Monday, February 09, 2009

Tuck in your shirt!

A while back I started getting e-mail from Wyndham (the hotel chain). At first I was marking it as SPAM because it looked like that form of SPAM where it tries to legitimize itself by making you take a second look. But now I can see that they just have someone's email address recorded incorrectly. In the mean time I am getting an interesting look at the inner workings of Wyndham. And now, you will too!

Here is a recent one I got about how safe drops are performed. Normally this is probably privileged information.

And here is a another recent message to let everyone know that you are expected to clock out for lunch. Also - tuck in your shirt.

Wyndham: Right now would be a good time to consider getting inter-company e-mail like a normal company. Perhaps you should not rely on Yahoo and G-Mail accounts for your employees.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Updates to your eee PC - In Chinese!

My good friend "Discount Man" came over this weekend and he brought his dads new eee PC. He bought the 900A model which has some advantages over my old 4G surf. Both models have the same processor, and 512MB of RAM. But the 900A has a larger screen, and a nice pearly smooth finish. The downsides were: he didn't get the one with the webcam, so there was a vacant hole in the top center of his lid with a sticker covering it. Lame! Also, while the pearly finish is nice ... it had all ready been scratched up a little bit under practically no use. Also - his dad had managed to bork the sucker after only a few hours of use. He had borked it so badly, that the F9 restore wasn't even an option any more. Hence, why it came to me.

I was able to use the restore CD to build a thumb drive re-installer, and transfer a fresh new linux install to the laptop. But I was more than a little upset when I could see that he had much newer software than I did. In all my experimenting, reinstalling, and general "fucking around" with my eee PC, all I have really wanted is the default OS with a newer version of Firefox. If I use my restore CD, I end up with Firefox 2.0.x. And after updating, I still have Firefox 2.0! What a crock!

So I did what any good hacker would do. I installed the 900A series restore image to my 701 model to see what would happen. Amazingly, it installed without any problems and booted just fine. As expected, neither wired nor wireless worked at all. Also the touchpad was almost impossible to control since the one on the 900A was much larger in size. Then I started brainstorming about how I could get the source code for the 701, and transfer pieces of it to a new installation of the 900A's image. But this was really complicated, and I kept thinking that I shouldn't have to do this. Why didn't ASUS do this for me? Where are my updates damnitt?

Then I stumbled upon an interesting web site which I haven't seen before. It seems to be run by some eee enthusiasts and not the Asus company itself. Yet there are screenshots there of "what they are working on" so I can only assume that this is the blog of an employee. This site is also really hard to follow because it's written in Chinese, and then translated by Google (and they are rough translations). But I found what I was really looking for ... a NEW restore image for my eee PC which featured (amongst other perks) a Firefox 3.0.4 browser!

The bad news is ... the image is in Chinese and it's just an ISO. I was able to burn and install from the CD using an external CD-ROM I rigged together. But ... everything is in Chinese.

This makes things really interesting. I struggled through the installer, usually guessing at what I was being asked for based on experience with the English installer. After booting up, the interface seemed familiar but all the labels were in Chinese lettering. Thanks to some well written documentation in an EEE wiki, I was able to get things to show up in English.

Now, some obligatory "screenies" ...

Check this out - newer Firefox, updated Skype, and some extra stuff! Web Storage? Don't get too excited. This is for 900-1000 users only. And that eee Download feature is stupid.

How about the crappy MS Word clone? What's this? It's Sun Star Office! Nice touch. This is a nice application and it loads really fast. And, it's in English!

Some other tabs ...

And now the bad news ... configuring your wireless in Chinese dialogue is pretty tough. Where there would be Chinese glyphs, you see squares.

What does the file manager look like? Oh no!

It seems that most of the applications can be switched to whatever dialect you throw at it. But the OS itself has it's mind made up when you install it. The outcome is ... I can tolerate a spot of Chinese now and then until Asus can get off their dad ass and release this to the eee loyal in English!

And the surprises keep on coming. There are Firefox updates, updates to your updates, Web Storage update (for those who qualify), and more!

Updates aside, the applications you can add are nothing to write home about. But then those have always kind of sucked. The most interesting update I suppose is the ability to exchange your native Antivirus client (ClamAV) with something called NOD32. This is a commercial client you would normally have to purchase. Not that you really need an AV client for Linux but ... it might be useful to scan Windows PC's remotely, or to disinfect your friends thumb drives. I'll give it a shot.

And now back to exploring. See you later.