I just found a site sure to blow my RSS bookmarks completely out of control! Take a look at Feedster for more links to RSS sites than you'll ever use! This is perfect for a news junkie like me.
It truly amazes me how the iPod seems to have universal appeal, even with people who could hardly be called computer saavy. I have seen this appeal occur twice already in my family.
My brother owns the 20GB U2 edition of the iPod. He doesn't even like the band, but he liked the look of the iPod over the 'boring' white one, paying a $50 premium to get a different color iPod. He was actually the first person in the family to get an iPod, even before I did (and I'm the computer expert in the family). He originally bought the white 20GB iPod, but later returned it for financial reasons. A few months later, I splurged and bought the 40GB white iPod. This, of course renewed my brothers interest in the iPod and he soon went out and picked up the U2 edition iPod. We both use them for listening to music at the gym and we've also swapped music collections. The hard drive space iPods hold so much stuff that each iPod, both my brother's and I can hold BOTH of our collections with plenty of space to spare! It's amazing how much music you can put on these things! My brother has even gone beyond me on the iPod lust and bought an entire new stereo for his car in order to be able to plug his iPod into his car stereo.
My brother and I have been telling my 62 year old mom all about our iPods and how much we love them. So, my mom asked for one for her birthday. Being the good sons we are, we got her one. We decided on the 1GB iPod Shuffle for her, rather than the hard drive based iPods because she only has a small collection of CDs and wouldn't really need the full blown iPod. Now the iPod Shuffle is still pretty hard to get your hands on these days, seeing as how it is so new and so popular. I ended up having to make a 60 mile round trip one evening to an Apple store in a neighboring city in order to get one. (I actually got one for myself too!) It came in this small box that was bright lime green in color. The box is about the size of a 3 or 4 CD jewel cases stacked on top of each other. I wrapped it and delivered it to her on her birthday. Once we explained what it was, she was very excited about it. I've never seen my mother that excited about a gift in many, many years! She was so excited that she only ripped 2 CDs before she wanted to listen to it! Once these 2 CDs where done, she put on those infamous white headphones, started it up, and happily walked away to return to her quilting. Moments later, a fellow quilting friend of hers called her and she excitedly told her friend that she got an iPod for her birthday! The rest of the evening she wasn't without the white headphones in her ears and the white 'stick of gum' hanging from her neck. Since that day, whenever I've stopped by for a visit, she's there with those white headphones, listening away.
Music has a universal appeal, whether you are a teenager listening to rap, a 62 year old quilter listening to Josh Groban, or a 35 year old Software Engineer listening to rock. The iPod seems to have really struck a cord with people.
I just love the hacker culture of Linux.
No doubt you've heard of Red Hat Linux. They are the number one Linux distribution in the United States. Many people mistakingly think that Red Hat is Linux. They think that Red Hat invented Linux and they are the only company that you can get Linux from. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
What many people don't realize is that anyone can sell Linux. In fact anyone can give away Linux for free, and many do. There are many popular Linux distributions, such as Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, and Slackware to name just a few. I will talk about these other Linux distributions in future articles. What do all these Linux distributions have in common? They are all completely free! If you have an Internet connection and a CD burner, you can download any of these distributions and have an operating system on par, or even surpassing Windows for free.
Another, lesser known Linux distribution is CentOS. CentOS is short for the "Community Enterprise Operating System". What is it? It is a completely free clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a commercial product that costs anywhere from $349 to $2499 per PC! The CentOS team has essentially created a free clone of a commercial product, but the kicker is, this is perfectly legal to do so!
The Linux kernel and most of the software included with the Linux distributions is protected by a license called the GNU General Public License (GPL). One of the provisions of this license is that you are free to use any software bearing this license in any way you see fit. The only condition is that if you make any additions or improvements to the software, you must release these changes to the public so they too can make use of it. This freedom means that there is nothing Red Hat can do to stop someone from copying their distribution. They don't own the code!
The members of the Linux community believe that software should be free. Use it however you want. This is a wonderful thing.
No this isn't an article on Pointy Haired Bosses, but on Managing Windows.
Dave, a good friend of mine recently gave me a great tip on how to easy access a lot of useful information in Windows with only 2 clicks. This is the "Computer Management" feature in Windows. This feature is present in at least Windows 2000 and Windows XP. To get to it, do the following:
- Right click on 'My Computer'
- Click on the 'Management' menu item.
This brings up the "Computer Management' application. From here you have immediate access to a wealth of info on your computer. This info includes:
- Event Viewer
- Shared Folders
- Local Users and Groups
- Performance Logging
- Device Manager
- Removable Storage
- Disk Defragmenter
- Disk Management
- Microsoft SQL Servers (if installed)
- Internet Information Services (if installed)
I hope you all find this little tip as useful as I did. Thanks Dave!
Today Apple made several updates to their iPod product line. The changes were as follows:
- Introduced a new 6GB iPod Mini for $249 (formerly the 4GB iPod Mini cost this)
- Lowered the price of the 4GB iPod Mini to $199 (down from $249)
- Added a 30GB iPod Photo for $349
- Dropped the 40GB iPod that was previously at $399)
- Lowered the cost of the 60GB iPod Photo to $449 (down from $599! A $150 drop!)
This means that Apple now literally has an iPod for sale at every price from $100 to $449. Now, if you want an iPod, you can get one, no matter what your price range. The current product line is now:
- $99 for an iPod Shuffle with 512MB
- $149 for an iPod Shuffle with 1GB
- $199 for an iPod Mini with 4GB
- $249 for an iPod Mini with 6GB
- $299 for an iPod with 20GB
- $349 for the U2 Special Edition iPod with 20GB
- $349 for an iPod Photo with 30GB
- $449 for an iPod Photo with 60GB
The only gaping hole I see here is the cancellation of the 40GB iPod at $399. I'm surprised they did this. This would have filled a nice notch in their apparent $50 increment price policy.
