Parrot AR. Drone 2.0 Elite Edition

Dear readers,

Just before the new year, I ventured into this new hobby. I’ve always wanted to buy an RC helicopter, and finally I took the leap of faith and bought one. This is not a heli per say, its quadcopter.

Image

Parrot AR. Drone 2.0

This was an impulse purchase. I didn’t make any survey prior to purchase. That was so not me.. So as you can see from the picture above, included were the drone itself, indoor hull, outdoor hull, charger, battery, GPS recorder device, special tools to replace propellers and 4 extra propellers.

There’s no physical hardware for control. This drone must be controlled via phone or tablet. So its either iPhone, iPad, or any android devices. I’m using android so I downloaded the apps and straightaway jumps into playing.

Started with basic manoeuvre inside my house and one flight just outside my house. The drone was capable of video recording. I got so excited at first and was doing lots of aerial recording.

Few days later, as confidence level grew, I brought the drone to a nearby open field by the lakeside. I was thinking to get a better aerial footage. Started with low level control, then I moved further front and back. And then I decided that its time to take it to a greater height. I increased the elevation. It was almost 50 metres above when suddenly the drone flew to my right side as if following the wind direction. Then it rapidly decreases elevation and down in the nearby swamp. I can’t see the drone. Must’ve been floating but I can’t get there. Its too far from the lakeside. I can’t exactly see where the drone is.

It was just few seconds and there’s nothing I could do to regain control. I can still see the video feed coming from the drone but I can’t get there. It was only my 2nd flight outdoor. Pure stupidity.

Here’s my view based on less then a week with AR.Drone 2.0.

The drone: For that price, I was expecting a higher built quality of the hull. But once started, the hull’s presence can just be ignored. Some prefers flying without the hull attached. This helps the drone to accept heavier  load.

Control: Smartphone with gyro sensors and capacitive touchscreen looks an interesting combination. But controlling with this features were such dismay. Its hard to control it especially using the tilt function. At the end I opted for the on-screen thumb stick control. And that wasn’t best either. Control over WiFi was another issue as this drone flyaway situation is common amongst ARDrone owners. Surprisingly I’m not the first to experience this. Most users would’ve modified their drone to accept normal RC controller with physical sticks and buttons. This would also be using radio frequency to control hence allowing better control.

Video: The main reason I bought this was for the aerial videography ability. Despite the poised 720p HD capable, the image wasn’t anywhere near good. The video was grainy. Jello effect due to vibration was badly affecting the footage. The colour was not as sharp as I expected. But perhaps I was expecting too much out of a simple hobby drone. The video can only record straight ahead from the drone. This actually gives good fpv (first person view) while controlling the drone but quite useless in recording aerial to ground video. Hooking up the drone with a small camera, the likes of Go Pro Hero cameras, is not that recommended. Some users did the modification but since the drones limited max load ability hampers this approach. No audio recording was available with this drone but that’s not quite important as the motor’s noise would’ve been the most it would capture.

A bad start to a newfound hobby. Yet this won’t stop me from venturing further into this. Perhaps one day, a more careful approach before purchase and a more detail study on drone control before I clock hours on flights.

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100 Tips from a Professional Photographer

1. Just because someone has an expensive camera doesn’t mean that they’re a good photographer.

2. Always shoot in RAW. Always.

3. Prime lenses help you learn to be a better photographer.

4. Photo editing is an art in itself

5. The rule of thirds works 99% of the time.

6. Macro photography isn’t for everybody.

7. UV filters work just as well as lens caps.

8. Go outside & shoot photos rather than spending hours a day on photography forums.

9. Capture the beauty in the mundane and you have a winning photograph.

10. Film isn’t better than digital.

11. Digital isn’t better than film.

12. There is no “magic” camera or lens.

13. Better lenses don’t give you better photos.

14. Spend less time looking at other people’s work and more time shooting your own.

15. Don’t take your DSLR to parties.

16. Girls dig photographers.

17. Making your photos b/w doesn’t automatically make them “artsy”

18. People will always discredit your work if you tell them you “photoshop” your images. Rather, tell them that you process them in the “digital darkroom”.

