Tuesday, February 26, 2008

RSS, how can it help me?


I admit it... For the longest time, I ignored RSS and what it was all about or what it could do!

I know, some of you may say, "wow, your a technology guy and you didn't use this?"

Well in the past I only briefly looked at RSS and understood that it could deliver some content. For me, I was used to going to each site I liked and manually seeing what was new.

Recently in my studies of how to blog, I was turned on to the power of RSS for the blogger and for the subscriber (reader.) It's definitely worth looking into.

Ok, so you may ask (like I did), if its really simple then how come it doesn't really jump out at me about what it could do?

After doing a little research I found, the most common definition is RSS is "Really Simple Syndication."

RSS describes formats used to publish content that is frequently updated such as blogs, news feeds or even podcasts. An RSS document, which is also commonly referred to as a "feed," "web feed," or "channel," contains either a summary of content being published or the full text from a source web site.

What it does is reverse the typical process.

• Instead of you going out to see what's new
• Your favorite web site provides you with an update that something has been added or has changed


So, an RSS feed makes it possible for you to keep up with your favorite web sites in an automated manner that's easier than checking each of them manually. If you find something in your reader that you want to investigate in further, clicking the link will take you directly to the web site that published it.

So how can you get started?

RSS content can be read using software called an "RSS reader", "feed reader" or an "aggregator". You would subscribe (much like subscribing to a magazine, but much better, there's no cost) to a feed by entering the feed's link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon on your browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader software then checks the user's subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds.

The easiest software to get started with it "Google Reader."

If your still a little fuzzy on this concept I found a great video you can watch that will make it easier to understand called “RSS in Plain English.”


www.commoncraft.com/rss_plain_english

So logon to Google Reader and get started today! You can even add my RSS feed for Gresak.com or Techideout.com.

Let me know what you think?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Adventure in blogging


It's been a little while since I last posted a message here, so I wanted to provide a little background as to what's going on with me. On one of my previous posts (Feb. 7th) I talked about my recent interest in the technology of Blogging and Podcasting. Well, I decided to move forward in researching how to properly create and publish a blog (one which would benefit others.)

I know, I've been blogging for a while (essentially random bits of technology, etc.) however, I really wanted to learn more about creating one that provides benefit and is interesting / entertaining to read.

So, I began my research, and made some decisions and put together a plan. Then I purchased a new domain name and obtained my own web hosting account.

The basics of this new site is now up and operational however, I'm still making some changes to it.

The new site is "techideout.com", and its will be dedicated to Technical Tips, Tutorials/How-to’s, Utilities and News for techies.

Now that I have gleaned a fair amount of knowledge about creating a blog, I'll do a future series of posts on how I established my blog. You can use the points I found to help establish one of your own, or let me know how well I've achieved my goal.

I'll still retain this blog for various topics, however, most of the technical posts will be on Techideout. Look forward to seeing and interacting with you there!

If you’ve started your own blog, send me a comment about your adventures. I love hearing from you so feel free to comment on this post or just let me know how I'm doing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Built-in VNC on your VMWare virtual machines.


Here's a cool feature you might find handy for remotely controlling/managing virtual machines via VNC.

VNC display support is actually pre-installed in many of the VMWare products. The tip I found said this was for VMWare server, however in my own testing I found that it worked with VMWare Player hosted virtual sessions as well.

To enable this feature, all you need to do to is to locate and open up the .vmx file for the virtual machine in a text editor, and add the following line:

RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled = TRUE

Adding this line enables standard VNC display support for the virtual machine. After doing so, just launch your virtual machine and then your VNC Viewer and enter the host's IP address (not the virutal machine's IP) into the VNC server field.

You can also add a "RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = " (i.e. "RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = 5902") line to specify a unique port otherwise by default it will use 5900. One key thing to note, each different simultaneous virtual machine on the same host will require a different port number, especially if you already have VNC server installed and enabled on your host system at port 5900.

See the kb article from VMware below for more information.

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?cmd=displayKC&externalId=1246

Here's an excerpt from one of my virtual machine .vmx files that I'm successfully using this on...

RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled = TRUE
RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = 5902

Have any other cool tricks or tips for VMware / VNC or let me know if you find this useful?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Blogging and Podcasting


I really enjoy learning about new technology. For the past year or so I've become addicted to listening to various podcasts (especially ones about technology and security.) They are part of my daily routine. I listen to them while walking on the treadmill in the morning or listening to them as an alternative to commercial radio (the steam of advertising annoys me) while driving to and from work.

Podcasts offer me the ability to select the programming I really enjoy while stimulating me to learn more and/or try out various links, software or procedures I come across.

Recently two things are starting to interest me more. One is blogging and the other is podcasting. While I have been blogging little by little each month, I really don't understand much about the overall blogosphere and world of blogging. The other area of interest is Podcasting. While, I'm not thinking that I want to start my own podcast (at least not for a while), I am intrigued by the technology used to create them and have begun to study how they are put together. My sincere appreciation goes out to those who put in many extra effort and hours to produce this content.

If you find yourself interested in these two areas as well, here's a link I learned about from Todd Cochrane's podcast at geeknewscentral that you want to check out. "podcastFAQ.com" is a site dedicated to providing information about podcasting and you'll find it at http://www.podcastfaq.com.

Who knows, maybe one day I may have my own podcast... hmmmm..... Well at least for now, I'm going to learn more about publishing a blog others can benefit from.

Point me to other tips you come across and feel free to let me know how I'm doing. I appreciate your comments and love to hearing from you.

Note: Todd Cochrane's podcast can be found at http://www.geeknewscentral.com. I find his site and podcast to be very informative (he makes you feel like your part of his family!) Give him a listen!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Just Installed PCLinuxOS for my folks


This past weekend, I used one of our old desktop computers to install a copy of PCLinuxOS 2007. I took this updated system over to my parents house for them to try out as an alternative to their aging Windows XP system (I was about ready to re-load the OS on this one.)

To get it ready to use, I ported over a copy of their existing Bookmarks from Internet Explorer and then imported them into Firefox (so that they could have the links they were used to getting to.)

I must say, overall the system now boots really quickly. And even more impressive is how responsive it is now when surfing various internet pages over lower speed DSL.

I choose this distribution of linux, because I liked what I experienced when I used it. Everything I was accustomed to doing on the internet worked right out of the box (such as streaming youtube videos and other forms of audio files.) It uses the KDE desktop and the folks at PCLinuxOS have have made the desktop and menu's look a lot like a general windows system (which I think will be easier for them to get used to.)

I'm expecting this setup to be so much more secure that what they are accustomed to experiencing on Windows XP (my folks were constantly being subject to spy and malware installations.)

First off, the OS is linux (linux is not subject to as many exploits.) Secondly they are not logging in with a root equivalent account (so it's difficult for anything malicious to enter the system now.) Thirdly Internet Explorer is no longer being used. Firefox is now the main browser (a much more secure browser, I even added Ad-blocker plus to keep down the amount of advertising that was being streamed to them.)

The old computer I loaded this on only has 256mb of ram, and a 40mb hard disk. However, PCLinuxOS 2007 (a Mandriva* based install) runs really well with this (I did experience a bug with the OS's auto temp setting which made the OS think the system was overheating causing it to shut the system down when it really wasn't getting hot). To make it a simpler transition, I also placed desktop icons of Open Office Writer (word processor) and Calc (spreadsheet).

So far, its a tremendous improvement over the current performance of their Windows XP home edition and they seem to be pleased with it. I'm going to let them run on it for a while to see if they like it. If so, I'll convert the rest of their files, hook up the scanner and the printer.

Here's a link to the PCLinuxOS website. Also, here's a great link for getting the best out of any PCLinuxOS install.

http://www.pclinuxos.com/
http://www.howtoforge.com/the_perfect_desktop_pclinuxos_2007

What's your experience with PCLinuxOS or other Linux Distributions? It appears to be a great OS to bring life back into old systems.

(* Note: 2/5/08, I originally mis-represented PCLinxOS as being Debian based, however it is actually based on Mandrake/Mandriva, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCLinuxOS#Relationship_with_Mandriva_Linux for more info.)

Using My Words to Build Others Up

In review of Ephesians 4:29 it warns me to “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building ...