"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The quest for new languages: Scala

As a programmer I try to keep track of the new tools are continuously made available to my work. It's a hard task, almost impossible, since every day new languages, framework or libraries are proposed on the Internet. I usually follow a conservative strategy by leaving novelties to “grown up” a little in order to see it they are more or less widely used.
I've been recently reading this article, among the many languages and technologies cited one particularly awakened my interest: Scala.

Why Scala?

Three things about Scala caught at my attention: first it runs on a standard Java virtual machine this means an easier integration with the programming ecosystem I'm mostly used to work with. Then I learned that Scala implements the functional programming paradigm. I really know little about functional programming but the idea of learning a new programming paradigm really enticed me. Last, but not least, Scala is nowadays widely used in big and complex software projects like Twitter or LinkedIn.

Scala on Eclipse (Luna)

A good Eclipse plug-in is available for Scala named Scala IDE for Eclipse. I fist tried downloading the one available at Eclipse Marketplace but I soon discovered it didn't work with Eclipse Luna. After some searching in the Internet I discovered the only working version for Eclipse Luna is version 4.0 release candidate 2. Installing the plug-in has been only matter of copying the update address into Eclipse “Install new software” window, agreeing to licenses and following instructions.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Upgraded to Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn”

I took advantage of the first week-end just after Ubuntu release date to upgrade both my desktop (Veriton S661) and my netbook (EEEPC 900) computers. Everything went quite smooth this time, here is a brief report on how the upgrade activities went.

Before to start

Since 14.04 is a LTS release the upgrade to a “ordinary” release must be explicitly enabled in the “Software & Updates” configuration tool.
Also, remembering problems I had last time I updated, I temporarily disabled the screen-lock.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Using HP ScanJet G4050 USB scanner from a VirtualBox guest machine

One of the well known Linux problem is the lack of hardware drivers. I've sometime complained, in the past, about the poor support my HP ScanJet G4050 scanner had on Linux promising myself to try to find a solution using VirtualBox with a Windows guest machine. Fortunately a good enough SANE scanner driver came out and I forgot quickly about my intent. I lived well with my SANE driver recently when I found a bunch of old film negatives. The HP SANE driver works fine and fast but doesn't support the scanner transparent materials adapter (TMA). I so decided to go back to my initial idea about using VirtualBox and a Windows guest machine.

Setting-up VirtualBox

In order to fully support USB devices an extension pack has to be installed in addition to VirtualBox main program. The extension pack version must match with the VirtualBox one. Since the VirtualBox version I used, installed with Ubuntu Software Centre, did not match with any of the available versions I had to download both main program and extension pack.
I first uninstalled the the VirtualBox version I had on my computer then I installed the downloaded “.deb” file. Once the right version was ready I could eventually install the expansion pack from VirtualBox preferences.
The extension pack installation starts asking confirmation first

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Test drive: Ubuntu-Gnome 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn” on the EEEPC

Like every year the Ubuntu (second) upgrade season is coming. Like every year I'm taking e brief test of beta releases in order to have preview of novelties and, most important, possible problems. I downloaded so both the latest Ubuntu-Gnome ISO disk image (Utopic Unicorn Beta 1) and prepared a bootable SD card to test it on the EEEPC.

First impressions

The live disk with Ubuntu-Gnome booted in a reasonable time, welcoming the user with the usual flat-looking Gnome-Shell look
at a first view there are no big news (no news good news especially on old computers) but after a deeper look some interesting novelties appear.
First in the top-right menu a “location” option has been added:

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Test Drive : KDE Plasma 5 on the EEEPC

I like KDE from a theoretical point of view: I especially appreciate its philosophy about flexibility and configuration capabilities. On the other hand, on the practical side, I never felt comfortable using it even if I tried more than once. By the way after reading the recent news about new KDE “Plasma” version 5 I decided it was worth giving it a look.
I so downloaded the “Neon 5 Project” live disk image, based on Kubuntu, available on KDE site and put it on my USB disk using Ubuntu start-up disk creator tool.

First impressions

I tested the newly prepared USB disk both on my desktop computer and on my netbook. KDE worked fine, of course, on the Veriton desktop but I was surprised to find I worked decently even on my old EEEPC.
At boot the EEEPC show an error about a Kwin unexpectedly closing, whatever causes it KDE starts and it seem to work normally.
the desktop is organized in a very traditional way with a functional “start” menu on the lower left: