Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dropped

The HTML class got to me. Go figure. Not Advanced Security, or Windows Server, but HTML.

The problem for me was threefold:
  1. The delivery of the material - The Thomson Course Technology books aren't the best, even though they are way too expensive. The delivery of the material in the HTML and XHTML course book isn't very well thought out.
  2. The amount of the content - The amount of work the html class has to do is not really that bad, as long as you're not taking any other classes. Or working.
  3. Transitions - The content literally goes from here's a header tag, here's a body tag, this is a paragraph tag. Now make a website with a floating image map. No exaggeration.
Basically, the class is okay, if you already know html. I'll take the class again next semester, but after I've already learned html. Then I won't have to learn AND do the work.

So, I dropped the class. Yeah, it bothers me. I can honestly say I gave it my all. Ask Nancy. It still bothers me. I wish I'd been able to keep up.

I can accept my limitations, but they still suck.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gutsy So Far

So, I'm liking Gutsy:
  • Wireless stuff just works. In Fiesty, five of the wireless gadgets I have wouldn't work. In Gutsy, they all work, but on the newer model Belkin PCI card, it works for about a minute, then you get the 'server not responding' messege in Firefox for every website. The card appears to be working, but no longer connecting. I intend on trying it again, in a different machine.
  • My Laptop fan spins much less. I'm guessing this has to do with power control
  • Laptop battery goes the distance, out-of-the-box! One hour is about the best this computer ever did with WindowsXP, and 1 hour 20 minutes is the best Feisty did with some CPU throttling. With Edgy, I only got 5 minutes, if that. With Gutsy, I still get one hour, but I don't have to do any funky throttling.
  • Screen fonts look better. I have no idea why. Others have noticed it too.
  • OpenOffice.org starts up way faster out-of-the-box. Sure, I can do somethings to get it to start faster on any distro, but why bother?
  • Pages seem to load faster in Firefox. I don't know if that's Ubuntu or Firefox's doing. I suspect Firefox.
Those are the primary things I've noticed.

Other things of note:
Openproj
Openproj is a Microsoft Project-like application, but for far less money. Free is far less money. They have a new .deb package installer on their download page, for Debian based Linux distros - which Ubuntu is one of. I installed it, and it works perfect.

Project Management is a skill I'll need to acquire. In fact, many people will need to acquire it in the future. One piece of software will not make you a good project manager, but having a free one to use will help. I highly recommend doing an iTunes -or other podcast client- search for project management, and learning as much as you can about it.

I have found a site I wish every computer user would view: Securitycartoon.com
Security cartoon teaches the average user why you need to do certain things to protect yourself and your information. The how will change over time, but the why is very important. Here's a sample about anti virus software:
Reproduced with permission. Please visit www.SecurityCartoon.com for more material

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Gutsy Laptop Power

Earlier today, I gave the battery a test run with a pure install of Gutsy -no throttling adjustments. I unplugged the cord, lowered the screen brightness, and surfed wireless. Other than the wireless adapter, nothing else pulled power. My laptop lasted one hour. Not almost one hour. It leasted one hour exactly! Down to the second. Who'da thunk?

Towards the end of the hour, I could tell the machine was getting slower, so some automatic throttling must have been going on. I could also tell the surfing was slower, but that could be lots of reasons.

My laptop lasted an 1 hour 20 minutes after doing some throttling adjustments with Feisty. I never tried Feisty straight-up on the battery, so I don't know how it would have worked. Edgy lasted all of 10 minutes.

I don't see any reason to hack at the power settings right now.

Suspend still doesn't work. I put the machine in suspend, and turn it back on to a blank screen, and responseless keyboard and touchpad. Hibernate works, but isn't any faster than shutting the machine completely down, and powering it back on. In fact, I think a full powerup is faster. The suspend functions may work on new laptops, though.

