TLDR: Is 2017 the Worst Year for New Devices?

TLDR is live on https://youtube.com/lockergnome every weekday, this is a special presentation to let you know TLDR is back!
All of Today’s Devices Are Imperfect – is 2017 the worst year for new devices?

Should Chris try the Samsung Note 8?

What’s the deal with the Razer Phone?

AMA also meant Star Wars questions mixed with lots of tech! Thanks for the Superchats!

Hands on with an Ubuntu Phone at CES 2013

Be jelly, bro. Chris got to play with an Ubuntu phone here at CES 2013. The entire trip was made possible by our friends at AMD. He has to thank them a thousand times over. The entire experience has been incredible for Chris and Diana so far. They’ve gotten to meet and hang out with amazing people, see seriously awesome technology and, well, play with the Ubuntu phone we’ve all been waiting to see.

The welcome screen on this device is very clean and simple to navigate. It gives clear visual indications of the types and number of messages that you would have at any point in time. The wallpaper isn’t static — it’s dynamic and constantly changes depending on notifications on the phone. The biggest and most important thing to note about this device is that it’s not just a phone — it’s an entire computer in the palm of your hand.

As you would expect, every aspect of this phone is highly customizable. Use appears to be intuitive and just so much nicer than many of the interfaces I’ve used in the past. I admit it: I’m an iPhone fan. I adore my device. But this — this is something I could completely embrace. What I wouldn’t give to get my hands on one to test and play with!

Hands on with an Ubuntu Phone at CES 2013The Ubuntu phone uses natural swipe gestures from any screen edge to make it easier to access your content or switch from app to app. All edges of the phone are used. This makes it a lot faster to change what your focus in a nanosecond. A short swipe from the left will reveal your favorite apps. There’s room there for everything your heart desires and it’s all available from the home screen or from within any application.

A full left-to-right swipe will unveil a screen that shows all apps currently open while a swipe from the right brings you to the last app you had been using! Page left or right from the home screen to find the content you consume most often. Swiping up from the bottom brings you to the app controls. Hide or reveal them instantly… they won’t take up room on your screen. This frees you up to actually focus on things instead of being distracted by a gazillion icons.

Probably the coolest part of the Ubuntu phone is the fact that it can work on any type of hardware. The operating system provides a fast and gorgeous experience — no matter whether your parts are cheap or high-end. There’s no waste in having a Java virtual machine so all of the core applications run at full speeds with tiny little footprints left in memory. This is great news for inexpensive devices. When paired with a high-end smartphone, Ubuntu may just pave the way for a whole new level of phone by making an entire PC desktop available simply by docking the device to a monitor and keyboard. Seriously. This, to me, is the future of personal computing: all mobile, all of the time.

After taking a look at what Ubuntu has in store for the future of phones, are you salivating? Will you be grabbing one of these devices when they hit the market?

What’s The Best OS for a Netbook? Simple: Joli OS

What's The Best OS for a Netbook? Simple: Joli OSNetbooks are such tender things, really. Soft, delicate little machines that give you more word processing ease than a tablet can, but without being as bulky and content-filled as a laptop or desktop would be. I knew when I made my first purchase of a netbook that I was going to be using it expressly for checking email and writing articles when on the go. Back when it got all of its major usage, that’s all I had needed it for as I was traveling a lot.

My Dell Mini 10 Inspiron was a special edition that I bought specifically for the Nickleodeon “Slime” casing. Yes, I’m really mature. It was released with Windows XP and something about it felt a bit too cluttered for such a tiny machine. While it did everything I wanted it to do, it felt like it was doing it terribly slowly and so the search was on for something to expedite the time that the tiny machine was taking to do even the most minute of tasks.

Having very little knowledge of Linux, I was introduced to an install of Linux that was more user-friendly and it could be installed via a USB thumb drive with very little complications. I absolutely loved this OS because it ran as fast as possible and with only minor problems (the wireless card had to be tricked into working), and they were easily fixed.

Eventually, it appeared I was using the netbook less and less and yet my child, who is 11, needed it more and more for homework. Linux is many things, but it’s not user-friendly for children. After everything I had been hearing about the Chrome OS and how Chromebooks were essentially browser and cloud-sharing heaven, I wanted to know if this was something I could install onto this tiny netbook for my kid. Hell, I wasn’t using it anymore and what better computer starter for a child than a netbook? It has barely any space on it to get into trouble with, you can’t download heavy programs, and it essentially can be used for Internet and basic word processing. Why not, right?

After a bit of rummaging around, I found Joli OS. You want to talk about a simplified installation of a Chrome-based operating system? Joli did it. If you can operate Google Chrome, you can operate Joli OS. What I loved even more is that, when I was introducing my tiny netbook to this OS, I had my concerns. Did I have enough RAM? Most netbooks don’t come packed with a ton of memory, and this one was no different as it only housed one gig. Was the integrated graphics card going to be okay? What about space?

