Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ubuntu and Your iPod

Well, you will be happy to know that Ubuntu does iPods, even Nanos. You will also be happy to know that using your iPod on your Ubuntu system is quite easy. All you have to do is plug your iPod into one of your computer's USB ports, after which Ubuntu will automatically mount it and place an iPod icon on your desktop (Figure 16-1). Yes, no longer do you have to mess around with mount and unmount commands or editing system tables. Just plug in your pod, and Ubuntu will do the rest.

I don't have an iPod but this is the kind of thing that might persuade me!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bootcamp 1.1 Beta

Support for the latest Intel-based Macintosh computers
Easier partitioning using presets for popular sizes
Ability to install Windows XP on any internal disk
Support for built-in iSight cameras
Support for built-in microphones
Right-click when pressing the right-hand Apple key on Apple keyboards
Improved Apple keyboard support including Delete, PrintScreen, NumLock, and ScrollLock keys

I got video working under Skype! Now that is progress.
The Bluetooth seems to now work under Windows and the machine is running a bit cooler (although I think that is down to the firmware update). I haven't had a chance to benchmark performance while on battery - previously the dual-core chip speed-step'ed right down while not on mains - I'm hoping that this has been improved.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

GAIM crashes with MSN accounts

Yesterday, Gaim started crashing for a bunch of people (most notably Windows users) when trying to connect a MSN account.

* Update - August 20th, 2006 - 12:32 CDT *

Gaim 2.0.0beta3.1 has been released which fixes this and other bugs in beta3. You can download it from its SourceForge file release page.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Holiday in Cornwall

I'm currently returning from the family vacation - see my photo blog for some nice pictures of what is Britain's most beautiful region.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


This is the best bit of software I've found for making panoramas from multiple digital images. Here is an example from the Eden Project (visited during my recent vacation);

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cleaning your MacBook with Nail Polish Remover...DON'T

This was posted to OS X fanatics earlier -

This is actually an awful, horrible idea -

Nail polish remover, over time, will eat away at polymer surfaces, leaving you with much much less than desirable results. Do NOT use nail polish remover on your MacBook, ever! You will eat a hole in the plastic surface - count on it.

If you're going to clean the white, what has worked on iBooks, and what works on MacBooks just the same is PLAIN RUBBING ALCOHOL either on a cotton swab or toilet tissue.

Again, I repeat, NO NOT USE NAIL POLISH REMOVER. This will leave you with an eating away of your MacBook over time!

Monday, August 14, 2006

SPV M5000 as Bluetooth modem under OS-X

Alasdair Allan gives a superb walk-though on using your HTC Universal 'phone as a wireless internet router with your MacBook or PowerBook - works for me!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dual-link HD SDi is dead (and other things!)

I had a great meeting with Lee Ballinger - a sales engineer at Tektronix who looks after Root6. He periodically updates me on new products and gets me up to speed for when I have to demo them. He is a great guy - an old school engineer who is very much grounded in test and measurement. The WFM7100 series is the new range of portable rasterised video 'scopes and looks set to really clean up - they have addresses the (very few) weaknesses of the WVR range and have a killer product. I'll blog a bit more about it when I've had a day with our new demo unit. Lee also told me about a couple of interesting developments that he's been party to in other Tek divisions;

  • Sony are set to kill off the dual-link HD-SDi interface - as a three-gig interconnect it has always been seen as ungainly and they aren't going to launch any more products that use it - a ten gig multi-mode fibre (straight to the back of the VTR/Telecine/etc.) is just around the corner. This will mean that those stick-in-the-mud engineers who refuse to take fibre seriously (or do it half-heartedly) will have to pull their fingers out.

  • Quad-core 4.4Ghz Intel chips - he's seen production samples in quantity and they are coming soon - Tek's new seven gig 'scope wasn't quick enough and they had to rush a set of prototypes to Intel to allow testing of those new microprocessors!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Killed the GUI in Ubuntu?

I did! Actually I was doing a patch-update and the battery on the Dell Latitude died. Subseqently I couldn't get the thing to boot to Gnome. Booting to the command line and doing an init 5 produced only the "brown screen of death"!. However - as with any Debian Linux you can run the patch-manager from the command line;
apt-get upgrade
apt-get dist-upgrade

and all is well!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Skype under Ubuntu

Hmmm - to get Skype working under most Linux distros you have the choice of using the old-skool OSS (Open Sound System) or the newer ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture). I've never got anything running properly using the OSS-driver! The problem with the laptop I'm using is that it only has USB1.1 ports and so my US-Robotics handset wouldn't work properly either! Enter Skype 1.3beta which does support the ALSA driver and all is well.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Vista's virgin stack

Microsoft Windows Vista (now in beta testing) and Windows Server "Longhorn" (now in beta testing) include a new implementation of the TCP/IP protocol suite known as the Next Generation TCP/IP stack.

So runs the blurb on - it seems that they have started again (much in the way they did with XP and Windows 95 before it). Now I'm a big fan of writing something that is clean and not a hack'ed, patched version of something but as Steve Gibson points out the TCP/IP stack is the one thing you want to be hardened by sustained hacker attack - the stack in XP showed none of it's vulnerabilities in beta but as we know it was a security nightmare until SP2 (and even now we haven't had a quiet patch Tuesday for more than eighteen months!). The same was true of 95/98/ME - the only version of Windows that had a relatively secure IP stack from launch was Windows 2000 - and it inherited NetBSD's stack!
Now Symantec have been hammering Vista with malformed packets and have some very alarming results here - I suppose it's in their interest to portray Vista as insecure and needing of additional software (theirs!) to make it safe to use. Still - makes for interesting reading.
Like all OSes I'll be waiting a year before I install it on any machines I rely on...

As an aside I was chatting to someone I met on a campsite - he writes embedded applications for industrial machines - not Windows Embedded but proper assembler code for 80186 chips (and the like) - low power processors that can run off batteries etc. He is currently working on an IP stack for the x86 and has implemented stacks for Z80 etc. His observation was that there are no good quality "free" (as in free software - open source) code implementing an IP stack on those chips - today people are keen to save the time and implement using embedded Win2K (but not XP interestingly - probably for the reasons above). But, you only get the best performance with the economy of assembler code.
Reminded me of the little NetIOM board is was playing with just after Christmas - see here and here. It had a very rudimentary web server on chip and support of ICMP etc.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The old BBC News ticker

This is my favourite desktop widget of all time - it just provides a ticker of the top twenty or so BBC News stories - click on an interesting one and it fetches the web page. The Beeb stopped offering it for download a couple of years ago but I've been re-installing the last version I snagged on many machines and it still works a treat - don't be put off by the warning about it being for Windows 95 or NT 4.
It is very configurable wrt genres etc. Click the link above for the Windows installer. It has a very low memory/performance footprint (I've even got it running on a 400Mhz P2!).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


My neighbours are stealing my wireless internet access. I could encrypt it or alternately I could have fun.

This is very funny - as well as giving you a few good pointers about port forwarding and proxy servers.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ext2 Installable File System For Windows

If you currently have Windows running and you realize that you need some files for your work which you have stored on an Ext2 volume of your Linux installation, you no longer have to shut down Windows and boot Linux!
Furthermore, Windows will now be able to handle floppy disks which have been formatted with an Ext2 file system.
Linux Ext3 volumes can also be accessed.

There have been several times in the past when this would have helped me out immensely!
Thanks to Rupert for putting me on to this.