Shallow Thoughts : : Oct

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing, Science, and Nature.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011

Synaptics horizontal scrolling (and other touchpad configurations)

My new netbook (about which, more later) has a trackpad with areas set aside for both vertical and horizontal scrolling. Vertical scrolling worked out of the box on Squeeze without needing any extra fiddling. My old Vaio had that too, and I loved it.

Horizontal scrolling took some extra research. I was able to turn it on with a command:

synclient HorizEdgeScroll=1
(thank you, AbsolutelyTech). Then it worked fine, for the duration of that session.

But it took a lot more searching to find out the right place to set it permanently. Nearly every page you find on trackpad settings tells you to edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Distros haven't normally used xorg.conf in over three years! Sure, you can generate one, then edit it -- but surely there's a better way.

And there is. At least in Debian Squeeze and Ubuntu Natty, you can edit /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf and add this options line inside the "InputClass" section:

        options "HorizEdgeScroll" "1"
Don't forget the quotes, or X won't even start.

In theory, you can use this for any of the Synaptics driver options -- tap rate and sensitivity, even multitouch. Your mileage may vary -- horizontal scroll is the only one I've tested so far. But at least it's easier than generating and maintaining an xorg.conf file!

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[ 15:20 Oct 31, 2011    More linux/laptop | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 28 Oct 2011

Making an Ubuntu live USB stick persistent

I wrote a few days ago about my multi-distro Linux live USB stick. Very handy!

But one thing that bugs me about live distros: they're set up with default settings and don't have a lot of the programs I want to use. Even getting a terminal takes quite a lot of clicks on most distros. If only they would save their settings!

It's possible to make a live USB stick "persistent", but not much is written about it. Most of what's written tells you to create the USB stick with usb-creator -- a GUI app that I've tried periodically for the past two years without ever once succeeding in creating a bootable USB stick.

Even if usb-creator did work, it wouldn't work with a multi-boot stick like this one, because it would want to overwrite the whole drive. So how does persistence really work? What is usb-creator doing, anyway?

How persistence works: Casper

The best howto I've found on Ubuntu persistence is LiveCD Persistence. But it's long and you have to wade through a lot of fdisk commands and similar arcana. So here's how to take your multi-distro stick and make at least one of the installs persistent.

Ubuntu persistence uses a package called casper which overlays the live filesystem with the contents of another filesystem. Figuring out where it looks for that filesystem is the key.

Casper looks for its persistent storage in two possible places: a partition with the label "casper-rw", and a file named "casper-rw" at the root of its mounted partitions.

So you could make a separate partition labeled "casper-rw", using your favorite partitioning tool, such as gparted or fdisk. But if you already have your multi-distro stick set up as one big partition, it's just as easy to create a file. You'll have to decide how big to make the file, based on the size of your USB stick.

I'm using a 4G stick, and I chose 512M for my persistent partition:

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/path/to/casper-rw bs=1M count=512
Be patient: this step takes a while.

Next, create a filesystem inside that file. I'm not sure what the tradeoffs are among various filesystem types -- no filesystem is optimized for being run as a loopback file read from a vfat USB stick that was also the boot device. So I flipped a coin and used ext3:

$ mkfs.ext3 /path/to/casper-rw
/path/to/casper-rw is not a block special device.
Proceed anyway? (y,n) y

One more step: you need to add the persistent flag to your boot options. If you're following the multi-distro USB stick tutorial I linked to earlier, that means you should edit boot/grub/grub.cfg on the USB stick, find the boot stanza you're using for Ubuntu, and make the line starting with linux look something like this:

    linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile quiet splash noprompt persistent --

Now write the stick, unmount it, and try booting your live install.

Testing: did it work?

The LiveCD/Persistence page says persistent settings aren't necessarily saved for the default "ubuntu" user, so it's a good idea to make a new user. I did so.

Oops -- about that Ubuntu new user thing

But at least in Ubuntu Oneiric: there's a problem with that. If you create a user, even as class Administrator (and of course you do want to be an Administrator), it doesn't ask you for a password. If you now log out or reboot, your new user should be saved -- but you won't be able to do anything with the system, because anything that requires sudo will prompt you for your nonexistent password. Even attempting to set a password will prompt you for the nonexistent password.

