Category Archives: Top Ten

100 Useful Ubuntu Links

I’ve been using Ubuntu for over a year now, and frankly I think it has Vista beat. As soon as my college classes are done this semester I will be formatting my new laptop (which came with Vista Home Premium) and installing Ubuntu.

Now that Dell is on board to offer Ubuntu on new Dell laptops and PCs, I don’t see this market getting any smaller.

100 Useful Ubuntu Links

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10 ways to save $100

There is a good list of easy ways to save money over on Personal Finance Advice.

Call Your Credit Card Company: If you have a credit card that currently has a balance on it, call your credit card company to try and get the interest rate lowered. Depending on how good of a customer you are, this can be easy or difficult to do. Always ask to speak to a manager (since they have more power to grant your wish) and you can follow this information to help you. If you can get your credit card interest rate lowered, you will save hundreds to thousands depending on your credit card balance and the time period it takes you to pay them off.

I can personally vouch for this one as I have had insane offers of rate reductions when I call to cancel cards. Your mileage may vary…

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How to Create an Internet Kiosk in 10 Easy Steps

If you own a business and would like to provide an “Internet Cafe” to your customers but do not want to worry about them trashing your computer or snooping around your network, there are some things you can do to create a more secure environment. This secure internet browsing mode is commonly referred to as an Internet Kiosk.

Disclaimer: This article is designed to cover most angles but does not claim to be conclusive in securing Windows (if there is such a thing!) What we will essentially do is create an automatically updating machine that grants the user access only to Internet Explorer by changing the shell value for that user and
by applying local Group Policy to restrict the user.

Steps to Create Your Own Internet Kiosk:

  1. Install Windows XP (Pro is recommended, but not required. This how-to is based on Pro edition) on a NTFS formatted hard drive.
  2. Install all updates via windowsupdate.microsoft.com and set automatic updates to install automatically in the future on a daily basis
  3. Install your anti virus software of choice and set it to auto update
  4. Install Flash, Macromedia, and acrobat reader if you so choose
  5. create a new user account with admin privileges, set the password to never expire and to not be able to be changed by the user
  6. log in with that user and make the following registry change:
    • click Start -> Run and type regedit and click OK
    • Once the Registry Editor opens, click File and Export… to create a backup of the registry (in case something goes wrong). Place this in the C:\Windows folder.
    • Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current
      Version\Winlogon
    • Create a new string value called shell (Edit -> New -> String Value)
    • in the Data portion of this new string value type: C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IEXPLORE.EXE
  7. Close the Registry Editor and logout of Windows
  8. Log back in with your original admin account
  9. Reduce the privileges of the new user account you created earlier to user
  10. Click Start -> Run -> Type “mmc” without the quotes. On the File menu click “Add/Remove Snap-in“. Click Add.
    Under Available Stand-alone Snap-ins, click Group Policy, and then click Add. This will open the Group Policy editor where you can limit user rights to your heart’s content. I would recommend dis-allowing control panel access, Active Desktop options, Task Manager from Ctrl-Alt-Del, and other obvious settings to ensure that your users can only
    do what you say.

There you have it, 10 easy steps to create your own secure Internet
Kiosk. When your newly created restricted user logs in, they will only get an Internet Explorer window. No start menu or desktop options.

If you have any suggestions on how to improve the security of your newly installed Internet Kiosk, please share them with our readers.

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The Dumbest Deaths in Recorded History

Attila the Hun:
One of the most notorious villains in history, Attila’s army had conquered
all of Asia by 450 AD-from Mongolia to the edge of the Russian Empire-by
destroying villages and pillaging the countryside.
How he died: He got a nosebleed on his wedding night.
In 453 AD, Attila married a young girl named Ildico. Despite his reputation
for ferocity on the battlefield, he tended to eat and drink lightly during
large banquets. On his wedding night, however, he really cut loose,
gorging himself on food and drink. Sometime during the night he suffered a
nosebleed, but was too drunk to notice. He drowned in his own blood and was
found dead the next morning.

Read All

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Top Ten Windows Applications that are Hard to Live Without

Now that I have been using Ubuntu Linux for about 6 months pretty much full time, here is my list of software I cannot seem to replace:

  1. iTunes: This is one application that I have not even tried to replace on the Linux side. I refuse to do it. I think iTunes is that good. Hands down the number one app for Windows that is hard to walk away from and it’s made by Apple! I have to say Rhythmbox does come close though…
  2. Outlook: I know everyone says Thunderbird or Evolution but it just doesn’t come close. In an exchange environment (like we are) Outlook is king.
  3. GreatNews: Have I mentioned lately how much I love this little RSS reader? I have replaced it with Newsgator Online, but for a client app that can run from my thumb drive, GreatNews takes the cake.
  4. Visual Studio: Being a ex-developer, this application is missed greatly. I haven’t found anything on the Linux side that even comes close. In fact I don’t even know what to use for application development in Linux.
  5. Zoundry and Post2Blog: I’m grouping these together because they are both excellent client blogging tools that I use almost exclusively. The client tools for Linux do not even come close (from what I’ve seen). Where’s the WYSIWYG editor in the Linux choices? Post2Blog even supports installing it to your thumb drive now to create a mobile version.
  6. ePrompter: This little application is a blessing for checking multiple Hotmail or POP3 accounts and takes almost zero system memory. Almost the perfect little email tool for managing multiple accounts.
  7. Dreamweaver: I don’t care which version. Anything after 2004 will work. Hands down the best HTML editor in my opinion. Maybe Scream on the Linux side gets close but I cannot get used to the childish looking interface.
  8. Blackberry Syncing Software: I’m not even sure what the official name for this software is but I do know that it does not work in Linux. Good thing for Over the Air installs. It still leaves me helpless when it comes to having a backup of my contacts and other info on a regular basis…
  9. Flickr Uploadr: There is supposed to be a third party tool that works on Linux, but I can’t get it to run on Ubuntu. If anyone knows how please pass on the knowledge… F-Spot works pretty good to upload to Flickr, but it does not allow me to create new sets on the fly.
  10. QuickBooks: Even though I just started using it this year, I cannot figure out how I ever ran my business without it. I just wish they would offer a Linux version, because even their online version requires Internet Explorer.

