Archive for the ‘Mac’ Category

LibreOffice… Because Office 2013 told you to do it. (Day 12 of 20 days of SCALE)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to crack open a huge whole that Microsoft is opening for open source software and Linux in general. Desktop application suites such as LibreOffice.


Recently Microsoft released it’s new plan for pricing and implementation of it’s Office 2013 software suite. For those that don’t know when I say suite I’m talking about one package that has a couple different pieces of software in it: Word processor, spreadsheet, slide presentation and sometimes email and database programs. Traditionally people have heard of Microsoft’s Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and Access programs that fit these needs respectively. However, Microsoft is changing the game this time with the purchase of these programs that I think is going to go the route of the change to New Coke if anyone remembers that disaster.

The new Office 2013 licensing will be a lot different because they’re only going to offer it online. The new software will have to be purchased online and they will not offer any offline media to install it and it has to be connected to a Microsoft Live online account. Installs for the software will have to come from a link that will install it on your computer straight from a server online. This is supposed to make it harder for hackers and people reselling licenses through nefarious means. Oh, and did I mention it’s going to cost a WHOLE lot more? It’s really going to open up the biggest door that other software packages have to the home or office and no software is more primed and ready to take advantage of this opening than LibreOffice.

LibreOffice is actually a fork from the OpenOffice programs. This means that many of the developers of OpenOffice left when Oracle bought the rights to the software and started making it under a different name in case Oracle decided to take it in a different direction. LibreOffice is the most developed office suite out there and the best part about it is that it is absolutely free. I changed over to it years ago and completely dropped Microsoft Office but I still have to collaborate with many people that work with Office. What did I have to change? Almost nothing. That’s because LibreOffice works on all the Office files without a glitch. Only change I have to make is saving files you will have to say, “File” “Save as” and change it to a Microsoft usable version such a .docx or .xlsx for your collaborators to see the files. This is because by default it saves in a free/open format called Open Document Format (just FYI Office 2010 on supports ODF).


“Ok, so how is LibreOffice ready to fill that gap?” you may ask. First is the last thing I mentioned: ODF. The best thing in the world about open standards is that they are free to be implemented by anyone. What that does is makes all of your data free to be transported anywhere.  When Microsoft decided to change it’s format to .docx a couple years ago it really threw a monkey wrench into the system. Older versions of Office and many other software packages could no longer read it until they created a downloadable conversion extension. Could this happen again? YES. ODF makes it so 15 or 20 years down the road if you had to open a file off some form of backup media (assuming it survived that long) you could because the format is open and even if development stopped on it there would be available conversion programs, such as convert jpg to pdf, because the code is out there.

The second way LibreOffice is able to take advantage of this is because, let’s be serious, very little has changed in the Office package except the package. I sometimes have to work at offices that are using Office 2003 and guess what? It does the same exact thing that the newest version does less a couple little tweaks hear and there. I’m not going to lie. I have had the rare occasion where a little bit of the layout of a document (say a resume because of all the changes in the layout) have come out a little bit off. This however is easily corrected.

Now here comes the best part of all of this though. LibreOffice runs on Linux, Mac and Windows. At one time I was at a company where we paid $50,000 to get all the licenses for all of our Office products for the entire company. At the time this product (then OpenOffice) was not as mature and with minor testing my company decided to pay the money. Now, imagine the same scenario. We have to purchase tons of Windows licenses and Office 2013 licenses. My company has to come out of the pocket $100,000 OR go to Linux and LibreOffice for next to nothing (I say next to nothing because I do encourage donations and paying for support to keep these great packages being developed). Hmmm… If there are no other Microsoft specific applications that the company is running then this is a no brainer. LibreOffice it is!

Check into it yourself and you’ll see why this new licensing is almost like Office 2013 is saying “Don’t buy me!!! Go to LibreOffice!”

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.


CUPS: more than a scoop of printing goodness (Day 11 of 20 days of SCALE)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of one of open source unsung superhero’s. Common Unix Printing System a.k.a CUPS.

