Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rhythmbox And Magnatune

Because I like to spend a little too much time in the ubuntu forums, I was going over the Idea Pool for Hardy Heron (the next version of Ubuntu slated for release in April, 2008),, and found a thread discussing music management on Ubuntu.

First, just a pre-thought. I might be alone on this, but I actually *do not* like a lot of the new media players on other operating systems, such as iTunes and Windows Media Player, for the fact that they mostly seem to use a rather large amount of system resources. On the thread, they suggested against the plug-in architecture and urged towards making most features out of the box. Here I like to disagree, as most average users rarely use ALL features included in most media players, so many times end up consuming resources while not actually being used. The plug-in architecture allows me to start off with a relatively lean program, and then add features I like.

With that said, I did spend a minute looking through available plug-ins for Rhythmbox and found Magnatune, which I have browsed music at their website before at and found a few artists I really like (especially Falling You). What surprised me though, is that the plug-in actually allowed an entire collection from Magnatune to be streamed to your computer, and act almost as a second library, with great quality! They are not samples, but the full songs (with a short few words at the end saying this has been track # by artist name at A definite thumbs up. It of course also adds options to purchase the album (by download) or purchase the Physical CD, and retrieve artist information from the website. So if you have Rhythmbox, definitely give it a shot.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

CNR (Beta) on Ubuntu 7.10

A while back, I used Freespire for a while on my laptop that I now have Ubuntu on. I actually started with Ubuntu, but tried out Freespire mostly because it already had the codecs installed and was based on KDE. However, after several Ubuntu releases I became envious of it's advancements and progress, missed the community, and simply was nostalgic so I switched back to Ubuntu.

One of the things I liked most about Freespire was CNR. It was simple, easy, and had my favorite feature of all time (Aisles). So naturally I became excited when was announced and included the ability to install software via CNR on Ubuntu. Of course that excitement may have been a little too early.

I completely skipped the alpha stage, since I am more of an end user (and certainly not a developer) and waited until the Beta announcement, which also came support for the newest version of Ubuntu 7.10. With it here, I decided to give a test run. Now before I go any further, I just want to say that these are my own personal experiences, and may not reflect everyone's experience with (at least, hopefully).

Installing the CNR client was a breeze in Ubuntu. All you have to do is navigate to the download page for Ubuntu, click download, open with GDeb (default action), and it installed. A great first impression.

To give it a test run, I attempted four different software packages: Quake II, Simutrans, Inkscape, and Chromium. In short, I did not get a usable program at all in these trials.

Starting with Quake II, this one actually gave me the least problems in at least getting it installed. I simply navigated to the Games section, and saw it on the first list presented, and being a semi-Quake fan I decided to give it ago. I clicked Install, waited for it to synchronize and download, and installed fine. Now, I did not got a menu anywhere in Gnome, so I pulled up a terminal and typed in quake2 to get it started. After watching it for a few seconds, it returned an error about missing map/graphics or something of the sort (making me guess it may have just been the Quake II engine instead of the full game, which may be my fault for not looking into more). So Quake was a quick no go.

My second piece of software was Simutrans. This is where I found out very quickly that just because it is available on does not mean you can use it. I clicked the Install button, and received an error message that it would not install and it may not be available for your specific distro. So I went back to the page, and found (according to the graphic at the top right with the distro names and graphics) that indeed Ubuntu was not supported and would not install. I browsed through several of the game categories only to find that quite a few did not support Ubuntu, but only Freespire and Linspire.

Going onto the third one, Inkscape, will be brief. It simply froze CNR completely, and caused it to not respond. Nothing more to say. Restarted CNR, and moved on.

My last package was Chromium. Now to make sure, I checked that Chromium was indeed supported for Ubuntu (and it was). Great! I love this game. So I clicked install, but got an error message saying the game was not available on server, so unfortunately I never got to download it and play it. This was the last software I attempted to install, after having several failed attempts.

