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Pardon me folks for an intemperate rant, but it’s just about all I can think of at the moment. This is trivial, I know. Somewhere in the world people are experiencing true suffering, but still, I’m mad and I can’t concentrate on anything else. Before I can describe the event which has put me in my current, livid state, I need to give you a bit of background.

Several years ago, I moved to Baltimore. For a time I lived with my sister while I looked for a more permanent place. The summer before last I found one. It was a beautiful apartment in a beautiful building in an okay area. Plus, I could afford it, which was no small thing. It is by far the nicest apartment I’ve ever lived in. It even has a pool. What it doesn’t have, however, is acceptable internet connections. You see, here in the U.S., in most cities, our internet is provided by poorly regulated monopolies who are accountable to no one. As monopolies, they don’t give two hoots about their customers and in our libertarian inspired business culture, the government does little to regulate them. They take your cash and give you as little as they can get away with. The monopoly in my particular area is Comcast. I paid for one of their most expensive internet only plans, because I don’t watch t.v. and I don’t have a landline. From them, I received speeds so low I couldn’t connect to SpeedTest.net in order to test them. It would take about five minutes to load a page of plain text. I know when I said this people thought I was exaggerating. I had my sister come over and tried to open a page that was  mostly text. She sat and watched the clock with me. Trust me, you don’t need a stop watch. Whether it was 4 min. 55 sec. or 5 min. 5 sec. hardly mattered. It was, for all intents and purposes, not functional as a connection. We called customer service a couple of times and got no satisfaction.

Without disconnecting that service, I then signed up for a plan with Verizon to have an internet connection via a mobile hotspot. I know this is supposed to be an expensive way of connecting to the internet, but what choice do I have? I kept the Comcast connection because, while painfully slow, it was rarely entirely down. The mobile connection is variable. The fastest speeds are slower than the fastest speeds promised by Comcast, but at least I see them from time to time. Generally, it’s better. However, the device itself is flaky. It stops working for a day, then I get a notice that it needs a firmware update. That these things have happened in conjunction several times makes me think they’re related. Then, for a while, that device was not working, nor was my Comcast connection working. My sister came over here and loaned me her Sprint wireless internet device, which I’m using right now. I’ve had it for a couple of weeks and every time I say, “Hey, let me give this back to you,” one of the other two connections go down. So, right now I have three means of connecting to the internet from three different companies and I still can’t get reliable service.

So, last night, I was following one of the Maya 3D tutorials online when my Verizon connection, which I had been using, goes down. I get up to take a look at it. The indicator led is a solid red. I try turning the device off. It does not respond. I used my sister’s connection, which I really ought to give back to her one day, for the rest of the evening. Two hours later, when I went to bed, it was still lit up red. When I woke up this morning, the led was blinking green again like everything was normal.

According to an article in the New Republic:

For a while, Verizon challenged Comcast and Time Warner’s Internet supremacy by offering fiber-optic connections. Fiber, which has been widely adopted in Europe and Asia, provides speeds and capacities that cable simply can’t match. But then Verizon stopped extending its fiber network, and, with the acquiescence of Obama’s FCC, reached an agreement with Comcast and Time Warner to buy valuable segments of the wireless spectrum and to jointly market their products. The effect was drastically curtailed competition in both wired and wireless Internet.

Left to their own devices, the big telecom firms have transformed high-speed Internet into “an expensive luxury reserved for the rich,” Crawford writes. A third of Americans don’t have high-speed Internet, many because it’s not available where they live or because they think it’s too expensive. Those who can afford it get service that is pricier and slower than in much of Western Europe and Asia. Last year, Americans paid Comcast a monthly average of $153 for television, telephone, and Internet. According to a New America Foundation study, Parisians paid as little as $34.47 a month for the same bundled services, with Internet speeds five to 20 times faster than Comcast.

As if I needed one more reason to want to move to Paris. Anyway, I have the cold comfort of knowing I’m not alone in my misery.

I went online today to research if there are any other ways of connecting to the internet. There are not. Whenever I read about cloud service, hell, Adobe is even trying to push a cloud version of their Creative Suite, I wonder what dream world the heads of tech companies are living in. Meanwhile, what I want most from WordPress is a little application, a little like the dashboard, that will sit on my desktop and I can compose my blog entries even when my internet is down and upload them when that little window of opportunity comes around. For now, I write them in Notepad or Notepadd++ and copy and past them in, but then I have to futz with the formatting. I wonder where all those people who think the cloud is the future live. Paris, apparently.

Here’s a video of Susan Crawford speaking about the subject. Start it at about the 8 minute mark because it’s preceded by an unusually long and boring, although typically academic, introduction.

