Hmmmm...No Sir, I Didn't Like It!

Monday, April 30, 2012 14:15 Posted by Leo Saumure 3 comments
One of the things that I like doing on my computer is drawing. As such, a couple years ago, my Father-in-Law gave me a Wacom Bamboo tablet for Christmas. I love this thing! With it, I've created a web comic strip that I use to update all the time: www.thenightterrors.blogspot.com. The tablet is quite small, and I may want to upgrade after a while, but if I do, I don't think I will be using it with Linux Mint.

Why is that? Because it just works better on Windows.

See, I use GIMP to create my comic strips, and using GIMP, at least on windows, there are some great features that are enabled with the tablet.


The Wacom Bamboo tablet has some really cool features...at least they did with GIMP under Windows.

See the little click-wheel thing in the top centre? That would allow you to zoom in and out of a particular section when drawing. And while they aren't displayed well in this picture of the tablet, the click wheel is surrounded by four buttons which you could do various functions with. One other thing that I absolutely loved was the pen/eraser feature. If you take a good look at the pen/stylist in the photo, you will see that the bottom nib looks like a pen/pencil nib, whereas the top nib looks like an eraser on a pencil. Well, you could easily assign different brushes to these nibs by tapping the appropriate brush/tool in GIMP. For instance, the pen nib could be a calligraphy brush, whereas the top nib could be an eraser. This would save tonnes of time when you wanted to quickly erase something from your drawing. Finally, one of the great features of using this with Windows version of GIMP is the pressure sensitivity of the stylist. You know how if you press lightly with a real paint brush, you can get a fine line using just the tip; and when you press harder, the line with get thicker and darker because you are pressing more of the brushes' surface area onto the paper? Well this gave the brush the feeling of a real paint brush.

Well none of these features works in GIMP in Linux Mint!  Which, to be honest, I could probably grow accustomed to. But to top it all off, the quality of output you get with GIMP through Linux Mint is horrible!  I mean it is really abysmal!  For instance, when drawing a strip, the first thing that I do, is to use the pencil tool in GIMP to draw a blue line sketch of how I want the strip to look. Using the pencil tool, coupled with a thin brush and the pressure sensitivity allowed me to draw some nice free flowing lines that I could then layer upon to do my tracing of the line drawing. But the output that I get using GIMP on Linux Mint is all pixelated and there is absolutely no differentiation between the line pressure meaning that I can't find the line I wanted to trace as each line (which will overlay other lines) looks exactly like the other line. It is horrible!

I have found a tool that does let me use the Wacom Tablet exactly as I had in the past called My Paint. And in some ways it is much better than GIMP as it comes standard with a butt-load of different brushes. The only problem that I have with My Paint is that it doesn't have the higher functions that were built into GIMP like cloaning, various special effect, etc. Hell, it doesn't even allow moving of a copy/paste!

So for the moment, I'm looking for a tool like GIMP that works as well on Linux as it did on Windows, or I may have to revert back to Windows.

12.8 KM While Sick

Saturday, April 28, 2012 18:07 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Woke up this morning with a strange, unsettling feeling in the back of my sinuses today. You know the kind that kind of hurts to swallow? Yeah that one. I'm getting...A Cold! Dum-dum-dum!

So you can imagine how excited I was to go for a run this morning. Added to that is the fact that it was raining pretty hard, and my excitement went up two fold! In case you were wondering...that was sarcasm. The weather forecast said that it should clear up in the afternoon, so we decided to delay the run until we got some better weather. It does make me wonder how we're going to do when the weather really goes down the drain.

We had talked about keeping our eye on the forecast and maybe shifting our runs as needed. For instance running on an off day, and taking an off day on a rainy day, etc. But what happens if it is raining on the day of the half marathon? Dum-dum-dum!

Anyway, after making a great and easy lunch, and then an afternoon nap, which was quite invigorating, we took off for the run at around 4:00 p.m. We got through the 12.8 KM without too much difficulty, but I wouldn't say it was a stellar run. Luckily, as I was running, I was doing most of my breathing through my gaping maw of a mouth anyway, so other than having to sniff up about 12 Litres of snot, I didn't do too badly.

Mmmmmm Cinnamon

Friday, April 27, 2012 14:06 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
For an old Windows user like myself, I have really gotten use to customizing the desktop experience to my personal preferences. For instance:

  • I always auto hide the task bar
  • I never lock the task bar
  • I always pin my frequent short cuts to the task bar
  • I set my screen resolution to fit as much as possible
  • I usually default to a particular Windows theme
  • etc
I had no idea how difficult these things were to do on a stock installation of Linux Mint.  For instance, when you first install Mint, you are presented with two task bars: one on the top of the screen, and one on the bottom. If you're working on a desktop computer with a large monitor, this doesn't pose much of an issue, but when you're working on a little Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop, screen real estate is at a premium.

So the first thing I tried to do was get rid of one of the task bars, so reflexively, I right-clicked the task bar and...nothing happened! I tried it again and again, as I obviously right-clicked wrong the first time. Well, predictably, nothing happened those two times either. And so began my journey into customizing the Linux Mint desktop.

The first place that I explored was the settings. There I found that I could adjust settings on the desktop such as a few themes, and change the background, but not make the changes that I wanted.