So after trying for a little while, I decided to postpone using anymore until it has had more time to mature and add additional support for Ubuntu. Until then, I do have a (short) list of suggestions I believe would really place above Ubuntu's native Add/Remove and Synaptic:

  1. Have more packages support Ubuntu
  2. Include games and game demos from commercial Linux companies (such as Linux Game Publishing).
  3. Include older and harder to find Linux games that are still very popular, and make installation a breeze. This includes old Loki games. Securing distribution rights for these games across multiple Linux distros would make a killing.
As for right now, because it is still in beta and because this was a rather short review / rant, I will withold giving a score until the final version of comes out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


So planning has started underway for Ohio Ubucon '08! Started by Vorian, and a little push from the team, and so far the planning has been going pretty good. There are a couple of things we need to work out, mostly stuff like regular meeting times, and contacting and securing sponsors. We have a good list of ideas so far (everything of course available at the Wiki).

I found a new hardware retailer today that specializes in Ubuntu offerings, and I'm thinking about contacting them about sponsorship (think along the lines of System76). We still need some hardware rigs for our gaming center, and theming center, and still in need of a server. Actually, we really need a place to host it!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Back With Desktop Linux

I finally got my laptop fixed (with a slight small cosmetic problem, but it's on the bottom so no biggie) and now I can once again run omg lightning fast Pentium M! (That's a joke of course). But seriously, because I can now run it at full speed without any of the heat problems, I decided to slap back on Linux again on to my laptop. Now as I'm sure you can tell from the right, I have Ubuntu 7.10 Linux on my laptop, althouh I am thinking about also trying SLED 10 also. I was originally going to try openSuse 10.3, for the simple fact I had really liked 10.1 with KDE, but it seems from many recent reviews, that I might be better with a more stable offering such as SLED (Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop).As of right now, it's still only Ubuntu, and Ubuntu's next release (due out in April) will be a Long Term Support release, meaning Ubuntu will support it for many years longer than most releases, meaning there's a bit more documentation and a lot more bug fixing, so I once the LTS is released I may very well stay with that one for a while.

Now enough rambling, here are some screenshots of my beautiful desktop. Remember, this is Linux.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Joan Jett: Still Rocking

And here's proof: A.C.D.C. by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Windows Live Writer

Over the next week or so I really want to dive into the world of Windows Live and Windows Live 2.0, and maybe take some of it for a test run. Now, as you have probably noticed, I've written quite a few blog posts today. Part of that reason is because I haven't written too much lately, and also the other part of the reason is the beta of a program I'm not sure I can live without after today. That program is Windows Live Writer, part of Microsoft's new push for the Windows Live suite. Now, if you aren't familiar with Windows Live at all, I would suggest doing a quick Google or Wikipedia search on it.

First of all, what is Windows Live Writer? It's an application made to simplify posting to your blog with rich media content (meaning pictures, tables, video, etc). Now for all you Myspace / Facebook people, it does not (yet?) support blogging from social networking sites, but it does support the major blog hosting sites. In fact, having impeccable support for Blogger (powered by Google, one of Microsoft's biggest competitors) was a huge plus for me. I do not like all in one solutions, and although Microsoft recommends their own blogging service, I'm very happy to see Microsoft own up and fully support a competitors service. After all, it did garner an additional user!

Now, there are three things that have really impressed me the most on this software. The first and foremost, is that it's simple. Very simple. So simple, in that to get started using the software, all I had to do was type in my web address for my blog, my login, and my password, and Windows Live Writer was able to successfully set up my account in Windows Live Writer to let me start immediately posting to my blog. It even picked up the skin from my blog, allowing me to see exactly how my post appears on my blog before I actually post it, and it does it perfect (again, this is interaction with a competitor's service!). No server settings, no painful uploading quarrels, no setting directories. Just click and go. Even to post to your blog, all you do is click publish, and you immediately have a new post on your blog's site. It's even simpler than doing it through Blogger's own interface! This is just a sign that truly, Windows Live products are mostly being geared towards regular home end users instead of IT Professionals or Businesses, and the result on here so far has been fantastic.

