Monday, December 8, 2008

EEE PC - Intrepid Ibex - resource round-up

So, my confession is that I did not upgrade my eee pc 700 8G just as soon as it was released. I did try out a fresh release of Ubuntu-eee which has the remix interface included and all the drivers "out of the box". I was a bit put off by the interface (not horrible, just not for me) and waiting until I found concise guides for upgrading to 8.10 with as little issue as possible.

I found two links which seemed to sum up everything I needed to do. The first is a howto provided by the ever-excellent Tombunutu blog. This guide is more or less the best method for upgrading to a standard 8.10 install and then changing the kernel to that provided by which has all the correct modules pre-compiled. Array also follows new kernel releases closely with the correct modifications made so that you don't need to recompile drivers each time you upgrade the systems kernel.

I have to confess that after the straight 8.10 install and updating to the Array kernel I made one fix, listed at Ubuntugeek in an article about Atheros wifi. I followed method 2 and only needed to add ath_pci to the blacklist.

In summary my upgrade looked very much like:

1.) Install 8.10 from usb.
2.) Method 2 of Ubuntugeek for working wireless.
3.) Change to the eee modified kernel from Array.

I know it's not a simple check-box selection + reboot, but I have to say that it's much easier than the process that needed to be done for 8.04. I'm thinking to try the new 9.04 Jaunty as frequently as I can to see if it delivers much of the "out of the box" functionality promised in 8.10.

Best of luck with your EEE upgrade, feel free to post your resources used in the comments. Please also share your success and problems (fail!).


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An easy blog app! w00t

I have found that one of the most distracting things from posting on this blog is that it isn't as easy to access like twitter or jaiku. I have just discovered a great application for linux that should make posting here as easy as the others.

By ease of access I should say that recently thanks to Dan of Linux Outlaws I've started using Gwibber which works like pidgin for microblogging and now I can reach Jaiku or Twitter just as easy as sending an instant message to my friends from a single application.

In the past I have tried to use flock to post with since it has a great tool for writing blog posts, but I find it too much application to launch and use for spontaneous use.

Enter Gnome-blog a.k.a. gnome-blog-poster. Easy to use, pretty powerful application and it is lightweight and most important it's easy to get to with a simple shortcut on the top panel of my gnome desktop even on my eeepc.

I highly recommend it to anyone trying to upkeep a blog, check out the site to see if your blogging site/software is supported.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Command Line Life v2.0

In reference to an earlier blog post I thought I might expound on my use of the command line and explain to how addictive it can become when you finally get your "rig" set up.

This bug, itch as it were, is a hard one to kill. Once you get it, very difficult to completely remove. It could be that it is comfortable for some aspects of your computer experience, yet not something you can completely embrace. But for most, with the resources, this CLI (Command Line Interface) is addictive and efficient.

I've seen better men succumb to the influence of the command line. Some fall in love over the security, others for the low bandwidth usage. Some come to love the responsiveness, others it's efficiency of execution.

In this post, I intend to list the applications (not just file commands) that I use in my command line arsenal to keep my focus on the terminal window. I should confess first so that it is clear to understand that I use terminator and screen (inside of terminator) to have many of these programs running simultaneously.

I have a terminator window open full-screen and split into two vertical windows. In the first I launch mutt for email. Then in the second, I use screen to launch in the first session irssi for irc and then a ssh connection to my remote server in the second. I leave the third free in the case I need to use any of the other command line tools.

I like to use cmatrix on a fourth session to use as kind of a "boss-key" which most just ignore instead of trying to understand. I wish to be perfectly clear that learning all of the keyboard commands for screen and terminator are important for making efficient use of these tools. Practice makes perfect and if you wish to be proficient, you should practice the keystrokes until they come without thinking about it much.

So here is the list of apps that I've used, currently use or have had recommended to me;

a2ps - printing
vlock -- a lock for the CLI (tty)
cmatrix -- a screen saver
vifm -- my favorite file manager
ncftp -- FTP client
antiword -- converts Word .DOC files to text
screen -- console multi-tasking
sipcalc -- IP calculator
cal - calendar
irssi - irc client
centerim - cli IM client, multiprotocol
mutt - email client
alpine - mail app
**fetchmail -d 60 -keep (get mail, check every 60 sec, leave on server)
**this is needed since for POP3 mail isn't collected by the mail apps above.
w3m - web browser
elinks - web browser
wget - web download
newsbeuter - RSS feed reader

Add comments with your favorite command line application.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Playdeb - what fun!

Ok, I don't know what rock I've been living under.  But today I found a link from our friends at GetDeb to a new beta site called PlayDeb.
Playdeb logo
MAN!  I've not seen a more comprehensive selection of games for Linux in a long time.  Anyone who tells you there are no games for Linux is lying or very uneducated. 

This site actually adds a repository so you can add/remove games the same way you would any other application.  As well, it should follow that when they repackage new versions of the games, they would come down via the normal system updates.

There is a fab list of the games available on the front page of the site.  They range from First Person Shooters, to car racing and puzzle type games.  Some are simple, some are complex.  It really is a great list if you are tired of snake and mahjong games.

Don't just take my word for it, check it out!  And remember to play as hard as you geek.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Compiz sometimes doesn't play nice

I was just looking around some of my favorite linux blogs and found a great little post at for a great fix of something that was bugging me.

Some applications just don't work the Compiz (fancy 3d effects for the linux desktop) on.  As well, sometimes when trying to use an external monitor it doesn't help matters.  Well with the keen post from TomUbuntu I was able to fix the problem quick and easy.

The answer was a package called "fusion-icon" which puts an icon in the systray and with a simple right-click you can activate or de-activate the compiz effects or go to the compiz control panel.  I won't steal Tom's thunder and will ask you to go to his blog and read how to install the appliation.  I highly recommend it and give Tom "two thumbs up" for his pick.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Political Post for me

Well, I don't normally get involved or concern myself with political views here.  Only in this case it mildly affects my geek.  The Italian National Government has decided to block Piratebay because it is the "way" that italian citizens are able to get copyrighted material that belongs to the privately owned national TV station.  It just so happens that the current Premier of Italy owns said station.  And now the torrent host service of Piratebay (who physically stores none of the material in question) has been blocked not just via DNS blacklist but has also mandated that all Italian National ISP's block it by IP address.

I normally wouldn't care so much except that I transfer movies of my family back to the States this way as well as download current ISO images of Linux distributions.  It's very disheartening to see a civilized "free" state resort to aggressive internet content control for the commercial interest of it's leader.  Somehow it feels much more Chinese than Italian.

Anyway, that's enough of my soapbox.  More geek to come to prevent me from going mad over stupid DNS filtering policies here in Italy.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Google Language Preference - for real

Ok, My wife showed this to me and I wanted to blog it. I have been remiss and will be picking up again now that all the holiday season stuff here in Italy is over. And I may just start doing more screenshots, I like visual and it would expedite my posting. So here it goes, my strange google language preference in the wild.

