Monday, November 9, 2009

iPhone Ring Tones: Text to Speech

I've made a few ring tones for the iPhone here and there. Then I tried to think of something cool. I thought it was funny during an episode of "The Good Wife" when the mother's ring tone blared her daughter's voice saying, "Pickup the phone!" Sadly, my friends and family wouldn't put themselves through the embarrassment of recording their voices.

Why not use a computer's voice? So, here I am, making custom ring tones using Text Edit, Automator (not sure how else to get text to speech to save to a file on Mac OSuX Tiger), and Garage Band to create ring tones. I use a brief introduction tone, then have the computer speak. "Incoming call from: ..."

And now I'm downloading the sound files of characters speaking in Portal to perhaps use them as ring tones.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala on Dell Mini 9

Installed Ubuntu 9.10: Karmic Koala onto the Dell Mini 9 today.

I found what I think was the Dell distro here at Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to install from an ISO.

Instead, I just went the route.
  1. Download from
  2. Burn ISO to CD (using this Freeware:
  3. Boot CD on a PC.
  4. Select "install to USB Drive" option.
  5. Boot from USB Drive on Dell Mini 9.
  6. Install (Erase and use entire disk.)
  7. Setup.
  8. Download and install updates.
  9. Install Flash (sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree).
  10. Watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on
Yay! Video isn't choppy!

note: I had installed the full Ubuntu 9.10 before I saw there was a Netbook Remix (UNR) version. I installed UNR at home; it seemed to install faster (probably because there are some big apps excluded). Had to consult to get the wireless network radio up and running.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What 3rd party applications (Apple iPhone apps) do you use?

Home Screen

    Free 3rd party applications (Apple iPhone apps)

  1. Evernote (free) - Organizational software that includes OCR services. I never use this anymore.

  2. Facebook (free) - I rarely use this app, but it's there for when I want it.

  3. foursquare (free) - Location-based check-in app with unlockable badges.

  4. Loopt (free) - I use this to Tweet my location with an image (example).

  5. (free) - After signing up online, this budgeting app keeps you up-to-date with customizable push notifications.

  6. (free) - Rudimentary adjustments. Installed on a whim; will uninstall soon.

  7. Spell Number (free) - Enables Emoji characters (instructions).

  8. Sport Lite (free) - I think it tells me my GPS location? I've never used this; but hear it's crucial for geo-caching.

  9. Sportacular (free) - Game updates with customizable push notifications.

  10. TweetDeck (free) - Twitter app.

  11. What's On? (free) - TV Listings and movie times listing service powered by Zap2it - What to Watch. Where to Watch It.

  12. Paid 3rd party applications (Apple iPhone apps)

  13. Crosswords ($9.99) - Crosswords. I got this for my fiancee, who never plays it.

  14. FotoTimer ($1.99) - Timer for the camera. The "preview before saving" feature broke in the new version, though. WTF?

  15. Geo-Defense ($1.99) - Tower defense game.

  16. Geo-Defense Swarm ($0.99) - Tower defense game.

  17. geocaching ($9.99) - Geo-Caching. I never use this anymore.

  18. Mobile Fotos ($2.99) - Upload full-resolution iPhone camera photos to Flickr. I rarely use this anymore.

  19. Remember the Milk ($25/ year) - Reminder service with push notification. The app is free, but you need the Pro account with RTM.