When looking into Chrome-based OS platforms for netbooks, I found that most of the websites and forums that touted the beautiful new option were filled with reassuring voices. “Go ahead, try it out. You’ll love it. Don’t worry; it’s safe here and the water is just fine.” And without much more troubleshooting whatsoever, I installed Joli OS onto my netbook.

I could never go back.

What's The Best OS for a Netbook? Simple: Joli OS
Look familiar? That’s because it’s as welcoming as the Chrome App Store.

Before I knew it, I was grabbing up the old desktops that we wanted to repurpose for use of children in the family. I have a special needs brother who we’ve burned through computer after computer because there was never a way to keep the complications of Windows from becoming problematic for an autistic youth. Finally, we had something we could give to him that he had no possible way of getting into the guts of and reprogramming unintentionally. I took every computer I could find and set to work installing Joli OS and bringing Windows-fried computers back to life. Suddenly, I was brainstorming ways to find old, abandoned PCs to rebuild to simplistic glory again. I became a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein, but instead of bolt-templed monstrosities, I was giving people a way to stay connected.

I urge all of you to check out the beauty that is Joli OS. And even if you don’t have any systems that need repurposing, check out the utilities it has that open up the cloud for everyday use. Want to try out the fast reflexes of a Chromebook that boots up in mere seconds without having to shell out hundreds up front? Try Joli. Have an old computer you want to set up for some kids or perhaps a parent or grandparent? Joli will give them all they need and keep them safe and protected from malware and viruses while letting them keep in contact.

Still not convinced? Take a look at this video of the Jolicloud system that can be used on your desktop now to give the system a whirl before installing the actual OS. It’s beautiful and you can even dual-boot it from Windows if you want to give the actual OS a try. Want to just peek in? Download the Desktop Joli, a seamless cloud client that you will fall in love with.

Do you use a Chrome-style OS? Perhaps you found a flavor of Linux you like? What do you use for your netbooks or older computers — or maybe you’ve heard of some new OS out there? Share with us in the comments below!

Boot Linux from USB the Easy Way

Boot Linux from USB the Easy WayThe best part of using Linux is that there is a wide selection of distributions called ‘distros’ available for consumers and businesses alike. Many of us like to try different distributions to see what is being offered and how well one of the variations of Linux will perform on our computer hardware. The problem once was that, if you didn’t want to install the distribution on a hard disk, you needed to run Linux from either a CD or DVD in what has been referred to as running live.

But using a live CD or DVD poses these problems:

  • Changes to the OS cannot be saved.
  • Documents you create cannot be saved.
  • Favorites cannot be saved.
  • Browsing history, cache, tabs, and bookmarks are all lost when the disk is rebooted.
  • Emails, contact lists, inboxes, and outboxes are also not saved.

There is a piece of free software that solves these problems plus more in one simple-to-use package. The program is called Linux Live USB Creator and is available to use with Windows. Here is what Linux Live USB Creator does:

  • Allows the installation of most of the popular Linux distributions — including those from Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux and more — which can be downloaded and installed through Linux Live USB Creator.
  • Allows booting directly from the USB drive.
  • Allows virtualization using Oracle software to boot Linux inside of Windows.
  • Allows saving of all of the items mentioned above and includes the saving of new installed software packages directly to the USB drive via what the developer calls Persistence.

Below is the startup screen for Linux Live USB Creator and the directions are easy to understand — even for a novice user.

Boot Linux from USB the Easy Way

  • First, select the USB drive that you wish to use for the Linux installation.
  • Next, select the mode in which to install or download the Linux distribution of your choosing. Selections include:
    • from ISO/IMG/Zip file
    • from a CD or DVD
    • downloaded from a long list of various Linux sources. You will have the option to manually select a download mirror or to automatically allow the fastest mirror site to be selected.
  • Live mode allows you the opportunity, if your USB capacity is large enough, to set up Persistence. Persistence allows a data store size of up to 4 GB to keep your stuff on. If you read the FAQ included on the Linux Live USB Creator site, there is a link on how to increase the storage on a USB drive to larger than 4 GB.
  • Options to perform the following tasks are:
    • Enable launching Linux Live in Windows aka Virtualization.
    • Hide the files that are created on the USB drive.
    • Format the USB drive in FAT32.

    Note: I select all three options, which seems to work the best for me. I have tried five different distributions using this method and all five worked perfectly.

  • This is the simplest step. Click on the Lightning Bolt to start the installation.

The best part of using Linux Live USB Creator is the ability to launch the program while in Windows.

Boot Linux from USB the Easy Way

I placed a shortcut to the Oracle virtualization program on my desktop by using the E:\VirtualBox\Virtualize_This_Key.exe command to activate the program. Your drive letter may be different depending on how your system is set up.

