This is probably a no-brainer, but the iPhone doesn’t do everything. I mean, it doesn’t even double as a flying car. How disappointing is that? In all seriousness, during my love affair with my phone, I’ve discovered a few things that I assumed it would have but didn’t. First off: a video camera. Nearly every modern cell phone has a camera built in. More expensive models go one step further and have a video camera. The iPhone…does not. No, the camera is just a regular still camera. For $400, the least they could have done was put in a video camera. I know, not that big of a deal, but I’ve always wanted to film people with my camera. It’s a geek thing.
The other major thing I noticed today is that the iPhone’s Bluetooth capability is limited to headsets and the like. While other phones (especially smart phones) have the ability to connect to a computer and transfer files via Bluetooth (my dad’s Samsung Sync can do that), the iPhone can only pair up with a Bluetooth headset or similar device, and even then it takes forever to realize that the headset is on and sitting right next to it. Again, it’s not really that big of a deal, since my laptop doesn’t have a Bluetooth card, but honestly, I expected the iPhone to be a lot more advanced than this.
Don’t get me wrong: the iPhone is the best phone I’ve ever used. The touch-screen interface works better than I ever expected, and it does just what I want. But there are a few things that just seem…missing. Hopefully, at least some of these will be fixed in the upcoming firmware update for the iPhone, but I get the feeling I’m going to feel gypped when Apple comes out with the second generation iPhone that has everything I’m missing in my current iPhone. Apple is like that sometimes. Or all the time.
This seems to be a theme with me. I get my computer to perfect working order, and then I decide to mess with it. Why? I don’t know. Some kind of weird compulsion, I guess. Whatever the case, I broke my computer. Again. Well, that’s not completely true. It was only partly broken. For a while, I’d been dual-booting Windows Vista and Windows XP. In case you think that’s odd, I’ll explain why: I use XP for games and Vista for everything else. Games played in Vista tend to have a lower framerate than when they’re played in XP, so I’m sticking with XP for my gaming needs. However, I prefer the Vista interface, which is why it’s my primary operating system.
I recently bought a 320 GB hard drive for my laptop and completely reinstalled everything from scratch. Everything was going great. Then I tried to install Linux. Again. Honestly, I can’t tell you why I have to try this time after time. Maybe I figure that I’ll like it this time, even though I haven’t the past 17 million times. At any rate, it shouldn’t have been a problem to resize one of my Windows partitions and try out a new distro of Linux I downloaded (the beta release of Kubuntu with KDE 4, ’cause the screenshots looked pretty). Turns out, it was a problem. Vista didn’t want to play nice, so I turned to GParted. That stalled out, so I booted up XP and tried out Partition Magic. That completely corrupted my Vista partition, making it impossible to boot into it. Luckily, XP still worked fine, so I was able to go into damage control. Damage control failed horribly (even when I turned to the Vista install disk’s repair function).
Luckily, I had, in my infinite wisdom, completely backed up Vista the night before. Since the only important information on XP was saved games and a few documents, I backed up a couple of folders on XP and wiped the hard drive clean. This time, I was going to reinstall everything and include Linux with it. But I abandoned Kubuntu and went with plain ol’ Ubuntu 7.10, which has worked for me in the past. In a couple of weeks, Ubuntu 8.04 will be out, so I’ll be able to easily upgrade.
The problem now is that I still need to copy over all my documents to the reinstalled Vista. And then I need to reinstall all my programs. And fix all my settings. And update everything…
I just did all of this a couple of weeks ago. It’s killing me.
I swear, I have the most incompatible laptop ever. For some strange and inexplicable reason, my (not-so) unique combination of hardware makes it a very big pain to install anything other than Windows on my computer. Linux? Doesn’t like my video card or my wireless. Mac OS X (not that I’d ever try to install a hacked version of OS X on my computer)? Doesn’t like my video card, my sound, and my ethernet connection. Heck, even in Windows, nothing likes my video card. Damn Radeon Mobility. ATI refuses to provide support for my model, so I have to rely on Dell to provide timely driver updates…which they don’t.
I honestly don’t know why this laptop in particular is such a pain. I mean, it was only one of the most popular Inspiron laptop models Dell put out before the newest wave. I still think you can get it through their business store under the guise of 6400 (the home version was labeled E1505). The graphics card is all right, but it’s been the biggest thorn in my side when trying to install a) Windows games, or b) non-Windows operating systems. Ubuntu Linux was my arch-nemesis for a while, until I found out some guy actually modified an Ubuntu installation CD to work specifically on Dell E1505 systems with no tweaking or special knowledge of terminal commands required (the custom CD/DVD for the latest release of Ubuntu, 7.10, is still in beta, but the old disks for 7.04 are still perfectly workable). He’s got the right idea. Other developers don’t.
