I have decided to revamp and move my weblog. I have left a few posts here that people are still reading and may find useful. All the other posts I have moved to jamesthedisciple’s new home.
I have a new weblog about tech stuff at covering Linux, OSX, Android and open source software along with some other projects.
Thank you for journeying with me this far,hope to see you on the other side as I start a new journey!

RedNotebook on OSX – how to

Please note that this guide was written in 2010 and is therefor out of date and it is possible that what is suggested may not work at all. I don’t have the time to update this anytime soon. I have left is here as it might still be useful.

This is a short how-to for using RedNotebook on OSX Snow Leopard.
Firstly, some notes: I am not an expert on doing these things. Below is just a guide and following them is done at your own risk, just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. For getting RedNotebook to run was a bit of trail and error and as I haven’t worked out all the reasons for doing this way and not streamlining it, it is a little long winded. And so onward…

What is RedNotebook and why use it? I have been using it for some time for my journal and notes for my blogs. It runs great on GNU/Linux and has a Windows installer, but I don’t use Windows very much and I do have an Apple machine. And to quote the RedNotebook home page “RedNotebook is a graphical diary and journal helping you keep track of notes and thoughts. It includes a calendar navigation, customizable templates, export functionality and word clouds. You can also format, tag and search your entries.”

I didn’t work out how to run it on OSX for my self completely, I used a few guides, tried each and it worked. In theory, you just be able to follow the instructions at Softpedia which is laid out (along with the other) below so all I did is in one place.

RedNotebookis needs python, gtk and PyYaml to run. It would also be useful to have the Developer Tools (XCode) 2.3 or newer; 2.5 or 3.x is recommended (availble from Apple (requires id) for free). So here is what I did.

Downloaded RedNotebook and unpacked it.
Downloaded PyYaml formhere and unpacked it.

I have MacPorts installed so I first installed what I thought was needed (in terminal):-

$: sudo port install python_select python26 py26-gtk py26-webkitgtk gnome-python26-extras py26-yaml

Then cd’d in rednotebook directory and did the same

$: sudo python install


$ rednotebook

To see if it would work or give me pointers as to what is missing.

As this didn’t work fully I did PyYAML directly.
Then cd’d in to PyYAML directory
the in terminal:

$: python build
$: sudo python install

Some of the packages are not recognised as being installed so next on to installing GTK and Py-GTK using jhbuild. The problem is that jhbuild will fail if macports or fink is on the system, so two choices exist, remove macports/fink or create another user with admin rights, log out and log into new account. I did the latter Then:
I downloaded and installed git (from here because I needed for GTK-OSX
Once git was installed I then
Downloaded to my home directory and ran it with

$ sh

This installs jhbuild in ~/.local/bin/jhbuild. It will also install ~/.jhbuildrc and ~/.jhbuildrc-custom and will copy the current gtk-osx modules into ~/Source/jhbuild/modulesets.
(If you’re running Tiger see here as some of Tiger’s software need upgrading)
As jhbiuld is installed in ~/.local/bin you must either add that path to your path, alias jhbuild, or call jhbuild with that path, eg.

$ ~/.local/bin/jhbuild shell

I chose to type in terminal:

$ echo ‘export PATH=~/.local/bin/jhbuild:$PATH’ >> ~/.profile

Closed terminal and then opened again.

$ jhbuild bootstrap
$ jhbuild build meta-gtk-osx-bootstrap
$ jhbuild build meta-gtk-osx-core

The boostrap was successful but the other two weren’t. When a module fails you are presented with a menu. I always tried number 1 first and went down the list in order to see what each did. On most occasions the module was skipped and jhbuild moved on to the next until it could go no further. I did this for osx-bootstrap and osx-core. Once done I logged out and logged back into my original account and fired up the terminal.
I then cd’d into PyYAML and ran the command:

$: sudo python install


$ rednotebook

And it worked,

The pywebkit installed with macports is for some new features. It is available here which you can download and compile the usual way (read install notes that comes with the package)

I hope this helps someone to enjoy the very useful RedNotebook on OSX Snow Leopard.

