iPod + Rockbox = Entertainment Extravaganza
Apple iPod Original Firmware Pros and Cons
Simple, intuitive interface.
Automatic syncing with iTunes playlists.
Ability to play DRM music from iTunes store.
Limited to MP3 and AAC playback.
Proprietary database is frustrating to interface with non-iTunes programs.
Very limited number of games and applications.
Not expandable, except for commercial games on some models.
Rockbox Replacement Firmware Pros and Cons
Numerous games, applications and demos available.
Customizable themes for varied look and feel.
Supports more music formats.
Rockbox is open for development, changes, additions and third-party plugins.
Music quality is better—or so they claim. (I can't tell the difference.)
Music management is simple and flexible.
Multiple dynamic playlists can be created on the fly.
Playlists are standard M3U files.
Allows for dual-booting, with the option to start original iPod firmware.
Very complicated due to a number of features. Playing music isn't as simple as with the original firmware.
Battery life isn't as long as with the original firmware (a solution is in development).
Programs (plugins) don't have consistent controls, especially for exiting.
Can't read iTunes database.
Can't play DRM'd files.
I'm sure on an iPod with a color display, the features would have been even more visually appealing. Running it on the iPod Mini was a good way to compare it to the simplicity of the Apple firmware though. Rockbox does exactly what it says it will do. It met all my expectations and exceeded them in many areas (namely, the quality and quantity of games). Oddly enough, however, more often than not I found myself booting the iPod into the original Apple firmware. That's not to say I don't reboot into Rockbox when I have time to play around, but for listening to music, I have to give the advantage to Apple. The one thing I'm thankful for, is that with Rockbox, at least I have a choice. My choice is to keep both operating systems on board, because quite honestly, they're both great.
Shawn Powers is the Gadget Guy at www.linuxjournal.com. He's also the Technology Director for a K–12 school in northern Michigan. He loves to read science fiction and is quite a Star Trek fan. He's married to a beautiful woman and has three lovely daughters. Feel free to contact Shawn via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
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One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
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