Entering the void

I’m just about completely packed up for my exotic journey on an airplane, and will be leaving shortly for the airport. Unfortunately, my links to the interweb will be tenuous. I’m bringing an antique Windows XP netbook which will only be good for casual web browsing — no way will I be using that thing to connect to anything sensitive. I won’t even use it for email, which is moot anyway, because it outright gags at any attempt to connect to anything googlish. I will have my up-to-date phone, but it’s not great for typing, and has a postage-stamp sized screen. It’s gonna feel like 1995 again.

I guess I’ll have to focus on family, and looking for Pacific Northwest spiders. Instead of a useful computer, I’m bringing my camera and a small range of lenses. I decided to bring my 55-200mm lens just in case I wanted to look at something bigger than a spider (my 50mm prime would be ideal, but I have to cut way back to fit it all into a single bag), and a couple of macro lenses for things that are about the size of a spider. Hmm…I just realized that my metric for evaluating size is no longer a breadbox, but a smallish arachnid. Also packing a half-dozen 128GB SD cards, which might get me through the weekend.

I’ll be back on Monday, with BIG NEWS. We here at Freethoughtblogs have a major announcement to make then, so be sure to check in for that!


  1. raven says

    Maybe PZ could borrow his relatives’s computers for the occasional Pharyngula post.
    IIRC, he has many relatives from 3 generations in the Pacific Northwest/Seattle area.
    One of them at least must have a standard internet capable computer of some sort.

  2. says

    I don’t plan to be totally absent from the internet, it’s just that I’ll have a lot more barriers to clear.

  3. Rick Bailey says

    I’m going to say it again because your plans to use the xp laptop in the internet haven’t changed – don’t do it. Please load a different OS before going online. Your Windows XP is ripe for picking. There are options to run a live OS off a USB stick, and if you’re in the Seattle area I can deliver one to you.

    Just please please please don’t visit the internet using anything xp.

  4. PaulBC says

    I’ll be back on Monday, with BIG NEWS. We here at Freethoughtblogs have a major announcement to make then, so be sure to check in for that!

    Awaiting eagerly. (Good news I hope, or at least not bad news.)

  5. hemidactylus says

    Been years but running Knoppix off a stick on a netbook was awesome. I think one could set persistence, which was better than the live Puppy RAMdisc sessions, which oddly ran as root anyway. Not even sure Knoppix or Puppy are still around.

  6. drew says

    1995 was a great year to be in Seattle! Boeing still headquartered there! Microsoft was sorta cool with Win95! The Sonics!. The Kingdome! All the artists hadn’t been chased to Portland by developers! Grunge! Almost Live! There was still Starbucks but it was easier to ignore!

    And more bangs, but I’m lazy.

  7. whheydt says

    Big news? You learning Icelandic and going to Grindavik to look at the area around Geldingadalur?

  8. hemidactylus says

    Hmmm…XP era netbooks may have pushed 1GB of RAM. That might be tight for recent Linux distros to squeeze into unless going with a smaller footprint desktop environment (LXDE…Lubuntu or some such). But anything other than XP if the netbook specs are a match with the distro (especially critical with wireless chipsets and graphics cards). Just a thought or Linux on USB (Knoppix etc). I am far out of the loop so don’t know what’s what anymore. Kill the XP dead.

  9. hemidactylus says

    Ugghh! The downfall might be whether the netbook is 32 or 64 bit as at least Lubuntu axed 32bit a few years ago.

  10. whheydt says

    Re: hemidactylus @ #10…
    RPiOS32 still runs on 256MB Pi Model B boards. Some later (Pi2Bv1.1 through Pi3B+) have 1GB and the Pi2Bv1.2 and all Pi3B variants will run the beta RPiOS64 version as well. It isn’t into you get to the Pi4B that you can get more than 1GB. I have a couple of 1GB Pi4B boards, but the current “entry level” $35 version is 2GB. (Top end that will set you back $75 for just the board has 8GB. I have one. Have yet to find a use for that much RAM on a Pi.)

  11. gaparker says

    “Also packing a half-dozen 128GB SD cards, which might get me through the weekend.” Are you joking? That seems like an enormous amount of memory for still photographs.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Whheydt @ 9
    No, I am afraid of him going too close to the lava. Beards are not fire-proof.
    Another major announcement [showing what can be achieved in the total absence of Republicans]:
    The hospital here in Umeå ( across from where Charpentier worked on CRISPR-CAS9) has closed down its covid/intensive care ward for lack of patients. The two remaining patients are now transferred to ordinary intensive care.
    Number of covid patients in the county: 7. Number of patients in Sweden: 536 (one in 20 000 people). The recent mortality statistics show a diminishing trend. Life is good.

