Showing posts with label Hardware. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hardware. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

5 Below Fusion Speaker - BT Fusion Spk - Lights on, will connect, no sound

My wife picked up a cheap Bluetooth Speaker at 5 Below. It was $5.00. She used it once and it stopped working. It wouldn't even turn off. I looked it up and there was no manufacturer listed and the product does not seem to have a product code.


There appears to be a reset hole between the USB plug and the power switch. It didn't work, probably because there is no switch there. I was going to toss it in the trash, but the lights were still on and it would connect to my phone. Annoying.

So, I cracked it open. There are two screws on the bottom. I wanted to test the switch or disconnect the battery. No dice on the switch and the battery is soldered on. Figuring the product was done for anyway, I crossed the connections where the battery connects to the circuit board.

Just like they said in Ghostbusters, crossing things is bad. This could cause a fire or a board killing short. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ATTEMPTS, do not blame me if this starts a fire or destroys you or the device. 

Crossing the circuit immediately switched off the speaker. I reassembled it and tried the power switch. It worked. The device connected to my phone and I was good to go.

Silly to spend this much effort on a Five Dollar product, but it worked. Save yourself some time and do not remove the two screws holding the board to the chassis.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The machine that started it all...

In December of 2010, I started a website called Pretender to the Power. I was recently back to school and thought I had a little free time on my hands. Not so.

Instead of learning how to blog, I spent much of my time with my Asus PC EEE 700 series machine trying to get a handle on Linux.

Today, I found that little machine shoved in a drawer.

I plugged it in and booted up. It worked. It has 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB on a SSD with an actual 8 GB SD card for supplemental storage space runs at 800 mhz and as a 7" screen.

It's a Kindle Fire without the touchscreen. Or a Fire with a keyboard.

Well, not quite. The Fire is on the left. Both had their uses but I find myself using my Chromebook for most tasks. How things change.

I purchased the EEE PC for $138 back in 2009 on NewEgg. It was an open box return. For less than 200 bucks, I figured I could take a chance. It came with two 8 SD cards, a sleeve and the charger. Out of the box, it ran Xandros. Xandros served for a time but I out grew it.

I ended up running Netbook Remix, Ubuntu 10.10. It was simple, clean and invigorated my curiosity about Linux. I never really looked back. My current Chromebook has a copy of Linux hiding in the Crosh.

I recently updated my C710-2487 Chromebook from 4 to 8 Gb and my first thought was to transfer the old ram to the Asus. No dice. Wrong type.


Of course, I found 3 other 512 mb RAM chips lying around, but with a single slot, that is no help.

I am trying to decide if I will keep my old Asus or let it go. Not sure. In the image above, note the large empty space begging for some new gadget to be installed. Oh... the pain of being a nerd.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Stupid Linux Tips - Disable Touchscreen Temporally

I have a touchscreen that needs a good wipe down. Touch screens are annoying when dirty and you only have three options:

1) Wipe it down and hope you don't click something stupid.
2) Turn off the computer.
3) Disable the touchscreen.

I want item three, but there seems to be no Unity control panel for the touchscreen. I couldn't find one so I opened the Swiss army terminal and typed xinput.


Reading down the list is simple enough, id=13 is my touchscreen.

The command is xinput disable 13 or whatever number you need. Turning it back on is just as simple with xinput enable 13.


Obviously, I am not the best Linux user, but I like to share tidbits that make things easier.

Now clean that monitor.

C710-2487 Acer Chromebook Hardware Specs

I had to mess with it, I put myself in developer mode and switched to the dev channel in an effort to get my Wacom Bamboo working with my Chromebook. I just don't have time to test to night, so I will simply make a brief post about this Chromebook.
Hopefully, if I keep notes all will go well. This post is for my sanity.
C710-2487 Specs:
Screen Size11.6 inches
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Max Screen Resolution1366 x 768 pixels
Processor1.1 GHz Celeron 847
RAM4 GB DDR3
Hard Drive320 GB SATA
Graphics CoprocessorIntel HD Graphics
Graphics Card Ram Size128 MB
Wireless Type802.11bgn
Number of USB 2.0 Ports3
Average Battery Life (in hours)4 hours
Brand NameAcer
SeriesC710
Item model numberC710-2487
Hardware PlatformLinux
Operating SystemChrome
Item Weight3 pounds
Item Dimensions L x W x H11.22 x 1.09 x 7.95 inches
ColorIron Gray
Processor BrandIntel
Processor Count2
Computer Memory TypeDDR3 SDRAM
Hard Drive InterfaceSerial ATA
Hard Drive Rotational Speed5400 RPM
Optical Drive TypeNo
Audio-out Ports (#)1
Battery TypeLithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Batteries:1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)

