Continuing with today’s theme of software I like I wanted to post a bit about OpenVPN. OpenVPN is a cross platform (Windows, Linux, *BSD, Solaris and OSX) VPN available at http://openvpn.net/. Using OpenVPN you are able to connect a remote client or remote network to another network across the Internet with minimal firewall fuss. I use OpenVPN for various client to network and network to network style VPNs. I also use OpenVPN on my Linux server at home so my laptop can send and receive email from anywhere.

If you’re looking for a way to image the drive in your computer look no further than Snapshot. Snapshot is available at http://www.drivesnapshot.de/en/ and allows you to image your hard drive while the computer is running. Now I’ve used a number of backup solutions in my day and Snapshot ranks right up there as the best. Using Snapshot I have backed up and restored my laptop a number of times. Go ahead and click the link to read more about it. It costs about $49 USD.

I found this on Digg.com and it’s completely beyond me how people can be so clueless and still make comments. It’s people like this that create false fear, false assumptions and everything else that is dragging technology and fair use down.

While reading a debate on a ZDNet blog concerning Linux vs. Windows, this “interesting” character came along. I figured everyone could use a good chuckle and a reminder of some of the thinking we are up against. Enjoy.

read more | digg story

What self respecting geek wouldn’t like home automation products? X10, yea that company with the ridiculous pop-up ads all over the web about the “spy” cameras they sell, actually makes some neat stuff that is inexpensive (although some of it’s cheap too). These products allow you to, among other things, remotely control lights and appliances using X10 enabled modules. X10 is actually the name of a company but also the name of a communication protocol used by these devices to well…communicate. Today, there are a number of products that either compete or compliment the X10 products that have existed for years. I’ll get to those later.

I got my first taste of X10 products when I lived at home. We lived in a smaller house and there weren’t quite enough bedrooms for everyone. I decided it was time for me to create my own room and that’s what I did. I converted our old toy room into my bedroom. The problem, there was no way for me to control the lights in the downstairs area once I was down there. After a bit of research, I found a couple of products at a local Radio Shack that would allow me to remotely control the basement lights from my new room. The products allowed me not only to remote turn off and on the lights, but also dim them, something we couldn’t do before.

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Here’s something I don’t like but I see it everywhere. Widescreen TV’s (particularly flat panels) that stretch 4:3 content so the aspect ratio is off. I understand people want to “get the most out of their set” but it’s funny to me they picked up a nice hi-def TV only to display standard def content at an incorrect aspect ratio. One wonders if they got the TV for their improved picture quality or status.

The Linux community has been saying it for years, “this is the year of Linux on the desktop” and each time I wrote it off as wishful thinking. For a number of years I felt Linux had never really made any real progress, just changes. I said things like, the things that were good in Linux 5 years ago are still good now, and everything that sucked about Linux 5 years ago still sucks today. You have your old timer applications and services like Apache that are just as rock solid today as they’ve ever been but then some projects like GNOME have felt unfinished.

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If you’re like me then you probably have a number of email addresses that you’ve acquired over the years. Among all my accounts, I’ve had this one Hotmail address for the longest but I never log into it anymore because of the amount of spam I was getting. The problem with hotmail is the spam blocking tool is rather hit or miss.

For all of my POP or IMAP accounts I use Thunderbird and I’ve always been impressed with its spam blocking feature. Well not too long ago I found out about a great extension for Thunderbird that lets you add your existing free webmail accounts like Hotmail and use all of the features of Thunderbird you’re used to.

You can find the extension at http://webmail.mozdev.org/