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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
How I made a "Chromebook" out of my old laptop, and got it all to work!
So, while this is not a complete "how-to" on how this will work or not for you, it's what I did. There are instructions below for adding Java, Flash, Google Talk, and mp3 and mp4 support. So, I have a Chromium OS notebook with Flash, Java, and more all working.
For my project, I was using an old Compaq Presario C700 laptop that I'd abandoned, because it was so old, slow, and annoying.
First, find a version of Chromium OS that you want to use. A couple of different versions are around that are popular, including Hexxah's and one from Dell that someone over there has written for Dell Mini 9 and 10 netbooks.
I started by trying to use Hexxeh's latest nightly build, but found that the touchpad on my old machine wouldn't work. I'd also, at the same time, download the Feb 20, 2013 build from Dell, along with the instructions text files, and noticed something about support for old touchpads, so I tried it second.
Follow the instructions for your original operating system listed on Hexxeh's site, or follow along on your Windows pc below:
Download the version you want (or both, like I did.)
Uncompress the version you download (I did this with 7zip on a Windows laptop).
Put a blank 4GB or larger USB stick into your machine, and use the Image Writer to select the IMG file you've decompressed, and write it to your USB stick.
Plug USB stick into target laptop, and cause the laptop to boot from the USB stick, not the internal drive. On my C700, I hit F10 to get into BIOS and modified the boot order, so it would boot from USB stick first.
Boot up to Chromium OS, login, and try it!
Now, are you ready to take the plunge, and get the OS onto your internal drive? The instructions included with the Dell download were again helpful:
7). From the running ChromiumOS desktop, type "ctrl-alt-t" get to a terminal window
From here, I had to login. I did this, using this Dell image, by using the login "chronos" with the password "dell1234", found earlier in the Dell instructions document. If you're using the Hexxeh builds, I believe his use "chronos" and "facepunch".
9). Back at the ChromiumOS desktop, press the power button to shutdown the Mini
10). Press the power button to start to the Mini 10v
11). Log in to the ChromiumOS desktop
12). If you want to transfer the USB image to your harddrive (THIS WILL WIPE YOUR HARDDRIVE!!!!) you can do the following:
0). ENSURE YOU ARE OK WIPING YOUR HARDDRIVE - Please make and verify any backups of your harddrive PRIOR to continuing forward.
0'). THE FOLLOWING STEPS WILL DESTROY ALL DATA ON YOUR HARDDRIVE - DO NOT PROCEED UNLESS YOU ARE OK WITH THAT.
a). Boot to your ChromiumOS USB key
b). Log in using the "dell" account (in step 6) above)
c). Type to get a terminal window
d). At the command prompt type: install
e). At the command prompt type: exit
f). Back at the graphical desktop, press the power button to initiate a shutdown
g). Remove the USB key
h). Boot the box - it should boot up via the HDD now into ChromiumOS
This stuff all seemed to work for me. After the d) line command, I had to wait a few minutes for the installation to take place. I expected this, but it wasn't clear in the instructions, so I'm mentioning it.
So, with any luck, you now have a bootable old laptop from Chromium OS, and some major missing features, such as Flash, Java, Google Talk, and more. For me, this made the laptop almost useless, other than to tinker around and look at things. In fact, this ruined my day tremendously.
I searched, and googled around for every possible way to get Flash into the OS, but was finding VERY little information. Until I found a couple things, combined the info, and then worked it into a solution.
Basically, to login to the Chrome shell as a root user, do this:
Enter the shell by Ctrl-Alt-F2 (Get out of shell by using Ctrl-Alt-F1)
Enter your login:
User chronos has sudo powers. So, we can switch to root use the password of cc
$ sudo su
2. Once landed in the root shell, the we can set the root password. But by default, the root file-system is mounted without write permission. So the root partition has be to be remounted with rw permission using the following command:
# mount -o remount,rw /
3. Reset the root password using the following command:
4. Add the cronos to the wheel group, so that su - root (switching to root) is possible from the cronos user.
# vim /etc/group
append "cronos" or any other "username" to the 'wheel' group.
