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End of a Love Affair with Acer September 12, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., reviews, ubuntu.

I was in love with Acer laptops. I bought my first one, an Acer Travelmate 290 LMi in my second year of grad school. I did pay ~ $1200 for it, but it was awesome, right until the moment there were errors with the hard disk controllers about 3 years later. When I sold it for parts on ebay, it still retained more than 3 hours worth of charge in it’s battery. The finish and the quality of parts spoke loud and clear. I liked the simple looks, the ruggedness, and above all, the dependability.

So when I had to find a replacement, and was short on time and money, I settled for another Acer. An Acer Aspire 5003 LMi. Piece of junk. The plastic looks cheap. The “Aluminum” next to the keyboard is poorly spray painted plastic. The area next to the touchpad, and the left-click button have lost all their paint due to repeated use, and then look white. All within a year. For the last few days, occasionally, I would open up the laptop, and the display wouldn’t work properly. Loud cracks can be heard at the hinges when I open it up. I’d usually fix the display problem by opening the lid to an angle where the display worked. Today it failed completely. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the display to display anything coherent. The quality of the parts, and the “casing”, is terrible. I admit, this was a cheap laptop, but it had what I needed at a minimum. I am not someone who buys the cheapest thing around. I buy computers with exactly the minimum I need. This one has a Broadcom wireless card, but I thought I could live with that for a bit. I don’t need a separate video card – I never play games. I do need a large screen, and a DVD-burner – well, you get the point. I would have gladly paid $250 more to Acer for the same laptop with better quality.

Personally, I have vouched for Acer laptops, and have directly influenced my friends into buying at least 3-4 Acers. Now I feel like an idiot. I have to try something new. I don’t like how ThinkPads are designed with the recessed screen and clunky looks and all. The Sony Vaios I have known through friends and others have all been terrible – each of them making the trip back to Sony at least once. That leave the glitzy HPs and the Dells. I’d rather have a MacBook or the Pro, which looks infinitely cooler. Wish I had the money for a new MacBookPro. It has way more features and power than I need, though. Anyways, I feel much better having written this – may those that I recommended Acers to find it in them to forgive me!

Preserve Threaded View in Thunderbird May 20, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, Friends Etc., snippets.

Via Chris Ilias’ Blog comes this gem of a tip.

If you use Mozilla Thunderbird, and love the threaded view, but hate losing the threaded view whenever you click on “Sender” or “Date” to sort the messages, then this is the tip for you. This helps you keep the threaded view regardless of how you sort the messages.

Go to Tools–>Options–>Advanced–>General, and select the Config Editor option.

Thunderbird Threaded View

In the Config Editor, search for “mailnews.thread_pane_column_unthreads” by typing it in at the top. When you see the preference, change the value from “True” to “False” by double-clicking on it, or by right clicking and changing the value. This will help you keep the threaded view stuck across the different sorting methods.

I find the threaded view useful when browsing the list of bug-related emails, for one. Of course, I use the Claws GTK email client much more than I do Thunderbird, but I have Thunderbird setup on an infrequently used office computer, and I thought many of you might be using Thunderbird anyways.

Installing Ubuntu in a Library May 11, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., ubuntu.

I installed no software, except for the Operating System, and look – it works!

Jessamyn is a librarian with 3 donated PCs and no legitimate OS. She installs Ubuntu and shows us why she loves it.

I woke and saw this. Today will be a good great day!

I hope she posts a follow-up of how people in her library use it.

Ubuntu’s Logo Copied By ReviewIt Mag April 12, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., snippets, ubuntu.

The latest edition of Reviewit Magazine features the Ubuntu Logo on the 37th page. (via Digg). Also, as Jeff points out, they also use imagery from the Fedora stable(the bubbles), and so it is twice lame. Thanks for pointing these out, Jeff.

ReviewIt magazine copies Ubuntu Logo

Earlier there was that offending MSN Spaces Logo which looked close but wasn’t a 100% copy. That logo is not being used by spaces now, which is now called Windows Live Spaces.

So what do we do about blatant trademark violations? Somehow, the idea of a corporation that aggressively pursues copyright and trademark violation does not fit in with Open Culture. That said, it is essential to maintain the integrity of Ubuntu’s branding. I suppose since the magazine in question is not so popular, and since it is a one-off violation, nothing will be done about this (then again, I might be wrong).

By the way, I have been blogging here at a crazy rate over the past day or two. Most of the posts have been news or opinion items. This is so unlike me 🙂 This is the last of them, I promise. It is tempting to blog about every little Ubuntu related thing that I think is interesting, but doing that takes me a little farther from the blog’s stated goal.

Update: Earlier I had implied that the logo appeared in an advertisement. It was not an ad – it was an article in the magazine. So, since it is no fault of the institution featured in the magazine, I have removed references to the institution in the article above. I apologize if I misled/misinformed anyone temporarily. I have also edited some comments below to remove references to the institution mentioned upon request. I received two emails – one each from the institution and from the magazine that seem to confirm that the logo appeared in an article, not an advertisement. Thank you!

Encrypt GMail using GPG Keys April 4, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., ubuntu.

FireGPG is the firefox plugin you need to encrypt, decrypt, sign and verify emails in Gmail using your trusty GPG keys. The installation instructions are heavy on sentence ending exclamations, but they let us know that you can use this extension in Linux.

Freedom Is the Addiction, Ubuntu the Gateway Drug March 21, 2007

Posted by Carthik in about, Friends Etc., ubuntu.

It’s Ubuntu’s fault, really. If I hadn’t gotten started on the free software ride, I wouldn’t have any compunctions about stolen music. What’s 300 stolen albums when you’ve collected $2000+ in stolen software?

K Mandla.

After using Ubuntu long enough, I too don’t see the need to use pirated software on Windows. I still use Windows XP at work/school. I get it for free, legally, from school. When that stops I will have to stop using it. On XP, I use The GIMP, VLC media player, and a host of other free alternatives. Life is good, light and joyful with free software.

Gimparoo – Converting Photoshop Tutorials to Gimp February 13, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., guides, Other sites, reviews.

It’s not everyday that I get stoked enough by a website/blog that I decide to write about it. I happened upon gimparoo today, and the first thought I had was, “The world so badly needs this blog – what a great idea.” Though I don’t muck around with the GIMP as much as I used to a few years ago, I still appreciate a good, useful resource.

Gimparoo converts photoshop tutorials for the Gimp. Linux users rejoice!

To whoever the author of gimparoo is – please keep updating the blog once a day 🙂

Reach For the Stars! December 31, 2006

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc..

I serendipitously happened across this beautiful image while browsing the web. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Mark Shuttleworth rendered the image in orbit using povray! The image was apparently inspired by Exupery’s Little Prince.

Like so many stories today, it started with an email exchange…

Read all about it if you like!

I’d love to have the poster, would look awesome on any wall!

Oh, and Happy New Year to all my readers!