Google and Facebook Launch URL Shorteners

Practically, anyone who tweet nowadays uses a URL shortener service. Tinyurl.com was the first one out of the gate as far as I can recall. Quickly followed by a slew of services joining the fray. The list starts from bit.ly, is.gd, tr.im, ow.ly and on and on. Here’s a comprehensive list – well, at the time it was written.

Not listed is my own personal URL shortener at uly.me. Launched about two months ago and used mostly for the personal branding of my blog – as opposed to using a third party service. Every article on my blog has a short URL, including this article. In addition, I also use uly.me for Twitter and email.

Now, Facebook and Google have started their own service. Facebook launched today FB.me, while Google announced their own called Goo.gl. Did anyone see these two coming? I’m a bit surprised. They both caught me off guard. Google’s service will focus on stability, security and speed. I’m sure they will do a great job.

Well, I’m proud to say that I got my service up before Google and Facebook ever did. I beat them by two months. That’s one accomplishment I can brag about. I know it’s not much, but it’s worth something to me. Well, it’s a great way to start the week.

Windows 7 Complaints Trickling In

A recent article from CNNMoney stated that as many as 31% of Windows users have reported problems upgrading to Windows 7. Most of the problems are with the installation and migration of data.

One common gripe, experienced by 9% of installers, is that the half-hour to an hour-long upgrade process gets to the “62% completed” point and then freezes. It’s a problem that Microsoft is aware of, and can be fixed by rebooting the computer, going into advanced settings, and typing in a code that instructs the computer to ignore plug-ins.

Here’s the top 10 list of common problems:

  1. Problems with installation – 31%
  2. Missing applets or components – 26%
  3. Aero theme is not running – 14%
  4. DVD drive not found – 8%
  5. Hidden extensions – 6%
  6. Too many minidumps – 6%
  7. Aero snap problems – 3%
  8. iPhone won’t sync with Windows 7 – 2%
  9. Custom icons get changed with new theme – 2%
  10. Taskbar problems – 1%

If you are thinking of using Windows 7, you are better off not upgrading. The ideal is to get a system that already has Windows 7 installed. If you have Windows Vista now, opt for a clean installation. Backup all your data to a USB hard drive, install, and restore your applications and documents.

WordPress 2.9 Changes to Post Thumbnails

The world of WordPress Development is constantly changing. As well it should. No surprise there. Several days ago, I posted an article how to add the post thumbnail feature on your themes for the upcoming WordPress 2.9, which is currently in Beta.

Previously, the code for themes was:

<?php the_post_image( ‘post-thumbnail’ ); ?>

It has changed to:

<?php the_post_thumbnail( ‘post-thumbnail’ ); ?>

The entry in functions.php is still the same. This code activates post thumbnails feature. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s:

if ( function_exists( ‘add_theme_support’ ) )
add_theme_support( ‘post-thumbnails’ );

Lastly, Technosailor talks about the changes for WordPress 2.9. Great read.

Linux Driver for the Canon MX330

The Canon MX330 is your All-In-One Office Inkjet Printer. First of all, it’s an inkjet printer with a resolution of 4800 x 1200 maximum color dpi. It uses Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering or (FINE) with a patented print head, firing ink droplets as small as 2pl. This delivers superb quality and detail in both your business documents and photos. The built-in 30 sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) makes it easy to copy, scan or fax multiple documents without having to load them one at a time.

Second, it’s a copier. It uses Dual Color Gamut Technology that allows you to copy with confidence as this built-in technology automatically optimizes your originals so copies stay true to it, time after time, copy after time.

Third, it’s a photo printer. It has an Auto Photo Fix which is built-in, perfect for your home photo lab as it automatically categorizes your images into one of five types – Portrait, Scenery, Night Scenery, Snapshot with Scenery, and Snapshot with Night Scenery – then applies optimal image correction.

Fourth, it’s a fax. It uses Super G3 Fax connectivity, the business fax standard for color and PC facsimiles on plain paper meets the home office workhorse with 20 coded speed dials and up to 50 incoming pages2 to meet your every communication need.

Fifth, it’s a scanner. It’s capable of scanning up to 1200 x 2400 dpi and 19,200 x 19,200 dpi interpolated.

The unit comes with Ink Cartridges: PG-210 (Black Cartridge) and CL-211 (Color Cartridge), a Power Cord and a Telephone Line Cable. It’s missing a USB 2.0 printer cable. Thankfully, I had a spare one. As far as software is concerned, the unit comes with a Setup Software & User’s Guide CD-ROM for both PC and Mac. No Linux drivers.

Well, I have to do a little digging to find one. I found this site by Barton Phillips that provides a driver link from Canon’s website. Why Canon could not include this small program in the CD is beyond me.

I ran the install.sh shell script from the Terminal. I also ran or double clicked on one of the deb packages in the folder. I’m not sure if it was necessary. Afterwards, I ran CUPS and the program was able to identify the MX330 printer that’s connected via USB. I did a test print! It works.

Lenovo Q100 Review

I had a chance to play around with the Lenovo Q100 nettop. It’s a tiny computer about the size of an average external CD player. The footprint is impressively small at 6″w X 0.8″d X 6.80″h. We are talking inches here. It’s small enough that it comes with an installation plate that can be mounted on the back of flatscreen monitor as seen here. It can also stand up vertically  on its own stand as seen here. You can place it anywhere in your house, in the bedroom, living room or in the kitchen. It weighs only 1.67 lbs, and that includes the stand.

