Learning a Language

Call me crazy but I decided to try to learn some programming. And in this search for a language to learn it was recommended by a co-worker that I learn C#. Well, my thoughts were that I should focus on a specific project that may help motivate me to learn a specific language. A friend of a friend publishes a web comic, Ace Kilroy, that I thought would be neat to read on a mobile platform in app form so I started heading toward making Android app development my specific project so that I could create a web app for his web comic. However, that same co-worker who first suggested C# stated that it may be better to go with iOS development since there aren’t as many devices with different form factors. So now I am trying to learn Objective-C on my MacBook. BUT I have run into a roadblock.

Since I will be using my MacBook from 2006 that can’t upgrade to Mountain Lion – I’m still on Snow Leopard – I have found that I need the latest Xcode, Apple’s IDE for application development, that is only available for Mountain Lion, unless I pay the $99 Apple Developer’s fee. If I pay the $99 fee I then have access to the latest Xcode version available for Snow Leopard; which is full of crap since it used to be available for free before Mountain Lion came along. It’s stupid for someone like me who has no programming experience to pay that kind of fee when I am still learning.


That’s me shaking my fist to the sky and yelling to the top of my lungs. Thanks Apple.

Because of this I may ignore my co-worker’s suggestion and head over to Android app development where I am sure I will not run into any roadblocks…except for that device fragmentation issue.

In all honesty, I would really like to buy a new iMac. It’s been a dream of mine for the past four years but I just haven’t been able to afford it due to the job situation and the economy. So, I can’t stay angry with Apple too long.

RIP Steve Jobs

It was a little after 8:00pm EST last night when I got the news that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had passed away at the young age of 56. I spent the rest of the night watching Leo Laporte live on live.twit.tv discussing the tech life of Steve Jobs.

Being a tech geek/enthusiast I am very familiar with Apple products having owned several iPods, an iPhone, a Mac Mini, and a MacBook. If you don’t know me you should know, however, that I am not a Apple Fanboy being biased to no operating system or tech product in particular. However, I understand and have experienced the impact Steve Jobs had at Apple and most importantly the tech industry as a whole. He was a pioneer and will be historically immortal like Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and many more.

Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

Calling From The Future

Since my childhood I’ve been a fan of Star Trek. I remember as far back as 1978 watching reruns of The Original Series with my Dad. I was always fascinated with the technology from that show, and other sci-fi TV shows and movies, of being able to talk to someone via a video call. Well, whether you use it or not, the technology is here, the future is here, and I’m loving it.

For about five years now I’ve been using Skype for PC-to-PC calls with family and friends however I remember being able to make video calls as far back as 1999 with NetMeeting on Windows 98. I still use Skype for video calls frequently and sometimes switch between that service and Google’s Video Chat via Gmail. Video chat has been available for a few years now on computers but technology has advanced so much that we now have the capability to have video calls on our mobile phone. That just blows my mind. I’m mean, come on, it’s not science fiction today it’s science fact and that is the coolest thing to me being a fan of science fiction. The iPhone 4 came out last year with a front-facing camera and the ability to make video calls via Facetime. In recent months you also have the option to purchase an Android phone (I think it’s just the Nexus S for now) with a front-facing camera to video chat via Gtalk with more Android phones coming out with the same ability in the coming months.

Currently, I do not own a phone with a front-facing camera (still hauling around the Motorola Droid 1) but I can tell you that my next purchase will be an Android phone with a front-facing camera that will have the ability to video chat. Because I encourage my friends and family to call me on Skype and Gtalk on the computer today I also would like to have that option on my mobile phone too. It’s so Star Trek, man.

So, I’m wondering: If you were to buy a phone with a front-facing camera today, or in the future, would you use the video chat function? I would love to see your vote and read your comments below.

[poll id=”1″]

An Explanation About Things

So, as you have probably noticed, I have been posting a few things about Linux Mint lately here on my blog. I probably should have informed you through this blog, if you are a frequent reader, that I was switching to Linux Mint full time on my main desktop. This happened about three months ago. As most of you know by reading this blog I am a tech enthusiast (geek). I love everything about technology and am not biased to any particular operating system as they are all generally the same, they all have their own weaknesses and strengths.

