Monday, May 31, 2010

MeeGo and Dropbox

It's been several days and I've really enjoyed getting to know MeeGo better. But the main complaint I have is still how hard it is to install programs. The whole YUM repository thing was kind of thrust upon me, and even then, it's sometimes difficult, and I'm finding that I'm kind of missing APT.

In any case, I just spent a while trying to get Dropbox installed but it really was not working well. First off, Dropbox is not in the default MeeGo repository, or even the Fedora repo that I added (although it's highly possible that I added it wrong). Secondly, even after getting the RPM, I still had to dive into the Command line to install it for some strange reason.

In any case, YUM or no YUM, I finally got Dropbox installed and it even showed up on my Applications menu. Only problem: I could never get it configured. Whenever I'd start it, Dropbox would run me through the setup where I would enter my e-mail and password and such, but then when I got to the point where I can move my Dropbox location, it just exits when I try to browse to a place on the disk. So I finally just left it in my Home directory (which would never work for me, since I'm still on my 4GB drive). So it starts syncing, and I guess it really does work....except for the fact that I have no way of knowing if it's actually running. Since there's no tray, I can't tell if Dropbox is started, is having problems, or most importantly, I can't configure where my folder is.

I guess the workaround would be to create a softlink to the folder, but just the whole idea of Dropbox running solely as a service kind of irks me, so I may wait until Dropbox or MeeGo create a fix, which I've already heard talked about.

Talking about nothing,
-Bry

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mini Secondary Monitor

Just today, I randomly decided to try to look for another LCD monitor. The only problem is that with my current desk layout, I only have 10 inches of height to fit it, or I guess I could try to mount it on a wall. I'd actually prefer to get a smaller one, but that's because I'm lazy, don't know how to mount crap, and don't really want to go drilling into my wall.

It's actually surprisingly hard to find a monitor that small. The best I can find are Digital Photo Frames that can double as a secondary monitor. I'm semi-open to this, but the main problem I have is the price. I paid $120 for a 18.5" widescreen LG with 30000:1, and judging by what the prices are on the "sub-monitors" or "sub-displays" I've been finding, it looks like it's going to cost about the same. I'm talking paying $100+ for a 7" monitor, and to me, that ain't right. Just because I don't have space for 18.5" doesn't mean I shouldn't have to pay just as much for less screen. Of course it is portable, but I sincerely doubt I'll ever find need to use it with my netbook, but who knows.


Basically, this is what I want:
  • Minimum of 800x600
  • DVI > VGA > USB (USB = Driver = Bad for Linux)
  • Under $75
  • Willing to go used or refurb (which is new for me)
  • Must be under 10" tall
  • Will not buy anything from Hong Kong
I really don't think I'm being that picky, other than price, but I can't even find monitors that are over my price but the right size. I'd be perfectly fine with getting a small 14-15" widescreen that isn't even classified as "sub-monitor", but I'm not sure those exist. Or if they do, they're like $130.


So to all the people who don't read this blog, do let me know if you have any recommendations. Here's what I have so far (both for personal preference and for all you non-existant readers) in order of most favorite to least:
It's disheartening, really. I can't seem to find any that match all of the requirements: it may be the right price but has a pathetic resolution, or it is big and hi res but is way too much $. Actually, the thing I would budge on the most would be the $$$. If I could find the Hyvision for $120, I would probably do it just because it's literally EVERYTHING on my list and is actually big enough that it is a respectable monitor size. But alas.

The only other option I see is to go with one that is meant for a car, like a headrest TV or some such. I really don't want to do that.

Longing for a monitor,
-Bry

Friday, May 28, 2010

MeeGo

MeeGo is the result of the fusing of Moblin by Intel and Maemo by Nokia. The result is an operating system built specifically for small devices like netbooks. I first found Moblin and was extremely intrigued and after trying a live DVD of it, I was 75% sure I wanted to install it on my netbook. However, Moblin's support had been dropped in favor of MeeGo but MeeGo had not yet been released, so I decided to wait until a stable MeeGo was available to the public. Fortunately for me, that happens a very short time later.

