Tuesday, June 29, 2010

File Extensions

A few years ago, I was having a chat with a friend that also uses computers on a regular basis (though I'm not sure I'd call him a nerd....he's more of the wicked-cool graphic designer / website designer dude that I could never be because I don't have the skill...but anyway), and we got into a random discussion on file extensions. It's kind of weird when you think about it, because most of computer stuff is done through typing so you rarely actually pronounce things outloud.

For example (and this is embarassing), I always used to pronounce "cache" as "ca-shay". Why? Because there's a freaking 'e' on the end! How was I supposed to know the e was silent! So now if you ever happen to be talking to me in person, you can probably make me look like an idiot by saying something like "I'm running out of disk space for some reason", and I'll respond "Did you try emptying your browser's ca-shay?"

But anyway, what's far more amusing to me than my own stupidity is file extensions! (Ooh, italics! Ctrl+I!) Like my friend pronounced GIF as "giff", whereas I pronounced it as "Gee Eye Eff". That and a few other ones like "Aye Eye Emm" and "Why Eye Emm" just kind of made me laugh about how I picked to randomly pronounce words....err, wordish....things.... I mean, how would one pronounce INI? "In-nih" or "Eye En Eye"? And are your favorite programs "Ex-ehs" or "E Ex Es"? Are they "dulls" or "Dee Ell Ells"?

And as a closing note, please tell me that someone else out there silently (or audibly) cheers when they pull up behind a car and their licence plate is a file extension, like ###-INI? I'm really hoping I'm not the only one that doesn't say "Awesome" and contemplate driving alongside the car and attempting to congratulate them on a fine license plate combination.

"Bee Arr Why",
-Bry

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dear Diary

If you haven't noticed, I tend to post a ton about Linux distributions. It might seem like it's getting old, like "Doesn't this guy do anything else?", but the whole point of this blarg is that it's "Diary of an Aspiring Nerd." It's truly a diary of what I learn in terms of nerdiness. True, I do choose the projects/topics, but that's because they interest me, and I would probably be doing them anyway even without this blog. The nice part about the blog is that I can truly journal what I learn and it really keeps me (more) on track in terms of projects. And it might help other people too, or maybe (just maybe) be entertaining to them as well. But most of all, it's fun. I mean, with every single post I've had thus far, I don't really think too much about it ahead of time. Sure, I think of the topics sometimes, but other times I'll just run across them on the spur of the moment. But I just jot down my thoughts, and that's really fun, especially when it's something I enjoy. And really, this blog is alot about me (egotisticalism!), since I doubt more than 5 people will ever lay eyes on it. That's why I like to use Firefly references or think outloud on paper (err....computer keyboard), and why I don't push this blog. At all. I don't post links in signatures, use FeedBurner, or anything. I just let it be.

Hmm. This post tended to be more about me thinking outloud than an actual coherent thought. Case in point, I suppose.
-Bry

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Steam age check.

Steam has some crazy deals going on as part of a summer sale. When you try to go to a game that is rated M like Bioshock 2, you have to put in your age to confirm you are old enough.

I'm not even going to talk about how little this defers underage web surfers, I just want to say, Steam: go ahead and keep my birthday. I know it always says "This data is for verification purposes only and will not be stored," but go ahead and store it, Steam! I buy from you with every sale, I have an account, I would not mind you keeping what day I'm born on just so I don't have to confirm it every time.

Rated M for Mature,
-Bry

What makes a distro / Too many distros.

About a month ago, I mused about what exactly makes a linux distribution different than others. Since then, I think I've learned a bit more about it, so I'm going to muse a bit more, hoping that one or two more musings from now, I'll have a pseudo-definitive answer. But for now, here is a list of what I believe makes a Linux distro (note, not a good distro, just a distro), in order of....obviousity:

  1. Kernel: Now this is the part that is absolutely the fuzziest to me. As far as I know, all distros use the Linux kernel, but apparently you can compile it in many different ways. Or maybe I'm wrong. This one definitely needs more research on my part.
  2. Drivers: Also really fuzzy for me, since I really don't know how Linux handles drivers. The bigger, well known distros like Ubuntu are praised for "just working" (as far as Linux goes, anyway) because they include drivers for a ton of stuff.

    Like I said, I haven't a clue of how Linux handles drivers other than the fact that there are also proprietary drivers that some distros don't like, but others do.
  3. WM/DE: The thing about this one is that if you go to a Distrowatch page for a fairly large distro like maybe Mandriva, it says KDE is the default desktop, but then it says that it also supports GNOME and others. So what really seems to "make" a distro would be the default desktop. Why do I say that? Because there's Ubuntu for GNOME, Xubuntu for XCFE, Kubuntu for KDE, Lubuntu for LXDE, Crunchbang for Openbox, Fluxbuntu for Fluxbox...you get my point.

    One thing that I thought was very interesting was that when installing openSUSE (I believe), they actually asked if you want GNOME or KDE. Why all distros (or all not-uber-lite distros) don't have that capability is another conversation entirely. But the fact of the matter is, should changing up a desktop really be classified as a new distro, even if you add programs specifically for that desktop? (Which is kind of redundant, since that's what I think a DE is: a WM with programs to enhance it.)
  4. Pre-installed programs: This to me seems like it's the most insignificant and honestly the most stupid. It seems like sometimes the only different between two distros is what comes installed as default. For example, in this article about Mint vs Ubuntu, which he basically says is various Mint-specific applications that replace Ubuntu's defaults. Or here on Reddit, people basically say that Mint has "non-free" stuff that Ubuntu doesn't come with standard. But you can just add that stuff in Ubuntu.

    This is just stupid to me. Why? Because everyone is different. No, I mean EVERYONE. If someone made a distro for every single possible combinations of default installed applications, there would be hundreds or thousands of the same Operating System, just with different names and different starting programs.

    Besides, this is just stupid to me because after I install a distro, I go around and install/remove programs that I want/do not want. Why? Because no distro has exactly what I want from the get-go. And I'm fine with that. My tastes for software is always changing; one week I want Firefox, the next Chrome. I don't expect for the default apps to be my favorites

    In my opinion, the default programs should be kept to a minimal, should be somewhat of a personal preference of the OS designer, and should be one of the last things the designer thinks about (unless the OS has a very specific purpose, like for Cloud computing or a scientific OS).
  5. Software repositories/Package Management: Of course there's got to be a way to add new apps, so there's package managers like APT, yum, or pacman. First off, I do not understand preferences for this one. sudo apt-get install firefox vs sudo yum install firefox does not seem to make a bit of difference to me. Same with DEB or RPM (which are the only two I've tried, other than Tinycore's weirdo TCZ). Sure, I prefer APT because unlike yum, it doesn't have to check the server every time, but still: really no difference in the end, IMO.

