Monday, March 31, 2008

SSC #59 General News

    Hiyah again folks, hope you're having a good week.  Its been pretty crazy around here.   I've made the first baby steps at trying to learn the computer programming language Python.  Its a very powerful and versatile language that is used in Windows Linux and Macintosh systems.  In case you're wondering, it is named after Monty Python, not the huge African snake.  I'm hoping that by learning it I can make some headway on creating the Kidbuntu Linux disk I talked about earlier.
    Also, at the time this will see print, Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron will have less than twenty days left before release.  I've already cleaned out a partition on my hard drive in anticipation of installing it.  This version will come with the ability to be installed from within Windows so I'll be trying that option out and I'll be sure to pass along my experiences with that function as well as a full review of the rest of the release.
    In other news, you may remember me writing about a new Radiohead album back in October called In Rainbows.  I just found out this weekend that they'll begin touring the USA in a couple weeks.
    Unfortunately the closest place to see them on the tour is in St. Louis Missouri.  I'm going to be trying very very hard to make the trip, so wish me luck there.  I've only been to St. Louie once and that was via Greyhound, so I wasn't driving at the time.  It should be an adventure.
    Also, I have decided, after long deliberation, that I am going to change my ISP.  I have gotten my internet service from Duo County for almost two years now, and while I've not had any problems with their service--it has been very reliable--they do not have the option of getting broadband internet without either having their cable service or their phone service. 
    In my house we don't watch TV, and my wife and I both have cellphones, so in essence, I can lower my monthly bills by $30 by dropping the house phone and signing up with Vortex Wireless. 
    Vortex Wireless is due to come by the house sometime this week and check to see if they can get a good signal here, which I'm pretty confident won't be a problem.  If all goes well, I'll be getting their dish installed on the side of my house.
    But here is the kicker.  In order to save up the $150 installation fee (and go see Radiohead) I'm going to be without internet service for a little while.  How ever will I survive?  Will I become like some junky who has lost his dealer?  Nah, I think it will be a good thing.  Maybe catch up on some reading.
    Don't worry I'm still going to be writing my articles, I will just have to submit them from somewhere other than home.  If I happen to miss a week, I apologize in advance.  And if you're one of my friends who I will have to borrow access from in order to submit my articles, I apologize to you too. 
    When all is said and done, I should have a new Internet Service Provider.  I'll be sure to tell you all how it went.

    Just so that this article isn't a waste, I would like to pass on a recommendation from a friend.  Bobby Espinoza is a good friend of mine and I taught him everything he knows about computers, but he did me a good turn last week by suggesting I try out a Firefox addon called Cooliris Previews.
    From their page - "Cooliris Previews gives you the power to browse and share Web links and rich media faster. Just mouse over any link, and the Cooliris preview window immediately appears to show you the content. To email it, just click."
    So if you're a Firefox user, be sure to get Cooliris Preview.  It is mighty handy.  If you're not sure how to get Addons for your Firefox, just go to  Its really really really easy.  Really.

    Oh, almost forgot, I redesigned the StraightShootinComputin webpage, to make it a little easier to read.  Be sure to drop by and check it out.  Feel free to leave a comment to let me know what you think of the new look!

If you have a question or comment, feel free to email me at

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

SSC #58 OpenMoko - The Open Source phone.