19. You don’t need to take a photo of everything.

20. Have at least 2 backups of all your images. Like they say in war, two is one, one is none.

21. Ditch the neck strap and get a handstrap.

22. Get closer when taking your photos, they often turn out better.

23. Be a part of a scene while taking a photo; not a voyeur.

24. Taking a photo crouched often make your photos look more interesting.

25. Worry less about technical aspects and focus more on compositional aspects of photography.

26. Tape up any logos on your camera with black gaffers tape- it brings a lot less attention to you.

27. Always underexpose by 2/3rds of a stop when shooting in broad daylight.

28. The more photos you take, the better you get.

29. Don’t be afraid to take several photos of the same scene at different exposures, angles, or apertures.

30. Only show your best photos.

31. A point-and-shoot is still a camera.

32. Join an online photography forum.

33. Critique the works of others.

34. Think before you shoot.

35. A good photo shouldn’t require explanation (although background information often adds to an image). *

36. Alcohol and photography do not mix well.

37. Draw inspiration from other photographers but never worship them.

38. Grain is beautiful.

39. Ditch the photo backpack and get a messenger bag. It makes getting your lenses and camera a whole lot easier.

40. Simplicity is key.

41. The definition of photography is: “painting with light.” Use light in your favor.

42. Find your style of photography and stick with it.

43. Having a second monitor is the best thing ever for photo processing.

44. Silver EFEX pro is the best b/w converter.

45. Carry your camera with you everywhere. Everywhere.

46. Never let photography get in the way of enjoying life.

47. Don’t pamper your camera. Use and abuse it.

48. Take straight photos.

49. Shoot with confidence.

50. Photography and juxtaposition are best friends.

51. Print out your photos big. They will make you happy.

52. Give your photos to friends.

53. Give them to strangers.

54. Don’t forget to frame them.

55. Costco prints are cheap and look great.

56. Go out and take photos with (a) friend(s).

57. Join a photo club or start one for yourself.

58. Photos make great presents.

59. Taking photos of strangers is thrilling.

60. Candid>Posed.

61. Natural light is the best light.

62. 35mm (on full frame) is the best “walk-around” focal length.