Linux Live USB Creator is a very good program and is currently being offered to us for free, which is an unbeatable price. The biggest benefit of the program is that it allows you to take your own operating system with your own settings, programs, and data with you, no matter where you go. You should be aware of the fact that some USB drives perform better than others, so your performance may vary.

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Andriano Gasparri

Best Linux Downloads for Any New Linux Computer

Admittedly, Linux is a little talked-about subject on LockerGnome, but we admire all operating systems and try to cover them as best as we can. In response to my recent Windows and OS X based articles that went over the best downloads for any new computer (PC or Mac), I thought it’d be appropriate to give Linux users some love and list off our top downloads for the vast Linux system. I must warn you now that there are a vast array of Linux distributions; on the upside, this allows for open development, but on the downside, it’s hard to hit a majority of the users because of the many distributions.

Today we’re going to focus on software that works with Ubuntu, which is the most common desktop iteration of Linux, but you can most likely find what you’re looking for on the other systems with the help of a search engine. Most, if not all, of these items are going to be available for free and are going to be inside of the Ubuntu store. We will hit a variety of products and software types; if you don’t see yours, let us know in the comments to let our readers know that there might be something else to look into.

Productivity

GnomeDo: This service is just like Alfred for Mac; it replaces the default search on your Linux computer and lets you easily access a search box to get to your folders or even the Web. I consider it an essential application that lives in the background and is robust but lightweight enough to power your searches for applications on your computer for easy launching.

LibreOffice: It seems we just can’t escape LibreOffice. Available on all platforms, it is free and a great replacement for paid office suites like Microsoft Office. The software suite comes with a variety of applications to replace the expensive document creation software and do the same job.

gedit: gedit is the official text editor of the GNOME desktop environment. It’s highly configurable and includes syntax highlighting for easy coding on your Linux computer. The text editing application is expandable with plugins to suit your typing needs; it also has an amazing and easy-to-use interface that is pleasing to navigate for any user.

Internet

Chromium: As the base of Google Chrome, Chromium is a lightweight browser like Google Chrome and just as functional. It has a Web store that ties in with your Google Account, so if you have Google Chrome on your desktop, you can sync bookmarks and apps on to Chromium.

Thunderbird: Hands down, the best mail application for Linux is Thunderbird. It’s free and made by Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, and has by far the best interface of all free mail software. You can use Thunderbird to manage multiple email addresses with a high level of customizability.

Pidgin: Let’s face it, you probably have multiple instant messenger accounts. An easy way to manage all of them is Pidgin, a great IM tool that lets you connect multiple accounts — even IRC — and manage your instant messaging life. With access to a wide array of extensions, you can turn Pidgin into the ultimate IM machine and use it with Facebook Chat and integrate notifications and styles to fit your needs.

Transmission: If you’re a Linux user, which you probably are if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably messed around with torrent files. As a side note, not all torrents are bad or illegal — it is a valid way of sharing perfectly legitimate files. For example, all of the Linux distributions are available as torrent files so they can be downloaded faster. Transmission is a great application for managing and downloading legal torrent files fast.

Media

VLC: One of the most popular media players out there is VLC because, let’s face it, everything else sucks. It comes packed with all the codecs you could ever need to play any video or audio file out there. VLC also leaves a lighter footprint on your computer and won’t cause it to crash as much.

GIMP: This multi-platform application is possibly one of the better image editors and graphic design utilities out there. Its modular design gives you access to create anything at your heart’s will. In my experience, GIMP is the leader in image processing and can export to many different formats.

Banshee: Banshee is up there with VLC for being a top media player. Currently, Banshee is native on Ubuntu and comes pre-installed on some installations. It’s built for Ubuntu and systems like it. The media player is lightweight and very powerful to use for any video or audio files.

Utilities

Dropbox: One of my very favorite applications for sharing documents and other files between multiple places is Dropbox. You start out with a massive 2 GB of space that’s enough for pictures and videos to be stored with documents and other data. Not only for Linux, but all desktop and mobile platforms, Dropbox can sync and view almost every document from any location where it can be accessed.

Wine: No, not the drink, but the application that runs Windows applications. Unfortunately, no matter how far we run, we can’t get away from Windows applications and often need them for daily tasks. That’s where Wine comes in. It basically emulates Windows and allows you to install Windows applications like you would on a Windows-based computer. It can be used to run a variety of applications and is compatible with almost everything.

Virtualbox: If you want to play around with a Linux distro or even run Windows inside of Linux, there’s a free program called Virtualbox that can emulate another computer within your computer to run your operating system of choice. This is great for anyone who wants to try out different operating systems to see what they like. They can even use it as a sandbox utility to test out their applications or programs in different systems.

How to Choose Between Two Computers

A LockerGnome reader asks:

I’m going to be starting college in the Fall of 2011 and I am in the hunt for a laptop. I don’t really need a Mac, but I love the ease of use the OS offers. While most of my experience is with a Windows PC, I can’t help but to consider the Mac due to its looks and overall reliability. What do you think?

