Friday, February 18, 2011

Quick Tip: Stalled Wi-Fi

Seems every time I update every thing starts fine but with in seconds Wi-Fi stalls.  This has happened at other times but I see it most right after a restart.  Every thing indicates that you are connected but 0 bandwidth.

To fix it select the connection icon in the upper right corner, disable Wi-Fi, and the re-enable Wi-Fi.  This seems to kick start every thing and you are good to go.

Chrome OS Linux

Chrome OS seems to have a bit of Apple in it.  Chrome OS isn't  readily available to download and run on an Intel/AMD computer.  Right now you can’t just make your own CR-48 as Chrome OS is customized to run on a particular hardware.   You can get Chromium OS the open source operating system project.  Before you run of and try this you don’t get an image that can be loaded on a thumb drive, you get a bunch of code that can be added to a board for testing in four easy steps.

There is an alternative.  There is a Linux distribution that looks more like the Chrome OS.  Chrome OS Linux looks nice.

It also has a nice list of default programs:
  • GNOME 2.30 desktop environment
  • Google Chrome 10.0.648 web browser
  • Google Picasa 3.0 photo manager
  • LibreOffice 3.3 office suite
  • GIMP 2.6 image editor
  • Wine Windows emulator 1.2
  • Pidgin 2.6 instant messenger
  • Dashboard with social toolbar
  • Control Center

I haven’t had a chance, nor do I have any hardware available, to try this but it has caught my attention.  I don’t think it would boot as fast as Chrome OS because it is a larger operating system.  On the other hand it would be more than a net book.

Buddha  would be unhappy with me now, I get the CR-48 and all I do is desire new computers and diferent operating systems.

I start to notice my surroundings

You never notice something then when you become aware of it you start seeing it every where.  Only after talking about privacy and concerns about  what information Google was mining and how it would be used did I notice this bit of open source programing.  All the advantages of the chrome browser but with the sections of code that report usage removed.  Chrome is open source so the code is freely available and can be modified as desired.

I tried this at lunch today, it can be run along side of chrome.  Iron is nearly identical to chrome with the only difference being that Chrome has an app store and Iron has a blog of vetted apps.  Everything else seems to work the same.  If you want you can run apps from the chrome app store but having apps that can access your info and might report it defeats the purpose of a non-reporting browser.

Next up thinking about the lottery and hoping to stumble across the winning numbers.

We're Number 4

Clap your feet, stamp your hands we're number 4.  Those Google spyders has finally found this blog.

Now I just have to sit back and wait for AOL to buy me out.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What else is there

Don't have a CR-48 yet, not a fan of the cloud, worried about being tracked by a big corporation well hordes of programmers feel your pain.  The open source movement has many programs, everything from operating systems  to free version of popular programs or games.

If you want to try something other than windows there's a multitude of Unix flavors such as GNU Operating System.  Now if you want some real variety there is Linux.  I played with Ubuntu a few years ago a fairly mainstream version of Linux.  I'm not sure but the more esoteric and harder to use a Linux dstro is the more geek cred you get so Ubuntu will let you look down on windows users.  You can dual boot if your not ready to completely make a change.

Not ready to change your operating system then how about using an alternative to Microsoft Office.  Try Open Office or the Oracle free branch LibreOffice.  The real advantage of these two is that the next time you by a computer you don't have to shell out for MS-Office.

Want to compress files try 7-zip.

Do you think the government, your spouse, the Illuminati or some guy named Tim are spying on you then try True Crypt.  I tried True Crypt a few times but I don't have anything that needs encrypting. Pro Tip: don't download True Crypt instead get a copy of the source code, vet each line and compile it yourself, this is the only way to be sure there are no back doors.

Too cheap to pay for Photoshop try GIMP instead.  I've used this for several years at work for doing clean up of technical illustrations.  It has tutorials and a ton of functions what I've used is just the basics.

Games and everything else.

If you do try something let me know.

Behind the Curtain

There have been some decent open source operating systems1 so why is Google going to all the cost of doing their own.  I think the answer is eyeballs.  A browser based operating system that runs on inexpensive hardware will bring more people to the web.  More people who will use Google's tools and look at Google ads.

For about $180- the same as a retail copy of windows 7 home premium- that new flat screen can be converted to a internet device which can play Google TV.  For the cost of a screen, a key board and a small computer a library, school or business can do most of what people do with a computer.  Instead of paying for a traditional PC and software you can save a lot of money and view Google ads.

When I was a freshman one of the guys has an IBM PC XT.  This would have cost about $6500 in todays dollars.

1 if you have some old hardware kicking around this is an easy and fun way of getting some more life out of it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cool things to do with you chrome browser

1. WebGL is now enabled by default in Google Chrome and you can try the 3D web apps from Google's gallery. Don't miss Body Browser, a Google Earth for the human body, and the WebGL Aquarium. (more)
None of these things really works very well on the CR-48 net book.  Just not enough power to make them run smoothly.  Those of you on more powerful computers might have fun.