Here's another spot where this information may be easy for regular linux users, but not so much for me. So I had to figure it out.
I believe in line 9, it means "add the chronos user to the wheel group". When you type "vim /etc/group", you'll end up with a page with a bunch of lines. About 10 lines down or so is a line starting "wheel::" I used my arrow keys to go to that line, scroll to the end and type a couple keys, until it lets you edit. I added ",chronos" to the end of that line (no quotes).
Then, press "Esc" once, then type in ":x" and hit enter.
It should show that the file is written, and dump you back to the # prompt. If you've made a mistake or typed too many characters, or don't know what you did, you can hit "Esc" and then ":q!" instead of ":x" and it'll dump you out of the file, without saving changes. Then you can hit the up arrow once from the command prompt, and try again.
Now might be a good time to also change that "chronos" user password. From the # prompt, type "exit" to get back to the $ prompt. Then type "passwd" to change the chronos password to whatever you'd like. Follow the prompts for the old and then the new password you want.
But, none of this has gotten us to the place we need to be for installing that Flash, Java, and other stuff, right?
If not already at the # prompt, get back in from the $ prompt by typing "sudo su" and your new password. (See why we went through the unrelated-seeming password stuff first?) Now, you can run this command:
curl -L http://goo.gl/qPrfd | bash
Now, magic happens. You should see Flash, and Java and who knows what being downloaded from their respective sites, and installing onto your machine.
Voila! A perfectly (we hope) working "Chromebook", without spending a penny!
Monday, March 26, 2012
So everyone has been asking to see photos and hear about my recent trip to Australia. I've thrown together a little Web site with a narrative and photos. Hope you enjoy it!
I guess I feel like sharing, and getting something out of my system. And it'll make me look pathetic, but in this walled garden of a private blog where I completely control who views it, I'm inclined to share.
Yeah, it's not flattering, it's not pretty, and it's more honest than most people are willing to deal with. But, it's my reality. And you can potentially read about it, if you have a bunch of time on your hands, and want to read nearly 2 hours of rambling from my fingers.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Mac Antivirus products
The Mac media is all atwitter with talk of viruses coming to the Mac. Although one pundit took a few moments to point out that they've been talking of Apple malware for at least 6 years. http://daringfireball.net/2011/05/wolf
In any case, I thought I'd go over a couple of free choices for Mac Antivirus, for those users who you know will get something. I've also put a couple well-known paid versions at the bottom.
PC Tools iAntiVirus - http://www.iantivirus.com/
This tool is perhaps well-known in some circles, but even the Web site notes a 2008 copyright date, and many believe the program hasn't been updated since then, either. I've installed on my machine for a couple years, and it's never really done anything. NOT recommended.
ClamXav - http://www.clamxav.com/
ClamAV has long been a staple of opensource PC antivirus, and there's been a Mac version for some time that uses the same engine as the PC versions. I've had this on my home machine for a couple of years, and while I've never gotten any viruses, I also don't know if I would've gotten them without it. I have used the software repeatedly to scan files that I've downloaded for questionable sources, and no other Mac or PC antivirus has ever argued with what ClamXav had to say! I do like that definitions files and such appear to be regularly updated.
Avast Mac Edition - $39.95 - http://www.avast.com/mac-edition
Avast Home Edition seems to work fine on PCs, and isn't as obtrusive there as products like AVG Free. If the Mac product is similar, then, okay. And Apple links to it in their software store! But, $40 is more than I'll pay.
