Entries Tagged as ''

Birthday Greetings…

To my sister, I think she’s 29 (again)! LOL

Summer Solstice 2019

June 21 2019 15:54 GMT

Macbuntu

Macbuntu isn’t a sanctioned distribution of Ubuntu like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc; rather it’s a set of scripts that turns an Ubuntu desktop into something that resembles a Mac running OS-X… but it’s till very much Ubuntu running gdm (GNOME).

I don’t recommend install Macbuntu on a production machine, or even a real machine until you’ve taken it for a spin around the block.  For the most part it’s eye candy; but that said, it does make a Mac user feel a little more comfortable at an Ubuntu workstation, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with the desktop paradigm (remember, the way GNOME, KDE, XFCE, Enlightenment, Windows, OS-X, etc work is largely arbitrary — it’s just a development effort intended to make routine user operations intuitive and simply; but no two people are the same, and not everyone finds a the “solution” to a particular use case optimal).

What I recommend you do is create a virtual machine with your favorite virtualization software; if you don’t have virtualization software, consider VirtualBox — it’s still free (until Larry Ellison decides to pull the plug on it), and it’s very straight forward for even novices to use.

Install Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop (32-bit is fine for the test) in it, and just take all the defaults — it’s easy, and no reason to fine tune a virtual machine that’s really just a proof-of-concept.

After that, install the virtual guest additions and do a complete update…

Once you’re done with all that, just open a command prompt and type each of the following (without elevated privileges).

  • wget https://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/macbuntu/macbuntu-10.10/v2.3/Macbuntu-10.10.tar.gz -O /tmp/Macbuntu-10.10.tar.gz
  • tar xzvf /tmp/Macbuntu-10.10.tar.gz -C /tmp
  • cd /tmp/Macbuntu-10.10/
  • ./install.sh

Once you’ve followed the on-screen instructions and answered everything to install all the themes, icons, wallpapers, widgets, and tools (you’ll have to modify Firefox and Thunderbird a little more manually — browser windows are opened for you, but you have to install the plug-ins yourself), you reboot and you’re presented with what looks very much like OS-X (you actually get to see some of the eye candy as it’s installed).

Log in… and you see even more Mac-isms… play play play and you begin to get a feel of how Apple created the slick, unified OS-X experience on top of BSD.

Now if you’re a purist you’re going to push your lower lip out and say this isn’t anything like OS-X… well, maybe it doesn’t carry Steve Job’s DNA fingerprint, but for many users I think you’ll hear them exclaim that this is a significant step forward for making Linux more Mac-ish.

There are a couple different efforts to create a Mac like experience under Linux; Macbuntu is centric on making Ubuntu more like OS-X, and as far as I can see it’s probably one of the cleanest and simplest ways to play with an OS-X theme on top of Linux…

If you find you like it, then go ahead and install on a real machine (the eye candy will be much more pleasing with a manly video card and gpu accelerated effects), and you can uninstall it if you like — but with something this invasive I’d strongly encourage you to follow my advice and try before you buy (so to speak — it’s free, but time and effort count for a great deal).

I’ll make a post on installing Macbuntu for tomorrow so that it’s a better reference.

Macbuntu on SourceForge.net

Macbuntu

NetTalk

UPDATE:  NetTalk’s growth has cause many individuals to have issues with placing and receiving calls, if your VoIP service is intended to be your only phone line you may want to think twice about going with NetTalk — particularly as long as they maintain their “no refunds” “no credits” policy… though realistically if you find they don’t live up to what’s reasonably expected, your credit card company will probably be happy to open a charge dispute for you and return your unpaid service… but I personally seriously question companies that don’t feel they need to supply the services they sell to consumers.

NetTalk VoIP services are inexpensive, easy to use, and work faily well… much less than services like Vonage or services from your cable or xDSL company.

$69.96 for the first year (that includes the purchase of a small VoIP adapter — NetTalk Duo — that can plug into your Ethernet router or your computer); then $29.95 per year after that (there are discounts for multi-year pre-pay).

 

NetTalk had a buy-one-get-one free special, and has had several discount codes; hopefully one of these two will still work for you to purchase the first year of service and NetTalk Duo device.

DUOAPP25OFF = 25% Off
DUOAPP50OFF = 50% Off


 

NetTalk Duo NetTalk Duo II NetTalk Duo WiFi


 

Nettalk Calling Features

 
 

FAQ’s on Nettalk Calling Features

3-Way Calling

Press the Flash button (or the hook) during a call. Once you hear the dial tone, dial the second party. When the second party is connected, press the flash button again to conference in the first party. There will be a three-way connection!

