Saturday, October 4, 2008

Songbird 0.7.0

Finally a company has the right idea. I picked up the latest copy of Maximum PC today. As I like to see new software that's being developed (even though for the most part it doesn't apply to me being a Ubuntu Linux user). I came across an interesting piece of software to my surprise. It's an open-source program called Songbird. Because it's open-source it's available for Linux, Mac OSX , and Windows. Finally a cross platform music player that has built in support for iPods. Needless to say I went ahead and installed it right away on the Mac. Lets start with installation. It was very easy. Might I add that it automatically picked up on all my iTunes music. But it didn't stop there. It actually checked all music while importing and removed the duplicates for me. All I have to say about that is it's about damn time. I often move music back and forth and in some cases I move music that was already there back. What happens in iTunes is I end up with 3 copies of the same song and I don't know which one to remove. After that I immediately started installation of this application for my Ubuntu machine. It was fairly easy to install on both systems. For Ubuntu installation see my Journey To Ubuntu blog. If your a Mac or PC user go to Now once installed he application as I mentioned automatically adds your music. Either by directory of by existing iTunes library. This application is jam packed with amazing features. So lets start from top to bottom (if you have he application you'll follow this along a lot easier).

The Library:
It's pretty straighfoward when it comes to the library, you have your genre, then artist, album, and song. They also have a library search which comes in handy if you have alot of music. It's also very functional. It auto searches as you type and based off your library offere's a list of what it thinks your typing before you finish. The library is basically laid out like iTunes only with the actual player on the bottom instead of the top (that's what she said). I think the coolest part of the library is the option users have to get more media views. Wow it's about damn time we get to customize our media player to our liking. Also this application has a built in web browser so you don't have to switch around when surfiing the web for new songs or additional add-ons for this application. Also as a side note for you hard-core iTunes users they offer an iTunes skin or as they call it "feather".

Not really anything spectacular here. But I'll take this chance to mention the thousands of Add-ons offered by this application. Anything from song lyrics displayer to song tapper lets you tap the rhythm of a song and it will find it. They have everything and it doesn't come weighed down with all the crap it's just what the name says "ADD-ON" but it's free and fun.

Next is a new feature called Concerts:
This option allows a user to set his or her location and it will search your artists and find concerts in your area by your favorite bands.

Yes this application has radio support. But not the iTunes podcast type (although I'm sure those are offered as an Add-On) I'm talking the good radio that you find with Winamp. Shoutcast stuff like that.

Overall I give this application a 10 out of 10. I've read about users who have had issues with system performance... But no more than iTunes. My system isn't great by any means but this runs fine on it. I would highly recommend giving this application a try.

Work on a Saturday?

Today we all had to come into work. Now normally we work mon-fri 9-6 with an hour lunch. We don't usually have to work Saturday or Sunday. But because it's end of quarter and there's some work to be done we came in. So to all the people that do this on a daily basis... Hats off to you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

TC1100 Project

Today I have undertaken a huge task. I am going to setup an old TC1100 to run of 3 different operating systems. Yes it will be alot of fun is what I thought at first too. So here's the story.
A co-worker of mine asked me today to put Ubuntu, Windows 98 SE, and windows XP onto a TC1100 by HP/Compaq. Now first off these are little tablet PCs. I can only imagine that after working on one for more than an hour it would get really dull. So what I did was crabbed an external Keyboard and mouse. But then to my suprise realized (not that it was much of a suprise) that this unit has no CD drive... So I had to rumage around for an external CD drive which was quite the task. We're talking 10 boxes until I finally found it. Then I had to set out a game plan. I figured the easiest way to execute this was to Install Ubuntu first then have virtual box running 2 instances one of Windows 98SE and one of Windows XP.

So step one [Install Ubuntu]
Setup was pretty easy. It already had a version of windows XP installed so i just clicked Guided use entire disk and continued to click foward until it finally started installing. Now it took awhile most likely because it's running off an external CD drive... Which if any of you have ever used probably already know can be a massive bitch to work with. This whole step took about an hour to complete.

Step two [Install Virtual Box]
Go to System>Administration>Synaptic Package Manager
Click Search then Type:Virtual Box
Right click on the Virtual Box Listing and click Mark For Installation
Click Apply
Then go to Applications>System Tools>Virtual Box
Click Add set the size of you HDD I did two a 10GB and a 4GB
Then click New
First I installed Windows XP
Then after that was finished I installed Windows 98SE on the 4GB drive

Step three [Test]
Here's where it got complicated I had to actually forfit the entire project due to lack of system resources. Turns out Ubuntu Will Work Fine but any of the other operating systems just FAIL miserably. Even when not going through Virtual Box they lagged and generated system error. All in all I guess a TC1100 is just a crappy machine built for jack end users who do nothing more than eat tacos and surf the web (I always picture people who surf the web eating tacos)

