Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Multi-System USB External Hard Drive Project: Part 1

With my recent acquisition of a 1 TB hard drive, I have now have my old 250 GB mini drive unused. My solution: make a demo box for on the go with mulitiple Operating Systems (OS).

I plan to cut the drive into five, fifty gig partitions and put the following OS's on it:
  1. Ubuntu 9.04
  2. Ubuntu Server (32 bit) 9.04
  3. BackTrack4
  4. Windows 7 (RC)
  5. Open Solaris

Piece and Parts

I'm creating this USB system from my Macbook running OS X Tiger (10.4) and an older PC running Microsoft Windows XP. I have an external DVD burner for that machine. It's all going onto a Western Digital Passport Essential 250 GB external hard drive.

The Operating Systems

Ubuntu 9.04
I downloaded the most recent version of Ubuntu from their website. It was a simple matter to follow the directions on there to burn the ISO to a CD using "Disk Utility."

Once you are running the live CD, it has a very straight forward tool for installing the OS onto the computer. It was as simple as telling it what language, timezone, default user, etc. I wanted and pointing it at the right HDD.

Ubuntu Server 9.04
The ISO has been downloaded (also from their website) and I will work on adding it tomorrow.
BackTrack4 was another download. Their website is here. It is rather larger than the Ubuntu ISO and required a DVD for it's 1.4 GB size. It has been burned as a live DVD and even as I type, it's installing on the HDD.

Issues with BackTrack4: Getting X to start took a quick get around that I found here. It was as follows:
If you can’t get X to work, first try to autogenerate an xorg.conf by typing “Xorg -configure” and try using the generated conf file. If that bums out, you can revert to VESA by typing “fixvesa”.
It took me both steps for it to work, but since then it's been smooth sailing.
Windows 7 (RC)
I got a copy of Windows 7 (RC) at SoCalCodeCamp. It turns out that you can't install it on an external hard drive without some major head aches. After a good bit of looking around, it seems that in order to do it you have to use some built-in system tools from Microsoft which are only available in Vista and 7.

I don't have a box running either, so this will have to come later. I have a few messages out to friends who can help with that.

In order to make things simpler later on, I've placed the partition for Windows 7 at the beginning of the disk. If you don't do this, Microsoft cannot find it's partition. None of the other systems have any trouble with this.

Strike one against Windows 7, and I don't even have it installed yet...
Open Solaris
I picked up a Open Solaris live CD at the June SDJUG meeting. I have not done anything with it yet.

That's what I've got so far. More will follow.

Have any questions? Please leave a comment and ask it. Have a comment?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quick Photos (SIM card reader and USB charging adapter)

A few gadgets photos. Just got these the other day, and haven't had time to play with them yet. They came from . Once I've used them a bit, I' post more info.

I found it interesting that the USB charging adapter has the Apple stamp on it. It was just mixed in with tons of cheap Chinese items (which often do just the job, and at the right price.) This was not mentioned in the info about the item. I'd think it would be a selling point.

The packaging:

Both items: A USB power adapting charger and a SIM card reader.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An Open Letter to Apple.

An Open Letter to Apple.
June 28, 2009

Dear Apple,

Let me start by saying I love your products, But.

That But is the purpose for this letter. I friend of mine upgraded his computer about a year-and-a-half ago. He's a very generous sort of guy and he gave me his
old laptop. It happened to be a Macbook. Before that day I could have counted the number of times I'd used a Mac. You know the drill, kind of weird, nothing's
where it should be, and what happened to the right button, etc. I adjusted quickly because I'm used to running several different OS's (Linux in various flavors and
MS Windows). Today I am addicted.

I love my computer. It's sleek and simple and elegant and everything you claim that it is. It hasn't spontaneously invented a cure for cancer yet, but other than

I live in a small town. I'm rather technically minded. You might think that's something of a non sequitur, but believe me, it's not. These two facts go hand in hand.
When someone has a problem with a computer, they often come to me. Am I a certified computer repair technician? Nope. Can I help a lot of people solve their computer
problems? You bet.

When people come to me and say they're ready for a new computer, that this dinosaur from the 1990's has finally given up it's ghost, the first thing I ask them is
"What do you use your computer for?" Most of the time the answer is e-mail, word processing, and to surf the net. Do they need BlueGene/L to do these things? Of
course not. But they do want to watch those videos people send them and they do want to play those silly flash games too. Looks like it's upgrading time.

I would love to be able to tell them that I'd be happy to pick up a Mac Mini next time I'm down at the store. I'd love to be able to tell them to order a Macbook
(Look, it even has free shipping!) But I can't. Why not you ask? You just said you love our products. Don't get me wrong, I do love your products, But.

