Sunday, September 30, 2007

Just a screenie

I ♣ baby seals.

Today, I did a complete overhaul on the CCoA LiveCD. I completely redid the main Ubuntu ISO (brought it down to 300 MB) and installed just ClamAV, ntfs-3g, and ntfsprogs. I also added Clonezilla, DBAN, and GParted support. I would really like to add the WinXP Recovery Console, but that one is being a real bugger. I also grabbed the chntpw floppy image and Hitachi Drive Fitness Test floppy image (there is already a memory tester, but what would be really nice is a full-fledged system diagnostics tool) and have menu entries for those in the main menu. This is turning out to be quite the full-featured CD, and all on free software, too! (well, mostly) I figure by the end of my Germany trip, I should be able to have a release worth being publicized. Geoff and I have other plans for these CD's, but that is another blog post (if they work out). I think once I finish this post, I will take a nap...

UPDATE: With Clonezilla, DBAN, and all the floppy images, the resulting ISO is 440 MB. Small enough to fit on a 512 thumb drive and with room to grow. Rock!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Finally, a music store for Linux...Sorta

The music store sells DRM-less mp3's. Check it out.

Friday, September 28, 2007

It just doesn't work...

We are growing daisies. Does this mean

A) We are literally daisies that are growing.
B) We have a garden in the back full of daisies.

Chances are it is the latter. One of the most common complaints from customers in the shop about their computer is "it just doesn't work". This leaves (usually) me to figure out what they mean and I usually do a pretty good job, but every once in a while, we get a call back saying "my email is still broken!" or "hey, my home page still isn't right!". Here is how these conversations usually go:

"What is the problem with your computer?"
"It just doesn't work..."
"...Ok...Well, is it running slow? Are you getting popups?"
"I...I don't know, it just isn't working..."
"Hrm, alright..."

A week later, I answer the phone:

"Computer Care"
"Yes, I had my computer in about a week ago to get my email fixed and it is still broken."
"Ok, what is your name and I can pull up your ticket..."
"Jane Doe"
"Um, you didn't say anything about your email when you dropped off..."
"Yes I did! I said it just wasn't working! I am not pleased with the service I got..."
"......You are right, I am very sorry, let's see what we can help you with."

This probably happens 1-2 a month, maybe 3 in an off month. It seriously pisses me off. Some of the other common drop off problems are "it won't get on the internet" (the computer doesn't come on), "it won't come on" (windows freezes), "my email doesn't work" (the computer doesn't come one), "there is a blue screen when it starts up and it won't go away" (I can understand this one, the computer got shutdown improperly and is now chkdsking itself on boot and this takes a long time)

In other news, I got isolinux.cfg to boot to the Hitachi Drive Fitness Test program using memdisk kernel (fat/dos emulator), to the Eurosoft PC check (again, using the memdisk kernel) and am working on getting QuickTech. I will work on some new artwork for the CCoA boot CD to make it a bit prettier. Some new screenies will come Sunday for those who care.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More thoughts...

I use a plugin in Banshee called Mirage ( It "listens" to all my music and creates playlists based on similar tracks (it keeps all the data in a database). I have not written any code for the project, but I am trying to get my hands dirty for 0.2 (help get gstreamer as the backend and such).

A Couple Ideas

I have had a couple ideas bouncing around in my head for a while now (a couple projects that I might start on the 19 hour flight to Germany). One of them is a search-engine-type website for music. How it would work is like this: let's say you have an mp3 of a song that has no metadata and no title, you have no idea what song it is, who wrote it, what album it was on, but you really like and would like to hear more from that artist. You would upload the song to the website and, in turn, the website would "listen" to the song and compare the song to the data it has in it's database. If it finds a match, it renames the mp3 in a "track title - artist.mp3" format and write all the metadata the database has on it to the file so music players such as Banshee or WMP will read the metadata and load it up all nice and pretty like. The site would also be able to give recommendations of similar bands, offer cover art (maybe). If you would like to help the site, you would upload the song and when the site says "I am sorry, but no music in our database matches the song you uploaded.", you would click the button that says I know what song it is and the artist and enter that and the website would get the rest of the metadata. Thoughts? It would probably be built on libgstreamer0.10 (good, bad, and ugly) so pretty much any filetype would be supported. If you did know the band, or the name of the song, or album, you would be able to select an option before uploading that would help speed up the search and rule out similar songs.

Another is a web-based customer/job tracking frontend to a MySQL database for POS systems so customers enter their customer ID's and view the status of their job. Not a difficult project, maybe a weekend or two if I find the time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

openSuSE 10.3 pre-order

I pre-ordered openSuSE 10.3 today (tonight). The total package was 59.99, which with as much software as you get (plus 90 days of free support that I probably won't use), that is a heck of a deal. In fact, it is a much better deal than buying a license for windows at 199 dollars a pop (109 for OEM and 99 for upgrade). I am also torrenting the Foresight Linux LiveCD. It looks pretty nifty (you get to play around with the new GNOME 2.20 without worrying about your system).

In other news, I did some work on Secubuntu today while at work, writing some shell scripts to make it a bit more user friendly for my boss (I made a super_scan script that mounts the drive, gets all the updates for the antivirus, and scans the drive with all three antivirus programs (ClamAV, F-Prot, avast!) one after another and dumps full logs into the root of the windows drive, and when I say full, I mean I pipe the AV through tee and spit the output into the text files instead of the somewhat quiet logs they give out). That super_scan script takes ~6-9 hours depending on the speed of the computer, but it gets _everything_. Not even Norton has beat it. I reduced the size of the ISO to about 520 MB, but I still have a ways to go to get it to a more portable size.

Also, Richard and I went to the Halo 3 Release Tuesday night and he got the Legendary pack. Needless to say, we stayed up till 11:30 and beat it the same day (I had to go to work, but he started over when I got off and got to his house with my TV). We found the apartment that we are going to try to get at the end of Nov. 950 ft^2, 2 bed, 2 bath, max $585 a month. The company that owns the apartment complex also rents out our services at Computer Care, so because I will be at beck and call 24/7 for them, they might even drop the price down another 50 bucks ;-).


If I can get OpenSuSE 10.2 working on my desktop completely (it already works completely technically, but some of the little quirks take some getting used to), I will install 10.3 on the laptop. I tried OpenSuSE 10.2 when it had first come out and fell in love with it, the only thing keeping me from switching was the package manager. Personally, I think it has gotten tolerable now to the point of being usable.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Just Testing For Now