Sunday, November 30, 2008


Hello, all 4 people who have read my BLOG :-) (yeah, I realize that 4 people is an exaggeration...) So, I've run into some free hosting with Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth... and since I've been working with Wordpress instances for work, I've decided to buy a domain and move my blog and take advantage of the vast amount of customizations and complete control I'll have using Wordpress as my BLOG Engine.

Thanks Blogger! for allowing me to 'get my feet wet' and explore this wonderful world of blogging, especially providing an arena for creative and emotional outlet, so much so that my wife has even started a Cupcake BLOG and has found it extremely simple to manage and update. So I will keep this site up as long as Google will let me... but if any of the 4 supporters ;-) wishes to view any of my 'IT RAMBLINGS' or Photography... take a stroll over to the new 'My Electronic Sheep'

-Big A

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Photos: 2008 Chicago Marathon

Here are some photos I took this morning of the 40K+ runners for the 2008 Chicago Marathon...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Follow Up: Comcast Bandwith Limits

So a little over a month ago I hastily wrote about a story how Comcast has officially instituted Bandwidth limits on their customers. Now I am a former Comcast customer who does not believe in certain practices they have instituted officially and un-officially (namely packet shaping their traffic). So now Comcast has enabled 250GB of bandwidth usage, I believe this is for both download and upload traffic. I am an IT professional who works from home and requires a constant connection and I am also an avid video user, I don't have cable TV (litterally I have HDTV 'Rabbit Ears') so I use the various means now available on the internet to catch up on all the new TV shows...

So, the day after I read this story I asked myself this questions... "How much bandwidth do I use?" Is 250GB enough bandwitdh? Is 250GB NOT enough? All decent questions... So I sent out to see how much bandwidth do I require... I have 3 machines in our apartment running all the time:
  • Custom WinXP Gaming Box
  • Dell D630 Ubuntu Laptop
  • Macbook Pro - Leopard
*Side Note: The Wife has completely taken over the Ubuntu laptop... It's new primary purpose in life is Reading, reading Gmail and more recently Google Docs

So a few months back I started a new gig where I need to use my new Macbook Pro as my primary machine, so I decided to use my MBPro as the testing machine. I found this GUI tool called Surplus Meter.

"It measures the download and upload traffic on your Internet connection and keeps a record of your traffic volume. It gives you all kinds of useful output statistics, like daily allowance, average daily usage, accumulated surplus, and more.

Statistics are presented in three ways: simple bytes in/out; summaries of megabytes used and remaining, and graphic meters which display at a glance when you're getting close to exceeding your limit."


Here are my results from last month. Keep in mind that this is not 100% accurate, since I'm only tracking my 1 machine and I used my PC quite a bit till I learned all the nuances of my MBPro...

Data Archive For month ending 2008 October 1
  • bytes down: 46192074205 (44052.2 MB)
  • bytes up: 19269595646 (18376.9 MB)
  • bytes total: 65461669851 (62429.1 MB)
  • Download allowance: 256000.0 MB
  • Unused allowance: 193570.9 MB
Now when I started out with this little experiment I thought 250GB a month was nowhere near enough bandwidth for my needs. I download a ton of .iso files, update my SVN Repo at least 5 times a day, stream music and video almost all day long(obviously not at the same time. And I LOVE PANDORA! But I'll talk about that later). So to realize that I used less than 100GB was a little shocking.

Conclusion: So I work with people all over the world (Canada, Japan, Austria, France, UK, Australia, you get the idea) and appearently Bandwidth limitations are a standard practice. In Canada my co-workers only get 130GB per month, in Austria my buddy is only allowed 60GB!!! Now that is a travesty...

So I'm still not in agreement for bandwidth limitations, esspecially when the Cable market is monopolized here in the states and people are paying $50USD - $120USD per month just for highspeed internet, I realize that 250GB per month is more than adequate... today. Now, in the near future with Cloud Computing and Google igniting the Web Application revolution, companies are going to need to widen the bandwidth pipe so pulling your hair out of your head becasue your only HDD has a 2mm groove track in it, becomes amusing anecdotes of the past!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Cowbell Dammit!

