Steven

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D-Link DUB-H7 USB 2.0 Hub Review

I don’t know about you, but for me, four inconveniently positioned USB ports on the sides of my laptop just aren’t enough. I’ve been looking for ages for a USB hub that wasn’t your average $ 59.99 HP 4-port clunk of ridiculously shiny plastic. I needed something heavy duty — and cheap, so here I am with a D-Link DUB-H7 USB 2.0 Hub.

The Good: 7 ports, low profile, externally powered, inexpensive, individual indicator lights, nice long cables.

The Bad: Not capable of powering USB devicesĀ  solely from a power socket, all 7 ports downgrade to USB 1.0 if a 1.0 device is plugged into any of the ports.

Annoyances: The individual indicators serve no purpose other than to notify you if a port shorts out.

Overview: I would say that this hub was well worth the $30.00 I paid for it. While a USB hub isn’t a very consequential purchase, I took it very seriously. I was happy that it was a serious, no-messing-around hub that did it’s job and no more. There were no bells or whistles, and that was reflected in the price. It is compact and tough. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve knocked it off my desk. I did try to use it as a converter to charge USB devices from my wall, but that didn’t work for some reason. It has with other lesser hubs. If I plug it into the wall a swell as into my computer, all the lights will light up green. The only way I can get one to change is if I manage to short it out, then that individual light will turn red. They are essentially useless. The biggest problem I encountered with this hub was that if I plug a USB 1.0 device in it, all the ports seem to be downgraded to USB 1.0 speeds. This really isn’t as big a deal as it sounds, I don’t even think anyone has any of those anymore. You wouldn’t have noticed it I hadn’t just told you. Overall, This hub is delightfully average. It does its what I need it to well and no more. I’m sure there are better hubs out there, but not for that price.

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God Dammit LeJOS (or Should I Say, “God Dammit Ubuntu?”)!

It’s been a while hasn’t it? I’m not going to apologize because our four viewers per day are probably spambots anyways (don’t be offended, I hold you guys very close to my heart! Please don’t stop searching the blog for email addresses!)

As you may or may not know, I am the proud owner of a Lego Mindstorms NXT kit, on which I have spent more money than is legal or healthy. As my friend (and contributor to the NXT Step ) has kindly pointed out, I have been so busy programming my little heart out that I have forgotten to blog about my experiences. So here I am, complaining blogging about one of my favorite NXT programming languages: LeJOS NXJ.

Now, one might ask, “Steven, why would you complain about LeJOS? It’s the best NXT language on the block!” Presented with that question, I might answer, “It doesn’t work on Linux.” As you probably know, that’s actually my answer to all questions of that particular format, but I digress. To be accurate, LeJOS does run on Linux, and even Ubuntu, just not on my Lucid machine. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t. I have tried everything, and it just won’t run. Truthfully, I had it running perfectly for about nine minutes before I decided to work on my Computer Science Assignment (a Java program). Preceding my spontaneous decision to install LeJOS (spawned by my NXT making a funny clicking noise), I was running the OpenJDK JDK. Blindly following the instructions on the Ubuntu Forum, I uninstalled it in favor of the Sun JDK. Don’t you love Linux, we get two JDKs, neither of which work with anything. I continued following the aforementioned instructions until the end. Everything was working, even Bluetooth. Everything was working, I had succeeded, I was a Linux god!

Until I compiled my Java code.

It seems, as it always does, that the Sun Java compiler won’t compile Java code, only Fortran. Actually, it won’t compile anything (I don’t know what’s worse). As naive as we geeks are, I decided to reinstall the OpenJDK Platform, you know, so I could pick and choose which JDK I would use for what. Bad idea. Now all my LeJOS files compile to *.class files, and my Java code still won’t compile. Considering my Computer Science code was due the next morning, I uninstalled everything, finished the assignment and didn’t dare touch LeJOS until now. I can tell you, It’s not any better than it was three weeks ago. Now it just looks like Java vomited on my hard drive.

Maybe it’ll work when I switch to Fedora, I’ll keep you four delightful spambots posted.

