Ubuntu / Dell

Dell released a post with more details on the recent Ubuntu support.

Not bad if I may say so… I was expecting Dell to provide a ‘fire and forget’ kind of support for Ubuntu PCs…

[tags]Dell, Ubuntu, Linux[/tags]

Synergizing my Setup

My desktop was cluttered with a second mouse and keyboard from my old pc desktop (now running Feisty) and I really needed the desk space, so I had to figure a way to control the linux pc from my Mac. At first I thought about VNC, but it was stupid since I had a monitor hooked up to the pc, so there was no need for this (and VNC performance is l4m3). After a googling for a while, I came across Synergy. Synergy allows you to control multiple computers (running distinct OSs) with only one keyboard and mouse. This was just what I needed, the Mac is my main computer and has the keyboard and mouse to control everything (Synergy host) and the pc will be my secondary machine (Synergy client).

The setup process is really simple, on your Mac get SynergyKM which is the Synergy application packed with an excellent GUI for controlling the whole process. After installing SyngeryKM, configure it on System Preferences, the process is very clear and the most tricky part is the “Server Configuration”. Just add the screens like you have on real life and give the screens the host names for each computer you’re running Synergy on.

On the Linux PC it’s also very easy: open the terminal window and type sudo apt-get install quicksynergy this will install Synergy and QuickSynergy, a GUI to Synergy on Gnome. My goal was to get rid of the extra keyboard and mouse on my desk so, nothing more than running Synergy when Gnome “boots”, so we have to change some files:

On the terminal window:

sudo gedit /etc/gdm/Init/Default

Add this code BEFORE the “sysmodmap=/etc/X11/Xmodmap” line:

SYNERGYC=`gdmwhich synergyc`
if [ x$SYNERGYC != x ] ; then
$SYNERGYC [address of Syngery server]

Change the [address of Syngery server] by the servers IP (like

This loads the Synergy client when GDM runs and shows the login window, the problem is that when you login it kills the Syngergy client, so we need to make it run again.

On the terminal window:

sudo gedit /etc/gdm/PreSession/Default

Add the this in the middle of the file BEFORE the “XSETROOT=`gdmwhich xsetroot`” line:

SYNERGYC=`gdmwhich synergyc`
if [ x$SYNERGYC != x ] ; then
$SYNERGYC [address of Syngery server]

Save it and restart Gnome. Now the Synergy client should load at startup and connect to the server. This is really a cool solution, it works very well on a local network.

[tags]Apple, Macintosh, Linux, Ubuntu, Feisty Fawn, Synergy[/tags]


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[tags]HD-DVD, MPAA[/tags]

The Crippled Philosophy

If you take a good look at the consumer electronics market, you might start to notice a new management and marketing philosophy: releasing crippled products into the market as if it’s normal.
By crippled I mean with less features that it should logically have, because the brands present these products as the state of the art or top of the line, which in either case, demonstrates that the brand technological know how is way behind by market standards and the marketing division sells it as the worlds best thing or the brand marketing division is a bunch of stupid egocentric bastards and think that the consumers will buy any bone they will throw at them after releasing a crippled product just to cut on production costs.

In this last month we have two very strong examples: Apple and Sony. These two companies or brands if you want, are known by their technology advances in most of their products, Sony has been a video game console powerhouse and Apple the cutting edge on computer systems, but with their last products they left the world in a state of surprise, unfortunately not for the better reasons.

Lets take Apple’s example first. Apple TV is supposed to be some kind of media center but the first mistake is that is not a self sufficient device, meaning it needs to connect to another computer to get the contents. Now this is plain stupid because the Apple TV runs Mac OS X, it has wi-fi and a hard drive, so basically is a computer, how come Apple didn’t make it a self sufficient device? Why can’t I use iTunes directly on a Apple TV, shop and download directly from it? Decisions. The second mistake: HD. Although Apple claims that the Apple TV needs an HD TV to work, it has been proved otherwise. Apple goes leaps and miles to market the HDTV compatibility but then fails to deliver HD content from iTunes. This can change in the future but still the product is limited to a 40 GB hdd, so don’t expect to fit your entire collection of HD movies in there. As if this couldn’t get more awkward, even the friggin HDMI cable is not included, so Apple is releasing an HD device, meant to function on HDTVs that comes without and HDMI cable… go figure. Still, it’s a good product, it will sell but not as much as it would if it had a bigger hdd, expansion ports and self sufficiency.