INITIAL IMPRESSION:
For both Moblin and MeeGo, I was extremely impressed on how simply and good looking everything is. Everything is extremely neatly organized in both. But....well, here it is in list form:

PROS:

  • Everything worked. (Well, that I can see so far.) The Wifi, Bluetooth, Multi-touch, brightness, volume, suspend, and the battery.
  • Favorite Apps. I will admit, it's a tad difficult and frustrating to actually run some programs since it doesn't really have a menu. But I do like that it has several apps you can pin to favorites, so they're available on My Zone.
  • Barely anything installed. This might sound bad to some people, but it sounds lovely to me. It has the standard Accessories like Archive Manager, Calculator, File Manager (which happens to be Nautilus, but I'll let it slide), but beyond that, it just has Chromium/Chrome, Evolution for Mail, Empathy for messaging, Eye of GNOME, Cheez, and Banshee (which I am loving, using it for the first time). Of course that's not ALL that's installed, but you get the idea. It has the bare essentials.
  • Fairly Fast. The only real thing I've noticed it being even slightly slow about is some of the menu items like Media, but I'll let that slide.
CONS:
  • Adding Apps. Definitely a weak point. To add apps, MeeGo's site directs you to the "Garage", which is akin to Jolicloud's software directory. The only problem? There are less than 10 apps in the garage at this moment. Fortunately for me, GIMP and Abiword are two of those apps, but this needs to change. Now. Why? Because MeeGo is being advertised as this easy-to-use netbook OS, but some people like Firefox over Chrome, and though I'm actually glad it's not included as the default, it should at least be in the app directory.
    On a different note, MeeGo also has YUM, which I had never used before this, but the MeeGo repositories are also lacking.
  • Gadgets. MeeGo has a menu option that is reserved specifically for Gadgets. Now I don't know if these are Google Gadgets or what, but they definitely need some work. Few would display correctly, let me customize, or even work period.
  • Social Networking Accounts. One of the most unique things about MeeGo or Moblin for that matter is that in "My Zone", it shows updates from your social networking accounts. So you log into your computer, and right there you can see recent Tweets or Scrobbles. Only problem: the only two networks supported are Twitter and Last.fm. I'm a tad dissapointed since when I tried Moblin it was the same thing and I was really hoping they would at least add Facebook for MeeGo.
  • Help. The help is lacking. That's all I have to say about that.
  • Power Options. This isn't so much as a problem as a "What?" issue. I haven't found a direct way to access a power menu. If I press the power button, I get a "Turn Off" window, but nothing about Restarting, Suspending, or Hibernating. Of course, I just remembered, Linux requires a Swap as large as your RAM to hibernate, and mine's only 200mb, so I guess that might be part of it. Anyway, it's not really that bad.
I know I might be seeming kind of picky, but really, I love it. I know I say that with almost every OS I come across, but it's the truth, if only for now. I would not have installed it if I thought it was bad. Overall, it's a wonderful system that seems to be very stable. And I know this is the third day that it's been publicly released, so they'll probably add apps to the Garage, add Social Networking, etc. to make it even better.

After one day of using MeeGo on my ASUS EEE 901 netbook, I would recommend it. Just say goodbye to Minimize.

You go, I go, we all go for MeeGo!
-Bry

Monday, May 24, 2010

Moblin: the future past of netbooks?

You might know I've been on a long quest for the "perfect" OS for my netbook. So far, I've found that "full" systems like Windows XP or Ubuntu are just too hefty for a netbook and even distros like Jolicloud, which is based on Ubuntu but supposed to be simpler, are still even too "complicated" for what I wanted to do.

The idea of simplicity really first occurred to me when I came across a Deviant Art submission about a UI design for Linux. It was so incredibly basic, yet everything was there. You could launch your internet browser, your IM client and everything, and all your basic computer info was right next to you whenever you needed it. It really got me thinking, why should I expect my netbook to be a desktop? What if, instead, I got a distro that was ultra slim and could zoom around at high speeds, 'limited' possibly, but fast and good at what it does?

Anyway, very short story long, I just yesterday stumbled across a distro called "Moblin", which I hope to be everything I wanted. It's oh so extremely basic but can do everything I need, and it's designed for mobile devices such as netbooks. I'm actually posting this blog post from it right now on my EEE 901 from a Mozilla-based browser. It looks good (a heck of alot better than the normal GNOME), everything works right off the bat (except the battery gauge...it doesn't think I have a battery installed, and the multitouch), and I'm excited.

