Daily Archives: January 18, 2011

Command line unit conversion

The Linux command ‘units’ may or may not be installed on your system. If not, if you use synaptic or apt, type (at the prompt)

sudo apt-get install units

or equiviliant for other distributions. Then type in the word “units” and play around. Here are a few sample outputs:


The program is a little clunky. You have to know the specific codes for each type of measurement, though ‘units’ will figure out what you mean sometimes. To exit, type ctrl-D. There is a way to use this utility in a script. That and other details are found in the manual.

14 year old kills most of his family with a butter knife and a small piece of twine

Since he is a minor his name has been withheld. The 14 year old boy in South Carolina called the police to tell them that he had attacked his father, his grandmother, and his great aunt. He told the police he’d be there when they arrived, possibly waiting outside. When police appeared on the scene they found the boy with his hands in the air out in front of the house, and inside were his dead father and dead great aunt, and a critically injured grandmother, all three attacked with a dull butter knife and a small piece of twine.
Continue reading 14 year old kills most of his family with a butter knife and a small piece of twine

Eocene Florida Plant Remains = Rethink Local Geology A Little

ResearchBlogging.orgSometimes interesting scientific evidence shows up in unexpected places. Years ago, there had been discussion of the possibility that immediate post glacial climate in the North Atlantic coastal region was unusually warm, but the evidence was spotty. Then, I was looking through material taken from a geotechnical boring placed to assess the geology of a part of Boston Harbor where a new tunnel was being planned, and found a large fragment of a clam embedded in clay. The clay was deposited during the last glacial maximum and later, and was associated with the melting of glaciers in the region. As a matter of routine, I gave it to Russell Barber, a mollusk expert and, at the time, my boss. He identified it as a species of razor clam found these days no farther north than the Carolinas. And thus, yet another piece of spotty evidence!
Continue reading Eocene Florida Plant Remains = Rethink Local Geology A Little

Xfce 4.8 released

Xfce 4.8 released after nearly two years of development. Hopefully, there are no added features or functionality! (That’s a joke.)


(In fact, there is a loss of functionality for BSD users who implement the *nix desktop environment. But let’s not even talk about that problem because it opens a whole ‘nuther can of worms.)

Xfce is a Linux desktop enviornment like Gnome or KDE, but supposedly leaner and meaner, and thus more suitable where few bells and whistles are required, or older hardware is being used. If you are a Ubuntu user or otherwise familar with Linux, you’ve heard of Xubuntu. Xfce is the “X” in Xubuntu.

There are all kinds of improvements and changes, and you can find out more about it here.

There was an interesting article in Linux Journal comparing desktops in which memory use was compared between a pristine instantiation of Gnome and a pristine instantiation of Xfce (i.e., turn the computer on and don’t do anything yet). They were essentially the same. Despite what everyone seems to say, Xfce is not a stripped down desktop environment. A distribution like Xubuntu gets its leanness and its meanness not from the desktop being highly efficient, but from the applications that are default to the distro being selectively low-demand.

I’ve tried Xfce a few times but noticed that there was no palpable improvement in efficiency on an older machine compared to Gnome, but certain functionality was missing, so I’ve not gone back. I am toying with the idea of skipping the “desktop” thing entirely and going with a simple window manager and nothing more on my laptop. However, now that Xfce is out in a new version, I suppose I’ll give it a try.