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A closeup of a motherboard.Today, I partitioned my boot drive and installed Linux.

While a was poking around on the internet trying to figure out how to do this, I found a number of forums posts in which someone asked how to do what I did today in simple step by step directions. That would have been convenient for me too. Instead, for just about every step, I had to look up how to do the previous step. Sometimes the steps seemed unclear or, when I was trying to do it, I’d come to a point where I’d say to myself, “Which choice do I make?” I’m going to try to write it down while those questions, and the answers, are still clear in my mind. This is the first time I’ve set up a dual-boot system, so if anyone has information to add, feel free to leave a comment.

The system I set up has a solid state drive (SSD) to use as a boot drive and a hard disk drive (HDD) to store user files. This added some additional steps to the setup, but this kind of system has become rather common at that moment. Although they are quickly becoming obsolete, I also put in an optical drive (CD/DVD burner).

The overall outline of the steps is as follows:

  • Install Windows to the SSD
  • Move the default location of the user files and the library files to the HDD
  • Partition the Drives
  • Burn an image of Slackware
  • Install Slackware
  • Move the default location of the user files in Slackware

When you purchase a new, individual license of Windows, you should receive a DVD. Turn on your computer. While the computer is booting, hit the delete button repeatedly until the bios (basic input/output system) or uefi (universal extensible firmware interface) setup utility appears. This is pre-installed on the motherboard and each one will be a little bit different. Mine has a menu option labeled boot. In that screen, you can change the order of the boot drives. For first boot option, select your optical drive. For second boot option, select your SSD. Do not exit from the uefi(or bios) setup utility yet. Open the optical drive and insert your Windows disk. Close the drive. Save the changes and exit. For my motherboard, that meant going to the Exit screen and choosing “Save Changes and Exit.”

The computer immediately tries to boot from the optical drive.

If the Windows logo appears, all is going well so far.

The first screen asks for your preferred language, time, currency units and the keyboard layout you will be using. These choices should be self-evident. (If anything I say is self-evident is not, ask in the comments.)

After accepting the license terms, you are presented with choice between an Upgrade and a Custom installation. Since this is a new installation, Custom is the only possible option.

After that, you are asked where to install Windows. You want to choose your SSD. In my case, the SSD appeared first, but you can usually identify the drives by the size since they’re unlikely to be the same size (for reference: byte < kilobyte < megabyte < gigabyte < terabyte). Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t give us a choice at this point about where to put the user files and the default is the same drive as the OS and the program files. We’ll change this later.

The next stage of the installation continues without user input. Your computer will shutdown and automatically restart.

In the next several screens you will enter the product key, set the date and time, and set up your network. Windows will automatically detect internet connections. If it is your own, click “Home.” If it is not, click “Public.” If you choose “Home,” write down your password when you are presented with it.

Windows will start up. You will be prompted to create a user name and a password.

Next, we’re going to format the HDD, so it’s usable. Since this is done in the same utility program as partitioning, we will create a new partition on the SSD for the Linux installation while we’re at it.

Go to the Control Panel. In the Icon View, choose Administrative Tools. In Administrative Tools, choose Computer Management. The Computer Management window will open. In the left hand panel, under the category “Storage,” click once on “Disk Management.” You might need to resize the window to view the information comfortably.

The central portion of the window is itself divided into upper and lower portions. The upper portion lists the drives, or volumes, seen by the operating system. The lower portion shows this graphically and also allows you to see the physical drives on which they are located. Disk 0 should be divided into two portions, one small and without a drive name, the other one significantly larger and labeled “C:”. This is your SSD Below that will appear your HDD, which will also be unlabeled. It will say “unallocated” within the box. Right click on it and, from the context menu, choose New Simple Volume. In a new window, The New Simple Volume Wizard will appear.

Under Specify Volume Size, the default number will be the entire amount available. Click next. Under Assign the Dive a Letter, I chose “D.” You can choose any letter not already in use. Under Format Partition, choose “Format this volume with the following settings: File system: NTFS, Allocation unit size: Default, Volume label: New Volume.” Check “Perform a quick format.” Click Next, then Finish. Do not yet leave Disk Management, because now we have to partition the SSD. That’s slightly different.

First, we need to shrink the volume that contains the Windows operating system to make room for the partition which will contain Linux on our boot drive. Right click on the box labeled “C:” and, from the context menu, choose Shrink Volume. The Shrink dialog box appears. Divide it roughly in half, I gave a little more space to Window since I will have more programs loaded that run on it. You may decide differently. The dialog box asks for the size in megbytes; remember one gigabyte is 1024 megabytes. Enter the number and click shrink.

Close the Computer Management utility.

I’m going to have to pause here because I’m getting sleepy. I will continue tomorrow.