Posts Tagged ‘Computers’

Recommendations for a PCMCIA wireless card for an old Linux laptop?

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Can anyone suggest a good PCMCIA wireless network card that “just works” with Linux? Ideally, the driver would be open source and included upstream (and in all the major Linux distros).

This is for a very old laptop running Linux, so the cheaper the better. It just has to be something that works and is purchasable (as in, available in stores).


Response to the Skype rants on Planet GNOME

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

I recently read some ranting regarding Skype via Planet GNOME. In the blog post, it is detailed what Skype does wrong — however, those shortcomings do not stop people from using Skype.

Why do people use Skype, despite all of the issues? It’s the combination of a few simple factors.

  • No need to worry about firewalls or other crazy configuration. It just works. Firewalls, today, are a reality. Nearly everyone on the Internet now is behind a firewall. It wasn’t always this way. Software needs to stop pretending that we live in a world where firewalls are the exception.
  • It is free (or cheap) to use. Compared to a traditional telephone network (or even most VOIP), Skype is cheap, and even free if you’re talking Skype to Skype.
  • It works on nearly everyone’s computer. Mac? Windows? Linux? N800? Yeah, it’s there. One person’s Skype install works with any of the other ports, without fuss.
  • People using Skype can talk to others who don’t even use (or have heard of) the software. Of course, this is by way of the standard phone lines. But still — the software does it, and it’s cheap.
  • Skype is a catchy, simple name (and people can easily convert it into a verb, too).

Yes, Skype is proprietary and the UI isn’t great… but it’s good enough for most people, as it gives people what they want (free/cheap communication to their friends and family). The alternatives are either to use a clunky alternative with lots of set-up and jargon (while worrying about things like firewalls, IP addresses, SIP configuration, etc.) or to use something like the phone networks where calls are expensive (charged by the minute on cell phones, or a bundle per month for land lines) which are all being routed through proprietary networks using mainly proprietary hardware and software anyway.

Despite Skype’s shortcomings (and being closed source), you should understand why normal people — the ones who just want to chat to their friends — use it. It’s all about the computer, as a whole, being a tool that people use instead of a person being a tool the computer controls. This applies to all software and all electronics, proprietary or open source. (It’s really the difference between good and bad software when it comes to the experience.)

Build something better, easier, nicer, and more compelling than Skype and make it available to everyone… and people will use it. (It worked for Firefox.) You can even pitch in to help an already existing, very promising project with these goals; I’m sure the developers (and eventually all the people using the software) would love the help.

locate your files!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

This is just a quick set of tips about the super-duper-handy locate command at, well, the command line.

First off, it’s called locate. If you don’t have it installed, it may be contained in a package called findutils-locate (a “shout-out” to all my fellow SUSE distro users)

Secondly, to manually update the locate command’s database (it automatically runs each night), you type (as root): updatedb …and wait for a while.

Thirdly, in your shell of choice, alias locate='locate -i' …and you’ll get case-insensitive locate! Combined with grep (especially grep -i; i also happens to be its case-insensitive flag too), you’ll be finding files in your hard drive quite easy from now on…

I use locate all the time, especially whenever I’m looking for a quick path to find a graphic I of which know the filename (or part of a filename). For example:

locate information | grep png | grep 48

Will return something like (depending on your distribution):


When it comes to your data, don’t trust the cheap cables.

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

I found out the hard way (see this post’s title). Hopefully I can recover these corrupted partitions. (Working on that now.)

It’s only several years worth of photos (and their backups); that’s all.

Update: Woohoo! Things work again!

Straw poll: Javascript and your browser…

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Recently, I have been wondering about people’s stances with regards to the dependence of Javascript on the Internet at large — and for web apps in particular.

  1. Do you have Javascript enabled by default in your browser?
  2. If not, why?
  3. Also, if you do not, do you selectively enable it for particular sites?
  4. Has the “ajaxification” of the ‘Net changed your opinion on Javascript?
  5. Do you consider yourself a power-user of computers? (Rank yourself on a scale of 10, with 10 being expert)
  6. Do you consider yourself a Web power user/viewer?
  7. What browser do you use?

This is a totally unscientific questionnaire, but it still should have interesting results (provided people leave comments)…

Nice little Linux-powered photo/media device

Thursday, February 24th, 2005 has the scoop on a nice little device called the Giga Vu Pro, a media transfer and storage device. It will handle all of your JPEGs and raw photos, play audio and video, and will let you play DOOM on the go. Most importantly, it has an open SDK to encourage developers to write software for the little thing. It comes in 40 and 60 gig flavors and looks pretty nifty (although it currently has a high price tag).

Update: It looks like Hubert beat me to it.

No more microdrive

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

Sadly, my microdrive bit the dust.

the non-working microdrive

When it came out, it was almost $500.

Amazing what a little three inch drop to the ground while transferring it to my compact flash reader will do. Believe it or not–they’re not so strong as they are purported to be.

Thankfully, when it comes to memory cards, my card was not alone in dropping… the prices have fallen too. Even 2 gigabyte compact flash cards are looking cheaper (and much faster).

As far as durability, solid state is the way to go. I lost a few good pictures to this now click-clacking compact flash card.