It’s Good to Be Home… Maybe not.

This morning I switched back to Windows 7 from my Kubuntu linux week.  Before I did though, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade to Kubuntu 9.10 again.  Ironically enough, the upgrade installed all of the available security updates (and all but the XBMC updates).  And my computer booted fine on the next restart.

I ran into one set of problems immediately though.  My GPG keys were wiped out.  This wouldn’t be a problem—except that I moved the backups to a server.  Kleopatra (and GPG in general) won’t import from a non-local drive.  And when I tried to copy them from the server, they wouldn’t copy.  So, I left Kubuntu slightly defeated…

So, it’s good to be home then, right?  Well not exactly.  I booted into Windows… And blue-screened.  Rebooted into Windows… And blue-screened again.  After the third or fourth time, I did the startup-repairs and did a System Restore. Possibly, it was caused by my going into the drive in Kubuntu—but since I’d gotten blue screens before last week, I doubt it.

Then, I couldn’t open my encrypted e-mails in Outlook.  Not because I didn’t have the keys for the accounts that I mailed them from (I did).  Not because I didn’t have gpg or my S/MIME certificates set up (I did). Why?  Because I had imported older keys for my hotmail account (which I no longer have the passwords for), and it used those to encrypt the e-mails.  Luckily, I can view/send them from my gmail account.

I’ve copied my keys over to a local drive and will be able to go back into Kubuntu and fix the issue with GPG.  And I’m finding and signing more keys for sites that I use regularly.  I may do a series of posts on GPG and other digital certificates again.

I’m almost prepared to move my site.  The hosting company will most likely be BlueHost, unless I find a better deal within the next three months. 

So, overall I still love Windows.  But, I’ve found that I can easily do things in Kubuntu.  If you’re the least bit curious about Linux, then I highly recommend that you check it out (  You can download a Live CD (which is a good idea if you’re doing online banking or shopping), or you can install it alongside Windows (wubi or a true dual-boot setup).  And if you find that it’s up to your standards, you can easily install it in place of Windows.

Have a great day:)

Google Joins the IE-6 Must Die Campaign

ComputerWorld is reporting that starting on March 1, 2010, Google Docs and Google Sites will no longer support Internet Explorer 6.  Considering that IE6 is 9 years old, it’s not surprising.  There have been two versions of Internet Explorer in the past 9 years, alongside offerings from Mozilla, Apple, and even Google themselves.  Corporations have NO excuses for not updating their applications and services to support the later versions of Internet Explorer (or the alternative browsers). 

If you are a web-developer, I strongly urge you to drop support for Internet Explorer 6 in your sites.  Redirect the visitor to a page that says something to the effect of "The browser that you are currently using is old, outdated, and insecure.  Here are some links to the latest browsers which are supported on this site."  In fact, I would suggest following Google’s lead and dropping support for Firefox 2.x, Apple 2.x, Google 3.x, or earlier browsers.

Here are some links for coding the version detection into your websites. This page is geared mainly for older browsers to show the page in an optimized format.  You can easily modify the code to redirect the user to another page that recommends they upgrade.  (instead of (ie5up), you could use (! ie7up)). The code in this site parses the browser’s information for the version number.  You can modify their example inside of the "You are using…." box to create your redirection (if browser < IE7, Firefox 3, Chrome 4, then redirect here.).  This script does not detect Safari–due to how Apple formats their browser identification string, but you could probably add it in fairly easily (you just need to know the internal version number of Safari 4 which is any number greater than 528.18.  It’s 530.17 on Mac, 530.17 on Windows (4.0.1) but 528.18 on their iPhone, so I would just use the lower value because there are no "versions" on the Mac or Windows that contains that number (source )).

Personally, I prefer the second route to the first one.  I may include it in my blog at some point (redirecting people to this post or another page).  However on the first page, they actually discuss the >= or in your case < (use gte for >= and lt for < in your if statements).

Have a great day and if you’re using one of these older browsers, then you may want to switch things up. or


More Books that I Recommend

In April, I posted a list of books that I’m reading (or will be) and recommend.  This is an update to that post. 

The links that I am providing to these books are through my affiliate listing at  So, any purchases that you make through these links will provide a small commission back to me.

