Until now I’ve been using Opera as my email client. I have used Thunderbird a lot but had to give it up because it kept asking for email passwords (very annoying!!!) even though I clicked on the remember button. For a while now, I’ve been using Opera as an email client and a “static” browser. By static browser I mean a web browser that lives in system tray and which I can show/hide with one keyboard button (Caps Lock in my case). That browser is used for quick access to sites like Google Reader and other regular sites I visit.
Few weeks ago I switched (due to compatibility issues) to Firefox based “static” browser. Basically I made my own Firefox edition called FirefoxPIM. It lives in system tray (thanks to TrayIt), and shows/hides with one keyboard button (thanks to AutoHotkey). Here’s how it looks:
So, now I’m trying Postbox as my email client instead of Opera. As it’s based on Thunderbird, it most likely has that same bug that made me switch client in the first place. However, it is very nice package and I absolutely love the UI. Also it has very nice indexing/search features. So until if/when that password bug appears and/or when it drives me nuts, I’ll be using this program as my email client.
I’m sure many of you have heard about Wolfram Alpha. It was quite hyped before it’s launch which was last Friday. I think many people are confused about what it actually is. Usually it’s compared with Google which doesn’t make any sense because they are two completely different things. Google is a search engine and Wolfram Alpha is like an advanced calculator. Basically what it does is, it uses existing data and presents it and modifies it to your needs. For example, time zone or currency conversions etc. The cool thing about it is, it doesn’t just settle for a single answer, instead it offers extra information like graphs and other useful facts.
I really like it and found it very useful, although there are still some issues left. Biggest issue is the input interpreter which doesn’t understand everything. You need to learn a kind of language in order to make successful queries. Also in some cases even though you try any possible combination, it just won’t connect the dots. But it’s a new product and hopefully will continue to evolve.
I highly recommend checking it out. Looking through the examples helps a lot in getting started.
I’m sure most of you have heard about the Windows 7 RC release this week. I’ve heard a lot good things about Windows 7 so I though I’d install it on my laptop. The laptop came with Vista Home Premium which I switched to XP Pro because Vista had too much bugs and issues. At one point I had Ubuntu 8.10 installed but had to give it up because hibernation didn’t work properly.
Now Windows 7 is installed and I’m loving it. It works very well and is nice and slick to use. I’ve had no problems with it so far, except for the fact that Zone Alarm firewall doesn’t work in it (yet). There is also the Virtual XP mode which works nicely. Also I like the new task bar (or Super Bar as it’s called). Only problem is when trying to pin files in it. You need to use shortcuts to make it work properly.
I’m using the 64bit version and installed it from USB drive. Here’s good instructions how to do that. If you do the install from 32bit Windows (like I was), in step 6 you need to use bootsect from 32bit ISO because the 64bit version doesn’t work. If you don’t want to download the 32bit ISO (2.6GB), you can also find the 32bit bootsect.exe from google or you can use other 3rd party tool that does the same thing.
Windows 7 RC is available for anyone interested. The license is working until March 2010. After that Windows will reboot itself every two hours. In June 2010, it will switch into non-genuine mode (black wallpaper and constant nag screens).
So I’ve been using Linux in my HTPC for 2 months now. All I can say is, I love it. Some features aren’t as pleasant to use as they were in GB-PVR, but overall the experience is nice. New functionality that I really like is having a separate workspace that I can access through VNC.
I ended up using Ubuntu server edition as the base. The main front-end is MMS (My Media System). TV side get’s handled with VDR and Xineliboutput-plugin. All and all the system is very stable and solid. There were some issues with the video quality, mainly due to deinterlacing. That issue got solved after 2 weeks of trial and error. Now the video is perfectly smooth and fluid.
So, I switched to Firefox 3 RC 1. From the tests I’ve done it seems stable enough. In fact, it’s more stable than Firefox 2 which keeps crashing quite often. There were few add-ons that didn’t work right out of the box. Some did have a working development version available, others needed manual tweaking.
Open Firefox add-on (.xpi file) in 7-zip (or similar).
Select install.rdf file.
Press F4 or click File–>Edit
Change the value in em:maxVersion to 3.0.
Save and Close.
Click OK to update the XPI file. Close 7-zip.
Double click to install the add-on.
Hope that everything works fine.
Obviously this doesn’t work for all add-ons since only the maximum Firefox version number is changed. But if there isn’t a working version available, it’s worth a try.
Here’s a nice presentation from Johnny Lee. You might have seen his previous video about head tracking in YouTube. I really like this type of 3D technique and look forward in trying it myself. I don’t have Wii remote but I do have a cheap hacked IR webcam which can be used instead. I think this might be the only 3D technique that could hit big in the games market.
I just watched this interesting video. Linus Torvalds talks about Git. I’ve heard about Git before but never used it nor read about it in detail. Git is a version control system like CVS and SVN. Although I guess I shouldn’t mention those two in same sentence as Git since Linus hates CVS with a passion. Currently I’m using SVN to handle versions and I’ve been happy with it so far. But Git did sound interesting so I’ll have to try it out.
What would I do without my HTPC. I have had a computer hooked to my TV for the past 10 years. At first, I mainly used it as a DVD player. Now it’s the only source of video. Last year the analog TV signal stopped here in Finland. Ever since then, the HTPC has been the only way I can watch TV since I don’t have a set-top box nor a TV that can receive digital signal. Because I’m really addicted to TV, starting a project like this wasn’t something I was looking forward as it meant I couldn’t get my daily dosage.
Anyway, last weekend I made the decision to try Linux as a base for HTPC. I’m not that experienced with Linux so there was lot to learn. At the moment I’m using Ubuntu but might switch to Debian later. First thing I did was to install SSH server and Synergy. That way I could use my work system to work with Linux.
I have Hauppauge HRV-1100 DVB-T card and it worked right out of the box in Ubuntu (7.10). My motherboard has Nvidia’s SoundStorm in it which I got to work by following these instructions. I tried MythTV at first but quickly moved to VDR. I think it’s really the only choice if you are looking for a serious DVR solution. It handles transponders properly which means one can watch and record many channels (from a transponder) at the same time with one card. Setting VDR up can be little tricky but once you get to know with it, it’s pretty simple. At first I was using packages from e-tobi by following these directions. But since I had some troubles with few plugins, I now compile everything myself.
All was looking good and things were moving along nicely… until!
After days of tweaking I was getting nice and solid picture. However, there was some still unknown issue that made VDR (vdr-sxfe to be precise) respond slowly when used in TV. In monitor it worked fine. I tried pretty much all different combination of settings to make it work. No luck. I also tried different graphics cards which ended in disaster. Being stupid and careless I didn’t shutdown the power supply when I removed one card. I’ve never had any problems when doing so but this time I had to turn the card in an angle which short circuited few pins and that fried the motherboard.
So, now I’m waiting for a replacement motherboard. In the meanwhile I’m using an old board with Duron 800MHz processor. On a brighter note, this gave me the opportunity to clean the case. It was filled with dust and cat hair.