Category Archives: freedbacking

still a windows geek

Originally this post was called “I’m a Windows geek”, and was about how I installed Ubuntu after not being able to reinstall Windows XP because something was making the hardware detection lock up. Using Ubuntu I did manage to get through the hardware detection, and eventually diagnosed the problem to be able to reinstall the Redmond OS.

I spent a few days in Ubuntu back then, as it was the only running OS on my machine, and I thought that was a good time to find out if I could do everything I did on my Windows machine. At first I was impressed. Ubuntu installed without a glitch, basic software was installed and the UI was slick. Problem was I had to find replacement Linux tools for all the stuff I was used to in Windows and then I started noticing I’ve gotten quite used to the WinWorld apparently.

Little things ended up being very frustrating though. Shortcuts that work different in FireFox, mouse wheels that didn’t work at all… A lot didn’t feel intuitive coming from an MS system.

Eventually I managed to reinstall XP, and I totally gave up on the Ubuntu setup. A number of months ago I retried the Ubuntu path, upgraded it to the latest version and give it another shot. I Just noticed that it has been a few months again since I even booted it…

No matter how much Linux pwnz the Windows OS according to some, when you’re used to it, you kind of expect the same features. It sucks having to give up your favourite programs for alternatives that aren’t quite the same. Some of them are in essence equally good, but it doesn’t have to be that different to start sucking compared to what you’re used to.

WinAmp for instance totally rocks. I haven’t seen anything quite as good on Linux (or on Windows for that matter). Maybe I’m wrong though. I haven’t spent quite as much time searching for software tools on Linux than I have on Windows, I have to admit that. But luckily things are getting better at that front. Since I used a lot of FOSS software, and a lot of that is being ported over both platforms, I don’t have to stop using my beloved FireFox, GIMP, Open Office or VLC, which is great. So migrating is becoming a lot easier because of this, but not quite easy just yet.

One other huge frustration is that in Linux some things simply don’t work. ATI video cards anyone? Dual head displays? In fact, one of the differences between Windows and Linux in my eyes is this:

On Windows I’m surprised if a new piece of hardware I got doesn’t work.
On Linux I’m surprised (and happy) if it does.

I’ve gotten used to my OS to just work for me. I don’t feel like spending most of my time figuring out how to get something basic to work. It can be fun digging into configuration files and advanced settings if you have the time to do so, but in most cases I just want to run Setup.exe > Next > Next > Done and start using the damn app. By using Ubuntu I rediscovered how easy it can be to setup a Windows system.

So I guess I’m still a Windows geek for now.
Vista here I come? Oh crap…

Photo by Andrew Mason, cc-licensed

how to resize or reallocate space on disk partitions

When initially setting up my PC I decided I’d go with the trusty old formula of keeping my operating system, my installed software and my data separated. So my C became my OS partition, D is where the software goes and E holds all my precious data like mp3’s, pictures, code etc.

This works fine, until at some point it turned out that I underestimated the amount of disk space greedy Windows and all of it’s components need. For instance if you want to send your PC into hibernation mode, you need enough space on your C drive to take a full memory dump (sounds nasty doesn’t it).¬† Sometimes, when installing software, some simply don’t let you choose where you want to put it, and they arrogantly nestle themselves on your C drive. Yes, I’m looking at you Google. Oh and the .NET framework also takes quite some space, just to name another one. If that isn’t enough already, some apps also store their settings on your C drive, in the folders provided by Microsoft of course, and that can also take up a lot of space. Picasa for instance stores it’s thumbnail database on your C drive. Google Earth also takes up a lot of space there.

So lately I kept seeing that annoying popup telling me I was low on diskspace on my C drive, but I had spare space on partition sitting next to it. How do I designate those free gigabytes to my C drive I wondered? And while I’m at it, some to my data drive as well, which is also getting kinda stuffed. Archiving all your CD’s to high quality mp3’s will do that.