I also started Googling for the answers, and saw many helpful forums that gave step by step command line instructions, but I wan't prepared to go that route as I like to have an idea what the instructions I am following actually do. None of these forums gave that information. The said: Do this, and do that, but they didn't say why I was doing it, and what it would do to the computer. Also, the instructions didn't really make clear if they were meant for LMDE, KDE, GNOME 3, or what.  Truthfully, at the time, I didn't know what the difference was between all of these. Somehow, while Googling, I found a few sites that mentioned using Cinnamon on Mint to customize their desktops.

Cinnamon? What is That?

When I went to the Cinnamon site (http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/) it initially didn't make it any clearer. Ok...a quick side note (rant) to the people who developed Cinnamon: Put an About section on your website and tell us, in really dumbed-down language for people like me, what exactly Cinnamon is! You get to the site, and all you see are blog entries about which version they are on. Ok, now I know what version is the most current, but I have no idea what your product does!  And no...it wasn't obvious! Sorry for that rant.

So anyway, I found out that Cinnamon is a way of customizing your desktop experience. Something that allows you to take away one or both of the task bars, change the menu layout and look, add various themes, etc. But I must say that I was kind of expecting that these features would have been built into Mint itself. These types of features have been built into Windows and Mac's OS for ever.  I know that Mint is fairly new on the scene, but I still would have thought it would have been baked in there.

After I had installed the package using the software manager, I was ready to go! Or so I thought. It looked the exact same as it had before! And I still couldn't right click the frigging task bar! Oh, I could right click it to my heart's content, but nothing was going to come from it!  Frustration started to set in. After what seemed like ages of investigation, and Googling, I somehow found out that in order to use Cinnamon (or Mate for that matter), you have to click on the little cog icon of the login screen and select the user interface you want to use.

*blink*, *blink*

Why the hell isn't that in the first few sentences of the documentation??? In big, red, flashing letters!
Oh, hey! For all you noobs (or as we like to call you: dumb-asses) you need to select your user interface before logging in. Later on, we'll sew your name into your PE kit.

*Sigh*

No Google Drive for Linux

Really Google? Really?

A company that is making billions by selling devices and operating systems built on the Linux platform, doesn't integrate its new Google Drive service with Linux?

Really?

Hey Google, having your nose stuck-up in the air like that is blocking the light!

Program Installation

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 17:38 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
From what I understand, and admittedly I don't know much about Linux at this stage, there are three broad methods of installing programs via Linux Mint and a couple of these methods can be broken down into further sub-methods:

  • Command Line Installation
  • Package Manager
  • Software Manager

For noobs like myself, and those use to using Windows, the one that might look the most familiar is the software manager. But even this is a bit different than what you'd find on Windows. Basically, the software manager is like an app store for Mint. It is a curated, central location where the user can browse by category or search for any particular app they might be interested in.  At this point, I haven't looked into who actually does the curation of the approved applications, but it might make an interesting blog post in the future.

The package manager is sort of the same, except it is geared towards people more familiar with program installation with Linux. From what I understand, the package manager will allow the user to see and select any and all program libraries and dependencies for a program upon installation. So where the software manager will show you "Skype" as an installation, the package manager will show all the associated dependencies of Skype that you currently have installed, as well as the ones you will need to install.

Finally, the command line installation method allows you to download, compile from source, and install any program you might be interested in. Obviously using the command line method isn't recommended for noobs...which is something I want to discuss in another blog post in the near future.

I would say that if you want to avoid screwing up your computer, you should just use the software manager, but here is the problem with that: Not everything you may want is available through the software manager.  For instance, in the Ubuntu software manager, if you do a search for Skype, you're going to come up empty. Whereas in Mint, it finds Skype no problem.

Ok then, why not just use the package manager or command line installation method? I'm only speaking for myself here, but the reason I don't like those methods (at the moment), is I totally don't get what is going on when using them! For instance, I've followed instructions on using the command line method for a few different applications, and while the end result is a program that I wanted is now available, I stare at the screen while it is doing its...thing, things, many things, and I am dumb founded. Occasionally I'll see a message scroll by and I'll see the word "Failed", and then in a millisecond it is gone from the screen.

Failed? What failed? Who failed? What happened to the failing? How do I fix the fail?
Yet, despite the fail, the program seems to work properly.

So for the moment, I'll keep using the software manager, even though I'm sure that method simply hides the fail messages, it makes me feel a bit more secure.

Lights Out

Monday, April 23, 2012 15:41 Posted by Leo Saumure 2 comments
All right, this has happened twice since I've been using Linux Mint:

I'm using my laptop, plugged in, and then I decide to move my laptop to another room, but since I don't have much juice left in my laptop battery, I unplug the laptop, and then plug it back in. But when I plug it back in, the screen brightness tanks. And I mean tanks! I can barely see a thing!

Rebooting doesn't help either. The only way to fix the problem is to restart the laptop, interrupt the boot process to get into the BIOS and then adjust the screen brightness from there. And I have to do it all from a darkened room. I literally have to turn off any lights that may be on so that I can see the screen. That is how dim it gets!

Linux fans may say:
"Well just don't unplug it while the laptop is on!"
Really? Really? Your advice is rather than address the problem, I should just work around it? (Wow...that conversation actually happened inside my head!)

Anyway, I'm not saying that this doesn't happen on different distributions of Linux, or Windows or Mac, or on different hardware, etc. All I'm saying is that if I'm taking my computer into a darkened room, I don't want to do it to adjust the brightness.