If you're looking to dig into the inner workings of your browser the same blog has a list of Chrome's about: pages.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The cloud: Good Evil

6.You can make money without doing evil.
Google is a business. The revenue we generate is derived from offering search technology to companies and from the sale of advertising displayed on our site and on other sites across the web. Hundreds of thousands of advertisers worldwide use AdWords to promote their products; hundreds of thousands of publishers take advantage of our AdSense program to deliver ads relevant to their site content. To ensure that we’re ultimately serving all our users (whether they are advertisers or not), we have a set of guiding principles for our advertising programs and practices:(more)
One of my few readers has questioned the wisdom of turning so much information over to a large corporation.  I have to admit he has a point.  We worry about Facebook because they have shown a willingness to make money off of everything we give them.  Facebook only knows what we tell them.  Don't post anything personal, don't hit like and Facebook knows very little - you can even game it "status: spent whole weekend working on project," now let see if your boss is checking up on you.  Google on the other hand knows each word of a document, what you search on (Google knows that I 'm bad at spelling and grammar, see previous sentence for an example).  Google knows what your doing.

The advantage of cloud computing is that when bad things happen and you have to start fresh it is very easy.  To paraphrase Backaroo Banzia " remember, no matter where you go, there you are."  Last year I migrated my company's engineering data from a local server to a web-server.  During the snow storms I had the same data at home as I did at work.  My wife the college student is using this computer during the day to write papers but she can just grab a computer at school or use her computer and write with out transferring files or editing an old version of a paper.  There is a real advantage of being able to log in and work.

The problem of evaluating the cloud is we have our noses two inches from a wall.  We can only see a few bricks,  we lack the perspective to see the mural on the wall and we are too close to see the shape of the wall.   Not knowing what information will be harvested, who will use that information or how suggests that we should be cautious now.  I'd hate for my boss to learn that I'm such an awful speller, so if he asks I was working all weekend on my new project.

I get mail

There are several excellent online communities dedicated to Chrome and Chrome OS but Google decide to set up their own.  Get a CR-48 and get added to the Chrome Notebook Pilot group.  Unfortunately a snafu resulted in everyone getting an email for every post.

Earlier this morning, you may have received a large number of emails from regarding the Chrome notebook Pilot program user forum. We apologize for this inconvenience, and you will not receive any more messages from this address. Instructions for deleting these messages are at the end of this email.

What happened? We planned to launch our Chrome Notebook Pilot forum next week to all users who had been selected for the Pilot program. Last night, around midnight Pacific time, a user discovered this forum and posted a message. Unfortunately, we had misconfigured this forum to email every post to every member. Thus, the first post started an avalanche of responses. Some messages were unsubscribe requests, others were thoughtful comments or questions, but all of them were emailed to every user. We have since deleted this group. 
I joined the new group but I'm not impressed.  I feel like I'm flashing back to 1997, people more eager to post than think.  I only quickly looked but most of the questions could be answered by keeping up with documentation - release notes, known issues etc.  Maybe after an initial silliness  this group will settle down and provide some real information.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lord help me I'm just not that bright

I was testing this little computer; seems testing is an important sounding word for playing.  I read that used flash and wasn't the greatest on a Linux based computer.  In the name of research I watched last nights episode of Fringe.   This is serious research.  The video was fine but the power saver kept dimming  the screen.  A quick search did not show any solutions to reseting the power saver settings.

When it comes to computing I'm a small fish in a big pond.  Any questions I have some one else has had before me.  Anything I figure has been worked out long before I even started.  Making a unique contribution to Chrome OS knowledge is a little like making a unique contribution to commuting knowledge.  Sure I'm one of the few people who know what lane to drive in but I'm not the only one.  So power saver settings was my big chance to leave my footprints in the sands of development.

I pocked around the code - Chrome OS is open source so you can a copy of the source code.  Google - long may their stock rise - provides search ability so looking for power save or screen saver is easy.   Then I started poking around the files on this computer (file:///usr/share/chromeos-assets/) but I could only go so far.  So I powered down, removed the battery, took of a piece of tape, and flipped the jailbreak switch.  I then waited a few minutes and rebooted.  I got a the sad screen and a request to install a thumb drive which I didn't have.  I powered down and flipped the switch back no problem. The screen came up, I logged in and the computer shut down.  I got that feeling.

Back in the dark recess of time when the PC was new I was a programmer on a black project.  As the PC was new and the project black there was only one for us to work on.  We had the approved code in one directory and the development code in other directories.  Once code was debugged it was moved from the the development directory in to the production directory and deleted from the development directory.  It was late, I moved the code, I deleted the code and then I recompiled.  The recompile fail because I deleted all the code in the production directory.  I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost sick.  (I may be stupid but at least I'm aware of it so I had been doing back-ups often.  I reload everything from the back-ups and got back to work.  This did annoy the self important project manager as he was sure this was done to reload a game he deleted from the computer earlier. )

Getting back to Chrome OS and my little computer, It restarted but in a fresh fro the box fashion.  I had to start anew but as most everything was saved to the cloud I didn't loose any thing.  I can feel that feeling slowly fading.