It’s very green. It consumes only 14 watts when in idle mode and 40 watts when fully loaded. So, what’s inside? It’s comes pre-installed with Windows XP SP3 Home Edition. It’s powered by a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom 230 processor with single-core Hyper-Threading technology, Intel 64 Technology, 533Mhz system bus and 512KB L2 cache. It has 1GB PC2-5300 667 MHZ DDR2 of RAM.  The hard drive is a 160 GB SATA 5400 RPM disk.

It contains 6 USB 2.0 ports, 2 front and 4 back. It has 2 speaker outputs, 1 front and 1 back, and 1 mic input in front. The audio is a High Definition (HD) audio, RealTek ALC662 codec. The network port is a built-in Gigabit ethernet RealTek RLT811DL.  Last but not least, it comes with a VGA port powered by an integrated Nvidia ION chipset MCP7A-ION.

The system is not a speed demon considering the price and footprint, but it performs admirably. It’s ideally suited for basic computing such as email and internet. I’ve used it for streaming videos with a videocam at ustream.tv. It worked great. Fry’s currently sells the Q100 for $189 pre-tax. While at it, you can get a Canon Pixma MX330 All-In-One Printer, Copier, Fax, Scanner for $59 with a $50 dollar rebate.  Technically, only $9.95.

SCO Is Downsizing

SCO is downsizing according to Groklaw. It’s not nice to be gleeful with someone else’s demise, but in SCO’s case, we will make an exemption. If they turn it around and make a contribution to the Linux community, maybe we will give them a reprieve. But, don’t expect SCO to change their suit happy ways. They are burning cash faster than money thrown in a bonfire. Anyways, here’s an excerpt from Groklaw.

SCO is downsizing. Ch. 11 Trustee Edward Cahn has filed a motion for the sale, transfer or abandonment of certain de minimis assets. They have also signed a new lease with Canopy, and they hope the court will approve it. The new lease with Canopy is for space more than 50 percent smaller than where they’ve been. So, no more feet on that huge desk in Darl’s office. Remember that picture? Ah, yes, 2004. The bogo accusations. I call them the Bogo Years.

SCO was in a space measuring 11,480 square feet and paying $22,715 a month for rent and other charges. Now they signed a lease this month for 4,365 square feet for $9,850 a month. The lease is attached as Exhibit A. So SCO is getting smaller and smaller.

Seriously. Don’t abandon a thing. Put it on eBay, for real. A lot of geeks will pay you for Darl’s swivel chair and pen holder. Dibs on the computer. I’m not a bit kidding. Talk about flax into gold. You shouldn’t turn your back on this fabulous opportunity.

Google Chrome Now Available For Mac and Linux

Well, it’s official. Google Chrome browser is now available for the Mac and Linux. Information Week has the details:

“We’ve been working hard to deliver a first-class browser for the Mac — it took longer than we expected, but we hope the wait was worth it!” declared Google product manager Brian Rakowski in a blog post. “We wanted Google Chrome to feel at home on the Mac, so we’ve focused on uniting our clean, simple design with subtle animations and effects to create a snappy and satisfying browsing experience on OS X.”Google also released a beta version of Chrome for Linux and browser extensions for users of beta and developer builds.

Google’s design goals for Chrome, which represents the foundation of the company’s forthcoming Chrome OS, remain focused on speed, stability, and security. As an example, Chrome isolates each browser tab so that buggy Web page code will only crash the tab and not the entire browser. Chrome’s multiprocess architecture is also a way to protect users from poorly coded or malicious extensions.

Start Using Difficult Wi-Fi Passwords

If you have an easy, guessable password that contain words found in dictionaries, you might want to alter your approach, because you are subjecting your password to be cracked easily. Having a weak password compromises all systems, from mainframes, servers, desktops, phones and network systems. With network devices, wireless networks particularly access point routers have been using encrypted passwords or passphrases to secure wi-fi networks.

128 bit WEP was widely used initially, but have given way to a more secure WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). WPA was created by the Wi-Fi Alliance to replace WEP. TKIP or Temporal Key Integrity Protocol was brought in as the protocol of choice, but it had its shortcomings. WPA was eventually replaced by WPA2, and in turn, the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced the AES protocol.

Of all protocols available, experts recommended WPA2 AES because of its strong encryption. Having a weak password or passphrase jeopardizes the security of a network. It’s recommended that administrators choose strong passwords. Such passwords can be obtained from free password generator programs that can generate a random combination of alphanumeric, case-sensitive characters sprinkled with a few special characters in between.

Yesterday, a WPA cracker service was announced. The $34 service says it can crack a password in less than 20 minutes.

The service leverages a known vulnerability in Pre-shared Key (PSK) networks usually used by home and small-business users.

To use it, the tester first submits a small file that contains an initial communication between the WPA router and a computer. Based on that information, WPA Cracker can then figure out whether the network is vulnerable to a type of attack.

While this job would take over five days on a contemporary dual-core PC, on our cluster it takes an average of 20 minutes, for only $17.

The $34 price tag is for the whole cluster. Using half the cluster costs $17, but the job could take 40 minutes.

All the more reason for users to start using difficult Wi-Fi passwords.

Video Subtitles Editor

Most of us who make videos resort to our old Windows ways when it comes to editing videos, placing subtitles, etc. Well, there are several Linux applications that are available for free. Mygnulinux.com shares with us several programs that do just that. They are: Ksubtitleripper, a KDE-based application, OGMRip and Avidemux.

Read the rest of the article.