Today’s blog post is covering one of the unsung heroes of open source software that people may not think about. CUPS is the backbone for printing in almost all Linux, Unix cups_left.pngand Mac computers. This might shock most people but CUPS is actually owned by Apple but here’s the reason why. Development started for it in 1997. If you were using Linux back then like I was making a Linux computer print was a little bit of a thing to do and make it look really nice. Linux Printer Daemon (LPD) was the best way to get things to print and it didn’t recognize a whole lot of printers or may have taken a little tweaking. I definitely remember when CUPS came along because of that. In 2002 Apple went over to CUPS for all its printing services and in 2007 the hired the chief developer and purchased the source code from Michael Sweet. So, like it or not, if you’re running a Mac computer you’re running CUPS in the background. Want to see? On any Mac or Linux computer go to the following link and see if the CUPS screen comes up and tells you about your printers (http://localhost:631).

The reason that today’s blog post jumped to the front of my list is because of having to use CUPS tonight. I bought a new printer for my kids’ room and set it up on wireless. Thus, I went to all the computers in the house to tell them that the new printer was there. We have a couple Windows machines here and for those selecting a network printer meant going through the printer wizard which sets up things in the Windows Print Spooler. However, going over to the Linux and Mac computers meant going to CUPS and setting it up. There in lies a little bit of a hiccup but it was easily solved. The Mac saw the network printer right away and went out and grabbed the drivers for it like the Windows machine did. However, on my Linux Mint laptop it saw the printer but gave me a list of drivers and the specific driver I needed wasn’t there. Hmmm. What to do?

CUPS prints through many protocols to printers like IPP and has a nice web based screen to walk you through managing the printer, protocols, trays on the printer, resolutions and all kinds of crazy settings. Well this time none of that would help had it not been for the manufacturer of the printer (Lexmark) supplying drivers for Linux, Mac and UNIX by the use of PPD files. These files store all the relevant information about the printer so you can use it to it’s fullest capabilities.  THANK YOU LEXMARK. I will consider buying printers from them again.

Printing isn’t the coolest subject until you delve into all the settings and ways to share it with other computers even over the internet. Get that up and going by playing around with the coolest thing going on in the background CUPS.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Firefox: Making foxy mean sexy again (Day 10 of 20 days of SCALE)

Friday, February 15th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of one of open source’s poster children. Mozilla Firefox! header-logo.png

When I started this series I had a different audience in mind initially. I was going to aim at a more serious hard core techy crowd and I have for a couple of these but I also realized that people don’t seem to be able to connect with a subject if they feel like it doesn’t effect them. Well people it does. That’s because of my favorite browser Firefox. If you are on the internet regularly it’s a word you had to have heard. Linux machines mostly have it by default. I must also admit that I don’t tend to nudge people on Windows or Mac in a particular direction when it comes to software but the one thing that I almost always install on one of these machines is Firefox. It has just become my standard and that’s mostly due to the cool plugins you can get and the familiar face on every operating system (don’t slow down though because Google Chrome is running up fast).

How you get people to realize what is and isn’t open source is you start from home. Many people are so involved in the evolution of this browser that it stays ahead of standards in most cases I know of. I’m even a bleeding edge user (the guy that gambles with the software before it’s totally tested) and have the nightly builds of Firefox on my laptop and desktop and use them regularly. The only side of Firefox that just might bother some a little is that it uses up a decent size of memory especially with plugins but I’ve only video-downloadhelper-464-firefox-plugin.gifseen that be a problem with really slow low memory machines.  I’m not going to bore you talking about a browser because I do have some people who will tell me they’ll stick with Internet Explorer or Safari and I say to them it’s their choice. There’s always the freedom to choose and I love it.

One area that I am going to talk about Firefox is the one place that I started to uninstall it. My phone. For some reason on my last phone (Android) I was having problems with Firefox making it really slow or from time to time crashing. Plus, I love to use a program called Xmarks to sync up my bookmarks on every computer in the world that I used. So reluctantly  I did a little searching left my beloved Firefox behind. Fast forward to the present for the article I had finally gotten fed up with the CONSTANT and FRUSTRATING crashing of a browser called Skyfire. It literally crashed every other time you open it and when you open it again it would work fine. When I found out that this was a known bug and that the 10 month old article said they planned on fixing it soon I was out! Let’s go back and give my old love a try.

