The frustrations of Linux (UPDATED)

If Linux really wants to see itself installed on the average Joe’s home computer, it HAS to be better than it’s counter-part, Windows. As an OS (Operating System), it IS — it’s light-years ahead of the Windows architecture, IMHO. However, there is a side to Linux that is SERIOUSLY lacking — error and system messages — they SUCK large.

Now, I don’t claim to be a super-user, but I do my fair share of computing — from websites, to blogging, to programming, to just plain old web-surfing — I’ve used my fair share of computers, right on up from the TRS-80. Accordingly, I am not in the “{whatever} For Dummies” category either. I’m “above average”, as far as the general public would be concerned, simply because of the time I spend on computers. I’ve seen my share of error messages, let me tell you. So, if I’m complaining about them not being descriptive/helpful, what do you think the general public is seeing?

On to the problem…

Read more The frustrations of Linux (UPDATED)

Banned IP Blocks (UPDATED)

Well, today I simply got tired of wading through the crap posted by Russian guests — so I’ve blocked the entire country. While I was at it, I’ve also blocked Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia & Estonia.

Turkish universities, web hosts and Turk Telekom customers – scammers, spammers, phishing websites and server script exploiters have been blocked.

Read more Banned IP Blocks (UPDATED)

Your supposed to clean them?

A recent post reminded me of an experience I had.

I recently had problems with my ASUS L3500H laptop, where it would turn itself off at (seemingly) random times. The first time or two I simply wrote it off as a software conflict, but it wasn’t long before it was happening regularly — which had me concerned. My initial thought was that I had a virus. I ran check after check (including online scans and other, downloadable, A/V programs from the web — not to mention Spyware, Adware and any other scanner I could think of), which produced nothing.

Hmmm… so, I start Googling various phrases regarding my problem to see if anyone else is having the same problem. It took a little digging, and a bunch of search term modifications, before I found what I was looking for. I don’t have the link to where I actually found this information as it was a couple of months ago now… sorry! Don’t worry, though — that’s what this post is all about! 😉

What I found was a post that talked about various laptops turning themselves off at random times, just like mine! So far, so good — what’s the cause, I wondered, as I read on. As the cause of all my problems revealed itself, I couldn’t believe what I was reading — it seems that all my problems were caused by me! Well, not physically by me, but simply due to my lack of attention to the cleaning of my machine.

Cleaning? You’re supposed to clean them? 🙂

Yup, especially if you have cats!

Upon removal of the cover from my laptop, it was evident this was the problem. Dust Bunnies running wild everywhere — attacking my CPU, RAM and HD! I quickly grabbed for my can of compressed air and started blasting Bunnies (if I could only make some Star Trek type phaser sounds)!

Sorry, got a little excited there! Actually, I did something prior to blasting those nasty Bunnies… I downloaded and installed a program called SpeedFan. Upon running SpeedFan, I recorded all of my current temperatures, shut down my machine and then started blasting Bunnies. It only took about 10 minutes with the compressed air and a small paint brush to clean it up.

Well, here comes the real tell-tale — I fired it up, ran SpeedFan again and checked my temps. Amazing! The temperature was 30 degrees cooler on my CPU! In fact, all temperatures were lower across the board.

I would like to point out that it is not an ASUS problem, nor is it related to any particular manufacturer. I found that this is related to the XP operating system, and is why I didn’t notice the problem until after I wiped out 2K and installed XP (yeah, I know… and that’s why I’ve recently switched to Linux!).

I also noted that these, seemingly, random turn offs were not random at all. The problem is directly related to the temperature of the CPU. The temperature of the CPU goes up under heavy loads, such as virus scanning, which is when I noticed the problem the most. The more the CPU is used, the more heat is generated. Once the “critical” temperature has been reached, the OS will turn off the computer in an effort to avoid physical damage.

