A Reading Goal

One of my goals lately is to read more.  I used to love reading for fun more than any other entertainment choice.  I would stay awake late into the night reading.  Then I acquired a computer, and another computer to play around with.  I bought more video games and DVDs.  I went to college and started playing World of Warcraft.  Soon, I wasn’t reading much, if at all.

Now, I want to reclaim my passion for reading.  One tool I’ve equipped for that use is Goodreads.  I’ve started keeping track of the books I’ve read, made a list of books I want to read, and I can track what I’m reading and how far through it I am.  Plus with the app for my iPod touch, I have a constant reminder that I could be reading.  But if there’s one thing I know, cool new toys only motivate for so long.  Eventually, you’ll either need to buy another cool new toy, or buckle down and do whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.

In order to buckle down, I decided to make a goal for reading each day.  The goal? Read 50 pages a day.  I might be crazy.

When I made the goal, the book I was in at the time was a relatively easy read,  and the chapters were pretty short (5-8 pages).  Reading 50 pages was easy and could take less than an hour.  The problem I’m worried about now is that as the books become more complex and/or dense, 50 pages may become a tall order.

My solution to this problem is two-fold.  First, I’ll need to take an honest look at my time and figure out if I’m wasting time I could be reading doing other things I don’t really need/want to be doing.  Secondly, I’m reminding myself that it’s a motivating goal.  Yes, it’s great to accomplish the goal, but the purpose is so that every day I think to myself, “I should read today.”  And even if I only read 10 pages, it’s still better than what I was doing a year ago.

If you’d like to see how I’m doing, feel free to visit my Goodreads profile page.  I’ll try to track what page I’m on each day so you can see how far I’ve advanced.  If you’re wondering what Goodreads is, check out my review post.


No love for another OS?

The words “open source” are a key part of a geek’s life.  The idea that software can be freely created and distributed to the masses is one that strangely is not only altruistic, it also works.   I use a variety of open source programs on my computer at home: I’m typing this post in Mozilla’s Firefox browser; I use Foxit Reader as a PDF viewer (because I can’t stand Adobe Acrobat); I watch videos on VLC Media Player; I use a keyboard-based program launcher called Launchy, and more.

At this point, you can probably imagine my excitement at the thought of an open source operation system.  I’ve been on XP for a while now, and it’s Old Faithful for me.  But I’m not going to be picking up a copy of Windows 7 anytime soon, and 8 years later, XP is feeling stale.  So when I first heard about Ubuntu last year, I had to give it a shot.

Ubuntu 10.04 Loading Screen

Courtesy of Ubuntu.com and Canonical Ltd.

At the time, I downloaded Ubuntu 9.04 and performed a Wubi install.  (Laymans terms, I could install the OS from inside Windows using an open part of my hard drive rather than going the more confusing process of partitioning and hard drive formatting.)  9.04 was fun.  It wasn’t the best looking thing ever until I did some research, added some themes and effects, and changed the background, but it was free.  The only issue I had with it were occasional lockups.  I could use it for a little while, but eventually if I left it sit long enough, the system would hard lock up: no mouse, no keyboard, just frozen screen.

Then 9.10 came out last October, and it looked to have some nice improvements.  I never got to use them.  After struggling with install problems from a fresh install.  I reinstalled 9.04 and tried to run the upgrade to 9.10.  I was able to complete the installation, but every time I booted the system, it was a hard lockup within seconds.  There was a possibility that I could navigate half a menu.  When I tried to wipe that entire thing and go back down to 9.04, I encountered the same problem.  Lockups continued to hinder me.  I hoped that 10.04 would save me

I also in the last year attempted to install a Release Candidate for Windows 7 as first a primary and later a second OS.  Again I was thwarted.  Every time I ran the install, partway through the install would freeze, and I would receive a dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death).  My limited research suggested it might be a RAM issue.

Which brings me to this week: Ubuntu 10.04.  It’s a Long Term Support version, which means if you don’t want to upgrade every 6 months, this is the version you’ll still get support in for a long time.  This had to be it, right?  It should be super stable, have the kinks worked out, etc.  I decided to do a Wubi install and give it a shot.  After a reboot, installation resumed, and eventually I found myself starting a screen with a frozen mouse and a progress bar stuck at 23%.  Attempt 2 later in the day: same result.

I could blame it on Ubuntu I suppose,  but at this point, I’m wondering if I have some hardware problems.  I could swap out some RAM and see if that fixes it, but RAM, just like Windows 7, costs money.  So, I guess I’ll keep hanging out with Old Faithful and hope the wind doesn’t blow the stink from the nearby hot springs my way anytime soon.