We’re back … I think!

* If you don’t know who or what these are check the Glossary page.

Shoot-out At the OK Corral

RoboFrog is an irresistible force when HE* gets in one of HIS* moods, and trust me, for three weeks HE has been…grouchy. It all started innocently enough. Remember that Defiant’s* hard drive died. HE ordered a new one from allhdd.com and chose not to expedite the shipping. It took about seven days to get the drive.

NOTE: Our experience with allhdd.com was very good. They had the product that we wanted at a reasonable price. Their communication was excellent and the drive arrived at the promised time. We will definitely purchase from them in the future.

It’s fun to watch HIM* when when HE gets something like a new hard drive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid in a toy store any happier or more excited. Replacing Defiant’s (IBM ThinkPad T43) hard drive isn’t a big deal. There’s an external cover to the drive bay on the right side of the machine, held on with one screw. To replace the drive remove the bay cover, slide the old drive out, remove the metal cage from the old drive and install it on the new drive, push the new drive into the bay, and replace the cover. That’s it. Install an operating system and you’re done. At least that’s what HE had hoped.

Note: There are two caveats when replacing a hard drive on a T43. First, they’re really picky about hard drives. You need to get one that specifically works with this machine. Check here for drive information. Second, don’t get the drive upside down. Make sure to maintain the same orientation for the new drive as the old.

That’s when things went bad and RoboFrog transformed from kid-in-the-toy-store to The Terminator. Changing the drive was no problem at all. Loading the operating system, though, turned into a three week nightmare.

I don’t want to get into a long discussion of Linux distributions and the trials and tribulations HE had trying to find a distribution that would work on all of our machines. Frankly, we’re both completely worn out with trying to find an acceptable Linux distribution.

First, we retired Untouchable* (at least temporarily). We decided that life had gotten too complicated. We’re going through a dramatic change, removing clutter, getting things organized, and looking for ways to simplify everything in our lives. We will undoubtedly write about this in the future, but for now, we decided that a desktop and a laptop were all we needed. Second, Untouchable got the boot because it’s the only 64-bit machine that we have. Now we install both machines from the same medium; that’s one small variable eliminated. Whitestar is our only desktop machine (I’m not counting Chatterbox, our file server) and Defiant our only laptop.

All of our equipment is older, on the order of eight years. We suspect that’s one of the reasons we’re experiencing so many Linux problems. We’re starting to consider new machines. To simplify things further, we may buy a very capable laptop with a docking station. That would bring us down to one machine plus the file server. Our biggest worry is that if our one machine dies, we’re completely out of business.

Back to finding a Linux distribution. RoboFrog started with Ubuntu Studio 11.10, and as I said, this is where the problems began. It worked…okay…not great. And, that’s when HIS mood went sour. HE shut down everything we were doing and informed me that we weren’t doing anything else until we had an acceptable operating system running on Defiant and Whitestar. Notice that I said “acceptable operating system.” For the first time in five years, HE put Windows™ back on the list of possibilities. I was stunned. I never thought I would hear that from HIM.

Over the past three weeks HE repeatedly installed

  • Ubuntu Studio 11.10
  • Xubuntu 11.10
  • PCLinuxOS 2012
  • Fedora 16 Xfce
  • Fedora 16 KDE
  • Arch Linux
  • Kubuntu

HE would run one of them for a couple of days thinking HE’d finally found us a home. Then a problem would pop up. After HE told MsRoboFrog, for the third time, that the problems were resolved SHE started giving HIM the evil-eye. I noticed that HE took Defiant to the basement and stopped mentioning computers to MsRoboFrog.

RoboFrog always had great confidence in the Linux world because no matter how many distributions HE tried or how much trouble HE had with them…HE always had Arch Linux to come back to. That confidence has been shaken.

Arch has been our favorite distribution for a long time. Sadly, we’re retiring Arch Linux. We get all of our news and media entertainment from the Internet. We read the morning news on Yahoo! and Google, stream music from Pandora, movies from Amazon, and TV from Hulu. All but the morning news depend on Adobe Flash Player® to deliver content. Something changed recently with Arch Linux and Flash. We tried Arch Linux a couple of times on both Defiant and Whitestar with the same results. Flash video looks more like a slideshow (and not a particularly fast one) than video. That’s a deal-breaker. We searched the Internet and Arch Forums, but found no way to correct the problem. We’ve lost an old friend.