I’ve used Windows most of my tech life since version 3.11. I finally stepped out of my shell and tried Linux about 9 years ago. I first started using Redhat, before it became Fedora, and even setup a Redhat server back in 2004 running a web server out of my house to host a forum for me and some buddies of mine. Other than that Linux server, I’ve never been a full time Linux user. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried quite a few flavors – Fedora, SUSE, Mandriva, FreeBSD, TurboLinux, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and many more – but have never completely used Linux for my day-to-day use.

In 2006 when Apple changed the architecture to Intel processors, I decided to try Mac OS X by buying a Mac Mini and immediately fell in love. Finding that I was using the Mini more and more and needing more power, I sold the Mini six months later and purchased a black MacBook. I still use that MacBook to this day and it has been involved in my day-to-day computer operations.

Even though I have that MacBook, I still use my Windows desktop (Dell XPS 410) for other day-to-day computer operations as well as PC gaming. Well, three months ago I came to the conclusion that I really need to learn Linux, to be more of a intermediate to advance user rather than a amateur user as I have always been these past 9 years. I figured that the only way to really get into the core of the operating system and to learn everything about it was to use it full time on my desktop. That led to creating a dual boot of Windows 7 and Linux Mint 10; the booting of Windows 7 for PC gaming on the occasion I want to game and the booting of Linux Mint to use in my day-to-day computer operations. I chose Linux Mint because I fell in love with it about two years ago after being a Ubuntu fan. There were things that Ubuntu did with the color scheme and Gnome that I just grew tired after awhile which led me to Linux Mint. Now Ubuntu incorporates the Unity interface and I am glad I switched to Linux Mint before that came along.

For those that don’t know me personally, along with being a tech enthusiast, I also work in the tech industry as a Systems Administrator in a Windows environment. I first received my A+ and Microsoft certification 10 years ago and have been working in IT for that same period of time. I know Windows and I know it pretty well. However, working in the IT field I know it is also advantageous to be more diverse in all aspects of technology, that is why I wanted to experiment with Linux those many years ago. But because of needing to stay up-to-date with Windows for my field it has been difficult to dive right into Linux. I have contemplated getting a Linux certification but never have had the money to achieve that schooling. So, that is why I came to the decision of moving to Linux on my main desktop, so that I can use it and learn it. I learn better by getting my hands dirty.

So, from time to time you will continue to see me post newly discovered tweaks and tips in Linux, particularly Linux Mint.

Desktop System Monitor on Linux Mint 10 and OS X

Hello. My name is Ed and I’m a tech geek.

I thought I would get that confession out of the way first. Of course, those close to me already know that about me. This post will be evidence enough that I really am a tech geek. Desktop system monitoring is something that can be used as a badge to show off just how geeky you are but in all actuality, it can be very useful. Behold the badge of my geekiness with this screenshot of my MacBook OS X desktop using GeekTool.

MacBook desktop with custom text embedded with GeekTool

And more recently:

MacBook desktop with custom text embedded with GeekTool

As you can see there are some useful monitors on my desktop that gauge my memory, CPU and drive space. Just in the past few months since that last Tron Legacy screenshot I have also added a fan speed monitor of my MacBook. The calendar portion at the bottom, though, is not part of GeekTool and can be found here as a free download. The easiest way I have found to configure GeekTool is by installing Geeklets. Basically, they are preconfigured scripts to add to GeekTool to give you the monitors you see on those screenshots. Now as you see above I have a pretty basic desktop on my MacBook. There are some guys and gals out there that have done some AMAZING desktops as evident on this page. I especially like the comic book strips toward the middle; more so, the desktop monitor story as told by the Buffy comic. Look closely at the dialog.