This is AWSOME! Everybody loves Christopher Walken on SNL during the Blue Oyster Cult Cowbell skit. Actually Walken was on SNL last season and it was somewhat disappointing not having some sort of Cowbell skit. Anyway, I discovered this page this morning via Ars Technica or Digg... honestly I can't remember. But these wonderful people at have come created a sweet flash app that will analyze any mp3 and according to the various mathmatical algorythims will add cowbell and/or Mr. Walken himself to the song.

Here's a track I did this morning (26% Cowbell & 96% Walken) it's a Paolo Nutini track called Jenny Don't Be Hasty.

 Make your own at 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Playing Catch Up - Chicago Lightning Storm

I'm trying to get caught up on my posts... there have been a lot of crazy things going on in my life and the environment around me... So up first

Chicago Lightning Storm - August 2008

There has been some bizarre weather harassing the windy city this year. My tomato plant has taken the brunt of this assault (and is still kicking out sweet cherry tomatoes), hopefully now that the Fall is upon us our poor tomato plant can die in peace. So a few weeks ago we experienced the the craziest, loudest, brightest, windiest storm of my life.

Some time around... I guess celebrity Family Feud might have been on, no wait it... we were watching reruns of Americas Greatest Dog on Hulu... the wifey and I heart that show. anyways... the Tornado Sirens went off, uh WHAT? It's Chicago... CHICAGO! I didn't even know they had sirens in the city, I'm even more suprised that we could hear them. (I have to admit, it was the spouse who made me pause the show, cause she heard something... maybe)

Here is a picture of the storm front... I took this screen shot shortly after the sirens started and the wife bolted for the stairwell, at least she wasn't in her undies:

So, now that I'm officially an 'amateur' photographer, I grabbed my trusty new Nikon D40 and proceeded to snap about 1200 pictures. This is where the 'AMATEUR' status comes into play... I have 1... yes ONE photo of lightning... how can this be? the storm lasted a few hours... this was the best lightning storm of my life and I have one measly photo to show for it... Oh well...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Comcast Bandwith Limits

First, it's been quite a while since my last post.... I have a couple posts I need to do (some photos of the Chicago Airshow, a Crazy lighting storm we had here in Chicago about a month ago, and my new Gig...) so I'll get to those hopefully this weekend...

However, this cannot be ignored!

I saw this on Ars Technica this evening and I am very worried about the future of the internet/ISP in America.

Comcast cable beginning on October 1, will be imposing a bandwidth limit of 250GB per month. Now I realize that this seems like a lot of Data and I'll admit that for most people it will never be an issue. I fear that this is only the first straw in what will become the downfall or 'clamp-down' of internet access accross America. Luckily I have chosen to not use Comcast for my ISP, even though I have used them in the past (and I realize that the througput on my AT&T DSL is not nearly as close to my old cable service) but as a frequent user of the internet (streaming audio & video), a person who downloads movies, music, photography, applications, *nix operating systems and more recently having started working from home; where my livelyhood is completely dependant upon having a constant high speed connection to the internet, I fear that other companies will begin to adopt these types of policies and either cutoff my service once these threashholds are met or charge me even MORE money for additional bandwidth.

I completely understand that I don't have to worry about this since I am not a Comcast customer any longer (nor will I be one EVER again), but this can't be a good thing for the Internet in America. This type of action will eventually affect the growth and innovation of streaming media, leveraging web based applications such as Google Docs, web based data storage (you're going to pay for the storage and the data transfer; it's kinda like gas surcharge)

I'm am going to start tracking my bandwidth on my new Macbook Pro (it's another blog post I've been meaning to get to) which will not take into consderation my Ubuntu Laptop and Windows (Gaming) Desktop, but hey... it's a start. So I would love to see more people make the choice; if it's available to you, to stop using this company and any other company that is making the decision to limit how you use the internet. (wishful thinking... I know, but a 'Girl can Dream' can't she?)

*I would like to note that even though nobody ever reads this, that this is not my best post ever. So I need to Blame Barack Obama, who is giving his DNC Acceptance speech, which I have found to be extremely distracting :-) but I am inspired... Also, BOOO COMCAST!!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Love Music... Especially Free Music!!!

