Of Wicd and networking

I’ve got an Asus EeePC 900 sporting a funky purple design. As with all my computers, it’s running the Linux operating system. Up until about a month ago it was running Ubuntu eee, an excellent netbook specialised version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution. When the first major update came for Ubuntu eee, they decided a name change was in order (primarily because their name was a composite of 2 different companies’ trade marks), and became Easy Peasy. A quick reinstall later (the Easy Peasy forum was awash with upgrade problems so I decided to save the hassle) I was running the new OS, based on Ubuntu Intrepid. However, as I began using it, a problem arose: I couldn’t connect to WPA networks. I use WPA at home and at uni, so obviously this was a problem, and I knew my wireless card was working as I could connect to my girlfriend’s WEP network fine.

A poke around the Easy Peasy wiki led me to the discovery of Wicd, an alternative to the NetworkManager tool that’s currently standard with most Linux distros. I thought I’d give it a go.
Installation was pretty painless. I plugged in to the network (I was at home), added the Wicd APT repository as instructed, and installed with no problems. It even removed NetworkManager for me. The only weirdness here was the fact that I had to add the APT repository for Ubuntu Hardy, not Intrepid, but all seemed to work OK.
A quick restart later and some fiddling with configuration (the Wiki gave me some incorrect info that slowed my boot time right down by always trying to configure the wired interface, even if it’s not plugged in), I had a nicely set up Wicd installation with a pretty tray applet, much like that of NetworkManager. What’s more, it connected to my WPA network with no trouble.

Next I decided to try and install it on my desktop running KDE 4. Again, installation was a simple case of adding the APT repo and giving the order. The real test here was to see how it handled bridging – I have the wired connection bridged to allow VirtualBox to connect directly to the network. Since I set up the bridge, NetworkManager has always seen the wired connection as “unmanaged” and left it to it’s own devices, giving me no feedback as to whether it’s connected or not. Wicd didn’t make a lot of sense of the connection at first, but a few seconds in the preferences menu allowed me to change the default wired interface from eth0 to br0, and would you believe it, it all works. Auto connection, bridging, visual feedback, and wireless (although the desktop is a little to close to the radiator for a decent signal). Full marks for Wicd!

PS: I’ve now added a feed of my Twitter posts on the right as my “Little Blog”, with this being the “Big Blog”. Enjoy.

Of Digg and New Zealand

So through my Twitter account today (specifically as I’m following Stephen Fry) I found out about this new law coming into effect in New Zealand. Essentially, if an Internet user is accused 3 times of copyright infringement (note the word “accused” not “found guilty of”), their ISP is obliged to sever their Internet connection. Obviously there’s a lot of issues brought up be this – copyright and filesharing in general, NZ’s relationship with the US and whether this is a reaction to international pressures, but those are discussions for other places and times. The issue here is assumption of guilt and enforcing punishment based on accusation, not on trial. It’s an outrage. The “blackout” campaign has been started to raise awareness of the travesty. All it involves is changing your avatars etc. to a completely black image until the law comes into force on 23rd of Feb. Of course, the NZ government aren’t going to repeal any laws because of a few black avatars, but the more people who know this is going on, the better.

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

Further to my modern web experimentation, I took the step to join Digg, the social bookmarking site. I don’t use non-social bookmarking so I’ve never seen the point before, but a lot of the sites I visit have a “Digg This” button so I’ll give it a go.

Of Twitter and RSS

So, I’ve decided to get myself to grips with some modern webby stuff. I’d call it “Web 2.0″ but that’s a rubbish term. As such, I’ve now subscribed to a load of RSS feeds and signed up to Twitter. I’ve also actually decided to start writing stuff in my blog, rather than just having it as an empty page.
This was all prompted by a presentation at university during one of my web design lessons from the MD of a web design company called ClickFire, who recommended we get involved in as much of this stuff as we can to “keep our finger on the pulse of the industry”, so to speak.

My thoughts so far:

RSS is good. I used it many moons ago when I still used Windows and had an RSS reader plugin for Trillian. I’ve subscribed to Wired and Slashdot which were the 2 main feeds I read then, along with various other computer related stuff, Linuxy stuff and general news. It’s certainly helped me keep up-to-date with the latest and greatest from the computer industry.

Twitter, I’m not sure about yet. My girlfriend said “isn’t that a new Facebook type thing?” so I tried to explain it to her. She understood what it was but said she didn’t get why people care what you’re doing every 10 minutes. I tend to agree with her to the most extent. Besides following Stephen Fry’s daily antics, there’s not a huge amount I’ve gotten out of it as of yet, and my only follower is 10 Downing Street, who only added me because I added them. All the RSS is saying that Twitter is on the tipping point of becoming mainstream, but we’ll wait and see. All I know is that I waited about as long as I did after hearing about Twitter before joining it as I did with Facebook. When I joined Facebook, about 60% of my friends where on there. None of my friends are on Twitter.

So here’s to my Web 2.0 adventure. I’ll keep you posted.