PoetGrant's Press

Inside the Mind of PoetGrant

Getting Slack, thank 'Bob'

November 04, 2019 — Grant Ford

It all began in 2005 when my cousin's boyfriend called me back to his room. He had a laptop open on the bed with some ancient looking text screen opened up. Until this point I only remembered looking at a text screen like that when my parents bought a computer with Windows 3.0/3.1 when I was much too young to really know what I was doing. I don't know much about DOS, but my memories inform me that I learned to navigate and open up games on their computer. Eventually I figured out how to navigate through the DOS system and do all sorts of things. Then they bought a new computer with Windows 95 and I was lost again. Let's skip ahead.

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elementary OS 5.0 "Juno"

November 04, 2019 — Grant Ford

Special Announcement

The elementary team is poised to release their brand new update for their operating system. It is code-named "Juno" in keeping with the theme of mythological gods and godesses of times long passed. Juno is the Roman goddess whose name is derived from the Latin iuven- which means something along the lines of "youth" and contributes to terms meaning "fertile times" and similar derivations. But enough of the etymology, what does that have to do with elementary OS and their new release?

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Constructed Mythology

May 29, 2019 — Grant Ford

Anyone who follows my blog knows that I have been working on a story, writing about a mythology that was born in my mind nearly fifteen (15) years ago. Throughout the process I have shifted from Windows to Linux, from Word to LibreOffice. Now I have shifted from LibreOffice to nano-editor and from there finally settling upon joe, my new favorite editor. I am constructing the EPUB file using Pandoc and Markdown. But these are not the subjects I intended to touch upon today.

In writing this initial book, detailing the small sprouts of a mythology, I have discovered that the story is the easy part, but trying to extract the mythology in my mind out into the story on my screen has proven very difficult. Getting caught up in side stories, figuring out where to place key components, remembering to actually let the story tell the mythology have been three of the issues I have faced. So instead of continuing the story (no matter how much it begs me to expand it), I am going back to write the 'appendices' to the book I will eventually publish.

Maps

So this morning I began drawing out a rough map where the story takes place. With the map I can orient myself in my own story and keep distances and locations as accurately as possible.

After scouring the web for a few minutes, I found a forum for cartographers and the majority of them decidedly use Inkscape to help draw out their maps. No specialize software needs, just something that already comes with Slackware. It was surprisingly easy to make the base for the map and begin placing markers for trees and mountains and drawing out the rivers and borders for the different regions. Within an hour I now have a fully functional map that is begging to have places added to it as I write.

info.md

In a file I have labelled 'info.md' there is stored character names, region names, descriptions of each. This also contains some useful information for how each piece of info relates to another. info.md will eventually become the Glossary for the EPUB, but until then I will continue adding information to it.

Re-Writing

I have also run into my classic issue with writing. I have been spelling out this story without an outline; that must change. Until recently I have worked out a story without aim. I always knew what I needed on the screen, but getting it in order is another story. So for the rest of today I will be writing a basic outline to order my story in a more human readable fashion.

After the outline is finished, it is time to re-write the twelve (12) chapters that I have. That is what I plan on getting to now.

I hope this update was enjoyable for you, my dear reader. Before the end of this year, hopefully I will be giving you my brand new EPUB and first part of my great story and mythology. :)

Writing and Music

May 23, 2019 — Grant Ford

Writing

I have been writing for years. Since I was fifteen (15) years old I have been fascinated with the written word. I enjoy wordplay and simple turns of phrase that just make a reader feel like they know something that others don't. I enjoy the secret things hidden beneath the words and I enjoy the realm of subcreation described by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Most of all, I enjoy inscribing symbols that hold different meanings to every reader.

Sometimes my writing is simplistic, but sometimes I delve deeply into the underworld of thought, the dark places in time and from it bring forth a truth that only I can find. Then, when it sees light and others read the funny symbols that I have managed to spell out on paper or screen, they derive a dark truth from them that I may not understand. I like to write. It was my entire goal of achieving a degree in English at Harding University. It is the reason I stayed in the library while others went out to their parties and sports. It is why I delved into the medieval German texts while others studied their numbers and formulas. The journey through college was a mystical experience that filled my head with images of dark forests and wild landscapes and mythical beasts and ancient gods that once walked the earth.

Hiking

While hidden away in the cloister of the university library I met a friend who encouraged to experience that which I read and wrote. I took the advice of Ernest Hemmingway and went to the mountains with this new friend. We conquered the etins of the earth by scaling those mountains. The mists and steam that rolled over me as I struggled against the eternal spirit of the forested hills breathed into me new life, a raw energy and hunger for more. The small, rocky path that led to the peak of Thunderhead Mountain was a trail of will. Equipped with $20 hiking boots from Walmart, a $30 pack that rubbed my back raw, and an $80 wool, wide-brimmed hat, I made the journey with my friend up the steps to Asgard to live with the gods.

I still remember climbing up, almost ten (10) years ago, a steep stone wall and at its peak there grew long, stringy grass that was shrouded in the smoke that seemed to pour from the rocks themselves. My friend was close behind me with the energy that I only saw described in the ancient texts as a "strength of gods among men". The path continued upward, a steady and slow trek, blisters climbing my heels and rash forming on my back. One more steep climb and we reached the peak of Thunderhead Mountain.