Nowadays just about everyone carries a cell-phone. And why not? You can buy them anywhere, they are practically a step away from putting them in cereal boxes.
Perhaps you have a good monthly plan, and a nice phone... Or perhaps you just keep a cheap prepaid phone in the glove-box for emergencies. They are virtually everywhere. So much in fact that they have pretty much put an end to public payphones.
Today I would like to tell you about a phone that you're likely going to own some day. Its called the OpenMoko and it is the world's first open-source phone.
Everything about the OpenMoko phone (called the Neo Freerunner) is open for everyone to see. The phone runs on a very slimmed down version of Linux, so you know that's completely open source and will have lots of features, but what's more the hardware specifications have been open to the public since the beginning of its inception. And just recently, OpenMoko has released the CAD/engineering files for the case. What this essentially means is that anyone who wants to build an OpenMoko phone and who has the capability, can feel free to do so without fear of legal reprisals.
And what THIS essentially means is that they will be very very very cheap! Maybe not at first, so if you're an early adopter, be prepared to pay through the nose, but eventually they will become a gold standard for cellphone technology that will be manufactured by multiple companies around the world. You might not get a Neo Freerunner, but chances are, since anyone can make them, eventually, you'll own a phone with OpenMoko technology inside of it.
Keep in mind that when I say cheap, I do not mean "basic". The Neo Freerunner (due out later this year) will have enough processing power to play music and full motion video like an Ipod or Zune, has a touch-screen interface for easy navigation, has built in WiFi for instant messaging or talking on a web-based phone service, as well as your normal cellphone functions. What? You say that isn't enough? Well how about a free GPS system that links directly to the satellites (instead of your cellphone carrier for a monthly fee) and a built in accelerometer that lets the phone know when it is in freefall so it can prepare for impact?
Perhaps you don't like its shape... rest assured, the open source CAD files will ensure that companies will put them out in all shapes, colors, and sizes. And it will have more accessories than you could ever dream possible.
OpenMoko is a promise of coming freedom, and a much needed breath of fresh air amidst companies vying for control over you and me.

Needless to say, I want one really really bad!

Added to the open-source beer called FreeBeer, the open-source softdrink called OpenCola, and the open-source car, I think the open-source movement just hit a grand slam.

Hey folks, keep in mind that I'm here to answer your technical questions. If you're having trouble with your computer, feel free to write to me at the email address below and I'll do my best to help you solve it. Who knows? It may even get printed in here!

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Mozilla and Netscape

Hello again,

I found an article that does a pretty good job of explaining the whole Mozilla/Netscape thing...

The paragraph that most directly answers your question:

What's the difference between Netscape 6/7 and Mozilla?

(brief version)

They are of same source code, but target different types of users.
(complete version)
Technically speaking, they are almost identical. However, Netscape 6/7 is designed as an end-user product, and Mozilla is for the developers. AOL/Netscape spent a great resource on making Mozilla more end-user friendly by adding documentation and improving the user interface, as well as adding multimedia support and integrating its instant messaging.

Don't let it hurt your head or anything but there are litterally dozens of different browsers out there.  If not more.  This is not a bad thing. 

Firefox (made by is basically a result of what the open source community has done with Netscape after they opened up their program code to the public.

We, the users, have a lot of choice.  Personally I use and recommend Firefox, and I haven't personally used netscape in a very long while, except here and there.  Netscape just seemed very limited, and way too "safe", almost as though the programmers are making the assumption that their users don't have a clue.

While I'm not generally one who has to have my software installed with training wheels, I understand if other people do.  We all start somewhere.

Other browsers of note: 


There is nothing wrong with getting a second or a third browser.  It won't hurt your system, and you could find something you really like a lot better, so experimentation is good.

When you start them up they will usually ask you if you want to make it the default browser.  When you find the one that you like, make that your default.

But do try out Firefox... and be sure to check out their AddOn system... really adds a lot  of cool stuff to your Firefox.

Hope this helps,


seer <email hidden> wrote:
Hey hey  :)
Ok, I went and got the videolan player - cool - got to see the file I downloaded - yippee!
Now, tell me - I use Netscape - is there a difference between that and Firefox?   The Mozilla thing confuses me, because I thought that Mozilla is what Netscape used - but if I'm understanding correctly, then Firefox is a third browser?
(I have a headache now)
Suzi  ;)

