Two Days After

It has been two days since we moved into our new place and things are going pretty well. The move itself went well thanks to the help of my dad, my brothers and one of my coworkers. Without their help I would still be moving boxes back and forth or caught under a sofa asking for someone to help.

The weather was perfect, in the forties and not too windy either. Closing went smoothly with all of the signatures taking less than 30 minutes to accumulate and then pleasantries were had between us and the prior owners.

We are so happy to finally be in the place, but now the real work begins. We were able to get the bed and crib set up on Monday night, but that was about it. Yesterday we unpacked most of the kitchen and took care of those boxes so that we have some more room in the dining room to stack stuff while we continue to work our way through the boxes and boxes of stuff.

Kids don’t sleep very well when they get to a new place. It is getting better, but bedtime is a chore at the moment (especially for moms) when the screaming ensues as soon as you leave the room. No, not leave the room, but when you actually start to just close the door … a tiny little bit … even after you have been out of the room for a couple of minutes. Don’t ask me, I just live here.

My office is nothing more than the place where boxes are being kept and the cable modem and wireless router are pumping internet. I’m hoping to get down there to hook up the Mac Mini tonight and maybe get started with the Windows 7 installation on the PC desktop. That might have to wait a couple of days, however.

We were able to finally pick up our dog from my parent’s farm last evening and she is happy to be back at home. I’m planning on taking her for a walk tonight and get into a habit of doing that for both her benefit and mine. I need to get more active.

The entire second story and attic was rewired yesterday. New outlets, switches, plates and wiring was put in and it all looks a lot better. I feel better without having the old wiring sitting in the attic against the insulation. Now we get to start compiling a list of things we want to do to the house and then actually do them!

Those are the scatter-brained thoughts at the moment. So far everything is going really well and we are just trying to get settled into our new home and get unpacked.

Five Days to Close

Today marks five days until we close on our first home. To say that we are excited would be a gross understatement.

However, I currently have a complete lack of nervousness about everything. I’ve been reading up on purchasing a home for quite a few years and I’m ready to get into the house and see what we can do. We purposefully went with an older house because both of us liked a house with a little more character than you can find today and both of us grew up in older houses. Nothing like a 100+ year old farm house to get you ready for owning a home and having to do work on it.

The house we are purchasing, however, is in great condition. We will have an electrician in on Tuesday to replace some wiring in the attic, otherwise everything should be set to go for us to move in, unpack, and start to make something of our life after eight months of decisions, moving, more decisions, more moving, more decisions and some more moving. We will be able to take a box, unpack it, and then leave that box unpacked for months, maybe even years! That’s a good thought.

We will be able to have friends again and start to get involved in the community for the first time in a long time. We will be able to make changes to the house, paint rooms, update fixtures, plan for the future and just live our lives as a family! When you live with others for a long enough time you start to lose your own family identity a little, and the idea of being able to open the door to our own home and be our own family is quite exciting.

One exciting thing for me is that I will have the opportunity to set up my Cave. I haven’t had a Cave for a little while and even when I did it was sometimes used as a guest bedroom quite a bit as well. Even when I did have my own Cave, it was hard to get settled in because we didn’t own the property where the Cave was located. You can’t do a lot to a place when you don’t own the property or know how long you are going to be there.

One thing I am missing is a desk worthy of my Cave. This desk will need to be found, but for the time being I will be using a temporary one to get me by while I search or build what I will call The Desk.

The Desk will be large and plain in order to accommodate the amount of technology that my Cave will contain. It will also be used exclusively for computing while a workstation will be built for all client machines and for taking apart computers. The workstation will be standing height so that I can work easier and The Desk will have a chair for me to sit on.

There will be three different computers at The Desk. The Mac Mini, a Linux/Windows workstation and a Linux laptop. It will (hopefully, in the future) hold up three monitors, two for the Mac Mini and one for the workstation. Storage will be an issues but will be dealt with in the future. Internet will be served to the room via a cable modem … and I still need to figure out where that is going to go.

My Cave still needs a plan, and that plan will be revised but it will happen … some day.

The Great Ubuntu Experiment … again?

Ubuntu: Social from the start

I’m doing it again, but with a little bit of a twist this time around.

I’ve toyed around with using Linux as a desktop operating system at different times over the past five years, and Ubuntu was the distro that allowed me to take the plunge at different points. I’ve been using Ubuntu since 5.10 and it has matured very quickly for its considerable youth. The latest release, 10.10 (see, five years there) is a very capable and quite good-looking operating system that (in my opinion) can fulfill the computing needs for a good portion of users. Two of my brothers would be great examples.

