Using Virtualbox with an Existing Windows Partition [Linux FTW]

The recursion might blow your mind.

UPDATE: I am not able to help troubleshoot this anymore, as I have switched over to VMWare Player (post coming soon!); However, if you happen to discover anything about making it work, please post in the comments below and I will update the post text with your findings and credit you.

Last week, a friend of mine needed me to do an audio file conversion, but the app that I use is installed on my windows partition. I really don’t ever boot into Windows unless I have a good reason for it — I’m much happier tooling around in Linux — there’s just something satisfying and comfortable about being able to pop open a shell at any time.

Anyways – it got me thinking: I’ve booted into a Windows XP image,  why can’t I use VirtualBox to boot from a whole partition? Surely that is possible…

Tonight I finally got to play with it. And as you can see from the image here, I got success. :)

It’s a little challenging, but it’s doable. I had to spend some time to iron out the kinks, but you can reap the benefits!

UPDATE: Sandeep has submitted screenshots with instructions on getting this to work with Windows 7, see below, at the very end.

UPDATE: If you are getting the error message: Offset must be a number: rce
I have found the fix for it. See the instructions below.

UPDATE: Bogdan (see comments) was able to get Windows Vista working under Virtualbox OSE, using the method below. See his comments for specifics on Windows Vista.

UPDATE: Dan has found some tricks for getting this to work with Win7 if you are getting a BSOD on bootup.

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Number Freak [Book Review]

This book is part of my 2010 Booklist. See the full-list on this blog, or visit my Amazon Store for links to purchase any of them.

Click to see on Amazon
I picked this book up at Carroll & Carroll, a bookstore not far from where I grew up. I’m a fan of trivia books in general; collecting facts is just a hobby of mine.

This particular book is a tour de force through the numbers 1 to 200.  The range of numbers is somewhat arbitrary, and this becomes evident once you pass 128 or so.

The format of the book is not a standard chapter-based text. Niederman allocates a section to each number. The section heading is the number itself, along with its factors or a designation as a prime number. Below that are a series of short anecdotes about that number.

The first 70 digits are very fascinating. Niederman spends a couple pages at times discussing all the different interesting factoids about particular numbers. Many of them are strictly math-related: whether or not a number is prime, what kind of prime it is, what sorts of numerical relationship it has with itself and with other numbers.

But many of the other facts, early on, are more conventional trivia. Here is an arbitrary sampling:

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Customer Service

I’ve written about this before.

Customer Service / Customer Relations is one of the absolute most important things a business can do. When I worked as a server, it was always drilled into our minds that a happy customer tells a handful, but an unhappy customer tells a dozen or more.

I’ve got three stories here, one about good customer service and one about bad, and one that has yet to be resolved.

All three of them happened today. Continue reading

Quake-style terminal window [Linux FTW]

Updated: Aug 28 2012

Long ago (mid-90′s), there was a revolutionary 3-d first-person-shooter game called “Quake”, made by id Software, the same people that made DooM a few years before.

Quake had this really cool feature where you could press the ~ key at anytime during the game and a terminal window would drop down from the top of the screen. This terminal screen could be used for anything from chatting to changing maps and more. It was sweet.

Since then, there have been many attempts at replicating the functionality in both Mac and Linux environments, where it is still common to use a terminal window with some regularity.

One such software package, Guake, has become a personal favorite of mine. It’s very simple; no bells or whistles other than the ability to adjust the Opacity. My only beef with it was simply that the terminal would just pop up on the screen rather than drop down from the top. Totally superficial — but what’s the point of using an open-source OS if you can’t customize it to do exactly what you want?

Last night, I figured out how to do it. And it’s glorious (video demo after the jump). Continue reading

In Search of: Network-shareable Photo Organization Solution

Ok, so we have this problem at my job.

We have this fileserver for the marketing team. It’s got photos in it. Lots and lots of photos. It also has Photoshop files, Indesign files, Illustrator files, some videos, and other bits — but it’s mostly Photos. We have so many photos that our network admin had us move off of the main fileserver and onto our own special one that is not backed up with the nightly backups.

Having lots of photos presents its own problems, of course. One must organize large collections. We spend an inordinate amount of time searching for Photos — even those that are used relatively often. When we’re looking for photos that match a theme, it’s even worse because we have to iteratively look through each one.

Does anyone have any suggestions for software packages that would help with this?

Most of the ones I’ve seen that organize the photos (Picasa, Adobe Bridge, FSpot) do not share the tags / categories with others. It is not enough to simply organize them by date — we really need the ability to tag them based on who’s in them, what event they are from, the location, and any abstract descriptors we can think of.

We’ve considered using FlickR, but I’d prefer to keep these files off the cloud, mostly for maintenance reasons.

Basically, what we need is a Digital Asset Management solution that does the following things: Continue reading