Wobbly Windows for everyone ! Beryl and Compiz in Ubuntu.

One of the things I absolutely LOVE about the new Feisty Distro of Ubuntu Linux are the Compiz and Beryl additions to the Gnome and KDE desktop. For those of you who think I'm "Geordi-la-Forging" ( Pulling techterms out of my butt) let me simplify it for you : What Rox about Ubuntu are the wicked wobbly windows ! An amazing little peace of eyecandy that does much more then liven up the way you interact with your computer. Forget play-doh like blue Xp-desktops : Lets Wobble the windows in Linux, Spin the desktop cube, exposé-away and more. Honestly.. When you line up a Beryl-enhanced Ubuntu desktop with an XP or even a Mac .. THe Ubuntu machine looks like Marty Mcfly brought it over from the 22nd century.

 

beryl

 

What however IS a bitch is getting it all setup and working nicely. Sure there have been some enhancements done in Feisty making it all a lot simpler .. but the simple "enable desktop effects" option you have leaves the geek in my lacking. And if you cant get everything working right away.. you are screwed. Thus enter Kevin Vanzonneveld who has written up a little script that does some serious lovemaking between Compiz, Beryl, Gnome and your Ubuntu machine. So this way you can have both : The time to go out.. get drunk and score a girlfriend .. but still have wobbly windows in your Ubuntu. Check out his manual and enjoy.

Links : Kevins Beryl-Compiz-breadcrumbtrail.

 

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More power using SSH in Ubuntu (or any distribution for that matter)

 

in tha shell
 

For those of you tracking the " Feisty for the family" series or those who have listened to the podcast episodes ' Remote domination part 1 and 2 ' , you all know what SSH is by now. For those of you who don't  ? Well SSH is a way to control a remote linux machine via the command line. Much like Telnet, but in a secure way. Kind of a lovechild between a Dos Window and a Vpn connection. 

 

You can do an amazing amount of things in an SSH session. For noobs this means mostly copy-pasting the commands they found on the how to website. But there is more to SSH then just plainly running commands on another system. How about swapping around files from one system to another ? And i'm not just talking "copy here paste there" You can actually remotely MOUNT a folder on your local system and copy stuff back and forth without having to worry about anything  (no authentication, no risk of security etc). 

So i've rounded up some websites that might help you use SSH on Ubuntu or any other distro of linux (and mac ! ) to give more power to the terminal ! 

Downloading Putty.

Secure File copy, Remote mounting of drives, ssh without passwords, forwarding graphical applications through an ssh tunnel.

Secure surfing from work through your machine at home using Putty Firefox and SSH.  

Punching the Samba hole right through the remote machine with Putty , SSH and Windows Filesharing !

eleven cool SSH tricks.  

Leave your SSH Sessions running even if your window closes using "Screen"  

Browse the net anonymously by using Putty and an SSH server.

Mount a folder over SSH using your Mac.  

The Remote Domination podcasts part One and Two.

The Famous Feisty for the Family manuals. 

Picture " In tha Shell " by Teryaki

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Gourmet at Goffy's : Trail runs for the new Digital Camera.

A low technology weekend is something everybody should have once in a while. Time to clamp down on keyboard time an gently squeeze down on the " bandwidth consumed per hour " to actually spend some time with the family. Goffy (Nyana's sister) invited us for some Gourmet ( Where a combination of raw meat and a steaming hot plate allow you to either burn stuff to a crisp or eat cold steak). So it looks like a low tech afternoon does it not ? Yeah right. Not in THIS family. Usually everybody packs up their laptop or newest gadget before they leave and the family Christmas dinner looks more like a LAN-party then anything else (I kid : The food is MUCH better then at Lan parties).

