Now Testing: Wubi

Since I was thirteen years old, I’ve dabbled in Linux.  Very lightly dabbled, as there hasn’t been a strong motivator or catalyst to keep me interested.  I’ve installed Linux on some old desktop hardware before, but I never had the desire to sit on an ancient computer when I need to get something done.  The boot-Linux-from-a-USB-drive approach is so painfully slow, & just seems hokey from a true usability standpoint.  I’ve also used VMWare Player and booted up a virtual desktop with several flavors of Linux.  The trouble for me is that it’s too easy to alt-tab into a familiar windows app if I run into even a small roadblock.

The catalyst may have presented itself.

I’m shocked that I haven’t heard about Wubi before today, but I tell you, I’m pretty geeked about the app.  It’s a Windows application that gives the option (after a shutdown or restart) to boot into Linux instead of the Windows OS you already have.  I’m too much of an Excel guy to move away from Windows, but there are plenty of times I’m not playing spreadsheets and I’m annoyed with the general bloat of Windows.

For my first crack at Wubi, I’ve chosen the Ubuntu Netbook Edition release to go on

Ubuntu Netbook Edition Desktop Screenshot

After a few hours and a change of the background

my little Acer Aspire.  Should be nice and lightweight, as well as reasonably-tuned for the smallish screen.  Once I had the Ubuntu .iso downloaded, the install took about 15 minutes, which included installing the Wuby app, selecting my distribution, then rebooting into Linux and waiting for the first-time-boot to grind through.  Now I’m cold-booting in under a minute.

It recognized my wireless adapter right away–which is nice–and I was able to connect out to my network with little trouble.  Actually, my biggest roadblock was that Firefox was pretty fussy about resolving websites.  That’s fine, it gave me a good reason to download Chrome for Linux, which doesn’t have the same problems I was seeing.

We’ll see how things go, but so far I couldn’t be happier.  If anyone else out there is interested in installing Wuby, but wants a little how-to, check out this guide at the how-to-geek.

New iPhone Apps: Sound Grenade & Alarm Clock

Free versions of both (paid versions available for added features).  Alarm clock is a digital clock (with nice Matrix-ey green old school LCD style numbers).  Sound Grenade was recommended by a co-worker of mine.  A devious little program that uses the speaker to emit a high pitched tone that’s remarkably difficult to track down.

While I’ve continued to download Apps, I’ve purged nothing from the iPhone as of yet.  I suspect some will come soon, but given my pickiness of what I install, I don’t see a mass deletion on the horizon.

I haven’t shelled out money for any apps, which surprises me.  I was not under the impression that there were a wealth of worthwhile free Apps in the iTunes store.  Additionally, I’m pretty excited that I don’t need to hook up to iTunes on a computer to download Apps.  Surprising that I’m as in tune with tech as I am, however I had no clue the experience would be this slick.  Perhaps this is something Apple can improve upon a bit.

My most used App has been Evernote, in fact, it’s now more useful than I’ve ever found it to be.  Perhaps the topic of an upcoming post…

Verdict: Visual Subst is off to the boneyard

I had my doubts even as I installed it…and Visual Subst didn’t last very long.  Very simply put, why should I install an always-on application that could be replaced with a single line of (extraordinary simple) code?


Now Testing: Eye Defender

I’ve been a bit freaked out lately that my eyesight is slowly degenerating because I stare at a computer screen 12+ hours a day.

computer monitor

EyeDefender is an app that will cue you every 45 minutes (or custom interval) that it’s time to give the ol’ peepers a rest.  I just hope I can actually take the time to follow through…

Now testing: Visual Subst

I’ve been a longtime fan of the dos command subst, which allows you to take a folder on your computer and assign a drive letter to it.  You can still get to it through the original folder, and it behaves no differently from before, but you can easily get to it through a simple drive letter.

The biggest drawback to using the command line for this (or creating a batch file) is that it needs to be run every time the computer starts.  Typically, I set up a batch file and add it to my startup routine…which I must forget to do whenever I reimage my machine…

Visual Subst promises to do the work for me, giving a nice little visual interface to set up the mapping, then it will take care of it every time I turn on the computer.

Subst Screenshot

As I’m writing this, I’m now questioning whether this is worth a dedicated app for, but I have a feeling it’ll end up in the boneyard if it doesn’t have some whiz-bang feature set.

Now Testing: MS Office Labs Chart Advisor (Excel add-in)

For all of the time I spend in Excel, I struggle when it comes time to plot data.  The MS Office Labs Chart Advisor is meant to help guide which type of chart should be used based on characteristics of the dataset.  While I don’t expect it to replace the human input of defining the kind of story the chart should tell, I do hope it will whittle down the amount of time I spend tuning my charts.

Chart Advisor Screenshot

This little add-on is exciting for me, since I have some data mining projects coming up that will be a good proving ground for the add-in.

Thanks to the How-To Geek and Pointy Haired Dilbert for this recommendation.