Getting Your Daughter or Son a Computer? Think about the Asus Eee

It looks like a Nintendo DS only slightly larger. In five fashion colours too:

white green pink blue black laptops

At yesterday I saw that the Asus Eee is priced at 365.99. My daughter’s starting to save for a laptop since she’ll be taking some computer science courses in high school next year and she finds the disparity between computers at home and at her dad’s frustrating. We’ve been talking about what she could get for cheap and this might be the one. I like that it runs Linux (which will save me from having to reinstall the OS and pay for a copy of Windows that nobody wants). The 3 usb ports should be sufficient for her needs which at the moment will likely be a mouse, her mp3 player, and a flash drive. There’s always the option of a hub if she needed more. Or the devices take turns. Should be manageable. I wonder how long 2G of hard drive space will last but since 4GB flash drives are easy to come by these days she should just concentrate on saving her work externally. I love that it’s only 2 pounds. She’s already hauling around so many books that I don’t want her adding much more to that. The 512MB of RAM doesn’t sound like much either. Can that be upgraded?

Her birthday’s coming up and she’s told grandparents that this is what she’s saving for. Fun for me was searching for all the photos people have uploaded of their Eees. photo by hsufehmi

Compiz on SuSE 10.3

I’ve had Compiz on my desktop for almost a week.

compiz cube

At first I found it a bit overwhelming, trying to keep up with all the different cool things I can do now, and then I found a couple of cheat sheets quick reference guides here and here. Looking through the photos on flickr I’m getting excited to play around with it this weekend.

I think it would have been less confusing if I’d realized sooner that the Compiz Fusion Icon needs to be running in order for some of the features to work. Not all, just some. For example, ctrl+alt+R or L arrow will rotate the desktop cube whether the icon is running or not but the mousewheel only works if it’s on. Wobbly windows also only works with it on.

photo credit: MicheleM on flickr.

Lightning (or lack of) on Suse 10.3

I spoke too soon in my last post. I installed the Lightning extension for Thunderbird and thought everything was good to go. At first glance everything in the calendar addon looked as it should. I should have configured it before posting though because it doesn’t work. It doesn’t respond when I try to add events or tasks, and the calendar view is mashed up in one corner.

For some reason the build that Rob had working on his suse 10.3 isn’t on the project page anymore and we won’t get into the details of why I can’t just get the xpi from him. I tried the nightly and every build in the project history but no luck. What a bummer since I was looking forward to the updates since the version I was running on Windows. Needless to say, neither of us is currently running Lightning. It’s beyond me to tell you what is causing the problem or what to do to repair it. I can however, point you towards other apps:

I went back to GoogleCalendar for a few days but missed the look and feel of Lightning. I’m also wary of creating a dependence on Google. And I hate that they know everything about me. Reading around for other Linux calendar options I decided to try out Korganizer — and I’m very pleased. I think even if Lightning were an option I might stick with Korganizer. The look and feel is very similar to Lightning, and I can have it open with or without running the mail client. Sometimes I work better if I shut down the email — but I still like being able to add to my task list so this is working out well so far.

There’s support for import and export of calendars using iCal so that will be the next step.

Back to SUSE

Spring break this year provided time for a needed format and reinstall. Leaving were an old install of windows x64 that I hadn’t used in a year or two, the current windows xp which I booted most often in case I wanted some photoshop tools, and an install of suse 10.2 that I hadn’t used much since I finished my C course last April.

I did the backup, Rob did the reinstall but by the time that was done I had a major paper due so I spent those hours on my laptop instead of the desktop since the laptop was all set to go and the new install of Suse 10.3 would need hours of tweaking (and remembering how to tweak since I’m still a Linux newb).