enya

Back to Sunday. What I have for you are not only cool family shots but also the try-outs of my new camera. Having dropped my Nikon Coolpix almost a year ago, I was growing tired of having to lock up the broken battery door with sticky tape. Its a fine camera but it was looking a little "getto" lately. So it was time to shop around and look for a nice camera. I did some surfing on the internet and browsed around what kind of camera I was looking for. As for the look and feel I was thinking about getting one of those 'bigger camera"s' ( A little bit like an SLR camera). Because they have some more possibilities and it looks a little more professional when you are shooting shots for the website. (Try making an artistic shot of people or objects holding this teeny weeny Coolpix, people think you are insane). 

finepixSo last week I went out for the most time consuming way to spend your afternoon : I walked by some photography shops and let people "sell me" a camera. The first thing they ALL tried was to sell me a Sony camera.  As a matter of principle I don't buy anything from Sony since the whole "rootkit thing" but they reason shops do this is because they have a much larger profit margin on Sony camera's then on any other brand (at your expense of course) And of course they all tried to sell me a 500 euro+ SLR camera. I tried to explain this was too far over my budget so the recommended this little compact hybrid camera's. (Also from Sony of course) that gave me no manual control whatsoever. 

Of course I already knew what I wanted. Having spotted the exact model I wanted in a shop in Maastricht I was looking for somebody to give me a great price. But NONE of the shops even mentioned the model, not even the brand. Because these things are pretty cheap and shoot darn good colors. I was referring tot the Fuji Finepix S6500fd a hybrid camera with the look and feel of an SLR (manual zoom and focus ring) the automated functions of a hybrid and HALF the price of an SLR. I used to own a little Fuji Finepix A201 a few years ago and took it along on quite a lot of holidays. The thing cost 250 euro's, had no zoom but shot the most amazing pictures ( see the France 2002 set on Flickr) So I liked my Finepix. 

Acquisition time.  : No way in hell was I going to by this camera in a small retail shop. Not only where they still forcing the Sony's up my nose, they even said the model I suggested (the Finepix s6500fd) was not something they had on the shelves and that it was hard to acquire. ( Hoggwash ! ) So some extensive price searching brought me from the highest price (375 euros), to the lowest one ( 295 euros ) but in the end I bought a second hand one on the net (from an old school buddy of mine) With the bottom price of 205 euros (including the bag and the card) I was pleased with my new toy. After digging through the 150 page manual it was time to take it our for trail runs so .. enjoy these ones and more to come.

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EXIF catches Harry Potter snoop.. But what about YOU ?

oh ow A cool little story on Digg today. Somewhere somehow an adult managed to take a huge risk to photograph a children's book before it was released… And borked up big time. Of course you all know what i'm talking about. Somewhere somebody took the risk of shooting pictures of the new Harry Potter book (number 7) and post them on the internet. Whow 🙂 Cool 🙂 I know those black cape wearing, wand waving, nerd-glass sporting fans among you are drooling with anticipation over that. But to me I cannot seriously fathom what the fuss is about. While walking through a major bookstore in Antwerp yesterday afternoon I was confronted with the public announcement that their shoppers could drag their ass out in the middle of a friday night (forgo clubbing, knicker-hunting and excessive drinking) to stand in line at 12 o'clock like some hobo to pick up THEIR copy of the new book. What – The – Frack ???  I've only seen the first Harry Potter movie and my thoughts that mr Potter IS for kids was only wildly confirmed by the scene where they fly around on broomsticks trying to play a game of magic-baseball or something. ( That was right before i was overcome by a secret 'put me to sleep out of sheer boredom' spell that was pronounced in the movie ) .. But back to the topic !  🙂 This little fanboy TOOK a picture of the new Harry Potter book, Put it on line .. But forgot to remove the EXIF data ! This is a certain amount of information that gets put into your digital picture by the camera. Like exposure time, when the picture was taken, brand of the camera, and .. Serial number of the camera. Oh-Ohw !  Our little GhormenGhastic 007 seems to have posted along the serial of his own camera to the world wide web. Very very stupid. Like a big trail of breadcrums (with flashing knobs and sings attached) he can lead ms J.K. 'Rolling in money' to his own whereabouts and.. well… be turned into a frog I guess.  (Click on the picture for the full resolution version )

hottie The whole scenario made me wonder .. Just how much information do we put out there. Lets take a look at some Flickr photos shall we ?   This is for example one of the more popular pictures on the Knightwise flickr Site. Yeah, its a classic. Show some skin, flash a smile and put the tags 'picture' 'girlfriend' 'hot' and be sure to attract a crowd (its sad but true. According to Flickr this is the extra information that you can request.