Technology can be sexy. Foxy in the 80’s meant sexy. Hot also means sexy and fire is hot. So according to it’s name. Firefox is just some sexy software. I went back and installed it on my phone and it seems so far like all the things I used to worry about are gone. It’s only been a couple days but I’m already loving it again because I live off my phone. The plugins are crazy cool and most are the same as the desktop version. One bad spot is that I can’t seem to find the Xmarks plugin for it but I do notice that Firefox is trying to promote it’s on syncing feature that’s built in. I’ve got to spend a little more time researching that before I go ahead and set that up to replace my Xmarks because it also syncs your tabs in use. I’m really not sure how much I need that but it may come in handy after I give it some thought.

I know that it may be just me… No it isn’t. It’s home screen with top sites I use is sexy. firefox-beta-for-android.jpgEven though I usually turn off history and other such things because I’m just not a big fan of a computer looking over my shoulder but I think I’m actually going to leave it for a minute. No crashes and seems to work very quick. Kuddos to Mozilla. Firefox is now officially on all my computers. Well, except my Kindle Fire HD. Amazon doesn’t have a build out there for it’s tweaked Android for some reason or another and I forced a version on to it but it wasn’t stable at all. So GET ON THAT Mozilla!  Tell Amazon they need you because Phillip needs you.

Firefox. Open source that’s just plain sexy.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Gimp: Photoshop without the branding (Day 8 of 20 days of SCALE)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of the open source equivalent of Photoshop. GIMP.

In my former all closed source commercial life I used to be quite the master at Photoshop. I could gimp.pngwhip something together in minutes in Photoshop that would look like it was the original image. I did all kinds of photo enhancing and photo retouching that made your head spin. Once about a decade ago I helped a lady by editing her picture to make her thinner and without wrinkles for pictures she was posting on a dating site (definitely not my proudest moment). As of about 4 years ago I’ve totally converted to a software package called GIMP.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) would probably be pretty upset with me for the Photoshop comparison but the way I see it it has totally replaced Photoshop for me. Photoshop has become such a well branded product that it’s the equivalent of saying Kleenex when you’re just talking about tissue. I feel sorry for GIMP because no matter what you do in it your results will be called Photoshop. Oh, the sadness of not having great marketing companies behind you.

Marketing aside this program is all that and a bag of chips. I had been thinking of changing over to it quite some time ago but I decided to wait because the interface looked a little different than what I was used to so I just didn’t want to take the dive. However, after meeting the author of a book on GIMP and talking to her for bit (Beginning GIMP: From Novice to professional by Akkana Peck) a couple years back I said to myself that I was going to take the leap. A little reading and some Youtube videos and I was completely off my Photoshop addiction.

Once you get used to some of the small differences in the interface you’ll be cooking up some works of gimpshot.jpgbeauty like me. Now I look at it and the interface is completely understandable and I wondered why I ever thought it was going to be a challenge. Now I have the next generation working on GIMP as my 10 year old daughter who is really into the game the Sims has found videos on Youtube that help her with doing green screen techniques that she’s using to make her custom designed Sims clothes and characters (Please look at the website for details on her first presentation at SCALE callelogo.jpgd “Are you smarter than a 5th grade open source user?”).

To the right is a picture my daughter created in GIMP for her website (not sure where the name came from but when your daughter asks for a domain name for her 11th birthday you’re a pretty proud tech dad).

There you have it. A powerful graphics/image manipulation software that can take on the big boys but so easy a child can put out some powerful image.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Books to your tablet with Calibre (Day 7 of 20 days of SCALE)

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of my favorite ebook delivery/conversion software: Calibre.


