26 Jun 2008

My Thunderbird Experience

Enough time has passed since I took my friend's Thunderbird for a trial run. For about 2 months, I have been using it for commuting to work, going around the city, and for a couple of long rides. The overall experience has been good. I like the Thunderbird. But definitely I am not in blind love with the bike. I wanted to get a better bike for myself when I took my Unicorn for a ride to Srisailem. It was a hilly area and we were riding as a group. I generally don't push my machines beyond what they can take very easily. During the Srisailem ride I had a pillion rider with me, so my maximum speed was 80 (kmph); sometimes I touched 85, and that's all. I felt a need for a bigger bike that can go at 90 or 100 with little effort. I don't like pushing the engine to/beyond its limits. When I started asking around, my friend Chenthil offered to let me try his Thunderbird for a while (how sweet he is!). So I took his bike and here I am, with the experience of using an Enfield machine for two months. Now I have to make a decision: whether to buy a Thunderbird for myself or not. But I am still clueless. While the power and stability of the Thunderbird is great, certain things really suck. For example, the bike doesn't have a centralised lock; we can't see the dashboard in bright sunlight; it's too noisy than I would like it to be; the rear view mirrors are too small; you can only see up to 2 or 3 meter with its headlamp; and maybe a few other issues. I know, these things are not big a problem. But I think, at least for my usage pattern, these things matter to some extent. What I am waiting for is a competitor for the Enfield range of bikes. Some 300 or 400cc cruiser manufactured by Honda would be a much better alternative. I don't know if some company would come up with such a bike. But for now, I am not buying an Enfield bike for myself. Maybe, I will change my mind after I return the Thunderbird and get back to Unicorn. Let's see what I feel then :-)

4 Jun 2008

Turning off display in KDE

Kubuntu Gutsy has a bug that prevents screensaver from starting automatically in KDE. It is supposed to be fixed in the next version (Hardy). However, I am still running Gutsy and I cannot upgrade until my employer officially supports Hardy. I never shut down my laptop. After I go to sleep it keeps running with its LCD turned on for the entire night. This wastes energy unnecessarily. With some reading here and there, I wrote a shell script that will do exactly what I want to do before I go to sleep: lock the screen and turn off the LCD display. The script itself is very simple:
# Locks screen and turns off display power.
# CAVEAT: Works only with KDE.

sleep 1                         # Wait for a second to let the user
                                # takes hand off keyboard.
xset dpms force standby         # This switches off the display.
exec kdesktop_lock --forcelock  # This locks the screen.
Now I have bound script to Ctrl+Alt+L key, which by default locks the screen. Whenever I step away from the computer, I can press Ctrl+Alt+L and it will turn off the monitor in addition to locking the screen :) PS: For information on how to assign shortcut keys to arbitrary commands/scripts, see this old post of mine.