Apparently you can "unlock" the user at the time you create it, and then maybe it'll let you set a password. I didn't know this beforehand, so here's how to set a password on a locked user from a terminal:

$ sudo passwd username

For some reason, sudo will let you do this without prompting for a password, even though you can't do anything administrative through the GUI.

Testing redux

Once you're logged in as your new user, try making some changes. Add and remove some items from the unity taskbar. Install a couple of packages. Change the background.

Now try rebooting. If your casper-rw file worked, it should remember your changes.

When you're not booted from your live USB stick, you can poke around in the filesystem it uses by mounting it in "loopback" mode. Plug the stick into a running Linux machine, mount it the usb stick, then mount it with

$ sudo mount -o loop /path/to/casper-rw /mnt

/path/to is wherever you mounted your usb stick -- e.g. /media/whatever. With the file mounted in loopback mode, you should be able to adjust settings or add new files without needing to boot the live install -- and they should show up the next time you use the live install.

My live Ubuntu Oneiric install is so much more fun to use now!

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[ 14:41 Oct 28, 2011    More linux/install | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Tue, 25 Oct 2011

Creating a multi-distro Linux Live USB stick

Linux live USB sticks (flash drivers) are awesome. You can carry them anywhere and give a demo of Linux on anyone's computer, any time. But how do you keep track of them? Especially since USB sticks don't have any place to write a label. How do you remember that the shiny blue stick is the one with Ubuntu Oneiric, the black one has Ubuntu Lucid, the other blue one that's missing its top is Debian ... and so forth. It's impossible! Plus, such a waste -- you can hardly buy a flash drive smaller than 4G these days, and then you go and devote it to a 700Mb ISO designed to fit on a CD. Silly.

The answer: get one big USB stick and put lots of distros on it, using grub to let you choose at boot time.

To create my stick, I followed the easy instructions at HOWTO: Booting LiveCD ISOs from USB flash drive with Grub2. I found that tutorial quite simple, so I'm not going to duplicate the instructions there. I used the non-LUA version, since my grub on Ubuntu Natty didn't seem to support LUA. Basically you run grub-install to the stick, create a directory called iso where you stick all your ISO files, then create a grub.cfg with magic incantations to boot each ISO.

Ah, wait ... magic incantations? The tutorial is missing one important part: what if you want to use an ISO that isn't already mentioned in the tutorial? If Ubuntu's entry is
linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile quiet splash noprompt -- and Parted Magic's is
linux (loop)/pmagic/bzImage iso_filename=$isofile edd=off noapic load_ramdisk=1 prompt_ramdisk=0 rwnomce sleep=10 loglevel=0 then you know there's some magic going on there.

I knew I needed at least the Ubuntu "alternate installer", since it allows installing a command-line system without the Unity desktop, and Debian Squeeze, since that's currently the most power-efficient Linux for laptops, in addition to the distros mentioned in the tutorial. How do you figure out what to put in those grub.cfg lines? Here's how to figure it out from the ISO file. I'll use the Debian Squeeze ISO as an example.

Step 1: mount the ISO file.

$ sudo mount -o loop /pix/boot/isos/debian-6.0.0-i386-netinst.iso /mnt

Step 2: find the kernel

$ ls /mnt/*/vmlinuz /mnt/*/bzImage
/mnt/install.386/vmlinuz

Step 3: find the initrd. It might have various names, and might or might not be compressed, but the name will almost always start with init.

$ ls /mnt/*/vmlinuz /mnt/*/init*
/mnt/install.386/initrd.gz

Unmount the ISO file.

$ umount /mnt

The trick in steps 2 and 3 is that nearly all live ISO images put the kernel and initrd a single directory below the root. If you're using an ISO that doesn't, you may have to search more deeply (try /mnt/*/*).

In the case of Debian Squeeze, now I have the two filenames: /install.386/vmlinuz and /install.386/initrd.gz. (I've removed the /mnt part since that won't be there when I'm booting from the USB stick.) Now I can edit boot/grub/grub.cfg and make a boot stanza for Debian:

menuentry "Debian Squeeze" {
    set isofile="/boot/isos/debian-6.0.0-i386-netinst.iso"

    loopback loop $isofile 
    linux (loop)/install.386/vmlinuz iso_filename=$isofile quiet splash noprompt --
    initrd (loop)/install.386/initrd.gz
}

Here's the entry for the Ubuntu alternate installer:

menuentry "Oneiric 11.10 alternate" {
    set isofile="/boot/isos/ubuntu-11.10-alternate-i386.iso"
 
    loopback loop $isofile 
    linux (loop)/install/vmlinuz iso_filename=$isofile
    initrd (loop)/install/initrd.gz
}

It sounds a little convoluted, I know -- but you only have to do it once, and then you have this amazing keychain drive with every Linux distro on it you can think of. Amaze your friends!

