Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot....

It's New Year's Eve and everywhere around the world at Midnight, folks will be singing Auld Lang Syne.

"Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old times since?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne."

The reason I mention this is because I happened across some CDs of old photos.  These photos were snapped back in 1999!  Talk about an "old acquaintance!"   Obviously, the photos weren't taken with a digital camera, but rather a conventional Kodak camera with film.  After developing, I would  scan the pictures and transfer them to CD-ROM for safe keeping.

Everything (scanning, editing, saving, etc.) was done using Windows and Windows software programs.

Now, the question is, ten years later, was I able to open these disks and retrieve the photos using Linux?   Well, the answer is YES and the proof is on this page.

The above photo is of me standing in front of the Perry Monument in Put-In-Bay in the summer of 1999!  Put-In-Bay is an island on Lake Erie just north of Sandusky, Ohio. I visited the island along with some fellow Ohio cartoonists and came away with some great memories and a lot of pictures!

A lot has changed in computing since that photo was snapped and scanned almost ten years ago!   Back then, I saved photo scans and artwork as .tif files and did my photo editing using a program called PhotoImpact.  But regardless, using Gimp in Linux, I was able to open the photos, resize, re-rez and save as a Jpeg.

The KDE desktop allows me to preview all photos as thumbnails. And by simply passing my mouse over any thumbnail, the image is enlarged and gives me all file information. Here you can see that the photo from the disk  was indeed taken/scanned back in 1999.

Folks considering making the move to Linux are sometimes a bit hesitant.  They think that their old Windows media files (photos, MP3s, video, sound files, etc.) won't work on a Linux system.   Well, Linux opens these files just fine!  I had no problems at all!  I was also able to quickly copy and move the photos to my new Passport portable hard drive.

So make it your New Year's resolution to move to Linux!   Linux will handle all your old media files and new media files without a hitch!  Play video and music, edit photos, open word documents, and surf the internet with greater stability and more security.  Because, Linux is immune to Windows viruses and spy ware!   With Linux, your old Windows media files will find a safe and secure home.

In  2009, move to Linux and say goodbye to Windows and all it's problems.

Oh, and you may be wondering how I got that photo of me standing in front of the Perry Monument?  I had a little help from a passer-by.

Get Linux.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pay As You Go Computing? Linux is "Free As You Go!"

Microsoft has patented "pay as you go" PC computing.  This means users could purchase low cost computers with usage based fees.  A user would only pay for and use the specific software application needed.

No thanks! 

Let's hope the world wakes up and resists this before Microsoft can deploy such a computing animal.

The good news is, right now, today, Linux has "free as you go" computing.   Just download Linux, install, and you have thousands of free software applications at your fingertips!  Many are already installed, others need only be installed via a Linux distribution's repository.  (And that takes only a couple of mouse clicks!)

You'll also be running Linux.   An operating system supported by millions of users around the world!   And Linux is more stable and secure than Windows!

What's the best way to get "free as you go" computing?  As I've suggested in  the past, find a gently used computer.  Usually, this is a Windows computer someone wants to get rid of because it's infected or simply running slow due to all the bloat ware that's been installed.  Then, get Linux.   Run the Live CD, install from the desktop (you'll be completely overwriting Windows thus getting rid of it and all it's problems), and you're all set!

You'll have the latest version of Linux  and the latest versions of Linux software all ready to work for you.  And the cost is either free or minimal, depending on which Linux distribution you decide to use.  And you won't be constantly shovelling loads of cash into Microsoft's pockets.  As a bonus, you'll be free of Windows viruses and spy ware!  You'll also become part of a wonderful and helpful user community.

So get Linux and stay off the money treadmill Microsoft is planning to build with pay as you go computers.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Linux Compression

Linux can compress files and folders in differnt formats. It will compress as .gz, .bz2, .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, and .zip.

All these compression schemes have specific jobs.  And you can see a discussion and history each here.

The one you'll probably be using most often is .zip.  And Linux makes it easy.  Simply right click on the file or folder (as shown in the screen shot) select "compress As" and then select the compression format from the list.  Linux takes care of the rest!

Linux uses Ark as the GUI front end for compressing files and folders.  So you can additionally open Ark as a program and perform archival and compression functions.

Linux and Ark make compression easy!  You can zip up a file or folder for emailing or archival purposes.   running Ark, you can also add to or remove form the archive you're working with.

And Ark comes with Linux for free and already installed.

So get a better compession utility on a better operating system.  Get Linux.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Linux By The Book.

When I first started out using Linux, one of the first things I did was visit my local book store.  I immediately went to the computer section to seek out any and all books that dealt with Linux. I picked up one called "Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux."  The book was a terrific find!  And it was recommended to me by the author himself!  Peter was a member of the Linspire community and made a habit of visiting the Linspire forums and answering questions about Linux.  The book was well written, easy to follow,  and geared toward the first-time Linux user.   All my obvious questions about Linux operations and "moves" were quickly answered.  I also was given a book called "The No-Nonsense Guide" by a Linspire community member. He shipped it to me for free.  (See? I told you these Linux forum folks were friendly!)

Anyhow, the point is, sometimes you need to have information in one place right in front of you.  And, at times, the best location is in a well-written Linux book.  (I'm willing to bet you own a Windows book or two.  You used the book as a guide when you first sat down in front of a Windows system).

The neat thing is, many of these Linux books have a Linux distribution on disk right in the book!  So, not only do you get a great beginner's guide to Linux, you get Linux, as well!   Just pop it in your computer, reboot, and the live CD runs Linux. You can then learn Linux by the book and on your computer.

Linspire was sold to Xandros Linux.  But I wouldn't let that concern you too much.  The information in both books is still very helpful. And the great thing is, these books are much more affordable then when they first came out (only a couple of bucks on amazon!).   You'll be getting the Linspire Linux disk with either book.  So, you'll still be learning Linux.   You can learn the OS, visit the Freespire forums (the free version of Linspire) with your additional questions, and when you feel comfortable, move to a newer Linux distribution.  Maybe even Xandros.

Get a bargain book and then get Linux.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Firefox! Right Now!

