Transfer Contacts from Blackberry to Droid

31 12 2009

The easiest way to transfer contacts from a blackberry to a Motorola Droid phone is via the GMail contact import feature using a CSV file exported from the Blackberry Desktop Manager. There is one gotcha though; Google does not give you a preview of how the contact data will map, which can have undesirable results!!

Here is the procedure.

  1. Backup your Blackberry data using the BB Desktop Manager.
  2. Export BB contacts to an Excel compatible CSV File. Follow the procedure found here.
  3. Open CSV file in Excel. Read the rest of this entry »

Ubuntu SMART disk analysis is slick!

26 12 2009

As soon as Ubuntu detects problems with a hard drive that reports S.M.A.R.T. diagnostics it pops up a warning and the depth of information is impressive. Speedfan has a nice enough analysis of hard drive health, but it is a little arcane. The Ubuntu utility really explains what is going on. It also shows historical ‘watermarks’ where a characteristic went over threshold in the past.

Here are some screen shots of what one can find about a hard drives health status.

Not surprisingly the failing hard drive was replaced and data backed up. Not one piece of user data was lost, as is often the case with failing hard drives, files affected are mostly system/program files. Recovery of data is typically very successful. In this case the user had only 700MB of data on a 500GB drive.

To look at the SMART characteristics of drives attached to an Ubuntu system start the Disk Utility which is located under
System -> Administration -> Disk Utility. This disk utility is a Gnome desktop tool, for those with other variants of linux or Ubuntu with different desktops it can be added to your distribution by installing the application gnome-disk-utility using synaptic package manager or the command line

sudo apt-get install gnome-disk-utility

Update 2010-11-14: Since the introduction of Ubuntu 10.4 the disk utility included in Ubuntu has changed. Screen shots of the new disk utility are included below. The utility provides more information, especially about how the disk partitions are organized. However I have found that once in a while the new utility reports that SMART disk statistics are unavailable for a disk, using Ubuntu 9.10 Live Disk reveals that the SMART statistics are available after all. This is an unfortunate problem with what is a great diagnostic tool, hopefully the drive compatibility will be improved back to its former glory.

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Netbook Use Case #42 – Green Cooking

24 12 2009

No trees were killed in the cooking of this Pecan Pie!!

Click on image to Enlarge

No need to print out a recipe, just walk the netbook into the kitchen and start cooking. Netbooks don’t take up half of your contertop like large cook books do either!!

Wordpad on Windows 7 reads docx files!!

22 12 2009

If you were needing another reason to switch to Windows 7, here is another. Wordpad on Windows 7 *can* read and modify MS Word 2007/2010 docx files.

Click on image to enlarge

I found this out when using my Netbook that does not have Office installed (frankly it’s not capable of running Office). I opened a docx file without thinking and saw a warning that all document features may not be supported. On the screen I notice that the top margin was absent, but when I printed the document it came out looking great. Wordpad does use a ribbon interface and appears to support the basic features one would expect from a word processor.

If you are using a budget computer or are operating on a small budget then Wordpad can work as your wordprocesor. It is the poor man’s word processor!!

Laptop running slow? Check temperature with Speedfan!

19 12 2009

Computers typically run just fine when you first get them but then slowly degrade. Even after loading Windows 7 as a clean install I was still experiencing a slower laptop than I remembered when I purchased it 2 years ago. Windows startup/login time was just too slow.

Click on image to enlarge

Using Speedfan (download here) I noticed the laptop was running a little hot, about 140°F and the cooling fan was operating all of the time. Speedfan also measures the actual CPU speed and my dual core cpu’s were running at only 900Mhz. The Intel T2080 Dual-Core CPU installed in the laptop is rated at 1.73 Mhz, so I was losing almost 50% of the rated speed.  This additional CPU information is on the new ‘exotics’ tab of Speedfan (see graphic). I replaced the cooling fan with a brand new one I got off eBay for $20 and the laptop is running at full speed now!! (Speedfan CPU numbers are not dynamic like the temperature and other numbers, the speed reported is at the time Speedfan was started. To get a good sample exit and restart Speedfan several times).

Read the rest of this entry »

Fixing a failed update to Firefox in Ubuntu

19 12 2009

The problem

I did a routine update to one of my Ubuntu installations this morning, and lo and behold it failed during the Firefox update. Even after a cold reboot I was unable to start Firefox, it was broken.

Not able to browse the internet from Ubuntu to research the problem and never having had a problem like this before I was left with a conundrum. The update manager didn’t show Firefox as needing an update anymore. Eventually I stumbled on the fix, here it is.

The Fix

Launch Synaptic package manager and type in Firefox in the Quick search box. Find Firefox which should have a green check-box indicating it is installed. Right click the green Read the rest of this entry »

Best driver for Canon i475D on Ubuntu 9.10

18 12 2009

Ubuntu does not have a driver for the Canon i475D printer. I experimented with several and found that the ‘i450D foomatic/bjc800’ driver provided the best test page.

Some web resources (like this) suggest using the BJC800 driver, however I found it printed the test page very small on the page. I notice the i450 driver mentions the bjc800. Be sure to chose the i450/bjc800 and NOT the bjc800 only and the prints will be just fine.