Ramblings of a Digital Educator

November 23, 2008

My “other” blog that I hope you’ll visit

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 8:43 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Flubbernuggets logo

Flubbernuggets logo

Hi all…I have a favor to ask… I have a new blog Flubbernuggets and I’m hoping that maybe I can get some of you to visit on a regular basis. I’m trying to break into the blogging “business” and am hoping to be able to provide a useful and informative blog that many folks will find useful. I’m open to suggestions, feeback, ideas, criticisms, and even contributions! If you’d like to contribute an idea or even an article…please let me know. (copperdoggy_AT_gmail.com) So…check out Flubbernuggets and learn more about helpful tech tips and information for newbies, experts, and web citizens. Flubbernuggets tackles issues ranging from how to’s to what’s new on the net! Hardware buying advice, software reviews, and the latest web tools! Updated frequently each day. Full RSS feeds available. Subscribe to this blog and become a Nuggethead!

November 12, 2008

I have Ubuntu 8.10 really humming!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 10:47 am

I have the latest Ubuntu 8.10 really humming on my laptop!  I have a System76 (system76.com) Darter Ultra 2 (bought last year) and have recently installed Intrepid Ibex (aka Ubuntu 8.10).  I spent a little time this weekend really getting things in order…boy is it humming now!  I also tricked out my desktop using Cairo-Dock.  Check out the screenshots below…

screenies

September 7, 2008

Will the world end on Wednesday?

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 3:43 pm

This coming Wednesday the brilliant minds at CERN will fire up the Large Hadron Collider in an attempt to obliterate some atoms and discover more about the nature of matter. The internet “harbingers of doom” have crawled out of the abyss of cyberspace to announce that the LHC will produce small black holes that will swallow the earth and end life as we know it. So…do you mean I’m writing this “flippin'” blog post on what could possibly be my last lazy Sunday afternoon on earth? All I can say is the Red Sox had BETTER WIN! Personally, I think the whole silly thing is a conspiracy to give the conspiracy theorists something to conspire about and to start a conspiracy that that there is a conspiracy to create a conspiracy about a conspiracy theory dealing with the conspiracy to make all conspiracy theorists look really stupid.

On the other hand it just might be an experiment.

September 6, 2008

Keep an eye on the sky…track hurricanes with Stormpulse!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 7:40 pm

If you’re at all like me, you’re fascinated by severe storms. The sheer power of Mother Natures wrath is amazing and at times…deadly. Maybe we’re just a bunch of sickos who love to watch this kind of thing while it terrorizes others. ;-) Nonetheless, Stormpulse is a terrific website with tons of information about the current storm activity. As I write this post, Tropical Storm Hanna is wreaking havoc on the East Coast of the US while Hurricane Ike lurks in the Caribbean waiting to unleash its fury. Stormpulse puts some amazing tools at your disposal. Check out the forecast paths and full-screen mode! Stay informed…stay safe…and satisfy your inner meteorologist with Stormpulse!

Stormpulse / Hurricane tracking, mapping


Fun web site from New York Zoos and Aquarium folks

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 2:06 pm

BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF

It’s a bit of a lazy Saturday for me and I’m sitting around watching silly cartoons and surfing the ‘net. A mid-western teacher colleague of mine that I follow on Twitter shared a really cool web site with me. The folks from the New York Zoos and Aquarium have created a fun web site called BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF. Rather than spend too much time explaining it, I encourage you to click BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF and go see for yourself! Have fun!

August 14, 2008

The ultimate mobile solution

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 4:44 pm

The ultimate mobile solution…my n800 and my cell phone. Here I sit at my campsite in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine on a short two day camping trip…in front of a roaring campfire…typing this blog post. Thereś no wireless internet, but I have a $10 per month data plan (US Cellular EasyEdge unlimited) and through the magic of Bluetooth Im able to connect to the internet via my phone. I know, I know….what am I doing wasting my time blogging while Im vacationing? Well this is a mini-vacation…I´m sorta working while relaxing too. Being so close to the beginning of the school year with several projects unfinished…I needed to remain connected. I have some images to share, but I´m going to wait until Im back ¨fully on the grid¨ before I upload them…it´ll take forever via cell phone. Well…time to start cooking my steak! :-)

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July 8, 2008

Caution: Children at Play….violent video games and crime

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 10:09 am

I must say, I was shocked! You should check out this article and the information collected by the US Justice Dept. It’s eye-opening….and not in the way you might think.

