August 26, 2010

Google SketchUp

Image representing Google SketchUp as depicted...Image via CrunchBaseBy The Computer Doctor

Some of you may be wondering, "where did you get those sweet plans for the server rack?". Well I have to give credit to Jeremiah Duke for mentioning the Google SketchUp program in his video about making his own server rack.

The Google SketchUp program has a free as well as professional version and is a full featured CAD program that is fairly intuitive. I just looked up the actual dimensions of lumber that I was going to use, then I drew lines to the size making 3D boxes which the program then interpreted as solid objects. Finally after making multiple revisions I came up with a model that is made exclusively out of 2x4 lumber with the exception of some 3/4 inch plywood and caster wheels.

See this video for an idea on how easy it actually is to make 3D CAD models for your next project.

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August 25, 2010

My Own Server Rack

IMG_2942Image by phossil via FlickrBy The Computer Doctor
Video By Jeremiah Duke

Ever since I started working in I.T. I've always longed to have my own cool server rack with lots of blinking lights and cables going everywhere. The only problem is that I never had a reason to have a server rack since I didn't have any hardware to put in one.

Well all that's changed now so bar the door and hide the women folk because I have just inherited five servers from a school that just closed. Now that good times are on the way I started shopping for 19 inch metal server racks. With the consumption of steel by China and the U.S. going through the roof, so has the cost of anything made of steel. I will not be dropping $700 - $2000 for a quality steel server rack so I started looking for alternatives. Since Steel doesn't grow on trees I am resorting to the one thing that does... wood.

My inspiration comes from Jeremiah Duke at the missionduke website. You can see his video below.

Now I'm not knocking his design by any means because it fits the bill for him. My design is different in that it's flush on the sides and incorporates plywood shelves for the bottom two levels which is due to the extremely heavy beasts that I'm housing there. The last thing I want to do is get a hernia because the edge of a server got caught on the lip of a 2x4. See my illustration below.

Hope to have pictures of the actual build and the final setup soon.

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August 19, 2010

XP Mode Screen Resolution

The Windows 7 sticker is affixed to most PCs t...Image via WikipediaBy The Computer Doctor

One of the complaints that we get when using the Windows 7 XP mode is that the print is too small to read. There are two keys to changing the screen resolution for the XP mode to make it "bigger".

First you must break the integration from the Windows 7 machine.

  • Open Virtual PC in windowed mode (normal)
  • Click on tools
  • Disable integration feature
  • Now right click on the XP screen
  • Choose properties
  • Choose settings
  • Change color quality to 32 bit
  • Finally change the resolution to something smaller like 1024 X 768
Second you must change the relational size of the Windows 7 screen to something closer to what your wanted the XP mode to be. See illustrations for clarification.

In the first illustration we have a windows size of 2480 x 1530, so the XP mode will originally have a resolution of over 2000 x 1400 which will have tiny print. If you change the resolution down to 1024 x 768 the print will not become larger, but the viewing screen will become smaller and 800 x 600 will be even smaller yet.

In the second illustration we have changed the resolution to something slightly larger than 1024 x 768 (like 1152 x 864) and now the relational size is closer to the targets.

If the icons on the Windows 7 screen are too large now, you will need to go to the desktop personalize settings and change the desktop icons down to medium or small (150% or 100%)

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Windows 7 XP Mode

Image representing Windows 7 as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBaseBy The Computer Doctor
Video By Jonathan Mann

So many of you are still bemoaning the shortcomings of Microsoft's project Longhorn which has spawned the Windows Vista and Windows 7 series of operating systems.

Despite the compatibility mode which is supposed to make older software run properly, many times we find erroneous errors popping up in our applications or that the applications will not run at all.

Well for once I applaud a Microsoft decision with reservation of course. If you own a legitimate copy of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate you can get for no additional cost the Windows XP mode. This is a virtual machine of Windows XP running on Microsoft Virtual PC platform.

My reservation of course is that if you have Windows 7 Basic or Home premium or any copy of Windows Vista you are S.O.L.

