Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Useful Resources for Ubuntu/Linux Users #02

Today's roundup of useful resources for Ubuntu/Linux users:
  • 10 Mistakes New Linux Administrators Make (TechRepublic.com)
    "If you’re new to Linux, a few common mistakes are likely to get you into trouble. Learn about them up front so you can avoid major problems as you become increasingly Linux-savvy."
  • Linux Tools (SearchEnterpriseLinux.com)
    "The Linux Tools guide provides resources and tips for implementing the most important tools for each category of the Linux operating system: application server administration, network, scripting, mozilla, security, management, and the desktop."
  • Control your bandwidth with Trickle (TuxRadar.com)
    "With Trickle you can control the upload and download speeds for applications such that no single application hogs all the bandwidth. This gives you the power to ensure that downloads from Firefox don't interfere with your attempts to download a file through FTP."
  • Step-by-Step Tutorial for Running Android Apps in Ubuntu (Softpedia.com)
    "The following tutorial was created especially for those of you who want to test the Android platform and install various applications, on the popular Ubuntu operating system."

See also my previous blog postings:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Roundup: Web Design, Programming & Publishing Resources #03

Today's roundup of web design, programming, and publishing resources:

See also my other blog postings on the following topics:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why I Use Ubuntu as My Sole Operating System

Doug Holton's recent blog post, Using Ubuntu as your sole operating system in academia caused me to think about my own position on choosing operating systems for my computers.

I juggle between three computers:
  1. a university-issued Dell desktop in my office (dual-boot Windows XP Professional SP3/Ubuntu 9.04),

  2. my personal ThinkPad R52 laptop for use at home (Ubuntu 9.04 with Windows XP Professional SP3 accessible via Sun Microsystem's VirtualBox), and

  3. a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 netbook (running Windows XP Home SP3) that use when I am traveling.
I made a conscious and deliberate decision to switch fully to Ubuntu in April 2008, with the release of version 8.04 (Hardy Heron). The only exception is my IdeaPad S10 netbook, which I have kept as a Windows XP system. My S10 netbook goes with me when I travel for conferences and presentations. I learn the hard way that having a Windows XP system makes it easier to connect to specialized projection systems with default settings to Microsoft Windows (indeed, my Mac-using colleagues have horror stories getting their MacBooks up and running with some of these projection systems).

For the most part, everything I needed to use is available in Ubuntu (OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, etc). I have no problems running Adobe AIR applications like TweetDeck in Ubuntu.

And from time to time when I need to use Microsoft Office because of students' Word and PowerPoint files, I have installed Microsoft Office 2003 on both my office Dell desktop and personal ThinkPad. Microsoft Office 2003 runs perfectly under Wine in Ubuntu. This allows me to access my students' Word and PowerPoint documents that have fancy/complex formatting or layout, which sometimes do not convert properly in OpenOffice.

On my office Dell desktop, I can always dual boot into Windows XP when I need to run Windows-specific software (e.g., SPSS) or visit a website that requires me to use Internet Explorer. For my personal ThinkPad, which is a strictly Ubuntu-only system, I configured Windows XP Professional access via Sun Microsystem's VirtualBox. The reason I did not create a dualboot system is because I find that 95% of the time, everything I need to do can be done in Ubuntu. The 5% of the time is mainly with certain financial institutions' online sites that insist on a Windows/Internet Explorer environment for proper functioning.

See also: my other Ubuntu postings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to reset or change forgotten login password in Ubuntu

If you have forgotten your login password in Ubuntu, here's how you can reset or change it:
  1. Boot your computer.

  2. After the initial hardware splash screen, you get a second screen with a countdown timer that says something like: "GRUB Loading... Press ESC to enter the menu"

  3. Press the ESC key.

  4. This brings you into the GRUB menu.

  5. Using the arrows keys, navigate to the "Recovery Mode" of the Ubuntu kernel with the highest/latest version number and press the ENTER key.

  6. This will bring you into Ubuntu's root shell.

  7. At the command prompt, type: passwd your_username (replace your_username with your actual username).

  8. The system will prompt you for a new password with the message: "New UNIX Password."

  9. Type in your new login password.

  10. Voila! Your password has been reset/changed without the need to know your forgotten login password.

  11. To restart the system, type: reboot

  12. After rebooting, login with your username and new login password.

Question: What if Ubuntu asks you for a root password?

Answer: By default, Ubuntu does not require you to set a root password. However, if you did set a root password, then you will need to enter the root password when prompted in Ubuntu's Recovery Mode. If you have forgotten your root password, here is the work around:
  1. Insert an Ubuntu Install CD and boot into the command prompt.

