Non-Specific

My Life at a Glance–New CPU, Gaming, Windows troubles, Linux Troubles, android tablets and more!

Well it has been a while since I posted anything to my blog, and I thought I would rectify that by making one huge post updating everyone on most aspects of my life currently.

New Computer Hardware

Recently I upgraded my old AMD Athlon II x4 620 to a new AMD Phenom II x6 1090T Black Edition.

The upgrade was relatively painless (typical CPU upgrade) and I did not notice a huge improvement at first in performance, however once the computer ran for a while I noticed some changes in both speed and the Heat the CPU generated.

With my older Quad Core CPU idle CPU temps were somewhere around 38c which is relatively hot I have been told for an idle temp. With the newer six-core the idle temps dropped to around 28c that is a 10 degree difference!

While I primarily upgraded to solve an issue Windows was having with the CPU (mine in particular not necessarily the same for others with it ) where it would frequently spike the CPU usage up and then not fully release capacity as processes slowed. I had tried numerous times to re-install windows in numerous different storage configurations (RAID 0, Use a separate drive for all Data and one specifically for OS and Important programs, Installing a tweaked version where certain features were turned off mainly indexing and what not), while most of these worked one in particular kept causing me to scratch my head as tried to get Windows running on it (RAID 0). With out boring you by going into detail on what I tried I will just say it did not work and ended up causing a new fresh install of Windows 7 using the default installation (which ironically ended up having better throughput). The CPU proved to be a good trade off as it increased windows boot time as well as offered a 6mb L3 Cache where the Quad had no such L3 Cache.

I ran the windows performance scoring tool (just for the hell of it not a big believer in what it says other then to pinpoint what hardware is the current bottleneck) finding that now all areas rated 7.5 where the HDD was the remaining bottleneck coming in at a miserable 5.9. Now I know Windows may not be the best OS when it comes to efficient write commands, but that was a good indicator it was time for a faster drive or to make the plunge into a reasonable SSD.

The issue here is that even though I could move about 95% of all my data to a external HDD and use the SSD as the boot drive, programs would continue to load slowly unless they were installed on the SSD. All that and not to mention the sheer amount that SSD cost per GB, it just was not worth the price at present.

Gaming

This all lead me into my next issue which was stuttering (video wise not audio) in the game Dragon Age 2, I examined this further and found that DA2 seems to see the processor correctly but only sees one core as being available. I then spent about 2 hours talking to EA support via chat to try and correct this, even tried reducing the available Cores it had access to in the affinity setting for the game.

Long story short we were unable to pinpoint the exact issue, but narrowed it down to something to do with the CPU upgrade (seeing as it worked fine on the Quad). The tech was so down that he could not solve my issue that he proceeded to go into the back end for my EA account and enable a whole swarm of free content (not DLC, promotional items mostly) for Dragon Age: Origins and one or two for DA2!. I literally now have so much stuff that when I log into the Bioware User Entitlements area to see what I have access to I have to scroll 3 times, and that is on a 27” monitor at 1920×1080 resolution with the browser full screen!

Did I also mention that earlier this month I had an issue with the DLC authorizing for Dragon Age: Origins? Well EA gave me a $20 voucher for the EA store and so I used that on Dead space 2 which was already on sale for $31 (Digital download version) so I ended up after tax getting a $50 game for $12 dollars!

Linux

Now all of you reading this from the Fedora Planet are by now wondering “what does this have to do with Linux?”

The answer is that had nothing to do with it but the headache did make me want to leave windows and try to install Fedora again on one of my free HDD’s

This brings me to where I had the issue with Fedora, to be fair here I was using the latest build of Fedora 15 alpha so the issues are not at all the fault of Fedora just my own lapse in judgment.

Here is what happened, I tried at first to do a custom install (like I always do when installing multiple OS) but that just caused me a headache because apparently my boot order for my HDD was set differently in the Bios then the physical location they are in (where they are connected on the mother board). That being said I managed to axe the small system partition Windows 7 makes for some reason. I panicked and though If I could install Fedora I could at least boot from Grub into Windows right? Wrong!

Second time installing is where I made the big mistake of choosing use all space when I meant to hit remove all Linux partitions, well as you can imagine this went bad as it wiped now my entire windows drive. While I chalk this up to my own lack of focus, my friend claims it was a sign from the Fedora Gods that Linux did not want Windows anywhere on the system.

