Losing all panels in Linux Mint

Another Linux problem that turned out to be much simpler than I thought:

After an update and reboot, the bottom panel (my only panel) on Linux Mint was gone. My desktop had also changed. After a lot of hassle the solution was to choose ”MATE” at boot up (at the login splash screen) instead of ”last session” (which I had assumed was MATE). I have no idea why ”last session” didn’t work to begin with.

I’m starting to think I’m not cut out for Linux.

Picture from WEB UPD8.

I’ve got good news and bad news – EA vill övergå till 100 % digital försäljning

Den digitala världen närmar sig allt mer. Allt fler företag inser de enorma fördelarna med att så mycket som möjligt hålla till på nätet. Nu senast är det spelföretaget Electronic Arts som i en intervju nyligen sade att de en dag kommer att övergå 100 % till försäljning av digitala spel – inga skivor, ingenting, bara nedladdning online. Det är ingen överraskning – digitalförsäljning ökar kraftigt, och företagen satsar också allt mer med det. Skivorna blir idag allt mer irrelevanta. För tio år sedan krävde de flesta producenter att spelaren hade skivan i vid spelet, men nu körs nästan alltid allting direkt från datorn eller Internet. Det senaste fysiska spelet jag köpte, Diablo III, har jag bara haft i en gång – när jag installerade.

Tyvärr leder övergången till det digitala också till en allt bredare övergång till DRM (Digital Rights Management), det vill säga diverse sätt för företagen att säkerställa att spelet inte kan kopieras eller spelas olagligt. Det får oanade konsekvenser med spel som det tidigare nämnda Diablo III, som bara går att spela när spelaren är uppkopplad till internet med en specifik inloggning. Resultatet blir att spelet är helt värdelöst när spelets servrar går ned (ett stort problem med Diablo III) samt att spelaren inte till exempel kan ta med spelet till sommarstugan eller på en semester utomlands.

Det finns lösningar. Jag lovar. Diablo III är ett utmärkt exempel på ett spel som kunde ha DRM:ats mycket bättre – varför inte kräva internet för multiplayerspel, och inte kräva det för single player? En enorm del av spelet är just multiplayer, vilket gör att de som inte vill betala missar något enormt. Resultatet blir då att ett fåtal fildelar det och aldrig betalar, men att många fler fildelar singledelen, gillar det, och köper spelet för multiplayerdelen.

Digitala nedladdningar är fantastiska. Det är ett ofrånkomligt nästa steg i spelutvecklingen. Men det är inte bara guld och gröna skogar, och det kräver lite arbete från spelföretagens sida.

Steg ett är att börja lita på konsumenterna. På oss. Vi älskar er faktiskt.

Läs mer: GamesIndustry - Ars Technica

Ah, the nostalgia…

I’m reinstalling Windows XP on a computer, and after maybe ten Ubuntu installs since last, it’s a truly awesome feeling of nostalgia. That blue screen of death is both taunting and beautiful.

Now fifteen hours of finding drivers!

My RSS feeds

Having gone off from traditional newspapers and TV reports more and more in the last few years, I’m now getting almost all of my news from RSS feeds (what is RSS?), anything from private blogs such as mine, to larger science blogs, news outlets and organisations such as NASA, and – let’s face it – a bunch of other stuff just for fun. I decided to make this post to go through all English language feeds I follow. Count all these feeds as recommended. In no specific order.

