I have moved…

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have moved all the content from this website and consolidated my other blogs into one. I will now make all my blog posts on my new blog, Writing Confederation, so please come check it out!

I will continue to make posts about technology on my new blog, and have already posted the second article in the “Building your website…” series. “Building your website… Part 2” is now live at Writing Confederation!

http://writingconfederation.wordpress.com/

Building a website… Part 1

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hello all. Recently I have had a request to go over the process of making a blog, such as this one, again. Some of you may have read my previous posts on this subject, but for those of you that have note, I can’t help you. I just spend about five minutes looking for my previous articles on this subject, with no luck. That aside, I have decided that it is a topic worth revisiting. In this series I plan on covering how to set up a blog on WordPress, as well as how to create your very own website using HTML, CSS, and maybe even a little JavaScript. Part 1 will cover setting up a WordPress blog.

The first thing you need to do, before even opening your browser and going to WordPress.com, is to decide what you are going to blog about. For example, I knew that I had plenty to say on the subject of computers and all things related to them, so I created this blog so that I share my thoughts, knowledge, and views with other people. Now you may have come here looking to create a website about your life, and because of your topic, you do not think that you need a theme. You do. Even if you plan to write about your life, or what you do in your backyard in the summer, or just plan to make random posts, you must know what your topic is. Once you have decided what your topic is you will be able to stick to that topic more easily, other people will be more likely to read your blog because there is a constant theme that they are interested in, and most importantly, it will help you think of things to publish. How? If you have a set theme, or topic that you have decided to write about, the chances that you will sit staring at your screen wondering what to write about go down dramatically. So in summary, a good, clearly defined theme that is present in all of your posts will not only help you come up with posts, but also bring readers interested in the topic you have chosen to your blog to read what you have to say.

Next, you must consider a domain. The domain, commonly known as the web address or less commonly as the URL, is what readers will type in to get to your website. The actual significance of a domain name relative to the success of your website is certainly arguable, but in my opinion choosing a domain name is a crucial step. For example, let us take a look at the domain I chose for my blog, MyiPC: myipc.wordpress.com. The “.wordpress” suffix added to my domain will be ignored because all blogs created at WordPress, unless you register a paid domain instead, are automatically appended with it. “myipc’ is meant to be read as the title of my blog is written, “MyiPC.” The second part of the name, “iPC,” is a parody of the ongoing PC vs Mac argument. By appending PC to the hallmark “i” that Apple prefixes all their products with, my goal was to not only add a little humor to the name, but also express some open mindedness. I could have registered with a name such as “pcsarethebest” (PCs are the best), but in doing so it is my opinion that I would have gave some readers a prejudice with which to read my posts with. Let us look at another example. The other day I was reading browsing through the various category’s of websites on WordPress, and came upon one website that piqued my interest. After reading the article and leaving a short comment to the author, I happened to glance up at the domain; The domain of the website was simply the author’s username. There was absolutely no connection to the name, the title of the blog, or the content within the website whatsoever. The final reason I will present in favor of my point of view is for returning users. Generally the most emphasis placed on any single element in a blog, and especially blogs created using WordPress themes, is the title. Besides the content of an article on your website, that is what a casual reader is most likely to remember. But what if this reader wants to come back and leave you a nice comment, or send your post to some friends? Well unfortunately the poor reader doesn’t remember the URL of your website, and has recently ran CCleaner, effectively wiping almost all traces of ever being at your website from his or her computer. So now what? The one thing your reader remembers from your website is the title, the big, black letters framed against a white background are still burning in their mind. After hopping over to Google and doing a search for your title, nothing relevant comes up. Dispirited, the reader who wanted to come back to your website and spread the word about it closes the browser window and never sees your website again. That story is all too common among those who do not choose a title and domain well. My personal recommendation is to choose a title that you feel describes what you will talk about in your posts, and then if not make your domain exactly that title, at least model it after the title.

Now that you have chosen both a topic to write about, as well as a title and a desired domain, head on over to WordPress.com and click the big orange button that says “Sigh up now.” In the next screen you will be asked to enter your desired domain name (labeled as “Blog address” on the form), as well as create a username, password, and enter your email address. Fill out the fields, and click “Sign up.” A confirmation email will be sent to the email address you entered on the previous page, which you must click in order to activate your blog.

Once activated, your blog will be very basic. The basic theme consisting of two columns and a title will greet you should you decide to check our your website before following the steps below:

Delete the “Hello World!” post, manage posts, and edit pages.

Nothing says “Hi, I’m a beginning who just started at this” more than leaving the “Hello World!” post up, and unfortunately some readers will leave after seeing it. Every WordPress blog is forced to have one by default, so the first thing you should do is delete it. To do so, look to the left side of the screen. You should see a horizontal bar with a variety of menus and links. Click the button labeled “Posts”. Upon clicking the button, you will be redirected to a page in which all of your posts are displayed. Hover over the name of the post you want to edit (in this case the “Hello World!” post). A few links should appear under the post name, one of which in red labeled Trash. Click it. Congratulations, you have now deleted the annoying default post!

