• OEM Install updatesIf you’ve ever bought a laptop or a branded desktop, the first thing that you’ll see from the Windows installed is a welcome screen, which offers to guide you in setting up your system, asking you such questions as what user name you prefer and some network information.

    I had downloaded an Alternative Install Ubuntu Edgy and burned it to CD, because one of my computers had really low memory, thus making use of the graphical install utility was a nightmare, so I used the Alternative Install disc for the old ASCII-interface installer. But only quite recently did I try the OEM install option that came with the CD, just out of curiosity. It’s basically the same as the ASCII installer, with the exception that instead of prompting you for the desired username, it provides an oem account and you are just prompted for the password. After installation and reboot, you log on to your system using the oem account as you would a normal install.

    From here, you can configure your system as you please; install all available updates, configure the repositories, install multimedia codecs, and if you’re a computer company, set the desktop background to your company logo.

    When you feel that your system is ready for the end user, open up a terminal and type sudo oem-config-prepare. On next reboot, which the end user will be doing, he or she will be prompted for a new user name, keyboard layout, etc. Voila!

    WARNING: As pointed out by Chrys, the OEM account is not supposed to be used as a regular account as it is only meant to perform a few preparations before use for the end-user. After oem-prepare-config is executed, the oem user, and its associated home folder, will disappear by next reboot.

    OEM Config Prepare

    Of course this isn’t anything new, but since no one I know knows about this (relatively few know about the Windows OEMs either), might as well put out more information for everyone’s perusal.

    And since Dell is starting offering Ubuntu on some of their models, it would be advantageous to other retailers and computer manufacturers to start giving their customers a choice, instead of just assuming they want to pay for a Windows bundle.

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  • May 28, 2007 /  Lifestyle

    First and the last time that I’m going to Compass Cyberstation.

    Yesterday we needed to print an important document and I had to have it printed on A4 paper, which incidentally is THE international paper size, and which most local companies are already using. Lo and behold! They don’t carry A4 paper! So we had to walk to the nearest bookstore and buy 2 pieces of A4 paper, unfortunately, only 25-piece packs were available.

    After walking back to Compass and printing the document, we asked to print sticker labels on the sticker labels we brought with us. The guy manning the printer said something to the effect that they only print on bond-paper-thick paper because their printer might get damaged. So I told him, “but you have a high-end Fuji Xerox printer!” Imagine that, the guy gave me a look. I was so mad I couldn’t utter another word!

    So we just let it slide and proceeded to pay for the printing. They charged me P20 for the 2 pages, which isn’t much, but by principle I couldn’t understand why they were asking me to pay the full amount to print on my own paper that I bought with my own money. So I gave them P200. Heck, they couldn’t even give me the right change! The lady asked, “Sir, we lack 5 more pesos for your change, is that ok?” Lady, how few customers a day do you have to get that you don’t have a nice round number of P180 in your cash register?

    To anyone who happens to be in the vicinity of a Compass Cyberstation who happen to need computer or printing services, a word of advice–AVOID. In fact, try to avoid printing at all computer rental places altogether, which is what I’ll be doing from now on. Printer prices are dropping to as low as P3K or less. And even your Pentium 3s will still work like a charm on an Ubuntu. The cost of having your own computer with printer is lower than ever. For me, it’s time to buy new printer ink.

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  • May 10, 2007 /  Tech Stuff

    When you find yourself asking the question, “where did all my hard disk space go?!” do you scour each directory to find those big, space-consuming files? Treemapping software eliminates that tedious need. These programs don’t just display your files and folders in a directory structure like you would see in Windows Explorer, Nautilus, or <insert file browser here>, instead they give you a graphical representation of what the contents of your hard disk looks like. Having moved to Linux, I found myself missing Space Monger. After a short search through the net here is a quick list of treemapping software worthy of mention:

    Space Monger (Windows, Commercial; older version still freeware, website)

    But of course, how can I not review Space Monger first. Space Monger maps your drive into rectangles–the bigger the file/folder, the bigger the block. Subfolders are displayed as smaller blocks inside its parent block. Space Monger displays blocks with different colors, depending on their hierarchical level (i.e. folders directly under c:\ are displayed with the same color), and you can also change the color theme. To explore a block, double clicking on it zooms in on its contents. Unlike other ‘mappers, Space Monger displays the file/folder name on the larger blocks, so blocks are immediately recognizable.