63. Don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO when necessary.

64. You don’t need to always bring a tripod with you everywhere you go (hell, I don’t even own one).

65. It is always better to underexpose than overexpose.

66. Shooting photos of homeless people in an attempt to be “artsy” is exploitation.

67. You will find the best photo opportunities in the least likely situations.

68. Photos are always more interesting with the human element included.

69. You can’t “photoshop” bad images into good ones.

70. Nowadays everybody is a photographer.

71. You don’t need to fly to Paris to get good photos; the best photo opportunities are in your backyard.

72. People with DSLRS who shoot portraits with their grip pointed downwards look like morons.

73. Cameras as tools, not toys.

74. In terms of composition, photography and painting aren’t much different.

75. Photography isn’t a hobby- it’s a lifestyle.

76. Make photos, not excuses.

77. Be original in your photography. Don’t try to copy the style of others.

78. The best photographs tell stories that begs the viewer for more.

79. Any cameras but black ones draw too much attention.

80. The more gear you carry around with you the less you will enjoy photography.

81. Good self-portraits are harder to take than they seem.

82. Laughter always draws out peoples’ true character in a photograph.

83. Don’t look suspicious when taking photos- blend in with the environment.

84. Landscape photography can become dull after a while.

85. Have fun while taking photos.

86. Never delete any of your photos.

87. Be respectful when taking photos of people or places.

88. When taking candid photos of people in the street, it is easier to use a wide-angle than a telephoto lens.

89. Travel and photography are the perfect pair.

90. Learn how to read a histogram.

91. A noisy photo is better than a blurry one.

92. Don’t be afraid to take photos in the rain.

93. Learn how to enjoy the moment, rather than relentlessly trying to capture the perfect picture of it.

94. Never take photos on an empty stomach.

95. You will discover a lot about yourself through your photography.

96. Never hoard your photographic insight- share it with the world.

97. Never stop taking photos

98. Photography is more than simply taking photos, it is a philosophy of life

99. Capture the decisive moment

100. Write your own list.

some useful tips captured from Gizmodo. i’m much more into videography but this helps in getting the right shot at the right time. either is an art..

GM audio engineer lists Top 10 songs to test your car’s stereo

Hotel California? Bird on a Wire?

Test driving the sound system when you’re car shopping can be as key to your long-term satisfaction as checking out the handling. So we thought you’d like to see this list of Top 10 songs for testing car audio quality from General Motors audio engineer Matt Kirsch, who led the sound work on the Chevrolet Cruze.

GM also posted the tracks as a mix at the iTunes store: If you want it for your own audio test driving, you can buy here for $12 (you gotta have iTunes to download it, of course).

Here are Kirsch’s “10 Songs for an Audio Test Drive” and what he says to listen for in each track:

  1. “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones. Listen for Norah’s voice to sound natural, and centered in front of you.
  2. “Diamonds and Rust” by Joan Baez. Listen for strong vocals, and for the instruments to be set across a wide sound stage
  3. “No One” by Alicia Keys. Listen for clarity in Alicia’s vocals and spacious background sound.
  4. “Hotel California” by the Eagles. Listen for the clarity and dynamic range during the opening guitar solo, and of course the powerful drum beat.
  5. “Boom Boom Pow”by the Black Eyed Peas. Listen for powerful, accurate bass beats, even at full volume.
  6. “Rock that Body”by the Black Eyed Peas. Listen clear, intelligible lyrics over the powerful, persistent bass beat.
  7. “Hide and Seek”by Imogen Heap. Listen for the enveloping ambience of the song, building on the openness and dynamic vocals.
  8. “He Mele No Lilo” by Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu from Lilo and Stitch.Listen for the ambience and staging as the children’s chorus is offset by powerful bass.
  9. “Bird on a Wire” by Johnny Cash. Listen for the clarity in Johnny’s distinctive voice, and his guitar to sound natural and free of any coloration.
  10. “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box”by Radiohead. Listen for the punch from the percussive bass, and the ring of the steel drums.

gotta download and burn this songs on cd and test them in night fury. though there’s no fancy ICE, just wanna know how she fared.. article from DriveOn of USAToday.

Marvell Debuts Mobile CPU with Playstation 3-like GPU Performance

It might be a little overkill for your handheld device, but a new CPU from Marvell looks to bring video game console-like power to smartphones and tablet PCs.

The tri-core Armada 628 processor can almost be thought of as a 2.5-core device, for only two of the CPU’s cores run at their unrestrained, 1.5-GHZ clock speeds. The third core, acting as a kind of low-power CPU manager, only makes it to 624 MHz. Still, it’s a not an uncommon element for a system-on-a-chip design, and it allows the Armada 628 to function in a manner analogous to a hybrid car—playing more than 10 hours of 1080p video, for example, while still dishing out fast processing power.

In addition, the Armada’s 628 on-die graphics processor spits out a whopping 200 million triangles per second (M/T), the standard nomenclature used to compare the raw processing power of a particular GPU. We make the console analogy above for a very specific reason—the Playstation 3, for example, can dish out roughly 250 million triangles per second. Although its CPU, a 3.2 GHz cell microprocessor, nevertheless puts Marvell’s work to shame in terms of raw speeds, the underlying graphical performance of the Armada 628 is still quite formidable.