  13. Craig says

    Agreed with all concerned, don’t run XP.

    You’d be far better off using your phone for your internet and skip the laptop. Anything you produce on it is going to need to be sanitized and the format will need to be updated. There’s no sense in lugging a heavy laptop with no practical security with you across the country.

    I recognize that not everyone can afford to get a new laptop whenever they want, but there are underpowered laptops below $300 that are still probably safer and more powerful than the machine you’re taking. It’s not worth it. (I also know you’re probably already in the air at this point, so just consider this as advice upon landing.)

  14. fernando says

    Linux Mint Tricia can work with 1GB and 32bits, and the Xfce interface is quite sleek and, to me, agreably simple.

  15. chigau (違う) says

    I’ll be back on Monday, with BIG NEWS. We here at Freethoughtblogs have a major announcement to make then, so be sure to check in for that!

    I, for one, am filled with a sense of … dread.

  16. says

    I decided, after packing up, that I could not bear the thought of looking at Windows XP all weekend. So I threw out the netbook & packed an extra lens, instead.

    For those wondering, it is 100% good news. Put the sense of dread away.

    (Could be that Sam Harris is right, the spider aliens from Arcturus are on the way, and they’re appointing me governor of Earth. Could be.)

  17. stroppy says

    Spoiler alert!

    “…they’re appointing me governor of Earth. Could be.”

  18. ANB says

    My sense is the good news is that THE DEBT HAS BEEN RETIRED COMPLETELY! But that’s just conjecture (though I’ll take wagers at 5:1).

  19. John Morales says

    ANB, me too, except the words used were “big news”, not ‘good news’.

    Me, I wish PZ a good trip.

    He’s a hardy old-timer; more than capable of managing without a laptop for a few days.

  20. blf says

    On Ubuntu and 32-bit with 1GiB: 18.04 LTS is supported until April 2023. Lubuntu (as previously mentioned) shouldn’t have any trouble with 1GiB RAM. I myself have used Lubuntu 18.04 LTS — it, in fact, forms the basis of one of my self-built recovery USB sticks — albeit on somewhat “larger” machines (plural). I find Lubuntu a good alternative for when a “heavier” (Ubuntu) Linux isn’t desired, practical, or “necessary”.

  21. birgerjohansson says

    As we approach the PZ -negative time span, maybe you can pass the days checking out “Italygate”, the scandal of how space Italians stole the election from the Dear Leader? Stephen Colbert has the story….

    Also, can you please figure out a way to get the last segment of the population to f*cking GET VACCINATED!?

  22. bodach says

    Hi, PZ! Waves heartedly. You’ve picked a beautiful week to hit the Seattle area. Lots of spiders and good beer north of Lake Washington here in Kenmore. Be happy to help you find both.
    (Is beer vegan?)

  23. blf says

    Is beer vegan?

    Some are. The principal issue is perhaps the finings used to remove traces of yeast (especially in unfiltered beers). Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge has a run-down; my take is that excepting serious medical-related or strict-adherence, beer isn’t a concern. (Then there is the alcohol, please drink responsibly and in moderation!)

  24. birgerjohansson says

    Things to ponder while PZ is on the far side of the Moon.
    A left-wing (but culturally conservative) candidate has won the election of Peru.
    The Republican Louie Gohmert from Texas has asked if we can change the moon’s orbit to fix climate change.
    Deranged nutters in congress demand Fauci resign.

  25. PaulBC says

    blf@34 Worth a try. Though my theory is that it’s really all those monuments being dropped in the water. Do we want them back?

  26. consciousness razor says

    What good would changing the moon’s orbit do? We all know that sea rise is caused by rocks falling into the water.

    That much is obvious. They do displace the water.

    But perhaps the idea was that the change of orbit involves crashing the moon into the planet, which could solve climate change (just an elaborate communist plot anyway) as well as the rock-induced sea level rise.

    As a bonus, this plan is also guaranteed to be deficit-neutral, for the extended period after the entire country is obliterated. (The upfront costs are fairly high, admittedly.)

  27. nomdeplume says

    The Gohmert moon shot thing is amusing no doubt, but as a non-American I have to ask – “what the hell has gone wrong with the education and political systems in America?”