The latest books:

Textbooks: (These may be somewhat expensive, but they will definitely teach you the information you need to know.)

Problem Solving and Programming Concepts (8th Edition)This book is the basis for some of my “Learn to Program” information.

Java How to Program, 7th Edition This is the book that Colorado Technical University uses for their Java Programming Courses (as of December 29, 2009).

Non-Textbooks: (These are other computer-related books that I feel are worth recommending.  Some are books that I’ve read, and others are books that I feel do an excellent job of educating the reader.)

Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming, A (2nd Edition) This book was a textbook that I used for my "Unix" course. While I don’t recommend it as a textbook (due to the organization of the first edition), it is still the first thing I grab whenever I have to figure out how to do something in Linux.

Networking For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) This is the first of two "for Dummies" books that I’m recommending. These books are defnitely not an indication of a person’s intelligence level. They are, however, a very good layman’s explanation of the subject of Networking and Computers.

PCs For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) Like the Networking for Dummies book above, this is an excellent "layman’s term" explanation of how a Windows PC works. Subjects like the GUI (Graphical User Interface), Files, Networking, and security are described in a way that everyone should understand. I purchased an older version of this for my 73 year old mother, and she still uses it. **Note the description on Amazon refers to Windows 95/98, however the book is current for Windows 7.**

Macs For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) It wouldn’t be fair, if I didn’t put a Mac for Dummies book up. While I haven’t read this book, I have to say that if the reputation of the series holds up, it will do just as good of a job explaining the Mac OS and computer, as the PC’s side does.

Microsoft Office 2007 For Seniors For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) While this book is aimed at Seniors who are learning Office 2007, it’s a good reference for anyone that is just starting with the suite. You learn the basics in Word, Excel, Outlook, aand PowerPoint.

Linux For Dummies, 9th Edition Like the Mac for Dummies book, it wouldn’t be fair to not include a Linux for Dummies book in my list. Also, I’ve used a variation of this book (RedHat 7 for Dummies) and was very impressed with their explanations. This book covers Ubunutu, gOS (which is found installed on some computers, and Fedora.

I will cover more books in a future post. 

Have a great day:)


Kubuntu 9.10 – Comparison between doing things in Windows and Kubuntu.

The purpose of this post is to show you how to do certain things in Kubuntu, as opposed to Windows.  It is intended to be another look at things—where the Windows version is on one side, and the Kubuntu version is on the other.  I’m comparing Windows XP and Kubuntu 9.10, because quite a few people will be upgrading from XP.  I will note differences in how XP and Vista/7 do things as necessary.

In some cases, there is no “application” to do a task (for example, in Windows, you have various installers for installing programs, and in Kubuntu, you can do it through the Package Manager.  I am also not counting suites such as Microsoft Office in this.  If there is no “Windows” version of an application, it won’t be shown.

Managing System Settings:

In Windows, most of the settings are handled through the Control Panel. In Kubuntu, they are handled through the “System Settings” panel.

ControlPanel-xp    SystemSettings-kubuntu               

Playing Media (Music and Videos):

In Windows, you have the options of Windows Media Player (and in some cases Windows Media Center), or third party applications.  Some of the applications are available on both Windows and Kubuntu.  In Kubuntu, there are no “built’-in” (read as Kubuntu-) applications, however there are third party applications which are installed with Kubuntu.  Examples of this are Amarok for music and dragon video player for videos.

  mediaPlayer-windowsamarok-kubuntu dragon-video-plyr-kubuntu

Security Updates:

In Windows XP, you have to navigate to in order to get updates for Windows (or use Automatic Updates).  In Vista/7, this is all done through an applet in the Control Panel (or Automatic Updates).  Kubuntu doesn’t have an “Automatic Updates”, however all updates are handled through the Package Manager.  And Kubuntu will check for new updates on a daily basis (much like the “Prompt only” option in Windows Automatic Updates").


Word Processing (text and rich text):

Text based:

In Windows, you have notepad for .txt files.  In Kubuntu, you have Kate for .txt files.  Other word-processing applications will handle these as well in both operating systems.

 Notepad-xp kate-kubuntu

Rich-text based:

In Windows, you have wordpad to handle rich-txt (rtf) files.  It also handles some of the other formats, such as .doc.  In Kubuntu, you have two options: Kate or OpenOfficeOrg’s Writer (the equivalent of Microsoft Office’s Word).

