Linux, Vista, and my new laptop

OH YEAH! (He says like the Kool-aid pitcher as he smashes through the wall!)

My new laptop finally came yesterday.  We missed FedEx on Tuesday and I waiting all day for them to come back yesterday.  I got a Toshiba with a dual core AMD 64 Athalon X2; it was a Thanksgiving day purchase (an early Black Friday deal that I happened to catch in time).  It’s a beaut and came with Vista Home Premium on it.

If I had my druthers, I would have told them to hold the OS; as I was going to install Fedora Linux on it as soon as I could.  I burned my x86_64 DVD with anticipation of its arrival.

It came right at 1PM.  By 2PM I was booting off the Fedora DVD and getting ready to install.  I knew on the Ubuntu LiveCD, it has Gparted on it, so I assumed this would to.  It did not.  A quick websearch recommended using a virtual term to use ntfsresize and fdisk.  I was too impatient and found the Gparted LiveCD and thought I’d use that.  The drive was 160G so I thought 40G for Fedora and 120G for Vista since I could always mount the NTFS partition in Linux.  I quickly downloaded and burned the image to disk.
Well, as luck would have it (or my impatience) the README on the LiveCD had something like this to say:

 You can’t use Gparted to resize Vista partitions.  You have to use nftresize and fdisk

It gave some basic examples and I followed them and it looked like it worked.  I rebooted and got the message that “No OS found” and the laptop tried to do a network boot.  So I began to install Fedora.

During the installation, I realized that I forgot to set the Vista partion to active/bootable.  I used fdisk to fix that and after the installation, I had a flawless dual-boot system.

It seemed like the install took forever.  My previous Fedora installations had been from CD not DVD so there was a lot more stuff installed locally.  After the install, I had something like 77 updates to download and apply.  That did take a long time.  I couldn’t install the other stuff while the package manager was running so I watch Mythbusters and chatted via Pidgin.

I  wasn’t getting any action from my wireless.  I was using ethernet cable.  Turns out, that Toshiba used a Realtek wireless card that shows up as an USB device.  WTF?  It’s a Realtek RTL8187B.

Poking around in the forums it seems some ingenious guy got the source for the driver and patched it for Linux, or Ubuntu specifically.  It seems to work, as it shows up as wlan0 and I can manually assign an IP to it, but wpa_supplicant doesn’t see it.  Honestly, I ran out of time to tinker with it, but I think I am about 95% of the way there.

I also installed the fglrx drivers for the ATI x1200 card.  This also works great and I got my tiny resolution I’ve been craving.  I now have a nice wide, large workspace.  I plan on getting about 1GB or 2GB of RAM; I’ll just wait until it is on sale.

So, here’s the links I found useful:

I’ll follow up if and when I get my wireless working.  I am pretty confident I’ll get it.  I also received a suggestion via the Skribit widget to do a post about Mac vs. Linux.  That’s a good idea.  There is something to be said about having everything “work out of the box” but I don’t mind the tinkering.

tmobile wing with a new modded ROM

It was hard to come up with a flashy title for this post, but I figured that I get a lot of traffic from people looking for info on the Wing.

As it stands, ActiveSync stopped working some time this week. I installed some apps and thought that one of them could be the culprit, but searching the forums and Googling clues proved to be fruitless. In the end, I resorted to a hard reset (since at this point, it was really important I sync’ed my contacts) and ActiveSync worked just fine.

So, I headed over to Howard Forums to see what the latest was. Actually, I couldn’t remember how to do a hard reset, (couldn’t remember which button to push) and stumbled into the slipperly slope of installing a modded ROM.

First, if you have a Tmobile Wing, you need to read this thread as it is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and improvements:

On my Wing, I’ve been using the HTC Touch skins on my phone. I really like the improved look and launcher of the phone, but by doing a hard reset (like I had to do to sync again), I need to reinstall all my mods. This isn’t my screen capture but it looks like this:


I liked the look so much better. Then tonight I stumbled upon this link and it was a breeze following the directions:

  • Newbs guide to Herald modification *updated* 11/02/07

For those of you guys that don’t know, HTC Herald is the same as the Wing. That thread has a ton of great info in there for you to check out. If you are new to the Wing or wanted to learn more about hacking it, then you need to READ IT COMPLETELY before attempting anything found therein.

Again, this isn’t my screen shot but my Wing now looks like this. I love it:


There is a fair amount of customization you have to do, but it isn’t too bad or hard.  I was again able to resync all my data and contacts so it’s good to go, but still have some minor tweaks.

Make sure you check out Part 2 of the FAQ.


it’s all crab grass and clover

Lucky you, two posts in a day.