Bad news, it's been discontinued. Yeah, Intel (I believe) were the ones making it, and they actually fused it with one of Nokia's projects to form Meego, a new OS. Unfortunately, Meego is still in the works and Moblin is still cancled so it may be a while before I can get my hands on a final version of Meego. Plus, they might go and make Meego cost money, and I won't have that.

But Moblin might be fine. Honestly, the whole "actively updated" thing seems a tad overrated to me, at least for OSes. If it works, great. I'm not going to stress that they're not constantly putting out little updates like Jolicloud or putting out huge updates every six months like Ubuntu.

The only thing I need to worry about is install size. Moblin has a wonderful little deal where you can pick what you want in the install which is great. But if it runs up to 4GB again like Ubuntu and Jolicloud before it, I'm going to start losing hope.

The last thing I guess I should consider is Ubuntu Moblin Remix. Honestly, I'm not a gigantic fan of Ubuntu, and I'm not sure how I feel about them taking Moblin and running with it. I think I'll have to try both out for a few days and decide.

Anyway, exciting stuff.
-Bry

[UPDATE 5-27-10] I must have amazing timing because MeeGo v1.0 was just released yesterday (the 26th), so HECK YES! I haven't even had a chance to try it, I just randomly went there tonight and saw that 1.0 was out. I'm going to download and try it ASAP, and then probably install it after that, assuming I love it as much as Moblin. And hopefully it will fit under 4GB, with more than 200MB to spare like Jolicloud, currently.

Dropbox hates my network? And DVD drive?

I know I'm up way later/earlier than I should be, but I can't sleep, and I was just thinking about how I couldn't VNC into my computer because my local IP changed from 192.168.2.101 to 192.168.2.105 so I decided to get myself a static IP, but then after I made the necessary changes, I tried to restart my network and it broke.

It's a problem I've been having recently, Windows gets hung up on "Disabling Wireless Adapter." I used to think it was Windows' fault, but I was just now ending tasks left and right via Sysinternals' Process Explorer (svchosts, Logitech's and Apples unnecessary programs, and others), and I finally got to the point where ending anything else would probably crash my system. So I decided to just start shutting down my the programs I know until it worked. I started with Dropbox. Then it worked.

My guess is is that Windows tries to shutdown the network, but Dropbox puts its foot in the door since it's always listening for new information on changed files, and so it ends out in a sort of limbo, the network not working, but Dropbox trying to keep it up, despite what Windows tries to do. Just a speculation.

I also noticed that after shutting it down my external DVD drive spun up as well, which I was also having issues getting to work (but that's another story).

It's just kind of interesting. It also disheartens me that I was blaming other things (Windows, my network card, my DVD burner) when all along it was something almost completely unrelated from all of those. I love Dropbox, but if it's going to start screwing with my other programs all the time, maybe I shouldn't have it running all the time, or at least keep an eye on it.

Insomnianic problem solver,
-Bry

PS - If "Insomnianic" is actually a word, someone should buy me a latte, cause I'll need it tomorrow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What makes a distro?

I've been installing Linux OSes left and right onto VMs, and it's really got me thinking: what is a Linux distro? I know that Linux is built off the Linux kernel....but what beyond that? I'm a UI guy, so I tend to look at things like GNOME or KDE and compare the differences, but that doesn't really account for the differences between Operating Systems.

For example, I just recently tried Debian for the first time after using Ubuntu for several years. I was shocked at how alike they are (at least, for the 5 minutes I used it.) So my question is, what is it that actually makes Ubuntu different than Debian? Yes, it has things like the Software repository or even package management, but then that leads to another (possibly stupid) question: are programs/packages the only thing that separates Linux distros?

Another way I've looked at it is the fact that you can swap out Window Managers/Desktop Environments. Like Crunchbang is like Ubuntu but with Openbox instead of GNOME, and my question is, if you downloaded Ubuntu, removed GNOME, and installed Openbox, would you have Crunchbang? Yeah, there's obviously other bundled apps that separate the two (like Conky), but it's still the principle of the thing: is it just a bunch of pieces that make up the whole thing?