When you inevitably become ready to write a post, go to the “Posts” page again and click the “Add new” button near the page title. On the next page there will be space to write your post, no matter how long it ends up being.  You will have the option of saving your post as a draft, previewing it, or publishing  it. The names of the buttons are self-explanatory, so I wont bother explaining their functions. You can also edit posts from the “Posts” page. Simply open the page, mousover the post you would like to edit,  and click the “Edit” link that appears under the name.

To add, edit, or delete a page, you must go through a similar process. The only difference is that when working with pages, you must go to the “Pages” window. A link to it can be found in the bar on the left side of the screen.

Change your theme, add widgets, and customize the title.

The next thing that you will want to do is change the theme. Some people prefer a simplistic theme, and I can appreciate that, but even if you plan on keeping the default theme I would suggest following along throughout this step in order to have the knowledge to change your theme in the future. To view all the currently available themes, click the button labeled “Appearance,” located a few items under the “Posts” button you clicked earlier. You will be brought to a page at which you can choose any theme you deem suitable for your website. Since this is your first time, I would recommend ordering the themes from A-Z by clicking the “A-Z” link underneath the “Browse Themes” heading. You can click the “Preview” link underneath the picture of each theme to see a full-size image of what you site would look like with that theme.
Once you have found a theme you like, click the “Activate” link underneath its image. This will change the appearance of you website to that theme.

Customizing the title of your blog is very important. A title is most likely what readers will see first upon navigating to your blog, so choose wisely. To change the current title of a WordPress blog, click the bottom button in the sidebar where you found “Posts” and “Appearance,” the button labeled “Settings.” From the Setting page you will be able to change your site title, as well as add or change a site tagline (a brief description of what your website is about), and timezone. When finished, click “Save Changes.”

Adding Widgets is not necessary, but it can improve the look of your blog as well as improve the usability. To customize the widgets displayed on your blog at any given time, go back to the page where you picked out a theme and click the “Widgets” link. If you cannot find the link, it is possible that your theme does not support adding widgets. The next page will allow you to go through available widgets and place them on a sidebar, header, or footer, depending on your current theme. After dragging and dropping a widget to a sidebar, header, or footer be sure to click the “Save” button to save your changes before moving on.

 

This concludes the first part of the “Building a website…” series. You have learned how to:

1. Choose a descriptive title that will help you stay on-topic as well as guide readers to your blog
2. Customize your new blog to make it your own
3. Add, edit, or delete posts

Happy blogging.

In the past four months I have revisited Ubuntu Linux, and I have to say, I like it! During my three month trip to South Africa I ran Ubuntu in VirtualBox, and also installed it on my computer in Wubi. Hopefully content written during the trip will be posted soon. During the trip I got a hold of Ubuntu 9 and installed it through Wubi on my computer, with mixed results. Now that I’m home though, I have partitioned my new 750 GB hard drive and am now running both Ubuntu and Windows 7.

So first, Wubi. Wubi is the Windows-based Ubuntu Installer that allows you to install Wubi almost as you would a normal program. The Wubi option allows you to boot into Ubuntu as you do Windows, and works pretty well, almost as well as a native installation. Almost. The only real problem I had with my Wubi installation of Ubuntu was that there was no Hibernate feature.

In a Wubi installation of Ubuntu, through some conflict with a virtual hard disk format or something, there is no hibernation option. Hibernate is by far the most used mode on my computer, although this being a problem is really just personal preference. The other thing that really is a problem, not really a personal preference thing like the last one, is that while running Windows, you have absolutely no access to the files on your Wubi installation. None, no access. That means if I need to get a picture or document from my Wubi installation, I would have had to restart my computer, boot into Ubuntu, and either move that file to a removable storage device, or to a folder on my Windows hard drive. Problematic.