You may wonder why, given the wireless problems we had with the *buntu’s, that we’re testing them again. Remember that we installed the Diamond Wireless Range Extender? Well, the problem with losing the wireless lock is gone. We’re very happy with the Diamond Wireless Range Extender.

So…who won? We’re holding our collective breaths, but HE has Kubuntu running on all three machines: Whitestar, Defiant, and Chatterbox*. (There’s an interesting story about Chatterbox and Kubuntu, but I’ll save that for another time.) Kubuntu is not just running okay; it’s running extremely well. We’ve been running Kubuntu for four days. Don’t laugh; that’s twice as long as any of the others.

We’re going to continue testing Kubuntu (and try to steer clear of MsRoboFrog for a while) and hope that we truly have resolved our Linux issues. For the moment, I don’t have to worry about HIM taking us back to Windows™. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would certainly be a significant failure in what we’re trying to do here on the LilyPad.

More Kubuntu next time…and, I hope we’re back!

Interesting weekend (cont)

* If you don’t know who or what something is, check the Glossary page.

Ubuntu Studio

I don’t blame you; it’s easy to get confused watching HIM do his thing. Understand that HE’s NOT approaching Ubuntu Studio as a Linux distribution for newcomers. That means that if something doesn’t work as expected…it’s irritating, but it’s okay. HE’ll tinker with it until he figures a way around the problem. For the awhile, we’re committed to this Linux distribution. We’re into content creation, and there are just too many goodies in Ubuntu Studio. We’re going to stick with it for awhile…and frankly, it’s working pretty well.

Back to Defiant

Okay, so you know that HE loaded PCLinuxOS onto Defiant so that we could finish our movie. Now that we’re out of newbie-mode, we’re really curious about the whole *buntu problem with maintaining a wireless connection. If we can’t keep a reliable wireless connection, that would be a serious no-go for running Ubuntu Studio on Defiant. We’d probably continue using Ubuntu Studio on Whitestar, but move back to Arch Linux for Defiant. Just between you, me, and the fence post, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we look at Ubuntu Studio long enough to decide which programs we like the best and then move, with those programs, back to Arch Linux. Arch is still our favorite Linux distribution and, as  you’ll see, whenever we’re in doubt, we immediately go back to it.

HE installed PCLinuxOS so that we could get through our movie, but now it was time to see what we could do with Defiant and Ubuntu Studio. HE started the morning with a new install of Ubuntu Studio onto Defiant. Once again, there was no problem with the install, but we had to do something about the internet connection. One of our favorite Einstein quotes is “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” We hope that we’re not quite ready for the loony-bin, so we’re going to try something different…even if it’s wrong. (Since we believe in the power of failure, we look forward to being wrong.)

Once Ubuntu Studio was installed onto Defiant, we used the package manager (Synaptic) to load wicd, then removed networkmanager. An interesting aside: We use networkmanager to manage the network connections with Arch Linux and we’ve never had a problem. With Arch Linux, the wireless connection is rock-solid. That, however, has not been our experience with the *buntu’s. We went through the setup of wicd and had a solid Internet connection. We reloaded all of the software that we use that’s not included with Ubuntu Studio. Understand that this is all done about six feet away from our wireless router.  We’ve never had a problem in RoboFrog’s lair. Now…it’s time to add a little distance.

We took Defiant to MsRoboFrog’s library. It’s one floor up. In the library, Defiant is about twenty feet from the router. Everything worked well initially…and then it hit the fan!

Defiant started making a sound like she was grinding corn. RoboFrog thought it sounded like the fan bearings had gone out. I’ve never heard a computer make such an ugly grinding sound. It was frightening…for me. HE, however, said “Wow, that’s really cool!” I wanted to strangle HIM. “Really cool?” In what universe?

I turned around and there HE was on another machine running Google searches. Finally, HE turned back to me and said,  “This is cool. Here are instructions for how to get into a ThinkPad T43 case. Let’s see if we can get her fan out.” I was incredulous. Defiant was our only working (or used to be), current laptop. HE’d never been in her innards before, but now, HE wanted to take her apart. I thought I’d just scream. Too late! HE’d already flipped her over on her back and was removing screws, while I was trying to figure out where we could get another laptop that we could afford.

HE got Defiant’s case open (A surprise to me. It almost looked like HE knew what HE was doing.) and removed her fan. Wow! I was impressed. Then, HE pushed her power switch. There was that sickening grinding sound again.