 WordPad-xp kate-kubuntuwriter-kubuntu


In Windows, there are no default applications to handle spreadsheets.  If you’re using an OEM computer, you may have Microsoft Works installed.  Or you have to install Microsoft Office (or a third party application).  In Kubuntu, you have OpenOfficeOrg’s Calc program installed.  OpenOfficeOrg’s suite is also available for Windows.


Picture editing:

In Windows, you have either Paint or Picture Viewer to handle pictures.  You can also download the Windows Live Essentials suite for this.  In Kubuntu, you have OpenOfficeOrg’s Draw, or you can download third-party applications such as GIMP.

 paint-xp draw-kubuntu

Installing Applications:

In Windows, you use various third party installers to install the applications.  These are typically in the form of .exe or .msi applications.  The third parties control what is installed with these applications.  In Kubuntu, the majority of your applications are available through the Package Manager.  Canonical (the company responsible for the “*buntu” distributions) maintains the package lists, and the packages have to meet their standards to be included on the lists. You can still install through third-party .bin files or .deb files, and add third party sources to your package lists (called repositories).

Since the package manager in Kubuntu is included with the software manager, I won’t show the picture a second time.

Security measures:

In this category, I’m talking about the default security measures (not including third-party antivirus or firewalls).  In Windows, you have Windows Firewall (and Windows Defender).  In Windows XP, everyone is an administrator by default (unless you specify that they are a limited user).  There are no prompts for administrative access.

In Windows Vista/7, Microsoft included the UAC.  This is a method of removing administrative powers from accounts (even “Administrative” accounts).  If you need Administrative access, you’re prompted for permission (and a password in the case of limited users).

In Kubuntu, you have the sudo command, or a variation of the UAC in Windows Vista/7.  It should be noted that Kubuntu, along with all Linux distros, have had this feature since their inception.  Microsoft is finally catching up to them in terms of this type of Security.  Kubuntu doesn’t have an antivirus or antispyware built in.  There is a firewall, but it’s not enabled by default (although there is AppArmor, which attempts to sandbox and secure running applications).

This gives you a brief look at how things are done in Kubuntu, compared to Windows.  Hopefully it will be a benefit for anyone considering the switch.

Have a great day:)

Configuring Your DNS Servers Part 2 (Windows Computers Only)

So, you’ve decided that you want to ditch your ISP’s DNS servers for whatever reason.  In Part 1, I gave you the IP’s for Google Public DNS and OpenDNS.  Now, it’s time to get into the guts of the matter and make the changes.  As mentioned before, I will show you in two major sections “On your Computer” and “On your router/modem”.  I will further break the first section down into Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. 

On Your Computer

Windows machines:

In Windows, the actual changes are the same, it’s how you get to them that differs.  The location is the “Properties” option of the Network adapter that you’re using (wired, or wireless).  Here’s how to find this location.

Windows XP and earlier:  Click your Start Menu.  Then either “right-click” on My Network Places (and choose Properties) or left click on Control Panel (if “My Network Places isn’t listed).  If you choose the Control Panel, then you need to click on “Internet and Network Connections (in category view) or “Network Connections” in Classic View.  In category View, you have an additional step—click on Network Connections at the bottom.

**Alternative Method**  If you have the network icon on your systray, you can always click on it and bring up the dialog box that says “Properties” or “Disable”.  This is the quickest method, because clicking on Properties will get you right to the point you need to be.

Windows Vista or Windows 7:  In Vista and Windows 7, the location has been hidden in an extra step.  Now, you have to go to the Network and Sharing Center, and move from there.  You can get there by either left clicking the network icon (and then clicking “Open Network and Sharing Center” in the box), right clicking the icon and selecting “Open Network and Sharing Center”, clicking your Start button and right clicking on the “Network” and choosing Properties, or clicking on Control Panel –> View Network Status and Tasks.

No matter how you get to the “Network and Sharing Center” in Vista or Windows 7, you need to click on “Change Adapter Settings” to get to the same location as you would in Windows XP or earlier.

Now that we’re in the Adapter Settings (or if you chose to do the Alternative Method, you’re still waiting for us to catch up), here’s how we change the properties.