Yes, it's Elmer Fudd and it's effects if selected seem limited and temporary. Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

EEE PC - Hardy Heron 8.04 LTS Howto

I've written that I put Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron on my 8G EEE PC 701, but I didn't tell the story of how I did it. So I thought I'd take a moment to explain all the steps I took.

First was the USB image for installation. Using a dedicated 1G usb key, I prepared it as a live image cd using the iso2usb script found here. This created a usb key from which I could boot just as if it were a live CD.

Second was the installation. I chose filesystem ext3 with no swap. I had issues with ext2 losing data, and removed the swap to decrease the read/write access on the drive. I would recommend a 70%/30% split between the root partition and the home partition.

Third, I used a second usb key to save a single folder with three items, one was the tarball downloaded for the madwifi source code, the ubuntutweak shell script and a simple text file for my steps to follow. The text file is the first paragraph from the Ubuntu EEE wiki page that describes the wifi fix.

Upon first reboot of the freshly installed system, the wifi won't work (ethernet port will). With the source and instructions on a second key, I copy them local on the non-networked EEE for permenent usage. I run the wifi fix first which requires a reboot before taking effect. I then proceed to get online since the ubuntutweak script will need internet access to download some files, packages and source. This batch of fixes will also require a reboot.

At this moment you would have a working EEE PC (700 models 4G/8G) working with all the hardware working. There are is still compiz - contrain y setting to fix and to remark the cdrom line of /etc/fstab. More problematic is that there have been kernel updates since the iso was released. Kernel updates break any/all compiled drivers. So the previously copied folder of wifi/ubuntutweak will be used any time there is a kernel update. This won't be an issue if you leave that folder on the system in your home directory.

I've used this through 2 kernel updates on my Ubuntu 8.04 system since instlaling on my EEE 701. I've also just walked through all of this on a brand new 700 model (purchased by a new user) which validates the process as working.

I have spliced this install/fix process together from the Wifi fix page and the general fix pages from Tux and give them credit for all of their hard work. Obviously once full support is built into Ubutnu (fingers crossed for 8.10) then this process will be a non issue. I hope my hints make your EEE PC transistion just a little bit easier. With the recent development of the Ubuntu Netbook Remix interface, my hopes are high.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Missed language opportunity

After a recent trip to Germany I found myself asking which opportunity did I miss out on most.  Learning German while in Germany or learning Ruby from experienced coworkers who swear by the programming language.

Either presents real world advantages, but in retrospect I would give both equal weight.  When there are cool new ajax applications and ruby-on-rails developments happening, it is very interesting.  German of course would offer me a new world of ideas and people with which to share.  Neither is needed for my day to day, but would be another nice thing to keep in my hip pocket for a rainy day.

I'm still in Europe, and I'm still relatively young....maybe I have time to learn both yet.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, May 22, 2008

XO-2 (OLPC) vs. EEE Pc vs. Monster Apple iPone

Not that I think the EEE PC or Apple are currently looking at this, but can you imagine the match-up of these three if they get the form factor and functionality they are showing in this video of the OLPC XO-2?  I would be hard pressed for where to put my money.  This would make your purchasing more political than practical as it has been in the past.

Watch and be amazed.  Before anyone goes nuts in the comments YES I understand it's a non-functioning prototype.  And I forgot that this might go head to head even with Amazon's Kindle.

Embedded Video



Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bored part III

So, just as I promised, I have managed to make a new playlist on finetune which was much more work than I thought it would be as they require 45 songs with no more than 3 per artist selected in order to create a playlist. So here is my "female vocals" list. Enjoy

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Gnome-do = Quicksilver light

So I've now given Gnome-do a try.  I've used Quicksilver on my mac for some time and have to say it is one of the first truly creative pieces of software that I've used.  If you don't know about this application there is one similar for windows called Launchy, which like Gnome-do is a very young copy of Quicksilver.   QS is quite mature and has been developed for quite sometime.   Having the advantage of developing for the mostly predictable environment of the Apple ecosystem, QS has an extensive library of plugins which makes it VERY functional.  Gnome-do, which is trying to also be multi-platform has started to create plugins which seem to be the .dll files for a windows filesystem.  It looks quite similar in shape and form to Quicksilver and has most of the key functions that Quicksilver is used for.  I think it holds promise.

To bring someone up to speed, all of the previously mentioned programs were originally designed as application launcher which has had small plugin after small plugin added that has increased it's functionality up to but not limited to controlling iTunes, manipulating text files and auto-attaching files to email templates.  All of these functions and more are just a simple keyboard shortcut away.  For a geek like me who prefers the command line this is just one more chance to not take my hands off the keyboard to reach for the mouse and try to navigate a program menu to find an application which I already know the name of.

Gnome-do, great fun.  Still young, keep your eyes on it as it may make better you life in the future if you install it, learn it and use it.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Great website for geek play

I have recently found a website that is really interesting to add to my RSS feed. It is Ubuntu Geek and there, it would seem there is someone who has the time and inclination to play with all the pretty buttons in Ubuntu.

This site covers from things that are just broken and how to fix them to playing with new toys (software) as they come out. I'm impressed that they have managed to explain things quite well with the use of screenshots where critical steps are taken. As well, the articles are written with brevity so they aren't too much to digest and you can play further once there yourself.

Kudos to this site which is a neat reference for new users of Ubuntu.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 LTS - Hardy Heron - First Look Review

This is probably not the first review of the new release from Ubuntu that you've seen. Probably won't be the last. I have to say, if you don't want to read the whole review (which will be long), that I'm biased. I've liked Ubuntu for years and will probably continue to do so. I do like the new release. If you want to find out all the details, keep reading.

I feel that it is very important for everyone to stop and think for a minute that this is not the work of any one single team. Many teams contributed improvements in their individual contributions which, when all are added together make a seemingly grand improvement. I would like to personally thank not just Ubuntu for providing the solid stable platform for all of these developers and project to work on. Ubuntu was kind enough to list the highlights of what's new and improved in this version. With that being said, lets move on the the reviewing...shall we?

Firefox 3. This is a pretty big deal since most people need to use the primary browser for their web usage. Again, this is a case of "guilt by association" since Firefox isn't produced by any Linux team, but rather the Mozilla Foundation. The decision to include FF3 in this version of Ubuntu was theirs and I understand the logic that it is very close to final release and anyone who installs in 3 months time would have the final version in the first round of updates. I like FF3, it's cleaner looking, uses lest memory and overall a nice experience. My only "however" for this is that not all extensions have been brought up to speed on the new version so I'm missing some of that, but that is not a failing of Ubuntu or Mozilla since these are produced by 3rd parties who just need to get up to speed on the new browser, which under the hood is quite different.