Spreadfirefox Affiliate Button

I was Surfing web and once more came across an article regarding the huge security flaw in Internet Explorer.  In part, the article reads:

 "Microsoft Corp. is taking the unusual step of issuing an emergency fix for a security hole in its Internet Explorer software that has exposed millions of users to having their computers taken over by hackers.
The "zero-day" vulnerability, which came to light last week, allows criminals to take over victims' machines simply by steering them to infected Web sites; users don't have to download anything for their computers to get infected, which makes the flaw in Internet Explorer's programming code so dangerous. Internet Explorer is the world's most widely used Web browser.
Microsoft said it plans to ship a security update, rated "critical," for the browser on Wednesday. People with the Windows Update feature activated on their computers will get the patch automatically."

Do you really want to avoid this kind of situation in the future?  Get Firefox!  Now!  Just click on the above banner and it'll take you to the Firefox web site where you can download and install Firefox to your Windows system.

If you want to REALLY be secure, then get Linux.  Linux is more stable and secure than Windows.  Linux also comes with Firefox pre-installed.  And Linux isn't prone to Windows' viruses, spy ware, and Trojans.

Make it your New Year's resolution for 2009.  Get FirefoxGet Linux.

Friday, December 26, 2008

'Twas The Day After Christmas

"'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house
no computer was working, not even its mouse.
The disks were all scattered on the living room floor,
and parents were yelling, "Windows Vista?!!  No More!"

I'm sure you can imagine how the rest of this could go.  Rather  than warble on with a parody of "Twas the Night Before Christmas", I'd much prefer to show you your next Linux computer!

Here it is! The Asus EEE Box.  This is very similar to Asus' line of netbook computers. But the great thing is, regardless of whether you get the Linux or Windows verison, you'll still be running Linux.  This is because Asus installed a quickboot Operating system on the EEE Box called Express Gate (Also called Splashtop)

Express Gate is built on Linux and is intended to be an "Instant On" feature to get you up and running in about  7 seconds.  So, if you just want to check your email, visit a news website, etc., you can do so in a flash by booting Express Gate.  Then, if you need to do some word processing or other task, you can boot into your main operating system of Windows XP Home or Linux (depending on which version you buy).  But either will still come with Linux Express Gate.

The EEE Box is meant to be a small, yet powerful, computer that takes up little desk space.  You can even mount it on the back of your LCD monitor!  The EEE box runs on an 1.6 GHz Atom processor and comes with 1 gig of RAM. It also has USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks and card reader. there is no optical drive.  It does come with a keyboard and mouse and is Wi-Fi enabled.

Although the system is still quite new to the market and few reviews are available, I'd still put my money on the Linux version of the EEE box.  It's a Xandros Linux distribution and has proven itself to be stable and secure on the EEE line of Netbooks.  And, of course, it's Linux so you won't have all those Windows problems with viruses, spy ware, and crashes. 

The price advertised is $350.00.  I've already seen it for less on sites like

For a terrific introductory review, check out's quick look here.

So if Santa brought you a Windows computer that's already giving you problems, take it back to the North Pole and swap it out for the Linux version of the EEE Box!

Get Linux.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas! Has Your New Windows System Crashed Yet?

It's Christmas!  And this morning, kids young and old have scrambled downstairs to tear into the gifts lined around the Christmas tree.  For some very lucky individuals, Santa may have left a band new laptop or desktop computer.  And because Santa's elves have a close working relationship with Microsoft, these computers come with Windows pre-installed.  Santa has been trying for years to convince the elves to at least give Linux a try.  But they just won't break these old habits. (It took them years to understand they needed to make video games instead of wooden toys!)

This is why Santa left word with me to make sure all these new computers have access to Linux.   This is because Santa knows these Windows systems, sooner or later,  are going to slow down, catch a nasty virus, or get infected with a piece of spyware.  So, if you did receive a new computer from Santa, make sure you go here and download a copy of any of the Linux distributions listed.  Burn the ISO file to disc and when you get a chance, pop it into your CD tray and give it a run.

Santa's not saying you should install Linux to your new system right now.  Just make sure to hang on to this disk.  Because at some point, when Windows refuses to run, you can always boot this disk and retrieve your data before sending your machine off for repairs.   At that moment, you'll understand how terrific Linux is.

Then, sometime in the New Year, make sure to get Linux.    It'll keep that new computer running better than ever.

Linux is Santa's free gift to you from him (and me).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Linux! The Last Minute Christmas Gift!

It's Christmas Eve!  Do you need a last minute Christmas gift for someone?  Give them Linux!  It's easy and only costs you a blank CD/DVD and a little bit of time.

Simply go to and download any of the Linux versions up there.  Then burn the ISO file to disk.  You can download a label for the most popular Linux distros right at their web sites. Or you can do a search on Google and get lots of results for Linux labels.  Here's one for Ubuntu.  Print out the label on label paper, affix it to the Linux disk, stick it in a disk envelope, wrap, and you're done!

And you'll be giving a great gift that will keep giving all year round! Linux will  allow the recipient's computer to run more safely and securely than Windows!   In addition, it'll free their computer from Windows viruses, spyware, Trojans, and other nasty infections.

So, make it a great Christmas!  Give Linux!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just Pick Up Any Pen Or Pencil

The title of this particular blog post may be a bit misleading. It's not meant to be. It's meant to make a point about Linux and all the software that runs on Linux.

Allow me to explain.

My cartoonist friend, the late Wesley Alexander would call me regularly and we'd discuss cartooning, politics, sports, etc. It's the cartooning discussions that were the most engaging. One of the topics that would come up over and over would be the tools of the trade. As cartoonists, we'd always be in search of the ultimate pen, pencil, or brush. That ever elusive drawing utensil that would magically lay down a line so clean and precise it would transform a drawing from mediocre to a masterpiece.

But Wes would always point out that, as cartoonists, we should be able to just grab and work with whatever pen or pencil was nearby. Because, despite certain intricacies, there's really not much difference between pens and pencils. They all work the same.

So it is with Linux. Linux works just like Windows. OpenOffice and Gimp work just like Microsoft Office and PhotoShop. If you know how to use Windows, MSOffice, and Photoshiop (or similar photo editing program), you can use Linux, OpenOffice, and Gimp (and all the other great Linux programs!).

Don't let the pro Microsoft folks intimidate you. Linux is friendly and familiar. It just won't get infected with Windows viruses or give you a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death).

Get Linux.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Top 11 Reasons To Give (Or Get) Linux For Christmas!

Here are my top 11 reasons to give Linux for Christmas.