I am happy to report that my laptop has been running smoothly ever since the cleaning. I have also gotten into the habit of taking off the covers from all my machines, on a monthly basis, and blowing them out with compressed air! I hope this post has inspired you to clean out those Dust Bunnies as well! 🙂

NOTE: Please be very careful when using compressed air around the CPU, RAM and Motherboard! Compressed air is in a liquid form inside the can — holding it upside-down, or at odd angles can result in liquid being disbursed from the nozzle. This liquid is EXTREMELY cold and can freeze your CPU, RAM and/or other chips on your Motherboard instantly, rendering them useless!

TJX Cos. — computers hacked

Sure, right after I buy a bunch of stuff at HomeSense during the Christmas Season of ’06! 🙁

CBC News – Canadian Press;

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) – The operator of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls discount stores in the United States and the Winners and HomeSense chains in Canada said Wednesday its computer systems were hacked late last year and customer data has been stolen.

TJX Cos. said the full extent of the intrusion is not yet known, but it is conducting a full investigation.

The hackers broke into a system that handles credit and debit card transactions, as well as cheques and merchandise returns for customers in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada and may also involve customers of T.K. Maxx stores in the U.K. and Ireland.

The break-in was discovered in mid-December, but was kept confidential upon the request of law enforcement officials.

TJX said it has hired General Dynamics Corp. and IBM Corp. to upgrade its security system.

Ubuntu update!

It’s been two weeks since I first started using Ubuntu Linux as a desktop machine — there have been a few struggles (read as: learning curve), but all-in-all I am quite pleased with it.



There have been a few times where I’d have to switch to my Windows machine in order to get something specific done… but that was mostly due to my lack of knowledge, and not Ubuntu. 😉

I moved all of my website and programming development files over to my Linux machine and have been developing from here (I’ve been using gedit mostly — a pretty good little editor that comes as part of the Ubuntu install. The PHP highlighting is pretty good. But hey, I’m used to Notepad2 in Windows! I’m not into flashy editors.). Anyway, since I’ve been developing my sites under Linux, I’ve had the need to add a few tools that do not come as part of a standard Ubuntu install.

First thing that I noted I need was an FTP client. For that, a quick Google search led me to gFTP. The install directions were simple;

sudo apt-get install gftp

But that produced a “package not found” error. Arg! A little more Googling and I found my answer — I had to “uncomment the following two lines to add software from the ‘universe’ repository”.

deb edgy universe
deb-src edgy universe

I then had to update the package list with;

sudo apt-get update

Another go at the install and I was in business. From there, the install went smoothly and I was rewarded with a new icon/link in Applications/Internet, accordingly labeled “gFTP”. I am familiar with GUI based FTP on Windows, so the software itself was no problem getting used to.

My next obstacle was image editing. This came in two parts — first, I was used to working with Photoshop… does Adobe have a Linux version? With a little Googling, I found that there wasn’t, but there were people successfully running the Windows version of Photoshop through Wine, but I didn’t particularly want to start messing with that at the present time. 😉

During my Googling, I kept seeing the name “GIMP“, so I Googled that! What do you know? Another piece of Open Source Software that is installed with Ubuntu by default! Cool! I say I’m used to Photoshop, simply because that’s what I’ve always used on Windows. I don’t do any serious image editing, just your basic stuff for my websites, catalogs, etc. — accordingly, the features of GIMP will suit me just fine. That’s one down.

The second part to my image editing I have not figured out a solution for my Linux machine. And that is the scanning of source material. I have a Lexmark PrintTrio that I have used under Windows for something like 2 years and have been, basically, happy with it’s performance. Unfortunately, Lexmark has not developed any drivers for Linux for the X1150. From what I have read in various posts during my searches, it appears that Lexmark is not too fond of Open Source Software. Printing was no problem with the x125 driver, but I needed to scan — so I had no choice but to hook the Lexmark back up to the Windows machine (oh yeah, gotta switch machines for a second and check the driver install… back… all is well!).

OK, so I have scanning back… but still, it’s a PITA having to scan on Windows and then transfer the file to my Linux machine. Oh well, something else to look out for the next time I buy a new printer/scanner!

Well, I think that’s about it for now (hey, I’ve only been using it for two weeks!). For a Linux Desktop noob, I have actually been surprised at how little I have to switch to my Windows machine — and it will only get less and less with each passing day!