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Ask Slashdot: Best Anti-Virus Software In 2015? Free Or Paid?

rwa2 Re:No need (434 comments)

For personal use?
You don't need an anti-virus program. It's a racket. Use the built-in protections for your OS, and learn some common sense. If you do something that gets you infected, wipe and reload your OS, and DON'T DO THAT AGAIN. Once you have a trimmed group of common, trusted applications and games and settings, you'll be cruising fine. You'll more likely be wiping and reloading your OS due to hardware failures every few years than from virus attacks. Notice that you will need to make backups and treat your computers as disposable. You'll be happier this way.

For work? CYA!
Find out what the company security policy is. Use/Buy one (and only one) that will take the liability WHEN (not if) a virus manages to sneak through. Make sure updates are turned on and up-to-date so they can't weasel out of liability coverage. That is all.

yesterday
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Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

rwa2 Re:follow the money (629 comments)

Mod AC parent up.

If VB is what the teacher is most comfortable with, and he and the students can do the most impressive "first projects" with it, then by all means use VB6.

I started learning by myself with Turbo Pascal. And ostensibly my first exposure to "programming" was with MS Office macros. Neither were great languages, but I got them to do interesting things, which were motivational. They were also useful, in that in my first temp jobs I could help office people set up mail merges and do stuff to their inventory and things like that. And then, finally I was also motivated to learn other, "better" languages when I hit their limitations. Sounds perfect for a HS course.

4 days ago
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Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

rwa2 Re:Communication skills (219 comments)

Hey, that's pretty cool, thanks!

I also find it interesting that NASA kind of goes off another way, where the only people at Mission Control who are permitted to communicate with astronauts while they're performing a procedure are also former astronauts. Part of the rationale is to serve as a filter, so any conflict or uncertainty on the ground doesn't contribute to the stress of the operator in space. Wonder how they're doing now that there are a few more former female astronauts now than previously...

4 days ago
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Best Cube?

rwa2 U-cubed (265 comments)

I don't understand why University of Washington students prefer to refer to themselves as "yoo-dub" as short for U-Double-U when they could simply be U^3.

On the other hand, prospective Washington University candidates like to say they want to go Wash-U, which just sounds dirty.

5 days ago
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Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

rwa2 Re:There's nothing wrong now... (487 comments)

But the interface still sucks. I've used 8.1 as my primary desktop OS for almost a year now (Stock install, no Start Menu third party add-ons), and while it's a solid OS, there's still so much missing from the Metro interface.

Recently used documents is the thing I miss the most.

And just exploring through the tree-based Start Menu is something I really miss. I end up with so much stuff installed I forget some of it. Would occasionally just surf thru the Start menu to re-discover stuff. But with 8.1, if you don't remember it, you're not going to find it. Sure you can go page by page through all the listed stuff, but that's far more inefficient than being able to walk through a tree-based menu.

Does "Start Menu Classic" still work on Win8.1 ? I remember using it on Win8 for a little while before I went back to Win7 on my gaming box.

I think the main question on everyone's mind, though, is whether Win8.1 counts as a major "release" or not so we'll know where Win10 falls in the "good / shit" cycle: http://www.globalnerdy.com/wor... .

Though I guess we're damned either way... if Win8.1 counts as the "good" release, then Win10 will be "shit". If Win8/Win8.1 collectively count as the "shit" release in the cycle, then MS might have just skipped Win9 "good" to get to Win10 "shit".

5 days ago
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Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

rwa2 Communication skills (219 comments)

Doesn't the USAF have a study somewhere that women are better at communicating data, period?

They would use female radio operators since they found it easier to understand female voices over lossy radio channels. Maybe something to do with the higher pitched voices, or better use of intonation in language, or maybe something empathic or psychological that we don't understand but the effect was there.

Then there are the Germans who refuse to take orders from female voices to the extent that GPS manufacturers have to make special male recordings for those markets. Was that a factor during WWII as well?