Straight away after install compiz (3d effects) was enabled. That's nothing drastic, but then I observed a few small changes which I enjoyed. First I noticed when clicking on an icon in the the panel, that the symbol of the icon flares up and fades. Not a big deal, but a classy touch which wasn't present before. The second thing I noticed straight away was that in the time/calendar dock, there was the addition of weather information as well as multiple timezone selections. For me that was a very nice touch since I have coworkers around the globe. The only drawback to that is that I have an EEE PC 701 which, with the multiple timezones on expands below the visible area. On a standard desktop, this is a stunning feature, I really do like it and was a nice integration of an old Evolution function that was let go some time ago.

Since I work on laptop machines mostly and touch type in command line quite frequently I took a second while in the mouse properties (increasing the speed for the touch pad so I didn't look like I was petting it every time I needed to traverse the screen) and I saw that there is a check box for disabling the touch pad. That was GREAT news for me since I usually use an external mouse and it could be not be disabled at all in previous versions of Ubuntu.

Continuing to work with my settings to get the normal stuff I like set up the way I like them, I installed the compiz advance options control panel. This baby has gotten a great overhaul. The new control panel is a seperate entry in the System->Preferences menu which makes it much easier to get to than it's predicessor. The layout has all the same options as before (which may be too many for the normal user) but they are organized better, tool tip help is much more clear and easy to understand. I can't rave enough about the improvements here. I'm sure that even my wife will be able to super-tweak her system without a 400 page manual to decipher what everything means.

After configuring the myriad of instant messaging accounts I have in Pidgin I noticed a nice little touch, that when the person you are chatting with is typing the symbol used to appear near their avatar showing a moving keyboard. I found this in the past to be obscure and not always easy to see. Now a line appears in the flow of the conversation (where you would be looking anyway) that tells you that they are typing on the other side. This is of course, only supported in the protocols which support that type of communication.

There is now a python script program included called Uncomplicated Fire Wall (ufw) which is a command line tool for making simple rules. This then translates simple commands like "open ssh" into the correct iptables/ipchains rules which have governed the Linux firewall for ages and is very solid and stable techniques for regulating traffic requests to your system. Now even my mother could figure it out and there is an easy simple command line way of guiding novice users though the sea of managing a firewall. I'm sure it won't be long before there is a GUI that actually uses ufw on the backend. Securing you linux box very tight has never been easier.

Adding multimedia codecs, and 3rd party proprietary software to get a system ready to navigate the rich world wide web hasn't been much easier either. With the Medibuntu repositories added this also becomes a no-brainer with no other hoops to jump through, this has been one of the easies OS transitions I've done.

If you really want to get picky the one thing that I haven't been able to get working yet is a bluetooth headset for skype calls. But I'm sure to discover how to that in the near future as well. With web cams working and all hardware in the house supported this version will be installed all around in the near future. Even the process to get the EEE PC hardware working is pretty easy with simple one-page guides available.

I would advise anyone thinking about installing/upgrading not to hesitate. And for any nagging issues post-install the community resources are fantastic and very active so you won't have to wait for days/weeks to figure something out unless it is a problem at the software developer level that will just take more time to code and if that's the case, there are others in your boat who are always happy to share their work-arounds and solutions.

Simple answer, it's a great system. Use it. And it's freedom will set you free.

I'm sure with time I will observe more that is noteworthy and be creating a follow-up post to this one. Keep your eyes peeled :)


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cloud Computig - music

As I've written, on the Eee Pc you don't have the room to store your mp3 collection. Sure you could put together a single small playlist, but for all your listening needs, it's better to have it all in the cloud.

Previously I recommended a music site for when I was bored. I posted yesterday of their demise. I found a pretty good article at PC Mag that showed me quite a few sites. I've setted on Finetune. Same function as my previous site, with a rich catalog, just that the paylist need to be long....but I won't complain for the price of free. Here's what I did last night and I hope to make some more once I'm bored again.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Boomshuffle got bought by Imeem

I swear, they do these things just to erk me. Since now my previously posted playlists won't play anymore. I didn't even get an email about this. As a subscriber I'm upset boomshuffle didn't tell me and that Imeem didn't just import my account and playlists. *aaarrrggghhhh*....let's everyone put on our clown shoes now.

I'm personally going to boycott and look for some other online streaming service. I think it is ridiculous that they couldn't even manage to send out an email informing of this transfer. So for the record, the previously posted articles with "bored" in the subject are pointing to things that have disappeared forever.

I'm off to find a new streaming music service and I'll blog back here once I have recreated ANOTHER playlist from scratch.

I'm going to have to start keeping track of my "hate" list or official boycotts so that I don't accidentally plug them somewhere.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Asus Eee Pc 901 - interesting tidbit

Not enough for a whole blog entry, but for sure worth noting is that Asus which has published the specs on the 901 (due out later this year for most parts of the world).

The really weird thing is the internal flash drive. If you get the linux model, then you get 20Gig internal SSD. If you get the windows version then you only get a 12Gig SSD. Way to stick it to the M$ fan-boys.


Ubuntu Experience - Release Day

Well, Thursday there was the release of Hardy Heron. I did of course download and install it and a review will be coming in the near future. I wanted now to just talk about the experience of that day. I was logged into the release party channel on and there was much buzz as you can imagine. If you could manage to read and keep up with the conversation, you could feel the enthusiasm just spewing from the fingertips of everyone in the room.

This is where I have to herald the merits of the Linux community which is then compounded with "mac-fanboy" zeal. I've been to the linux-con's of old and there is a strange energy, a "high" if you will, of encouragement and acceptance on the level of what Martin Luther King and Ghandi spoke of. I've seen the novice and advance users come together and sing "Kum-ba-ya" to lighters in praise of developers and community. This was just as present on release day.

Maybe because I am physically removed from the grand event and the real-world release parties where everyone is dancing and shaking hands that in the on-line world I could actually catch the buzz and excitement. I should say, that if someone reading this has never used linux and open source software much of this energy seems bizarre and foriegn. I appologize, I don't mean to alienate, but it is in fact quite emotional.

My simple examination is that there were thousands of users online writing about their enthusiasm of the release of the new version of an operating system. An operating system that gets released every six months. Then compare it to the non-event which was the release of Vista, and the ensuing pain and laments of the users after having waited 5 years. Mac may be the exception, but it doesn't border on frenzy every six months.

Ahh, it feels good to be part of a community that feels more like the defition of community than I have with the people with which I share a physical community. Hats off to Linux and Ubuntu for keeping it all jazzed up.

Keep watching here for my Ubuntu 8.04 and my Ubuntu 8.04 + EEE Pc review coming soon.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Social Networking responsiblity

My personal crisis, how much activity is required for social networking. This is where I see a distinct difference. Someone who is blogging, twittering or posting to flickr for the purpose of professional my humble opinion is no longer really involved for social motivations.

