Saturday, May 9, 2009


Trying out a relatively new distro called CrunchBang (#! for short). It's essentially and unofficial stripped down version of Ubuntu using OpenBox as the WM rather than the standard GNOME. It's quite fast and just about exactly what I was looking for to run on the Mini as it uses less resources but still retains a good deal of the standard Ubuntu functionality since it relies largely on the Ubuntu repos and can utilize GTK apps. I've been a user of Fluxbox in the past and have found the learning curve of OpenBox to not be quite as steep as I imagined. If you're a netbook user like myself and are looking for an operating system with a little more pep and a little less bloat, do yourself a favor and fire up unetbootin, create a live USB image of CrunchBang Lite and take it for a test drive.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Latest additions to the family

In keeping with my new resolve to post more frequently, I'm posting about two new gadgets I've acquired recently. In the long interim since my first post I've had about five different computers, a Nokia N800, and HP iPaq Travel companion, two Nintendo DS, a PSP, iPod Touch, two Nano versions, two Shuffles and three different cell phones. But today I'm going to concentrate on a couple of things I've picked up in the last couple of weeks.

First up is the Sandisk Sansa Clip. Very simple and toy-like, there is a lot more under the hood than you might expect from a simple DAP in the Shuffle competition segment. Unlike the Shuffle, with which it shares only a similar size, you get a display, voice and FM radio recording, FM radio with presets, the ability to switch between MTP and MSC connection options, and support for OGG and FLAC as well as the expected WMA and MP3. Far more versatile than the proprietary Shuffle and best of all it works great in Ubuntu with music software such as Rhythmbox and Banshee. :)

Next is a little beauty I picked up on clearance at Best Buy, the Garmin Nuvi 205. For being a GPS device on it's way out, it's certainly a handy little guy. I plugged it in when I got to the parking lot and it acquired a good signal within about two minutes. I put in my home address to try it out and it took me straight there using my usual route. The maps were pretty up to date out of the box, but my apartment complex is so new that the street it's on didn't even show up, but the device itself can't really be blamed since this place just went up in the last few months. The screen is very responsive and legible even in the relatively bright sun and the touch provides nice positive haptic feedback when used. The speaker was quite loud at full volume and the voice cues were very clear. The battery appears to run down rather quickly which is a bit of a disappointment since there is an option for a "pedestrian" navigation mode which is something I very much wanted. But I think I can live with it since the device will spend the majority of it's time tethered to the power cord. One thing I can't figure out for the life of me is why some of these companies think that something like a picture viewer app adds value to a device like this. Go figure. I'd much rather have the space for additional maps. Aside from the battery the device also one other downside, and for me this is a biggie. So far after much time spent on Google there appears to be no (easy) way to update the device under Linux, which means I'll have to rely on the kindness of Windows and Mac using family and friends. Oh, well. I guess you can't have everything. Otherwise this little guy seems like it's going to earn it's keep and stay in my gadget arsenal for some time.