Friday, July 24, 2009

Inspiron 1501 + Ubuntu 9.04 = SUCCESS!

Thanks be to the folks over at!

I'd attempted installing Ubuntu on the Insipiron last year, but, being an admitted Ubuntu-newbie, I couldn't figure out the convoluted method to get Unbuntu to recognize the wifi card in the laptop. After a week of trying, I finally gave up and went back to WinXP - it is my wife's laptop after all and, while she was doing well to control her annoyance at my pursuit, I didn't want to push my luck.

Well, when XP finally was zapped by some annoying script in an ad, we finally decided to wipe it and start anew. I reinstalled Vista that came with it and then decided to try Unbuntu 9.04 on a second partition. After a rough start getting the LiveCD for Ubuntu burned (apparently burning from a Windows machine corrupts the .iso image - I wound up having to burn the CD from a desktop already running Ubuntu...weird), I installed Ubuntu with not a single problem!

Enabling the proprietary hardware drivers released by Broadcomm for Linux brought the wifi up immediately! I all can say is thanks! I love having Ubuntu as an option! I really do believe that for the casual user, Ubuntu is an excellent option to consider - fast, lightweight and relatively easy to maintain. The only nagging drawback is that Ubuntu still does require some command line skill to really maximize its potential - a fact which would undoubtedly scare some people away. But if haven't tried it yet, you really should!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Facebook: Rough Transition?

As a seasoned Facebook veteran, I have to admit that it's been interesting to see the transition that Facebook ( has been taking as it moves from a closed-network community to one that has a much broader appeal. One of the funny things I've noticed is that much of the site still bear remants of its college-network roots. You'll find forms for room number in your contacts (last time I checked, we hadn't numbered each of the rooms of our house...) and there's still very limited cross-network connectivity.

One of the the things that strikes me as most egregiously forgotten is offering users a ways to provide selective permissions (or restrictions) to groups of friends. Facebook seems to be moving in that direction by allowing you to group your friends, but I have yet to find how I'm able to translate that into and effective data privacy filter. I'm not saying it isn't a difficult undertaking, but I also feel that without implement more options for users, they're going to lose their ability to keep people who have multiple networks of friends, co-workers and acquaintances - all of who don't really have a need to know EVERYTHING about them...

The New MonkShack

It's been a long time coming...I've finally redesigned the MonkShack homepage ( Over the years, the site started as static HTML and gradually evolved in a database-driven, dynamic site that provided the front door to all of the sub-domains that maintain, including this one! My primary goal in this redesign to simplify the site followed closely by goals to improve navigation and increase the ability for to be a central linkage point for all of our web2.0 activities. The site is now table-free with the vast majority of the structure and formatting being done using CSS. I think I've met my goals, but I'm always interested in what other users think, so if you want to share your opinion, I'm all ears!

I continue to use GoDaddy as my hosting provider, despite their transparent attempts to use their adverstising to stir up controversy (thereby increasing discussion about GoDaddy). They've always been responsive in their customer service and I couldn't be happier with the suite of tools they provide to host and maintain my domains. I had what could only be described as an ancient installation of DotNetNuke (no, I won't say what version - its just too embarrassing!) that over many years and server changes was now residing on a separate server and was outside of my permissions. I don't even know how that happened...but it did. In my redesign process, I wanted to start from as clean a slate as possible, so that meant removing my old DNN installation (formerly housed at and the associated databases. GoDaddy's technical support couldn't have been better about helping resolve the issue - even going so far as to contact me with a follow-up phone call before the directory was deleted to see if I needed a backup of all of the data that was housed on that site. (I'd backed up the entire already to a local server, but it was darn nice of them to ask!)

Even after the redesign, I felt that I wanted a web-enabled CMS for at least a part of the site, so I installed Joomla in place of the old DNN. Now I'm facing the difficult challenge of determine how much of the old site I want to put back - and how much is simply going to stay in the archives...