Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gigastrand OS: BETA 3 Slightly delayed

It has been a fantastic April for Gigastrand and many changes are in the works. We are still short of our goal so while the BETA 3 Open is being delayed until June, we have made the decision to move forward on the development of the free edition (what is currently BETA 2).

On the free edition: BETA 3 will be RC1 for the Free Edition and will be delayed just a few days while we finish development. Tentatively, we plan to release by May 10th.

Why the delay? Apart from the lack of funds for the Open Edition, we have done and are doing several Technology Services projects. As a result, we are expanding our offices and staff to help compensate for that. In the midst of all this, we had 2 major snow and ice storms that delayed production during those weeks. As a result, the release is being delayed as well.

What's Next? We continue to develop the support systems. In May we are paying particular attention to video production and developing more articles. We are looking seriously into additional funding options. We are also expanding our office, holding a ribbon cutting in June, and producing a local mass media campaign. Busy days ahead!


Monday, April 29, 2013

Using the Gigastrand OS Diagnostic Utilities

The Gigastrand OS has several diagnostic tools you can use to troubleshoot and repair PC issues. This is a basic rundown of those tools. For more information search for the various programs. We are currently creating documentation on these programs.

Live DVD
Dead PC? Use the Live DVD to revive or reclaim functionality to your PC.
Where is it? The Gigastrand OS Disc

Mem Test (Memory Test)
This tests the RAM in your system for defects that can cause software to crash. 
Where is it? This test can be run from the Live DVD Menu.

Gsmart Control (Hard Drive Test)
This tests your Hard Drive for errors and works like Seatools - only better. It allows you to run  diagnostics on your machine's hard drive.
Where is it? Go>System>GSmart Control

KDE Partition Manager (Partition Editor)
Create, delete, resize, or modify partition tables on your hard drive.
Where is it? Go>System>KDE Partition Manager

Ping Command similar to the one in Windows.
Where is it? Open in Terminal

Knmap (Port Scanner)
Scan for open ports on a Network
Where is it? Go>Utilites>Knmap

Angry IP (IP Scanner)
Scan for devices on a network.
Where is it? In the repository then in Go>Internet>Angry IP Scanner

File browser great for copying files off of hard drive onto other media.
Where is it? Go>System>Dolphin

Backup to your Spideroak account.
Where is it? Go>Internet>Spideroak Backup

Remote assistance software. Get remote help on demand.
Where is it? Go>Internet>TeamViewer

I dentify and get information on hardware installed in your system.
Where is it? Go>Settings>KInfoCenter

Friday, April 26, 2013

Casual Fridays: Jane Lui

Music is not a major factor in my life. I can barely squeak out "Hot Cross Buns" on the flute recorder, can't find the e-string on a violin, and, while I can sing on-key with some effort, I shy away from even lowly Karoke.

My musical ear tends to gravitate toward artists that do not rely on auto tuners and technological trickery to make their music (I know, ironic). I pay particular attention to acoustic versions of songs to try and determine the level of talent of a particular singer. A bad live show will also turn me off to an artist.

I have also have scant few independent artists in my CD library - though not for lack of trying. I am a huge supporter of good local musical talent but truly talented independent artists don't stay independent for very long and, by the time I hear of them, they usually have a few CDs in the market.

Which is why I am surprised that such a talent as Jane Lui has not been signed. 

I was introduced to Jane through Geek & Sundry - a YouTube channel I regularly watch several shows on. Felicia Day (Sci-fi queen and head of G&S) and Jane Lui did a duet (above) of a mashup of Maroon 5's "Payphone" and Disney's "Someday My Prince Will Come". Neither of these songs I find particularly interesting.

When I first saw the video, my knee-jerk reaction was "Holy cow, Felicia Day can sing!" Then I remembered she played Penny in Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and was slightly embarrassed.

The real surprise was Jane Lui. Not only did she create much of the real music on the accordion and what I call the "foley music" on various objects but it was immediately apparent that her vocal talent was incredible. I have spent several days listening to her various music and it is simply a delight to my ears.

During the time I spent listening to her various music (mainly YouTube videos) I began to sense that something was missing. At first, I thought it was a beat, but there are plenty of examples where a good beat was present, yet that something was still missing.

Her style is reminiscent of Enya. It is a very understated, yet powerful music that she almost whispers to you. Not every song is that way and certainly I began to gravitate toward certain songs. When that happened, a pattern emerged.

