Sunday, November 30, 2008

Add It To The Panel

If you are like me and thinks clicking the applications menu for the program that you want to use is just too much work, then your option is to add an applet on the panel. You right click on the upper panel of your GNOME desktop and Ubuntu gives you a graphical user interface to choose your applet from. By default in Ubuntu, the firefox, evolution and help/documentation icons are already there.

I like to add my Pidgin icon and Rhythmbox icon for sending instant messages and listening to my music. My data is in a separate partition and I have to mount the partition at the beginning of the session. I added an applet in the panel to mount partitions.


Linux has come a long long way since the day of command lines.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex Installation



One thing that I definitely take for granted since migrating my computer to Linux is how easy it is to upgrade and install an operating system like Linux. I have installed and reinstalled Windows XP before and accepted the fact that installation up to the point where I can personally use it takes 3 days to a week. That long because I had to find where my email archive and contacts are so I can back them up and restore them. The whole business of backing up and restoring is in itself like Magellan circumnavigating the globe. You prove it works after you see it works. Scary and adds years to my age.

I have my documents, data and settings saved in a separate partition. The operating system resides in another partition which is mounted to the root. In Linux you have to mount a partition manually so data don't get deleted or modified by others in the network so easily or by mistake. Linux is truly an operating system built for the connected devices because security is built into the system.

This new version of Ubuntu called the Ibex (Intrepid) has an updated file handler; Nautilus the local file navigator has tabs now. I am finding more and more reasons to depend on this new feature than on any other function of the OS past or present. I can search for files and folders within Nautilus and it's really darn fast at it.

The other new thing with Ibex that I absolutely enjoy is the updated version of GIMP the photo and graphical software bundled with Ubuntu.

I am still waiting for voice and video inside the instant messaging application just like how Yahoo IM implemented it. But I read that Google is introducing voice and video within its Google Mail in the Web. I haven't tried that one yet. The way it is implemented now with a separate application (Ekiga) handling voice and video I fear wont hold with users. I look forward to the day when we can send email, manage contacts, call and get live video plus throw in our one line instant messages in one application. I want to see a communications hub within the operating system.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A new computer always bring some excitement to its owner. I brought home a new box last August 1, 2008 right after finishing my job training in Makati. It's a coincidence. Really. I needed one because my 2005 box gave up the ghost one fine evening.

My new box is an Intel Core2 duo 2.4 Ghz with 2MB L2 cache, Asus P5LD2-x motherboard bought at Sta. Lucia Mall, PC Depot. I want the 2 GB RAM and the Nvidia GEForce 8500 video graphics card. It's a value box with a lot of room for extra performance. I'm not particular about 3D Gaming so I don't need any expensive high-performance video card. But the 8500 series Nvidia can handle directX 9 games. It will not drop the ball.

Thirty days after, I have to replace my monitor of 4 years and I chose the Samsung Syncmaster 920NW.

It's so cool when the computer hardware has plenty of room to spare for your operating system requirements and not only the OS but any application you throw at it.

All the bell and whistle enabled and no performance lag!

I also upgraded to a 160 GB SATA hard drive from a DMA 40 GB. It's like removing the handcuffs and ankle cuffs and I'm ready for the 100 meter dash.

I am still using Ubuntu Linux 8.04 Hardy Heron. No defragging and no bloatware to prolong boot up.

I don't have to use an anti-virus program nor a heavy weight security software. These things costs you more than the money you spend in purchasing them, it also impacts performance.

Upgrades to a new version of the operating system is a matter of downloading from source and burning it to a CD. I use the live CD for a new install and wipe out the old version. My data and settings are on a separate partition so I don't have to touch it. The installation usually lasts 15 minutes. Then you mount the data partition and you are set to go.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Short History of Connect

It might have started with a couple of old cans tied with a long string. We sailed the Atlantic ocean using radio waves and broadcast the second world war to the new world. Can we even call it a world war without the spreading influence of radio? Then Mr. A G Bell took the old can and string concept seriously now and invented the telephone, taking connect to a personal and instantaneous level.

Personal kasi one individual speaking to another individual, instantaneous kasi it's live. Live in the sense that you respond to it immediately.

But then we were responding to each others voice. We were responding to an auditory stimulus. Wouldn't it be good if we could see the person? As it turned out the second world war also produced the cathode ray tube - the television, stupid. Of course the movies were there long before the television but the big difference is that watching a movie in a movie theater is a community experience while watching a television is more personal.