  20. StarDefense ($5.99) - Tower defense game. I've beaten it a few times and don't play anymore.

  21. TaxiBall ($2.99) - Best tilt ball game in the world! There's a trial version if you just want to check it out.

  22. Tweetie ($2.99) - Twitter app with landscape keyboard. v2 is out.

  23. WhatsApp ($0.99) - Chat application with push notification; currently deployed to iPhone and Blackberry.

  24. WordAce Pro ($0.99) - Best word game in the world! There's a free version; I chose to pay to support the programmers

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wedding Photographer

While looking for a wedding photographer, I came across Ashley's Blog. Her pictures just had an unspoken quality to them. And when I chatted on the phone, she came across as candid and real. And the best part was that she was affordable: $2900 for a great package. Unfortunately for me, her sister's wedding is around the same time as mine. She recommended a substitute, but looking at Colleen's Blog I don't have the same feelings for her shots. And talking on the phone she felt lacking in personality. I'm confident that Colleen could get the job done to a good level. I'm just not sure if I should keep looking for another diamond in the rough that Ashely seemed to be.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Free is Frustrating

I'm trying to get some free software on my Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) to auto-stitch panoramic photos. I'm finally playing around with Ryan Brenizer's shooting method. Of course, free is not exactly easy.

I found this thing called Hugin - an open source application which seemed to fit the bill. Unfortunately, it could not autostitch because it could not find something called autopano. Google helped me figure out what it is, but apparently my Mac isn't setup for these types of installations. I figured out how to install subversion from this site about autopano. But even after getting that, it would appear that I don't have C compiler. I guess I need XCode. Of course, OS X Leopard is the latest and greatest... and I have OS X Tiger. The Apple developer site did not make it apparent which version I should download, so I stupidly wasted 15 minutes downloading the Leopard version. Another Google search yields the suggestion to download either 2.5 or 2.4.1. Oh, and somewhere along the line I installed MacPorts.

Yeah. So, lots of "sudo" commands and stuff to get it all working, but I think I'm done!

Here's a stitch with only 9 photos; I semi-manually specified the control points before going down the rabbit hole of installing autopano.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Predictions for SYTYCD

Kathleen and I have set our predictions for the top 10 of So You Think You Can Dance. It's difficult to base it off of one performance (and a little bit of auditions).

1 Phillip
2 Ade
3 Evan
4 Jason
5 Kupono
6 Kayla
7 Caitlin
8 Melissa
9 Janette
10 Paris



Friday, May 29, 2009

Certified Usability Analyst

HFI-Certified Usability Analysts have a clear understanding of research-based principles of designing interfaces from the perspective of the end user. They perform data gathering, task analysis, and usability testing. They pinpoint the usability problems and offer design solutions. The usability analyst brings the critical success factor to bear throughout the development life cycle. That is, designing for the user.

I passed the certification exam. The ideas and concepts learned over the past months provide a foundation for the product development and design work I hope to accomplish in the future.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Getting Beat

Last week I felt the onset of illness, yet again. Halfway through the week I felt the same symtpoms as a month-and-a-half ago. When I returned to the clinic, the same doctor that prescribed me antibiotics last time said I probably just have a virus and the best thing to do was rest and drink plenty of fluids. I am not sure what exactly is wrong, but the uncontrollable coughing annoys me to no end. Unfortunately, I still needed to show up at work because a new design launched. Thankfully, my boss' boss allowed me to work from home on Friday. I got a ton of rest this weekend and feel better, but the coughing remains. I really hope it goes away. Otherwise, I am not sure what to do. I tried to see a specialist a year ago for a similar issue, but he was no help.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stab in the Dark

Not sure where to start with the whole wedding stuff, so I started up a few Google Docs: list of questions, guest list, and schedule.

The list of questions includes items like, don't forget to get gifts for people in the wedding party. So I guess it's more of a "don't forget" list. A friend forgot to put stamps on RSVP envelopes before stuffing; her fiancé used tweezers to stuff stamps in through a small opening. I just added that to the list. When my sister flew from Boston (where she lived) to Los Angeles for the wedding, she arrived to the Boston airport wondering what she forgot. "Wedding dress!?!" She placed it on the back of the bedroom door for the very reason that she would not forget it, too. Not sure what else I will put on this document, but it's really a catch-all.