    Of course there is also the factor of the Software management and Software repositories. From Ubuntu's Software Center to Mint's Software Center (or whatever they are called....), most popular apps have a way of browsing installed/available apps other than a program like Synaptic. So this does make a bit of a difference. But honestly, again, from my perspective, once I get my basic programs installed, I'm good. I don't go around adding new programs every day or even every week. So this seems kind of important, but more like....I dunno, maybe a one-time-ish deal.

    But the repositories are important. The saddest thing is that Ubuntu has great repositories, which most other distros seem to mooch off of. If every distro had to have their own repositories, there definitely wouldn't be as many around.
  6. Community: In order to be a successful distro, you also need a user community, ie a forum. A place where people can ask questions, solve problems, and just mingle. But the thing is, alot of the community is asking about things all distros might have problems with. Problems with Xorg, problems with Firefox, problems with GNOME, etc.
  7. Updates/Activity: Lastly, the distro needs to be maintained. That means new releases or at least fixes for major problems, adapting to new technology/whatnot.

I feel like I'm being a bit of a Judas, since I do prefer some distros over others, and the ones I prefer are actually derivatives themselves (Peppermint and CrunchBang....and even Ubuntu). But this topic has been buzzing in the front of my brain ever since I installed Peppermint. I browsed around the CrunchBang forum and even found a topic that kind of spurred this. Here's a few quotes from that topic, in case you're too lazy to click the link (if you are, I understand):

There are a few more applications available in the #! repos (you could just add the repos to your existing install though)...Other than that it's just themes and a couple configs that are set differently. The differences aren't huge, it's just nice having it all done for you already.

Basically, it's a naked Ubuntu with a certain set of packages installed.

If you are comfortable performing an Ubuntu minimal install and configuring Openbox yourself, then there is no huge advantage to using CrunchBang (apart from saving time).

So basically, it's a bunch of pre-configured stuff. I do love CrunchBang, and Peppermint. I love using Peppermint on my netbook, and I'm not bashing it at all. But it just seems like Linux distros are too many.


So here's my assertion: there are way too many Linux distributions. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Linux's weakness is variety. Xvesa vs Xorg (maybe not the most difficult choice....), GNOME vs KDE vs XCFE vs LXDE, or maybe just a Window Manager, DEB vs RPM vs TGZ, and so on and so forth. And it's not that there's so many choices, it's that there's so many permutations. Well, I like Firefox and GNOME, but Ubuntu has Epiphany and I want Pidgin. But Mint has DEB and I want RPM. But and so on and so on and so on.

Yeah, I'm being picky. I went from "I want to make my own Linux distro!" to "ALL DISTROS ARE BAD!" But that's not what I'm saying. The thing that gets me most is that they just put themselves as being so different than everything else. I still can't find a massive difference between Ubuntu and Debian, between Ubuntu and Mint, between Mandriva and openSUSE.

All in all, I don't see a difference. It's hard to be loyal and really love an OS when it's just a few tweaks away from any other OS out there. It's still really frustrating and confusing to me, because the way I see it, there should be < 10 desktop distros, < 5 netbook distros, and < 5 portable distros (a la DSL). Other than that and possibly localized support (which I'm not even counting) and servers, the entire Linux world seems redundant.


As probably know-it-all and naive as it sounds, I wish I could create a "Distro to end all distros". It would basically be a live DVD that would walk you through what you wanted. What Desktop you want, what package management (ie DEB RPM), what programs you want, all the way down to everything. Like Gentoo, but more user friendly.

That doesn't seem to solve the problem though. Because Linux is not an OS, it's a ton of OSs. Windows has just several installers for a program: Pre-XP, Post-XP, and sometimes x64. Linux, however, has Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Mint, openSUSE, etc, and you have to tweak it if you use anything else.

The thing is, Linux is great because it's like a puzzle, you can build it out of a ton of pieces. But when you get it together, rather than being like a complete piece, it's still a puzzle. There's just too many different pieces out there, which I understand is fine for choices, but makes other things a lot harder.


Apologies for this post. It almost might seem like I'm having a nerdy breakdown.
-Bry

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Project POSSUM: LFS & SUSE studio

I've mentioned a few times that I want to make my own OS one day. I didn't realize it could be so close! I learned about something called "Linux from scratch", which is actually a book, walking you step by step on how to build and compile (or maybe compile and build) a Linux system, from scratch.

I actually got a pretty good ways into it. I did something that is actually quite hard for me, and that's sit down and read the manual. They suggested reading an article on how to compile software, that is, the basics and concepts behind it, not just the commands, like make. After I did that, I started following the guide, and I made it fairly far. I'm currently hung up on a problem, as it says that patch is not installed. I'm not sure if I'll try to retrace my steps or just start over, since it's just inside a VM.

The only thing I'm not sure of about LFS is two things:
1. I'm not entirely sure of how customizable it will be. That is, farther down the road in the book, will the author say "Install GNOME", or do I get to pick the WM/DE?
2. I'm not entirely sure of how much I'm "learning" and how much I'm just following command. I actually snagged a notebook and took notes on all that I could (like the make guide) and I do feel that I've learned plenty already, but it's mostly just things like the configure parameters. I mean, when I first read about compiling, I thought "awesome, all I have to do is run a ./configure, make, make install, and I'm good to go. Then I get back to the book where the author has three lines of mumbo jumbo that is certainly not implicitly obvious. And even if I do get a compiled system working with the apps I want, is it really worth much if I can't reproduce it without a guide, or at least understand every step?

I guess bouncing off that, I'm hoping that I will kind of do it twice, since I'm honestly not reading all of the "what these parameters means". I figure if I can get a system up and running and feel a bit more confident and familiar with all the commands, I can run through it again more thoroughly. Anyway, I'm very sad that it's screeched to a halt, but I'm not sure how to proceed. The book is very good, but if you get offtrack at all, you're kinda screwed.


After my patch error, I tried a little search on alternatives to building a system. I found a guide that listed SUSE studio, which sounds delightful. You just pick the packages you want, then download a custom ISO, live image and all. That's honestly exactly what I was thinking when I thought of googling "beginner build linux". The only downside to this is that it seems like SUSE is still installing stuff I don't want I mean, currently, it has like 1GB projected for disk space, and I am seriously at a bare bones system. Maybe I don't know enough about the topic, but I don't understand how things like DSL can be 50MB live, and mine is at least a 400MB ISO from the start. Plus, SUSE seems to be lacking in alot of stuff. I want Openbox as my WM, they didn't have it. I want Abiword, they didn't have it. I want Chromium, they didn't have it. Of course, SUSE studio is still kind of experimental, but honestly, all that would take is updating the repositories.....right?