But the worst case is Sony. Sony management and marketing divisions have been killing great products and signing the downfall of the company with a roll of crucial mistakes being the first mistake the lack of support and development for the PSP. The PSP is a great product, if it had been developed by Nintendo it would be the best gadget ever made because Nintendo stands by it’s products, they really make an effort to support the consoles with new games and gadgets, giving a strong image and personality to it. The PSP was made and abandoned by Sony, left to the unknown future of third party support. In Japan, the PSP market doesn’t compare with the rest of the world, most of the big accessories (GPS, Photo Camera, etc) don’t even get to be released in the USA and Europe as well as great games that don’t get localized and are sold only in the country of origin. The media features are limited to the UMD movies, there’s no store where the users can buy TV shows, movies or music, the game demos can be counted by the hand… all this in a two year old console that should have matured by now.

The second mistake and more crucial is, with no doubt, the european PS3. This machine is an offense to European gamers, they should write on the box “Playstation 3 Special Sucker Edition“. Besides the product release being plagued by the most stupid and inappropriate advertisement campaign, the product it self is really crippled. The first time I watched Sony’s PS3 ads, I couldn’t believe. Who in the right mind will associate that to a gaming console? A whole bunch of lunatics in a sort of hotel in a chaotic scenario, is there a hidden message there? To me, that looks like a metaphor of how Sony is being managed. The ad sucks big time and it gets your attention but not by the best of reasons. Bad publicity is not always good publicity… As for the console, Europen gamers who want a PS3 pay more and get less, we pay 599 Euro against the $599 in the USA and get a PS3 without the Emotion Engine, which, in case you don’t know, is the core of the PS2 and what insures that the PS3 runs PS2 games… except for the European version where that feature is implemented by software, a PS2 emulator. This means that the performance and compatibility when playing PS2 games won’t be the same as the other PS3 counterparts. All this by paying more! It’s really irresistible…
Adding to all this, the PS3, which besides being a console is supposed to be a Media Center as well (thus the BlueRay drive and media features), comes with a 60GB hdd (at least in Europe we only got that version) but still the Playstation Network doesn’t sell movies or music being the downloads limited to games, demos and movie trailers. As usual no HDMI cable bundled 🙂

But there’s an exception to all this. Enter Microsoft. As usual, taking advantage of other companies weak spots, this time as hard as it might take me to acknowledge, Microsoft heard the consumers. They announced today the Xbox 360 Elite, a black Xbox 360 (like users were always asking for) with a 120 GB hdd, an HDMI port and new and new HD content offerings on Xbox LIVE. Microsoft is killing two birds with one stone, not only it shows that they are listening to the gamers by releasing a console with a bigger hdd than the PS3 (they also include a few extra accessories), they also step on Apple’s turf by adding HD movies from Warner and Paramount (something iTunes dosen’t have) and new content from other publishers, demonstrating that they are right now the top choice for the media center market… and they even included the HDMI cable.

This shows that consumers aren’t stupid, we lacked the information in the past, but now the Internet gives us more and more information on technology than before. The Crippled Philosophy doesn’t pay nowadays, there’s always someone listening to what consumers want and delivering it in the right time.

[tags]Apple, Apple TV, Sony, Playstation 3, PS3, PSP, Nintendo, Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 Elite, HD, HDTV, HDMI[/tags]

Still on Origami

Microsoft Channel 9 has this nice interview of Otto Berkes the architect (now general manager) behind the Ultra-Mobile PC / Origami Project, where some adicional info on the project is revealed.

[tags]Origami, Microsoft, UMPC, Ultra-Mobile PC[/tags]

Microsoft Unfolds Origami

Microsoft Website has been updated with new info on the Origami Project.

Origami is not a single device but an architecture (UMPC) that brands like Asus and Samsung will use to build compliant devices. The Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) uses the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 OS and besides the standard features implied in the architecture the devices will have other features (like camaras) depending on the device maker.