  • xkcd: One of the best web series out there, with good nerd and science humour.
  • Morito Ergo Sum: A promising, up and coming doom metal band.
  • Richard Wiseman: A British psychologist, with lots of great visual illusions (like the one to the right), puzzles and interesting thoughts.
  • SMBC Comics: Funny, skeptical comics from the SMBC team, which I’ve linked to several times in the past.
  • To Posterity – and Beyond!: The blog of Cori Samuels, an audio book recorder I totally fell in love with after hearing her LibriVox rendition of William Morris’ ”The Wood Beyond the World” (which I reviewed here). Her blog is extremely slow on updates, but still of interest.
  • TorrentFreak: The best news source I’ve found concerning internet piracy and filesharing. Although extremely subjective (pro-piracy), they report a great deal on the recent news concerning police busts, laws, new technology, interviews and studies.
  • Wuffmorgenthaler: Another web series, of much lower quality than SMBC and xkcd, but still fun sometimes.
  • Dinosaur Comics: Yet another web series, much wordier than the other, but (most of the time) a lot of fun. Plus, it has dinosaurs.
  • Just Bento: Cool pictures of and recipes for Japanese box lunches (like the one to the right).
  • The Big Picture: With the tagline ”News stories in photographs”, this is a news source which sort of focuses on the tragic events (such as the Japanese nuclear incident last March), and has a lot of excellent, provocative pictures to go along with them.
  • WebUrbanist: Cool architecture. Sort of.
  • Anton Nordenfur: My own blog. Just to see if the RSS feed is working properly.
  • Ars Technica: The latest news in computer technology – computers, operative systems, smart phones, smart TV, tablets, et cetera.
  • Astro-photo.nl: The astronomy blog of André van der Hoeven, the dude who took the Moon picture that I wrote about yesterday. Lots of cool space photos.
  • Brainstorm Headquarters: The blog of Fredrik Bränström, rarely updated but excellent when it is.
  • Discover Blogs: This feed includes multiple blogs under Discover Magazine, including the awesome Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy. A great way to keep up with science news from many different fields, some interesting and some less interesting.
  • Explore. Dream. Discover. (and bring a parrot): The rarely updated blog of the fantastic Kaylee, a skeptic parrot owner. Sometimes in Swedish, sometimes in English.
  • Hacking Chinese: A blog by Olle Linge on learning Chinese, which I’ve referenced a couple of times before.
  • LROC News: News released from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, which produced the Apollo 11 photo I wrote about a couple days ago.
  • NASA Breaking News: Constant updates about the work of the American Air and Space Administration.
  • Neurologica: The blog of Dr. Steven Novella, probably most famous as the host of the podcast The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, which I follow avidly since a year past or so. A practicing neuroscientist giving a ”daily fix of neuroscience, skepticism, and critical thinking”.
  • Olle Linge: The personal blog of Olle Linge behind Hacking Chinese. Sometimes in Swedish, sometimes in English.
  • Science-Based Medicine: A blog on scientific medicine, combating nonscientific medicine, basically. With editors and contributors like Steve Novella (who also runs Neurologica), Mark Krislip, David Gorsky and others.
  • Skepchick: The skeptic women organisation Skepchick’s blog, with multiple contributors headed by Rebecca Watson (also of the Skeptic’s Guide, by the way).
  • Universe Today: The best outlet for astronomy news, which is also the reason I’ve referenced them several times in the past. Headed by Fraser Cain of the podcast Astronomy Cast.
  • VODO: VODO is a great source for films and TV series released online under a Creative Commons license. The feed gives a constant update on new projects.
  • Pioneer One: The source for news about the VODO TV series Pioneer One.
  • Quantum Diaries: News updates on particle physics and quantum theory.
  • Astroblog: Astronomy news from Australian Ian Musgrave.
  • Tom’s Astronomy Blog: Astronomy news from… well, Tom.
  • Astronomy Blog: Another astronomy blog, this time British – okay, I consume a lot of astronomy news, so sue me. Following many different sources make evaluating and making sure not to miss anything much easier.
  • Quantum blog: The personal blog of Jev Kuznetsov, a physicist and Matlab programmer.
  • China Space News: News on the Chinese space programme, which is sadly rarely reported on on other astronomy news sources such as Universe Today, in spite of it being one of the most interesting programmes out there, definitely competing with NASA and the ESA.
  • Reuters’ Top News: A good feed for staying up to date with the most important headlines out there. I also have a separate feed for Reuters’ science news, but couldn’t find a link.