So how does this CPU compare against competing mobile processors? Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip, announced earlier this year and debuting in smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2010, has been smoking up the benchmark charts as of late. However, when you compare Tegra 2 to the Armada 628, you’ll note that the former only comes with a dual-core 1.0-GHz Cortex A9 CPU. As well, the chip’s peak GPU speed tops out at around 90 M/T—less than half that of the Armada 628.

And what about Apple’s iPhone? This favorite target for comparison—in this case, the company’s latest iPhone 4 smartphone—sports a single-core Cortex A8 CPU running at 1 GHz coupled with a PowerVR SGX graphics processor. According to Ars Technica, the latter is rumored to dish out around 28 M/T. That’s nearly one-third the graphical capabilities of Tegra 2-based devices, and but a mere drop in the bucket compared to the Armada 628.

But taking all of the various specifications into account, is the Armada 628 processor really intended for use on a smartphone? Ars Technica’s Jon Stokes doesn’t think so: With hooks for USB 3.0 support and high-definition encoding/decoding, the aforementioned super-fast graphical performance, and three A9 cores… that just seems a bit overkill for something intended to fit in the palm of one’s hand. Expect to see the Armada 628 debut on a larger form-factor—a tablet PC, at the very least, if not a full-fledged netbook or laptop.

hmm.. something to look forward. perhaps would be on my wishlist.. article from PCMag.

What’s Inside a Digital SLR Camera

You’re ready to step up from a point-and-shoot (or cell phone camera) to a big, old fashioned looking SLR. But what is that exactly? And how does it work? PM dissects one and gives advice and buying tips for every budget. – By Glenn Derene (December 2008 issue).

Single Lens Reflex (SLR) is a complicated term for a complicated machine. It refers to the prism and flip-up “reflex” mirror system that allows users to accurately focus and frame their shots directly through a camera’s optics, rather than through a separate viewfinder. Until recently, most SLRs were the province of pros, requiring experience and training to master. But the digital era has created a new, growing class of consumer-grade digital SLR (DSLR) cameras that are easier to learn and use, yet still deliver pro-level photos. These days, the most complicated aspect of DSLR cameras is figuring out which one fits your needs.

What Is Inside a Digital SLR

1. LCD Display

Like most digital point-and-shoot cameras, digital SLRs have LCD displays—the largest of which are 3 in., diagonally. Older-model DSLRs didn’t let you preview your shot using the LCD. Newer cameras with “live view” functionality leave the shutter open and allow light to bypass the reflex mirror. With most of these cameras, users have to choose between framing shots with the LCD or the viewfinder.

2. Sensor

DSLRs have image sensors that are 10 to 20 times the size of sensors on point-and-shoot cameras. This gives DSLRs far superior light sensitivity, which is arguably more important to overall image quality than megapixels. Most DSLR cameras can vibrate the sensor to remove dust particles that often enter the camera when changing lenses.

3. Memory

CompactFlash memory cards used to be the data storage capacity kings, but the far more popular Secure Digital High-Capacity (SDHC) format now has cards with up to 32 GB, and newer DSLRs are trending toward it.

4. Battery

Long battery life is critical for DSLRs, which have lots of motors and powerful flashes. Most DSLR batteries are good for a full day’s shooting. If you require more, we suggest you buy an extra.

5. Flash

Consumer digital SLRs come with a pop-up flash. Advanced users will want to take advantage of the hot shoe, which allows the use of more sophisticated, synchronized—flash accessories.

6. Shutter

DSLRs are known as fast-shooting machines, with shutter lag measured in tenths or hundredths of a second and burst modes from 2.5 to 10 frames per second.

7 Lens

When you buy a DSLR, you’re buying part of a larger system. Most DSLRs can be purchased as a kit that includes an all-purpose zoom lens. But manufacturers also sell dozens of specialized lenses that can transform the performance of your camera. These days, lenses pack almost as much technology as the camera itself.

