MacBook Pro

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In with the new, out with the old. I got my new MacBook Pro 13″ around noon today, but had to wait until noon to start playing around on it.

Here are my phones blurring pictures of the old HP dv4000 (left) and the new MacBook Pro (right).

Notice the HP isn’t running. Thats because it no longer even boots thanks to some internal hardware problems.

This time around I decided that I wanted a smaller, more portable laptop. Since I’ve had plenty of Windows computers and have been running Ubuntu Linux for a few years, I decided it was about time for me to get a Mac.

So far I’ve gotten the basics installed and setup thanks to suggestions from my brother and friends.

  • Opera
  • Adium
  • Skype
  • Last.fm Scrobbler
  • Tweetie
  • Dropbox
  • Coda
  • QuickSynergy
  • Xcode

I’m still testing out Xcode to see how I like it, but my first impression of the 3gb download wasn’t too positive. If it works well then great, but I was hoping to find a good medium between size and features.

I’ve also tweaked my MacBook’s name so it appears a little more customized on the network (using this guide). Now it appears as “kyBook Pro.” :D

Have some suggested apps or tips for me, or something better than what I’ve listed above? I’d love to hear what you like to install on your Mac!

Eliminate Opera’s Address Bar Like IE9

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If you’re a fan of minimizing toolbar space and maximizing browser space, you might be interested in this short guide that explains how to make your Opera look just a little more like this (arrangement-wise).

While this isn’t a perfect solution, it will show you how you can customize your Opera browser to be arranged a tad bit more like the upcoming Internet Explorer 9 web browser. While you’re at it, you might consider installing an Internet Explorer themed skin as well. I’m only kidding. :P

Step 1

Hide the address bar. To do this, you simply need to right click on the address bar and select “Customize -> Appearance..” from the menu.

In the window that appears, uncheck Address Bar and leave the Appearance window open for the next step.

Step 2

Add the address box and preferred navigation buttons. To do this, using the Appearance window that you opened in Step 1, click on the Buttons tab and make sure that the category item “Browser” is selected.

In this window you will find back, forward, refresh, log in and home buttons (as well as several others). Click on a button that you want to add such as the back/forward combo button and drag it up to the right of the Opera menu button until you see arrows to drop it.

If you dropped the buttons just right then they should now be resting to the right of the Opera menu button. If they didn’t appear, try again or is they are placed incorrectly you can move them around or remove them via right clicking the button and selecting “Customize -> Remove From Toolbar”.

Step 3

Now the last thing you probably want to add is the address box. You can find this in the buttons category labeled “Browser view”. Drag and drop this widget where you want it as you did with the buttons before.

Feel free to experiment with other buttons and widgets. After you’ve finished customizing your browser’s layout, click OK to close the Appearance window. You are not finished!

Conclusion

As I said before, this isn’t a perfect solution and there are several problems present that I encountered while rearranging various parts of the browser.

The biggest problem I have with this at the moment is the lack of ability to control the width of the address box. The address box drop down is also very narrow which makes it more difficult to use. than before.

Most buttons, when dropped into this toolbar are sized much larger than the back/forward combo button which makes it difficult to create a clean interface. This is the reason you only see this combo button and the address box in the screenshot above. ;)

Its great to see that Opera is still the king of browser layout customizations, but there are still problems that need to be fixed before this can be used as a true method of mimicking IE9.

If you’ve got tips, post ‘em in the comments! I love getting feedback and suggestions!

Solaris International/Deep Blue Radio Show Podcast

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A few years ago, while I was up late working and listening to what was then known as Virgin Radio at the time (and now as Absolute Radio), I happened to catch an episode of the “Deep Blue Radio Show.” Since then, it appears to have been renamed to “Solaris International.”

If you’re unfamiliar with this show, its simply a two hour mix of electronica and trance tunes by Solaris International with Solarstone. You can listen to their previous airings straight from their website, but I’ve finally come across their podcast in iTunes and found that it works perfectly in Linux as well with Rhythmbox!