The stories were true. The wind whipped around the peak in a fury, mist and smoke swirling, shrouding the rocky peak in magic. The voice of the wind was deep and bellowing, it was the voice of Heimdall and Odin, it was the voice of Thor and Freya. Atop that peak I found a truth in the world. Atop that peak my friend found a truth in the world. We were both baptised a new knowledge of the world. The knowledge that such things as gods and men and their eternal struggle existed on a deeper, more primal level. Atop that peak I discovered what poetry truly was and what myth truly meant to the world.

Hiking and climbing, th'eternal struggle against nature were represented in man's struggle against god and the gods. We made it farther in distance over the next three days, but there on that peak I made more progress than in all of the thousands of miles I have hiked since. That journey and trial was the beginning of true understanding and it was a delving into the darkness of myth and the beauty of legends.

I started writing fifteen (15) years ago, but it was only ten (10) years ago that I began to understand ow to write in symbols and thoughts.

Music

Later I found the quiet of the library too loud for the mind to spin tales and myths, so I began to listen to music to block out the noise. I discovered so many artists that worked in the arcane arts of folk and metal music. Valravn, Sequentia, and Jocelyn Montgomery became my go-to musical influences as I practiced the art of writing. They served me for years and I wish I could thank them all personally, but lately I have discovered someting more etherial and raw. Danhiem has been a steady inspiration for setting a pattern to my writing habits.

The Sum of All Things

Music has been indispensable in my writing process. Through experience I found truth and through practice I found ease. This trio of elements are what make up my writing process. The things like choosing a text editor and colors and fonts and publishing styles and all of the minutia that go into writing are an afterthought. With Practice, Experience, and Music I am able to get words on the screen and spell out the truth of myth through the tales that I breathed in atop that mountain.

I hope you have enjoyed this little experiential journey with me. Let's call it a bonus article for the week.

Cheers!

Purism's Gamble

May 22, 2019 — Grant Ford

Introduction

I purchased the Librem 5 a few months ago and eagerly await its completion and delivery into my hands. While I have waited, Purism has announced a new line of services to help people transition away from the likes of Google and Apple and Microsoft called Librem One. I have already spoken about it in a recent post, so I won't run through that service again. Instead, I want to focus on the company itself, Purism.

Purism is a company that I found a few years ago that appeared to be a very minor player in the Linux world; System76 was always the star in the world I lived in. They both have a similar issue for me and they both have a similar attraction to me. The issue I have with both of them is their base on GNOME. The attraction is that they both seem fairly professional in their approach to bringing Linux powered laptops to the world. We will get into these things later. I would like to say that I don't want to denegrate anyone who brings my favorite kernel to the world, but as you will see, I find it difficult staying away from denegration of inferior technology, i.e. the GNOME OS built on top of my favorite kernel.

(Yes, I understand that the above is a strong statement and I will back it up in a minute.)

GNOME

GNOME has long been a thorn in my side. It is heavy, sluggish, JavaScript laden, and did I mention heavy? Give me back the Unity desktop any day over what GNOME has become. I didn't even like Unity very much, but at least it didn't break my computers. Don't get me wrong, I do love the basic design philosophy of the GNOME team. More specifically, I love the changes that elemetaryOS made to the GNOME design philosophy. In my opinion, elementary is what GNOME should have become, rather than the behemoth that they are shipping these days.

You may say, "But Grant, if you have a fast enough processor and enough RAM, GNOME is awesome!" to which I must shake my head in disgust. Long passed are the days where software designers could rely on hardware constantly being upgraded to match their designs. We have come to an age where Moore's Law = true no longer prints 'true'. The point is not that we should have continued to expand our designs as hardware became better, but rather that a more conservative approach is often more beneficial in this area.

This is where the elementaryOS HIG comes in. If you read closely you'll see that the excesses of GNOME are excluded. In fact, the HIG makes sure that developers don't over design their apps, all the way down to the icon sets. As far as I could tell back when I was using elementaryOS, they also don't use JavaScript in their main operating system designs. To me, using such a language in an operating system is insane. Sure, it is easier, but not everything easy is good. In fact, in my limited experience programming and networking, the easy road usually sets you up for a bigger failure in the future.

The argument should not be that I should just get more RAM and a faster processor. The argument should instead be that the OS will function well on any system to a reasonable degree. When I load GNOME onto my desktop, which has 16GB of RAM an Intel i7 7700k processor and an m.2 SSD, there should not be a stutter, yet there is. My desktop PC runs it fine, but there are occasions that even with all that power, it sometimes feels a little strained. This is why I will not use GNOME on any of my machines. It is an ugly mess, a hog that is dressed up all nice and pretty, but still a hog.

Don't even get me started on SystemD

Purism

So if you remember our title, you may wonder why I have scantly mentioned Purism. Let me give you my impression of Purism.

