Set Your Terminal To Your Current Finder Window

31 07 2007

Ever since I’ve been exposed to the terminal I can’t go back. I found a handy open source app called >CD to…(weird name) which sits in your Finder toolbar. This means you can be browsing some folder directories deep, and when you click on the >CD To… icon it will open up your shell and point you to the directory you are in. Very useful for those Mac users who want to get their hands a little dirty.





Handbrake – Open Source DVD Ripping

29 07 2007

Its been a while since I’ve updated my blog. I’ve been busy with work and playing with the new Mac, but fear not, in the process I’ve discovered a great DVD ripping app called Handbrake. It can rip any DVD you throw at it regardless of protection/encryption or not. You want to preserve the chapters, original quality or export it to your iPod? It can do that too. If you’ve got a dual-core machine expect to rip a full DVD in 10 minutes or less =). As always its open-source and cross platform so you can run it on Windows, OS X or Linux.





Songbird – Music To My Ears

14 07 2007

I have recently just purchased a new Macbook. I have lost some friends in the switch, and will be forcing myself to try out OS X for a month so I can learn the system before I load up Ubuntu. Music is always a high priority for me, and iTunes’DRM-infested software just wasn’t going to cut it for me. I’ve dabbled with Songbird in the past when it was a very early beta but there have been lots of improvements since.

 

Songbird is the Firefox of media players. It runs on Mozilla’s platform so you can use it on any operating system, and allows extensions a la Firefox. Not to mention its also developed by the same boys who brought you the good ol’ Winamp. One of the features that sets Songbird apart from the rest is that it can detect songs on web-pages like MySpace and play the file like an mp3 that is local – so you can skip over it at your leisure. This makes listening to music on the web VERY powerful.

If you want to check out a hassle-free media player I suggest this because it can index your entire library, help you find new music, and of course as always is free like the air we breathe. Songbird is still a developers beta, but it is very stable, and very usable. The term “beta” is somewhat obsolete these days with Google keeping GMail in beta for what – a year? 😉





Wake Up and Smell The Concrete – You’re Using Open-Source

11 07 2007

I would like to point out that no matter which operating system you may be using, we all have reaped the benefits of open-source. Believe it or not, there is a little bit of free software goodness in all of us:

Windows Users

  • I’d say browsing the internet is a must these days. Did you know that the TCP/IP stack in Windows is based off of the original code that was licensed by BSD?
  • Firefox is clearly gaining new ground on Internet Explorer’s turf. The Mozilla Foundation is all about the open-source baby.

Mac users

  • The entire OS X operating system is based off of the Darwin kernel which, surprise surprise, is a UNIX variant.
  • KHTML is the engine that renders web-pages in Safari. Yup, another gift given to you by the free software foundation.
  • Have you ever printed out a report on your Mac? You just used CUPS which is the Common UNIX Printing Service.
  • Apple has plans to ditch Microsoft and go completely with Open Office in the near future. It just feels better to be using open standards no?

Linux Users

  • Do you even have to ask? The entire operating system and included applications are all open-source.

The Web

  • Whenever you visit a website like Digg the content is automatically updated and generated for your viewing pleasure. Chances are its running on the LAMP stack – Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP, check check check and check for open-source.
  • Google is my best friend. They also run Linux clusters so you get your search results in under a second.
  • Developers pay attention, Java is the most popular enterprise platform, and Sun just opened up its source for our hacking pleasure.
  • Whenever you blog on WordPress, or Drupal just know it was built using open source tools, and licensed under the GNU.
  • When I want information I go to Wikipedia. Wikipedia runs off of the open-source software MediaWiki which is also under the GNU.

Electrical Devices

  • Intel based computer’s have open source drivers. This means compatibility for everyone.
  • Set-top boxes like TiVo are using open source software to get you goodness on the big screen. MPlayer anyone?

As you can see open-source is all around us. The points I have mentioned are nowhere near the extent and true caliber of what open source delivers to us on a daily basis. Please enlighten me with your thoughts.





Wine Doors – Package Management For Wine Apps

10 07 2007

Wine lets you run Windows apps in Linux by having you manually install them as if you were actually in Windows. Who says you can’t install these apps Linux style? Wine Doors is a package manager for Wine applications. Thats right, you can grab your favorite Windows applications from a repository and install them exactly the way you would in Ubuntu. Wine Doors has a pretty snazzy list of software ranging from Dreamweaver 8 to Call of Duty 2 to satisfy both professionals and gamers.

Download:

http://www.wine-doors.org/releases/wine-doors_0.1-1_all.deb





Get the iPhone’s Features Without an iPhone

1 07 2007

Apple made headlines this weekend with its launch of the iPhone. I applaud Apple for pioneering a new design and user-interface, however feature-wise the iPhone is similar to a Motorola RAZR that debuted two years ago. For those of you who want to get the software on an iPhone without purchasing an iPhone, check out this list:

1. Maps

You don’t need Apple’s Google Maps software to get driving directions to a nearby pizza parlor. If you have a Java enabled phone (almost all phone’s nowadays do) check out my review of Google Maps for Mobiles. It has the same features, minus the multi-touch. Point your web-browser to http://www.google.com/gmm for the goods.

2. YouTube

YouTube is exclusive to the Apple iPhone? I think not. Point your mobile web-browser to http://m.youtube.com and watch your favorite videos straight from your phone. YouTube dishes out the video content in a special format (3GP) that your phone will be able to stream over the net.