My experience with XP mode is in helping a customer who couldn't run software for her class that was required for school. Her computer specs were a 2.8 Ghz processor with 8 Gb of RAM and a 250 GB hard drive running Windows 7 Professional. We tried running in compatibility mode, changing graphics modes, cleaning the registry, and re-installing multiple times. Why shouldn't a 6 year old program designed for Windows XP Professional work on this system? Because the Windows Kernel has more forks than a public school cafeteria! So now what was she to do? Search endless garage sales for a used computer with Windows XP on it?

The answer came from one of my oldest tricks from the Linux side. If you can't beat them then join them with a virtual machine running the OS that the software you need was designed for. Microsoft finally saw the light in making a real XP environment available for these circumstances.

See the following promotional video for more information and to see what this XP mode looks like.

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August 18, 2010

Shuttleworth: Oracle's Java Lawsuit 'An Extremely Unsophisticated Move'

Image representing Oracle Corporation as depic...Image via CrunchBaseJava (programming language)Image via WikipediaBy

Sean Michael Kerner

Last week's move by Oracle to sue Google over Java use in the Android open source mobile operating system, may well end up having an impact that effects far more that just Android. And that has some key stakeholders in the open source community concerned.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux, is among those in the community who don't see a positive outcome from Oracle's lawsuit, which was based around claims of Linux-based Android wrongfully treading on Oracle's patented Java code and copyrights.

"It's an extremely unsophisticated move by someone at Oracle to launch a patent-based lawsuit, and it's clearly going to be a significant setback for their relationship with the broader open source community, which is a significant part of many of their products," Shuttleworth told

Ubuntu is no stranger to working with Sun Microsystems -- original owner of the patents in question -- prior to Sun's acquisition by Oracle. Back in 2006, Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, first gained certification for Ubuntu Linux on Sun hardware. The effort was further expanded in 2007 with Sun Java technologies made directly available to Ubuntu Linux users.

"This will complicate the relationships Oracle has with a very important audience, which is the broader open source community," Shuttleworth said. "It will significantly undermine their efforts to establish many of their major products like Java, Solaris and Oracle Unbreakable Linux, and in due course, I'll imagine that they'll quietly wish they hadn't taken this approach."

"I certainly respect their right to take whatever approach they want to take with what they consider to be their property, but I cannot see any way in which this ultimately ends in a constructive outcome for them," he added.

Shuttleworth, like many open source advocates, is critical of software patents in general, which he said aren't a winning strategy for major software vendors.

"Big, traditional software companies have been looking for ways of protecting their franchises and many have waved patents around as a way of entrenching their margins," Shuttleworth said. "But it isn't working out that way."

That open source community leaders like Shuttleworth have long argued against software patents isn't surprising, considering the fights that flare up frequently between the open source and proprietary worlds around intellectual property. For instance, there's the looming specter of Microsoft, which in 2007 claimed that Linux infringed on hundreds of patents, and which hasn't been afraid to use that position to encourage open source users to pay for licenses. Last year, Microsoft inked a number of Linux users to licensing agreements, and sued GPS vendor TomTom over open source patent issues -- a spat that ended in a settlement and another licensing deal for Microsoft.

Last week, Eben Moglen, director-counsel and chairman at the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), told attendees at the LinuxCon conference that he sees patent threats against open source companies on a regular basis, and that the patent crisis facing open source is not going away anytime soon.

But Shuttleworth's view is that eventually big software companies will wake up to the reality that patents actually don't help them.

"I think that large software companies are simply going to find that patents and patent-based thinking keeps them locked in the past," Shuttleworth said. "Fundamentally, the biggest software organizations are the biggest losers from software patents-based litigation."
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August 16, 2010

Microsoft’s IE turns 15

Internet Explorer Mobile LogoImage via WikipediaBy Balasubramanyam Seshan

Software giant Microsoft’s internet explorer turned 15 years on Monday. The company recently said it would launch the internet explorer 9 public beta version on September 15, 2010.