So far, Gutsy's got a thumbs up from me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gutsy Review

So far, I've set up 4 different Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon installations. Here's my thoughts;

Desktop Setup
To save the servers, I used BitTorrent to download the Gutsy Desktop LiveCD. It actually came in really fast. I burned the disk, then tested it on a FreekBox Installation.
  • 1.6 GHz AMD Athlon XP
  • 384 mb ram - I'd like to have much more
  • 20 GB 7200 rpm hard drive
  • 32 mb Graphics Card
This was a good system to test. To my surprise, the Desktop version now includes an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) installation option, so I went that route. The disk booted to the desktop, and I thought, "I guess that part isn't working yet." But, when I clicked on the Install icon, within a few clicks I saw that I was indeed creating an OEM installation. I was really glad to see this. Now, setting up a new FreekBox for Free Geek is a little easier. It's much more graphical from the Desktop CD.

The installation when fine. But, it didn't recognize the Wireless Network Adapter I'd installed. Well, it recognized it, but it wasn't working. I plugged in the wired adapter, did the updates and added a few programs, and when I restarted, the system asked if I wanted to download the 'restricted drivers' to enable the wireless adapter. Duh! Within a few seconds it was working.

From this initial test, I was really happy with Gutsy. A few new tools I've yet to try out, but I'll report on those later.

My Laptop
  • 2.8 GHz
  • 964 mb ram
  • 60 GB hd 4800 rpm
  • 64 mb shared graphics memory
I was a bit apprehensive about installing Gutsy on my laptop, as it's my primary computer. I'd tested IE for Linux on the above system, and it worked fine, so I took the plunge.

First, I tried the "Upgrade Now" prompt from the Upgrade Manager. That didn't go too well, but I expected such. I'd made too many specific changes, and added too many independent repository sources.

Next, I followed the same installation method as the above Desktop, with disastrous results. The installation took almost 2 hours -not a good sign at all. When I finally booted up; the boot screen never showed, the graphics driver wasn't the right one, no sound, and the computer wouldn't shut down. Not Acceptable!

I downloaded, burned, and installed Gutsy again (after a good Dban on the machine) with an Alternate Install CD. This time - Gutsy Excellence! The installation was actually faster than before - less than 10 minutes to desktop.

I've yet to try out battery life, but I'm expecting that I'll still have to make the power adjustments on it. Bonus if I don't have to fiddle with that. The computer does seem much quieter than before. The fan only comes on occasionally now. Another bonus.

Xubuntu Installation
  • 600 MHz Celeron
  • 256 mb ram
  • 15 gb hd - probably 4800 or less rpm
  • no clue on graphics
I used the Alternate Install CD. On old equipment, I don't bother with the LiveCD. Once again, everything worked perfectly. This version of Xubuntu actually looks more professional -less like a comic book. Not that I minded the comic book look before.

Evaluation
While the Live CD is good for trying out Ubuntu, I still highly recommend using the Alternate Install CD if you know for sure you want to use Ubuntu, either as the sole OS, or for dual boot. Maybe the LiveCD problems only applied to my specific laptop. Maybe not. Either way, I still recommend the Alternate Install CD. It way faster to install it that way, too.

From the end user perspective, Gutsy is simply an upgrade of some desktop things, and program updates. If I was an end user, I'd be a little upset. Couldn't these things simply be upgraded by the Update Manager, like they do throughout the life-cycle? Why should I risk a broken upgrade -like on my laptop- for newer programs?

Now, to answer my own questions, I know that each Ubuntu version is an entire newly created distribution, and not just an 'upgrade'. Things that are needed are added, and things that aren't needed are dropped. The latest kernel, the newest Gnome (or KDE, or XFCE), the newest file manager, and finally, the newest programs. And, of course, new artwork. For an average geek, the newest version is a must. The the average user, it's not. The average user will be just fine with Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake. After all, it's only a 1 year, 4 months older! Then again, things progress way fast in the Open Source world.

