Faxzero

I send about a dozen faxes a month. I thought about having my own fax machine and separate phone line, but the amount of fax I send each month didn’t merit buying a fax machine, buying extra supplies and paying for an extra phone line.

So, I’ve decided to find a cheaper solution. Perhaps, something for free. A quick Google search did the trick for me. I found FaxZero.com several months ago. Now, I send my faxes electronically via web for FREE.

Faxzero allows me to send two faxes a day. The only catch is, there is a 3 page limit, and the fax comes with an ad which I don’t mind at all. Sending a premium fax will cost me $1.99 payable through Paypal. Still, not bad. Premium fax contains no ads, a 15 page limit and priority delivery.

Try Faxzero!

Remove Apache, Install Lighttpd

I was asked in my previous post as to why I installed the popular Apache web server instead of lighttpd, a fast and highly optimized web server with a small footprint. If you need enough convincing, Youtube, Wikipedia and Meebo all use the lighttpd web server. Well, if you asked for it, you’ll going to get it. This article is a how-to in removing Apache and replacing it with the lighttpd web server.

Remove Apache

sudo apt-get remove apache2

Remove Apache from startup

sudo update-rc.d -f apache2 remove

Install lighttpd

sudo apt-get install lighttpd

Install PHP-5 and modules

sudo apt-get install php5-cgi php5-mysql php5-curl php5-gd php5-idn php-pear php5-imagick php5-imap php5-mcrypt php5-memcache php5-mhash php5-ming php5-ps php5-pspell php5-recode php5-snmp php5-sqlite php5-tidy php5-xmlrpc php5-xsl

Edit php.ini and set cgi.fix_pathinfo to 1

sudo vi /etc/php5/cgi/php.ini

Set cgi.fix_pathinfo = 1

Add lighttpd user

sudo useradd -d /home/lighttpd -m -s /bin/bash lighttpd

Add lighttpd group

sudo groupadd lighttpd

Set mod_fastcgi and mod_rewrite

sudo vi /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf

Uncomment the following lines:

"mod_fastcgi",
"mod_rewrite",
Add FastCGI</strong>
fastcgi.server = ( ".php" => ((
"bin-path" => "/usr/bin/php5-cgi",
"socket" => "/tmp/php.socket",
"max-procs" => 1,
"bin-environment" => (
"PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN" => "4",
"PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS" => "1000"
),
)))

Set file permissions to log files

sudo chown -R lighttpd:lighttpd /var/log/lighttpd/error.log
sudo chown -R lighttpd:lighttpd /var/log/lighttpd/access.log

Set WordPress Permalinks

sudo vi /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf 
server.error-handler-404 = "/index.php"

Restart lighttpd web server

sudo /etc/init.d/lighttpd force-reload
or 
sudo /etc/init.d/lightttpd restart

Install LAMP on Ubuntu Desktop

My development server is old. You’ll get a chuckle when you see the specs. It runs on a 400Mhz Pentium II CPU with a 128MB RAM and a 40GB drive. This old relic still manages to run Apache, MySQL, PHP and a local DNS. The server has also gone through 4 Ubuntu upgrades from version 7.04 to 9.04. After each upgrade, pages that require MySQL and PHP have slowed down considerably.

You guessed it. It’s about time to move to another machine. So, I’ve decided to install AMP minus the L (Linux) since we are already installing it on the Ubuntu Desktop. The following tutorial will show you how to install Apache, MySQL, PHP as well as the MySQL admin tool called PhpMyAdmin. Let’s get started:

Install Apache

sudo apt-get install apache2

Install PHP. Restart Apache

sudo apt-get install php5
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Install MySQL

sudo apt-get install mysql-server
sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-auth-mysql
sudo apt-get install php5-mysql

Finally PhpMyAdmin
sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

You’ll be asked to provide passwords on the MySQL and PhpMyAdmin installations. There are a couple of minor tweaks you have to do to make sure the applications are working properly. First, make sure the MySQL extension is set in PHP. Restart Apache again after you make your changes.

