Archive for the ‘Internet and Technology’ Category

Word Press Anti-Spam on Comments

May 2nd, 2008 No comments

Yesterday I found that my  Word Press anti-spam filter, Akismet,  had classified a comment made in German as Spam. I apologize to any one who has made a legitimate comment and had it deleted as I did not realize that would happen. The rest of the comments were spam and contained gibberish, ads and strange messages that did not make sense with quotes from the blog included. Akismet has deleted 58 comments as spam and the four that were there today were definitely produced by bots who are programmed to search for open blogs and post their ad links.

I will continue to leave the postings open and use the spam filter, but I promise to check it more often for potential legit. comments. Please fee free to post again.


Why did you break a computer that was working perfectly?

May 2nd, 2008 No comments

One of my sons asked this question when I was first installing Ubuntu on my notebook. I told him that I wanted it to work even better than it already did. Vista was working perfectly, but I wanted to have the choice of running Ubuntu.
I felt that the previous system was great. I had the dual boot working and both OS functioned well, but the disk partitioning issues had to be solved, so it is better to do it now before I start really using the computer. My first choice is still to repair the install that I already have so, I brought out the Super Grub Disk. It was a bit of a disappointment as I was not able to boot from it even though my system is configured to boot from CD/DVD. I will investigate this further.

So back to the Ubuntu install disk and this time I chose “Repair a broken system”.


It went through the configuration just fine, then it got to the partition management. I looked at the partitions and they were all correct looking. The one at the end is the extra swap partition that I converted to an ordinary drive before and the Free Geek volunteer had advised me to get the system working before I tried to merge it with the other, larger drive. I decided that the first problem was that I needed to make one the boot drive as they were all set to data drive. The system could not boot without a boot drive.


The next screen told me one of my problems, there was no root drive specified. I had changed it to \boot not \ . The boot designation is for the purpose of setting a separate partition for the boot mechanism only, said the help. It seems like a good idea if you had a desktop or mainframe with several different OS on it, then when you upgraded or re-installed, your boot system would still work. Not practical for me though, I am not advanced enough to make this work and once I get this system running, I will upgrade the Ubuntu to Hardy Heron, but not right away. I don’t think that will affect my boot system if it is an upgrade. I am of the opinion that an operating system has to mature before the software catches up to it. As a power user, I desire stability and reliable performance over nifty tricks. I do hear that Hardy is faster though …


I set the correct partition to the \ designation and I changed the large partition to my \home.


Not Yet. Back to the drawing board.

I was able to satisfy the system that I did want it to boot from the partition that has Ubuntu installed and I continued on to try booting.





I diagnose that it is a problem with designating the partition as \home. Perhaps if I go back and change it to an ordinary drive everything will work. The Grub bootloader is not the problem as Ubuntu tries to boot and Vista does boot. Vista still works perfectly, by the way, using the second entry on the Grub menu. My Free Geek helper and I decided that it is a specially formulated Asus Vista install and I will talk about it later — after I get this working.

I hope I can get this finished up soon. It is May already and I have so much work to do.



Free Geek Visit

May 1st, 2008 No comments

The Free Geek workshop had to be entered through the rear door after hours, but I had contacted them finally through IRC chat. Of course, I should have known … to be fair, they did call me back after I left a message on their new phone system. Windows Free Wednesday is a time for volunteers to help Ubuntu users who have trouble with their computers. I was happy to scrawl my name on the whiteboard and get in line

Free Geek Logo

As I waited, I looked at the stacks of old computer parts and at the cart of monitors all displaying a bright test pattern. These items could be sold in the computer thrift store or given to a needy charity. Volunteers can earn computers by helping around the shop and you don’t have to be experienced to start. The helpful Free Geek people here tonight were experienced Ubuntu users and they started installing the latest version on one computer, helping sync a Palm device with another and then, it was my turn.

