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Installing an SSD

March 18, 2013

This fall I decided to spend a little (very little – $60) on a small SSD to act as my primary hard drive – for /, /tmp, /var, /usr – basically everything except /home.  I had heard a lot about them, and though my motherboard does not support SATA3, it does support SATA2, so I thought it might be worth a try.  At worst, I knew I could put it into an old, enfeebled laptop that would then be rejuvenated by the new drive and the installation of linux.

I put the drive in and started the installation process – I chose to manually partition so that I could specify a bigger swap partition.  I don’t actually have much RAM in the machine, so I thought that a big-ish swap might pay off.

The first thing I noticed was how fast the installation went – I haven’t installed on the same hardware in a couple of years, so I don’t have metrics, but it happened too fast to leave unattended.  I found myself staring at a root prompt on the rebooted machine in something like 10 minutes.

I install Debian, and once I get the stable distribution up and running I install a few key things (sudo, vim-full) and then I change /etc/apt/sources.list to use Debian testing and do an apt-get dist-upgrade.  I like the compromise between stability and recency in the testing distribution – most upgrades work perfectly, with perhaps one every 3 years that requires post-upgrade intervention.

I figured this upgrade, which typically involves hundreds of packages, would be a good test of the new hardware.  It was, in that it happened extremely quickly – downloads seemed to happen at the same speed (unsurprising) but the unpacking and installation of packages happened at blazing speed.  In an hour I had my machine set up with all the same software I previously used, from playing with screwdrivers and mounting rails to looking at the web in Iceweasel (Firefox).

Launching Firefox is particularly telling – it used to take about a three-count, but now it happens before I can exhale.

Installing an SSD in my desktop machine makes a *huge* difference – it is the best upgrade I’ve made to a desktop since I hooked up an LCD monitor.

One thing of note – I did not realize that Mushkin shipped their 2.5-inch drives with mounting rails, so I bought mounting rails with the drive, which was a waste.  Live and learn.

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Facebook and Privacy

May 17, 2010

I recently deleted my Facebook profile. I think I updated my status twice in three years, and made little or no effort to solicit friends, but I did read the front page, and sent an occasional message. The overt service was moderately neat, and I liked being able to see what others where doing, if they decided to post. That said, the continued erosion of privacy settings, and the ultimate fact that I was Facebook’s product – me and my relationships are what they are selling – was finally enough to me to get out.

Dana Boyd’s recent post brings up a few good points, but one that particularly resonates is that Facebook’s interface did not make it clear what you are giving away by using the site.

I think that they way to address this is to have a tabbed screen preview of your profile and activities, where each tab is a sharing constellation – 3rd party API users, friends, friends-of-friends, everyone – and you could tune your profile by excluding classes of information to those constellations, and see who comprises those groups at the same time. You could click on the friends-of-friends tab and see, perhaps to your horror, what you are sharing with your mom’s coworkers, and who they are in a neat, sortable list.

I would still be a Facebook user if I could click on the API tab and turn it off, click on the Everyone tab and turn off everything but my name and profile picture, etc. But I can’t and because I can’t see what I’m sharing, Facebook seems to think I don’t care, and they’re wrong.

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Logitech Marble Mouse – Update #4

May 13, 2010

Well, something in the behaviour of X changed again after an update, and now in response to the previous code, xinput set-int-prop '"Logitech USB Trackball"' 'Evdev Wheel Emulation Button' 8 8, I get this error: unable to find device "Logitech USB Trackball".

So I go a-hunting in man xinput and find that, if the name of the device has changed, I will find it by using xinput list, which give me this:

? Virtual core pointer                    	id=2	[master pointer  (3)]
?   ? Virtual core XTEST pointer              	id=4	[slave  pointer  (2)]
?   ? Logitech USB Trackball                  	id=8	[slave  pointer  (2)]
?   ? Macintosh mouse button emulation        	id=10	[slave  pointer  (2)]
? Virtual core keyboard                   	id=3	[master keyboard (2)]
    ? Virtual core XTEST keyboard             	id=5	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ? Power Button                            	id=6	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ? Power Button                            	id=7	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ? AT Translated Set 2 keyboard            	id=9	[slave  keyboard (3)]

It looks to me like it’s still called a “Logitech USB Trackball”. Long story short, I now have to identify this by id code, or drop the extra quotes. For posterity, here are the commands that work:

xinput set-int-prop 8 'Evdev Wheel Emulation Button' 8 8
xinput set-int-prop 8 'Evdev Wheel Emulation' 8 1


xinput set-int-prop 'Logitech USB Trackball' 'Evdev Wheel Emulation Button' 8 8
xinput set-int-prop 'Logitech USB Trackball' 'Evdev Wheel Emulation Button' 8 1

Yes, these changes are a pain in the ass.

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