Is there a conspiracy to prevent me from doing Gnome work?

So, I was really busy the last couple of months and I had much less
time to work on Gnome stuff. That’s understandable. But there seem
to have been a number of other factors trying to keep me from doing
anything useful in Gnome land as well….

For a while cvs hal/dbus (don’t remember which) depended on having a
kernel >= 2.6.10. Now, on my machine at school, I have partial root
privileges via sudo, but with the understanding that if I mess
anything up I no longer will have automated backups or the site access
to various software programs that I occasionally need. In other
words, I don’t touch system stuff like the kernel, or the versions of
any system administration programs or configuration (other than
occasionally temporarily mounting an iso image of an empty /usr/local
directory over the normal one to prevent the nasty conflicts of all
the junk they put in there while compiling Gnome). I tried messing
around with alternate versions of hal & dbus but didn’t have much luck
and since I didn’t have a whole lot of time anyway, I didn’t want to
waste my time on something stupid like that.

Now, the problem with the laptop is that it is pretty unstable. As
in, one of the sysadmins had to solder a board back together as it had
cracked/snapped (I don’t remember anymore what it was; perhaps part of
the motherboard or something) and told me I’m lucky it even works at
all. (This thing is definitely passed its warranty, so who knows if
it would work anyway…) This means that it often crashes/freezes for
no apparent reason. It makes compiling a development version of Gnome
on it somewhat painful.

At home, I have two machines–one for my wife, one for me.
Inexplicably, my machines seems to be freezing (hard) a lot. I have no
clue why. Most of it is relatively new too (had to replace a bad
motherboard, and decided to upgrade the processor and RAM while I was
at it since stuff as slow as what I had wasn’t really available. It
was a huge splurge considering our money situation, but since it was
around my birthday and we use both machines a lot…). Anyway, I
haven’t had time to try to figure out the cause other than that I
think it was more stable before I upgraded from FC2 (is the nforce
motherboard support in linux not good perhaps; would the nvidia
drivers perhaps help or make it worse?). This definitely doesn’t help
in trying to get Gnome compiled at all; crashing & rebooting after
building only two or three modules sucks.

On my wife’s machine, we have this *cough* lovely *cough* cheapo
Samsung ML-1740 printer. Ignoring it isn’t an option; my wife uses
the machine predominantly for school work so she needs to be able to
print things out. Samsung does provide their own drivers for this
printer and they even advertise that it works under linux, and these
drivers actually do work under a 2.6 kernel, but they really suck. As
in, after you go through the print dialog from whatever program you
are working in and pick all your options, it pops up its own print
dialog which has just as many options (and almost certainly in
different locations) for you to select–many if not most of which are
duplicates of things you just selected. I found at some point via
Google that it seems to work when you treat it as a ML-1710 using
system drivers instead of Samsung’s drivers. Much better. But one
day (after doing a whole bunch of system updates) it broke. Luckily,
my wife didn’t need it for a week and a half or so, but unluckily, it
wasted all my free time during that span as I tried googling like mad,
undoing lots of the updates, manually installing or removing various
drivers, unplugging the thing from the system and plugging it back in,
tweaking all kinds of system stuff, rebooting a few times for good
measure, and even installing three different distros versions on the
machine including the one she had before, before I finally figured out
at some point that the printer just refused to work until I manually
unplugged its power from the wall and plugged it back in. Black
magic, I guess. After that, it seemed to work regardless of what I
did. I really wish I would have thought to power off the stupid thing
sooner. I don’t know why I haven’t had to power it off since then,
despite doing a system upgrade (FC4) and changing a variety of other
things. *shrug*

So, my wife’s machine wasted lots of my time due to the printer, but
it also is generally a poor choice for a development version of Gnome
as she or my three year old daughter are often using it so that even
if I have time, the machine may not be available. Plus, her machine
is a bit slower, so it’s not as fun waiting for things to compile.

But that’s not all. No, that is not all. Apparently, the apartment
we are in has really old wiring or something such that it can’t
deliver all that much power. It turns out that having both machines
on at once is a fire hazard. No fire was actually started, but let’s
just say that one of the outlets (that nothing happens to be plugged
into, suprisingly enough) needed to be replaced and the electrician
did some line tests and told us we could only use one of the computers
at a time. Well, we might be able to use two, but then we couldn’t
use the air-conditioner that’s on the other circuit breaker. And the
landlord doesn’t want extension cords running all across the apartment
in an attempt to split up the load (“fire hazards” or something like
that plus some other lame excuses), and I probably wouldn’t want a
bunch of extension cords going into the kids room either (that’s the
only other room we could conceivably run an extension cord to and
considering where the outlets are and that I have an almost 1 year old
and a 3 year old, I don’t think it would work well).

Then, when a little bit of time starts freeing up, I get
labyrinthitis. My case isn’t as bad as others, or so I assume from
what I have read in my googling on the ailment, but it still makes it
extremely difficult to get anything done (I’ve had to split up writing
this blog entry into three separate efforts over two days now).
Naturally, this puts me somewhat behind on everything, and it may be a
while before I have some free time again. I really hope this
dizziness/headache doesn’t last much longer so I don’t lose much more
time.

Anyway, if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been or why I haven’t been
as involved lately (sorry Murray, I know I promised to have fixed
those gtkmm problems in my tutorial by now), perhaps this will explain
things.

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