Today’s economy

I have been looking and watching the economy for many years and I did see this recession coming from the early ninety’s. As far I could see, it was inevitable. When capitalism is allowed to take such a hold because regulations are relaxed ‘to allow freedom to make more money’, then saturation of the market and the never ending pressure to make more and more profit each and every day, month and year by the share holders, and when that doesn’t happen, confidence falls, shares are sold and companies falls. It is possible, and this nearly happened in the UK, that a company whose shares are on the stock exchange, can employ thousands of people, have a turnover of thousand or millions, have a capital base of thousands, and for all intents and purposes a buoyant and stable company. But if the shareholders loose confidence in the company and sell their shares, the company can go bust. Extraordinary! I ask, is this the right structure for businesses to run under?

Looking from the UK to the UK and world economies, I see various ways of doing the same thing, making money at the expense of society. Now that the world recession is happening because of the credit crunch, what is the best way for a country to deal with it? Is it to plough loads of money into the financial market and hope, which is akin to trying blowing up a burst balloon? The financial bubble has burst. No matter what people think, the financial situation has now changed and different ways of doing business must be found.

A change in the banking business is first. Split the business into two businesses as it was a couple of decades ago, where there was the “High Street” bank serving the local businesses and individuals, and the “Merchant” bank which does the investing in big business and foreign exchange and takes the larger risks. This would allow the merchant bank to go bust without effecting the guy in the street. Invest in local businesses to encourage the country to be more self sufficient so the effect of the world would have a lesser effect on guy in the street. Don’t put all our eggs in one basket, as my grandmother used to tell me.

History shows some scary situations. Recently in Japan they were just coming out of a recession when the world recession hit them. It took 10-15 years for them to come through this. They managed to do this by investing in the financial system, lowering interest rates which didn’t help because if there is no money to lend, then it doesn’t matter how low or high the interest rate is, lending will not happen. Is this the right thing for Australia to do? I hope you know the answer!

In the States, during a downturn a few decades ago, the government there thought that investing in infrastructure would “kick-start” the economy. It didn’t. Millions of dollars were spent and nothing happened except for a few good roads and bridges and some workmen were employed for a while but the economy stayed where it was.

So, what’s the answer?

The economy is all about the movement of money. Keep interest rates at a reasonable level, don’t drop it like a stone. The idea behind this is that in a recession people tend not spend, but to save. If you encourage people to save, they will have enough money , after a while, to feel confident to spend some. Also with reasonable interest rates there will be investment in the economy because money can be made. At the end of the day, it’s the customers in the street who keep businesses going not the government. Without customers, there is no business. You have to encourage the customer to spend, if they don’t have the money to spend, how can they? In a recession, brought about by excessive lending/borrowing, who in their right mind will borrow more? By reducing taxes across the board and I mean direct taxes like income tax and business tax, a reduction of the burden of tax will put more money in the pocket to spend in the local economy.

If the financial industry is going to have to re-structure then shouldn’t the government also have a look at how it gathers taxes? The government needs money to function, and this it gets through the tax system. In times or recession, people will have less money, worry about whether they will have a job next week, spend less, and obviously, want to pay less tax. If there are less people employed then there will be less money being spent in the street and less tax to be collected, meaning there will be a shortfall in the Government coffers.

Attitudes need to change. The idea that money and more money is all that matters is a fallacy. The pre-occupation with growth leads to market saturation then stagnation followed by crash and the house of cards come tumbling down. An American Indian once said, when will they understand that when all the fish have gone from the river and the trees gone from the woods, that you can not eat the dollar? Money helps but is not the be-all and end-all.

I do think that the governments around the world have got it wrong because they are looking at business, not at people. If the government gave the money to the people (tax cuts etc.) the people would either put it into the banks, thereby increasing the banks funds, or spend it in the high street so the local business can put it into the banks. Both ways, the banks get the money! By putting the money straight into the banks, no-one gets the money because the banks need it as a capital asset, so it goes no where and helps no-one, no movement of cash.

Only time will tell, but I’m doing what I can to make sure I have enough funds spread so my losses will be minimal when the big crash comes.

Fedora 10 or Debian 5

I have been a Debian user for a few years now and I’ve used some of it derivitives like Mepis, Sidux, Ubuntu being the main three. I decided to give fedora 10 a try as the first flovour of Linux I tried was Red Hat 7.3 and that worked really well.

It’s been 4 weeks now or so, and to start with I was really impressed. Its big improvement over Fedora 9. It is quicker to boot, quicker to run and stable. It looks good too. I am running the x86_64 version and I am impressed with the range of software available and some strange stuff like BloGTK which is normally a 32 bit application. (Not that I actually use it now, waiting for version 2). So it is quite good but can I live with it?