Now over on the Linux side we have something called Conky. I had heard of the utility before but had never used it until today. The guys over at Web Upd8, the Ubuntu/Linux blog, posted a really cool article on Conky Lunatico Rings that someone created over at  Gnome-look.org. I followed the instructions posted on Web Upd8 and configured my own version with a green color scheme instead of the orange using Andrew’s ‘no wireless’ tweak found in the post and posted a brief video to display my desktop.

The video quality isn’t so great, I know, so I apologize. Here is a closer screenshot to get a better view.

Conky Lunatico Rings using Conky on Linux Mint 10 http://www.webupd8.org/2011/06/conky-lunatico-rings-displays-system.html

Other than the color, I was also able to change the position as the default was more toward the middle of my display and I changed the disk monitor from used space to free space.

For Windows users out there you are probably wondering if there is anything like this for you, and there is. I’ve not used them so I’m not too familiar with them but go check out Rainmeter and Samurize.

Xbox Live Requires Higher MTU

I just found out from Xbox Live support that Xbox Live now requires an MTU of 1364 or higher. Unfortunately, my Apple Airport Extreme has no way of changing that setting. This is total crap. Now I literally have to choose between Apple or Microsoft; doing away with my Airport Extreme router or canceling my Xbox Live. And to be honest with you, I believe Microsoft will be winning this battle.

Update – 10/07/2010 6:50pm: I just got off the phone with Apple support to find out if they could tell me the default MTU value on the Airport Extreme since you can’t change it. After waiting on hold for a few minutes for the support technician to research the information they stated the default value is 1492. Stupid Microsoft.

Update – 10/07/2010 7:00pm: I just fixed it myself. Believe it or not, it was a DNS issue. I use OpenDNS on my home network. I have never, EVER had an issue with OpenDNS. I simply went into my Xbox NIC and change the DNS to my ISP’s DNS IP instead of using my router DNS, since it has the OpenDNS IPs, and I was able to log into Xbox Live. Crazy. Although, now that I think of it, I probably could have just put an Allow rule in the OpenDNS settings and it would have fixed it too. Stupid OpenDNS

eReader on a Netbook

With the upcoming release of the iPad tomorrow, everyone is going iPad crazy. Debates and discussions are flying everywhere about what is good and bad about the product; most of those I have been involved with have been over at The Unique Geek discussion group. Well, I honestly have no want for the iPad or any other tablet-like device in the immediate future. I am going to try to be patient to see what other manufacturer comes out with in the coming years. The ones I will actually be looking closer at will be those running Android. Having recently switched from an iPhone to the open platform of an Android powered device that is the Droid, I have been really impressed with that operating system. With the flux of tablet devices hitting the market recently, and in the coming months, I have high expectations that these devices will only get better, and cheaper, over time. Right now I just see no need to own a tablet device. The only need I have seen is the ability to read electronic books.

As mentioned previously, I have been on this mission to reduce space in my house with the elimination of books and other media. Well, recently I have started using the eReader application on my Droid and Dell Mini netbook and I have to say, for now, it does what I need it to do. If you have never used the eReader application, try it out, it’s free. The only issue I have found so far is that the electronic book prices in their market are a little higher than the rest of the market, as compared to Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble ebooks. If you are curious, here is what the eReader looks like on a netbook turned to portrait mode:

eReader view on a netbook

The advantage I have on this netbook is that the computer came with an Intel graphics card that has the ability to rotate 90, 180 and 270 degrees. All that I have to do is launch the eReader application and then hit a keyboard shortcut combination of CTRL+ALT+LEFT and the display rotates. As you see in the above picture, I can then hold my netbook almost like a standard size hardback book. Granted, this is not a perfect solution but for now this will work perfectly until 1.) I can find a practical need for a tablet device, 2.) devices advance technologically, and 3.) the devices and the media for the devices become more competitive and affordable.

iPhone Apps

I’ve had a few family members and friends inquire about what applications I have on my iPhone. I figured it was past due posting this anyhow so here goes.

