jrobb.org

In the past it was a prophecy, but in the future the past has ocurred!

Inside StatusNet: How Identi.ca Works

I found this interesting, even though this is kind of an old video, by Evan Prodromou from fosdem back in 2010. Especially interesting is the DB structure, I’ve also found pure normalized tables to be very slow— even though that is what they teach you in school.

Also, PHP. It used to be awesome, and “the thing”, but that’s now being more replaced with javascript and stuff that works much better—which is certainly a good thing. I’ve very excited to see what happens with pump.io.

I Got a VPS

I’ve been using NearlyFreeSpeech.net for nearly 3 years now for my webhosting needs. This has worked out very well—the hosting is reasonably priced (cheap), and is based on what is actually used. In my case this is very little, and amounted to a few bucks a month. The best part for me, anyway, is that the domain pricing is very good — I think I’m paying around $9 a year for my TLDs.

And then…I started playing Minecraft again. I had a spare computer in my house (mentioned in my last post), and as it wasn’t going anywhere I set it up as a minecraft server. This worked fairly well, but then I wanted to start loading it up with stuff, naturally, and my uplink speeds from the evil TWC are not great (On a side note, TWC says their customers have no interest in a cheaper faster service more akin to Google Fiber 0o ).

And then, a friend told me about this deal on slickdeals.net. At $40/yr, that was very tempting. I calculated out my usage at NearlyFreeSpeech, and it was around $35/yr for the hosting by itself. So I decided to go for it and try it out.

Oldish Computer Hardware for FREEDOM

I’ve got quite a few computers and parts and things that I have acrued that I no longer need, and as such they are just taking up space. Space that my wife is wanting me to free up.

I hate throwing away technology when it works perfectly (or maybe with just a little work), but recycling also doesn’t make much sense to me as long as someone else could make use of the things. And I don’t care too much for getting any money for these things at this point, so I have this offer:

Whatever anyone offers for these items will be accepted as long as it at least covers shipping (and maybe enough for a coffee mug, since there isn’t one in the EFF store). But also with the caveat that if any money is left over after shipping (and maybe mug) it will go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In this process, I can accomplish a few things:

  • clear up some space by getting rid of some “junk”
  • give money to charity
  • maybe get a new FOSS-related coffee mug
  • provide someone else with some usable hardware

Sounds like a win/win.

Now, for the stuff!

Octopress Test

testy test test test

website is under construction, testing for a move from Jekyll to Octopress.

Almost Christmas

Apparently we survived the supposed end of the world with little ado. Life goes on, and all of the crazy along with it. So, I’ve basically forgotten that I have a blog…again. Then again, I also thing blogs are rapidly going out of fashion in a big way—social media is the new “in” thing, though usually that limits your character count and formatting and other such things. Blogs will still have some niche of space, if only for longer and more thought out replies or for more intense write-ups.

It is getting very close to Christmas, and I’ve spend the last few days being pretty sick. Luckily I’m starting to feel a little better.

Now that I’m actually writing on this again (mainly because I’m a little bored, getting exhausted from being sick, and just plain love to type on my Das keyboard) I don’t know if I’ll keep this blog thing like this. Jekyll is neat in practice, but seems like a lot of work.
These days, I just want things to work, I don’t want to have to fool around with fixing every bleeding thing every time I turn around. I want my Linux desktop to just run (which is why I now run Linux Mint Debian), just like I want my car to run every day. I want my website to be the same way, with as little interference from me as possible, I just want to add content whenever the mood strikes me. Which obviously is pretty rarely.

I do like typing posts in nano (or vim), and the static content is awesome. But then I have to generate it locally, and upload with scp and all that… just kind of a hassle. Not really, but it seems that way to me right now.

I recently got a Raspberry Pi, and I installed their default Raspbian distro on it…which I was greatly disappointed with. It just didn’t operate very smoothly. I mean, of course it did good for such a small and cheap device, but I didn’t like it. I then tried out Raspbmc, which is absolutely fantastic. It is very smooth, and it plays all of these files I have. Except for the MPEG2 stuff, which you have to spend like $3 on a license for the capability to use hardware decoding, but still, not too bad. I use the Yatse remote on my android phone, and it’s a blast in 1080p on my TV. Actually, I had full-blown XBMC installed on an older PC of mine—dual core AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ with 8GB DDR2. I had just put a $50 video card in this thing, and it worked decently. The raspberry pi works at LEAST as well as this PC, and probably better. Definitely more reliably. That video card was a waste!