  2. Type: rescue

  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to get into Terminal mode.

  4. When you are in the Terminal, type: passwd root

  5. Type in your new root password and re-type it when prompted.

  6. Next, you will need to create a new user account with root privileges. Type: adduser

  7. Enter your new user information when prompted.

  8. Next, type: adduser your_newuser_name admin (replace your_newuser_name with your actual new username). This enables you to login with your new username as admin and access all the system tools as root.

  9. Remove the Ubuntu Install CD and reboot by typing: reboot

  10. Login with your new user id and password.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lifehacker's List of Essential Free Mac Downloads

If you're a Mac user who is looking for the best free downloads for your Mac, this is for you: The 2009 Lifehacker Pack for Mac OS X: Essential Free Mac Downloads for 2009. This is a single handy list of the best free applications for your Mac OS X.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Useful Firefox Add-ons

One thing that differentiates Firefox from other browsers is the huge number of available add-ons that you can install to customize your Firefox. Deciding on which among the thousands of add-ons out there that you want to install can be a mind-boggling exercise. Here is a round-up of suggestions that I have found useful:

Link: Lifehacker's Firefox Add-on Packs
The folks at Lifehacker has assembled a few easy-to-install collections of their favorite Firefox helpers.

Link: Useful Firefox Add-ons for Academics & Researchers
Firefox add-ons are small extensions that give new functionality to complement the browser's built-in features, so that you can customize it to fit your own individual needs. This is a list of add-ons recommended by law librarians. It was created by Bonnie Shucha, University of Wisconsin Law School for a presentation at the CALI Conference of Law School Computing, June

Link: 50 Firefox 3 Add-ons That Will Transform Your Academic Research

Out of the box, Firefox 3 is already an incredible web browser. But when you consider all of the power tools that can be added to enhance your research, it’s even better. Check out these add-ons for Firefox 3, and you’ll take your browser to the next level and transform your academic research.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TweetDeck v.0.26 is released!

Yesterday, I updated the TweetDeck client on my Ubuntu and WinXP systems to version 0.26. If you are a TweetDeck user, this is one upgrade you should install as soon as possible.

If you haven't tried TweetDeck, perhaps now you might want to give it a try. In my opinion, TweetDeck is the best desktop Twitter client out there for the power twitterer. TweetDeck is a multiplatform Twitter client that works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and now iPhone. It requires Adobe AIR to run.

What's new in TweetDeck is support for multiple user accounts. I have two Twitter accounts (@ProfessorJTan and @Techruminations) that I am now able to display and track simultaneously. TweetDeck 0.26 accomplishes this by creating a new account on TweetDeck's own servers. This means that you have to register with a valid e-mail and password, which you would use to log into TweetDeck. Once logged in, you can add as many Twitter accounts you have. I especially like how TweetDeck allows you to create customized groups to track conversations.

Also new to TweetDeck is an improved interface that allows you to post to selected or all your Twitter accounts plus your Facebook account. You can also log into Facebook and update your Facebook status using TweetDeck.

If you are using Ubuntu, here is my previous blog posting on how to install Adobe AIR and TweetDeck in Ubuntu.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Review of Dropbox + Free 250 MB Bonus Space

Today, after months of procrastinating, I finally setup my Dropbox account. If you don't already know, Dropbox is an online storage account that enables you to store and synchronize files online between computers. Currently, Dropbox works on computers running Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (Fedora and Ubuntu). The first 2 GB is free. Additional storage is available for a fee.

Installation was a snap. I downloaded the Windows client for my IdeaPad S10 netbook running Windows XP. On my ThinkPad R52 running Ubuntu 9.04, I added the Ubuntu repository to my systen (detailed instructions) and use Synaptic Package Manager to install the Dropbox Nautilus client (which is open source under GPL license). You will need an e-mail and password to register.

Dropbox is easy to use. You can drag and drop files between your regular folders and your Dropbox folder, and Dropbox will sync the files instantaneously. You can also access your Dropbox via the web at https://www.getdropbox.com/ and sign in with your e-mail and password that you used to register your Dropbox account.

What I really like about Dropbox is the fact that it allows me to share files seamlessly and effortlessly between my Windows and Ubuntu systems. In this regard, Dropbox has one advantage over UbuntuOne, which currently only allows you to store and sync files between Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) and higher systems only.

Currently, Dropbox is running a promotion whereby if you sign up using my referral link, both you and I get 250 MB of bonus space. In other words, if you sign up using my referral link, you will get 2 GB+250 MB space. This is certainly a win-win situation for you and I.