CAUTION: Childen at Play – The Truth About Violent Youth and Video Games

July 3, 2008

Open your mind!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 10:35 pm

Consider opening your mind. No, this is not a comment about closed-mindedness or an insult directed toward anyone, but rather simply to let you know of an upcoming opportunity! First, this is not the official announcement as the website is not quite ready to begin accepting registrations, but…I’d like to give you a little heads up on the 2008 Open Minds conference in Indianapolis in September. Open Minds will bring educators from all over the US and Canada together to share knowledge and to learn more about Open Source technology in schools and classrooms. Think of it as FOSSED on the national scale. I’ll be sure to post more details and links as soon as they become available. :-) Have a great 4th!

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May 28, 2008

How to get a Windows Tax Refund

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 9:46 am

If you buy a computer, you often pay for Microsoft Windows even if you
didn’t ask for it and aren’t going to use it. This article shows you
how to return your unused Windows license and get your money back,
freeing yourself from the Windows tax.

Linux.com :: How to get a Windows tax refund

April 26, 2008

Pencil – Open Source 2D animation software!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 6:40 pm


Looking for an easy to use animation program to use in the classroom? If so, try Pencil. I downloaded Pencil and had my first crude animation going in just a few minutes! It’s very cool and easy to learn. Best of all, it’s available cross-platform! Linux, Windows, Mac OS X….installation is a BREEZE! Download it and play, learn, create! Check out the Pencil web site

April 22, 2008

Truly Mobile Internet

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 1:59 pm

Ok, this is pretty cool. I’m sitting here getting a haircut (actually my 13 year old son is in the chair…I’m next) and I’m connected to my Razr 2 bluetooth phone with my Nokia n800 and writing this blog post. I now have anytime, anywhere net access. It’s a bit slow, but “doable” for email, slow surfing, twittering, and blogging. I can also SSH into my servers and “fix stuff”. Truly mobile internet…very cool.

March 28, 2008

Using Skype and a bluetooth headset to replace my cellphone

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 10:13 am

Hi all. Yet another snowy day here in Northern New England (darn it!). I love snow, but it’s APRIL! Enough already! Hard to play baseball when there’s 2 – 3 feet of snow on the field.

Last night I was in Staples buying some blank CD-R’s when I came across a “clearance table” where they had lots of things marked down, like external hard drives for $60 and other things like a Motorola H550 bluetooth headset for $17! Needless, to say…I bought the headset. I’ve always wanted to try using a BT headset with Skype. Here was my opportunity. I began by pairing it to my MacBook Pro running Leopard. Very simple and straightforward. I went into System Preferences and set my Sound output and input to use the headset. It worked fantastic with Skype as I had about an hour long conversation with a colleague.

Next was to try it with my little Nokia N800 and Skype. Pairing was a bit tricky and it could have been because my MacBook was nearby. Once detected it went very easily. I wasn’t able to test it beyond having conversations with myself by calling my own cell phone via SkypeOut. It was a bit choppy and overmodulated, but it could have been a network issue. I have to experiment more.

Last was my System76 Darter2 running Ubuntu. I had to install Stephan Graber’s BT headset pairing application (which works fantastic!), but once I did it paired and worked great. Skype defaulted to it right away. I use SkypeOut to call my wife at her work number and she sounded very clear and vice versa.

Why do this? Some of you may be like me. I have a weak cellphone signal here in my classroom and many times I can’t make or take calls depending on where I am, however, my building is completely covered with WiFi and accessible via WiFi from anywhere. So, I paid my $29 per year for an unlimited SkypeOut account (only calls to the US and Canada…I’d have to buy more credits for international calls) which allows me to call landlines (computer to computer is free) from my computer. Now that I have a bluetooth headset, I’m no longer tethered to my laptop. :-) Skype is a wonderful VOIP tool and it makes life a bit easier for me when I’m unable to use my cellphone and still need to be able to move about my classroom or school.