Due to work travel I haven't posted as regular as before (I'm trying to settle back in) and for some strange reason I have a sense of guilt. I know there is little to no audience for my blog and twitter posts, but it's like that "thank you" note that you need to send from your birthday 2 months ago nagging at you.

I truly enjoy posting to my blog as geek is my passion and it is personally rewarding, but I would like to apologize in advance to anyone who reads about any black-out periods that may occur. There may come a point when my posting will be just as regular as brushing my teeth and then (save us all) there will be words flying like mad here.

By the way, I'm currently also occupied with putting Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron on my EEE Pc, so expect some review information on that soon. So, if you are watching, keep me in your RSS feeds and be patient :)


Thursday, April 10, 2008 has amazing photos

I've been cruising through flicker's most current photo streams and have found that there are some people who have a great eye.  It can be entertaining and almost as useful as google image search.  Look at this great picture I found at Flickr.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cloud Computing - Basics

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I have an EEE PC, which almost mandates cloud computing. I thought it might be a good idea to be a bit more specific than just talking about "cloud computing" so that anyone could try it.

I've used cloud computing for 3 reasons. First is insulation against hardware failure. This is self-explanatory but as an advanced step, I use it to bring a new system up to speed with all my existing ones quickly. The same steps for recovery applied to a system with no preferences or information demonstrates both the ease in which you can recover, as well as deploy a new system from the proverbial zero.

The second reason I cloud compute is remote access. Since all of these systems of cloud computing are available on the web, it means that I can access this information from any computer with internet access. Hypothetical situation would be to follow a link I had bookmarked, but can't remember the URL. Using one of several online systems you can then pull up that SINGLE bookmark and follow it using a friends or public computer without having to make any permanent changes to that system.

The third reason I use cloud computing is because of the resources available on the EEE PC. I should say that I had started to store my information on remote systems some time back, the frequency of which I did this has dramatically increased as there are now 2 EEE PC's in the home. Space is the biggest commodity and cloud computing negates most of that.

I thought I'd list the services/tools that I use in order for anyone just starting to use cloud computing to take a dip in the pool without being overwhelmed. Here are a few that I use. I use a Gmail account for all my online email, and many of it's services as well as other applications that use the Gmail as a backend for online services. Please understand that I assume that you have a Gmail account already in use. My other disclaimer is that I assume Firefox also...available for all platforms, and most extensions work across the different versions.

  • Gmail - duh. You could use any online mail service like, etc. My personal take on it is simple is better and Google doesn't tether which protocol you may access it with (geek disclaimer)

  • Use firefox -> export .html file -> email it to your gmail account. Viewing the HTML attachment in the online interface
  • is a social bookmarking site, but if you make them private, you can then use their extension to import to firefox.
  • Flickr is awesome, free account a bit limited.
  • Picasa offers more space, but the interface isn't quite as elegant. (IMHO)
  • YouTube for most of the video's that I have from my digital camera, they are short enough to go up straight away.
  • Google Video is also available with a slightly different interface if you prefer it.
Browser recovery:
This was a big issue for me since I work/live out of my firefox and a browser crash alone would set me back a workday just trying to get everything back up. Google's Browser Sync extension for firefox makes synchronizing across multiple computer systems very easy without loss if information (even cookies). This will use a Gmail account to store the information, so it is a prerequisite.

I hope this offers a few ideas. These sites are not at all in any way the complete list and I'll be sure to post about future services that I discover that are worth mentioning.


Monday, March 24, 2008

If the candidates were operating systems....

I usually don't get political, here or anywhere else for that matter. Having been prior service military, American and abroad is usually a good reason to keep ones opinions to oneself. I was thinking the other day that none of the current candidates from either side inspire me much.

Let's touch on that word for a moment, inspire. I mean really, since Regan (for good or bad depending on your opinion) I've not seen in my lifetime people elect the highest seat in the land to a person who sparked passion, motivation or leadership since then. I know, when being beaten down with propaganda from all sides, it's difficult to be either objective or impartial. But in my honest opinion, NONE of the candidates make me jump off my couch and shout "Yes!" at the top of my lungs.

Now, probably because I'm one of the largest geeks on the planet, I thought about it compared to operating systems. I work with the big 3 (Windows, Mac and Linux) and have a lot of in-depth knowledge of all of them. And of the 3, the only one that gives me that kind of inspiration, is Linux. With Linux, I know that anything is possible, maybe done poorly at first, but version 2 just around the corner with the community making it better constantly.

As for the politics, I would ask all Americans to ignore platforms, campaign speeches and these guys saying the words you want to hear just to get your vote today, only to not deliver on any promise once they are in the white house. Look at them as people, and ask yourself, which one would you wake up in 2009 and think, ", I am SOOO glad that I voted for this one!". Because if even in your wildest dreams you can't envision that, you ARE voting for the wrong person for the wrong reasons. Leadership doesn't come in a speach prepared by a harvard comes from the person. And NONE of the candidates from either side today, have earned my respect AND inspired my passion.

As for the geek, I've used all kinds of software for all of the big 3 and I always keep running back to Linux...usually screaming. So, I'll be the first one to vote for Linux when he runs for president, and he should choose Ficus as his vice-president...that's a win/win ticket.

Linux/Ficus 2012!!!!!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Command Line Life

Command line is where I prefer to interact and really get things done. It didn't happen overnight and was encouraged by two things. First was when I introduced linux to my home and it got the old machine (under powered) and the second was my work, as I moved into working with routing equipment, the ONLY way to interact with those machines is via command line.

As I was using my home linux machine as a router for a dial-up connection, I couldn't put too much load on the box, so I needed to learn the command line interface to most of the programs I used in the graphical interface. Net sum game is that I built up a nice collection of text (CLI) programs. I'd like to list a few of my favorites here. Most if not all are still available from most distro repositories. I should say that "man command" will almost always help. The man pages are only available if the program is installed.

For local activity on the machine you should of course master most of the CLI commands for navigating the file system. Commands such as cat, cd, cp, rm, mv and ls. Then to see what's going on use top or ps(recommend switches or grep to limit output). For calculator there is bc. Calender is brought to you by cal. The clock everyone needs in their systray is sponsored by date. And for the old windows folks, you can get a norton commander interface view of the filesystem with vifm.

Text rules in all of this, so for docs, notes, config files, etc..I use vim as my favorite text editor. Yes, it has a high learning curve, but once over it, there is a lot more you can do with that than nano...but if just starting nano is a good choice to get things done. I use antiword to convert word 2k3 or older into text.

Games, games, games. With the meta-package on Ubuntu "bsd-games" you get a slew of them. I'm honestly hooked on boggle. There is a tetris clone(tetris-bsd), hangman and a monopoly clone. Who said command line isn't fun.

For the internet, here comes the good stuff. For a browser we have lynx, links and w3m. For email there is pine and mutt. For irc we have bitchx, irrsi and the text version of xchat. For ftp we have ncftp.