On the flip side, was it the USAF or NASA that was investigating the long term social groups for extended space missions, and found that grous of all-men could get along, but introduce one female and they start fighting for her attentions? But that was still better than an all-female crew, who would eventually but almost always turn on each other after too much time working together?

5 days ago
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Elon Musk's Proposed Internet-by-Satellite System Could Link With Mars Colonies

rwa2 Re:This idea failed in the 1990s (104 comments)

Yeah it had a somewhat similar mesh network, though. I still see the little shoeboxes hanging down from the occasional streetlight in most metro areas, so I assume the richochet network is still being used for its stuff... even though a lot of municipalities have been working to upgrade their communications networks since 9/11

about a week ago
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Elon Musk's Proposed Internet-by-Satellite System Could Link With Mars Colonies

rwa2 Re:This idea failed in the 1990s (104 comments)

Yeah, I'm a bit worried about what this means for SpaceX, having worked for Boeing when they were trying to push for more communications satellites to help fill up their launch schedules.

A lot of these services (Iridium, or even Metricom Ricochet) might be considered business failures but technological successes. The networks still operate and serve their primary customers (I believe the Ricochet is used by law enforcement)... it's just the shell companies that tried to sell excess bandwidth to the public that failed financially.

Huh actually, the wikipedia page for Iridium mentions that SpaceX is launching the Iridium NEXT satellites this year to be more data-focsed than voice-focused: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...
Not sure if this SpaceX constellation is being launched to augment this, or if it's just a business ploy to negotiate more favorable prices with their customer by pretending to go into competition with them :P

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools?

rwa2 Re:Cyanogen? (184 comments)

Really. Here's the "simple" 9-phase process with for the pretty common Nexus 5 :
http://forum.xda-developers.co...

Yes, it's pretty cool to go through that for the first phone or two, but after the 5th or 6th time it kinda gets old to have to spend an hour or two keeping track of how TWRP is replacing the clockworkmod bootloader, which exploit to use to root, backing up using Titanium or Helium, etc. After a while it feels less like you're learning new stuff and more like you're jumping through hoops just to get a new OS version that other people get automatically OTA :P But at least the adb and fastboot stuff from Google stays pretty consistent.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools?

rwa2 Re: Disposable Androids (184 comments)

Eh, with Windows 7 it hasn't been that bad, or even with Win98 before that. Every six months or so when it starts having problems, just reinstall from scratch, walk away and let it reboot a few times to finish updates, then install the nVidia updater and Steam and anything else from ninite.com . Just a few more steps than setting up a fresh Linux Mint box.

That said, the last time my C:\ drive failed, I restored my AppData dir from backups into the new system but still couldn't get some of my games to find their settings / savegame states. Probably need to dink with something in the registry, but haven't been motivated enough, since most of my current games save state to the cloud.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools?

rwa2 Re:Cyanogen? (184 comments)

Getting cyanogen on my HTC is a maze of shady .exe files linked from shady forums hosted on shady filedrop sites.

Hate to admit it, but this. Trying to find the right set of instructions to follow to get most phones rooted so you can install a custom bootloader and install CyanogenMOD is a big mess. Sort of like an IQ test of trust and persistence to determine whether you're worthy of running a custom ROM.

That said, I've trusted my phone's behavior more when it's running CyanogenMOD than when I was running the manufacturer's ROM.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools?

rwa2 Re: Disposable Androids (184 comments)

Yep, if you have any qualms about doing stuff on Android, feel free to get a cheap Android tablet to experiment on, like the old $200 Nexus 7. Then you can feel free to fill that one with games and crapware and wipe and reload it regularly like a Windows gaming box. This lets you play without too much risk without compromising your primary Android device. If you use the same google Play account, you don't even have to buy your paid apps twice (though of course then you're exposing your google account that you use to pay for Google apps, but if you're like me, that's separate from your personal gmail account)

My primary Android device is my phone, and I just keep a bare minimum of essential apps on it so it runs fast and lean. After the Android 5 update, haven't even felt compelled to root it.