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1. The Simplify Media app is best if you want to have access to your music library everywhere you go without having to load everything on your iPhone.  Using the desktop application, I installed it, created an account and pointed the application to my music library. Now, I can listen to my music everywhere, even on the Edge network. What is also great about this is that I talked my sister into signing up for Simplify Media. We added each other to our friend contact list so, now, not only do I have access to my music library, I have access to hers also, and vice versa. Current Price: $5.99 (I paid $2.99 when it first came out for a temporary promotion)

2. Shopper is just a simple shopping list to remind me of items I need to buy at the supermarket or Target. One of the great features about this application, though, is that it has the capability to email your list to another person. Very handy when you need your significant other to pick up something for you. Current Price: $.99

3. Evernote is just that, a note taking application. Yes, the iPhone has its own notes application but Evernote is a hundred times more powerful. Evernote has the ability to sync your notes to the “cloud” so it’s safe from data loss. Not only does it sync your text notes, but it can also sync your voice notes and picture notes. I use Evernote quite regularly on my iPhone but the great thing about Evernote is that it is everywhere; I also have it on my iGoogle launch page on my browser to access. I’ve never used it before but there is also an application you can install on your computer. Current Price: Free

4. Tweetdeck is for people who use Twitter and has been ranked as the best Twitter client out there. Current Price: Free

5. Facebook, of course, is for Facebook users. Although I have a Facebook account I rarely visit. Most of my status information is fed from Twitter. I mostly use this application for when people comment on my status on Facebook and I need to comment back. Current Price: Free

6. Skype is an application that allows you to make VoIP calls and instant message to all your Skype friends, however it only works on a wi-fi connection. Current Price: Free

7. Tip Calculator is great for people who suck at math. I use it every time I eat out. Current Price: $.99

8. Google Mobile is perfect if you use a lot of the Google services. I use the Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Talk in this application quite regularly, and they work really well. I was especially shocked at how well the Google Talk portion worked. Current Price: Free

9. Flixster is for the movie fan who likes to check out film trailers and times at your local theater. Current Price: Free

10. I mostly use the Free RSS application to read my friends blogs. Mostly. Current Price: Free

11. RSS Player is perfect for listening to podcast. I love listening to tech podcast. There have been times when I have listened to all the podcast on my iPod in my car and do not have the newest episode of my favorite podcast that I then use RSS Player on my iPhone to begin listening the to next episode. Current Price: $.99

12. Backgrounds is something my sister introduced me to. It just allows you to download wallpaper backgrounds for your iPhone. My sister found this background for me from the application. Current Price: Free


13. WordPress application is for when I want to post a quick blog to this blog site. Current Price: Free

14. Audioboo is great for audio blogging. I have my Audioboo account tied to my Twitter account so that when I have no time to type a Tweet, I talk a Tweet. Current Price: Free

15. The Sims 3 is self explanatory. I don’t know why I bought it. I’ve played it just a few times and then lost interest. Current Price: $6.99

16. Wolfenstein 3D is a port of the classic first-person shooter game. Same for this, I’ve played it a few times and lost interest. It’s pretty difficult to play a FPS game on the iPhone. Current Price: $1.99

17. Sportacular is a fantastic application for sports fans. I use this quite often to check on NCAA Football scores, to see who is ahead in the current PGA tournament, or to see how the NCAA Basketball teams are fairing during March Madness. Current Price: Free

18. Air Hockey is also self explanatory. This is a great two player game when you are waiting in queue somewhere with a family member or friend. Current Price: $.99

When the Apple iPhone (and iPod Touch) application store first came out, I told myself that I would never buy an application for my iPhone, especially since most everything that was out then was free. Well, I seem to have given in to quite a few pay applications since, especially the $.99 apps as they have seemed so compelling.

For those of you that read this, and have an iPhone or iPod Touch, I would love to hear what you have on your device. Just post your list in the comments below.

Snow Leopard is Here

I pre-ordered Snow Leopard on Wednesday and received it through FedEx on its release day yesterday. Here is the upgrade process.

I found out after the install that the reason I was having audio problems is because my speaker plug was not in all the way.