That’s about all that’s going on with me lately. Work, work, sickly, gearing up for christmas. At least I’m done with work until after the new year. It’s a much needed break, that’s for sure.

Until next time.

Since July

I just realized that I haven’t posted anything on here in a few months. Time really flies by too quickly.

First off, since my last post I bought a beaglebone and set it up using Arch Linux ARM. I then installed the basic stuff (openssh, mysql, php, etc) as well as StatusNet microblogging software. SN is federated social networking/micro-blogging software, which allows users to run their own nodes which can then be connected together rather seamlessly. If one node goes down, the rest of the network is still up—hence the federation. This beaglebone I setup to run my own uBlog node at micro.jrobb.org, and it ran fine for a while.

Recently, though, I have begun to have issues, and now it is not working properly at all. Since having these issues I have gone back to using identi.ca, which is what I would say is the main node. I’ll have to fix up my beaglebone.

Alternatively, my cousin gave me an older Dell XPS400 desktop—she said to back up the stuff on it and then I can have the PC. I may set this thing up as a server now, though it will definitely use quite a bit more power than the beaglebone would (it is a PentiumD and the beaglebone is ARM ). It’s got a lot more RAM and would be a little speedier, certainly, though!

In other news, my family just got back from the beach—we went down for about a week. It was a nice time, not too hot at all, but still warm.

That’s all that I can think of at the moment. I’m sure something else will come along…I’ve been thinking of getting a new PC (desktop or laptop…leaning towards laptop). So that may be interesting.

Cash for Laptops.com Is a Ripoff

I had a couple of laptops laying around that I was not really using— Most of my computing these days is on my phone, tablet, or desktop. The one is an older model Toshiba Satellite A205, and the other was an Acer AspireOne netbook (in really good shape).
So I went over to cashforlaptops.com (not linked on purpose), and got a quote of $262 for the both of them. Which is a pretty high estimate, but most reviews that I’ve read say they come back with a lower value after evaluation.

They send me the empty boxes with foam (which took about 2 weeks to arrive), and I mailed off my items.
Before I sent them, I installed ubuntu and encrypted the drive to wipe anything that I had on there off, verified that everything was working. Then packed them up. Another 1.5-2 weeks later, I get a call from some odd number, when I answer it’s just some automated girl’s voice asking about a survey— “do you love us? press 1” etc. It was just a couple of questions, never saying what the survey was for. This happened 2 or 3 times over a couple of days. I realized it was them and sent them an email (replied to the one that they had sent me saying my products had been looked over). I got another call and the guy said the Acer was scratched up etc etc, and offered $53. Now, Amazon has a trade-in program which offered $50 so this was ok, though if I sold it myself on ebay I was confident of around $80. Also, I meant to haggle with the guy but a lot was going on at the time, working, etc so I just said “that’s fine” and he went to the next one.

Same deal with the Toshiba: scratches (this one actually did have some scratching), loose power connector, etc. Not sure how much of that is true, but then he said there was no power to the screen and it would not power on, and that they would give me $5. Whoa, wait a minute. So I told him that it was working fine when I put it in the heavily padded box, and to send it back so I could figure out what they had broken. He kind of sounded irritated and then said he could “assure me” it was nothing they had done, and they would re-evaluate. A few days later I get another call-back and he repeated the same condition with it still not working, and he bumped the money to $10. ooh. I bitched him out for a while saying it was working fine, and no way I was taking less than $60 for this laptop otherwise he could just ship it back. He got off the phone pretty quickly, and then I received my laptop in the mail ~2 weeks later.

Aaand, I just now plugged it up and booted it—the first time I tried it the screen actually didn’t turn on. I turned it off and back on, and it booted normally.

So, my take on this is that cashforlaptops.com (or their other sites) are a bunch of incompetant liars running a profitable bait-and-switch. They will offer a high “quote” and then offer a very low amount for consumers’ products.