1.  Right click on the Adapter that you’re using (it will usually say “Connected” somewhere in the information) and choose Properties  (this brings you up to speed with the Alternative Method people).

2.  In the box that opened, click on Internet Protocol TCP/IP (or Internet Protocol v4 TCP/IP, if you have both IPv4 and IPv6 installed).

3.  Click on Properties.

4.  Click on the button that says “Use the following DNS Servers”.

5.  Put the IP addresses from Part 1 into the spaces provided for the DNS Servers.  Remember, you can use one IP address from either service, both from one service, or one from each service.  But, if you put two IP addresses in, they have to be different.

6. Click OK. Then Click OK on the Properties box.

7.  You may have to restart the computer to make the changes take effect.  Otherwise, you’re good to go.

***Edit*** Originally, I intended for this to be a single post, but because it ended up being long, I’m breaking it up into at least two posts.  This post will cover Windows, and the next post will cover Linux, Mac OS X, and hopefully touch on routers/modems.

Have a great day:)

Attack exploits just-patched Mac security bug • The Register


Attack exploits just-patched Mac security bug • The Register

Now, you may be wondering why I’m publishing a blog post on Mac OS security issues.  I’m not a Mac user, and really have no desire to become one.  Not that the OS is a bad thing—it’s not from what I’ve seen, but it’s not something that interests me.  Especially not when I have to pay upwards of $1,000 to use it (since I have to buy a Macintosh to use it legally).

The reason I’m publishing this is three-fold.  1) It shows that Mac OS is just as insecure as Windows, Linux, Solaris, OS/2 (IBM’s ancient OS) or any other operating system out there.  2)  Because this affects Windows computers as well as Mac Computers (and possibly Linux computers, although the author didn’t mention that). 3) It illustrates that no matter how secure your Operating System is, it’s only as secure as the applications that are running on it.

This vulnerability is in Java (which is made by Sun Microsystems) and existed on all operating systems.  Why?  Because Java is a “Platform independent” system.  It’s designed to run in a Virtual Machine, which can be installed on any operating system.  The flaw in Java accesses the Operating System based on it’s “Java Runtime Environment” which is basically it’s hook into the OS. 

If you are a user (anyone who isn’t programming in Java) then my suggestion is to download the latest updates for Java Runtime Environment from or if you’re prompted for an automatic update from Java, do it.  On Mac and potentially Linux systems, you may have to get the update through your respective Automatic Update systems (since Apple had to create the update for Mac OS X).

The most important thing is this.  If you don’t need the older versions of Java (in other words, you aren’t developing or running version specific programs) you need to uninstall ALL previous versions of the JRE.  This has to be done manually via your Add/Remove Programs.  In Linux or Mac OS X, this may be done for you (but if not, you need to do it also).

The other important thing to remember is this also. As I mentioned above, it doesn’t matter how secure your Operating System is.  There are bugs in most applications (Java, Adobe, QuickTime, etc) that are the equivalent of chinks in the armor.  They hook into the Operating System in order to do their work.  If there’s a bug in the application, and it is able to take advantage of one of those hooks, then guess what?  You’re PWND (owned). 

So, no matter what your Operating System is—or how secure it’s manufacturer or other security people say it is, make sure you update it EVERY time there’s one available, and make sure you update your applications whenever there are some available.  It’s your data… Actually, let me say it like this: It’s your INFORMATION.  Do what you must to protect it at all costs.

Have a great day:)

Microsoft Changes their Browser Ballot Screen—Again.

The tech news is abuzz this week because Microsoft agreed to make another change to their “Browser Ballot Screen” in the European Union again (in hopes to accommodate complaints by a rival browser maker).  The complaint was that by putting the browsers in Alphabetical order (which would make sense to any normal human being, IMHO), it favors Apple’s Safari Browser over everyone else.  This from the same people who initially complained that having Internet Explorer first favored the default browser over all of them.

So, Microsoft agreed to generate the ballot screen randomly, and remove the Internet Explorer icon from the top-left corner of the window.  If this is acceptable, then people who have Internet Explorer set as their default browser will receive this via Automatic Updates in the future.

I have some opinions about this….