Still dreaming,
-Bry

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Peppermint meets netbook

I know I mentioned Peppermint in my last post so it's probably no surprise that it's the next distro I install on my netbook. But it wasn't. I felt like I was being stupid for trying a distro not made specifically for netbooks when I had found a different flavor of Linux made specifically for my brand of netbooks. So I tried a distro called Leeenux, an Ubuntu based distro made specifically for Eee PCs. I was extremely impressed at first. The live image wasn't exactly working, or rather, it was locked at a login screen and I didn't know the password (and none of the default ones worked). So I went straight to installing it and tried it out.

On the installed system, Leeenux took ~33 seconds to boot up past login to where the taskbar was visible, and then a mere 4 seconds to Shut Down. That's pretty impressive in my book, so I was pleased. The installation took 1.4GB, which is plenty small enough for me. So it looked good so far, until about 30 minutes into the installation. It was honestly just too sluggish for me. It reminded me a great deal of UNR, but UNR is far too bloated for me. Leeenux was nice because it was a trimmed down version of UNR in terms of disc space usage, but it was still very resource heavy, at least in my view, most likely because it ran GNOME, the netbook launched, and so forth. So I ditched it.

The main reason I did was because I really wanted to try out Peppermint on my netboook. I was already impressed in a VM, but I needed to see what an install on my netbook's hardware and specs would be like. So I did. Peppermint booted in a remarkable 15 seconds, including login, which is half the time of Leeenux. The shutdown time was not bad either, only 5.5 seconds. So it excelled in that.

I guess the reason I liked Peppermint is mostly Openbox. I'm not sure why, but I tend to love Openbox driven distros, even if (like Peppermint) it doesn't look like Openbox is running at all. Peppermint has got LXDE and Openbox so you don't have to deal with the RC files if you don't want to, but it's just the snappiness that I love. I went through recently and tallied what WM/DE my vOmniMachine installations used and the three that use Openbox (Crunchbang, Peppermint, and Slitaz) were actually the three that I enjoy the most.


But anyway, Peppermint is really nice because it doesn't have that much installed. Most of what it has is Mozilla Prism apps, which take sites and display them outside of a browser. But in terms of actual programs, Peppermint is trimmed down, which I love. In addition, it has the Mint Software manager (though I have a few complaints about, but is generally good) which allows easily install/uninstall of programs (unlike MeeGo). Plus, there's Synaptic as a backup.


The only complaints I have thus far are more about LXDE or Openbox than Peppermint. You really can't edit the main menu, which means I can't rearrange the Prism apps to their own section. Additionally, I haven't found a way to use both the Openbox menu and the LXDE menu. And if I enable the Openbox, I'm not entirely sure how to go back to LXDE, which makes me hesitant. Lastly, I've been having troubles with some dock applications (like Docky and Cairo dock) displaying black boxes or cutting off part of the screen, but I'm fairly sure that's because I don't have composting enabled (which I don't want to, because I want everything to be fast).


The only real, real complaint I have against Peppermint itself is that I wish it were more netbook friendly. Since cloud computing is really handy for PCs with small amounts of local data and that are mobile so they move around a ton, netbooks are obviously targeted as the picture of the Cloud, if you will. Peppermint is wonderful because it's not all cloud, but not all desktop, so it's a bit of a "hybrid", but it really has nothing that makes it stand out as a good choice for netbooks. I have no clue what that might be, but perhaps something like a launcher like for MeeGo or UNR (but more lightweight, obviously) would be a start, since all the netbook launchers I've downloaded and tried so far either (a) suck, or (b) consume a ton of resources.

Otherwise, I'm thrilled. If Peppermint keeps its speed up and keeps under my 4GB space limit, I'll most definitely keep it. It's given me a new appreciation for LXDE....at least when combined with Openbox.

Enjoying an after MeeGo 'mint,
-Bry

PS - I just realized a few days ago that Peppermint is probably based more off Mint than Ubuntu, since "mint" is in the name.....durr.

PSS - Also excited about Peppermint Ice.

PSSS - In case Peppermint does not work out, my last two to try (probably in this order) are fluxflux-sl and Crunchbang.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Peppermint OS: Intro

I happened to be browsing Distrowatch when I happened to glance upon Peppermint OS, a distro that actually just launched late May, so it's only been around for about a month and a half. The thing about Peppermint is that it's supposed to be geared toward cloud computing, which is what I've been kind of yearning after for my netbook. But what might be different than other cloud OSs is what the Peppermint team states in the About section of their site:
People have been trying to create an effective web centric operating system for years now....On the downside of things, these systems, though great for surfing the web, lack a lot of the familiarity that people demand from something they use on a day to day basis.
So hopefully that means that Peppermint will be a system built around cloud computing, but also can do day to day stuff.


First impression in VirtualBox: it's......not Openbox? I was expecting Openbox. I'm still extremely unsure as to what the heck a Window Manager is compared to a Desktop Environment, but I really don't understand how Peppermint can have both Openbox and LXDE...but I guess it does. I have mixed emotions about this because I kind of like Openbox, but I'm not a fan of GNOME and LXDE XFCE is what I call "GNOME Jr."

But besides being thrown a little off guard by that, I was pleasantly surprised. It apparently utilizes a ton of Mozilla Prism, which is great. It's got PCManFM, Firefox, and Dropbox all preinstalled, which is amazing, and plus, it apparently incorporates pretty much every website you can think of from music to social networking to G(oogle)Office.

The thing that worried me a tad is that the ISO is ~450MB, which is not the lightest thing in the world. (Meh, right now, it's right between Lubuntu and Arch in my ISO folder). And on the aforementioned about page, the system requirement is 4GB....that's honking big. That's freakin' Ubuntu big. I don't want that. But they do go on to say "(this is an overestimate just for good measure)". I really, really hope it's more like 2GB base install, leaving 2GB for extra programs, but we'll see.

I'm going to go ahead and admit, one main reason I realize I'm drawn to this is because it's red and black. And I love red and black. But the whole cloud computing, "Loads and Shuts down in Seconds", and all the other good stuff is kewl too.

I'n't that sweet?
-Bry

[UPDATE]
Just finished installing it in VB (which had a really fast install, BTW) and it currently sits at 1.4GB, which I'm content with. If it stays down that low. Check my vOmniMachine post if you want to see if I got Guest Additions working, and for a screenshot.

It's got an 40 second bootup and an 10 second shutdown on 700MB of RAM. Good, but not great.

One last thing: I've never actually played any Resident Evil games (shameful, I know)....but still, doesn't the Peppermint icon look a ton like the Umbrella Corporation logo? Hopefully just coincidence...

Requirements for my netbook distro

In my brief hunt (which ended with the first candidate) for a new OS for my netbook, I made a list of features, mostly programs that I wanted it to have. So here they are, in order of priority:

SUPER HIGH

  • Chrom(e)(ium)
  • GIMP
  • Dropbox

HIGH

  • Java+Flash
  • VNC
  • Abiword
  • Pidgin/Ayttm/...
NOT SO HIGH
  • PCmanFM/[Not Nautlilus]
  • Banshee/Songbird/[Something with DAAP]
  • NTFS read+write

Of course this is all on top of things like Wifi, Screen resolution, working sound, FN+special keys, and so forth.