I quickly logged in to the internet and called up my blog. All of the information was there with screenshots to explain what was wrong with my computer. I did not ask if I could put his name on my blog, so I won’t, but he immediately started brainstorming with me on how to remove the Ubuntu Studio kernel from the unwanted partition. We considered the Synaptic route, but we did not know which kernel to delete. He told me that we could just re-partition using the Ubuntu install disk as a “Live” boot. I had brought the bootable Gparted disk to manage the partitions, but we couldn’t get the keyboard to respond properly. Every time we typed it was random characters even after we tried to configure the system. I should have gotten pictures of this, but I already had enough stuff to carry. Back to the Gutsy install disk, and it was easy to get the partition manager running from the Ubuntu OS on the disk. After a few small problems we were able to re-partition the system. The swap drive is increased in size as the volunteer explained to me that GiB are just a little larger than GB and the same protocol is now used for MiB (MB) and KiB (KB) as it is more accurate. It is true that memory sticks come in 512MB not 500, but I don’t really understand the mathematics. At any rate, the partition was successful and these size issues were explained to me as well because when I set the size of the swap drive I had been confused by the MiB and had made it very small.

Ubuntu partition

This was the end result, a nice tidy organized partition system. Just what I wanted, but it won’t boot. As we had changed the partitions around, the Grub boot loader could not longer boot from the partition number that was previously the root directory with the Ubuntu OS. Now I have two choices, either reinstall Ubuntu and loose all my data (not much really, just screenshots and bookmarks) or try to fix the bootloader and point it in the right direction.

I’d like to try to fix it, but we ran out of time at the shop and had to leave. After thanking the Free Geek personnel, I tied everything back on my bike and rode off. I will look at the Super Grub disk on Thu. and see what it can do.


Ubuntu+Notebook IV

April 25th, 2008 1 comment

Yesterday I took my notebook to work because I had to repair the internet and I wanted one computer I could rely on. I maintain 3 old macintosh computers on a LAN at work. The problem turned out to be that a recent ADSL outage had changed some settings and I had to reset the router. At first the ADSL provider admin wanted to use Vista, so I tried to log in with the second Vista (longhorn) boot and the boot sequence turned into a circle of returns to the Grub menu. I decided to use Ubuntu as the tech was somewhat familiar with linux.

It was easy to set up a static IP in Ubuntu and the testing was completed quickly and efficiently. I was then able to set up my employer’s ibook on the crosscable from the modem after setting up the static IP on that machine. I reset the router, plugged it into the crosscable and then there was internet.

I was puzzled about the Vista boot until I remembered the happy downloading of updates. Did one of those updates affect the boot loader? Recalling the sequence of events that led to Vista working in the first place: the first Vista boot choice had transferred all of the files and booted in a strange way, then the second one worked. I started the Asus notebook again and chose the first Vista option. After the microsoft loading screen, several files were processed, then I got the giant error screen.

Vista Error

Back to unclipping the battery just enough …

Now I rebooted, choosing the second Vista boot and voila Vista.

I really don’t know what is happening here, but now I know what to do. If I have a problem booting after downloading updates, then try the first boot choice and see if it loads the software.

Today, I am trying something new. I wanted to clean up the failed install of Ubuntustudio, so I opened Synaptic and searched for linux-image. I received this info here. Thanks to aysiu, I was confident I could remove the install, then the partition would not be locked. However, when I opened the linux-image all the software that is pre-installed in Ubuntustudio is there! The software installed correctly, but maybe not the desktop? Now I will copy the software I want before deleting the kernel and reorganizing the partitions.

I went on the #ubuntu IRC channel to get some help as I am having mouse problems with my desktop. I will switch mice with XP and see what happens, but I wanted to find a list of key-commands for Ubuntu — just in case the other mouse exhibits the same problems. I did install a lot of music software and multi-media editing tools, so maybe one of them doesn’t like my mouse.

I had not been on IRC (Internet Relay chat) since the BBS days on Mindlink, from 1989-95. I am hoping that Ubuntu will show me the internet I used to know in those times, before GUI browsers, when the internet filtered all the early technology adapters into one place where they could talk. I wonder if there are still moderated Usenet groups? If I want to read sometime, I will try to find them.


Ubuntu and Vista Dual boot Notebook III

April 24th, 2008 No comments

Vista is now booting from the grub bootloader and is working perfectly while completely ignoring all Ubuntu on the partitioned drive.  It has enough space, and I will be able to practice on it as I know I will get some Vista support calls.

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 works wonderfully on my notebook as the default OS.  I still have a few issues to solve but the forum support has been very helpful. I was worried that my Nvidia card would be tricky to install, but it seems to be working fine and I set up Alsa for audio now.

