Archive for October, 2007

Web Site Redesign

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

I have spent the last couple of days redesigning my web site. I think it is starting to look a little bit better. I spent the last few days reading up on CSS. I have used CSS a bit, but I don’t use it very often. So, I end up forgetting some of the details about CSS. Today, I devoted some time to start editing the style sheet for the site.

The one thing that could be improved on it is adding more graphics to the site, but I have little knowledge of how to create fancy graphics. I would someday like to learn how to use Gimp better to create graphics.

So far it basically looks the way I want it to, the only problem I am having is getting the site to display right in older versions of Internet Explorer. CSS can be a pain. Each browser interprets the standard a little different, or fails the parse CSS correctly. The problem I am having is getting the layout to display correctly. In Firefox, Konqueror, Opera, and IE7, the site lays out how I want it too. The problem is when I view it with an older version of IE the main content area of the page is pushed down. I am going to have to spend some time reading how to fix this problem.

Ohio Linux Fest

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

At the end of September, I attended the Ohio Linux Fest (OLF). This was the first time that I had attended the event, and I am sure it won’t be the last. Overall, I was very very impressed with OLF. The only complaint I had is that I wish it was longer. The Ohio Linux Fest is a one day event, and it would be nice if they made it into a three day event. I think there would be enough good talks to fill three days.

The experience I had there was great. I was able to meet a lot of influential people in the open source community .

Arrived at the Ohio Linux Fest on Friday night. I arrived early because I wanted to attend the pre-conference party held at Barley’s. A few hundred people ended up showing at the pre-party. I also was able to meet many of the people that put on Linux podcast, such as the guys from the Linux Link Tech Show. Below is one of the pictures that I took at Barley’s of the people that host Linux podcasts. There were also a number of people there from the various user groups that I attend in the Detroit area, such as MUG and MDLUG.

The next day I arrived at the event around 8 A.M. I was really surprised with the amount of stuff that the vendors there gave away. I was able to get approximately 6 different t-shirts, and a number of different Linux distros. I also was able to get a copy of a DVD containing all of the Linux Link Tech Show (TLLTS) episodes. In addition, I signed up for a membership to the Free Software Foundation (FSF). I think that it is important to support the community. I able to use all of the great programs from the FSF, and I should support them financially.

Over the day, I attend a number of great talks. I would have to say my favorite talks were given by John “Maddog” Hall and Bradley Kuhn. I went to Maddog’s presentation early, so I was able to get a seat up front. Before his presentation started, I took a pictures of him. Maddog noticed this, at first I thought he didn’t like it, but this wasn’t the case. Maddog told me if you are going to take a picture of me, you might as well get in it. So before Maddog’s presentation, he posed in a picture with me. I appreciated how he was till to take a picture with a fan.

After the presentation were over, I attended the after party that was sponsored by Google. At the party Notacon provided the entertainment with Dual Core performing there. Notacon is another conference that I want to attend. I uploaded all of the pictures I took at OLF to this gallery. One thing I am hoping is the some of the recordings at the after party from NOOSS make there way on to the Web. I know they were streaming all of their interviews to the Web, but I am not sure if they have made mp3s of them.

BashPodder

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

In the past, I have used a number of different podcast clients to download the podcasts I listen to. I have found slight problems with each of these. For example, some did not give much control over the time when podcasts were scheduled for download. In addition, I used, I believe it was Rythmbox, and I could not figure out how to delete podcasts that I was no longer interested in downloading.

I decided to try BashPodder because I could schedule the downloads with cron and it had a configuration file that made it easy to change the podcast I wanted to receive. I downloaded BashPodder from Linc Fessenden web site. First, I created a directory named bash-podder. Then I download the three files needed to run BashPodder to that directory. Next, I created an entry in my crontab file by executing the command crontab -e, which opened up an editor to configure the cron job. Below is a sample of my crontab:


# crontab file
# m h dom mon dow command
0 * * * * /home/nathan/bash-podder/bashpodder.sh

Now, bashpodder.shell will run every hour to check for new podcasts.

The final step was to add more podcast that I like to the configuration file bp.conf. So, added all of the podcasts that I like that weren’t included in the configuration file that comes with BashPodder. Each line in bp.conf is a link to an rss file so that bashpodder will download the podcast. Although BashPodder may not have the interface of itunes, it is easy to setup and control and I would recommend it to others.

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbons Install

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

A day after Ubuntu 7.10 was released, I decided to upgrade two of my computers that were running Ubuntu. The first upgrade I did was on my laptop. I upgraded the laptop from Ubuntu 7.04 to 7.10. For this upgrade, everything went fine and within a short a period of time I had the new version of Ubuntu up and running. On the other hand, thing didn’t go so well with my desktop upgrade.