Deciding between what you need and what you want can be tricky, especially when what you want can help you get the job done in much the same way without failing to achieve the need your alternative would fulfill.

Here are a few suggestions to help you decide between two computers you want, no matter what their brand or operating system may be:

Can I Afford Them?
This is a common question among people considering differences between two pieces of similar technology. Often, the computer with the most power and/or eye candy comes complete with a higher price tag. In this case, you’re deciding between a Mac and a PC, but this decision could easily be between two systems with matching operating systems.

Before you even begin to consider anything else, you should determine if you actually have the financial capacity to grab the pricier option. If you bite off more than you can chew financially, it could lead to serious problems in the short and long term. The sticker shock of some text books, for example, comes as a nasty surprise for many students as they enter college.

Which Choice Will I Be Happier With in a Year?
If you’ve determined that both computers are within your buying range, the next question to ask yourself is whether or not you believe you’ll still be happy with each system a year from your purchase date. Usually, when you buy a computer, it is expected to last anywhere from 2-5 years before becoming obsolete. For many power users, that time period can be perceived to be much shorter and create a buyer’s remorse after the fact.

Even though it is important to consider immediate needs when making your decision, you also need to take in to account what you may be taking for the next year or two. Chemistry doesn’t require powerful hardware to study or work on, but a graphics design or video editing course may. Does the operating system on the computer you choose have the ability to work with the programs you may need to use to get through your coursework?

What Are My Software Needs?
When deciding between OS X and Windows, you may also want to take in to account any software you may need to use to get through your coursework. Are you taking a class that needs you to become proficient with a program that is only available on Windows? This is less of a problem now thanks to more universal programs being developed. Macs are also able to run Windows through programs like Boot Camp or Parallels.

Some systems come with an included suite of software to help you get started. For example, new Macs come with the iLife Suite which gives you fairly powerful video, music, and photo applications that allow you to get right to work without spending more on software. With a Windows machine, you’ve got access to Windows Live Essentials as well as some third-party programs included through the manufacturer.

Do I Have Time to Learn a New Operating System?
If you need to be up and running with your new computer right away, you may not have time to tackle the learning curve of a new operating system. Early frustrations, intensified by stress of a deadline or project, can lead to serious buyer’s remorse. If you’re unfamiliar with an operating system, it’s important to make sure you have a few days to get accustomed to things prior to any desperate deadlines requiring proficiency.

What Are Their Weaknesses?
Lastly, if it looks like a stalemate, examine each option by its weaknesses rather than its strengths. This is where computer shopping can get really confusing. By wiping your mind of all the bells and whistles and concentrating on which one has faults your most willing to overlook, you’re probably going to end up with a choice you’ll be happier with in the long run.

Does one have terrible battery life? Is battery life that important to you? Is one heavy and hard to lug around, especially when compared to the other? Do you plan to take it with you often? Hopefully using this method, the choice will be easier than concentrating on the shiny bits. 16 gigs of RAM doesn’t amount to much if the battery dies on you during class.

Linux Boss: Bashing Microsoft Is Like ‘Kicking A Puppy’

My main focus has mainly been on desktop computer systems, and I have considered Microsoft the dominant force. Though Linux has made some inroads onto consumer desktop systems, for the most part I have always considered Linux more of a novelty than a real desktop contender. So when I read that Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin made a statement that ‘bashing Microsoft was like kicking a puppy,’ my ears perked up and I went to see exactly what this man meant.

For the past several decades the battle of words have been exchanged between Microsoft and the Linux communities. The Linux folks reminded me of a Rodney Dangerfield in that they could not get any respect. No matter how vocal the Linux people were, they just couldn’t support getting Linux on the desktop computing systems. With the exception of a short stint on Dell computers, Microsoft continued to be the dominant force on desktop systems.

Mr. Zemblin provides some indisputable facts concerning where Linux has grabbed the lion’s share. He cites that Linux has found a home on consumer electronic devices such as the Amazon Kindle. He also states that Sony televisions and camcorders use Linux as well as smartphones, which use Google’s Android, which is based on Linux. Linux powered tablets also are beginning to show promise as Google’s Android system is being introduced.

Mr. Zemlin thinks that, while Microsoft is used on 9 out of 10 desktops, as we enter into a post-PC world, this becomes less important. He claims that Microsoft is struggling to grab a foothold into the tablet, smart phone, and embedded markets. He predicts that Linux will continue to grow in these markets and take a commanding lead. He is also optimistic that Android powered phones are now more popular than the iPhone and also touts HP use of webOS, another Linux-based operating system.

I must say that Mr. Zemlin makes a convincing argument that Linux is going to be a dominant player in the tablet and smart phone marketplace. It also seems that Linux is gaining in the server market place as well. I believe that being a dominant force in these markets will make more consumers become aware of Linux and maybe, just maybe, Linux one day can be a contender in the desktop marketplace as well.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Networkworld

Freezing A Failed Hard Drive – Is It A Myth Or Does It Work?

I received this from a buddy of mine last night and I thought I would share it with you:

Hi Ron,

I have a problem and maybe you can help me. I have an older computer and the hard disk isn’t working. I tried it in two different computers and I couldn’t get either system to boot. I read an article on the Internet about putting the drive in the freezer. Does this really work?

First I would like to explain the procedure just in case you may wish to try this:

  • You place your hard disk inside of a freezer bag; some people recommend two freezer bags.
  • Place the wrapped hard disk in the freezer for 12 hours. There are some who state that it has to be 24 hours.
  • Remove the drive from the freezer, place it back into your computer, and hopefully it will boot up.
  • You must work quickly in order to grab your data and transfer the data onto another media.

So does the procedure work or is it just a myth?

I have tried this procedure about 10 times during my computing career. Unfortunately I only was able to save the data from one hard disk. I have tried variations of freezing using many of the tips and tricks I have read over the years, and have had little success in trying any of these gimmicks.

My personal opinion is this: you have nothing to lose giving this a try. You can reuse the freezer bags so the cost is nothing more than a little of your time. Now here comes the I told you so: nothing can take the place of a good backup strategy.

On March 2, 2011 I wrote an article about being paranoid since I use four backup regimes; I would highly recommend you do the same.

Comments welcome.

Original backup article.

How to Take a Picture With Your Webcam

Taking a photo using your webcam can be a quick and easy way to add an image to your online profile, get a shot of that new gadget you just have to show someone, and even just capture the rare moment your hair looks absolutely perfect. Taking the photo doesn’t have to be a difficult process, and there are several ways to do it.

First, the software included with your webcam probably has the feature built right in. If your webcam didn’t come with a disc loaded with drivers and software, you may be able to find them on the manufacturer’s website. Once installed, reboot your computer and take a look at your taskbar to see if any new programs have been loaded. If not, they may be in your start menu and the folder will generally be highlighted for the first few days after installing.

If, for example, you use a Logitech webcam on a Windows machine, the control software starts up automatically by default and waits in your taskbar near the system clock. As with just about any included webcam software, the splash screen should give you two obvious options to either record video or take a picture. From there, it’s just a matter of following the instructions on your screen.

Taken Using Photo Booth

Mac systems have a program pre-installed that is very handy when it comes to taking photos with a webcam. Photo Booth is located in the applications folder by default and offers users a variety of cool effects and backdrop options. You can even create your own custom backdrop and use that as sort of a makeshift chromakey. In the image to the right, I turned on a dim light and chose the “Glow” effect. Once the shot is taken, Photo Booth sends a copy in to your pictures directory and gives you the option to upload it right away or send it to iPhoto where you can do a little more editing yourself.

There are several options available through cloud services including one service called Cameroid which gives you a lot of the same functionality Photo Booth does, without the requirement of having a Mac. They also include some frame elements as well as a few effects not found on Photo Booth or most webcam-included software.

Taking Using Cameroid

Another cloud service offering webcam snapshots and hosting is Seenly which looks and exacts almost exactly like Photo Booth for the Mac.

For Linux users, Cheese is a great little webcam photo app that allows you to send your snapshots off to Flickr. Currently, the program is optimized for users of Gnome 2.28 and later. Cheese was developed as part of Google’s Summer of Code 2007.

No matter how you choose to take your photos, remember that lighting is important and having a messy background is never attractive. If you have a preferred method for taking snapshots using your webcam, please comment below and let us know.

Build Your Own Web Server The Easy Way Using Ubuntu-Server 11.04

Have you ever given any thought to building your own Web server? I have and when I read the simple to follow instruction which are linked below using Ubuntu-Server 11.04, I was amazed just how easy it actually was. Though I have read that Ubuntu-Server will work on older computers, I did not have an old system available, so I decided to use my gaming machine.

Hardware: AMD 64 bit 3.0 dual-core, Asus mobo, 4GB RAM, Nvidia 9600, built-in network adapter. I removed the SATA hard disk and found an older Seagate 120GB hard disk I had in the garage and even found a ribbon cable. Yes, the Asus mobo has an IDE ribbon connection. LOL

I downloaded the AMD 64 bit edition of Ubuntu-Server 11.04 and burned the .iso file to CD. This may seem unimportant but the directions specifically stated to burn the image to a CD that is 80 minutes/700MB in size. The image will not burn to DVD, according to the author.

You also need to have the computer hooked up to the Internet via a network connection cable [hard-wired], since Ubuntu-Server may not play well with your wireless connection.

I next followed the author’s directions, gave the server a name, selected the OS to use the entire hard disk, did not select encryption [I have nothing worth hiding], and set up a username and password. The hard disk was formatted and the software installed. Now here is where you may experience problems. There is not a pretty GUI for Ubuntu-Server 11.04. Hey, what do you want for free? Don’t worry boys and girls, the author has you covered.