My conclusion: Use the Alternate Install CD.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Again on Education

In this morning's Orlando Sentinel, I read an article on the success of Florida Virtual School. FLVS is a prime example of what I've been talking about; the future of education. "Any Time, Any Place, Any Path, Any Pace" is their motto. Click here to read the article in the Orlando Sentinel, and Click here to see the main page of Florida Virtual School.

I looked through their site, and noticed the system does not currently support Linux. I hope they will be able to support Linux soon. I'd love to work with this school to help bring hardware to kids and families who need it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Attack of the Gibbons

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon is release tomorrow. It's probably released somewhere in the world already.

I'm tempted to upgrade immediately. But, I have some school work on here that I can't afford to get mangled in the process. I could backup those files on a seperate drive, do a fresh install, and reload the files. The big problem is that I need IE for linux (Internet Explorer for Linux) to work. My Windows Server 2003 coursework is through Course Technology, and it only works with Internet Explorer. I have it working on Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn, but I can't afford for it to 'break' in an upgrade. I'll have to wait and see.

I still recommend holding off on upgrading for a few weeks. Wait for the servers to calm down from the rush of requests. Watch the forum and see what the complaints are. If there are few, or you can live with the ones that do happen, slam the upgrade in. If you do decide to download the latest and greatest Ubuntu version, do the servers a favor and use BitTorrent to download it. It will probably be way faster anyway.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Audible Denied Me!

I joined Audible.com a few months ago. The produce audiobooks for popular books. The audiobook sometimes makes it to Audible before the print edition makes it to the bookstores or Amazon.

Earlier this week, I applied to be an Audible Affiliate. They denied me. From the response, they denied me because my site is a blog, not a 'real site'. I sort-of understand. Audible has no control over what is put on a blog, and they might not want to be associated with some blog content. Understandable, but.....they still denied ME! Emperor Danny! ME!

I'm almost inclined to cancel my Audible membership. Almost.

Since they denied me affiliation, I put the Podiobook.com widget on the right side of the entries. My readers will remember that I'm a Podiobook fan. You can download Podiobooks for free, listen, and pay what you feel they're worth. When I actually make some money, I'll pay some to the authors I've listened to.

I make no money off the Podiobooks you download. No benefits, other than the links to some good, kinda-sorta free content. So, checkout the Podiobook links, or go to Podiobooks.com and look through the library. You can even listen to a preview on each audiobook's site. If you like it, you can use iTunes to subscribe, or if you're a Linux user, Rhythmbox, Amarok, or Songbird to subscribe.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Too Many Versions?

One of the complaints I read about Linux is how many different versions/distributions there are. There are currently 12 or more versions of Windows (including XP, all the versions of Vista, Server2003, media center, Server2008), about 5 currently used versions of Mac OSX (10.x), but with Linux, there are untold, vast numbers of versions. If you're really into it, you can even throw your own version together.

Now, Mac OSX is build on FreeBSD, but a slightly older version of FreeBSD. So should I count Mac in with all the BSD versions out there? PCBSD (based on FreeBSD), NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD. Most BSD's are text base, but you can put a desktop environment on any of them. Like Linux, Gnome and KDE are popular. Oh, wait, there's that whole Sun Solaris thing (Unix/BSD type of thing). Should I include that in the BSD's?

Then there's Linux.

While they like to tell us there's hundreds, if not thousands of version, I really only see four:

  1. Gnome - Mac-like desktop, Windows-like in use. Easier to use, simple.

  2. KDE - Windows-like desktop, Mac-like in use. Lots of options, and very flexible.

  3. Lean Desktops; XFCE, Fluxbox, OpenBox, IceWM, and others - simply and sometimes familiar layouts

  4. Pure text base - Sys Admin favorite. Very frugal, but very powerful



All the Linux distros fall into those categories. And for the most part, all the the BSD's fall in those categories too, except Mac OSX. Sun Solaris uses their customized version of Gnome.