+ Autofocus

It’s powered by the camera battery, but all the gears and motors are built into the lens. The lens interfaces have changed over the years, so many new cameras won’t work with old autofocus lenses.

+ Image Stabilization

Many modern lenses come with a mechanical system that counteracts camera shake and reduces blur. On some lenses, it costs extra—but it’s worth it.

now thats a nice anatomy of a DSLR. always wanted to post this kind of information. thanks Popular Mechanics for posting this up. its an outdated issue but the information is still worth keeping.

Boeing Laser Systems Destroy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Tests

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Nov. 18, 2009 — The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] in May demonstrated the ability of mobile laser weapon systems to perform a unique mission: track and destroy small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

During the U.S. Air Force-sponsored tests at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., the Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments (MATRIX), which was developed by Boeing under contract to the Air Force Research Laboratory, used a single, high-brightness laser beam to shoot down five UAVs at various ranges. Laser Avenger, a Boeing-funded initiative, also shot down a UAV. Representatives of the Air Force and Army observed the tests.

“The Air Force and Boeing achieved a directed-energy breakthrough with these tests,” said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems’ Directed Energy Systems unit. “MATRIX’s performance is especially noteworthy because it demonstrated unprecedented, ultra-precise and lethal acquisition, pointing and tracking at long ranges using relatively low laser power.”

Bill Baker, chief scientist of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate, praised his team and Boeing for these successful UAV shootdowns.

“These tests validate the use of directed energy to negate potential hostile threats against the homeland,” Baker said. “The team effort of Boeing and the Air Force in developing MATRIX will pay major dividends for the warfighter now and in the years ahead.”

As part of the overall counter-UAV demonstration, Boeing also successfully test-fired a lightweight 25mm machine gun from the Laser Avenger platform to potentially further the hybrid directed energy/kinetic energy capability against UAV threats.

Boeing Directed Energy Systems, based in Albuquerque, developed MATRIX, a mobile, trailer-mounted test bed that integrates with existing test-range radar. Directed Energy Systems and Boeing Combat Systems in St. Louis cooperatively developed Laser Avenger, which integrates a directed-energy weapon together with the existing kinetic weapons on the proven Avenger air defense system developed by Combat Systems.

Boeing leads the way in developing laser weapon systems for a variety of U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy applications. These systems include the Airborne Laser, Advanced Tactical Laser, Free Electron Laser, High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator and Tactical Relay Mirror System.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world’s largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.

laser beam in action! despite being the country that wants to stop terrorism and war, US keeps producing more and more powerful weapons. and this weapons will soon be used in the name of against terrorism. what’s terrorism when harmless old lady zapped with the laser in the middle of the desert? its nice to see technology evolved but its being used by some people for the wrong reasons.. article from Boeing.

Dual-Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu in Perfect Harmony

Windows 7 and Ubuntu, despite their opposing missions, can get along like best pals on a single computer. Here’s how to set up a dual boot system that lets you enjoy the best of both worlds in perfect harmony.

By default, Windows 7 takes over your boot-up process and wants to be your only OS, and Linux treats Windows like a weekend hobby you keep in a shed somewhere on your hard drive. But I’ve been dual-booting Ubuntu and some version of Windows 7 for nearly a year, and I’ve learned a lot about inconveniences, annoyances, and file-sharing necessities, and now I’ll walk you through how to set up your systems to achieve a peaceful union of your dual-boot OSes. (Both with Windows 7 already installed, and with a clean system ready for a new dual-OS existence.)

Follow through this guide, and I’ll explain how to rebuild a system from the ground up with Windows 7 and Ubuntu, with either a backed-up and cleaned-out hard drive (recommended) or Windows 7 already installed. When we’re done, you can work and play in either operating system, quickly and conveniently access your documents, music, pictures, and other files without worry or inconvenience, and boot into either system without having to worry about whether Windows is going to get mad at you. Plus, when Ubuntu 10.04 or Windows 8 come along, you’ll find it much easier to install either one without having to start over entirely from scratch.