    Filelight (Linux, Open-Source, website)

    The first Linux treemapper I tried, and my favorite. Instead of displaying the contents as rectangles, Filelight displays it as hierarchical pie charts. I was reluctant at first, having used Space Monger for so long. But once I started using it, my opinion quickly changed. Hovering your mouse over a particular piece of the pie displays call outs over the main sub-pies, making you look like an extremely cool, Hollywood-esque techie. Filelight only displays files and folders when you point your mouse over it, but it displays information like number of files, size, as well as the percentage of the pie. Clicking on a piece zooms in and displays that particular piece as a whole pie. Color schemes can be changed as well. Overall, Filelight is fast, cool, and very easy to use.

    JDiskReport (Windows, Mac, Java, Free, website)JDiskReport gives the user several useful tools for disk usage analysis, including the pie chart like in Filelight and distribution graphs. It runs in Java, and is very responsive. Unlike in Filelight, JDiskReport does show the file/folder name with the pie chart as well as a directory tree at the left side of its window. Although not as visually sophisticated as Filelight, JDiskReport boasts a very complete set of tools that will feel right at home with any system administrator.

    DiskView (Windows, 15-day trial, website)

    DiskView features complete integration with Windows Explorer. You can display data either with a pie-chart or bar chart. Similar to Filelight and JDiskReport, DiskView offers a slightly higher level of visual sophistication; even the Windows system directories have a different pie pattern. Alongside the graph, some other useful information about your drives and folders are displayed as well, including disk health reported by SMART. This is arguably one of the best programs I’ve seen. It’s only drawbacks are–it’s as sluggish as Windows Exploer and it’s not free, and that makes all the difference.

    File System Visualizer (Linux, Open-Source, website)

    File System Visualizer is unique in that it displays your data in 3D. It offers two views: the MapV View, which represents file/folders as equally tall blocks, with an area proportional to their size; and TreeV View, that displays data with the same footprint, but proportional height.

    OverDisk (Windows, Freeware, website)

    OverDisk’s pie chart looks and feels like Filelight. Files/folders are not displayed, only the piece that you point to. And it’s also a bit hard to visually comprehend. Alongside the pie-chart, a directory tree is displayed on the left side of its window. OverDisk is still in alpha and according to the site, it’s gonna take a while before it gets updated.

    Treemap (Windows, Free for non-commercial use, website)

    Treemap is complete program that not only lets you view directories, but also other assets. At startup, you are prompted to open one of several built-in treemap data files. You can also choose to map a directory, which displays hierarchical output similar to Space Monger. Treemap’s built-in data files includes such data like “causes of death” and “NBA statistics” to name a few, which are also displayed in hierarchical fashion. Treemap also offers plenty of complex options, though this application may be overkill for most system administrators.

    Baobab (Linux, Open-Source, website)
    WinDirStat (Windows, Open-Source, website)
    GDMap (Linux, Open-Source, website)
    Treesize (Linux, Open-Source, website)
    SequoiaView (Linux, Open-Source, website)

    I grouped these programs because of their similarities, and I wouldn’t recommend any of these programs. Baobab’s initial screen is a size-ordered listing of your subdirectories, with horizontal bars as well as the numerical percentage displayed beside it. From here you can open up Baobab’s graphical map for a particular folder. All of their graphical map view is like Space Monger, only much less intuitive and much less comprehensible. In Baobab, you can’t click on a block to expand it, nor does it display sub-folders inside their parent blocks. Instead, you select depths of recursion. Treesize offers no pie chart or treemaps. It just lists your directories by a bar graph.

    Others

    Discovery (Win/Linux/Mac, Freeware, website) Displays other types of hierarchies, not just treemaps. This is a complex program that offers more than just space analysis.

    Panopticode (Win/Linux, Freeware, website) A treemapping program whose purpose is not for mapping disk usage, but to make code metrics “so widely understood, valuable, and simple that their use becomes ubiquitous, thus raising the quality of software across the industry.”

    Folder Size (Win, Freeware, website) A simple program to allow you to view the folder size in Windows Explorer. A note, though, that this doesn’t work with Vista. Here’s why it doesn’t, and why the next version probably will be for Linux.

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  • May 7, 2007 /  Uncategorized

    Bin┬áLaden You know somethings terribly wrong when politicians start using names like “Bin Laden” as their political slogans for their campaign materials, As seen in this newspaper ad in a local newspaper. Ironically, the “A” in the Bin Laden acronym stands for “Advocate of Peace”……Right…don’t you worry, you have my vote.

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