Legos as a Metaphor

08:56 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
I have some topics that I'd like to discuss over the next few days, but I thought it might be a good idea to preface those up-coming posts with a bit of a primer. I'm going to be talking about various programs and questions I have about using various operating systems, and I thought that the use of Lego as a metaphor for programs might be a good way to envision my entries.

Now, I know there are probably a lot of open source geeks out there that would be pedantic about using the Lego block as a metaphor...

Said in the voice of Comic Book Guy from The Simpson:  Legos are proprietary toys, and as such don't fit with the whole open-source mantra. A better metaphor would be a non-copyrightable building block that the user could build themselves and distribute freely to the entire world. They should be called Lin-Blocks and have a blocky shaped penguin as the logo!
Yeah, yeah, yeah...blah, blah, blah, open source rules the world.  But until you all start driving an open source car to work, let me have my Lego metaphor (I just know that there will be comments from people who have built open sourced cars...).

Ok, back to the metaphor. In my opinion, Legos are a great metaphor for programs. Basically a Lego block is a building block; it is a pre-defined chunk. It has a specific structure, length, shape, colour, hight, etc. But a single block, on its own, might be nice to look at, but it isn't very useful. It is when you combine these blocks with other blocks that things start to get interesting. You can make beautiful and elaborate structures with them.  Like a wall...or a Podracer from Starwars episode one. What you do with these blocks is up to you.

Now, as I understand it, when building a Linux distribution, like Mint, anyone can design a block, but if that block is used within the operating system, then anyone can use or reuse that block without restriction. For instance, if I designed a green six-holed block that I wanted as a corner base for a wall, then there is nothing to stop someone from saying:
Hey, that corner piece would actually be a great piece for the roof! Oh, and I could use a bunch of them for the window!
Added to that, there is nothing to stop someone from redesigning my block into a eight-holed block as it would work better in their design.

My question is however, does that hold true with the programs that run on Linux?  For instance, we can think of Linux distributions as a 10,000 piece Tub-O-Legos. You get all these pieces, and anyone can make what they want out of them. But how do we think about things like Skype, or GIMP, or Google Chrome? Are these more like the Star Wars Death Star Lego set? The only thing you can make with them is the Death Star...that's it!

Are you allowed to take a piece from the Death Star antennae array and add it to what you've already built with the 10,000 piece set? Or can you only place the Death Star at the top of what you built?

Do the programs that operate on top of Linux operate the same as Linux itself? For example, I can look at my Linux Mint Lego sculpture and determine the shape, size and colour of a particular piece.  Am I able to do the same with a pre-fabricated Lego set? Am I able to look at a particular piece of the R2D2 Lego set and see that the his leg joint is three pins wide, is white, and has a normal lego depth?

Can anyone answer my Death Star/R2D2 Lego questions?

I will have lots of other Lego related questions in the next few days.

About Install Not How To Install

Sunday, April 22, 2012 20:40 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
So, a little while ago I said that I wanted to talk about installing Linux Mint. But I should probably clarify that I wanted to talk about the process of installing and not how to install Linux Mint. There are a tonne (spelled CDN way) videos, articles, blogs, forums that will give you good advice on installing Linux; just do a search on YouTube and you'll get too many to watch in a single day.

I wanted to talk about my impressions of the Linux Mint install... It was good.  Ok, I'll expand.

Boat-ware

For those who aren't very computer literate, you've probably purchased your desktop computer, or laptop computer with a pre-installed operating system...more than likely a version of Windows...as well as a tonne of bloat-ware. Bloat-ware or Crap-ware is software that comes pre-installed on your brand new computer and is generally stuff you would never use...it isn't stuff that is part of the Windows operating system, it is more than likely stuff that the hardware manufacturers got a commission to install on the computer without asking the user if he/she needs 14 versions of solitaire. Another bad thing about these pre-installed programs is that more often than not, they are nothing but trial-ware. Generally you will get 3-6 months of free use from them, and then you will have to pay for the program...at a highly inflated price too.  One last point is about bloat-ware is that many smart phone manufactures seem to be getting into this practice.

I won't say that Linux Mint (at least the version I loaded) comes with JUST the operating system basics, but it does give you many of the programs you'd need from a productivity standpoint. For instance, you get:

  • LibreOffice office suite (the entire suite)
  • Brasero: A disk burning program
  • Image Viewer and Shotwell: A Photo viewing program and a photo organizing program
  • Firefox: A web browser
  • Banshee: A Music Program
  • MPlayer: A video player
  • and lots of system utilities
You get much more than this too, but not much of it is what I would call bloat-ware. I should also point out that if you install the operating system yourself (Windows, Linux, Apple) you can avoid the bloat-ware. For the most part, bloat-ware will only be installed on systems you'd purchase from a computer store (Bestbuy, Futureshop, New Egg, Amazon, etc) In fact in virtually every instance of Windows that I have ever had, I always reformat the hard drive and start from scratch.

Lack of Advanced Installation

Another experience I had while installing Linux Mint, was that you actually didn't get much in terms of options for configuring the install. I might be wrong about this, as I may have simply overlooked it, but I didn't notice an advanced install function; something that would allow you to pick and choose which programs you wanted to install. Generally when installing Windows you can pick and choose which programs you wish to install. By doing this, you can select a default installation or a really lean mean installation. Again, if I missed this step, I hope someone will set me straight.

That being said, there was very little you had to do for the install. You select your location, enter your username, computer name and password, and that is about it.