Their site doesn’t seem to be as intuitive as it could be, which is why it took me so long to stumble across their podcast link. If you’re interested in subscribing, the link is posted immediately below. Copy and past it into your media player. If you’re unsure how, take a look at this excellent guide from GoingLinux.com.

Podcast Link to copy and paste:
http://www.solarstone.co.uk/listenAgain/deepblueradishow-podcast.xml

At the moment, there are over 220 previous podcast episodes available to download, so if you’ve got the time then they’ve got the tunes. ;)

I’m usually not a fan of podcasts, but I have a select few that I frequent. This will easily become my favorite.

If you’re not a fan of electronica or trance music then you can kindly disregard this post or use this as a reminder to search for podcasts featuring music you yourself may enjoy! :D

If you have podcast recommendations, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

Polishing Rhythmbox’s GUI vs. Forking

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With recent news from OMG! Ubuntu regarding a fork in the Rhythmbox source code for a new project called Rhythm-e (Elementary design in mind), and the controversy or mixed reactions that this has sparked in the comments and mailing list, I’ve decided to take a deeper look at Rhythmbox and share my thoughts and suggestions.

The Elementary take on Rhythmbox that is covered at OMG! Ubuntu attempts to clean up the interface by moving and removing various parts of the default Rhythmbox player. While this can be beneficial at times, I feel that its very important to heavily consider the features that are being removed.

The Rhythm-e project is only a few days old, so I’m holding my judgement on the project for a later date. Instead, I just want to point out changes that I think could have been made before the extreme decision of forking a long standing and popular music player for Linux.

The default Rhythmbox player for Ubuntu 10.10, as pictured above, is by no means perfect, but there are plenty of little tweaks that could be performed to polish the fine details of the application without very much work. Keep in mind that these are solely my opinions and in no way do I consider them to be the only or best way of improving Rhythmbox. I simply offer them out as suggestions and examples.

I’ve taken the screenshot posted above and tweaked a few aspects to show how some spaces could be used more efficiently, thus giving Rhythmbox an overall cleaner appearance without the need to fork the entire project.

The only difference between the two is that the second mockup has a library that has been filtered enough to remove the scrollbar.

Looking closer at the images and comparing them to the original, you should note the following changes:

  • The song title, artist and album have been pulled up into the button toolbar to reduce wasted vertical space.
  • The song’s progress slider has been pulled up in-line with the textual position output to reduce wasted vertical space.
  • The Library and Store list on the left has been widened by 1 pixel and shifted left to hide the unnecessary left border. This creates a cleaner and more flush appearance.
  • The album art image holder has been scaled to take up the full available area, thus removing wasted space and padding. It may be ideal to shrink the image a bit, but keep the top of the album art flush with the list above it in order to allow the resize bar to remain clickable, but the rest of the available space should be used and not wasted.
  • The redundant spacer at the end of the “Time” category has been removed. This is most likely more of a theme problem than a Rhythmbox problem, but it does still make it look cleaner.
  • In the second mockup (short list), the scroll bars are not necessary and have been removed as usual, but the list has been widened enough to push the right border out of the window which helps create a cleaner and more flush appearance.

I also think that the status bar is a bit unnecessary by default, but have left it in the picture to show that it can still look good. If the status bar is removed, the library list should stretch to also push the bottom border out of view as the right side is in the short list mockup.

I think the menus are still relevant and useful, but with the menu bar being removed from the application window in UNE, this would only help in cleaning up the interface.

One thing that Rhythmbox could do to help ideas like Rhythm-e take hold more quickly is to make the interface more configurable by themes or manual configuration files. Allowing stylists to easily move buttons around and remove various elements could also spark new ideas on realistic was of improving Rhythmbox for everyone!

While I think its not always necessary to fork an existing project for a new idea, I also like to see the interest and efforts in making existing applications more appealing. I look forward to seeing the rests of Rhythm-e as it matures, but I’m also hoping to see better communication and collaboration to improve Rhythmbox itself.