March 9, 2008

Walmart upset with Microsoft and Vista

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 12:21 pm

You may think of Wal-Mart as a down-market PC seller, but as emails in
the Vista “junk PC” case show, Wal-Mart was furious at Microsoft’s
Vista Capable scheme, and thought that Vista Home Basic never should
have been developed, much less released. They’re not alone. Other
retailers, notably Office Depot, thought Vista Home Basic should have
been killed. Here’s all the dirt, including emails.  Click below to read the entire article:

Wal-Mart: Microsoft should kill Vista Home Basic | Computerworld Blogs

March 5, 2008

Mobile Blogging from my Nokia N800

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 2:44 pm

I finally got it working! It was actually quite simple…basically a matter of me not following directions ;-) What am I talking about? I am making this blog post from my Nokia N800 internet tablet Click Here for more info. I’m using a neat little program called MaemoPY which is a blogging agent that allows you to post to your blog (WordPress or Blogger) and have all the features of a blogging client on a desktop computer.
n800 blogging
I’m pretty excited now that my mobile blogging can be kicked up a notch. Of course, I could blog via email or via the web browser, but this is so much more powerful and better for me. Keep a lookout for more mobile blog posts! If you have an N800 or N810, I encourage you to give MaemoPy a try!

March 4, 2008

FOG…a free computer cloning solution!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 2:50 pm


Chuck Syperski is working on an Open Source project that aims to make computer image deployment for companies and organizations very easy.  Version 0.12 of FOG includes many new features including printer
management, inventory, client side registration, reporting, and a
client updater, just to name a few.  I have yet to try it, but the screenshots look very intriguing.  According to Chuck…It is a ghost-like imaging solution that can be used to image Windows PCs in large network environments.   It does everything without boot disks/CDs, it also includes some pretty advanced features like multicast support, a client side service that does printer management, hostname changes, AD registration, user tracking and more.  The FOG management suite does imaging plus hardware inventory, AV scan, memory testing, and disk wiping.  It is all web based and can run on Fedora or Ubuntu.  Sounds pretty cool!  I’m looking forward to trying it!

FOG :: A Ghost-like Computer Cloning Solution – Home

March 3, 2008

Miro “Using the Internet TV for Education”

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 11:43 pm

There’s an awesome application out there called Miro. Miro is a free application that turns your computer into an internet TV video player. You can download it here for Windows, Mac, or Linux. Miro is open source…which has gotta’ make

you feel good, too! I’ve found that Miro plays just about anything, but its strength lies in that there are literally thousands of channels that you can subscribe to and

download internet TV shows.

So…how does this play into education? There are many channels dedicated to such topics as nature, science, history, space, tutorials and so much more! I just watched a very interesting show from NASA and a news show compiled from newscasts from Middle East TV stations! The video quality is superb! Students can download their own shows or better yet, the

teacher can download the content to a master computer and show the video up on a screen for the entire class! Miro is a powerful tool that can really enhance learning in your classroom…check it out today!

Using OpenOffice extensions to enhance productivity!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 11:36 pm

Many people know about OpenOffice, StarOffice, and NeoOffice, but few seem to know about one of the most powerful features of OpenOffice…extensions.  OpenOffice has a built-in extension manager (go to “Tools” > “Extension Manager”) where one can add extensions to enhance the function and usability of OpenOffice.  Visit the OpenOffice Extensions Page and download your favorite extensions…then use the extension manager to install them to OpenOffice.  I highly recommend you grab the OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs extension.

Export and Import your documents to Google Docs from OpenOffice.org, and from OpenOffice.org to Google Docs.
It can upload:
* Documents: OpenDocument Text (.odt), StarOffice (.sxw), Microsoft Word (.doc, but not MS XML), Rich Text (.rtf)
* Spreadsheets: OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods), Microsoft Excel (.xls), Comma Separated Value (.csv)

There are several template, clip art, and accessory extensions which will populate your OpenOffice installation with clips, templates, and more!

