Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ubuntu and "Volume Shadow Copies"

I don't know if this is big information or new information - but I just read that the Ubuntu development community released and is improving an application called TimeVault. This app will act very similarly to Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Vista's Volume Shadow Copy, or commonly known as "Previous Versions". It is my belief that this application will do the same thing- it will save each version of a document or file you create and modify - enabling you to go back in time and grab the version you wanted before hitting the "Save" button. If any of you are Apple fanatics, this is also similar to Time Machine on Apple's latest OSX Leopard.

So, pretty much, if you do photography, have family photos, write documents, record audio files, design graphics, etc., then this application is for you - which pretty much sums up every computer user. The technology we grow to love in Windows and Mac is now on a Linux machine, making the UI environment that much more comfortable and familiar.

Also as an aside - now that Amazon has an MP3 store and released their MP3 downloader application for Ubuntu, you also no longer need to rely on music stores like iTunes or Rhapsody to get your tunes. Amazon has what you need, in any platform, and you can use the built-in software which is compatible with almost any portable music player on the market, ranking from iPods to PlaysForSure devices.

I'll create another blog on my review of Ubuntu's TimeVault as soon as I install Ubuntu on my desktop PC here, so be expecting another blog detailing what I find interesting in the application.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Reasons for an Office 2007 Linux/Mac Port

This one will be short.

I think the best strategy Microsoft could take as a business move is to port MS Office 2007 for Linux and Mac. I believe that if MS Office 07 was available on any software platform, demand would rise exponentially for it. Nothing else compares to the 2007 suite - I have used multiple times in Ubuntu, but I still have to side with Office. It is has a smooth interface, ease-of-use, inter-compatibility with the other Office products and SharePoint, and so much more. If Office became the number 1 suite to use across all platforms, I do believe that it would knock competition out of the game. I am by no means a Microsoft fan - I just like what works well. I am willing to pay extra money for a better office product that will have many more features. Plus, still nothing can compare to MS Outlook 2007 for Exchange, POP, IMAP, or any other form of email use. It just works, and it works excellently with every other 2007 product - MS Infopath, Access, OneNote, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

I think it would be wise for Microsoft to branch MS Office 2007 out of strictly Windows. Office is far better than Windows anyway. I am also writing this blog in Windows, though.

Microsoft Office is the one thing that is holding many users from being able to switch to Linux. Linux should no longer be a competition to MS, but more revenue with the Office system.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Carbonite Online Backups

A Real Life Saver


Recently, I was told about Carbonite - a backup solution that would provide almost instantaneous backups to web server, provided you had Internet access.

I downloaded the trial from to test it out and see exactly how the program runs with my computer. I was testing out CPU usage, memory usage, bandwidth usage, etc. The only real thing Carbonite used was our upload bandwidth - which wasn't much to begin with.

I have somewhere around 14 Gb of music and 3 Gb of family photos and vacation photos. I also have quite a few documents that I do not intent on re-writing, re-planning, and re-designing. The initial backup for Carbonite does take a while - I suggest leaving it on overnight or just having it connected to the Internet when you are on your computer. Once the initial backup is completed, virtually no bandwidth is used - except for a file here, and a file there being created.

One day, however, I had a problem with my hard drive. I was dual-booting Windows Vista and Linux, and somehow my files no my Vista partition had gone crazy. Needless to say, I reformatted and did a ground-up install. Fortunately, I had bought an account with Carbonite. Had I not, I would have lost hundreds of photos, and hours of ripping my CD's back onto my computer - as well as trying to figure out how to restore my online purchased music.

When Windows was re-installed, I set up Carbonite on the computer again, kept it in restore mode, and just re-downloaded all my backup files. Then I just set Carbonite to normal mode, and away I went back to work. Had it not been for Carbonite, I would have been lost.

Thank you Carbonite.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and Windows Vista


If there has  ever been a time to try Ubuntu, now is the time. The latest soon-to-be full release supports the latest hardware, almost entirely out-of-the-box. What's even better is the latest release, 8.04, allows for the option to install Ubuntu directly inside Windows.

Support for NTFS partitions has been in beta and almost a risk to the user, but now it works seamlessly with Ubuntu. When you download the latest ISO image from, or any other mirror, instead of burning the image to a CD, just download and install Virtual Clone Drive, a free tool used to mount ISO images as a CD-ROM. Of course this tool won't let you use an ISO image as a bootable disk to install Ubuntu the "normal" way, but it does work to install Ubuntu directly inside of Windows.

The installer (called Wubi) works almost exactly like a virtual machine. It creates an image that is whatever size you desire, and then uses that image as the drive. Wubi will then alter your boot-loader (this works with the Vista boot-loader as well). So unlike the olden days where a user who was curious about testing Linux would create a second partition, alter the Master Boot Record (MBR) and then install another boot-loader (like Grub), Wubi keeps it simple. Wubi installs Ubuntu into Windows, adds a line into the Windows boot-loader, and then works like normal.

The problem with the old way of installing Linux is it would alter the MBR. Once the MBR has been altered, it takes some extra hoops to jump through if the user desires to delete Linux and go back to just Windows.

Now you just delete a file.

Actually, it's easier than that. You run an uninstaller, and it restores the Windows boot-loader, deletes the virtual image, and any other files it created to set this up.

For all the Linux-illiterate people, if I could sum this up into two messages, I'd say this:


1) Try the latest (I have the beta) version of Ubuntu, 8.04.

2) Try it in Windows (it supports Vista).



1) Make sure you install the 32-bit version of Ubuntu inside the 32-bit version of Windows, or 64-bit with 64-bit.  Don't try to cross them. IT JUST WON'T WORK.

2) Don't deal with burning the ISO to a CD. It doesn't support some drives anyway. Just use Virtual Clone Drive - it's free.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Vista SideShow and Common Sense

I upgraded to a new laptop recently and it came with Vista. The things of Vista really didn't interest me until I set out to learn and like it with this new laptop.

The one thing that really piqued my interest is Vista's SideShow feature. I think this makes sense, but not in the area they were intending. I would never want to buy a laptop like the one from ASUS that has as second display on the outside of the lid. (I thought the lid was to protect that screen... so now I have one without a lid. Ok...)

However, I can totally see this SideShow being very useful when working with secondary displays plugged in by a VGA, DVI, or HDMI connector. I use my secondary display very infrequently, unless I am monitoring my emails like I am panicked. But otherwise, that screen just sits there with a window sitting on it. If Sideshow could be put out to other monitors, it would then become something very cool, and useful.

People could even add a touch-screen monitor to their computer, and let SideShow run on it, with a user interface added. I think this could add a new level to secondary attached monitors.


What would this take to make this possible though?


I think there would either have to  be an updated driver for video cards to remain online while the PC is on standby, or an updated BIOS to allow the video card to remain on. This would not take much to add this great functionality to our second (or third) displays.


Ok, now somebody who knows how to do this, patent it and make money off it. Do whatever you want with the idea. I just want SideShow to make some sense.