Clamshell iBook Hard Drive Replacement Alternative

My aging Blue iBook is suffering from a lack of space. This machine shipped with a 10 GB hard drive way back in 1999. Since I launched theseoldgames.com, the need for installation space has gone up noticeably.

Ifixit.com has wonderfully detailed instructions for repair of a variety of consumer products, including the iBook. They are my "go to" site for most repair projects. However, replacing the iBook drive has 10 sections, 36 steps and no time listed for the upgrade. It is also marked difficult. Since I trust them, I believe that this is within my skill range, but will exceed my patience for the task.

When I upgraded my old computers hard drive the task took all of an hour. This is a much bugger project, one I am not convinced that I ready to start.

I had been using a USB thumb drive as an alternative to upgrading the drive, but having a little dongle sticking out the side of the computer was always a recipe for disaster. What if I broke the one and only USB port?

Well, that is where the SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB drive comes in. It's a tiny USB drive with more than adequate storage. This 32 GB drive was less than $20.00, on Amazon. Now you can get several of them for a little less than $35.00.

The SanDisk Cruzer would not be my first pick because I am clumsy and forgetful. Under normal circumstances, I would lose this thing in less than a day. However, once it is plugged into the iBook, it's sleek, small form is perfect for this machine. As you can see in the next picture, the SanDisk Cruzer doesn't extend past the edge of the case.

Perfect! Drive problem solved, no particular downsides other than loosing the use of the USB. Aside from a floppy drive and Wacom Table, I have nothing that uses that port. To be honest, I won't need to use either one for this laptop.

One caveat when plugging any drive into a OS 9 Mac - Sometimes the Mac will want to initialize the disk into a flavor or form it can use. Most modern machines do not have this problem, so plugging the drive into the Mac first, formatting if needed, then putting information on it using a different machine is the route to go.

In a perfect world I'd upgrade the hard drive, but this solution is so handy compared to the real fix, I'm gonna run with it.

Pros: Cheap and easy.
Cons: Can't boot from USB. Utilizes the only USB port on the machine.

The Little Machine That Started It All

In December of 2010, I started a website called Pretender to the Power. I was recently back to school and thought I had a little free time on my hands. Not so.

Instead of learning how to blog, I spent much of my time with my Asus PC EEE 700 series machine trying to get a handle on Linux.

Today, I found that little machine shoved in a drawer.

I plugged it in and booted up. It worked. It has 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB on a SSD with an actual 8 GB SD card for supplemental storage space runs at 800 mhz and as a 7" screen.

It's a Kindle Fire without the touchscreen. Or a Fire with a keyboard.

Well, not quite. The Fire is on the left. Both had their uses but I find myself using my Chromebook for most tasks. How things change.

I purchased the EEE PC for $138 back in 2009 on NewEgg. It was an open box return. For less than 200 bucks, I figured I could take a chance. It came with two 8 SD cards, a sleeve and the charger. Out of the box, it ran Xandros. Xandros served for a time but I out grew it.

I ended up running Netbook Remix, Ubuntu 10.10. It was simple, clean and invigorated my curiosity about Linux. I never really looked back. My current Chromebook has a copy of Linux hiding in the Crosh.

I recently updated my C710-2487 Chromebook from 4 to 8 Gb and my first thought was to transfer the old ram to the Asus. No dice. Wrong type.


Of course, I found 3 other 512 mb RAM chips lying around, but with a single slot, that is no help.

I am trying to decide if I will keep my old Asus or let it go. Not sure. In the image above, note the large empty space begging for some new gadget to be installed. Oh... the pain of being a nerd.



Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ubuntu Reinstall on Chromebook

There are many guides to installing Linux on a Chromebook. What I don't see are too many guides on what needs to be done afterwards. Using Crouton gives a very basic experience with Ubuntu, so a lot of things need tweaking.

One step that I often forget is switching to Dev Mode on a Chromebook can require a restart. Also, walking through the Ubuntu install also requires a restart. You can combo these together or do them one at a time. It doesn't really matter. What does matter is the restart option in Ubuntu will turn off your Chromebook. Think ahead.

I find the best way to get software easily is the Software Center. I know it can be buggy and odd, but it is a good place to start. Under the standard install of Ubuntu via Crouton, it isn't there and the terminal is the best option. First things first, make sure your install is up to date:

sudo apt-get update

This should only take a few seconds. Now you can get the software center:

sudo apt-get install software-center

The Software Center takes much longer to download and install. For whatever reason, sometimes the Software Center doesn't work. Simply repeat the command:

sudo apt-get update

The next thing I hit is a proper browser. NetSurf is 3 years old and kind of funky. It works fine in a pinch but doesn't offer a lot of features. I like Chromium.

A good word processor is a must and I am a fan of Libre Write. Write isn't the only game in town, you could simply use Google Docs, Abiword or WPS Writer. WPS Writer has the look and feel of MS Word, Abiword is a stripped down word processor which is easy to use and distraction free.

Stay tuned for more ideas of how to extend your Chromebook's usefulness.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Using GIMP to Resize Photos to a Specific Size

This afternoon I am editing photos for a website. I would like to take some images from 4992x4000 down to exactly 620 px across. I will be using Gimp and a little math to make this happen in seven steps.

First things first, I could do the math in my head, but I want to make this a step by step process. The second thing is, unpwnd doesn't require a specific size so the images in this walkthru will not be 620 px. That is not lost on me, I happen to Blogger as my platform and it has very different tools from Wordpress.

Step one. Open the image.
Step two. Click on Set Image Canvas Size. The dialog box will open and show that the image is currently 4992x4000. That is nothing like 620 px across.
Step three. I am going to adjust the width and the height. For the width, I need to lose those to extra pixels, it is so small no one will notice. So width becomes 2992-2=2990.

Height is another story. I am going to take away a multiple of 620. I decided that I would go with 620 times 2, so what I end up with is 2760. That is 4000-1240=2760.

Before I hit resize, I clicked the Center button. It just so happens that my subjects are dead center and this works. If it did not, I could have adjusted this manually.
Step four. I want to point out that I have been working with Canvas Size and not Image Size. Essentially, I am cropping the image to a particular size based on some math rather than an eye for photographic composition. Actual photographers have a great eye for composition and would not use this method.

Anyway, I think I can trim a little more of the edges and when I do that, I want my height and width to be an exact multiple of 620. I take the width of 2990 and divide by 620 which gives me 4.822 and some change. I do the same for the height which gives my 4.451 and change.

Now for a trick. I am going to take four away from each number leaving 0.822 and 0.451. Both of these numbers need to multiplied by 620. 620 is the only number I know for this process, which is why it keeps popping up. The results are 510 and 280.

2990-510 is 2480 and 2760-280 is also 2480.  2480 divided by 620 is 4.

Again, I am using the center bottom so I don't clip away my subjects. Also, this could a manual process.
Step five. Scale the image. I could do this part 2 ways. I picked the easy way: I scaled the image to 620. I could have also used the drop down box to select percent and typed in 25. There is no difference.
Step six. This is the result, an image that appears way too small. But not really, GIMP didn't change the scale of the display and the image is actually much bigger.
 Step seven. I set my view to 1:1. Looks good.
While all of this seems labor intensive, it is. But only once. Changes are your camera always outputs the same size image so you can save this as a macro making the process automatic.

And here is the final output at 620 px.

Neat, eh?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Clamshell iBook Hard Drive Replacement Alternative

My aging Blue iBook is suffering from a lack of space. This machine shipped with a 10 GB hard drive way back in 1999. Since I launched theseoldgames.com, the need for installation space has gone up noticeably.