Tonight, I took a trip down my memory lane.  I used to be really into a band called Bongwater.  I don’t remember how I first heard of them but I do remember the first time I heard their CD.

Bongwater is made up of Kramer and Anne Magnuson.  Yes, that’s right.  Anne Magnuson… that’s what I said.  You’re probably wondering why that sounds familiar.  She’s an actress that was in many movies in the 90’s including “Making Mr. Right.”  I never saw it, but knew she was in it.

With the invention of the iPod and owning a decent set of earphones, I hear things in my music that I maybe hadn’t heard before; more background sounds, someone talking, a riff, etc.  So listening tonight to Bongwater was a real treat.

I don’t think I can do it justice to describe it.  Kramer is a genius and Anne sounds really good.  The songs are complex as they are clever and it’s unlike anything else I’ve got.  Sure, there are similarities but the music stands out supreme.

I used to listen to Bongwater when I was in art school working on my BFA in graphic design.  This was in the early 90’s.  Typically I’d be up almost 24 hours and this would be a perfect thing to listen too in that state of mind.  So listening tonight I am reminded of the creativity behind this music.   It is really creative and produced with such regard, it’s very impressive.  I can only suggest you check it out in Pandora.

I had seen B.A.L.L in the 80’s in Atlanta at the Metroplex.  Kramer was the drummer.  At one point in the show, he simply got up and left.  I think he went to get something to drink and the band played on realizing he was gone I think one song later.  I felt it was like an honor to have seen him.  At that point in time, I thought of him as one of the most prolific and creative people I had every heard about.

I had also seen King Missile here in Atlanta at the Masquerade.   At that point in my life, I had worked at a record shop and the girl who was our label rep at the time was going to have John S. Hall crash on her couch. I was invited to go but was with my little sister and felt like it would have been irresponsible to take her.   John S. Hall and Kramer did a spoken word album called “Real Men.”  Great stuff.

Kramer had a record label called “Shimmy Disk.”  I went on a bend to buy anything I could find on Shimmy Disk.  I got a pretty impressive collection and have all the Bongwater CD’s.  Since I worked in the record shop, I was able to order anything I couldn’t find locally and get my employee discount.

Kramer’s Wikipedia page is a really good read.  I remember when he dropped out of sight.  I always wondered what happened to him.  As I read the page tonight, I was really happy to see that he is still around and successful. I’m sorry that he had some hard times but in the pictures on his site, he looks really happy and I am genuinely happy for him.

I was really interested to see what other bands Kramer was involved with.  They are all bands I really like.   To quote wikipedia:

Mark Kramer, known professionally as Kramer, is a musician, composer, performer, record producer and founder of the NY record label Shimmy-Disc. He was a member of such diverse musical entities as Butthole Surfers, Shockabilly, B.A.L.L., Bongwater, Ween, Half Japanese, The Fugs (1984 reunion tour), and Dogbowl & Kramer, and he also performed regularly with John Zorn and other improvising musicians of New York City’s so-called “downtown scene” of the 1980s. His most notable work as a producer has been with bands such as Galaxie 500 (whose entire oeuvre he produced), Low (whom he discovered and produced), Half Japanese, GWAR, King Missile, The Tinklers, Alice Donut, Danielson Famile, Will Oldham’s Palace Songs, Daniel Johnston, and the hit single for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Urge Overkill’s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon”.

I was also very surprised to see what else he had been up to.   It was interesting to see his involvement in the whole “Slowcore” movement.  I have always liked Low and have seen Ween (before they had  drums, keyboard or bass), numerous times so it was cool that this is all interconnected.

One of my most prized possessions is  a CD someone gave me.  It’s called “Smack My Crack” and is a various artists compilation.  There is a Butthole Surfers song on there that is not anywhere else, (best of my knowledge), and I remember reading somewhere that Kramer was in the band when their song was recorded for the album.  I can see it.  The song is great.


As I read these Wikipedia pages, my jaw drops as I see how much Kramer has touched or influenced over the years.  I also find it slightly eriee that 80% of the music I really like has some connection to Kramer.

Kramer, I love you, man! sniff sniff

i love fedora

It’s been a couple of months since I had to turn in my Powerbook when I was recently let go due to downsizing.   I actually went through a sort of withdrawal as I really enjoyed using my Powerbook and was really sad to turn it in.

I had an old laptop that I installed Ubuntu on and it was my Linux Webcam server.  I liked having the webcam server on the laptop since I could move it around and easily capture the action, wherever it was.  But now I found I needed something to actually do work on while I was on the job hunt.