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

SSC #57 Ubuntu Brainstorm

    Do you ever wish that you could make a suggestion to the people who make Microsoft Windows and that they would actually listen?
    Well, don't expect it to happen any time soon, not with Microsoft anyway... but with Ubuntu, its a different story entirely.
    Canonical has recently opened up a new website geared toward receiving and using suggestions from their users, and it might just go a long way toward making Ubuntu Linux one of the greatest operating systems of all time.
    The site is called Ubuntu Brainstorm, and it is the philosophical brother of the Brainstorm site that Dell introduced a while back... (you remember, the one in which users demanded that Dell start releasing Linux computers?)  You can find the new site at  Personally, I've not been able to leave it alone since I first found out about it.  Joining the site is free, quick, and easy, and once joined, you can submit ideas that you would like to see incorporated into future versions of Ubuntu.  And you can vote on the ideas of others.  In this way Canonical can directly see what the primary needs and desires of their patrons actually are.  Votes from duplicated ideas are combined, so if an idea is submitted more than once, it won't split up the vote.
    One idea that I have submitted (which turned out to be a duplicate of an idea someone else had already put in) was that they make a version of Ubuntu just for kids. 
    The idea is that they'd take out OpenOffice and all of the productivity stuff, and replace it with fun games that young people would enjoy, set up in a fashion that is easy for a young child to navigate.  Coupled with some solid parental controls (including the Glubble addon for Firefox) this would make the ultimate thing for parents wishing to keep their kids (and their computers) safe.
    You'd simply put in the Kidbuntu disc and reboot.  The computer would boot back up into Kidbuntu and your children could have fun playing games without fear that they could accidentally  ruin your important files, see something they shouldn't on the internet, or worse.
    I invite you to join me and thousands of other Ubuntu users on Ubuntu Brainstorm and help us shape the future of Ubuntu Linux. 
    The next version, Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron is right around the corner, so its highly unlikely that ideas submitted now would make it into this release, but the next one, Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, is only six short months after that.  Who knows?  Perhaps you have an idea that will turn the computing world on its ear.  It has certainly happened before!  At one point, the idea of a computer mouse was unheard of!

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

SSC #56 How to get rid of Vista

    So you just went out and bought yourself a new computer, only to find that instead of the comfortable and familiar Windows XP that you've spent the last several years getting used to, your new machine has come pre-installed with Windows Vista.
    After a little fiddling around, you have decided that you really don't like it and this brand new computer doesn't seem to run any faster than your old one did.  Now what?
    Many people who are installing their old copies of Windows XP on new machines, especially laptops, are running into major problems finding drivers for their brand new hardware.  The computer ships with a disk that has all the drivers for Vista, but not for XP.  Without proper drivers your hardware won't run right, or won't run at all. 
    In some cases, the new computers are using new SATA harddrives.  SATA drives didn't exist when Windows XP came out, and people are finding that they can't install XP at all since XP can't detect a single harddrive to install to.  There is an option to press F6 during the beginning of the install if you happen to have the SATA drivers on a floppy disk, but many new machines are being built without floppy drives.  So without means to install the drivers, there is no apparent way to install Windows XP.

    Fear not, there is a solution. gives a guide on how to customize Windows XP install CD's.  By following this guide and using a great application called nLite  which you can find at you can incorporate your SATA drivers into the Windows XP installation CD and your drives will be detected. 
    But why stop there?  Using nLite you can do all kinds of awesome things to IMPROVE Windows XP beyond what you are used to.

    You can incorporate ALL of your drivers for your hardware so that it is all recognized automatically. 

    You can completely remove Windows components.  You use Firefox?  You can take Internet Explorer completely out.  Use Pidgin for your instant messaging?  Just click a box and MSN Messenger never gets installed in the first place.

    You can even incorporate your CD Key and the new installation CD won't even ask you for it!

    This weekend I customized a Windows XP install CD for a friend of mine who was having trouble with the aforementioned SATA issue.  After taking out all of the bloat that is normally installed with Windows, and replacing it with Open Source alternatives, his new Windows XP installation is the fastest booting operating system I have ever seen.  I even timed it.  From hitting the power to having the desktop fully loaded up and ready was 35 seconds.  By comparison, an Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon installation on the same hardware took 109 seconds to boot up.  I was flabbergasted. 
    So if you're struggling to get your new computer back to the familiar ground of Windows XP, just gather your drivers together and then head on over and grab a copy of nLite.  Windows XP actually is a pretty good operating system.  So long as you are the one in charge of it.  Not Microsoft.

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Vote for my Ubuntu Brainstorm Idea!!!

Do you think it would be a great idea to have a specific version of Ubuntu designed for kids and parents? Filled with fun games and parental control features to keep your little ones safe? Join Ubuntu Brainstorm and vote!