It would seem that my footprints in the sands of development are to be a cautionary note to others.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So when I was setting up this blog there was a tab to monetize the blog. Google will put ads on the side and bottom of the blog and depending on how many page views and ad clicks (hint) it get paid. The ads are supposed to be related to the post (Chevy Volt). So far I've made $0.00.

Setting up Google Adsence to display ads doesn't work at all on Chrome OS. Pages would render or just repeat. Errors indicated that it was an issue with cookies, which it wasn't. My guess is that because this has to do with money Google is more restrictive with access and they haven't allowed their own new system.

As a side not if each person reading this forwards it to 500 people and has them do the same I can get a new family car for myself, not a Chevy Volt.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Microwave effect

Before I had a microwave reheating food involved pots and pans and the stove.  Now you can have popcorn in three minutes and reheat left-overs in 90 seconds.  Of course those 90 seconds seem to take for ever.

Today I had to cold start a windows laptop today to just check just one thing.  The CR-48 with a solid state data storage and a smaller operating system cold boots in ten seconds and wakes up from hibernating* in 1.2 seconds.  This just makes restarting a Windows computer seem all the more slow.

*The CR-48 goes to sleep when the cover is shut and wakes up 1.2 seconds later, it is like having a computer is alway on.


Monday, February 7, 2011


 So how does one manage their digital photo library in the cloud.  In the past I would store photos on my hard drive or then we stored them on line and organized them with Picasa.  If I need to manipulate then I would use GIMP, but now I use web apps not downloaded programs.  Turns out you can store photos on Picasa web albums, not quite the same as the windows program but usable.  Photos can be edited directly from you Picasa web albums with Picnik.


And after using the auto-correct, plenty of features for you medaling busy bodies.

Not bad.  Hey you can even take pictures with the webcam.

This is Eddie at skating practice, not great but hey it is a web cam. (Web cams always look like Blair Witch Project out takes.)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

You want one too?

Just answer three questions; what is your name, what is your favorite color and what is the land speed velocity of an unladen swallow?  Then go to this site  Or skip the questions and go to the site.

First Mistake

One of the first things I wanted to see was how different types of media worked.  For a while YouTube has had the option of using HTML5 instead of flash so I though this was a good place to start.  I tried the VW video of the young Darth Vader.   The sound was a mix of crinkling paper and tinkling glass, not good.  I didn't get much time to think about it as my wife wanted to try the computer.  She tried the same video and it worked fine.

So being the amateur sleuth that I am I guessed that maybe one of the dozen extensions I used was the problem.  I had a few extensions that blocked Facebook data gathering and force HTTPS - they are watch you know - so I uninstalled them.  BAM, the video worked.  Well aren't I great.

So now I'm listening to olde fogy rock and playing with my new computer.  First time I hit the mute button the sound reverts to the paper and glass static.  So being the intrepid programmer that I am I try youtube again and when it doesn't work.  I file a bug report.  Haven't had the computer for two hours and I'm already earing my keep.

The next day I decide to see if I can now solve this problem.  A quick search showed this to be a know problem with the current version of the operating system.  Next time check to see if someone else has found the problem first.

On the plus side I've now found some very nice resources.

First Look

Set up was fairly easy, the worst part was that as part of creating an account I had to have my picture taken.  Now when I sign on I have to look at my disheveled mug.  Once you have gone through the set up the Chrome web browser is Chrome operating system.

A little bit scary:  I've always tried to manage my web presence; if some one Googles me they will only see information I want them to see.  I only got a Facebook account this week because I have a re-election campaign coming up and I want to connect to those hip kids.  With in seconds of logging in Chrome had downloaded all the extensions that I use at work and home.  Bookmarks, history and even my work printers were all there in seconds.  Google search might not yield much about me but the over lords at Google know which printer I favor and what size font I like.  (I welcome our new Google over lords and I am more than willing to act as a richly rewarded go between them and common mortals.)

I guess this is what they mean when they say the cloud.  All that info that used to be stored in ini files on a hard drive is just out there some where available to you where ever you go.

Rocket 48

For what ever reason when I first heard that Google was giving out net books called CR-48s I thought of the song Rocket 88.  The Rocket 88 was the hot new car form Oldsmobile and the CR-48 is the next thing in computers.  I did promise Google that I would comment and be active in testing if but the hardcore techies got computers first and have long been blogging on everything from what chips are being used to the fine details of the source code.  This left me with blogging about the average users experiences.

Now the real test will I make it past 4 posts.