The second part that impressed me? The user interface from Windows Live Writer is gorgeous, and makes using the computer a pleasure again. It doesn't matter if you're using Windows XP or Vista, it's user interface is well designed, sleek, and takes all the extra junk out. While similar in color to the ribbon interface of Office, it is not as quite complex and still has the familiar layout of the File menus, but does not have endless additional buttons you'll never use. It's simple, straightforward, and clean. Take a look. (P.S. the screen shot below is from Wikipedia, and is not my blog or computer).WLWriter 

And finally, the last part that really did impress me, was Microsoft taking notice of the success of plug-ins, and has included plug-in functionality into Windows Live Writer. This was popularized mostly by Mozilla Firefox's well known Add-On infrastructure, and I am glad to see Microsoft implement this solution. It allows regular users to use a clean and light program, while power users can extend needed functionality by plug-ins. The only disappointing news about this is so far there are not any must have plug-ins; however, no worries. After all the product is only in beta, and it takes time for great plug-ins to be developed and catch on.

So, for the first time ever, I am going to hand out a score on techy stuff. The score for Windows Live Writer?

Score: 9/10

Early Christmas List

Because it's never too early to post stuff you can't afford right? Of course not! So here goes a few things!

Computer!! Of course

Yep, that's right, a computer on Ebay. Good for several reasons. One, it's cheaper than buying at retail. Two, it provides a 64-bit extended processor that, though not quite as efficient as Intel Core Duo, still outstrips my current Pentium M (especially with it only at 1Ghz), gives ample room for memory for much larger applications, and an Intel video card (open specs, great for Linux and alternative OS's).

Total Price: Approximately $380.00 (Including Shipping)

Men's Phoenix and Dragon Ring

Why? Because it has my two favorite icons: the Phoenix, symbol of rebirth and healing (Phoenix Tears), and the Dragon, symbol of strength, power, and rule. It's also sterling silver, meaning it's not expensive. My only gripe isn't even with the ring itself, but how it's described. It is *not* a wedding band. Sorry guys.

Total Price: Approximately $29.00 (Including Shipping)

Lot of 5 Xbox Games

Because, unfortunately, I no longer have an Xbox 360 and just a regular Xbox, with a handful of games. However, this lot has two games I'd love (Need For Speed Most Wanted, and Madden), along with a game from a series I love (Oddworld), and one I've always wanted to try (Battlefield).

Total Price: Approximately $22.00 - $37.00 (Bid or Buy It Now).

New Dog. Chinese Food?

Okay, so it's true, we did get a new dog. His name is Domino, and is a black lab mixed with something else that we're not quite sure about. And yes, we're not really supposed to have pets, but so far we haven't really run into too many problems with that, except the occasional dirty look from people without pets. The main problem we have run into with this is taking the dog out to potty, since we cant really do that when the Landlord is working, which means we have to take him out after 7PM, causing the occasional accident (thank god the dog is smart enough to at least not go on the carpet), and we did buy some newspaper for that just in case. If there is one thing though that may make us have an additional meal of Chinese towards the end of the week, it's chewing. So far the dog has chewed completely apart an Xbox controller and Nintendo 64 controller, along with part of our box spring for our bed and recently caught with my shoe! Which may get permanently get stuck up it's behind if I catch that again. We're trying to teach him about the chewing but so far, it's his worse habit. What's even more frustrating is that he wont chew the bones that we bought for him to chew on! Frustrating. But, the dog is cute.


Sometimes it's hard to forget that Life is not a movie. I guess it comes in bad habit of watching a few too many of them. At times, I will look back at life and remember that this truly is not what I expected, but am happy none the less. From watching movies, everything seemed easier, and no matter what it worked out in the end. What they don't show unfortunately is the amount of shear work that has to be put in with every drop in order to make those things work. We also don't think about the situations that happen in movies. Think about it, when a dog goes on the carpet in a movie, it's funny as the character wrinkles her nose and gives a sour face. In real life, it's just sour. I will always be a big fan of movies, and I love them for the shear factor of forgetting reality for an hour and a half, and they always have those little lessons to never forget, but there's much more to learn in real life.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

AOL Radio. Almost.

Okay, I should've known from the beginning because it was an AOL service, but I try to be as little biased as possible. After all, AOL did manage to impress me quite a bit with their features with AOL Music (videos) as shown on the site. It's almost depressing, because it really is a great idea, and has great music.