Installation Time

Finally, I found that the installation itself went pretty quickly. I didn't time it or anything, but I perceived it as much shorter than most of the Windows installations that I have ever done.

While it was installing, it went over a few of the features that you might enjoy while using Linux, which I actually found interesting and informative.

All in all, I found the installation process a pretty painless process.

Oh yeah, one more thing that I thought was pretty cool was that I was able to configure my wireless network connection even before the installation process had completed.  I don't know why I think that is cool, but it is!

5 KM In 13 Minutes...Or Not

19:43 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
We had a 5 KM run to do today; just one day after the 16.5 KM run. We thought we'd be bagged from the last run, but as it turns out we both finished fairly strong.

In fact, according to my watch, we ran the 5 KM, uphill run in just 13 minutes! Of course, I probably stopped my watch along the way, but if it is ok with you, I'll believe the watch!

Best run ever!

Ok, so we probably did it in about 32 minutes, but that still isn't bad.

Today was kind of a busy day on the whole. We had friends coming over for brunch so we had to get to up early in order to go to the Farmers' Market. We stocked up on a bunch-o-fruit for a wicked fruit salad. We served an overnight Egg Stratta that we prepped the previous day. While it tasted good, we don't know if it was a make again dish. We've got about 1/2 of it left over, so we'll be having egg stratta for breakfast over the next couple days. Oh, and fruit salad...lots and lots of fruit salad!

Longest Runs So Far

Saturday, April 21, 2012 21:38 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
I had a migraine a couple days ago, so the 8 KM run we were scheduled to do that night didn't happen. We could have rescheduled it Friday, which is usually an off day, but I didn't want to push it yet, so we took a day off. That was the first day we've missed since starting the program. And you know what? I didn't feel bad about it at all!

We did make up the mileage though as we did a 16.5 KM run. That is the farthest Kristie and I have run to date. We were originally only going to do a 13 KM run, but we tacked on 1 KM at the turn around point, and 3 KM at the end. Needless to say, as this was our longest run so far, we were pretty tired at the end. We talked about it and thought that if push came to shove (That's a weird expression...what is the difference between a push and a shove?) we probably could have done about another 2-3 KM before we just ran out of juice. So while we're getting closer to our goal of 21 KM for the half marathon, we don't think we're quite there yet.

We did about a 1/2 KM cool down walk and then stretched out, but it was pretty funny, on the walk back to the car, my butt was cramping up something fierce! After having a bath this evening, I think I'm back to normal.

The evening was pretty busy today as we're preparing for a brunch we're having with friends tomorrow, so we made our regular dinner and then did all the prep work for tomorrow's brunch.

Blog Facelift

Friday, April 20, 2012 13:12 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Now that we've started to re-invigorated the blog with new content, we also thought it could use a bit of a redesign in terms of aesthetics.

Other than a new logo and splash of colour** for the background, the site shouldn't be too different for those regular visitors.

Hopefully you like the new look!

**Oh yeah, one more thing. I am a Canadian living in New Zealand, so you may see some posts that have "interesting" spelling; case in point, colour spelled with a "U". These are not errors, they are by design. :-)

Stay tuned for more content! I hope to discuss the experience of installing Mint in the next day or so.

Why Mint? Why Not!

In the last post I discussed how I came to be interested in using Linux. But why, out of the hundreds of distros that are out there, did I come to choose Mint?  Well, gather around children, and I shall tell you a tale! I call this tale: Why I chose Mint! ...I admit the title needs work.

One of the computers in our office was an old box running Windows XP. When I say old, I mean that it actually pre-dates my employment by a couple years which puts it at about seven years old. It is a Compaq Evo D series that had a 40 Gb hard drive, two 250 MB sticks of DDR ram, integrated sound and video on the motherboard as well as a 10/100 Ethernet slot. It also had a few USB ports. As you can tell, it isn't something you'd want to buy your kid as a graduation present. Anyway, after spending about a half hour just to modify a few files on the computer, I said no more, and we upgrade the computer with a nice refurb which broke down not long after...but that is another story.

So my thoughts were, what should I do with this crappy old box? e-Waste? Use it as a door stop? What?  Then I remembered hearing that Linux is touted as an operating system that could run on old hardware.  I've been hearing these claims for years and as such, decided to give Linux a try on it. As an aside, it never occurred to me that Linux distributions get upgraded just like any other software, and as such sometimes old hardware is just too old. That being said, other than DSL and Puppy Linux, I found that after trying a couple of installs, I had to upgrade the ram on this particular machine to 2 GB.

So when I decided to dive into Linux, I did what anyone out there might do when trying to learn about a new subject; I Googled it. I simply used a search term such as Top 10 Linux Distros, and started going through the first couple of pages in the search results.

As you might guess with an operating system as diverse as Linux, many people had wildly varying opinions about what the top 10 distros might be. With hundreds of versions of Linux out there, there is a lot for people to love and hate about each one.  After a while however, I started seeing trends develop and found that a few distros were mentioned in virtually all the posts. Those were:
  • Ubuntu
  • Mint
  • DSL
  • Puppy
  • Fedora
  • Debian
  • OpenSuse
  • JoliCloud
I had heard of virtually all of them and was actually a bit surprised to hear people's enthusiasm for JoliCloud. I hadn't however heard of Mint, which is strange because it was either number one or number two on most lists. So over a period of a few days, I tried out a few of the distros. Out of the ones listed above, I decided to try:
  • Ubuntu
  • Mint
  • DSL
  • Puppy
The first was Ubuntu. While I understand that Ubuntu seems to be the anointed distribution as of late, I've got to say that I didn't care for it. The install went fine, but I just couldn't get into to the Unity interface. Call me old fashioned, but the windows buttons go on the right! This ain't England people! Although we do drive on the left here too, so that wasn't a great metaphor. I also found that even though I had upgrade the ram, it was still not much quicker than the original XP install.