Then we get to my favorite, screen. This is like having multiple desktops in linux but for the command line. Be carefull when you use this the first few times, it can make your eyes cross.

I have to stress something that tends to get overlooked for most "remote desktop" solutions. That is that you can use ssh (my favorite cli command) to connect to a remote machine. If you use it with the export X11 switch (ssh -X host) then you can launch a program from the remote machine. This is really easy when you are connecting a linux machine to a linux machine, but there are programs like X-Win32 that are lightweight and allow for the same possibility.

I really hope this encourages some of you to try the command line and be less nervous about it, there is plenty to do there, so go have some fun. And remember this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Eee Pc practical use

Since I was taking a few days off leading up to Easter this year, my Wednesday served as my Friday. While banging away to get some things done in the office for my long weekend, I got a Skype call.

A Skype call in and of itself is quite unremarkable since most of my family and work associates use it. And, I could see from the notification area of my external monitor attached to my Eee Pc in the office, that this one was from my wife. Mentally I prepared myself for a short shopping list or something else of the kind.

Imagine my surprise when behind my wife I could see trees....trees!!! What's wrong with this picture? Well, since my wife's PC, from which she does most of her Skype calls is in my living room, I didn't see the normal surroundings of my home. In fact, she had stopped by a cafe in order to get a hot chocolate for herself and our two boys after an afternoon visit to the park.

This pleasant surprise was sponsored by Asus and the 8Gig Eee Pc I purchased for my wife. Being that it was small and light enough to put in her purse, when she arrived at the table with the kids, she was able to find a hot-spot. Then as if in our living room, fired up Skype and rang me. With the newest version installed, she was able to show and see video from me on my Eee Pc in the office about 30 km away.

I have to say, that if this doesn't even happen again, this one time has made the perfect point that this device is for all persons who have a computer involved in their lives and truly put a smile on my face for such a small thing. I'm sure there will be more surprises like this in our future.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gutsy + 8Gig EEE Pc Howto

I thought I would explain my experience of how to install and tweak Gutsy Gibbon onto the Asus Eee Pc. First I'll tell my story and then I'll give the simple steps that I would recommend.

I'm using a standard Gutsy 7.10 cd install using an external CD/DVD. That install went quite normal and I chose to partition the drive with 5G for the root partition and 3G for the /home partition. As per a guide I found I made no /swap and I chose ext2 for the file system.

For working/non-working hardware post install, let me mention the non-working that I noticed right away:

Special Fn+(X) keys
wifi (ethernet did work)
sound (not really broken, just some complex setting changes)

After first boot I installed the build-essentials package from CD.

In my story, I fixed the wifi with the patch process from:
The Ubuntu Community EeePc page (had to move it over from another machine because I was too lazy to connect the cable). This got the wireless card working and I was able to de-select the CD as the source for software updates and run the normal updates online.

The updated included also kernel header updates so that broke the madwifi driver I had compiled from I re-compiled it again. That got the wifi working again after a quick reboot.

I found the page that points you to a script package which fixes most of the EeePc issues all at once. The script only gave a failure on the wifi (because I had already fixed it by hand).

Everything this script claims to fix, was fixed with the single exception of overclocking the processor. I didn't think it needed and the two times I tried it, it failed (locked up the box).

If someone were trying to to this today, I would recommend building a
usb stick of the live CD
, then with an additional usb or external drive have the script package as well as the madwifi source+patch (as a "just in case"). Armed with these two USB sticks I would:

  1. Live CD USB stick install using no swap partition.
  2. Connect ethernet port and run all updates, then install build-essentials
  3. use the 2nd USB key and run the script collection.
  4. *optional* only if step 3 didn't fix the wireless, use the source+patch to fix that.
Today I've got the EeePc running as a standard Ubuntu install. Skype (with
new version) supporting voice and video. Except for screen size, you wouldn't know it to be anything short of a standard install. I keep the compiz off to conserve resources...but for show, I can turn them on :)

I did some digging and also found a sample xorg.conf that responds properly to xrandr commands which allow for the "extend desktop left/right" which was something I never got to work correctly on my desktop. There is a plus side to standardized hardware (as apple already knows) in that "just any" xorg.conf you find on the net, usually doesn't this case, it's good for everyone :)

On my own 8G I will NOT go back to the native Xandros and it is, in fact, gone forever already. I admire what they did with it for a highly specialized hardware kit, but I'm completely lost without full software repositories and a single user machine. The Xadros made the system really usable and they had really tweaked things like the battery meter, etc.....I just needed software without fear of boinking the system by installing an app for the wrong distro.

I hope to try and use either my 4G SDHC card or my 8G usb key to run an install of Hardy Heron after release. We'll have to see how much is just working after Hardy is installed and if the script package will fix what isn't.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Printing Coolness

I'd like to share an application from the Ubuntu/Debian repositories that is "old-school" and usually overlooked. The command line application a2ps has saved at least 3 trees in my office. Without the need to adjust for printing settings for the one-off printing. It also can create a postscript file that I can preview or even use ps2pdf (part of the Ghostscript family) to create a pdf for anyone on a different operating system.

To get these applications on Ubuntu just use:

sudo apt-get install a2ps ps2pdf

These are command line applications and they both have exentive options. Please read the man page for all the details.

a2ps todo.wkYY.txt <- prints straight
a2ps todo.wkYY.txt <- creates .ps
ps2pdf todo.wkYY.pdf <- converts ps into pdf

I use this method for my text file that I use for my todo list. It's a personalized version of So, think before you a tree. And if you do print, double down and kill only half of one.


The Standard Questions

Not that YOU have asked me yet...but plenty of folks have. So let's get the standard questions out of the way so there is no confusion:

vi vs. emacs <- vi
pine vs. mutt <-mutt
firefox vs. w3m <- depends on where I'm going
exchange vs. qmail <- qmail
dot net framework vs. anything <- anything
original vs. copy <- original
coke vs. pepsi <- coke
digital vs. broadcast (entertainment) <- digital. My way!
linux vs. mac vs. windows
<- in order would be mac then linux. Windows is dead to me.

Well, that sounds like it merits a posting. I should qualify that with the fact that I enjoy working on a mac, it offers the "pretty" with the unix under the hood I can still get my geek on. I consider it the best of both worlds. I have a high comfort level with linux, there for I consider them a very close tie.

Windows hasn't impressed me in so long, I don't really even worry about keeping current. I mean I don't mind to help out friends with something, but more than 3 problems and it's easier to format. I really just got tired of adding resource intensive applications to make windows behave like linux. Multiple desktops, highlight copy + middle-click paste, etc.

Sorry if I made this start out looking like I was going to turn it into a poll, but this blog is not a's mine.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Great looking agenda's for meetings

I have used Evolution to manage my professional email and calendar and was made fun of more than once because my printed agenda had no todo list and my todo list had no calendar. Well, I fixed that and here's how.

