The Rolling Stones

Time is on my side, yes it is!

A boring, techy Cogitation – feel free to skip over it 🙂

I’ve always loved the Rolling Stones. Do you remember the track ‘Time is on My Side‘ from the 2nd Stones album, 12 x 5, released in 1964? I’ve always loved the song, but only as I grew older did it take on a much great significance for me.

There was a great film released called “Fallen“, as I recall, with Denzyl Washington as the main character. Hang on, I’ll check those details. Yes, a 1998 film in which the spirit (or possessing spirit) of a serial killer leaves the body as he is executed and passes by touch from body to body in search of its revenge. The song is either played or whistled as the spirit flits from person to person tormenting poor old Denzyl. [IMDB] The combination of the film and the song turned the association into something meaningful and almost spooky for me. It became far more than just a love song.

Now that’s a long and strange introduction to a post that has nothing to do with either the Stones or the Film.

After a stay in Hospital I find myself at home – weak, completely pooped and forced to rest. Unsurprisingly, as the frustration set in I found that song echoing around in my head!

Done that so many times before

Let’s set the Wayback machine to 14 days and take a brief trip in time….

Imminent Death! Freeze here then just black screen :(

Imminent Death! Freeze here then just black screen 🙁

So a couple of weeks ago, my PC running a relatively new installation of Windows 10 crashed. Ho hum. Nothing new there. It’s Windows – we expect this. It’s an irritation and the worst case scenario is that I would have to reformat and reinstall the software. From many similar past experiences I had learnt to keep the boot disk and the data drives separate, so although I might lose one or two things that hadn’t been moved from the C: drive, all of our precious data would be safe.

…Or so I thought!

I had the dread Black Screen (no cursor) at boot up problem that I soon discovered to be a recurrent problem in Win 10, Win 8.1, Win 8 and Win 7! Do Microsoft ever fix the bugs in their OSes? Anyway, I had the boot media and went to re-install only to find the same problem recurring. I spent 3-4 days going through all possible solutions mentioned and I could find no solution.

Now you always say you want to be free

It did sneak into my mind that maybe the hardware had gone awry and something was broken. As Ruthie uses Linux Mint as her standard OS and I had used it as a dual boot I wondered whether it was worth installing that to check the hardware. So, I slapped in a boot disk, and a few minutes later had a shiny new Mint installed. So why bother with Windows at all? – I hear you ask (Well, I might hear you askI have a good imagination!)

Well, to make the show I use three pieces of Adobe Software (Audition, Photoshop and Dreamweaver) and Adobe steadfastly refuse to make a Linux port of these programs. Grr..!

In addition, I have been known to play a few PC games in my spare time and very few of these will run on Linux. A virtual Windows environment is always possible for some programs but the latest versions of both applications and games tend to either not run at all or become far too sluggish to actually play. Wine is always a partial solution. Some would argue that it is a solution for most things! 😉

I took my boot disk out (a 2.5″ SSD), put it into my laptop, and installed Windows on it with no problem. I confess I got a little excited then! So, cautiously, I slipped it back into the PC, disconnected any non-relevant hardware and tried to boot. I expected Windows to complain that it couldn’t find the right drivers, but I expected to be able to use the network to get on the net and install the correct drivers from there. Bang, bosh – job done! Not so, young padiwan! Windows 7 through 10 all wanted to do a system restore to find the non-existent drivers and entered into a fixed loop trying to boot and then trying to restore.

So what to do?

You’ll come running back

It’s been a long-held dream to be able to get off the Win platform and go open source all the way and use Linux, and many times have I tried that path. I would save the cost of my Adobe subscription for one thing! By far, the easiest and most stable Distro (Distro = distribution or version of Linux – same Auntie, different Hat) I have found is Linux Mint, which is based on a solid Ubuntu core (with by far the largest package repository – over 30,000 free programs to use) and the most intuitive interface (coincidentally similar to Windows) that we’ve tried. We have both loved Mint and seen it through several upgrades and as Ruthie was so fed up with her Windows 10 crashing on her daily, she now uses Mint as her main OS.

But….

If I am to consider, seriously consider, using Linux for my production work I need to assure myself that I can find Applications that will meet all of my production needs.

