Sparking the Dream – the lure of Microsoft

13 08 2010

It was a fluke, but I happened to stumble upon a strange website from Microsoft named,”Dream Spark”

(C) Microsoft

Simply put, this is Microsoft’s way to attract student developers into using their products. Since I am moving into Computer Science at my local university, I thought this was a good time to take advantage.

So far so good, although you find the basic development software for hobbyists, found under the ‘Express’ moniker I’m also downloading a copy of Visual studio 2010 and benefiting from excellent links to Discounted software that is even cheaper than my Campus’ store.

If you’re a student in the US, Canada (like myself), or the UK, I think you’ll benefit from the resources on this site. If you’re interested in Development in general, check it out, though the Express series has great documents and info for learning how to program in the Language you prefer.


Broadcom Crystal HD in Aspire One 532H

12 08 2010

Well it has been a very long time since I posted anything, summer and Spring tends to take me away from some of my geeking.

I had been considering purchasing and upgrade for my netbook when I discovered it had an extra PCIe-Mini port. I debated going with a bluetooth or turner module but I didn’t want something that would chew through the battery anymore than this thing does normally.

After some digging I found the Crystal HD from Broadcom. A few retailers include it into their Netbooks(Dell Mini) with their own Players and enhancements. With Flash 10.1, Adobe has brought support to the Windows platform. To read a review of a Dell Mini compared with other netbooks check out Engadget:

Logic Supply has the module for $50 USD, I ordered it on a whim and it finally arrived.

Just for reference I have the AO532H-2242: 1.66 Intel Atom N450, 2GB of Crucial RAM, 160GB @5400rpm, Windows 7 Starter and Ubuntu 10.04 NE.

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The 1000th Prime number is 7919?

10 04 2010

One of the great advantages of the inter-tubes is the access to valuable information. I have been following MIT’s Open Course Ware, specifically their 6.00, An introduction to Computer Science and Programming.

The course uses Python to introduce them to the world of Programming. As a hobbyist, I’ve had an opportunity to play with C/C++, Java and even a little bit of Visual Basic. With the exception of C++ more recently, I haven’t dedicated enough to time learn the skills needed to develop applications.

This is where OCW’s 6.00 class comes in, I have the lectures, handouts and problems and can follow along almost as well as a MIT student. Unfortunately I am not at MIT, but I have applied for Computer Science at my local University and am waiting to get in. In order to prepare myself better, I’ve decided to follow this resource in an attempt to learn Python.

Anyways, after a few days of not solving their section assignment, I suddenly had a good night and managed to program my way out of Problem set 1. I will post the result later tonight.


April Fool’s Google

1 04 2010

Like I’m sure 90% of the people logging into Gmail this morning didn’t notice this:

Ubuntu 10.4 Netbook Remix and Me

27 03 2010

Ubuntu’s newest release is a few weeks away and they released their Beta version of 10.4 last week.

I’m generally a casual user of GNU/Linux software. I have toyed with various distributions for the last 10 years. More recently, just before the release of Windows 7, I switched my PC to Kubuntu and haven’t looked back since.

They have several releases based around different Window managers. The two most popular among new users are the standard Ubuntu Desktop Edition and Kubuntu. Ubuntu uses the Gnome Windows manager, while Kubuntu uses KDE Plasma. Both have their strengths, both can run thousands of GNU/GPL licensed (Free) software. For my purposes, Kubuntu looks amazing and reminds me of a good mix of Windows Navigation with OS X’s ease of use and stability.

Another edition the Ubuntu community delivers is the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, which is designed for users who want the Ubuntu experience on a small Netbook screen, or just prefer a more intuitive desktop. Myself, I have an Aspire One netbook, which although includes Windows 7 Starter, I found myself installing UNR on this machine.

From 9.10, the Netbook remix is very solid. Battery life, choice of software, speed and stability are all top-notch. The main desktop is streamlined to show me the programs I want to launch without digging through too many menus. Icons are crisp and large and navigation and hot-keys work well when I don’t want to keep going back to the trackpad to launch something new.

Draw backs are that since it is still beta, I am having some battery and fan issues. Things just don’t add up. Sometimes the system drops into suspend because it says it is low, however it is on a full charge. Fan does seem to run a little high considering I did not experience the same noise from it while using 9.10.


  • Great Ubuntu/Gnome Experience
  • More refined: colours, layout, and experience


  • Not yet stable
  • Title bar is still too large
  • Several programs have issues displaying windows in view.

I’ve also had the chance to play with Moblin, seeing as how it is developed by Intel. I expected a good experience for a netbook. I’ll write my experience in the net day or two when I’m done.

