Monday, June 09, 2008

OpenOffice for Windows

All of my Linux and BSD boxes are undergoing maintenance and upgrades at the moment, therefore I'm using my little Windows system for my day to day activities. Yesterday I found myself in need of a word processor, with a little more punch than Wordpad. I immediately thought of trying OpenOffice for Windows. I've using OpenOffice countless times in Ubuntu, and on my FreeBSD desktops, but never before on Windows.

After a quick web search I found the download link at Download The Download was a 127MB .exe file. After virus scanning the file I began the install. First it verified the download, which was nice to see. Then it said it needed to unpack and copy the installation files to my hard drive. I allowed it to copy the files to the default location, which was my desktop (You can delete these files after installation is complete). I followed the instructions through the install process, choosing a complete install, it was very simple.

I'm really impressed with the polished work which has been put into the Windows build of OpenOffice. It's lovely to use, it has all of the basic functionality of Microsoft Office, and it didn't cost me $600+ AU. I'm enjoying using it, it feels really nice.

The complete installation gave me the following components:

OpenOffice Base :: BASE is a fully featured desktop database management system

OpenOffice Calc :: CALC is a complete spreadsheet program.

OpenOffice Draw :: DRAW is an imaging program, which gives you the ability to create graphics and diagrams.

OpenOffice Impress :: IMPRESS is a tool to create multimedia presentations, similar to PowerPoint presentations.

OpenOffice Math :: MATH is's component for mathematical equations. It is most commonly used as an equation editor for text documents, but it can also be used with other types of documents or stand-alone.

OpenOffice Writer :: WRITER is a fully equipped word processor or desktop publisher.

Each part integrates very nicely, allowing you to move your data from one component to another. OpenOffice is really easy to use, especially if you have used similar products in the past.

You can integrate all of your old files into it, allowing you to save or edit files in many formats. E.g. PowerPoint presentations, or Word documents can be edited or saved, allowing you to share and communicate with others easily.

OpenOffice is a very professional and complete suite. I'm impressed with the work which has been put into it. It's awesome to see a free product out there giving so much to it's users.

For more information please see:
OpenOffice Wiki Support

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lost in Space

Hi everyone, thank you to those who have sent me emails over the past six months inquiring of my whereabouts and my well being, it's been awhile.
I'd rather not say where I've been, or whats been happening, none of it is relative to this blog anyway.

A couple of hours ago I logged into all of my email accounts, for the first time in around 6 months. My private accounts contained nothing but spam, no real mail.
Then I logged into my Geekybits email address to discover emails from people all over the world. People asking questions, making comments, wondering were I was, urging me to help them, or to continue writing.
I was amazed, stunned...

Then I started thinking, wow there are more people here who care about me then in real life. So if any of these people knew me in real life how would they treat me?
Would they be like everyone else that I know?
Would they treat me like a badly dressed, unemployed, geek, that sits on her computer all day?
Chances are yes...
In reality I can't get a job, I struggle pay the bills, and I'm not exactly the most social person you'll ever meet. The only good thing in my life, is my wonderful loving husband.

However here, lost in the anonymity of the internet, I'm treated as an authority, as someone who knows their subject and writes clearly about it. Someone worth listening to and asking advice from. It amazes me to think that a few words online can change people perspective.
I'd like to think that I'm learning everyday, that the information that I proved is accurate and correct to the best of my knowledge, yet I had no idea that people actually listened and want to read more. That people respected my opinion and my knowledge. Thank you!

If I'd continued not to write, Geekybits would have faded, another forgotten blog, which no one writes or reads anymore. Irrelevant and unimportant in this fast moving, constantly changing world.
If a blog author was to die would anyone even notice?
Would those post just be suspended in time, lost in the data floating around the net?

This made me think of Donald Crowdis, María Amelia and Olive Riley, three of the worldest oldest bloggers, and if anyone would notice their passing. Perhapes we would notice the passing of Olive as her friend Mike posts for her, yet what of the others? I've read Dons blog many many times, and yet he hasn't written since the 8th of March 2007, I hope sincerely that he is OK, but how would I ever know?

I would like to try to start writing again, no promises on heaps of articles. I think that I have more to share, and more help to give, so stay tuned, Geekybits lives again...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

DMA and Ubuntu

One of my readers is having a bit of a hard time with DVD playback, after reading my article:
Playing Encrypted DVD's in Ubuntu 7.10, he has been unable to get dvd's to playback smoothly.