While you’re free to take open source software and do as you please without asking questions, its just plain friendly to contribute back as a token of thanks for the work that went into it in the past. Keeping up with the mailing list, I’ve seen a few talks and suggestions back and forth, so I’m crossing my fingers that the two can work together and combine their strengths rather than simply competing separately.

Are there changes that I’ve missed? Something I’ve changed that you disagree with? Let me know in the comments!

My Heel Cord Lengthening Surgery

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So I recently had a surgery to lengthen my right heel cord so that I should soon be able to move my right foot more than I previously was (due to an accident a few years back). Just thought I’d share some pictures of the cast which is the first stage of a 2 month re-coop process.

Hopefully I get this cast off in a few weeks and get moved to a soft cast. I’m thinking it will be removable, allowing me to scratch the itches. :P

Anyhoo, thats about it lately.

Ubuntu 10.10 Wallpaper – Dual Screen

Ubuntu 10.10 Dual Screen Wallpaper (2560x1024)

Ubuntu 10.10 Dual Screen Wallpaper (2560x1024)

For those of you unaware, the new default wallpaper for Ubuntu 10.10 has just recently been released. The new wallpaper seems to be unanimously better than the previous rendition consisting of crude orange spots mixed into the Ubuntu 10.04 wallpaper.

As you might have noticed (from screenshots), I’m usually surfing the net from my desktop which has dual monitors for more efficient working so I like to paint a nice wallpaper spanning across both rather than repeating them.

This is my quick GIMP (second time I’ve done this for a default wallpaper) work where I simply scaled the original image (which can be found here) into a 2560×1024. Nothing major, it took about 10 seconds, but it will save you the work if you like it! Maybe you’ll find it useful and use it yourself, if not thats okay too. ;)

Gmail Priority Inbox

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I just noticed the Priority Inbox feature being announced at the top of my Inbox in red today and decided to give this fascinating new feature a test drive. Surely you’ve heard the news, but if now, this should fill you in.

I was really hoping to give this feature a thorough test right away after hearing of it a couple of days ago, but unfortunately I keep my Inbox far to clean and have to wait until tomorrow morning to test it out for real.

As you can see, I didn’t have enough mail to truly test the new feature out. I usually go through around 100 message throughout the course of the day, but at this point I’d already filtered through them all. :(

I’m excited to try this out, as about 80% of the emails that I receive are skim-able and not all that dire. I like the idea of Gmail learning to sort these as you correct it from the beginning and am curious to see how well it works, but also a little concerned on privacy (thanks to my brother for the link!).

I’ve developed a sort of skill for parsing through the emails in my chaotic inbox every morning and am wondering if the new Priority Inbox will actually feel more chaotic, but I’m willing to give it a try for a while. Compare the Priority Inbox above to the regular Inbox below.

One of the best features of this new feature for me is that it doesn’t replace the regular Inbox. As you can see in the screenshots, you’re still able to select either view you prefer easily from the list on the left.

Now I’m curious. Have any of you used this feature yet? And if so, do you find it useful?

Ubuntu 10.10 Banner

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Recently I was looking through the Ubuntu 10.10 banners and really liked the simplistic design of one by Anthony Scarth.

Curious about adding it to my blog (as you should now see in the right column), I fired him an email. Unfortunately he didn’t have a script prepared, but still offered up the images!

Taking a little time, I grabbed the old script for an Ubuntu 10.04 Banner, made a few modifications (and corrections) and got the banner up and ticking in no time!

If you’re interested in using one of these two banners on your site then you’ll be happy to know I’m posting easily linkable scripts to these two right here!

Orange
<script type='text/javascript' src='http://www.kyleabaker.com/fun/ubuntu1010banner/orange.js'></script>

Purple
<script type='text/javascript' src='http://www.kyleabaker.com/fun/ubuntu1010banner/purple.js'></script>

Copy and paste the style that you’d like to use into your blog or web site. If you have any problems just let me know.

Be sure to give Anthony a shout out and thanks if you like his design as well! You can find his email listed on the Ubuntu banners page linked above.