11. Linux is stable. You can run Linux for months without ever having to reboot.
10. No BSOD. Linux doesn't crash (or rarely crashes) like Windows. So, you won't see a Blue Screen Of Death.
9. Linux is secure. Linux utilizes user accounts and a main administrative account (root). Each process runs at user level. As a result, without the root password, you can't trash you entire Linux system. Mom and dad can each have a user account and give a user account to each child. As long as the kids don't run at administrative level (which is why Windows gets infected system wide) each user account stays secure. No one can get into another's files, documents, or data.
8. No windows viruses. Linux is immune to Windows viruses, trojans and spyware.  You don't need an anti-virus program.
7. Unique Desktop environments. Linux has different desktop environments (Window Managers for X) to choose from. You can pick a Linux distro that runs KDE, Gnome, Xfce and others. Or pick a Linux distro that runs the most popular! when you boot Linux, you can pick whethr to run KDE or Gnome or whatever else may be available.
6. Customization. The Linux desktop can be customized in a million different ways using themes, window decorations, colors, fonts, icons, etc. You can add additional panels (tool bars) and run multiple desktops. You can make Linux uniquely yours with its own look and feel.
5. Thousands of free software apps. Through the use of the Linux repository (software warehouse), you have access to thousands of powerful open source software applications.
4. User forums and the Linux community. Linux is supported by millions of users worldwide. These users populate forums and other community discussion groups. They want you to succeed in using Linux. They are ready to help whenever you have a question about running Linux! And Linux users are the friendliest folks around!
3. Virtual Machines. If you really need to run Windows due to a specific application, Linux has free virtual machine software! VirtualBox, for instance, will allow you to install Windows (or other operating systems) and run it safely within Linux.
2. Portability. Linux can be installed on a CD-ROM/DVD (as a "Live CD") or thumb drive. You can then take Linux wherever you go. If Linux is on a thumb drive, you can plug it into a host computer, do your work, and never have the host computer touch your files or data. This is especially nice if you travel a lot and only have access to a public computer.
1. Linux is free. Linux is free to give, free to share, free to modify and free to distribute. You can download and install Linux to as many computers you own.  You can also give Linux to friends.  Because Linux is open source, you can open up Linux and modify/improve it's code.  You can also create your own Linux distribution and sell it to others (like the folks at Mandriva. Xandros, and Kiowa do). Linux is about freedom.  Freedom to use the OS and share it with others.

So this Christmas, give Linux.  Because, the computer your family member/friend got for Christmas is going to crash or become infected with a virus.  They're going to need Linux.

*Linux is so great, it's hard to limit the number of reasons to just ten or eleven.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Giving (Or Getting) an MP3 Player for Christmas?

Ever since Apple introduced the iPod, MP3 players have been one of the hottest gifts for Christmas. And the key to getting those MP3 players to work is having a reliable and dependable computer system. If you run Linux, then you not only have a reliable, hassle free operating system, but you also have access to one of the greatest MP3 music programs around. It's called Amarok. And Amarok does it all. It organizes your music, gives you audio track information, stats, and syncs up with your MP3 player.

Other Linux programs like Gimp, OpenOffice and Scribus have been cross platform compatible. You can download Windows or Mac versions and try them out before you make the move over to Linux. In the past, Amarok was only available on Linux. Recently, though, Amarok has been made available for Windows and Mac, although these are not officially supported. But Amarok is so powerful, feature packed, and unique, the best way to really test drive Amarok is to run Linux.

To show you how terrific Amarok is, I've included some screen shots.

In the screen shot at left, Amarok is displaying the album cover of the current track that's playing. It also has found other tracks on my hard drive that are from the same album. In addition, it tells me how often I've played a specific track.

In the second screen shot, Amarok has found the lyrics for the current track playing. All you karaoke enthusiasts can sing along! Amarok has a number of lyric scripts that can be downloaded and run. These scripts find the song's lyrics from around the web. These scripts are community created and supported thanks to Amarok being open source.

Screen shot three shows how Amarok obtains Wikipedia information on the current artist playing. In this case, I'm playing "The Christmas Waltz" by Frank Sinatra off his Christmas With The Rat Pack CD. Amarok goes directly to Wikipedia and finds the page detailing Frank Sinatra's life and career.

And lastly, I mentioned that Amarok syncs up with MP3 devices and players. This can be done automatically or manually. When the MP3 player is synced, dragging and dropping music back and forth between Amarok and the device is incredibly easy.

So, if you want to manage and enjoy your music with greater ease and actually "rediscover your music",then get Linux and get Amarok.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Merry Christmas Scribus Card!

One of the most powerful programs that comes with Linux is the desktop publishing program Scribus! Scribus is a full featured open source desktop publishing program that rivals some top end programs found on Mac and Windows machines. As their web site states:

"Scribus is an open-source program that brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/Unix, MacOS X, OS/2 and Windows desktops with a combination of "press-ready" output and new approaches to page layout. Underneath the modern and user friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation."

To prove this point, last year I produced my annual George Christmas card entirely on Linux using Scribus. The results were terrific!

To say Merry Christmas, I'm making this card available to you as a free download. The card was designed to fit inside a #10 envelope. Simply download the PDF, print out on both sides of a heavy sheet of paper, cut (there are faint blue lines to guide you), and you'll have three George Christmas cards to send to family and friends. I also left some space on the backside so you can add your own greeting. Hurry and download! I can only keep it online for a few days.

Get Linux and get Scribus. And get your free George Christmas card here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ubuntu Easy Installation Tutorial

In keeping with yesterday's post on test driving Linux, PC World has a terrific step by step Ubuntu Linux installation guide. This guide has terrific screen shots and clearly tells you what happens when you install Ubuntu.  It spells out what to expect every step of the way!

Lots of folks want to try Linux but become a bit intimidated when they read or hear that they have to partiton a hard drive or overwrite Windows, etc.   My advice has always been to install Linux on a second system.  Lots of families, schools, community centers, etc. have older systems that have been discarded only because of a Windows virus or bug.  These systems are still viable and useful.  Usually, these "older" systems are no more than two or three years old. They still pack plenty of power and memory!  Even if you have to give the person or group 50 bucks, grab one of these systems and install Linux.  Two things happen:

1.) You learn something new about computers without compromising or destroying your vital data on your primary system.
2.)  once Linux is installed, you have,for all practical purposes,  a BRAND NEW COMPUTER!  Linux is going to bring new life to this system.

If you're new to Linux and want to give it a try, I recommend you read through this guide, print it out, download Ubuntu( or get the CD).

