The mumblings of a Christian autistic husband, dad, IT guy and amateur radio operator - Will Brokenbourgh / AF7EC
Current Status - 2019-09-11
Happy extremely belated New Year!
Yes folks, I'm still alive, but life has become more challenging and also busier, and since I generate and edit these pages manually in a text editor instead of using a blogging system, it's sometimes hard to spontaneously post whatever is on my mind at the moment. I still prefer the manual way because I want to reduce the likelihood of some blog system dependency having a bug or security issue, exposing my blog to vulnerabilities.
Operating system stuff
When you last heard from me, I was using macOS. I took the plunge and purchased a new Mac with really good specs, and, while it wasn't really worth the large amount of money they wanted, it's a pretty good Mac. Do I regret purchasing it? Maybe a little. I needed a new Mac because the one I was using (an older 24-inch 2008 iMac) was starting to act naughty, and couldn't be upgraded to the latest macOS. In hindsight, I wish I would have purchased a newer used Mac, but you live and learn, and will probably sell this one for a cheaper computer -- God-willing.
So, at this point, I do use macOS a little bit here and there to test stuff, and to play games with my son, but my current preference is running antiX Linux on a USB drive.
When the circumstances in my life change, sometimes this brings a change in my prefered operating system. macOS is a very good operating system, and for most folks, it will meet their needs and not aggravate them too much. Because our family pretty much is all iPhones and iPads (due to how long Apple supports most of their devices compared to Android products), having a Mac helps with the Apple apps that tie everything together, such as Reminders, Calendar, etc.
macOS programming is not my friend
I am a programmer. Even if you called me a bad programmer, I'm still a programmer -- and programmers need good tools to write, compile and debug their software. Because of my autistic and partially-damaged brain, my opinion is that using Xcode is a major chore, and not a fun way to write programs. I'm not Steve Jobs or his underlings at NeXT and don't like the way methods or 'messages' are named. The unusual and verbose naming scheme is supposed to help iOS and macOS developers remember what the methods do, but when they are so different than typical GUI toolkits, it's frustrating and overcomplicates things.
For example, to make a Cocoa window object visible and active, you do
makeKeyAndOrderFront:' while in most other toolkits, it's simply
window->show()' or similar. Just look at those two calls, and you'll see what I'm
whining about. Maybe I'm not as flexible and can't adapt like others can, but trying to learn
'NeXTish' is not fun for me.
Another thing is how you connect GUI controls to event handlers and how to expose the controls so you can operate on them -- change their properties, hide them, etc. You literally draw graphical lines from code to controls and vice-versa. Some folks probably would say this is an easy way to program and in a way, it is. The issue is when you connect things together, but then make changes. The graphical lines are only displayed while creating the connections, after that they are gone. It would be pretty messy to have a bunch of persistent graphical lines littering the IDE. While the lines make creating the connections somewhat easy, debugging and trying to remember what is connected to what is more challenging.
As you can tell, I'm not an Xcode fan. I'm just a small-time programmer who likes to write things completely in code. If I happen to use something like Lazarus or Qt Creator, the visual stuff is a lot cleaner and easier to figure out than in Xcode -- to me. Your mileage will invariably vary.
antiX Linux is ticking my boxes
antiX Linux 19 (beta 3, at the moment) is right up my alley. With some very minor tweaking, I've got it running just the way I like, with very little in the way of compromises. Some of the things I like about it:
- It doesn't use systemd
- It uses a tried and true kernel
- It isn't trying to be cutting edge
- It has lots of tools for configuration
- It is based mostly on Debian
- The developer(s) seem to be responsive and not mean
antiX Linux has shown me that simplicity is beauty. I've also discovered that the latest IceWM provided by antiX can be tweaked and customized to your heart's desire. IceWM is a good compromise between heavier desktops like Xfce4 and Mate and bare-bones desktops like Fluxbox and JWM. All of these desktops are pretty good, but I'm finding IceWM a pleasure to work with, especially paired with antiX Linux.
anticapitalista, if you're reading this, please don't change antiX too much! A Linux distro doesn't have to swear allegiance to systemd, Gnome 3+ and PulseAudio to be relevant or good. I have always been a fan of lightweight distros and programs and antiX seems to get all of this right. I have been using antiX for work and pleasure and it does just fine for both.
Amateur radio stuff
I have not done much with ham radio in recent months, although I have been purchasing a few small parts here and there to put together a 1-tube/valve 40 meter regen receiver and other projects. At this point, I consider myself more of a with a ham license than an active operator. Once some things get settled down, I can start to homebrew circuits and see what I can do.
What happened to SpiritVNC - FLTK?
SpiritVNC - FLTK has become a big mess lately. The more bugs I fix, the more new ones crop up. It's almost maddening because when debugging I get random and weird errors that almost never come up more than one time. It's ridiculous and very very frustrating. I decided to pull it from github and this site for now, until I can get things running the way they are supposed to.
That's it for now!
I haven't won the lottery, haven't scored any big business contracts (yet) or had more children, and I'm not the young up-and-coming 'rock star' that I was in my youth. No, I'm just Will, fully loved and forgiven by Jesus, my awesome savior! You know what? He loves you so very much too! Why not return the favor?
God bless you, and thank you for reading!