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Internet radio tuner PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Fifty years between them: Goodmans DSR80DAB & Bush VHF61

This is a brief introduction to Internet radio. In a nutshell, this is GarfNet's somewhat ageing internet radio & TV tuner. This appears when you click the Internet Radio item on left side of the page. The "tuner" then automagically appears at the top of the left hand column, just above the Index. It actually has a built in video player too - though it is rather small. Immediately beneath the video window there is a pick-list. This where you may select the radio station of your choice.

It should be said there are plans for a much better one. But there never seems to be the time to build it! Besides I use Kradio4 these days. It's an excellent internet radio player written by Ernst Martin Witte for the KDE linux desktop. It's available in the repositories for most KDE-based Linux distros. You can also get the source code from:

Last Updated on Friday, 03 January 2014 19:14
Windows 7 - is it any good? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Amidst lots of puff & bluster, Microsoft has released a half decent Beta version of its latest Windows 7 operating system. One of the claims made for it is that it is faster than Vista. Mind you, it needed to be. I dumped Windows nearly two years ago, largely because of the slug-like performance of Windows Vista.


Well, last night, I managed to install a beta version of Windows 7 (build 7000 32-bit) on a virtual machine. Basically I used Sun VirtualBox running on Kubuntu Linux 8.04-1. I created the same sized virtual machine upon which I have successfully run Windows XP for some time. Despite being offered such a friendly environment, it took over an hour to install, which is much longer than XP in the same environment.

Click to view full size image
Screengrab of installation early stages.
Note Windows 7 is running in a VirtualBox virtual Machine on Kubuntu Linux.

Installs faster than Vista but not as fast as Ubuntu

Interestingly, at the same time I started to install Windows 7, without any additional applications, My g/f installed Goosebuntu (Kubuntu Linux c/w all the office, multimedia, programming, educational and internet application she needs) on a very humble, 2-year-old IBM Lenovo Laptop. She had her system up and running c/w all apps in less than twenty minutes. That is less than 1/3 the time it took me to install a bare-bones Windows 7.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 July 2009 17:32
Is Linux a "disruptive technology"? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   
If you do a google search for "disruptrive technology" and the word "Linux", you're likely to get over 50,000 hits. Trouble is that many of the articles that appear are quite old, often going back as far as 2001 and further. A lot has happened in the last few years...
  1. For a start, today we have very good Linux for desktops. By all accounts desktop Linuxes were pretty crap back in 2001.
  2. Windows 5 & 5.1 (2000 & XP) were actually reasonably good products in their day. Besides, the full horror of MS's now infamous security holes, virus vulnerability and its draconian licensing hadn't really hit home either. Therefore there was not much impetus for users to switch in those days.
  3. Windows 6 (AKA Vista) has been a disaster for Microsoft. So much so that MS is rushing to release Windows 7 by the end of 2009 in order to stem the increasing haemorrhage of users migrating to Ubuntu etc - just like we did last year. If MS screws up Windows 7 too (and rushed OS's are seldom particularly good) then that is the time when I expect to see a lot more penguins invading people's desktops.
  4. There is a whole new generation of computers that simply won't run Windows - or if they will, then the performance is considerably poorer on Windows than on Linux.
    1. Devices like the aforementioned Asus eeePC.
    2. Sub-£300 laptops that skinflints like us run our businesses on. These machines run like slugs on Vista but go like the clappers on (K)Ubuntu
    3. Android devices: Android is Google's new Linux-based, open source operating system for mobile phones & PDA's. Most major handset manufacturers have said they plan to adopt it. Though there have been criticisms regarding the nature of the license, and the predominance of Java over direct system API calls, it nevertheless means development can go ahead across many different platforms. Also means Ballmer and his buddies in Redmond really don't get much of a look-in.
  5. I think the most interesting thing of all is that when you listen to the likes of Steve Jobs & Jonathan Schwartz, it seems that we are not the only people on the planet who are planning for a time when MS becomes just another software supplier.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 03:23
Cleaning a camera CCD with a vacuum cleaner and a Lens Pen PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

ImageI had Fuji S1, S2 & S3, all of which had dust magnets for sensors! They would get dirty even if I did not remove the lenses, simply from the air that got sucked in by varying the focal length of the lens. However, I cleaned them quite successfully with a vacuum cleaner. However there are some important caveats.

Most importantly,  do NOT use the cleaner to dislodge the dust. You are more likely to suck out the shutter mechanism. I never did this but a colleague did. Instead, use a fine carbon fibre brush such as a "Lens Pen" to do dislodge the dust and use the vacuum cleaner to suck the dust once it is mobile. Seems the carbon fibre brush is slightly conductive and greatly reduces static build-up on sensor.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 July 2009 20:17
Using VirtualBox to run Windows apps that will not run on WINE PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Im a big fan CrossoverLinux. This is the commercial implementation of WINE by CodeWeavers. For many Windows apps it works very well indeed. In many ways I prefer it to using a virtual machine (VM) because firstly one does not have to start a VM just to run an application and secondly, Windows apps behave exactly as if they were Linux apps - thus integrating seamlessly into Linux. Here's a list of all the Windows apps I have made run using Crossover:-

In fact, I am one of Codeweavers so-called advocates - users in charge of little sub-projects to get certain favourite Windows applications working well under CrossoverLinux, whilst documenting and sharing this knowledge with other CrossOver users. I've even got some pretty obscure stuff working such as the software for my Icom IC-R20 communications receiver. And I like the concept of WINE bottles - little preconfigured Windows subsystems that can easily be transported to other Linux boxes - thus making installed Windows apps effectively portable.