Then, get yourself an older used system, install Linux and take the first step to leaving Windows behind!

Get Linux!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Test Drive Linux!

Trying out Linux is quite easy.   You download an ISO file, burn it to disc, pop the disk into your Windows computer, and restart.   If you're running Windows XP or higher, the CD-ROM will be your first boot device.  The Linux disk will boot instead of the Windows operating system.

When this Linux disk boots, it's actually running the Linux Operating system. Linux runs, on the fly, right off the disk!   Programs and apps are decompressing off the disk as you launch them.

The neat thing is, your computer's hard drive and Windows files will not be touched.  You can then test drive Linux.  Try Firefox, OpenOffice, Gimp, and other Linux applications.  You can see if your hardware (audio, video, etc.) works with the particular Linux distribution you might be testing.  If you like Linux, you can then double click the desktop icon and install the operating system directly to your hard drive. Please note!  If you do decide to install Linux to your hard drive, you will be overwriting Windows and all your important files!  Before you install Linux, make sure you back up all your important files! 

I much prefer the two system approach.  Find a computer system that you no longer wish to have running Windows.  Nowadays, every family has one that is so infected or clogged,they welcome getting rid of Windows!  Make this your secondary  system.  Install Linux on this system.  This way, you can continue to run Windows and have access total your important files.  But, you'll have a fast, safe, secure Linux system running right alongside.  You'll be able to compare the two.  And I'll bet you'll be running the Linux system far more than the Widows system.  Pretty soon, you'll be leaving Windows altogether.

For whatever reason, some folks may not want to download an ISO file and burn to disk.  No problem.  Ubuntu will send you a Linux disk for FREE!  They'll even pay for the postage.   Just go here and fill out the form!

So now, you don't have an excuse.  You can download Linux yourself or the folks at Ubuntu will send you Linux for free!

Either way, Get Linux and get a better operating system!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

IE Bugged By Bug.

Microsoft recently admitted that a critical new bug affects all IE browsers.

"Microsoft said research confirmed that the bug is within all its browsers, including those it currently supports -- IE5.01, IE6 and IE7 -- as well as IE8 Beta 2, a preview version that the company doesn't support through normal channels.

Users running any of those browsers on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Server 2003 or Server 2008 are at risk, Microsoft said."

Okay, do you want your Windows system to be more secure than it is right now? Do you want to reduce the risk? The solution is simple. Run the Firefox browser, not IE.

Firefox 3 is faster, safer and smarter.

Do you REALLY want to be more secure than ever? Get Linux! Linux isn't prone to Windows viruses, Trojans or bugs. And Linux already has Firefox pre-installed!

Get a better Browser. Get a better operating system. Get Firefox. Get Linux.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Want One!

The Google Phone.  I want one!  Why?  Well, its operating system, Android, is based on Linux.  So, it's an open source phone.

"Google has since announced that all parts of the OS will be released under the Apache License where applicable and under the GPL elsewhere."

And the really slick thing about the phone is that it syncs up with your Google account and all your Google apps.  So, if you ever break your phone, your contacts, email, calendar, etc. are always available.  Because they're on the web in your Google account!

But the thing that will really make this phone take off is the open source approach. Developers from all walks of life have developed (and are developing) apps for the phone. You can, too!  You can get download the Andriod SDK (Software Developer's Kit) here

Check out this video of an app one developer came up with (Montan State college student Jeff Sharkey).  It's called "CompareEverywhere" and allows the user to shop for the best price for a specific item.

You can also view other developers' videos here.

Because the phone is taking the open source/Linux approach, I expect big things.  It's going to be exciting to see this phone grow and develop.  It already has a list of great cutting edge features:

Touch Screen
QWERTY Keyboard
One-Touch Google Search
Real Web Browsing
Easy Access to Google Apps
3G Network and Wi-Fi Access
3.2 Megapixel Camera
YouTube™ Videos
Music Player
Android™ Market
Customizable Home Screen
Colors Options

You can see all the features here.

I think the slide out keyboard is a real plus.  It certainly makes typing easier for searching on the web or texting messages.

The G1!  It's Linux, Google, and open source! You can't go wrong!

Get Linux!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas 1960.

This is a famous photo within my family.   It shows me and my brothers with Santa Claus.  The year was 1960.  And thanks to digital technology, I was able to scan it in and preserve it for years to come.  It's one of my favorite Christmas photos. (There are five boys in my family. This photo was snapped a few years before my kid brother Dave arrived on the scene.) And because I run Linux, I'm able to do some pretty amazing things with this photo.  That's because Linux has a load of free software already bundled and installed. Once you install Linux to your computer, these programs are only one click away.  One of the most powerful programs that comes with Linux is The Gimp. Gimp is the Linux "PhotoShop" offering. And it's powerful and easy to use!

I've blogged about Gimp before, but using the 1960 Christmas photo as an example, I want to show you some of Gimp's "one click" tools. These are the filter effects that you can apply to your own photos.  All it takes is opening Gimp's Filters menu, picking the filter, making a few adjustments to the filter (if required), and clicking.  Done.  The effect will be applied.

Let's add a drop shadow to the photo.  Simply go up to the Filters menu, select "Light and Shadow",  and pick the "Drop Shadow" filter.  A dialogue box opens where you can adjust the distance of the shadow, how transparent you want it to be, its blur (the softness of the shadow's edges), and the color of the shadow.  Click and you're done. You'll get a result like the one at left.

Another fun effect is applying a canvas to a photo.  Again, open the filters menu, select "Artistic" and then "Apply Canvas" from the sub-menu. Adjust the properties (Direction and Depth) as to how you want the canvas applied.  You'll be able to see the result in a real time preview before finalizing.  Click "OK" and the canvas will be applied.

And the Gimp also has animation effects.  These are always useful if you want to add a bit of movement or splash to your web site or blog.  Again, with Gimp, all it takes is a couple of clicks.  I'm going to apply the "Spinning Globe" animation filter to the photo. The first thing I do is crop the photo so it's a perfect square. This way, the globe will be a nice round shape and not an oblong egg shape.  I select "Filters" then "Animation" and then "Spinning Globe."  I select the number of frames I want to create, the direction I want the globe to spin, etc.  After Gimp creates all the frames (as layers) I export as a gif animation file, select the delay time and other options, and my animation is created.  (Click on the spinning globe to see the animation in full size.)