Despite that fact, in case you’re interested in installing Ubuntu using Wubi, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Ubuntu.com and download an ISO of Ubuntu, or, if you have an EXTREMELY slow internet connection and have lots of time, go ahead and request a disk with Ubuntu to be sent to you. A quick note to those of you who don’t know what an ISO is: An ISO is technically an image, although not in the conventional sense of a picture. An ISO is an ‘archive’, or an image of every single file on, typically, a hard drive. Having an ISO file solves the problem of getting software that needs to be run from a CD to masses of people. By utilizing an ISO file, it is possible to put all the files in the archive on a disk, and this recreate the disk needed. In this case, the Ubuntu ISO contains all the files required for installing and running Ubuntu, put conveniently into a single file that can be burned to a disk to use in installation.
  2. Once you have an Ubuntu ISO, which is the option most of the readers here will take, go ahead and download and install DAEMON Tools Lite. DT Lite allows you to mount .ISO, .MDX, and various other .ISO-like file types as if they were actually burnt to a CD in your CD-Rom drive. For those of you that don’t want an explanation of this, skip ahead to step 3. Here’s what I mean: Typically an ISO is meant to be downloaded and burnt to a CD (Or DVD) so that a perfect replica of that CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray disk, can be had by anyone that obtains a copy of that ISO file. As you might have guessed, this can be used to even make illegal copies of the install disks for operating systems like Windows (XP, Vista, 7), programs like Microsoft Office, and yes, even OS X. More popularly, you can use the .ISO format and formats similar to it (.MDX is my preferred for this sort of thing) to make backups of your DVDs using DT Lite. As done with the .ISO file distributed on the Ubuntu.com website, you can make copies of DVDs and share them, thus effectively pirating DVDs in a very easy way.
    Now the common denominator in all these forms mentions above is that you need a CD, a DVD, or in an extreme case a Blu-Ray disk (CD’s hold up to 700MB of data, DVDs can hold up to around 8.5GB on Dual-Layer disk, and Blu-Ray disks, the last time I checked, could hold around 25GB) to use the .ISO file (or .MDX file, for that matter) in order to effectively utilize the files inside the archives. Otherwise, all you can do with that backup copy of your favorite movie is burn it to a DVD and watch it from there. Now here comes DT Lite. DT Lite mounts an archive file (ISO, MDX, etc), which makes the computer think that the file being mounted is actually burnt to a CD or DVD and is spinning in your disk drive right now. So if you make a copy of your DVDs, and of course, I mean the ones you own, not the ones from Netflix, you can mount that file in DT Lite and watch the DVD as if you had popped the DVD into your computer. Same with ISO files, which is the easiest way to install Ubuntu with Wubi.
  3. Now that you have downloaded and installed DT Lite onto your computer, go ahead and open it. I generally ignore the main window and look for the taskbar icon, because that had just been easier for me in the past. Right-click the taskbar icon and click ‘Mount’n’Drive Manager’. As a side note, to create copies of CDs and DVDs click ‘Disk Imaging’ instead. DT Lite will scan your disk drives for media to create an archive of, and ask you where you would like to save it. If you would like to save the archive in a format other than the default .mdx file type, browse for a new file location and change the file type it is to be saved as in the drop-down menu at the bottom of the explorer window.
  4. On the far left side there should be a button with a disk and a green + sign on it. Click that button and navigate to the saved Ubuntu ISO file. Once found, double-click the ISO file. This will open the ISO file in the Mount’n’Drive Manager.
  5. Now click the image of a disk with a play sign on it. If you’re unsure of the button, hover over the active buttons until you see one that says ‘Mount’. Click it.
  6. Auto-Play should popup asking you what you would like to do with the ‘newly inserted disk’. In Windows 7 at least, I cannot speak for other versions, you should be able to simply click the link that says ‘Run Wubi Installer’, or something to that effect. Otherwise open up (My) Computer, and double-click the disk drive that holds the Ubuntu ISO. It should have a similar name to the actual Ubuntu ISO archive you downloaded. Once you double-click the disk drive, you should be presented with an option to ‘Run Wubi Installer’, or again, something to that effect. If even that fails, click once on the drive, and then look for the ‘(Run) Autoplay’ button somewhere towards the top of the Explorer window.
    One of those should get the Wubi installer running!
  7. Now all you need to do is follow  the on-screen prompts. The only problem you may have when installing Wubi is lack of disk space, but so long as you have around 10GB free, give or take, you should be fine. Note, if detailed instructions are needed here, I will post a manual with pictures.

I also ran Ubuntu, the same version I had installed on my computer by Wubi, in VirtualBox. For those of you that do not know, VirtualBox allows the installation of various operating systems on your computer in a virtual environment. This means that although someone may be viewing this page in Windows right now, they could open up VirtualBox, start up a distro of Linux that has been installed there, and run that operating system inside of Windows, without needing to restart their computer and boot into that operating system. I used this on my hard drive so that when I was booted into Windows 7, as I usually am, I could easily open Ubuntu to program in, as programming in Ubuntu is far easier than Windows due to all the convenient built-in tools available.

So now that you’re interested, how does VirtualBox work? VirtualBox works by creating a virtual hard drive on your computer. This is a file, which you specify the size of, that all the files installed in your operating system are stored on. Basically, this is setting a portion of your hard drive off for this installation, and telling VirtualBox to store all the files there. Once your operating system has a ‘hard drive’ to install on, VirtualBox will install that operating system on it.

So how about a step-by-step guide:

  1. Download and install VirtualBox at http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads. Make sure to download the correct version for your operating system. Once the download is complete, double-click the executable file to open it.
  2. Follow the on screen prompts and install VirtualBox with the default settings, unless you’re sure that you want to change something. You’ll probably be asked to install some drivers or something quite a few times. Agree to them all. Once the installation is finished, click Finish and start up VirtualBox.
  3. Since this is a new installation, you don’t have any existing installations in VirtualBox. So long as you have the ISO of the operating system you would like to install in VirtualBox, go agead and click the button labeled ‘New’. Click ‘Next’ when prompted.
  4. In this screen you will be naming your VirtualBox installation, and telling VirtualBox what kind of operating system you are installing. Pick a descriptive name that you will be able to differentiate from your other VirtualBox installations. The first drop-down menu allows you to choose what kind of operating system you will be installing. If in doubt, you’re probably installing a version of Linux, and if you don’t know otherwise, it’s probably safe to go with that option, or ‘Other’. If you select Linux from the ‘Operating System’ menu though, you will have quite a few option to choose from in the ‘Version’ menu, so it would be a good idea to check through that list before hitting ‘Other’. For this example, I will assume that you’re installing Ubuntu Linux, and have chosen ‘Linux’ for the operating system, and ‘Ubuntu’ for the version. Click next when you’re finished.
  5. In this screen you will be asked to choose how much RAM, commonly referred to as ‘memory’, that will be allocated to your VirtalBox operating system.
    -For all of your confused as to why RAM was renamed memory and are wondering what you’re supposed to call your hard drive space now, I am with you! I usually refer to RAM as what it is, RAM, and my hard drive space as hard drive space. I guess I’m just old-fashioned in that manner. Keep the distinction in mind though.
    Here it would be a good idea to just check to see what the minimum system requirements for the operating system you are installing are, so that you don’t end up grossly underestimating how much memory you actually need, and end up with a very sluggish machine. Head over to Google and do a quick Google search for that info, and then enter that amount, plus a little more if you have some to spare, in the box on the right-hand side. Click Next.
  6. Here you will choose whether to create new virtual hard drive, or use an existing one. You will need to choose to create a new one; this option should already be checked. Click Next.
  7. Now you will find yourself in the ‘Create New Virtual Disk Wizard’. In this wizard you must choose how much of your hard drive space you would like to allocate to this VirtualBox machine. Again, head over go Google and check the minimum system requirements for the operating system you are installing before proceeding, and enter that number, plus a little more if it can be spared. Click ‘Next’ until you find yourself at the screen titles ‘Hard Disk Storage Type’.
  8. The wizard does a fine job in describing the differences between a dynamically expanding storage or a fixed storage drive, so I will leave the choice up to you. However, I will say that I would choose ‘Fixed-size Storage’ based on personal preference. This way I can’t use up all my hard drive space unknowingly and not be able to access any of the files that are taking up all that space through Windows. Once you have made your choice, click ‘Next’.
  9. Here you must set the size of your virtual hard drive. Use the system minimum, plus a few more GB if you can spare the space. Ultimately, how much extra space you allocate is your call, but I usually go for two or three GB depending on how much I plan to use this virtual machine. You can also change the location of the virtual hard drive, which is simply a single file, if you need to, but I usually just leave it alone. Click ‘Next’ when finished.
  10. You should now be presented with the ‘Summary’ screen. Skim over the summary and make sure you like all the settings. If you are satisfied, click ‘Finish’.
  11. Eventually you will need to click ‘Finish’ again, so click it. Now you will be back where you started 8 steps ago, except your new virtual machine should be in the window on the left side. Make sure it is selected, and click ‘Start’ at the top of the window.
  12. Welcome to the First Run! Just cancel the wizard. You will be told that there is no bootable device -blah blah blah. Click ‘Devices’, mouseover CD/DVD Devices, and click ‘Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file…’. Navigate to the folder where you’ve stored the ISO and select it. Now click ‘Machine’ and scroll down to ‘Reset’ and click it. The window should refresh and boot into the setup for the operating system. The installation from here on out will differ from operating system to operating system, so check for a guide for that particular operating system. As far as VirtualBox setup goes, you’re finished. Whenever you would like to run the virtual machine, open up VirtuabBox and make sure the machine you want to start is selected, and then click ‘Start’.

Some of the definite pluses for me to run Ubuntu in a VirtualBox machine included easy access to an easy place to do programming without having to restart my computer, a place to try Ubuntu hassle and risk free, and by having Ubuntu installed in a virtual machine I could do pretty much anything with it and if something messed up, clear off the virtual hard drive and start over. This made a lot of things easier for me. For beginners wanting to test out Ubuntu, or various other distros of Linux, I would strongly recommend this before partitioning your hard drive and installing that distro natively. Similarly, I would recommend this especially to programmers. Ubuntu is a great place to program because it natively supports so many programming languages, and while the editors can be somewhat basic at the beginning, it is extremely easy to get editors as complex as you need them to be. I, for one, am perfectly happy with gedit. gedit offers syntax highlighting, and automatically senses which programming language I’m using and highlights accordingly. I don’t need anything more fancy than that. Seriously though, I would highly recommend this.

So those are two ways to install Ubuntu on your computer without having to partition your hard drive or do anything quite that drastic, but what if you want access to your files in Windows? Both Wubi and an installation of VirtualBox wont allow you to access any of the files stored on their ‘hard drives’ unless you are booted into the Wubi installation of Ubuntu or have VirtualBox open.

Well, to my knowledge, the only other option is to partition your hard drive. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Is it really scary? No. I recently, for Christmas, got a 750 GB replacement hard drive for my computer. I have been planning on reinstalling Windows 7 since I got home from South Africa a little less than a month ago, and I finally did on my new hard drive. Since the hard drive had no existing operating system, I used the ‘Custom’ installation option to install Windows 7 on my empty hard drive, which also gives me the option to create and format hard drive partitions. At first, I was planning on simply using my Windows installation disk to create the partitions on my new computer: a partition for my Windows 7 installation as well as the program files, another partition for all my personal files, and one more partiton for Ubuntu. Or at least, that’s what I had planned.