Finally today I got the machine turned on again and started digging around. I installed my favourite extensions in Firefox:

and decided that it’s time now to put some real effort into for syncing bookmarks. The profile backup I did in Windows with MozBackup won’t be easy to bring into Linux — I figure I’ll have to restore it on a second profile on my laptop then import the bookmarks into Delicious. If only I’d saved the bookmarks.html file before I formatted…

I also decided to install Chatzilla — since I’ve joined LinuxChix and plan to join in the irc there.

Then it was over to Thunderbird to start setting up some email and the addon I’ve been missing the most: Lightning. Lightning is the schedule, task and calendar add-on that works inside of Thunderbird. I started using it in the late fall and it was exactly what I’ve been needing. There’s a quick task list that is visible from the mail pane and the calendar allows multiple calendars so that I can categorize and track the many activities and people in the house (and my own multiple identities – heh).

I downloaded Lightning without any problem but it wouldn’t install because I’m running 64-bit Linux. Then I found this hack:

Hack for 64 bit Linux users
by p stucke on March 15, 2008 (rated 10)
This add-on can be installed on a 64 bit Linux system with a small hack.\n\n1. Extract the archive to a folder.\n2. Open install.rdf in a text editor.\n3. Change the following line: Linux_x86-gcc3\nto\nLinux_x86_64-gcc3\n4. Save the file.\n5. Zip the contents (not the entire folder, just the contents) of the folder.\n6. Rename the archive to: lightning-0.7-tb-linux_64.xpi (or something similar)\n7. Install the add-on.\n\nThat\’s it. Upon first launch, the GUI loaded incorrectly, but after a restart, it worked as expected.

Written just 5 days ago and here was the key I needed to get my Lightning working! It took some decoding to unscramble that hard-to-read formatting (\n = new line) but here’s what I realized p stucke was saying:

  1. Extract the archive to a folder.
  2. Did this by right clicking selecting “extract to” and extracting all files into a folder in my home directory (the default location)

  3. Open install.rdf in a text editor.
  4. Navigated to my home directory, found the folder and file, right click > Open with > Other > Utilities > Editor > KWrite. There may have been other choices sooner but this is the one I was familiar with.

  5. Change the following line: Linux_x86-gcc3 to Linux_x86_64-gcc3
  6. Found that line at the bottom of the document and typed in the changes.

  7. Save the file.
  8. No problems here, just saved and closed KWrite.

  9. Zip the contents (not the entire folder, just the contents) of the folder.
  10. Selected everything in the folder, right clicked then Compress > Compress as > Zip Archive.

  11. Rename the archive to: lightning-0.7-tb-linux_64.xpi (or something similar)
  12. Good old F2, same as always.

  13. Install the add-on.
  14. Back to Thunderbird > Tools > Add-ons> Install > navigate to the home folder with the new zip and Open. Everything worked on the first try!

So now it’s just a matter of setting up my tasks and calendars — and all my email addresses of course. 😉

I’m pretty happy.

Talking about Traffic

There’s been an increase in the number of blogs starting up. It’s like we’ve reached some sort of critical mass where many more people know what a blog is than did even a year ago. I see blog after blog with one post (quite often the WordPress “Hello World”) and maybe a “I’m going to use this blog to talk about my self, my navel, my pet turtle, and other trivia” and then nothing after that (but the sounds of summer crickets).

But for those few who find blogging an exciting medium to connect with other minds floating out on the Internets, here’s a very quick stats primer:

When you want to talk about traffic to your blog, tell me about the Unique Visits not the number of Hits.

Every time a visitor loads a page from your site in their browser it may generate any number of hits. For example, every image on the page counts as a hit. You may have one visitor but it might register as 10 (or more) hits. More images on a page adds up to more hits. Can you see that this number isn’t particularly useful?

Unique Visits are much more useful for looking at the actual traffic to your blog. To calculate this number, the IP address of each visitor is counted once. This number reflects the number of visitors who actually came to your site to see what’s up with you today. Page views add a bit more information, collecting information on how many pages each visitor opened.

For more detail, check out this old page here. It’s from 2005 but is still a good explanation.