Well, the GParted live CD is all I needed, and it’s free too. Awesome! Together with this step by step guide, you can easily resize and reallocate space from one partition to another by moving them around a bit. The whole process of moving a good 160 GB around did take about 8 hours to complete. So make sure you can leave your machine running for that long if you’re planning an operation like this.

But I don’t mind if my PC has to churn data for a few hours. It saved me from wasting even more time having to reinstall the whole system from scratch to get a larger system partition. In the meanwhile I could just enjoy a lazy Sunday, watch a movie, eat some pie and surf on my spare laptop. Not bad for a free tool right?

Photo by Daniele Muscetta, cc-licensed

photodropper wordpress plugin

CC logo on an orangeI checked out the new Photodropper WordPress plugin lately, which looked like the gem of a plugin I have been looking for recently. It allows you to search Flickr’s vast pool of Creative Commons pictures straight from WP’s writing page, and insert the chosen pictures complete with attribution links and all.
Sounds sweet as pie right? Well don’t go jumping around naked in glee just yet, there’s more to it than that.

For one the provided attribution is flawed. Instead of doing what’s said in the CC license legal text they only provide a link back to the original author. The original name of the work is not mentioned, and there is no link to the original CC license used either.

Here’s what the CC FAQ says about it:

the proper way of accrediting your use of a work when you’re making a verbatim use is: (1) to keep intact any copyright notices for the Work; (2) credit the author, licensor and/or other parties (such as a wiki or journal) in the manner they specify; (3) the title of the Work; and (4) the Uniform Resource Identifier for the work if specified by the author and/or licensor.

They actually link from the Creative Commons icon links back to a page on their own site, instead of the original website. I’m not sure why they did this, and it surely strikes me as odd.
Another weird thing is that the plugin is copyrighted for some reason, and not published under an open source license as is the case with most WordPress plugins. That’s their choice of course, and perhaps they are quite liberal about changes to the plugin, but there is no way to tell if you’ll get your arse suid if you alter the code…

I’m hoping the next version will fix these shortcomings though. For now however, I’ll have to resort to tediously crafting my CC attribution links myself.

(Picture “CC on orange” by yamabobobo, some rights reserved)

why windows desktop search sucks ass

The puppy. It's stupid.So I’m using Windows Desktop Search at work for quick retrieval of emails and files since we’ve grown so used to the “search instead of sort” motto Google thought us. It’s WDS not because we want to use it, but because we have to from the IT guys. They got a bit spooked by the fact that Google Desktop Search allows you to search from other computers, which means parts of company files are stored on Google servers on teh interweb. And t3h intahweb is dangerous! I can get that really, even though it’s a feature you have to activate manually for it to work…

Anyway, so the damn Redmond solution to search it is. Most of it works swell though, but there’s this one thing they got it really wrong. That one thing is the integration with the OS. Yep, you read that one right, their own bloody operating system.

You see, when you’re explorer your files and want to search a file by hitting CTRL-F you used to get this simple Windows search box in the left panel. It’s basic, but it works. Now this panel has of course been replaced by the more advanced, and also more complex Windows Desktop Search. Even if you haven’t indexed the current folder in WDS!

Now, the guys at MicroSoft aren’t stupid, so they warn you about the fact that the current folder isn’t indexed. They also advise you to use the so-called “Search Companion” instead, which is that old search box. They also put a picture of that stupid yellow canine in there again, probably because they found out that the animated search companion bitch (I bet it’s female) is the first thing you turned off after you installed XP. Is that thing still around in Vista btw? I wonder.

Instead of warning you that the search form they are putting up is completely useless, how about directing you to that bloody search companion right away, and save me the frustration of having to do that myself. In a pop-up window of course, using the same window wouldn’t be confusing enough.

So the only option is to index the whole fucking disk if you want to get rid of this nuisance. Which of course eats at your disk space, slows your searches, and stuffs your search results with results you never wanted.

Excellent suckage if you ask me.