Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More on Windsurfer Antenna

Most of the hits to my blog seem to come from searches about the Windsurfer Antenna booster for wireless antennas. People gravitate toward those posts. I have to admit I'm a big fan of the Windsurfer Antenna. It makes a tremendous difference in distance and signal quality on my router. When I add it to a desktop pc, the pc is able to pick up many nearby signals in the neighborhood. If I use the Hawking Technologies signal booster, it triples the signals strength, and even more access points show up. Here's a little video I found on making the antenna:

Free* WIFI Booster - The funniest videos are a click away

So far, that video has done the best instruction job. I followed the advice on the video, and used a glue stick. Makes a big difference. I do a few things different:
  • I make the entire thing before I put the foil on. After I've finished constructing the booster, I glue-stick the back, and roll it on the shiny side of the foil. This seems to make the putting the unit together a lot easier.
  • I use a box-cutter to cut out the antenna, and cut the slits in the backing.
  • I cut the pole-slits before I put the booster together. It's not easy to cut those when it's already together.
Once you get the thing together, if you can get the antenna up high, it makes a difference. I've had to actually put some desktop units on top of the desk. Doing so has save some FreekBox customers from the necessity to pay for internet. Don't worry; they were in an apartment where the wireless was offered. I think.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tools Needed

In particular, audio and video tools needed for Linux.

Sure, there's Audacity for audio. It's an excellent program. But, it's no GarageBand. And while I hope Jokosher comes up with something, eventually, it's not GarageBand either. Audacity is what many people use for Podcasts, but a majority of podcasters use GarageBand. It has Podcasting built in. Audacity will work just fine for most podcasters, but GarageBand is easier.

And then there's video. The guys over at The Linux Action Show podcast were frustrated about their attempts to make a video podcast using Linux. While these guys do a great job of supporting Open Source formats (.ogg, theora), there just isn't a program that will work well for video editing in Linux. There are a few, but there just too complex for the average user.

"But Danny, Shrek 3 was done on Linux!"

Yes, I know. But that's 3D modeling. I'm not trying to model a 3D. I'm I'm not about to make a cluster supercomputer just for video editing. Then again, Alameda County Computer Resource Center made one out of used parts. Use parts donated in just the previous week. All powered by a veggie diesel generator.
Maybe someday I will make a cluster supercomputer. But I don't think I'll need it for video editing.

At the moment, I could use Audacity for Podcasting, if I wanted. But for video, I'd have to use Nancy's iBook. I don't want to learn a how new career just to do a few videos.

The future of education is going to be in this type of content, both in creation and delivery. If Linux is going to be a part of that future, the guys writing software in their spare time for audio and video editing need to work a bit more. That, or I can only hope Apple will make iLife availabe for Linux.

Don't forget to check out the updates on My Website. You'll get to see my html education over the next few months.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Personal Update

I made some changes to my website. Check it out. I think were going to learn about color in the next chapter, so I'm looking forward to bringing that.

I'm doing well in my classes. I just have to keep up with the work. The Web Publishing class seems to take up the most time. The Security Class and Windows Server classes aren't too bad, but I have a lot of extra software to study from for those subjects. So far, Testout is the best software for learning this stuff.

Monday, September 17, 2007

We're Now Officially a Police State!

This happen at University of Florida today. John Kerry was doing a question and answer session. Judge for yourself what really happen. For me, I now see the tremendous value of Video cellphones:

By the way, I agree with the guy: John Kerry threw the election, just as he was instructed to do.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

html and double click

This weekend, I spent a total of 10 hours doing Web Publishing class homework. After I'd finished the homework, I used the tutorials to make myself a new website. The new was done entirely in a text editor. No fancy-shmanshy FrontPage or DreamWeaver to help me. My website will change each week, so check back every Monday or Tuesday, and you'll probably see something different.

All this talk about html brought me to another thought: How stupid is double clicking?

I've installed Puppy Linux and Damn Small Linux (DSL) a few times. I've noticed that both distributions require only a single click on the desktop. I thought, "How freaking genius!"

Have you ever noticed that the entire internet requires only a single click? Actually, some people haven't noticed that, and they get double charged on orders over the internet. And, older people or people with motor skill problems have difficult with the whole double click thing.

Now in Windows uses the double click for a purpose. You select an icon with a single click. Or, you can click and hold, drag and drop with a single click. Double clicking an icon makes that icon do something, like bring up the program to present it. Double clicking on a "text.doc" file will bring up Microsoft Word, or, or some word processing program your computer uses. Single clicking on the icon will only highlight the icon.

Okay, so that's fine and dandy. Now we know you need to double click to open an icon in Windows. Or in Mac OS X. Cool.

Oh, but then there's that start button. Should you double click the start button? Nope. Not necessary. And then there's the menu bars (File, Edit, View....). Single click on those too.

Okay, so double click on some things, single click on others, right click to...

Oh yeah, we forgot to mention the whole right click thing. Sorry iBook/MacBook users. Then again, they can't right click.

And we wonder why some people are confused and frustrated with computers.

Even the Linux Desktops of Gnome, KDE, and XFCE are guilty. I know how it works, but for someone who's never used a computer it can be confusing. I understand the functionality of the double click, but I question if it's really necessary anymore. Puppy Linux and DSL don't need it. But, they do need the right click.

Anyway, single click here to see my new website.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Friends and School

Personal Commentary

(I'm trying out a different font - Verdana- with this post. If possible, let me know if it helps readability)
My friend, K.Mandla has been a busy blogger lately. He's been testing different low end Linux distributions on his ugly little laptop, as he calls it. Checkout his recent findings.