So far we have done something about the messages we send, we took our image to send it across space making the moon landing dramatic and communal (communal because it was an experience shared by the world). We accumulated all this data and it is out there somewhere - in books, magnetic tapes, vinyl records, micro films, film negatives, paper photos, our individual memory and our collective memory. We then made our connection with our data. Well first we organized them into databases and realized we could do more if we connected the machines that hold those data. The first generation net was born.

We could have happily stayed with this setup but then somebody asked if we could make it sturdier. Oh I don't know maybe withstand a nuclear exchange between the United States and USSR. So MIT engineers and military scientists started design on how to connect their computers in a new way so that destruction of the entire network is virtually impossible. The Web is born.

Today, we are entering our social security numbers and credit card numbers in computer terminals without a second thought. Social networking sites know who our friends and best friends are. Music sites know our music preferences, online surveys about our eating habits, our reading habits(if we still do that), everything about our personal lives are now being encoded into the Web.

The Web is this big machine we invented to do something about the vast data about us. Hopefully, the Web makes the right connect decision for us.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Goodbye XP

Microsoft finally made a decision about when they will put XP down. They are pulling out support for the operating system and leaving customers with Vista. If you have XP installed now, I don't know until when Microsoft will offer support for it. Everyone has been guessing that XP will get a reprieve but as always they are forcing customers to adopt Vista.

Out of fear, loathing and anger about the business practices of Microsoft, I have decided long ago to switch to Linux. I google my way to Linux and found Ubuntu. It has been more than a year since I made the switch more permanent by wiping out XP from the hard drive and installed Ubuntu Linux with (back then) apparent audacity.

Installing Ubuntu today is an easier act than installing XP, I did my own installation of XP and reinstalled several times because of malware and other pc problems. Ubuntu comes with a new version every six months, and I do a new install everytime. It gets easier to install Ubuntu everytime. Maybe because I am learning or maybe because the developers of the operating system itself add innovations to improve on installation and usability.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lots of new things in Hardy.
The world clock is simply amazing. It is what I needed. Firefox 3.0 comes pre-loaded with Hardy. I have not tried all the bells and whistle. All for free.
Simply amazing really.
If people can only try Linux maybe the world of computing will really mean the change we have been waiting for.

Migration from Gutsy To Hardy

I bought two recordable cd's at a friendly CD-r king shop last week. I have to burn the new version of Ubuntu to one of these. I worry about not being able to download right on the day itself. If I go by experience, the Ubuntu servers will again be swamped and traffic will be horrible and slow.
So I let April 24 go and started the download the next night at around 12:00am.
I had to start the next day again. The download was faulty and I didn't want to gamble on a doubt for such an important download. I used mdsum5 to check the downloaded package on my desktop folder. It remained there for three days until I was sure of the cd burn.
The cd burn went fine. Hardy booted and I chose to install it to my hard drive. I also opted to reorganize my hard drive and created another partition for the new Ubuntu version 8.04.
Ofcourse the nagging question is what to do with the data and settings to make the migration as smooth as possible. I checked the \home folder because that's where my data and settings are.

I plan to just copy \home folder and move it to the new \home folder of Hardy. Will it work? Try. One or two folders refuse the move but most about 98% of the folders were copied to the new Hardy version. I pressed cntrl+alt+del and restart. Hardy booted once more without problem and I saw my familiar T-ish brushed theme once more. Glorious!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

If Microsoft doesn't want us to have XP sp3, there are alternative operating systems available for the desktop. I use Linux with Ubuntu flavor. I happily switched to Linux from Windows XP and I have few regrets and lots of fun learning the Linux way.
The first thing I learned is the idea that computing is a community experience. The operating system is being maintained by a community of volunteers. In Ubuntu, these community is backed by a commercial entity which provides commercial support.
Ubuntu just released their latest version of Linux last April 24. You can go to any Ubuntu or Linux forum and get answers for your concerns. Linux users must be the most accomodating people in the web.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oldest Living Tree

The oldest living tree in the world was found in Sweden. Scientists said that its roots are 9,550 years old. You would not be impressed by the visible part of it but after using carbon dating techniques on the roots of this Swedish spruce, scientists say they have found the oldest living tree.
This photo is from Leif Kullman of the University of Umea.

I said farewell last April 9 to the Prepaid Smart Sampaloc site. I am to begin my training at Parlance in Bel-Air Makati.
I started my job at Smart Prepaid last April 2005 and I met a lot of dedicated people there.
Since it was my first call center job, I learned a lot from the senior agents and my team leaders. I have several team leaders in the span of my stay there. I have Ms. Azel, Ms. Olga, Ms. Pau, Mr. Ron, Mr. Adonis and Mr. Zak Falmarin whose picture is on the right.

