Five Amazing Space & Astronomy Facts

  • The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes launched in 1977 are still calling home. Carrying only cassette tapes and 256KB of memory the two probes have entered the interstellar space – the region beyond our solar system – their weak signal send temperature and other information back to earth.
  • Gravitational waves are ripples in the structure of space that move at the speed of light. They cause the distance between objects to increase and decrease. Coalescing binary neutron stars may be one (barely) measurable source of gravitational waves.
  • Neutron stars, what remains of some stars after they collapse, can rotate up to 600~700 times per second.
  • The Sloan Great Wall is a giant wall of clustered galaxies measuring 1.3 billion light-years.
  • A gamma ray burst or supernova can release as much energy as our sun will in its 10 billion year life.
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Linux Not (Never?) Ready For The Desktop

linuxhome

The idea that Linux is to be an alternative to Windows for the desktop is mentioned every so often. It is said that an average user can cut ties with Microsoft for good and plunge into the world of Linux at home. This has been the subject of 1000s of articles and tutorials. Times have changed and it is of course much easier to get (download) Linux iso files, burn them to a CD and try or install one of many Linux distributions. The old geeky days of command line installs and indecipherable screens are mostly behind us. Once installed there are also many good software that are very good alternatives to Windows equivalents, the exception being Microsoft Office alternatives that are often headaches in the opinion of yours truly. The biggest or most important reasons the title of this article has “Not” and “Never” in it is that there are two important failures when it comes to daily Linux use. These two deeply effect a so called newbie and even an above average user.

The first is wireless internet performance. This post is not delving into that issue – hint: maybe your laptop happens to have a ‘good’ chipset, may be not – and it is suffice to say that Google queries like “linux wireless not working” return millions of results.

The second is the issue of updates. In this case for Linux Mint or Ubuntu. It is important to note that the latter is often cited as the most user friendly of Linux distributions. To get software and other applicable updates the Update Manager monitors the computer and presents a list of available updates. The user sees notifications and can proceed anytime, when the Update Manger is opened a list is either fetched or just there. Let’s say users are updating Mint 13 LTS and decide to refresh the list in the Update Manager, they notice that the list is taking a long time to load. After they do load they are accompanied by a number of errors similar to:

‘Failed to fetch http://packages.medibuntu.org/dists/precise/Release.gpg Something wicked happened resolving ‘packages.medibuntu.org:http’ (-5 – No address associated with hostname)

After searching, try it  it is not very easy to find the explanation, one arrives at posts like http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=2469 that announce that the update repository (packages.medibuntu.org in this case) is no longer maintained and show how to avoid the errors in the future. The announcement doesn’t even offer a clear alternative so users are entitled to wonder if they can get the updates previously offered via medibuntu without further action after removing it from the software sources list.  Other user to user support forums answer with lines like:

What this means? That you should remove the repositories from your sources.list to prevent errors and look for the packages you needed somewhere else or stick with the old ones that you have installed.

Of course this is just a single user replying to a question but to be in this state long after Windows 8 and years and more than a decade after fiascos like Windows Vista and ME is a failure in providing an alternative. Linux is a good thing, a very good thing, but it is not ready for mass home adaption and if it isn’t now it is perhaps never going to be.

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End Of An Era: Winamp Shutting Down

winamp-shutting-down

One of the must downloads of the early days of the internet, Winamp, is shutting down. End of an era for sure.

Personally remember the Windows 98 days of using it and downloading sometimes ugly skins to go with it, it lost its way when it was bought by AOL and became less and less relevant as we entered the cloud era.

Update: Please read the links to petitions and the other good points made by commenter smaragdus http://www.rgdot.com/bl/2013/11/20/end-era-winamp-shutting/comment-page-1/#comment-49138

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Nexus 5 Unboxing

The Nexus 5 is here. One of the most anticipated phones of the year. Some of its specs and a quick unboxing below.

Android 4.4 KitKat
Snapdragon 800, 2.26GHz processor
2GB RAM
Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G)
2G/3G/4G LTE
69.17 x 137.84 x 8.59 mm
4.59 ounces (130g)
4.95” 1920×1080 display (445 ppi)
1.3MP front facing camera
8MP rear facing camera with Optical Image Stabilization
2300 mAh battery

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PearlMountain Valentine’s Day Promotion

PearlMountain have previously offered giveaways for many of their software here on RGdot. They have a promotion to celebrate Valentine’s Day and asked if I could mention it here:

To celebrate the world’s most romantic Valentine’s Day, we’d love to offer ColageIt Pro on Windows and Mac, originally priced at $ 29.90, at 50% off. Besides, anyone buying CollageIt Pro for Windows can get PearlMountain Image Converter for free, saving you up to $55.90. The deadline for this deal is February 15, 2013.