Firefox Keyboard shortcuts or “And you thought you knew how to surf!”

Filed under: firefox,internet,keyboard,shortcuts,surfing — dtrask @ 9:28 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Firefox logo

Today I stumbled across a blog post about voting for your favorite Firefox keyboard shortcut. I thought to myself, “I wonder just how shortcuts there are?” I know the old standby’s like CTRL-C to copy, CTRL-V to paste, and my favorite…CTRL-T to open a new tab. (Yes, I know more too, but these are a sample) Lo’ and behold…I found even more! Some of them have already changed my surfing habits! I’m much faster now. How about CTRL-L which highlights and selects the address bar….or try this…

Type a word in the address bar such as “openoffice” (no quotes)

Now press CTRL-Enter Voila! Firefox automatically puts in the www and .com for you! To use .org press SHIFT-CTRL-ENTER and for .net use SHIFT-ENTER. Pretty cool huh? Between CTRL-L and the others, I can pretty much avoid using the mouse or trackpad most of the time!

Find out all about the shortcuts and more on this page from the folks who bring you Firefox!  Click Here

March 1, 2008

£99 laptop could hatch the Linux generation

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 11:44 pm

PC manufacturer Elonex is launching ONE,
an ultra-portable laptop, at this week’s Education Show at the NEC. The
machine provides a 7″ LCD screen, wireless Internet access and 1GB
on-board solid state memory (there is no hard disc to save on costs).
It runs Linux with what looks like OpenOffice for word processing and
is being aimed at the education market. It costs just £99.  Read all about it and check out their page!  Click the link below!

£99 laptop could hatch the Linux generation « Tech Lunch

February 24, 2008

The ultimate collection of Linux/Unix cheat sheets!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 7:53 pm

For those of you who know him, Trey Bachner actually sent me this link the other day.  He figured I’d seen them already and he was right to a degree….I have seen some of them, but not all of them and not all in one place!  This is an awesome resource!  Linux newbie, OS X command-line junkie, guru, geek, or whatever….these cheat sheets can be VERY handy.  Expect to see copies of them at FOSSED this year!  Check them out!  (also…looking around this site will yield other cheat sheets for networking and so forth)

Linux-Unix cheat sheets – The ultimate collection >> Scott Klarr

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The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy — and Their Open Source Alternatives

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 7:44 pm

While browsing around this evening I stumbled upon a fantastic article about those pesky proprietary programs that drive you nuts either due to feature overload, clumsy interfaces, or price and lock-in….and their Open Source alternatives that you can use to replace them!  Jimmy Atkinson does a pretty good job of picking out some that really drive me nuts!  These programs are not just for Linux, but rather they run the gamut of Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.  Number 35 is pretty interesting.  It mentions replacing iTunes with Songbird.  Just so happens that at this very moment I am listening to U2’s Joshua Tree album on my noise reducing headphones…using Songbird!  Also…number 39 is pretty cool too!  If you’ve never used Miro, then you owe it to yourself to check it out…it’s pretty awesome!  For #42…I personally recommend Clonezilla.  Clonezilla has proven to be a godsend for us at VCS and Union 52.  Be sure to check the comment section as many folks have suggested even more alternatives!

The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy — and Their Open Source Alternatives | WHDb

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February 23, 2008

FOSSED registrations and planning underway!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 11:45 pm

For lots of information about the FOSSED (Free & Open Source Software in Education) conference…visit the FOSSED site