Saturday, April 12, 2008



I read two interesting blogs today. One tells of the irrelevancy of the OS wars. The other is a news piece on the report of two Gartner researchers. The researchers made statements that Vista is no longer viable and consumer resistance to migration to the operating system is growing not decreasing.

Furthermore, the rise of the ultramobile pc with its limited hardware options (due to functional perimeters), puts Vista out as an acceptable choice for an operating system. While Linux and OS X are being used in small portable devices (mobile phones, iphone) Vista is too big for the ultra portable laptops (eeepc, everex).

What does these developments tell us average computer users? Keeping up with change and technology is stressful enough and you have to pick a path that has the least slope in its learning curve. Or anticipate which technology will emerge and jump on the bandwagon as soon as possible.

Vista is out and Microsoft would not be able to come out with another operating system at least not within 5 years. If you are using XP you have to ask yourself if you want to continue using it, while Microsoft threatens to cut support for it as early as next year.

I am using Linux Ubuntu. I learned about linux in 2005 but finally installed it in March 2007. Three months later I am using Linux for my everyday computing and have not gone back to Windows. No I don't miss it. Whenever I encounter a website with IE only policy I grow irritated but my freedom and the choices which open source gives me make me smile. How do you describe the colors and the depth of the world around you to the blind? I try.

The Ubuntu promise

* Ubuntu will always be free of charge, including enterprise releases and security updates.
* Ubuntu comes with full commercial support from Canonical and hundreds of companies around the world.
* Ubuntu includes the very best translations and accessibility infrastructure that the free software community has to offer.
* Ubuntu CDs contain only free software applications; we encourage you to use free and open source software, improve it and pass it on.

Ubuntu Linux comes out with a new version every six months. This is a self-imposed schedule to keep the cutting edge sharp so to speak. A community of Ubuntu users learns with me and shares their knowledge with the rest in chatrooms and fora. This is free. If you want commercial support you can buy support from Canonical.

I think this particular blog is getting too long. I always remind myself to write 4 to 5 paragraphs to each blog to not test readers' patience.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Finetune

I found a music website recommended to me by a friend. I had been listening to Seeqpod and Last.fm for a few months now. Last.fm in particular is giving my media player (rhythmbox) some hiccups during playback. I love Last.fm playlists and member preferences but rhythmbox and Last.fm don't play very well. Maybe it's my slow connection. I don't know.

And so it was with some reservation that I clicked this link, http://finetune.com/.

This is not a beta. The media player is quick and very responsive. I wonder, if I try to use this during high traffic, would it perform less brilliantly? I listened to my Michael Franks Radio as it gave me much pleasure. There's George Benson, James Taylor, Norah Jones and a track from the man himself, "The Lady Wants To Know".

What if I could somehow listen to Finetune in Rhythmbox? That would be so fine.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Being Lost


Check my position. Use the compass to get my exact place. It is important to someone wandering through the woods to find directions.

Why is it not too important that I bring some light? Well I have come to put more trust on the people and places that have become familiar to me. I put that big rock to my left always because I know it will always be the west. I still see it at night with the moon light. The light only distracts you. When you bring your own light, you neglect the real essentials.

I start questioning my decisions. I start to hear unfamiliar sounds around me. I start to walk faster as if I am actually going somewhere. My mind dwells on the darkness and the things that are in the dark.

I have to stop this. My hand felt for my bag. I start to make a list of the things I have on my bag. What if I had used a bigger bag? I wouldn't worry about starving and running out of drinking water, would I? I have a bag of beans, a liter of water, some dried meat in a plastic bag and some vague memory of Jesus feeding the multitude.

I have to reach the dirt road that my map shows crosses about 2 kilometers before me. I have to keep the big rock to my left and manage to keep walking using what is left in my bag.

What to do when what's finally left in the bag is a prayer? There's still that big rock to my left and the moon light. So I just hacked my way through.

What I have is the big rock, the moon light and the promise of a road that cuts this forest.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Security and Ubuntu

I was not surprised by the result of the security contest held to test the defences of Vista, Mac OS X and Ubuntu. On the second day, hackers were able to control Mac OS X and soon Vista gave in before the contest was finished. This does not say much about the everyday use of these operating systems in the enterprise nor the home. I used Windows until 2007 and turn to Ubuntu because linux distros are safe and reliable when it comes to security from malware and virus. I have not given to worrying about phishing and malware since I installed my first linux distro in 2007.