But I could buy a Mac Mini for $600, or I could buy just-another-PC for $275. I could buy a Macbook with those cool new aluminum cases for $1200 or I could buy the
"On sale now!" just-another-laptop that I saw while writing this letter for $300. And that includes Windows XP. Sure, I'd take it off and put Ubuntu on it, but
imagine if I could find it without Microsoft on it in the first place. It'd save me another $50 or $100. Sure I could buy the Macbook Air for $1500, or I could
buy an AEEE Asus netbook for under $300.

You produce nice, high-end, quality merchandise. But you don't make anything for the my granny on Social Security, or for the high-schooler on a limited budget, or
for anyone else on a limited budget for that matter.

Give us a Crab Apple Mac. A Mac to get us started. A Mac for the masses. We want to buy it, I want to buy it. I want to pass them around like hot-cakes,
and recommend them to everyone I know. But you don't seem to want to sell them to me. Apple, why don't you want my money? I want to give it to you.

C.W.Holeman III

Cross-posted on my website and sent to Steve Dowling (Apple's Corporate PR contact).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Moral Dilemma

There I am at Jack in the Box after class. It's some time after 10:00 pm. I'm eating my chicken sandwich minding my own business when three people come in to buy food. A woman, a man and a boy. The boy was probably about ten years old or so.

I was the only non-employee in the restaurant when they came in, so I could hear them as they ordered their food. The boy ordered a hamburger deluxe, a shake and a lemonade. The woman, whom I assume was his mother, told him he could have one drink or the other, but not both. He took the shake and a cup of water. The adults ordered their food as well.

A few minutes later when their food arrived, the man said, "Watch this." and walked away from the table. He went into the lavatory, and came back out moments later. At this point I see that he has the boy's, now empty, water cup. He proceeds to got to to the soda machine and serve a cup of lemonade. He then came back to the table, said "Here you go." and handed the cup to the boy.

There is the moral quandary. What is the correct response to this situation? Confront the man for theft? Tell the manager? Ignore the situation? Or something else entirely? What do you think? What what you have done, and why?

Thankfully I did not have to make a decision because the woman complained to the man, 'He can't have all that sugar. A shake and lemonade is too much!' The boy chimed in that he was fine with water. The man said he thought the boy/woman was just being cheap and he wanted to make the boy happy. He then apologized to the boy, dumped the lemonade in the lavatory and refilled the cup with water.

I finished my sandwich and started the drive home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Dollar

President Truman was once known for using the phrase, "The buck stops here." He meant it in a positive light; no more passing the buck, no more shifting of responsibility, etc.

The way the Obama Administration is headed, it looks like he will be able to use the phrase in a literal sense:

Inflation just from the years 2000 to 2008 was between 22% and 45% depending on how it's calculated. (link) And that was before...

Chairman Bernanke said the Fed is funding bailouts using a process “more akin to printing money than it is borrowing.” (link) Which is leading to...

Russia to push for new "World Currency" (link )

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Five C's of Computing

I came up with a list of actions people use computers for. When you break it down, people use computers for only a few kinds of tasks:
  • Computation
  • Creation
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Consumption
If it's not on that list, you probably don't use a computer to do it.

Did I miss anything? Let me know.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fresh Bread

I just pulled this fresh bread out of the oven. Four rolls, one small loaf and one small loaf with a butter hardened crust, half of which has a cinnamon and brown sugar topping.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Review: "Pushing Daisies" Season One

Fantastic! Very very funny. Bizarre, but brilliant. I watched the whole season in two sittings, and wished that I had season two waiting on the shelf. It's a show about murdered people. People that can talk, if only for sixty seconds. After that, it back to that land of the dead. I know the premise doesn't sound funny, but it truly is. It's a fairy tale like story, about a man named Ned, and a woman who's not dead (Her name is Chuck, and he's a pie maker.) and the very, er, distant relationship they have while he runs a pie shop and helps a Private Investigator solve mysteries. Murders mostly.

Please excuse me, while I go add seasons one and two to my wish list...

Monday, February 2, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

[Facebook Rule]: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag your people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)[/Rules for Facebook]

1. I have never had a cavity, even though when I was younger I almost never brushed my teeth.

2. I have hand forged several daggers.

3. I love to read.

4. I don't usually do these sort of lists.

5. I've never smoked, done drugs, or been drunk.

6. I've taken over 40,000 pictures.

7. I've had a picture of mine used in an article.

8. When my family went on vacation in 2001, the public library's circulation went down noticeably.

9. I've been to almost half the states.

10. I've also been to sixteen countries.

11. I've built a house.

12. I am learning to play the Irish whistle.

13. I know around a half dozen programing languages.

14. I enjoy a good cup of tea.

15. I like trying new and strange foods.

16. I think of families of less than six people as small.

17. I think of houses larger than 600 square feet as large.

18. Bananas are my favorite fruit.

19. I am a voracious reader.

20. I eat home-made bread more often than bread from a store.

21. I've never shaved.

22. I'm currently reading "The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual."

23. I'm making hot dog buns for lunch.

24. I love pumpkin pie.

25. I am finished writing this list.