I have to clean up the failed install and reclaim my home partition. There is also some space that is not being used by either OS.


I installed a home partition because I read that all your personal data, including application preferences would be saved there and then I could upgrade without loosing my personal computer. My problem now is that the partitions were made during the failed install, so now I have to reclaim of remove them.

The hard drive listing before I removed the swap drive [matches above gparted screenshot]:


Here is a screenshot of the present drive situation with the end swap drive deleted.


Note the new 570.9 MB volume that was formerly the swap drive. With this configuration both OS run, but my Ubuntu drive is fragmented and I can’t use most of it. I will try to fix it, but I will be cautious so I don’t loose the set-up I have — I hope.

I am researching Firewire audio for this notebook and I am trying to get my M-Audio Delta 44 card to work on my desktop. This all seems like so much work when I have to try to meet the publishing deadline for my book. I know it will be worth it to have a mobile Ubuntu recording system. I am trying not to buy another mac. I loved my mac, but I couldn’t afford it. It was so expensive to buy that I couldn’t afford software. The studio I work for bought the software for me to use, but I ended up realizing that the best option was to sell them the hardware too. I need to have a notebook that I can take on my tour and that one was purposely configured for the studio environment.

I know that I can pirate anything I need — but I won’t. I am an advanced user and I should not have to steal the tools of my trade. Ubuntu is giving me those tools and I hope to use them to the complete every aspect of my project except the music notation. I am doing that on the aforementioned mac in the studio using Finale. All of the book design is planned using The Gimp and Scribus and I hope to be able to do some of the audio too. I am exploring starting with the desktop until I get firewire. I have not yet found a Final Cut Pro for Ubuntu, but maybe somewhere in a repository far, far away …


Dual Boot – Truth is Stranger than Fiction

April 20th, 2008 No comments

After a spectacularly unsuccessful day of trying to get my (working perfectly before this process started) notebook to dual boot Vista and Ubuntu, I went to look at the Ubuntu forums to see if anyone else had replied to my post. There was no new information since last night, so I decided to keep trying.

This morning I went into Ubuntu and deleted the swap drive at the end of the list of partitions using gparted. I also found out that the Home folder that Ubuntu sees belongs to the previous Ubuntu studio install as I did not have permission to save anything.

I wanted to take a photo of the giant ERROR message that I get when starting Vista so everyone on the Ubuntu forum could see that this is a really different problem. I had some helpful feedback, but some of it was relating to a different type of problem. One poster had asked for more details and I feel that I need all the help I can get.

I rebooted into Windows Vista (longhorn) but now it is installing.

There is a small window called “Windows Setup”

Windows Setup
Windows is now installing the following items:
Install the application


Behind this small window is a listing of programs example:

C:\preload\touchpad>start /w C:\preload\patch\sleep.exe

Now Vista is starting up.

This is so odd.

I didn’t do anything except remove one swap drive.

I will now see how functional Vista is — and if I can still boot into a working Ubuntu.


Truth is stranger than fiction.


I still have the problem with the hard drive fragmentation and the Ubuntu studio kernal being on the drive and owning the home directory.

This is progress though – now where is my WEP key?.


After this post, I went back to see how Vista was installing and saw this screen.

Ubuntu works

Ubuntu booted?

Possible explanation: Vista restarted to install and the bootloader defaults to Ubuntu.

Check it out – it seems to still be working despite all of the Vista activity.

Back to a reboot and I chose the first listing of Vista – that is where all the installing was happening before.

Vista Error

The giant ERROR screen

Possible explanation: This is some type of back-up archive and something happened before that is not happening now.

How technical can you get? I mean that some event was triggered to initiate the recovery when I deleted the one swap partition (maybe) and once the recovery was completed — I am back to the error screen. But will this happen on the second listing because if this theory is correct, then the restore would have been installed to the second Vista partition.

Reboot – I am getting really good at loosening the battery just enough ….

The second listing of Vista (longhorn) booted into the Vista Welcome screen.

Vita works

Is Vista really working?

This is not the same boot-up that happened before. This one asks to set my language and password and makes me check the license agreement. (there is nothing on there against dual boot)

Now it seems that Vista will work.

I will be checking out the functionality now.