Ifixit.com has wonderfully detailed instructions for repair of a variety of consumer products, including the iBook. They are my "go to" site for most repair projects. However, replacing the iBook drive has 10 sections, 36 steps and no time listed for the upgrade. It is also marked difficult. Since I trust them, I believe that this is within my skill range, but will exceed my patience for the task.

When I upgraded my old computers hard drive the task took all of an hour. This is a much bugger project, one I am not convinced that I ready to start.

I had been using a USB thumb drive as an alternative to upgrading the drive, but having a little dongle sticking out the side of the computer was always a recipe for disaster. What if I broke the one and only USB port?

Well, that is where the SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB drive comes in. It's a tiny USB drive with more than adequate storage. This 32 GB drive was less than $20.00, on Amazon. Now you can get several of them for a less than $20.

The SanDisk Cruzer would not be my first pick because I am clumsy and forgetful. Under normal circumstances, I would lose this thing in less than a day. However, once it is plugged into the iBook, it's sleek, small form is perfect for this machine. As you can see in the next picture, the SanDisk Cruzer doesn't extend past the edge of the case.

Perfect! Drive problem solved, no particular downsides other than loosing the use of the USB. Aside from a floppy drive and Wacom Table, I have nothing that uses that port. To be honest, I won't need to use either one for this laptop.

One caveat when plugging any drive into a OS 9 Mac - Sometimes the Mac will want to initialize the disk into a flavor or form it can use. Most modern machines do not have this problem, so plugging the drive into the Mac first, formatting if needed, then putting information on it using a different machine is the route to go.

In a perfect world I'd upgrade the hard drive, but this solution is so handy compared to the real fix, I'm gonna run with it.

Pros: Cheap and easy.
Cons: Can't boot from USB. Utilizes the only USB port on the machine.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Hardware Review

I am parring down my hardware greatly for 2017. On the Macintosh side, I aim to get down to 6 machines. Let's review them in order: 

Macintosh Plus: 

This machine is a workhorse. It arrived in my hands back in 1986 and has worked nearly continuously over the past 30 years. Back in 1987, the machine has a meltdown which was caused by heat. As you can see from the picture, I equipped it with a fan. 

The Macintosh Plus is a 8 mHz machine with 1 MB of ram. I hesitate to upgrade it further due to the previously mentioned heat problem. The Mac Plus has a 400 K internal floppy drive, an external 800 K floppy drive and an 88 MB Syquest drive, all in working order. 

Since I have only one 88 MB disc, I intend to hack the Syquest hardware into a hard drive case. 

The Mac Plus is running system 3.0 and Finder 4.0. I plan on finding some more recent software for the system. In theory, it can jump up to System 7. 

iBook Tangerine:

This is a relatively new addition to my home. 

The Tangerine is running System 9.2, Finder 9.2 and has the ability to run OS X, but only up to 10.3.9. It has 32 MB of RAM, a 6 GB hard drive and runs at 300 mHz. 

Currently, it is loaded with educational software and is often used by my children, as you can see from the picture to the right. 

Ideally, I would upgrade the hard drive, but taking these machines apart is a monster. I think I will settle for a low profile USB thumb drive for auxiliary storage. It could also use an airport card and new battery. 

I hope to do a review of each and every piece of software on this machine. 

iBook Blueberry: 

My Blueberry iBook is my go to machine. It has been through a lot and it is starting to show. I have it paired with a Wacom Bamboo tablet for artwork. 

The CD-ROM no longer works, owning to the fact that the System has been borked twice with the wrong disc. I purchased this item off of eBay for all of $15.00. It appeared that someone attempted to load OS X on it and utterly failed. Additionally, the installed OS was a crylic based language. I managed to get it working, only to screw up and delete it. Since I lacked the original discs, it took some might big hoops to reinstall OS 9.2.2 and Finder 9.2. 

The machine runs at a peppy 366 mHz, owing to the 320 MB of RAM. It isn't worth the effort to turn on Virtual Memory as the machine only has a 12 GB drive. It has an Airport card which still works in a great number of places and Classilla for a web browser. I also have the ability to switch to OS X, but it is Kodiak, OS 10.0.3. It's weird, so I don't do it. 

Very often, this machine comes with me to camp. I have a relatively new after market battery and use a RAM disc to get the most of out a single charge. It will last about 5 days of light use.   