My friend, Drew Baye, is working on a book. Working very hard too. I get to hear some of what he's worked on. I think many people in the fitness industry are going to find it an excellent, informative read. Drew has a snappy writing style, and get's to the point. He has an excellent collection of free information on his website too.

While she's not really a friend, I really enjoy the YouTube Videos done by Happy Slip. This girl is talented, funny, and like me is obviously born without the faulty gene called, "embarrassment". If you're looking for a quick, 3-4 minute entertaining moment, checkout some of her videos. Reading her blog gives you some insight on how home production isn't easy, but it is fun.

By October, I'll be taking 5 classes. I'll actually be taking Network Security (Security+) and Advanced Network Security at the same time. Advanced Security won't be offered next semester, so it wasn't really a choice to not take it.

To get through this semester, and even the next, I downloaded and previewed some software training courses for the subjects I would take. With the time I had, and how long it takes to download some titles, I was able to view the first few weeks of the subjects. Much of the software I have goes it into greater detail than my course material. Throughout most of my course work, I've come out of the classes with an A, but a feeling of, "What was that about?" I felt like I'd passed the class, but had really learned the material. At least not to my satisfaction.

I'm going to have to actually use much of what I'm learning, or at least trying to learn, so I really need to know the material. To that end, I have been trying to go through the borrowed software as much as I can. This has helped me learn the material, but caused some friction with my classes.

This weekend, I've learned I need to do the course work first, then learn the material after I've finished the assignments.

As one of my professor said, "If you think you're going to learn this stuff in class, you're in the wrong subject."

Friday, September 07, 2007

DSL - Damn Small Linux

It's true: Obsolescence is Just a Lack of ImaginationA few months ago, I tried Damn Small Linux (DSL). I wasn't too thrilled with it. It seemed difficult to use, nothing was familiar, and I moved on to other things. Earlier this week, I received a donation of a Sony VAIO laptop, 300 MHz Pentium II, 64 mb RAM, 6 GB Hard drive. Xubuntu just wouldn't go on with that low of memory, and Puppy stumbled on it too. I downloaded, burned to disk, and booted up DSL. WOW!

DSL runs FAST on this little machine. Either I've learned more about Linux in the past few months, or DSL got easier. I don't remember learning anything really new recently, so I can only guess the DSL people have done some work. I took out the CD, loaded Dban, wiped the drive clean, rebooted DSL, and found the option to install to hard drive. It installed in less the ten minutes. Was actually closer to five minutes! Once I figured out how to install more programs with MyDSL, the new programs loaded on very quickly. At first, I was using a PCIMCIA ethernet card to get online. I stuck in a Lucent Technologies 802.11b Orinoco card, booted it up again, and it found everything without me having to do anything other than turn the computer on. Instant wireless! After looking through the forums, I found how to do screenshots like the first one on this post, using Imagemagick. I loaded on Abiword, and eventually 1.1. I installed Java and Flash. I tried youtube on this computer (I'm entering this blog on it), and it ran very stuttered, slow, and no sound. I think that may be due to the low memory.

I cleaned the machine up as best I could. You can see it sitting on newspaper. It seems the little rubberlette feet on the bottom have turned to mush, and come off on anything they stick to. I tried to use alcohol to get them off, but no go. If anyone knows how to remove those gooey globs, let me know.

I am freaking amazed at how fast this machine is. Puppy Linux gave me another too for older equipment, but DSL give me an even deeper tool. Puppy needs about 128 MB ram to run, but DSL can run on as little as a 486DX with 16MB ram!! I would still rather give out a machine with Xubuntu on it. Xubuntu is much easier to use for a Linux nuubie. But, for the price, and the ability to use really old equipment, DSL is excellent.

So who could use a computer like this? Someone without any computer at all, for starters. Sure, they'd have a bit of a learning curve, but it's still a free computer. By using the DSL forums and wiki, anyone can learn how to use DSL in a very short amount of time. Free is a good motivator. Someone who is working on a novel could use it. Or, someone who just wants to surf the net. Works good for that too. With more memory (for only $15! I checked), youtube would probably work ok, enabling you to watch episodes of The IT Crowd.

Update to the laptop: With the kind info, baby oil got the gooey glob off the bottom. I tried to run the unit on just the battery - no go. Battery is dead. But, it runs plugged in.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Audio Meltdown

My HP iPAQ rx3715 PocketPC has been acting up again lately. The headphone jack would sometimes work, some times not. Or the right channel would work, but not the left. A week ago, I had to push the headphone plug to get any sound at all. I don't have the money to get another MP3 player, so I went into my usual obsess on it until I get it working. I did get it working. Sort of. I had to open the thing up and work on it. I learned a good bit about audio jacks.
For instance; if you point the audio jack tip up, the tip is the left channel of the stereo sound, the center of the pin is the right channel, and the start of the pin is the ground. I realize that information will never help me in life again. Anway, the left channel connection in the audio jack 'female' receptical wan't working well. Seems HP did a funky design on it to make the on-board speaker come on when you pull jack out. But the design just isn't very good. If I could learn to solder, I pull a good jack receptical out of something else, and solder it in that. I don't care if the on board speaker works anway. I just want the headphones to work. But, since it's giving me problems, I'll have to get something else.

I've decided on getting an iPod Shuffle. At the moment, I'm not too happy about it. I'd rather have an all-in-one solution, but that's not available yet. At least not with the features I want. The iPod Shuffle is almost indestructable. About the only way to kill it is run a car over it. Twice! It so light that if it falls, it barely even gets a scratch. It's only 1 GB, but I don't need much storage space anyway. I have less than 50 mb of music, but have enough podcast subscriptions to keep at least 20 GB around, and about 50 GB of audiobooks. I don't care to carry around every song I've borrowed either, but I'll gladly listen to the books I've purchased. Or the free ones.

When I get it, I'll give a review.