Strange but true, the computer repaired itself — so that now the grub loader will boot ubuntu (default) after a few seconds of wait to allow me to select the second choice of Vista (longhorn) Home Edition. The kernal 7.10 selection is the failed install of ubuntu studio that boots into kernal mode with no GUI.

Vista is happily installing updates from the internet.  It only sees it’s own harddrive partition used for the install and not any part of the Ubuntu partitions. Strangely enough, it doesn’t recognize the Fat32 partition that I think is used to back up and restore the system. Vista has enough space to operate and install programs and I plan to use an external drive for most data.

Ubuntu operates the Wifi card and seems happy on the system. I just have to figure out a way of removing the failed Ubuntu studio install (kernal 7.10) and assign the home drive to the Ubuntu that is working.  Then I can test out the built in camera and microphone and try to get some music and graphics programs installed.

Once I get this notebook running, it will be my primary mobile computer so I will need a firewire audio interface. Is there one that supports Vista, Ubuntu 7.10 and mac? I will find out soon.


Ubuntu and Notebook II

April 20th, 2008 No comments

The attempt to configure my Asus notebook to dual boot did not go as well as I hoped. Click here for details. However, I haven’t given up yet and I do have Ubuntu 7.10 working but my Vista boots to a huge ERROR screen. I am going to try to re-install Vista from the Asus restore disks, but I am afraid that it will wipe out the Grub boot loader that allows me to choose which system to boot. This is a photo of my desktop Ubuntu computer that is giving me all the help from the internet as I try to get everything to work.


I think I had more trouble because I tried to install Ubuntu Studio. After a lot of different error messages, I got this screen, but no matter what user name and password I entered, I could get no further. Now my Vista refused to boot and I saw the giant error for the first time.


I tried the Ubuntu studio install again, but the next time it would only boot to the kernel and that it where it sits now. I couldn’t get Vista to run, so I reinstalled from my Asus restore disks. Now Vista was working again, but all my files are lost – nothing to be too sad about as I was trying not to use the computer until this process is complete …

Next I tried to install the regular distro that I have on the desktop. This is a photo of the Ubuntu install of the regular Gutsy Gibbon distro. It worked completely and is now on my notebook.

ubuntu inprogress

Now, I have some real problems as I have a working Ubuntu 7.10 with the following partitions and subdivisions The Vista partition is there and seems to have all the files in there that it needs to operate. The really bad thing is all the fragmentation due to two linux kernels being installed, two swap partitions and some unallocated space. When I looked at it in gparted I did not know what to do!
gparted screenshot

Here is the same HD from the working Ubuntu Places>computer.

Vista is marked as installed, but somehow the Grub boot loader is not initiating the Vista boot sequence. I looked in the files and they all seem to be there. Now I have to find out how to fix these problems.

At least now I know I can use Ubuntu on this notebook, even the WiFi works. It seems to be a choice of one or the other right now as if I reinstall Vista, then I can’t boot to Linux and with the working Ubuntu, Vista is not working.

Off to Ubuntu forums to see if I can get some help.


WordPress Upgrade

April 13th, 2008 No comments

Bluehost has a new system of WordPress install called Simple Scripts. I have heard this makes it easier to upgrade the install and it is simpler to manage than the current Fantastico install. So now, I have to back up my blog, delete it from the server, reinstall Word Press with Simple Scripts and restore my data.

This is a bit of work, but the new release of WordPress is supposed to be better at handling widgets and plug-ins. The second reason I am reinstalling is to move the blog off the root directory. I originally installed Word Press on the root directory to make sure it would work. I now want to have a more organized site with permanent pages and a link to the blog.

I am finding that people who are not familiar with blogs do not go to my static pages, which contain the background and general information about the project. I moved them to the top left in the hope they would be more appealing, but often they are ignored. Instead readers become confused by reading the posts only and sometimes are not getting the idea of the entire project at all.

I will have to whip something up to act as a repository for the static pages and link to the blog to avoid this problem. Those of you who have looked at my pages know I like colour and design and I have tried in a limited way to colour code WP pages. A new site splash page and static information pages will take some time to design, but I think the result will be worth it.

So far, my efforts have not inspired any funding, so I am having to work at my day job for more hours than I originally planned. Maybe an improved web presence will help me with funding, as I think the scope of the project is not clearly laid out in the blog, especially if the static pages are not viewed.