When you get Linux, you not only get a safe and secure operating system, you get thousands of software packages that allow you to do anything and everything with your computer. Linux and Gimp  will unleash your computer's power!

Get Linux.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Linux. There Are No Stupid Questions.

When I first started out in Linux, I was known as a "Noob", or Newbie.   This is slang for "New User."  As a new Linux user,  it's only natural to have a lot of questions.  I remember I went to a discussion group and was greeted by some really nice folks.

As I became more involved with Linux, I found specific community forums dedicated to specific Linux distributions.  The one I really enjoyed was the Linspire forum. the Linspire forum has since developed into the Freespire user forum.  The folks up there are absolutely some of the most wonderful and helpful Linux users around.  I credit them with really getting me up and running with Linux. Why? Because there was no such thing as a stupid question.  The users in the Freespire group never judged me by my questions.  hey were happy to answer my questions regardless of how many times they may have heard them or how "stupid" they may have sounded.

I find this is true with many Linux community forums.

Some of the most helpful Linux community forums are Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Freespire.

There are many other forums which may be specific to the Linux distribution you decide to use.

The Linux community is the most giving, helpful, and patient group I've ever encountered.  They want you get the most out of Linux!

So, go ahead and ask your questions. You'll get answers. 

Get Linux.  Ask questions.  Leave Windows behind.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Teaching Teachers About Linux.

About a year or so ago, I visited the local Computer store. I can't remember why I was there. I may have been picking up some ink or some such thing. Since it was a Saturday, I had some extra time to kill, so I wandered over to the area where desktops and laptops were on display for sale.

I happened to overhear a salesman speaking with a young woman about a particular desktop system. She was asking a lot of questions. It was obvious from her questions that she was quite new to computers. She asked about Microsoft Office. She asked about Adobe PhotoShop. She asked which program runs spreadsheets, which program allows here to type documents, which program let her go up to the internet. As she asked these questions, the salesman was giving her the software title, it's price, and adding it into the total cost of the computer system (only because she stated that the needed MSOffice, PhotoShop, etc. ).

The price of the system with all this software ballooned to about $2500.00. The young woman was a bit shocked by this, but said she needed to have all this on her system. After she was given this final price, she thanked the salesman and told him she would think it over.

I did some more window shopping and a little while later bought my items and left the store. As I was walking across the parking lot, I crossed paths with the young woman. We glanced and said hello to one another. She recognized that I was nearby when she was looking at computers. Our conversation went something like this:

Her: "Wow! Can you believe how expensive these computers are?"

Me: "Yeah. But you're paying for Windows and all that top shelf software the sales rep was bundling. If you don't really need those specific titles, you really should look into open source software."

Her: "Open source? What's that?"

Me: "Open source is software without any restrictions. It's free software. It's free to use, free to give, and free to improve and develop. It's largely community driven. Ever hear of OpenOffice?"

Her: "Open what?"

me: "OpenOffice. It's a free Office suite of applications. It's fully compatible with MSOffice and it's free to download."

Her: "Free?!"

Me: "Yeah. So is The Gimp. It does everything PhotoShop does, but it, too, is free. Ever hear of Linux?"

Her: "Linux? No what is it?"

I gave her a brief overview of Linux. I then was happy to write down web addresses, where to get OpenOffice, The Gimp, Linux distributions, etc. I told her she should really give these programs a look. They would save her a lot of money. Money she could apply to perhaps putting more memory on her system, or towards a printer, or just even saving.

As we were parting, I was curious what she did for a living.

Me: "By the way, what do you do for a living that you need a new computer?"

Her: "I'm a school teacher. The department says I need to get a system to run spreadsheets fro grading and other things. I guess I need Office for that. I have to have it at home so I can enter grades over the web and access other school documents. "

I was a bit surprised that a school teacher was a bit behind the curve in using computers. But, everyone has to start some place. And to her credit, she was out there doing her research, gathering information, and pricing systems. And she was open to hearing my suggestions about OpenOffice, Gimp, Linux and open source software.

So, I don't blame her. She was still new to the entire computer scene and only doing what other faculty and school administrators had told her to do. And that is: Windows, Windows, Windows.

This is why I always share Linux/Open Source information with whomever I happen to run into. I also make a point of having a few Linux disks handy. I hand these out to folks who are just plain tired of Windows and all it's problems with spyware and viruses.

I hope that by showing this teacher the advantages of Open Source software and Linux, she was able to at least introduce it to others at her school. Linux is perfect for schools! It's stable, secure, and can save schools thousands of dollars!

So, teach your teachers something new for a change. Show them Linux!

Get Linux!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yesterday, Browsers. Today, Operating Systems!

Yesterday, I mentioned Stat Counter, the stats package that runs on this blog.  It coounts the numberof visitors that come to and then is able to graphically show a variety of general  information.

As their own site explains, "The idea behind a web tracker is very simple and has been around for many years. Essentially you place a small piece of code on your website, when someone visits your website, that small piece of code is executed and the visitor's public details (ip address, browser, operating system, referrer, page title and url etc) are analysed and stored for reporting to you later."

In short, Stat Counter is taking the general public information and presenting it in a way that can help bloggers respond better to their readers/visitors.

And I came across something that really made me sit up!
Take a look at the graph at left.  Of all the visitors we've had so far at, Linux users and Windows XP users are running neck and neck!  39.45% are running Linux and 39.45% are running Windows XP.  Windows Vista users are a distant second. This tells me that, possibly, two things are happening:

1.)  Linux users (new and established) have found this blog and want information, tips, ticks, etc. to help/enhance their use of the operating system. Well, I'll make sure to respond.  I'll continue to write about Linux, its ease of use, terrific software, and helpful community. 

2.)  Windows users are visiting because they are possibly considering switching to Linux.  I can safely assume that they're looking for information on how to exactly to do this.  Well, I'll make sure to continue to post links to Wikis, forums, news, articles, and other information that will help those wanting to switch to Linux better able to make a smooth transition. I'll continue to write about my own experiences and those things,  major and minor, I come across that make Linux such a terrific OS.

So, my thanks to all who visit this blog!  I appreciate your patronage!  And if you run Linux, bravo!  If you WANT to run Linux, I want to help you get there.

Get Linux.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bravo, Everyone!

One of the great things about blogging is the amazing number of tools at your immediate disposal. There's everything from gadgets to embedded images and video to active links to stats packages! It's amazing! And it's that last tool, the stats package, that I'd like to briefly discuss.