The idea here was to create a seperate partition for my operating system installations, and have my personal files stored seperately. In doing this, I would no longer need to backup my computer before reinstalling Windows, and totally wiping my Windows installation would no longer be such a big deal. With my documents stored seperately all I needed to do was overwrite the partiton that stored my Windows 7 installation, and voila, I had a clean installation of Windows 7.

But what if you aren’t planning on doing a clean install of Windows, and thus wont be using the Windows partition manager anytime soon? My first recommendation would be to simply boot from the Ubuntu CD and use the built-in partition manager. To do this follow the instructions below:

  1. Download the Ubuntu ISO from Ubuntu.com. Make sure you download the right one – 32bit or 64bit.
  2. Assuming that you are running Windows 7, find the ISO file in Windows Explorer and right-click it. Click ‘Burn to Disk’. If you don’t see that option in the context menu look for it in the blue bar running at the top of the screen. Follow the on-screen prompts.
  3. Once the burn is complete, leave the disk in your optical drive and restart your computer.
  4. When given the option, press the F12 key, which will bring up a list of devices you can boot from. Note that the key you must press to bring up the screen to choose which device to boot from will vary from computer to computer, but generally it is the F12 key. When the Boot Options screen comes up, use the arrow keys to scroll between the options until you can choose to boot from the CD/DVD drive. Hit the Enter key.
  5. Now your computer should boot from the Ubuntu disk. You will be given the option to try Ubuntu, or to install. I would recommend trying Ubuntu. If you were to choose the install option you would be required to install Ubuntu, and do nothing but that. Conversely, were you to choose to try Ubuntu you will not only be able to install Ubuntu as you would by choosing the install Ubuntu option, but depending on your wireless card you may also have internet access, where you will be able to read this tutorial for reference, and occupy yourself throughout the installation.
  6. The Ubuntu desktop should appear a few moments after you click the Try Ubuntu button. Click the ‘Install’ icon on the desktop.

My recommendation is EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition (free). After my clean installation of Windows 7 I used this program to modify and create the required partitions for my Ubuntu installation. For this tutorial, I will assume that you are using EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition.

