International Women’s Day Celebration

Posted by bhall

Dr. Sarah-Jane Whittaker, my wife and the more significant half of GoSaBe, participated in a panel today as a part of the Queen’s School of Computing’s celebration of International Women’s Day. To say that I was proud to be in attendance is an understatement.

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Welcome to GoSaBe Central

Posted by bhall

I find other people’s workspaces interesting, so I thought it only appropriate to show you where I do my GoSaBe work. The iMac at the end is a used 24″ machine that is a file server mostly. The smaller monitor over the meeting table is where I tend to do more of my work. The […]

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SSDs: Bringing new life to older Macs

Posted by bhall

The recent acquisition of my new 11″ MacBook Air at work has prompted me to do something that I’d long wanted to try: Putting a great SSD into an older Mac. Seeing just what a difference it made in the MacBook Airs, I just purchased a 90GB OCZ Vertex 3 for my 15″ MacBook Pro3,1 […]

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A new MacBook Air!

Posted by bhall

GoSaBe’s first purchase was my 2010 11″ MacBook Air. I’ts an absolutely fabulous machine. Even though it’s just a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo with only 2GB of RAM, it’s the fastest Mac I’ve owned. The SSD just screams, and everything works faster than I’d hoped, even a year later.  In fact, after putting many miles […]

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PlayBook Review (with Tablet OS 2.0)

Posted by bhall

Summary: The BlackBerry PlayBook, released in 2011 to mixed reviews, should be re-evaluated.  It is a stellar device with great, innovative, and improving software, now at bargain prices.  It remains the only great 7″ tablet I’ve seen. Both the hardware and the underlying OS are fantastic. QNX is a bulletproof OS, the UI is intuitive […]

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PlayBook OS 2.0

Posted by bhall

I’m typing this post using the WordPress app now found in the PlayBook AppWorld. This is noteworthy for a few reasons:  one, the app is finally available; two, it’s an unmodified and repackaged Android app. When RIM released their Tablet OS 2.0 on Monday, my favourite 7″ tablet became my favourite way of running Android […]

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Bills C-11 and C-30: Sad times for Canadians

Posted by bhall

Between the new copyright bill, C-11, and the sweeping lawful access bill (C-30) that is set to be announced this week, it is a fraught time to be a Canadian on the web. C-11 starts out very well, outlining many excellent concessions that reflect the realities of today, such as time shifting, ripping media, etc. […]

Tablets, Smartphones, and laptops, oh my!

Posted by bhall

This is my first iPad blog post. I have been editing and composing blog posts on my BlackBerry and the PlayBook using the Android player and WordPress app in OS 2.0. It’s interesting, I’ve owned the iPad for about a half year now. I bought it to solve a problem for a customer. It sat […]

Day-to-day with CrunchBang and NeatX

Posted by bhall

The hard drive on my work Linux box died over the past weekend. It was a re-certified 500GB Seagate, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise. As I NFS mount my home directory anyway, I installed a fresh copy of CrunchBang on the Sun Ultra 40 M2. The machine is a lovely but aging 2-socket dual-core […]

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Information wants to be free

Posted by bhall

Even though I’ve been practicing it for what sometimes seems like forever, I still find web development to be fun and creative. One of the side benefits that I enjoy are the odd trips down unexpected pathways. One example of this was my accidental discovery of the origins of the quote “Information wants to be […]

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Do you trust 1&1?

Posted by bhall

Wow. 1&1 just asked me for a customer password over the phone. It started out as my fault. I tried to ssh in to a package without SSH privileges. This added my IP to a blocked list. Fair enough. I called support to be removed from the block list and was surprised when they asked […]

CrunchBang tint2 moving icon workaround

Posted by bhall

One small bug I’ve noticed while using CrunchBang on several laptops is that the icons at the top-right creep a space left on resume. Others have noticed it too. If you sleep and wake your laptop often, as I do, the icons can end out practically mid-screen throughout the course of the day. It’s purely […]

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Adding NeatX and OpenNX to Debian 6.0

Posted by bhall

I discussed the more general case for adding individual PPAs to a Debian 6.0 installation here. I first did this in order to add neatx, a nxclient-compatible server to replace freenx. Here are the step-by-step instructions for adding neatx to your system:

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Adding Ubuntu PPAs to Debian Squeeze 6.0