You’re searching for good times

Graphic Production

wilber-bigThe most famous Linux Graphic program is called GIMP – and it is actually pretty good. It is layer based, has some fine filters built in and a Scripting SDK that has enabled a solid bank of plug-ins to have been built for it. It is not as easy and intuitive as PS to use or find your way around. Some of that may be down to the fact that I am used to one particular interface, of course. Vector graphics, that I may have turned to Illustrator for are handled by a nice little program called Inkscape.

Web Design
Bluegriffon

Bluegriffon

Ah.. this has been the hardest part of the search process. Most Linux editing is still text-based and there are some excellent text editors out there (Sublime, UltraEdit, Gedit, Nano etc.) but there are a few that offer HTML5, CSS and JS/JQuery recognition which would immediately make syntax checking a great tool during the design process. Further requirements would be a WYSIWYG editor, so that you can get some idea of how the page would preview in a Browser. There seem to be a couple of HTML editors that fit this bill as well, that with the greatest positive feedback seems to be an application called Blue Griffon.

Sadly, my greatest need is to update my site so that it complies to the Adaptive and Responsive requirements necessary for it to be readily accessible on mobile devices. I have not found this technology available visually outside of Dreamweaver yet. I have started using a Bootstrap framework and will probably be able to use a process of design/upload/test/re-design to get the page structures as they should look.

Audio Production
Ardour - multitrack, midi, sampling and video track overlays

Ardour – multitrack, midi, sampling and video track overlays

OK, now in this category Linux shines! There are some superb DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) available – one of the most competent and popular being Ardour (although even Audacity is still used by many Podcasters. There are mixers, patch-bays, sequencers and synthesizers and even a low-latency kernel (the core Linux system files) to ensure smooth recording. I haven’t had the chance yet to fully explore Ardour but I’m hoping that it offers a worthy portion of the superlative functionality of the Adobe Audition software.

Time is on my side – yes it is!

There are quite a few (well, a handful of Distros) that specialise in Audio production, and some in general Design and Creativity but the one that seems to stand out way beyond the others is Ubuntu Studio! So these are the Advantages as I see them:

  • Audio, Video, and Graphic Design Software preloaded
  • Free and Open Source Software
  • High Quality Audio recording
    • Low-latency Kernel
    • Minimalist desktop (XFCE) reducing CPU overheads
  • Rock-solid stability of a Linux core
  • Built on the Ubuntu stable (30,000+ packages available)
  • Best personal security (anti-hack, malware, virus) *NIX based protection in the world

The Disadvantages that I see are these:

  • Long and steep learning curve
  • Gimp not quite up to PS standards
  • No Responsive web design suite, i.e. nothing comes close to DW
  • Work that I need to have done a month ago is still going to have to wait (grrr!)

I won’t have to worry no more

So, if all goes well and according to plan, I should have a reliable and replicable system that will meet all of our needs. Just got to install it and then start the learning process.

And that’s as far is it got when I suddenly became very ill and went to Casualty before being admitted onto a Ward for pains and a serious infection. Pains sorted out by changing my medication. IV antibiotics knocked the infection into touch and after a few days they released me. Today is my first day at home and I’m finding myself knackered out by even the smallest of things.

I thought I’d crack on with the UbuntuStudio project, but haven’t had the focus – it has taken me all day to put this little blog together (I must remember to record my learning steps in my Linux blog, so that if something goes wrong I can retrace my steps).

And I know, I know, like I told you so many times before

Pipe & Slippers

Pipe & Slippers

I have had to learn that Time is on my side, and that it is OK to chill. In fact, it is lovely to spend some time with Ruthie when we’re not focussed on trying to work or anything. Learning to pace myself, to accept that you will achieve a lot more by taking small steps rather than making one large effort and then burning out, has always been hard for me. I know for a fact that Rome was indeed built in a day! 🙂

So, I’m not worried that it’s taken me all day to do this post in little sections. When I had Cancer back in 2009, the Chemotherapy I was given tired me out exceedingly. Apparently, Chemo tires you out at a cellular level. I had to learn then that I could only do so much. It took several years for me to start feeling my normal energy levels again – long after my Cancer had gone into ‘remission’.

Given that, you would think that I would have learned the art of time/energy balance, wouldn’t you? Well, I am better. I now know that it took maybe a few days to build Rome and this Infection has reminded me that we all need to schedule in our “Pipe & Slippers” time and cherish it!

 

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