 

When we click on "more properties " we get to see a lot of information about the picture. In what "mode" the picture was taken (sports mode) On what computer the picture was processed (Mac computer) The kind of compression and so on. But so far : No serial of my camera (Good thing).

Now when I go to the original picture on my harddrive and right click for the properties i get this :

Image Type: jpeg (The JPEG image format)
Width: 1200 pixels
Height: 1600 pixels
Camera Brand: NIKON
Camera Model: E4200
Date Taken: 2005:10:16 13:38:28
Exposure Time: 1/362 sec.
Exposure Program: Normal program
Metering Mode: Pattern
Flash Fired: Flash did not fire, compulsatory flash mode.
Focal Length: 23.4 mm
ISO Speed Rating: 79
Software: QuickTime 7.0.2

But with a little searching the perp who shot the Harry Potter pictures can be easily traced this way. Think about it. All you need to do is have your layer call up Canon ( The pictures where taken with a Canon Eos Digital Rebel ) and ask them who bought the camera with serial 560151117. If the guy sent in his warranty slip you will even have is phone number. 

The moral of the story here is : Beware what you put out there on the internet. Your camera records not only what you see but also when you shot it, on what computer you shot it, the serial of the camera and so forth. To people who want to be a snoop they can pretty much puzzle together a fairly large amount of information just by looking around the net. And if the pieces of the puzzle add up .. they have quite 'a picture' of who you are. But what if you bought a second hand digital camera of somebody who used it to take child pornography pictures ? What if those pictures leak on the net and people trace the serial. What if you work in a daycare center (with children) and what if the pieces of information that are out there are put together to make "the WRONG picture of you". Whenever we talk about logging people always say 'I have nothing to hide" And if they "have the right picture' of you that is very true. But what if that information gets put together in the WRONG way .. and they get " a false image' of reality .. with you stuck in the middle. 

The article on Digg. 

EXIF on Wikipedia.

Hot girlfriend search on Flickr.  

 

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Another Mac in the Family

Everybody with the words "Apple Fanboy" on the tips of their tongues can start reaching for a cold beer to swallow them down. I'm by far an Apple Fanboy. Very true : I just placed the order for my Imac (see the article below) and am waiting (although not very patiently) for the thing to arrive. But asides from that i'm not one of these guys who worships every toilet seat  Steve Jobs ever parked his royal behind on. Yet today I am consumed with a feeling of guilt. Guilt ? Why ? because I have just converted the first persons in my family to buy a new Macbook instead of a Windows Laptop. Are those gasps of surprise or of outrage I hear ? 

anneleenAs a matter of fact these newly aquired 'mac-o-fe-liacs' (is this a word) are my sister in Law and her boyfriend. He is a Tae Kwon Do coach, She is the five-foot-one reincarnation of a Shinoby arcade box. Both are trained in the art of mortal combat, diciplened, in good shape and do moves that would make the Karate Kit crap his left sock on the spot. But they are terrible when it comes to computers. Its not that they are not tech savvy ! No sir-ree. Anneleen sprouted from the same technology-infected nest where I found my own spouse. So she knows her way around a computer, figures crap out at lightning speeds and erm… Thinks a Virus scanner is a waste of time.  Yes : Their laptops used to be infested with bots, virusses, spyware, mallware and horribly long start-menu's. Their machines where slow, lacked the crisp agility of their owners, the fighting stance .. the .. software-hygiene. So perhaps they are the perfect candidate for getting a Mac. Not because they are ready for the next step in computing, not because they are posh cybernauts with high graphical needs and not because they need a computer that would match their China. Is it perhaps because they are cyber-slobs that never clean their temporary internet file folder ?  Or is is because they are in need of a computer they can use. 