After that, I tried the two small installs: DSL (Damn Small Linux) and Puppy. Out of these two, I kind of liked puppy, but didn't like the idea of running the entire box on removable media. Yes, I did find out how to install it on the hard drive, but I thought I might give Mint a try, as I already got a feel for it using the removable media.

After going to the Mint website, I found that there were three different versions available for a 32 bit machine: LXDE, KDE, and Mint 12 for Gnome 3. At the time, I had no idea what the difference was between any of these, and based on my experience with the slowness of Ubuntu, I decided to go with the one recommended for the older machines, which was the LXDE release. The install went off with out a hitch (by the way, I will will discuss install details in another post in a few days or so). And after the install finished and I had a day or so to mess around with it, I knew that I had found the Linux distribution for me!

New Noob Contribution

11:24 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Thank you to the owner of this blog for allowing me to contribute to what I hope will be a great, and ongoing experiment in delving into the world of Linux; particularly Mint Linux!

My objective as a new author on this site is to document my journey into Linux Mint as I transition, over time, from a complete Noob to hopefully experienced user and perhaps a strong advocate for Mint.  Before getting into using Mint, I should give a bit of background about my self:

I work for a very small not-for-profit organisation in Wellington, New Zealand. I was originally hired on as a Microsoft Access developer, but my role very rapidly expanded to virtually all aspects of IT not long after being hired. I have a pretty strong background using Microsoft products including various Windows operating systems as well as productivity applications; both as an advanced user and more on the technical side of things. All of which I have taught myself over the years.

Debian Distro Chart
Now, as the title of this post would indicate, I am very new to Linux, and until fairly recently, I had always dismissed Linux as an operating system for hobbyists, or uber-geeks; what with its hundreds of different distributions, and derivations, its command line interfaces, etc. That is until our office needed to upgrade from a peer-to-peer Windows network to a real server. As our office staff was increasing, the stress on the peer-to-peer network was getting out of control. There wasn't a day that would go by where staff wouldn't lose connectivity and we'd have to reboot the host machine. Things were getting pretty bad, pretty quickly. Being a very small not-for-profit however, we simply didn't have the funds required to purchase a new server and the requisite site licenses for Microsoft Small Business Server. Add to that is the fact that I have heard, from a true network administrator friend of mine, that administration of SBS could be quite tricky. This meant that we'd also have to get into a service agreement...again, something we couldn't afford.  So in desperation, I started looking into various low-cost options: Virtually hosted server, cloud services, various jury rigged solutions that required glue and duct tape, etc.  Through my search for a low cost solution to our problem is how I dove head long into Linux.

Without going into too much detail about the decision making process and all the products that I was testing, I'll simply say that we settled on a Linux Server distribution called Zentyal (formerly eBox). Zentyal was the answer to all of our problems, AND it was incredibly easy to set-up and administer! And I say this as a first time network-administrator! After my experience setting up a server using Linux, I thought:
"Ok, if it was that easy to set up a server, how hard could it be to use Linux on the desktop then?"
Thus my journey into Linux Mint had begun.

Stay tuned for more updates on my journey as a Linux Mint Noob.

Thanks again to the owner of this blog for allowing me to contribute!

Linux Mint Noob Blog - a new beginning

10:09 Posted by Leo Saumure 1 comments
Linux mint noob welcomes a new author.

We will see how this goes. Hopefully we will see plenty of new fresh ideas here so check back!

Test Anxiety

06:06 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Ok, so now we've done a urine analysis for Angus (about $60) and we've had a blood test completed ($180) and there was nothing wrong with Angus. The blood tests did show his awesomeness levels were through the roof, but we knew that. And there's no treatment for awesomeness. It is a chronic condition that seems to increase each day with Angus.

The Vet wanted to run more tests: X-rays, aspirate his lymph nodes (essentially a lymph node biopsy), but I don't think we're going to bother. His whole line of reasoning with this is that Angus doesn't look like a dog who is thriving; his skin has issues, his fur isn't great, he is too skinny, etc. That, in a nutshell, is Angus. His skin has never been great, his fur has always been lack lustre, and as for the skinniness, he's already gained a kilo since we increased his food rations each day. So while we are happy that our vet is concerned enough to want to delve deeper, I don't see much point at this time. I should also point out that the original reason we took him to see the Vet was to have his anal glands expressed, because he was scooting around.

Yesterday's run was a simple 5 KM up Rangoon, the 62 metre up hill climb. Granted that 62 metres is stretched over 2.5 KM. I was out at a work function yesterday and had a fair amount to eat, so I didn't want to go for a run first thing this morning, so we deferred our 8 KM run to the evening.

Good News Everyone

Saturday, April 14, 2012 19:42 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
After two weeks, I finally called the Vet to find out about Angus' urine sample, and we found out that he doesn't have diabetes! Hooray!! We're bringing him in on Monday for a blood test however.