It's called Stat Counter and it's a free statistical package that allows you to get a count of the number of visitors coming to your blog or web site.  Well, I was interested in how many folks visited us here at, so I installed it.   And happily, it's not at all intrusive.   It collects the same kind of general information that any other website/server logs, except that it presents you with the information in a variety of graphs and pictorial representations.  It's free and quite popular in the blogosphere. 

I just checked the stats package that runs on this blog and was happy to see that over 45% of the visitors use the Firefox 3.0 browser! In addition, 21.18% use Firefox 2.0.

More than half of One Click Linux's visitors (66%!) use the Firefox browser!

This is so great to see! The word on Open Source Software and it's security and stability is spreading far and wide!

If you use Linux, Firefox is the default browser.   So, after you've installed Linux, and when your desktop comes up, double click the Firefox icon and away you go!  If you use Windows, you'll want to switch to Firefox.  It's a faster and safer browser. You can download Firefox 3.0 here.   Once you use Firefox, you'll never go back to Internet Explorer.  And after you experience all the community support for Firefox, the add-ons, themes, and how customizable it is, you'll then want to switch to Linux.  Like Firefox, Linux is incredibly customizable and user friendly.  Linux also has a huge community to help you along...and it's FREE!

Linux and Firefox make web-surfing safe, secure and more enjoyable.

Get Linux. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Customize Linux using Multiple Desktops

As I've mentioned before on this blog, the really great thing about Linux is how customizable it is. For instance, the Linux KDE desktop has the ability to run more than one desktop. You can set up to as many as 20 desktops, run applications on each and never have to figure out where your application is or navigate through the Windows clutter.  Just move over to the desktop, click, and your application is right there.

This is done through a little app called Pager.   Pager sits on your tool bar and provides you the means to navigate to the different desktops.

In this screen shot (At left.  Click for a larger view), you can see how I'm running Pager in the top and bottom tool bars. I'm running a total of eight desktops.  I've used Kmag (another great litle Linux app that already comes pre-installed!)  to zoom in and show you how Pager can be further customized to give you thumbnail images of each desktop's wallpaper.

Again, Here's desktop 8 in full view.  you can see the thumbnail of the Sydney Opera House in the Pager thumbnail in the top tool bar.  ( I run Pager in the bottom tool bar but only have the desktop numbers displayed.)  By the way, this photo and many others I run on my desktops are courtesy of GlobeTrotter 2000. His photos are up on Flickr.  These are some of the best photos of city skylines and other global landmarks I ever seen.  Absolutely worth a visit!

When it comes to customizing your desktop and giving it a unique look, there's no comparison to Windows! Linux wins hands down! and al the features are already built in and free!  With Windows, in order to get even close to this kind of customization, the user has to purchase third party plug-ins.  And these need to be run in the background using much- needed memory and other system resources.

Get a unique and customized desktop.  Get Linux!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

USB Drives Better With Linux!

I needed a new external, portable storage drive. I've been using the LaCie Globetrotter which I bought about five years ago. This was a 40 gigabyte USB hard drive that also had Mandrake (now Mandriva) Linux pre-installed. I could plug into a computer and then run Linux right from this hard drive. It was my first introduction to Linux. (By the way, you can get Linux pre-installed on thumb drives. This a great way to try Linux, carry it with you, etc.)
After I got involved in Linux a bit more, I installed it to my computer and was dual booting with Windows. I  then bought a new Linux system about a year later.  Not needing this LaCie drive for Linux anymore, I simply used it for storage.
Well, all this storage use (taking it between office and studio, backing up files, saving, rewriting, etc.) finally caught up with it. It looks like my LaCie may be on its last legs. So, I decided to buy a new USB portable hard drive. I visited my local MicroCenter store and was happy to see they had a nice slection. I opted for a Western Digital drive. This one is called the Passport (The Elite model).  It measures about 4.75 inches by 3 inches and weighs next to nothing.  It also comes with a carrying pouch.  The Passport can be purchased for as little as $80.00.  The Elite model is a bit pricier ($169.99), but I wanted the added storage space because this drive does double duty.  It's used for backing up Cartoon art files in my studio and saving files we generate in the office.  (accounting files, scanned paperwork, Sky Window orders, etc.)  More storage is better than less.

I brought it home, plugged it into my Linux Mint system and the Elite Passport came to life.   The great thing about running this drive on Linux is avoiding all the Windows bloatware that comes with these devices.

Usually when a drive like this is plugged into a Windows system, a multitude of programs launch asking you to set up automatic backup or some other "Ease of Use" routine.  And the Passport is no different. I have not yet plugged this drive into a Windows system, but there's an "autorun.inf" file present on the drive.  This means that when the drive is plugged into a Windows system, a bunch of these preloaded programs will automatically launch.  My opinion is, these "Ease of Use" programs do nothing more than clog the drive and confuse things.  It also depends on how they are written and how much of the computer's resources are eaten up to allow these additional programs to run in the background.

As my nephew Mike pointed out on his Blog

"Most people buy their computers from retail stores which come loaded with garbage third-party software. Many of you know that quality software is usually lightweight, and shouldn't put a strangle hold on your computer's resources (exception: games). Burning a CD, editing a photo, instant messaging, or simple web browsing shouldn't require some sort of processor hungry, memory eating piece of software--but the pre-built systems that people buy have all of this garbage coming up in the toolbar right on the first boot into Windows. No wonder why people complain about slow loading times! If you do have a pre-built Windows system, the first thing you should do is ditch the garbageware! If you have programs loading on boot that don't need to be, click on start--> run --> and then type in "msconfig". Under the startup tab you can uncheck any unnecessary software that you don't need loading upon start up."
Linux avoids all this. It doesn't recognize these Windows executable and autorun files.  So, when the drive is plugged in, it comes right up.  But none of these programs automatically launch to pester you.

So, get more out of you portable USB hard drive.  Get real ease of use.  Run in on Linux.

Get Linux.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Koobface Virus. Had Enough Yet?

Facebook was recently attacked by the Koobface Virus.   This Virus  gets hold of your machine, turns it into a zombie and steals your personal information.  It's been attacking Facebook users.  They get a spam message when they log into their account and are duped into downloading and installing the virus. detected this threat and reported on it here.

