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Sunday, April 29, 2007
  Latest words on Ubuntu/Linux
Well I'm still thoroughly enjoying my new passion of farting around with Ubuntu... If you're somewhat technical, or at least adventurous, I'd strongly recommend you give Ubuntu a shot...

Latest stuff I've done - Installed the Beryl Window Manager Interface - It let's you do really, really cool stuff like have a wicked rotating 3D desktop, and have your windows 'burn up' when you close them - here's a screen shot.

Aside from some Eye Candy though, I just am really digging the whole concept of Linux, and especially Ubuntu.

Here are some of the reasons why fundamentally it just feels 'right' to me...

- The project isn't tied to one particular person, the whole concept of open source, and of community and shared participation is altruistic and good.
- The frequent, regularly scheduled releases are great... Why wait 4 years between operating system upgrades? Ubuntu comes out every 6 months.
- Free. Ok, so I've never been a big fan of paying for software, but to not be forced to pay, but to be able to legally have free software, that's great!
- Integrated application installation/upgrades - This is really cool. Not only do the base operating system components install automatically, but all the other software you need does as well. You just go into the Add/Remove Programs, or Package Manager, select an application and go, it's installed for you, no manually having to hunt around, download stuff, answer a dozen prompts of the directory it's going to go in (like who cares?), it just installs... Bam!
- Performance - I haven't done any direct comparisons, but Ubuntu really flies on this P4 machine, no complaints at all.

It seems I'm not the only way being recently wooed by Ubuntu, here's a couple of other bloggers, who around the same time are getting jiggy w/ Linux...

Why not join the revolution and we can all learn together! I think my old laptop will be next in line for the conversion! :)
Sunday, April 22, 2007
  F*ckin' Loving Feisty...
I installed Feisty Fawn (Ubuntu Linux v7.04) on a half-decent machine tonight (P4 2.8Ghz 1GB Ram), and it's flying!... The install only took about 20 minutes, including repartioning the HD. It's taken me another hour (while doing some other stuff and playing), to get my MP3's playing, get connected up to my other PC and stuff... Anyhow, it rocks... I was loving it before when I was just running on on a crappy old box, now running it on a half-decent machine, I'm more impressed, I can't imagine how quick it would run on a brand-spanking-new box...?
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
  Free and Easy Remote Access with VNC Reverse Connections » Raymond.CC Blog
Free and Easy Remote Access with VNC Reverse Connections » Raymond.CC Blog - Just in case Crossloop goes away, this is a pretty decent alternative, you still have to have some knowhow at one end of the connection, but at least avoids having to get your client to have to port forward their router or anything...
Monday, April 09, 2007
  A few weeks with Ubuntu
I've now been using Ubuntu Linux part-time, on a secondary system for a few weeks, it's been a very educational experience, some positives, some criticisms, here are some comments...

Installing Software using Packages - This is one area where Ubuntu really kicks butt over Windows... It's like 'Add/Remove Programs', except instead of just allowing you to UNINSTALL existing apps, or add/remove Windows Components, it plugs you into a whole world of Open Source applications. If you see something you want, just click it, the system will automatically download & install the application for you... Brilliant! You can do this from the GUI, or from the Command-Line.

MP3's - Strangely Ubuntu doesn't ship w/ MP3 support, I guess it's a licensing issue, the MP3 format is copywrited or something, anyhow, it was a bit of a chore, but after installing a few packages, you're good to go... I'm using XMMS now, basically a Linux WinAMP clone.

PPTP VPN - I tried and tried but wasn't able to get the PPTP VPN connected, will have to spend some more time on this as clearly if I want to use Linux as a desktop replacement at home, I need to be able to VPN to the office. I think my original attempts failed because this unit was behind 2 home routers, it's now just behind one, and the PPTP utility seemed to get a little farther, will do some more tshooting on this later...