If I was to offer up a single criticism, it would be this: Jane Lui - while amazingly talented - has a well of untapped range and potential that we have yet to see. In certain songs we get to see a glimpse of that (the so called "Immigrant Song" comes immediately to mind), but there is still a pause - a shyness, if you will - that is possibly holding her back. She has talent far beyond that of Mariah Carey, but where Ms. Carey uses her range and takes chances (albeit sometimes with mixed results), Jane Lui seems restrained. 

I look forward to the day when Jane Lui taps the depth of her talent and pushes her range to the limit. Until then, I will follow with great interest and maybe buy a few albums.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

PC or PoC: Gigastrand Toshiba Laptop

I upgraded the new Gigastrand laptop to BETA 2 and it is much improved over the Alpha.04 version installed before. Compared to each other, Alpha.04 felt kind of cobbled together whereas BETA 2 installed seamlessly and performed better out of the box.

Ok, so where does the PC or PoC come in? Well, the wireless card has given out in the laptop and is unable to connect to wireless networks. The system recognizes the wireless card, but it cannot pickup signals reliably. So this laptop will get its first upgrade. Until then, I have to string a network cable from one side of the room to the other (as seen in the pic). We will keep you updated.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Now Accepting Bitcoin!

Gigastrand International now accepting Bitcoin for select products and services

Gigastrand is now accepting Bitcoin on select products on the Join page in the Gigastrand OS site. Gigastrand will also accept Bitcoin for onsite labor and other select services.

We have also included the original Bitcoin wallet in our software repository with instructions on how to install it in the Gigastrand OS.

For more information visit the following sites"


Friday, April 19, 2013

Announcement: Mr. G's Casual Fridays

A new series will be added to Mr. Gigabytes Blog called Casual Fridays. This will be an off-topic, semi-regular series about whatever I find interesting that week.

This week I find this announcement interesting. 

The series will be semi-regular because it will only be released when I have the time and topic to do so. This will be a more frank version of the blog and the rules more relaxed. It will have nothing to do with Gigastrand or the Gigastrand OS. It will have articles on just about any other topic.

So stay tuned!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

PC or PoC: GsOS Min Req Machine

In the pursuit of testing for minimum requirements, Gigastrand has built one of the smallest machines it can to achieve that end. 

Built in one of the Mini-itx cases on hand, the Gigastrand OS Minimum Requirements Machine (MRM) is a test machine that does not work with the Gigastrand OS until you fiddle with it.

This machine is built on a VIA Epia-M motherboard with a C3-1000Mhz processor and 1Gb RAM. It does not work with the Gigastrand OS until you pop in a PCI Graphics card (this one has an EVGA GeForce video card in it).

It has a DVD Burner, an 8Gb Flash Module Hard Drive (we call it 2nd Generation SSD for reasons we will explain another time), and no SATA capabilities.

The issue we are having now is that the flash module hard drives we have been using are nearing EOL (End Of Life). They have a limited write cycle lifespan and these modules are pretty much at the end of that life. So, we load the Gigastrand OS on to a module, it works for a little while and then fails. We have about 8 of these modules left and they are not much use for anything else. 

We also have a standard 80Gb IDE hard drive and a first generation SSD (compact flash with IDE adapter) on standby but, for now, we will continue testing the flash modules until we find one that lasts more than a couple of reboots.

The other issue with this system is that it is UNGODLY SLOW. I would not want to sell this system to a customer even if the Gigastrand OS works on it.

We will be working on tweaking this system over the next few weeks and post updates here and there.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Gigastrand OS: HBO GO works in Chrome

During testing of the Gigastrand OS I decided it was time to see if I could make HBO GO (the video on demand service from HBO), work on my home laptop. I have used HBO GO on my Gigastrand PADD and my phone without much issue aside from the occasional buffering issue.

The result: It worked at least as good as on my tablet and phone from Chrome.

There was absolutely nothing to it. I didn't have to dink around with it, load anything, or change any settings. It just worked.

Netflix could take a page from this and make their service work this well.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

PC or PoC: Linspire PC

This is a PC that should not be here and should not have a story. It does have a story and it is one of the more interesting stories I have of any of the PCs I have in my portfolio.

This PC was one of the last Linspire PCs we sold at Gigabytes Computer Store. It was a refurbished PC with Linspire 5.0. The exact specifications escape me.

This PC was sold - I cannot say to whom - and Gigabytes closed afterward. If that was all there was I would not write this.

Years later, I was shopping at a local computer store. I am a geek, it's what I do. I saw this case in a shop an purchased it for $10. It did not have a product key on it and it still had my brand sticker on it. 

