Monday, October 31, 2011

FIX: "Invalid license data. Reinstall is required" (Visual Studio 2010)

Here I am, sitting waiting to get my winter tires put on, and I decide to try to work on some Assembly homework. Unfortuantely, I get the nasty error "Invalid license data. Reinstall is required." Since there is no wifi here and the only internet access I have is my phone tether, this is not a viable option, since it's a web install. (I hate those.)

Anyway, after starting a CRAP ton of services, I noticed that my clock read way wrong, since I had taken out the battery earlier when switching to my 8-cell. Synced the clock, ran MSVS, bingo. Blast it all.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Got a new Lenovo S10-3t

Netbook choice
As much as I love my EEE Pad Transformer, it just doesn't cut it for a college student, so I decided to buy a netbook.

At first I just wanted the cheapest netbook I could grab, which was -incidentally- another ASUS product -the X101. However, I soon learned that it had atrocious battery life, and I probably was not going to like MeeGo. Plus, I hated the idea of not having a tablet at all.

I then decided to maybe take a nice step up, and I wanted probably the most amazing display of technological ingenuity I have yet to have seen: the AlwaysInnovating Smartbook. However, it is definitely pricey for a netbook/tablet, and I wasn't sure if they were actually still shipping. (I tweeted at them, and they never replied.)

Finally, I said screw it, and went with the Lenovo S10-3t, which is a netbook/tablet convertible (or tabletbook, as I call them) which was praised like the dickins by Bryan Lunduke. It is a decent size, fair price ($350 new), and has basically all I could ask for in either a tablet or netbook: decent sized HDD (i.e., not a cramped SSD), SD slot, a webcam, and a decent battery life. Not much to it.

Initial thoughts
I'm going to be honest, I did not look into this tabletbook very much. There are so many effing netbooks out there and I really did not want "just another netbook", and after looking at all the possibilities beforehand (the Dell Duo being the only rival, and it got poor reviews), the S10-3t seemed like a decent choice; maybe not the best, but adequate.

Right off the bat, I love the form. holding it in my hand as a tablet, or the feel of it as a netbook. The keyboard is lovely spaced, the power button is accessible from both netbook and tablet mode (plus it has a lock on it!), and the whole half-black, half-white with orange highlights looks spectacular. Physically, I loved this device before ever turning it on.

Then came time to turn it on. It's still really early and I've only had it for a day, but I have to say that it was...less than snappy. It definitely needs some hardcore optimization, but I'm just not sure if Win7 is the right OS when I had to super-optimize WinXP to run on my old netbook with similar specs.
The main thing that made me scared is the touchpad. (1) It's bumpy, which is might take some getting used to but right now it just doesn't feel right. (2) The buttons are in the touchpad. I don't know why people like this. I kept finding my mouse jumping around whenever I try to click.

Operating System(s)
I've been giving some thought to what OS to put on this bad boy. For school I will definitely need both Windows and Linux, but that in and of itself has plenty of different choices. Essentially, I've broken it down into 3 different sections, and the choices I would make in each:

1. Full Desktop: Ubuntu, Windows 7
(I actually already have both of these installed and running.) These tend to be a bit heftier. They're mostly to be used in Netbook mode because they require greater precision like physical mouse and keyboard.
  • Ubuntu: Looks fantastic, but I'm not sure if it's lagging. It seems like it takes a bit too long to launch apps, not to mention the fact that I'm not sure if I'm fond of Unity yet (even if it is much improved). I don't think any netbook can handle KDE, but other possibilities would be Mint GNOME or Ubuntu GNOME.
  • Windows 7: Again, kind of slow, so far. It's got a bunch of crappy Lenovo software that's designed to make the tablet experience better. I'm still unconvinced Windows 7 can function well as a tablet OS, so I need to uninstall like a mofo.
2. Minimal: ElementaryOS, Peppermint/Mint LXDE, Slitaz, Windows XP/ReactOS
A bit like the Full Desktop, but a lot lighter. Tend to be a bit more stripped down, or at least designed to be lighter on resources.
  • ElementaryOS: I have not installed this on a machine yet, but my god it is gorgeous. Everything meshes so well. The only downsides are (1) it runs on GNOME, which means it's probably heavier than LXDE, and (2) it uses Midori, which I love, but I really need Firefox Sync. Otherwise, I am so tempted just to pick this, install Wuala and gcc, and leave it at that.
  • Peppermint/Mint LXDE: Peppermint was my Linux choice on my last netbook and I still love it. I don't even love it for the Mozilla Prism apps, I just love it because it is shipped with barely anything and is very very lightweight.
    I might give Mint LXDE a go, since I think it is actually maintained by the same guy who started Peppermint. My guess is both are wonderful.
  • SliTaz: I've never used SliTaz as a primary OS, but I love it so much. Best minimal mobile OS out there, as far as I'm concerned. It is on par with Peppermint.
  • Windows XP/ReactOS: I'm not going to say much about Windows XP other than I've used it for years, still like it, and it makes a great netbook OS.
    But ReactOS! Man, that would be sweet! I just need to make sure it runs VisualStudio, since that is all I really need from my Windows Install. Other than that, I would totally choose that over XP.
3. Netbook: Joli OS, xPUD
These tend to be more limited, mostly by the simplistic design of the interface. Ideally, though, they should be much more fast and lightweight. I have not found this to be the case.
  • Joli OS: Last time I used Joli OS, it was still Jolicloud and it needed some work. From the little I've seen and heard, it's improved, so I'm willing to give it another shot.
  • xPUD: I love xPUD, but I'm not quite sure it is enough for me.

4. Tablet: Android x86, Plasma Active, (WebOS/Maemo?)
These are few and far between, really, at least ones that are designed to be installed on devices instead of merely being shipped on them. The small number of x86 tablets out there makes it even worse.
  • Android x86: I've used this before on my EEE 901 and it was pretty cool. That was before Honeycomb though, so I'll have to see how well that works. If it works well, then this is definitely a go, since (I think) Android gives the best tablet experience I've seen
  • Plasma Active: I heard the guys at the Linux Action Show talked about this a while back and then I somehow stumbled onto it: Plasma Active is a very slick KDE interfaced designed specifically for touch screen interfaces. I've used it live and while it was a bit pokey (running off a microSD), it looked great. If it runs well, I'll probably do this just for shits and grins.
    It actually isn't an OS in and of itself, it's just a set of packages. However, I can't imagine installing a different Linux distro and then installing this, but it is a possibility. Maybe Mint LXDE+Plasma Active.
  • (WebOS/Maemo?): I really hadn't given these two any thought, but I guess I should include them. Bryan Lunduke has said many great things about Maemo, but it's really end-of-lifed so I don't want to get too attached. I've heard amazing things about WebOS as well, so I might give that one a shot, but I'm doubtful it will beat out Android (if Android x86 is on par with my TF's Honeycomb).
5. What the hell are you doing: OS X, Haiku, JNode
Because why the hell not? In all seriousness though, the only one for real that I would do is OS X, depending on if the S10-3t makes a good Hackintosh. This is definitely an afterthought.

To some this might be either daunting or annoying, but I love trying out OSes, especially ones that are very different, and no two of the ones listed are the same. I'll probably just try to spend a day or so in each one, keeping Windows 7 and cycling through the rest.

Hopefully this tabletbook will be good to me. I'm pretty excited about it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thoughts on Steve Jobs (that will inevitably get me flamed) and Dennis Ritchie

Maybe this is me just being a cynic, but why do people act like he was such a great person? He made personal computers for the upper-middle class and he didn't design them all by himself. He founded a company of hardworking individuals that all together contributed to create the products Apple makes. Steve Jobs did not "create" the iPhone, he created what created the iPhone. It's not like he gives billions to charities...that would be Bill Gates. Most people that praise him do it because they use an iPhone. Is that what "greatness" has been reduced to? Creating luxuries?