  1. Once you’ve downloaded Partition Master open it up.
  2. As a side note, make sure that your already created partitions have enough space to expand in case you need to make them bigger. I forgot to do this, so now all my partitions are a set size, and the only one I can expand now is my Windows partition, which is where I store only my Windows 7 installation, and my program files. All my personal files are stored separately. Because the Windows partition is 50GB, I doubt I’ll need to expand it any time soon. Now how much extra space you set aside for each partition depends first on how much hard drive space you have open on your computer, and second on what the partition in question will contain. For example, my 50GB Windows partition will most likely not need to expand so long as I keep my personal files on a separate partition. Therefor, I would leave little if any extra space for my Windows partition. Conversely, it would make sense to leave space for my Documents partition to expand as I needed it to because that is where I store all my documents for both my Windows 7 installation and my Ubuntu installation.
    On my 750GB hard drive, I would set aside between 5GB and 15GB to expand my Ubuntu partition (for files or programs that must run or be located on an ext2 formatted drive, respectively). For my Documents partition, the space would vary. I currently have a 200GB partition for my personal files, to wiggle room of about 50GB would be plenty.  Additionally, if you know that you will be installing programs requiring large amounts of hard drive space for program files, create a ‘wiggle’ partition of a size according to your best estimate depending on the program. The disk partitioning strategies outlined above are optional. However, I would strongly recommend adding a small partition between your Windows partition, or whatever type of partition is at the end, and your Ubuntu partitions. Also, the information coming is extremely important if you are planning on expanding partitions at any time:
    In order to create a ‘wiggle’ partition that is effective, the ‘wiggle’ partition MUST be beside the partition it is responsible for, and preferably on the right side of that partition. Generally you can expand a partition in either direction only dependent on the location of the unallocated space, but in some cases partitions can only be expanded to the right of their current location. As another side note, you CANNOT move a partition, regardless of its placement.
  3. Now that EPMHE (EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition) is open, you should see a screen similar to the screenshot below:
    Disk 1 is generally your primary drive (normally C:). Any other hard drives, flash drives, external hard drives, or similar drives, will be located below your primary hard drive. Unless you have a second hard drive in your computer you will want to be modifying your primary hard drive, which is, again, normally Disk 1.  Click on the gray box labeled ‘Unallocated’. Next, at the top of the screen click the button with the green plus sign labeled ‘Create’. Label the drive ‘Ubuntu System Files’ or something to that effect. This partition should be about 5GB or so and will include all your Ubuntu system files. Although not needed, you can make the partition larger if you feel like it. On my computer, for example, the partition is set to be 10GB, minus formatting space. Note: When resizing the drive to 5 (or 10) GB, either type the number in the text box beside the ‘Partition Size:’ label, or if you are going to drag the slider to choose a size, drag the RIGHT side. Now choose a drive letter, anything will do, and for the file system, choose ‘EXT2′ from the drop-down menu. By choosing EXT2 you for an Ubuntu partition file system, you will be able to access it in Windows very easily. Click ‘OK’. You have now created a partition for your Ubuntu system files.
    Next, you need to create a swap partition. The swap partition acts like additional RAM for your Ubuntu installation, and should be about the size of your built-in RAM. Follow the same steps you used to create the last partition and label the drive ‘Ubuntu Swap’ or something like that. The file system should be EXT2. Again, the size should be equivalent to the size of your built in memory, or RAM. Once finished, click ‘OK’.
    Next, you need to click on the gray box labeled ‘Unallocated’ again. Click the ‘Create’ button and label the drive ‘Ubuntu Home Files’ or something similar. Choose a drive letter, and again format the drive as EXT2. Now this drive, as you may have guessed form the drive label you gave it, will be holding your personal files that need to be located on an Ubuntu file system. If you plan on having most of your files on a seperate ‘Documents’ partition, then this need only be about 10GB or so, which is the recommended minimum size by Ubuntu.com. Choose a drive size, and click ‘OK’.
    These are the partitions you will need to install Ubuntu. I recommend you create them in this order, because now you have the option to expand your Ubuntu home partition without disrupting any other files. Click ‘Apply’
    Take note of the exact sizes of each drive you will be using in Ubuntu in MB, because during the Ubuntu installation you will not be presented with drive labels or anything of that sort, just something like /dev/sda1 and a drive size in MB.
  4. Now that you have all the partitions ready and formatted, click ‘Apply’ and wait for EPMHE to make the necessary changes. This will require a reboot, which if perfect. Slip your Ubuntu disk into the disk drive before the computer reboots or during if you think you are quick enough. When prompted, hit the ‘F12′ key to open your boot manager. Alternately, you could download a program such as OSL2000, which is a boot manager requiring no human input to start, but it is easier to just hit the F12 key when prompted.
  5. When a list of available boot devices comes up, use the arrow keys to scroll down to the entry labeled CD/DVD Drive and hit enter.
  6. Ubuntu will boot up. You may have to hit the Enter key once more at a welcome screen asking if you would like to 1) try Ubuntu or 2) Install Ubuntu 3)…. If you do, make sure you select ‘Start (Try) Ubuntu’ and hit Enter. This will load the desktop, and may give you access to the internet during installation depending on your wireless card, or if you are using a LAN cable at the time.
  7. There should be an icon on the top left of the Ubuntu desktop with the title ‘Install Ubuntu’ or something to that effect. Double-click it. The Ubuntu installation wizard will popup and start prompting you for input. Here you will enter your username, password if you choose one, blah blah blah, time zone, blah blah blah, and finally come to the screen asking where you would like to install Ubuntu.
  8. Now I’m guessing that you are going to want to install Ubuntu and keep Windows on your machine. If that is NOT the case, select the radio button labeled ‘Use entire hard drive’ or ‘Use entire disk’. Otherwise, click the radio button labeled ‘Manual’ or ‘Specify Partitions Manually (advanced)’ or something similar. Click ‘Forward’.
  9. The window presented to you now should have a bar across the top, colored in sections in various colors. These are the partitions on your computer. Below is a window with all of the partitions that you can select, format, and install on. Look for the partition you made for the SWAP area. Once found, format it as EXT2 and set the mount-point to ‘/swap’. Click ‘OK’.
    Find the partition you made for the Ubuntu system files, and click it. Format it as EXT2 and set the mount-point to ‘/root’ and click ‘OK’.
    Finally, find the partition you made to be your home directory and format it as EXT2. Set the mount-point on this drive to ‘home’ and click ‘OK’. Now go back to the partition with the mount-point as ‘/root’ and click is. Cancel the formatting window if it comes up. Click the ‘Install’ button at the bottom of the window.

The only thing you may need to do now, if you did not do it before specifying the partitions to install on, would be setting your time zone, and setting your keyboard layout.  Unless you know for sure differently, choose the US Standart keyboard layout. Presently, Ubuntu will ask to restart. Restart your computer.

The next thing you should see if the GNU Grub boot loaded with a few different options. The bottom option should be your Windows installation, and will be labeled as such, but the currently selected option should be your installation of Ubuntu. Unless you need to boot into Windows for something, hit Enter and check out your new Ubuntu installation. Otherwise, use the arrow keys to move up and down the list to the Windows option and hit Enter to boot into it.

Currently, Ubuntu is the default operating system. If you are anything like me, you will want Windows to be the default. But how to change this? It is not done by changing anything on the Grub boot screen. Boot into Ubuntu and then follow the next steps. Note, there will be a paragraph or two at the end of this next part explaining what each of these commands does, and how to use it in case you would like to know.