A few weeks ago, I started listening to and have rediscovered my love of music... especially free music. So, I took my D630 and plugged it into my receiver when I'm at home, launch FF and jam out during various domicile activities. Here's where my lazy nature comes into play, I'm running the 64bit Ubuntu 8.04 and my flash keep crashing (I need to also add that this behavior is not conducive to watching 'Highlander - The Series' reruns on Hulu), thus initiating the day the music died aura in the domicile.

Yes, I know there is a fix for my flash issue (basically removing flash and installing he 32bit versions etc...) however I know that this project would take me some time to get up and running, and I seriously need to keep watching the Highlander... because we all know 'There can be only ONE!"

Anyway... I decided install the app on my laptop, instead of dealing with the flash issue. Go here to get the package. For 64bit you will need to add the following to your /etc/apt/sources.list

import the GPG key:

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Then add the following to /etc/apt/sources.list

deb debian stable

then you can use the following command to get the app (our just use Synaptic)

sudo apt-get install lastfm
to launch the app type

Now, I also ran into an issue with the sound driver (alsa) I'm not exactly sure what caused this error, I think it has to do with other apps or systems locking alsa driver so that lastfm is unable to use the resource. I recieved the following error:
The ALSA soundsystem is either busy or not present.

And this is how I was able to solve the issue... (solution source HERE & HERE courtesy of UbuntuForums)

Run the following:
sudo aptitude install libasound2-plugins
and create this file ( ~/.asoundrc)
sudo gedit ~/.asoundrc
paste the following and save the file.
pcm.pulse {
type pulse
ctl.pulse {
type pulse
pcm.!default {
type pulse
ctl.!default {
type pulse

Once you're done, launch the lastfm app and you should have a working player! I hope this helps anyone else who is experiencing the same issues.

Discaimer: this solution worked for me and my D630 running Ubuntu 8.04 64bit. This may or may not work for you, if you experience any issues, please search google or use the Ubuntu Forums - they are a god send)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bow Down to Mutha-Na-Chah

So I've been trying to track down the radar map from July 10th, 2008 to compare the photos I took to provide some perspective. These were taken from my deck using my Nikon D40 and my 18-55 lens. This storm was crazy looking, crazy fast (only lasted about an hour or so) and crazy cool...

Here are the photos:

Here is the only radar picture I've been able to trackdown, the storm was a little more defined (it looked like a up-side-down/side-ways 'U') this image shows the storm shortly after is left the Chicago area...

While I was searching for this radar image, I did stumble upon THIS video on YouTube. It's 2 dudes somewhere in the Chicago Suburbs commenting on this storm. The commentary is pretty funny...

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Gmail & Firefox 3 - How to make Gmail your default email client.

So today I discovered 2 of my most favorite things (web related) have kept racking up the 'I'm a Bad Ass App' points. On my laptop I only have Thunderbird installed as a way to archive my Gmail account and prefer to use the Gmail web interface for all my mail.

I just happended to be purusing the Gmail Blog this evening and saw this great post about taking advantage of Firefox3 and using Gmail as your default email client.

Open firefox and log into your Gmail account. Now from your Gmail window past the following into your address bar:

Click 'Enter'

You will be prompted to add Gmail as an email client. Make sure you put a check in the box "Remember my choice for mailto links" or Firefox will not keep Gmail as the preffered email client.

//This content was found at the Official Gmail Blog. If you have any issues with this DO NOT CONTACT ME! I am only sharing this info as it is a feature I am using with my setup.

Monday, June 30, 2008

PhotoRec - Recover your lost files!!! (Life with my Nikon D40)

So, I had some family in this weekend and had taken hundreds of pictures with my new Nikon D40. Your probably reading this thinking "So? Everybody takes pictures of their family..." Well you would be correct, except that these photos are of my brother n' laws first trip to Chicago. Needless to say they are quite important, and the 'Wifey' was a little upset when I mentioned the following:

Me: 'So, honey... you know those 250+ photos I shot yesterday of everyone in one of the coolest cities in America?'
Wifey: 'Yes'
Me: 'Well I just transferred them to the laptop (Dell D630, Ubuntu 8.04 64bit)'
Wifey: 'Yeees'
Me: 'They have mysteriously dissapeared...'
Wifey: 'YES!'
Me: 'I'm not sure what happened to them'
Wifey: 'YES!!!!'
Me: 'Oh, wait, let me see if I can find a way to recover the images from the lost partitions'
Wifey: 'Wait, you lost ALL those photos?'
Me: 'yeeeeeeeees...'