Highlighted Features:

  • Making collages is as easy as 1-2-3 with only 3 steps.
  • Various kinds of layouts and diverse templates.
  • Easily personalize collage by cropping, adjusting photo number, photo space, page margin, rotation, sparse, and so on.
  • Share collages via multiple export ways.

Get CollageIt Pro for Windows plus the Free PearlMountain Image Converter here: http://www.collageitfree.com/promotion/valentine.html
Get CollageIt Pro for Mac here: http://www.collageitfree.com/promotion/valentine-for-mac.html

 

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Most Bizarre Products Of The Year

Watching TV two items or products have attracted my attention, and not really in a good way. These two items that became available for sale in 2012 surely are some of the most bizarre ever.

WaxVac

Tooth Tunes

They are Tooth Tunes and WaxVac. They market themselves as

the only toothbrush with music in your mouth technology

and

the safe & effective way to clean and dry your ear

respectively.

Corporate board rooms are filled with either genius innovators or utterly bored people. You make the call!

*On occasion I may include non-software related posts, hopefully these won’t detract from the main focus of the site or turn off any potential visitors.

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(Poll) To review or not to review

I have been contemplating the amount of time and energy it takes to properly review or write about software on a consistent schedule.

Please consider voting below and leave a comment too!

(* The 4th option might make the site more manageable time-wise.)

Should I continue reviewing software?

View Results

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Backstit.ch: All New Start Page

Backstit.ch – in beta – is a personal start page site with a clean interface that may be a good option for those who will miss the soon to be retired iGoogle or those using My Yahoo and others. At least based on initial and first impressions Backstit.ch is different from the usual and familiar start page. The potential for a cluttered look seems less likely with Backstit.ch where the pages seem cleaner.

Backstit.ch

Backstit.ch also makes it easy to view more than just news sources or rss feeds by adding a social aspect with twitter streams, facebook timelines and others that at this (beta) period includes Instagram, Linkedin, App.net, tumblr, Readabilitiy and Instapaper.

Creating a page starts by using the Catalog. The Catalog has a ready made collection available for one click additions. These are divided into featured and other categories like news and travel. The available selection includes TechCrunch, Tanga Deals, CNN and others including more specific social feeds like ‘Photos shared on Facebook’ and ‘Popular photos on Instagram’.

Backstit.ch

If a site is not featured or available click on the feed search link and then type the site name – not the full url! – to find and add a site to your start page.

With Backstit.ch the start page where everything exists is called Patterns. A ‘See all’ button on the top right of each item is like a maximizer for that feed or item. The Threads page on the other hand displays everything in its category – news, social and others – by date and time instead of by site.

The cleanest and perhaps most useful part of Backstit.ch is that when an item is clicked the full version of the article is presented on its own on a clean and no frills page.

Backstit.ch has potential because it is feels different and focuses on reading and viewing more than anything else.

I first learnt about Backstit.ch from this ghacks post and got a prompt reply from its cofounder (Jordan) when I encountered an error adding a twitter feed. In the second screenshot the facebook feed has failed to load but I am confident this will be addressed as Backstit.ch works its way through the beta period.

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Instant WordPress: Easiest Way To Install WordPress On A PC

As a fan of WordPress (who isn’t?) I was excited to hear about Instant WordPress via this wpmu.org post. Instant WordPress is billed as a “complete standalone, portable WordPress development environment” and “The easiest and quickest way to install WordPress!” The 54MB download installs a portable and completely self contained copy of WordPress on a PC. There is no need to go through more time consuming methods like installing wampserver , XAMPP or others if the exclusive or main use of using MySQL and php is to work with WordPress on a PC.

Instant WordPress

After installing Instant WordPress on a XP desktop I was disappointed to see that it would not start, it did generate an error (see above image) but the error was obscured by the program’s splash image. The error dialog was not movable using either the mouse or keyboard. I looked in the program’s folder, found the splash image (splash.png) and decided to resize it to a smaller size image so that the error would come into view.

Instant WordPress

The error in question was “%1 is not a valid Win32 application.” (see above image). That particular error is often associated with Windows not reading or liking a blank space in some configuration (in many cases a batch file) of the program in question. I decided to move the Instant WordPress folder from the desktop – whose “Documents and Settings” path contains spaces – to c:\ and as expected it worked (see below image).

Instant WordPress

Instant WordPress is the easiest method yet to play with WordPress and it comes with a few dummy posts and pages. As of this post it is bundled with WordPress 3.2, MySQL 5.1.46-community-nt with phpMyAdmin, Apache 2.2.15, and PHP 5.3.2.

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