keysThink about it : Most geeks like us are USED to caring for our systems, are USED to fighting the good fight against spyware and stuff. But .. what if you need a computer that like a blender (no strike that, you have to clean blenders) What if you need a computer thats like a shovel : Pick it up to dig, put it down when you are done. Perhaps the Mac is not the next snob-istical step in the geek-evolution. Perhaps it can be one of the most basic (although pricey) steps on the ladder of using a computer.  Only time will tell….

Sis in law on a mac and a grandmother on Linux. Ain't that a family ! 🙂

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Shove it with Senduit !

senduitIf there is one thing I truly hate it must be attachments in Email. No seriously ? What the crap is up with that ! !  The Smtp protocol that blissfully shoves email all over the globe was invented a long time ago (in a galaxy not SO far away) by some genious ubergeek to help us all to "get along". Thanks to this brilliant person we can tell our wives we love them, tell our bosses we are to busy and tell our friends we have " A funny movie for them " . And it is definitely with the latter that I have s serious problem. What the crap happened over the last five to ten years with that ! One day Email used to be something damn good, something damn useful. Something that turned Telexes into paper weights, Faxes into oblivious office machinery and was the digital Saviour for the communication age that made the post office want to stick their heads through a noose.  For the life of me I can't even REMEMBER what a stamp tastes like. 

But all of a sudden this digital communication highway has been turned into the party train of the dumb. These days its "fashionable" to send eachother emails with 'Funny pictures', " Silly movies" and " Forward this otherwise Hotmail becomes a payed service '. Somewhere along the road the intellectual bottom fell out from under the Email system and it has now become the domain of the troglodytes who dare to call themselves ' a little tech savvy ' Forget teenagers who blab on the phone for hours on end. Here is the next incarnation of Cyber-turds who spend the best part of their (WORKING) day sifting through and forwarding all this junk email crap filled with 'Funny pictures'. They swamp up the bandwidth of the company, overload the emailservers, fill up the mailboxes and so on and so on. Email : Originally desinged for richt text communication has now become the donkey of this senseless load of crap people entertain themselves with. 

To those out there who dare send me stuff like that my reply is swift but cold : Stop or i'll get really mad. I don't care if its a cyber-savvy citizen who knows better or the first noob-on-the-block who actually thinks his digital sludge will make him rise on my social ladder. They all get the same treatment. Go eat up somebody else's bandwidth, fill up somebody else's mailbox and waste someone else's time. I don't carebear.

But there are some moments in life where you need to shove the proverbial elephant through the sucking straw called email. When you need to get this 23 megabyte file to the other side of the world. Moments in your life where you know that you have an FTP server you can stick it on but either you are to lazy to create a one-time account for this user. Or you know that between the two braincells needed for eating and peeing, and the two braincells needed for surfing porn, the poor guy would not have any brainpower left to figure out an FTP client (and for those of you who think you can access an ftp site with internet explorer : Wake up and smell the music)  So bless you sites like 'senduit" that allow you to upload a file to a server , stick it up there for a certain ammount of time and just send the magic link to whoever you want to send it to. Senduit gets the revenue by using adds on the download page and you are a happy camper. Seriously : I've sent this stuff to computer illiterates and guess what : It worked ! So long Email attachments, Hello Senduit. !

Link : www.senduit.com  

 

 

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I have my Eye on a Mac.

Most of you know by now that I sold my last 'Home built" pc a few weeks ago. And as it is with geeks.. Money from sold off hardware .. just sitting there .. has slim chances of ever getting back to the bank. Lets face it 🙂 It's toy-money. And what do you buy with money from sold off toys ? Right ! New toys ! I had some other "play-money" tucked away on the side and together with the cash from my old computer .. lets say its time for a little "well thought-through" shopping.