Bilbo Blogger, Dolphins and Punk Rawk Adv3nture Kittie

21 03 2010


It’s been a productive morning. I’m in between shifts, and the day is mine to seize. Ubuntu released their beta of Lucid and I am downloading on my Kubuntu based PC as we speak.

I’m lucky enough to be able to wake up to Radio in the mornings, specifically CBC Radio One. I was listening to a piece about the Documentary, ‘The Cove’. Regardless of ones feelings towards these films, I was interested in the film-makers opinions and tales of making the movie.

Due to the Oscar win, a few countries are certainly promoting and riding the Dolphin frenzy. The information he quoted on Mercury content in many fish struck me. Although I don’t live near the ocean anymore, I did grow up in a small Maritime community that has a strong fishing heritage. Seafood was a regular meal, and the idea that much of the sea-food in the Ocean is contaminated with various metals and toxins is tough to swallow. You grow up learning the benefits of seafood, thinking it is the healthiest, in reality however that may not be completely true. The Japanese corporations that send Dolphin meat to schools across Japan doesn’t seem far fetched. Apparently is regulated but so that it still has poisonous amounts of Mercury, as humans we don’t always see the affects like immediately, and I know most rural people could care less. Feel free to take that very summarized version of his details with a grain of salt and do your own research.

On that note, I’m writing this from Bilbo Blogger. A blogging client written for Linux under a GNU licence. If you’re like me and run GNU/Linux software on a laptop of desktop, and blog. Go check it out. It’s been stable so far. Just remember to click the [ABC Check] button if you want instant spell checking. Took me a few minutes to figure that out.

I have few goals for today, personal items mostly. I did find my web came and should probably make a quick video tutorial for my X-Session. It keeps getting pushed back because I have too many hobbies, and my attention is easily diverted.

If anyone out there has questions about the X-Session, Bilbo Blogger, or Ubuntu/Kubuntu feel free to comment and I’ll be happy to help out.

Be well,


Acer Aspire One 532H — Nice

20 03 2010

I bought my first laptop the other day, even though I suppose it would be considered a net-book. After some research and a bit of shopping I decided on the AO532H. The details: $299 CND from Bureau en Gros/Staples

  • N450 Atom Processor
  • 1GB Ram
  • 160GB SATA
  • Wifi N
  • 10.1 screen,  Video: GMA3150
  • 3-Cell battery (2200)

My First Impressions: It comes with Windows 7 Starter and a funk load of Acer software and other junk to make your day frustrating. I can not say I expected much less from any company–they like to load on lots of software that probably offsets the cheap price of making the hardware. Unfortunately most of it is bloatware and really isn’t needed. Here’s what I have done so far:

  • Uninstall all the extra Acer, McFee, and un-needed software from Windows.
  • Re-partitioning the hard-drive to accommodate a Ubuntu install.
  • Installing RAM upgrade
  • Installing software I use: Foxit, Google Chrome, iTunes
  • Adding Ubuntu netbook Remix as dual-boot.
  • Adding my music and video library

It was pretty painless. I like the chiclet-keyboard and the track-pad. Unlike most laptops I do find myself hitting the mouse pad occasionally when typing which would be a given on any netbook. Unfortunately the 3-Cell battery is a drawback, I have seen online versions of this laptop selling with the 6-cell that offers 8 hours of battery life, but they were a little more pricey, but it would be worth the investment. Since I did not pay shipping the final price here in Quebec worked out to be around $330.

A new battery is going to run me close to $100 for sure, add another $60 for a 2GB stick of RAM and I’ll end of having paid $550 or so with accessories. This model came out in January, and finding details on accessories had been tricky. Even Acer’s own web site does not give specifics to the hardware upgrades and pieces used.

The battery upgrade has been harder to find and will probably have to wait until next month anyway. The feel and weight to this thing is great, probably the lightest netbook, especially with a 3-cell on board. As you will find on some reviews it is prone to smudges on the glossy black surfaces, but mine has a grey body and I would recommend that if you do not like finger prints.

There seems to be some confusion on just how upgradable this netbook is. So far I have successfully upgraded it to 2GB, although Acer’s own web site now lists the 532H as having a Maximum of 1GB. There is also a mini PCI-E slot next to the hard-drive which would accommodate any 2″x 1″ piece of hardware. There are a few 3G/Bluetooth cards that could go here, an interesting prospect would be the Broadcom Crystal HD card that would should enough this to play HD video content.

I’ll keep writing about it as I find reasons too. Overall I’m happy with the basic machine, though if you can afford another $100 go with a 6-Cell for sure. It will save you the hassle of finding one down the road. Honestly netbooks need 10 hours of battery life to make them really useful. I tend to carry mine everywhere and tend to only get 2h30min+ on the battery, which isn’t much at all for web surfing and listening to music.