TV Series – Returning 2014

I’m a TV Series freak, in the past I was watching up to 12 series simultaneously (when I was in college and living alone, back when The Big Bang Theory was still a show about non-social nerds). Nowadays regretfully I don’t have that much free time, but this fall there are a lot of TV Series I want to watch, both returning and new. So here goes my list of returning series I’ll definitely watch :

  • Person of Interest (season 4) : A show about a billionaire hacker, an old CIA operative and their team which assisted by a benevolent (?) AI, try to prevent crimes. This show is amazing, part procedural cop show, part dystopian sci-fi show, part action show, PLUS AIs. Haven’t watched season 3’s final episode, so I can watch it back to back with season 4’s premiere.

  • Silicon Valley (season 2) : A show following a tech startup in Silicon Valley. Not a show for everyone’s humor, I totally love it! Have watched 3 times the first season, consisting of 8 episodes and can’t wait for season 2.

  • Arrow  (season 3) : Huge DC fan here, HUGE! Arrow is one of the best (if not the best) superhero TV show, season 1 was amazing, but I haven’t gotten to watch the whole of season 2 due to lack of time. I think I’m going to rerun seasons 1 & 2 before getting to season 3. Of course I’m keeping an eye on Flash, Gotham and Constantine.

Moreover I haven’t finished watching sesaon 1 of The Blacklist and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and if I have time they are also in my watchlist.

A post on new TV Series that intrigue me to watch this fall, is on the way..

Scratch That

Because of this post, I decided to re-evaluate the way I use technology. Even though I have somewhat sorted my online life, my decisions on my PC use (hardware/software) are still “clouded”. So scratch the posts on desktop OSes (though the information is accurate), I’ll post when the installation process is complete.

Indecisive

Just realised that I have made 20 revisions on my post on choosing Operating System. I now the choice is hard between Debian and Arch, but in the end of the day I’m indecisive, plain and simple. And if that’s the case in something that trivial,  what is happening in my life (internal question)?

Decisions have to be made for this. So my resolution is to be more decisive on everything, either it matters or not.

Choosing the right desktop Linux distribution [part 2]

Searching for an appropriate desktop environment can be more tricky than choosing a base distribution. Each desktop environment comes preinstalled with applications specially created for it, and some times different desktops are created with different engines (GTK+ and Qt for example). One very comprehensive guide I have found in the AskUbuntu site is here.

Linux offers plenty of options on desktop environments, from minimal lightweight installations (Openbox) to full desktops like KDE. The most popular DEs out there are GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, Mate, Cinnamon, Openbox etc (Unity is excluded, as it’s only available on Ubuntu).

Among all these options, most appealing to me are GNOME and Cinnamon each one for different reasons :

GNOME : One of the oldest desktops around, based on GTK+ has changed from the traditional desktop to Gnome Shell (otherwise known as GNOME 3), providing a  new way for interacting with your computer.

Gnome_shell

GNOME’s view of the desktop totally agrees with me, it’s hassle free, elegant, with applications that follow its’ interface guidelines, creating a visually stunning result. You can change the way GNOME Shell works, through the use of extensions, from this site.


 

Cinnamon : Is a GTK+ traditional desktop, using GNOME Shell’s engine (less now than before) and some of GNOME’s applications like gedit,  gnome terminal, cheese, galculator and more.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a more traditional way to work, with newer software., feels fresh, and is fast. Is also extensible with applets, desklets and more.


 

The choice between the two is difficult, both offer a full desktop experience with out of the box a lot of amenities (for example, changing keyboard layouts). The major difference lies in the way those two DEs handle the desktop, GNOME wants to create an environment which will not be in the users way be all the available options are easily accessible. It is also better when used in bigger screens (like a TV). Cinnamon on the other hand is less audacious, using the traditional desktop as it’s base which makes it easier for users to get familiar with it. It is also lighter, and snappier, at times, than GNOME Shell though on newer hardware the difference is minimal.

Concluding my saga for the two major software components of my laptop, after choosing Antergos Linux as my OS, for desktop environment my choice lies with GNOME Shell, due to all the above reasons, most important of all, the fresh approach and the big dedicated team of developers!

Only thing now, is to find time and install my new system (hopefully I’ll post the procedure here).

Choosing the right desktop Linux distribution [part 1]

The needs of a desktop user are unique, when it comes on hardware and software. Most gamers use Windows, due to out of the box games support (though this will hopefully start changing, mainly due to the rise of the SteamOS platform). Some users use Apple software and hardware, mostly due to the echosystem and the Apple culture.

For me, Linux is the way to go. The freedom of choice, the freedom of use – no licences and hardware locks. But with choice comes questiong, which distribution, which desktop environment, what programs etc.. When searching online, articles for the “best” Linux distribution are common on the Internet. This post is mainly applicable for my needs (and distrohopping craziness).

As I previously wrote, choosing the right Linux distribution is based on one’s needs. From a technical background, I am a Linux newbie of sorts, but have used the terminal more than a few times and i want to know more on the Linux system (what makes it tick).