Ubuntu and Notebook Computer

April 10th, 2008 No comments

The tour is getting closer and the book is taking up a lot of time. I have to post an update because I realize I have been slow to enter information. When I am streaming real time it will be immediate, but the webcam I bought will not work in Ubuntu so far.

To take on the tour I bought an ASUS notebook and I am downloading the Ubuntustudio Gutsy distro to load on to it. It will be a dual-boot with the absolutely legit copy of Vista that came installed on it. I managed to crash Vista three times installing firefox, anti-virus and a firewall. Thank you Microsoft. I now own legitimate copies of Microsoft software stretching back from DOS (1998), Windows, Windows 95, Windows 2000, two copies of XP and now vista. I also owned Apple Basic, OS9 and OSX 3.9. No wonder I am getting into Open Source. I am tired of continually having to buy new operating systems!

ASUS photo 3

The ASUSTek A8M_A8T Series Notebook came with a built in webcam and mic so streaming should be easy — if I can get Ubuntu to recognize the hardware. It is a dual-core AMD Turion 64×2 TL-52 803 MHz mobile technology chip (AMD K8 Processor), 32 bit operating system, ACPI mother board, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6100, 120 gig HD, bluetooth, SD card reader and DVD burner. It is not the most blazing fast computer, but with the fan it runs really cool and it has connectivity with 4 USB, mini firewire (will need a special converter jack), S-video out and a jack I don’t know what it is for yet. Although I believe I can run the 32 bit distro, I read some forums and found that some people have more problems with it. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to go that route. More research is needed, maybe I will post on the Ubuntu forum.

ASUS notebook1

The notebook is originally from Korea and so has all the characters still on the keyboard. My friend Allen is Korean, so even though the drive was wiped, I will probably be able to get him to type something in Korean for me. Even though this notebook is two years old there is still one year left on the warrantee — I did my research ASUS makes good computers. I have owned several of their mother boards and my current XP and retiring Win 2000 computers both run very well with Intel chips. The AMD 1.5 GHz desktop I used for a few months before passing on to my oldest son, is standing up well under his neglect, although I do still service it.

The thoughtful Korean fellow motorcyclist I purchased it from had already partitioned the drive, so I plan to put Ubuntu on the 2nd partition. The Vista partition uses 21.6 GB for the operating system and 3 internet utilities. No documents, no programs just a very large OS. I have a copy of DOS OS for the very first IBM notebook I [still] own — it is on a single-sided low density floppy disk. I think they can do better, so I will compare how much space the Ubuntu distro takes. The shot below is trying to show the HD space used, but I had to use a flash to get a reasonable photo and it is hard to see.

Showing VISTA memory useI had to do some work on my Gutsy desktop today because I wanted to take some screen shots. It is not that easy in Ubuntu, no Grab in utilities (Mac) no shift-prtscrn key (Win). I am downloading a Gnome plug-in called “Go” .

I hope this will allow me to capture some of the song score from the .pdf file I am working on. I may just use the mac at the studio to Grab the score right from Finale, the notation program I am using to produce the score. I am trying to do this whole blog in Ubuntu, but it is a challenge. I am learning a lot though and hope that I will be able to do all of the graphic and book design in Unbuntu using The Gimp and Scribus. The multi-media part will involve the Mac G4 Powerbook as Finale and the audio tools I use are Mac OS. However, I hope this Ubuntustudio version is more supportive of my needs and by the time I am on tour I can erase the Vista from my drive.


Streaming from a Motorcycle Outline

January 30th, 2008 2 comments


Sketch of Bike cam logo idea by Victoria

Streaming Video From a Motorcycle

Required Equipment





Image Capture Device

  • camera

  • lense and recorder (helmetcam or isight)



Notebook Computer

  • Macintosh Powerbook

  • Ubuntu Powerbook

Choice of OS may lead to using two notebook computers

Backup always good, but space limited.



Satellite Modem

  • many choices

  • data calls expensive

  • Sponsorship an option



Monitor Device

  • cell phone monitor stream

  • small LCD screen



Voice Communications

Satellite cell phone with Bluetooth headset and networking



Video Switching device

Handlebar mounted video switching device to stream camera1 or 2


Streaming Server

Many options including free services