Google Drive App for Linux (and Mac)

I hate desktop-cloud synchronization applications.
Google's Drive Sync application is only available for Mac and Windows.  I don't care.

I have about two terabytes of files in cloud storage.  I have several different machines with very different purposes—desktops, laptops, servers, mobile devices—and I only want to store files locally if I'm actually going to use them for something.

Automatic sync, as in Dropbox or the official Google Drive app for Windows or Mac, is the absolute worst.  I don't want to waste bandwidth syncing incremental changes.  I want control over sync prioritization—often a huge .iso can wait, but I need that 50kb text file as soon as I get home.  Most of all, and especially important with the proliferation of online cloud editing tools, I can NEVER tolerate the possibility of a race condition if it's autosyncing while I'm editing online.

I'm a power user.  I hate graphical interfaces.  As Google Drive and Dropbox add features and accumulate more and more of my files, the GUIs slow down.  As my folder structures get deeper and deeper, it takes longer and longer to dig down to the files I need.  File management from the graphical interface is slow and can't be scripted.  If I'm pushing stuff to Drive from a remote machine, I DEFINITELY don't want to mess with a GUI.

I need a command line tool.  Google, through unofficial channels, has delivered.


Music In Our Schools

Oops. Looks like there's already too little music in our schools.

In other news, April is National Car Care Month.


Google Chrome Remote for Linux

Secure SHell (SSH) is great for most applications, but sometimes you just want to connect to the graphical desktop of another computer.  The Google Chrome Remote extension allows you to connect over the Internet with computers running any operating system—Linux, Mac OS, or Windows—with no network or software configuration required.  With the iOS or Android app, you can even connect from your phone!
Connections from Linux has always been available, but I just realized that connections to Linux computers are now supported!  Not sure how I missed this: apparently this beta download was first announced on 2014-07-07.  For Ubuntu and other Debian-based systems, there are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the application available.

All you have to do is install the Google Chrome Remote extension on both computers and follow the instructions to enable remote access.  Press 'connect', type in a PIN, and you're in!

In Ubuntu, you can even customize what window manager runs when Chrome Remote connects by customizing a script at ~/.chrome-remote-desktop-session (remember to make it executable with chmod ugo+x ~/.chrome-remote-desktop-session).

If all you want is terminal access:

exec xterm

For a nice lightweight graphical interface, try IceWM (install it first with sudo apt-get install icewm):

exec /usr/bin/icewm-session

For Ubuntu's default Unity interface, try something like this:

export DESKTOP_SESSION=ubuntu
exec /usr/sbin/lightdm-session 'gnome-session --session=ubuntu'

To make the new configuration stick, run:

sudo /etc/init.d/chrome-remote-desktop stop
sudo /etc/init.d/chrome-remote-desktop start

This can be a real lifesaver when you're out at a bar at one in the morning and you realize you forgot to change a setting on a graphical user interface running on a computer in the lab...


It's Not Pi Day

Americans have declared this to be a 'Super Pi Day' (3-14-15).
Not in my date system! 

ISO-8601 is a formal standard for the only sane way to write dates and times.

Today is 2015-03-14.
Right now, it's 2015-03-14T11:37:01.
The ordinal date is 2015-073.
This week is 2015-W11.

They're general to specific, which just makes sense.


Upgrading RAM in a MacBook

Surprisingly, upgrading the RAM in MacBook Pro is as painless as upgrading the RAM in pretty much anything else.  No trip to ifixit, no heating/hammering/drilling/exposure to gamma radiation, and no special tools required (except a very small screwdriver).

If your older model is a bit sluggish and you're still rocking 4GB (2x2GB), consider dropping $60 to upgrade to 8GB (2x4GB) or even 16GB (2x8GB), if your model supports it. Make sure you get RAM that is explicitly Mac-compatible.  Note that Apple's published specs on RAM capacity are garbage; use EveryMac to look up your specific model for the real, experimentally-determined capacity.

Many older machines are RAM-limited, so adding extra RAM can help you squeeze a little more usable life out of a machine before it's inevitably discarded as e-waste.