The applications in Ubuntu are well supported by its community. Response to security concerns are prompt. It does not take very long before security patches are disclosed through updates to users. Managing individual applications is easy and quick with Synaptic Manager. All dependencies are automatically downloaded/selected. All you do is give the system the administrator password or the superuser authorization, allowing the installation of the application.

In Windows, all users are by default superusers and can install software. Hackers with their malwares can trick a user into downloading a code to infect the operating system. A good operating system should be able to protect its average user from doing damage to his own system at least at this instance.

Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31

Somewhere in the cacophony of patches issued out for Ubuntu something better happened to Rhythmbox. I used to complain about last.fm streams in my Rhythmbox.
I went to Edit-->Preferences-->Playback and increase the memory cache and performance increased considerably. You have to see for or hear for yourself. My slow connection really is the main problem but until that gets fixed this is a welcome troubleshooting response from the development community. Thank you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

March 27, 2008 and Passwords

I don't see how Canonical can improve Ubuntu Gutsy version 7.10.

Even as they update the kernel and the download manager, I am now using Firefox 3 beta 4 in Gutsy courtesy of the Mozilla download. Gutsy just feels very happy working with the latest browser. Can I just download the latest Gnome version 2.22 and be done with it?

I also want to know why Synaptic isn't prompting me for an update to Pidgin because the last time I checked Pidgin already released a new version. I am wondering if it is safe to just go to the Pidgin website and download Pidgin version 2.40.

I guess that's why Ubuntu is released every 6 months because not only is the operating system being updated but also the software and the package are replaced with updated versions and some of the not-so-needed ones left out of the new release.

Some people like me just can't wait. I am a fan. I just want to express my admiration of the developers and people who prepare Ubuntu for the twice a year release. They are doing a very good job and not getting enough credit for it.

How do you implement a good password policy?
How do you force people to use a strong password and not get locked out of your own pc because you forgot your own password? It happens.

First know the four complexities in creating passwords. These are upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and nonalpha numeric characters. A strong password uses three out of four of the complexities.

Begin with a base word. The base word is something familiar to you. Your town, dog's name, or a country connected to you. Then modify it using the four complexities. Use all four complexities.
Lastly, add a prefix. A prefix adds a level of complexity and groups related passwords together. And vice versa it differentiates them in a way known to you only.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Firefox 3 beta 4 Is Ready



The browser of the future is now being designed and tested. Mozilla is coming out with Firefox 3 and Microsoft is coming out with Internet Explorer 8.

Several other niche browsers such as Flock and Epiphany are enjoying the loyalty of their own communities.

I use Mozilla browser with my Gnome desktop. Firefox has been in the forefront of browser security and update service since it came out in 2005. Now that Firefox 3 is on beta 4, I am impressed with the improvements.

From the new Gecko 1.9 rendering engine to the improved memory usage, firefox 3 is set to gain more users to the detriment of Internet Explorer.

There are improvements too in the area of web site evaluation which will result in improved user browsing. This new Firefox is truly an internet browser built for the savvy cyber surfer.

Even at this stage, a beta release of Firefox 3 proves more stable and nimble in my Ubuntu linux Gnome environment than any browser including its predecessor, Firefox 2.

Firefox 3 looks and feels solid and reliable enough to recommend it for downloads to homeusers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gedit, OpenOffice.org: Word Editing In Linux


I want to write about blogging using Ubuntu software
for a long time now. I want to focus on Gedit because
it comes by default with Ubuntu Gnome. OpenOffice.org
the open source answer to MS Office comes with
the Ubuntu package too.
Gedit is lightweight and fast. This is what I use in my
typing, word processing and blogging. It is quick and
painless hacking. Copy and paste has never been
easier. If I need to print to a formal document I just
open OpenOffice.org, copy / paste, and edit settings
to my liking. I can always print directly from Gedit
but to tweak the settings and check for spellings and
use the thesaurus I open OpenOffice.org.
Gedit uses tabs so I can open multiple files and switch
between them if I need to. I can open as many as I want
and not worry about memory and my hardware.
Gedit has Autocheck Spelling and Search/Replace text
functions. Be sure you download the necessary language
dictionary through Synaptic and set language in the
tools menu.
It can automatically save files to save you the anguish
of loosing data by mistake. It has a plug-in manager
which sets it apart from MS Notepad.
If you need additional fonts, which is the first thing
most bloggers want, you have to download font packages
with Synaptic.
Gedit comes with support for web developers with their
codes. Just click on tools and explore.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Progress of A Gutsy Traveller