I painted it black and built it into a demo / security DVR for a customer of my then employer. It ran without fault for 2 years.

When that customer went into a bigger DVR, I purchased it along with a bunch of surplus parts from my employer and put it into service as an entertainment PC for my master bedroom. That is where it resides today.

Now, a little disclaimer: Some of this story is a bit of extrapolation. I cannot be completely sure of the lineage of this PC for the simple fact that Gigabytes Computer Store used dozens of these cases over the years.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gigastrand OS: BETA 3

Gigastrand OS BETA 3 will see some significant changes. We will attempt to tackle the larger bugs before we release and will finalize the software integration.

Now that we have the basics down, Gigastrand OS BETA 3 will branch into 3 versions: Free, Open, and Premium. 

Gigastrand OS Free branch will continue as before and will require no special registration to download. This version will be a direct decedent of the current BETA 2 and contain basic software and support.
  • Will be available only as a download
  • Will be available only in 32 bit
  • Will contain only free software
  • Will have basic support
OEM Notes: OEMs can freely use and distribute this software without registration provided that it does not violate laws in your country.

Gigastrand OS Open is a low cost version of the Gigastrand OS. It contains the premium software with basic support. The Open BETAs will be released to insiders only. The BETA 3 download will be announced on the Gigastrand forums in a special Insider forum.
  • Will be available in download or DVD
  • Will be available in 32 or 64 bit
  • Will include premium software
  • Will include basic support
32bit will be a variation of BETA 2 and a 64 bit version will be created.

OEM Notes: OEMs and VARs will need to register with Gigastrand to obtain an Open Distribution License (ODL). The license will be a one-time license for unlimited distribution.

Gigastrand OS Premium contains both the premium software and support. There will be no public BETA for this version as the software itself will be similar to the Open version. The distribution and support will be different.
  • Will be available on retail box DVD and loaded on Gigastrand PCs
  • Will be available in 32 and 64 bit (both DVDs in the box)
  • Will include premium software
  • Will include premium support
OEM NotesOEMs and VARs will need to register with Gigastrand to obtain an Premium Distribution License (PDL). The license itself is free for unlimited distribution but each instance of the software will need to be purchased. The software will be provided at a significant discount.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

PC or PoC: The Gigabytes POS

In 1997, this PC was bought from Gateway as the second and last desktop PC I ever purchased new . This PC exemplified PC or PoC before the concept was ever thought of.

In 1997, this PC was bought from Gateway as the second and last desktop PC I ever purchased new . This PC exemplified PC or PoC before the concept was ever thought of.
  • Bought as a Gateway P5-133.
  • Ran TV card and played DVDs.
  • Upgraded several times and served as Gigabytes server in the early years.
  • Replaced by the Original Gigastrand Server then repurposed (and later repainted) as the Gigabytes point of sale system where it served that role until the store closed in 2006. It was sold with the assets of the store when it closed.
All told, this system provided a solid 9 years of service in various roles from home PC to server to point of sale. Because of the ability to convert from tower to desktop, it is one of the best cases I have ever built with.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Repository Built

Ok, when I say "repository" I really mean place where you can download software for the Gigastrand OS. Still, the term is apt (excuse the pun).


You will need to be a registered member of the Gigastrand forums to view the repository. This is a basic click-and-download type of repository based on our forum software. We currently do not have a full-fledged Linux repo to speak of but it is a start.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Gigastrand OS: BETA 2 Now Available!

Funny story.

We actually had BETA 2 ready last Wednesday and even started documenting a few of the minor bugs that either weren't addressed from BETA 1 or were brand new bugs. We even updated the documentation and then realized that it was still Wednesday. We still had 4 days to tackle some of the minor bugs we had documented. So, we set about the task of doing just that.

The good news is that we ended up with something even better than we planned to release. While it is still an early BETA and there is much more to do, I am proud to say we have made far more progress than I had hoped. You can download it here: BETA Download Page

What's next?
BETA 3 is the next planned release, however, we need to raise about 10% of our goal to make it happen. You can help in many ways.

1. Go to Join the Project and make a donation or purchase products. 100% of the proceeds go to the OS fund.
2. Lend a hand. We are looking for people who have the knowledge and skills to make the Gigastrand OS even better. We will reward those who help us accomplish tasks 
3. Provide feedback. Let us know what you like, what you don't like, what works and what doesn't during the BETA phase. You don't even have to commit to installing the OS. You can provide feedback on the forums, or even gigastrandos.com.

In the meantime, work will be focused primarily on support systems. In a couple of weeks, we will be announcing our plans for BETA 3.