Call Waiting Once you hear the tone signaling a second call coming into your line, simply press the Flash button (or the hook) on your phone.

 

Caller ID

With VoiceLine Caller ID, you will see the phone number of the party who is calling you — even when you are on the other line.

You must have a phone equipped with a caller ID display.

 

Below are the dial codes for some popular VoiceLine calling features.

Action Dial Code

Selective Call Acceptance

Receive only calls from telephone numbers on your pre-defined acceptance list. *64

Deactivate feature and receive all calls. *84

 

Selective Call Rejection

Block only calls from telephone numbers on your pre-defined rejection list. *60

Deactivate feature and receive all calls. *80

Anonymous Call Rejection

Block all calls whose telephone numbers are hidden due to the caller purposely blocking that information. *77

 

Call Blocking

Deactivate feature and receive all calls. *87

Send all calls to a pre-defined destination #. *72

Send all calls to VoiceMail. *72123

Send all calls to a destination #. *72 [phone num]

 

Call Forwarding*

(All Calls/ Unconditional)

Deactivate feature & receive all calls. *73

Call Return Call the last person who called you. *69

Do Not Disturb Block incoming calls. *98

 

Speed Dial

Dial a number using a speed dial code. **[code]

Redial Call the last number you dialed. *66

Assign a phone number to a speed dial code. *97

VoiceMail

VoiceMail Access the VoiceMail system to record a greeting or hear your messages. 123#

* When you forward calls, the inbound and outbound calls are priced according to your calling plan.

 

AT&T Cell Phone Rates

I was looking at AT&T cellular rates; primarily because I was thinking about getting a SIM card to play with, and it struck me that the pre-pay rates seemed like they were less than the regular contract rates (yeah — you get a discount phone with a contract, but unlocked GSM phones are fairly easy to find).

So, AT&T wants $69.99 for an unlimited talk/text plan per month; plus an activation fee — and for that 2 year contract you get a discounted handset.

AT&T also offers and unlimited talk/text plan for $60 per month (pre-pay) and there doesn’t seem to be any activation fee and of course no contract (you don’t get a discounted handset; but often you can buy GoPhones for “free” when you consider some of them have SIMs loaded with airtime).

AT&T also offers the unlimited talk/text plan for $2 per day (only days you use)… so if you weren’t a heavy user you might find this works out great for you.

Now there is a catch with pre-pay; you can roll over you minutes from period to period as long as you keep add money to your account; and if you add less than $25 you’ll have to add more in 30 days, if you add $25 or over then you have 90 days, and $100 (or more) you have a year… so it probably makes sense to add either $25 when you need it (or every 90 days) or you could do the $100, but that’s a fair amount of money to have sitting in an account not being of any real use to you.

There is also a $75 plan that provides unlimited talk and text for the month, plus 200MB of data (that’s a little over $20 worth of data for $15, which only makes sense if you’re going to peg you data usage right at 200MB — if you go substantially under you may well be better off just paying the $0.01/KB).

You can still get a much better deal for cellular with other companies; and their are unlimited flat-rate resellers of AT&T GSM service ($40/month) in many areas; plus there’s MetroPCS (which offers 4G service in metro areas they serve) and Cricket (which has fairly good roaming coverage) that offer very aggressive pricing in markets they serve.

Bottom line, figure out how you’re going to use your cell phone, and find a plan to will work the best for you.

FYI – if you need/want an AT&T SIM card, look on eBay, you can get a 64KB new SIM card for $3.49 delivered (AT&T would charge you $24.95 plus tax).

Computer Cables

Whether you have a Windows PC, a Mac, or a *nix box, the one thing you’ll have a headache with is all the cables.

And for those of you who try to say you don’t — all I’ve got to say in The Nile ain’t just a river in Egypt!

There are all kind of products sold on the market to manage the cables on your computer, and many of them will make it look better, but most of them just make it that much harder to do anything with them — so if you’ve got an Architectural Digest shoot coming up you might want to run out and buy one of those, but for those of you who just want to get a handle on the cables I’ve found something that might help.

What I’ve started doing is taking a couple (sometimes three) Velcro ties and bundling all the cables that come out of the back of the computer for about a foot to a foot and a half… what that does is it keeps them together and out of the way for sliding the computer back and forth, but doesn’t create a nightmare every time you need to do something.

You want to make sure that you allow all the cables to gently bend into the bundle (not sharp kinks — it’s just not good for the cables of the connectors), and make sure that there’s reasonable clearance behind the computer (if not, you can bend the bundle to one side).