I'm certainly not saying that I'm happy he's dead, or even "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." I react to his death just like I react to any other person's death, and my philosophical view on death is another discussion entirely.

I'll definitely concede that years ago, Steve was very influential. Earlier on, Macs were pretty cutting edge and in that way, they were pushing the limits for computers in general. But in my own biased view, they've become more of a caged beast; they cater more toward their own consumers; you are either a Mac user, or you aren't. But then there are some people that just make my head hurt, saying "He brought us the concept of the mouse for computers as well as he introduced us to the touch screen system." First off, Apple did not invent the mouse, though they did popularize it. Secondly, he did not do any of that. Apple did. I think it's unfair to the company to place the glory on one person.

People have literally praised him as the "most important person in the history of technology." I cannot believe that that is true for a second. Even if he was "the most influential person," that does not necessarily mean the most important. Other places place him more realistically as "a symbol of innovation, of humanity, of change", and I would agree: he was a symbol. A less kind word would be a "figurehead", but I'm not going to use that. He was the embodiment of what most people saw good or at least wanted to see good in the computing industry. Even though his company had less-than-laudable tactics, he was still flawless. But is a symbol of something the same as that which it represents? (Is an iPad really magic because they brand it as that?)

I will give him this: he is an incredible businessman. But is that really enough to call him a "great" man? So many people say that he "changed the world," but did he really?


[UPDATE 10-13-11]
Wow, what amazing timing....about a week after Steve Jobs, Dennis Ritchie passes away. You don't know who Dennis Ritchie is? That's ok, I didn't know the name either. Yet somehow, his name isn't trending on Twitter. Yeah, there are articles out there, but it's more of an interesting tidbit to most people than the loss of a great mind. Well, settle in for a history lesson. (This lesson is for me too, by the way, via research.)

He developed the C language, and also worked on Unix. But that's not quite as flashy as an iPad or a Macbook Air, is it? But guess what the apps are made of on that iPad: Objective C. Guess what the OS is based off on that Air: Unix. I know that people don't know much about Unix, but it truly, undeniably changed the way computing was done, and it was powered by C.  It was the first operating system written in a high level language and it was also the first portable operating system. I don't mean portable as in PortableApps, I mean portable in that instead of having to re-write the entire thing for every single type of processor, all you have to do is rewrite the compiler. This may not sound like a big deal nowadays, but it was a major step forward in computing.

It's just astounding to think of where we are today because of this man and his colleagues. True, he stood on the shoulders of those that came before him, but C was unique enough that it catapulted the very definition of computing by leaps and bounds. And it's still used today! Not even in the minority: C is still a very real foundation in everything we do. As others in many articles I've read have said, you would not be reading this right now if it was not for C and Dennis Ritchie. As one article concerning his death put it:

"The C programming language, which he called “quirky, flawed, and an enormous success,” is the basis of nearly every programming and scripting tool, whether they use elements of C’s syntax or not. Java, JavaScript, Objective C and Cocoa, Python, Perl, and PHP would not exist without dmr’s C. Every bit of software that makes it possible for you to read this page has a trace of dmr’s DNA in it."

And the most amazing thing is that he was the silent hero. Nobody knows who he was. He did not come out on stage in a turtleneck and show off a fancy new toy. He did not work on the body of the car and the fancy paint job, but he did work on the precise tuning of the engine and all of the parts that are too sophisticated for most of us to comprehend.

As a Computer Science major, I am forever indebted to Dennis Ritchie and the men like him that helped build the field that I love, but even as a person who likes to use technology, I owe them the deepest thanks. Whether or not the Apple fans want to argue about if Jobs was a great man, I know for a fact that Ritchie was. Here's to one of the greats.

Google Department of Redundancy

Am I the only one who finds this absolutely retarded?

Do we really need the exact same menu in two places on the effing page?