Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A little off the beaten path

Although I am a blogger (although not a very prolific one), I do like to keep a private journal to record my personal and private thoughts as I'm not "that kind of blogger" (i.e. have to discuss relationships, my personal life, politics, etc in front of the whole world unless I'm advocating a cause I feel REALLy strongly about). but anyway, just getting straight to the point, even though I usually discuss hardware related things here, I wanted to take the time to post about a piece of software I've really been enjoying lately. Once upon a time back when I was an ardent Mac user there existed a very nice piece of diary/journal software that I used on a regular basis, that is until it went shareware, and not being in agreement with the author that the price he wanted to charge justified it's utility, I gave it up. Lo these many years I've gone about my business and not really actively sought out a replacement, but always wished for one in the back of my mind.
As it so happens, the other day while perusing my feeds in Liferea I stumbled across an app called RedNotebook. Curious, I visited the page and it appeared to possess all of (and then some) of the features I enjoyed and desired in my old journal software. If you are an Ubuntu user you won't find it in the repositories, although he does produce Ubuntu builds and provides instructions on his project site on how to add his repo to your sources list as well as providing a GPG key. I believe there is also a Mac version and the author appears to be actively seeking a Windows packager as well (if you happen to swing that way). I won't waste time going into details and feautres as you can check those out for yourself at the link, but I just wanted to take the time to share this with those who might be interested. So if his is the type of thing that strikes your fancy, by all means give it a look.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Update on the 1000HA

I received the 1000HA overnight delivery last Friday. and so far Netbook Remix is getting along with it pretty well. The only real snag I ran into is the wireless compatibility. The current ath5k module in 9.04 worked very sporadically at best. So I ended up having to reaquaint myself with ndiswrapper. There are several sets of instructions on resolving this situation (just search the Ubuntu forums, (especially this post: Asus Eee PC 1000HA / 9.04 / Atheros AR242x) as well as many guides which can be found if you just google the terms "wireless, jaunty and 1000HA". One of the most important parts of this process is making sure you blacklist the lackluster ath5k module so Ubuntu doesn't try to fall back on it for some reason. But otherwise all is well, I haven't suffered any dropped connections (although they can be a bit weak at times) but so far I'm getting a full strength 54Mb/s connection about 98.9% of the time. I'm hoping that since Karmic is supposed to be so focused on netbooks that this situation will be resolved by next release, as I understand that Intrepid's ath5k drivers worked just fine so I know it's definitely possible.

One thing that has crossed my mind since access to major components on this machine are so easy to get to is a possible replacement for the OEM wireless card, preferably something from Intel. Any recommendations?

Speaking of Karmic, there is a lot of hard work being done on the proposed artwork for this upcoming release. One theme in particular, Redux, is my current favorite and seems to be coming along quite nicely. You might want to drop by GNOME-Look or the Incoming Artwork for Karmic page on the Ubuntu wiki and give it a test drive, and most iportantly provide some feedback as this may very well be the first theme you see when you fire up your brand spanking new version of 9.10 this fall.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new.

Well, the HP mini had some great attributes like size and keyboard, but battery life definitely wasn't one of them, and getting a replacement 6-cell just wasnt worth it in the long run as it would A) ruin the slimline aesthetics and B) the gain in battery life wasn't nearly as much as had been hoped for as reported by those that actually purchased one. So I sold it for a bit of a loss and purchased an equally reasonably priced Eee PC 901 20G (wanted to stay on the small side), the one that came with (blech!) Xandros Linux pre-installed. First order of business was to wipe out that kiddie interface and replace it with a "real" distro. I never got around to trying out Crunchbang as I had heard there were a few issues that needed to be ironed out with the "Cruncheee" version yet and I really didn't have the time or patience to work on it at the time. So during my research I found a distro that was supposed to make an Eee PC run like a top straight out of the box. Said distro shall remain nameless to avoid any flaming (although it's not too hard to narrow down the list of "Eee specific distros), but it certainly did not function as advertised. After many hours and days of the 901 overheating, updates breaking different features and trying to get all the hotkeys to work like they should (if I could get them to work at all), I finally threw in the towel and went in a different direction. Since the 901 was listed as a Tier 1 machine on the Ubuntu Netbook Remix web site, I decided to give it a spin. I installed it, ran all the updates and installed Eeecontrol. This time it was a much different story. Everything functioned as it should and the battery life was amazing. It worked so well, if fact, that my wife fell in love with the machine and decided she had to have one of her own. Unfortunately, by the time she had come to this conclusion the 901 had been discontinued and couldn't be found anywhere at a price of $400 or more, which was obviously unacceptable. Needless to say, the 901 is now the prized possession of Mrs. M and by week's end I'll be the (hopefully) proud owner of an Eee PC 1000HA. Hoping things go just as well with this machine as they did with the 901 fist time around. We shall see shortly, I suppose.

FYI, The Sansa Fuze is stil running like a champ. Looks like it's earned a permanent position in my ever flexible gadget-sphere. It works great with Rhythmbox (and Quod Libet, my alternate music management fave), not so much with Banshee which I gave a brief workout (yes, I'm yet another one of those anti-Mono zealots). Plan to give Listen and a few others a try in the not so distant future as well.