A lot of software that people use that is open source seems to end up fitting in the same old mold. I however use it for my life. Anything and everything I do I used a computer as a tool to enhance that experience if I can. One thing I do a LOT is read. As of last year I’ve started a new thing. I’m eleminating my physical books and I’m going all ebook. I’ve actually scanned in all my bookshelves into Amazon‘s wishlist and if anything should ever Kindle Fire HDhappen (think natural disaster) I could fill a bookshelf with the same books in a matter of minutes or just pay for them and download them into my favorite device. What is that favorite device you ask? My Kindle. We’re a Kindle family. I have 4 Kindles in my house my newest baby being the Kindle Fire HD. The Kindle Fire line is more than just an ebook reader like the others. It’s an Android powered tablet computer that Amazon has tweaked for their purposes and to log right into their store.

Before I become a complete Kindle fanboy on you I want to get back to how we got there. The ebook readers have opened up a space where people want to just read Star Trek style… but how do you get content onto the ebook reader? Amazon will allow you to convert word documents or email pdf files to them and for a small fee they’ll convert and put them on your device. This is really cool and only pennies per document what about having that power for yourself for almost ANY tablet device or pdf reader? That’s where Calibre comes in! It’s the complete solution for sending ebooks, pdf, web pages, news, etc. to your device and I LOVE it.

Calibre’s interface is so dead easy to learn and it’s that thing I love… cross platform. Once calibre1.jpegcalibre2.pngcalibre3.png

again that means it’s on Linux, Mac and Windows. I’ve run it on all 3. What I love about using Calibre is that it keeps a huge catalog of the books you own. Even proprietary formats like .AZW which Amazon uses to deliver it’s books to the Kindle are supported. It can convert these books to different formats like .pdf, .mobi and .epub which almost all tablets can read. Transferring the books to your device is a great thing too. I keep the device email settings (since all Kindles have an email address associated with them) and can email things straight to my dad and my kids’ Kindles all in a couple clicks. You will have to go to Amazon’s site for that.

What about other tablets and e-readers you ask? Calibre takes what they do seriously. The list of formats this program can convert to is very impressive. I do some volunteering at book expo’s and a couple years ago I had a lady that had a New York Times best seller cowritten with a extremely well known celebrity. I told her I’d by her book but really wanted an ebook version if I bought it. She really didn’t know much about this but since I was going to be her computer guy I should teach her a bit. She sent me the original manuscript in a Microsoft Word file and I converted it to the formats she wanted so she could read it on her devices. Talk about ecstatic! She sent it to her agent in .epub. I used it on my older Kindle in .mobi and viewed it on computers and my wife’s iPad in .pdf.

So go ahead. Write your soon to be ebook or just put all your books on all your devices with Calibre.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

VideoLan’s VLC media player (day 2 of 20 days of SCALE)

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

For day 2 of my prep for the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to talk about my hands down favorite media playing program. VideoLan’s VLC. Just for clarity’s sake you will sometimes see VLC/VLS. VLS used to be a server component forVLC streaming that was separate from VLC but I guess the mere awesomeness of VLC was more important and so they put VLS stuff into VLC.

I can’t stress how much I love this program because I use it for everything video and audio related and so does everyone in my house. It’s one of the first programs I install on any computer we buy. This is also due to the fact that it’s multi-platform.  You know that’s a word that I can’t get enough of that means it will run on Linux, Mac, and Windows. So, seeing as how my house has all of these systems then you’ll find VLC on all of them. Let’s go into why you or anyone else would use it.

Around 10 years ago I changed totally over to VLC when I was still at work using a desktop that was running Windows and a laptop that was running Linux. I was using Winamp on the PC and couldn’t quite settle on one for Linux. VLC came into play and soon my kids were using it as well. I worked in the audio post production industry at the time and ended up having them use it because it could play every format there was. I also met the creator of the format Ogg and FLAC (Chris Montgomery) at a SCALE back then and started becoming a big user of those formats and of course guess who supported them.

The interface is extremely easy to use but it has a TON of power under the hood if you really play with the options. Using the HTTP interface you can have a computer connected to a TV or just on it’s on and control it from another computer or useful apps on your phone (Android apps I should say because this is something I haven’t tried on iOS phones and the iPad yet). That gives you an instant no holds barred media center and I’ve used this just bringing a laptop and a video cable to someone’s house.  Doing a video presentation? I keep a copy on the usb stick on my keys with a copy of the presentation. If there’s a computer connected to the projector then I can boot to a Linux from my stick and play it or there’s a portable VLC app that runs on Windows that I keep with me to play it. This has come in handy at a couple of prom parties that I did the video for.