I ended up just wiping that re-installing windows (to many good games that do not work in Wine plus school work that requires Windows programs) and just throw Fedora in a VM. So far this has worked well though I miss my dual boot setup and being able to run Fedora natively. I might try it again but making sure to backup my windows install prior to doing so.

Android 3.0

While I myself have not had any hands on experience with Android, I want an Android 3 tablet badly!

I began looking into the options out there and found out that not only do a handful exist but they are all super expensive!!!

I did find one that would have a 399 model but the specs on it were less then acceptable to me. While I generally am not a power user when it comes to mobile devices I found that a 512mb 8gb nand ram drive device to be a little underwhelming! How much could you fit on 8gb now days even if on Android!?

The next model the one I am seriously considering is 499 and has 1gb of ram and a 16gb nand ram drive. This to me seems sufficient and would work nicely, provided I decide to get it. ASUS the manufacture of this tablet apparently has released everything but the device itself in the US as of the time I am writing this. Will  I have the funds to spare when they do release it is yet to be seen but lets hope it gets released soon.

Well that about covers it, that should get most people who care caught up with what has been going on with me (not a lot of people care I get it but a few readers I know who read this do Winking smile ).

Feel free to leave comments below

Computer issues resolved

Well alot of you might remember a post a while back about my computer issues, I have recently figured out what the issue was ! Let me recap the problem just for those not familar with it. I began having issues with my computer the video would frequently drop out and I would need to turn off and on the monitor to get the image back Well i immediately thought the monitor was bad so i got on the horn to Samsung. They ensured me that “Their monitor could not possibly be the cause of the issue” like a fool I bought it.

I then looked to the two low end cheap graphics cards i bought I called several tech support people was was assured that was not it. I asked a few friends and the Motherboard was point to as a possible but unlikely cause for the issue seeing as the cards were both solely bus powered. So a RMAing the board will go. The board was RMAed and still nothing!!! The issue was still there I then started RMAing the Graphics cards and with one on its ways to Powercolor to get swapped. I then decided to see if Samsung was accrate in their claim that their monitor could not be the cause.

Well they were wrong, the issue existed when i tried the monitor on a different computer. Was I annoyed? YES! I had decided before this I was going to upgrade the Graphics cards to more solid and powerful cards which i did. Now a replacement monitor is on the way. I decided to get this monitor http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=24-236-091&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&Pagesize=10&PurchaseMark=&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&VendorMark=&IsFeedbackTab=true&Page=4#scrollFullInfo

ASUS 27" LCD Monitor

ASUS 27" LCD Monitor

Some people may ask me what did I learn from this experience? I learned that Vendors will Lie like dogs to prevent their hardware being replaced

Installed a new Plugin – Need feedback

I installed a new plugin that promisses to make this blog easier on the eyes from a smart phone. I do not own one to test it so what I would like to know is if any of you can see this blog any differently then the Picture below on your smartphone.

scrnsht_20100929

If it does look different please let me know and the comments, better yet include a screen shot if you can.

Also I would welcome any feedback at all with regards to optimization for smart phones and other mobile devices.

ATI/AMD – Catalyst Driver with Fedora 13

I recently decided to test the new ATI drivers with Fedora 13 and for the most part them seem to work fairly well, however there are a few things that seem to be a bit of an annoyance.

For starters it seems that using this driver causes Firefox to have frequent black spots when scrolling down the page. This also seems to be in connection with how Metacity interacts with Catalyst, changing the window manager to Compiz for example reduces but not eliminates this issue.

This coupled with the fact that my monitor was acting up in an unrelated way was not a good mix. I think for now using the default drivers is probably best until Catalyst 10.8 is released to see if this fixes the issue.

In addition it seems that the 10.7 version of the driver slows my computer down significantly and with my computers specs this should not happen less i have a whole lot of stuff running. Out of fairness I am using Fedora 64bit so not sure if this issue is present or not on the 32bit version.

It should come as no surprise however ATI lately seems to be favoring Debian based Distributions over RPM based ones in terms of quality. Ubuntu always seems to get drivers from ATI that are sleek and work very well while Fedora and other RPM distributions that might utilize newer X.org versions tend to get left behind even when the drivers “work” for the Distro.

