Archive for the ‘Computers and Software’ Category

Dell 600m, getting wireless to work

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I have an older Dell 600m that came with 512k memory, Windows XP Home edition, no power supply and a few broken keys. From ebay I increased the memory to 1.2 gig ($34), replaced the keyboard ($17), and bought a new power supply ($11), for a parts cost of $62.

For a friend, I had tried to clean up the Windows installation twice, and tired of tying to make XP Home work right, I decided to install Ubuntu 9.04. It was a very easy install, except that the onboard broadcom wireless card was not recognised by the operating system. (more…)

Fixing screen resolution in Toshiba 1405-S151, in Ubuntu 9.04

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Update. For a better solution, see this blog.

Our office has a (2002) older Toshiba Satellite 1405-S151. Windows XP is unbearably slow on the laptop, so I wanted to see if it was usable with a current version (9.04) of Ubuntu. The installation went pretty smoothly, and the computer worked much better than with Windows, except for the screen, which was stuck on 800×600 resolution. (more…)

Dual boot Acer Aspire 5516, Vista and Ubuntu 9.04

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

This week I purchased an Acer laptop from Micro Center for $299. The model was: Aspire 5516-5474. It came with an ATI video chip set (ATI Radeon Xpress 1200), a 160 gig hard drive, an 8x DVD, an SD reader, 2 gigs of RAM, a 15.6 inch LDC Monitor (16:9 1366×768), and an AMD Athion 64 processor (the TF-20). The installed software was Microsoft Vista, home basic. I installed Ubuntu 9.04* to dual boot. It worked without any problems. (more…)

Google’s Chrome, in Ubuntu 9.04

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Although it is described as an unstable release, I have found Google’s test version of the Linux version of the Chrome Brower to work pretty well, subject to limitations described below. I use Ubuntu 9.04, and installed the .deb files from Google’s web page for the early access release.

It took me a while to find the bookmarks (toggle using control-b), but I like the cleaner look with more screen that this approach provides. One issue for me will be that Zotero does not install on anything but Firefox.

On the down side, flash does not yet work, the plug-ins are not yet implemented, and a lot of forms on web pages don’t seem to work yet. So, it’s not finished.

Dual boot Windows and Ubuntu, Dell m1530, issue with Sata drive and AHCI mode

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Some time ago, I bought a Dell m1530, with Linux Ubuntu 8.04 pre-installed. I have since moved on and installed a few upgrades of Ubuntu. I am currently using Ubuntu 9.04, which I like very much. But I wanted to make the machine a dual boot with Windows, so I could also do a few things that Linux can’t do yet.

Yesterday and today I spent a huge amount of time trying to understand why Windows would not see my hard drive. I assumed this was a result of the Linux boot loader changing the Master Book Record (MBR), and I spend hours trying different ways of addressing this. But that was not in fact the issue. Instead, the problem was due to the hardware settings, and specially the fact that my SATA hard drive was set to use something called AHCI mode. As described in this blog post on the topic, older versions of Windows don’t have drivers that support AHCI. (more…)

Joomla and search engine friendly (SEF) URLs

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

I have recently installed Joomla! 1.5 on server hosted by I use an 1.0 version of Joomla for another web page on a different server, and I would like to migrate to the new version of Joomla, and possibly change my web hosting company. I created the Joomla installation in a new empty directory (, to play around. I did not install the sample data, but created a few dummy entries to experiment. My first problem was that I had trouble getting the search engine friendly URLs to work. (more…)

Using Zotero

Friday, June 19th, 2009

The first time I used Zotero, I was not impressed. After recently meeting one of the founders of Zotero from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, and following the litigation with Endnote over file formats, I decided to give it another try. I was very impressed. In fact, I now think that anyone who writes should install and use it. (more…)

Fixing a missing Gnome top panel, in Ubuntu 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

This morning, when trying to remove a duplicate icon from the Gnome panel on the top of my screen, I deleted the whole top panel, by mistake. It is not obvious how this is fixed. Like most Ubuntu users, I looked at some forums. Even with the top panel missing, you can bring up the applications menu from Alt-F1, or run a command from Alt-F2. I started up Firefox, and found a solution offered by Harvey Muller, who, in helping someone else with the same problem, deleted his top panel to see how to fix it. His solution, which worked fine for me, is here: (more…)

Ubuntu 9.04 on Dell XPS m1530 and Inspiron 1420n

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Yesterday I installed Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) on two Dell laptops, the XPS m1530, and an Inspiron 1420n. Both installations went smoothly. (more…)

Dead drives

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Two of my kids have three hard drives they would like brought back from the dead. (more…)