Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer..we’ve all seen it develop over the years. Or have we? We’ve seen Internet Explorer release a new version of their browser from time to time, but how much are they really packing under the hood?

You’ll read reviews and cool new features online around Microsoft enthusiast sites, but how many of the new features and updates aren’t already available in an alternative browser? Internet Explorer 7 seems to be the new cool browser of choice among a very large percentage of web surfers, but why are they using it? Is it because of the built-in search box in the upper right corner? Is it the super cool new tabbed browsing? Maybe it’s just the shiny vista-like skin..? Or could it be that it is the most secure browser available?

Basically, all of those questions can be answered with a simple “No”. Many people just aren’t aware that there are better browsers…or to be a little less bias…alternative browsers that can do everything they need! I personally have been using Opera for all of my browsing needs for around nine years now. Around the time that I starting using Opera, Netscape Navigator was a popular choice. However, most people just stuck to what they already had installed, which was Internet Explorer.

acid2Quick facts: A man by the name of Håkon Wium Lie (who is now the CTO of Opera Software ASA) proposed Cascading HTML Style Sheets (CHSS) in October 1994. These style sheets were later used to test browsers compliance to web standards for the first time in 1997. The first test, which was called the Box Acid Test (a.k.a. Acid1 Test), was a simple case test used to help browser developers as they developed and implemented cascading style sheets and accepted it into the web. The next test and probably most famous of the two is know as the Acid2 Test. The purpose of this test was to push developers into implementing new features available through CSS. If a browser passes the test then the page loads fine and looks like a simple little smiley face.

This simple little smiley face is in fact a challenge to reproduce. The test is designed to make the results obvious. Either it passes or it fails. You will see a nasty looking face if it fails (hint: look at it in Internet Explorer here). You should check the Acid2 Test in different browsers that you have installed on your computer and decide for yourself if you want to use a product that has been left behind or if you want to switch to an alternative browser with equal or more features and much better web rendering. Personally I would recommend looking into the following browsers and giving them each a test drive:

The Opera browser has been known for years for it’s record of being the most secure browser available. You are much more likely to get a nasty virus from the web using Internet Explorer than you are while using a browser such as Opera. Opera was also a pioneer in the beginning of tabbed browsing days. Many other browsers saw the potential and jumped to implement the same thing. Opera was also the first browser to include a quick search box at the top of the window. Opera provides a light weight browser with the fasted speeds of any browser from almost every angle and some of the best web standards support. You can’t go wrong with Opera!Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this! Download some of these browsers and give them a try! Any of them are more capable than Internet Explorer. ;)

Ubuntu: Feisty Fawn vs. Gutsy Gibbons

ubuntu-logo

Ubuntu has recently become my favorite Linux distro among competitors such as Redhat, Fedora, Mandrake, SUSE and DSL. I’ve found that Ubuntu offers more support from the community than any of the other distros that I mentioned and also have great support for a wide variety of hardware vendors. For example, I found myself frustrated with Fedora Core 6 (Zod) when I installed it on my HP Pavilion dv4000 laptop. The main problem was getting my wireless card working..or should I say finding drivers to install to get it working. With Ubuntu I noticed right away that my wireless card was working from the live disk alone! I hadn’t even installed Ubuntu yet, just put in the install disk and booted up to it and my wireless card was working and as it should have with Fedora after installing.

I installed Ubuntu on my desktop with slight difficulty. Mainly, it would install fine, but Grub would not work properly. I have two hard drives in my desktop, both Sata drives. One is a 300GB drive that I use to install Windows Vista Ultimate x64 and Ubuntu x64 on with ~290GB and ~10GB respectively. The second hard drive is a 750GB drive that I use for storage. I found that Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) and maybe earlier versions do not install Grub well to dual boot on the same hard drive with another drive connected. For some reason it just won’t find the partitions to boot. A simple fix for this was to open the tower and simply unplug the 750GB drive from power and the board (while the power was off of course ;) ). After eliminating this drive, Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) installed just fine! Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbons) seems to install with no problems from the 750GB drive so you most likely will not need to disconnect your extra hard drive to install this one. Now let me get into the comparisons..

Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn)
Feisty Fawn is the code name for this specific release of Ubuntu which was released in April 2007 or 2007 April..7.04. Feisty Fawn is currently a very stable release. It has had plenty of time to receive deep testing from Alpha testers, Beta tester and to the general public and most all of the haunting bugs have been patched and repaired so it is a release that you can count on. Performance is great. It’s a snappy release that is highly customizable and easy to get used to after switching from Windows (like I did). Granted, this transition may be more difficult for others, however, once you find the applications that you need you’ll quickly learn that it can perform any task that you needed in Windows and possibly in a more efficient and easy way.

All hardware was detected properly and worked from installation. The only tweak that I had to make to my machine was enabling restricted drivers (nVidia graphics drivers) so that I could take full advantage of my dual screen display. After that it was just add/remove programs from a huge list of available packages. Anything from games to text editors to media players and tools to Beryl, etc.

Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbons)
Just like Ubuntu 7.04, Ubuntu 7.10 has a code name..in this case Gutsy Gibbons. It was first released in August 2007 and has just recently been publicized as a “Stable” release. When I first saw that Gutsy Gibbons had become stable, I received a notification from my update manager in Feisty Fawn and decided to just upgrade from the manager. I would now recommend that if you want to upgrade from Feisty Fawn to Gutsy Gibbons..just do a clean install. My upgrade encountered numerous errors and was forced to quit only after half-way upgrading my system. This left my Ubuntu os unusable and forced me to manually reinstall. I would suggest backing up your documents and any other saved material that you will want later to a disk or jump drive, then do a fresh install over your Ubuntu partition and move your data back. That being said, I would also suggest waiting to let Gutsy Gibbons receive more testing from the general public if you plan on using it as your main desktop. I quickly ran into a problem with video drivers not working properly for nVidia and also read many forums talking about ATI video cards have similar problems. I was encountering random freezes that would sometimes return to normal, but most of the time just lock up the entire computer. Apparently the drivers are not yet stable. I’ll keep you updated when they have become stable enough to use, however, for now I have reinstalled Feisty Fawn so I can use my pc. There are several people complaining about these problems, but who knows..you might not ever encounter them.

With the update, I did notice that the layout had changed a little and several personal folders had been added such as Pictures, Documents, Music, etc. The icons got a small update as well as the mouse cursors. NTFS-3G had been installed and enabled by default to allow reading and writing to NTFS drives with ease. This means you can access your Windows partitions and save files to those drives by default now! If you liked using Beryl in Feisty Fawn to get cool desktop effects such as a rotating cube to switch between work spaces and wobbly windows then you’ll be happy to know that Gutsy Gibbons has all of these features installed by default. There is no longer a need to manually install Beryl, just drop down your System->Preferences menu and click on appearance!

Finally
Gutsy Gibbons definitely takes first place over Feisty Fawn, however, I’ve decided that until Gutsy Gibbons is cleaned up and patched up a little more, I’ll just have to stick with a release that has been through all of the stages already and I can count on.

If you are interested in downloading Ubuntu to give it a try, just go to Ubuntu.com. It is completely free and easy to use!

Vista: Repair with boot disk

vistaIf you ever experience problems with your Vista installation and it fails to boot, you’ll quickly learn that “fixmbr” is no longer used the same way (fixmbr is to be valid for Windows XP and several previous Windows platforms).

If you need to fix your then you may have trouble finding the remedy as I did. I searched for a little while not finding anything helpful. However, not that I’ve found it and had to use it a few times I am going to share it with you (and all just post it so I can reference it later more easily).

The recover steps are as follows:

  1. Power-on your system and immediately insert your installation disk.
  2. Press any key to boot your PC from the installion disk.
  3. Once booting has completed click “Next” after making sure that options such as language are appropriate for you.
  4. From the list of options provided, select repair. (This may take several minutes while the installation disk tries to find supported bootable partitions. Just be patient. ;) )
  5. If the automatic scan does not detect your windows installation then you may have a lot of trouble regaining any information stored on your drive. If this is not the case for you then move on tot he next step. Otherwise, if this is the case then I suggest the following:
    • Obtain another hard drive, by purchase or borrow from a friend and install Windows on thenew hard drive.
    • Now install some freeware undelete software to recover your important files to the borrowed hard drive so you can use it later to move the files back to your system.
    • After recovering the files that you need to keep, format and reinstall Windows on your old hard drive.
    • Now you are ready to copy and paste the recovered files over.
  6. Now that the install disk has detected your old installation click next to continue.
  7. The next screen offers several things. Go a head and click to repair startup, but don’t count on this fixing anything (it has never fixed anything for me in the past, but it never hurts to try).
  8. Now click on the option to manually repair via the console.
  9. Once in the terminal/console, you will be using “bootrec“. Go a head and type “bootrec” without the quotes into the terminal and press enter to get an idea from the description that it provides for what it does. Now the commands that will fix your system are as follows (without quotes):
    • “bootrec -FixMbr” – this command will rewrite the contents of your master boot record since it is most likely corrupt, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be here.
    • “bootrec -FixBoot” – this command may not be necessary, but I use it just incase.
  10. Now that you have enter both of those commands to repair your boot process you just need to restart and see if everything is working again!

I’m not sure how you got into this situation in the first place, but if you have not been trying to install another operating system to dual boot along side Vista then you might want to look into the issue further. You can always use your best friend Google.com to find where other people have had similar problems and found solutions. I would suggest looking into this immediately to ensure that your data is not lost in future incidents. It might be that you have corruption in your hard drive and need to run checkdisk to repair any bad places. I hope this has been helpful to someone. If it has helped you at all, please let me know! Post a comment!

Opera 9.5 Beta Released

Opera 9.5 beta is available for download! Since the first alpha release hundreds of bugs have been fixed. Website rendering has been significantly improved, along with performance, stability and usability.

Opera Link
With Opera Link, it’s possible to get access to your bookmarks and Speed Dials everywhere. Get Opera Mini 4 beta and login to Opera Link to get your desktop bookmarks, or login to link.opera.com to access your bookmarks with any other browser.

Opera Link continuously synchronizes your bookmarks and speed-dials picks between any computers or mobile phones. Simply log in to access your bookmarks. You can also access your stuff from any other browser by going to a web page.

History Search
Ever forget to bookmark an interesting site, just to find that you can’t find it again, no matter how hard you search? No worries now, because Opera 9.5 brings you built-in Full Text History Search.

Enhanced Mail
Ever forget to bookmark an interesting site, just to find that you can’t find it again, no matter how hard you search? No worries now, because Opera 9.5 brings you built-in Full Text History Search.

Opera is a super fast and free Web browser. Designed to make your life easier!
opera 9.5 beta super fast

Features
Status bar with Zoom and Image control

Opera’s excellent zoom function and the bandwidth saving control of images are now made easily available on the Status bar. Tip: Add your own buttons like the developer console to the Status bar.

Restore closed windows and changes in Speed Dial

Kestrel has an improved version of the much loved trash-can feature by adding support for opening closed windows, not only the closed tabs. You can also use the undo function now for Speed Dial.

Improved BitTorrent™ performance

We added support for BitTorrent Peer Exchange to allow you to connect to more download hosts and improve your download speeds.

Steve Perry – Oh, Sherrie

This is one of my favorite songs. I just had to share it with you all since I came across it on YouTube. This song takes me back to the day…

Steve Perry – Oh, Sherrie

Lyrics to sing along..

New Posting Tools!

I’ve spent some time today making from scratch a few tools to make things such as using bold, italic, underline, inserting images, hyperlinks, emails and smilies (a.k.a. emoticons)! It took some time to complete as the entire interface is written in javascript, but it should be working fine now! ;) Left me know if you have any problems at all. 8-) You can post those here in the comments section if you wish, however, please do provide some method of communication in case I have a question about how the problem occurred (you could just give me a forum name or something so I can get a hold of you). Thanks! :D

Installing Pidgin in Linux from Source

pidgin

pidginAs many Linux users know by now, Gaim has been renamed for a second time to Pidgin due to legal issues with AOL over the use of ‘AIM’. Many distros of Linux operating systems still distribute the popular messenger client in older versions that are still under the title Gaim. I’m not the kind of person to use outdated software, so updating to Pidgin was one of the first things that I did when I made the move from Windows Vista to Ubuntu. I found the task to be a bit more lengthy than I had intended.

Most distros have communities that contribute packages that can install applications in a one step process by gathering all dependencies that are needed and installing them with the application. However, the great site that I’ve found for Debian packages seems to have a few packages lagging behind. I can’t have that. Who wants to install an older version of software than what is currently offered on the applications official site? Unfortunately there are no Debian packages available from Pidgin. That is not a problem! First things first:

  • Go to your Add or Remove application and completely remove anything associated with Gaim.
  • Open a terminal and install the following dev packages with the following commands (*The following terminal commands are for APT software package management systems. To use these commands with a different package manager you need to edit the syntax accordingly):
    • sudo apt-get install libglib2.0-dev
    • sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev
    • sudo aptitude install libnss-dev
    • sudo apt-get install libgtk2.0-dev
  • Go to www.Pidgin.im and download the source package.
  • Extract the source package and navigate to the folder that the files were extracted to in a terminal window.
  • You now need to configure and build Pidgin from the source files. Use the following commands in the terminal window to successfully configure Pidgin for your platform:
    • sudo ./configure
    • sudo make
    • sudo make install
  • Pidgin should now be successfully installed on your computer! You can now delete the source files that you downloaded from www.Pidgin.im.

If you experienced any problems while trying to follow this guide, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to help out. Always use Google.com to search for error messages before seeking help from others. Your questions are most likely already answered somewhere!