Taking it from the top, AOL Radio is exactly what it sounds like: Internet Radio by AOL (for both AOL and non-AOL subscribers). It has a decent selection of stations, including select XM stations and it's own brand of stations. It has everything from your usual selection of country, rock, christian, pop, jazz, r&b, etc. What really impressed me the first time I used it was the selection of music from it's Top Country station. I was beyond impressed, it had the best country artists, the quality is great (they're close to CD Quality, much better than FM), with almost no noticeable buffering. Admittedly the first time I used it was while trying out the AOL 9.0 VR, and it worked great. Also, my biggest gripe with regular radio is the barrage of audio ads. With AOL, they display an image ad to the right of the radio instead, meaning it doesn't disrupt the music. The most ads you really get is a 5 second AOL Radio ad approximately every 10 songs (30 to 40 minutes). That was a very non-intrusive way to provide advertisement without getting in the way of the service.

The problems came after trying it outside of AOL. It doesn't work with Firefox, which was it's main killing point (there is no excuse for cutting out Firefox when it has such a large market share around the world). They're excuse? There is a bug with Java and Firefox interacting with Firefox. The sad news, is that bug has been there since Firefox 1.5 and AOL never fixed it. But that's okay, it should be usable with Internet Explorer right? Well, sometimes anyways. It seems it's been having some problems lately connecting, and will sometimes just present an unable to connect error (variant of your browser of course). Server problems?

I really, really like AOL Radio. It's one of the only Internet Radio stations I want to use, but cant because of their inability to fix the bugs and being able to actually get it started. It's great inside of AOL, but with AOL's userbase rapidly declining, they need to make their services more open to third party software and browsers, especially since they want to become more of a content provider (than ISP) such as Google and Yahoo. They have some great services, but they need to work out the kinks to really let them become more accessible and take off.

Monday, October 8, 2007


So I have done a lot of Ebaying latley, trying to look for computers that are pretty cheap to replace my current laptop that is failing. So far I've added quite a few to my watch list (Thank you, Ebay Companion!). If they all end up costing too much, I found one that's a Buy-it-now that would work perfectly, the only immediate upgrade it would need would be a bigger hard drive (and eventually a RAM/GPU upgrade).

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lifetrack (Soundtrack of My Life)

Because I have the time to tonight, I have decided to put together part one of what I like to call my Lifetrack, which is a soundtrack of songs to my life, that describe me, or are important to me. Songs that I listened to while growing up, that give me strong memories, and helped me through times, or are just fun to jam to.

Song One: Life Is A Highway by Rascall Flatts
This is the ultimate pick me up song. It's really hard to be depressed when listening to this song. It's a reminder that no matter what happens, there is always more to explore in life. It is a classic "highway song" that's great to drive to and a great joy to listen to and just have fun with.

Song Two: Little Bitty by Alan Jackson
This is another pick me up song, but is also a strong reminder that you dont have to be a hotshot to have a great life. As Alan puts it, it's alright to be Little Bitty. A great song to listen to when you think you're life is just average and doesn't mean much. You'll be surprised as it grabs you by it's upbeat tempo and meaningful lyrics.

Song Three: Everywhere by Michelle Branch
This song has a lot of history with me. When I first became softer and in search of someone that I could fall in love with, this song blasted it's way onto the radio. It also began my (musical) obsession with the singer-songwriter Michelle Branch. This song always takes me back to the times of my first serious crushes, and the trying and (usually failing) to win over girls that I was infatuated in. Not only does it remind me of being young, but it also contains very powerful musical arrangements and lyrics, with the cute voice of Michelle.

Song Four: Punk Rock 101 by Bowling For Soup
There are a lot of songs by this band that I absolutely fell in love with, and I'm sure this wont be the only song throughout the different parts. Bowling For Soup was the happy version of pop rock (unlike many left to be un-named others). They are the reason I went to the Warped Tour for the first time. This song in particular struck me around the time Chris, Adam, and I were all best friends; in fact is was Chris that introduced me to BFS. We used to say that we would end up at the Warped Tour; Chris / Adam skateboarding, and me playing guitar in a band similar to BFS. Cheers to that!