I’ve heard other people say that Photoshop cannot be matched however for my light usage, The Gimp provides more than ample features and is easily navigated for the quick image or photo manipulation.

So there it is. My list of gotta-have Windows software. What do you miss?


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Top Ten Signs you are a Geek

  1. Your friends call you for computer problems constantly
  2. The number of computers in your house is more than the number of people
  3. You have more than one wireless access point in your house
  4. More bedrooms are filled with computers than people
  5. You know your WEP key by heart
  6. Your house has more than one VLAN
  7. You own a server rack and it’s full
  8. You have created topography maps and naming conventions for the computers in your house
  9. You have contemplated a Windows Update Server to manage the patching in your home
  10. You have no idea what is on prime time TV but YouTube and Google Video are visited daily

Feel free to add more…


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Top Ten Reasons to use Ubuntu

Top Ten Reasons to use Ubuntu: Now that I am officially “switched”, I will outline the reasons why Ubuntu rises to the top of other Linux variants available.

  1. Hardware Recognition: I would have to say that Ubuntu is by far the best Linux variant available today for hardware recognition. I have installed Dapper Drake (the latest Ubuntu release) on almost 10 different PC’s with completely different hardware configurations and I cannot remember any hardware that was not recognized. I have also installed Ubuntu in a few virtual environments without any problems.
  2. Synaptic Package Manager: This tool makes switching from a Windows environment a breeze. Windows users will feel right at home with this indispensable graphical interface for package management and software installation.
  3. Fast Release Cycle: Ubuntu is set on a six month release cycle so you have a new version out every six months that is usually a pretty big change with a lot of new features. Similar to the yearly OS X release. Upgrading to the new versions is also a snap as they come packaged in the software update tool.
  4. Easy Switch from Windows: I have been a Windows user ever since I started using a computer. Occasionally I would try a Linux variant to see what all the hype was about, but I never was able to take the plunge until Ubuntu. Ubuntu allowed me to switch over with ease and the amount of support on the Internet was huge for a Linux newbie like myself.
  5. Root Account Disabled by Default: This may not seem like a big deal but it is a huge deal when it comes to security. Ubuntu functions so that the user created during installation is part of the sudo users group and can do root user tasks once authenticated. This means that any Ubuntu computer effectively has a different root user name and since root is the most attacked account on a Linux box, the Ubuntu computer becomes very secure for not having this account enabled by default.
  6. Internet Support: The on-line support for Ubuntu is amazing. This distribution is rather new compared to other Linux variants, but the amount of documentation out there already is nothing to shake a stick at. UbuntuForums.org is a daily necessity for tips and tricks and general support. Also most Linux software comes with an Ubuntu version already. Simply amazing.
  7. Free: ‘Cash is King’. Since this operating system is completely free, it ups the ante against Microsoft and Apple big time. Who doesn’t like something for free?
  8. Wireless Card Configuration: The built in wireless configuration tool makes it a snap to connect to WiFi points across the land. I recently traveled with my Ubuntu laptop and had zero problems connecting to an available WiFi point during my trip. I wish I could say the same for the Windows world. I really think wireless in Ubuntu is as easy as the wireless in Apple OS X, it just works.
  9. Easy to Dual Boot: If you’ve got an extra partition you are in luck. Setting up a Linux/Windows dual boot is always a scary proposition, but with Ubuntu it is easy as pie. I have created between 5 and 10 dual boot machines and have not had one problem. (I always install Windows first) In fact my laptop is triple booted with Windows, Ubuntu, and Red Hat and Ubuntu manages the boot sequence via grub. I have even successfully re-sized a Windows partition to add Ubuntu as a dual boot, but make sure you have a backup first in case something goes wrong.
  10. Integrated Software Update Tool: This tool compares to Windows Update and runs in the background. Not only does it update system stuff but installed applications as well (as long as they are in the repositories). Everything from the kernel to the browser, this tool is a must have to keep your machine up to date.
  11. EasyUbuntu: (Bonus!!) EasyUbuntu is the best free tool for Ubuntu users. This program is a must have when you set up a new Ubuntu box. It installs everything from video drivers to flash browser plug-ins and so simple your grandma could use it.
  12. It Just Works: (Bonus #2!!) From thumb drives to hardware configuration changes, Ubuntu handles it with ease. No blue screens of death or crashing system errors. Congratulations to the team responsible for bringing us this great OS!