1.  Is this the end of the whole quibble?  I don’t think so. Personally, I think that one of the other browser makers (probably Opera, since they are the ones who seem to be screaming the loudest) will run the ballot screen a few hundred or thousand times, and count how many times each of their rivals shows up first.  Then they’ll complain that it’s skewed towards their rival (if it’s more than they show up).

2.  Is this even an idea that should be pursued at all?  Yes and no.  On the one hand, I do understand that it’s Microsoft’s operating system, so they should have a right to package their own browser with it.  Apple does with Safari.  Linux does with Konquerer and Mozilla.  Google’s Chrome OS will do it with Chrome.

On the other hand, I agree that the end-user should be offered a choice.  Most end-users aren’t even aware of other browsers.  Look at the video a few months ago from the US State Department, where Secretary Clinton said that they won’t use Firefox, because they would have to update it (it automatically updates).  She wasn’t even aware of Firefox—had to ask for clarification about what it was).  So, having the ballot screen is a good idea (if nothing else, to inform the users).

3.  In as much as I think the ballot screen is a good idea, it shouldn’t have come around because of a court mandate.  And Microsoft shouldn’t be the ONLY company (and Windows shouldn’t be the ONLY Operating system) which offers this.  Apple and Linux should have ballot screens offering the user a choice of browsers as well.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  Also, I don’t think this should be limited to Europe.  I think that Microsoft, Apple, and the Linux distributors should put this in for every country.  WITHOUT A COURT MANDATE DIRECTING THEM.

4.  I also think that this should be an Automatic Update regardless of what browser is set up as your default.  I can tell you that I know people who have only heard of Internet Explorer and Firefox.  They haven’t even heard of Opera, Safari, or Chrome.  And if they have, it was in passing.  Oops, the makers of Opera may read this and push that it be given out to anyone who has Internet Explorer or Firefox as their defaults now…

Let me know what your opinions are on this whole deal.  Do you feel that it should have even happened?  Do you think that it’s going to be resolved with this current plan for the screen?  Do you feel that it should be done on all operating systems, or just Windows?  Would a ballot screen influence your choice at all?

Have a great day:)

Windows 7 – Day 2 (Day 1 post launch)

Ok, so you’ve purchased your copy of Windows 7, or your computer with it preinstalled (or upgraded to it).  Now you’re sitting here looking at this new operating system and trying to figure out where to go next.  If you’re like most people, you’ll start looking at all of the websites—and be inundated with tons of information about what Windows 7 can do, should do, and won’t do… 

I say relax.  While there are changes, at the heart of Windows 7, it’s just an operating system.  It’s going to do the same things that Windows 1.x through Windows Vista did.  And in most cases, you can still do those things the way you’ve done them in the past.  The changes are just there to try and make a simpler way to do those things—but you’re not required to use them.

Remember that unless you choose to delete or format something, or you just yank the power cord out of the wall, you can’t really do anything to mess up the computer.  So, take a few minutes to look around and get used to the place.  After all, you’re going to be living here for the next couple of years (unless you decide to purchase a Mac, downgrade to XP if it’s an option, or switch to Linux).

The first thing you should do (as you always should) is go to (like Vista, this will open up the Windows Update pane of the Control Panel) and get your updates.  Do this BEFORE you start listening to your music, or watching your TV.

If you installed Windows 7 clean (or upgraded from your previous Operating System) then you need to make sure that your antivirus and firewall are running properly.  If you purchased a new computer, then you need to decide if you want to keep the antivirus that came packaged with it, or switch to another one. 

While all of the blogs and sites will post their opinions about the different antivirus programs that are bundled with computers, one thing that all of us can agree on is this:  You need to pick one, make sure you can get updates, and update it.  If you like what came with your computer, make a note to purchase it (since most likely it’s a limited trial).  If not, then wipe it off now and put one on that you do like.

Remember that regardless of whether you purchased a PC with Windows 7, installed it, purchased a Mac, or even switched to Linux, the computer is only as secure as you make it.  Practice safe computing, and you’ll fare pretty well—regardless of what issues there are with the Operating System.

Have a great day:)

Windows 7 is available today… Go Get It….

Today is the day that Windows 7 is officially launched (General Availability).  You can probably find it at your local Wal-Mart or Best Buy.  And you can get some pretty decent deals online as well.

