What is the ideal hardware for home?

This will surprise most, but home and work lines are blurred. Most people do personal stuff at work, and some work at home.

Even if you did not work with computers, if you use computers at home, it will mimic a cheaper and simpler setup of a work network.

The reason is because a work network has to be efficient, reliable and keep costs manageable. Doesn’t that sound like something you want at home too?

I already posted about the laptop you would want. But what else do we need? Lets make a list

  • Reliable wireless router.
  • Good laptop
  • Maybe a desktop
  • Central storage device
  • Tablet
  • Phone

Tablet and Phone?. Well, yes!,  Most likely you already have them, and you use them. Bare minimum you already have a smartphone. So it should be part of your network.

Now, here is what people miss, and it is important. A reliable wireless router. Most of the routers provided by the ISP (Internet Service Provider, like Comcast, and Verizon) are plain simply trash. Even if the hardware itself is not trash, the software in the router (yes, it has a mini Operative System) is usually outdated and crippled. I have a long-standing fight with Comcast about their modems. Excellent hardware, bad software that crashes and you need to reboot the modem.

https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/

It has tons of reviews and charts. It is more technical, but then again I always recommend to do research, and wireless is very complicated already. Honestly, people undermine wireless function in the network, and should be the heart of it.

If you use a wireless router, make sure it is at the center of the house and not hidden away. Do not put it in the basement, do not hide it behind other electronics. Everything that it needs to pass thru to serve you Wi-Fi will reduce the range and quality.

If you still would like to hide it, then use Access Points to provide Wi-Fi.

I personally use a Buffalo Router with Wireless for my home Wi-Fi, and Ubiquity for the work Wi-Fi (at home). The Ubiquity AP has stronger range and sometimes it drowns the Buffalo thought, but the Buffalo has stronger range than most cheap Linksys and Verizon routers, and I used to live in an apartment where all neighbors had Wi-Fi.

Lots of option, lots of products, but generally think of $150 for the router, and $100 for AP, and be aware of 2×2 or 3×3 (how many antennas per band, so 2×2 means 2 antennas for 2.4 GHz, and 2 for 5 GHz). Depending on how many devices and the location is how many antennas you will need (and that is the reason you want the Wi-Fi antenna in the middle, and not hidden).

Also, don’t just throw money in a 4×4 router if you will put it in a corner of the house. Since the antenna are semi directional the antennas pointing away will not be servicing Wi-Fi to the house. I am not going to expand on that. There are guides in small net builder, and other places on the web. But I want to re-iterate that location has an effect on Wi-Fi, as well as quantity of devices, and material (the common plastic tile in kitchens for example completely blocks Wi-Fi).

In the end your wireless and the router matter.

If you can, also use your own Modem (cable systems, you cannot with FIOS)

For a good laptop, I already posted, an article.

The Desktop should be similar.

So, now we are left with a central storage device. I will save this for a new article, because it is also something that most people think about, but most people need

 

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Zorin OS (Linux) source update

Today I finally decided to fix several
errors that were happening while I was updating a Zorin OS box.

I update over the network using ssh, but this will also work if you do it
from the terminal.

First, we will update the source list

sudo apt-get update

Now we will run the updates

Sudo apt-get upgrade

All normal now. I mean, we run these commands weekly right? (or at least you
have your system to auto update)

The difference today is that we will read the output.

Lets fix the easy parts fix. Most likely we have old kernels (when running
upgrade it would have notified you)

sudo apt-get autoremove

That was easy…but wait, it is possible that it will complaint about running the auto
loader because a symbolic is damaged. Silly link. Usually this does not cause
problem, but lets just fix it. The exact error is “The link /initrd.img.old is a
damaged link “ “you may need to re-run your boot loader[grub]”

sudo update-grub

OK, now that is fixed, lets fix the other possible errors.

Running update we could get either or both of these errors

We could google the errors. That is the easiest way, and probably how you got
here, but let’s do the short version instead.

The Google error looks worse so lets take a look at it.

It is complaining that the package could not be found. This is because Google
Chrome is not available in 32-bit anymore. So first lets check If your system is
running a 64-bit OS

uname -a or you can also use arch

If you would like more information check this page


http://www.howtogeek.com/198615/how-to-check-if-your-linux-system-is-32-bit-or-64-bit/

If your system is i386 or 686 then the best option is to uninstall Chrome,
or re-install Linux using 64-bit. If you are running 64 bit (x86_64) then we can
switch the repository.