Now, I really liked Ubuntu, but there was something about it that left me wanting.  It was hard to explain but as best as I could put it is that it did EVERYTHING.  I wanted to get my hands dirty and I wanted something that was a little more “advanced.”  Even on my Mac, I used Fink and used an xterm  with the command line  often.  Everything on Ubuntu was just too easy.

I cut my Linux teeth I think on Debian 1.2 (I still have the CD I bought).  I used Debian for years.  At work, we used Digital Unix which became Tru64, a bsd-type of Unix.  Then, somewhere along the line, I used FreeBSD as my desktop for years… that is until I got my Mac.  Even up to that point, I used XEmacs/Gnus as my newsreader and email client for work.  At home, I read mail on my FreeBSD box and used Pine until I went to IMAP .

So, fast forward to today.  On my old crappy laptop, (with 16MB of video), I needed something to get by and I didn’t want to install WinXP since I don’t have a license.  I am also learning Ruby and relearning PHP.  So now I have a L.A.M.P. laptop and I develop anywhere the mood strikes me.  Despite the lacking power on this laptop, it was workable.  I really liked it.

I went with Fedora 7 and was in heaven.  In fact, I don’t want a Mac any more.  I want a new laptop running Fedora.  I’ll even go dual-boot with Fedora and Windows.

Fedora Linux

While I find myself in this transitional period, I feel like I am re-honing my skills with the latest flavors of Linux, learning new development skills, and learning the latest in tools.  For example, I have a subversion server that I am using.  I began using Eclipse as an IDE for Perl and PHP.  I am learning, engaged, and feeling somewhat productive.  I’ve began reading USENET again and getting back to the core parts of the Internet that I really enjoy.

I tried the various flavors of Linux before deciding on Fedora.  I tried Ubuntu of course, Gentoo, SuSe, and was going to try Solaris 10 x86 but I have that on DVD and my crappy laptop doesn’t have a DVD-Rom.

The tools that I enjoy using are:

I love it.  I’ve also been turned onto some really slick Firefox plugins.

(Note: I was going to link to the Firefox plugins but the site is down right now.)

Now, I just need to find more  quiet time to really get into it.   If you got other ideas or tools, or even methodologies you find useful, I’d love to hear them!

StartUp Weekend Atlanta and Skribit

Man, what a weekend. What an honor to be part of this. This past weekend was another part of the StartUp Weekend, and it was in Atlanta. I was there with almost 70 other people. Many of them were old Mindspringer‘s so it was great to see and reconnect with them.

I was really looking forward to this since I’ve been interested in getting involved in a start up and doing more creative type of work with my technology background. Before it kicked off, folks were able to suggest their ideas with the end result being one of them, or a variation of one being selected to be worked on by the resources in the room.

There were a lot of really interesting and neat ideas discussed. We broke up into various teams like

  • Dev
  • Biz-Dev
  • Marketing / PR
  • UI
  • Creative

Then we talked about each idea with regard to our respective groups. I was in Biz-Dev and we all focused on what ideas could make some money. As we narrowed down the list it was interesting to see how the different groups thought which ideas would be successful and why. In the end, we picked the idea and I thought it was neat how those who were staunch opponents of it quickly began to get behind the idea and push it forward. Everyone was dedicated.

I knew from the attendee list that whatever we decided would probably become a Ruby on Rails-fest. One of my friends that was there was a hard core Java programmer and he felt left out so he came to help Biz-Dev.

There were plenty of people who were super busy and had plenty to do. Often, I had cycles to burn and I had a hard time finding things to do, to help out. I felt like I could have done more to help, but there were a lot of cooks, so to speak. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help out going forward.

So, what did we make? We made a Blog suggestion engine. I must admit that it is really slick and exceeded my expectations. Behold… “Skribit!”

So, if you find yourself looking for ideas to write about on your blog, you can use Skribit to help get ideas from your readers. From the FAQ:

Why Skribit?

Skribit is the first tool that allows bloggers to interact efficiently with their community. It is easy to load, easy to manage, and provides an opportunity for quick communication and input.

How does it work?

Bloggers load the widget onto their blogs. Readers click on the widget in order to submit suggestions on topics. Everyone votes on the topic via the “What’s Hopin'”.

How do I insert the widget on the blog?

Currently, we are in closed beta so the Widget is unavailable to the general public. Please contact us to be notified as soon as you can use the widget.

As one of the founders, we have access to the widget. I just found out that I am able to install it. I will try to get it up on here today at some point.

We already got some press.

And some online presences:

So, even thought I wish I could have done more, I really enjoyed it. I met a lot of really cool people, connected with old friends, and got a taste of the building a business. It was really cool.  Would I do it again?  I’d like to, for sure.