3. Calendar

The good guys at Google have done it again, point your mobile web-browser to http://mobile.google.com/calendar and organize your life. If you have a Windows Mobile device check out my article on GooSync to wirelessly synchronize GCal with the built in Outlook calendar app.

4. Photos

Most camera phones have some built-in software to let you view them, so I won’t go into any additional photo software. But if you want to upload and view photos online in an album point your mobile web-browser to http://picasaweb.google.com/m.

5. Safari

Apple claims that Safari is the best mobile web-browser because it displays the web the way it should be. Check out my review on Opera Mini 4 which has the exact same features. Opera Mini 4 runs on any Java enabled phone. Visit http://www.operamini.com/download/ and grab the goodness.

6. Mail

Apple says they offer free POP mail access for all iPhone users. This is nice, and the ability to check your e-mail is a must for many people, but you can do this with GMail on your mobile phone. Point your web-browser to http://gmail.com/app
and download the Java program that lets you check your e-mail. You don’t use Google but another type of POP e-mail account? Great – Google lets you POP other e-mail accounts as well so no sweat, you’re covered.

7. Weather

I guess this is a little bit of a stretch, but if you need your phone to tell you what the weather is outside you need to get out more. If you really want to get the weather, you can always text Google (466453) with the query “weather <insert zipcode or city here>” and Google will text you back with the forecast results for the day. Its not as intuitive as I would like it to be, but hey it gets the job done.

If you don’t want to take the SMS route, take a visit to http://m.yahoo.com, Yahoo’s mobile webpage, and configure your start page to include a weather forecast.

7. Voicemail

Visual Voicemail is a great feature to have, but again is not exclusive to an iPhone. The engineers are CallWave have a product that lets you visually choose your voicemails, but it doesn’t stop there, you can even receive voicemails as text messages. This may not be free in the future however, but in the words of Robert Heinlein, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

8. Stocks

Yahoo’s mobile start page is very informative. Visit http://m.yahoo.com and setup the quotes that you want to track. You can also take the SMS route that Google provides by texting 466453 and entering “stock <insert symbol here>.”

As a consumer I look past marketing hype, I hope these tips help you get the most out of today’s technology.





Glipper – A Real Clipboard For Ubuntu

29 06 2007

Glipper is a very handy tool to have in your toolbox. It maintains a clipboard history of everything that you’ve copied. So say I copied something from CNET.com and also copied some text from ubuntu.com – with Glipper I can easily insert both copied text. Normally the latter material that was copied would have overwritten the former but a clipboard history solves this problem. Some Ubuntu users might also cringe at the fact the clipboard is cleared everytime an application is closed. So if I copied a URL from Firefox, and wanted to paste it into gedit, but closed Firefox, my copied URL is now gone because the clipboard was cleared. Glipper maintains all of your copies so you don’t have to worry about these little quirks anymore. Glipper is in the universe so you can search for it in Synaptic and install or if you’re a term kind of guy like me:

“sudo apt-get install glipper”





Google Desktop Search vs Tracker

29 06 2007

After reading Mohammad’s blog post about Google Desktop, I thought I’d take it for a spin since I’m a GDS fan when I’m on XP. Though I’ve only been using it for two days, I soon realized that I am going back to Tracker. Here’s why:

1. Memory Footprint

GDS is costing me 50MB+ for the search utility, the indexing process, and the tray icon. Tracker peaks at about 4MB for me – and that includes the indexing process.

2. No Deskbar Integration

With tracker I can integrate it into my deskbar. I can launch apps, search the web/desktop, and run system level commands from one place. GDS is limited to only searching the web/desktop, so as a power user I’m still stuck using 2 applications, when I can be using one integrated solution. I hope in the future we will be able to integrate GDS into the Deskbar, but it seems unlikely since GDS is a closed-source binary.

3. Firefox Results

GDS displays search results in Firefox. Though this is nice, we all know that FF isn’t the fastest loading application in our toolbox. Tracker has its own native GTK+ search window which loads up a lot quicker.

3. Privacy

If enabled, Google can monitor your usage, which they claim is non-personal information. I’m still a bit weary about anyone collecting my data for that matter, even if its Google who sees, hears, and speaks no evil. Tracker just does its job, it searches. No fuss or hassle.

One thing I will note however – GDS is blazing fast. It picks up search results as I type, faster than Tracker. The speed difference isn’t enough to outweigh its large memory footprint though. I am indexing my root folder which is the culprit for GDS eating up my memory, but if Tracker can do it efficiently, I expect the boys at Google to do so as well =).





Dia – The Microsoft Visio Alternative

22 06 2007

This post is now available on my new blog The IT Report:

http://theitreport.com/entries/linux/dia—the-microsoft-viso-alternative





Search GMail From The Deskbar

18 06 2007

I swear by the Deskbar applet. I swear by GMail. So lets put two and two together. Deskbar allows you to add “handlers” which are 3rd party extensions to this wonderful search utility. Here is a handler to allow Deskbar to search your GMail from within Ubuntu. Just save this script in your /home/.gnome2/deskbar-applet/handlers/ directory and it will automatically appear in your Deskbar Preferences. The script requires a little tweaking – you will need to hardcode your GMail username and password in order for it to work. At the top of the script there is a section:

GMAIL_USERNAME = ""
GMAIL_PASSWORD = ""

Which will require your attention. For a list of additional handlers click here. Another favorite Deskbar trick of mine is to integrate it with live Tracker search results. Deskbar is one of those utilities that make my daily computing, a little bit easier.