MySQL Extension. Restart Apache

sudo vi /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini
extension=mysql.so
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Now, open your Firefox browser, and type `localhost` in the address bar. If you see “It Works!,” that means the installation was successful. One final thing before you go, I installed WordPress and the installation was a success, except for the mod_rewrite which wasn’t working if you try to use the permalinks feature. To make the permalinks feature work, first you’ll need to create a .htaccess file and make it writable. Next, turn on mod_rewrite module.

Mod Rewrite

cd /var/www/
touch .htaccess
chmod 777 .htaccess
sudo a2enmod rewrite

Lastly, make sure AllowOverride is set to All. Edit the file:

sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/default

Allow Override

<Directory /var/www/>
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
AllowOverride All
Order allow,deny
allow from all
</Directory>

Restart Apache

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

RecordMyDesktop

RecordMyDesktop is one of my favorite applications in my Ubuntu desktop. It allows me to record a video of my desktop or just a portion of my desktop. I can use RecordMyDesktop for instructional videos, tutorials or just about any video project I want to capture on my screen. Installing the application is a breeze. You can use the Synaptic Package Manager and search for “RecordMyDesktop.” If you prefer the Terminal, you can install RecordMyDesktop by typing the following:

apt-get install recordmydesktop

RecordMyDesktop contains many options and switches. You can specify height, width, video quality, bitrate, audio quality, and delay. Delay is a nice feature to position the capture screen before recording can begin. You can view all the options of RecordMyDesktop by typing –help from the terminal:

recordmydesktop –help

Here is a screen capture at 450x300px, 10 second delay in ogv format.

recordmydesktop -width 450 -height 300 -delay 10 -o sample.ogv

Red Hat Joins S&P 500

Red Hat is set to join the Standard & Poor’s 500 this coming Friday, July 24, 2009. Red Hat joined Nasdaq in 1999 and then moved over to the NYSE in 2006. As a testament of Red Hat increasing role in business servers, the NYSE started using Red Hat servers themselves in 2008 for their trading operations. Despite the global economic crisis, Red Hat continues to impress posting revenue of $174 million this past year. Red Hat recent quarter netted $18 million net income.

Amazon can reclaim your book

When you buy a book, it’s yours. You can read it, store it, sell it or even burn it. Not so if you bought a book from Amazon Kindle. There is very limited sharing. You can’t really sell it and apparently you may not even own it. Amazon apparently has the right to reclaim the book from you if they want to. They will refund the price of course (that is so nice of them), but they can still pull it away from you if they want to. Amazon also imposes the number of times you have downloaded a book. If you’ve reached a download limit, you may have to buy it again. What we need is a DRM free e-reader, but with the ability to preserve author copyrighted material. Book owners should have the freedom to buy, lend, share and sell books if they want to. If you are so sick with your Kindle, you can always burn it, but its probably not as good as burning an actual book. At least with a book, it’s an excellent kindle (pun intended) for your fireplace.

Linux Benefits from Chrome OS

The 2010 release of Google Chrome OS seems light years away, but it generated a few lively discussions on its implications of the OS wars to follow. Will Google’s Chrome OS command a market share? Or does it merely push Microsoft and Apple to move into a more web-centric approach bound to its cloud services. The Tech Czar blog seem to think of the latter.

The key to the Chrome strategy is that Google does not expect to get a large chunk of market share, what they want is to put pressure on Microsoft and Apple to add features similar to what Chrome OS has, which by nature will be very Web-centric.  This minimalist desktop approach that is tightly bound to cloud services is the core of Chrome OS, Microsoft and Apple will be forced to make adjustments that will be in Googles favor, just to compete.

Google is really in a win-win situation, as it was with their Chrome browser, that has a minimal amount of market share but was the initiator of more browser wars focused on Javascript speed and more stable browsing; both of which are central to Google’s cloud services taking off.

If that’s the case, Linux can stand pat and benefit from Google Chrome OS by virtually doing nothing. The focus seems will be on Google Chrome OS and not on Linux. This scenario doesn’t really bother Linux users like myself.

I don’t see current Linux users dropping their distribution and switching allegiance to Google Chrome OS. I’m sure, I’ll try it for curiosity’s sake. In the end, Linux users will be more supported with more and better drivers, and finally, perhaps more software written for the Linux OS. That’s a win for Linux.