There are several kinds of Geeks. Some buy stuff and hang on to it forever, some buy stuff and give it away to buy new stuff. Some buy stuff to sell it right away for a profit and buy more stuff and so on. I'm the kind of geek that buys stuff, holds on to it as long as it is still valuable and then sells it in order to put down a tiny bit of extra cash to buy something new. Never do I make a purchase without selling something else first. I would die in horror if I had to subtract the full price of the new computer/laptop etc from my bank account.  Usually I just put aside little bits of cash and when the time comes for me to make my move I sell something in order to make the last "big leap" towards the amount needed for my new purchase. Some BUY new things and say they will "sell the old stuff later" and put the money back in the bank. I know for a fact that that does not work. Once you have your new toy you are seldom motivated to sell off the old stuff, and even if you do you are tempted to spend THAT money one MORE toys. So I drive a hard bargain with myself : Sell something to buy something (its amazing how much that the crave for that 'new computer smell" helps you to get through those hundreds of bargain sites to get your old stuff posted).

So with some $$$$ in the pocket it was time to look around. What would i really like, what could I really use. What do I really need. Well : I could do with a nice fast workstation (not another laptop) that would have plenty of diskspace, plenty of processor power and plenty of ram. A system I could sit behind all night without having to strain my back, wonder about the small keyboard and what have you. A system that would be ergonomically-correct, fast, versatile and pretty. What does that leave me with : Of course : An Imac !

Now I have thought long and hard about the Imac, I thought it was an overpriced desktop with a small screen (17" widescreen !!!) but with great looks. My argument always was : Why buy an Imac, Its just a mac mini with a different hard drive and a small screen (referring to the 17 inch version) If you want to go for the 20 or 24 inch versions its WAY to expensive. One is better of buying a Mac Mini and hooking up a 24 inch TFT display. Then you would still be way UNDER the price of the 24 inch Imac.

 

imac

 

But is that really so ? Mac products are ALL overpriced (I never waver from this statement) But is the Imac an overpriced Mac mini with a 17 inch display ? Or is the Mac Mini an under-equipped overpriced version of the Imac ?  If you look at it that way the 17 inch Imac does have some nice extras to offer. The built in Isight, the 17 inch display (resolution 1440*900 equals that of the 19" tft i have hooked up to my Linux box) the Built in Isight,   the 160 gigabyte SATAdrive (7200 rpm as opposed to the 80 gig 5400 rpm version on the mini) It comes with a keyboard, a mouse … and of course : Damn good looks. If I where to nag about the fact the screen is too darn small , the Imac has the option to connect a second screen ( An ability the Mac mini lacks!) so "Dual screen joy" is also something one can achieve.  It looks to me that, in spite of the slight price difference the Mac mini is loosing ground.

Conclusions  ? I think I am going to go for the 17 inch Imac. The 20 inch is a tad too expensive for me and the 24 inch is .. well… something one has dreams of that make you need to change the sheets in the morning. I'm pretty pleased with the 1.83 gigahertz core 2 duo version, the extra money you pay for the 2 gigahertz processor is better spent on Ram (there you feel the difference) The 512 megabytes of DDR Ram offered by Apple is an insult to its own operating system so I replace them with one 1 gigabyte stick of ram, leaving me the option to add another stick of 1 gig as a final upgrade.

Grand total brings me around 1100 euro's which is a very nice price for a complete computer. I am already looking into dual and triple booting this little machine that has the power (and the drivespace) to run the three main operating systems (Osx, Ubuntu and Xp) side by side. An it has the RAM to run them simultaneously. Remember : Fast processor, enough ram, enough drivespace and two displays makes for a fantastic virtualisation box where you run 2 operating systems side by side. 

So I will let you know how it goes when all the goods get here and have my "ultimate sliders machine". 

PS : Take the new POLL on the left side of the page and help me decide what machine to buy 

For those of you who want a FREE G3 IMAC : Click HERE

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