Microsoft would launch the new version at a special event in San Francisco and confirmed the browser would only function with Windows Vista and Windows 7.

In July 2010, Internet Explorer has a combined market share of 60.74 percent and Firefox is at 22.91 percent, followed by Google's Chrome with 7.16 percent, Safari with 5.09 percent, and Opera with 2.45 percent, according to the latest data from Net Applications.

The software giant launched the first version of the browser internet explorer 1 on August 16, 1995. It was a revised version of Spyglass Mosaic, which Microsoft had licensed from Spyglass Inc. The first version came with Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 and the original equipment manufacturer release of Windows 95.

Internet explorer 2 was released for Windows 95, Windows NT 3.5, and NT 4.0 on November 22, 1995 (following a 2.0 beta in October). Internet explorer 3 was released on August 13, 1996.

Microsoft internet explorer 4, released in September 1997, deepened the level of integration between the web browser and the underlying operating system. The traditional Windows Explorer was replaced by version 4, when installed.

Internet explorer 5 was launched on March 18, 1999. Also, with the release of internet explorer 5, Microsoft released the first version of XMLHttpRequest, giving birth to Ajax. Internet explorer 6 was released on August 27, 2001, a few months before Windows XP. Internet explorer 7 was released on October 18, 2006.

“The company's Windows 7 should benefit from the corporate PC refresh cycle, which is in its early stages and the release of Windows Service Pack 1 (SP1) in the first half of calendar year 2011. The much-awaited corporate PC refresh cycle is underway and should drive Windows 7 sales for at least the next year,” said David Hilal, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

Internet Explorer 8 "Final" was released on March 19, 2009. On March 5, 2008, the first public beta (Beta 1) was released to the general public. The second public beta (Beta 2) was released on August 27, 2008. Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) RC1 was released on January 26, 2009.
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Has Dell Dropped Ubuntu Linux?

Dell LogoImage via WikipediaBy: David Murphy

Has Dell dropped Ubuntu Linux as an operating system selection for its panoply of PCs? Yes… and no. PC Pro is reporting that one can no longer pick up consumer PCs preloaded with the popular Linux distribution, but that's only if one's trying to order online.

PC Pro goes on to quote a company spokesperson: "We've recently made an effort to simplify our offerings online, by focusing on our most popular bundles and configuration options, based on customer feedback for reduced complexity and a simple, easy purchase experience. We're also making some changes to our Ubuntu pages, and as a result, they are currently available through our phone-based sales only."

However, the same spokesperson—in an interview with PC Pro—went on to suggest that a majority of Dell's sales go toward consumer PCs laden with Microsoft's Windows operating system. Ubuntu systems tend to shop out to, "advanced users and enthusiasts," a sentiment that's reflected in Dell's own on-side material about Linux.

On the company's "Windows or Ubuntu?" page, Dell states that the former is the better choice of an OS for those that are already familiar with Windows programs or, conversely, for those completely new to the world of computing in general. Ubuntu, on the other hand, should be reserved for those that, "do not plan to use Microsoft WINDOWS," or those who are, "interested in open source programming."

The caveat, however, is that this material—as well as the lack of online Ubuntu options—seems to be limited to the European Dell hub. The standard domain still features a "Top Ten" list of facts to know for consumers interested in an Ubuntu system, as well as purchasing links to both an Ubuntu-backed Dell Mini 10n notebook and a Dell Inspiron 15n notebook.

That said, Slashdot commenter "Nimey" points to a key visual indicator that Dell's Ubuntu support, in general, might be waning.

"They don't offer any with 10.04, and two of the four models they offer still have 9.04," Nimey writes. "Doesn't seem like they're too keen on it."

According to Canonical, Ubuntu's primary commercial sponsor, the Linux distribution is currently used by more than 12 million individuals. Data taken by the site Distrowatch—which has been tracking the popularity of hundreds of Linux distributions since its inception in 2001—ranks Ubuntu as the most popular distribution based on an analysis of hits to the site's official "Ubuntu" section.
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