The bevy of ways you can use this program has given me tons of examples to use as we vlc-20-gnome3-debian.jpgeven use it to replace iTunes for listening to music. Once at a Podcaster’s convention I spoke to a crowd about how I used it to stream video to a port where my kids and even my mom from her computer a couple miles away could view it from my computer.

Since the program can also capture video from standard devices like video capture cards and webcams I have used it to convert video I fed into a video capture card to convert a VHS into a DVD and AVI file for the saving precious moments or making a video blog (although still not the greatest method).

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Virtualbox desktop (day 1 of 20 days of SCALE)

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Ok, let me apologize ahead of time because this blog post will not be an in depth review of Oracle’s Virtualbox. I started this out as a daily review of what I think about different software or services pertaining to open source but I hit a small glitch with one of my favorite software packages. It seems that due to some tweaking of dual screen setups Ivbox_logo2_gradient.png have somehow found my Virtualbox setup a little broken. I will come back to this as I have to fix this in order to work with the distributions I know and love so well on a regular basis. So lets get started.

It would be a shame to try to explain virtualization in a short blog post but I will give you a quick run down on it that might make a seasoned professional cringe. Virtualization is software for making a fake computer inside of your own computer. So, how is this useful? As a computer guy I have to work with people using a lot of different types of operating systems (Windows, Mac, and a couple Linux, BSD’s and Unix’s). I have a very good memory but over the phone I sometimes can’t remember exactly what my client is looking at. My solution to this is having Virtualbox and about 10 different operating systems that fully work and now my computer is that operating system that they are looking at and I can work in it. Yes I even have one running Windows 98 because there has been the rare situation where a person actually still uses it (before I get them to use a Linux that is far more functional on older hardware).

How does this work for you? I have looked at quite a few articles on the different virtualization software the biggest competitor being  VMware. Now don’t get me wrong. I really like VMware too but a while back I went totally Virtualbox because VMware’s really good virtualization workstation costs a little money and I’m big on teaching companies and small businesses to do the most for next to nothing. To do that, I have to live in the software and I do (I’ll tell you more later on how this is useful for companies). Before that, let’s look really quickly at the setup.

Virtualbox has a major feature that I also look for in software as much as possible It’s cross platform. That means it can be installed on Linux, Mac, and Windows. Once installed you’ll be able to get a quick and easy walk through showing you how to setup a space on your hard drive for an operating system setup “virtual” hardware and next thing you know you’ll see a whole different computer in front of you. This virtual hardware could be whatever you dream of like multiple dvd drives blah blah blah. You’ll have to look into it further for that.

Now, all of that to say this: You can do way more for less! Here’s how. If you haven’t tm_win7.pngnoticed most people are not using half of the power that these modern computers have. I see more people with 4 gigs or RAM and they’re just running a web browser and maybe typing up some notes in a word processor. Do you know that you can also run a server in the background using Virtualbox to let all your office connect to? I have also had a situation where a person only had one computer. I ran a Virtualbox with a Linux server on it and that one computer is now a desktop and a server that everyone could connect to. This required a little secret sauce using a domain name, good router setup and Dyndns but it made a small business seem large.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Turning the Samsung Rogue into an iPhone and Blackberry killer

Friday, October 9th, 2009

For the longest time I’ve been a huge proponent of getting Verizon wireless except for one major flaw. The wireless coverage is the best around however they just never seem to get any cool phones. They do have Blackberry’s, yes, but even those are just as mediocre as can be and the Blackberry Storm was supposed to bring Verizon back in the game but it crashed and burned after bad reviews (even though I do know of some people that really like theirs).

samsung-rogue.jpgEnter Verizon back into the game with the Samsung Rogue. It’s their newest phone and after seeing all the features, looking at a lot of customer reviews and editor’s choice awards after being out for only a week I had to get one. That’s where all the fun starts.