I also follow a bunch of Swedish language blogs, mostly on Swedish politics. Yay.

Encrypt your e-mails!

I recently saw the comparison that sending unencrypted e-mails is like sending letters without an envelope. And so I was finally convinced to try it, after hearing about it for years but considering it too much trouble for a little extra security.

It turns out that after installing and configuring the system (which wasn’t that much of a hassle), I barely notice a difference, except that I can feel safe that I and the recipient are the only ones reading the e-mails. I use the Enigmail add-on on Thunderbird on Ubuntu, but there appears to be lots of different variations depending on your needs. I used this Enigmail quick-start guide, but I also found this one which appears slightly more user-friendly. If you’re using Gmail on Firefox, check out this extension.

Enabling Chinese input in Ubuntu 11.10

I recently upgraded my Ubuntu 11.10 laptop Edenbeast with a complete reinstall of the operative system (renaming it Watcher after Agalloch’s ”The Watcher’s Monolith”), and thought I’d try to give it some Chinese input keyboard while I was at it.

Turned out to be easier than I thought. Follow this easy guide and within five minutes you are set.


New computer purchased. A poor fellow, weak and slow, but it manages StarCraft II (with poor effects), and it was extremely cheap. Plus, I needed a home computer. Following my tradition of computer naming since 2009’s Kinslayer, I have named the computer after another musical piece, this time Elysium by power metal band Stratovarius.

Following up with my old list:

  1. Zudde ( – 2008)
  2. Moonlighten (2008 – 2009)
  3. Kinslayer / Edenbeast (2009 – )
  4. Elysium (2011 – )

Kinslayer and Edenbeast are the same computer under different names – Edenbeast was the new name taken when updating some hardware and updating it to Ubuntu 10.10 last autumn.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 – how to fix extremely poor performance

In wait for the new Ubuntu 11.04, I decided to reinstall my system for the first time since October, and I also took the chance and switched from Desktop Edition to Netbook Edition – the version especially designed for smaller laptops with weaker hard drives. (and at the same time renaming my laptop from kinslayer to edenbeast, after the My Dying Bride song.

I was surprised to find that while the Unity layout looked cool, it was incredibly slow in comparison to the Desktop Edition, and some programs could barely start without making a fuzz. I took it easy and wouldn’t bother, but when I realised I couldn’t watch a DVD without having it hack constantly, I looked up the problem.

Apparently I’m not the first one with this problem, and the greatest solution seems to be to install the Unity 2D, which doesn’t have as magnificent special effects but gives much better performance. I can honestly just barely see a difference between this one and the original, so it’s definitely worth it. A description of the download and install process can be found here.

The End of an Era: Farewell, Moonlighten, Welcome, Kinslayer.

My laptop Moonlighten (bought in early 2008) has been weak for some time now. The keyboard is broken down into pieces, the screen sometimes shut off, if I connect power it turns off. Plus it weighs too much to be used in everyday school life. It was simply the time of change, the end of an era.

I now own an LG computer with Ubuntu 9.10 – my mother’s old one. I have also gotten a brand new external harddrive of 1000 GB. Exactly what I need, having the majority of my music and videos at home (plus of course a backup). This new laptop is also much smaller and weigh less, and has a battery of 5:20 hours, whilst Moonlighten had for about 1:30. A huge difference, meaning I won’t have to bring the cord to school.

Kinslayer is the somewhat depressing name I have given my third computer, a reference to the Nightwish song on their 2000 Wishmaster album, itself a reference to the Columbine School Massacre. There is no connection whatsoever though, as with Moonlighten I merely choose a name that sounded nice.

My three (majorly used) computers to this date:

  1. Zudde (- 2008)
  2. Moonlighten (2008 – 2009)
  3. Kinslayer (2009 -)

A nice little list I’m forming, isn’t it?