The initial guest list is not as overwhelming as I thought. But Kathleen may not have added everyone that she needs. My brother recommends that I clear the list with my parents since they may have input; but I pointed out that we've already had his and my sister's wedding, so everyone should already be covered. :D My brother's wedding had the most extended family and friends; people we had not seen since leaving Cerritos in 1985 (his wedding was in 1998). My sister's wedding concentrated on her friends that she kept in contact with... basically anyone she had been friends with since she was 5 years old.

The schedule is mostly blank. I filled up sheets with contact information (one for the wedding party, one for vendors) and skeleton plans (times and addresses for rehearsal and the day of the wedding).

I'm not sure what else I can do right now. Nail down a date, perhaps?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Last week I attended classes for design and research. I need to review and put these classes into motion as I am taking a certification test at the end of May. While the web is the best asset for finding resources and tips; taking the classes makes me focus my attention on what is important.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Love the Beach

Okay, so I omitted some events from the weekend in my last post. Here are the gritty details.

On Thursday I called the jeweler to locate a particular setting; the ring was available in a Texas store. When I mentioned a Los Angeles trip for the weekend, he checked to see if any of those locations had them in stock. He confirmed the Mission Viejo store had it. I called up the store and talked with Judith for a few minutes. After all the pleasantries and small talk, the main factor of price range was touched: I let her know what I was comfortable with. I arranged a meet-up to view the setting and some possible diamonds on Saturday between 4pm and 5pm. If everything worked out as I wanted: I would talk to Kathleen's father on Saturday at the driving range, buy the setting and diamond in the afternoon, have the ring sized and ready on Sunday, and surprise Kathleen with a proposal on the beach of Santa Monica on Monday.

The weekend began like any other: a half-day at work to catch a plane from Midway (Chicago, Illinois) to LAX (Los Angeles, California). Okay, so that is not typical. We dropped her car off at the parking lot and hopped on the bus to the terminal. We raced each other through security; although she got through security first, she spent too much time waiting and going to the bathroom; I made it through security and changed out of my work clothes. I was ready at the designated meet-up point in front of the monitors about a minute ahead of her. We thought about getting sandwiches at the local shop, but the lines were too long. We opted for pre-made sandwiches: tuna and turkey. Once in the air, per usual we each shared halves. To pass time I composed a long e-mail to Kathleen detailing notable and not-so-notable events in my past. This was a hint to her of what was to come; I was revealing my past, indicating that I wanted to share my life. Once on the ground, we hopped on the shuttle to the rental car location. We decided to rent a car for various reasons: logistics of arranging a ride to the airport, freedom for me to commute between my brother's condo and Wildomar (I had yet to see my 8-week-old niece, Olivia), and, unknown to Kathleen, for me to head to Mission Viejo to look at and probably purchase the ring. We stopped at one of the kiosks to add my name to the list of drivers. Then we trekked across the parking lot's last row to seize the car: a free upgrade to a two-door American muscle car. We drove to the gate but could not find the rental agreement anywhere in the car. We returned to the kiosk, where they apologized for the oversight (Kathleen is a preferred member). We then drove straight to a local fast-food restaurant to enjoy the food we had not eaten since December. We ate in the car just a few blocks away. Kim (Kathleen's youngest sister) met up with us to take her and her other sister (arriving an hour later than our flight) home to Wildomar. Once they drove off, I drove to my brother's condo in Tustin. Kathleen sent word that the mass and subsequent partying would mean that her father would not be available to go to the driving range for us to talk; I would need to find another way. I was fairly tired, so after spending some time with Hannah (my god-daughter) and Olivia, I hit the hay.