However, I have usually (for better or worse, depending on your perspective) gone back to using Apple’s Mac OS X as my operating system of choice. However, as my wife and I prepare to close on our first house (YAY!), money has once again reared its ugly head. Not in the sense that we have none, but in the sense of prioritizing where money needs to go. As such, I’m giving Ubuntu another test run as my main development platform. It allows me to purchase cheap hardware and use it effectively for my needs … hopefully.

If it works, I’ll be extremely happy. If it doesn’t to my satisfaction, then I’ll be saving up for another Apple portable for the future. I’m not pushing one way or the other and we will see where the chips fall.

Two “wrinkles” this time around:

First involved where I am starting this test: at work. My desktop was acting very strange using Windows 7 and I think I’ve nailed it down to faulty video drivers or video hardware. What I’m waiting for is to see if Ubuntu fails as well. Sadly, it has been rock-solid so far and I have had no issues at all. Using Ubuntu at work enables me to do some script testing at my desktop instead of needing either a VM or to log into a server environment. It also means not as many people use my machine when I’m not around. That’s nice.

The second is that I will still have a Mac Mini in the house that my wife will be using. It works so well for her that I’m not going to be getting rid of it. So, I’ll need to find a cheap laptop and scrounge together the parts for a beefier desktop soon after we move into the house. That’s less than two weeks away!

So, there you have it. Another experiment and we will see how it goes.

I should add that the procurement of a laptop and desktop is completely dependent on extra money coming in at the moment. With the Mac Mini and my work laptop I am more than capable of completing the work that I need to do. This is more a wishlist than anything else.

What I Want to Drive

This is currently the object of my lust:

Alright, it isn’t so much the object of my lust as the vehicle I am now looking closely at as possibly being our next automobile purchase. The above is a picture of a 2009 Subaru Forester, and it is what I would like my wife to be driving right now.

However, she is driving a 2005 Ford Freestar instead. While the Freestar has served us well, we are now at a different spot in our lives than we were when we picked up our van. Truth be told, the van has been invaluable as we will have moved five times since we purchased it. The ability to put down the rear seat and have just a cargo area has proven to be invaluable during those moves. There are two weaknesses that currently remain.

One is fuel economy. At 22 mpg on the highway, it is a far way from the 32 mpg that we were able to attain with our 2002 Ford Focus we originally had at the beginning of our marriage (and even farther away from the 40 mpg I can get with my 1996 Toyota Corolla … still running strong). The Forester would afford us 27 mpg on the highway, which is huge when we fully expect to travel back and forth between Milwaukee and New Ulm often.

The second weakness is one of winter driving. With another child on the way (July!), next winter we will have two kids and my wife taking care of them. The van is not the best vehicle for winter driving, being FWD and rather large and bulky, and the AWD that the Forester has would help in that regard. It would go a long way in giving me a quieter mind during the winter months knowing that my wife has a decent winter vehicle to drive in.

Besides those two, the thing just looks good! It’s not overly ornate and has a minimal amount of fuss about it (which I like).

This is a long-term goal for me as I need to do a lot more research and wait for the right vehicle to present itself (along with working with the bank again). As such, hopefully we will have a new vehicle come October 2011, two years into our Great Van Experiment.

Life Without Laptop

A while ago, back in September 2010, I made the decision to try and go without a laptop for myself. The reasons behind the decision were many and valid, not least of which being the fact that my job at the time did not require me to do any programming work at all and if it did I would not have been able to use my own machine anyway.

Now, almost four months later, I am regretting the decision to not keep a laptop of my own. It is not because of some lack in the iPad for any reason, but more for what limits I have now that I do not have a personal laptop.

Two things limit me the most:

  • lack of a mobile development platform
  • lack of a machine that I can personalize to my own taste and experiment on

Currently I am able to use our Mac Mini for any programming work that I need to accomplish. However, the limit there is that the Mini is also used by my wife for our family’s computer needs, including pictures and documents. As such, I dare not do anything too crazy so that I might not lost any information that is important to us.

With my own development laptop, I was free to mess up the OS installation as much as needed in order to experiment with things. With both my Thinkpad X40 and my 13″ MacBook Pro, I had become quite adept and reinstalling the OS and getting the system up and running as quickly as possible. This meant keeping my changes to a minimum and using system defaults as often as possible (along with backing up configuration files I might need). Usually this meant that, at worst, I would be down a day before I was back up and running.

That’s not a¬†possibility¬†right now and it is limiting.

So, I’m hoping to get something to use as a development laptop within the next couple of moths. Just to be clear, a development laptop, for me, is something that runs either Mac OS X or some flavor of Linux. For what I want to do, I need a POSIX environment of some sort or I get crabby.

So, while I would not consider the experiment a failure (the iPad gets a lot more use than any other computer device in the house), I would consider my needs to have changed since I had originally thought through things. As such, a course correction is needed and will be taken.

Any advice on laptops I should be looking for are appreciated. Leave them in the comments!