VirusBarrierX6 - $49.95 - http://www.intego.com/virusbarrier/
Been around for quite awhile, and believes itself to be "the best antivirus for Macintosh." Also includes a ShamWow and registry cleaner, and for a limited time, includes a magnetic bracelet guaranteed to charm your socks off! Has an annoying interface, but MacWorld liked it, in 2008.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Lip service on Facebook shows rogue restaurants or managers, and is more annoying than the initial problem
Today I returned to Chipotle on Sunset in West Hollywood. Upon asking for the quesadilla with tomato salsa cooked inside, I was told no. A manager, Humberto Rosales, Apprentice, was summoned. He told me emphatically, "We are not going to do that. We WILL NOT do that." He also said that he had been with Chipotle for 4 years, knew what was going on, and that no matter what I said, my request was "NOT going to happen." He then basically dismissed or turned away from me, even when I referenced this communication on Facebook.
At this point, what bothers me more than being unable to get the stupid quesadilla, is the attitude of management and staff at the restaurant. This is not a customer service attitude, but one of total disdain for the customer. Emphatically denying a customer ANYTHING as the FIRST course of action is ridiculous.
Further, to be promised by Joe, representing Chipotle on Facebook, that things would be taken care of, almost a month ago, and still it is not resolved, shows that the Facebook representatives either have no clue what is going on, or, what they say is meaningless.
I would like to hear from the office of the president at Chipotle about what will be done to resolve this situation, or someone with authority to make and implement a policy that will guide this issue.
For more information, please read these previous posts:
I've recently become fascinated with QR Codes, those things that look like this:
These little guys are like awesome bar codes, and can contain all kinds of information. The one above contains the link to this blog, for example. QR stands for Quick Response.
More complicated QR Codes, meaning that the random dots are more dense, etc., can contain all kinds of information. If you overdo it, as noted here, you'll end up with something like this:
That's up to 1852 characters of information. And, I can hardly hold my phone still enough for it to even read this code properly.
But, it seems that QR Codes are popping up everywhere. In fact, on my business email account, I've gone to putting a QR Code in the signature that contains my complete contact information.
QR Code Readers, such as found in the App Stores of iPhones (try QR Scanner or QR Reader for iPhone), Android (try Barcode Scanner), and PCs & Macs (try Desktop QR Code Reader), can see these codes, and respond accordingly. If it's a Web address, the scanner app will ask you if you want to open it in a Web browser. If it's contact information, your scanning software might ask you to add it to your Address Book or Contacts. On Android, you can even create a QR Code for a wireless network, telling the device the name of the network, or SSID, and the wireless key or encryption key needed to join that network. And, since it's all embedded in the QR Code, you don't even have to give the password out!
http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ has a simple QR Code generator, that you can create whatever you'd like, and save a copy for whatever you'd like to use it for. They'll even host the QR Codes you create, like the one above. QRStuff.com also has a bunch of handy tools, and a QR Code Generator.
So get to it. Download a QR Code Reader today, and try this QR Code first!
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Chipotle Mexican Grill? Maybe not.
I see that it's been close to a year since I last wrote on this blog. Apparently my life is so boring, that there is nothing to write, or maybe I just don't feel like sharing...
You see, I just got off the phone with John Saucedo (maybe not his real last name, it is very difficult to understand on my voicemail) with Chipotle "Mexican Grill." John called me, after I left a message with the Chipotle corporate office, yesterday. I'll start at the beginning.
Since sometime in 2001 or 2002, I've been an avid customer of Chipotle. It started at the Chipotle that opened up down the street from me in Redlands, CA. While I enjoyed their vegetarian burritos, what became my regular was a couple of sides of their excellent cilantro-lime rice, with some of their tomato salsa on top. Fresh, this was tasty, but it even held up to refrigeration, and nuking a day or two later. As I worked about 3 doors down from this Chipotle, I was there regularly. Then I moved, and didn't have a Chipotle so convenient, or nearby.
In the last couple of years, this has changed, as more and more Chipotle restaurants popped up. About 2 or 3 years ago, a friend of mine asked me if I'd ever had a Chipotle quesadilla. I didn't even know they had such a thing, but tried one the next chance I got. (It's not on the menu at most locations.)