But the important thing is... IT CAN BE DONE!!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Helping A Coworker In Need

A co-worker of mine recently approached me with an interesting question. He's the head technician for one of our accounts and has multiple machines for different functions on separate networks (Ghosting, Managing AD, Work Communication, etc). He wanted to be able to get rid of this excess clutter on his work bench by integrating all his machines to one monitor, one mouse, and one keyboard. Obviously I was egar to help him. I had suggested a couple ways to accomplish this one being a KVM switch. Today we ventured far and near in our workplace in search for a KVM switch with multiple inputs. Turns out we have a bunch of them (about 50 to be exact). It's the first time I have ever seen this type of KVM switch with support for up to 10 computers. I found it to be quite cool so we hooked it up and tada it works (Big surprise right?) So that combined with a few config orders is what I have done today!

The Future In Business Computers

OK so messing around with Ubuntu and recent headlines about off site data storage made me come up with an idea. I'm sure this has already been implemented in some situations but it makes a lot of sense for more companies to start doing this. As anybody who works in a cubical type environment knows their machine is usually tucked away somewhere near their feet, and when they log on to the network all their files for the most part are either on a server somewhere in a closet tucked away from normal access or saved directly on that machine the user has. But in the event that a hurricane comes through what do you do? Well some companies have resorted to backing up files on a remote server (probably somewhere in the mountains) to ensure data loss is prevented. But why? This process costs a lot of money and in reality since it goes through FTP is often very very slow. Here's my resolution. Large companies should have a remote server facility in which multiple instances of Windows XP, 2000, or whatever operating system is used at the company running on large servers. The user at the company then logs into his machine which is actually just one of those instances.

An example?
OK as you are all aware I work for a computer company. Well lets face it I need records of a lot of my data that I produce here when I am at home (Mainly so I can work with no pay) but also to ensure that I am getting everything done on time. I also don't trust our companies servers. I mean we lose power... A LOT!!! So what do I do? Well I have Ubuntu Linux at home running a really cool program called Virtual Box. So when I get into work I remote to my computer (Which is actually pretty decent speed, and I do all my work on my virtual machine. On my machine at home I have excellent security, a good backup program, and lets face it I never lose power to my computer (It's running off solar power). So all in all I think with today's technology and data backup issues this should be something that is explored a little more.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ubuntu In The Workplace

Currently I am a PC Technician at a place called Pomeroy IT Solutions. My job for the most part consists of configuring and repairing computers for multiple companies in a timely fashion. However due to lack of work recently (Most likely due to the horrible economy) I have come to face my mortal enemy... Boredom! So what does a computer tech do when he's bored and has thousands of PCs at his disposal?... Well here's what I did.

Normally the PCs we configure run on Windows 2000... Boring!!!
So with my recently aquired Ubuntu CD that I brought with me today (I was actually going to give it to a co worker but he can wait) I installed ubuntu on this Lenovo (IBM) Thinkcentre.
Model number for those of you who care 9645-CC5
It has about 256 MB of ram with (some of you may want to sit down for this) a 1.6 GHz Celeron Processor.
To be honest I didn't think it would actually run given that these are pretty outdated by today's standards. But to my suprise, it did, and very smoothly might I add.

Even with the additional desktop effects such as Desktop Cube, Motion Blur, etc. It still is running like a beast!

Now for the funny part.
Normally when we put windows on this machine it doesn't have any of the drivers preinstalled, which means we have to take out or handy driver CD and load them all up (we avoid this by just ghosting the whole machine now) but with Ubuntu it picked up on all the hardware. ALL OF THE HARDWARE!!!!... WOW I can't even do that with Windows XP on my machine. Needless to say today's boredom experiment made me a very very happy Ubuntu camper.

P.S. I ended up giving my co-worker the CD after I was done with it. He can't wait to go home and try it out!

SSD is the new hard drive?

Okay so it's been out for a long time now but developers are just now getting around to making it "worth while". SSD is essentially a flash card. Just imagine the possibilities. Now instead of having your hard drive running, faulting out, and essentially sucking power your computer will be run off of a SSD. What is SSD you may ask? It stand for Solid State Drive. Developers like Toshiba are making SSDs that can hold up to 256 GB. That's about the size of a HDD that's installed on almost any computer you buy at circuit city. How freaking amazing. The great part about it is well these drives are basically amazing. Take for instance your typical jump drive. Have you ever noticed how durable those are? I ran mine through the wash once, let it dry out and it still worked. Wow. So in short this new technology could in turn replace the HDD and set a new standard to memory management. I'm pretty excited about it. The possibility for this technology to become apparent in laptops is basically a given. With read speeds at 120MBps and write speeds at 70MBps through a SATA connection. I think I need to go to the bathroom!