Finally!  I just finished a major project at another school and finally have some time to “come up for air”.  Springtime is just around the corner and that means it’s time to get ready for another great FOSSED conference!  I’m actually really excited as I feel I have a really good handle on some things this year that have given me trouble in the past.  One of those things is the registration process.  I have switched to a fantastic Web 2.0 solution some of you may be familiar with…Zoho Creator.  The solution we had in the past worked well, but it was a bit cumbersome for me and very susceptible to SPAM.  We had a lot of Russians who registered for the FOSSED conference last year and still are  ;-)  (in other words Russian SPAM sites…etc.)  You’ll notice that I’ve added a “Captcha” (the little picture with letters and numbers you have to enter) to the registration process just before you submit to verify that you are indeed…human.  I’m also excited about our new location!  We have decided to move our second FOSSED conference location from UNH to The Governor’s Academy in Byfield, MA.  The reasons are many, but suffice it to say…keeping the price reasonable was a large factor.  We’re excited as we feel The Governor’s Academy will generate much of the same type of atmosphere we have at Gould Academy every June.  The good news is that it’s only about 10-15 miles difference from the distance to UNH…for many of us… it’s a straight shot on the interstate.  I’m hopeful that in addition to our colleagues from New Hampshire that we’ll also have many folks from Massachusetts and beyond. 

Well that’s it for now.  I gotta’ get up early in the morning and hit the slopes!  Headed to Saddleback for what I hope will be a fantastic day of skiing.  Check out the links above with regard to sending us session ideas!  We need your input!  After all, it’s YOUR conference!  Wanna’ present or teach a session?  Let me know!  copperdoggy@gmail.com

Looking forward to another great year!

David

February 7, 2008

Wow! Our new SmartBoard and Edubuntu!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 10:29 pm

Recently I was able to purchase an interactive whiteboard called a “SmartBoard” for our school.  I have several more in the budget for next year, but this one gives us an opportunity to learn more about how to use one.  I was excited to find out when I ordered it that it would be compatible with Linux, but I had my doubts.  Often times manufacturers make claims to be compatible with Linux, but generally with a loss of features or a very difficult installation.  I was a little nervous when I stuck in the CD to the drive on my Edubuntu desktop….and I couldn’t get the installer to execute.  So…I went to the web site and downloaded the installer from there.  The installer was a breeze to work with!  It’s an autopackage that simply asked me a couple yes or no questions…and then VOILA!  That was it!  Suddenly the SmartBoard software launched and we were in business!  The total install time took less than 2 minutes!  Guess what else?  Everything works!  Every feature from the notebook software to the screen captures and more!  I’m truly impressed!  The folks at Smarttech have really taken a look at the future of Linux and FOSS in Education.  Today was simply my first day…all I got a chance to do was put it together, load the software and play around a little.  I’m finding myself a bit excited to get to school tomorrow so I can really try things out.  Just in the few chances I got to try it out today, I can really see how it will totally change the way I teach!  I’m psyched!

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January 1, 2008

Really cool Web App! Bubbl.us!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 2:52 pm

I found this while researching apps to help me keep my New Years Resolutions…bubbl.us.  I often use graphic organizers when creating presentations and getting ready to teach a specific class.  I just signed up for an account (FREE of course) and have found it to be remarkably easy to use!  Flash-based mindmap creator bubbl.us allows you to quickly and easily
make effective, attractive mindmaps that can be exported as images or
as HTML outlines, or shared with others who can add new items or draw
new connections between existing ones.  Check it out!

bubbl.us – free web application for brainstorming online

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December 26, 2007

Very cool new Open Source archive! Check it out!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 1:12 pm

I was just on Digg and found this great Open Source software archive! It’s quite comprehensive….lots if great cross-platform offerings. You oughta’ check it out! Maybe you’ll find something new and useful for your new computer that you got over the holidays ;-)

Open Source Living

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November 5, 2007

Our first day with the Intel Classmate PC running Edubuntu!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 6:00 pm

Last week at the Ubuntu Developers Summit in Boston I was given a shiny new Intel Classmate PC loaded with Edubuntu 7.10!  Aside from being a nice little tiny laptop that I could play around with, I was really excited to get it home and show it to the kids.  I used it as a prop for a lesson on free vs. freedom in the world of computers and software.  I also discussed with the kids how computers can play a vital role in opening up the world for kids who have never even seen a computer, especially kids in the developing world.  It was a great discussion!  Check out the excitement for yourself!