The worst part it that Minecraft stopped working!

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Integrating Thunderbird into Ubuntu’s Desktop

Sorry for the late post. Last week I was studying for a test and this week I got injured mountain-biking. I flipped off a berm into a pond (my new bike came shortly after).

Back to reality. Many people prefer Thunderbird to Evolution (Ubuntu’s default mail client) simply because it’s better. However, there is a considerable disadvantage to using Thunderbird in Ubuntu 10.04. Thunderbird is not as well integrated into the the messaging menu as Evolution. By that, I mean it’s not integrated at all, but fear not! It can be done! We have the technology!

First, you’ll want to hit alt-f2 and enter:

gksu /usr/share/applications

Simple enough, right?

Next, find “thunderbird.desktop.” Right-click it and select “edit with gedit,” or whatever text editor you prefer (like SciTE). Replace the code with the following:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Thunderbird Mail
GenericName=Mail Client
Comment=Manage your email and contacts
Exec=thunderbird %u
Icon=evolution
Terminal=false
Type=Application
Categories=Application;Network;Email;
StartupNotify=true
X-Ayatana-Desktop-Shortcuts=Compose;Contacts
Name[en_GB]=thunderbird.desktop
[Compose Shortcut Group]
Name=Compose New Message
Exec=thunderbird mailto:
OnlyShowIn=Messaging Menu
[Contacts Shortcut Group]
Name=Contacts
Exec=thunderbird -addressbook
OnlyShowIn=Messaging Menu

Save and exit.

Go to /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications and add a file called “thunderbird” with the contents:

/usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop

Then save, logout and log back in. This will only get you so far. To get Notify-OSD notifications, you’re going to have to install a Thunderbird plug-in called “Libnotify Popups.” It’s relatively simple to do, just head on to Tools > Addons, search for it and install it. Just remember to turn off Thunderbird’s default notifications to avoid redundancy and also to avoid redundancy.

Please enjoy responsibly!

Also, if you want to change the icon to the regular Thunderbird one, just change:

Icon=evolution

to

Icon=thunderbird

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The New Nano: A Pager* with Album Art

Here’s the latest chapter in Steve Jobs’ quest to destroy all buttons; an iPod Nano that’s the size of an old (new?) Shuffle, except it has a touch-screen. They seem, for want of a better word, cute. It’s a minimal iPod that does what it’s meant to, and no more (or at least I hope not; who would want to play games on that?). Apple seems to have a “jack of all trades, master of none” mentality, so this seems a little odd. It’s like making with an iPhone that only did calls/communications. It apparently has 24 hours of music playback (yeah, when plugged in). With the back-light and equalizer on, it’s probably more like 13 hours. I really don’t know what to think about this… I can’t dislike it (it’s too cute), but I don’t want it either. It seems like more of a niche product than a Nano, but then again, Apple fanboys would pay $149.99 to rub Steve Jobs’ feet. Just a note, it is arsenic, BFR, mercury and PVC free, which means you can now lick your iPod without getting cancer.

One thing that totally baffles me (even more than Ikea flat-pack furniture instructions) is that the new Shuffle has buttons! What is going on? I guess the population just wasn’t ready for a talking flash-drive that takes mores-code orders from a pair of earbuds. However, I fail to see why it has less battery life than the Nano! It has no screen, yet it has a (heavily padded) 15 hour playback time! That’s already a lot, but compared to 24 hours, it makes no sense! Apple is really holding back here.

Anyways, that’s all I have to say about this wave of products the world never know they wanted.

Until next time.

*Oh, and by the way, for you youngsters who don’t know what a pager is, imagine a cellphone that only receives texts.

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Steam for Linux?

Now I know Valve has denied having a Linux version of their game platform (Steam) in the works, but a lot of bloggers are skeptical, and with good reason. On Steam’s website there’s a job offer. They’re looking for a Lead Software Engineer, and amongst the responsibilities listed, I spotted:

Manage the operation of large clusters of machines running both Windows and Linux in a highly available system.

and

Port Windows-based games to the Linux platform.

You can’t argue with that folks. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself.

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