What you’ll need

  • Windows 7 installation disc: For clean installations, either a full installation copy or an upgrade disc is needed. If you own an upgrade disc but want to start from scratch, there’s a way to do a clean install with an upgrade disc, though that’s a rather gray-area route. Then again, there’s probably not a person on this earth that doesn’t have a licensed copy of XP or Vista somewhere in their past.
  • Ubuntu 9.10 installation image: You can grab an ISO at Ubuntu.com, or hit “Alternative download options” to reveal a (usually very fast) BitTorrent link. You’ll want to get the ubuntu-9.10-desktop-i386.iso download for 32-bit systems, or ubuntu-9.10-desktop-amd64.iso.torrent for 64-bit on AMD or Intel systems (despite the name).
  • Blank CD or empty USB drive: You’ll need one of these for burning the Ubuntu ISO, or loading it for USB boot. If you’re going the thumb drive route, grab UNetBootin for Windows or Linux, plug in your USB drive, and load it with the downloaded ISO image.
  • All your data backed up: Even if you’re pulling this off with Windows 7 already installed and your media and documents present, you’ll want to have a fallback in case things go awry. Which they shouldn’t, but, naturally, you never know.
  • Free time: I’d reckon it takes about 2 hours to pull off two OS installs on a clean system; more if you’ve got a lot of data to move around.

Setting up your hard drive

If you’ve got nothing installed on your system, or you’ve got your data backed up and you’re ready to start from scratch, you’re in a great position–skip down to the “Partition your system” section. If you’ve got Windows already installed, you can still make a spot for Ubuntu, though.

(Only) If Windows is already installed: You’re going to “shrink” the partition that Windows 7 installed itself on. Before we do that, clean out any really unnecessary applications and data from your system (we like Revo Uninstaller for doing this). Also, open up “Computer” and take note of how much space remains on your main hard drive, presumably labeled “C:”. Head to the Start menu, type “disk management” into the search box, and hit Enter.

Windows 7 probably put two partitions on your hard drive: one, about 100 MB in size, holding system restoration data. We don’t want to touch it. Right-click on the bigger partition to the right, and choose Shrink Partition.

After a little bit of hard drive activity and a “Please wait” window, you’ll get back the size you can shrink your Windows partition by.

If the space Windows offers doesn’t jibe with what your Computer view told you was “remaining,” you might need to hit Cancel, then head back and defragment your hard drive, and take some of the steps laid out by the How-To Geek. Run the Disk Management tool again and try a Shrink Volume operation again, and free up as much space as you can.

Partition your system: You’re aiming to set up a system with three partitions, or sections, to its hard drive: One lean partition for the Windows operating system and applications running from it, another just-big-enough partition for Ubuntu and its own applications, and then a much larger data partition that houses all the data you’ll want access to from either one. Documents, music, pictures, application profiles—it all goes in another section I’ll call “Storage” for this tutorial.

How do you get there? We’re going to use GParted, the Linux-based uber-tool for all things hard drive. You could grab the Live CD if you felt like it, but since you’ve already downloaded an Ubuntu installer, you can simply boot a “live,” no-risk session of Ubuntu from your CD or USB stick and run GParted from there. Once you’re inside Ubuntu, head to the System menu in the upper left when you get to a desktop, then choose the Administration menu and GParted under it.

You’ll see your system’s hard drive and its partitions laid out. You’re going to create partitions for Linux and your storage space, but not Windows—we’ll let the Windows installation carve out its own recovery partition and operating space. On my own system, I give Windows 15 GB of unallocated space, and Ubuntu another 15 GB of space right after it, with whatever’s left kept as storage space. Then again, I’ve only got a 100 GB hard drive and don’t run huge games or applications, so you can probably give your two operating systems a bit more space to grow.