First off let me say, I love this phone. However, if I get it, you know I’ve got to figure out all that I can make it do. My goal with all phones is of course to measure them against the gold standards of phones: The Blackberry Bold and the Apple iPhone. I’m sure this is going to be an ongoing project but to date I believe I’ve come close to my goal.

Let’s start with what you’ll need: Mail client (Outlook or Thunderbird), Handbrake, a memory card (I got a 4gb for about $10). You’ll find all the steps are cross-platform like I always do (Linux, Windows, or Mac) however, this tutorial will be in Ubuntu Linux with KDE showing differences for each operating system.

So, when you think of iPhone what do you think of? Maybe: Touch screen with smooth finger scrolling, music player, playing videos, apps, and internet. Check to all of those.  When you think of Blackberry what do you think of? Maybe: Email, contacts, syncing with desktop mail, and some multimedia. Check to all of those too. How you may ask? Well it wasn’t easy for me. There was a lot of documentation and experimentation that I had to do but I am very happy with my results. So, let’s make it easy for you.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. I don’t make any judgements on how you get your content it’s just that you get your content onto your phone. I had to look around to make sure of how to do this. I first wanted to make my computer see the phone as a USB drive.

First, lets format your new memory card. Put in your memory card. Next hit your green phone button and click the lock on the screen to get to the desktop screen (if it’s not already up). Next click “Menu” and “Settings and Tools” and go to “Tools”, “Memory”, “Card memory”, “Format Card” and “Yes.” You’re now done formatting the card and ready to go.

Plug your USB cable into your computer and connect it to the port on the side of your phone. If you get a question asking you Modem or Sync then click “Modem” if not go back to Setting Tools as in the previous steps and choice 0 “USB Mode” and select modem. Next scroll up to choice “2 Tools” and then to choice 0 USB Mass Storage. Now you have a USB hard drive on your computer connecting to the memory card you put in.

Your computer should display a USB drive connected with the folders: my_contacts, my_files, my_flix, my_music, my_pix, my_ringtones, and my_sounds. These are pretty self-explanatory but what goes in them and how is the key. The important ones for us are contacts, flix, music, and pix. Music and pics are simple. You can simply copy music and pictures to the appropriate folders as mp3’s or jpg’s.

Video’s take a little fine tuning according to what types of video files you have. The program HandBrake runs on Win, Mac, and Linux and will convert any movie or DVD to the “iPhone and iPod touch” video format that you need. Go to this site if you want to do any of this on the command line. Once done copy the file into the “my_flix” folder on your phone.

Now for the hardest part that may need some tweeking as you experiment with your setup. I will use the most vague directions here so you can fine tune it to your liking. The “my_contacts” folder has to contain .vcf files. This is a common vCard format that every email client even gmail will export contacts as .vcf. The trick here is to export your clients as .vcf files and tell your program to save them to the “.my_contacts” folder. In the future you can sync them with your desktop by whatever way you know of to sync folders. I use Thunderbird and Gmail. On Thunderbird you can get this plugin to give you .vCard capabilities. Outlook has some good ones built in and Gmail does as well. Since I use Thunderbird and Gmail, I use the Zindus plugin and Provider for Google to sync my Thunderbird contents and calendar with Gmail.

Now back to our phone. Get the screen back on and click disconnect. This will stop if from being a USB device. If you get text messages a lot, you’ll get a lot right now because your phone was not usable while it’s a mass storage device. Now go back to “Menu”, “Settings & Tools”, “Memory”, “Card Memory.” The list presented to you has all the folders on your memory card. Going into those folders will show you the folders on your memory card. Number 8 on that list will be “Move all to phone”.

There you have it. That’s enough to start playing with and hopefully by the time you read this there are apps out for the phone. At the time of the writing the phone was too new and there were none out even though it has a couple built in for Facebook, Myspace, and a couple other web related content. As of this writing I haven’t fully figured out how to sync the Calendar with the PC but I sync it with gmail and go on the web from the phone to see that. Not as good as having it integrated so it can give you an alarm but I’ll figure it out soon enough.

If you’re a Verizon customer or thinking about it the Samsung Rogue is definitely the choice to go with.