To switch the repository to 64 bit you will have to modify the google sources

cd /etc/apt/sources.list.d/

Once inside the folder then we will edit using nano

sudo nano google-chrome.list

Once we have the list open, we can
see that most likely there is only 1 entry and it is for Chrome. To this entry
we will add right after deb and before the link,
[arch=amd64]
. This will force apt to download the 64 bit
binaries. The line should look as

deb [arch=amd64] http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/ stable main

Now we can update the repositories again and that error will be gone. Then
run an upgrade to update Chrome. You can also for an install by entering

sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable

This is easier and faster than it seems, but I don’t like to post commands
without explaining what they do

That is all. Good night…..Just kidding, we still have an Opera issue.

Opera has been moved to the repository, so the easiest thing to do is just
remove the source. Remember that to fix Chrome we went to the sounces.list.d
folder? We should still be there. Run a directory listing (ls -la) and you will
see 2 files.

  • opera.list
  • opera.list.save

You have 2 options. You can comment out the line or just directly remove the
file.

Before though, I would check whether you have it installed.

sudo dpkg --get-selections | grep opera

If nothing shows, then it is not installed. Simply comment out or delete the files (I suggest to delete to keep a clean system).
That is it.

If it was installed, simply remove it, then comment out or delete the source
file.

If you like Opera download the deb from their web page


http://www.opera.com/computer/linux

It seems like a lot of work, but honestly I have no paid attention to the
errors for quite a while. So it is not as bad. All of these can take less than
10 minutes to fix if you just enter the commands.

I had to search a bit, and still took me about 30 minutes to get everything
fixed, which is not bad.

The Chrome information I got it mainly from a Reddit page. Opera from the
Ubuntu forum. I had to customize a bit the commands because they were for Ubuntu
Vanilla, and I am working from a Zorin OS (based on Ubuntu/Mint), but the
commands should work in all flavors. This is the main reason I explained what
they do

At the end I also like to do a reboot to make sure everything is working
peachy :). It is a good practice, because if something is not working as it
should, the information is still fresh in your mind and it is easier to
troubleshoot. To make it clean I also always restart before I start.

Tablets, the future is changing – Part 2

Tablets are still changing a lot.

Now we have Windows 8 tablets, new Android tablets, iPad mini, Android mini.

What I have used so far are:

  • Lenovo ideaTab Lynx. Windows 8 tablet
  • Asus TransformerPad T300
  • Asus MemoPad 7″

The Lenovo ideaTab Lynx is a Intel Atom Z27600 (1.8 GHz) processor. This was of some concern for me since I used PCs with Intel Atom before, and while the power usage was minimal the CPU felt extremely slow unless only doing 1 thing at a time.

This tablet actually performed pretty well and I was impressed considering the specs. The 2 GB of RAM are adequate for most web usage. I use it to browse the web, read email (using the Windows 8 Mail app) and connect to work remotely using logmein and Remote Desktop Connection. Sometimes I use Word and Excel. Having regular Windows 8, means that I can install any application that I need, as long as I adjust my expectations. This is a tablet, although it can be used as a computer, but it won’t do anything too taxing, and after all, that is not the intended use anyhow. I think that is where most people go wrong, but more on that later.

I got also the keyboard. It was $100, but the tablet itself was $250. Most tablets for me, they will need a keyboard to be useful. The keyboard on this tablet is good and it expands the battery more. I only wish it had a rear view camera.

Hopefully new Intel Processors will make this kind of tablets even better and Windows 8 is very good for tablet use.

If you want to check a little more the ideaTab amazon has some reviews on it.

http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Lynx-11-6-Inch-Tablet/dp/B009AEPJ8U

Asus Transformer TF300. This is an Android tablet running a Tegra 3 chip. I got mine refurbished, but I had to get it twice, because the first had a problem with the video.

Anyhow, I love this tablet, and here is where it comes the point to get the correct tablet for your needs. The Tegra 3 chip is getting old now, but it is a fast processor. Again, I have the tablet with the included keyboard, and this is how it is the most useful. I can check emails, watch Netflix, Hulu, and browse the web with no problem. The keyboard adds more ports, but more importantly it adds more battery, and since it docks there is no need to turn on the Bluetooth which uses more battery. Also because the keyboard docks, you can fold it to carry, or you can use it like a laptop to watch Hulu in the bed. I actually use it a lot more with the keyboard than without.

The final tablet is the Asus Memo Pad 7“. I got this tablet after the first TF300 broke and since it is about $100 it was easy to get. My main goal was to read the large library of PDF ebooks that I have and the kindle library. Well, the processor is not a fast processor, but I was pleasantly surprised with how responsive is the tablet. You can do more than just read ebooks in it. I pretty much use it the same as I use the TF300. This tablet is not ideal for running heavier apps like games, but it will do Hulu and Netflix nicely though.

