Archive for the ‘Freecycled’ Category

Well, a free operating system, of course!  Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala”, to be exact.

Ubuntu Logo

have just installed Ubuntu, the most popular and widely used Linux distribution, and I couldn’t be happier.  After a successful installation, I encountered a slight issue with my on-board video card being a bit too old to run properly, I have repaired the problem.  From reading the Ubuntu 9.10 Release notes, it would seem that it’s a recognized issue, and will actually have a fix put in place shortly.

“With older ATI graphics cards with 32MB or less of video RAM some corruption of direct rendered windows, for example OSD notifier windows, might appear. This may be worked around by disabling ‘RenderAccel’ in the Xorg configuration.”

Unfortunately, the fix they recommended only solved half of my problem, because the terminal commands they recommended stopped during the creation of the xorg.conf file in the /etc/X11 subdirectory, and mentioned that my on-board Trackpoint mouse might be the culprit for the halt.  It did create a file named in my home subdirectory, however, and after searching Google, I found that I could actually copy the file from one subdirectory to the other with little difficulty.  (…and by “with little difficulty”, experienced Linux users will understand that this means, “I had to search Google again to find the information on how to copy a file to a directory that had security applied and wouldn’t allow it to be copied using my current access.”)

Once I fixed the issue, I went on to install my Instant Messaging program of choice, Pidgin, and a couple of new themes.  Now, I plan to do a little more investigation into what other programs will do the job the best.  I know that I’ll be looking at some text editors, as well as some variation of graphic editors as well, so I’ll keep updated with what’s going onto the new computer!

The New DurhamDev Sig


I’m very, very happy to report that this very morning, I received my first fully functional Laptop!  The scoreboard has it’s first win!

The Score - Part 3

Thanks to my promotion of the Freecycling lifestyle (it really is a lifestyle) I made a mention on some of the gaming forums of which I’m a Member, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the support was overwhelming.  Another Member from Ottawa, hours away from me, posted a message that he had an IBM A31 Laptop that he no longer used, and would be happy to clean it up and ship it out to me.  So, when I arrived at work this morning, I was happy to find out that my newest laptop acquisition was sitting in a box in our Receiving Department!

IBM A31 Laptop

I am happy to report that when I opened the box (labeled “Fragile: Porcelain”, which made me laugh) and brought out the system, connected it and turned it on, it booted without issue.  It came with a preloaded copy of Windows XP Professional, but as I’ve always wanted to learn more about Linux, I have since installed Ubuntu Linux 9.10.  I don’t have a network connection available at the moment, but plan to update the software and installed information when I arrive home tonight!

Technically, it’s a fantastic machine.  It has an Intel Pentium 4 2GHz processor, 768MB of on-board RAM, a 30GB Hard Drive, and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive.  Overall, I’m extremely happy with the new laptop, and consider this one of my biggest success stories!

Thanks must go out to my friend in Ottawa.  With this generous donation, I finally have a fully functional laptop for my work.

The DurhamDev Sig

Changed the scoring system, so now it’s 1-2-4: 1 laptop WORKS, 2 don’t, and 4 don’t have power adapters. I’m a happy man!

“Treasure” is the perfect word to describe what I have received through the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Freecyling network.

Sitting on the floor of my home office is what is to become the centre of my Home Network.  Every piece of it was the receipt of a politely worded E-Mail responding to a freecycler’s post, and I must say ‘thank you’ again to everybody who has donated to this cause.  Encased in a black MDG computer case is an Intel Pentium 4 3.7GHz motherboard, 512MB RAM, and an 80GB SATA hard drive.

I have recently added an additional 512MB of RAM and two 250GB hard drives, and will soon be installing my new ATI 4550 VGA/DVI/HDMI video card to complete my Home Media System.  Once connected to my 42″ plasma TV, I plan to house all of our personal media on this system, and network the other home PC’s to it so that we can all listen to music and watch videos from a centralized source.

All in all, I have spent a GRAND TOTAL OF … $45.00.  Yes, forty-five dollars.  I only needed to purchase a video card to make everything work together, as I had tried for weeks to acquire a PCIe Video Card, since the P4 Motherboard was so forward-thinking, that it had PCIe as opposed to AGP…  So, for the layman, its video card needed to be ‘current technology’ rather than ‘older technology’.

Updates will be coming soon, and I can provide more of a technical overview of everything I’ve done, for those who might want to do the same!

The DurhamDev Sig

While I am still working on getting one of my laptops to work, and making the others as functional as possible, I have been graced by many with other used computers and parts. Many thanks go out to the couple in one of my previous posts, who provided me with two full-size computers, as I have taken on another project with the parts…

I am building a Home Theatre PC, all from freecycled equipment!

“What is a Home Theatre PC?” you ask? Well, let me tell you. It is a computer where you can store all of your media – movies, pictures and music – and then connect it into both your home network and your television for a completely integrated solution.  After doing some online research, I found that you can download Media Centre software (a la Windows Media Centre) which has similar functionality and is 100% free!

I know what you might be thinking – “If it’s free, there’s no way it’s functional/attractive/good…”

Oh, my friends, this is where you’re wrong!  There are many programs out there which permit you the ability to store and organize all of your media in one place, making it accessible to your home theatre and your other computers, all while having a very, very attractive and functional menu system.

XBMC Aeon Skin

Taken from the very popular XBMC (X-Box Media Centre) and the skin named “Aeon“, the screenshot above illustrates how beautiful and customizable that this program is.  Without going into too much detail (I could go on for hours) there is a menu system allowing you to access various types of media (pictures, movies, TV shows and videos) and show them in a very attractive format.  Check out the background from the movie “Watchmen”.  It is an example of some of the user downloadable content which you can customize your viewing experience.

I am currently putting together a P4 system with integrated video/TV card, including Ubuntu Linux as well as XBMC, which I hope to have configured and attached to my 42″ Plasma screen within the next couple of weeks.  I’ll keep you updated on my progress, and there should be some very interesting posts coming up.  There are simply so many ways to configure your HTPC, and I hope to include many of them here.

Stay tuned!

The DurhamDev Signature

Support Sick Kids Worldwide

Posted: 2009.11.07 in Freecycled

One of the Members on my favourite gaming website, The Northern Resistance, posted a link to a website that is just simply amazing.

Child’s Play is a charity that allows site visitors to purchase video games through and, or donate money via Paypal, for Children’s Hospitals all over the world.  From their website:

“Since 2003, over 100,000 gamers worldwide have banded together through Child’s Play, a community based charity grown and nurtured from the game culture and industry. Over 5 million dollars in donations of toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children’s hospitals across North America and the world have been collected since our inception.

This year, we have continued expanding across the country and the globe. With almost 70 partner hospitals and more arriving every month, you can be sure to find one from the map above that needs your help! You can choose to purchase requested items from their online retailer wish lists, or make a cash donation that helps out Child’s Play hospitals everywhere. Any items purchased through Amazon will be shipped directly to your hospital of choice, so please be sure to select their shipping address rather than your own.

When gamers give back, it makes a difference!”

I must say that after visiting this website, you cannot argue that these guys have come up with a fantastic idea that will make a child’s hospital stay a little more comfortable.  As a father of two children, you feel terrible when they’re not feeling well, and I could not imagine how I would feel if would they ever need to have an extended stay in a hospital.

I wholeheartedly endorse this website, and ask everybody who is able to add one more child to their Christmas list this year to please consider donating to this charity.

The DurhamDev Signature