Archive for January, 2010

Kudos Amazon!



Quite a while back, in September in fact, I ordered a big honkin battery for my Acer Aspire One. I bought the 9 cell version through Amazon from a place called NewMP3Technology. The battery came, I charged it right up and used it on the upcoming Ohio Linux Fest. My only note on it was that Allan bought a similar battery, obviously from a different place and seemed to get a bit more battery time out of it, but all in all, I was happy with it.

Fast forward to Christmas time. I took the family to my parents house for Christmas this year and brought a couple laptops with me for some recreational surfing while there. They live in upstate NY where there is little else to do :-) While using my AAO there, I let the new battery completely drain. When I plugged it back in, it would not charge. I googled around for similar problems and found that there was a bios update that fixed some of these, so I updated the bios and, you guessed it, that didn’t work either. After I got back home, I checked the original battery which charged fine.

I checked my paperwork for the new battery and found that the original listing on Amazon had a 1 year warranty on the battery. Elated, I wrote the seller through Amazon’s contact form and asked them how I would go about getting a replacement. Well, long story short, I wrote them 5 times over 3 weeks or so and never received a response other than a form email stating that the exchange time limit on the purchase had expired (30 days). Now Amazon has an A-Z guarantee that is 30 days as well, but I had passed that too. I looked the seller up in the Better Business Bureau’s website and it said they were probably out of business. Frustrated, I sent off an email to Amazon anyhow, explaining the saga and telling them that these guys were still listed as active sellers on Amazon’s site. I figured I had done my good deed for the general populace and that Amazon would remove the seller and at least nobody else would get bit. To my complete surprise, Amazon, *extended* their A-Z guarantee for me and completely refunded my money (including the shipping!) I, of course, ordered another replacement battery from a different seller through Amazon.

It’s just so uncommon these days to find a person or a business with some integrity that I just had to pass the story along. And especially so with the anonymity that the web provides. Many thanks and kudos go to Amazon. I know I’ll keep buying from them. If you are going to buy things online, you can’t find a better place to do so.

Oh, and stay away from NewMP3Technology.


Updates, updates everywhere. I pushed a bunch of updates to, my Blog, LinuxPlanet Casts and Blogs, LinuxForChristians, TLLTS Planet and the Lincware forums. Everything looks ok right now, but please let me know if you see anything strange happening (or not happening as the case may be). Thanks and you may now return to your previously scheduled rss feed.


Prey is a lightweight application that will help you track and find your laptop if it ever gets stolen. It works in all operating systems and not only is it Open Source but also completely free.

That’s what their website says anyway.

You have to admit that it sounds quite intriguing. There are a lot of utilities around that you can *pay* for that offer some reasonable facsimile of helping you track your stolen laptop and get it back, but this is the first open source one I have come across.

Further inspection shows this to be “the real deal”. At least as far as I am concerned. I cannot yet comment on the mac/win versions of the software, but the Linux version is pretty slick.

Essentially, Prey runs through cron every 10 minutes by default, completely in the background, hidden from view. It checks for the existence of a specific website and if it doesn’t find this website (gets a 404 message), it starts grabbing information from your machine like ip addresses, screenshots, pics from your webcam, etc., and sends them either to Prey’s website for you to view, or directly to your email account. This is all information designed to help you track down where your laptop is, and identify who might have it.

I tried it on my Ubuntu work laptop and the client is literally a drop-in dmg package. It installed and asked me to run a control panel applet for configuration. This only really asked me for 2 pieces of identifying information, the API key and the device key, both of which were available to me after I registered (for free) on Prey’s website at

Once you are registered and get your device (laptop) listed on the website, you can tell Prey, via the website anytime, that your laptop is missing by going to (and after logging in) clicking on the appropriate device listing (they let you have 3 for free btw), changing the “Missing” slide switch to “on” and hitting the update button at the bottom of the page. There are other options in there you can change as well to suit your needs. The next time your laptop can find an internet connection and check in, Prey will have it sending reports out so you can find it. I was pretty happy and impressed with how well it worked actually.

The only con I can think of with this program is the fact that I run Linux. Not that people won’t steal laptops with Linux on them, but that I imagine that anyone who would steal one of my laptops would immediately install windows on it, thus rendering Prey useless. If I were to employ the use of that auto-login stuff, that could perhaps stave off a would be thief long enough for Prey to do it’s job, but I do like having to log in to my machines (just makes me feel more secure). It’s something to think about, and I will look into what other people have to say on the subject in Prey’s forums. That being said, however, I am still putting the software on my laptops. Hey, it can’t hurt right?

Chrono Trigger DS

Wow! I’ve heard a bit about how good this game is for some time but man, am I blown away. This has got to be one of the most involving and exciting games I have played in a long time. Orginally released on the Super Nintendo, Chrono Trigger is an epic quest across time that has fantastic role playing elements combined with a terrific storyline. I cannot believe how awesome this game is.

Your main character starts off the morning with plans to visit the centennial festival. There you play some games and complete some mini-quests which actually alter the storyline a bit later on down the line depending on the choices you make. You meet up with you friend, a female mechanic who has created a teleporter. You are the first brave sole to take a try. Success compells another female companion who you hook up with to jump on in there but she gets kicked out of time and you have to go rescue her. Your quest continues through about 5 different eras in history each with links to one another. How this all ties together is just utterly fascinating. The character development is top notch.

There are so many twists and turns in this games and events that happen which just floor me. I don’t want to give any of the surprises away so I will say little more. Suffice to add that when it feels like the game might be reaching a climax you learn that you still have a long way to go.

The combat system is really cool. From the start you have the choice to use traditional turn based combat or ongoing combat. The latter has you making choices and attacking while the enemy is doing the same with no pause and no break, so you have to be on your toes. I suspect it was unique for its time and I have not played many other games that utilize this type of system. It’s almost Balder’s Gate in some ways, but you cannot pause the flow.

This game is an absolute must have for the DS. You can pick it up just about anywhere that sells older or used games. I recommend trying to find it new, but don’t pay more than $20. I saw it at Kmart for $19.99 unopened.

You can also find the rom on line for the snes emulator, but come on, you know you want to get it legitimately.

You hear so much about Zelda and Final Fantasy, it’s a shame a game like this never received the mainstream recongnition it deserved. Chrono Trigger is truly a treasure.

There is a sequel, Chrono Cross, for the Playstation.

The Wife is now Certified

Congratulations to the wife, she just passed her Massage Therapist Certification exam. Now she is a $50 Virginia license away from going into business for herself. Hooray!

Now if only I could get her to give me a massage!

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