Friday, 25 December 2009

Kublax Online Money Manager...

It sure is slooowwwwwwww.

My initial evaluation was, hey, great service. It takes all the hassle out of budgeting. Simply set up your budget. Change the designation of any transactions it does automatically set correctly and hey presto your financial budgeting is laid out in front of you to analyse.

On using the service my opinion has changed. It's slow. Dreadfully slow.

At it's heart the service seems excellent and does work - just very slowly - did I mention that? To change a budget you click edit and sometimes it just hangs, a refresh four or five times and you may get to edit the budget. Then edit another one - same thing, wait... wait... refresh... wait... refresh... wait... got bored logged out.

I have now decided to delete off all my accounts and clear the data. I shall leave what areas of the budget I managed to get setup and take a look back at Kublax later in the year.

It does look useful but - and it's a big but - not with it being so unreliable to navigate and use. It's a shame because it truly does look promising...

Monday, 2 November 2009

Cosmic Koala

I just installed Kubuntu Karmic Koala on my PC. On the face of it, it doesn't seem to really add much. It really doesn't look much different to Jaunty but somehow it does seem to run smoother. Is it blind optimism? I don't know but it does feel a tad more responsive.

On the ubuntu front, my server based ubuntu system definitely seems to be running smoother with less cpu load after the upgrade.

I know it hasn't been long but at this early stage I give both Ubuntu and Kubuntu 9.10 the thumbs up.

It's not all sweet smelling roses though, the kubuntu upgrade of my old Acer 1360 laptop did not go so well. The Acer has a crappy INP2220 WiFi card which is totally non-linux and never will be. Under Jaunty I was able to use NDISWrapper to run the Windows [issues sign of the crucifix] but under Karmic it won't assign an IP address. The NDISWrapper stuff appears to work. The module loads up and gives me the interface (wlan0 via ifconfig) but it just won't go the last mile and IP up. Oh well, trouble in paradise...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Easy Peasy Does It

I just installed Easy Peasy Ubuntu - a version of ubuntu tailored towards netbooks - and boy does it rock. I've previously been running Ubuntu Jaunty but it really wasn't great. To be honest it wasn't even very good. It worked and I got by with it but it was quite laggy. In use it would stall for ten to twenty seconds at a time - and that was annoying - big time. This new Easy Peasy - based on the same Ubuntu Jaunty - doesn't seem to lag up at all. I mainly use my netbook for internet surfing and Easy Peasy does the trick. It loads quick. All my hardware - an Acer AspireOne - is detected - WiFi, Audio, Webcam and the browser loads quickly and works without lag - perfik.

I just hope they upgrade from jaunty to karmic when it comes out - back of the net.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

T-Mobile G2 Touch (aka HTC Hero)

Seduced by the upgrade offer at the end of my current T-Mobile contract, I succumbed...

I haven't had a new gadget for a while and have been thinking of a new phone. Having read about Acer's foray into the land of Android I have to admit to being tempted but at a list price in excess of £350 (UK) I couldn't justify it. And then what happens? My current contract ends and I get the offer of a G2 Touch that I couldn't refuse.

My previous phone, the Nokia N95, has been a faithful servant. Allowing me to sync the phones calendar through to my Google Calendar via GooSync and use Google's GMail app for email. It all worked pretty well but without much panache. Cue Android.

Although it looks good I have to admit I was thinking it was going to be a poor relation of the iPhone but boy was I wrong. It's the best gadget I've ever had. It just works. My calendar is there without any hassle. My email is there in a similarly easy fashion. I've read reports of lag and various keyboard problems but to me it all seems fine. Emailing from my phone has never been easier.

I've downloaded a few apps from the Apps Market and so far it all works swimmingly. The best app I've downloaded so far is Locale which allows me to turn off WiFi when I'm not at home or in the office to save a bit of battery - which, if the phone has a weakness, is it's short battery life - it is definitely a charge overnight phone, that's for sure. If you've not heard of Locale, go search it on google, it's a great app.

Anyway, if I had to give the T-Mobile G2 Touch a score from 1 to 5 it would get a 4.5 on account of the fact it's a damn great phone but the battery just lets it down so I can't give it a 5.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

XP Net Slow Down

My XP machine has decided to slow down on all SMB related activities - bummer.

At first I laid the problem squarely at the feet of my humble Atom based Linux server and spent endless hours tinkering to try and get transfers going at any speed above a crawl - but to no avail. Then I stupidly tried connecting to said machine via another PC and it fair hammered along - all the time I wasted and there was nothing wrong with the server and Linux - double bummer.