But here's the most telling part of their report:  "Messages and comments on MySpace and Facebook include links to http://youtube.[skip].pl. If the user clicks on this link, s/he is redirected to http://youtube.[skip].ru, a site which purportedly contains a video clip. If the user tries to watch it, a message appears saying that s/he needs the latest version of Flash Player in order to watch the clip. However, instead of the latest version of Flash Player, a file called codecsetup.exe is downloaded to the victim machine; this file is also a network worm. The result is that users who have come to the site via Facebook will have the MySpace worm downloaded to their machines, and vice versa."

Did you get that?  The file is called, "codecsetup.exe."  That ".exe" on the end of the file name clearly identifies this as a virus that attacks Windows systems.  It's an executable file.   If you double click this file and run it on your system, game over. and the reason why this happens is beause Windows gives all users full administrative privileges unless they modify their user account.

Linux doesn't allow this. Linux is set up as a multi-user computing system.  Each user only has privileges for their account.  In order to take any action system wide, the user must log into the root (administrator) account.  to do this, the root password is needed.   So, if mom and dad hold the root password, the kids aren't going to be able to get to the administration level and mess up the computer system wide.

In addition, this virus is designed for and targeted at Windows.  Linux does not run .exe (Windows executable) files. Even if you accidentally downloaded it to your Linux system, it would not run.  Linux simply does not recognize the .exe file.

So, if you really want to enjoy using Facebook without losing your privacy or personal information, get Linux.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ogg files and My Sangean!

Previously, I wrote about my Sangean WFR-20 internet radio and how amazing it is.  Well, there's one more important reason I forgot to mention and it involves Linux.

Linux uses the OGG file format for digital music.  Although Linux can support and play MP3s, many folks who move over to Linux find that the OGG file format is better.  And it's not restricted by software patents, etc. It's free and open source.

Why do I mention this?   Well, the Sangean WFR-20 has the ability to stream digital music files from your computer directly to the radio.  And, here's the important Linux part...the WFR-20 supports OGG files. So, if you run Linux and have a lot of music saved in the OGG format, the Sangean WFR-20 will play them!  It's one of the many reasons why I chose this radio!   It supports a multitude of music and streaming formats. 

It shows that the tech world is recognizing that more and more people are switching over to open source formats and Linux.

If you're hoping Santa brings you a Wi-Fi radio this Christmas, this is the one you want to see under your tree!  And if you're looking for a nice gift to give, I highly recommend this radio and a Linux Mint DVD/CD. This way, they can enjoy a terrific radio while using their computer and surfing the web without worry of Windows viruses or spyware!

Get Linux!  Ho! Ho! Ho!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Such a Downer!

Windows can be Such A Downer!  By "Downer" I mean it can be a depressing experience.
However, my nephew Mike gives a very good, balanced look at Windows on his new Blog,  Such a Downer.  He talks about life's foibles and frustrations that, from time to time, get us all down.

My opinion is, anymore, Windows is a big target.  It gets attacked daily by viruses, spyware, pop-ups, malware, and all sorts of nasty executable files which could wreak havoc. If you want to get the target off your back, you have to get rid of Windows.  But where do you go from Windows?  Well, you  have one of two choices.

1.)  You can spend thousands of dollars and move over to an Apple Mac system.  In addition, get ready to shell out even more money.  Because, you'll have to purchase Mac versions of some of your Windows software (PhotoShop, Office, etc.).  And if you want to run Windows software not supported on the Mac platform, you'll have to buy a virtualization program like Parallels.


2.)  You can download and install Linux for FREE!  Once you have Linux, you'll have access to thousands of free, open source software programs available for download and installation right through your Linux distro's repository (A data warehouse where the applications are located).  And you can also install VirtualBox for free and run  those few select Windows programs you might need!

You can go with the first choice.  It's your money.    Or, you can go with the second choice.  You'll save money, make friends with a really wonderful Linux community, and have a secure and stable computer system for yourself and your family.

Get Linux.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back up! Back up! Back up!

Sooner or later, it happens to all of us in the computing world.  We lose an important file or piece of data.  it could be a report, graphic file, video home movie, accounting file, etc.  It can happen due to our system becoming infected with the latest Windows virus.  Or, a freak  accident  occurs (ie: a power spike, lighting strike, etc.) and your hard drive gets zapped.  If anything, if we become the victim of lost data, we should learn a valuable lesson and that's to always backup your data! 

Backup! Backup! Backup!  I can't say it enough.  The simplest way to do this is to just buy a USB thumb drive. 

Thumb drives are becoming quite inexpensive. They cost anywhere from $8.00 on up.  (I got the one pictured above from MicroCenter for free as part of an in store promotion!)  Just plug it into your computer and move your important files from your hard drive to the thumb drive.

There.  You're now backed up. 

I also find myself doing multiple backups. I back up to more than one USB drive.  I also move files to other Linux computers I own. 

Since I work with digital tools to create my cartoons, I need to make sure I always have the files in a safe place.  This is another reason why I run Linux. Because Linux is free of Windows viruses and malware, it's one less thing I need to worry about when storing and accessing my digital files.  I know they won't get trashed or infected or become the victim of a hard dive that won't boot due to a Windows virus.

This is not to say something else (like a power spike) can't happen.  This is also why I do the multiple backups.

Luckily, Linux has a really neat utility for automatically backing up your system and important files. It's called Keep.

Keep is very easy to use.   ow it works is very clearly stated on its website, "Keep is a backup system for KDE. The behavior is quite simple: you choose the files you want to backup, you set up the frequency and the number of backup you want to have, and Keep will backup them automatically."

You can see additional screen shots of Keep here. This gives you a great overview at exactly how easy it is to use.

Keep is available in Linux Mint.   now youhave one more resson to tryLinux.Automatic backups of your valuable data! 

So, get Linux, stay secure, and Keep your data!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Get An Original George!

On the right side of this blog, it says, "Got A Linux Question? Got a question about cartooning with Linux, or Linux in general? Email me at: If I use your question on my blog, I'll send you an original, signed George comic strip!"

Yes!  Absolutely True!  Simply email me a Linux question, and if I use it on this blog, I'll snailmail you an original George comic strip just like the one above!  I'm sure there are many folks out there who have questions about getting started with Linux.  The purpose of this blog has always been to help folks get started with Linux and point them in the right direction.  We (myself and the entire Linux community) want  to make your transition to Linux an easy and enjoyable one.

If I use your question, it'll be the subject of a blog column and I'll announce your name.  (I respect your privacy!  I'll make sure to keep your address and full name private.)