Power Mac Graphite: 

This is a stock picture of a machine very much like my G4. Currently, it has been pressed into service as a parts holder and media center. It has 5 hard drives: a 20 GB, 3 40 GB and a 128 GB drive. It has a 450 mHz processor. I have one 256 MB, 128 MB and two 64 MB chips in there for a grand total of 896 MB of RAM. Obviously, I this machine is holding too much stuff. 

The G4 is a Sawtooth, so unfortunately, it cannot run anything less than 9.2.2. One hard drive holds copies of old operating systems for my older machines. Another boots 10.0.3 and a second boots 10.3. The last drive is used purely for backup. 

I do like this machine a lot but don't have time to keep up with it as much as I would like. In the future, I may upgrade the speakers with something better than the standard one. 

Power Mac 7100/80:

Ah, Carl Sagan. I haven't turned this machine on in a decade. I mean to have this one up and running in 2017. 

The Performas: 

I have two Performas. a 6300 CD and a 475 LC. Neither are in good shape. The 475 is my survivor. It met a terrible fate after being loaned to the Buffalo Museum of Science. It was left in an open top tote, in the back of a pickup truck from November to May, in Buffalo. It had been covered in mud, submerged and frozen several times by the time it came back to me.
Surprisingly, the 475 still boots. I don't know why or how, but it does. 

The 6300 CD is not so lucky. I don't know what happened to it, but it is actually rusting in some spots. I didn't think that could happen. It will be cannibalized for parts, as will my snow white iBook and white iMac. 

The iBook has the classic logic board problem and the iMac met a fate stranger than fiction. 

I took my daughter to see the movie Wall-e and Wall-e happens to make the same sound as the iMac on boot. My daughter decided to "go to the movies" and inserted her movie ticket into the slot drive. Surprisingly, the machine took it. What it objected to was all of the loose change she fed into it. 

There should be a service issue for this. The first time this happened, I found that sitting crosslegged on a bed and placing the iMac on my lap, then bouncing gently cause the offending movie ticket to fall out of the slot. You should not bounce so hard that the machine leaves your lap. The slot should be positioned over the space between your legs. (Did I just say that? I'm sorry, I don't have other words to describe something so stupid.) 

It worked for playing cards and credit cards and the odd coin. It did not work when my daughter put $4.00 in assorted change inside the slot. I would have to say bouncing the machine on my lap in this over-full state did it no good at all. 

In 2017, I will be saying "goodbye" to three machines and "hello" to six old friends. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Google Fi and Nexus 5

I just received my Nexus x5 and started on Google Fi. So far, the improvement over my Sharp Aquos on Sprint is incredible.

While Google Fi probably is connected to a Sprint network, the end user experience is much nicer. Additionally, I opted for the 32 GB phone which is an incredible improvement over my Aquos' 8 GB.
I'm still playing with some features, but Blogger works much better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stupid Linux Tips - Disable Touchscreen Temporally

I have a touchscreen that needs a good wipe down. Touch screens are annoying when dirty and you only have three options:

1) Wipe it down and hope you don't click something stupid.
2) Turn off the computer.
3) Disable the touchscreen.

I want item three, but there seems to be no Unity control panel for the touchscreen. I couldn't find one so I opened the Swiss army terminal and typed xinput.


Reading down the list is simple enough, id=13 is my touchscreen.

The command is xinput disable 13 or whatever number you need. Turning it back on is just as simple with xinput enable 13.


Obviously, I am not the best Linux user, but I like to share tidbits that make things easier.

Now clean that monitor.

Quickly lookup Ubuntu info

Ubuntu is nicely consistent. So consistent that often you can't tell what version you have just by looking.

Two commands in Terminal can grab that info for you:

lsb_release -a

uname -r


Settings and Details does the exact same thing, in a prettier form.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Strange Chromebook XFCE Glitch

This morning, I had some trouble with my version of XFCE on my Chromebook. Tab-Alt stopped working, the menu bar had vanished, the programs opened would not keep focus and the cursor was either X or invisible.

How I hate messing with a perfectly good distro. The solution is rather easy. Delete your ~/.cache/sessions directory and the functions come back after logoff/reboot. How simple.


