Monthly Archives: February 2008

Linux DVD Conversion with HandBrake

HandBrake is a handy open source free application for converting video from DVD to MPEG.  Part of what makes this program great is that it will handle so called encrypted movies (provided they are utilizing CSS).  Plus, it works on Linux, Mac, and Windows.  I won’t go into great detail about this project, but its worth a try.

HandBrake Encoding

If someone has some free time, please convert this into a DEB and get it into Ubuntu/Debian repos.  Its promising but useless for a lot of users if its stuck as a Tarball.


Ubuntu Linux: Hardy Heron Alpha 4

While I’ve been running through the Ubuntu 8.04 alphas for a while now (yes, I’m quite the brave –or foolish– one, aren’t I).  Aside from a hickup with CPU usage, its actually been quite smooth.  Its pretty sad when my days in alpha testing Linux are smoother than most people’s days in Windows.  I’m very much a bleeding edge geek.  I want to experience the latest in software and see how it works and has changed.  Fortunately for me, Ubuntu Linux is preparing Hardy Heron which will include a very nice set of new features.

Alas, I’m not going to list everything that’s coming and changing but Techthrob.com does a splendid job of it.  Just for a gimplse:  bittorrent changes, remote desktop, in kernel virtualization…

I’ve been really happy with the changes under way.  Hardy Heron has been quite kind to me.  Even the Firefox 3 Beta upgrade was a little painful but the gains were worth it.  The most important thing I see happening is inclusion of new users.  A lot more is being done to invite them into the community and help them adapt to a different environment.  This is made great by keeping the flexibility of Linux there for the old pros.  Just because some changes are made for new users doesn’t mean there isn’t still hardcore Linux under the surface.

What would I like to see?  A better bit torrent client.  Transmission is okay.  KTorrent 4 (built for KDE 4) actually works nicely.  Azureus has a cousin called Zuve which gives bit torrent a needed market.  Plus I think the torrent clients need more optimization.  My system is reasonably fast for Linux and my connection is amongst the fastest residential connections available in my area but I am lucky to take up a quarter of that.

I would also like to see better Wine support or some sort of Windows game integration.  I know too many gamers that claim they’d switch if Linux ran Windows games without issue.  I’d like to see Linux run the games better than Windows does within a year, at most.

Finally, Linux needs support for two very common consumer devices:  scanners and webcams.  First, I know that a driver project exists for webcams.  Now they need to be treated like printers.  It should be so simple that you can plug in the cam and it works, no config needed.  Secondly, some scanner support, especially for AIOs, is needed.  My poor Canon is still sitting, the scanner in mint condition, save a few desperate Windows moments, waiting for Tux to unleash its digitizing power.

I don’t want this to be all critical though.  I just felt that if we’re going to rave about the great things that have happened and are coming, throwing a few more ideas out there couldn’t hurt.  So good job to the Ubuntu team and all the Linux developers, I appreciate your work sincerely.


To Do List

If you’re looking for something inspirational to do…maybe you’ve watched the Bucket List or are just feeling grim about life, check out Snowed In: Awesomeness/Awesome Things To Do In Life.  While its exceedingly rare that I care to write about someone’s blog like this, I stumbled on it and fell it love.  Its really quite simply things but ideas we can all incorporate.  How about starting a window garden?  I’ve been thinking of doing it this spring.  I really do love fresh basil and parsley.  How about hanging up your clothes to dry?  Sadly, I can’t always do that as I lack a whole lot of room (I do live in apartment) and its the middle of winter so the outdoors in not a cheery idea.

Anyhow, maybe my kind readers have something to contribute?  My personal to do list for this year includes biking to work consistently.  First, I have to get a bike and then actually wake up earlier enough to ride it.  Anyhow, I’m looking forward to the exercise and quiet ride.

So please share.  What are you doing or want to do that’s out of the ordinary for you?


Under Microsoft’s Grip Again

Since I’ve decided to go back to school for computer programming, I’ve had to switch back to Microsoft Windows most of the time. I’ve opted to take my classes online this semester and much to my surprise, a couple of classes actually require me to use Windows for specific software.

I’m taking a basic math class for starters. It’d be fine except I must use Course Compass which relies on an interesting combination of Internet Explorer, ActiveX controls (which I had to specifically ease up my security on), Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Adobe Flash player. Then to make it worse I had to install a program specifically from Course Compass to use it. Finally, I had to use Apple’s Quicktime Media Player (which makes no sense to me).  While I can understand the security aspect of this class to prevent cheating, let us type out of our answers or even the whole problem/solution set in a word processor. For that matter, I should be able to use Firefox instead of IE. Argh.

My other issue is C++ programming. While I am given the option to use any compiler I see fit, the book suggests that there are special settings involved and that everything is designed around Microsoft Visual C++ Studio Express. Of course it only works under Windows.

So while I still dual boot and keep my Ubuntu install going, I’ve become an incidental Windows boy again. And I don’t mind. I’ve added as much open source as I can. I use Clamwin Antivirus. I use Firefox for all my regular browsing. I turn in all my assignments using OpenOffice Writer saved as Word Documents. Still I can’t help but feel that I’m betraying my open source views by resorting to a mostly dysfunctional operating system.


New Site Design

Since I felt like the old site design was too difficult to read (font was too small and bad color scheme) I’ve moved onto something I hope will be more functional.  Let me know what you think.  Should I try something else?  Is this working for you?