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

rwa2 Re:Honest question. (479 comments)

Yeah, a lot of the smartest kids in my magnet school were girls... the two co-valedictorians were Russian twins. And at my ivy league college, ASME and SWE were both pretty much run by the same group of women. I kinda thought that would continue to be the norm out in the professional world. I ought to figure out where they went.

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

rwa2 Re:Honest question. (479 comments)

He committed suicide after being bullied for not being bro enough?

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

rwa2 Re:Honest question. (479 comments)

yeah, "man" falls under "or something"

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

rwa2 Re:Qualifications (479 comments)

...at the expense of every other company.

Sounds right... there seems to be good competition for female tech workers in the Seattle area. It makes sense too, since if your product is better able to serve the female population, that can pretty much double your customer base.

I've seen plenty of female tech workers and Microsoft and Disney here, compared to some of the defense-industrial sausage-fests back in the DC area. Amazon is probably playing catch-up.

Some of our neighbors work for Amazon, both husband and wife. They met in college doing CS, he was her tutor. They both had applied for the same job at Amazon way back when. I don't recall the specifics, but she ended up getting a different job at Amazon at a higher level. He got that job, but a few years later after he became a manager he could go back and look up the details in the hiring system and saw that Amazon was prepared to hire her for that lower level job at a higher pay than him.

So there certainly is competition here for female tech workers. Study your STEM, girls!

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

rwa2 Re:Honest question. (479 comments)

Yeah, originally a lot of the CS geniuses (Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Alan Turing) were women or something, and for some reason the manly men felt insecure or threatened by this and completely turned it into a bro thing to protect their own insecurities and have been making it hostile ever since.

/ not SJW, just would like to have more women in the workplace.

about a week ago
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Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

rwa2 Re:The Dangers of the World (778 comments)

Yeah, I think they want you to hire a nanny or au pair so you can pay the nanny household employee tax.

What better way to eliminate poverty by making it illegal to be poor?

about a week ago

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Android 4.0 ICS on ViewSonic G-Tablet using TeamDRH

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 2 years ago So VeganTab 7.1.0 (Android 2.3 Gingerbread) still appears to provide better app compatibility and performance, but it looks like the Android 4.0-based TeamDRH ROM is getting close in functionality!
I just installed the Beta 1.1 release, and it's making my G-Tablet run real nice. They ship with a 1.2 Ghz overclock option, and the Quadrant scores are better now, in between the Samsung Nexus and Samsung Galaxy. (The VeganTab ROM blew away both of them with a 1.4Ghz overclock).
Still a few issues I've reported:

  • Had to kill DSPManager to get audio working:
    mount -o remount,rw /system
    mv /system/app/DSPManager.apk /system/app/DSPManager.disabled
    reboot
  • Had to uninstall a bunch of background apps / widgets to free up enough RAM for everything to run smoothly. ICS really expects to have 1GB of RAM, so need to lose some weight to get good performance on 512MB :-/ Use an app like "OS Monitor" to see what's running and sort by memory usage.
  • My main goal is to get one of the full Linux distros installed in a chroot, but the TeamDRH kernel doesn't have loop block devices enabled.
  • A few apps don't run yet, like "Leo's RC Simulator", but I suspect they haven't ported to ICS yet.
  • ICS changed the way the internal sdcard can be shared with the PC, and I can't get the new way working :-P So now it's kinda a pain to transfer large files / backups.

But aside from that, I'm rocking out.

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Running commands on many remote hosts using ssh and xargs

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

There are a few different ways to run commands on groups or clusters of remote nodes, depending upon how complex the command.

