Archive for October, 2006


A Note From GSU IS&T: Do NOT Install IE7

October 26, 2006

On November 1, Microsoft will release Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) for  Windows. At this time, IS&T recommends that you NOT upgrade to IE7.

 We have been working diligently with our web application vendors to  verify compatibility with IE7. Several vendors for major campus-wide  applications have not yet certified their products to work with the  new browser. When these vendors indicate that their products are  certified to work correctly, IS&T will notify the campus community.

 If your computer is set up to receive automatic updates, you should  see a notification when IE7 is available for installation. Simply  choose “Don’t Install” from the available options. You can easily  manually install the software at a later date. Microsoft has  indicated that even those users with “automatic installation” turned  on will have the option of installing IE7.

 Please contact your local support staff or the IS&T Help Center at  404-xxx-xxxx if you have any questions or need additional assistance  with this matter.


A Summary

October 23, 2006

Linux is not flawless, but neither is Windows.  I think everyone can agree with that.  During my Linux adventures, I’ve managed to discover more flaws in both systems than if I was committing to one or another.  If all you ever use is Windows, you’ll never know how bad (or good) it is until you have something to compare it to.  Many users, like me, do not really even consider a switch until some disaster strikes and we are left with nothing.  Bringing an XP system back up after it goes dark is NOT as easy task, by any stretch.  You need all the license numbers, service packs, updates and patches.  It can take literally days to get a machine running properly after an XP disaster.  I know it, because I’ve been through it, and it was looking like I might have to do it again when I began my Linux odyssey.


While MS has installed a sufficient number of patches to keep my machine running at an acceptable level, that reinstallation experience was not one that I will soon forget nor do I want to experience it again anytime soon. 


Using Firefox , Thunderbird and Open Office certainly helped soften the ground.  Once I began trying live CDs I discovered that Linux could be easy.  I also  found out it could be hard, especially when it came to using modems.  Several readers left helpful and encouraging comments and I ended up going with the external modem for $20 from eBay.


Mepis was initially my distro of choice and it remains my choice for a full-featured distro.  I managed to have it installed and working on one of my work machines for a few months.  However, my thinking has been evolving regarding Linux.  I’m not quite ready to make a full switch from Windows and early on I concluded that since most PCs come loaded with Windows, one might as well use it.  However, it is equally prudent to have a backup and an alternative when the computer pandemic hits.


Puppy Linux 2.10 has become my working distro of choice.  It is lean, mean and fast with just enough tools to get a job done.  It is the most portable and functional distro I have tried so far.  Once a local partition is designated (less than 512 Mb) for the settings, it loads faster than any other distro off of the live CD.  There’s no reason to actually install it if you have over 256 Mb RAM.


So what am I actually using it for?  One is to access tabbed browsing on machines here at work, which are perpetually saddled with IE6.  Another is blogging and websurfing with the laptop when Jane is photo editing on my main desktop.  Many times I actually favor using the laptop, since I can surf while lounging on the bed or the couch.


I also favor Puppy for watching DVDs.  For some reason, XP is not able to handle DVDs very well and likes to hang up or crash.  Puppy will also hang and crash on occasion but seems to do somewhat better than XP.  It is worth noting that Puppy Linux, being an Australian distro, includes sufficient software to play commercial DVDs up front.  This alone won me over pretty quickly.  However, Abiword, the default word processor does not have a dictionary installed for spell checking.  That is annoying.


No distro has everything.  While XP looks like it has everything, it takes time and effort to get everything to work properly and it needs to be constantly nursed, patched and protected to be maintained, making it an expensive OS in terms of resources.  Getting Linux to do something supposedly simple like detect a non-Wintel modem was pretty much impossible, which makes getting newer packages more challenging.


Linux is very close to being all I need, but is not quite there, yet.  I still have the DVD burning/movie making aspect that is unexplored.  Puppy doesn’t play not with Google’s Picasa, so that is another area for which I need to find the right tool.  I’m watching the whole post grad school thing go down the financial drain, so that’s one less application to worry about.  And I still need to explore WINE more before a machine will be considered fully functional.