Newegg is offering Home Premium for $99.00, Professional for $139.99 and Ultimate for $179.99.  These are pretty decent rates for the product.  But, you’ll have to act fast.  These deals are only good for  a limited time.  Also, it should be noted that these are the OEM versions of Windows 7—not the retail versions.  The main difference is that with an OEM version, it’s locked into the first computer that you install it on (where a retail version can be transferred to another computer).  Also the OEM version comes with no support from Microsoft (as it’s intended for computer manufacturers or builders).

If you are considering the retail versions, then there are a couple of things that you need to be aware of.

  • If you purchase a copy that says “Upgrade” on it, you need a valid Operating System on the computer that you’re upgrading.  This locks the keys together so to speak.  What this means is that you can’t transfer the original operating system to another computer (because it’s tied to the license for Windows 7).
  • If you purchase a “Full” version of Windows 7, you can upgrade from another operating system, or do a clean installation.  The main difference between this, and the upgrade version, is that you can then transfer the original operating system to another computer (if it’s not an OEM copy).  This is also why the “Full” version is more expensive than the “Upgrade” version, and why they are both more expensive than the “OEM” version.

If you purchase an “Upgrade” or “Full” retail version, you will get both the 32-bit and 64-bit DVD’s in your box.  However there are a couple of limitations that you need to be aware of.

  • If you have a 32-bit processor, the obvious limitation that you can’t install the 64-bit version on there applies.
  • You can only install one copy.  So, if you install the 64-bit version on your main computer, you cannot install the 32-bit version on a second computer (without an additional license) or transfer that copy to someone else.
  • Also, if you install the 32-bit version and later want to migrate to the 64-bit version, you can use Windows Easy Transfer to migrate your files and settings.  HOWEVER, if you install the 64-bit version, and later decide that you want to go to the 32-bit, it won’t work. You will have to copy your files manually to another drive, and reinstall and reconfigure your settings.

Hopefully with this quick guide, you’ll find what you want.  And I hope that you’ll enjoy Windows 7 as much as I do.  I really liked Vista (although on one of my computers it didn’t run as well as expected), but I’ve upgraded completely to Windows 7 and won’t look back.  It’s quite possibly one of the best Operating Systems that Microsoft has released.  I won’t say it’s the best Operating System out there, because that’s a matter of preference and a matter of specific situations.

Have a great day:)

Windows Home Server—The Unsung Hero

Microsoft created Windows Home Server a few years ago.  You’ve probably never heard of it though.  It doesn’t have the sexiness that Vista was supposedly going to have—or Windows 7 is reputed to have.  It’s not flashy or sporty and not advertised in commercials (or really anywhere at all).

But, it is probably the best (or one of the best) operating systems that Microsoft has ever put out.  And it may be one of the best operating systems in general.  This is coming from someone who likes Linux and Windows.  And this is mainly aimed at the consumer markets (which is what Windows Home Server is aimed at).

Windows Home Server only requires a 1 Ghz processor (32 or 64 bit) and 512 MB of RAM (although I would recommend at least 1 GB).  Once you’ve installed and updated it, you don’t need anything attached except drives.  I originally installed it on an AMD Athalon XP 1800+ computer (that I built in 2003) and moved it over to an E-Machines W3400 desktop.

You install the connector software on the rest of the computers on your network.  Then configure the backup options on each computer and move your files over to the server.  It even provides you with some default locations for your files (and you can create more folders).  Once you’ve moved everything around and configured everything, WHS sits there and does it’s job.

WHS will back up every computer on the network (that has been configured).  It checks to see if the computers have antivirus/antispyware installed and checks for critical updates on the computers.  If one of your computers fails, or you need to upgrade it’s hard drive, WHS provides you with the most recent image of what the computer looked like (up to the last backup).

It really IS a centralized location for everything.  I’ve got my recorded tv saved to the WHS.  I also save my iso files and all of my installers there.  So, if I choose to wipe this computer, I can reinstall everything from WHS (or restore an image).  And I have my music stored there.  No more having to make sure my desktop is running, so my laptop can listen to music or watch videos.

If you have computers that meet the requirements and are basically sitting around collecting dust, then this is an option for you.  You can buy external USB drives (as many as you have USB ports available for) and add internal drives to it.  Then just install WHS and set everything up.

Have a great day:)