One really common solution to slow, jerky, and unreliable playback is turning on DMA.
DMA stands for: Direct Memory Access. DMA allows a piece of hardware to talk directly with the RAM, reading and/or writing independent of the CPU (Central Processing Unit). In other words the hardware can use the system memory, bypassing the CPU, allowing the device to read and write much faster.

By default Ubuntu has DMA turned off (set to 0), this can be changed in the /etc/hdparm.conf file, like so:

  1. First make a backup of your hdpram file:# sudo cp /etc/hdparm.conf /etc/hdparm.conf.bak
  2. Now edit the file using your favourite text editor, I'm using gedit, however you can use the editor of you choice just change the following command to suit your needs: # sudo gedit /etc/hdparm.conf
  3. Once the file is open you will need to add the following at the end of the file:/dev/cdrom {
    dma = on
  4. Once you restart your computer you should have DMA turned on.

I have been reading about a number of problems with turning DMA on. Here are a couple of solutions if DMA still doesn't work after trying the instructions above:
First try re-editing the hdpram.conf file to read /dev/dvd instead of /dev/cdrom, then restart the computer.
If you are getting the error:
`HDIO set dma failed: operation not permitted'
You may need to edit your /etc/modules.conf file, for more information please see this forum thread: #post93238.
Personally none of my systems have these issues so I can't test this solution.

I hope this proves useful to someone, have fun.

No More Beeping

*NIX Quick Tip

Beep, beep, beep,
If your like me and don't like auditory reminders, you can turning off the beeping quickly and easily:

X Windows
If you want to disable beeps in X11 (X Windows), you can turn them off with the command:
# xset b off
*Note: you will need to login as root or use sudo.

csh and tcsh
You can disable csh and tcsh shell terminal beep if you put `set nobeep' (no quotes) in your ~/.cshrc file.

This options will work on most *nix systems (using csh/tcsh or X windows), including Ubuntu, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD, however I tested this solution using FreeBSD.

Welcome to 2008

Hello everyone, and welcome to the new year, gee last year seemed to fly by, it's 2008 already.
I really hope that you all have a wonderful year, and learn heaps, and achieve everything you set out too.

I want to go out and really make this year a good one. I want to put it all on the line and not be afraid to lose what I have to achieve my dreams. My fiancé and I, are going to be married this year, which is really exciting, I can't wait. I'm not going to sit around and let this year pass me by, I want to make this year a fun and amazing ride, and I hope it is for all of you as well.

Geekybits³ reached over 100 new readers yesterday, for the first ever time. It feels so wonderful! After all there wouldn't be any point to me writing if no one was reading, yet it still feels very unreal having people interested in what I say.

Thank you to you all, I hope you find my content informative, and useful. Welcome to Geekbits³, and I hope you enjoy the ride.
If anyone has a comment or an idea, or just wants to say G'day, send me and email or drop a comment in the space below.

Thank you all very much, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! From Geekybits³

Monday, December 24, 2007

Suggestions Welcome

G'day everyone, I've been really busy the past couple of weeks so I haven't had a chance to write a post. I've been busy doing an online course, and setting up a lab environment.

I'm really enjoying doing the course, I only have the write up left to finish. I already knew the practical side to the work, it was mostly the theory I needed to learn. I'll finish the write-up over the holidays.

I've set-up an awesome lab environment, in which I'm going to test numerous networking, server and workstation environments. I'm really excited about having a better lab. It should make testing quick and simple.

If anyone has a suggestion for an environment, or you would like to know how to set-up a certain type of server and or operating system, let me know.
It can be hard to know what information people are after, so any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. You can either leave a comment here or email me.
Thank You, Have a Wonderful Holidays!!!
Cheers Kris

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Changing Environmental Variables

It's really handy to be able to change the way your shell works for you. Being able to add aliases, and other options makes the shell a much more powerful tool. Changing or setting environmental variables is done differently for each shell.

To change an environment variable in csh or tcsh use:$ setenv NAME "value"where NAME is the name of the variable and "value" its new value.

To change an environment variable in /bin/sh use:
$ VARIABLE="value"
$ export VARIABLE

You can permanently set environment variables for your shell by putting them in a startup file for the shell. The name of the startup file varies depending on the shell;
csh and tcsh uses .login,
bash, sh, ksh and zsh use .profile.
When using bash, sh, ksh or zsh, don't forget to export the variable.

.login and .profile are to set conditions which apply to the whole session and to perform actions that are relevant only at login.

.cshrc and .shrc are used to set conditions and perform actions specific to the shell and to each invocation of it.
The guidelines are to set ENVIRONMENT variables in the .login, .profile file and SHELL variables in the .cshrc, .shrc files.