Anyway, I was able to find this thread in the Ubuntu Forums -

Thankfully, I'm not the only person who forgets to switch off the camera before putting it in the nice, new, padded camera bag and then have the nice, new, supersweet camera figure out how to erase the SD card. So, I installed TestDisk from the repositories and after reading the Ubuntu Forum Thread I discovered that it comes with a program called PhotoRec.

... (not really, but it will recover your photos if they are deleted)

Everything ran in the command line with prompts so don't be afraid of the dreaded 'command line'. I was able to recover ALL 250+ photos that I took and my Wife still loves me! Not a bad day if I say so myself...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox 3 Download Day 2008 - Over 8,000,000 Downloads!!!

Update: UNBELIEVABLE!!! 8 Million downloads in 24 hours... This whole process was so much fun to watch. All my co-workers and I were constantly refreshing the download map and I have not met one person who was not riveted by the amount of participation. Long Live FireFox!!!

I'm so excited about this release... I remember discovering firebird as a stand-alone browser where the entire app was located in one folder that you could migrate to different locations and did not connect to anything in windows... O'h my how things have changed! Anyway, help break a record and start using a BAD ASS BROWSER!!!

Sounds like a good deal, right? All you have to do to help us set the record for the most software downloaded in 24 hours is get Firefox 3 now – it’s that easy. We're not asking you to swallow a sword or to balance 30 spoons on your face, although that would be kind of awesome.

//pasted from

Monday, May 26, 2008

My Most Used Command!

I have a bunch of 2.5" HDD's that I used to 'ferry' data back an forth between my laptop and various computers. I have not taken the time to setup a file share on my Windows box and like most people I have a wife, who would devorce me if I started spending all our disposable income on FIle Servers, Web Servers, Firewalls, a DVR and a T1 line... trust me I've asked!

Anyway, a while ago I noticed that my laptop would not mount one of my HDD's after I unplugged it from my windows box. This drove me crazy for hours... I could not find any easy way to mount the drive and all the suggestions I did find online were fstab hacks.

Basically when you unplug a drive from windows, it locks the drive or marks the drive as inuse. (To get around this, you need to open the small green arrow hardware icon and then stop the drive and then unplug the device). So when ubuntu tries to mount this drive it sees it as being locked or in use and you get an error like so:

In order to get this drive to mount you must do the following. First create a directory in the /media directory (I called mine 'usb')

sudo mkdir /media/usb

Now you can 'force mount' the drive using the option flag and force command

sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /media/usb -o force

You will need to change the device name, mine is usually sdb1. Once you are done, you will need to unmount the drive. Now since we did this via the command line, you will need to issue the following command to unmount the drive via the command line as well.

sudo umount /dev/sdb1

That's it! I use these commands on a daily basis, I guess I'm a creature of habit and dont' really want to take the time to find an automated way to do this. Ussually if I can remember or I'm not in a hurry I'll eject the drive from windows first. Good Luck!

Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron Upgrade...

So here is the first part of my upgrade process. I am still compiling the sources and commands, but this is the very basic steps for my D630 install.
  • Backed up all Files to external Drive
I only have a CD burner on my laptop, so I tend to use some external 2.5" HDD's that I've collected over the years. I copied all the documents, movies, music, downloads... basically anything under the /home/*username* folder.
  • Clean install of Hardy Heron
I decided to use the 64 bit version, hoping that I was not going to experience any issues. When the 7.10 release came out, I could not get GRUB to load the OS. After a few hours fixing that problem, Ubuntu kept crashing and I gave up and loaded the 32bit version and did not have any issues (that is until my wireless kept crashing on me... A story for another day)
  • Added other Sources
First, I'm a Google Homer, tried and true!!! I like their products, I religiously use their search and I 'Spread the Word' to others about using Google. So in the list of sources I have some google items listed along with Screenlets, Wine, AWN and some multimedia stuff that doesn't come with the standard distro.
    • sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
Add the following (I would recommend at least the Backports)