Trouble is there are some apps that simply will not run on WINE whatever you do with them. Example, VideoReDo, an excellent linear MPEG editor that does not require transcoding before editing - ideal for topping & tailing (& removing commercials from) TV programmes. Despite many requests on its user forums for a Linux version, seems we are stuck with Windows for the time being. In this instance, a virtual machine is the only answer until a either VideoReDO's developers get their act together or an open source Linux equivalent becomes available. That's when the ability to run Windows in a virtual machine becomes very useful. And one of the most interesting products around is Sun's VirtualBox.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 July 2009 20:06
UK taxpayers can submit tax returns online using open source software PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

I just completed my UK tax return on-line today. At the end of it all, HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) ask for some feedback. I thought that fans of open source software might be interested in my response:-

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2009 13:36
Backing up using big, cheap hard disks and some nifty Unix tools PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

We all have our favourite methods of data backup. Certainly DVD is a good archiving and distribution medium. But for routine backup, I look for reliability, low cost, ease of use, high-speed, high capacity and redundancy - so I am not reliant on just one device.

One of my favourite methods is a complete off-site dataset consisting of a hotchpotch of USB/eSATA/Firewire disks. Only disadvantage is that they live 20km away and are only updated every couple of weeks. So I keep a further two 1Tb Samsung disks with recent data in my camera rucksack. These are updated daily. Cost around £80.00 each. (So no excuse for not backing up!)

But considering HD failure is the most common source of failure and that I am a naturally lazy git, my backup methodology needs to be really really easy and almost instant. Also I have become very reliant on my media server and my business can't really function well without it. So I figured I needed a more radical solution...

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 January 2009 01:33
GNUCash - serious open source accounting software PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Nowadays, one reads a lot about open source equivalents of proprietary software. Often these are described as poor substitutes for the real thing. However, some open source apps are starting seriously to outperform their proprietary counterparts. Mozilla Firefox is a classic example of this phenomenon. GNUCash is another. 

Splash screen
Gnucash Splash Screen

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 May 2008 16:11
How to upgrade from Ubuntu to Kubuntu (version 8.xx - Hardy) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   
Firstly please back up anything that is important - as you would with any major upgrade on any computer system!

Then you can either use the Synaptic package manager or in this instance it is probably quicker to install from a Terminal window. First we make sure the system is fully up to date. Simply type one line at a time followed by the return key...

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Now your system is ready for Kubuntu. Type...
sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop
This will install the Kubuntu desktop. The download will take a while because it has to download about a CD-ROM-full of files. It will ask you which login-manager you want to use: gdm or kdm. (Gnome Desktop manager or KDE Desktop manager). Basically this is changes what the login screen looks like. If you prefer KDE (as I do), then choose kdm, if you like Gnome, then choose gdm. If you change your mind later then you can change this later.

Job done!

If you are still dithering, then this is an example of one of my KDE v3.5x desktops - in this instance I am running ThumbsPlus for Windows v7.0 in a Crossover Linux "WINE bottle".

Or click
to see it full size. The model is GarfNet's MJay 
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2008 20:18
I can't open Raw files from my digital camera PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Usually the camera manufacturer will  provide software that handles raw files from your camera. However, several problems can arise:-

  • You change computer and loose the original software.
  • You have several cameras made by different manufacturers but want to use the same application to deal with their raw files.
  • You don't use Micro$oft Windows.

So what can you do?

Before you stump up any hard-earned cash, I would suggest you download and try GIMP image editor c/w either UFRaw or DCRaw plugin:-

UFRaw is actually based on DCRaw but is much friendlier IMHO. However, Dave Coffin, the author of the original DCRaw source code is a very interesting and knowledgable chap and his site is well worth a vist anyway:-
Dave Coffin's mission:- "Write and maintain an ANSI C program that decodes any raw image from any digital camera on any computer running any operating system."
Last Updated on Sunday, 04 May 2008 16:48
Britain's metrication fiasco PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Britain has made a complete hash of metrication whilst failing to teach its young the basic numeracy skills to deal with the ridiculous anomalies that have arisen as a result. E.g...

  • People who think 7.5 lbs is the same as 7 lb 5 oz.
  • People who think of 0 as freezing 0 as boiling and yet think room temperature as 70.
  • Local authorities such as Southampton City Council that insists building plans be submitted in metres but continue to rent allotments in rods!
  • People who weigh themselves in stone or weigh cement etc. in hundredweight but have no idea of the value of either in pounds, let alone kilograms.
  • We buy petrol in litres but our road signs are still in miles - thus making fuel economy calculations almost impossible for the majority of the population. And this is a time when we are told we need to reduce our carbon footprint!

Metric measures were legalised in the UK in 1863, yes, 150 years ago! Since then we have endured three failed attempts at metrication. Can't really blame Brits for being a bit muddled when it comes to measuring things, can you?

Last Updated on Friday, 12 February 2010 17:25
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