The author provides you with some basic Linux commands, shows you how to obtain updates for the system, and includes how to test your Web server to confirm that it is working properly. In addition, the author walks you through the steps of adding additional useful software to your new server so that you can host the most popular software like MySQL and Apache. As you can guess, I am a newbie at this so I hope I have the terms correct.

If you are a relative newbie like myself to Linux, the author also provides a free .pdf document that will assist you further in getting your server running correctly. This is a 350-page document and is a complete guide to assist you.

Comments welcome.

PS If there is anything I have written that needs correction from you Linux experts, please comment and I will correct the entry. Thanks in advance.

Source – How to build your own Webserver with Ubuntu Server 11.04 (“Natty”) by Robert Schifreen

Source – Direct Download To Ubuntu-Server 11.04

Source – .pdf format 350 page guide

I Use Four Different Backup Programs – Am I Paranoid?

My main computing laptop, which I use exclusively to communicate with the world, is operated by Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit with the new service pack number one installed. This system is tweaked to my liking with multiple tweaks, extensions, add-ons, themes, visual enhancements, and gadgets that suit my computing lifestyle. I am a stickler for a clean desktop and it drives me insane when I see a laptop or desktop system with a desktop loaded with icons of any sort. Another of my pet peeves are fingerprints on the monitor screen or what appears on some systems to be leftovers from a recently consumed peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

For anyone who has suffered a catastrophic system failure, no matter what your operating system is, you know how devastating this can be. You awoke one morning only to find a black screen, maybe with some white cryptic text, that basically indicated you were in deep trouble. There are a multitude of reasons this can happen including but not limited to a hardware failure, virus or malware attacks, or corruption of your operating system. No operating system is 100% immune to any of the failures described above, so the “buy a Mac” or “use Linux” crowd can slither away.

Over the past few decades of using personal computer, I have either experienced a failure myself, or have read the horror stories of others who have been the victims of a failure for various reasons. I have also either experienced or have read about those who have had their backups fail as well. I recall an incident many moons ago when I was using tape to back up my entire hard disk. After an issue with my system, I don’t recall the exact nature of the problem, my backup tape failed to repair my system. I also remember that I had multiple backup tapes that all failed to do anything to fix my system. The memory of that incident still stings and I will forever recall the frustration that I felt. Here I was religiously making backup tapes only to have them all not work.

I don’t trust any one type of software to meet all of my backup needs. I use multiple lines of defense just in the rare event that my system fails. My main line of defense is Acronis Backup software. I also make a disc image using the built-in software provided by Microsoft on Windows 7 Ultimate. The external hard disk I purchased came with backup and restore software from Seagate and I use the free version of Paragon backup and restore software as well. All of these backups are made to an external hard drive and also to DVD disks.

Oh, did I mention I also make a manual backup of my personal files as well to DVDs?

Am I paranoid?

What is your backup strategy?

Comments welcome.

Google Chrome OS Cr-48 Notebook Computer – What Teenagers Think Of It

It has been just a little over two months since I received the Google Chrome OS Cr-48 computer to beta test for the folks at Google. The mini-laptop thus far has functioned very well and I use it daily for a few hours to surf the Internet and check email. I must admit that the bulk of my blogging is done on my full-sized 17″ Toshiba laptop, because the full-sized keyboard just makes it easier. Basically I believe that Google Chrome OS Cr-48 is an excellent notebook to travel with because of its light weight and small size. I will be taking the unit with me on my next business flight.

I mentor a youth group at our local church which consists of 9th to 11th grade high school boys. These kids are fairly computer savvy and in December we had built a desktop computer from scratch, which we donated to our local food pantry. Last night I brought the Google Chrome OS Cr-48 along with me for a sort of show and tell. Our meetings usually consist of about 50 plus youth, a snack supper, main meeting, and then we break off into our small groups.

After we had completed our interaction time I brought out the notebook computer for them to play with. I opted to use the guest account as to not mess up my profile settings and tabs that I have set up for myself. I addressed the questions about where I got it, what kind of computer it was, and what Google was hoping to accomplish by storing everything in the cloud. As each youth took their turn looking the notebook over and surfing the Internet, their opinion was very similar to what others of us beta testers have said.

The trackball was hard to control. I mentioned I use a mouse when I use the notebook. They all liked the rubberized cover and noted how light the computer was. Several also commented how quick the computer was when it was connected to the Verizon 3G network. Overall, the teenagers liked the computer, but their biggest complaint was the lack of games.

Some of them tried online gaming sites that they frequently visit and complained that the trackball prevented them from playing the games correctly. They also thought the graphics lacked clarity and complained that the gaming colors were washed out. One teen even mentioned that the notebook wasn’t what he would buy nor use.