Changing the Grub bootloader default operating system:

  1. At the top of your screen, on the left side, a menu is labeled ‘Applications’. Click it. Hover over ‘Accessories’, then move your mouse down the new menu and click ‘Terminal’. Do not be afraid.
  2. Type the following into the terminal and hit Enter:
    cd ../../boot/grub
  3. Congratulations, you have changed your directory in Ubuntu via the command line. If you would like to see a listing of all the files in this or any directory, type in: ls and hit Enter. Now you need to type in the following and hit Enter once more:
    sudo gedit grub.cfg
    After hitting Enter, you will be prompted to type in your password. Type it in and hit Enter once more. Note, you will not see your password as you type. This is normal.
    A text editor named ‘gedit’ should popup with a bunch of text in it. This is the Grub bootloader configuration file.
  4. Look for the that reads something like this:
    set default=”1″
    It should be on line 13 or somewhere near that. Change the ‘1’ to a ‘6’. This variable, for that is what default is, sets the default operating system to run. The number ‘6’ may not be the correct number for you. If, when you restart, Ubuntu is still selected as the default operating system to load or you did not receive the desired result, count the number of entries in the Grub bootloader. Subtract 1 from that number, and that is the number you need to set default to.
  5. Click the ‘Save’ button, or hit ‘Ctrl+S’ and exit gedit. If you would like to make sure that your changes were saved, go back to the terminal and type in the following and hit Enter:
    cat grub.cfg
    Use the scroll wheel to move up the page until you see default being set. Make sure it is the number you desired. If not, repeat steps 3-5.
  6. If you are ready to reboot and try this out, type in ‘exit’ and hit Enter. This will close the terminal. Next click the menu titled ‘System’ near the ‘Applications’ menu and click ‘Shutdown’. You will be asked if you want to Shutdown, Restart, Suspend, or Hibernate. Click Restart. Next time Grub loads, Windows should be selected. There is an automatic timer on the Grub bootloader that will launch the default operating system if nothing changes during 10 seconds, so you can just start your computer and leave it.

Basic shell commands:

cd: The first command used in the above example was cd. cd stands for ‘Change Directory’, and it is used to change your current directory in the shell. To change to a directory, type in cd followed by the name of the folder that you would like to cd in to.
.. is a command used in conjunction with cd that tells cd to change to the directory above the current directory. As an example, take the cd command used above:
cd ../../boot/grub
First we tell the shell that we want to change the current directory. Next, the place we want to go is passed in. ../../ means  that we would like to go up two levels. So if you were in the folder ‘l3′ with a structure similar to the one described below, you would now be in ‘l1′:

l1
l2
l3

However, if the folder name was ‘l 3′ (l space 3) then you would either need to enclose the directory in quotes: “l 3″ or use the continuation character to negate the space: ‘l\ 3′. To really grasp this, experiment some. Messing up when changing directories will create no system problems, so you can mess up all you like.

gedit: gedit is a very versatile text editor for Ubuntu Linux. By typing gedit followed by the name of a file, you can open an new text file in the current directory with the name specified. If the name specified already exists, the existing file will be opened.

When creating a file in this way, by using the command gedit new_file_name , the terminal will become unusable until the gedit window is closed. Once you close the gedit window, the terminal will once again become usable. To remedy this inconvenience append the and sign (&) to the end of the line. So the new command would look like this:
gedit new_file_name&
This will leave the terminal active during the time you are using gedit, and is especially helpful when programming because now you only need one terminal window open to work on and test programs.

sudo was appended to the command gedit this time so that gedit could be run with administrator privileges  and save the system file ‘grub.cfg’. To run any program or command with administrator privileges, just append sudo to the beginning of the command.

ls: ls is an extremely useful command that displays the file and directory names of everything in the current directory. Since ls just displays the filenames, what if you want more detailed information? Both ls -lsa and ll will list all the names of the files in the current directory along with the group they belong to, the read/write/execute permissions, and the date last modified.

The last partition you need to create is a swap partition. The swap partition acts like additional RAM for your Ubuntu installation, and should be about the size of your built-in RAM. Follow the same steps you used to create the last two partitions and label the drive ‘Ubuntu Swap’ or something like that. Again, the size should be equivalent to the size of your built in memory, or RAM. Once finished, click ‘OK’.

Cuil vs Google

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

Now that you are all finished laughing at my pitiable attempt at digital artwork, I would like to begin my article entitled “Cuil vs Google”.

Google, as many of you know, is the dominant search engine. No, not Bing, neither Yahoo!, nor Ask.com. No, Google is dominant. Check out NetMarketShare.com (Marketshare.hitslink.com) for more info on market shares for search engines, as well as market shares for browsers, operating systems, and other such things. Anyways, back to dominance and comparisons. Some of you may have heard of Cuil.com (pronounced “Cool”). A few of you may have even read my previous article from 2008 entitled Cuil. In my article, which was almost shamefully short for the release of a new search engine of it’s caliber and potential, I described a few of the features I liked most about Cuil. I hope to do a much better job here, as well as talk some about Google. But let’s do Cuil first, seniority rights don’t apply here.