In sumary: I will never use this service again, and I advise you not too either—unless you plan on haggling pretty hard to get a decent/fair amount of money. Definitely you can make more money selling things yourself on ebay (and it might be faster, also).

Jekyll

I had found out about Jekyll a year or two ago, but for some reason I had never implemented it. I think I had originally asked @bkuhn about his website, and he pointed me towards Jekyll.

So now, I’ve actually gotten started using it, and I love it.
It’s not perfect, but pretty close. No database, just simple static html. The downsides being that there is no commenting system, and I will have to implement some kind of tag cloud. Neither of these are hard to do, the comments I can just use any public service (such as identi.ca), and there are several plugins for tags. Oh, and I’ll have to see about rss, too, but I imagine that’s not a big deal either.

I can run ‘jekyll —server’ on my computer at home, and run a test to see how everything is generated. Then it’s just a simple rsync to bring my webserver up to date. Very cool.

I do still need to write a script to go and convert all of the older blog posts, and I will do that when I have some free time.

That’s about it for now.

Tablets (on a Budget)

I’ve recently gotten a reborn love for my tablet, and I am actually thinking of getting a couple of cheaper models for my kids (so they will stop borrowing mine!).

I’m going to put together a list of what I think are the tablets with the most bang for your buck in a couple of categories. I will be using newegg for links, price comperison, specs and info. Obviously you will want to shop around and do your own research first, and not just take my word on any of this—especially since the tech market is volatile and things get outdated very quickly.

Apple iPads are nice and all, but I am not including them in my comparison simply because I won’t buy one. Windows 8 tablets aren’t out yet, but I prefer to stick to Android in any case.

10” Tablets up-to $350

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer

This tablet is still a good option even though it has an older processor (tegra2) and only 1GB of DDR2. With a $339 price tag it is still a good contendor, and has the option for the dock so it can “transform” into a netbook. This Moto Xoom has about the same specs (2x internal memory), but with a higher price tag. This is my favorite for this category and price range.

Le Pan II Tablet PC Qualcomm APQ8060

Wow, this tablet weighs in at $260, making it the cheapest of the bunch—by a pretty good margin! Under the hood you will find the fastest CPU of this bunch at 1.2GHz, and it also uses a Qualcomm APQ8060 processor instead of a Tegra 2. At this price point, you are bound to sacrifice something, and it looks like you get 8GB flash memory instead of 16, and a smaller resolution (1024x768), and less battery life (7 hrs). This is a very good option if you’re willing to accept the trade-offs for the price—seems like a good deal to me!

Acer Iconia Tab A200-10g16u

This Acer is similar to the A500 that I have, and almost exactly the same specs as the above ASUS. at $10 more, it is still a good option.

SONY Tablet S SGPT111US/S

With a slightly smaller screen at 9.4”, Sony apparently has a tablet in the same spec category as the above items. I have not seen one of these myself, but it seems like a viable option.

Lenovo ThinkPad 1830 (183822U)

Lenovo makes a pretty decent tablet, and this one is in the same price range at $350.

LAVA-Tech QPad C-1010111

Similar to the Le Pan above, but has a few more trade-offs—which could be expected at $220. 1024x600 resolution, and a measly 0.3MP front camera make this not a great option, but if the budget is tight then it is worth a look.

10” Summary

In this category, it’s a wash and will come down to aesthetics and user preference. All of the specs are about the same, and the only thing that would sway me one way or another would be the existence of a standard USB port along with the micro HDMI, or the inclusion of ICS (though most of these are upgradable to ICS even if they come with honeycomb). If you want a Tegra 3 (or newer) processor, you’ll have to step up the pricing > $350.

I think I would go with the Asus or Le Pan, personally. The price on the Le Pan is just so tempting!

7” Tablets < = $130 (plus a Galaxy Tab and a lenovo)

SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)

Samsung makes a nice tablet in their Galaxy line, and this is true in the 10” category as well…they just tend to be pricey. This 7” model is $250, and it’s really quality but I’m cheap so it won’t be the queen of this 7” ball.

lenovo IdeaPad A1 (22282EU)

This Lenovo tablet isn’t too far behind the Samsung in price. A nice tablet with a TI OMAP cortex A8 CPU, decent resolution, 16GB SSD. The downside that I see is it is running Gingerbread Android 2.3, and the price, obviously.

