Thursday, August 30, 2007

Microformats talk

Have I mentioned that the Dayton Web Standards Meetup is a great group? It's brimming over with good ideas for every sort of web writer. Very highly recommended!

This coming Thursday, I'll be speaking on Microformats! Microformats are a wonderful way to make your information available to automated tools, while mandating nothing about what else you do on your page. They're great fun, they're catching on, and I'm looking forward to it!

5:30, Sep. 6: Microformats talk at Dayton Web Standards Meetup
at Panera Bread on 1203 Brown Street.
See you there!

Okay, I admit, I wrote this post partially to practice writing a microformat. Install Operator into your Firefox. Now, with one click (each), you can grab a vCard for Panera, get a map there, or pop the event inot your calendar program. Oooooh!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dayton-Oracle is for real

The Dayton-Oracle mailing list I set up a couple years ago is bearing fruit. The Dayton Oracle User Group is real! We live! We had an organizational pre-meeting last night with five great people who were willing to take up the burden of making this happen.

We had a lot of rich discussion about the way we want to approach running the group. In many ways, we're going to break from the traditional format and content of Oracle User Groups and adopt some practices better-known from the open-source world: more interactive, user-driven content; zero-cost bring-your-own-food arrangements instead of catered lunches with meeting fees and sponsored content; evening rather than daylong meetings; etc. I think these are good practices on their own merits. Also, there are already good traditional user groups in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis, so if we want a successful niche between them, it makes sense for us to differentiate; we're not likely to be a better OOUG than OOUG, after all. I hope Dayton people who do already attend OOUG or GCOUG will continue to do so, and will enrich themselves yet further with our meetings.

Watch this space for further announcements, including our first meeting time (sometime early October) and a link to our super-awesome website (once it's built).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

openSUSE and the bleeding edge

I fear I'm about to sound both boastful and ungrateful... but my boss refreshed my work laptop with this monster I have dubbed "DellZilla". Cool, huh? Definitely - except that you need a pack mule to actually move it. Once upon a time, laptops could actually fit in your lap.

The other problem is that I haven't found a Linux distribution that comes with the right drivers for it. Ubuntu Feisty was hopeless - all incarnations (u-, ku-, and xu-) were flummoxed by the screen and failed to start xwindows, or gave an utterly black empty screen.

Next I tried openSUSE, and was in some ways pleasantly surprised. It copes OK with whatever video voodoo is required for this monster screen. It automatically noticed that I had a Windows Vista partition and included it as a boot option. In fact, it includes "Restart and boot directly into Windows" as a menu option, so you can go get a cola while switching OS's instead of hovering over the keyboard waiting to catch the boot loader. Considerate! And it comes with all the cutting-edge goodies like Beagle. (And freeciv! Eek!)

One significant complaint is that, if you don't have wireless connectivity while you're doing the openSUSE installation, YAST won't even record the URLs of the repositories you'll need for software. When you need to download the good stuff later on, you'll need to hunt around for the URLs (psst, they're here) and add them to your list of sources by hand. For a SuSE newbie, that's a pain.

But I got through that. The real problem is that I've got no support for the mac80211 wireless card. Trying to get a driver installed for that has been an adventure in frustration. There's a driver here, but it appears to my amateurish eye as though YAST installs the Linux kernel-source into locations where the mac80211 makefile absolutely does not expect it, and trying to hack them into agreement is a step too far for me. It's like being back in the Bad Old Pre-Ubuntu days when Linux was something I only wished I could use.

So here I am, typing on a zillion-dollar laptop and tethered to the wall like it's 1994, and trying to figure out my next move. This says Sabayon 3.4 supports mac80211. I hadn't even heard of Sabayon before this week, and I've read good things about it, but I wonder if it's just too fancy. It installs from DVDs; I've never even tried burning one of those. And I can't even get its blasted homepage to come up under Firefox or Konqueror. But whatever; I need wireless. If you don't hear from me for a while, it's because I need to compile my own drivers for the keyboard, or maybe the AC adapter.