First I would print to file the two pages that I needed as PostScript (.ps file extension) naming them and Then I issued the command " >>". This simply adds the 2nd page into the 1st page file. Then I used ps2pdf to make my new page1 a pdf. That I could open and print with perfection even using the print duplex mode that the windows guys didn't have a driver for and that is how my agenda printing became the envy of all.

This process could be done for combining any pages together and then printing them. I find that the ps2pdf step allows me to be able to send it to anyone for printing purposes and to ensure the layout before printing it. Clearly you could use this for even more individual pages if you wanted to tack together research information in a type of cheat sheet. There are a million uses, go find yours and leave a comment about it.


2x 8Gig goodness

Well, It's true. There are now two new US keyboard 8Gig Eee Pc's in the house. Freshly smuggl...I mean imported boxes. And I have to say it is just as good as the 4Gig model with twice the soft center goodness and still has only 1 calorie :)

Already, the wife has taken to it. At the moment is only the complaint that the default Xandros linux install doesn't include her normal Ubuntu software repositories. I have insisted to let me tweak mine out so if things go wrong, I can flash mine and she won't loose any data.

I'm still a little sad that bluetooth isn't included but that is not a show stopper and gives me hope for the Eee 900 model shown at CeBit. I'm glad that there will also be a price premium for anyone who wants the M$ Windoze installed on it. I completely agree with the decision to make it available, since that will bring corporate sales onboard.

I'm truly overfilled with joy to have not one but two of these in the house that are truly my property (not from work) and I will continue to support Asus as much as I can in this market as long as the native linux remains available. We need more companies making OEM Linux devices and I applaud Dell, but they don't offer those products here in Europe (everywhere) yet.

I'm sure to be blogging and updating more frequently with this always in my hip pocket.

More Power to the Penguin!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Entertainment of Ex-Pat Geek

Living abroad limits entertainment slightly. I mean to say that for example, I live in Italy and I can speak and read Italian but it is not they way I prefer to consume mass quantities of entertainment. When native speakers are trying to copy the format of popular American TV shows like CSI they have to get a lot of dialouge in a very short time and start talking fast, which I have a hard time keeping up with.

The first solution that my family and I came up with was subscription satellite service that feeds also the UK. So we can see some of the most popular TV shows that trickle down via the BBC, etc. This provides what would equate to having cable with HBO in the states about 8 years ago. Which is enough programming, but not the most current or with massive selection.

Last year I purchased a Apple Mac Mini while in the States. I have started using the Mac for my entertainment and video/photo editing. iTunes has provided me with an amazing world of podcasting in diverse media for consumption. I use audio podcasts for the car, iPod formated video for the wife's new iPod and Apple TV formatted for consumption on the 21" monitor that I attached to the Mini.

Recently, I purchased a new Full HD 37" TV which supports PC connectivity. And now, I've added to my repertoire the HD Video Podcasts from iTunes which are, in fact truly amazing. It was during the writers strike and the lack of new TV programming that the family and I realized that the digital consumption of entertainment satisfied our needs and was very, very convienent. Using it in this way made it feel like the Video-on-demand or TiVo experience that most people have to pay extra for via a TVR or pay-per-view model. Where in my case it was a cost of nothing in addition to the infrastructure of the home which already existed.

So, being the geek that I am (as stated in title) I strapped that poor Mac Mini to the new 37" LCD TV and now the family enjoys the shows they want, when they want and in the language they want it in. The only thing that I haven't done yet is to add the USB TV Tuner to the Mac Mini and piped my satellite feed over it to have a very real TVR. By the way, if you haven't seen the HubbleCast produced by the ESA and NASA in REAL (I mean x1080 real) HD, then you haven't lived.

Point is, over the last view months, my family and I would have been more put out by the loss of internet connectivity for entertainment than satellite service. Even though I do have both, I think I will try to keep up the trend. Since that also means that our entertainment is always available over the internet whether we are in Germany, Belgium, France or Italy.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Apple Air - uncovering the plan

I've never claimed on this blog or in any other forum to be a man of deep thought. I think that I have made a revelation. I feel that I already understand where the Jobs machine is motoring the future of Apple computing. I feel my recent experience has given me familiarity with the technology involved and was pondering the question posed by Harlem on the Freshubuntu podcast interview "How would I compare the Eee Pc to the new Macbook Air?".

I feel I need to explain my twisted logic and then summarize my conclusions. First Harlem's musing got me to ask the first and simple question that is "What is similar about them?". I had not until that point thought about them in the same class at all. In my mind they were not even attending the same school or grade. After some reflection, there are some similarities that both of these machines are hitting on. Size, weight and solid state disks which are faster but may not offer the same space one might ask for in their day-to-day PC.

This got me to thinking about my "computing in the cloud" analysis with the Eee PC. "Cloud Computing" is the obvious choice with the limited disk space of the Eee PC. But how much more removed is it from the Air? I know plenty of people who will not be able to put their entire iTunes library on 64 Gig. It was mentioned on a popular podcast that I listen to on the TWiT network that they would probably not recommend the Air as a first or primary computer and that sounds like good advice with some of the hardware that is missing. I probably wouldn't recommend the Eee PC to a user that didn't have a primary machine already either.

Remember that the Air was announced on the same day as their new product Time Capsule. This little device seems like just an over-priced external hard drive with wifi access. So, I ask Apple, through their product development, potentially teaching Apple users how to "compute in the cloud"? Is it such a removed idea that the large iMac in the home office actually becomes the house server? Could Apple not start offering server machines that would potentially compete with Windows Home Server? Do they not already have the media extender idea pretty much working with shared iTunes library over a LAN?

So, my grand conclusion is that the Air and Time Capsule are a primer and a "cloud computing" for dummies course via product release. We all know that Apple has gotten where they are by thinking like chess GrandMasters about 20 moves ahead. They are the masters of creating demand where there is and should be none. I feel that the Mac community may be getting spoon feed how to really embrace "cloud computing" via these new products. Which would allow Apple to make many devices that just access centralized information, rather than needing to store it locally too.

Ok, conspiracy over. Breath deeply. By the way, we Linux geeks have lots more experience at the client-server model. While Windows offers minesweeper and solitaire for new users to learn how to use a mouse, Linux has freeciv both the client and the server ;)


Monday, February 18, 2008

Geek woes

So, now that I have a blog about the geek and caffeine, I've started to look at my geekyness (is that a word) in a geeky way. That is to say I'm on a quest to answer the question "Why is CafeNinja so geek?"

I found myself in the office just the other day with a "novice" who didn't know how to do a simple action "I think copy and paste" on the new iMac. So I told him that instead of control + key (c,v,z) he should use the command button on the keyboard. He was amazed at my wealth of knowledge :) I then told him that I didn't like that method either since with Linux I could highlight and paste with wheel button click and that was much faster.

