Posted by bernicky - July 31st, 2007

My wife needs a new laptop: What is a techie to do? Well I can purchase a Dell (hahahaha – ok enough joking) or another PC laptop but the trouble with that is they all ship with Windows Vista. There are 5 versions of Windows Vista. An optimist would sat that Microsoft is trying to meet customer needs a techie would say that it’s basically a rip off. The problem is that manufacturers will not sell me a laptop unless I buy a laptop with Windows Vista installed. That I want to use Ubuntu or DreamLinux as my OS is besides the point to the manufacturers. If I purchase a laptop from any laptop vendor – Acer, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba etc – I have to pay for a version of Windows at the same time. Then when I start the laptop I have to choose not to activate the OS at which point I forfeit all support from the vendor for my laptop – which is fine by me as long as there is no hardware failure. The point being that I paid money which Microsoft will receive for something I will not install and never use. To put it bluntly this is Microsoft using a hardware vendor to steal money out of my pocket.

The alternative is of course Apple. Apple has a nice OS – there is only one version of it not 5 – and it has a wide rage of support. Dollar for dollar and Apple laptop is not usually as well appointed as a non Apple laptop and the OS is X based. On the other hand they won’t sell me a laptop without their OS either.

It’s not that I don’t like Apple OS, I do, I just don’t understand why I would pay 1400 for a laptop that doesn’t even have a PCMCIA port. So my choice is to choose a piece of hardware that is over priced but has an OS I can live with or buy the hardware I would like and pay for an OS I will never use. I am leaning more towards the OS than the hardware.

In response to Chris’ comment I tried contacting Dell Canada Sales Service – here is a transcript of the conversation if you are interested. In short it seems that Dell Canada is committed to collecting money for Microsoft and will not give it back to you even if you do not use the OS. I connected using the name Ubuntu – might as well make my desired OS clear.
Session ID: 12704947
8:25:23 PM SystemWelcome Ubuntu …
8:25:23 PM SystemConnecting to server. Please wait…
8:25:23 PM SystemConnected to
8:25:23 PM SystemInitial Question/Comment: Can I get a laptop without an OS? If not can I get a refund for an OS I do not intend to use?
8:25:32 PM SystemCA SALES Suman 1287 has joined this session!
8:25:32 PM SystemConnected with CA SALES Suman 1287
8:25:32 PM CA SALES Suman 1287Welcome to Dell Canada Chat Sales . My name is suman kasula, and I’ll be your personal sales advisor today
8:25:32 PM CA SALES Suman 1287While I review your question, check out our current Hot Deals
8:27:02 PM CA SALES Suman 1287no, its possible to remove OS
8:27:16 PM YouThen will I be refunded for the OS?
8:27:32 PM CA SALES Suman 1287no, not even refund
8:27:57 PM YouSo I am compelled by Dell to buy Microsoft Windows Vista even if I do not want to use it?
8:28:42 PM CA SALES Suman 1287not like that if you want we have systems that comes with XP OS
8:29:06 PM YouI do not want a Microsoft OS. I want a Linux OS.
8:29:23 PM CA SALES Suman 1287yeah
8:29:31 PM YouDell sells it in the USA
8:29:44 PM CA SALES Suman 1287*that is not available in any of our systems
8:30:06 PM CA SALES Suman 1287yes US have that but not Canada
8:30:48 PM YouSo living in Canada if I want to buy I Dell then I MUST buy Microsoft even if I have no intention of using Microsoft?
8:33:39 PM You?
8:33:49 PM CA SALES Suman 1287i understand that
8:33:59 PM CA SALES Suman 1287but i cant help it
8:34:09 PM CA SALES Suman 1287the system has to go with OS
8:34:16 PM YouWhy?
8:34:50 PM CA SALES Suman 1287*no answer
8:35:31 PM YouSo the simple equation is that if I want a Dell then I must pay for a Microsoft product I will not use? Is that an accurate statement?

Yesterday’s 10

Posted by bernicky - July 30th, 2007

I waited a day to report on the 10 because I wanted to see how I felt today after an actual race effort. For my first race back I cannot complain with an official time of 45:26 (which is at odds with my watch time of 46:30). The muscles are a little sore this morning but the course was a brutal one with rolling terrain and three major hills for a total climb of 336 meters (yes hills go down too but that is often harder on you than running up them) over the 10 K. One of our club members was out snapping pics and grabbed this one of me with about 500 meters to go.

almost finished

Not surprisingly I look pretty much the same as I always look in other race photos. 🙂 Funny how that works.