Assuming your machines are named "node01" - "node10" :

# Run a command in parallel on all remote nodes
# results come back in random order as they are received.
pdsh â"w "node[01-22]" df

# pdsh allows some more complex listings of hosts
pdsh â"w "node04,node[06-09]" reboot

# Run a command sequentially on all remote nodes
# slow, but results come back in order
seq â"w 1 22 | xargs â"I '{}' ssh node'{}' df

# Run a command in parallel on all remote nodes without pdsh
seq â"w 1 22 | xargs â"P 22 â"I '{}' ssh node'{}' df

# Run a command in parallel needing pipes on the remote host
# Otherwise, pipes are processed locally
seq â"w 1 22 | xargs â"P 22 â"I '{}' ssh node'{}' \
"ps afx > \`hostname\`.txt"

# Run a command in parallel needing root
# sudo requires a tty, hence we pop up xterm windows
seq â"w 1 22 | xargs â"P 22 â"I '{}' xterm â"e \
"ssh -t node'{}' sudo gdm-restart"

# Run a command in parallel needing root and pipes on the remote host
seq â"w 1 22 | xargs â"P 22 â"I '{}' xterm â"e \
"ssh -t node'{}' sudo bash â"c \"echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches\""

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Using readahead to speed up disk loading times of any application

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Here's a way to get a list of files read by any application, so you can use readahead to preload those files optimally from disk:

CMD=firefox
strace -fe open $CMD 2>&1 | sed 's/.*open("\(.*\)".*/\1/' > $CMD.preload

# you can sift through that $CMD.preload file to look for things that don't belong

readahead $CMD.preload # preloads all those files into cache

time $CMD # should now start quite a bit faster, without much disk activity

## to clear disk cache as root (useful for testing / benchmarking)
echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

If it works, you might want to append the contents of the .preload files for your commonly-used apps to /etc/readahead.d/default.later , so they are automatically loaded on startup (RAM size permitting)

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tangoGPS - alternative to Google Maps Mobile on Linux devices

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  about 5 years ago

So back when I had a Blackberry for work, the one app I really got addicted to was Google Maps Mobile. I basically stopped ever planning for travels. I would hop in the car or get off an airplane, think "now what?" and whip out the device and within a minute or two have directions to some place I've never been to before or a list of the nearest restaurants with a smattering of reviews.

Unfortunately, gmm only supports a handful of devices, most of which I'm not interested in. It won't install on my lousy Samsung t629 phone (which I hate, but Opera Mini helps me tolerate). I have a really old version of gmm on my Palm TX which works great, but doesn't support GPS. I almost bought a Nokia N900 to replace my various gadgets, but then I accidentally my old car and had to buy a new one, so took myself out of the preorder queue.

Which lead to my long protracted search for some kind of mobile mapping software for our eeePC 901 running eeebuntu. GPSdrive looked promising, but I couldn't quite get it to work with my iBT bluetooth GPS, or to even scroll out of Germany for that matter. Google Earth sort of worked, but the fonts and Z-buffer were wonky, and my previous experience hooking Google Earth Plus to a GPS wasn't actually all that stellar. I even tried running the Android SDK so I could try installing GMM in the emulator, and also installed androidx86, but alas, gmm wasn't an option in their stripped-down app repositories.

Finally after many google searches, I found tangogps while simply mucking around in aptitude. I was very impressed with both the simplicity of the user interface and the power of all of the features... In addition to supporting several different map sets out of the box (including an "for testing only" google satellite maps scraper), it also has a friend-finder database similar to Google Latitude, and better yet some of the trip meter features I missed from Garmin devices. Plus the inclusion of sources such as the opencyclemap db makes it more useful to me than GMM was. It's also possible to download tiles over a region in advance for offline viewing.

I now have my eeePC linked via bluetooth to both the iBT GPS and my Samsung t629 phone to download tiles from T-mobile's network using my $10/mo. web2go plan. Unfortunately, it doesn't support search yet, but does have rudimentary routing and directions. But it does give me just what I've really wanted -- an overhead moving map display.