I guess it's kind of like the Ship of Theseus (which I'm going to admit, I'm not going to claim that I know anything about, except passing reference). If I remove GNOME, is it still Ubuntu? If I remove the Firefox and replace it with Epiphany, is it still Ubuntu? How many pieces would I have to remove to turn it from Ubuntu to Debian? Or can you not do that?

It's mostly from my lack of knowledge on the subject. I still don't really grasp the difference between Window Managers and Desktop Environments, and the same goes with the bigger picture, i.e., the Operating System itself. What makes all these derivatives different than their parents? Or to go one step further, what really makes two distros different if they run the same desktop environment and have the same programs?


I guess this came up for me when I keep trying all of these different variations, and I'd find all of these that use GNOME or KDE, and I've just started to wonder, since every one has KDE and every one can have the same programs (Firefox, OpenOffice, etc), why do multiple variations even exist? What's the point? I'm trying to find my favorite and also a replacement for Jolicloud for me EEE, and I'm just having troubles distinguishing differences for the more "complete" varieties.

A philiosophical technological newb,
-Bry

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I can Jailbreak my iTouch 3G 3.1.3?

I've been wondering this for a while, and I've even considered posting a very brief blog post title "So can I jailbreak my iPod or not?", but it was answered today.

Before today, I'd searched around several times, every time coming up with people saying it was impossible to jailbreak 3G 3.1.3, that it was possible but dangerous, or that it was possible to do a tethered. With all the confusion, I decided to hold off, since I really don't even know what Jailbreaking is (as in, what it does to your iDevice, what the consequences can be if it fails, etc). Then I read the article "How To: Jailbreak Any iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad" in my Facebook feed, compliments of Grooveshark.

I haven't tried it. But I'm freaking excited. It explicitly says on the Spirit (the program) homepage that it accepts 3.1.3, any device (so 3G included), and it's untethered. The only thing that's holding me back is (A) I'm really freaking tired because I got 3 hours of sleep last night and I worked from 10-9, and more importantly, (B), my iPod is not syncing correctly, and I want to back up everything before attempting a jailbreak.

Yeah, my iPod won't sync everything. For example, I add new songs to my library, click "Sync", but they don't end up on there. My smart playlists (like "New") don't update as well, and I can't really figure out what's wrong. But then I haven't looked into it.

Still, it's exciting. My eyes got so big when I happened to catch that story in my FB feed. I'm definitely going to do it, probably even bumping it up to my top Summer priorities. (I have a list. Half of it is video games.) As soon as I get get iTunes to work like it was designed.

Soon to be free,
-Bry

PROJECT: vOmniMachine

A while ago I mentioned a dream I had of creating a multi-boot system, an Omni-system, if you will. It turns out that there is a limit of Operating Systems you can have on a hard drive, so it changed to a virtual machine with many different OSes installed. And I've finally begun installing them.

NOTE: This post is going to change. Alot. Because I don't feel like writing something after I'm done and trying to remember it all, I'm just going to write stuff down as I go along. And I might as well post it, rather than keep it in draft. And I'm not going to add [UPDATE] tags like usual, it's just going to have new stuff injected sporadically. Will be fun. Also, I'll probably do another post about what I think about the OSes, but not here. This is the Project's status, and also screenshots!


Here's a list of the OSes I'm planning to install/have installed/tried to install. Italics means it's successfully installed, bold means it's one of the next ones I'm going to try, strikethrough means it failed or I decided against it, underline means I got Guest Additions (GA) to work (which I'm going to do as many as I possibly can), and * means I still need to get a screencap (which means I might be trying to get GA to work first). Things can mix, so like if I'm having problems with something, it will be bold strikethrough, whereas if I'm just giving up on something, it will be only strikethrough.