So the final take is…make a list of your needs from a tablet, and be realistic about it. All too often I hear people say I need a cheap tablet and I only do light web browse, but later complain the tablet is too slow because they browse pages that are heavier, or do not close apps, so the web browser has 20 tabs open.

Once you have your needs, then shop for the appropriate tablet. With computers I suggest to put a price first, and then look for a laptop/desktop. With tablet, make a wish list first, then an essential list and then look for prices. If the tablet you need is over $400 you might be better off buying a laptop (ultrabooks are getting in the area of $500, and are light).

Do not compare a tablet to an iPad, unless you are comparing at the same price. Why? because the iPad mini starts at $329 for a 16GB for a dual core, the iPad2 16GB starts at $399 for also a dual core, while the Retina starts at $499 for the 16GB Dual Core A6X.

iPad have a stronger app market, where the apps and games are specifically developed for the hardware, but at that price, they are too close to an actual computer if you are looking for an internet device.

The Memo Pad is does not compete with the iPad. It is a $100, not a $300. So you have to have that in consideration. Will you be able to do everything you can do with an iPad with this device? absolutely not, but you will be able to do 90% of what you actually will use a tablet for, at 1/3 of the price.

The TF300 is more in the iPad level, together with the Galaxy Tab and the Nexus tablets. Now, say you have a Android phone, then an Android tablet makes a lot more sense. If you have an iPhone, then go with an iPad. 

If you don’t care either, but you need a tablet for real web browsing, some facebook and email, then these Android tablets will work great. BTW, I write documents on the TF300 and the Lynx as well.

Windows 8 tablets are nice too, but are not what I would call exactly ready. The fact that you can install any Windows Application on the desktop is a good and a bad thing. It will be very easy to make the tablet too slow. The Surface Pro category is another story, because they are more of an Ultrabook with touch screen than a Tablet, and they have an Intel Core i5 CPU. They use a lot more power (so less battery), but will feel extremely fast for most of tablet use, and then again, the Surface Pro is more in the real of an actual Computer, with computer price at $900. I can actually see myself replacing completely my laptop with a Surface Pro (with the keyboard).

Next year we will see more tablets and more changes, but in general I would suggest to get a tablet that is at least dual core, and at least $100. Sub $100 usually are good for book readying and very occasional web browsing.

 

Tablets, the future is changing

I have been looking for a tablet for a while. The galaxy tab impressed me, but not enough to purchase it. It was expensive and I could see the area changing.

I got a cheap Velocity Micro tablet (I think it was something like $70). The idea at the time was to see if I could start using the device more to justify spending more. In the end, it did not, and that tablet got really slow, really fast. Only thing I still like it is to check my work email, but I can do that in my phone (android 4 vs Andoid 2.1). So the tablet got forgotten in favor of my phone (Razr Maxx)

The iPad price and requirement of iTunes makes it not a choice, so I have been waiting.

Google released their branded Nexus 7, and this seems to be the first tablet that sparks my interest enough to maybe get it.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nexus-7-test-jelly-bean,3249-7.html

As Tom Hardware points out, the problem with tablet is the price ($500 is too much for what is a convenience device) and the software being up to date. There are a lot of cheap tablets, but locked to old Android versions. Phones seem to have that problem as well. Android 4 (ICS) was released in October 29 last year, and it took more than 6 months to get the update for the phone. And it is likely we will never see 4.1 or the next version of Android on it. It seems that we are slaves to change our mobile devices when we want to use the new features.

The nexus line usually gets updates from Google directly, having new versions available as the come out. Hopefully this tablet will hold that promise. At $200 it definitively starts looking like a good promise that will get delivered.

No US city among the 50 best-connected cities on the Internet

speedThe United States is the “founding father” of the Internet, so it’s somewhat ironic that none of the 50 best-connected cities in the world today is American.

Instead, the list of the top 50 cities in terms of connection speed is dominated by South Korea and Japan. Cities from only two other countries make an appearance: China (with Hong Kong), and Sweden (with Umeå and Göteborg). Amazingly, only four countries have cities on this list.

It’s only when you continue past the top 50 that you find any US cities, the first being Boston at the 51st spot.

These numbers are from Akamai. The company just released its latest State of the Internet report, as usual filled to the brim with various Internet statistics. Akamai is a good source for connection speed data since it operates the world’s largest CDN (content delivery network).

Here is the top 50 list, taken right from the Akamai report.

Top 50 cities in terms of internet connection speed

So what about the rest? For your benefit, we also included spots 51-100, so you can see where the United States (finally) does make an appearance.

Connection speed cities 51-100

We’re Swedes, so of course we’re happy to see Sweden placed high on this list. (Go Sweden!)

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