Someday I hope Google will make GMM available for "real" computing devices, maybe on ChromeOS or Androidx86 or better yet just as a standard java app (yes, I also looked into installing the Sun Java micro development environment and generic phone emulator, but it looked like a real mess to get things installed and then somehow connected to a real GPS). Or at least porting to the Maemo platform so it would run on the N900 and friends. But barring that, I think I can make do with tangoGPS until I maybe succumb to one of the newer Android 2 devices due out this year.

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Palm T5 - TX touchscreen transplant

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I don't know why I hadn't thought of this sooner. My Palm TX had a pretty broken touchscreen, with large unresponsive areas in the middle of the screen and in the graffiti area. I had been coping with this for years... writing really small and frustrated graffiti in the corners, and creatively using various combinations of presses around the edges to activate buttons in the middle with touchscreen averaging.

But after replacing the broken screen in my wife's eeePC a few weeks ago (it was only $50 for a beautiful new glossy screen) I thought I might try buying a replacement Palm touchscreen (which go for about $20-$30 and include the special * screwdriver). Then I remembered that I had my old broken Palm T5 lying around, which still had a nice working touchscreen. I don't know why I assumed they wouldn't be compatible earlier...

Anyway, the small bit on my leatherman fits the Palm T* screws fine, and after a bit of drunken internal surgery, the transplant was complete. My Palm TX has a new lease on life, with a nicely calibrated touchscreen and hard buttons on the front that work consistently now.

Of course, now I have to invest in some better protective gear to keep it that way... my jacket pocket just contributes too much lint.

Unfortunately, the power button still doesn't work, but there are apps to compensate for that, like PowerBtn or OffStroke.

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Mirrored RAID read performance, where art thou?

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Back before mdadm (in the days of mkraid), the Linux RAID1 driver used to give you a performance boost when reading from a mirrored array. Essentially, from 2 mirrored disks, it would read half the data from each disk and give you the whole thing almost twice as fast. At some point, they decided to change that behavior so reads would only be performed from one drive at a time. There was still some small performance boost... it would decrease average seek latency a bit by reading from the hard disk spindle that was physically closer to the sector to be read. And maybe it allowed concurrent reads, so one process could read a file from one disk while another process read a file from the secondary disk... but for some reason, that doesn't seem to increase your overall throughput by anywhere close to a factor of 2... more like 1.3 from my brief testing (and I suspect most of that gain was probably due to disk cache rather than parallel reads).

But after reading a few different Linux RAID sites today, it looks like that you can get that kind of performance boost again out of mirrored arrays by using RAID10,f2 ( --profile far=2 )! And even though it's called RAID10, it even works on arrays as small at 2 disks. It basically works by striping your data across the first half of your drives, and then striping the mirror of that data across the second half. This appears to decrease write performance by about 5% compared to RAID1 or RAID10 near=2 (the default), but the read performance finally increases again not only due to striping, but also because your disk heads now stay near the faster outer rings of your disk drives, and only has to dive down to the inner rings for mirroring writes.

So I'm pretty excited about this since I've kinda been annoyed by it for the past few year. Except that of course I now have to rebuild all my RAID1 and RAID10 arrays to use the far=2 profile :P

Here are links to some of the more useful sites with data:
http://linux-raid.osdl.org/index.php/Performance
http://blog.jamponi.net/2007/12/some-raid10-performance-numbers.html
http://home.comcast.net/~jpiszcz/raid/20080528/raid-levels.html

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SwiftWeasel

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I am liking Swiftweasel, it is noticeably faster than Iceweasel / Firefox on Linux, especially on netbooks like my eeepc 901 running eeebuntu.

Unfortunately, the deb repository for it is somewhat old (v3.0.3), and current .tgz builds from sourceforge are somewhat old as well (v3.0.5 for x86, and v3.0.6 for x86-64, whereas the current iceweasel / firefox is at v3.0.7). I kinda wish SticKK of the SwiftWeasel Project would post more instructions on how to build swiftweasel from current iceweasel sources.