So far, I've used most of the above. If you read this blog much, or just look around on it a bit, you'll know what I like to use. My current 'other favorite' is Damn Small Linux. Puppy Linux would run neck and neck with it -the two trading leads for my second favorite. I guess you could count Fedora as my third, but I haven't used it in awhile, so I'm sure there are better things out there now.

I think this is something Apple really got right - one OS. While I like having choices and options, Apple made it really easy by sticking to one OS. No matter what Mac you get, it's still the current version of Mac OSX.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Stores

If you've seen my main CoachDANNY.net site lately, you may have noticed more changes. Beside my CafePress.com apparel store, I now have an Amazon aStore.

I've always liked Amazon.com. I go to Borders, Barnes and Noble, or the library to see what new books are available. If I want one to keep, I buy it on Amazon. I bought the Head First HTML book on Amazon for far less than the store. I choose the Super Saver Shipping option -a good idea since I don't have much money- but the book came in only 4 days anyway. Bonus.

My aStore contains things I already have, or would like to have. There's a Tech section, Fitness and Lifestyle section, and SciFi section so far. As you can imagine, my Tech section has a bunch of Linux related stuff. I'll add more sections and stuff as I go. If you usually use Amazon, check and see if I have it on my site first. That way, I might make a buck or two. If you're into something I'm into, like home fitness training, check my fitness section. I'll grow the aStore more over time. My main focus here is really to give voice to things I like, recommend them, and possible make some money for tuition and such.

Since I really like Audible, I'm going to join their affiliate program too. I post audiobooks I have, and one's I'd like to have. If you have an audible account, or thinking about getting one, you might like the audiobooks I like.

Okay, personal commercial over. Yoga time.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

HTML kickin my Ass

When I signed up for my classes this semester, I was most nervous about the Introduction to Business, and Windows Server 2003 classes. Turns out those weren't the ones to be concerned with. The HTML class is more difficult than Organic Chemistry was the first time I was in college. This HTML class is why I haven't blogged in awhile. For every hour I spend studying for the other classes, I spend at least 4-5 hours on the html class, and I'm still struggling.

I dislike putting the blame on someone or something else, but the textbook for this class is one of the worst I've looked through. I highly DO NOT recommend it. I DO recommend Head First HTML. I purchased it off Amazon, and what a difference. The Head First series uses every means possible to help you learn a subject, not just throw the material at you, and see what sticks.




The teacher for my html class is very helpful. I'm not blaming him at all. Part of it is me, and my learning issues. When I'm struggling with a subject like this, the only way for me to really learn it is through a Brute Force learning technique, sometimes called over-learning. In his book, "How to Learn Any Foreign Language", Barry Farber emphasizes a multi prong attack. I used it to help with language learning. In this method, you use whatever you can to learn; books, tapes, CD's, software, videos, etc. This is exactly what I've done with this html class. I've downloaded, borrowed, and purchased as much material as I can get a hold of on the subject of html and xhtml.



I'm not too upset about the class, just a bit stressed. When I've had difficulty with a subject in the past, I set to overlearning it so well that it became a strength. Since collaborative workspaces and online educational content is something I want to go into, this is an important step for me. That, and I want to keep my GPA for better possibilities for scholarship money.

You may have noticed some changes to my blog. The text is different; was Times New Roman, now Verdana. The color is a bit darker (darkkhaki), and the links are different colors. That's partly from me playing and learning html. I'm also trying to keep a consistent look through all my linked sites from the main CoachDANNY.net site. I even updated the colors on my YouTube.com channel. I liked the original color of the blog better, actually, but I need to figure out how to use it in all the pages. I wish Flickr would enable different color schemes, but it's not really that important.

I'm looking forward to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon, coming out on October 18th. I've loaded the beta on a FreekBox. It looks good and works very well. It actually feels faster than previous version. Many new tools, too. I don't recommend an update on the 18th though. I'd wait about a month, at least. Let all the users find and fix the bugs first.