Classmate PC at VCS

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November 1, 2007

Great news! Local Applications on Edubuntu thin-clients!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 5:13 pm

Hey everyone!  History has been made at UDS Boston!  Last night, Halloween, four developers holed up in a room in the Hotel@MIT and hacked away on what would become a working version of local apps running on an Edubuntu thin-client!  This is VERY big news.  Normally in a thin-client environment, the applications all run on the server.  This is fine except when you have a whole lab of kids using Firefox and Flash to access an educational web site or to (*gasp*) play games.  What about YouTube?  Well, with local apps you take advantage of some of the processing power on the thin-client itself (which largely goes unused).  In essence we simply ask a particular application to run on the thin-client rather than the server.  This will be something that can be defined for individual thin-clients or groups of thin-clients.  As schools already have or possibly may purchase more powerful thin-clients, the choice to be able to run some applications such as firefox may become more desirable.  Right at this moment I am watching a very smooth video running locally in Firefox on a thin-client.  Normally it runs quite choppy on a thin-client, but when running locally it’s very smooth just like running it on a desktop or laptop.  I just tried an educational subscription site called BrainPOP…the flash movies ran very well.  I’m excited about this new development…it will revolutionize the whole Linux  thin-client industry.  It still has a ways to go before it’s fully implemented, but  it won’t be long!  Look for local apps on LTSP coming to a server near you!

Visit Scott Balneaves’ blog for more information

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October 29, 2007

UDS Boston 2007 Day One

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 5:27 pm

Well here we are…working once again on the next version of Ubuntu. Today we got underway quickly as many of us have been to Ubuntu Developers Summits more than once and thus know the procedures. We’re at the Hilton at MIT (in fact the sign says Hilton@MIT which gives an indication of the age we live in). Nice hotel…very posh and a technological marvel. I’m actually headed home tonight to teach for the next two days, but will return Wednesday evening to begin the phase that I’m most involved in on Thursday and Friday. I took lots of pictures of today’s activities….check ‘em out!

UDS-Boston-2007

October 28, 2007

Ubuntu Developers Summit (Fall 2007 Edition)

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 5:02 pm

Richard, Oliver, and Colin at UDS Boston

Wel, here I am. Once again at the semi-annual Ubuntu Developers Summit. Of all the exotic locales I get to travel to? BOSTON! For many this is truly an awesome place to be, but for me…I only live 2.5 – 3.0 hours (driving) from here, thus I make it to Boston several times a year for business, pleasure, and above all…Red Sox games! I will say, however, that we in an awesome hotel that is cutting edge, a technological marvel, and wired to the hilt…the Hilton at MIT in Cambridge.

Above, is a picture from the “pre-summit”. Folks are arriving today from all over the world in preparation for the Ubuntu Developers Summit which begins in earnest tomorrow morning. That’s when the real work begins. Today it’s getting reacquainted…making plans…working on pet projects and catching up. In the image above you’ll see on the left (black shirt) Oliver Grawert from Germany (Education Technical Lead for Ubuntu), Richard Weideman from South Africa (middle…Education Program Manager for Canonical/Edubuntu), and Colin Watson from Cambridge, England (blue sweater…Ubuntu Platform Manager aka “big cheese of Ubuntu”). This is truly an open and international effort. Me? I’m holding the camera and I’m from Maine, USA. Stay tuned…lots more happening as the week gets started. (oh…and GO RED SOX!)

 

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October 22, 2007

Extend OpenOffice with OxygenOffice

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 1:14 pm

Windows/Mac/Linux: Add clip art, advanced PDF functions, and in-editor Wikipedia searching to open source office suite OpenOffice.org with OxygenOffice Professional, a modified installation package and extension. Along with adding roughly 3,400 clip art files and templates, OxygenOffice’s extensions also add support for Microsoft’s Visual Basic for Applications in the Calc spreadsheet program and conversion tools for the Office Open XML format used in Office 2007. Combined with the Writer’s Tools package, this gives OO.org a number of exclusive features.