The desktop I have is an AMD64 3500. I have never done a clean install on this machine since probably installing either Ubuntu 5.10 or 6.04. All of the upgrades I performed on this machine went fine for the most part. So I decided to do another upgrade. This time things didn’t turn out as well.

After I initially rebooted after the upgraded it appeared that everthing was working fine. I really like how Compiz Fusion was integrated into Ubuntu. The default effects that were included were nice without over doing it. I personally didn’t like to use Compiz in the past because the desktop effects get annoying after a while. This is the one thing that I really like about Ubuntu 7.10.

Later, I rebooted the system and I was having problems with X. I’m not sure how X was working originally, and I made no changes to it and it all of a sudden broke. I guess on benefit of the changes made to X is it will start X at 800×640 even if X is broken. Also, my MythTv setup no longer worked after the upgrade, and I’m not sure what caused this. In addition, the thing that I couldn’t figure out is why I was unable to mount some of the hard drives . In my computer I have two SATA drives, one of which contained Ubuntu. In addition I have two PATA drives that are connected to a PCI controller card. The OS recongined these drives, but I was unable to mount them. I would get an error if I tried to mount them claiming that the had bad super blocks. I highly doubt that both of these disks quit working, so I used a live CD from another distro and I was able to mount the drives.

I really needed to access some of the data that was contained on one of the PATA cards, and I didn’t want to spend days trying to figure out what the problem was. In turn, I decided to take a step back and put Ubuntu 7.04 on the computer. I know with Ubuntu 7.04, I have none of these problems. So, after putting Ubuntu 7.04 back on the box everything is working again.

I think in a few weeks I am going to try to put Gutsy back on the computer when I have some time to address these problems. Overall, Gutsy looks like a nice upgrade, and hopefully most people have better luck with it than me.

Fed Up With Windows

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

A few years back, I vowed that I would never use Windows again. For a few years, I managed to accomplish this feat. But about a year ago, I need to have a phone line so that I could be reached. I didn’t want to purchase a cell phone because of the price, and the fact that people always want you to answer the phone if you own a cell phone. I had two choices to set up Astrisk and purchase the needed equipment, or use one of the cheap VoIP alternatives. I decided to try out Skype.

With Skype I was able to get a phone line for next to nothing. I believe it cost $30 or $40 a year to get a incoming Skype number. I ended up purchasing the Linksys CIT200 handset to use with Skype. The main drawback of the CIT200 is that Linksys offers no drivers for the phone for Linux, and I was unable to locate any Linux drivers online. So, I ended up setting up a Window’s box with the sole purpose of answering phone calls.

My experience with Skype and the CIT200 were good. The problem I had was with Windows being unstable. I was never able to get an uptime of over 3 or 4 days before Windows would crash and restart. I’m not sure if the problem is with my hardware or Windows. Some people claim that they are able to keep Windows running for an extended period of time, but this was never the case for me. While this was an annoyance, I was able to put up with it.

The real problem I had was with the registry becoming corrupt. One Friday morning, I woke up and noticed the computer reset and was unable to boot because the registry was corrupt. I fix this problem by restoring the registry, but without having to contact Microsoft because I activated my version of Windows too many times. Then within one week from when I fixed this problem, the registry became corrupt again. At this point I had enough of dealing with Microsoft, I did not want to have to call them again to get my version of Windows activated. So, I did the only sensible thing, I decided to put Linux on this spare computer.

I ended up buying a Logitech headset to use with Skype. So far, it seems to be working fine. I kind of miss having a cordless phone, but it is not worth the hassle of try to keep Windows running. I eventually want to get rid of Skype and buy an IP phone to use with Asterisk. The only problem is I would have to spend sometime becoming familiar with Asterisk before I get rid of Skype.

I ended up trying out PCLinuxOS on my old Windows box. I have heard quite a buzz over this distro, and so far I am pleased with it. I prefer Ubuntu, but PCLinux is a good alternative.

New Blog

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

For a while, I was using the Google service Blogger to maintain my blog. I let some time elapse between posts to the blog. When I attempted to add a new post, I was disappointed to learn that I could no longer access the account. I’m not quite sure what the actual problem was with accessing the blog. All I know is that I could no longer access the blog and all my attempts to recover the password failed.

For the past year, I have done very little blogging because I couldn’t access my account. Today, I finally took some time to set up some blogging software. I was happy to find it was a painless experience.

Since I am able to make posts again, I am going to try to add new content to this blog regularly.