OpenID Authentication Plugin for vBulletin 4

Recently I volunteered to help fix an existing project or develop an OpenID authentication plugin for the vBulletin platform. The group in need was UbuntuForums.org and I would have never known if it hadn’t been for Jorge Castro’s public request for help.

The Story

The existing plugin had been developed specifically for vBulletin 3.x, however, they are (as of writing this) in the process of upgrading their forums to vBulletin 4 especially wanted OpenID to be available when they make the upgrade. That’s where I came in.

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, provided me with necessary software licenses for vBulletin 4 and from there it was a lot of late nights attempting to simply get a successful OpenID process to occur.

Working a full time job doesn’t make projects like this as easy as I remember them once being… Nonetheless I was able to successful port the plugin to vB4 where there were several significant differences that took me some time to address and to be honest, the previous code was a bit more complicated to follow than it should have been.

One major change from vB3 to vB4 was the way templates work. I’d never worked with vBulletin before, but I’ve had an extensive amount of experience with phpBB and bbPress in the past. After getting over the frustration of how vBulletin prefers to store ALL template information (in the database rather than pull from template files) I was ready to begin the repair process.

One major annoyance was that vBulletin 4 kept a “deprecated” method intact for vb3 templates that haven’t yet been ported and the deprecated method would printout a warning on the live page letting you know that you should update your templates. That’s not a problem, but vBulletin likes to only release helpful information to License holding, account proving customers. I had a license yes, but was not the owner and unfortunately I was unable to get much of a response from the Ubuntu mailing list about getting access to vBulletin’s online support section.

For anyone having similar issues, I’ve posted the error message that I first came across below. If you got here, then you probably found the vBulletin post regarding this, but if you don’t have access like I didn’t then you’re still in luck…

Warning: fetch_template() calls should be replaced by the vB_Template class in [path]/includes/functions.php on line

While it was pretty clear that fetch_template() was deprecated, I was unable to get a clear usage example of how to use the new vB_Template class. I finally came across a post on StackOverflow that was exactly what I needed. Other issues that I had with fixing the plugin were some issues with SQL queries and were much more critical.

I wrote an article recently on how to debug PHP in real time as you’re using/executing a page or function… all through the very well known Eclipse IDE. If you’re interested in PHP development then you should certainly take a look at that post as it walks you through the setup and will make your life much easier. After tracing through the code over and over, each time finding new little issues and having to walk through the entire log in process again each time… I’d finally managed to get a successful authentication. So, I took a screenshot of my development environment…

vBulletin OpenID Plugin First Success

It wasn’t long after the first success that I was able to pin point other problematic spots faster and then from there everything just fell into place. In fact I had “full functionality” only about an hour after the first success. That didn’t mean that I was finished.

There were still a lot of minor issues that I’d found with the code. Array index out of bounds, corrupt query results in some situations causing a critical database error page to appear, unhandled invalid urls would take the plugin for a ride and ultimately crash, etc.

I’ve now worked out all of the issues that I came across from my own testing. Hopefully Ubuntu and Canonical won’t find any either and the upgrade can occur soon!

Download for Free

If you’re here for this plugin then I’m sure you’ve seen that there aren’t many (dare I say any) that are working, free or at least reasonably priced. Fortunately this plugin is based on an open source PHP OpenID library and Canonical apparently plans to maintain it from here on out in their source control service.

Before you download: I’ve posted a direct download the vanilla release that I first pushed to Canonical, however, its in your best interest to check for a newer version on their source control page for this plugin. That being said, feel free to continue on to download!

Download from me (last updated 2012-09-29)

Download from Canonical

Installation

This plugin contains a README and INSTALL file that should go into plenty of detail to help you install and get going in no time at all. The only thing that is left for you is to optionally improve on the simplistic log in form as seen below.

vBulletin Simplistic OpenID Login Form

While I do indeed love web design and development, I left the OpenID log-in form simplistic for one reason: Every web designer designs differently and its a waste of my time to put much effort into this when people who use it will likely want to use it in a way I never considered. The good news is that, it doesn’t appear in the header by default, so you can actually place this little form ANYWHERE you want. However, due to obvious reasons, you’ll likely find the header as I’ve done to be easiest as it automatically disappears one the user is logged in.

Conclusion

It’s been a fun month or month and a half that I’ve spent dabbling on this plugin. I’m always happy to contribute where I can to communities that I’m interested in or proud of and I consider this volunteer effort to be no different.

I’m also a little excited to see how the vBulletin community accepts this plugin. Will it be a boom or a bust? Only time will tell, but until then hopefully UbuntuForums.org will be enjoying OpenID functionality!