Click on the unallocated space and hit the “New” button at the far left. In the “Free space preceding” section, click and hold the up button, or enter a number of megabytes, to leave space for Windows at the front. When you’ve got the “space preceding” set, set the actual size of the Ubuntu partition in the “New Size” section, and leave “Free space following” alone. Choose “unformatted” under file system—we’ll let Ubuntu do the format itself and hit “Add.” Back at the main GParted window, click on the space to the right of your two OS spaces, hit “New” again, and set the file system as “ntfs.” Give it a label like “Storage,” hit “Add,” and at the main GParted window, hit the checkmark button to apply your changes. Once it’s done, exit out of GParted and shut down the system from the pull-down menu in the upper-right corner.

If Windows is already installed: If you’ve shrunk down its partition for free space and booted into a live Ubuntu or GParted, click on the “Unallocated” piece next to the two “ntfs” partitions that represent your Windows 7 installation and system recovery tools. Create a 15(-ish) GB unformatted partition, and give it a label like Ubuntu. If you’ve got a good deal of space left, format it as “ntfs” and label it something like “Storage.” If you can just barely fit the Ubuntu partition, you can just keep your media files in the Windows partition—until you can remedy this with a full wipe-and-install down the line.

Experienced Linux geeks might be wondering where the swap space is going—but don’t worry, we’ll create one, just not in its own partition.

Installing and configuring Windows

Grab your Windows 7 installation disc—either a full copy or modified upgrade disc, and insert it into your DVD drive. If your system isn’t set up to boot from CD or DVD drive, look for the button to press at start-up for “Boot options” or something similar, or hit up your system maker’s help guides to learn how to change your boot order in the BIOS settings.

Follow through the Windows 7 installation, being sure to choose “Custom” for the installation method and to point it at that unallocated space we created at the beginning of your hard disk, not the NTFS-formatted media/storage space we made earlier:

Work your way through the Windows 7 installation, all the way until you reach the Windows desktop. Feel free to set up whatever programs or apps you want, but what we really want to do is set up your Storage partition to house your pictures, music, video, and other files, and make your Libraries point to them.

Hit the Start menu, click Computer, and double-click on the hard drive named “Storage” (assuming you named it that earlier). In there, right-click and create new folders (or hit Ctrl+Shift+N) for the files you’ll be using with both systems. I usually create folders labeled Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos—I could also see folders for saved games and data files from big software packages. Copy your media files into these folders now, if you’d like, but we’ve got a bit more tweaking to pull off.

In the left-hand sidebar, you’ll see your “Libraries” for documents, music, pictures, and video. At the moment, they point to your Public shared folders and the My Pictures-type folders on your main Windows drive. Click once on any of the Libraries, and at the top of the main panel, you’ll see text stating that this library “Includes: 2 locations …”. Click the blue text on “2 locations,” then click on each of the folders below and hit “Remove” on the right-hand side. Now hit “Add” and select the corresponding folder on your Storage drive. Do the same for all your music, pictures, videos, and other media folders.

Want to add another library for quick access? Right-click somewhere on the desktop, choose New->Library, and follow the steps.

That’s about it for Windows. Now get your Ubuntu CD or USB stick ready and insert it in your system. Ignore whatever auto-play prompts appear, and restart your system.

Installing and configuring Ubuntu

Restart your computer, this time booting from your Ubuntu Live CD or USB boot drive. When your system boots up, choose your language, select “Try Ubuntu without any changes to your computer,” and you’ll boot into a “live” desktop, run entirely off the CD or USB stick. Once you’re booted up, try connecting to the internet from the network icon in the upper-right—it helps during the installation process, ensures your network is working, and gives you something to do (Firefox) while the system installs.