So, email me a question.   It doesn't even have to be a technical question.  Maybe you wonder how I use Linux in creating my cartoons?  Maybe you have a question about playing DVDs or MP3s?  Hey, there are no stupid Linux questions.

Email me a question, and maybe see it on this blog and get an original cartoon!

Get Linux

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Is It Windows Or Linux Or Both?

Take a quick look at the picture (at left) of my computer desktop.  Can you see that I'm running the Windows operating system?  Take a look at the tool bar at the bottom of the screen.  Yep. That's the Windows "Start" button plain as day.   So, I must be running Windows, right?

Well, yes, I am running Windows.  Windows XP, to be specific.  But I'm running Windows IN Linux.  You can see my Linux tool bar at the top of the screen and the different style icons on the desktop that clearly indicate that this is a Linux desktop. 

How is this possible?

Well, I'm using a program called Virtualbox.   Virtualbox allows you to install a guest operating system on a Linux system.  The guest operating system runs within Virtualbox.  So, in effect, you can run many different operating systems on one desktop in this virtual environment.

 Virtualbox is available in the Linux Mint repository and installs in just a couple of mouse clicks. Once it's up and running, you can then install a guest operating system (in this case, Windows) and through a feature called "Seamless", the guest operating system's Window frame disappears and the guest OS runs as if it were on your main desktop. 

Take a look at the picture at right which shows Windows running as guest with the Seamless mode turned off. 
So, if you're considering making the switch to Linux but are hesitating due to needing a specific windows program, you can solve this problem by installing Virtualbox and then installing Windows as a guest operating system.  Once Windows is installed virtually, you can then install the program you need, toggle on Seamless mode, and run things in full Windows mode.

And given the speed of today's processors and the large amount of memory available in most computer systems, the guest operating system actually runs very close to native speeds.   I run Intuit Quickbooks and MSMoney using Virtualbox.  Both run fast. And through Virtualbox's shared folders feature, I have full access to all my files on the hard drive. I can also print documents to my HP printer.

With Virtualbox and Liux Mint, you now have one more solid reason to make the move to Linux.

Get Linux.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You're Never Too Old For Linux!

Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Dick Clark, and I all share the same birthday on November 30th.  And this past November 30th was a milestone birthday for me!  I hit the big Five-OH!  Fifty!  At left is a birthday card my nephew Tommy drew for me.  It's a spot on caricature of me at work at my drawing table. (Check out the shirt.  Go Buckeyes!)

This 50th birthday made me realize that you're never too old to learn something new.  I was well into my forties when I first switched over to Linux. I've never regretted the move.  It was easy to make the switch and when I did run into a minor bump or two in the road, I had the help and support of the Linux community to help me through it.

Don't be afraid to make the move to Linux!  I know folks in all age groups who've switched to Linux!  In doing so, they've freed themselves of the malware, spyware, viruses, and Trojans that have plagued their Windows systems all these years.

The best way to start with Linux is to download it for free, burn it to disk, and install it on a Windows system that you no longer use.  Just know that during this installation, you'll be wiping Windows from the entire hard drive and putting Linux in its place.  Then, you'll be able to do your own side by side comparison.  You'll find that  you'll be using the Linux system more than the Windows system.

In addition, you'll be SAVING MONEY!  And how important is that nowadays?  You can download Linux for free, and when it's installed and running, never worry about Windows viruses and malware.  So, you won't have to shell out extra dollars for a Windows anti- virus/anti-spyware program.

Linux is stable, secure, and simply the better choice.

Get Linux. You're never to old to make the switch.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Don't Be Afraid To Click!

I recently purchased a Wi-Fi Internet radio. I decided on the Sangean WFR-20. If you're not familiar with Intenet radio, the concept is simple. The radio is tied, via the intenet, to a central database called This web site collects more than 15,000 radio stations from around the world and places their streaming links in one area where your radio, once registered, can access them all. There's no need to have your computer turned on. Just turn on your radio and dial in the destination ( you do need a broadband connection and wireless router). One moment you can be listening to your local AM broadcaster, the next you can hear a station as far away as the Falkland Islands! It really is amazing! All stations come in crystal clear with absolutely no interference, fade, or distortion. It's like having the ultimate shortwave radio! And the Sangean WFR-20, in my humble opinion, is the best Wi-Fi radio around. This is the one to get! It's featured packed, looks great in any decor, sets up in minutes, sounds great, and is a real pleasure to use. Since getting this radio, my television sits silently in the corner.

The reason I mention all this is because of what I heard just the other night on Virgin Radio (now called Absolute Radio) out of the United Kingdom . I was listening to the Iain Lee Show and he mentioned to a listener that he NEVER clicks on any links he receives via email. Now, I can't say that I blame him. I'm pretty cautious as well when it comes to links emailed to me. There can be a lot of nasty things out there which cold wreak havoc with your Windows system! (Ah, but I run Linux. More on this in a bit).

I've taken a couple of precautionary steps that I'd like to share with you.

First, if I don't recognize the sender, I don't click the link. It's that simple. Why invite trouble?

Second, I run the Firefox browser. Firefox is open source and thus built, maintained, and supported by a community of hundreds of thousands of users. If anything bad is out there lurking on the web, chances are much better that many of the thousands who've developed Firefox will find a fix much sooner than the dozen or so employees working on troubleshooting IE at the home offices of Microsoft. In short, Firefox is more secure.

"An independent study shows that, in 2006, IE users were vulnerable to online threats 78% of the time. Firefox users? Only 2%."

In addition, Firefox also has thousands of Add-Ons which can be plugged into the browser to help enhance and secure your web surfing experience. I use one called Interclue. Inteclue allows you to preview a web page in a pop up window before visting the site.

"Interclue is the ultimate hyperlink multitool. Small icons appear on mouseover to warn you about dead links, Malware or Phishing Sites, etc, and for any valid links Interclue provides compact link previews, relevant extra information and useful next action buttons."

And lastly, I run Linux. Linux is immune to Windows viruses, Trojans, and malware. So even if I do accidentally click on a link I probably shouldn't have, because I run Firefox and Linux, I'm a heckuva lot more secure than Windows.

so Iain Lee,if you're reading this, do yourself a favor and get Linux and Firefox! Then you won't be afraid to click! (BTW, Iain, if you want, contact me and I'll point you in the right direction to get Linux...and a Sangean WFR-20.)

Get Linux.