The simple cheese quesadilla was tasty, but I wanted a bit of tomato-ey goodness, so asked the restaurant to add tomatoes while they cooked the quesadilla. (I'd been spoiled by some little Mexican joint that did this somewhere along the way.) And goodness, with the tomato salsa cooked into the quesadilla, it was INCREDIBLE, the kind of thing you begin to crave.
Wikipedia defines "quesadilla" like this (emphasis mine):
A quesadilla is usually made with a corn tortilla and is filled primarily with cheese and other ingredients such as cooked meat, refried beans, and vegetables. The filled tortilla is then toasted under a boiler or fried, usually until the cheese is melted. Once the quesadilla is cooked, it is traditionally cut into slices, or wedges.
What's not to love!
Chipotle is careful to make their quesadillas. They start with the flour tortilla, add the cheese right in front of you, (and tomato salsa, in my case), and then wrap the entire thing up in a big piece of thick tinfoil. Then it's placed into their "grill presses". After, it's opened up, cut with a knife, wrapped back up, and given to you!
And then the trouble started. My next visit to a Los Angeles area Chipotle, I was told by the employee that they were not allowed to put the tomato salsa into the quesadilla. It was not an issue of cost, but that the grill presses couldn't accommodate it. That struck me as odd, as for the last number of times, the grill presses and employees had accommodated my request just fine!
Indeed, this started to become a problem at many Chipotle's that I visited. Almost every Chipotle was now saying it was impossible for them to add tomatoes to my quesadilla, until after it was cooked. Reasons varied from "it messes up our presses", to "it takes too long in the press", to "it will damage our equipment."
It doesn't take a genius to figure out why I want my tomato salsa cooked inside. Chipotle's cut up tomato salsa, or, really, pico de gallo, is a fresh salsa, with fresh tomatoes, perhaps some onions, maybe some cilantro, seasonings and a touch of green and hot pepper. Anybody will attest that a fresh tomato tastes completely different than a cooked one. And, when I could get Chipotle to put my tomatos into the grill presses, the flavor of the tomatoes, onions, and green and hot pepper seasonings would just spread throughout the whole thing. A light touch of zest greeted me with each bite.
Now, Chipotle would only add their tomato salsa, AFTER the quesadilla was cooked. Since a cheese quesadilla is just cheese and a flour tortilla grilled up together, adding some refrigerated salsa at the end had the effect of cooling down the quesadilla, and adding a fresh tomato taste, not the experience I was looking for.
The difference is amazing. The quesadilla with baked-in salsa? EXCELLENT. The quesadilla with ingredients added on later? BLAND, cold, and not at all notable.
This couldn't be right, I decided. I mean, why can't a restaurant honor a simple customer request? So, I went to Chipotle.com and submitted a note. As I wrote this on my iPhone, there are a few mistakes...
I've been to many chipotles and enjoy your food. However, in the last few months, the restaurants (more than just this one) refuse to make the simplest of items for me. I like a large cheese quesadilla with a few tomatoes (salsa) cooked into it. This should be simple for a restaurant that bills itself a "Mexican grill". The employees ans their managers refuse, saying that it hurt the grills or create a mess on them. Yet to create the quesadilla, they wrap the entire thing in tin foil. How could a few tomatoes get on the grill any more than the cheese that has been put in? And how would the cheese or tomatoes get through the tinfoil envelope they've created anyway? I would think that satisfying the simplest request from a customer would be more important than some arbitrary policy or procedure.
Thanks for writing us. I am sorry that you were not able to receive salsa on your quesadilla with your recent order from our Sunset Blvd. restaurant. I am not sure what the intensions were here, but we first cook the quesadilla, and then add in any additional salsas after it has been cooked. Did they put the salsa that you asked for in your quesadilla after it was done? If not, we apologize for this inconvenience, and we’ll follow-up with our team at this location and make sure that we assemble our orders as our guests request.