At this point the co-workers eyes just glazed over as I was clearly talking out of the mouth on my second head based on the looks he was giving me. I stopped and pondered just how strangely would this person look at me if I talked about replacing the windows shell with NextStep or not having a task list while using WindowMaker.

That was the moment I started to ask myself....why does a CafeNinja need to know this either. I mean, I should know the difference from fresh brewed and instant, but why do I feel I have to really study to figure out how to use the Eee PC in our normal work environment...that's just strange. And I always take for granted that any normal user might have half the understanding I do. I've given up on trying to explain to anyone how I fix things in any operating system any more since it takes less time for me to go there and put my hands on the machine.

I know there are others out there who have more technical knowledge than I in speciality areas to be sure. I also find myself in the country of the tech illiterate which makes it even more challenging. I hope that one day I can find the land of Geek which has a penguin on it's national flag, a happy mac symbol for a postage stamp and windows is blocked and held for interrogation at the border *snicker*. I can say that it is better in some European countries than others...but this is not one of them. At least in Germany, my co-workers knew what scripting was.

I think we can all thank Micro$oft visa vie Windows for bringing computers to the masses. I just think it's time for the masses to become wise in what they do, for if I find one more virus infected windows user pulling their hair, I'm going to hand them an Ubuntu CD and tell them that is the magic software to fix it. BLAH!


--by the way, I think the next gadget I would like to break would be the cloudbook.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ok, I was bored a while back.

I've already blogged about Boomshuffle. You know, build a playlist online and stream it from anywhere. It's relevant to my geek, I promise. I am using the Eee PC as previously blogged and with it's lack of physical disk space but easy access to the internet Boomshuffle is a great way to listen to music that I have preferred without storing anything locally.

This playlist was the first one that I set up just after I heard about the site on Textra with Natalie Del Conte who has just recently moved to CNet with her new show Loaded. She set up a very mellow playlist so I thought to try and beat her with one that would put you in a coma. I thought I would post my 3rd and final playlist from Boomshuffle just to for completeness:


Friday, February 15, 2008

FreshUbuntu podcast apperance

In case you actually know me, and I haven't told you...I was interviewed on the podcast FreshUbuntu today. I had a very nice chat with Harlem Quijano the host of FreshUbuntu in regards to my experiences with the EeePC. It was a very enjoyable interview and Harlem seemed to be quiet taken with the quality of the built in microphone on the EeePC as well.

I'd like to thank Harlem for the chance to participate in the podcast, it was a real honor and pleasure. I really hope to do it again sometimes. For those of you who haven't heard the podcast before, you can play it directly from the website or subscribe in iTunes. People, if you grandmother hasn't told you yet, you don't need an iPod to listen to podcasts. You don't even need an mp3 player. On Windows or Mac you just need iTunes on your computer, there are other ways but I have to say the interface makes it easy to find and manages the files very well. On linux my favorite is good old Amarok with adding the RSS feed directly. I promise, that is the easy part.

I found Harlem and FreshUbuntu while I was doing what I can only call "PodCast Fishing". In this sport all you have to do is look up and subscribe to as many different podcasts on an interesting topic as you can find, listen to about 3 episodes, decide if you like it or not and then move on. I say 3 episodes since if you happen to catch a special single topic episode or one that just didn't go that well, you would be making a snap decision about the whole series without giving it a proper go. I would recommend that newcomers to this sport start off light, it is easy to find daily podcasts that you enjoy and actually have more material to listen to than hours in a day.

There are plenty of great Linux podcasts out there, some very technical, some political and I found FreshUbuntu to be a nice blend of both. With his usual co-host Peter Nikolaidis, this cross-country pair make a nice balance and cover the gambit. Kudos to Harlem and Peter, keep up the good work.

Man, it's like I was interviewed on radio, but better as it can be aired over and over and over again :)


I need more time....and more hands for all these keyboards

Geek is easy, natural, you have to work at. In a recent twitter post, I said "It's sad when I wish there were an extra 5 hours in a day...hey wait a sec....sleep, I don't need to sleep!"

Let's go back to the beginning... I have the great fortune of being married to a wonderful lady who a mere 9 years ago suggested that I switch careers in order to make my hobby my professional pursuit. That hobby, computers...and things geek. Today, I make a buck doing what I really love and it paid off. With my passion and motivation for geek, in my new position, I managed to get promoted to a level where the career change was no longer a financial burden within a short 4 months.

This brings me back to my twitter. My problem today is that I LOVE the geek. I'll spend hours doing research on php, perl, ruby, IPv6, gadgets, tech podcasts, linux...etc. To keep the impact down on the role of bread-winner, husband and dad; I try to squeeze my geek sessions in "under the radar", that's my euphemism for after kids bedtime, but before I just fall over exhausted.

I know this sounds like a whine session. But truth be told, if left to my own devices, I would probably find a way to get paid without going to work and just abuse my wireless to update my blog, research and listen to podcasts all day long :) I love this stuff so much that I have and would miss meals in order to watch sound drivers compile with my fingers crossed.

So, for self confessed geeks out there, just know that one day you can be like me, run yourself into the ground and take the occasional Sunday morning coma sleep-in to make up for it. The only other option is to get all the sleep you need once your dead. :( (I prefer option number 1)


P.S. - Ubuntu kernel header updates.....get ready to recompile those drivers ;)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ok, I was bored again.

So there's nothing on TV, and I was thinking more about my eee pc setup and just because I can't have hundreds of songs on my eee pc, doesn't mean that I can't enjoy music. The catch, I have to make plenty of playlists to satisfy my listening needs. So, bored again....


The EEE PC.....what it is

Back in November I wrote about a new little device without having the experience of putting my hands on it. I had a pretty good grasp of what it seemed to be about, but again...that was all sight unseen.

As I work for a large ISP, our engineers (myself included) have laptops so that during our on-call rotation we can all log into the equipment from remote and fix issues. I convinced our IT manager to get one so that I could put it through the paces for use as a device for the on-call team since for the price of one of the nice shiny new laptops we have, you could get 3 - 5 of the eee pc.

Well, I now have one in my hands, and I'm writing this post from it. I've had it for two weeks and tried using it "in the field", at my desk and everywhere in the middle. I won't let you read my very opinionated views to hear that this devices is a great value. I would recommend it for anyone who thought it COULD be for them, I'm here to tell you that it IS for you.

Let's set the stage so that everyone can beat me up over it. I'm a professional geek and use linux/Mac exclusively at home now for 4 years and at work for 8 years. So a linux envrionment is very comfortable for me. Getting under the hood and doing the command line thing or adding "questionable" software is a non-issue for me. With that being said, here goes my review.

Before I get too carried away, please read my previous blog post on the eee pc. I have and I don't want to repeat myself too much, but almost 100% of what I said there does stand the test of actually having this in my hands. Please read it so you can understand some of the items I'll discuss here.

