Category: Linux

Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader

Amazon – king of the proprietary – Their own DRM for ebooks, using a modified version of e-Pub just to add their DRM, restricting regions for downloads of music and movies etc. has just done the incredible. Let the Kindle run everywhere!

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Cheap MiFi

OK, so I really am a cheap bugger sometimes, but what annoys me is that I pay NZ$90 a month for my cell phone plan, and I get 3GB of data on it, but I usually only use about 250MB or maybe even 300MB on a bad month mainly because most of the places I go also have pervasive wifi. So I waste 2.5 GB of data I’ve paid for on my 3G connection. I can’t just buy a MiFi or another 3G USB modem and hook it up to my cell phone plan, they all want extra money as they wont share my phone data plan.

So, how to make the most of my 3G connection? I need to make my own MiFi!

What you Need:

iPhone (or similar) on a plan allowing tethering.

Laptop with bluetooth and Wifi, (mine runs Linux Mint 9)

Other wifi clients wanting to use the connection.

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Ubuntu 10.04 NBR on Acer Aspire One

So I have in my hands an original Netbook, 1.6GHz Atom CPU, 8GB flash drive, 512MB RAM and 7″ LCD. This is a Netbook, not some small under powered laptop.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix  Launcher

Originally this came with a version of CentOS linux called LinpusLite. It should actually have been  called POS. Nothing really wrong with the basic apps, as long as you only wanted to do POP mail, and were happy with a basic web browser with no plugins, no flash, and no uptodate software repository. You really had to go to some lengths to unlock the console and get a full desktop. TO me it was what actually gives some OEM linux installs a bad name. It lasted about 2 days and was replaced when I couldn’t add support for a USB-Serial adapter or good support for Citrix, some of the libraries required just were not available in the Linpus repositories. I was able to add in some RedHat RPMs but it never really worked right. So I had an Ubuntu 8.04 install handy. This worked well, but the install was not simple. Some mucking around was requred to get all the drivers and hardware working, custom kernel to get the WiFi up.

So two years on and a new LTS (Long Term Support) version of Ubuntu is here. Is newer better? Is the performance improvements touted in 10.4 going to make much difference on really limited hardware? Is the boot time going to be anything close to the claimed aim of 10 seconds to logon? Is the hardware going to be supported?

Basically yes – the 10.04 Netbook remix I have installed here boots faster, runs faster, and takes less space than 8.04 did (The netbook remix was still very early in it’s  development for 8.04, so I was running regular desktop Ubuntu with Maximus and the launcher added on. Slightly buggy – I ended up not using the launcher.) and runs much smoother. Firefox in 8.04 stalled often as write performance my my Ones HDD is very poor. More details below:


Creating the USB stick for the install was simple, but I did it from another propper machine as it was faster that way. Download the NBR .iso file, and use Startup Disk Creator to copy the image onto a bootable USB stick.

Install took about 20 minutes (3 hours less than 8.04) and about another 40 minutes to patch after install.

I then installed Minicom (Terminal Emulator for Serial Port devices), Citrix Reciever, and Thunderbird. Added Xmarks to Firefox, and then started playing around in it.

First impressions:

Faster than 8.04, boots in about 30 seconds including logging in, and all the hardware apart from the onboard mic in works right out of the box.

Battery life is still good, i’m getting 4 hrs of browsing (using the 6 cell battery option) and wifi use, I haven’t yet seen how long it will last playing a movie.

Current role:

Citrix client, switch configuration client, and browser/email for when I want a bigger screen than my iPhone, but longer battery life and faster boot and better portability than my HP laptop.

Tin-Foil Hat Time – PGP Encrypted Mail

So now I have a lot of my mail, and other information out there in the cloud, hanging around on other people’s servers, and some of it I may want to keep from prying eyes for some reason. And remember, an email on the internet is more like a postcard than a letter in an envelope. Don’t put anything in email you don’t want the postmen to read!

Remembering that any employee of Google authorised to manage their email systems could probably see my mail, and the latest attempts by someone in China to hack into Google to break into dissidents email accounts, or the fact the under US law, authorities may not even need a warrant to snoop into your mail held on a routing agencies server if older than 30 days etc and you start thinking, “Maybe I should encrypt my mail stored on these systems?”

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