Posted by bhall

As I have mentioned previously, I am now using CrunchBang Linux as my main Linux distribution. It’s based on Debian Squeeze, 6.0. While the repositories are great, I do find that I miss some of Ubuntu’s PPAs. Luckily, Debian 6.0 is largely compatible with Ubuntu 10.04, or Lucid. Here’s what I have done to easily […]

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New year, new Linux distribution

Posted by bhall

I’ve been a Linux guy since 1998 and a Debian guy since around 2000. For the last six years, I’ve been using Ubuntu both at home and at work. With Ubuntu, Canonical finally made Linux usable as a desktop system. Not only that, but their reliable, fixed-time releases finally provided me with a deployable Debian-based […]

First Post!

Posted by bhall

Hello there.  It’s a new year, so I’m starting a new blog.  Please allow me to introduce myself:  I’m Ben Hall.  I wear a few hats.  For this blog, I will mostly be wearing the hat of co-founder of the small web company that my wife and I started in 2011. As I write this, […]

BlackBerry Torch 9810 Review

Posted by bhall

When my nearly new unreleased Pre 3 gave up the ghost my grand obsession with webOS drew to a sad and unexpected close. So, where to from there? I really don’t like Android, webOS is done, at least for now, I just can’t seriously consider Windows Phone 7, a personal hang-up, and I want a […]

webOS out, BlackBerry in

Posted by bhall

Well, my wife and I had a fabulous time in Barbados. Unfortunately, the newish Pre 3 didn’t fare so well. It did take brilliant photos and worked well enough until a software glitch stopped the webkit browser_server from running. This spiked the load at 40, rendered the browser and email unusable, and took out the […]

Finally: The end of the road for Flash!

Posted by bhall

Wow. I go off-line for a week on vacation and Adobe drops the bombshell that it’s abandoning mobile and set-top Flash in order facilitate the move to HTML 5. This is such monumental and welcome news that I had to pause my time away from the computer to comment. First, as usual, John Gruber of […]

HP Palm Pre 3 Review: The phone that never was

Posted by bhall

It appears as though my time with Palm is drawing to a close. HP has killed off the Pre 3, the Veer, the TouchPad, and has laid off the employees responsible for the hardware. They keep making vague promises with webOS the software, but things certainly don’t look good for webOS, my favourite mobile platform, […]

My view of the mobile landscape – 2011.07

Posted by bhall

I’m a systems guy at Queen’s University’s School of Computing, and a budding entrepreneur with a small web development business with an eye on mobile development. (What better way to keep my skill set current? Then there’s the fact that my partner in both life and business happens to be the best programmer I know.) […]

BlackBerry PlayBook with Bridge – A great approach

Posted by bhall

As a long-time fan of the QNX operating system, I jumped at the chance to pick up a BlackBerry PlayBook. You can read my review but the short version is that, despite some early and obvious flaws, there’s a lot to like about the BlackBerry PlayBook. In my initial review, I mentioned BlackBerry Bridge and […]

ThinkPad X120e Review (X120e vs X61)

Posted by bhall

I bought a Lenovo X120e today thinking that it would be a great small work machine for the next three years. I’m taking it back tomorrow and opting instead for a used ThinkPad X61. The context I’m a Systems Specialist at the School of Computing at Queen’s University. In my role their, I have used […]

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s Review

Posted by bhall

I bought a Lenovo X120e today thinking that it would be a great small work machine for the next three years. I’m taking it back tomorrow and opting instead for a used ThinkPad X61. The context I’m a Systems Specialist at the School of Computing at Queen’s University. In my role their, I have used […]

BlackBerry PlayBook Review

Posted by bhall

Summary: The BlackBerry PlayBook, released today, is already seeing mixed reviews. However, the complaints are almost all due to a lack of apps and basic PIM applications. While I agree with these complaints, the device itself is a real standout. It’s the first great 7″ tablet I’ve seen. Both the hardware and the underlying OS, […]

Living with Lucid: New System Setup

Posted by bhall

Here is the summary of what I change/add when setting up a new Linux box after first uncommenting backports, partner, updates, and replacing the sources with my local mirror: :%s/us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu.caslab.queensu.ca/ At work: # TB, FreeNX, Font, latest Firefox 10.04 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ricotz/ppa && sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freenx-team/ppa && sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/ubuntu-font-family && sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable; sudo […]