Click the “Install” link on the desktop, and fill out the necessary language/location/keyboard info (most U.S. users can skip through the first 3 screens). When you hit the “Prepare disk space” section, select the “Specify partitions manually” option, then hit Forward. Select the free space that’s after your first two Windows partitions with ntfs formats, then hit the “Add” button at bottom. Your partition should already be sized correctly, and the only thing to change is set “/” as a mount point. Here’s what your screen should look like:

Click OK, then finish through with the Ubuntu installation. If it catches your Windows 7 installation, it might ask if you want to import settings from inside it—you can, if you’d like, but I usually skip this. Wait for the installation to finish, remove the CD or thumb drive, and reboot your system.

When you start up again, you’ll see a list of OS options. The only ones you need concern yourself with are Windows 7 and the top-most Ubuntu line. You can prettify and fix up this screen, change its settings, and modify its order later on. For now, let’s head into Ubuntu.

We’re going to make the same kind of folder access change we did in Windows. Click up on the “Places” menu, choose “Home Folder,” and check out the left-hand sidebar. It’s full of links to Documents, Pictures, and the like, but they all point to locations inside your home folder, on the Linux drive that Windows can’t read. Click once on any of those folders, then right-click and hit Remove.

You should see your “Storage” partition in the left-hand sidebar, but without that name—more like “100GB filesystem.” Double-click it, type in the administrator password you gave when installing, and you’ll see your Documents, Music, etc. Click and drag those folders into the space where the other folders were, and now you’ll have access to them from the “Places” menu, as well as any file explorer window you have open.

Ubuntu won’t “mount,” or make available, your Windows 7 and Storage drives on boot-up, however, and we at least want constant access to the Storage drive. To fix that, head to Software Sources in the System->Administration menu. From there go to Applications, then the Ubuntu Software Center at the bottom. Under the “Ubuntu Software” and “Updates” sections, add a check to the un-checked sources, like Restricted, Multiverse, Proposed, and Backports. Hit “Close,” and agree to Reload your software sources.

Finally! Head to the Applications menu and pick the Ubuntu Software Center. In there, search for “ntfs-config,” and double-click on the NTFS Configuration Tool that’s the first result. Install it, then close the Software Center. If you’ve got the “Storage” or Windows 7 partitions mounted, head to any location in Places and then click the eject icon next to those drives in the left-hand sidebar. Now head to the System->Administration menu and pick the NTFS Configuration Tool.

You’ll see a few partitions listed, likely as /dev/sda1, /dev/sda2, and the like. If you only want your storage drive, it should be listed as /dev/sda3 or something similar–just not the first or second options. Check the box for “Add,” click in the “Mount point” column to give it a name (Storage, perhaps?), and hit “Apply.” Check both boxes on the next window to allow read/write access, and hit OK, and you’re done. Now the drive with all your stuff is accessible to Windows and Linux at all times.

Adding swap to Ubuntu

“Swap” memory is a section of the hard drive that your system’s memory spills over into when it gets full and busy. Until recently, I’d been creating a whole separate partition for it. Recently, though, I’ve found that swap isn’t always necessary on systems with a large amount of memory, and that swap can simply be a file tucked away on your hard drive somewhere.

Follow the Ubuntu help wiki’s instructions for adding more swap, but consider changing the location they suggest putting the swap file—/mnt/swap/ for the place your Storage is held—/media/Storage, in my case.

Share Firefox profiles and more

That’s about it for this guide to setting up a harmonious Windows and Ubuntu existence, but I recommend you also check out our previous guide to using a single data store when dual-booting. It explains the nitty-gritty of sharing Firefox, Thunderbird, and Pidgin profiles between Linux and Windows for a consistent experience, as well as a few other dual-boot tricks.

You might also want to consider creating virtual machines with VirtualBox for those moments when you’re in one OS and need to get at the other. Ubuntu is free to create as many instances as you want, of course, and Windows 7 (Professional and Ultimate) are very friendly with non-activated copies—not that either can’t be otherwise activated in cases where it’s just a double-use issue.

superb guide on os-dual-boot. might need this guide later when i’ve found the right lappy for me.. article from Lifehacker.