Archive for the ‘Computing’ Category

Downgrading Ubuntu 10.10 to 10.04

There’s just been more and more stuff that simply didn’t work on 10.10 with the last straw being VirtualBox which I’m going to need in a couple of weeks.

So time to work out how to downgrade. The easy way is to backup everything, install 10.04 and restore everything which is what I did on the baby computer a month or two back. Well, I say easy but it takes me a couple of hours to do the backup on the main computer, another couple of hours to restore and then there’s all the software to install and configure.

The backup is a “good thing” so if nothing else it forced me to prepare a full backup which I’m not as diligent with as I should be. The reinstallation and configuration I can’t avoid. Which leaves the hassle of restoring the thing so I had a look around to see how to avoid that.

It turns out that there’s a feature that’s been in Ubuntu for a while now that allows you to install over the top of another version (newer or older) though you need to have a think about what you’re doing as you go rather than just clicking on everything. Well, in theory the feature is there but in practice it doesn’t work for everyone (more testing required I think) and didn’t for me. Worth trying though as it only takes about 10 minutes: just install as normal to the point where it asks about partitioning then select manual partitioning, select what was your old root file system and set the properties (don’t click the “format” box!) and that’s it. Takes a little longer than a normal install as it needs to delete conflicting system files (but apparently doesn’t do this entirely correctly).

Anyway, ’tis off to reinstall and reconfigure everything. First up being the annoying window control boxes on the left which is fixed as follows:

  1. alt+F2
  2. gconf-editor
  3. Go to apps->metacity->general and change the button layout to: “menu:minimize,maximize,close”
Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

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iTouch on Ubuntu

One of the big hassles with the ipod touch is that it’s very much a closed system. But it doesn’t need to be. So for those who’d like to run it without needing to bother with iTunes, here’s how…

1.  Enable USB tethering:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:pmcenery/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ipheth-utils

2. Enable mobile device support:

Go to System>Administration>Software Sources, click on Add and select


Click on Reload then Close.

Go to System>Administration>Synaptic package manager, search for libimobiledevice0 then install it.

At this point you are able to drag and drop MP3 files onto your iPod.

3. Enable Rhythmbox sychronisation:

sudo apt-get install amarok

If this doesn’t work, then:

rm -r ~/.kde/share/apps/amarok
rm -r ~/.kde/share/config/amarok*

Which should have you all set for an open iPod.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Maximising the income from customers in hard times

The best place to do this is in a technology shop because the majority of people aren’t on solid ground in respect of knowledge of the product.

This lack of knowledge makes it difficult for them to place a value on the products being sold. Added to this is the fast changing nature of the products which often leads to illogical pricing whereby better products can cost less than inferior ones.

I saw a great example of this in PC World (always an excellent hunting ground for this type of thing) at the weekend. A couple were in to buy a netbook for their daughter. The netbook cost £239 but they were talked into paying over £600 for it and that wasn’t even counting the software that they were subsequently talked into as well. All of this stemmed from the “small” payments of £25 a month and the potential to get another “free” laptop at the end of two years. Of course, by that time, they could have bought at least three laptops with the money.

The other problem that’s particularly noticeable in the netbook market niche is that a large PC shop can have anything up to around 20 different netbooks ranging from £170 through to around £370 with seemingly little to distinguish them. I question whether a normal customer would be able to tell whether having an N270 was any different than having an N455 or N550 and in reality few people would notice the difference in processing power. Even the battery life is a very iffy means of distinguishing between models as one shop can have a netbook with a 4 hour battery life at the same price as another shop with the same model but an 8 hour battery life.

The fast moving prices also creates anomalies with newer and better models quite often costing less than the older model even when discounted. Thus the “massive discounts” that were previously available on the Sony 300 and 600 readers barely brought them down to the price of the much improved 350 and 650 models.

So, lots and lots of ways that you can be ripped off!

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Not such a good idea upgrading from Ubuntu 10.04 to 10.10

Running the latest version of software is generally a good idea and if there’s no cost involved then there’s nothing really stopping you.

Unfortunately, running the latest software isn’t necessarily such a good plan if you’re not running it on the latest hardware. As we all know, new software almost always takes up more in resources than the older stuff does but, on the whole, the free software movement produces software that’s a bit lighter on the computer than the bloated stuff that we’ve become used to from Microsoft over the years.

Sadly, Ubuntu 10.10 seems to have broken that mold.

It runs just fine on my notionally main computer which has 3MB memory and a sensible processor behind it too. However, it was slow to the point of being almost unusable on my Aspire One which, whilst sporting only 512MB and an N270, is the computer that I use most of the time.

To be fair, a lot of that was down to Ubuntu One and removing that did speed things up somewhat. However, it still left the periodic freezes.

So today, I finally decided that enough was enough and after backing everything up reinstalled Ubuntu 10.04 which handily enough is a long term support version. As it ended up being a clean install I’m also finding some things that are now working after having been broken in the upgrade from 9.10 to 10.04.

I’m still wondering about the main computer. It runs OK but those freezes are becoming a pain.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Tablet or reader: which should you choose?

Just as the choice seemed to have settled on Amazon’s Kindle as the ebook reader of choice with its 6″ screen and £109 price tag so the sands have shifted underneath us with the imminent arrival of a whole range of Android powered tablet computers.

From the reader angle, you have a long battery life (often measured in weeks), black and white screen which doesn’t give you eye strain and easy access to books from the Amazon model. The only downsides are that they are black and white screens and can’t run video but then paper books don’t run video either and most are in black and white too.

For the tablet computers, the screen sizes are 7″ to 10″ which is comparable to the 6″ and 9″ of the Kindles. Battery life at 7 to 10 hours is good by PC standards but poor by ebook reader standards and it’s going to be more difficult to read them outside. On the plus side you get colour and can run video. Pricing for the 7″ models seems to be about double that of the Kindle, for the 10″ it’s comparable to the Kindle DX (a number of manufacturers are coming out with these so the prices aren’t settled yet).

If you’re only reading novels, the clear choice remains the Kindle. However, if your taste runs to coloured texts with illustrations my inclination would be to go for one of the 7″ models or, if you’re not bothered about portability, the 10″.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.