Category Archives: Tech

Got a T400

I recently got an Lenovo T400 and this thing works great with the latest version of Ubuntu (Intrepid).

To install Ubuntu, you have to make sure you edit the BIOS settings and change the graphics to use one of the 2 build in graphics cards. If you want to save the Vista bootloader and access to Lenovo’s restore partition, you must not install grub on the MBR (Master Boot Record). Instead, install grub on the same partition as where the kernel resides. (This will be either /boot or / ) Then install EasyBCD¹ on Vista and add Ubuntu to Vista’s bootloader.

I was going to install Debian on the laptop, but I went w/ Ubuntu Intrepid instead as it has a 2.6.27 kernel which (supposedly) has better support for some the hardware on the T400 (and for my new Sony MP3 Walkman). I could have installed Debian and compiled my own 2.6.27 kernel, but these days I couldn’t be bothered spending ages compiling, testing, and debugging my own kernel.

¹For instructions on how to use EasyBCD see: http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Ubuntu

http://timony.com/mickzblog/2009/01/22/got-a-t400

Dell Laptops & Ubuntu

I’d heard that Dell were offering Ubuntu Linux on some of their laptops and I hadn’t really looked into it. But I came across this page the other day and it’s pretty neat to get Ubuntu (or any Linux) preloaded on a laptop from a major vendor:

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=d

It’s good to support coming from a major vendor, and Dell even offer’s a repo so you can get BIOS updates for support hardware:

http://timony.com/mickzblog/2008/02/05/dell-bios-updates-using-linux/

However, I’m still partial to getting Lenovo’s T400 over a Dell.

Lenovo Laptop?

I’m thinking of getting a new laptop either the Lenova ThinkPad T400 (which is a replacement for the T61), or the IdeaPad U330 to replace my aging Dell 700m

The big thing for me is do they work with Linux (for me specifically Debian or Ubuntu).

For anyone interested in either laptop, looks like the the U330 works (near) flawlessly with Ubuntu. See this posting on this thread for an enthusiastic comment:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=5741753&postcount=5

And with the T400 you’ll have some work to get everything working smoothy. Such as the dual-graphics cards which is how Lenovo get’s up to 10 hours of battery life from the T400.

However, if you don’t mind using breaking stuff, the new Beta version of Ubuntu appears to work reasonably well on the T400. See this blog posting and this thead on Lenova’s forums for more details.

I’m torn between either, the small size of the U330, versus the better battery life of the T400 (and the fact that both are a weeeeee bit dear).

OK, I’m tired as I write this, and I find sometimes when I “blog while tired” that my grammar/spelling/ability to make sense suffers, so maybe I’ll rewrite this in the morning. 🙂

Interview with Rasterman of Enlightenment Fame

An interview with Rasterman on OSnews, founder of Enlightenment, on E17:

http://www.osnews.com/story/19679

When will E17 be released?

… does Rasterman have any timeframe in mind for the release of the final version of E17? His reply was to be expected – “No comment.” Smiley face included. The big blocker right now is a lack of time, Rasterman said.

So feel free to chip in! 🙂

That Pizza will be 2.6 million …

That Pizza being pizza.com! Some lad bought the domain name in 1994 at the “dawn” of the internet age, and has owned it ever since. After seeing how much vodka.com sold for (about 3 million dollars) he put Pizza.com up for auction and got 2.6 Million US dollars!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7331042.stm

In January, Mr Clark decided to sell it after hearing that another domain – Vodka.com – was sold for $3m in 2006 …
“If someone’s willing to pay that much for Vodka.com, maybe there’s more interest in pizza.com.”

The online auction was launched on 27 March. The first bid was $100, jumping to $2.6m a week later.

Having accepted the latter offer, Mr Clark hopes to get his windfall in a few days’ time when the transaction is completed.

He said he now regretted not buying more domain names in the 1990s.

I remember when I started at college at UMass Boston, I was a student lab operator in the Unix lab (support staff) and me and a workmate (and friend) Josh started joking around looking to see what Domain names we could register. This was in 1999 or 2000 and any word in the English language we could think of was already registered as a domain name. Wish I’d gotten on this internet lark in the early 1990’s and purchased a few domain names too!

Today’s Links

Regularly drinking coffee may help prevent or reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7326839.stm

And binge drinking can affect memory recall (at least in young drinkers):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7328863.stm

Ubuntu Linux to be certifiied on some of Sun’s hardware:

http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSN0236534620080402

A lot of Linux enthusiasts have taken to Ubuntu, and all of its versions are freely available. I think that this can only help them squeeze into the Enterprise space, as it’s helped them gain mindshare.

Red Hat, for example, is separated into their commerical offering, RHEL, which wasn’t cheap the last time I looked at their prices, and the freely available Fedora.