The nice thing is that I've basically gotten rid of the need for keeping files. All the files I want to keep, I put on another disk, so I can literally install a distro then grab the programs I want, and everythings kewl, especially with Foxmarks for Chrome and Dropbox.

Searching...
-Bry

Goodbye MeeGo / Hello TinyCore / Goodbye TinyCore

I've been mentioning alot about MeeGo lately, but I must unfortunately say that it is no longer on my netbook. It was kind of a spur of the moment, but also really something I've been thinking about. So here are my final thoughts, as of the current MeeGo version:

  • I love the layout. I love the simplicity. I love almost everything about the idea of MeeGo.
  • I hate the hassel of adding programs other than the 15 in the Garage.
  • I hate that MeeGo started crashing consistently so much so that it became unusable.
The thing about MeeGo is that it's so simple that I thought "I don't have to deal with all the "behind the scenes, Linux-y stuff", which I don't mind dealing with most of the time, but sometimes, I just want stuff to work. But MeeGo kept continually crashing Chrome, GIMP, and even its own Menu so much that I could not even use it.

All in all, I will miss MeeGo. It byfar impressed me more than Ubuntu or even Jolicloud. Hopefully this isn't goodbye, just.....an extended farewell.


At the moment of deciding to remove MeeGo, I already had a replacement picked out: TinyCore. Why? Because TinyCore is extremely lite, with BasicLinux 3.5 being the only thing I know smaller, and because TinyCore has a wonderful little app repository that had almost all the apps I want on my netbook.

The install was a breeze (after finding a refresher guide online). After that, though, it got a little more complicated. I had to find a TCZ for my screen resolution, since 1024x600 is not very common. Then I had to find one for my wireless card. Then came installing all the other stuff, like programs and OSS.

Overall, it's been a delightful experience. I even got flwm, OpenBox, and Fluxbox installed side by side with a limited amount of ability to switch between them.


Unfortunately, I just decided in the last 10 minutes to leave TinyCore. Why? Because it's too simple, to be frank. At first, I was a little freaked out by the whole "backup" deal and "install" vs "on demand", but I got a tad hang of it. But then I would try to "install" things like VLC "on demand", and it wouldn't work.

The thing that really set me off is that I had this huge list of Apps set to start On Boot, and it just decided to delete the entire list when I clicked on one. It's not that I couldn't have added them back, it just made me realize "I have little to no clue what I'm doing here." I already have sunk a few hours trying to get Xorg working (to no avail), getting the network card working, etc, and it's all just a little too high-maintenance for me.

Plus, I just had a backup fail, after which all of my apps launched like they were running for the first time, so I lost my Chrome bookmarks. Yeah.....


So all in all, it's time for another netbook distro. MeeGo needs polishing, and quite frankly, a slimdown. I'm seriously considering staying away from GNOME and KDE, and possibly even XCFE (though to me, that's just a lighter GNOME....). LFWM is a tad too lite for me, but Openbox, Fluxbox, Hackedbox, or possibly Blackbox (which I would love since my Win system is already running it) are sounding loverly to me.
But anyway, I will not look back at TinyCore harshly. I loved working with it, but I feel like I might have just demanded too much of it. If I ever get my hands on an old machine, TinyCore will be one of the first to pop into my head to use.

I feel like I'm getting picky. Maybe I'm just too in love with sampling distros.

Distro sampler,
-Bry

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

PEM and PortableFreeware

I duly love PortableFreeware. It is actually the source that I go to for freeware, even if I don't need something portable. Why? Because it's amazingly well organized, constantly updated, and has high standards.

I haven't submitted many of my FreewareWire programs to it though, since few of them are completely portable anyway. I have, though, submitted PEM, since it's whole purpose is being portable. I posted about it in late October '09, posting FreewareWire Software as an external reference. FreewareWire kind of fell to the sideline of my life, so that thread got no attention until March '10, when I posted asking why no one gave it any attention.


I got a response asking if it was better than CAFE, which happens to be PEM's main "competitor", also written in AHK. I responded with my opinion of the two being different, and I got another response about it being "not portable enough for me." After again responding to that and several other questions/comments being polite and courteous as I can, I let the thread sit and wait. That was in mid March '10.

Searching around the forum, I found that it had been discussed in late April '10, which gives me a bit more hope. However, it was referred to as "One that is not yet quite in the database (no time to do it today) but has been discussed is PEM." I know they handle a ton of freeware, so I'm not even going to complain about it...but it has been a month.




I do see the reasoning though. My programs are rough and unpolished, at least compared to normal freeware. But still......t'would be kinda nice. I guess I'll crack open my source and run through it all again to make sure everything's solid. I'm kinda out of ideas for new features. Maybe I'll look at Coffee for ideas. And come up with a better name/icon. (Anyone has ideas/artist talent, please let me know.)


-Bry

Cool Nerd Shirt

I'm so intensely jealous of Shirt.Woot. Here's this awesome logo that's (currently?) in a derby:


Kinda makes me wish I would have thought of that for my logo, since I've got glasses and the word "nerd" up there. But alas, I am not artsy.

mmmmmmmNerd,
-Bry

Sudden Surge for FreewareWire Software

A little while ago, I logged in to FreewareWire (which I do every now and then to keep my free file host active) and I happened to notice that I got a huge surge of visitors overnight. (And by "huge", I mean 10 times more than the day before.) And by the way, this was taken at 3PM.

It's happened several times before when people write about my freeware on their sites, or even mention it. So looking at the sources, I found that noneother than Shell Extension City linked to me about IE Lights.


So then I went to my file host, FileAve and checked if anyone downloaded anything. That's what really surprised me.



As you can see, I normally don't get much traffic. All of the files I host are fairly small, so even the 1.05 MB on the 24th is probably several downloads. But holy cow, 325MB. Considering the fact that I usually don't "use" even 1% of my daily bandwidth and then all of the sudden, I get 31%, I mean, that's just pretty crazy.

Anyway, the weirdest thing is that I don't even host IE Lights. I couldn't remember if I was temporarily hosting IE Lights and maybe people stormed it. But checking my files, the only program I host other than my own is LAN Messenger by Madhavan, but I don't even have a link to that on FreewareWire anymore. (Plus it's only 200kb, which means it would have to be downloaded over 1,500 times to fulfill the 325MB.)

It still kind of confuses and intrigues me. I really wish I could know what people were downloading. I mean, all of my programs are ~200KB zipped, meaning that between PEM, Skeys, Dropper, Listmas, and Mojolauncher (in order of probably popularity), each of them averaged being downloaded 300 times each....before 3PM. The only larger one is StartupSaver at ~500KB, but still. That's hundreds of times for each program, or even 1500 times for one. It's just crazy. Well, for how unpopular my software usually is.