Of course, I forgot you can't rm directories and needed to try three times before I remembered the rm -r modifier. So the actual command is above.

Whew! Thank god for Ubuntu and XFCE's easy of use. If this was Windows, I'd be screwed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Unable to create directory... Wordpress error (formerly http://unpwnd.com/?p=555)

Friday evening, I was hit by series of errors from WordPress. When uploading images, I was confronted by these error messages:
“Unable to create directory wp-content/uploads/2015/01. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”
“The uploaded file could not be moved to wp-content/uploads/2015/01″
Obviously, my permissions were off, but I couldn't figure out where.
The quick and dirty work around was to log into GoDaddy’s file management tool and create files and upload images via the tool. Back in WordPress, I needed to select a previously existing image and edit the code to match the files and directories I created in the previous stop.
That is not optimal and not advisable. 
The correct answer is to correct the permissions on the server via the file management tool. I made several attempts, but it didn’t seem to work. After calling GoDaddy, I found where I was going wrong.
First and always, log out of WordPress. Second, the items Web Visible and Web Writable need to be ticked on the WordPress upload folder. The directory location is: /wp-content/uploads/. You likely don’t have permission to edit the webroot directory, and you shouldn't give that much permission that high up.
If you select the folder and view the settings you will not see the ticks because the Inherit tick disables those options. Untick it.
The other two become active. You can see the problem right away, the folder isn’t Web Writable. Tick it. 
If you need a quick fix, this is it. Stop reading now, since I don't have any better suggestion to offer. 
If you are still reading, this WILL correct the issue temporarily, but this is not an optimal solution. I contacted GoDaddy 3 times over this issue. 
The first time, the chat agent attempted to reset my permissions, which wasn't the answer at all. I had all the permissions I needed, I simply needed a little more information. I only mention this because you do not want to waste time like this. Don't use chat, they have a tendancy of "escalating" contacts to unnamed people who will effect fixes in 30 minutes to several hours. It never works, don't use chat. 
The second time provided me with the information above. This is also not the correct solution, because it is a quick fix that does not stop the error from happening. I experienced this error more than 40 times from 5 different webpages, hosted on two different GoDaddy servers. I expressed the belief that someone or thing was resetting this one particular permission by accident. The rep said that it was possible, but he did not see that happening. 
The third time, the rep insisted that my use of php based forms was the cause of the issue and it was my fault for using php forms, I need to purchase several things to prevent "php injection attacks". GoDaddy suggested I use Wordpress when I purchased my hosting, because it was very secure and they would be able to address any troubleshoot concerns that I had with it. The last issue is my sites were hosted on a shared server. This is a good cheap solution, but it also means that if someone else has a problem I could have that problem, too. 
The GoDaddy agent was actually suggesting that they have a known problem where people can assess their server with no login credentials at all and modify files at will and not show up on any logs. I had a hardened version of Wordpress, I changed my login ids often and I was not seeing any additional files or files with modification dates that did not correspond to my editing patterns. The changes made by this "intrusion" actually made my site HARDER to attack by removing permissions from a valid function, without making any other modifications.
When I asked for any more information such as server logs, support, etc., I experienced an upcharge menu. Basically, these upcharges highlighted the difference between what I was told I was purchasing and the services I was actually being provided. 
You will notice that I am now on Blogger, a free platform and no longer hosting with GoDaddy. My primary purpose for this change is to get away from the frustration I was experiencing. Let's be real, I was paying under $20 to host 5 websites. For years, GoDaddy provided a wonderful and valuable service for four dollars a month. At some point, quality declined. I was no longer receiving the top end service I had come to expect, likely because I was paying for low end service. I can't really blame GoDaddy for this, but realistically I was paying 20 bucks for headaches. 
I seriously doubt the whole "PhP iNj3cTi0n 4tTaCk!!!!" line the agent tried to sell me on. I do not think they would be in business for very long if they allowed unrestricted access to their servers via the Wordpress install that they provide. That is idiotic. I am more inclined to believe that this is a misguided attempt at security, where someone in house, at GoDaddy is changing settings to be more cautious and more secure without bothering to address the issues this causes with one or more products they sell.
Using GoDaddy for hosting is really not a good option for me. If you are encountering this problem intermittently and it is within your tolerance level, they are a good choice. If not, time to move. I still use GoDaddy for my URL and such. That will not change anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Five years ago… My tech support hell ended