Internet Explorer - One of the web-applications I have to use does a browser check and won't allow you to login unless you're running IE... Guess what? Using Wine (a Linux implementation of the Windows APO), along w/ some canned installation scripts, you can actually install and run IE 6 inside Linux! Totally cool! So I'm able to run IE if I want and therefore use this Web-app... Very cool!

Performance / XUBUNTU - I'm running UBUNTU (v6.10) on a P3 w/ 256mb of RAM, and the performance hasn't been stellar, it works, but it takes quite a while to boot, opening Firefox takes about 20 seconds and it's generally pretty sluggish, was expecting it to be relatively snappy. Anyhow, there is a less intensive distribution of Ubuntu available called Xubuntu. I was thinking I'd have to start from scratch to try this out, but it turns out it's actually available as a Package, so I installed it tonight (required 85 dependent packages, but these all automatically get selected and installed - w/o a reboot!). Then I just had to logout and re-login again chosing this Desktop in the Session option, and whammo, I'm now running the Xubuntu desktop... It does seem to improve the responsiveness of the system...

I still have to explore some other elements of my functionality, like burning CD's, and things like that... But I'm certainly able to chill out, use this machine to surf the web, listen to music, download stuff (using BitTorrent), connect to my Windows PC, and more, so I'm pleasantly suprised and very bullish about next steps... I'm really eager to install the latest Ubuntu which comes out later this month (v7.4), on a new system (desktop, or perhaps Laptop), and see how it performs...

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Sunday, April 08, 2007
  10 Reasons Why People Older than 30 Need To Register for Facebook
If you're reading this post, chances are you're over 30 and you've heard someone talking about Facebook. You've possibly never heard about it before, don't know what it is, don't understand it, you've heard of MySpace, but don't really know what that is either. You've possibly heard about Web 2.0, or Social Networking, but don't really understand what those thing means either.

It's Ok!, no problem! Relax, grab a coffee and I'll explain why Facebook is important, so you can get over your apprehension and jump into some new tools that will make you life better!

First off, a quick introduction from Wikipedia on what Facebook is:
Facebook is an English-language social networking website. It was originally developed for college and university students but has since been made available to anyone with an email address. People may then select to join one or more participating networks, such as a high school, place of employment, or geographic region.
As of February 2007, the website had the largest number of registered users among college-focused sites with over 18 million members worldwide (also from non-collegiate networks).[1]
Facebook is the number one site for photos, ahead of public sites such as Flickr, with over 6 million photos uploaded daily,[2] and is the sixth most visited site in the United States.[2]
The name of the site refers to the paper facebooks that colleges and prepatory schools give to incoming students, faculty, and staff depicting members of the campus community.

Social networking, just means that the whole purpose of the site is to get users to interact with one another. The users ARE the content. Sounds sort of like McLuhan, but it's true, and it's the new paradigm of the web.

So, on to why you should get involved.

1. You're too busy to keep in touch with all of your friends and family.

We all have only 24 hours a day, and despite the fact that technology promises to automate manual tasks and give us more time, most people I know are just as 'busy' as ever, finding it difficult to find time for important things. Our waking hours are filling with long commutes, working long hours, helping kids with homework, and many other mundane tasks. Few people have the time to send individual, personalized email to friends, make phone calls, or even less likely, to go visiting. Facebook will allow you to establish connections with all of your friends, and then quickly and easily keep in touch with everyone using some of the key features of the site, like sharing photos, posting messages to one-another, organizing events, and more.

2. You've lost touch with friends you knew from school, college, or an old job.

Throughout our lives, we make great friends, and then when we move on to the next phase of our life, or move to a new city or country, it is incredibly difficult to maintain these relationships. Facebook remove time and space as barriers to communication. When users register with facebook, they enter in which schools they attended, past jobs, and other profile information. This will help you to connect with old friends, and for old friends to find and connect with you. Within a few days, I can almost guarantee that you'll be back in touch with good friends whom you haven't communicated in years!