Fedora is free and open source like Ubuntu and is used by Red Hat as a testing ground for new features and technologies, but isn’t exactly the same as the “for fee” versions. I think this could hurt Red Hat in the long term; the enthusiasts helped bring Red Hat to where they are, but if they can’t easily (or cheaply or freely) get the enterprise products they won’t be using them nor introducing them into companies, instead they’ll be using Ubuntu or even Novell which offers a near complete version of their product for free.

And I’m surprised that VMWare’s market value has dropped by $30 billion, yes that’s billion dollars in six months supposedly due to competition that will arise products that Microsoft has in beta:

http://www.marketwatch.com

The market already seems to have voted. VMware’s stock, which debuted at $29 a share in August, soared past the $125 mark by late October. The shares then sharply reversed — no doubt helped by a general downturn in technology stocks — and have since sunk back below the $50 mark. The stock closed at $51 on the day of its IPO.

But, man I wish I’d gotten some of those share at $29 or $30 and sold and 125 bucks! However, work doesn’t allow us to invest in IPO’s. US financial companies have rules in place to prevent conflict of interests, and there are also Federal Laws in effect. However, it’s not like most of us Techies get any knowledge that would help us in the markets anyway, but I guess they pay us fairly well to make up for this.

OK, back to the point, maybe I should really be surprised that VMWare’s stock price increased so much, from $30 to $125 is a 400% increase. With all the other competitors in the market it would only be a matter of time before any market share they would gain, or gained, would be infringed on.

And with free offering, such as Xen on the server side, and Qemu for virtualisation on the Desktop, and a multitude of other competitors on the desktop side, it’d be hard to take and keep market share.

However, the VMWare folk are a smart bunch of lads and I’d expect some innovations from them in the future.

Light bulbs

Drat! Seems those energy efficient CFL’s (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs) contain just enough lead that the bulbs could be a problem when they’re put in the rubbish (link found via Slashdot):

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23694819/

The amount is tiny — about 5 milligrams, or barely enough to cover the tip of a pen — but that is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels, extrapolated from Stanford University research on mercury. Even the latest lamps promoted as “low-mercury” can contaminate more than 1,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels.

And at the moment, there are few places where one can dispose of them properly:

In fact, qualified places to recycle CFLs are so few that the largest recycler of of fluorescent bulbs in America is Ikea, the furniture chain.

Even breaking one and breathing the resulting dust could be bad for you, and especially bad for children. Children can suffer severe long-term learning disabilities from lead poisoning, and it’s takes smaller doses of lead for children to be poisoned.

On the other hand, CFL’s are so much more energy efficient than regular incandescent light bulbs, that they might result in less overall pollution because less energy is needed which means less oil and coal are burned. But, with millions upon millions of CFL’s being sold, and few people aware that that CFL’s shouldn’t be put in the trash, then we may have a problem.

Consumers bought more than 300 million CFLs last year, according to industry figures, but they may be simply trading one problem (low energy-efficiency) for another (hazardous materials by the millions of pounds going right into the earth).

However, an even more efficient light bulb with more natural light may be on it’s way, and it should be easier to dispose of. See a video at ZDnet (with a really annoying commerical at the start):

http://news.zdnet.com/2422-13568_22-192842.html

OLPC for Birmingham, Alabama?

I just submitted this to Slashdot, as I think it’s interesting what the end result will be? Will the OLPC get squeezed out? Will US kids like ’em (I think they will).

bettlebrox writes Birmingham, Albama, may be the first US city to purchase the OLPC, per the Boston Herald:

‘The City Council has approved a $3.5 million plan to provide Birmingham schoolchildren with 15,000 computers produced by the nonprofit One Laptop per Child Foundation, which is putting low-cost laptops in the hands of poor children in developing countries. The city School Board still must agree to the deal, and some members have reservations. They want proof that computers designed for the remote African bush or the mountains of South America operate properly in an American city already laced with computer networks.

“Third World countries just don’t have some of the issues that we have to deal with, like liability and networking,” ‘

Other concerns they have include training for teachers and kids, and responsibility if OLPC’s are lost or stolen from a child.

Personally, I think it’s a great idea, they’re easy to use (even for teachers), it’s a great way encourage kids to be more computer (and maybe programming) savvy, and it allows for easy online social networking. Also, kids and families can easily pool wireless connections using the OLPC, and it should work seamlessly with any existing networks.

What can we tell the School Board (if they read Slashdot) to address their concerns? And how soon do you think it’ll be before some major US software company offers them free computers running a different OS instead? Also, is it me or does the attitude of the article seem to imply that as this is for poor foreign children that’s it not good enough for Amerikan kids?”
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/national/south/view.bg?articleid=1077975&srvc=rss