Now to clarify I am not bashing Ubuntu as I use that distribution as well, nor am I trashing AMD, I am merely stating that it seems AMD does not really actively work with other distros to make things as flawless.

Aside from the issue i mentioned above I have not really seen much in the way of disadvantages. The metacity issue however could be due to a numerous amount of factors so pinning the blame completely on ATI/AMD would not be fair.

The views here are expressed solely by myself and do not represent any other view point weather it be company or individual. If you do not agree with these opinions note they are solely expressive of my views.

Category5 – Talks about an open Source program the GIMP touching on basic image enhancement

The GIMP – Basic image enhancement

I am a regular viewer of Category5.tv and recently (last Tuesday) he went over some basic tips on how to edit images to make them look a little better. I thought this was particularly useful and given the tool he used GIMP which is open source i thought i might just briefly touch on it here as well as embed the video for you to watch.

Ok so normally I do not post about shows I watch on-line or otherwise but this particular show I found somewhat useful. To give a quick synopsis he shows you how to lighten pictures and crop it in a way that does not kill the image, In the words of Robbie however “Always make a backup! Never edit your master images”

Some other points he touches on in this episode are

  • Reinstall Linux with a just a  full backup of your home folder – He specifically mentions Ubuntu here since that is his distro but you could use his strategy for any distro Including Fedora with a few minor tweaks that are Distro specific.
  • How do you share iTunes music to Linux?

He covers these points with regards to GIMP

  • Adjusting the levels in a photograph using the GiMP.
  • Zooming in and out of images in the GiMP.
  • Removing blemishes from a photo using the GiMP.
  • Resizing an image in the GiMP.
  • Cropping an image in the GiMP.
  • Resizing a marquee in the GiMP.
  • Saving your image in the GiMP.
  • Preparing images to be shared by email or on a web site or blog.

Now as I said this is mostly a post to show others in the Fedora and other Linux community  that might read this, that editing of images can be done fairly easily and that videos such as the one below do exist to show you how. While there may be videos out there that dive more into the workings of GIMP this one stays pretty simple so anyone can use it to achieve what they want.

I should note that the video is embedded from his video host blip.tv and it has about a 30 second ad prior to the video starting, I have no control over this and as such I do not necessarily condone any of the content that the ad may demo as it changes over time. As it stands when i posted it the ad was about Windows 7, but by the time you watch it the ad could be different.

[bliptv ga4Fge_TEQI]

If you liked the video please make sure you check out Robbie””s site he put a lot of effort into this show. If not then thanks for taking the time to read this post. I will not be making a habit of posting about his show but this one seemed worthy of passing along via the fedora channels and the like.

Again he uses Ubuntu so pardon all the Ubuntu centric stuff most of what he mentions can just as easily be done via Fedora or even a different distro.

Host of the show: Robbie Ferguson

Show notes: http://www.category5.tv/show_notes/episode_148.php

Open Letter to Google

Dear Google,

I have enjoyed your many different services over the years, I have grown to depend on several apps you make to simplify my life. Picasa manages my pictures, Google Apps my email, and Adsense helps pay the bills. I wish I could say this all makes me happy, but honestly I feel a little cheated when I find that Picasa is not natively supported on Linux.

I can understand time is an issue, I understand encasing the windows version in a WINE instance is a easy fix, but i do not understand why a company with its own Linux OS (Android) can not take the time to make a implementation of their apps such as Picasa using native Libs and tools.

This might seem trivial coming from one person, but Google I am sure others feel the same way, Google do you really wish to fix issues pertained to a Windows version of Picasa running in Linux on a WINE instance? I ask you would the developmental process not be more streamlined if you had a native APP?

I have had issues in the past with software running in WINE, and I ask why when a company that is clearly interested in Linux could make a Linux native client?

Ok Google I know what your going to say, We just don”t have time today! Well I say, come on lets go and make the code avalible to the community today!

Thanks for your time, sorry to waste your dime, I really must stop this rhyme before i do not have time, to send this Letter.

Thanks,

Andrew Jamison – Google user and Linux Enthusiast

Cool little Command Line Trick

Ok so most of you might be a little beyond small little tricks like the one I am going to talk about here but, I found this incredibly useful and felt the need to share it.

Ok so first off  I need to site the source here this command is not my work it is the brain child of the folks at Lifehacker.com specifically written by one lowell[AT]lifehacker[DOT]com

That being said on to the meat of this blog post.

OK so when browsing the net looking for guides on how to navigate around the Linux CLI and over all tips and tricks in this area, I was listening to a podcast and this site was mentioned, so I checked it out.

The scenario: Have you ever wondered what you can do to make creating a directory and then entering the directory easier and less time consuming?

For most beginner to intermediate users of Linux CLI tricks and macros are not something that comes easy, however with this little bit of code you can easily make a directory and instantly enter that directory. This alone is cool but this command does one more thing I love coming from a Windows background, it allows you to use folder names with spaces without the need to encapsulate them inside (‘’)!

Now this may sound like a trivial bit of code but to someone like myself this was a huge time saver, this may not make a difference to the hardcore Linux CLI power user.

So lets look at some sample code

mkdir ~/test

cd ~/test

That is a example of doing a simple folder creation in your home folder and then entering the folder the old way.

mkdir ~/’foldername with some space’

cd ~/‘foldername with some space’

The above would be an example of how to make a directory with spaces in the name and then enter that directory. As you can see this requires a little bit of time even if you use the ~ to represent your home folder as I have done above.

The article Create and Change to a New Directory in One Command says that if you edit your ~/.bashrc file and add the following code

# mkdir, cd into it
mkcd () {
mkdir -p "$*"
cd "$*"
}

You can then simple combine the mkdir and cd commands using the following command

mkcd New Folder/New Subfolder

or

mkcd New Folder

The first line above will make one folder and a subsequent sub-folder under it and then cd into the furthest most folder.

The second option would be the equivalent to making a folder called “New Folder” and then entering it.

While the above commands are not entirely necessary it helps to stream line the process of creating a large number of folders and then entering the last folder made. Some useful things i could see this being used for is say creating a set of folders for a backup archive where instead of having to manually create a folder for each hierarchal level you can simple do it all in one swoop and be in the last directory.

This as mentioned is more a time saver for new users and is extremely easy to setup. It could prove useful to some advanced members as well and is useable on any Linux distro that honors the .bashrc file within a users home folder. I suppose if you knew what your doing you could place this code into a global configuration file to allow every user of the system to utilize this shortcut but seeing as that is beyond my skills I will leave that to the comments should someone want to add how to do it.

As always comments are welcome, any other quick commands similar to this you wish to share feel free to drop them in a comment, I am always willing to save time and it helps users like myself get more comfortable with how to manipulate the .bashrc file to help customized our Linux.

Backups – Off-site is important

Well I had a review on this book that I wrote when it was fresh in my mind (the review not the book) but due to some weird Database error it seems that all my posts with the exception of the Linux centric posts were deleted from the time I wrote the original review.

That being said I felt it important to try and recreate this book review. So like any good nerd I went back into my repository of Site backups to see if I could find the backup only to remember that server died! It occurred to me then and there that Off-site backups is the way to go and well that left me with this post which I would have done my best to re-create from my horribly bad memory, however i would rather wait till i can give a more substantial review

Now I have multiple backup systems in place including a manual backup from phpMyAdmin to my Dropbox account. I now have a copy of the DB stored on Dropbox.coms server my own file server, and Amazon S3 as well. Needless to say I shall not loose a DB again (unless all three servers crash simultaneously god forbid).

Since my DB tend to be rather small once compressed I will also copy them to a USB flash drive. Also I will have my new Android phone (with luck the Droid X) and can copy the files over to the Mini-SD card on it as well.

So lets see that is 2 copies on physical removable medium and 3 servers one of which is on site. I hope that fits the bill for Off-site backup!

On another note with reference to the error that seemed to eliminate most of my blog posts (must have happened some time ago) it convienantly left my categories and tags alone how quaint. My post reviewing Fedora 11 and Ubuntu 9.04 i  believe it was at the time, Gone! my review of WIndows 7, Gone!

All this and several others, seems more like an attack then an error but oh well it has been done now time for damage control.

Droid X and Possible New Job Prospect

Job Prospect

Those of you that know me personally or even on a chatting basis, know that I have had one heck of a year with all that has been going on. One among many other things in my life that are less then fortunate, is that I am currently unemployed.

Enter Monster.com, I updated my resume on Monster and did the normal daily grind of late which is find 4-8 jobs and apply for them. Out of the blue one day I get a call from a company looking for someone to represent Sharp Electronics for their Marketing company basically helping educate customers on Sharp HD technology, I passed the initial pre-screen and anxiously awaited the interview.

The following Monday I got a call from who would become my manager should I get the job, The interview seemed to go really well and I am confident that the Interviewer got a similar feel for my experience. Now I should mention I have had experience in this type of job before, I sold Cell Phones for the 3 major carriers (not going to list them here you know who they are) wit a company called Mosaic Sales Solutions, This job i interviewed for was very similar to the cell phone one minus cell phones add HD tvs.

At any rate the interview was last Monday and I followed up on Thursday with a phone call re-emphasising how interested I was in the job and what it entailed. Now comes the waiting game, I should know by the end of this week (hopefully) if i got the job or not.

This job should I land it will require me to get rid of my pre-paid phone and get a regular posting plan phone which will be needed to keep in touch with my boss since I am completely solo on this job should i get it.

This brings me to the Droid X part of the post.

Droid X

Given that I would need a regular Phone and not a pre-paid phone, I began to look into which phone I would get and the more I looked the more it occured to me that if I had a smartphone I could be far more productive in several areas with relation to this job. For one customer questions I could not answer could be easily answered using the phone to do a quick internet search and pull up the information. Second I could use this phone to track my sales and log required information for the daily report at the end of the night.

So knowing I would need a Smartphone I began to narrow down which phone I wanted, would work for what I wanted. I tending to prefer anything other then Windows mobile was left with Palm WebOS phones or Android Powered phones. Having done a little research i found Palm was recently acquired by HP and while i have no beefs with Hewlett Packard, I felt with the buyout things might be a little late to be updated/fixed. Android was my choice of OS, then I began narrowing down Verizon Android powered phones as a means to get the phone I really wanted. Talking to several people and researching bit I found that the upcoming Droid X to be my phone of choice. It was not till after I chose this that I realized just how cool this would be, I could download apps from the Android Market to allow me to use this phone for non-work stuff as well.

True with the above things I researched which apps I would install off the bat as soon as I had network access, Some that came to mind were Seesmic, Bank of America for Android, WordPress, shopsavvy and Blizzards Authenticator app. I am sure I will install many more but for starters these are apps i would consider must haves.

Also Android is obviously powered by Linux which to me is one the best things out there. I use Windows for some things i can not get to work under WINE but for the most part Linux is my OS of choice so a phone powered by Linux just seems to be a logical choice.

All that being said, I will most likely not get a phone should I not get this job (at least not at first) since another monthly bill with no job is not the smartest of moves.

If you know a good (useful, or fun) app for android post it in a comment.

FGLRX/Catalyst Woes! ATI Get with the big picture allready!

Well now I have been told and told and even experienced first hand why NVidia is better to its linux user base then ATI however I did not heed the warnings and now I have reached a perdicament.

ATI offers their drivers for video cards for linux however what seems to be the case lately is that X.org and ATI do not seem to be on the same page. ATI releases an update for their drivers to support a new Xorg version and then xorg goes and releases a new stable version which then takes ATI 6 months to make a driver for. Well this is all and good except that by the time ATI releases that driver update to support it the development cycle continues and bam another xorg stable version is rolled out. leaving ATI once again in the wake of its success.

Now Nvidia does not seem to have nearly as long of a delay in their support for new xorg versions why then does ATI insist on falling behind in this.

The simple answer is that they are pre-concerned with adding support for newer cards instead of enabling their existing current products to function properly. This leave people like myself with the decision do use an older xorg and continue using the drivers which in my case means an older Fedora version or use the open source drivers.

I often get told “Try the new mesa experimental drivers they support 3d perfectly” To which I have to say no they do not at least not in the way that someone installing the fglrx driver would expect. When i say that I want the same support that fglrx has I mean that i want to run 3d games like World of Warcraft in WINE something that to me is not possible with the experimental drivers.

Now before i get people saying “Install the mesa-dri-experimental package” I am going to say I have done this and see  no change at all. I have even downloaded and compiles the radeonHD driver with no luck as well.

Bottom line here is that why does ATI not take their linux users seriously? Why do they take 6 months to add support for a new xorg version?