Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

16Aug/130

Less Is More: Recycle An Old Computer

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

One of the ways I've been able to save money over the years is to not buy new computers, or software for my older computers.

Seriously. When you buy a new computer, you're paying for the hardware, plus a license to use some version of Windows, but to get Microsoft Office, you have to dish out another few hundred bucks. And antivirus, of course, need that, so that's another $60. CD burning software? It doesn't come with that? Another $20. Games? $20-$50 a pop. And you need other stuff to go with it, of course.

Wouldn't it be nice to just buy a computer, and then be able to use it? Man. Who wants to spend an extra $300 on software to use on a $400-$800 computer? I sure don't. Did you know that there are thousands of perfectly usable programs out there, that work just as well as the Microsoft stuff, that you can download, legally, for free?

Yup. So fire up that shiny new computer, and immediately go find a free web browser, like Chrome or Firefox.

Need something to open and edit Office files? Spreadsheets, documents, and so on? OpenOffice, or Libre Office. Both are fully-functional office suites, but completely and legally free.

Antivirus? Did you know you can download AVG Antivirus for free?

There are tons and tons of more productive things you can put on your computer, for free. Can't upgrade to Windows 7/8? Things like Evernote, Dropbox, or Winamp will work fine on older computers.

But if you want to build the ultimate cheap/free computer, you can pick them up (usually with wiped hard drives) at Goodwill or garage sales. Sometimes I find them in a dumpster! If you happen to find a working, functional computer- even if it's old- you can usually bring it back to life by installing some version of Linux on it, probably Ubuntu.

And Ubuntu is completely, legally, free. It works very similar to OSX, but you don't have to pay $300! Not even $30!! You get an awesome, virus-proof fast-running computer for absolutely nothing more than the cost of the used hardware. How can you beat that?

It comes with Audio/Video software... free. Word processing, internet, chat, webcam, graphics, you name it! All for free, legally. All it takes is some time to get used to it, and learn.

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28Mar/130

Evernote with Autofill in Ubuntu

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I'm working on integrating services like Evernote into my daily routine to help manage all the projects and things that I do. Even with the recent security breach, they are one of the best solutions for managing your documents and information across multiple platforms seamlessly.

However, like most companies, they don't offer anything for Linux. Since I've used Wine to install the Windows version, I can report that it works perfectly. Just download the Windows Desktop version,  run it with Wine (which is available on almost any Linux distro), follow the instructions, and it just works.

Screenshot - 03282013 - 06:54:50 PM

A great article by Jamie Todd Rubin enlightened me to the possibility of using auto-fill programs to extend Evernote's capabilities, and I have to say, it's a pretty exciting idea I hadn't thought of. Mr. Rubin of course doesn't use Linux, so I had to improvise!

Ubuntu comes with a hotkey/autofill program called AutoKey, so I installed it from the Ubuntu repositories and gave it a shot... and it failed miserably. After fiddling with settings for a while, I got it to sort of work, but it still wouldn't auto-type the shift key in Evernote. Worked okay in everything else, so I figured it was a problem with Wine.

I did some more poking on AutoKey's site and discovered that this was a known bug with older versions of AutoKey, but had been fixed since version 0.80. Current version on their site is 0.90! And wonder of all wonders, the Ubuntu 12.04 repos had version 0.72?? Really?? (This isn't an issue with Ubuntu 13.04, it has the latest version)

I downloaded the current version of AutoKey, and followed the instructions for creating a .deb package. When I went to install it, it prompted that it needed a package called python-pyinotify, so I installed that, tried again, and it finally worked.

I did a quick test of it in Evernote, and had success.

Now, once we've gotten it working, there's the issue of creating auto-fill scripts to use in Evernote. With AutoKey, there's two options: Phrases and Scripts. Phrases are basically text replacement; you can use any number of trigger keys or shortcuts for them.

8Apr/102

A Letter Of Complaint To Ubuntu 9.10

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Okay, most of my readers know I’m a big proponent of Linux as an alternative to Windows. But lately, there’s been dissension among the ranks. And in a rare fit of frustration, I find myself dissatisfied. I suppose I should be more specific. I’m not installing Windows on my workstation, not getting rid of my MythTV box. I’m not talking suicide… just need to get a few gripes off of my chest about the best free OS ever made.

For years, I used Red Hat Linux. It was the de facto standard, and most servers ran it. Then along came SuSE Linux, which was a huge step in advancement. There are still times when I wish I ran a SuSE distribution, it’s that good… at least as of a year or two ago it was.

Then I discovered the phenomenon of Ubuntu, and all its flavors. For people like me who wanted to try out all the newest apps and have them work out of the box, Ubuntu was a Godsend. Everything worked for me right off the bat, it had all the apps I wanted already in the repositories, and you could get it with different desktops preinstalled.

However, in a surprising turn of events, I’ve discovered Ubuntu has utterly failed in several categories in the last year, specifically with version 9.10. I happily ran Ubuntu 8.10 for quite a while, and had no issues until I replaced my graphics card one day… all of a sudden it wouldn’t autodetect it, and I couldn’t get X to work right no matter how hard I tried. When I tried putting the original card back in, the system was rendered useless. So I backed up my stuff, made a note of apps I wanted to install, and did a fresh install of Ubuntu Studio 9.10. This is when the irritation set in.