Blog Archives

Stuff What People Look For

Vintage photograph of two intimate women in a ...

Image via Wikipedia

Can you believe that people come to this site by searching for something specific? No, neither can I. But they do. And lots of the time they are searching for something realistic. Other times they search for … something that I don’t have.

Anyway, enough of that, let’s have a look at my search list to find out how people come to find my site. List is after the jump (which comes after number 17) and will be in reverse order to prolong the agony.

20. lesbian comics – is this graphic novels about lesbians or lesbian comedians?

19. slackware vs. – fairy nuff. distro v distro is common on the internet

18. cartoon lesbians – this answers the question at number 20 I guess

17. give a shitometer – there is a picture on this site called that. I wonder what my ranking is to get someone to come here for it though? Read the rest of this entry

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Rekonq

K Desktop Environment

Image via Wikipedia

This is only really of interest to Linux users and especially to KDE users. Gnome and non-Linux users can switch off now. Rekonq is a webkit based browser that users of Google Chrome will find somewhat familiar.

This is of special interest to me as it seems that the next version of Kubuntu (codename Maverick Meerkat), the distro I use, will have Rekonq as the default browser. Rekonq will entirely replace Konqueror as the inbuilt browser (Firefox is currently not pre-installed, you have to run an installer to get it) and as Dolphin is the default file browser this must mean that Konqueror will not be installed at all in Kubuntu 10.10 – though I would guess that die-hard fans can still install it via aptitude. Rekonq is also planned to be HTML5 ready, which means that you will be able to play any videos in that format out of the box.

Read the rest of this entry

I Installed Windows 7

windows 7 in VirtualBox on windows xp
Image by nick see via Flickr

I’m not going to do an in depth post on this, mainly because there are already loads of them out there and there will continue to be reviews beyond October.  Just thought you may be interested to know my thoughts on the new desktop OS.  Firstly, in line with XP and Vista there will be various versions of Microsoft Windows 7 – do not get the Home version!!  Home versions are always massively crippled and you’ll spend time hating the system.  I also believe that the Home version is best used on netbook, not on a desktop or laptop.

So, having a spare hard drive, I installed the system on my Dell Latitude D600.  Yep, I accept that this is an older machine, but shouldn’t that mean it would be more supported?  Only outside of Redmond it appears.  The only way to get Windows to recognise and use the sound and video cards was to get the XP and Windows 2000 drivers and install them using the compatibility function.  By the way, the compatibility function worked very very well.  However, in the sense of supported hardware, Linux wins hands down.  The only piece of hardware that is usually not supported out of the box is my wireless card.  Under Windows 7 almost all of the hardware was unsupported – including my ethernet card! Read the rest of this entry

Various Twitter Clients

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I have a Twitter address.  But I really disliked having to either open a new tab to view comments and replies or having to keep returning to the site to see what’s going on.  And I won’t be going into the various merits or demerits of Twitter as a site or function.  There are plenty of sites that are happy to do that for me.  So, being the kind of guy I am, I went hunting for a Twitter client so I didn’t have to use the browser.

There are a number of clients out there, so there’s no shortage whatsoever.  Unfortunately, most are written for Mac or for Windows and I run Linux.  So using my brain I went hunting on the web for a client that I could run.  I was running Spaz, but it became unhappy when I upgraded my distro and started running KDE4 – it just sits in the system tray and won’t actually do anything useful.  More on that later.

So, after the jump, I’ll run down the ones I tested and the one I’m on now.  Incidentally, some of my results are skewed by the fact that I believe KDE to be messing me around – some apps run once and then never again.  I am well aware that this is not the fault of the app itself, so I will not refer to the running (or otherwise) nature of the app.  Also, big thanks to the nice people at Adobe.  Many of the apps tested run on Adobe AIR (get it here).  If you remember Klik, Adobe Air is kinda like that but easier to use.  The BBC iPlayer Desktop app runs through AIR which allows it to be cross-platform.  Jump coming up now…

Read the rest of this entry

Do I Want A Netbook?

HP Mini Mi Netbook

HP Mini Mi Netbook

Netbooks are pretty much this year’s thing.  I have seen a few people using them on the train and they look very useful and handy.  Particularly if you want to knock up a spreadsheet or document while you’re on the train.  They run a customised version of Windows XP, Windows Vista or a Linux distro which are designed to give you easy access to your applications without having to go through multi-layered start menus.  In all, they are useful and usable.

So do I want one?  Well, yes.  Mainly because I don’t have one.  In the UK, they are available for around £250 (~ $370 or 280 euros (according to XE)) and are about 1KG in weight.  They are very very portable and are really useful for office apps or web browsing/email.  They fit in a category between a laptop and a PDA.

In the UK, they are available from HP, IBM and from Acer.  They are all lightweight, stylish, handy and useful for the quick jobs you need to do whether on the way to/from work (if you use the train or plane) or before a meeting.  They are also very handy for people who can’t carry a full sized notebook.  They are designed for use outside the office.  And I want one.

