Monday, July 28, 2008

Ubuntu FTW?

I picked up an Ubuntu CD at OSCON and have now installed it on my macbook pro. I have no qualms saying this version (8.04) is easily the best Linux experience I've ever had...

I had to connect to ethernet to get first batch of updates which also let me get ndiswrapper and appropriate driver for my wifi card.

once I had that, wifi connected and it was a single apt-get command to get the proper bluetooth module so my mouse would work. then I started downloading and playing with the new compiz stuff. I have to say, compiz effects blow away Mac OS X effects, though they're not quite as pragmatically integrated into everyday uses.

I fired up pidgin and got connected to our company jabber and my google talk account. similar simplicity and ease with Evolution for company email (though I also started trying Zembra Desktop since OSCON).

our setup at is kinda unique in that we have our own sandbox sites that we can access and edit via webdav, so I did a simple apt-get for davfs2, made the necessary mods to /etc/fstab and I was able to vim edit some code. but I decided to go looking for linux php editors. I tried bluefish and jedit and liked jedit much more - its performance with the webdav-mounted dir was much better.

I also exported my bookmarks and imported them over into Ubuntu firefox. and I installed GnomeDo because I'm a quicksilver junkie.

total time was probably 2 hours or so - much better than any of my other previous jaunts into Linux. large credit to the high-quality ubuntu wiki.

so I'm thinking to try out a full day of ubuntu tomorrow. my only concern is webex, though there is a native Linux client.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

interesting mix of ideas

the two reading pieces I have sitting on my desk are this Origin of Wealth and the latest Wired magazine. interesting to be reading them simultaneously ...

From Wired:

"Scientists are trained to recognize that correlation is not causation, that no conclusions should be drawn simply on the basis of correlation between X and Y (it could just be coincidence). Instead, you must understand the underlying mechanisms that connect the two. Once you have a model, you can connect the data sets with confidence. Data without a model is just noise.
But faced with massive data, this approach to science - hypothesize, model, test - is becoming obsolete.
There is now a better way. Petabytes allow us to say: 'Correlation is enough.' We can stop looking for models. We can analyze the data without hypotheses about what it might show. We can throw the numbers into the biggest computing clusters the world has ever seen and let statistical algorithms find patterns where science cannot."

From Origin of Wealth:

"... not only is there a problem with data that contradicts Traditional [Economic] theories, but many theories have simply never been properly tested. One branch of economics, called econometrics, deals with data analysis. Rather than testing theoretical models, however, much econometric work is devoted to finding statistical relationships between variables (often for public policy or other applied purposes). Unfortunately, statistical correlations don't provide a causal explanation of the phenomena. Furthermore, as many economists would point out, there is often a lack of readily available data to test theories with, and even data that is available is frequently noisy or otherwise problematic."

should be an interesting week as these seemingly conflicting ideas bounce around in my head.