More AA1 Tweaking

Okay, so the Acer Aspire One now has a nickname of AA1.  I kind of like it, so we’ll see if it sticks. I received my own Acer netbook for my birthday and am in the process of tweaking it to my satisfaction.  My biggest annoyance so far has been the lack of codec support out of the box.  XVID has been my favorite codec for a couple years now and I am not about to go back to wmv, especially on a Linux machine.  One little tip I can throw everyone’s way though, the Fedora Repositories were intruded upon back in August.  VLC is the package I noticed this with, but if you tell yum to install vlc, you will receive these errors:

Error: Missing Dependency: libpulse.so.0(PULSE_0) is needed by package vlc
Error: Missing Dependency: libopendaap.so.0 is needed by package vlc-core
Error: Missing Dependency: libdvdnav.so.4 is needed by package vlc-core

This is a result of the security breach (looks like file corruption to me).  To fix it, you need to run this command:

sudo yum install fedora-release

Information can be found on the following page:

http://forum.videolan.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=48759&p=161972

Acer Aspire One

Acer recently released the Aspire One.  My wife was looking for a laptop to check email and visit her forums while on the road.  The tech details were GMail and phpBB, for those interested.  We met at MicroCenter after work to look at netbooks on her birthday.  I will not criticize Asus.  They have made large strides in creating the market for the cheap ultra mobile pc, and I love them for it.  But there they were, right next to each other, the EEE Surf and the Acer Aspire One.  Comparing the two, spec to spec, the Acer made the Asus loook like a toy.  It has a standard resolution width (1024).    It has a larger keyboard (80% of a standard keyboard).  To be honest, the “triple-E” looked breakable.

So anyway, we picked one up at a store after dinner.  The clerk gave us the question that I often get hit with when trying to purchase items.  “Now, you know, this isn’t exactly what most people expect from a computer…”  I promptly interrupted, “It runs Linux, right?” Then we walked out the door with her new laptop and weren’t concerned about the price we paid.

I am more than impressed with the thing, mostly for it’s flexibility.  The distribution that it runs standard is called Linpus.  It’s essencially Fedora with a Mobile interface.  It’s very easy to get to a terminal and start customizing to your heart’s content.  I have already added Skype and upgraded the browser to Firefox 3 with AdBlock Plus to prevent the annoyances, both easy tasks if you already understand how Fedora.  For the sake of resource management, Linpus uses XFCE and it’s a simple matter of editing an XML file to modify what your default apps are on the screen interface.

Due to it being Fedora based, I was able to successfully get the Citrix Presentation Server client functioning for her work stuff.  The only major hiccup in this was replacing Thawte’s security certificate in the Citrix package.  It wasn’t very difficult, just a minor annoyance of downloading from elsewhere.  I could see this being a problem for someone with less computer experience.  Here’s my suggestion to Citrix:  Make your software update the certs automatically.  This is the only reason the RPM didn’t work properly.

Well, regardless, the Acer Aspire one is very impressive piece of hardware and I am considering getting one myself just to have the convenience of an extra machine with ssh and a web browser.   Acer really thought this one out.

Wake up call for Mozilla

Today, Google relased Chrome Beta, an open source web browser based on Firefox and Webkit.  I am currently writing this post from Chrome.  The biggest benefit I see to Google’s method of writing this program is the intense resource management.  If one tab locks up, the others are fine.  From a technical perspective, this is the best idea since tabbed browsing itself.  Here is a link to the download: http://www.google.com/chrome

Take that, Comcast

Score one for the consumer.  The head of the FCC has recently announced that they are proceeding with charges against Comcast for traffic shaping, or selectively slowing down and blocking specific protocols on their internet service.

I haven’t been a very big advocate of bitorrent, but this will also prevent ISPs from messing with services such as Skype, Vonage, and other VoIP traffic (a big deal to me).

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5huAOgy6g1S5wW-7ft0FRuIypdzLQD91RD0RO0

The way I see it, everyone should be entitled to the connection speed that they sign up for, regardless of what they want to send over the line, within the guidlines of the law, of course.

This is a long shot, but I’m hoping they find proof of blocking competing services, something that has been brought up in the past:  http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/02/139241 .

At that point, they will face an SEC investigation which will make the FCC one look like a bad dream.

Primative Usability Tests

As a contribution to the community, I am performing a crude usability test.  For years, bookstores have been selling thousands of self-help teach yourself office application books.  My curiosity focused on a book that my wife recently finished.  I have in front of me an Excel 2003 book and over the next few months, I will follow the lessons in OpenOffice.org Calc and take notes on the differences and intricacies of teaching myself to use a spreadsheet with a book published for a specific application.  I’d like to leave a brief disclosure: I was originally taught on Lotus 1-2-3 and know my way around a spreadsheet very well.  i will try to remain objective by sticking to the book and noting any variance of functionallity thoroughly.  There are one hundred lessons and I will try to perform 10 lessons per post.  Stay tuned for more info…

Linux Data Link Library for The Ironman Watch

Ahhh… the good old days. I had ones of these DataLink watches when I started flying on my first tech job. It saved a ton of time and helped me reschedule several flights, including one where I was north of the border without my luggage. Forget about cellphones, pdas, and wireless internet connections. All I needed was a pay phone and my watch. Sadly, the battery’s dead now. Maybe as project, I will try to get this working again… without the headaches of Windows 95!

http://datalink.fries.net/

SSL in Firefox 3

To my dismay today, I ran into a problem with Firefox 3 Beta 5 on Hardy Heron.  Apparently, Mozilla has decided to put the screws to people who sign their own certificates or use certs not issued by their own domain by creating a four step process to bypass the error message.  Here is an explanation: http://wiki.mozilla.org/Security:SSLErrorPages

I was attempting to access an APC UPS inside my company’s network (translated If I am subjected to a man-in-the-middle attack, it is no one’s problem but mine and my department’s.)  APC signed the cetrificate and I was accessing it by IP address inside my network.

So, explain this one to me Mozilla… Is APC supposed to drop their encryption on their UPS systems or do they just have to pay their employees to rewrite the code so I can go out and buy a certificate for this device?  Do I have to register this with my internal dns so it’s easy to remember the way back to it and the students where I work can memorize it’s name?

Perhaps this needs to be removed out of the final version of Firefox 3 and you can write an extension that makes everything break!

Making Thunderbird Open Hyperlinks in Firefox on Ubuntu

This one was driving me nuts and I finally found a solution. For several weeks, Thunderbird has not been opening links I click on them. I found a solution here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=502651

  1. Open Thunderbird version 2.0.0.14
  2. Go to the Edit menu
  3. Click on Preferences
  4. Click the Advanced tab
  5. Click the Config Editor button.
  6. An about:config window will open up.
  7. In the Filter box, enter network.protocol-handler.app.http
  8. If the editor is unable to locate it, create a new string and input network.protocol-handler.app.http.
  9. Enter firefox for the string value.
  10. Close out and restart Thunderbird.

Hyperlinks should now be available in your email!