What is wrong with Angus you ask? Well, first off, thanks for asking...very considerate of you. I think I mentioned that we took Angus into the Vet to get his bum checked out as he was scooting around for a while. His anal glands were expressed, and that should have been the end of it.  But then the Vet weighed Angus and found that he had lost a kilogram since his last check-up. So they were trying to determine what might be wrong with him...if anything.

Upon the Vet's advice we started increasing Angus' food intake, and we have already noticed an increase in weight. The Vet asked about his drinking habits, his eating habits, whether or not he vomits often, etc. We're very happy to get the blood test done, but what we suspect is that there will actually be nothing wrong with him.

Angus is a dog who doesn't do anything half-assed. He always gives 100% regardless of what he is doing. He plays himself to exhaustion, he eats like it is his last meal, he drinks like he lives in the dessert, he does everything to extremes. That being said, we have taken Angus up Mt Kaukau many, many times this year, and he doesn't stroll up that hill, he attacks it! I suspect, he just wasn't eating enough for the amount of energy he was expending. But better to be safe than sorry.

Run: Today's run was delayed until the evening as we didn't have enough time to get the run out of the way before talking to Kristie's parents. The plan was to Skype, Run, then whatever. However, it didn't work out that way. It was more like: Skype, lolly-gag, amble around doing not much of anything, make lunch, nap, then run. Oh, we ran, we just delayed it by a few hours. Good run though; 13.5 KM in 1:16:32.

Almost Didn't Run Yesterday

Friday, April 13, 2012 21:03 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Two nights ago, I was suffering from a bout of insomnia. Which has been happening a bit more than usual lately; still not as bad as in Edmonton when we lived on Whyte Ave., but every three months or so, I'll have a night where I just can't sleep.

The problems a couple nights ago were multiple. First, I was just kind of wired when I went to bed. No real reason for it, I was just not that sleepy. Secondly, I had a throbbing pain in my foot. Not a horrific pain, but one where, due to being wide awake, you were more cognisant about it than if you were actually sleepy. Finally, I had an Angus issue.

As I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep, and I didn't want my tossing and turning, and sighing and grumbling to keep Kristie awake, I went into the living room to sleep. And as I didn't want the noise of pulling out the hide-a-bed to wake Kristie or the dogs, I just threw my blankets on the floor, and tried to go to sleep.  I determined that after about an hour or so of this, I turned on the TV to watch some Futurama DVDs; something that will generally make me feel drowsy after about three or four episodes. When I turned off the TV at around 2:30-ish I could feel myself drifting off into slumber, when...

"Scratch!"

Angus had gotten out of bed and wanted to get my attention by scratching my head.

I had to laugh, at the timing of it all, and even though I knew there was no way that I would be getting any sleep, I couldn't get mad at Angus. He's Angus after all!

By about 4:00 AM, I knew from experience, that I would start getting drowsy, so I decided to turn off my alarm, which was set for 5:00 AM, and sleep in until 6:00 AM. I knew that there was no way that I would be in any shape to run after an hour of sleep.  Kristie got up at around 5:00 AM anyway due to her internal alarm clock and started milling around, getting coffee, etc. So I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep any longer.

While we didn't go for the run in the morning, we did go for one in the evening. We did the big hill route again. I still didn't have much energy, and Kristie developed a stitch early into the run. While we did complete the 5 KM run (thankfully it was only 5 KM), neither one of us felt very good about our performance.

Luckily today was an off day from running, and we were able to sleep in until about 5:30 AM!

Oh, and if you're wondering, last night's sleep was much better!

I'm Not Waking Up Before Five

Today's run was one of the longest scheduled morning runs that we have done so far: 8 KM, which we actually extended to 9 KM. It was a repeat of the all-up-hill run we did a few days ago. The run was stressful, but not due to how the run affected our bodies. It was stressful due to the shorter amount of time we had in the morning to fit in all the daily activities such as taking the dogs out, feeding the dogs and ourselves, showering, etc.

I think that we'll have to revise the training schedule to ensure that no morning runs that occur on a weekday can exceed 10 KM. There is no way in hell I'm getting up before 5:00 AM!

All in all, the run went well.

Early Morning Runs Again

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 18:44 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
After four days off for the Easter holiday, where you could get up late, have a nap if you feel tired, getting back into the early morning runs is a bit of a challenge. Tack on Angus getting me up for a midnight pee didn't help much either.

It wasn't as difficult to get up this morning as I thought it would be, but you couldn't say we were a bundle of energy either. Our run, which was a 6 KM route, was finished in about 42 minutes; nothing to write home about, but apparently it is good enough to blog about. To be honest, I think the lack of energy today had more to do with yesterday's fast run than getting up early. I find that the amount I sweat during a run is a good gauge for determining how much the previous run had taken out of me, and I was sweating bullets today.

But, we can chalk it up to one of those "glad we did it" runs.

5 Kilometre Sprint

Monday, April 09, 2012 13:58 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Here in Wellington, over the Easter long weekend, we have been having the best weather that we have experienced this entire year! Every single day has been sunny, warm and still! We've managed to get out for all of our runs, and take the dogs out for walks each and every day. It has been absolutely glorious!

Today we took the dogs to Ataturk Park, which is on the far south east of the peninsula, not far from the airport. The walk takes you up into the hills and you can pretty much get a full 360 degree view of all of Wellington! It was marvellous!  I wish I had remembered the camera. [sigh]

Today we did a 5 Kilometre sprint. Ok, not really a sprint as that would probably have landed us in the hospital, but we did do a 5 KM run at quite a fast pace; we ran it in 23 minutes and 15 seconds. That gives us an average speed of 4.65 minutes per kilometre! Probably the fastest we've run for a sustained amount of time.