For other reviews of Dropbox, see:
In short, I am very pleased with Dropbox and have no hesitation recommending it to others.

Monday, June 15, 2009

FTP Options in Ubuntu

Last Friday, I discussed the various FTP options in Microsoft Windows XP. In today's blog post, I will explore the various FTP options in Ubuntu Linux.

Here are three recommended FTP options in Ubuntu Linux.

Option #1:
If you are a refugee from Windows and have used Filezilla, Canonical has helpfully provided a port of Filezilla for Ubuntu. You can easily install Filezilla in Ubuntu using the Synaptic Package Manager (System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager). Type "Filezilla" in Synaptic Package Manager's search box and you're on your way.

Option #2:
If you use Firefox as your browser, I would strongly recommend the Firefox add-on FireFTP, which is a cross-platform add-on for Firefox browser that works in Firefox for Ubuntu.

Option #3:
You can also access FTP via Samba in Ubuntu (Places > Connect to Server). Click on "Places" and "Connect to Server." This opens up a "Connect to Server" Dialogue Box. There are seven possible service types:
  • SSH,
  • FTP (with login)
  • Public FTP
  • Windows Share
  • WebDAV (HTTP)
  • Secure WebDAV (HTTPS), and
  • Custom Location.
Choose either FTP (with login) or Public FTP, as appropriate. You can also create a bookmark for easy access.

Once you have logged in, your FTP is accessible as a folder in Ubuntu, with full copy, drag and drop capabilities.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Win a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate

Survey Link: IT Pro Internet Browsing Survey

Microsoft is offering an opportunity to win a free copy of Windows 8 Ultimate + a cool Windows 7 T-shirt if you fill out the IT Pro Internet Browsing Survey. After completing the survey, you should be redirected to technet.microsoft.com.

Via: arstechnica.com

Use Adobe Acrobat Professional? Paid online user study ($150)

Screener Link

The Adobe User Research Team is conducting a series of studies around Adobe Acrobat Professional. Specifically, the Adobe User Research Team is soliciting feedback on some proposed new features in Adobe Acrobat. These studies will be done over the phone and over Adobe Connect Pro. You will be asked to play around with some of the new features in an upcoming version of Adobe Acrobat and then provide feedback. If you are selected to participate in a study, you will be compensated with $150 in American Express Gift Checks.

Please fill out the screener if you are interested in giving your thoughts and opinions, and helping shape the future development of Acrobat. The screener will determine whether or not you are eligible to participate in these studies. This information will be kept confidential and will not be shared with a third party or used for any purpose other than qualifying you for the Adobe Acrobat studies.

Via: Fatwallet.com

FTP Options in Microsoft Windows XP

Last weekend, I was helping a relative get connected to a remote server via ftp on his computer, which is running Windows XP.

Microsoft Windows XP does not come with a built-in FTP software. Here are the possible options you have if you need to ftp to a remote server from your computer running Windows XP:

Option #1:
If you are looking for an excellent free open source FTP app, I would strongly recommend Filezilla, which is a robust ftp client for Windows (as well as Linux too!).

Option #2:
If you use Firefox as your browser, I would strongly recommend the Firefox add-on FireFTP, which is a cross-platform add-on for Firefox browser (works in Windows, Linux, etc)

Option #3:
My not-so-tech savvy relative opted for this solution: map the ftp remote site as a drive on Windows. He likes this solution because it gives him a one-click access to the ftp site through Windows Explorer. Here's how you can set it up:
  • Open Windows Explorer and choose/click on the "Tools" menu

  • Select the "map network drive" option

  • Select the "Sign up for online storage or connect to a network server" option

  • Select the custom location option

  • Enter the ftp address (e.g., ftp://abc.def.com/)

  • Enter the user name (do not select the anonymous login option)

  • Don't worry about the password. You'll be prompted for it when you click to connect

  • When you connect, Windows Explorer will open the ftp site as a Windows folder, which makes navigating, copying, deleting, etc., very easy through point, drag and click.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Roundup: Web Design, Programming & Publishing Resources #02

Today's roundup of web design, programming, and publishing resources:

See also my other blog postings on the following topics:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

12 Free Security Software Tools

Today's PCMag.com's feature article, 12 Free Security Software Tools highlights how you can secure your Windows PC for free, i.e., without shelling out annual fees to Norton or McAfee. I myself have recommended many of these free apps to friends and colleagues who are looking for free but excellent tools to secure their Windows PCs.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Roundup: Resources for Windows Users

Today's roundup of resources of Windows users: