving it a go. You can also lower your display brightness in general, and use dim red lights to help. I’ve even read some comments online that those struggling with insomnia have noticed a big difference using software that reduces blue light.

Good night!

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Moderating a Community

I recently took up the job of moderator on a fairly big, renowned peer-to-peer support site. Despite my previous experience of moderating and administering my own (admittedly small) website some years ago, I’ve discovered most of what I learned does not directly translate to this new site.

I’m a member of a team whose job it is to basically discourage and take purposeful action upon unsupportive and inappropriate discourse and, to some extent, help people feel welcome into the community.

I struggle to find a balance between my views and the guidelines we follow. The guidelines are not always rules; there is often wiggle room, which results in the guidelines being rich in ambiguity.

It’s early days yet, so hopefully I’ll get better at it in time. Luckily, it seems I’m not the only one. Despite being part of the community for a very long time, I still need to get a feel for the community with this fresh new perspective.

As I’ve implied above, it’s an actual team and not a bunch of rogue moderators doing whatever they see fit. Admittedly, I’m not used to this. The site I ran some years ago was built, moderated, and maintained by pretty much just me, and it was tough. This went on for a couple of years.

In the end, I closed down old Bessie due partly to personal reasons—oops. I know for next time to keep my personal life well and truly out of a project like that. I also just felt as though it weren’t going anywhere; I was a fool.

The site was sort of successful, given it had no fancy domain and no money was put into advertising. The site had fans, regulars, and some people were somewhat obsessed with it. My amateur approach to web development and management was a good start.

Unfortunately, I can never resurrect the site or its community. Due to lost data on a HDD, the site’s entire backup was lost. This was a very sad day indeed. Two years of passion and work down the virtual drain. A lesson learned.

I’m hoping, with the smallest glimmer of hope, that the skills I take from this new “job” will allow me to build upon that foundation I laid down all those years ago. Maybe one day I’ll start something up again. Maybe it’ll be bigger and better.

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Out with the Old…

Ever since I was a young whippersnapper, I’ve always hoarded memories, both good and bad. I’ve stored diaries, pictures, USB drives, mementos from loved ones, and God only knows what else. I’m very sentimental.

I never really learned to let go.

Yesterday, I fully formatted an old USB stick full of old, painful memories, and left another stick with just a few MBs of data that is of a positive nature. I also sorted through some physical things I’ve hoarded and decided to chuck a lot out. I plan on burning old painful diaries and other negative things I have on paper.

It was difficult, but I felt lighter for it, and still sort of do. Somewhat of an emotional and mental cleanse. You know the saying “out of sight, out of mind”? It may well have been out of sight, but in a sense it was in my mind. I don’t need nor do I deserve to drag that stuff around with me throughout my entire life.

I’ve always used the past to self-reflect, practically obsessed over this idea of self-improvement based on previous mistakes, but at the end of the day, it was damaging me in the long run.

I need to learn to let go of mistakes and hurt; of the past.

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Am I Needy?

According to an online dictionary, to be needy is classed as “needing emotional support; insecure.” I suppose to figure this out I’d have to ask myself whether I’m insecure. The answer is of course a resounding yes. Am I needing emotional support? I guess I am. Does that really make me needy though?

I’ve felt pretty depressed today. I feel alone. Apparently I don’t matter; this, according to what is very likely my depression brought on by both recent events and my shiny new older age, in much contrast to yesterday’s more positive entry.

When my, I guess you could say ex—to whom I’m still strongly connected and with whom there may still be some hope for the future—hung up on Skype to go hang out with her fairly new female friend again, I felt sadness. According to my brain, she’s pushing me out, I’m in the way, and she doesn’t care about me anymore. It’s a really saddening thought process I’m having about those close to me that I can’t shift lately.

So, I went online to seek some sort of comfort with other people like myself who have problems, and got talking to some friendly familiar faces. I felt a little better, but still I was missing something.

When I called my dad, we chatted for a while, I tried to say I wasn’t feeling good, but it didn’t really come out well, because I’m not good at verbally saying these things. We brushed on a serious topic or two, joked about silly crap, then he had to go do stuff, so that was that. I felt alone again, like I’m not important; I don’t matter; I’m worthless.

Maybe that makes me needy?

I’ve never particularly thought of myself as a needy person. If anything, I have the opposite problem sometimes, in that I often want to isolate myself, whether for good or bad.

I feel like I’ve failed everyone. I’ve failed society, I’ve failed my parents, I’ve failed my friends, I’ve failed those with whom I’ve been romantically involved, and for sure I’ve failed myself a number of times.

I know this is just depression, or at least I hope that’s all it is. Still, it doesn’t change how I think and feel, because ultimately, I have let people down a number of times. I have failed. The sad thing is I will continue to fail, because that’s just what happens in life.

At the end of the day, all I can do is hope the successes will outweigh my failures.

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30 Years Old

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was an awesome one, but I was dreading it. It marked 30 years feeling like I’ve accomplished so little—I honestly thought I’d have done more with my life at this point.

I don’t feel too much like it’s all my fault for being this and that; it’s not. I can’t help having mental health problems. This is how I am and I’ve had to make the most of it, as do we all. It just sucks, that’s all.

It’s not all bad.

On the bright side, I have accomplished some things too, even if the majority of that is personal growth; learning about the world, people, and of course myself. I also worked a lot on my mental health, passed a part-time college course, sorted my finances, lived in supported housing for about 2 years, and eventually got a place of my own.

The last 10 years have admittedly been a clusterfuck, but I’m hoping the next decade will hold some awesome new experiences and life lessons.

In some ways, I certainly feel stronger.

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It’s Time to Get Help (Again)

I’ve gotten a fair bit of support over the last few years, going to OCD support groups, taking Propranolol, getting assessed for therapy, getting CBT, living in supported housing for approximately 2 years, and getting generic E-Mail support from a local organisation.

I’ve come a long way, but recent troubles have knocked me sideways, shaking some other issues well and truly loose. My anxiety has at times been horrendous with debilitating bouts of dread. Some old OCD issues are taking center stage as well.

I need help.

A while ago, my general practitioner offered me an SSRI for my anxiety. I can’t remember the name, but supposedly it would have helped. Alongside battling the anxiety, the medication should help with my OCD and recently resurfaced depression. Bonus.

I’m going to get in touch with the organisation that got me the aforementioned CBT for my OCD, and this time I’m going to opt for group therapy. I think this could be a huge step in the right direction for me, provided I can actually get to the sessions.

I’ve also just been reminded of something else: there’s a local support group for people with mental health problems. I tried going there before, to their more public meeting, but nobody showed up and I kinda lost momentum after that; it was incredibly difficult!

My dad says he’ll go with me, so perhaps that’ll happen soon. I just need to stick at it and actually go. I have a tendency of bailing when these things come around. I guess after all that supported housing stuff ended, I kinda slowed down where the support is concerned.

If things with my love life are gonna work, given how complicated and stressful it has been and will be, I seriously need the extra support. I don’t think I can cope with it otherwise, as the past has shown.

God, I hope this works.

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Worried about Dust Bunnies?

The whole “dust bunny” thing is quite the exaggeration these days, in my experience and opinion. If you wanna see when dust bunnies really cause problems, you should’ve seen the ancient desktop computer I once battled! It had a terrible case design that limited airflow and took in junk for a long time.

The windows in the person’s cluttered home were never really opened. The guy—unfortunately in a wheelchair thus not quite as able—had a dog, and he smoked a lot, both weed and cigarettes. The vents were almost completely blocked by junk. The heatsinks? Utterly caked. The computer hadn’t been opened up in years.

He wanted me to clean the machine out, so I started to do just that. I honestly had such a hard time because of the disgusting smell and dust that initially went straight into my lungs, that I quit! Never again.

When you’re dragging out huge, thick lumps of crap that make you feel as though you’re emptying a vacuume cleaner as opposed to a computer, then you have a problem on your hands.

Once you experience that, you don’t care too much about a few bits of dust.

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