Tomorrow we're doing a rehash of the All-Up-Hill run before work. [Sigh} Sadly, tomorrow is back to reality.

Hill Run Not Too Bad

Sunday, April 08, 2012 17:57 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
So Kristie and I went for a 5 KM run yesterday, and 2.5 of it was straight up hill. Ok, not straight up hill, because then we'd be mountain climbing and not running, but 2.5 KM of the run was all up hill. Actually, I just measured the elevation difference and found that from our starting point to the ending point was 62 metres up! Nice!

Oh, but we didn't stop there. We were feeling pretty good at the end of the run, so rather than just calling it a day, we tacked on about four more kilometres at the end. Most of it with big hills too! We rock!

Oh, and it was a marvellous day too, as the photo will attest to.

Can't Waste The Day

Saturday, April 07, 2012 12:22 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Both yesterday, and today were absolutely spectacular days weather-wise. Today is actually even better than yesterday, but for a weekend that they forcasted wind and rain, I'm absolutely loving this!

We got out early yesterday for a long run, which turned into a of a bit of a longer run than we expected. Not much longer, but longer. Kristie and I were planning on doing our regular 10 KM run which brings us from Kate Mansfield Park to the point along Oriental Parade, but Kristie wanted to run a bit further to get to a clean bathroom. So we ended up running about 11.6 KM in total. Like I said, it was a bit longer, but not much longer.

After the run, we came home and went for a quick nap immediately upon arriving at home as we had a schedule Skype call with a couple friends back in Edmonton.

After the run, we took the dogs for a walk in Ngaio Gorge, a favorite of the pups, and then home for dinner and videos.

It was an absolutely wonderful day!

Today, we deferred the morning run in favour of an evening run tonight. Like I said at the beginning of this post, the weather this today was fantastic! So we packed up the dogs, and had a quicky breakfast of coffee and egg muffin on the waterfront. From there, we took a nice, long, and picturesque drive around Shelly Bay, which is an area of Wellington that we hardly ever get to. As a matter of fact, Kristie had never been that way yet. We stopped at a few place to take some photos, and took the dogs for a walk along one of the beaches on the Miramar Peninsula. They met a gorgeous little Scottie named Lilly there, and had a bit of fun hanging out with her.

We then finished up the drive by touring around the bays until we reached Brooklyn and then back into the city.

The run that we've deferred until this evening is all up hill! Ok, not really all up hill, but it is all up hill until we hit the turn around mark! We're both a bit nervous about this run, but are anxious to test our fitness level.

Sorry, What?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 20:14 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
I was going for my regular lunch time walk today, listening to my iPod, as I do, and not paying attention to anything in particular when I looked up to see two buck naked women (they were wearing underwear) walking towards me. While they were naked, their bodies were painted to conceal their nakeditudeasity. Behind these two well endowed women were a group of school kids carrying a protest sign of some sort.

Here's the thing. If you wanted my attention, you got it with the whole nudetastic display. If you wanted me to remember your cause, you're SOL! I remember seeing two naked women walking around in public. The fact that I actually remember some sort of protest sign is, in it self, a miracle.

Might I suggest that the next time you want to get people's attention, that you carry the sign in front of the bouncy, and noticeably cold, naked women. Because as a protest...you're doing it wrong.

Just Glad To Be Done

08:35 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Today's run wasn't one of the great ones. In fact, I would have been just fine if we didn't do it at all. I didn't have the greatest sleep last night as I was a bit worried about Angus.

We took Angus to the vet yesterday as he has been scooting around on his butt lately, so we figured he might be having issues with his anal glands. Which, as it turns out, he was. The Doctor expressed the glands and hopefully that issue has been resolved. But the Vet also noticed that he had dropped a kilogram of weight since his last visit; he's currently 6.6 KG.

We started discussing his drinking habits, which have increased in the last little while, as well as the fact that he has been having a few accidents lately. Couple that with the weight loss, and I think she might suspect diabetes. She didn't come out and say it, but Kristie has a friend who has a dog with diabetes, and she knew the symptoms. The vet gave us a specimen cup to collect a urine sample, which I did this morning. I have it in the refrigerator at the moment, right next to a glass of lemonade (I'm sure I'll remember which is which). I'll be dropping it off at the vet tonight.

She also suggested increasing his caloric intake by about 1/3, which Angus will absolutely love! He's a total pig, and wouldn't stop eating even if his stomach burst. Actually, if his stomach did burst he could simply keep eating to replace the contents that would spill out of the hole. Finally, she suggested that we monitor the amount of water that he drinks over a 24 hour period. This will be kind of difficult as both he and Walnut drink from the same bowls. I'll have to see if I can restrict Angus to one bowl, and Walnut to another. Wouldn't it be interesting if The Night Terrors comic that I do, was all based on Angus' issue with diabetes?

If anything is revealed through the urine sample, we'll do a blood test, and regardless of the outcome of the urine analysis, we'll bring him back to the vet in two weeks to see if the increased caloric intake has brought his weight back up. Angus has always been a skinny dog. He gets a lot of exercise for a Shiz Tsu, but a full kilo drop since October is a bit worrying.

So that is why I wasn't into the run today.