To install, download the extension, open OO.org, go to Tools -> Extension Manager and click the “Add” button in the My Extensions section, or download a binary to make a fresh OO.org install. OxygenOffice is a free download that runs wherever OpenOffice.org does.  (via Lifehacker.com)

Featured Download: Extend OpenOffice with OxygenOffice

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October 15, 2007

Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” – My First Impressions

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 8:45 pm

As of this post, the release of Ubuntu 7.10 is only 3 days away.  This past weekend I blew away my Feisty Fawn installation on my old Dell laptop and replaced it with a shiny new installation of Gutsy Gibbon, other wise known as Ubuntu 7.10.  I used the latest “release candidate” which is essentially the finished product minus some tweaks which I’ll grab with the Update Manager anyway.  In fact, over the past couple of days I’ve noticed some artwork changes and things like that.  When I first installed Gutsy the OpenOffice splash screen was the default OpenOffice blue and white, but as of yesterday it had been changed or “upgraded” to the familiar Ubuntu brown and orange.  I suspect that there are many little things, or finishing touches, like this that are being applied each time I update over the next few days until the release (on October 18th). 

So…what do I think?  I’m lovin’ it!  First thing that really jumped out at me was the easy screen and printer setup.  Setting up multiple screens is a snap!  There’s a nice GUI for setting up most of your video settings.  Very cool.  My printer?  The easiest I’ve ever encountered.  Last night I needed to print something here at home.  I have a networked Xerox Docuprint N2125 Laser Printer.  In the past I would have had to input the IP address, port number, and so forth.  This time?  The printer dialogue asked me to select whether it was a local or networked printer.  I selected “networked”.  It then asked me if I’d like the computer to search my network for the printer…I clicked “Yes”.  Next thing I know, it has found my printer with the correct IP address and port settings…AND it then offered to find the correct driver for me!  Which it did…and that was IT!  Off to work I went….printing and printing some more!

Next stop…F-Spot Photo application.  The new F-Spot is AWESOME!  Now I know that’s not an Ubuntu issue, but it is included as part of a default installation so I feel it’s part of the “package”.  I was able to easily grab photos off my digital camera, import them to F-Spot and then easily upload them to my PicasaWeb account!  So far I am very impressed with the polish and improvements in Gutsy Gibbon. 

I have ordered a new laptop from System76 which should be here soon.  I’m very excited and look forward to “moving in” to my new laptop.  What’s different about this one?  System76 only sells Linux based laptops…more specifically Ubuntu laptops.  The nice thing is that I’ll always know that my hardware will work with Ubuntu as I have a company standing behind it.  I can’t wait to see how Gutsy flies on my new System76 Darter laptop.  I’ll write a review as soon as I get a chance to “move in”!  In the meantime, download Ubuntu 7.10 and give it a try!

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What about an iPhone?

Filed under: General Blogging,Mac OS X — dtrask @ 8:23 pm

Friday at the annual MaineEd conference I got a chance to play with an iPhone for a few minutes.  I also had the opportunity to talk to several people who have iPhones.  The general consensus was that it’s the very best cellphone they’ve ever owned…period.  I was pretty amazed by the capabilties.  While I think my Nokia N800 has greater capabilities overall, it is limited to a Wi-Fi connection where the iPhone can access the internet and so forth from either a Wi-Fi or cellular connection.  That’s pretty amazing.  I often imagine what it would be like to be able to surf the net while waiting for my wife to come out of the grocery store, while getting the car fixed, while waiting in a parking lot for my daughter to get out of practice…and so forth.  What I often wonder about is some of the other phones that supposedly do similar tasks, such as the Nokia N95.  Have you had any experience with the iPhone?  How about one of the others?  How does it impact your daily life?  Do you use it for your job or school?  Let me know…I’m toying with the idea of getting an iPhone at some point…or maybe something else?

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September 27, 2007

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC – new version), Reviewed by 12 year-old

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 7:49 pm

Many folks are wondering about the OLPC laptop that is soon to be distributed to thousands of children (eventually millions) worldwide.  It’s an ambitious project.  I have been fortunate to have held and played with the OLPC on a couple of occasions.  Once while at Google and again while in Spain.  It’s a very rugged piece of equipment and I see great promise for the project….but if you want a kids take on the laptop…read the article below.  (click to make the jump to the article)

Freedom to Tinker » Blog Archive » One Laptop Per Child (New Version), Reviewed by 12-Year-Old

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September 20, 2007

Cellphone Projector!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 7:05 pm

Ok, this is just plain cool.  I saw this and had to share.  Imagine, a projector built in to a common cellphone so that you can make short presentations, share photos with a group and more…  There are pics and a video…click the link below.

