Update: Since I made this post in September 2006, things have changed. Compiz-Quinn has changed its name to Beryl, and up-to-date installation instructions are available for Ubuntu Edgy and Ubuntu Feisty

Well, I got my laptop on Friday (15th September). I must say, the Inspiron 6400 was definately a good choice. The only thing I don't really like about it is the reflectiveness of the TrueLife screen, but I suppose I'll get used to it (the colours are definately more vivid, and it has better contrast... The screen looks absolutely awesome when playing games!). Anyways, one of the first things I did was partition the drive, and install Ubuntu Linux :). Once I did this, the first thing I did was install i8kutils and Gkrellm (so that I could control the speed of the fan, to make sure it doesn't overheat), and then install the ATI Drivers for the X1400 (called 'FGLRX'). Everything was working excellently (see screenshot)
Desktop screenshot

After everything was done, I thought about what to install. I remember my friend telling me about something called 'Compiz', but I couldn't remember how to install it. After searching for a while, I found a nice tutorial on installing GLX/Compiz. It appeared to be quite easy to do, so I followed the instructions on the tutorial. And, it works perfectly! :D It comes with heaps of themes, and there are some similar to the upcoming Windows Vista. Take a look at this:
Compiz screenshot 1
Look at the title bar of the 'Home Directory' window. That's called a 'glass effect', and is quite nice...

Another thing implemented in Compiz is window transparency: You can make a window semi-transparent. For example, look at this screenshot of my home directory on top of Opera (with the Google site open). I've faded the window out a bit, so it's partially transparent:
Compiz screenshot 2 - transparency
Nice, huh? Yet another thing in Compiz is multiple desktops. Sure, Linux has support for multiple workplaces in-built (the selector on the bottom-right hand side of Gnome). However, Compiz improves on it vastly, making all the virtual desktops into one large cube:
Compiz screenshot 3 - Cube
I thought the cube was interesting, but something really interesting is if you run VMWare in fullscreen mode. You can make it appear as if you're running multiple operating systems at once... Take a look:
Compiz screenshot 4 - VMWare

In addition to all of this, Compiz has heaps of other effects which I couldn't take screenshots of (including wobbly windows - windows wobble as you drag them, windows 'zoom in' when you start a program, and 'zoom out' when you exit it, and a lot more)... If you'd like to get Compiz working, and have an ATI graphics card, first get the ATI Linux drivers (FGLRX) working (see http://wiki.cchtml.com/index.php/Ubuntu_Dapper_Installation_Guide for a tutorial. Make sure you follow the second bit of the tutorial, to install version 8.28.8). Then, follow the Compiz tutorial, as found at http://www.compiz.net/topic-389-1.html (I followed the second howto, as I personally think it's better to have Compiz as a seperate session... Have fun! :)

Anyways, I think this is probably the longest blog post I've written, ever :P

Well, last Friday I finally ordered my Dell laptop... I'm so happy :)

I ended up ordering an Inspiron 6400, with these specifications:

  • Intel Core Duo 1.73 GHz
  • 80 GB Hard Drive (free upgrade from 60 GB)
  • 1 GB Memory (free upgrade from 512 MB)
  • 15.4 inch XGA display with TrueLife - 1280x800
  • 256 MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 Hypermemory
  • 8X DVDRW
  • 9-cell battery
  • Dell Optical USB Mouse
  • Free Belkin 'Wireless G' router
  • Dell Large Backpack

And for comparison, here's my current desktop PC:

  • Intel Pentium III 866 MHz
  • 120 GB Hard Drive
  • 384 MB Memory
  • 17 inch BenQ LCD screen (FP71G+)
  • Intel i810 Graphics Card (with 0 MB of onboard memory! :P)
  • 52x32x52 LITEON CD-RW
  • A4Tech Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

I think that this was an excellent offer (Dell's price was great). I'll finally be able to emulate Nintendo 64 games properly (unlike my current computer, with all the stupid graphics flaws :P)

Well, I did some minor changes to this blog today. Some of the main changes:

  • Changed the theme from the default WordPress one to the nice K2 theme
  • Added several new plugins:
  • And yeah, that's about all :)

OMG, I finally got my cheque from my ICT Fellowship! Now I can finally buy a Laptop! Even though I used to think that Dell computers were bad, their laptops seem quite good (well, the Laptops that don't use Sony batteries, anyways :P).