HIS brow knitted and HE said, “It’s not the fan.”

That was obvious even to me. HE turned Defiant off and removed her DVD drive and pressed the power switch. Again, that awful grinding sound.

“It’s the hard drive,” he said. “I’ve never heard a hard drive make that kind of sound.” (Me either!)

I looked at Defiant. Her innards were scattered all over the table. I thought “She’ll never work again.” HE came back from the basement with a drive in HIS hands.

“Where’d you get that?” I asked.

“From an old machine, ” he said. “It’s not big enough for what we’re trying to do, but it’ll allow us to verify that the hard drive is the problem.”

It’s at times like this that I really rise to the occasion. I said, “Oh…”

I was amazed! In about fifteen minutes, RoboFrog had collected all of Defiant’s pieces and stuffed them back into her case. He looks at me and said, “That should do it.”

“That should do what?”

“That should let us get Defiant working again,” he said simply.

“Oh…” (I told you; I’m really good in a crisis.)

HE grabed a USB stick and started loading Arch Linux.

“I thought we were going to run Ubuntu Studio.”

“You’d never get Studio onto this drive. Not enough room, but this will confirm that the drive is the problem.”

Well, HE did confirm that the drive was the problem. Amazingly, HE took Defiant apart, figured out what was wrong with her, and put her back together with a “new” hard drive. HE loaded Arch Linux and as far as I could tell, she worked the same as always. We ordered a new drive for Defiant. HE was right. There wasn’t nearly enough room to load Ubuntu Studio, but we could listen to Pandora, watch stuff on Hulu, and stream movies while we waited for her new drive. That should take five or six days. Then, we’ll return to Ubuntu Studio, Defiant, and the wireless problem.

Interesting weekend

* If you don’t know who or what these are, check the Glossary page.

Linux stuff

We’ve had an interesting few days trying to get Ubuntu Studio working. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that HE* ran into trouble. Let me make a quick point about Linux distributions in general and Ubuntu Studio in particular.

HE usually tries to look at new Linux distributions from the perspective of a naive user. By naive user, I mean someone who is probably familiar with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) system like Windows™ or MacOS™, but isn’t familiar with CLI (Command-Line Interface)… in fact, may not even know what CLI is. Our position at The Robotic Frog is that if a distribution claims to be for naive users  then that user should have a reasonable chance of getting it working on any mainstream, non-exotic hardware (HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc). The distribution must achieve four things: 1) The installer must be reasonably understandable and work without the need of special-knowledge intervention, 2) The software updater must work properly, 3) The recommended software / package manager must work, 4) The system must operate properly (no video or sound problems, keyboard and mouse work as expected, wireless works properly, etc). Sadly, there’s only one Linux distribution that we’ve tried that meets these criteria…and it’s not Ubuntu Studio.

Before someone decides to lynch me, let me be clear that we love Linux here at The Robotic Frog. It’s our operating system of choice and we would only grudgingly use something else. Windows™ and MacOS™ are terrific systems, but Linux continues to suit our needs best. We highly recommend it for those who have some computer experience and enjoy learning new things and tinkering. For a naive user, we recommend Linux only if they have a techno-dweeb on hand to help get things going the first time.

Ubuntu Studio

Whitestar*

Screenshot of the login screen of Ubuntu studi...

When we loaded Ubuntu Studio onto Whitestar and were impressed…only for the wrong reason. Based on the information at the Ubuntu Studio web site, we expected something that looked like this. I’m pretty sure that in a perfect world, it would have looked like that. This isn’t a perfect world, though. We’re using Ubuntu Studio 11.10. Ubuntu Studio apparently used Gnome2 as their GUI prior to 11.10. They are in transition from Gnome2 to Xfce as their GUI environment.

We were greeted with a screen that looked something this…which made us pretty happy. We didn’t expect Xfce, so we were surprised at first. Once we confirmed that we’d installed the correct distribution, we were in love. Xfce is our GUI of choice. This had to be a good sign. So far, we’re extremely happy with Ubuntu Studio on Whitestar. It’s running very well and has a treasure trove of creative software. All of the other applications that we consider critical are in the repositories. We had one minor glitch.