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[ 21:21 Oct 25, 2011    More linux/install | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sat, 22 Oct 2011

Finding buried treasure -- harder than it sounds

While we were having dinner, one of the local squirrels came by to look for her own dinner under the cedar in the front yard, just outside the window by our dining table.

I remember, when I was young, reading somewhere that squirrels remember where they bury each nut, so they can return and dig it up later. Whoever wrote that clearly never spent much time watching actual squirrels.

I've also read, more recently and in more reputable places, that squirrels find buried nuts by seeking out likely burial spots then using their sensitive noses to find the underground nuts.

If so, the sensitive nose thing is overrated. It's actually quite a bit more work than that description makes it sound.

If you're ever hungry and wanting to dig up a snack from underground, here's the tried and true, time tested squirrel technique:

Hop over to a place that looks likely. Bury your nose in the ground, and plow a furrow with said nose for a few inches.

No nut? Pull your nose out of the ground, hope over to another location that looks appealing (not one right next to where you just were -- do not by any means use any kind of exhaustive quartering technique), bury your nose in the ground and repeat.

Every fifth or sixth time, it's permissable to sit up and brush dirt off your nose before going back to the hunt.

After about twenty minutes of this, our visitor finally did find something. She triumphantly sat up, brushed herself off, turned the prize around in her mouth for a while, then ran over to the cedar to hang upside down for dinner.

Curiously, what she found looked like a live oak acorn -- not something that's very common here in the suburbs. (Our yard sports a red oak, but it has tiny acorns which don't interest the squirrels in the slightest.)

She took five minutes to eat her prize, then returned to the hunt for another forty minutes. If she found anything else during that time, I didn't see it, though she might have found something while she was on the other side of the tree.

Note that I didn't say this was an efficient technique ... only that it was time tested.

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[ 18:07 Oct 22, 2011    More nature/squirrels | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sun, 16 Oct 2011

Monitor an Arduino's serial output from Python

Debugging Arduino sensors can sometimes be tricky. While working on my Arduino sonar project, I found myself wanting to know what values the Arduino was reading from its analog port.

It's easy enough to print from the Arduino to its USB-serial line. First add some code like this in setup():

    Serial.begin(9600);
Then in loop(), if you just read the value "val":
    Serial.println(val);

Serial output from Python

That's all straightforward -- but then you need something that reads it on the PC side.

When you're using the Arduino Java development environment, you can set it up to display serial output in a few lines at the bottom of the window. But it's not terrifically easy to read there, and I don't want to be tied to the Java IDE -- I'm much happier doing my Arduino development from the command line. But then how do you read serial output when you're debugging? In general, you can use the screen program to talk to serial ports -- it's the tool of choice to log in to plug computers. For the Arduino, you can do something like this: screen /dev/ttyUSB0 9600

But I found that a bit fiddly for various reasons. And I discovered that it's easy to write something like this in Python, using the serial module.

You can start with something as simple as this:

import serial

ser = serial.Serial("/dev/ttyUSB0", 9600)
while True:
    print ser.readline()

Serial input as well as output

That worked great for debugging purposes. But I had another project (which I will write up separately) where I needed to be able to send commands to the Arduino as well as reading output it printed. How do you do both at once?

With the select module, you can monitor several file descriptors at once. If the user has typed something, send it over the serial line to the Arduino; if the Arduino has printed something, read it and display it for the user to see.

That loop looks like this:

while True :
    # Check whether the user has typed anything (timeout of .2 sec):
    inp, outp, err = select.select([sys.stdin, self.ser], [], [], .2)

    # If the user has typed anything, send it to the Arduino:
    if sys.stdin in inp :
        line = sys.stdin.readline()
        self.ser.write(line)

    # If the Arduino has printed anything, display it:
    if self.ser in inp :
line = self.ser.readline().strip()
print "Arduino:", line

Add in a loop to find the right serial port (the Arduino doesn't always show up on /dev/ttyUSB0) and a little error and exception handling, and I had a useful script that met all my Arduino communication needs: ardmonitor.

