Creating Virtual Machines with Oracle VM VirtualBox

What is Virtualization?


Virtual machines enable the user to run multiple guest systems on the same computer. This image shows a virtual machine with Windows XP installed, , referred to as the guest system, running on a Windows 7 host machine.

Several years ago, I wrote an article for this site about Microsoft Virtual PC, Microsoft’s implementation of virtualization technology for the Windows desktop. Virtualization software enables a computer to act as a host, running multiple computer sessions with different operating systems for the purpose of testing software, isolating specific programs from the rest of the software on the host machine or maintaining older operating systems as needed after an upgrade. Virtual PC was a somewhat simplified virtualization software which officially supported various versions of DOS and Windows and made the virtualization concept a little more accessible to the average user. With the release of Windows 8, it was succeeded by Hyper-V on machines with the necessary hardware requirements and Windows 8 editions.

Oracle VM VirtualBox

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Alcatel OneTouch Fierce Hotspot Stops Working

Earlier this year, I upgraded to an Alcatel OneTouch Fierce smartphone from the $20 cheapo phone I was using and was pretty happy to be back in the Android camp with all the available apps and the usable ‘Net and mail features I’d been doing without, not to mention the 4G service that Sprint had never delivered in this area but charged me for anyway. About a month ago, I noticed the hotspot feature on the Alcatel and, for $5 / month, figured it was a great deal. Now, I could share my 4G signal with my laptop, log in more securely in public and even have  a backup broadband service for my PC when my ISP’s service occasionally flakes out.

The Problem

All was going good for about a month until this weekend when the hotspot suddenly stopped working. My PC and laptop would still show a good connection to the hotspot but I couldn’t load any pages in the browser. Chrome would spend about 15 seconds trying to establish a connection and then report that the page took too long to load. Firefox was the same. I tried with three different machines and three different operating systems (Windows XP / 7  and 8) and all did the same.

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Why I’m Still On Facebook

Yesterday, I received an e-mail notice of yet another change to Facebook’s privacy policy and finally decided to pull the trigger on something I’d been itching to do for a little while. Around mid-day, I posted the following status update…

Once again, I’m reducing my presence on Facebook and trimming the Friends List. If you find yourself dropped from it, don’t take it personally – it just means that I decided there wasn’t a specific reason for us to be connected on Facebook. You are welcome to contact me through other means or through my sites at …

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8 Questions to Ask When Starting Your Meetup Group


meetup is a popular social networking site which makes it easy for people to organize groups in their local area.

As many hours as people now spend in front of their computers immersed in online forums such as Facebook and Twitter, sites such as and EventBrite actually focus on bringing people together in person and helping them find other like-minded people they might never have met otherwise. While local groups such as book clubs, sports teams and church groups existed long before the Internet, these sites provide a set of tools that make it much easier for the average person to bring a group of people together and continuously promote that group to other potential members. For people moving to another area or developing new interests, it’s easier to find new friends by looking up local groups they might like to join.

My Background

Several months after joining and making a few friends, I checked out a new meetup in neighboring Gainesville, Florida, Frontend Awesome, which focuses on programming technologies for websites and other user interfaces. Ocala had no active computer clubs at the time and I’d been thinking of ways to put together an organization of some kind for local I.T. experts, independent programmers and others in the field. That’s when I made the connection and decided to do it through a Meetup.

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HDMI to VGA: Using your VGA monitor on your HDMI laptop

Looks like the trusty old VGA interface is on its way out and while you’ll still see legacy systems and devices using this 25 year old standard for monitor connections, the newer laptops and computers are starting to pass on VGA connectors in favor of HDMI which, among its other benefits, allows for thinner devices. When I bought my new laptop computer, I never even thought to check if it had a VGA monitor port on it and, sure enough, it doesn’t. Instead, it has an Active HDMI port on the side. This wasn’t a problem until I tried connecting it to a projector during a meeting a few months ago and found out that projector’s HDMI interface didn’t work.

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Book Recommendation – “Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself” by Alan Alda

I read Alan Alda’s first autobiography, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and knew that he had come out with a sequel but hadn’t gotten around to it. Then I found the unabridged audio version at a book sale and snapped it up. I haven’t been disappointed.

5174XKtys4L._SL250_The first book ended with Alda’s near death on a mountaintop in Chile due to an life-threatening medical crisis. The second book, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, picks up where it left off and chronicles his search for meaning after surviving the crisis and recognizing he had gotten a second chance. He did this, in part, by going through some of his older writings, including the commencement addresses he’d written to deliver at his daughters’ college graduations and remembering the insights he “didn’t know he knew”. This was something that resonated with me because of the small amount of writing I’ve  done over the years and my own efforts to put some of my insights and lessons into words.

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Finally! Stop Facebook Videos from Playing Automatically …

A few months ago, Facebook introduced that “cool” new feature where videos your friends posted would automatically start playing as soon as you scrolled to them on your newsfeed. I don’t know why they thought this was a good idea or if it was part of their philosophy that people are incapable of choosing what they want to see without some kind of automation involved but they must have finally gotten enough complaints about it because there’s now a new feature that will stop it.

In your Settings panel (click the ∇ in the very top-right part of your FB page and choose “Settings”), click on Videos and then set the “Auto-Play Videos” setting to “Off”. That’s it! Now scroll through your news feed and verify that that videos are no longer automatically starting.

To disable auto-play on Facebook videos, select Videos on your Facebook Settings panel and set the "Auto-Play Videos" setting to "Off"

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How to Promote Your Message Online the Right Way

“Some people assume that all you have to do is post the links to as many sites as possible and let the web do its magic from there. It’s more than that. Each one of these sites and the many others people might use has its own rules, audience, limitations, and even its own behavior. In order to ensure that the items I promote reach as many people as possible and that the message is as effective as possible once it does reach them, the posting of the event on each site requires individual attention and tailoring specifically for that environment. This means attention to every detail of each posting and that takes time.”

You can read more in my latest article – Tuning the Megaphone – Getting Your Message Heard Online, available on


My Latest Coffee Hacks

I have a dim memory of not making very good coffee with my coffee maker. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case and I can honestly say that I make some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted – far better than anything I can get at most restaurants or coffee houses. I’m partial to Seattle’s Best #3 coffee. It’s an inexpensive medium roast coffee that has a nice, smooth flavor.

I've found that adding a little unsweetened cocoa to the coffee grounds gives the coffee a nice, rich flavor.

I’ve found that adding a little unsweetened cocoa to the coffee grounds gives the coffee a nice, rich flavor.

An extra thing I do with most pots is to add a little something to the grounds as it’s brewing. I started with ground cinnamon, just a teaspoon or two to give the coffee a nice extra flavoring. With ground cinnamon, that’s the best way to add it since it doesn’t really dissolve even in hot coffee so letting the water drip through it instead did the trick.

My latest preference, however, has taken the coffee to a new level and that’s to add maybe a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the grounds. Just like some people add it to chili, I add it to my coffee grounds. It doesn’t really give the coffee a noticeable mocha flavor but it does give it a slightly richer flavor that works really well. I did it again this afternoon and I can honestly say it was more than coffee – it was a mugful of liquid joy