Though the notebook received a lot of compliments, it was the lack of games that was the deal killer for these youths. When I explained what the target audience was, they then understood what the notebook was being designed for. These teens want games, not a work system.

Comments welcome.

Are You Installing Windows 7 SP1? Be Careful If You Dual Boot Linux

I have been beta testing SP1 for Windows 7 since August 2010, without any issues. I have installed all of the fixes, patches, and repairs. All have worked well without any issues. But when I went to install the final release of Windows SP1, I found two issues I needed to address.

The first issue was having to uninstall Windows 7 SP1 beta before installing the final release. You can uninstall the service pack which is actually listed as Service Pack For Windows KB976932 in updates. There is always that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you to pray that all goes well. Well fortunately for me, it did. After the uninstall and a reboot my computer started up and all was well.

The next issue I didn’t expect. I went to install Windows 7 SP1 final and received error 0x800f0a12 with a failed installation. I eventually found the reason listed at a Technet blog, followed the advise and fixed the issue. It appears that those who have Linux install need to make sure that the System Reserved or Windows partition is marked as Active before you install Sp1 final edition. Check out the link below:

I had previously downloaded the appropriately 1.90G file from Technet and burned the .iso image to DVD. This larger file from Microsoft is for both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 7 and also Server 2008 R2. The normal delivery of Windows 7 SP1 final, for most users, will be by Windows update service and will be much smaller in size.

I use a Diskeeper 2010 defragmentation software that works in the background and keeps my system running smoothly. In the past some people have mentioned that one should defrag a Windows system before an install major of updates such as service packs and when upgrading the entire OS. I am not sure if this claim still is valid, but you may wish to defrag your system and check for malware before installing SP1 on your Windows 7 system.

The installation window for SP1 recommends that you proceed with the installation because your system will kept your up to date plus it will enhance your systems reliability and performance.

Who doesn’t want a more reliable or better performing system? With this in mind I proceeded with the installation with my fingers crossed. After about 30 to 40 minutes of whizzing and restarts my machine came to life, update complete, and running hot, straight and normal. I checked my other software that has been installed and it all seemed to work OK.

So should you install Windows 7 SP1 on your machine? That is totally up to you. Over at AOL Tech they have an unofficial poll that indicates about 50% of those who did install SP1 had little or not problems. The next largest number was 30% who have decided to wait before install the service pack and about 20% who experienced issues.

If you have installed Windows 7 SP1, what has been your experience? If you haven’t installed the service pack, are you waiting until the bugs are worked out?

Comments welcome.

Source – Windows Blog

AOL – Tech

How to Choose Between Android and the iPhone

When considering a choice between one mobile platform and another, there are a lot more factors to consider than your carrier will mention. Sure, they’ll tell you one platform is taking off and the other isn’t. They’ll try to lure you in with processor speeds and storage capacity and even bring you the latest batch of gibberish about screen size. These are important factors, but sometimes it’s what isn’t said that makes a difference.

When reading the points below, I’m sure more than a few Windows phone users will want to point out where that platform is better or worse. Fact is, I haven’t had the opportunity to try one of the new Windows mobile devices yet, so I’m sticking to what I know.

Do you like the OS as it is, or will you expect regular updates?
When the Samsung Galaxy S series came out, customers flocked to what appeared to be the most powerful and robust device on the Android platform, myself included. I purchased the Samsung Captivate which featured a 1ghz processor and a giant screen running on Android OS 2.1. At the time, Samsung and AT&T had both mentioned the phone would quickly be updated with the current version 2.2 OS as soon as it was ready. It’s been almost a year now and this update never came. Problems that linger from 2.1 are still an issue on this phone and I’m pretty much stuck with it for 2 years.

The iPhone, on the other hand, has updates immediately available to everyone across the board as long as they have a phone within the past few generations. In the realm of keeping the software up to date, the iPhone pulls out ahead.

Do you expect apps to run consistently no matter what hardware you purchased?
One thing about the Android platform that stunned me when I actually purchased one of these phones is how hard the software is to make compatible across different devices. In my day-to-day job, I occasionally have to conduct interviews where an audio recording can come in handy. Having purchased “the most powerful” Android device of its time, I expected just about any voice recorder app to work just fine. I purchased five of them, and not one of them was compatible with the Samsung Captivate. They work great on the EVO and Nexus One but apparently they don’t run so well on others. Not having the ability to upgrade my OS also causes severe problems when it comes to purchasing apps.

The iPhone has a particular set of hardware developers are able to work with so their code is expected to work across the board on their phones. One drawback, however, is that some of the more complex programs that take advantage of the 3Gs and the iPhone 4’s more powerful processor can choke on the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G. Thankfully, you can see this issue clearly on the app’s summary page that lets you know which devices are compatible.