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[ 19:27 Oct 16, 2011    More hardware | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sun, 09 Oct 2011

Disable Google's Instant mode, and Instant Previews

A group of us were commiserating about that widely-reviled feature, Google Instant. That's the thing that refreshes your Google search page while you're still typing, so you always feel like you have to type reallyreallyfasttofinishyourquerybeforeitupdates. Google lets you turn off Instant -- but only if you let them set and remember your cookies, meaning they can also track you across the web. Isn't there a more privacy-preserving way to get a simple Google page that doesn't constantly change as you change your search query?

Disable Instant

It turns out there is. Just add complete=0 to your search queries.

How do you do that? Well, in Firefox, I search in the normal URL bar. No need for a separate search field taking up space in the browser window; any time you type multiple terms (or a space followed by a single term) in Firefox's URLbar, it appends your terms to whatever you have set as the keyword.URL preference.

So go to about:config and search for keyword, then double-click on keyword.URL and make sure it's something like "http://www.google.com/search?complete=0&q=". Or if you want to make sure it won't be overridden, find your Firefox profile, edit user.js (create it if you don't have one already), and add a line like:

user_pref("keyword.URL", "http://www.google.com/search?complete=0&q=");

Show only pages matching the search terms

I use a slightly longer query, myself:

user_pref("keyword.URL", "http://www.google.com/search?complete=0&q=allintext%3A+"

Adding allintext: as the first word in any search query tells Google not to show pages that don't have the search terms as part of the page. You might think this would be the default ... but The Google Works in Mysterious Ways and it is Not Ours to Question.

Disable Instant Previews

Finally, just recently Google has changed their search page again to add a bunch of crap down the right side of the page which, if you accidentally mouse on it, loads a miniature preview of the page over on your sidebar. You have to be very careful with your mouse not to have stuff you might not be interested in popping up all the time.

A moment's work with Firebug gave me the CSS classes I needed to hide. Edit chrome/userContent.css in your Firefox profile (create it if you don't already have one) and add this rule:

/* Turn off the "instant preview" annoying buttons in google search results */
.vspib, .vspii { display: none !important; }

Really, it's a darn shame that Google has gone from its origins as a clean, simple website to something like Facebook with things popping up all over that users have to bend over backward to disable. But that seems to be the way of the web. Good thing browsers are configurable!

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[ 21:31 Oct 09, 2011    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sun, 02 Oct 2011

Becoming Kaylee: Thoughts on Making and Fixing

A recent Jon Carroll column got me thinking about Making and Fixing.

This was the passage that got me started:

... I took it to Dave up at the repair place. "You need a new battery," he said. Looked like a fine battery to me, but what do I know? I had a second opinion from the guy who wanted to sell me a battery. What could go wrong?

I brooded about this on the way. I realized how much we are at the mercy of the repair people in our lives, and how much we do not know about, well, most things.

At their mercy

That took me back. I grew up with the idea that mechanical things like cars were a little scary, something one doesn't really muck with. This despite the many happy afternons I spent building little balsa-wood gliders with my father. Later, I learned a little electronics, and built little things like a switchbox so my mom could switch between cable and VCR without unplugging anything. But knowing I could handle an X-Acto knife and soldering iron somehow didn't translate to the notion that I could work on anything as scarily mechanical as a car or a home appliance.

When I was just getting out on my own, my car -- a 200SX turbo, my pride and joy -- developed a terrible ticking sound. When I got on the gas hard, it would make this loud tick tick tick tickticktick.

I took it to the mechanic. He listened to the noise and said "Lady, it's your turbo." He said it needed replacement.

I was pretty sure that wasn't right. I had read the turbo spun at something like 100,000 RPM. This sound was more like -- I don't know, a few ticks a second, maybe a few hundred RPM? Shouldn't something spinning at a hundred thousand RPM (let's see, that's ... divide by 60 ... 1667 Hz), shouldn't that make a sort of a whine, not ticks?

I asked the mechanic that. He shook his head. "Lady, it's your turbo. You have to replace it."

I was pretty sure I was being lied to. But what could I do? As Jon Carroll says, "we are at the mercy of the repair people in our lives." I arranged for a replacement. The warranty covered part of it; I still had to pay quite a bit.

And when it was over, the tick-tick-ticking noise was still there. I'd been right -- the noise wasn't coming from the turbo. Somehow that didn't make me feel better.

Becoming Kaylee

I saw a movie some time around then -- some awful movie involving motorcycles, I forget the details -- that had a character I liked. You've probably seen the archetype -- she's been in other movies. You know, the girl-mechanic with the grease smudge on one cheek and the bright eyes. Think Kaylee from Firefly, only this was long before Firefly.

I wanted to be that girl -- the one who never had to put up with mechanics lying to her, the one who'd never get stuck somewhere. She had control over her life. She understood the machines.

But how do you even get started learning something like that? All the guys I knew who knew how to work on cars had grown up in a culture where they learned it from their father or brothers.

I set a goal: I'd do my own oil change. I found instructions somewhere. I bought a crescent wrench -- one of those adjustable things -- and an oil pan to catch the oil, and a new filter. I lay down in the dirt and slid under the car and got the wrench on the bolt and ... it kept sliding off. I couldn't get the bolt loose, and I was rounding off the corners so maybe no one could ever get it loose. Oh no! The instructions didn't say what to do if that happened.

I got in the car, drove to the local mechanics' shop (not the same one that had lied to me about the turbo) and threw myself on their mercy. I said I'd be happy to pay whatever an oil change cost, but I didn't want them to do it -- just please show me how to get the bolt loose. They were super nice about it. They broke it loose (they said whoever did it last way over-tightened it). They took a look at my crescent wrench and told me never to use it again -- that I should stop at Napa on the way home and buy a 14mm box-end wrench. I don't think they even charged me anything.

Back at home, armed with my new 14mm wrench, I got the drain plug off, and the rest of the oil change went smoothly. I changed the filter and put the new oil in and closed up. My hands were shaking as I drove off -- surely all the oil was going to fall out right away, trashing my engine forever. But it didn't.

When I got back, one of my housemates was home. He said "You look adorable." Apparently I had that grease smudge on my cheek -- you know, just like the girl mechanic in the movie. Maybe there was hope!

And you know what? Once I knew how to do an oil change, I found it took less time to do it myself than it did to drive to the shop, drop off the car, arrange a ride home, and all the other hassle associated with having someone else do it.

Beyond oil changes

Doing my own oil change boosted my confidence incredibly. But I wanted to learn more. I wanted to be able to fix things when they broke down.

It was around this time that I took up autocross racing. Of course, a lot of the guys at the autocrosses were great mechanics. I started asking them questions, picking their brains.

My car still made that tick-tick-tick sound -- I'd pretty much learned to live with it since it seemed to be this mysterious thing no one knew how to fix. I asked one of my autocrosser friends. He said "Yeah, I've noticed you have an exhaust leak. You should fix that" He said it like, duh, doesn't everybody recognize the sound of an exhaust leak when they hear it?

What's an exhaust leak? How would I fix it? Turns out it means the gasket between the exhaust manifold and the head is bad. You have to unbolt the manifold and pull it back so you can slip a new gasket in. (He showed me what all those things were so I'd know what he was talking about.)

Normally that would be pretty easy, but on a turbo car it meant disconnecting all the turbo plumbing and moving the turbo out of the way. Eesh!

Another autocrosser, an expert mechanic, offered to help. We did the job. It turned out to be harder than expected. Seems that previous mechanics, probably the nim-nuts who replaced the turbo, had messed up the threads in the aluminum head -- and instead of fixing it right, they'd just taken a stud with different threads and jammed it in. I learned all about taps, and Heli-coils, and other techniques that weren't part of the original plan.

And the noise went away. We fixed it right. Not like the shop that was only interested in screwing another ignorant customer out of whatever they could get.

Books

I still wanted to learn more, and not be so dependent on helpful guys. I looked around for books. Shop manuals and Haynes and Chilton and Clymer manuals all assume you're already pretty comfortable working on cars. I needed something that explained things.

I'd been kicking around the idea of getting a car just for autocross -- some older, simpler car that would be easy to learn on. One option I was considering was a Scirocco, and that put me on to Poor Richard's Rabbit Book: How to Keep Your VW Rabbit/Scirocco Alive.

