We were visiting family up in the Pacific Northwest a few years ago, and I was getting a tour of a house when we came upon the electric meter. My cousin mentioned that as a kid, he and his siblings would try to get the meter spinning as fast as possible by turning on as many appliances, lights, radios, TVs, and any other device as they could. For some reason, that stuck in my head, at first thinking that is a cool stunt to do as a kid, but nowadays trying to keep that spinning disk as slow as possible. Faster it spins, the more it's costing me.
Our meter is on the side of the garage, near to where I park, so I pass it often, regularly taking a look to see how fast it's spinning. If it's going pretty fast, I know that an electric heater or the clothes dryer is in operation. So I go turn them off.
Speaking of the dryer, over the past year or two, I've been getting more and more into line drying my clothes. Since I do my own laundry (Mama has enough on her hands with hers and the kids'), it's easy for me to manage the processes by which I get my clothes clean.
A few years ago, I installed a retractable clothes line like this one, mounting it on a fence post and using whatever is downstream of it to tie off the other end. The line is long enough to reach our play structure in the backyard, making for a very stable base. You can see it in the picture above. I get about 25 feet (7.6 meters) of line with which to hang my clothes. It's on the leeward side of the house, but in full sun, so it's mostly the sun's heat that does the drying, though I need to be careful not to leave them too long or else they may fade a bit over time. A breezy site would be preferable, but I'm using what I was dealt.
Some times when I'm out there hanging my laundry, it seems like it takes a while, and I may ask myself if it's worth it. When I think of the energy (and money) I'm saving, when I think about the opportunity I have to do this in the first place (ie, I don't live in a condo, for example), and that built into this routine is the folding/hanging of the clothes (which needs to be done anyway), I realize that the additional cost of my time is not that great.
And, a side benefit is the clean smell of the clothes once they come in. People tend to mention this side effect, and I must agree. There is something about not only the subtle clean, fresh smell, but also the crispiness of the material, which I personally prefer. There have been instances at work when I am wearing a shirt that had hung out to dry and I catch a whiff of the clean smell. Nice!
Though it's three weeks before the winter solstice, the sun is low in the southern sky and the days are already very short, I still try to use the line when I can. What I found is that with the sun shining, providing the energy, the clothes dry reasonably quickly. It's in the shade when they don't do as well. So forget cloudy days!
Have you given it a try? If not, I recommend it, for lots of good reasons.
Just created a new category for this blog, TecHead, as in Technology Head. The intent is to corral all the tech related posts into on place, especially now that I'm playing with virtualization software.
I'm writing this post from within Firefox running Ubuntu 9.10 running inside Virtual Box 3.0.12.
The resolution on the guest OS is now set to 1280x956 when I have the VBox window maximized in Windows. If I have it less than maximized, the guest OS display automatically resizes to 1152x864. There is an auto-resize selection in the VBox 'Machine' menu that allows for this. Nice!
And, there is a 'seamless' mode, which makes the windows fit right into the Windows desktop. Selectcing the Disply utility in Ubuntu shows the disply now at 1280x1024, which is what my Windows display is set at. Double sweet!
Only drawback I'm seeing with this is that the linux panel replaces the Windows Start menu panel, which I usually keep across the top of the window, with the auto-hide feature turned on. But, no big deal.
Next, I started to play with the shared folder. Not so easy. The VBox help says to use a specific command line command, but I've never had good luck mounting filesystems. Here is what I tried: mount -t vboxsf sharename /mnt/fs
Didn't work. Threw this error: /sbin/mount.vboxsf: mounting failed with the error: No such file or directory
Looking all over for a GUI method to mount the shared folder, I couldn't find one. I'll try again another time.
But suggestions are welcome!
Update (20 Nov): Quick googling for the mount command in VBox and Ubuntu provided this forum (and post), pretty much what I need, AFAICT. I'll look into it more tonight.
Ended up working from home today, partially because Harold wasn't feeling too great (maybe still doing some teething?) and partially because I wanted to do a bit of playing with virtualization software.
I did some searching around for VMWare equivalents and was (as usual) led to Wikipedia's page comparing various virtualization software. First, I determed my needs, which were defined as:
- host OS is WinXP on x86
- guest OS is linux on x86
- the VM software should be free
And an acquaintance was talking up Ubuntu linux, so I checked that out too. Looks like they have their act together, making it as desktop friendly as possible, and also doing two releases per year, guaranteed.
I got VBox installed pretty easily, then ran it for the first time. It asked to set up the virtual machine's details, such as how much memory to allocate as well as setting up the virtual disk. The virtual disk is not a partition of the physical drive but rather a containter file. I allocated a max 10GB disk that only gets bigger as it fills up.
After that was set up, I downloaded the iso file for the Ubuntu 9.10 release. Once it was finished copying over, I mounted the iso image as a CD and installed it into the VBox VM. Worked pretty well and pretty smooth, much smoother than my last time installing linux about 4 years ago.
Ubuntu found its way onto the machine no problem and in no time, I was back in the linux environment. But what's the first thing you try when you get a new machine? You try out the network, of course! And as with my last attempt at using VMWare on my work laptop, Ubuntu could not see the network, despite the configuration being default (NAT), which the documentation said should work for most situations.
I had to get some work done throughout the day, so I gave up for a while. I realized that I had installed all this as the administrator on the XP machine. When I moved over to my regular user login, I could not see the VM that I had set up before. Copying all the files over to a shared location did not work, so I decided to export the VM (I believe that VBox calls it the appliance) then import it when I was back in as my regular login.
That worked, and all the changes I made in the linux environment were still there. This was also the time to install the guest additions for Ubuntu. The chief benefit I saw after doing that was that I was no longer locked into an 800 by 600 screen, WAY small these days! I believe that I'm up to 1024x768 now (though I need to confirm). Also, the seamless mouse works nicely.
Next, I tried Firefox again and it worked now too. Nice!
Headed over to YouTube to see how Flash performed, but the site said I needed to install Flash. It pointed me to Adobe's download site, it sniffed by user agent string, and pointed me to a menu of linux installers. I picked the one that hinted at Ubuntu and followed the prompts to install. Next thing I now, I was watching videos.
That's as far as I've gotten so far. There is some playing around I need to do still, but it's great just getting this far. Next step: Trying for a higher resolution and making sure the folder sharing between linux and Windows is set up and working.
We had a great time at Camp Campbell this past weekend. Weather was on our side for the most part, with drizzle on Friday during the drive, but nothing once we got there, and some cool overnight temperatures both nights.
On Saturday morning, our circle, the Tahoe Circle, had craft duty. We brought with us two different crafts from Oriental Trading: a Magic Color Scratch pack in various shapes for ornaments, and a bear coin purse necklace. Both were easy but still took some time to make, they were not messy, and needed no glue (other than some glue dots). Both were a hit, and we kept getting positive comments from the dads.
After lunch, we hit the zip line for an extended period. Penny loves the zip line, and she rode it about 10 times before we finally finished. We also did the scavenger hunt, learning all about different kinds of bugs.