So four months after downloading Ubuntu gutsy, I am compelled to report that my Linux experience has been an eye opener.
I am using the latest version of Ubuntu in a desktop computer. I have a Pentium 4 2.4 Ghz, 1,024 mb of RAM and a GEForce Nvidia 64mb video card.
The Gibbon is not without its bugs. Sometimes the panels disappear for no reason at all. Application freezes are frequent especially Evolution and Rhythmbox. I do suggest that anyone new to Linux or Ubuntu configure and select the default settings first before going into the woods. If you do go into the woods, be sure you have the contacts in the Ubuntu forum to turn to if you need directions.
I used to dual boot with XP when I was using Ubuntu feisty. It was a fine transition but my goal is to be freed from Microsoft and proprietary software. Open Source and free software just gives you that freedom. That's all.
With Gutsy, no more anti virus, anti malware third party software to run everyday to keep my data safe. I don't have to run defrag to take care of the hard drive because Linux runs in ext3 format.
So far I have steered clear of the dreaded command line by using the front end GUI that comes with the latest Ubuntu version. Hopefully, they come up with an easier way to backup my email, contacts, documents, photos, mp3 files, multimedia files and settings in a built-in GUI with just two clicks to make the backup and forget it. Backing up should not be the big deal activity for a very busy computer user who just want to feel secure with his data.
The Ubuntu GUI has saved my sessions in more times than I can remember. It has saved my settings and personal data countless times.
The Ubuntu GUI made it easier to change the desktop appearance, change the browser appearance and behavior. Or change it back to where it was.
I am more confident now of ext3 that I have all my mp3 files and songs and photos in my hard drive.
I am looking forward to the coming upgrade to Ubuntu hardy this coming April. I am looking to a solution to install it clean and just use my saved settings for the new version. A solution will do great for better adoption of Ubuntu.
The community of Ubuntu developers and artists are awesome. Support from the community is what keeps me from using other distros.
Ubuntu and Linux in general loves your old hardware. They run fast in old less "capable hardware" than say Vista. It requires less resources.
I have switched from firefox 2 to Epiphany browser to try less resource hungry browsers. At present I am running by default the beta version of firefox 3. Firefox 3 is more than half as resource hungry as its predecessor. Hopefully, Mozilla solves the bugs and releases this upgraded firefox to the public soon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dry Land Spotter

I became a linux fan after several interesting experiences with the default operating system of the world. A proprietary software especially an operating system is constricting, clashes with my inate tendency to explore and modify things around me. I suppose all these inate characteristics are common to human beings. Yes, it sounds like the declaration of independence. I know.

First, the operating system most used by the world failed us in security. We trusted it to handle our computer. We trusted it to safely store our personal data. We let it handle our family photos. We let it protect our identity. While linux is not the perfect system too at its core users like me does not have to worry about a very simple way to steal all that I want protected.

Secondly, a proprietary operating system I legitimately purchased declares war on its own users and makes them suffer for problems it created on its own, is not very friendly.

I go home from work and find myself locked out of my home personal computer. I find a veiled threat on my computer screen. I am being told to check if I have pirated copy of the operating system.

When I finally switched to Ubuntu linux, I found a stable, simple operating system to transfer my data and computing to. Simple because no more third party anti-virus anti-malware programs to run. Simple because all the applications you need to make your computing life easy is available in a straight forward graphical user interface GUI.

I know stable is a relative term to use. But Ubuntu linux and most recent linux distributions upgrade with a new version in a fairly strict time table. In Ubuntu you will find a system upgrade every six months. This does not include the fast software patches every week or so to the applications in your system pushed to your desktop for your action.

Most people are going to tell you that linux is a geek OS. That may be true years ago when most modifications to the system can only be done through a command line and a terminal. I am not a computer savvy person and I cringe at the sight of a blank terminal screen where you have to punch commands. Today's linux operating system especially the major distributions are a breed apart from the old linux of text commands.

So to you who are born with the windows spoon in your mouth, there is in fact dry land in the water world of Microsoft. You might have thought or only dreamt of it but there is an alternative.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I left the comforts of Firefox and fired up the Synaptic Manager to fetch Epiphany.
Epiphany is the lightweight browser derived from Firefox itself. It boasts simplicity and usability. I really like its personalized features. Rendering is very quick. Even faster than Firefox.
I have been using Epiphany since Christmas 2007. I have not encountered any crash yet. It has automatic reporting of bugs and crushes.
Although X.org has given me several annoyances namely sudden unresponsive instances. Several times windows borders disappear. Annoying but not show stoppers.

Guake!

Guake is a drop-down terminal application in GNOME. Installing Guake is easy. Use your distribution's package manager, most distros hav...