I love the theory, but am skeptical of the practicum behind Purism. From what I can tell, there are at least three (3) heavy hitters in the consumer Linux machine world. System76, Purism, and Tuxedo Computers. Two (2) of these use GNOME or a GNOME variant as the operating system of choice for their machines, and Tuxedo Computers let's the user choose their OS. Purism has chosen GNOME as the one true OS, forking it and modding it to become PureOS. All of these things that I describe aren't evil or wrong, but I think these things feel like a repeat of fifteen (15) years or so ago when webapps and Web 2.0 were being developed and released. The web began to change rapidly and the Google evangelists were preaching Moore's Law to the masses. I ate it up and dove into the deluge of RAM munching, buying fast computers and snorting lines of data by the Terebyte! But then Moore's Law slowed down and life began to grow grey and bleak; the world's color drained and the scales fell from my eyes.

It was like a moment out of one of my favorite indie games, We Happy Few, when the Joy pill has worn off and you realize that you aren't eating a nice cake, but rather a plate of wretched, stinking, rotten rat meat. This picture I have drawn for you is what I see when I see the cocaine induced LSD trip that GNOME has become. They have developed a system that looks like that nice white and pink cake, but underneath the illusion it is a diseased rat that sucks away your RAM and processing power needlessly.

With that said, GNOME isn't all bad. They have some really nice ideas and great design theory on the very highest levels (i.e. icons, menus, header bar, and etc), The amalgamation of the hundreds of moving parts in the GNOME OS is the beast that I rail against in this article. It is like a Steinway piano. I am a piano tuner and repairman by trade, though only for extra cash these days. You know what the most difficult pianos to work on are? Steinway & Sons pianos are the most difficult. They have so many moving parts that they are like an intricate machine; the lightest touch could disturb their functions. Too much dust on the heads of the hammers and the strings won't sound quite right. In comparison, Baldwin pianos are fairly intricate, but they have at least half as many moving parts as Steinways do. They function better than Steinways in most cases. You know why? Well, although Steinway pianos have the highest quality parts, they make their pianos overly complicated and thus you must have special certifications simply to work on them. Baldwins are pianos that also use the highest quality parts, sometimes they use higher grade woods and felts than even Steinway does. But they work better and break less often. They are easier to fix and adjusting one mechanism won't affect other mechanisms in the machine of the Baldwin. Baldwin pianos are simple.

What does that have to do with GNOME? Well, GNOME is like the Steinway. It has so many moving parts in a single machine that it has become cumbersome and less useful for everyday use. Then, as my constant whipping boy, let's look at elementary OS. They are like the Baldwin. They are built similarly, but with fewer moving parts by far. It is efficient and relatively reliable, whereas GNOME tends to be much less efficient, though maybe almost as reliable. My issue here is that PureOS and System76 both chose the Steinway, perhaps because it looks pretty and complexly beautiful.

Conclusion

After all of those words, I must digress before you all begin to fall asleep.

I called this article Purism's Gamble for a reason. Looking long term, basing the Librem 5 and all of their machines on a version of GNOME seems like a gamble to me, a roll of the dice. Perhaps the OS will get a little leaner in the future, perhaps the inclusion of JavaScript will not prove to be a security fault in the future, perhaps the project will be able to scale to heights unknown. It is a huge gamble, but that is not why I purchased the Librem 5. I don't plan on keeping PureOS on the device for long. I purchased the Librem 5 because of the hardware. When there is a viable alternative I will switch away from GNOME because, as you can see from the above, I have major issues with that project's OS designs.

I don't wish Purism any ill will. In fact, I hope they do so well that a Librem 5v2 comes out soon after the release of v1. I hope that they do awesome work because already they have made some radical headway into the mobile world with the development of libhandy and scaleable UIs for the Linux powered machines. I would love to see elementary OS develop a mobile UI, but of course that is a long shot. Purism is a powerhouse in the Linux world and I aplaud them for all of the progress that they have pushed in the FOSS world, but given the above issues that I have at a foundational level, I will never use GNOME on purpose.

I wish them all the best and I can't wait for the Librem 5 to ship!

Cheers!

Education and Productivity

May 15, 2019 — Grant Ford

I am 30 years old. I went to Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature with several minors and multiple studied in languages and linguistics. It has done a lot to improve my ability to reason and understand concepts. The study of language and literature has been an important part of my life and has shaped how I see the world. However, and yes there is a major however here, all of my studies have not helped me achieve any sort of financial security in the world.

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Prepping for Publication

May 08, 2019 — Grant Ford

I am about 40,000 words into Part 1 of The Art of Gods and I have been thinking about how to style the book, how to publish it, how to manage it, how to update it, and so on. People tell me not to think about publication until the rough draft is finished, however I realized about 10,000 words in that I need to think about styling and how the manuscript is composed way ahead of time in order to save time later. So I started reading around the web and found ASCIIDoc.

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Bash Blog Rocks

May 07, 2019 — Grant Ford

I have been using Bash Blog for a few months now. Only recently have I transferred this blog to Bash Blog because I have finally configured it in such a way that makes me all happy and warm inside. There are a few more tweaks that I need to make, and one huge overhaul of the script that I would like to make. The tweaks are simple CSS properties, but the overhaul is to rewrite the HTML portion and CSS portion so that it is compliant with HTML5 standards.

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