Archlinux ("No bootable medium found")
Ark
*Absolute
Austrumi
BasicLinux
Berry (No Sudo = No GA)
BlackPantherOS (GA is installed but broken)
BLAG
BSD
CDLinux
Chakra
*Chrome OS
Crunchbang
Damn Small Linux
Debian
Debris
DeLi
Feather
*Fedora (GA doesn't work because Xorg is uncompatible?)
Fluxbuntu
Gentoo (Holy mother of god, this is complicated)
gOS (Having trouble booting in VB)
JNode (Has trouble with VB)
KNOPPIX
*Macpup (I think I broke X...)
Mandriva
Mint
muLinux
OpenSolaris
*openSUSE
Pardus
Peppermint
PCLinuxOS
Puppy
PureOS
ReactOS (won't boot in VB?)
SimplyMEPIS
Slackware
Slax (havin' trouble with LILO)
Slitaz
Tinycore (GA almost works....but broken)
Ubuntu
Unity (beta)
*VectorLinux (internet isn't working, so I can't do my trademark Google seamless screenshot)
Wolvix

Current OS Count: 26


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Google TiSP: Still kicking

I know I heard about this a few years ago after it happened (2007, according to Wikipedia), but I'm honestly surprised it's still around. Unlimited free broadband....through your toilet? Really?

I was 15 at the time, and I really didn't care too much about Google. It was my search engine of choice, but I didn't use the internet as much then, and even when I did, Google was just a search engine to me. Nowadays, since Google is in practically every corner of the internet, I.....well....well, I wouldn't not believe it. I mean, Google does a good job, typing up a press release, providing an installation guide, and all the other nice looking things you see in a legit Google site. Obviously when I hit their phony 404 page, I would have actually realized that they had been pulling my leg, but I'm not going to lie. My first thoughts would have been: "No, that's silly........or is it?"

The funniest part is that I found it whilst browsing Cha Cha for answers, and it still phrases it like it's a legit deal. I guess I can't be mad at Cha Cha for that, they're just keeping the joke going as long as they can.

I believe there are 2 morals to this story: (1) Don't read everything you read on the web, even by big names, and especially on April 1st; and (2) Google could probably trick a good amount of people (myself included) with a gig like that just because we know they think outside the box, that they are always coming up with new features and products to shock and surprise, that they....um.....are always ready to get their hands dirty? Ew.

Flushing it Down,
-Bry

PS - I know I shouldn't be mean, but as I've been kinda researching Google products recently, I noticed that Google TiSP page's copyright is current at 2010, whereas the Google Finance Blog is back in 2008. I propose it must be painstakingly perturbing for your parent party to perdurably pamper a phony porcelain partition while pretermitting your passionate pursuit to please a population perpetually pressing for peculiar products. Poor people passed over by poo!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The iTunes zombie

I dunno if anyone else has this problem, but sometimes, iTunes won't stay dead. Like just now, I wanted to close iTunes because I wanted Firefox next to a new program I'm trying out (I won't spoil the surprise) and I just recently switched to bbLean which doesn't have a drag and drop feature like I had with TaskbarShuffle (but that's another story). Anyway, I wasn't using iTunes, so I decided to close it down. But it came back.

It's a very weird effect that I've seen many a time on my machine. For some reason, when I close iTunes, it will start back up again. That doesn't sound too bad, except for the fact that iTunes wants to control everything so it freezes up every other program until it is completely started, and since iTunes is getting more and more bloated with each release, this can often mean waiting for quite a while before you can actually use your programs again.

To be fair, I don't think it's iTunes fault...entirely, at least. When attempting to close, I always get an "Programs are using iTunes' scripting interface" message, but I usually think nothing of it. The only thing I can actually think of that uses an iTunes interface in any way is the MusicTracker plugin for Pidgin that auto-updates my status. Now I'm not sure, but I think that it also shows this message when Pidgin is not running, but I'm too lazy to check at the moment. But the matter of fact is, iTunes shouldn't be built in such a way that just because a script is running that can use iTunes, iTunes should autorun itself. I don't blame Pidgin in the slightest, and I doubt it's MusicTracker's fault. Sure, maybe I'm biased.....but.........well, yeah, maybe I am biased.

It's pretty annoying. I think if I just didn't have iTuneshelper running, it might fix the problem. But still, few things are worse than laying a program down to rest, only to see it rise and once again walk the earth.....er, run in your taskbar.

Survivor of the program zombie apocalypse,
-Bry