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Ubuntu and Kubuntu Gutsy on a Dell Latitude D830

I recently finished installing Ubuntu Gutsy 7.10 on my new Latitude D830. I purchased this Laptop refurbished (like new) and used a coupon code that saved me over $730 compared to the exact same system configured new. It is simply amazing how compatible this Linux distro is with the D830 hardware. I installed PCLinuxOS 2007 and was dual booting with Windows Vista when the notebook first arrived. Driver support was not so good in PCLinuxOS so I decided to wait until Ubuntu Gutsy was released rather than messing around trying to get things working. Plus, I was dealing with web hosting hell at the time.

Roasting in Hosting Hell - Tales from the Server Side

After more than three weeks of utterly mind-numbing, "what could possibly go wrong next!?" web hosting hell, Themebot is finally back online!

Okay, here is a rundown of what Themebot has been up to over the past few weeks, in case you were wondering what was going on. An honest account of my experience with four different hosting providers is given. Warning, this is not for the web master who is faint of heart. What ensues is a chronological account, written after emerging from the dark recesses of the web hosting twilight zone.

Dell Coupon Codes

It is rare for a Dell coupon code to come along that can be used to save money on a Latitude notebook. I've personally owned laptops from several manufacturers and I've also worked on many brands of laptops over the years. I have primarily owned Dell notebooks since 2000. Some people have had a bad experience with Dell, like any other company, but I have not. In fact, they are one of the few companies that have earned brand loyalty with me.

Anyhow, I had been planning on upgrading my main laptop for a while now and just purchased a Latitude D830 after receiving an email with the coupon details. This coupon code is for 10% off. Once my order was complete, I configured a brand new Latitude D830 with the exact same specs, just to do a price comparison. I saved a whopping $732.16 total compared to the exact same laptop configured new! Not a bad deal.

Ubuntu on a Dell Inspiron E1705 / 9400

I recently installed Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty on my Inspiron E1705/9400 laptop, which is my workhorse computer. I tried several different distros: PCLinuxOS, OpenSUSE, Mepis, Fedora and KNOPPIX, before deciding on Ubuntu. At this point I am using nearly 100% open source software. There are a few Windows programs I can't live without, namely Quicken and Photoshop. WINE didn't work for me when I tried to install Photoshop CS2. Also, problems were reported running Quicken through WINE. There isn't any open source software that can compare to Quicken when it comes to accounting. The Gimp - although an excellent photo editing program - just doesn't have all the tools necessary for a web developer. One of the biggest drawbacks to using the Gimp as a replacement for Photoshop is the lack of Save for Web functionality. Photoshop does a much better job of optimizing/compressing images for use on the web.

Vote for the Best Open Source CMS

PACKT Publishing is at it again with their 2007 Open Source CMS Award. This time around there are several different categories as well as a winner for best overall open source CMS. The total prize fund has been bumped up to $20,000. Also, when you submit a nomination you are entered in a drawing to win an iPod Nano. Three 4gb Apple iPod Nanos will be given away.

Transformers Movie Review

Writing a movie review for Transformers is almost completely off-topic, except for the robot connection. After wasting 10 bucks to see this, I thought the least I could do is warn anyone else considering watching this movie before they go and waste their money too.

To-Do List, More Web Site Upgrades

2007/09/24 Update: Generic advertising pared down

All Adsense advertising has been removed from the Live Demos. Members who upload their layouts on Themebot will not have their web design templates cluttered up with generic advertising in the demos.

There are quite a few new features in the works designed to benefit members. This the beginning of a transition that will provide more valuable services for freelance web developers and visitors, while enhancing the presence of dedicated sponsors by eliminating the generic advertising. Integrity in business philosophy and supporting the open source community is the Themebot way.

The Kontera interstitial ads have been removed as well. Even though they were racking up a decent amount of clicks, they did not pay well, were somewhat annoying, were rarely relevant and caused the pages to load more slowly. So, Kontera had to go.

Furthermore, additional links are never added to member's layouts and no alterations are made to the files submitted for download. Many other web template sites add their own links and advertising to the designs that their members upload.

2007/08/29 Update: Member albums implemented

Albums by Web Designer is now integrated in the web layout gallery. There is a tag cloud in the gallery sidebar with a list of the top twenty members who have contributed the most web design templates on Themebot. Also, there is a link to each member's album below the themes.

Themebot is getting ready for a new round of upgrades. I thought I'd create a poll to find out which improvements are most important to visitors and theme designers. The poll is in the left column under the Main Menu if you'd like to cast a vote. Also, if you have any suggestions that are not listed, feel free to leave a comment in the forums.

Making a Better Bot

There have been several changes and improvements made recently on Themebot.

  • IRCMaxell's Page Cache component for Joomla was installed. This greatly decreases page loading time for visitors once a page has been cached.
  • The gallery has a link for the most recent layouts in each section.
  • There are now previews of the two most recently submitted layouts from each category on the homepage.
  • You no longer have to be logged in to download a layout.
  • The download links in the gallery are now being created in a way that they immediately start the template download. All of the existing gallery entries will eventually be changed to match.
  • Last but not least, the forums were migrated to Fireboard. The message boards are integrated with the rest of the site much better now and each article / new web layout has an automatic link for discussion in the forums.
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