Until then, I've seen that "about:buildconfig" can be used to identify the compiler and options used. When I get a chance, I'd like to try grabbing the iceweasel deb-src and modifying the build options to match. Don't see anything in there about how to enable Profile Guided Optimization (PGO) which is necessary to make *nix builds of firefox javascript run as fast as Windows builds, as mentioned at this firefox benchmarking site.

Oddly enough, I ran the SunSpider javascript benchmarking suite under both Swiftweasel and Iceweasel, and Swiftweasel actually took a tad longer. I feels much snappier in day-to-day use though, probably because of some of the FasterFox extension options. The default vanilla Iceweasel on the eeepc typically pauses for a second or two on new page loads.

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Web 2.0 Micro blogging howto

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 6 years ago Facebook seems to have suddenly hit critical mass in my friends-and-acquaintances sphere of influence. I don't really like Facebook... social engines like OKCupid and Orkut seem more fun, relevant, and informative. While Facebook seems cold and quite pointless for the most part (most of the activities involve "pokes"... exchange of vampire bites? water fights?). But it does seem to have the largest networked community going for it at the moment. It's filling the gap created by Classmates, allowing people to connect with their long-lost school peers in ways that other countries with more successful implementations of "classmates" services have enjoyed for years (such as the Russian Odnaklassniki.ru)

Anyway, I found this Mashup guide very useful in setting up Facebook and Livejournal and Twitter so they all kinda cross-post to each other. Now if only there was a way to plug my slashdot journal into the fray as well.... hmmmm

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Eee PC 901 FTW FWIW

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Picked up the black Asus Eee PC 901 20GB for my wife Sofia, to replace her 700Mhz Apple iBook. She's always been a Mac person since working for Yearbook in high school, but I finally broke her of it by buying one of her own after we got married. She's really liking the Eee PC, both for the form factor and their Linux OS. She's never been a Windows person, and on the Mac all she used was Firefox and NeoOffice to work on her MS and PhD coursework in education, so the transition to Linux has been pretty straightforward.

We still have a few quirks with their custom install of Xandros Linux to figure out, which I'll try to record here as I go along.

I'd like to replace the AsusLauncher desktop with a straight IceWM desktop + menu at some point. But since it's for my wife, I don't really want to go too overboard with customizing it.

Also need to figure out the best way to expand the root dir so we can install more software. We're getting the Grad Student edition of SPSS 16 for one of her courses this year, thankfully they sell a Linux port.

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Keyboard

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Just picked up a Casio WK-110 keyboard for my kids' piano lessons. Toy 'R' Us has them on clearance for $130, down from $200. They must be making way for the new WK-120 model. Hopefully this can tide us over for a while until we can get a nicer digital piano with pedals and hammer action, which usually run in the $500 - $800 range.

My old Yamaha PortaSound that we had been using finally broke... or at least it's at the point where it can only play drums while on battery power. I've had it with me for the better part of two decades. But the keys were small and didn't have any kind of touch response.

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Nokia 6021 resurrected

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 8 years ago

My Nokia 6021 died the other day. Of course my wife blamed me for swapping my battery with the nearly dead one in her phone so I could use her camera to take some snaps of a family gathering.

I originally picked up an unlocked Nokia 6021 in particular because it was the only tri-band international GSM phone that supported EDGE & bluetooth, but had no built-in camera so I could take it to work. I wish the american GSM providers would figure out that there's a market for this beyond those blackberry devices. I prefer keeping my PDAs and cell phones separate so I could upgrade them independently, thank you. Plus, I typically get a better overall feature set out of $200 cell phone + a $200 PDA compared to the leading $600 "smartphone" of the time.

So the symptoms of my Nokia mobile's demise was a crash on bootup... I'd hit the power button and the screen would just flash white and then shut off again. Once in a blue moon, I could get the thing to boot up a little past the bootup screen, but it would crash again while building the menu. I could also convince the battery to charge to full, so it wasn't a low battery problem.