Peace,
-Bry

Opinion of Winterboard

Through the last few weeks, I've ever so slowly been downloading themes and building an idea of what I want my iPod Touch to look like. Don't get me wrong, jailbreaking is great; amazing, in fact. And winterboard adds a stupendous amount of functionality to the whole experience. But there's just a few things I've got to make a suggestion on.

First off, if you're going to be downloading alot of Themes, or any for that matter, I highly recommend Rock, which is an alternative to Cydia. Don't get me wrong, Cydia is great.....but it's just so freaking slow. Rock is actually quite a bit faster, more organized, and in my humble opinion, just works better all around. But it's really just preferences. If you want to stay with Cydia, that's fine too. I tried Icy as well, but since there were absolutely no sources preinstalled for Icy and I didn't feel like taking the time to go back and forth between Cydia and Icy and copy over the sources, I've pretty much ignored it. But it could be a viable option, as well as Pakage (which I believe is not yet released). And I believe those are all the alternatives, but I could be missing a few.


Anyway, then you have Winterboard which handles all of your themes. Great app, truly....in functionality. There are literally hundreds, perhaps even thousands of themes that can change almost anything on your iDevice. They're even organized into nice little categories in the Cydia or Rock repositories. The downside? As soon as you download any theme, they all get thrown in a giant list together, with only their name. What's wrong with that?
  • It's hard to tell what is what. I have statusbar battery themes or lockscreen battery themes, and they all just get thrown together and it's quite frankly just hard to remember what is what.
  • The names are hella confusing. For some weird reason, the name in Winterboard isn't always the package name, so for example, I want to uninstall the theme "Mario Brothers", but I can't for the life of me find it in Rock, since I downloaded a ton of Mario themes to try them all out.
  • The long list is just hard to navigate as it is.
One reason that I do know why they have the one list is because Winterboard/Springboard/what-have-you loads the list from bottom to top, so order does matter (ie. putting "User Wallpaper" above a complete theme will let you change the wallpaper, whereas below will not).

HOWEVER, I do believe there are alternatives. I'm not an iPhone developer, but I would like to think that there is a way to organize it more gracefully, so here's my idea.

1. "Browse Themes"
Instead of having one list, have a "Browse Themes" section, where you can browse the themes in accordance with their type, much like Cydia or Rock. That way, if you're looking to enable a Lockscreen battery, all you have to do is go to the "Lockscreen" subsection and choose one with battery in the title. Which leads me to my second point.

2. Individual theme pages
Some developers may hate this idea for reasons I don't know, but I would love if each theme had a tiny little page that told a few things about the theme (like Name, Type, Description), but then also told what package it is a part of and had a "View in Cydia" (or Rock) button that would take you to Cydia (or Rock) so you can easily view stats about the package (such as size) or uninstall it. And the last thing to be on this page would be Screenshot, if applicable.

3. "View Active Themes"
The last part of the idea is what really kind of ties everything together. If you just had a "Browse Themes" section, it would be increasingly difficult to see just what you had enabled without going through every single section and looking for checked items. So right below the "Browse Themes" button, we have "View Active Themes", which will show every theme you checked in "Browse Themes". This would essentially be a compiled list of everything like Winterboard has now, but with a few changes.
First, you'd have a numbered list going from top to bottom. Items would still be draggable so you can reorder them, and this way you can choose what you want to be loaded in what order.
Secondly, you could still have the ability to click on any item and view its Individual Theme Page.
Lastly, it would probably be nice as well if it had the type right next to the title, maybe right-justified, so each item would appear like
1. Transparent Clock                (Lockscreen)
2. Portal                                  (Complete)
    ...


So that's my pitch. I know there could be a few problems with it right off the bat:
  1. I don't know if each theme is handled in such a way that Winterboard even knows what Type it is, what package it came from.
  2. Each theme would either have to have a screenshot included with the install, or would have to get the screeny from Cydia/Rock, which seems messy/intrusive.
  3. People like things the way they are. I know I already visited a thread somewhere where someone was asking "How do I reorder themes other than manually dragging them?" and people were treating them like he was insane for thinking that there was any other way.
I really don't know how much how Winterboard works. What I'm suggesting is mostly a UI makeover, but it also might require two tiny little things: an info file (including Name, Type, Cydia ID or what have you) and screenshot(s). Other than that, it's mostly just UI.


I'm not at all complaining about Winterboard, it's a wonderful app. It's just frankly rather hard to try new themes on. Once you get the theme you like, it's awesome.

I actually already looked in to attempting to develop an App that could serve as an alternative UI to Winterboard, but I didn't get very far, as soon as I got to the point where you need a Mac. I don't have a Mac, and unless someone would want to donate one or sell me one at a very low price, I can't justify going out and buying one, since my car just died and I had to drain my bank account to buy a new one.

The point is, I don't want to just be talking about (perceived) problems and not do anything to fix it. If given the chance, I would gladly attempt to develop an app (despite my lack of any iPhone developing training) or even help with the UI or concepts. The jailbreaking community is a strong one, and I only wish to strengthen it.

Stay chilly,
-Bry

iOS 4

On the spirit of talking about Apple's "new" innovations, the iOS 4 was released in preparation for the upcoming arrival of the iPhone 4. I, of course, will not be updating to 4 because (1) I jailbroke my iPod and I would like for it to stay that way, and (2) it might not be available for the iTouch. (Goram you, Apple.)

But here's some features worth talking about (even though I kind of discussed some of them in my iPhone 4 post):
  • Multitasking: I actually kind of want this. But I haven't looked into much about Backgrounding via Cydia apps so I'm not sure if I can get the same functionality, or maybe even better. Plus, it's not even available on the iPhone 3G, just 4 and 3GS, so if iOS 4 does work the the Touch, this feature probably won't be supported.
  • Folders: Now this, I want. I honestly hate Categories or Cydia because it's slow and frankly unusable, and it costs to get the actually decent one. Not worth my jailbrake, but enough to make me salivate. (Man I should sell that as a bumper sticker.)
  • Create Playlists: If I wasn't against throwing dozens of obscenities back to back in a blog post, here would be the place. I (regrettably) haven't posted anything about this, but I've been thinking about this for literally years. IT'S ABOUT F***ING TIME, APPLE. You could have done this back with my Video, and before that. I don't know when On-The-Go playlists were first introduced, but that's when this feature should have been introduced. Apple could have easily -easily- made the ability to name On The Go playlists, even with a scroll wheel. But no. It takes their "new" product to finally give a feature that should have been included years ago. Way to go, Apple.
    That being said, I do want this.
  • Home Screen Wallpaper: Again, a feature that should have been included ages ago. The only difference with this one is that Cydia came up with a fix for this.
  • Game Center: Supposedly an Xbox live-like environment for having friends and hiscores for games. Great, except the only game I play is Zombie Farm....
  • iAd: basically a new way for Apple to make money through advertising. But it starts with "i" so it must be cool, right?
That's all I can really find so far. So much for "over 100 new features", Apple.