3. Your kids are using facebook, don't fall behind.

Depending on how old your kids are, they very well may already be on facebook. They probably have dozens or hundreds of connections to friends and maintain status information, post pictures and posts to the site. Here's an easy way to keep up with what they're up to.

4. Facebook is free.

No need to worry about providing credit-card information or anything like that. Facebook is advertiser supported, and the millions of users are driving an enormous amount of traffic to the site. I'd be surprised if facebook isn't snapped up by Google, Yahoo or Microsoft within the next year. The big boys want access to your eyeballs.

5. Facebook is easy to use.

You won't have to read a users guide or anything, you don't have to be a programmer. If you can compose and send an email, you can use facebook!

6. Facebook will be a stepping-stone to future technologies.

This point is part of an important philosophy that I strongly support. The rate of change of technology continues to increase. Technology is already a key part of most peoples lives, it's not going away, and the Web will continue to be the medium for exciting new tools and technologies that will impact our lives. Facebook is certain to become an important part of pop culture in the second half of this decade. Can you imagine not having watched MTV in the 80's and 90's? If you dismiss Facebook as something 'for the kids', you're putting another nail in your own coffin. Don't be afraid of change and technology, you can imbrace it and take advantage of it. Within the next 5 years, something even better will come along, but if you haven't seen, or used a tool like Facebook, or if you don't understand these concepts, you'll be left behind, get ready to be that old cynical guy in the coffee shop complaining about modernity.

7. Relationships make us feel happy, facebook helps us to foster and expand our relationships.

I understand that people have three psychology needs: To feel choiceful, capable and connected. Facebook helps you to stay connected and to strengthen those connections with people who are important to you. This makes a good technology and a worthwhile technology in the same way that a cell phone helps you stay connected.

8. Facebook is an easy way to upload photos from your picture phone.

This is, of course, a less philosophical reason, but a tangible one. Many people I know have picture phones, but find it a pain to get the pictures out of the phone and into some usable form. Assuming that you have the ability to email pictures from you phone (check with your service provider for details), you can simply email your photos from your mobile phone to facebook and they're immediately published to your site for your friends to see, comment on, download, print, share, whatever. Facebook and a mobile phone can turn you into an instant international photo journalist. This is an incredibly powerful feature!

9. Facebook is fun.

Surfing through facebook, following connections, viewing pictures and comments is addictive and just plain fun. I think it can compete with television, with video games, hey even poker! Give it a try and see for yourself!

10. Facebook is hitting critical mass, you don't want to get left behind.

In the past several months since Facebook opened it's site beyond university kids, it seems there has been an incredible spike in popularity. Facebook is hitting critical mass and becoming the site to be on. Most likely you've already ignored one or two invitations, you've been too busy, or cynical, or skeptical about this site. If you continue to avoid the site, you may find that many of friends get plugged in and you'll feel like many of their conversations begin to feel like an inside joke. What's stopping you or holding you back? Get into the new in group...

I'd be very interested in hearing your comments on the site, the technology, what's good about it, what could be improved, etc. Happy FACEBOOKING!
Sunday, April 01, 2007
  Pipes - Easy way to make your OWN customized RSS Feeds
Pipes: Rewire the web - I've wanted to write this blog for an audience that isn't necessarily that Technical, but is interested in technology and wants to learn more, and find ways to use cool technology to improve how they use their PC's, etc. This particular piece of tech is a little on the geeky side... If you've been keeping up, then you're now using Google Reader, or some other RSS reader, if so, then you're ready to check out Pipes... I was a little daunted at first, but again, push yourself, dive in and try it out... Pipes is a tool that lets you aggregate and manipulate RSS feeds, so you can basically customize or Mash Up the RSS feeds that you're subscribed to, make them do what you want them to... Pipes offers a really slick flash interface, you drag and drop various programming objects, add parameters and define the flow of data. It's very cool, I'm just starting to play with it, but I'm sure I will start using it more and more to really tune all your feeds so I'm getting exactly what I want into my reader, maximizing the efficiency of my data consumption interface :)
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