I pried the thing open and removed the 6 screws holding it together. Inspecting the circuitboard near the main battery contacts, I noticed a tiny little XH414X battery cell that showed signs of corrosion. Nokia had welded it to its battery contacts, so with nothing to lose (I never bother with warranties, esp. with my ~$200 price cap on most of my personal electronics), I simply twisted it out with a pair of needlenose pliers. Afterwards, the phone booted up and worked fine, and remembered all of my memory settings... everything except for the time!

So this little permanently-attached watch battery is apparently a little time bomb waiting to incapacitate your Nokia phone. I suppose mine died early due to the corrosion... I'd be the first to admit that my children and my pocket provide a pretty rough operating environment for my gear. But it's still a bit unnerving that they expect you to upgrade your phone after however many years that battery would last. But since the phone works with the internal clock battery dead, I'm not sure what to think. It's not much of an inconvenience, and my phone offers to set the time from the network on bootup anyway, so it would only be a problem if my main battery died and got replaced while I was stuck in a cave. Perhaps I just hit a weird failure mode where the corroded battery was feeding back some strange voltage that the Nokia engineers didn't expect from a normally dying watch cell.

Anyway, it has vaguely inconvenienced me for a few days while I was on international travel, but here's hoping someone will find this information useful in debugging their related Nokia phone troubles.

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opie on an iPaq h5450

rwa2 rwa2 writes  |  more than 10 years ago I suppose I should use this space to write about technology.

I got an iPaq h5450 from work, and after toying with PocketPC 2002 for a while (didn't want to shell out the 30 bucks or whatever to upgrade to PocketPC 2003, even if it would make the built-in wifi & bluetooth work), I immediately got around to the task of installing the Linux distributions from handhelds.org on it.

It took a few weeks to play with all of the options, however, because the documentation is in shambles. I finally got the bootloader installed from an Win2k machine, and got the bootloader to install the gtk 'lite' over X 'lite' -based GPE through the RS-232 serial cradle using minicom on a Linux machine.

GPE was neat, but had a few usability issues, so I eventually backed it up (using rsync over a ppp connection) and went to the embedded Qt -based opie. I'm pretty happy with Opie. I tend to be biased towards the more idealistic gnome/gtk/gnu guys than the more pragmatic kde/qt people, but the opie app software was visibly better engineered from the user perspective.

First thing I noticed about each project was that I had to update from the unstable sources to get any decent functionality. Mostly because my hardware is relatively new, but also because the unstable apps just worked better. No big surprise there, esp. with projects under heavy development.

Though OPIE won't just run any minimally-ported X application like GPE will, the application set it does have serves my needs well, with things to handle web browsing (a stripped-down konqueror), a nice terminal with multiple session management and shortcuts to common commands, and VNC.

Just about all of the hardware works, except maybe that fingerprint reader. Most needed manual configuration, though. I have to configure the wifi card using ifconfig and wconfig on each boot and wake from sleep. Many of the FAQs are pretty dated. For the longest time I was led to believe that SD cards didn't work, but I finally stumbled across the right module to load buried in /lib/modules. But I am happy enough that the hardware support is there, even if I have to launch a script to get it to work every time. Looks like the OPIE GUI autoconfig tools are changing rapidly, though, so this will hopefully be behind us in a few months.

Still have some annoying problems. Every few weeks, it locks up hard, and I have to do several hard resets, removing the battery and everything to get it to boot. Fortunately, nothing permanent is stored in volatile memory (unlike in MS PocketPC), so this doesn't result in data loss.

I still end up primarily using my aging Visor Pro, since there's still a lot more useful/indispensible PalmOS software out there (HandyShopper, Progect, Mapopolis, etc.), but I'm hoping to get POSE working on the iPaq eventually. Also need to get multisync working enough to migrate my PIM info over. As for offline web browsing, it looks like JPluck + OPIEReader will fit the bill for what I had been using Avantgo & Plucker for. After that, I should finally be ready to ditch my Visor, but don't hold your breath :P

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