Sometimes it’s easier than we make it.

I just lost a ridiculous amount of time burning an ISO so that I could update a blu ray player.  It all started when Quantum of Solace wouldn’t play in my new cheap  Insignia Blu Ray player.  At first I was worried that there was something wrong with the player, but eventually I decided to check for a firmware update.

I wonder what the less technically inclined do when their blu ray players need firmware updates.  Seems like a really poor idea to release movies in a format that requires a firmware update.   I’m sure it has to do with updating copy protection schemes.  Strike one against blu ray for making things more difficult than they should be.

Now, despite the ethernet port that is built in to the Insignia NS-2BRDVD player, they don’t offer direct Internet firmware updates.  Strike one against Insignia for making things more difficult than they should be.

So I ventured into my office to find a support website. Sure enough there was a firmware update available for my new Blu Ray player.  It comes in the form of a cd-iso image.  I’ve played with plenty of iso images in the past when burning linux distro’s so I figured no big deal.  Unfortunately, when I went to fire up the free third party cd burning software that came with Vista it complained that the software was not installed or had become corrupted.  I suspect it really means that my Windows registry is broken in some form or another. Strike one for Windows.

“Not to worry”, I thought to myself, “I have other 3rd party software that I already own.  I’ll just install that.”  So I set about installing some old cd burning software I had sitting around.  After the install I was asked the standard, “Would you like to reboot now?” question.  For some reason, this was the first time I’d ever thought about that statement.  Who would ever actually like to reboot after installing software?  Obviously, any sane person would prefer to use their new software right away….  But I digress.  Strike two for Windows.

After installing the third party program I found that my CD/DVD burner wasn’t recognized.  (It’s a Lite-On, which I believe is one of the larger manufacturers right now).   Strike three for Windows.

So I went in search of a software update for the third party program.  I was pleasantly surprised to find an update, which I dutifully installed (again rebooting afterward.).  Once Windows restarted I tried the 3rd party software again and again it didn’t recognize my player.  I read the FAQ and it said the software may not have drivers for my drive.  This struck me as ridiculously silly because Windows has had built in hardware drivers for over a decade.  Indeed, I installed the software using a the drive the the burning software now declined to recognized.  Does the software really have to access the hardware directly to control a burner?   Strike four for Windows.

And the final strike was against yours truly and is perhaps the silliest (and also the one that makes this article appropriate for Linuxgems).   After all this trouble I copied the iso to my MythTV (sitting literally inches from the blu-ray player).   I right clicked the iso, and followed the prompts and 30 seconds later I had an iso ready for my blu ray player.  I was so used to the decade old idea that it was easier to burn stuff in Windows that I didn’t even try it in Linux.  When I did my eyes were opened by how overly complicated I had made things by not trying Linux first.

Final tally:

Blu ray: 1 strike

Insignia: 1 strike

Windows: 4 strikes

Me: 1 giant strike

Now with captchas!

The last day or two somebody found the blog and started spamming the comments section.  All the emails for comment approval started to become a distraction.  So this morning I’ve enabled reCAPTCHA on LinuxGems.

There is a reCAPTCHA plugin for wordpress that makes the captchas a snap to set up.  It probably took about 5 minutes including signing up at recaptcha.net.

If you’re not familiar with reCAPTCHA, they are a bit different from some of the other captchas out there.  reCAPTCHA uses a pair of words.  One of which is a known word and one of which is a word that failed OCR.  To pass the captcha test the user has to get the known word right.

The second word, the one that failed OCR, is actually text from older literature that needs digitizing.  So using reCAPTCHA is a bit of a public service.  When a statistically significant group of people put the same value for a given word then reCAPTCHA knows that they have figured out what the word was.

Slick stuff.

Now with real software!

It’s hard to believe this blog has running for 6 years.  (Sort of.)  Posts have been few and far between because the most recent version of the site was cobbled together using 3 php scripts I threw together in a couple of hours one afternoon.  Adding new articles involved manual database work, which is why things have been so slow since we came back online in ’07.  But no more!

Recently, I installed WordPress for a client of my consulting business and I learned just how easy WordPress is to work with.  And, even better, it does pretty much exactly what I want my blog software to do.  Without some of the extra fluff that other software includes.

So here is to ’09 and the hope of regenerating some of the traffic that this blog used to generate before I started neglecting it.  I’ve imported all the old articles (mostly for posterity at this point).  Check back for new articles soon.

We’re back

After a multi-year hiatus LinuxGems is coming back. The old articles are available on the way-back-machine, so I’ll be reimporting them this week.

The past couple of years I’ve tried to bring the site back a couple of times only to run into more problems. There was an incident where our hosting provider (a good friend of mine) lost a hard drive and another where a different hosting provider was hacked (not our fault!). Our backup policy had been non-existent so in both instances the site was entirely lost. When I realized that a lot of the original LinuxGems articles were still available on the Way back machine, I knew I had to give it another try.