We like to listen to music with Pandora while working on almost anything else. We had Pandora playing on Whitestar as we began loading Ubuntu Studio onto Defiant*. Suddenly, the music stopped. We looked up to see what had happened. The picture of our screensaver was on the screen, but was frozen. We’ve had trouble with screensavers from time to time, so we immediately suspected it as the culprit. We tried keyboard and mouse with no response. No problem, we’ll open a terminal window and shut it down from the command-line…or maybe not. I can’t remember the last time this happened with a Linux system. The whole machine was locked up. The only way we could correct the problem was to power the machine off and reboot. (brings back memories of the ‘blue screen of death’) Once it came back up, we disabled the screensaver and haven’t had a problem since.

Defiant*

Getting Ubuntu Studio installed on Defiant was no problem. We were impressed. As we said in our previous post, we were concerned about a *buntu being able to maintain a wireless Internet connection due to our experience with Xubuntu. We went upstairs to the point on the LilyPad farthest from our wireless router. There, for two hours, we worked on our previous post. Ubuntu Studio maintained a rock-solid connection. We thought we were home-free.

We stream movies from Amazon.com. In fact, we stream almost all of our audio and video entertainment. It has become a rarity that RoboFrog and I watch television or DVD movies. We stream movies from Amazon.com, music from Pandora, and television from Hulu. MsRoboFrog watches some television, but if it were up to RoboFrog and myself, we’d maintain our Internet and drop the cable television altogether. (That’s also why it’s important that we have a reliable wireless connection.)

Okay, so RoboFrog and I decided to watch a movie. Guess what? Half way through the movie, we lost the Internet connection. Just as with Xubuntu, the only way we were able to reestablish our wireless connection was to reboot.

MsRoboFrog doesn’t always fully appreciate the dweebish techno-creative genius at work on the LilyPad. RoboFrog and I were trying to get the wireless working again when MsRobofrog walked by, stopped, and looked at us with that look. You know the one, right? Looking at us with slightly squinted eyes, HER head cocked almost imperceptably, SHE says, “What are you doing with all of those DVD’s?”

There must have been six of them spread across HER coffee table. “Trying new Linux distributions,” says I. SHE shook her head, gave us that other look…and without another word, went to bed.  Now, I tell you this micro-story so you’ll understand the setting. There are five or six different Linux installation DVD’s on the table next to us. I’m watching MsRoboFrog as SHE walks away toward the bedroom wondering if I’m in trouble for something I forgot to do, making a mess on HER coffee table…or maybe it was simply random curiosity. HE, however, is unperturbed. HE grabs the PCLinuxOS installation DVD and says, “Hey, we know this works really well up here. Let’s load it up and finish the movie.” …and off HE goes.

Before I finish this story, let me say that we really like PCLinuxOS. It’s the only distribution we’ve tried that meets all four of our newbie criteria. The only thing that keeps us from using it is that our hardware is old and slow. It runs really well on all of our machines, but is a bit sluggish. For someone new to Linux, this would be a terrific one to try.

PCLinuxOS loaded without a hitch; we finished our movie (no problem, here, maintaining an Internet connection); and…went to bed.

There’s more to this story. I really am coming back to Ubuntu Studio…and what made the weekend so interesting. Next time…

Roles at The Robotic Frog

* If you don’t know who or what these are, check the Glossary page.

________________________________________

While we were melting down (see previous post), Xubuntu on Defiant* was unable to maintain the wireless connection upstairs. This is two floors above the wireless router; about 60 ft (~18 m). The signal strength upstairs has never been good. The whole Xubuntu thing made HIM* decide to try to fix the problem. HE* did some research and decided to try the Diamond Wireless Range Extender (Model WR300N).

[We have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with Diamond.]

HE chose this one because it was the only one HE found where someone specifically mentioned that it worked with Linux.

This thing is amazing. It’s trivial to set up. It comes with a Windows installation CD. Since we don’t have a Windows machine, we don’t know what that’s all about; we didn’t need it. If we were engineers, this is the way we’d want our stuff to work. We plugged the device into a wall outlet, connected it to Defiant with an Ethernet cable (supplied), and turned Defiant on. The instructions said to bring up your web browser. Ours came up automatically. Click on AutoSetup, choose your wireless network, click connect, and enter your security code.  Unplug your range extender from the wall outlet, unplug the Ethernet connection, plug the range extender back into the wall outlet…and forget about it. You’re done. Less than five minutes. Our signal, according to the wireless applet, normally shows 40%-45%. With the range extender it reads 80%-94%. We’re extremely happy with this device. Recommended!

Content creation

We took the picture of the range extender box shown above. This was our first foray into creating photographic content. It’s not going to win any awards, but we had a fun time with it. We’ll tell you about it next time.

him!