Five long years ago, I quit my technical support job. I couldn't do it anymore.
Me: What seems to be the issue?
Woman: My monitor is broken.
Me: *click* No, it isn’t. It’s just off.
Woman: Yeah, that’s the problem. That green light is bothering me and when I press that little button, it turns off. The problem is, when the green light turns off, the monitor stops working.
Me: That is the power indicator light. It’s on when the monitor is on…
Woman: Yes, you understand!!! No one else understood the problem.
Me: …
I am very happy where I am now.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Incantato, il mio vecchio amico Alsamixer!

If you use Duolingo on a chromebook, you may have microphone problems. I tinkered around with the settings and chromebooks do not allow websites to access your microphone and camera by default. Change that by going into settings and Privacy.
Now for the surprise. This didn’t completely fix my problem. I did a little more searching and found that Alsamixer is the key. Press crtl+alt+t to pop open a new crosh tab. Type shell and enter.

Bamb! Alsamixer almost like linux. That shouldn’t be a surprise. One issue I did encounter was the function keys wouldn’t work even when I used the function key. Not all is lost. For some reason the search key needs to be pressed to invoke the function keys.
No problem. Press it with your desired function key. Escape to exit. 
I like Duoling to keep up on my Spanish, but it occurs to me that it is also useful for my horrible Italian. Duolingo lets you select multiple languages at the same time. I have no idea if there is a limit to the number, but I thought that I would stick to the two I know pretty well. 

New chromebooks are much better than the one I have. I'm going to start shopping for a new one soon. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mint LXDE - What's Missing

I installed Mint LXDE 5 or six days ago. In a weeks time, I thought I would have a laundry list of software I absolutely must install. This is LXDE after all.
Surprisingly, that is not the case. LXDE is lightweight, but that doesn’t mean limited software. Right out the install box, Mint contains all of the software you might need for almost any task. For word processing Abiword is all you need; Spreadsheets are handled very well by Gnumeric; Gimp provides all of the photoediting capabilities one might need for almost any task.  Exaile is excellent for music and video is handled well by both MPlayer and VLC. Firefox is the go to web browser for any system and it did not require any updates with Mint LXDE 11, which was a nice touch. In fact with this version of Mint, I don’t believe I had more than a couple of updates.
So what did I HAVE to install? I selected Libre Office over Gnumeric and Abiword; however these to pieces of software are so handy that I decided to keep them. Considering all of the options in Libre Office, keeping them is high praise. For web browsers I needed something other than Firefox so I selected Opera and Epiphany-Browser. There is no beating Firefox in my book, but sometimes I need to look at websites in something else. Opera was selected because I last used this on my old Mac. Epiphany was snap decision, I wanted to take a drive with something new to me
The only lack I saw by way of software was a plain jane HTML editor and an ebook manager. Abiword could do it and there is nothing wrong with gedit, but Bluefish is my favourite. As for ebooks, I selected Calibre because it works so well and does so much more.
I hope to do a write up of my new software choices soon, so say tuned.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Why use Terminal? (GIMP Install)

Linux has come a long way over the years. Nearly every variant has a software manager, a graphical interface for adding software. Why bother with the Terminal any more?
First, the terminal will display everything it does. Second, there are many versions of Linux and all of them have Terminal as an option. No matter what version of Linux, Terminal experience will server you well.
Here is a quick example of how to install GIMP using the Terminal.
Install GIMP:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gimp
The && combos two commands, update and install. The first checks your repositories to make sure they are up to date and the second installs GIMP.
You can follow this with autoclean and clean:
sudo apt-get autoclean && sudo apt-get clean
These commands remove .deb files not used by your system. Autoclean removes the cache information. This is good for systems with low disk space, however the penalty is you will need to download these again if you need to update or install software.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eye on the Pi

I have my eye on the Raspberry Pi. This little machine has a vibrant community and help is available all around the web.
This morning, I found The Errant Scientist blog; Matthew takes a walk through the set up process and installation of software via the LXTerminal.