Race day

Posted by bernicky - July 29th, 2007

The most exciting thing about race day was that my son decided to run a 2 K race – woohoo. He is a football player who plays on the offensive line so running is not quite his forte: Still he turned in a decent time at a 5:19 pace.

The starting line

the finish

Here he is pushing hard at the finish line – very cool.

Not to be out done our daughter was swimming again today.

3 ribbons
3rd place in front crawl, breast stroke and fly! Totally cool.

Naturally enough my wife has also been racing dragon boats this weekend at the Montreal Dragon Boat Festival.

dragon boat

It’s almost as if we were a sporting family 🙂

Getting ready

Posted by bernicky - July 26th, 2007

I have been running since about three days after the collarbone was broken. At first it was just a few 5 K runs then a 10 a 3 and a few more 10s. All this in preparation for a race taking place on Sunday in Ste Anne de Bellevue. Originally the 20K event was my target but having been injured for most of June and July and then only being able to start running again with a broken collarbone lead to an easier path as the race organizers agreed to allow me to participate in the 10K instead of the 20K I had registered for. Given the pace I have been able to manage during training runs this week it will be an achievement if I can break 55 minutes on Sunday but that will be my target.

Now more importantly our daughter took part in her first swim meet yesterday turning in 5th place finished in front crawl and breast stroke and a 4th place (missed 3rd by a hand) in butterfly (note she only learned the butterfly the day before).

How cool is that?

My new OS

Posted by bernicky - July 20th, 2007

Living in a dream….

screen capture
This is what my desktop can look like with my new OS – Dreamlinux a Debian based distro.

This is what my main desktop machine now looks like when I boot up.
Making the switch is time consuming and you do have to be a bit of a geek. For the time being I am running a dual boot situation with Windows XP as the second OS until I can locate all the programs I need to do the work I do on the computer. So far I have managed to get the programs I need replaced with Linux version (Microsoft Office replaced with OpenOffice – Adobe Photoshop replaced with GIMP). There are similarities to the way DreamLinux and Mac OSX and Windows all handle the way you use a computer but there is still a learning curve coming to Linux and the way programs and information are handled. I will probably be posting more about this stuff as I get a better handle on it.

Out and about

Posted by bernicky - July 17th, 2007

Being unable to swim, bike or run at the moment I am limited to walking which is much more time consuming for workouts that are not nearly as invigorating. There is always a bright side though and today’s short walk with a camera in hand afforded the opportunity to take some pictures of my town. It was a pleasant walk from my house over to the tennis courts (about 2.5K) and then back along the lake shore to my place. This is my favourite picture of the bunch because the artist I stopped to speak to was quite engaging and the painting was very nice.

Man meets ground at 30 Kph

Posted by bernicky - July 15th, 2007

broken collarbone

The sloping shoulder on the left side of this picture (my right shoulder) took the brunt of a bicycle meets curb incident. Fortunately the resulting fracture was pretty clean, the leg abrasions were minimal and the helmet did its job while my head bounced a few times. The driver of the car which I had glanced back to see when all hell broke loose pulled over immediately and offered assistance which was really nice of her. I always ride with my cell phone and medical card so I thanked her and called my wife.

KitKat my beautiful bicycle emerged with only a few minor scratched on the rims and the right pedal so I arranged to meet my wife a couple of kilometers from the crash site at a Dairy Queen on Ile Perrot. When I arrived there and phoned her I discovered that I had inexplicably told her to go to Ile Bizard – about 15K in the opposite direction! To make things easier I cycled over to John Abbott College which is a place she knows well and she picked me up and took me to the emergency room. An hour and fifteen minutes later after having the x-rays I was fitted with a figure eight brace and sent on my way.

The brace is really cool as it relies on the tension in the straps over your good shoulder and around your back to position and hold the broken clavical in place while it heals. I was specifically ordered off the bike for 4 – 6 weeks but told I could run and/or skate as soon as the pain caused by these activities was bearable. It was an interesting way to end the weekend.

Live from DreamLinux land

Posted by bernicky - July 13th, 2007

This post is being written from an old PIII 450 laptop using a hard drive install of DreamLinux which simply put is the best distro of Linux I have every had the pleasure of using. I used to think Knoppix was something special but even it does not compare to this distribution with its Mac type interface and easy to configure application update and install software called AppGet.