Hands-on with Texas Instruments’ cellphone projector – Engadget

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September 10, 2007

Need help making the jump to Ubuntu?

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 11:30 pm

Need help making the jump to Ubuntu?  Check this site out!  This web site attempts to create an “Ubuntu for Dummies” blog to help people with ZERO experience with Linux get through the day.  The site is “human readable” and a great help for those migrating from the Windows world.  The most recent post deals with migrating Outlook to Thunderbird and Evolution.  Check it out!

Ubuntu Help

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August 16, 2007

Portable Apps revisited!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 10:48 pm

I recently stumbled upon portableapps.com (literally I was using StumbleUpon)…again…as I’ve been there before, but this time I noticed they have the Portable Apps Suite!  Sweet!  You can download and install all the apps at once to your USB drive and truly have a “portable” suite of apps!

PortableApps.com – Portable software for USB drives | Your Digital Life, Anywhere™

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August 9, 2007

A great tip for Mac OS X users!

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 11:31 pm

Mac user Ali Karbassi
demonstrates how to set two different volume levels on your Mac: one
for when the headphones are plugged in, and one not – crucial
information for those of you toting your Macs to the library.  Check it out!

Mac Tip: Set headphone-specific volume level – Lifehacker

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August 7, 2007

Unix/Linux Command Cheat Sheet

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 6:33 pm

The good folks at FOSSwire have created a really cool Unix/Linux Command Cheat Sheet!  I’m by no means a command line newbie, but there are often commands that escape me and thus I have to turn to Google for my answers….this cheat sheet may just save the day!  Check it out…and while you’re there…check out the FOSSwire site!  I’m adding it to my Google Reader!  Great job!

FOSSwire » Unix/Linux Command Cheat Sheet

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August 4, 2007

Getting ready for the roll-out of Edubuntu

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 11:55 pm

Well, the summer is beginning to wear on and I have to get back to work at getting things ready for the upcoming school year.  I’ve been in to school a couple times, but for the most part I’ve stayed away.  No longer.  I must return and begin another adventure.  I’m actually looking forward to it.  This year I am rolling out Edubuntu (click here for more info) throughout the entire school.  I’m also taking a major step at breaking our dependence on Windows (even more).  Up until now each classroom has had a Windows machine (or a Mac in some cases) in addition to a “mini-lab” of Linux thin-clients”.  This year I’m replacing them with Edubuntu machines.  Now…before you gasp too loudly…Windows will still be available in two forms.  One is via our Windows Terminal Server and the other is quite unique if you ask me (go ahead…ask me)  Ok I’ll tell ya’.  I’m installing the free VMWare Player on the Edubuntu desktops and creating a Windows XP Pro virtual machine to push out to these desktops.  So…if the users MUST use Windows, they can.  My hope is that by having the base operating system as Edubuntu…they will see that they can do more than 90% of their tasks right there without having to go to Windows.  I will also be using Edubuntu on all of the thin-clients…so the transition around school will be effortless for the users.  I also will be using Samba/LDAP as my central point of authentication regardless of platform.  Matt Oquist has created a fantastic installer for Samba/LDAP called “smbldap-installer” (click here for more info) which makes it a snap to install and configure a Samba/LDAP server in minutes.  I’ll be running mine on an Ubuntu server so it’ll be nice and stable…and lightweight.  My mind is racing with new ideas and that’s kind of exciting.  I’ll keep ya’ll posted on my progress!

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July 5, 2007

230+ Keyboard Shortcuts for Top Web Services

Filed under: General Blogging — dtrask @ 11:34 am

Ok, this is very cool…if you use a lot of Web 2.0 services like I do (I’m a major Google user…PicasaWeb…GoogleDocs…iGoogle…GMail) then you’ll love this article.  These shortcuts really make things go a lot faster!  Enjoy!

230+ Keyboard Shortcuts for Top Web Services

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