So I’m just summarizing here for future reference.  Anyone who has been reading me already knows all of this but I was hoping something new might be squeezed out as far as an original idea.  Maybe next time!




What to do with a new machine?

October 17, 2006

Mr. Khan wheeled in the last of my 3 new computers.  He said he had tried to give it away, but said the other teachers were maxed out and they had to go to specialed teachers.  He said that I could do whatever I wanted with it.

I’m sure he didn’t mean take it home and go crazy, but still there are some interesting possibilities.  Namely, if you are thinking what I’m thinking…

Could that be my newest desktop linux machine?

I could hook it up to the network intermittently to get downloads and updates as needed, but otherwise it would stand alone, pretty much and run whatever applications I wanted.  Trouble is, almost all of the adaptive technology stuff I use is Windows.  Older Windows, but still Windows.  Intellikeys, Boardmaker, various games I’ve downloaded over the years as well as the touchscreens.  Making them all work under Linux would be a major coup because I know of no one else anywhere doing anything like this, porting A.T. for students with severe disabilities to Linux.  The bad news is that there wouldn’t be much in the way of support.  I’m thinking most things would work with WINE just because the stuff is older, but that’s not a for sure deal.

I think I might just let the machine set a spell until I decide what to do with it.  I wish it had a DVD-RW, because then I would definitely be turning it into a multimedia movie making machine .  My kids are not huge fans of many movies but they will actually watch themselves for a long time.

Any suggestions?




October 10, 2006



After however many months of trying to bend Linux to my will and do my bidding, namely trying to get online, I have finally done it.  Using Puppy Linux 2.10 to get this crippled laptop working, I am coming to you LIVE!

Sort of live, anyway.

The difference was,  in fact, what I said suring my last post; the AT&T proprietary software that only works with Windows had some information I had to dig out of it.

It still took a few rounds to get Puppy to play nice with my modem but hopefully that battle is behind me.  Thanks to the three of you following my trials tribulations and escapades with getting connected at home, which is such a key thing.  While I got every distro to work at work, I had other things to do at work like…you know…work!

Now I’ll have to see what I can get this puppy to do.  I still want WINE to work because quite frankly, Linux games suck.  Frozen buble can be sort of addictive, but I’m more partial to RTS games although frozen bubble can be addictive in its own way.



The Mystery Might Be Solved

October 9, 2006

When I last posted, I was still all bent up and frustrated over not getting my modem to work.  In fact, I have discovered that my modem does work with Puppy Linux, PCLinuxOS, MEPIS and even Ubuntu.  for some reason, the SUSE DVD did not want to even boot, so I have no idea what is up with that.  The Ubuntu CD made an awful racket like it wasn’t properly seated in the drive, but it still worked…well as much as it ever did.


The problem is that my ISP is AT&T and they use proprietary software in order to dial in.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.  In fact, none of my fellow nerds thought of it.  It is true that these past months, the modem itself was the bane of my Linux existence. However, the past few weeks, it is the ISP.  And switching all of my email accounts, and getting a new ISP just isn’t in the cards at the present time unless I go broadband.  But not yet.


However, AT&T does happen to have a few Linux users and I was able to get on one of the newgroup/user groups and learned something new. 


When I signed up for my AT&T account, they issued me a NETWORK username and password.  These are not the same as when I log in and type what I think is my username and password.  They were something like as a username and “corfligery-midget” as the password.  I can not alter or change my network name and password as the ATT computers use this to tell if I am who I am when my computer calls theirs.  All this time, I was typing in “dickdalton@att,com” and “ubuntusucks” thinking that was really my username and password.  The modem actually dialed in, said hello to the ATT computer which promptly hung up on me once it realized that it had no idea of who I was.  


I have not had a chance to test this out to see if this information actually gets me online.  There is an AT&T WURD document or two telling how to get online with Linux that consists of typing in numerous commands in the command line and editing certain other files; clearly outdated and beyond my level of technical expertise.  Editing a configuration file may still be called for in my future, though, if I really want to get this thing to work. 


I’ll keep plodding along and documenting this journey.  But I thought it only fair to let you folks who said the serial modem should work know, so you didn’t think you were crazy!