It was fabulous. It explained everything from the beginning -- what the various parts do, how to find them in a Rabbit/Scirocco -- but it was clear enough that it worked for any car, not just a VW. I inhaled that book. It was my bible for years, even after I gave up on the Scirocco idea. I chose a Fiat X1/9 instead.

Colibri

Everyone knows Fiat's reputation. The joke is that it stands for "Fix It Again, Tony" (though I always preferred "Fix It Alla Time"). A Fiat would surely force me to learn, fast.

[Colibri, my Fiat X1/9] My new baby, Colibri (Italian for "hummingbird") was a mess of a car. It had been in several accidents. Just about everything needed some amount of work. It was perfect. I loved it.

My first big job was a brake job in the parking lot of a San Diego Pep Boys, Poor Richard's and the Haynes manual in hand, the store handy so I could go in and buy tools I discovered I needed, a pay phone nearby so I could make long-distance calls to my boyfriend when I hit snags. (We were in the process of moving, but the brake job couldn't wait until he was there in person -- and besides, I wanted to learn how to do things myself!) I was there for hours, and used the pay phone several times. But I emerged triumphant -- covered in grime, but with brakes that worked great.

Over the next few years of driving and racing Fiats, I learned how to re-jet a carburetor (and how to do it really fast when a bit of fluff from your sketchy aftermarket performance air filter clogs a carburetor jet when you're stuck in traffic on 101 and the car suddenly isn't getting any power from the primary). I got good at replacing the alternator, doing alignments, working on suspension; I replaced the exhaust system a few times, and eventually the head.

We don't have to be at the mercy of the repair people in our lives.

Fixing and Making

And that brings me to the Maker movement -- because fixing things, very often, is making, and that's something I hadn't realized at first.

I remember watching my master mechanic boyfriend (the one who'd helped me with the 200SX) faced with the problem of a pop-up headlight that rattled. The link that held the light in place was worn from so many years of rattling along potholed roads. The part was available -- but look at it, he said. This will just wear out again in a couple of years. There's no lubrication, no adjustment, no compensation for how the angle changes as the headlight goes up and down.

He redesigned it using a rod end -- a lovely piece of hardware that has a threaded rod (adjustable!) at one end and a nylon-encased ball bearing at the other. It came out far more solid and adjustable than the original ever was. No more bouncing!

Later, when I got more confidence in my own automotive ability, I could do some of that myself. My proudest accomplishment was a set of adjustable spring perches made out of a toilet part from the hardware store. They cost about a tenth as much as the custom spring perches the top-flight autocrossers were using, and worked almost as well. I only wish I'd been prescient enough to have taken photos for a future website.

When you take your car to a mediocre mechanic, like the one who lied to me about my turbo because he was too inept to recognize the real problem, you get the wrong idea. You come away thinking that fixing things is all about replacing one part after another until the customer stops coming back. But real fixers aren't like that. They look at a design and ponder how to make it better. They fiddle with things, and try out new ideas. If they're not sure what's wrong, they set up experiments, just like a programmer does chasing a bug, or a scientist testing a new theory.

In today's world, being a Maker is hot now, while being a mere fixer isn't held in such high regard. But it should be. People who fix old stuff -- who can figure out how to take something broken and make it better than it was to begin with -- not only are creative Makers, they're also environmental heroes. They're our best hope to keep us from drowning in a sea of discarded junk.

I'm still not that good at it. I try to fix my computer stuff when it breaks. I've learned a little woodworking, painting, plumbing and other home-maintenance skills from my husband, who grew up in a culture where most people worked on things like that. (That definitely wasn't true where I grew up.) I don't work on the car nearly as often as I used to in the Fiat days -- I have more money and less energy and free time -- but I try to do enough that I know what does and doesn't need fixing. When I don't know something (which is still most of the time), I google for help, and fiddle with things, and invent solutions, and sometimes I succeed, sometimes not. When I do go to a repair person, I can ask the right questions, and I can tell if I'm being lied to.

Jon Carroll is right, of course. There's so "much we do not know about, well, most things." None of us has time to know everything about everything we own. But that isn't going to stop me from trying. Fixing is just as cool as making ... and maybe they're the same thing, really. And I still want to be Kaylee. Maybe I'm making progress.

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[ 20:34 Oct 02, 2011    More hardware | permalink to this entry | comments ]

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