For your less than satisfactory experience, I’d like to offer you a free burrito card (good for quesadillas too). Simply send me your mailing address and I will get that to you shortly. When we miss the mark we really appreciate guests who take the time to help us realize how we can improve on what we do.
We hope that you’ll give us another try and come see us again soon!
Apparently Louisa didn't quite understand either. So I wrote her back (with my mailing address):
Thanks for your response. I understand that in general, for some reason that doesn't make any sense to me, that you want to cook the quesadilla first, and then add additional items. However, sometime you should really try a quesadilla with the tomato salsa cooked into it. The light green peppers and other flavors of the salsa really spread throughout the quesadilla, and make it very delicious. When you add the cold salsa after the quesadilla has cooked, it just makes the whole quesadilla cold, and the flavors don't react in the same way.
I really wish there wouldn't be a problem with cooking the salsa into the quesadilla. It's such a simple request, and makes the item so much more delicious. I urge you to try it!
Other mexican style grills in town, and even some "food trucks" so popular in Los Angeles are making a similar item, and have green chilies and such cooked into the quesadilla. It's so very tasty.
Thanks for getting back to me. Please share your request next time with our Sunset Blvd team and they will cook your quesadilla with the salsa inside. I will follow-up with them again and make sure that we accommodate this request. While this may be the standard way we prepare the quesadilla, we can certainly make it the way you like it too. I will send that card shortly.
I had one more question for Louisa:
Just curious: will only the Sunset team be permitted to make my quesadilla to my request?
No, this applies to all of our locations. While we may have a standard way of preparing our quesadillas, all of our teams should accommodate your request. Just make it known to them and they will make it just as you’d like it.
I was thrilled. Now, I could finally have a tasty quesadilla again, and there shouldn't be any problems. I even made sure to save the email so that I could show it to employees who might have questions, and to show them that their Chipotle corporate office had approved the addition of tomato salsa into my quesadilla.
For about a month, I didn't go to Chipotle, for whatever reason, but one day, I began craving the quesadilla again! I stopped by the Sunset Boulevard location and asked for the quesadilla with tomato salsa cooked inside. The employee told me that it was not possible. I politely argued with the employee, who called over his manager. The manager would also not budge. Apparently, at Chipotle, the customer is NOT always right. So, I pulled out my phone, and looked up the trusty email from Louisa. I showed the email to this manager, who, after reading it carefully, decided that "this one time, we'll make an exception for you."
By the time I got to the register, I was being "dealt with" by 3 employees: the register person, the manager, and a new guy who, when asked, identified himself as Marc Montoya, the general manager. And, the manager also had a guy on a cordless phone he claimed was his boss, and I could speak to him if I liked. Each of them explained that I could not get tomato salsa inside the quesadilla, until after it was cooked. This time, Marc the general manager noted that putting tomato salsa inside the quesadilla while it cooked would cause the grill presses to crack.
When I pointed out that Louisa at the corporate office didn't seem to have any trouble with this issue, Marc let me know in sharp words that he didn't care what the corporate office had to say, as this was HIS restaurant, and if HIS employees broke the press that HE would have to pay for it, NOT the corporate office. I also declined to speak to the "boss" on the manager's phone, as I noted I already had confirmation from the corporate office, that would seem to be enough confirmation for me!
After my visit, on a lark, I dialed 1-800-Chipotle, and it rang to the corporate office. In the online phone book, I dialed in Louisa's name, and got her extension. I left a message for Louisa, explaining my problem again.
The next day (today), I got a message on my phone from John ???? from Chipotle. John, who called me from 530-301-0636, in Marysville, CA claims to be the regional manager, who oversees the Chipotle restaurants.