I then tried cleaning, uninstalling, re-installing various software on my XP machine - again all for no gain. I even tried setting up NFS on the server and using MS's Unix tools - again I drew a blank and the speed of transfers was dismal. I was beginning to fear a total rebuild of poor old XP was in order but I really can't face that but then again I really need to keep my XP backed to my server for remote access to my files. I guess the old leave it on all night for a few megabytes of transfer was just going to have to do - do, that is, until I decided to set up WebDav on Apache2.2.

After a few hours tinkering - and a bit of bodging - I've managed to get WebDav to my home directory and low and behold the speed of the backup - using AllwaySync in WebDav mode - is twenty times as quick as poor old SMB on my XP machine. I haven't fixed XP but for now I will get by on a bodge and a prayer...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Print-tastic from Linux with VirtualBox

I bought myself a Lexmark X3580 on a whim because I saw it on offer - BIG MISTAKE. It's compatibility with various operating systems is brilliant - brilliant if you use Windows but f#@king rubbish if you dare to use anything else (in truth I don't have a Mac so I don't know if it works on that front). By all reports Lexmark don't even acknowledge the existence of Linux let alone write a driver for it. I only hope that one day this omission comes back to bite their ass. Linux is growing and I don't think it's going to stop growing so they're alienating an ever growing market but that's their choice. Suffice to say I'm not ever going to buy one of their crappy printers.

Anyway, the reason for the post is to highlight my way round the incompatibility - which although far from ideal - allows me to run Linux without needing to switch back to Windows to print. I'm not going to list all the steps but just give a brief outline of the method I used.

Simply put, I run Sun's VirtualBox on a Linux host with a Windows guest. Credit where credit is due, I have nothing but praise for VirtualBox. It keeps on improving month by month and without it I would be consigned to Windows only printing. I just pray they don't start charging for it.

Anyway, I set up VB with USB without USB2 and EHCI - so you'll have to use the non-open version - and installed a Windows XP guest. Regarding the USB2/EHCI thing, I think it's important, someone on 'tinternet said so and since I can print I can't be bothered to investigate whether it's required on not. Then with the Lexy plugged in I set up a USB filter to auto capture it.

Next up was to fire up the virtual XP guest and when the USB Lexmark X3580 scanner/printer was detected I went through to the driver folder on the Lexmark CD and installed the drivers directly - as opposed to running the Lexmark installer program which installs a load of crap software which isn't required for printing. Once the two drivers for scanner and printer were installed (a couple of other drivers will also be installed but they're built in with Windows so no extra drivers are required) you are good to go since you've now got yourself a defined printer.

Finally I shared the printer on the network and Bob's your uncle, you have yourself a network Lexmark that you can print to from other Windows 'puters (once you've installed the drivers and added yourself a network printer of course - my system found the printer network share I'd just set up on the VB guest using the search network option when installing the printer).

The downside - and it is quite a big downside - is that to print from Linux you have to print to PDF and then use the guest to print the PDF file so you'll need to set up a shared directory of some sort - that's either network share or the VirtualBox shared folder - I use the network share way.

The upside is that at least I don't have to reboot back into Windows every time I want to print something. I just wish Lexmark would pull their finger out of their ass as write a Linux driver - I mean, how hard can it be?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Is it me or is this not rocket science?

So I hear that Windows 7 will be available in only three versions. Yes, just three as opposed to Vista's nineteen, nu nu nu nu nineteen. Well, then of course there is the Basic and Starter editions - but they're only available in the third world so they, like the entire third world in the eyes of the developed world, don't count.

Well, here's the rocket science bit - why not just sell a product called Windows 7 that exists as, well, just Windows 7 the operating system. Now, I'm not a proponent of Apple, in fact I distinctly dislike their protectionist stance on only providing an operating system for their 'special', twice the price hardware, but when it comes to the operating system they get it right. It's OS-X and that's what you buy. There are no basic, advanced, super-dooper, ultimate-fantastic editions. No, with Apple you just get the operating system and that's that.

So come on Billy boy. Why not just produce Windows 7? Pure and simple, Windows 7, with all the bits thrown in. No special. No Ultimate. No Super-Dooper. Just Windows 7. Set a fair price and then you'll sell billions. As it is, I'll be sticking with XP and Linux. XP works acceptably and so does Linux for that matter. And while we're at it, come on Apple, free up your OS for use on standard PC hardware and I'd be handing over my cash in a snap.