Pidgin insecure and my stupidity

Friday, August 28th, 2009

pidgin.jpgFor quite some time now I’ve been having a problem with my internet chat program Pidgin. It would work for a while and then all of a sudden I’d notice that the whole computer would come to a screeching halt. Resource usage would go up to 100% on a Linux machine. Not unbelievable but not very common for me. So, I figured out the problem was my instant messaging software Pidgin. Upon further investigation I found out that it probably was due to the Facebook plugin that I installed that let Pidgin log into my Facebook account and show me all the people available on Facebook chat.

Months went by without spending the time to find a solution for this until today I finally decided to really get into it because I love having my clients accessible to me through instant message rather than phone calls or texting. I had switch to using Kopete for the most part till I got around to fixing it but don’t like anything as much as Pidgin.

I completely uninstalled Pidgin and re-installed it and didn’t like when I saw my accounts log back in. There was obviously some information left on my computer after I uninstalled the program. First, I hate that! If you make a package, clean up all your crap when I uninstall it. Second, I found where it was saving its extra information. The folder “./purple” in my home folder. That’s not the shocking part though. I looked into the adium.pngdirectory and noticed my biggest screw up ever. I saved my passwords! I never do that and always advise people to never save a passwords on a computer.Within a file called “accounts.xml” were all my username and passwords for my different instant messaging accounts in clear text for anyone who sat down at my computer to look for and see. I ddin’t check this on a Windows PC or on a Mac (Adium on the Mac) yet but knowing that I do use it on these other operating systems I will be more aware. I also realized I use Pidgin’s portable version on my USB stick that I keep on my keychain. I don’t save passwords or accounts there because I use it so rarely but what if you did and lost your keys or USB stick. Your information is out there for anyone to see.

If for any reason you’ve saved a password on your computer delete them. Go into all your programs and empty out that information. A little bit of extra time logging in will save you many untold hours of grief. Many people use the same passwords over and over again. An experienced hacker knows to start first with the passwords he knows and just figure out the usernames. Don’t be a victim to this possible openning in your security.

Communist design

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I was recently watching TV and there was a Mac vs. PC commercial on. The commercial was a therapy session where the therapist was telling PC that it “Wasn’t his fault.” Mac explained that due to the fact the Windows tries to make itself available  to so many types of hardware and Mac only makes it’s computers from specific hardware that Mac approves that Windows can’t help but have problems. This has long been Mac’s policy but it really made me think about that concept that I want to explore a little bit more. I call it “Communist design.”

I refer to it as communist design because it reminds me of the Russian automobile industry of the 80’s.  During the cold war communist Russia only allowed their people certain choices. The government decided what it thought you needed and gave you choices in colors of basically black or white. Now, granted, if Apple was the government of cold war Russia then they would still have less choices but have been really stylish ones.

The good part about this is that Apple really knows their hardware like the back of their hand before they build anything on that platform. It allows them to integrate all the parts together well without worry of a quirk (for the most part). This is a good idea in one way of thinking but has its flaws to me. First, what I like about it is that Apple has it’s people focused in order to knock out a problem.

The problem with this concept is that part that troubles me the most. Totalitarian decision making. Steve Jobs need only have a beef with one company, say Nvidia, and decide not to use any of their cards. This really stops the user from having all the choices he wants. This is one of the problems with Linux on the desktop but only for a short while as the drivers are soon developed as the product becomes more mature. This also hurts Apple for the discerning user due to the fact that Macs are always more expensive than their counterparts.

Apple I’ve got your solution so give me the credit (and a check). Put more eyes on the problem because they’d love to help. The way you do this is by contributing to the BSD and Linux effort to your benefit (as well as theirs). Stick to the design that makes you so famous. People love the look and feel of a Mac. However, throw your hardware guys into the open source driver development arena. They get and give with their code. This allows Macs to be able to take on more devices internally and Unix variants to do the same. Why do this? Even if Mac doesn’t like Linux their core is developed by using the Mach kernel that comes from BSD (Linux’s cousin). Helping your cousin ends up helping you at the same time it hurts your enemy (Windows).