Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Non Art Work

Photo 27-03-2013 16 04 51

Or, what I did on my holidays

Over the end of last year I was very busy with a Christmas rush, and then it quietened down in January and February. Having nothing to write about art, I’ve decided to expand the blog a little and say what else I am doing. Pictures of postcards aside, the sort of break I usually take from art is for socialisation, but lately I have been having computer problems, and I always like to delve deep into those, and try to work out what is going on.

Geek part: I run an ancient frankensteined desktop with an nVidia GEforce graphics card, and I use the computer for digital drawing. I wanted to tear out the nouveau drivers, so I installed Arch Linux, and a bit of modprobe later, I had what I wanted. I also had a scratch across the motherboard and some odd screws left over, but nothing I’d call genuinely fatal.

Non-geek part: You can learn to control your computer a lot, but it takes a great deal of time.

A few months later, I spilled water with gum Arabic into my laptop, which is my working computer for most things, and especially for taking to the studio with me. So, I’ve remapped my keyboard and Alt-Gr makes the top row of letters into the numbers instead. I used xev (X-events) to find out what the key presses were, and messed with /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/latin until it said all the right things. It was not a keyboard remapping problem, which was annoying, as those searches got in the way of everything. I had to find out where the modifiers were kept, and deal with that list. I’m annoyed that the function key does not give an X event, so I couldn’t use that even though it wasn’t doing anything else. Still, I can now type miserable, angry smileys once more. The only thing I can’t do with it is hit Ctrl-3 to change to tab 3 in a series. Ctrl-AltGr-E doesn’t quite cut the mustard there.

However, the laptop is now definitely old and battered, and has had over ten thousand hours powered on. It is on its second battery, and I found a spare laptop that was comparatively new, installed Arch on it, and found an odd little read error in /home, about halfway through the disc. So I learned about smartmontools, and LBAs and blocks, and re-synched it to get rid of the faulty sector.

After that, there were 62 of them. They’d all been hiding in an unreadable area. Eventually it turned out there were more faulty sectors than possible places to put them. So that was the week that wasn’t.