The standard device specification:

  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 OS
  • Approximately 7” diagonal display (or smaller)
  • Minimum 800 x 480 resolution
  • Approximately 2 pounds
  • Integrated touch panel
  • WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled

The Origami devices will feature full Windows software support, multimedia and connectivity capabilities. I couldn’t find no info on the storage capabilities of the devices, not even on the Intel UMPC site.

Microsoft’s is giving another run on their Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, still it might be better than the Windows Mobile OS that’s being used on smartphones… Anyway, the project is looking good, now let’s wait for the prices.

[tags]Microsoft, Intel, Origami, UMPC, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Windows Mobile OS, Ultra-Mobile PC[/tags]

The Right Time to Buy a Mac

I’m a Windows / Linux user. I use x86 PCs since I was 9 years old and my experience with a Mac is almost null. I’ve spent a few hours fiddling with a friend’s iBook, but that’s it, I possess no product built by Apple. I almost bought an iPod, but the PSP was a better choice for what I was looking for. But let’s go back to the main subject: Mac computers.

I was having a nice geek chat with a good friend of mine, with a similar background in what concerns computer experience, and I told him about Macbooks and Mac computers in general and how they could change the market in the near future. He asked me joking “Why a Mac? Macs are for designers and metrosexuals!” I told him about all the advantages of MacOSX over Windows, that Mac OSX it’s based on FreeBSD, yada yada yada, the full works. “Then if it’s so good why don’t you switch to Mac? Ouch! $2000?!” he said, while looking at the Apple Store website. “You can get a powerful laptop for $1000 / $1500 and run all the apps you are used to run on your PC. Plus games!”

But the price is only one of the many turnoffs when you’re thinking about buying a Mac, or any other Apple product for what it matters.

With the newly arrived Macbooks, the prices of the old Macs are dropping but still not near the prices of Intel / AMD laptops. And as for the Macbooks, there’s a pretty good inconsistency concerning the specs. In Portugal, Fnac is announcing they will be selling Macbooks at 1.67 Ghz and 1.83 Ghz costing 2.176€ and 2.711€. If you go to the Apple Store website you get 1.83Ghz and 2Ghz Macbooks for $1.999 and $2.499.

ThinkSecret reports:

Apple announced Tuesday that the first shipments of the MacBook Pro will ship this week and quietly updated the speed of the laptop before the first systems had even arrived in customer hands. The low-end 1.67GHz Core Duo model has been replaced with a 1.83GHz system for the price of $1,999, while the higher end $2,499 model now packs a 2.0GHz Core Duo processor, up from 1.83GHz.

Additionally, a $300 build-to-order option on the high-end system boosts the processor speed to 2.16GHz.

And these are only 15 inch models, how about when the 17 inch models are announced? This isn’t good for users who are thinking about upgrading their Macs, much more for users who are thinking about switching to Mac. Apple only bets in its, lets call it, legion of fans, and since the “Switch” campaign there’s no interest from Apple to lure the PC user to the “dark side”.

Nowadays, Apple is working like Nintendo, releasing each year a new substitution product for the one you have, turning its commercial value almost null and this is happening with computers as well with the iPods. Rumor has it that a new video iPod with a bigger screen and sensible to touch will be available soon, the true Video iPod. I can almost imagine Steve Jobs holding it on his hands and saying “This is the true video iPod! Forget all the other iPods, this one has (insert new features here)!” And the 400€ you spent on your video iPod suddenly seem like the worst spent money in your entire life.

But still, I want a Mac. Why? Because I believe that soon something will change about Windows. People are buying more and more consoles, PC gaming will be dead in the next years if the GPUs prices don’t drop. People won’t continue to spend 500€ in a GPU just to play the latest Doom or Quake iteration, after spending 1000€ or more in a PC when they can buy a console for 300€ or less. Strip a windows PC from the ability to play decent games and the Mac wins, fair and square. Vista won’t change this. Vista’s new features are mostly ripped off from the Mac OSX and other available software and I don’t believe that Microsoft can make a product without security flaws or without being intrusive on my privacy.

So, it’s this the right time to buy a Mac? No. I but still want one.

[tags]Apple, Windows, PC, x86, Intel, Machintosh, Macbook, iPod, Switch[/tags]

Home at last!

Well I just got home from my weekend out and it seems I’ve lots of stuff to update since friday, so I guess it will be quicker to just list things out without much detail.

And that’s it for today… My bed is calling me!