So, if any company that makes these things would like to send me on to use and review, feel absolutely free.  I will happily accept it and review it and put it up on this site.  Linux distro for preference please.

How To Test Out Linux

I won’t bore you with my personal journey with Linux (it’s pretty much try, give up, try again, give up, try again, distro hop, pick a distro), but based on this comment, I thought it would be worthwhile discussing how best to try Linux out and the reasons you could find it useful to do so and why you may not find it so useful…  Call it a belated Christ-/Mithras-/Horus-mas present to the world.

First, the reasons people test out Linux.  These are many and varied, but the main ones seem to be: they heard it was cool, it was sold as a major panacea for all computing ills, they are geeks and think it’s de rigeur to do so, it looked good on a friend’s PC, it solves a problem they have, they are sick of lock in and viruses.  There are other reasons, but I think these are representative.  Here’s the thing: none of these reasons are bad reasons.  I have tried various things out over the years for similar reasons – some I have stuck with and some I haven’t.  The more rabid Linux evangelists will tell you that you have to try it and that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t.  I’m not going to do that.  It would be great if the balance were tipped from proprietary OSes to the FOSS way, but I am realistic enough to know that this isn’t going to happen soon.  We are making major inroads, particularly on the server front, but by being realistic I have more chance of being persuasive.

If you are planning (however vaguely) to try out Linux I cannot stress this enough: do your research.  Look at the more popular distributions and check that your hardware is supported and won’t have any major issues.  Google is an excellent resource for this, Linux is an operating system that wouldn’t have come in to being without the internet and problems and fixes are discussed widely all over the place.  Head over to Distrowatch and see what people are looking into, hit the various websites that distributions have and see what they look like and make sure that you feel comfortable with the look and feel of the distribution.

An amazingly cool resource that will be of great help is the Live CD.  This gives you an entire operating system on either a CD or DVD.  Many distros offer this and you can use them to see whether Linux is for you and to test out what a distro will look like and get a great feel for the usage.  You can use them for diagnosing and fixing problems or as a handy and portable method for always having Linux on whichever PC you use.  They do not make changes to your hard drive and so you don’t have to install anything.  For the price of the download and a blank CD or DVD you can save yourself a lot of hassle.

Investigate dual booting.  You don’t have to wipe your current OS to test out another system, you can simply give it space on your hard drive and switch between.  This will give you the best idea of how it will work with your system and whether it will be for you on a daily basis.  Dual booting is pretty simple and straightforward.  It will also enable you to research problems on your known working OS if you do hit snags.

Don’t give up on your first failure.  I have lost count of the number of times that I have seen posts about how crap Linux is only to find that the poster has used it for a few hours and given up at the first hurdle.  Remember that Windows has a major lock in with a number of hardware vendors (and Mac restricts the hardware it will run on) and also software vendors.  This means that hardware and software will always work on those systems because the vendors will make it work.  Most of the drivers and software on Linux only run because the coders are dedicated and intelligent enough to make it work.  (I won’t go into the “Linux is a kernel not an OS” here because it’s irrelevant to the discussion)  For a good chunk of it’s life, Linux coders worked for the joy of coding and the fact that it runs so well on such varied hardware is testament to their skill and dedication.

Finally, research, research, research.  I’m going to mention this again because it is all important.  Think about what you want to run it on – if you have any obscure hardware or important hardware (webcams, scanners, ISP provided modems) look around the web to see if they are supported.  If you have a particular piece of software that you absolutely must have running look to see if there’s a Linux version or if there is a different piece of software that will run just as well.  Read Linux Is Not Windows – it may be a few years old, but it is still relevant.

None of this is rocket science.  It’s been a few years since Linux emerged from the “geeks only” state to an “anyone can get it running state.”  You can install Linux in around 20 minutes (from start to finish) and you will have a full desktop and a varied amount of software.  There are some 40,000+ software packages available for it from a variety of resources, so it’s likely that you will find the software you need.  You don’t have to reboot after each software install or update.  There are no real viruses available for it and malware just isn’t there.  Out of the box, it is more secure than Windows and will cost you a lot less in monetary terms.  You can distribute it freely and legally and this is explicit in the licence.  You don’t have to agree to EULAs or other restrictive licences.

So there you are, that’s how to do it.  If you want to know how not to do it, just don’t follow my advice.  The vast majority of people who fail to install and run Linux (or one of the BSDs or any other alternative OS) do so because they went in with the wrong attitude.  Before you can ride a bike or drive a car or do most tasks, there are steps to take before you do it – and computers are no different.  There is no magic bullet which will make you an automatic expert, despite the advertising, the only real way to do it is to research and persevere.  If you do decide to stick with it there are any number of resources that will assist you, from hard copy books to online forums to blogs like this.  If you stick with it you will be part of a community and a movement and will meet many interesting and fun people.  My first trip to the US was off the back of Linux – so how’s that, run an OS and travel the world?