Linux consists of many subsystems interconnected to make a whole desktop experience. My choice is made based on the base system Operating System  (Debian, Ubuntu, Arch, Gentoo etc) and the Desktop Environment (GNOME, KDE, XFCE, Cinnamon, Openbox etc).

Base Linux OS (my picks):

Debian : Is the one of the oldest distributions still active, last month Debian reached it’s 21st birthday. Is being considered one of the most stable distributions (it’s stable branch) and is the most widespread used distro around. Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian, and has many common elements, like the aptitude command line package management interface. Debian currently has 3 releases :

  • The stable release codenamed Wheezy, which should be frozen (no updates, only security fixes) by November, which is rock solid, that’s why Debian stable is the no1 server distribution, with the only disadvantage of outdated software and system components.
  • The testing release sports more current software and system components, kernel etc, and is based on the next Debian release codenamed Jessie. Testing also comes to a freezing status pending the next official release, but this can be easily overriden to have a true Debian testing installation.
  • The unstable release, always named Sid, is a rolling release cutting edge distribution, meaning you only need an one time installation which will be updated as long as Debian exists. One drawback is that with the newest, sometimes untested software, may come crashes and less common unused installations.

Arch : Arch is a true rolling release distribution following the K(eep)I(t)S(imple)S(tupid) principle, which is being translated in simplicity and minimalism of a system. Arch has no default desktop environment and installed applications, rather gives the user the absolute power of creating his system from the ground up. Being a cutting edge distribution though means occasional crashes are common. One of the major elements of the Arch distribution is its Wiki page, one of the most comprehensive guides on all things Linux (meaning that many of the guides are applicable to other non-Arch based distributions).

Ubuntu : Is based on Debian unstable, though with many differences on it’s core components. Ubuntu is considered the defacto Linux desktop for the masses due to it’s hardware support and huge user base. Ubuntu has many derivatives (Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Kylin and maybe Ubuntu MATE are the official spin-offs), too many to mention them here. Based on Ubuntu (which in turn is based on Debian), is the Linux Mint distribution, a distro currently sitting on the no1 of Distrowatch. The default desktop interface of Ubuntu is Unity, a fresh look on desktop environments, something between a touch interface and a traditional desktop. Ubuntu has a six month release cycle, and every two years an LTS (Long Term Support) release with a five year support cycle. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has sparked some controversy with its’ move to display products from Amazon’s site in Unity lenses, among other moves which have alienated a portion of it’s users base.

What I want/need? An one time installation with good hardware support and, if possible, minimal crashes would be ideal. Ubuntu has the best support, and I like Unity but the six month release cycle along with the direction Canonical is taking Ubuntu, brings it to the last place of my choices. I will not currently deal with the countless Ubuntu based distributions. Arch is a true rolling release, with a great wiki though it needs a great deal of tinkering to get it up and running (which is not bad), a viable option, which has really intrigued me, is Antergos, a vanilla Arch distribution, with an installer and minor tweaks (like custom icons, and one custom package repository). Finally Debian Testing is my choice from the Debian distribution, because of it’s semi-rolling release with a small freezing period and the high adoption of Debian (also I’m more accustomed to aptitude than pacman).

So Debian Testing or Arch (Antergos to be exact). The technical knowledge required I believe is on par (with the help of Arch Wiki), as is the hardware support. Antergos has newer software, but Debian Testing is more stable. Basically it comes down to personal opinions and tastes. Arch’s view on building a distribution and maintaining it, plus it’s leniency towards adopting controversial technologies (systemd) versus Debian’s social contract for providing free software, along with it’s use for major Linux “players” like Ubuntu, SteamOS and powering a lot of Linux Servers.

In order to continue my saga to part 2 (Desktop environment), it is time to finally decide on one distribution. And for me this distribution is Arch, to be exact Antergos Linux! It’s a rolling release, lightweight, with a very nice comprehensive installer, a nice forum (no internet divas there), which along with Arch Wiki are great tools of, hopefully, having a smooth distro-sailing.

Off to the second part : Desktop Environments

Aleph – Home Network

This last month, following my social detox, I decided to also change my home network. I had a lot of hardware lying around gathering dust, including a 17″ Core2Duo Toshiba laptop, a 10″ Toshiba Android Netbook, CPUs, VGAs, whole systems (Atom, P4 etc) and more, so I decided to give them away or sell them and keep only the stuff I need.

I decided to name my network Aleph, after it was used in William Gibson’s novel Mona Lisa Overdrive. Quoting from William Gibson Aleph site :

First letter of the Hebrew alphabet; huge biochip with immensely big storage capacity. Inspired by the short story ‘The Aleph’ (1945) by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. In the story, the Aleph is described to be ‘one of the points in space that contains all other points’.

