Category Archives: Linux

Moving From or To the Dark Side

I guess it all started when I bought the Premier Smart TV Box. That was really my first Android experience. I have never been a Google fan and therefore not an Android fan.

However, I am a fan of Linux and even though Android is Google’s version of Linux, I wanted to learn more.

My primary reason for buying the Premier Smart TV box was to play with KODI and experiment with Android. When I saw KODI’s benefits, I started looking for other devices to run KODI and that took me to the Amazon Fire Stick along with other manufacturer’s Android boxes.

The Amazon Fire Stick runs Android with Amazon’s user interface on it. For $39 a pop, I was hooked on an another Android product. It was as fast as an Apple TV and could run everything the Apple TV could plus Amazon Prime too. In addition, I could install KODI on it.

I have never considered buying an Android cell phone, but I had a friend come over with a new Nexus phone he had purchased. It was a beautiful phone. I decided to update myself on the current Android cell phones, just for fun. You know, just an academic exercise, no intention to do anything except learn something new. Continue reading Moving From or To the Dark Side

Premier Smart TV Box


I stopped in the Plaza Terronal Premier store and found an Android Smart TV Box for $39.00. It included the remote (no batteries), an HDMI cable, and the actual box.

The Premier catalog had it listed for $29, but they said it was a misprint. Still for $39.00 including the HDMI cable that was a deal I could not pass up.

I will tell you that it is not plug and play. It required some configuration. Basically it is an Android Linux system and comes with a standard assortment of Android apps. One of those apps is XBMC, which I wrote up here.

It will run on your Wi-Fi network or you can also connect it to your router by ethernet. I didn’t have a free Ethernet port, so I just configured it to my Wi-Fi router. That took about 15 minutes using the remote.

Premier also gave a one page of instructions for adding TV channels to XBMC. Configuring using the remote is a challenge, but I got through it. I will try connecting a keyboard and mouse one of the days, but for today, I decided to see if I could do it with just the remote.

I followed the store’s instructions to add TV channels to XBMC. As with many add-ons to XBMC, not all worked, but a lot did.

XBMC showed that 1Channel, which is a video site, was installed, but it was not set up and would not activate. Since I had previously set up XBMC on an Apple MacMini, I decided to set up XBMC my way.

I basically followed the same video instructions on the Internet that I had used for the MacMini, except this time, I went the Android route.

It wasn’t hard, but having previous experience helped.

I have seen a local company selling an Android TV box configured with XBMC for over $200. With about an hour of work, I have the same for about $42 including tax.

That may not be completely accurate because I don’t know the processor size. It has 1 GB of memory and 4GB of storage.

I just watched the Lazarus Effect, that is currently showing in David, and the video quality was good and I had full surround here. What I watched did not have Spanish subtitles. It was equal to my setup on the Apple MacMini.

Out of an hour and seventeen minute movie, There were two times when it paused to buffer. Again for this price, it is a super deal.

It has the complete Android App Store on its menu, but I haven’t looked at it. I was told that NetFlix should be there, however at present, I have no need to search for it.

If you stop into Premier, tell them you read about the Smart TV box on Chiriquí Chatter.

Burning The Candle At Both Ends

Sometimes I just don’t know when to shut down. Last night was a good example. I didn’t go to bed before 3 :30 AM. It would not be a big deal if I were staying up for something worthwhile, but last night, after working on a technical project, I stayed up watching a movie to unwind.

Lilliam is usually my governor and keeps my days in order, but she is in Costa Rica and won’t return until next week. When she is not around, I forget what time it is. When I was young, I could go without sleep better than I can now, so I am sure that I will have to have a nap this afternoon.

So what has been going on? I have visited the stroke victim twice this week. The second visit, I spent several hours with him. His caretake’s father has been released from the hospital after they decided they could not remove a tumor. She needed time to visit him in a hospice he has moved to. I hope that she doesn’t give out with all the stress she is under.

I am not satisfied with the stroke victim’s progress, but I have no control over that. I am also not impressed with C&W’s telephone connection at his apartment. He has been without telephone for two weeks. I had to go by the C&W office and submit a second trouble ticket. If it is not up soon, I will have to make another trip to the office. They need to give him a refund for lack of service. Just another thing you put up with living in paradise.

I guess that has me under a little stress and when I get under stress, I tend to dive into technology to unwind. Continue reading Burning The Candle At Both Ends

Considering Technology for the Holidays

I thought I would take a little time to pass on some of my thoughts related to the tablet and smartphone war that is going on.

The big news seems to be the Kindle Fire that is being released for $199. I hope that everyone that buys one feels like they got what they wanted. I am quite sure I would not want one, even though I would like to play with one for a week or so.

Here are my thoughts on the Kindle Fire and smart phones and tablets in general.

First, the OS for the Kindle is based off the Android system, which is a Linux system customized by Google. Now one might think this is a good thing because Google is pushing Android. I have spent a lot of time over the last 10 years playing with the Linux system and Linux is a very good system, except for one thing. On the desktop, it still takes a little bit of a technician to get all the bells and whistles to work.

That is why I was happy when Google took it as its system of choice for smart phones and tablets. You see, there is not just one Linux. There is a Linux Kernel, which is standard and then there are distributions of Linux. A site called Distribution Watch, lists the 100 most downloaded distributions.  You will not see Android listed because Google is working a different business model and theirs is to distribute directly to hardware manufacturers. Continue reading Considering Technology for the Holidays

LibreOffice vs. OpenOffice

When Oracle bought Sun then the open source community wondered what would happen to Open Office, since it had been created by Sun. I see that with the new distribution of openSUSE 11.4 Linux that is coming out today that a new system is replacing Open Office. It is LibreOffice. I downloaded it and am now using it instead of Open Office.