Looking back, I am unsure how I survived the weekend. Saturday, I woke up early with the intention of arriving in Wildomar at 8:30am for mass at her parents' home. Kathleen sent a message that mass was actually not until 11am, so I could arrive much later; I aimed for 10am. I played Rock Band for a little bit, and that helped to calm my nerves. I then drove to Wildomar. I kept switching radio stations looking for something, anything to fill the drone of the highway. Upon arrival I fidgeted with the GPS. A rap on the window startled me: it was Kathleen's dad. I helped him carry in some ice and refreshments. I returned to the car and put on my dress shirt, and unloaded the bag with cameras and equipment. Before mass the people trickled in: I was introduced to various friends of Kathleen's mom. I snapped numerous photos, and felt a little at ease behind the lens. Kathleen was tasked with a reading; while she practiced I tried to keep her at ease and brought her a bottle of water. The mass was full of celebrations: Mr. and Mrs. Nierva celebrated 31 years of marriage, Kim's 25th birthday would be soon, and Kathleen's recovery from her accident. Afterwards, the celebration went into full swing with a Filipino spread which included a roasted pig (lechon), clear rice noodles with vegetables and chicken (pansit), egg rolls (lumpia), rice, and much more. Before the first wave of guests departed, a rosary and various prayers took place. Afterwards, Kathleen's dad distributed 7oz beers (bottles he had mistaken for full-sized at a bargain price at purchase); then, to his wife's chagrin, the tequila began to flow. To avoid shots, I used the excuse of needing to drive to Tustin to spend more time with Olivia. In truth, I wanted to make it to the jewler for my appointment. Kathleen, already feeling the effects of alcohol, asked that I stay. As a compromise I agreed to return later that night.

Before heading off, I called my brother and arranged to meet him at the jeweler. Seeing as how he had experience with the matter (he bought his ring from the same jeweler), I thought it prudent to have him there. I set off, taking Ortega Highway. I pulled over at the look-out for a short restroom break and to admire the view into the valley. I then let the rental car loose on a few corners, reminiscing on a motorcycle ride I had taken on the highway several years earlier. For the entire drive I left the radio off, and did my best to calm my nerves. I arrived early and used the facilities at a local fast-food chain. My brother called to let me know that he had arrived, entire family in tow. As we entered, I found Judith still at work; she introduced me to Jeff, who would be taking care of the diamond portion of the pitch. We left Hannah in the waiting room, watching an animated movie. Jessette and Olivia toured around the jewler, pondering an upgrade. I took my time looking at three different diamonds: two did not fit the bill. The trepidation on buying the remaining 1.49 carat diamond rested solely on its IS1 rating (F color was perfect). As a comparison, Jeff found a VS2 diamond with F color, but only 1.18 carat. While virtually flawless, it looked small for the setting (designed for a 1.5 carat diamond). After an hour of deliberation, Jeff and I took the diamonds outside. Once under sunlight, I knew that the 1.49 would be exactly what Kathleen wanted. I called the credit card company to let them know of the huge purchase about to take place. I thought about having the ring sized to 4.5, but I was uncertain if that was Kathleen's exact size. I decided to take the ring as-is (size 6) so that the ring was sure to fit her when I proposed. We would simply have it resized later in Chicago. We waited for the stone to be set. The whole ordeal had not set in; I left a voicemail with James to let him know what I had just done. After all the paperwork and receiving the ring, I and Alf and family went to a Mexican restaurant for a quick dinner. While waiting for the food I called Holly, thinking that if I were to talk to someone, anyone, than the magnitude of what had just happened would set in. Nobody was picking up, yet another voicemail for me to leave. I left Super Mex early, picked up my luggage from the condo, and drove to Wildomar. Once there, I was greeted by Kathleen. I said hello to Esteban, Kim's boyfriend; he hooked me up with some 7oz beers. I sat and sang karoake with Kathleen and Kim's friends. Afterwards, I took a shower then went to bed. Completely drained, I fell asleep almost instantly.

Sunday morning I arose early. Nobody was really around, so I went to the backyard and began cleaning. Kathleen's father made it out a few minutes later and helped with the effort. We cleared the table of the empty bottles and brought in the dirty dishes. I thought of talking to him afterwards, but 8am meant that his television show needed watching. Later in the morning, Kathleen, Kim and Esteban would be running errands; Erin ran in the morning and would spend the rest of the morning preparing for mass; Kathleen's mother had left already for prayers at the church. I opted to stay behind, hoping to talk to Kathleen's dad. After they had left, I asked him when he would be leaving for mass (he would be leaving earlier because he ushers); he responded, in about 30 minutes. I asked if we could talk about his daughter, and he said okay. I talked briefly about his love for his daughters and his wife, and asked him for his blessing for Kathleen's hand in marriage. He said okay. A shy man, he asked for clarification whether I had talked to his wife already. When I said no, he exclaimed, "Ah! This is a discussion between gentlemen." He then bestowed knowledge and wisdom he had learned from his 31 years of marriage, and requested that I continue to take care of his daughter (as I had after her accident). Although I had rehearsed in my mind what I would say and how I would say it, it came out in spurts. Although he had future warning that this talk was to come, he was just as unsure about the words. Once the gravity of the situation set in, we talked man-to-man; he made sure I knew the commitment required. We shook hands firmly, and he left for mass.

Traditionally an article of clothing or jewelry is not worn until after a trip to mass: both as blessing and thanks to God for the material object. I knew Kathleen would feel uncomfortable wearing the ring before a trip to mass, but wanted her to be wearing it as much as possible. I could not discretely smuggle the ring in its original box to mass, so I emptied an old leather wallet and placed the ring securely inside. Kathleen, Kim, and Esteban returned from their errands; Erin finished getting ready. We attended the 11am mass. Afterwards we wandered around a large discount warehouse for food samples, and so that Kathleen could buy Kim's birthday present: a portable gaming system. We scrounged up loose change to purchase Churros for Erin and Kim. A couple more errands at a different store. Esteban then treated us to a chilly Mexican dessert which hit the spot in the sweltering heat. Oddly, the fact that I carried an engagement ring in my pocket never came to mind. While returning home we passed the girls' parents heading to church for another prayer service. We u-turned to catch them so Erin could say good-bye. They assured us that they would return home before she left. We hung around the house until their return. Kim and Esteban would be driving Erin to the airport; Kathleen and I would be driving to Tustin to spend more time with my brother's family. On the drive, Kathleen would have her first experience in the FasTrak lanes. Upon arrival we played a few rounds of a dancing game; when matched up against my brother I lost by only two points! We then went to a local restaurant where I treated my brother to a steak dinner to settle on a bet I had lost for the 2007 MotoGP season. Originally we planned to spend the night in Tustin, then to the airport the next morning. Instead, Kathleen expressed her desire to return to Wildomar, so we drove back that night. Being absent minded, I thought I had left my sunglasses and camera in Tustin; we found the sunglasses in the car's cup holder and the camera in my bag in the car. In Wildomar, Kathleen's dad excitedly demonstrated the new home-theater system setup. Tired from the excitement of the past two days, we soon retired. I sat awake, composing and refining the words I would use with Kathleen the next day. Adrenalin running high, it's a wonder I got any sleep that night.

The next morning after breakfast, Kathleen went to get a haircut with her mother in tow. While they were gone I snapped various photos of the ring. I then cleaned up the backyard a bit more and brought in their garbage cans. I also wrote a note to her parents thanking them for their hospitality. When they returned we said our goodbyes to her mother, and we set off to Santa Monica beach. My usual ritual is to snap a self-portrait with the pier and the ferris wheel in the background. In a previous SoCal visit I had included Kathleen in the portrait, so I was sure that she would not find it suspicious that we would there. The 91 to the 5 to the 10 to Santa Monica beach. We played the A-B-C game, and she edged me out by one letter. Upon arrival we walked on the hot sands. She ran out to the waters and waded around for about 10 minutes. We made our way to a closed lifeguard station, and I used the lowered ramp as a make-shift tripod. I took a few of the usual pictures, then setup the point-and-shoot camera to record video. I stood by Kathleen, and went into my speech. The items in parenthesis are what I had planned to say, but forgot as I raced through.

"I am glad we were friends first. When we were friends we got to know each other's personalities. (I was always attracted to you, but being friends demonstrated that we could be more.) Our relationship got off to a rocky start: you went out on a limb and told me that you liked me. (I am so happy you did because the last nine months have been the happiest of my life.) I think it's about time that I went on a limb for you."

I knelt to the ground, grabbed the ring in my left hand, then went to one knee and looked up at Kathleen. I totally forgot to remove my sunglasses, though.

"I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"

I am not sure I even finished my question before Kathleen said, "Yes!" and pulled me up for a hug. We hugged and kissed. I put the ring on her hand. In the excitement of the situation I tried to put the ring on her right hand thinking it was her left (it was MY left). We straighted that out, and hugged and kissed more. After I shut off the point-and-shoot camera, I joked that she should update her Facebook status, but we both knew that she needed to call her family first. As she dialed her mom, a Spanish-speaking tourist happily strolled up to me and asked that I snap a picture of him. I took a couple shots of him with his point-and-shoot film camera. I then called my mom to let her know that Kathleen said yes (voicemail). I called my sister and talked with her; she then talked to Kathleen for a little bit. Apparently they knew this was coming; they had bought champagne for the occassion the last time we were there helping them move (about eight months ago). I bought her a water and me an orange soda at a local refreshment shack. Lots of text messages and phone calls followed. We visited her sister at work, where she was the first to congratulate us in person. We ate lunch with James at a local burger joint; he was the second to congratulate us in person. Because the ring is sized so big, Kathleen is constantly paranoid of it falling off. We will get it sized correctly in the days to come. With a new ring to show off, people would be noticing her hands a lot more; she received a manicure while I gassed up the rental and made more calls and sent more text messages and e-mails. We returned the rental car; being absent minded I thought I had left my iPhone in the car but found it in my luggage. Scared of losing the ring if on her hand, I carried it in the leather wallet. It felt surreal seing the black silhouette of the ring as it passed through the x-ray machine.

Kathleen cannot stop stating that she feels so grown-up now, all the while squealing with happiness. I cannot stop gazing into my fiancee's eyes and holding her close.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Southern California Weekend

Arrived in sunny and not-so-warm Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Friday at 7pm PT. Bee-lined to In'N'Out to enjoy a Double-Double animal style and a strawberry shake. Then I drove off to Tustin to visit my 8-week-old niece, Olivia, for the first time. I attended mass at the Nierva home in Wildomar, Saturday morning. Afterwards, food and refreshments overflowed. I spent more time with my brother's family before returning to Wildomar to sing karaoke. We attended mass at 11am on Sunday. We enjoyed tacos and nachos served by the local community. Spent some time in Costco grazing on samples. Then we enjoyed a Mexican desert (mine consisted of ice, pineapple, and maybe some other good stuff). A quick return to Tustin for Kathleen to see my niece, and for me to treat my brother to a Yard House meal to settle on a bet on the 2007 season of MotoGP.

And that is the weekend in a nutshell! Crazy that Spring temperatures in Southern California are nearly double those in Chicago; record heat predicted today in Los Angeles.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

MotoGP 2009

The season starts out with various news.

- Pedrosa (factory Honda) injured during test, with surgery to his hand and knee in early March.
- Hayden (factory Ducati) injured during qualifying at the season opener.
- Bridgestone is the sole tire for the field.
- Gibernau rides on a satellite Ducati.
- Kawasaki pulls factory backing (leaving Hopkins without a ride; demoting him to World Superbike on a Stiggy Honda).

The full 2009 MotoGP rider list is on MotoGP's official website.

Here is my prediction for the top 5 at the end of the season.

1. Rossi
2. Lorenzo
3. Stoner
4. Pedrosa
5. Dovisioso

I hope it's an exciting season; but fear that with everyone on Bridgestone and Ducati's power versus Yamaha's handling versus Honda's balance and "win at all costs" mentality: all this equates to certain bikes performing well at their respective tracks, and no good battles taking place on race day. Hopefully, I am wrong.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


My fever spiked past 102 degrees Fahrenheit last week, so the weekend was spent resting as the antibiotics worked their magic. Lots of Nyquill.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Firefox on the Dell Mini 9; Google Reader

I noticed Firefox acting more sluggish than normal and wondered if Google Gears was the culprit. I disabled the extension to no avail. I then tweaked Google Toolbar, disabling many features. I also set the browser history to only retain the last 5 days. This improved page browsing drastically. Before, scrolling and typing would be jerky and delayed. Now, they are more responsive. Google Gears is back on, as are offline GMail and Google Docs.

Globally, the "Friends List" on Google Reader is broken. It gives me an error indicator at the top of the page and does not load my Friends' items. Oddly enough, I can go into an individual folder of a Friend, and also the Comment View sub-folder. I wonder what I did to break my Friends Items, and I wonder if I will ever get it back.

Composing e-mails on a cramped bus seat proves easy on the Mini. I sometimes bring it into work and type up notes on Google Docs. Mostly, I read Google Reader and GMail and sometimes Facebook. It's a mixed blessing to not have 3G internet connection.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ubuntu and the Dell Mini

Surfing the web has never been a priority of mine. I basically surf the web when I have free time at work or for a few minutes (literally) while at home before shutting off my computer after uploading some photos. Why the lack of usage? The main reason is that my main computer is a Mac Mini hooked up to a 42" LCD that doubles as my television and XBOX 360 monitor. I also have a PC sitting in a corner with a 17" CRT, but I fire up that machine only for work (VPN) or to use the flatbed scanner. I have nothing in my bedroom, or in a comfortable location. So, in steps the Netbook market. The idea of having a machine so convenient that I could use it practically anywhere was too inticing. I took the plunge and am now the proud owner of a Dell Mac Mini 9 running Ubuntu (thanks to my girlfriend for buying it as a gift!).

First order of business was to clean up the desktop. I thought about starting with a fresh install of Ubuntu Netbook Remix, but my friend, Chad, advised against it since the machine was prepackaged with Ubuntu drivers. The Dell interface, while tidy and cool, just took up too many resources. I figured that out as I was playing Tetris and the controls lagged as more pieces appeared. I switched to the normal Gnome interface and started playing around with the panels. A few gconf-editor changes later (apps> panel> toplevels> ...) and I have a panel up top which disappears completely. The Dell Mini 9 conveniently ships with some of the Ubuntu Netbook Remix libraries, so I updated Maximus (apps> maximus) to remove the title bar from windows. I also updated Firefox by making the menu a drop down that sits beside the address bar. Installing a third-party theme tightens up all of the menus. I mapped my Windows key to act as the maximize window action because Maximus opens all application windows maximized (I am not sure how to turn this off); if a window should not be maximized I simply hit the Windows key and it is a standard window with title bar and controls. I employed Chad's help to clean up the system of applications I do not use (mainly Open Office). It was quite simply starting up Synaptic (system> administration> Synaptic Package Manager) and completely removing Open Office packages. I freed up an additional 300mb by following advice from the official Ubuntu forums. Speaking of forums, I am reading up on the Blog for tips and tricks specific to my Netbook. After all this, I have quite the slick package!

I freed up enough space on the machine to run GMail offline (which also required me to clean-up my mail because of all the attachments using the search query "has:attachment"). I plan to write e-mails while on the train or bus to work. All-in-all, this computer changes the way I think about keeping up with people online. No longer is it performed in tandem with work; I can now focus my attention when necessary. Hopefully, I do not lose too much sleep as a result. I have only just begun this new process, but my girlfriend likes the fact that she receives full e-mails from me instead of the short (and painfully written) blurbs on the iPhone.