Jailbraking instead of salivating,
-Bry

iPhone 4: Pre-thoughts

My last tweet was "I got an e-mail from Apple with the title "Introducing iPhone 4." Sorry, Apple, but introductions have already been made; I read Gizmodo. ;)" But of course, the title of the e-mail was a picture with the words "This phone changes everything. Again." Is it rude to scoff outloud?

I know I probably am going to sound anti-Apple or anti-iPhone, but I'm really not. Like I've said many times before, I own an iPod Touch 3G and a 5th Gen Video before that, and they are the main thing that I always have with me (the iTouch even more so since it's got apps, and even more the last few weeks since I jailbroke it). I do not hate the iPhone or Apple products.

That being said, that e-mail really kind of set me off. A while ago, I talked about the iPad and Apple's assertion that it is "Magical and Revolutionary", and that's basically the same premise of this post. Why the crap does Apple feel like every single product they release has to be revolutionary? Is that a nice idea? Yeah, I mean, if they really could create a music player that changed the way we listen to music or a phone that changed the way smartphones are used, that would be great. Actually, they already did that. iPods took the MP3 player world by storm, and iPhones did the same to smartphones. So yes, I do indeed grant that the iPhone did "change everything" to a certain extent, but a new version is not going to change everything more. At least that's my assertion.


So with that lengthy introduction, here's the breakdown: I have not seen, touched, used, or read up on the iPhone 4. I have read a few Gizmodo articles before its release and an article on QuickPWN and the Apple website, but I'm trying to approach this from my interpretation of the issue, which is not overthinking it. (That makes me sound dumb, huh?)

Anyway, here are the features (most or all coming straight from Apple itself):
  • Front Facing Camera
    While this feature does sound nice, I just don't see it as being worthy of "changing everything". Basically they added a webcam to a smartphone. I know I'm sounding like being nitpicky, but like I said in my iPad article, mixing two products (in this case, smartphone and netbook) or even a specific feature of two products like a webcam is not "revolutionary" in the case of the iPad, and I assert that it is not "changing everything" in the case of 4G. Plus, there are already phones that are designed in such a way that let you see the screen and record/take pictures of yourself at the same time. I doubt any of them can be used like a webcam chat, but then I already covered the whole "webcam" aspect.

    So again: nice feature? Yes. Everything changer? No.

    (Side note: Since the iPhone 4 is going to be the first phone with a front-facing camera that allows video calls [I believe], that means you're really only going to be able to talk with other iPhone 4 owners. Hmm.....very shrewd, Apple....)
  • Flat Back
    The design is more or less the same with almost the exact same buttons and device size, but the difference is that now the back of the iPhone is completely flat.
    Two quick notes to express my opinion:
    (1) I believe the previous iPhone versions were sold specifically with the "curved back" being nice and elegant, but I could be wrong.
    (2) It looks more like a Zune HD now. There, I said it. Not a bad thing, but true.
  • 960x640 display with "Retina display" / IPS
    To be honest, this does sound nice. Considering the fact that 3G was 320x240, it is kind of amazing to have that much higher of a resolution with the same screen size. I mean, that's getting to the point of a decent computer monitor resolution....except in a smartphone. So props to that. Super props, even.

    However (didn't you see this coming?), I must criticize Apple on their presentation. Yes, I'm on the Apple website right now reading about the stats and even watching the video. Instead of dancing around it, I'm going to come straight out and say it: Apple fluffs it up. They draw outlines and try to make it sound miraculous when all they're saying is "It's got a higher resolution". And it just seems to me like showing the factory and talking about a "complicated process" and "eliminating light refraction" is just trying to dress it up. And don't even get me started from the section starting with "Made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains...".

    Overall, this is the most impressive feature I've seen so far. Is it enough to make it "change everything"? I don't know, frankly. I would opt to say no, but on the other hand, this is a very nice feature and could very well bring a whole new deal to the table for smartphones. On the other hand, the resolution could be more than enough, literally, and perhaps most people won't even care. Only time will tell.

    (One last note: anyone else slightly amused that they use the last iPhone model, the 3GS to compare how much better it is? It's like "See this phone you bought from us? Yeah, it's really crap, and we didn't tell you until now. But look at how good our new phone looks compared to it!")
  • HD Video Recording
    The whole fact that Apple took so long to release video recording for the iPhone is frankly quite pathetic. Since I'm not an extreme avid Apple follower, I'm not certain, but I'm fairly sure that the 3GS can record video. I'm not going to go into what I think is dumb about the 3GS, but I will just say: meh. Nice feature, but I'm just frankly not impressed.
  • 5 Megapixel Camera
    This is honestly the most boring "new" feature to me. I mean, phones are always getting more megapixels to their camera, so seeing the iPhone jump from 3 to 5 is worthy of a golf clap, but really nothing more, at least in my book. (Now if Apple overcame some previous hardware limit, like creating a SDHC for camera,s that would be another story, but even with my lacking knowledge of cameras, I don't believe that to be the case).

    Also, this is probably why I was not as impressed with the HD Video Recording. Of course it's going to be higher definition if you give it a better camera. But the flash is kind of a nice touch, I'll give them that.
  • Multitasking
    Honestly, I'm torn on this one. On one hand, it is rather nice and could very well "change everything" in that sense. On the other hand, the thought is not new and has already really been done on Cydia via Backgrounder (to an extent).

    (Funny how they could have and should have included this functionality on the iPad, which was released only a short while ago...)
  • "Folders"
    Can you say "already been done on Cydia"?
  • eBooks
    No, Apple. You just pushed the iPad as an eReader. Yes, the better display probably makes reading on the iPhone not a pain in the butt, but you're now taking away reasons from buying the iPad.
  • "Homescreen" / "Phone" / "Mail" / "Safari" / "iPod" / "Photos" / "Voice Control" / "Messages" / "Maps+Compass" / "Keyboard" / "Search" / "App Store" / "iTunes Store" / "More Features" AKA Standard Apps
    Why are you selling me on features that have been around for years on older models? Or sorry, I guess the better question is: Why are you treating these features like they are brand new? All of these were available in 3G, maybe with 1 or 2 less features each, but even then, Cydia has some of those features as well (such as bluetooth keyboard support).

    You may be thinking I'm being picky here, but come on. Everyone has an iPhone. If you don't have an iPhone, you've at least used it. And if you haven't used it, you've at least heard of it. I guess I am kind of speaking as someone with exposure to the iPhone and its features, but it's just sad that out of the 20 Features listed for the iPhone 4G, only 5 are really new, and some of them are debatable.