Feature wise, I really can’t tell any difference so far. However, I believe I like the way it displays on my screen better than Open Office. If you are in need of a office system and don’t want to fork over a bundle to Microsoft, just download LibreOffice. It is free and you can’t get a better price than that.


New Hacking Tools Pose Bigger Threats to Wi-Fi Users

Here is another article from the New York Times on the growing dangers of Wi-Fi insecurity. People in this part of the world seem to think that they are immune from the dangers, because they think it is only 1st world countries that have the technology to sniff out your information.

Think again, because the technology is getting cheaper and more available everyday. Cities like Boquete and Panama City, whose tourist trade continues to grow, would be a prime targets. Some spots in David, such as TGI Fridays and McDonald’s, would also be prime targets.

Everyone using the Internet needs to be practicing Safe Internet Intercourse. There are several things you can do.

  1. Use a stronger password. Many people think that using cute words such as superman or panamapete are fine. They are not. A strong password should be at lead 8 characters long and contain both upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and special characters. So how do you take a simple password and harden it without making it difficulty to remember? It is not tough. How about $uper123Man as a replacement for superman or Panama123%ete for panamapete. A simple substitution of characters in your current passwords will be adequate.
  2. Don’t connect to Wi-Fi that does not use WAP encryption. If your hotel or favorite restaurant has an unsafe connection, talk to them about hardening their connection. If the connection uses WEP encryption, it is not enough. How will you know if it is WEP? The password will be specified as WEP or WAP. WAP is more secure.
  3. Consider using a VPN. What is your peace of mind worth? My VPN, WiTopia, costs me $69 a year. That allows as me to protect regular PCs using a Windows, Apple or Linux operating system, as well as my iPad.
  4. If you have a home Wi-Fi, turn off the broadcast mode. With broadcast on, anyone driving down the street can see if there are Wi-Fi systems available. If your network can’t be seen, it is harder to be hacked. If your router provides a guest channel, don’t use the same password as your primary channel.
  5. Always keep your OS current on fixes. ALL operating systems are vulnerable, but the most vulnerable are those that are never maintained.
  6. Keep your Anti Virus current. On my Windows PC I use Microsoft Security Essentials. It is free and very good. I have never had a virus on any Windows OS I have owned, but I am meticulous with my maintenance. If you think you are immune because you own a MAC, think again. One of the last Apple updates was the largest security fix release it had ever done. And with MAC gaining market share, its threat level increases. The same is true with Linux.

Remember my new acronym SII, and practice Safe Internet Intercourse. I don’t condom condone anything else.

Watson Takes Command

Maybe you don’t watch Jeopardy in the evenings, but I do. This week, Monday through Wednesday, the three contestants are two all time record winners pitted against a serous of connected Linux operating system IBM computers named Watson.

I missed the end of yesterday’s contest because , interestingly enough, I was delivering two laptops that I had just installed Linux systems on. I will not miss the next two days.

Computers have played games before, but this is the first time that I know it has played a game like Jeopardy. The English language is tough as my Friend Omar, who writes Lingua Franca, often says. Jeopardy is a game that uses “play on words” to often create its questions. , which can make it tougher for a machine.

At the end of round one, no one has a commanding lead. In fact, this is the lowest total I have seen, so something must have happened in the part I missed. Watson and the all time highest Jeopardy winner had $5,000 and the third contestant had $2,000.

This evening, and tomorrow evening, should prove to be exciting. What I do find interesting is that Linux is the operating system that is powering the IBM computers. Linux is being used by more and more devices in place of other operating systems. Google is using Linux for all of its Android phone systems. Apple’s iOS is nothing more than a Linux based system. Purists will say that Apples system is really UNIX based, but Unix and Linux are pretty similar in my mind.

On the left of my blog is a countdown running for the next release of OpenSUSE, which is one of the larger distributions in Linux. The only thing, that has ever held Linux back, has been applications and as seen by the the cell phone frenzy, applications are increasing daily.

If the movie 2001 were made today then the HAL 9000 would probably be running Linux. I assume everyone realized that HAL can be created from IBM by taking the previous letters. I wonder what this world will be like when the first computer is elected President of the United Stated.

Whew! Two Days Gone but Forever Remembered

Well, I have almost gotten everything back up and running. It was not as easy as I had hoped, but I guess any good learning experience is time well spent.

I started this process because of the failed hard drive that contained Windows Vista. I had been running just with Linux, but there was some things I wanted to do and I could not get it to work in Linux.

My starting environment was a dual boot system with Windows Vista and openSUSE 11.2 KDE and a backup system with Windows XP and openSUSE 11.2. The first system is the powerhouse with a quad processor and the backup is no slouch with a dual AMD Athlon processor.

When the Vista system disk failed, I had moved all work to Linux. One problem with that environment was that with the failed HD, the system took a long time to come up because the bios was trying to activate the drive. While that annoyed me, it wasn’t the show stopper. I was perfectly happy with Linux and in fact still prefer it for my blogging environment. Continue reading Whew! Two Days Gone but Forever Remembered

Hard Drive Failure

I have had a major hard drive failure on my primary PC. It appears that the disk that contained the Microsoft OS Vista has died. Unfortunately, that disk contained the boot-loader for my Linux system and I am unable to boot into Linux.

I was able to boot up a live CD Linux system and backup all files, documents and photos off the Linux system, so now the problem will be determining the best approach to rebuild the Primary PC.

Currently, I have moved to my backup PC. Until I get the primary PC back on the air, there will be minimal posts.

UPDATE: Reinstalled boot loader and the system is back up. Takes for ever to come up, but I think that is the BIOS detecting the failed drive. It should speed up when I have a chance to remove that drive from the system.