I have several points and would like to look at this from the "big picture" so I'll make my laundry list of good and bad points and then explain:

The Good:
  1. Price
  2. Size/Weight
  3. Screen
  4. Performance
  5. Flexibility to expand via USB
  6. Interface
The Bad:

  1. Non replaceable hard drive
  2. Hard drive space
  3. Screen
  4. Single user

For the good points. For the price it is outstanding. When I consider that the same money would buy me only a 8G iPod Touch, I can do a LOT more with the eee pc. I would like very much to get my wife a new Macbook Pro 17" to replace her Linux desktop, but for the price of the tricked out model, I could buy 8 or 9 eee pc's!!!!!!

In regards to size and weight, I have a backpack by Crumpler that is designed for carrying a 15" laptop and my Dell Latitude (also a great box) fits in that perfectly. Using the same pouch for the laptop body, I can put the eee pc, rubber keyboard, mouse, power supply and have room for a sandwich at 2/3 the weight (with all the accessories).

The screen is small but amazingly crisp. I have heard the rumors that they may produce the same machine with a larger monitor. I also know that would affect the overall size of the device. That could be a plus or a minus and remains to be seen. From the video reviews available on YouTube I was worried that the screen quality might be good enough for a geek to do his remote command line, but not for average computing. Totally wrong, this screen is remarkably clear, obviously limited by the physical dimensions of the screen. It is great for on the fly and really, in ambient sunlight, still viewable. It (as any other) screen looses out to direct sunlight.

Performance was another concern I had with a Intel Celeron 900mHz, just how fast could it be. It would seem that what it misses in raw processor power it makes up for in the SSD hard drive speed. I have only managed to tap the machine and see a performance issue as I launched the 5th application (which was Java - ouch). I could do everything with the eee pc as I could from the Dell with little to no degradation in performance.

The USB ports allow me to add to it any peripheral that I might need. Maybe too many. I find that my keyboard, mouse and external hard drive fill my 3 USB ports quickly. A minor investment in a powered USB hub quickly resolve those issues. I had recognition of the USB bluetooth dongle also. The addition of my external mouse and keyboard immediately remove any issues one might have with the included track pad and keyboard size.

The user interface that comes with the eee pc (Easy Mode) cannot earn enough praise. It takes what could easily be a daunting task of migrating a user from windows/mac to linux or even a completely new computer user and makes it easy to digest. For more advanced users, something more desktop like is only a few tweaks away. This is the best of both worlds. I've spoken with a friend who recalled stories of having to guide his father through a format and install of windows on more than one occasion due to the fact that the senior doesn't understand the impact of what software he is installing may have on his system. This interface doesn't make the addition of software impossible, but not likely and therefore prevents new user errors. Basically, they applied the mobile phone user interface attitude where one button does web and you don't question "with which program" just works and that's fine.

For the aspects of the device I find less desirable, let's begin with the point that the hard drive is solid state memory with a finite number (even though it's a lot) of write/rewrites to the drive. This portion of the box has a limited life span and knowing that I would be able to buy it's replacement and change it out would be nice. Not a show stopper since at this price, there should be a new and better one to get when this one dies.

Hard drive space is a premium, I am currently using the 4G model and really look forward to getting an 8G model when it's available in my area. Not that I have a problem with the space limitation for how I use the machine, but when I travel it would be nice to put some of my video or music content on without needed an external drive. Obviously with my previously mentioned USB solution or a card for the SD card reader, some of that problem just goes away. But would be nice :). I do NOT consider this point a show stopper for the reasons I mentioned in my previous eee pc blog post.

There are times, at more than arms length that the screen size is frustrating as words disappear into an ant trail of gibberish on the page. Again, for most things it's great, and when connected to an external monitor this is immediately a non-issue.

As a linux user, both at home and work, I'm quite used to having different accounts for different people. Not having a superuser switch to just turn that on is a little disappointing. I can understand trying to make linux easy for the masses, but this may not have been the best solution. My personal beef with this is that if someone wants to just give this thing a "test drive" that I cannot offer them a guest account, so in effect they are using MY firefox and MY skype. When a real linux distro or windows are installed, this is something you could do without issue. Again, not a show stopper since the single user can be protected with a password so that the system is not wide open at boot.

In conclusion, this is a fantastic little machine. It won't replace my desktop for heavy duty tasks like video editing, but could replace my office workstation with all the correct peripherals. The eee pc receives an A+ from me especially considering that the first generation of this machine is such a fine product. Expect to hear more about the glowing qualities of the eee pc here in my blog as I intend to infect my family with them. I probably won't go into advanced modifications to the OS or anything here, but you will probably see it mentioned in the future. The website eeeuser is a great place to get tips and howto's on things you might want to do with an eee pc if you should get one, they have a great community forum and wiki.


When I'm bored

So, it seems when I'm bored I look for things to do on the net....last time that took me to Boomshuffle where I enjoyed setting up a couple of playlists. Now, I am looking at that and thinking... I need to put that somewhere :) For you enjoyment and to let you ridicule me as an "old man" I'm embedding my most recent playlist here. And before you ask, yes, I do like this music.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Coffee Unplugged

Why I take no sugar in my coffee.
I have to say that most people don't look at me very strange if I ask for coffee in America and take it black. When I do the same abroad, I have looks of doubt and perplexity coming from my peers. I have an explanation of why I am that way, it's not a grand affair, but rather a cute story.

I served in the USMC for 4 years. During that time I was stationed in Naples Italy. It was late one night while standing my guard shift when the supervising Corporal of the Guard decided to make rounds with a thermos full of Italian espresso coffee.

He asked me if I wanted "Coffee?". I said "sure" not understanding what kind of coffee was about to flow into the small plastic cup placed before me. It was about to be the first espresso coffee I would enjoy in my host country and I was thinking the cup was a bit small.

Once he had provided what would be a double serving of espresso (since he wasn't going to make a second round) I asked in my naivety "Hey, don't the Italians take this stuff with a bunch of sugar?". His gaze seemed clearly distressed, it would seem that my question had sounded ungrateful. He replied quickly with "I'm no waiter, you going to drink it black or do I give it to someone else?". I recoiled, quickly apologized and consumed it as it was.

This became my indoctrination into drinking espresso and to this day, I cannot stand the taste of coffee with sugar in it. I now refer to the addition of sugar or milk products as "foo" adjective I usually reserve for describing things which I find girlish in nature.

As a result, my palette has become adjusted to this way of tasting coffee and I can easily discern between coffee which is "burnt", poor quality or just bad. I don't believe in "foo" for real men, but I don't disparage the ones who must take something in their coffee. I have a slightly different opinion of the flavored creamers as these produce a different taste, but would always prefer actual Irish Creme to any artificial creamer flavored in that way.

So everyone, please enjoy your coffee and maybe for the sake of quality test, try it "unplugged" if you aren't scared to discover that the coffee under all your "foo" is actually pretty bad. :)