...oh, and Kristie's legs were tired.


Strict Adherence to the Schedule...Sort Of

Monday, April 02, 2012 06:57 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Yesterday was the first day of our half marathon schedule. Up until this point we were in pre-training mode, which basically meant that we were running about 35 KM per week with at least one of them being a long run (10 KM or greater).

According to the training schedule (see the image attached), we were suppose to do a 4.8 KM run yesterday. Well, that didn't happen. As mentioned a couple posts ago, we usually do a nice long run on Saturday, but we ended up doing a pretty short run with the dogs on the beach as the weather was glorious. That meant Sunday, which was suppose to be our first run on the actual training schedule was over-ridden with the long run which should have happened on Saturday. With me so far? Ok, now it continues down the rabbit hole.

Today (Monday), was suppose to be a day off from running; both on the old schedule and the new schedule. But Kristie is having a flu vaccination on Tuesday, and she had a bit of a reaction last time and she didn't want it to mess with our running. So what we did instead, was shift the Tuesday and Wednesday runs a day earlier. So our day off was in actuality a 7 KM run and it will be the same tomorrow. Actually, according to the schedule, we are only suppose to run a 6.8 KM route, but for some reason, we have rounded up every run to this point.

So to boil this whole blog entry into a sound bite: Why the hell did we even write this stuff down if we're not going to follow it?

Google Maps Lied To Us

Sunday, April 01, 2012 11:12 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
We couldn't run our regular waterfront route today as there was a big event going on: The Relay for Life. They had most of the pedestrian pathway blocked off in order to allow the race participants adequate running space. So instead of that route we did the Owhiro Bay run. We've done this route, although a shorter version, once before. But as we are running much longer distances than the first time we ran there, I used Google Maps to determine a 5, 6, 7 KM route. Then, depending on how we felt during the run, we could turn back at either distance point.

We hit the 5 KM mark with pretty good energy, and decided to go at least one more. When we hit the 6 KM point, we noticed that we were only 30 minutes out, so although we decided to turn back at that point, we also were determined to make it back to the start in less than 30 minutes, making the entire 12 KM route in less than an hour.

We did push it pretty hard, and by the last kilometer we were both huffing and puffing, and complaining about how our legs were feeling tired. And at one point, when I kept thinking we should be seeing the end soon, I swore out loud in frustration! Finally, with the end point coming into sight, we started to put on the afterburners, and crossed the finish line with 6 seconds to spare! We had done 12 KM in just under one hour! Or so we thought!

Kristie was a bit skeptical about running so far in such a good time; we have been getting better on the runs, but she thought that this measure of improvement didn't seem realistic. So I suggested that we drive back taking the same route to map out the distance. I set the odometer and we headed off. The first point (5 KM mark) that I had measured, using Google Maps, was off by about 400 metres, which meant that the second point was going to be at least off by the same amount, but more likely off by more. Well, low and behold, by the time we reached our turn around point we saw that we had only run 10.6 KM rather than 12 KM.  How disheartening! Sure the run itself was still a personal best for a 10 KM run, but I thought we had done so much better. And for the amount of effort we put into it, it made it all that much harder to swallow.

Oh well, like I said, it was still a personal best, but I was hoping it would have been a phenomenal best.


It's Two-Two-Two Blogs in One

06:47 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
I haven't blogged about our runs in a couple days so here is the information about our last two runs.

Remember how whiny I was on Tuesday's run? You know, because Kristie basically ran circles around me in terms of speed, and after every lap she would slap me on the back of the head? Remember? Well Thursday's run was actually at an even faster pace, but this time I had no real issues with it. On Tuesday's we ran 7 KM at 41 minutes and 23 seconds, while on Thursday, we did the the same distance 15 seconds faster! Yay! So despite my whining, I still managed to have a good run at a faster pace. I'll still whine if I feel tired though...this changes nothing in that regard.

Yesterday's run was suppose to a long one; we had originally planned on doing anywhere from 12 - 15 KM. But the weather was so nice yesterday, we thought the best way to take advantage of it, was to take the dogs for a run on the beach instead. So we packed up the car with our furry friends and drove to Waikanae, which is this gorgeous, long, flat beach that stretches on for ages. The length of the beach however had nothing to do with how far we'd be going.

We knew going in that we wouldn't have a very long run as Angus can only go so far, and so fast on his stubby little legs. To his credit, he did manage to keep up fairly well when he was running, but Angus' legs aren't the only issue that come into play when we try to run with him. Angus has a tendency to be distracted. And by tenancy, I mean that Angus can not pay attention...at all! Anything that catches his eye or nose will draw him away from the task at hand. So even though we managed to run for just over 20 minutes, I think we may have only traveled about 2 KM in actual distance. We may have run about twice that far, but due to the constant circling back to collect our distracted dog, it seemed much shorter. It is kind of like the folds in an accordion: when the accordion is closed, it is pretty short, but when you open it up to full length, it can be quite long.

The bad thing about going to Waikanae is that after the run we ate horribly. After the run we stopped at a cafe for a flat white and a chocolate chip cookie (some of the best cookies we've had here). Then, as we stuck around the area for a while, we stopped at a Fi & Chi place for lunch. We split a single order of chips. And finally, we had an ice cream cone for dessert! So any gains we may have made on the short run (which wasn't much to begin with) were negated by our lousy eating!

Today's run will be the long run that we missed yesterday.  Stay tuned!