The proplems I have with Fedora 10 are several. The log-in theme isn’t changable which is no great train smash, but virtually on every other distro you can, and this has been reported on in the forums.. The other problem I had was with java. Not all java apps would work on Fedora although they work fine on other distros. The only thing I can put this down to is the java the Fedora uses. I even downloaded from Sun and installed that, but it just wouldn’t work. I had a feeling it was probably something I was doing, or may be not doing. The network manager doesn’t appear to be improved, and is positively slow at reconnecting (if it does at all) espically after being idle for a while and the screen saver has been running.

The good points are that it is a big improvement over Fedora 9. It boots faster, seems relatively quick, and most things “work out of he box” including compiz and the wobbly windows (something my wife giggles about). The updating of the system seems more stable but that and installing extra applications does seem slow.

There is also something about Fedora which I can’t put my finger on that I’m just not sure about. It seems to give the sense of stablity and solidity but underneath there is a sense of fragility, but this fagility seems supported by a structure which takes away the inherent flexability that I have found in other distros. (I’ve seen a similar structure in Suse). May be this is there because this distro has commercial roots and done to stop or reduce the local user from messing with and breaking the system.

So, the answer I asked earlier, can I live with Fedora 10? The simple answer is No.

Now that Debian 5 is out, and I’ve updated my “testing” to Lenny I’ve found that it runs slickly and is stable. All my java apps work fine. One thing I do do is add the mepis and mepis-community repos to the list so I can run stable and updated apps like v3, the gimp, inkscape, and a few others albeit not many. I have also been running virtual box of which I will write more at a later date. Debian 5 “Lenny” runs smoothly by which I mean that all applications seem to run at the same speed depending on what I am doing. It seems to manage the resources in a more even handed way. The network manager works fine and reconnects quickly when there’s been an interuption. I prefer to use wicd network manager, seems really stable and intuitive (a most important atribute).

I find debian easier to configure to my liking. This may be due to the fact that I’ve been using Debian longer and therefore have become familiar with all the quirks if Debian. Be that as it may, Debian does seem to have similarities with other distros within the file system and where certain files are kept. It seems to be a less muck-about-with distro. There are certain aspects of Debian that annoy me, like not including various drivers on the cd’s/DVD’s, but the’re in the repos, just means I have to hardwire to router to download. That and the fact that Debian takes so long to release. But I can live with both cos it not difficult to download, and the stablity of Debian seems second to none.

All in all, it does a good job without making a song and dance about it.

Puppy Linux

There has been a bit of talk lately about Puppy Linux in the media, well, when I say media, I mean the media I read! So I thought I write my bit. I came across Puppy Linux quite a while back, I think it was in 2003, but it might of been 2004. Anyway, I found it interesting because it could do so much but packed into such a small package, a bit like DML, but more user friendly and more intuitive for those dragged up on windows. I also found that it didn’t quite work well enough on my hardware of the time, a Toshiba laptop. I also liked the idea of making your own custom version, a bit like "Pimp my Puppy", but never got round to doing it as I didn’t have the time. Another curious character of Puppy Linux was that it is developed in Australia. When I found this out, I understood some of its quirks! I have been to Australia and found they do things slightly different there, which is good. So Puppy Linux is different. Now with version 4.1 I have found it to be really useful. With mounting of drives and partitions and a partitioning tools along with anti-virus tools makes this distro a must have in my "help" box of cd’s. I’ve already helped out a couple of colleagues at work with it and I’m sure a few more will be helped out in the near future. Running Puppy Linux is a breeze from boot up through to desktop going through a keyboard config (which is straight forward) and a display config ( which I wish did an auto test before moving on) which isn’t as straight forward for someone without any knowledge of computers. Then comes setting up the internet connection. Again, for me quite straight forward, but for someone with limited knowledge of computers, they could become stuck… for a while. The wizard is good though and does explain everything well. (If only I’d read before trying!). Once up to desktop, everything is to hand and Puppy Linux zipps along at a good pace. I have a P3 700 Mhz machine with 192 Meg ram and this with Puppy will give a Core duo 1.6GHz with 1 Gig ram a rum for it money with debian Linux, and blows it out of the water with windoze. Personally, if you have an old PC or laptop that you’d like to get going and use or give away, Puppy is a way of doing this with a touch of style.


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