The Velcro ties are fairly inexpensive, and you can get them at office stores, dollar stores, etc.

The Raven

The Raven
by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!” –
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never – nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore:
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting –
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

Blow Smoke Up One’s Ass

In 18th Century Europe (1750~1810), the Tobacco Smoke Enema was used to infuse tobacco smoke into a patient’s rectum for various medical purposes; primarily the resuscitation of drowning victims.

The procedure involved a rectal tube being inserted into the anus that was connected to a fumigator and bellows that was used to force smoke into the rectum.

The warmth of the smoke was thought to promote respiration, but doubts about the credibility of tobacco enemas soon lead to the popularization of the phrase…

Blow Smoke Up One’s Ass

It seems to me, that the whole tobacco industry was blowing smoke up most everyone’s ass for years in trying to convince them that smoking didn’t cause any ill effects.

Tobacco Smoke Enema on Wikipedia

Tobacco Smoke Enema

Comcast

Comcast consistently ranks in the top ten (almost always the top five) of companies with pathetic customer service in virtually every poll I’ve seen (they probably even do poorly in polls they sponsor LOL).

I received a unsolicited commercial email from a Comcast business customer; and I did exactly what I should do — report it to the abuse contact published in the ARIN database, and send them a plain text copy of the entire email message — including full headers (adding the word SPAM to the subject).

I got back an automated message that said I needed to provide them the headers of the email message and a link to a page that really didn’t have any useful information.

I resent the message; including all the tags that were mentioned on the page (including the one for harassment, since that was the closest thing that fit)… and I got back a message from “Fred CSAtech55” referencing case ID NA0000014230535; who tells me if I want to follow up as “Harrassment” (that’s his spelling, not mine) that I should “call Comcast Security Assurance (CSA) at 888-565-4329”; but if I want to follow it up as spam I should “then choose the opt out option that the email provides”.

I guess, poor Fred not only can’t spell, but doesn’t understand that the LAST thing you do from an unsolicited email from a company that you’ve never dealt with (and have no reason to trust) is click on one of their links.

Maybe if Comcast hired people who could spell they might get out of the top ten worst companies for customer service.  Even better, if they hired people with a clue, they might actually be able to provide reasonable customer support and be no where near the top ten worst.

Oh, and if you’re thinking that they only provide poor service when you’re not a customer — WRONG, I can tell you story after story about how pathetic their service was in San Francisco; and how much better AT&T’s service was (that should truly be scary, when a company with service as poor as AT&T can have far superior service).

Upgrading Drive Firmware

First, if you’re not having problems with your drive (unless it’s brand new, has no data on it, and you don’t have an issue returning it to the place of purchase or manufacturer) DO NOT DO IT.

Second, make sure you give yourself plenty of time, don’t try and do it quickly, or in between other commitments.  Do it when it’s quiet.  Make sure you have a UPS on your computer and that the weather is clear (so that there’s no likelihood of power outages).

Third, run the drive diagnostics from the manufacturer first.  If the drive shows it’s having problems — return it to the manufacturer for replacement (most manufacturers will do advance replacement at no charge with a credit card; that gives you a drive to migrate your data onto, and a shipping container to return the failing drive in).

Fourth, many manufacturers support upgrading firmware directly from Windows (a few from other operating systems).  I high recommend you choose the bootable CD approach — that way there’s no question whether or not you have something installed on your computer that might interfere.  And if you’re using SATA I recommend you set your computer to SATA IDE/Legacy mode to insure that the upgrade (and diagnostics) don’t have any issues with your SATA controller (IDE/Legacy as opposed to SATA/Native, SATA/RAID, SATA/AHCI — different BIOS manufacturers will call it by a different term, but it’s the lowest setting for the controller, likely it’s what the default was).

Fifth, make sure you obtain the firmware update only from the manufacturer’s web site; and make sure that it is for your drive; and that it’s recommended as a general installation or specifically addresses an issue you’re having.

Sixth, make sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s procedure for updating firmware.

Seventh, power off your drive before you attempt to use it after updating the firmware.  Most drives will not use the newer firmware until they are power-cycled; some drives just flat out won’t work until they’ve been “hard reset”.

Hopefully all goes well, but many drives become a brick if your firmware upgrade fails; a few can revert to the previous firmware and keep on running.  If you have problems, contact the manufacturer, most drives under warranty can be replaced — but data recovery is not included.

NOTE:

Upgrading drive firmware may also change the first several sectors of the drive; I highly recommend that you backup the drive before upgrading the firmware.