After mostly giving away parts and PCs, the only hardware left in my apartment was :

Lenovo U510 (Ono-Sendai) :

  • CPU: 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i5-3337U (1.80GHz 1600MHz 3MB)
  • Memory: 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MHz
  • Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 4000
  • Dimensions: 15.0″ x 9.8″ x 0.8″
  • Camera: 720p HD webcam
  • Display: 15.6″ HD LED display (16:9 widescreen) (1366×768)
  • I/O Ports: 2 USB 2.0 port / 1 USB 3.0 ports / HDMI / Combo jack / RJ-45 / 2-in-1 card reader (SD/MMC)
  • Storage: SanDisk Ultra Plus SSD 128gb
  • Wireless Connectivity: Intel Centrino Wireless N-2230 / Bluetooth® 4.0
  • Keyboard: AccuType keyboard
  • Optical Drive: DVD Recordable (Dual Layer)
  • Battery: 45Wh (3-cell)
  • Durability Features: Full aluminum exterior shell

Which will be used as my main work/fun PC, using a Linux distribution (Debian or Arch, but this saga will be explored on a latter post), the only upgrade I want is to connect it to an external monitor for a dual panel setup.

Dell 5323 13z (SenseNet) :

  • CPU: 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i3-3217U (1.80GHz 1600MHz 3MB)
  • Memory: 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MHz
  • Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 3000
  • Dimensions: 13.07″ x 9.05″ x 0.82″
  • Camera: Native HD 1.0 MP webcam with digital microphone
  • Display: 13.3″(33.78cm) HD WLED True-Life (1366×768)
  • I/O Ports: 2 USB 2.0 port / 1 USB 3.0 ports / HDMI / Combo jack / RJ-45 / Kensington Security Lock / 7-in-1 Media Card Reader
  • Storage: 500GB SATA hard drive (5400RPM)
  • Wireless Connectivity: Intel Centrino Wireless N-2230 / Bluetooth® 4.0
  • Keyboard: Dell keyboard
  • Optical Drive: None
  • Battery: 45Wh (3-cell)

I’m currently using a Raspberry Pi as a Media Player (OpenELEC), but I want to use my I3 laptop as a Media Center / Linux Gaming machine, headless under my TV, with a Logitech DiNovo Mini keyboard/mouse and a couple of wireless gamepads for gaming. As for OS, if I use Ubuntu for compatibility, I’ll stick to Unity, but if I go for GNOME Shell, Debian Testing or Arch are the way to go (it depends on my distribution saga).

My Raspberry Pi, after ending it’s use as a Media Player, hopefully will be used for Arch tweaking, hooked on a free HDMI port of the external monitor. There is also a D-Link DNS 320L 2-Bay NAS, with a 2TB drive which hosts all my movie/tv/music database. It is tweaked with Fun Plug, installed a Debian version along with a Transmission client with enabled web GUI, so all torrents are downloaded to my home network from wherever I am.

Lastly my wife owns a MacBook 2009 edition with a 13.3″ screen, which currently sports MacOS (I don’t even know which edition). Hopefully I can convince her to let me install ElementaryOS, an easy to use and visually appealing distribution based on Ubuntu.

Social Detox

Continuing my thread on the #! forums, on my withdrawal from several social sites. I believe the most accurate description was that i got sucked in them. The constant refresh of the timeline, the “need” to post happy/interesting photos for the acceptance of your friends/followers (many of whom you haven’t seen or talked in years) is consuming, both in time and your personal life.

Why I withdrawed? To take a deep breath, re-evaluate the use of social media and focus on other stuff, like my personal life, my hobbies, and generally my offline life. And you know what? It feels nice, removing this distractions, I may re-use some social media sites sooner or later, but it will be for a different reason, networking for example. I’m now focusing on recreating my local hardware network (more on this on a later post).

One great video on Youtube, about the fake faces we put on when using social media sites, I believe has grasped the essence of today’s online problem :

Who am I, what is Bytesoup? [An Alternative Intro]

I was thinking how to post an intro about my personal blog, addresing questions on who,why and what for ByteSoup, the best I could think of was an Q-A. So here it goes :

Q : Who are you?

A : I’m called Tasos, on the writing day of this post i am 29 years old and currently living and working in my place of birth Athens, Greece. Employed by a major Greek Telecommunications provider, as a Network Engineer. My extracurricular activities (known as hobbies) are Open Source software and hardware, as the Raspberry PI board, comics, TV series and movies, and lastly photography – though haven’t exercised it much.

Q : What is ByteSoup?

A : Bytesoup is a name inpired from the TV Series : Silicon Valley, which i found quite accurate for the kind of blog i have in mind. A site which integrates the soup of knowledge/news/info I have gathered from over the Internet, also the soup that is my life. So expect posts about Linux distributions (mostly Debian and Arch), FOSS news, movies and TV series news and reviews, personal rantings about everything and probably more geek stuff.

Q : Why posting in English?

A : Although Greek is my native language, both talking and writing, there are roughly 15mil people who can understand it. And to be frank, English is the universal language. So it’s all about reaching more people. But be warned, i may write some posts in Greek.

 

Stay tuned…