Technology with opinion

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ubuntu Linux 6.06 Review

Ubuntu Linux is the biggest Linux distribution to hit the open source software (OSS) community since , well forever. Ubuntu's motto is "Linux for Human Beings." For many its the usability or ease of use, for others it's the power and flexibility, regardless of what you want it's here.

For the Windows-only users, yes Ubuntu has GUI and rich GUI. OOB it has media, instant messaging, networking, internet browsing (FireFox), Bit Torrenting and Open Office technology. When you want to install Ubuntu it is very straight forward, you boot off of a CD and boot directly to Ubuntu. You can try it out and/or install it now, just double-click the "Install" on your desktop.

Feel free to browse the internet or instant message will this is going on. If you have Windows installed you can either erase it or resize that partition and install alongside it. After it installs you will reboot and that's it

Where to go from here? Browse the Ubuntu Guide wiki which is your best source for most everything you want to do on Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 6.06 also has a server version, this one is commandline only and has an optional LAMP configuration. So next time you want to setup a Linux server consider Ubuntu.

Ubuntu uses a Debian core with Gnome and lots of other nice add-ons. Some commercially based packages to not come included (such as mp3 support) because of legal reasons. Other negatives are nice haves such wireless management GUI needs to be installed (thoguh WiFi itself is supported OOB).

Download Ubuntu (.iso or torrent)
Rating 8/10 (Great)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


The drug of choice for many of us who choose to go without Ritalin. This upper, served hot normally delivering over 100MG of caffeine per cup.

Unfortunately something goes wrong when people make it. Whether it's chewing on coffee grinds, tastes like cigarette butts or as weak as hot tea at Denny's. Apparently we need help. This covers basic coffee brewing and where to find good coffee.

I'm going to cover two main brewing techniques: Drip & French Press. Most companies employ the drip coffee machine, which is fine. Chose a metal filter over a paper filter, or a natural paper filter over a bleached white paper filter, you get the idea. If using paper filters just use ONE, more than that will over filter the coffee.

Now fill the filter up about 3/4 of the way, I don't like to measure for this because it takes too long and every machine is different, use some trial and error. Always brew coffee on the stronger side, because you can easily make it weaker adding hot water, you can't make it stronger.

Next fill your coffee up with water, if there's not a direct water feed. Do not neglect this step, use filtered or bottle water, I really don't recommend using tap water for this for taste reasons. Finally start the machine, then wholla.

Lastly if your company doesn't have the proper tools for good coffee (i.e. good coffee, machine, filter, water), then use this technique. Buy a Brita water filter pitcher keep a good amount of water in this at all times. Next buy yourself a French Press, whole bean coffee and a grinder. You can however grind the coffee at the store but I recommend fresh grinding before use.

Grind your beans coarsely, then fill your French press with the appropriate amount and fill the glass container with hot boiled filtered water and stir. Let the steep for ~5 min, plunge and serve.

The best way to ruin a good cup of coffee is by taking CoffeeMate (or other artificial creamers) and dumping it into your expensive Java. At this point just pick up some coffee at McDonald's or something, YOU RUINED IT!!! Use a dairy product, preferably Half & Half or Whole milk, but any milk product will be better than coffee mate.

However if you do like CoffeeMate, you can substitute it with some Karo (corn syrup) and then have your coworker spit in it, wholla!!

Lastly, there is the coffee bean itself, the most expensive product to coffee making. Regardless of what commercials tell you, the worst part of waking up is Folgers in your cup, therefore get some good coffee. Starbucks is a good high quality brand so are many local roasters. Smelling the coffee is a good indicator of it's flavor and quality. Whole Foods, Central Market and Costco all sell great coffee, and I don't mean the smelly stuff in the tin cans.

With these tips your can be a better coworker, team member and never ruin someone's morning again.... well not with coffee...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Visual Studio 2005 Settings

Visual Studio 2005 is definitely one of the richest development environments I've ever experienced. This can be a good or bad thing. If you are new to programming a language within Visual Studio 2005 it can be helpful for learning. However if you are an experienced programmer you probably liken it to being babysat. Below are my Visual Studio 2005 Advanced Programmers settings.

TV: Treeview

  1. Within Visual Studio 2005 open Options
    1. If I have to tell you where this is then you probably don't need these settings
  2. Stop showing Start Page at IDE startup
    1. TV: Environment -> Startup -> change At startup to Show empty environment
  3. Show line numbers
    1. TV: Text Editor -> All Languages -> check Line numbers
  4. Change indenting to use Tabs
    1. TV: Text Editor -> All Languages -> Tabs -> click Keep tabs
  5. Turn off paranoid autocomplete
    1. Text Editor -> C# -> IntelliSense -> uncheck Show completion list after a character is typed

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Archiving & Compression Utilities

We’ve all been using archiving & compression utilities forever, whether our first one was tar & bz or PKZip. As compression algorithms have evolved newer archiving utilities have come out that promise new functionality and better compression. Two of them are Rar (WinRar) and 7z. A few months ago I switched from WinRAR to 7z.

7z promises better compression and is free/open source. Upon first using it I encountered little difference from other archiving/compression utilities and it supports all the right-click actions you would expect. Up until now I haven’t had a chance to compare RAR compression to 7z since I haven’t compressed anything large and assorted with it.

I needed to zip up BizTalk 2006 Developers edition CD, which is 450MB. This is my first test.

RAR (Best) compression – 123MB
7z (Ultra) compression – 92MB

7z offers better compression with best compression than RAR and is FREE. Worried about switching to 7z? It can compress 7z & ZIP files as well as extract RAR archives.

See also:

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Microsoft Enterprise Library & The Gac

For a while we have been installing a few of the assemblies from the Microsoft Enterprise Library to the GAC. The time came when I broke down and decided to install them all into the GAC.

There are many reasons to install the Enterprise Library into the GAC, they include:
  1. Component reuse, less duplicity and more consistency
  2. Performance benefits
  3. Allows use in other systems such as BizTalk
  4. Allows you to consistently manage changes throughout your organization
First step is creating strong name keys for all of the assemblies. From a command prompt (see earlier post regarding setting environmental variables):

sn -k Microsoft.Practices.EnterpriseLibrary.Data.snk

That will do the Data blocks.

Next you must modify the AssemblyInfo.cs file:

[assembly: AssemblyKeyFile("..\\..\\Microsoft.Practices.EnterpriseLibrary.Data.snk")]

Lastly you have to figure out how you want to distribute your assemblies. While you can create an installer to do it, you will need to create Installer classes to do this as you need to install them into the GAC. I think the most pragmatic approach is a batch file. You can create one batch file to install all the assemblies you choose into the GAC.

gacutil -i Microsoft.Practices.EnterpriseLibrary.Data.dll
This installs the data blocks into the GAC and the pauses so that you can see the results if you want to double-click the file from Windows explorer.

In order to install all of the assemblies into the GAC you can manually do this to all of them or you can script it. I have written a small command line application that I will post later that will recursively setup assemblies to be installed into the GAC and includes all of these steps. If you do this installation manually NOTE: you do not want to install into the GAC any assemblies that end in .Design or any of the tools.

Tom Hollander has also blogged about this subject, you might want to see his comments. He is the Product Manager for Microsoft Patterns & Practices.