I'm considering purchasing an Inspiron 6400 with the graphics card upgraded to an ATI Radeon X1400 :). However, I still need to wait for my cheque to clear (which gives me some time to consider other laptops)

I used to think Dell was just stupid, but now I think even less of them:

AN INQUIRER READER attending a conference in Japan was sat just feet away from a laptop computer that suddenly exploded into flames, in what could have been a deadly accident. Gaston, our astonished reader reports: "The damn thing was on fire and produced several explosions for more than five minutes". Should you witness such an event, his advice is, "Don't try anything courageous/stupid, stay away, away, away!"

"For the record, this is a Dell machine," notes Gaston. "It is only a matter of time until such an incident breaks out on a plane," he suggests. Our witness managed to catch all the action in these amazing pictures.

"Fire extinguishers leave a mess on your suit and belongings; pack your stuff (if you can) and leave, leave, leave!" he advises.

We don't have any further details of the model of the computer in question. In light of the evidence, however, we'd suggest you avoid actually using a laptop on your lap. Ouch.

(source: "The Inquirer", on the internet somewhere :P)

Here, have a picture of the exploding Dell:

Well, I was working on my Linux testing server, and it stopped working for some reason... I tried to restart, but the computer wouldn't even boot (even from a CD). Upon unplugging all the IDE devices, and only leaving a CD drive in (a different one, in case it was faulty for whatever reason), it still wouldn't boot :(. I guess I won't be using that for a while...

Anyways, I'm buying a new server on eBay, so it isn't that bad (all I need to do is wait for it to get shipped to me).

Old server:

  • Celeron 300 MHz
  • 4.3GB Quantum Fireball lct and 4.3GB Seagate hard drives
  • 48X CD-ROM drive
  • 192MB membory

New server:

  • Pentium III 650 MHz
  • 8.4 GB hard drive
  • 48X CD-ROM drive
  • 256MB membory

Don't say that it isn't that powerful... Linux makes any computer look powerful :D. Besides, it's only a server for testing stuff.

EDIT: Computer arrived today, 30th June 2006. That company on eBay was quick!

Well, I've just finished my ICT Fellowship. I must say, it was a great thing for me to do; it gave me something to do over the holidays :). I made some macros in Excel (which was not all that difficult, because I used to work with macros when I was younger)

Anyways, I did learn a few things... Some of the things I learnt were:

  • How to use Microsoft Access properly
  • That you can get images from Google Images and resize them to 32x32 to make good looking icons :D
  • The help in Microsoft Access's VBA doesn't function very well (see previous post)
  • How to use Microsoft Excel macros to do stuff like turn an ugly-looking worksheet to a nice one... The macro recorder is also quite handy

It also gave me a good feel of what working in a workplace is like. Although I did have to spend 1 hour commuting every day, it was definately worth it :)

So, yeah... I'll be waiting for my cheque to arrive in the mail :D:D

Well, it's the holidays again, so I'm back doing my ICT Fellowship. I'm currently doing work in Microsoft Access, and also creating icons in a program called 'Easy Icon Maker'.

Speaking of Access, I encountered a weird error... I was drafting some Visual Basic code, and needed to look up something in the help file (as I was using Access, which I don't have much experience in). I got this error:
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Interestingly enough, I clicked the 'Help' button, and got this:
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

A bug, maybe? After all, the help article opened in the 'Windows Help Application', yet the article was saying that the application wasn't installed! :P

Well, my mid-year exams are now all done. I think that exams are the stupidest thing ever... Whoever invented them should be shot... in the foot :P

...erm... Yeah, anyway..... For our maths exams (Specialist Maths, and Maths Methods), we have a 2-hour exam where we can use a calculator, and a 1-hour calculator-free exam.

These are the exams I did:

  • English - Bah, the English exam was stupid. We needed to write three essays in two hours! Having said that, I got a B on that exam (and I thought I was going to fail it :P)
  • Physics - Physics was alright (I quite like Physics). The exam was actually just questions that were cut and pasted from various revision books! I got an A+ on this exam.
  • Specialist Maths - This was hard, it involved maths stuff such as partial fractions, Circle theorems, and other stuff. If there's one maths area I hate, it's circle theorems! Having said that, I got an A+ on this exam
  • Maths Methods - This was easy! Maths Methods is incredibly easy compared to Specialist Maths. I got 97% in the calculator-active test (the highest in the class). This involved stuff like quadratics, cubics, quartics, solving equasions, etc, etc. The overall mark was an A+
  • Chemistry - This was the one exam I was dreading (I'm not really that good at chemistry). Nevertheless, I got a B on this exam (which I'm quite happy with)

Yeah... That's all my exams...

In other news, someone recently spammed the CWH Networks forum:

It took me the whole of 2 minutes to clean all that up. Seriously, when will these spammers learn? Geez! :D

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