Do you want to completely customize your UI?
Probably the best feature on the Android platform for me was the ability to use widgets on your main screens. A Google search bar, Pandora player, Facebook summary, and Twitter all run side-by-side with shortcuts on the GUI. Within an hour of owning an Android phone I was easily over my loss of the iPhone based on this feature alone. For me, the user experience is about seeing data quickly and easily without having to search for and launch programs.

The iPhone has come with a lingering promise to make this possible down the line, and they’ve made a start with the media player controls on iOS 4 being ¬†accessible with a double-tap of the home key and a swipe. Rumor has it that iOS 5 will step up the multitasking a bit and allow for widgets, but I wouldn’t base a purchasing decision on a rumor.

Do you run Windows, OSX, or Linux?
This question is never asked by the carrier rep when they’re attempting to pair you with a new phone. It’s a very legitimate question considering some phones don’t sync well with some operating systems. When I got my Android 2.1 phone home I was a little shocked to discover that it didn’t Sync with Mac OSX out of the box like it did with my Windows machine. There is a workaround that makes this possible, though in the world of user experience, having to do a workaround to make a mobile device sync with a desktop isn’t good.

The same applies to Linux users, though they tend to be a heartier crowd that gets a case of the giddies when faced with a compatibility obstacle. Sorry Linux lovers out there but I run Fedora 14 on my work laptop and nothing makes my IT guy happier than being able to show off his skills by debugging the kernel when the video card stops functioning.

The iPhone syncs where iTunes is present. Linux users have found workarounds and jail breaking tends to make life easier for them. While iTunes isn’t everyone’s favorite program, I’ve found it to be a lot more pleasant and easy to use then Samsung Keis, which only runs on Windows.

No matter what platform you choose for your mobile experience, it’s important to look at a lot more than just the screen size or processor clock speed. You need to make sure that your phone fits your expectations. For some, Android is a brilliant platform that gives users more choice. To others, the iPhone represents a solid user experience that is consistent across the board. Which platform works best for you?

Google Group Re: Chrome Notebook Cr-48 Computer – Would You Buy One?

While browsing the Google Group for the Chrome Notebook Pilot program, I garnered some interesting information from other participants. What is interesting is that others who have been using the Chrome Cr-48 notebook computer have similar views of the product. Most everyone agrees that the Chrome notebook is a solidly built unit. Some of the favorite features are the matte black finish, the portability, bright screen, ease of use, fast boot in under 15 seconds, and the overall quality of the hardware. This basically confirms my opinion of the notebook and my experience.

Some of the prior complaints of issues with connecting to a home Wi-Fi router have seemed to have been resolved with an update, that seems to have worked. I know my personal experience of having issues on the Lockergnome site have faded. Bottom line is that it was not the LG web site but the protocol the Chrome notebook was using. Once corrected the notebook now loads all web pages very quickly. I am now able to use the notebook to write my blog posts and will be able to take the notebook with me when I travel.

But there was one post that caught my attention. A question was asked ‘Would you buy a Chrome notebook’? The answers may not be what Google is looking for. Why?

First of all it really doesn’t matter how many of these notebooks they give away for testing, if the consumer models do not sell. This one statement reflects most of the opinions about the Cr-48:

Get a free Cr-48 for testing is one thing. Pay $250 out of your pocket is another.

There are other hurdles Google is going to need to figure out. First is that people do not like change, especially when they are comfortable with a Microsoft Windows box. Have you ever tried to get a Windows user to try Linux? The first question they ask is why? You can talk until you are blue in the face and they don’t want to try something new no matter how much more secure their system will be. Since Google Chrome is basically Linux in a browser, most users will be uncomfortable using it. Second there is the issue of cloud computing. Ask the average computer user about cloud computing and they will give you a blank stare. When you do explain what cloud computing is many of the users I have spoken with are reluctant to give their private data to any company, no matter how much they may trust the company.

Yesterday one of the Google people asked what people liked most about the Cr-48. I responded that the hardware and the way the system is sonstructed is fantastic. The hardware includes the ability to connect to Wi-Fi, 3G and eventually will be Bluetooth enabled. The SSD is also nice and helps boot the computer quickly and 2G of RAM seems sufficient. The case housing is solid and so is the keyboard. Only down side is the built-in tracking which stinks. :-) I told the Google people if they try to cut costs and produce a flimsy notebook, it will bite them in the back side.

I would also not be surprised if Google doesn’t offer some type of supplement on pricing, similar to what the cell phone companies provide for smartphones.

Now here is my opinion. I am not afraid of change and I believe that the tech savvy bunch will have no issues using a browser controlled notebook computer. In fact I like the Cr-48 notebook and use it daily along with my personal laptop computer. I also have no issues of storing my stuff in the cloud, since I have no super secret documents that I want to hide from public view. I am sure others will disagree with my assessment of cloud computing.

So will I be buying a Google Chrome notebook when it becomes available mid-year? Honestly, I am not sure. I would need to see the final consumer version before making a commitment.

Comments welcome.

Source – Google Group