How Are You Getting Involved?

I am a firm believer that one of the most important things you can do is to build a network. Your work will only do as well as your network unless you get lucky and have a social power user resend you work to a massive audience.

I would love you hear what you are doing to get involved, i.e. what sites do you visit, conferences / meet-ups do you attend, social networks are you involved.

Some suggested topics I would love to hear about, but not limited too, are Boston, web design, entrepreneurship, small business / enterprise services, or just to get people with a passion for what they do to hang out.

Comment below and let’s share ideas!

ASUS P5N-D Realtek HD Audio Static Problem

Recently I purchased an ASUS P5N-D motherboard to replace the one that failed in my Dell 8400. This ended up being a Dell proprietary nightmare and needless to say I ended up with nearly a whole new rig. Since setting it up, I had to iron out a few kinks. One of which was an annoying static that came from my 2.1 speaker system (that came with my Dell 8400 a few years back). After searching the web for a few days I couldn’t find anything helpful. Most everything suggested hardware failure or driver issues. Turns out that it is a problem with the internal speaker volume. Wait… what?!? Yes, the internal speaker volume is what caused my issue.

If you go to into the Realtek audio volume control there is an option for adjusting the internal speaker volume and the following steps will help you fix this:

  1. Right-click on the Realtek icon sound_icon in the task-bar.
  2. Select “Sound Manager” from the pop-up.
  3. Now select the Mixer tab and click the arrow (highlighted in red below) until the PC Beep is visible.  Now lower it until the static feedback goes away.

A Few Thoughts on Ubuntu One

Canonical has released it’s beta version of it’s first cloud-based operating system synchronization software, Ubuntu One. For anyone who knows me, I love Ubuntu and Dropbox. Although this is making big news, I am not very excited.

Cloud-based operating system synchronization software is a great idea; however, it will inevitably fail as the de facto standard. With the Ubuntu One service plan, you get 2 gig of storage for free and for $10 you get 10 gig of space. Smells like they are taking a bite out of the Dropbox success, right? Wrong. As much as this sounds like a match made in heaven to have a Dropbox like application built into the operating system, it is not. Instead, Canonical is going to add a service that is already provided but, with far less benefits.

Ubuntu is a great operating system and there are many reasons while I will continue to use it; however, the Ubuntu operating system is flawed. There are many problems with this operating system, see Bryan Lunduke’s presentation to get a view of the problems Linux faces on the desktop platform. Basically, Canonical is adding a redundant piece of software that they have to update and maintain; yet, they still haven’t addressed many of the problems that Ubuntu faces on a regular basis. Ubuntu 9.04 is the best version yet. Many improvements make it very stable, fast, and functional but, I still can’t use Photoshop, play mainstream games, and use other proprietary and superior, software that I can on windows. Perhaps Canonical should really be concentrating it’s resources on this aspect instead.

Since, I still have to switch to windows to use most of the industry standard software, Ubuntu One will not cut it. Dropbox will continue to serve my needs because I can install it on my work provided windows laptop, on both Ubuntu and Windows boots on my desktop and even if I had a Mac, I could install it there too.

In conclusion, software which caters to one operating system or oneweb browser will die a slow painful death. Every operating system has their benefits and draw backs. None of them are perfect. Take Internet Explorer for example. Microsoft keeps rolling out new versions of the web browser yet, they won’t create versions for different operating systems. Yes, you can install Internet Explorer on Macs but, there hasn’t been a new version since IE5. Also, there is IEs4Linux which hasn’t been updated since about 2006 with IE6 the highest version you can go and it is really buggy. Look at what we see happening, slowly but surely, alternative browsers like Firefox are taking market share. Even Apple understands this concept, you think the iPod would have had this much success if you couldn’t use it with windows? The era of operating system specific software is dead and gone. The companies that realize this will prevail, the others will fade away.

Staying Organized and Developing Incrementally

As promised in an earlier post, I will be discussing the importance of organization and the use of various tools to help keep progressive development. In the past I used to think that if you were going to write blog posts you had to sit down for an hour and think of your topic, research, write, edit and rewrite your posts all at once. I tried to do this for a little while and I ended up becoming counter productive. The problem with a busy lifestyle is that you never have the time to just sit down and concentrate on one thing. This is why I developed a different strategy.
Incremental development is the best way to keep productive without overwhelming yourself. The most noticeable part in incremental development is that you don't feel overwhelmed, which in turn wears you down. I have found that when you write a little bit then put it down, the next time you you come back you will read what you wrote and revise it for the better; therefore, you get a creativity boost because it forces you to reread and edit your work. The only drawback to incremental development is that it will take you longer to complete a particular task but, hopefully your work will be more quality, not quantity. Also, when you are busy, getting work done eventually is better than not getting anything done at all.
In order for incremental development to work, you have to have a place to jot down your idea's. Some people find sticky notes to be a very easy way to jot down your ideas. Now I am not talking about grabbing a pen and post-it notes; however, if that works best for you, by all means use it. For me, I sit in front of a computer about 80% of my day. It is better for me to use computer based note taking software. Some good options are Tomboy (for the Linux users) and sticky-notes (for the windows users). Personally, I like to use web applications because of the multiple computer problem.
As previously noted, I sit in front of a computer about 80% of the day. One problem I face is that I have a laptop, which I am in front of part of the day and during the other part of the day I am in front of my desktop. Because of this, I had some notes, files, etc. on one computer and not on the other. To over come this, I use a series of applications to make sure that no matter what computer I am on, I will have the latest updates that I have made. When writing my posts, I have ditched the sticky-notes / Tomboy method. Instead I have grown accustomed to google notebook which, unfortunately may be going away. Don't worry because there are some other alternatives This ways I can create various notebooks for different topics. I have one for my personal site and one for each website I write for. I then can create posts (notes as google notebook calls them) for each blog post I wish to write. I also create a "note" for general website ideas and changes. This makes ideas and posts easier to write but, what about pictures, documents and other various files?
In order to address the problem with files being located on multiple computers, I recommend looking into various file transfer or on-line storage programs / services. In a previous post, I recommended the use of Dropbox. Dropbox is a great way to keep certain files on all of your computers without having to do anything more than just putting the file in your Dropbox folder. I won't get into to much detail here if you want to know more read my previous post. The only problem with drop box is that the free version has a 2GB limit. That is normally a good amount of space for everyday use but, if you have a lot of pictures, videos, etc. you will quickly run out of space. This is why you may want to look into programs like SyncToy from Microsoft. SyncToy, however, only works with windows. If you need a program that works for both windows and UNIX based operating systems you may find Unison accomplishes what you are looking for. Finally, if you are willing to spend a little money you can keep all of this information in one place by using on-line storage services like Mozy. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Mozy supports Linux operating systems at this time. If you really need Linux support then you are probably better off using Dropbox and upgrading your account to the 50 GB version for $9.99 (at the time of this post).
Finally, consolidating your work is essential to bringing everything together. Using applications like Firefox is a great way to bring your work together. For web design, I have found that the less you have to switch between applications and the less applications you have open, the easier you life will be. There are a number of features to Firefox that help you consolidate. First, it is a web browser and you can test and view web pages. You can also use services like google notebook, google reader, google docs etc. There are other similar services out there but, Google integrates their free services together in a nice, simple way. That is just the basics though, Firefox also has a lot of add-ons that can increase productivity and help you to stay organized.