The only thing missing so far is wireless network connectivity with my DWL-G650 card. It will take a little while to get that sorted but at the same time it is really cool that it took no configuration at all to get the PCMCIA network card working with the network. Once I get the wireless working this will be my new road warrior computer. Having found a distro which really works well and intuitively I can now put my mind to learning the programs I want to learn so I can make a final jump from MS on my desktop machine that I use for photo, video and sound editing.

Oh home in the suburbs

Posted by bernicky - July 12th, 2007

We are back – pictures in the Gallery: Look for the files that start with 2007-July for photos from the holiday. There are multiple pages for each gallery just click on Next Page in the top right hand corner to move to the second page of photos.
Niagara Falls was a blast. It is the second time I have been there and it was more fun this time around. We all enjoyed ourselves.

We left the hotel in Belleville on Sunday morning and drove nonstop to Niagara Falls making it to the Skylon Tower just in time for our late lunch reservation at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Lunch at the top of Niagara’s Skylon Tower.

Lunch was good and the view was beautiful. After lunch we went up to the observation deck to look at the falls without glass in the way. We spent the rest of the day walking down to the falls and taking lots of pictures then we went under the falls which was incredible – an amazing thing about this walk into the deep three stories below the falls and a good 10 meters back from the veil of water of which they are comprised is that you can feel the earth rumbling nonstop from the relentless impact of water on water at the base of the falls: The mist is everywhere and the sound at times borders on deafening.

Later in the evening we hit the Clifton Hill strip and visited Louis Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the Rock Legends Wax Museum. It was colourful, tacky, noisy and beautiful all at the same time. Tussaud’s is a wonderful visit once you get over the fact that people don’t always look in “life” how they look on film and that some people may be taller or shorter in person than they appear in the movies. Some of the statues are incredibly lifelike we thought that the statue of Harrison Ford was a real person sitting contemplating one of the displays.

The next day we took early for Marineland and spent the day enjoying the aquatic displays and the amusement park rides. We went to see the seals and sea lions first then moved onto the killer whales. The killer whales were just amazing to see up close. Killer whale mouths are just huge and the speed with which they propel themselves through the water even when just slowly moving their tail is astonishing. It is easy to imagine that these animals are very swift and efficient killers.

Killer whales just soaking in the rays.

Of course while at Marineland we had to go on the Sky Screamer ride which is one of the more unique ways to view Niagara Falls as you are rocketed up into the air and come plunging down to earth while experiencing a brief weightless sensation. After that we headed over to the Dragon loop roller coaster, the bear pit, fish feeding pond and the Beluga whales the day was filled with wonderful experiences and memorable moments.

Belleville Dragonboat Race Report

Posted by bernicky - July 8th, 2007

It was a sunny and breezy day with temperatures in the mid twenties and calm waters. In other words the perfect day for a regatta. The day started off with my wife meeting with the rest of the team in the Ramada Inn restaurant to coordinate their day while the kids and I packed up the room to move everything to the van. There was also a baseball tournament in town and a hockey tournament so we had to vacate our room early and relocate for our second night in Belleville to the Holiday Inn Express (great little hotels).

We drove over to the staging area on the river leading into the bay beneath the Bay Bridge and dropped off all the stuff we would need for the day then parked about a kilometer away. There were teams from all over Ontario at the festival but only one from Quebec our own West Island Dragons – and they had a great day! Their first race of the day they were in against two other womens teams and a mixed crew in one of the community races. Naturally enough the mixed crew (50/50 men and women) won the race by half a boat length but we came in second after being caught flat on a quick call start. The women of the boat were happy with their performance as they should have been. The second race of the day for the crew was for the Canam Breast Cancer Survivor Cup which they won handily. Their last race of the day was a community race final where the crew came in third for a bronze medal. All in all a very productive day on the hardware front.

Dragon head
Every team travels with their own dragon head and tail which is affixed to the front and back of the boat prior to the race.
in the boat
The West Island Dragons about to clear the dock for the first race of the day.

paddles up
Bringing the boat back into the dock after a race.

Getting off the boat
My wife looking happy after an excellent race.

Belleville cup
The West Island Dragons receiving their medals and the Canam Breast Cancer Survivor Cup.

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