#Hardy Backports
deb hardy-backports main universe multiverse restricted

#Google software repository
deb http://DL.Google.Com/linux/deb/ stable non-free

#“Illegal” multimedia stuff
wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -

#Google desktop
wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -
deb stable non-free

#Wine, official packages
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
deb hardy main

deb hardy main universe

deb hardy main
  • Updated system
So after you add the above to your Sources list you will need to do an update, so Ubuntu will search for the changes and then install the additional packages. It will also allow you to go to the 'Add/Remove' programs and install any other packages that are not available in the standard disto.

    • sudo apt-get update

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Preview - Ubuntu AMD64 on a Dell Latitude D630

First I really like my laptop, the keyboard is comfortable to type on, I think it's fairly easy to upgrade (Memory, Bluetooth, HDD, Media Drive, WAN card (mobile broadband from say Verizon or Sprint)) I like the layout of the ports compared to the Lenovo laptops... Anyway, the last time I upgraded my system I had a hard time getting things up and running fully. First eye candy is very important to me and the Intel 965 chipset was a huge hurdle to overcome, then my intel wireless kept freaking out. So when the wifey is surfing and the network manager keeps crashing and she has to reboot, makes a not so fun evening at home. I would say it took me a couple weeks to work out those issues, and after that it was pretty much smooth sailing... most of the time...

So, today I finally backed up my files (Mainly some movies & programs I had on my laptop) and installed the highly touted release Hardy Heron. To be more specific I installed the 64-Bit edition... There is a really good Pro vs. Con on installing the 64-Bit edition on the Ubuntu Forums, so I decided to at least give it a try.

It's just after Midnight CST here in Chicago and I've been up and running with my upgraded system for over 4 hours... Needless to say I'm EXTREMELY impressed with this release... I have compiled my notes and hopefully will have time soon to walk through the detailed steps, until then you'll just have to be satisfied with a screen shot.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Ubuntu 8.04 has been released... I am planning on upgrading my system in the next few weeks. There are a couple of things I need to address first before I make the move:

  • Backup My Files
  • Inventory Applications (mainly how did I install them)
    • AWN
    • Wine
    • etc...
  • Inventory system changes/upgrades (I have a D630 so I need to address the issues with this laptop
    • WiFi (my laptop needs upgraded wireless drivers)
    • Audio (this does not work out of the box with a new install)
    • Video (it's been a while, but to get AWN & Desktop effects working correctly, I needed to update the system and the xorg.conf)
I am planning on doing an upgrade to my system, all though in the past I have always ran into issues and wound up wiping everything and performing a clean install. So, if anyone is really reading this (which I'm sure they are not) check back soon and check on my progress.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How about a Burrito

So I've found this crazy website ( where you can find songs about Chipolte and Burritos. Chipoltle even used one of the songs for a radio ad, at least in the Windy City!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Google OS - gOS 2.0 (beta)

So a co-worker showed me this new 'Google OS' that you can download or purchase on on Everex PC from Wally-World (Walmart). So I thought man that would be pretty cool, especially since gOS is derived from Ubuntu. I grabbed a copy of the .iso and dropped it into VirtualBox; which BTW was purchased by Sun Microsystems, but I'll get into that a little later.

Yeah, so Virtual Box gOS 2.0... I had some problems mounting the Guest Additions and it seems to be an issue for everyone... other than that I liked what I saw for the most part. I mean you can get a laptop or a Desktop for under $500 and run an 'eye-candy' ready fully functional system pretty much out of the box. I don't think gOS is ready for the mainstream by any stretch of the imagination (which is probably why Wally-World, pulled the systems from their stores) but I think it's a major step in the right direction. Ubuntu has made some unbelievable headway in the Linux for the everyday person arena, and gOS 2.0 is a low cost alternative to say buying a 2K Mac.

It should be noted that Google is not really attached to this product at least not overtly, they might have some developers behind the scenes, who knows...

Learn more here: gOS