So let me squeeze all that down to a small, simple list of what is truly new to the iPhone, capable of it "changing everything".
  1. Hi resolution front + back camera (with flash on back); Records & edits videos.
  2. Very hi res, durable, nice looking screen.
 Uber condensed, maybe, but that's what I see as the new features for the iPhone 4. I was going to include Multi tasking, but that comes from an update to the OS (newly named iOS) which is even available for iPhone 3GS, 3G, and possibly even my iPod Touch. But in terms of other hardware stuff, I don't know about the speed of the processor or anything like that so that could possibly fall under a new improvement, but I'm still unimpressed.

Now let me take some time to turn the tables and say something nice, since I sound like the Simon Cowell of technology. I actually love iPhones. Well, iLove my iPod touch and to me, an iPhone is an iTouch with 3G (or Wifi anywhere), SMS, and phone functionality (including a mic). But I do love the idea of Apps, how they work and run, all of it. Furthermore, I'm not even dare saying that the iPhone 4 is a bad product, nor the iPhone 3 for that matter. I respect the iPhone's position as a smartphone,and a leading one at that.


So why write this? Why whine (thought it is not my intention)? Because of Apple. I'm not an Apple fan. I do not hate Apple products, but I cannot truthfully say that I do not hate Apple. Why? That's another blog post entirely, but in this case, it's because they are trying to push a new version of their already successful and -I'll admit- revolutionary product as "Changing everything". Shenanigans.

I do believe I'm babbling now, so I'll sign off. I'm not rigid in my stance so if someone were to tell me reasons that the iPhone 4 truly is going to "Change everything" and I understood and agreed, then I would most certainly change my opinion. But until then, I'm going to say this:
I'm glad Gizmodo leaked the iPhone 4 info early so I could know ahead of time just how much it's not anything amazingly new.

Constantly pissing off Mac fanboys,
-Bry

PS - If you think I've gone off on Apple a few times for how they push their products, wait till I finally decide to jot down my thoughts for Microsoft and their precious "Windows 7 was my idea" campaign. Hoo boy, it'll be enough for a book, Mac fans.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    "My Documents" / Moving iTunes library / BSOD

    Well this was an interesting night.

    "My Documents"
    A while ago, I had a "hurr durr" moment about being able to rename Microsoft's "My" folders. Shortly thereafter, I did my My Documents to C:\Bry, and also My Music and My Pictures via TweakUI to C:\Bry Music and C:\Bry Pictures, respectively. I then learned why My Documents comes the way it does. See, ever since I moved them, whenever I wanted to get to My Music, I had to go to My Computer, then C:\, then Bry Music, instead of having Bry Music right there under My Documents. I do admit, naming the header "My Documents" still sounds stupid to me, so I renamed it to just "Bry", where inside I have "Bry Documents", "Bry Pictures", and so on and so forth.

    So I learned a valuable lesson: moving My Documents is fine, renaming it is fine, but it's best to keep My Music and My Pictures inside My Documents.

    Moving iTunes Library
    Since my iTunes library was before under "C:\Bry Music\iTunes" and now needed to be under "C:\Bry\Bry Music\iTunes", I needed to move it somehow. First, I tried the default: go to preferences and move the library. That worked for about 5 files out of thousands. Then I googled around a bit and learned that the XML file is editable, you just have to make iTunes think the ITL file has been corrupted; I tried that, only to find that my playlists were messed up and I had about 20 songs in my library.

    Finally, I thought of something that could work. I thought "Maybe I can just run a 'Consolidate Library'. Well, my first try, I had already moved my entire "iTunes Media" folder to C:\Bry\Bry Music\iTunes, so all the files were already there; instead of checking to see if the file existed, iTunes wrote a secondary "*_1.mp3" for every single file in my library. So I reset my ITL and XML, moved my iTunes Media folder to another drive, and tried again. It didn't finish, though, and now it's time to explain why.


    BSOD
    It really is probably the most frustrating thing in computing, to my knowledge. While iTunes was Consolidating my library, I decided to watch an episode of Firefly on my PC. When I tried to open it: BSOD. I restarted my computer and tried to open the same file. BSOD. I tried opening any video file. BSOD. I reinstalled codecs. BSOD. Finally, I got out my GPU driver disk, booted into Safe Mode, and reinstalled the driver. I tried opening the file with success, but we'll see how far it goes.


    So now I have to deal with a screwed over iTunes library and a BSOD when I try to open any video file. What am I most upset about? Myself. I can't believe I screwed up by not Consolidating my library beforehand. Plus, I then copied it to the new location which didn't work, and then to another disk. Basically, I've done a lot of steps that took an hour each, every one doing absolutely nothing. But so help me god, if my GPU is broken or I have to do a goram reinstall of Windows, I'm going to lose my head. And maybe even switch to 7.

    Screwing up in the wee hours of the morning,
    -Bry

    [UPDATE]
    Well, it looks like my iTunes Media folder is really consolodated. I guess I thought it was all along, but the second button in "Organize Library" which is "Upgrade to iTunes Media Organization" was greyed out, so I guess it really wasn't organized by iTunes....or something? Anyway, I just synced my iPod and I didn't see any of the infamous "File Not Found" errors.

    Additionally, I'm almost done watching my episode of Firefly with no BSODs yet. Yay for things going right....after three hours of fixing broken crap!

    (One last note: I like how iTunes now moved the Movie and TV Shows folders out of Music. Also, there's an interesting "Automatically add to iTunes" folder, which could be useful.)

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Twuffer

    If you don't know (which I would not be surprised nor insulted), I have a very small twitter called Caniquoteyou for the funny quotes I hear. I usually hear several quotes in one day, but then can sometimes go for a week or two without any more, so I don't like to post all of them at once. I was wondering if I could schedule tweets for the future, and I came across Twuffer.

    Twuffer (which stands for "Twitter buffer") felt really great to me right from the beginning. I mean, it has a "Beta" tag slapped right on the side of the logo; remind you of anyone? Anyway, I also liked the fact that it takes your Twitter username and password, as some of the other sites I found required you to sign up with an account with them just to use it. With Twuffer, all you have to do is enter your Twitter info, click "Login" and boom, you're ready to get Twuffering.

    From there it's very straightforward. Enter a tweet, choose a day and time, and hit "set status!" You can also view your queued and sent tweets and delete either. And lastly, it shows "Actual Time" on all sent tweets, which is only visible to you.


    Twuffer's cool with me. I can schedule a weeks' worth of tweets and then not worry about it. And it remembers my account as well, so I can log in later and delete queued tweets.

    Keep on Twuffin'
    -Bry

    Seesmic rivals Echofon for iTouch

    There are a ton of Twitter clients in the App store. Picking one took a good while for me, comparing featuers and figuring out just what I wanted. I finally settled on Echofon which I had heard of for a while for Firefox. Echofon does literally everything I want. It can have multiple accounts, loads your timeline, your @ mentions, your Direct Messages, supports photos and location, and even has an address book or sorts for your Twitter followees/followers. It also has Push, which I believe is only available in the Premium version, separates read from unread (vaguely), and even has a few themes, so I can theme accounts differently and never Tweet something to the wrong one.

