This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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Ubuntu LiveCD

A couple of days ago Brandy’s Dell laptop crashed and crashed hard. When it tried to boot just a blank black screen. All the diagnostics you could get to from the BIOS said everything was fine though. But when you tried to boot into Windows… nothing at all. And because it was a budget Dell laptop, no Windows restore/install disks either.

And of course there was no recent backup of her stuff. So the fear was the drive was completely dead and all her stuff would be gone.

This of course happened to Brandy in the middle of the night and she woke me up because she was distraught. After the usual things failed, I decided to try booting from an Ubuntu Live CD. I spent the next three hours or so downloading the ISO image and then burning it to CD.

Then I pop it in the drive, hit F12 while booting to get the menu letting me boot from the CD, and zoom… the disk whirs a bit and up comes Ubuntu just fine. Not only did it pop up right away into a desktop where I could easily find all the things I was looking for, but it automatically mounted the hard drive… which turned out to appear to be completely perfect… all of Brandy’s data was there. Then I easily found in a couple clicks that I could mount the drive in my iMac through ssh right there in the GUI and have it pop up nice and easily. (I of course immediately started copying all the relevant data files “just in case”.)

All the file manipulation was just there. Firefox was just there. It was all clear and pretty simple to use out of the box with no messing around with the config. Well… one exception… I couldn’t get the built in wireless card to work out of the box, or even after searching online for instructions on how to get her specific wireless card to work with Ubuntu. So the laptop needed to be plugged into a wired connection for the networking to work. Which kind of sucks on a laptop. But still… it beat my expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably get frustrated pretty quickly if I tried to use Ubuntu as my primary OS… it ain’t no Mac OS X. But having not tried Ubuntu before, I was impressed by how far the effort to make a usable (for a non geek) desktop Linux has come compared to all my prior Linux exposures (including regularly at work). Pretty good.

Of course, the next day when Brandy called Dell tech support they led her through a series of steps to try to fix the machine, and only resulted in making the hard drive (which had been fine before) completely unmountable from Ubuntu, while still not making it able to boot into Windows. So they mailed her a set of restore disks that will put the laptop back to the exact state it came from the factory in. (Theoretically… well, except for the missing keys on the keyboard that Roscoe broke off… a software update won’t fix that.) The disks arrived in yesterday’s mail, but she is supposed to wait until they call her to touch it… even though I’m sure she could pop the first disk in, follow the instructions and be fine… but they have to walk her through it. Whatever.

I’m just glad I backed up all her data before she called Dell tech support. Bleh.

And I was impressed with Ubuntu. I’ll have to explore it a bit more.

(And yes, I’m partially just making this post right now because I found a small bug in my email notification thingy mentioned in the last post and want to see if the tweaks I made in the last hour or so fixed it.)

New Post Notifications

For years whenever I’ve made new posts on this blog I’ve sent out an email to the current Email Top Ten to let them know about the new post. That has always been a manual process for me. I’ve finally taken the time to automate it. So now when I make a post it will automatically generate those emails for me. Woo.

(Well, that is true as long as I post in the “normal” way. If I pre-publish so that a post will automatically get posted at a time in the future I have it set to just send an email to me. Same if I post something but for some reason mark it as “Closed”. Also, if I ever get the blogger API thing working again so I can post from a blogging app on my phone, it won’t send the email then either, although I think I now know how to add that… if only that functionality would work at all any more. It hasn’t since a MySQL update a few months ago.)

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile and finally did. Go me.

Now, I only need to catch up on my counting for the email top ten so that the current list of people emailed isn’t the email addresses who won it in October 2004… two of which are now invalid and always bounce. Oops.

One more note of interest… this is the first time in quite some time I’ve made a second post in a single day. I’d been sticking to the “one post a day” thing, but maybe I’ll switch that to “at least one post a day”. Of course, regardless it is only a matter of time until I get busy one day and miss a day entirely again. But that will be OK.

iPhone Sighting

It finally happened. Yesterday at work I saw an iPhone. It was only for a couple of seconds, as someone half pulled it out of his pocket to check something and quickly put it back. I did not see it in full use, it was only a glance, but it was long enough to verify it was indeed an iPhone.

So, my milestones so far:

  • 2007 Jun 29 22:00 UTC: iPhone goes on Sale
  • 2007 Jun 30 02:42 UTC: (4 hours 42 minutes later) I see my first iPhone bag in person
  • 2007 Jul 9 11:35 UTC: (10 days, 13 hours, 35 minutes later) I get my first email sent from an iPhone
  • 2007 Jul 25 17:33 UTC: (26 days, 19 hours, 33 minutes later) I glimpse my first iPhone in person

This is a lot slower than I expected. I figured for sure I would have seen one in the first week. Instead it took almost 27 days. And that was just a brief glance.

This is of course only for viewing it “in the wild”. If I’d seen them at the Apple store or something that wouldn’t count. But I haven’t been to one since it launched anyway, so it all turns out the same.

One other note about the email I got from an iPhone. I *got* it on the 9th… but it was SENT on the 4th… not sure if that says something about mail on the iPhone, or something else entirely, most likely the second, but just wanted to point out that delta.

OK, see, a non-political post. Hope you all enjoyed it.

Now I am being called to dinner.