When I called him back, he explained that he cannot allow the restaurants to cook tomato salsa into the quesadillas, due to "cross contamination." He said something to the effect of "we can't have tomato juices getting into all of our products and our grills, in case people are allergic to tomatoes." I noted that if cross contamination was the true problem, then what about people allergic to cheese, what about that tinfoil envelope that kept everything inside of it, and what about vegetarians? The "buffet"-style setup of the Chipotle serving line pretty much guarantees that meat pieces, cheese, rice, and all sorts of products are mixed, even slightly, just in the normal course of business. Like the others, John was firm. His employees were NOT going to put tomato salsa into the quesadilla. I also asked John why I've heard so many different reasons for this "policy." John could only repeat his lines, and had no insight. I mentioned to John that I'm not here to run his business and tell him what to do, but it would seem that they could find a way to honor a simple customer request. I noted that I was not asking him or his employees to do something like "add a whole chicken to my quesadilla", that he could not accommodate, due to the size of the presses.
UPDATE, April 13, 2011: After I posted my questions on the Chipotle Facebook, a guy "Joe" there has vowed that I'll be able to get whatever I want on my quesadilla, except meat, which, if you know me, know isn't a problem. So, perhaps a happy ending? I'll have to try this, soon.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
magicJack has horrible business practices.
A couple of years ago, I purchased two magicJack devices online to help cut my phone bills. While this isn't a post to complain of their sometimes unreliable service, beeps during calls, and strange software updates that seem to make their product worse, it is a note to bring to light some business practices I find troublesome.
I registered my devices a few days apart, and used the included year of service. When it came time to renew in 2009, I renewed one device for another year at $19.95, and the other device I renewed in their 5-year plan for $59.95.
Things went on as normal until this year. The first device came up for renewal. I went to renew on their Web site (the only way, as there is no way to contact them via phone), and their order form would not let me complete the process, giving me a "AddRenewal QuickOrder Problem: K." Chat Customer Service representatives offered no resolution for over a week, although they claimed they'd escalate the issue.
Finally, I made a formal complaint with the South Florida Better Business Bureau, where magicJack is headquartered. In that complaint, I noted my problem. Within a few days, a simple message instructed me to try again. And this time, my order went through.
Now I faced a new problem. My second magicJack was now claiming it was up for renewal, yet, with the 5-year plan, it should not have expired until 2013. I waited, thinking that the erroneous message would go away. But, finally the magicJack was made inoperable, as my service had expired.
I tried contacting magicJack via Chat Customer Service, and representatives were completely unhelpful, and would even end the chat on me. Finally it was determined that magicJack had arbitrarily cancelled my 5-year plan. And, it was even later determined that when they did this, they had refunded my $59.95 back to my credit card! All of this was done without my request, or consent. Now, they tell me the only way to restore service, is to either pay the $19.95 for a year of service, or get my 5 year plan back, at a new price. Now the price is $69.95. It seems like a sort of bait and switch kind of game, where you pay one price, and get certain things promised. But instead of delivering on those promises, they just refund your money in order for you to have to pay MORE money to get what was promised the first time. This is very frustrating.
So, I went back to the South Florida Better Business Bureau. I wrote of my new problem, and how they company had cancelled my cheaper plan, in order to get me to purchase the same plan for more money. magicJack responded, and told me "Customer can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and he can assist the customer if he wants to re-order the five year plan for $59.95."
Numerous detailed emails to email@example.com have gone unanswered. I've since submitted 2 subsequent complains to the South Florida BBB, and they will not open a case about it, which is strange.
So, I'm not sure what to do about this. All over the internet, there are complaints about this company and its business practices. I'm surprised that a site like Consumerist.com doesn't really seem to list any information about it. Now my only hope is to bring some light to my situation, to see if it can be resolved.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
iPhone hacked again!
Well, I haven't played around with hacking my iPhone in awhile, but I noticed the other day that my MMS features were gone. I don't know when it happened, or why, so I set about trying to correct it.
I tried all kinds of methods online, but none of them work. Until I found this method that enables MMS, tethering, and all Bluetooth profiles, even on your 2G iPhone OS 3.1.2, which is what I have!