This appears to be a serious move by Apple to push sales of the iPod Photo. I had heard rumors in the past that the iPod Photo wasn't selling well. This wasn't surprising because all they had was a 60GB version for $499. That's a lot to pay for an iPod. The introduction of the lower priced 30GB version of the iPod Photo and the lowering of the price of the 60GB iPod photo appears to be Apple's answer to this.
This was a very smart move by Apple.
There is a problem brewing with Windows. No it's not a security problem, although there are plenty of those. It's a problem with the rapidly diminishing supply of drive letters.
Now you may be saying to yourself, "How can we ever run out of drive letters? Who in their right mind is gonna put 26 hard drives in their PC?" The problem is not just a matter of having 26 different hard drives. The problem is that everything uses up a drive letter these days! Things such as USB keys, removable hard drives, external memory card readers, and mounted network shares all need a drive letter. For example, my current PC is as follows:
A: Floppy drive
C: Main hard drive
D: Secondary hard drive
E: DVD ROM drive
F: CD Burner drive
G: External hard drive
H: Secure Digital slot on external card reader
I: Memory stick slot on external card reader
J: SmartMedia slot on external card reader
K: Compact Flash slot on external card reader
L: USB thumb drive
N: iPod Shuffle
Add in a few mounted network shares in there and you can see how you could rapidly run out of space. Ever since I started learning about Linux and how it handles drives, I've come to the conclusion that the concept of drive letters on Windows is extremely archaic, poorly designed and bound to become a big issue soon. Fortunately, Microsoft seems to have already come up with a little known solution to this problem.
In the Unix/Linux world, you have the concept of 'mounting' a drive. This means that you basically attach a separate drive on your computer to a subdirectory, rather than a drive letter. This means that in Linux, instead of having multiple drive letters like above, you would have something more like this:
/mnt/floppy: Floppy drive
/mnt/cdrom: First CD ROM
/mnt/cdrom2: Second CD ROM
As you can see, all the drives appear to be located on the same hard drive! This is because Unix connects a drive to a subdirectory, rather than to a drive letter. This is the Unix concept of mounting. Because you can create as many subdirectories as you want, with whatever name you want, there is basically no limit to the number of external drives you can connect. At the same time, they all look like one big drive, so it's an easier concept to understand.
I recently discovered that Windows can do this exact same thing. Windows XP as the ability to mount any drive to a subdirectory instead of the standard drive letters. Here's how you do it:
- Right click on My Computer
- Choose the 'Manage' menu option. (Thanks to my friend Dave for this shortcut!)
- A program will start called 'Computer Management'.
- Click on the 'Disk Management' item on the left, underneath 'Storage'
- Right click on the drive in the lower right to change.
- Choose 'Change Drive Letter and Paths'
- Click the Add button
- Select the second option of 'Mount in the following empty NTFS folder'
- Click the Browse button to select the directory to mount this drive to.
- Hit the Ok Button
- Close the Computer Mangement program.
You can now access the device from a subdirectory rather than using up a rare drive letter!
I hope you enjoy this tip and find it useful.
No doubt you've heard about the Apple iPod. For those of you who haven't, the iPod is a portable music player that allows you to carry around a large number of music files and listen to them anywhere. If you've seen someone walking around with white headphones in your ears, they are more than likely listening to one of these devices.
The iPod comes in several varieties, but they all share one thing in common. The only way to copy music onto them is through a program called iTunes. This program allows you to easily copy music from CDs, download music (for a fee) from the Internet and in general do pretty much anything you would ever want to do with your iPod. There is one important thing that iTunes does NOT do. It lets you copy music to the iPod, but it doesn't let you copy music from the iPod! I've always found this to be the most annoying thing lacking. I suspect they do this intentionally so that you have to use their software to manage it. However, I just found a way to do what they don't allow you to do!
I discovered an incredibly simple way to copy music from the iPod to your computer. Something that is supposedly not possible. How does this work? I'll tell you. All the iPods have the ability to connect directly to your computer via a Firewire or USB interface. Once you connect them to your computer, they show up as a separate hard drive in Windows. This allows you to use the extra hard drive space on the iPod as a temporary hard drive for moving files from one place to another. However, if you view the contents of the iPod when connected to your computer, the music files are conspicuously absent. You can do everything except access the music files. For this they want you to use iTunes. There are times, however when you want to copy music off the iPod and onto your PC, and this is something iTunes doesn't do. Here's how you get around this problem:
- Open Windows Explorer
- Go to the Tools | Folder Options menu item
- Click on the view tab.
- Select the option that says "Show hidden files and folders"
- Browse to your iPod in Windows Explorer
- You'll find a new, formerly hidden folder called 'iPod_Control'.
Inside this iPod_Control folder is another folder named 'Music'. This folder contains a series of folders named starting with an 'F' followed by a two digit number. (00, 01, etc.) The music files you are looking for are scattered throughout these 'F' folders. I'm not sure what the order of these folders means yet, so I would recommend against making any changes to these folders. You can easily copy the music files out of these folders back to your computer and they will play perfectly. If anyone knows the order in how these 'F' folders work, I would appreciate you letting me know.
This iPod_Control folder appears to be a system folder on the iPod that stores all the settings, music files etc. that are specific to the iPod. Because of this, you should not modify any files in this folder unless you really know what you are doing.
Let me know if you find anything else interesting about this folder.