Kindle Fire

Amazon released today the Kindle Fire at a mere $199. A recent trip to Apple’s website and at the Apple Store in San Francisco just confirmed to me how the iPad is out of reach to so many people including me. At least to the ones that are on a tight budget. Priced at $199, the Kindle Fire seems much more palatable to normal people like you and me.

Aside from the standard of reading a book, the Kindle Fire can also play movies, run applications, games, play music, and it comes with a revolutionary cloud-accelerated web browser called Silk. You’ll have access to over 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books. The application and games will be sold from the Amazon Appstore.

In addition to all the goodies so far, you also get free cloud storage for all your Amazon content. I really like this feature. If you fill up your memory, you can always retrieve it from the cloud. The Kindle Fire comes with a vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle. That’s neat. It’s also powered by a fast powerful dual-core processor.

If you’re a Amazon Prime member, you will have access to unlimited, instant streaming of over 10,000 popular movies and TV shows.

Ok. I’m sold! I want one. Check out the promo video here.

Firefox 7 Is Out

Firefox 7 was just released. Update your browser or download the latest from Mozilla.

New features:

  • Drastically improved memory handling for certain use cases
  • Added a new rendering backend to speed up Canvas operations on Windows systems
  • Bookmark and password changes now sync almost instantly when using Firefox Sync
  • The ‘http://’ URL prefix is now hidden by default
  • Added support for text-overflow: ellipsis
  • Added support for the Web Timing specification
  • Enhanced support for MathML
  • The WebSocket protocol has been updated from version 7 to version 8
  • Added an opt-in system for users to send performance data back to Mozilla to improve future versions of Firefox
  • Fixed several stability issues
  • Fixed several security issues

Playing DVDs on Ubuntu

I recently tried to run a Netflix DVD on my Ubuntu desktop only to see this annoying little message, “Could not read DVD. This may be because the DVD is encrypted and a DVD decryption library is not installed.” What’s going on? I already installed “ubuntu restricted extras, libdvdread2 and libdvdread4.” Why is it still not working?

Here are 3 little steps to get the Netflix DVD’s to play on my Ubuntu desktop. I included the installs for “ubuntu restricted extras” and “libdvdread4” just to be absolutely sure the steps work in all versions of Ubuntu.

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
sudo apt-get install libdvdread4
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

The last step of running the install is the most crucial. Well, enjoy the movies.

PHP Explode

The PHP explode function can break apart variables into several smaller pieces. You can specify the splitting parameter, and the result will be returned in an array which can be echoed or use for other purposes within your script. If I have a variable called “$string” that contains a very long string, I can use PHP explode to break it apart into smaller pieces. In this example, I have a variable that contains both the directory and filename. I will use PHP explode to break them apart.

Example:

$string = "thisisalongstring/breakmeapart.php";
$shorten = explode("/", $string);

The Result:

echo $shorten[0];    // thisisalongstring
echo $shorten[1];    // breakmeapart.php

PHP explode is a fun little function.

Netflix Introduces Qwikster

I just received an email from Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix. Reed initially apologizes for the confusion the last few weeks regarding Netflix’s subscription pricing hike and explains the reasoning behind the increase. He also explains the emerging separate businesses of streaming and DVD. Reed later introduces a new name to  DVD business called Qwikster. Here’s an excerpt of the email.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

You can read the post from Netflix’ blog. You can place comments there as well.

Black-Letterhead 1.7.1

Black-Letterhead has been upgraded to version 1.7.1.

Download Black-Letterhead 1.7.1 now!

Version 1.7.1 essentially has the same features as version 1.7, but it contains a XSS security fix. I recommend that you upgrade to version 1.7.1 as soon as possible.

1.7.1 Features

  • Compatible with the latest WordPress 3.2.1
  • Automatic Feed Links
  • Post Thumbnal support
  • Custom Menus support
  • Custom Headers
  • Rotating Header Images
  • Custom Backgrounds
  • Theme Toolkit
  • Choose right or left sidebar
  • Two widths: 760px or 960px
  • Ability to remove Title or Tagline
  • Turn on/off Single Pages with Sidebar
  • Display Page border/No border
  • Ability to Customize Fonts
  • Ability to change Text Colors
  • XSS Search Fix

Download Black-Letterhead 1.7.1 now!

Install SSH Server on Ubuntu Desktop

So you just installed the latest version of Ubuntu on your desktop. You want to access your spanking new Ubuntu machine from another computer. There are two ways in accomplishing this: (1) the fast and easy way via SSH, or (2) the slightly more difficult way via graphics called Remote Desktop.

Let’s say we go with the easy route in this article. We want to access it via SSH. I’ll follow up with another article how to access your Ubuntu desktop using Remote Desktop. So, we want to access your Ubuntu desktop via SSH. What we need is a SSH server. We can easily install OpenSSH Server by just installing the SSH server from the Terminal.

Install SSH Server

sudo apt-get install ssh-server

Done. Simple.

SSH Client

Your remote computer must have a SSH client to access your Ubuntu desktop. I recommend that you use Putty if you are a Windows users. Putty is a SSH client program to access your Ubuntu desktop. If you are a Mac or a Linux user, you can simply use the Terminal. Access your Ubuntu server by invoking the SSH client.

ssh 10.10.10.10

That’s the IP address of my Ubuntu desktop. You can specify a hostname if you have an internal DNS that’s working. You can also specify the username and the port number if you using a different port from the standard port 22.

ssh 10.10.10.10 -l username -p 2222

9/11 Remembered

Time flies. I can’t believe it has been 10 years since 9/11. I remember it vividly like it was yesterday. I had just woken up before 6am Pacific time. I went online to check my email and noticed that Yahoo was crawling. It was painfully slow. Yahoo’s home page eventually showed up after a couple of minutes. And there it was the top story. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but something similar to “Plane crashes into the World Trace Center.”

I immediately turned the TV on. Moments later, I saw the second plane hit the second tower. I also saw both towers collapse. I reluctantly showed up at work at 1pm. I was angry, dazed, and confused. It was a day that forever changed our lives. We lost loved ones. We also lost a large part of our freedom that day. We do things a little differently now, when we fly, and when we cross our borders. That was 10 years ago.

We moved on. And we must, but we should always remember 9/11.

HTML5 Basic Template

If you are going to be creating websites, you might as well be using HTML5 now. There is no point of using the older, antiquated, and sometimes verbose HTML 4 markup. A case in point, take a look at the HTML4 header markup below. It’s long, cryptic and hard to remember.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

Compare that to the HTML 5 header markup below which is much, much simpler.

<!DOCTYPE html>
Let's take a look at the basic HTML5 template.
The HTML5 Basic Template
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
<meta charset="utf-8" />
<title>HTML5 Template</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" type="text/css" />
</head>
<body>
</body>
</html>

This template is perfect for creating quick websites, displaying example pages, or for testing purposes. If you want to create professional websites, then you should check out HMTL5 Boilerplate template which I highly recommend. It’s an excellent website to get you started with your HTML5 projects.

Is Automattic Moving Offices?

The SF Port Authority has shut down Pier 38, home of numerous startups including Automattic, the company behind WordPress. SF Port Authority says the building is unsafe and must vacated in the next 30 days. I wonder if Automattic has to move at all, since the office sits right outside of the pier. I’ve been to that office numerous times for WordPress meetups. The good thing is, most of Automattic employees work remotely and are hardly in the office anyways. Anyways, all tenants must move out of Pier 38 by September 30. It will be interesting where Automattic is moving if at all.