We’re coming to a clear separation of roles at The Robotic Frog. I realized yesterday that it’s simply not possible to control HIM. I can influence HIM, but any thought that I’m in control is an illusion. This became clear yesterday when I lost my connection to the file server. I went to the Computing Center (basement) and to my disbelief, there HE was loading Linux Mint 12 KDE onto Chatterbox*.

“I thought we agreed last week that we weren’t going to load any new Linux distributions for awhile,” I said.

“Yeah, but this looks really cool. I thought we’d give it a shot.”

“You’re nuts! You know that, right?”

“Ummm,” he says and I know I’ve lost him.

See what I mean? I realized at that moment that my role at TRF* isn’t to control HIM. That’s not possible. RoboFrog is our creative-techno-geek-free-spirit. HE’s curious about everything. I think HIS favorite question is, “What happens when we do this?” No, my role is that of writer, communicator, chronicler. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

It isn’t easy, though. HE rarely tells me what HE’s doing or where HE’s heading. And forget about notes. HE’s in the zone; doing his thing. HE seldom writes anything down. That’s why I have to watch HIM like a hawk. Otherwise, HE’s six steps into something and I don’t know how HE got there. Let’s get back to Chatterbox.

Last time, I introduced Chatterbox. I’m not going into another long tale about yet another Linux distribution. He loaded Linux Mint 12 KDE onto Chatterbox without any problems. It’s beautiful. We’ve never used KDE at The Robotic Frog, but wow! There’s a lot to like with it. Sadly, the software installer wouldn’t run. It starts to come up and then disappears. As I said in a previous post, that’s a deal-breaker for us. If the software installer doesn’t work, we immediately dump the distro. HE reloaded Ubuntu 11.10 and I can only hope that, at least on Chatterbox, HE’ll leave it alone for awhile.

We said in a previous post that we like Linux Mint a lot at RFCC*. Our opinion has changed concerning Linux Mint. We’ve had problems with Linux Mint Debian, Linux Mint Xfce, and now Linux Mint KDE. In fairness to Linux Mint, there are many people happily using it. We haven’t tried their main Ubuntu-based distribution recently. It may be perfectly fine. Our concern is that with that much going wrong at Linux Mint, we’re no longer comfortable recommending it.

On the other hand, we’ve had an almost flawless performance by Ubuntu 11.10. This would be the distribution we would recommend for anyone new to Linux.

Next time: creating photos for our blog.

Making backup painless

* If you don’t know who or what this is, check the Glossary page.

*** WARNING: This is post pretty geeky. ***

Last time, we talked about how important backup is at The Robotic Frog. Let me show you how we made it painless.

First, let me describe the new computer setup here at RFCC*. We added a machine…Chatterbox*…that is our new file server. We’ll say more about Chatterbox next time, but for now, understand that it’s the machine that we have our backup hard drives connected to. Untouchable*, Whitestar*, and Defiant* talk to Chatterbox to back up their files. Untouchable and Whitestar are desk machines that sit side-by-side in RoboFrog’s office. They are situated so that HE* can turn ninty degrees without moving HIS* desk chair and use either one. Defiant is a laptop that sees service everywhere on the LilyPad. Check out the Glossary page if you’re interested in more detail about the machines.

Yesterday, we showed you our backup script. The script is named rbak. It is stored in the directory /home/bvines/Myfiles and must be executable. It’s also backed up in /home/bvines/Myfiles/Restore. Untouchable, Whitestar, and Defiant get shut down at the end of each day. Before they go down, we want everything that was created that day to be backed up. These machines run Arch Linux. Arch has a file /etc/rc.local.shutdown. If we place the command /home/bvines/Myfiles/rbak in this file then rbak runs each time the machine is shut down.

{

If you’re running Ubuntu: 1) copy rbak to /etc/init.d 2) make a symbolic link to rbak in /etc/rc6.d. The name of the symbolic link is important.

sudo cp /home/bvines/Myfiles/rbak /etc/init.d
cd /etc/rc6.d
sudo ln -s /etc/init.d/rbak A01rbak

}

This assures that these machines are backed up every time we shut them down. It’s automatic. We don’t have to hope that HE will remember to run rbak.

Chatterbox is different. It stays on 24/7. On Linux systems there’s a utility called cron. It runs programs or scripts periodically: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly. We run rbak daily on Chatterbox. To make this happen, copy rbak to /etc/cron.daily. Any program or script saved in this directory gets run once each day by cron. Again, it’s automatic.