    The other day I started up the App store (which I don't even do anymore since I jailbroke Red) and saw that Seesmic had actually released an app. I had known Seesmic before when I had been looking for a desktop program for Twitter, and I actually loved it, even though I didn't end out using it long-term. So I downloaded it and tossed it to my last page, thinking that I might try it out. I even remembered incorrectly that it was an RSS reader, since I browsed desktop RSS readers at the same time. Anyway, after trying it out and being hesitant (since Seesmic actually has an unusual interface, due to the fact it's built on Adobe AIR), but after a little while, I'm very seriously considering switching from Echofon to Seesmic. And also a note, Twitter fairly recently also released an app.


    Echofon Seesmic Twitter
    2+ accounts 8 accounts 2+ accounts
    Timeline Timeline Timeline
    View @ View @ View @
    View/Compose DM View/Compose DM View/Compose DM
    Photos (3 choices) Photos (6 choices) Photos (7 choices)
    Location Location Location
    URL shorten (bitly) URL shorten (bitly) URL shorten (6 choices)
    Highlight own Highlight own Align own
    Contact List Contact List
    Themes (4)
    Push (in premium)
    Search Timeline Search Timeline Search Timeline
    Search Twitter+Nearby Search Twitter Search Twitter+Nearby
    Separate unread ??? ???
    Favorites Favorites Favorites
    Ad-free Ad-free
    Browser Sync

    Obviously one of them has a bit more features, and I'm not ignoring that. But another one of the key features of Seesmic is that you can add Twitter and Facebook accounts. (And also Ping.fm, but I don't use that so for the purposes of this post, it's irrelevant.)
    It's a close call, quite honestly. Twitter is even great, which I was kind of surprised by. I still kind of like Echofon's look and feel compared to Twitter's own app, but it's nice to have variety.


    For: The main reason I have for switching to Seesmic is because it can post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time and I currently have an entire app (Duo) dedicated solely to that, so I could get rid of that. But then I still need the Facebook App since Seesmic can only read your news feed and post updates.
    Another reason is syncing between the desktop and the iPod app in the future. I'm not really a fan of Echofon for the web browser, but I do love Seesmic Desktop.

    Cons: Really the only thing I miss is Echofon's contact list. I love that you can type "@can" and it will show all the users that start with "can" like "caniquoteyou", similar to Facebook. Also, I love that  there's an actually contact list that you can search and scroll through, and pick from that list to @ or DM.


    Again, there are tons of Twitter apps out there and compiling a list of all of them would take a while. Echofon was just the #1 of all the ones I looked at. I know there's an Echofon for Facebook app as well, and maybe one day they'll merge them and I won't have to make a decision about changing. Till then, I'll just have to choose a favorite.

    Tweeting in multiple fashions,
    -Bry

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    I might be electrocuting myself.

    This might vary well be the dumbest thing I've ever said on here, which I know I've said several times before, but this time it is especially true. My computer (Dark) is currently sitting on the ground next to me, to the left of my desk. Now every time I put my foot flat out beneath my chair, so that it's about 6 inches away from Dark, it will occasionally go numb or....I dunno how to describe it, but I'm 97% sure it is due to electricity. Why? Because I've always been a bit of a prankster and I own about 5 items intended to shock the victim, so I'm used to what being shocked feels like. And this is that.

    Anyway, if I move my foot (which I just did at the beginning of this post) the feeling immediately leaves, but I've also noticed at least once that if I left my foot in the same spot, the feeling just vanished, as if the current somehow moved.

    So I either have some bizarre foot disorder that makes my left foot and lower leg go numb only when seated at my desk, or my computer is sending off an electric current to the ground around it. But I just moved my right foot to where my left foot usually sits and felt the same effect, so I assume it must be the latter.

    I'm primarily concerned for two reasons:
    1. I may be running a small, fairly insignificant current through my foot, and I have no idea what health detriments that might cause.
    and
    2. It means that Dark's electricity is not contained, meaning I'm losing some current that could be used powering my PC. That and it might be running up my electric bill.

    I'm kind of at a quandary of what to do next. Maybe this is just typical since, after all, a case is supposed to ground your components and I've just never noticed. But maybe it's not, and I haven't a clue of how to test to see if there actually IS a current flowing, other than bury a meter or lightbulb into the carpet. Even so, I have no idea how large the current would be.

    I really don't know how I could have hooked up my build wrong, but I'm not going to rule it out. Maybe I used a wrong type of screw or something for fastening a piece, or maybe my goram network card is screwing up, or maybe my case is poorly designed. My guess is this has something to do with my stupid D-link wireless card's poor connectivity: it's either causing the poor signal by sending current where it isn't meant to go, or the wireless card is malfunctioning on it's own, causing a poor signal and sending a current.

    Pray that my feet don't get the electric chair,
    -Bry

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Simplenote works, period

    I'm finding myself more and more drawn to the "Cloud" life with almost everything I could ever need being available to me at all times via my iPod touch. Dropbox backs up my important files and lets me access them anywhere and it keeps them synced across machines, Mocha VNC for iPhone or WinVNC for PC lets me see my home desktop from anywhere, and Xmarks lets me sync between every browser I could ever ask for (which is essentially Firefox and Chrome on multiple computers). So it just kinda comes natural that I want an iPhone Notes app that will sync as well.

    To be honest, the default Apple Notes app is probably one of my favorite of the starting apps. It's great, except it can only sync via Outlook, and I hate Outlook. So I looked around, and there are not many alternatives. The best I've found is called Simplenote, which is free for an ad-supported version or $4. Now first let me say, yes, I've heard how much Evernote is praised and how it's supposedly the best note app/program/web app out there, but it's honestly just too complicated for me. I did download and try it on my iPod, but even the fact that the main menu has choices like "Snapshot note" or "Audio note" just hinted that it might be more than I wanted. (Not to mention that the only feature not useless on an iPod is the text note, which is the only thing I really wanted.)

    So anyway: Simplenote. I was hesitant at first because you have to create an account, but I'm honestly pretty impressed. It does sync with the web account quite well and the web app does look and perform rather nice. The only thing is that I would dearly love a desktop application. There are 4 desktop applications listed on the Simplenote website.....except all 4 are Mac only. There's also a Perl script written to sync a desktop folder with your Simplenote account, but that of course only works on a Mac.

    It's kinda disappointing, and very frustrating. It's an absolutely wonderful app, but why is there no Windows desktop application? Apparently Simplenote has an API which means it should be very easy to write one, but I just don't know why one doesn't exist.

    [UPDATE 7-12-10] Thanks to a comment, I found out about ResophNotes, a SimpleNote program for Windows. I wrote a post for it, but I figured I'd come back here and edit the title/insert an update.


    Taking notes,
    -Bry