Song Five: Stuck With Me by Green Day
Green Day, along with Blink-182, was some of the first rock music I really got in to. And it's hard not to, Green Day is unique. They have simple yet addicting riffs and hooks, along with real, *usually* intelligent lyrics that are easy to relate to. Like Bowling For Soup, expect to see more of them as the list goes on. This particular song comes from my favorite album of theirs, Insomniac, which represented a darker side to their lyrics and sound. This song is a strong reminder of early to mid high school years, as I was always listening to them in the hallways and on the busses. I loved the lyrics because they are easily relatable, and on many occasions explains exactly how I feel. Also, many of the lyrics describe my current position at work (such as "Throw me in the gutter cause it's alright; Take it from my dignity and waste it 'til it's dead" are two good examples.

Song Six: Revolution by Authority Zero
A song that takes me back to the times where I first started to listen to samples of "punk rock" music, such as Authority Zero, Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, etc. This song is extremely moving, and really brings up one good point (or idea? I dont know how to put it): If you want a Revolution, You've gotta make a difference on your own. Want A Revolution? Stand Up, Stand Out, And Make It Known! Not only does it talk about really making a difference instead of just talking about it, it also points out some of the fears that many have in making known they want a difference ("To make a move could devestation" and "Yet it could be my last big mistake").

Dont forget to come back for the next couple of parts in my Lifetrack! Hope some of you also start your own!

Intro and Web Browser Shake Up

First of all, I just want to thank you for reading my first ever post in my new blog. This blog will be a mostly free of structure expression of anything going through my mind. Anything on here may be informative, like a tutorial or explanation, argument, views, thoughts, or intros.

Or it could be a completely pointless post. Cheers! For today:

Web browsers: they are used for everything today. Surfing the web, reading the news, checking internet based email, viewing and sharing photos, interacting in social sites, purchases, banking; you name it, it can probably do it.

Since 2004, a new major player came out into the browser market that not only showed the world that as the internet evolves, the browser must too, and make money to boot. That web browser is known as Mozilla Firefox. It was the first browser to challenge the dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer since the original browser wars in the 1990's (Internet Explorer vs. Netscape). It proved that dominance in a market can be swayed over time if that dominance allows decay in innovation. While alternatives existed at the time, many were proprietary or paid alternatives, to access something that many used to gain information and software for free, it's hard to sell someone a tool where one exists for free.

So with Firefox came tabbed browsing to the web, along with improved (but not perfect) support for standards, and a more lean and stable program than it's rival, at the same cost: zero. In three years, the browser surpassed 400 million downloads, claiming nearly 25 percent of the browser usage market in Europe (including some countries with over a 45 percent market share) and also became one of the most profitable browsers in existance, due to it's deal with Google about including search by default in the top right bar and being the default homepage of Firefox installations.

So why is it now that Firefox is starting to slow down? Several reasons; one of course is that there is now much fiercer competition on the horizon. You have Internet Explorer 7 recently coming out, Opera which has been released for free, Apple releasing Safari for Windows, and many specialty browsers (which are often more mods of Internet Explorer) that are included with Internet Providers software installation (such as AT&T's web browser, Earthlink's, and of course AOL). For me this has been the largest reason why my usage of Firefox has dwindled slightly, I have begun to move over to Opera.

It has also become a victim of it's own success, in that in each new release, the browser is beginning to embed new features permenantly into the browser, causing the browser to become a fatter cousin of it's former self (that started as a lean alternative).

In it's defense, Firefox has the most configurable interface and functionality of any browser on the planet, far surpassing it's main rival of Internet Explorer and contempary smaller competitors such as Opera and Safari. Due in large part to it's commited base of developers (in result of being an Open Source application), if you'd like the browser to do something, more than likely you can find an add-on that does it.

Competition is good, and it is sure heating up in the browser market. Firefox is still nipping at it's rivals heels for marketshare to be sure, but at a slower pace. It is still a great browser, and the best introduction to alternatives out there, but they need to decide whether they want to be an all in one with features (such as Opera) or an alternative leaner browser with good support and standards with *optional* add-ons. Or maybe just a powerful marketing hand.