The thing is that people don’t make concessions for hardware like mine. The majority of hardware configurations work so they don’t take the time to fix things up for the small amount of incompatible configurations. It just bugs me that an entire laptop line gets thrown out the window for this. Okay, that’s not completely true. The big problems only show up if you have an ATI Radeon Mobility x1400 video card. I don’t know what it is about this particular card, but it can cause you major grief if you like Linux, hacked Mac OS X, or newer games. The most recent problem I encountered came when I tried playing Gears of War. I figured I’d be able to enjoy it at fairly low graphics settings, but the game crashed my computer when it started because I didn’t have the latest version of the Catalyst drivers for my card. This would be no problem…if Dell had released those drivers. ATI won’t give them to me (my hardware configuration, again, is incompatible, and they’re unwilling to develop alternate drivers for Dell systems). I had to fall back on third-party drivers, and I haven’t had the chance to test them out yet.
Some people tell me I shouldn’t be gaming on a laptop unless I shell out thousands of dollars for an Alienware or Dell XPS notebook. Others tell me I should just buy a desktop rig and trick it out. That would be nice, yes, and I intend on putting together a desktop gaming PC in the future, but for the time being, I have to make do with what I have. And I’m entitled to whine about it because I’m a poor, starving college student who knows better than to whip out the credit card and act like I don’t have to pay it off. So there.
So I upgraded my blog to the latest version of the ultimate blogging goodness that is WordPress. One of the cool things this version (2.3) has that everyone’s been talking about is tags. This is Web. 2.0: you have to have tags. Categories just don’t cut it anymore.
Anyways, tags are cool. I’ve been using Ultimate Tag Warrior 3 for all my tagging needs but when I upgraded to WP 2.3, I decided to give the built-in tagging features a whirl. Of course, this entailed extensive modification of the theme to switch everyone over from UTW but things were made easier by a neat little tag importer that took all my tags from UTW and put them in the WordPress tagging table.
A few minutes of use almost sold me. It looked just as nice as UTW, and since I don’t use tag clouds, the features were good. However, I stopped short when I couldn’t find any kind of management for the tags. There is no (easy) way to add, delete, or modify tags other than going into the database or editing every post individually.
But this was just the tip of the iceberg. As I was writing this post, I began to get strange errors telling me that I was missing a table in my WordPress database. I couldn’t even save my post. Investigation led me to this support article. Apparently, the developers saw fit to completely rename three tables in the WordPress database, which means that many plugins and themes are using outdated code which will cause errors just like the ones I was getting. Now I’m forced to use the featureless WordPress tags because UTW is one of the incompatible plugins crashing my blog, as is the nifty AJAX archives plugin I had managing my archives page (which is now the boring old version until I can figure out what to do with it).
Alas, this isn’t a new thing with WordPress. It seems that every major upgrade brings with it major problems for existing installations. I’ll have my blog just perfect with everything all figured out. Then I upgrade and I can’t use half of it. That’s the price of staying on top of things, I suppose. I guess my biggest frustration is being forced to use the inadequate WordPress tagging feature, but plugin authors will probably catch up soon enough. I hope.
So it would seem triple-booting Vista, XP, and Ubuntu isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. If you’re not a technologically-oriented person (or if you get bored after reading three paragraphs), you’d better give this post a wide berth. Also note that this is not really a tutorial. I simply stumbled through this situation all on my own and take no responsibility for the pain you might feel when you nuke your computer and hit your head repeatedly on the keyboard because you did what I did.
All right, so, because I’m a geek, I decided to take it upon myself to put not one, not two, but three operating systems on my laptop. It started when I got a new hard drive and completely wiped all the Dell crap off of it so I could install Vista and Ubuntu. I couldn’t do this before because I had some weird partitioning going on with my hard drive due to the presence of Dell MediaDirect. As such, I couldn’t make enough partitions (one primary for the OS and one extended/logical for swap space) to put Linux on. After nuking MediaDirect, I was able to get things started. This was easy. Vista was already installed, so all I had to do was make some space and pop in the Ubuntu Live CD. It installed GRUB (the Linux bootloader), which automatically picked up Vista and let me boot to it just fine.
Continue reading ‘Nothing is ever easy’