It will be interesting to speculate as to what tack Google will take in the next 15 months.

Spamming for Dollars

The main reason spam is around is because of money. Spammers can potentially rake in millions of dollars. The Storm botnet rakes in an estimated $3.5 million dollars annually. Seems like easy money? Well, not quite. The conversion rate for spam is miniscule; spammers have to send out in bulk to get results. UCSD and International Computer Science Institute shared their findings:

“Research reported 569 conversions on close to 500 million spam messages. They sent three different kinds of messages, two of which were similar to the spam the botnet uses to propagate. A third message contained faux pharmaceutical spam similar to how the botnet makes money. The researchers sent 347,590,389 pharmaceutical spam messages which generated 10,522 site visits and 28 sales — conversion rate of 0.0000081 percent.”

Sounds inefficient to me, but if you consider that 85-90% of the worldwide email is spam, then you finally get to see the whole picture. Of course, spam spawns other effects in the IT infrastructure such as increase storage, the cost of anti-virus software and the hiring of security staff. Come to think of it, the IT cost attributable to spam alone is massive.

Windows 7 Pricing

I read an article about Windows 7 pricing the other day. I literally had to sit down and take notes in trying to understand the mess of it all. Windows 7 pricing is confusing to say the least. Pricing depends on which version of Windows 7 you buy, whether you get an upgrade, full version or a family pack. If you are in Europe, you will most likely pay double than your US counterpart. Payback for IE? Who knows. Nevertheless, Windows 7 pricing is confusing and convoluted.

Windows 7 Prices

Preorder – Starting June 26 until July 11, 2009, Windows users can preorder Windows 7 Home Edition and Professional. This is a limited time offer. This is an upgrade version and NOT the full version. Upgrades are available for Windows XP and Vista users only.

  • Preorder Windows 7 Home Premium Edition $50
  • PreOrder Windows 7 Professional $100

Family Pack – Allows 3 PCs in a single household to be upgraded to Windows 7 Home Edition. This is an upgrade only. Details on this offer is sketchy. Wait for Microsoft’s official announcement.

  • Family Pack Windows 7 Home Premium Edition $150

Upgrades – Upgrades are available only for Windows XP and Vista users only. Earlier versions are not supported.

  • Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade $120
  • Windows 7 Professional Upgrade $200
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade $220

Full Version

  • Windows 7 Home Premium Full Version $200
  • Windows 7 Professional Full Version $300
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Full Version $320

Buying a PC now – Starting June 26 to October 22 and beyond, buyers of PCs with Windows XP and Vista installed can upgrade to Windows 7 for FREE. This is a bit deceiving because the actual cost is outlined below in the OEM which is passed on eventually to consumers.

OEM Price – Cost after October 22 when you buy a brand new system with a Windows 7 operating system. The cost is passed on to the consumers by vendors. Currently, the OEM cost are: Windows XP $15, Vista Home Basic $97, Vista Home Premium $121, Vista Business $153 and Vista Ultimate for $205. See the OEM prices for XP and Vista.

  • Windows 7 Starter Edition OEM  $50 (1)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium OEM $200

This means, if you buy a $700 PC, you paid for $500 for hardware and $200 to Microsoft for the operating system.

(1) Please note that Microsoft has placed a limit on the hardware requirements for the Starter Edition. Vendors have to comply not to install Windows 7 Starter Edition on anything less than the following: 10.2 inch screen, 1GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, 64GB solid state, and on a single core processor with less than 2GHz.

Europe – If you live in Europe, you poor souls, expect to pay a lot more, almost double for what the US users will be paying. After all, Microsoft has to pay all those programmers to strip IE from Windows 7 and also pay for the new packaging of Windows 7E. By the way, there is no upgrade, just the full version.

  • Windows 7 Home Premium Full Version $120
  • Windows 7 Professional Full Version $286
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Full Version $300

Competition – Finally, let’s compare the rest of the competition:

Mac OS X

  • Mac OS X Leopard Upgrade $29
  • Mac OS X Leopard $129
  • Mac OS X Leopard Family Pack $199

Linux

  • Linux Upgrade $0.00
  • Linux Full Version $0.00
  • Linux All Universe Pack $0.00