This is a simple scheme for keeping up with our backups. It automates the entire process. We had occasion to test this system today. That story next time, but here’s how we restore a system.

*** rsto ***

#!/bin/bash
echo “”
echo “…restore thunderbird from backup…”
rsync -azr –stats /media/Media/Now/Myfiles_chatterbox/Restore/thunderbird/ /home/bvines/.thunderbird
echo “”
echo “…restore Myfiles from backup…”
echo “”
rsync -arz –stats /media/Media/Now/Myfiles_chatterbox/ /home/bvines/Myfiles
echo “”
echo “…restore complete…”
echo “”

##########

This is the restore script for Chatterbox. As I said, we needed to use it this morning and it worked perfectly. We keep a directory in every Myfile folder called Restore. It has information that we use to restore a machine. We keep a copy of rsto there. To restore a machine all we have to do is copy rsto from our backup drive to our main user, directory, /home/bvines in our case, then execute rsto (./rsto). Obviously, rsto must be executable. That’s all there is to it. Painless.

Next time…HE’s loose again!

Make your blog better

* If you don’t know who or what these are, check the Glossary page.

WordPress and blogging

WordPress

Did you know that in the upper-right of the Edit Post screen there’s a Screen Options drop-down menu that allows you to choose how your screen is laid out? I just found it a few days ago. Untouchable* is my favorite. It gets most of the newest, coolest stuff. It has a widescreen monitor that’s terrific for watching movies and Hulu. With all that horizontal real estate, it’s terrific for the two-column editor layout. Whitestar* and Defiant*, though, have traditional screens. When I’m working on one of them…as I am now…the one-column layout is better.

Make your blog better

If you’re simply reading blogs for entertainment, then read on and enjoy. If, however, your a blogger interested in both the story and the art consider setting a goal of finding one new blog each day (or week) that piques your interest. That’s what we’re doing here at TRF*. It’s surprising how difficult this is. Try it. Here’s a tip. Whenever someone clicks on Like…

(If, like me, you’re very new to blogging: click on the comment link, then scroll up the page. There’s a button with Like on it. Click it if you liked the post.)

…a link to their blog is left behind. At TRF, we follow the link and check out their blog. We’ve had more luck finding interesting new blogs following these links than by random browsing.

Make your visits more productive. PhilosopherMouse (PM) clicked Like for one of my posts. I followed his link to Warning: Granny bites (You really should read it; it’s a hoot.) Today, PM posted Shhhh. Requires Invisibility Cloak which I think is a terrific piece. Perhaps it isn’t your cup-of-tea, though. Don’t stop. Look at the theme PM is using, how he’s used pictures, and arranged text and graphics on the page. There’s so much great stuff here in addition to the story. PM is a gifted story-teller and artist. I’ve only read two of his posts, but already, I’m a fan. He’s given me a few laughs and some terrific ideas for making my blog better. Thanks PhilosopherMouse!

One last thought for bloggers: Think about comments as a gift…both for the author and for ourselves. The desire to share, through our blogs, means that we’re observing, thinking, and forming opinions. The fact that we’re blogging indicates that we want to share our observations and opinions. Consider leaving a comment on at least one blog each day. If a blog post intrigues you, what one thing caused your synapses to fire? Tell the blogger! What was something you liked? What was something you didn’t? What would you like to hear more about? This simple exercise for just one blog a day will improve our ability to think and reason; it will sharpen our focus; and, it will show up in our blogging.

Freemind

FreeMind

FreeMind has become an indispensable, mission-critical tool here on the LilyPad. I have FreeMind automatically start whenever I turn on a computer. Previously, I used Tomboy Notes to catch ideas and thoughts. Now, I use FreeMind.  Give it a try; I think you’ll like it.

I like having a plan. It takes just a minute to put together a mind map. (If you don’t know what mind mapping is, take a look at my post Creativity and content creation.) It helps me judge what and how much to try to fit into my blog for the day. The graphic above is for this post.

The central node is labeled 2012-01-17. There are four primary nodes: working files, chatterbox, backup, comments. Looking at this post, it’s obvious that I can only cover about two primary nodes without my post becoming an epic novel. That’s very useful information for future planning. It also tells me that I’m not going to run out of material anytime soon. The other ideas will keep. That’s enough for today.