Aluratek AT107F

This tablet runs on an ARM iMAP CPU @ 1GHz, with 512MB memory, 4GB flash, AND comes with ICS. The resolution isn’t the highest in this category at 800x480, but it is definitely decent for a 7-incher. There is also a memory card slot, HDMI, and webcam which are all pretty standard. Not bad for $130.

Iview 760TPC

Another tablet right at $130. This one has an ARM Cortex A8 CPU @ 1GHz, with 512MB memory and 8GB flash. It also has 800x480 resolution, and the standard mini HDMI, mini USB, and micro SD card slots. 2MP webcam as well, and states that the battery lasts up to 5 hrs of web browsing. It coems with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but it can be upgraded to 4.0 ICS from a download on the company’s website.

Maylong M-285 Mobility

I’m not a huge fan of Maylong from the reviews that I have seen from their products, but the stats on this guy stand up to the rest in this category. No reviews on newegg so I am not sure how it actually performs. The Maylong comes with Android 4.0 ICS, a Cortex A* ARM CPU @ 1GHz, 800x480 resolution, 4GB flash, 512MB RAM, the wifis, mini usb, sd card slot, etc. It does look to be lacking an HDMI port.

WAN 7” tablet PC with capacitive touch

This WAN tablet has some impressive specs, especially at $127. Android 4.0 ICS, ARM cortex A8 at 1.2GHz. 800x480 (which is a bit weak), 8GB flash hard drive, 512 MB memory, and an sd card slot. This one has an HDMI port and a miscellaneous webcam.

Archos Arnova 7 G2

Archos has been making tablets for a long time, and they have always ranged from so-so to decent. This one in particular comes with Android 2.3 (gingerbread), and has a resolution of 800x480, 4GB flash, mini USB, and 1GHz CPU. It looks like it is missing HDMI out, GPS, and a webcam.

Refurb: Pandigital R80B400 Supernova media tablet 8”

This is a refub, but the the specs look alright, and the price is definitely there. Also, this is an 8-incher.
It comes with Android 2.3 (gingerbread), 800x600 resolution, 4GB flash, 512MB RAM, mini USB, micro HDMI, microsd card reader (up to 32GB), and a Samsung S5PV210 CPU (probably 1.2GHz). This model got bad reviews on Amazon, I won’t recommend it. There is also a 7” refurb model at $70.

Refurb: DELL Streak 7

This DELL refurb runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb and has a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra2 CPU, Corning Gorilla Glass, 800x480 resolution, 16GB flash, 512MB memory, SD card slot, dual webcams. All that for $150. Not too shabby.

7” Summary

The $130 price point is where it is at with 7”, as far as I am concerned anyway. There are also some “open box” options for some of these, which means you can grab one at a little better price. As you can see, there are MANY viable options in this category, so do some research and preferably try a few out before you make a decision. Feel free to leave any inputs in the comments (or where ever). Also, when I am ready to make my purchase(s) I will update this article with which ones I wind up choosing.

Conclusion

So as you know, I’m cheap so I like getting a lot of bang for my buck. The 7” category is obviously where I am focused at the moment, but I listed the 10-inchers just for comparison and reference mostly.

If I was buying a tablet for myself, I would probably go with a 10-12” model. And I would probably look for ones that come wiith 4G prepaid capability (not contract, I’m not about that on a tablet). Although with tethering ability on my cell phone I would skip that and go wifi only.

Like I said, these days there are lots of options at a lot of different price points. There are cheaper and more expensive options than what I have listed here, and some better or worse options—I’ve tried to list middle of the road sticking to my “bang for the buck” mantra, especially since I will be getting a tablet or two for my little kids soon.

update: a lot of new computers/laptops, tablets, and other hardware are coming out this summer which will drive prices down on previous model stuff, it would be wise to wait until late summer for a purchase, IMO

Goodbye, factorQ.net

I have decided that I am not going to renew the factorq.net domain (again). I have not really used it recently, and truth be told, I prefer my jrobb.org domain. I have too many domains currently as it is.

factorQ.net won’t ever be what it once was, and it was fun while it lasted, but now it is time to just let it go. Now the problem is just….what to do about my email account there. dangit…I need to figure that one out in a hurry.

goodbye, old friend.