Cuil. When you open up Cuil.com you will see almost the total opposite of Google.com. With its black background, simply colored logo, and attractive drop-down menu as you type, Cuil is pretty much everything Google is not, except effective. Cuil is very effective, and does its job very well.

Google. When you open up Google.com you see the ever-present Google logo, in the customary many-colored logo. Not much has changed over the years, the website has stayed mostly the same with its white background, simple logo, and mostly empty webpage. Recently, however, Google has been slowly filling in its page. In no particular order, Google has added a top-bar containing links to its most popular services. Google has also populated their homepage with a few different links to various services they provide.

Point. My point is this: Overall I would have to say that Cuil has a much cleaner homepage that Google does, more aesthetically pleasing, and possibly more functional also. Being a web designer myself, I also have to give Cuil props for their real-time search suggestion drop-down box. Cuil’s search suggestion box, unlike Google, has rounded edges (something you will come to appreciate as a Web Designer), and the suggested search queries don’t overwhelm you in size, opacity, or weight (again, a web designer thing).

So lets make a search.

Cuil. If I head over to Cuil and search “myipc” the top of the list will include a profile for someone named “myipc” at Answers.com (I may or may not own this account, I can’t remember), along with some irrelevant articles pertaining to my search. What about something that I may actually need to look for? Well this year I am researching genetic engineering for a possible topic in the coming FLL season, so let me do that. The search results are displayed cleanly with three to four line excerpts from the websites found. What, can it be? No ads? It is! Yes, I’m not joking, there are no ads in the Cuil search results.

Google. Now over to Google, my query is the same: “myipc”. This time, however, I am pleased to see that my blog comes up at the top of the list, some pretenders to the throne below that, and some of the documents I’ve posted around the web later on. Note: I am in no way associated with the “myipc” person on YouTube. My username on YouTube is ‘zachman1094′. Typing in genetic engineering as I did with Cuil, I receive many results displayed in the middle of the page, ads on the right hand side, and some strange search suggestions, ways to customize the search, and other unnecessary features on the left.

Point. So who won this round? Well, I don’t really know. Without sitting and going through the results returned from each search engine I could not give you a sure answer to which search engine yields better results. However, I will say this: I prefer Cuil for two reasons: 1. There are no ads on Cuil search results. This is a huge thing for me. I hate seeing ads for stupid websites claiming that they hold the answer to the question I have posed Google. No more! 2. Cleanliness. You know, they say Cleanliness is next to Godliness, so what does that make Cuil? Cuil has a clean search results page with only that: search results. No ads, no stupid options to mess up my search to obscurity, nothing.

Bonus: cpedia. So what is cpedia? Well from what I have seen so far, cpedia is a very cool little feature in the Alpha stages with culminates data on your search query from pages around the net and puts them all in to one page. For example, I made a query for ‘genetic predisposition’ just to see what came up, and I was pleasantly surprised when a well formed, informative article was generated from over 250 different webpages.

Conclusion. So what’s my conclusion? Let me come to it step-by-step. To me, especially as a web designer, I like to see webpages that are clean and well designed with balanced colors and well placed objects. Cuil does a great job with that. The dark colors blend well with the few light ones put to use, and everything just seems to flow and all be in order. Google, however, needs to tone it down a bit. I see too many sharp edges, I want to see more rounded corners. I see too many objects asking for my attention, it would be better with less. There are too many different ways to change my searches up through Google, if I want it changed I’ll do it myself. Aesthetics are a very, very, very important part of any webpage for me, and especially on a page that I use quite a bit. The one thing that makes me wince every time I use it is Google’s suggested search box. Besides taking up a full quarter of the page, the text is in a very large font, and on top of that it’s in bold. It just doesn’t work for me. Search suggestions should be a side feature, not the focal point of the search.

And as for results, I have to say that cpedia is very pleasing to me. The culmination of information put in to that page is a great resource for anyone to use, better, I think, than going through many pages to try and glean the information you need. Sure, you may still have to do that, but from what I’ve seen cpedia does a good job of that by itself. And besides, it’s very cool to see an automatically generated article.

A trip back to the past…

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Uncategorized


These were just some fun images I found buried in some pages I had posted a long time ago. Hope you enjoy them!

I’ve updated my page Video and Voice calls over the internet, so if you would like to read my latest update head on over there, or click Here.

I’m re-posting, or reblogging as it is apparently called, this post for two reasons: 1. To check out this feature, as it may be useful in the future, and 2. To tell you how awesome this new theme is!

As you can tell I did not think it awesome enough to replace my existing theme, but take a look at Webdesignerwall.com and see how similar the layout and colors are of their website, and this new theme are.

I guess I’m just trying to say that it’s great to see more colorful, vibrant, and well designed themes coming out for WordPress, and I’m looking forward to seeing some more great ones.

New Theme: Koi Say hello to Koi, our newest theme. This light and colorful theme provides a beautiful framework for your WordPress.com site with delicate, hand-drawn illustrations and refined typography. The tasteful artwork featured in the header and footer are suggestive of koi, an ornamental fish often considered a symbol of love and friendship. [caption id="attachment_4724" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Example of Koi's layout showing the lovely … Read More

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