Debugging PHP in Ubuntu using Eclipse

This guide walks you through the necessary steps to configure the Eclipse IDE for PHP debugging. This can be very handy, especially when you’re trying to resolve an issue in a complex PHP application or plug-in.

Things you’ll need

  • Eclipse
  • Eclipse PHP Development Tools (PDT)
  • Xdebug
Assumptions
This article assumes that you are configuring Eclipse and Xdebug for development on a localhost web server. If you are not, be sure to make appropriate adjustments to accommodation your needs. Likely the only changes you will need to make will be differences in connecting to your server verses localhost.

Quick Overview

For those that are unaware, Eclipse is a very popular IDE for developing in Java. However, Eclipse is much more powerful than that and can in fact easily be used for developing in many other languages including PHP.

Xdebug is a brilliant debugging extension designed for use with PHP. Once configured, Xdebug will allow you to remotely connect to your web server… or in my case connect to my development localhost web server. Rather than using crude echo and logging techniques to debug your PHP code, Xdebug allows you to literally step through and inspect values and function flows in real-time.

If you’ve ever scratched your head at a PHP script and thrown in dozens of echos or logging statements to track the execution path then you’ll really come to appreciate the benefits of using Xdebug.

Configuring Eclipse and Xdebug isn’t difficult. In fact its painless with the correct steps on hand. That’s where this guide comes in. I found myself coming across incomplete or outdated forum posts and stackoverflow questions, so I thought I’d post what worked for me.

If you already have Java and Eclipse installed, then just jump ahead to installing and configuring the PHP Development Tools and Xdebug.

Install Eclipse

This will install ~118 new packages, assuming you’ve not already installed some of them, and will total around 255 MB that need to be downloaded.

  1. Open a terminal and enter the following command to install Eclipse:
    sudo apt-get install eclipse

     

  2. After the download completes, open Eclipse to confirm that it installed correctly. Leave it open for our next install.

Install PHP Development Tools (PDT)

  1. If you don’t have Eclipse open at this point, open it up.
  2. Navigate through the menus to: Help -> Install New Software…
  3. You will be prompted with a new window asking you to select a site or enter the location of a site. You should be able to drop down the list of sites and find one labeled “–All Available Sites–“. Select this option and wait for the list below to populate.

  4. Scroll through the list until you find a category labeled “Programming Languages” and click the arrow to expand this list.

  5. Continue to scroll through the Programming languages until you find a item labeled “PHP Development Tools (PDT) SDK Feature” and check the box to the left.

  6. Click Next and continue throw the installation. You’ll have to select that you agree to the terms of installing this software.
  7. After the installation has completed, you will be asked to restart Eclipse to apply changes. Go ahead and restart Eclipse, then move on to the next install.

 

Install XDebug

  1. Open a terminal and enter the following command to install Xdebug:


    sudo apt-get install php5-xdebug
     

  2. After installation completes, there are a couple of files that need to be configured. If you copy and paste the commands below, make sure to check that the quotes that are copied over are regular quotation characters, as they may cause problems if they are not.
    1. sudo gedit /etc/php5/conf.d/*xdebug.ini 


      zend_extension=/usr/lib/php5/20100525/xdebug.so

      xdebug.remote_enable = 1
      xdebug.remote_handler = “dbgp”
      xdebug.remote_host = “localhost”
      xdebug.remote_port = 9000 

    2. sudo gedit /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini 

      Scroll to the bottom and add:

      zend_extension=/usr/lib/php5/20100525/xdebug.so

  3. Restart your Apache server so that the new PHP configuration settings are loaded.

    sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

  4. Confirm that your Xdebug installation was successfully loaded by creating a simple PHP file called “phpinfo.php” and placing it in the public root of your Apache web server. Be sure to include the following in your file, save it then navigate to it in your browser:

    <?php phpinfo(); ?>

  5. After loading the php info page, search for “xdebug”. If you find it listed, then you have successfully installed and configured Xdebug. If not, check back over the steps listed above or consult Google.
Configuring your Eclipse project to connect to Xdebug
After you’ve finally gotten everything installed, you’re probably anxious to start debugging. You’re not far off. The only thing that’s left is to import your PHP script or site and establish a Debug Configuration for your project.
To import a site, simple select: File -> New -> Project… -> PHP -> PHP Project. This will open a new window where you can open PHP files from and existing location. Assuming this location is in your public root directory in Apache, you can work with these scripts in real-time.
After importing these existing files, right click on your new project and select: Debug As -> Debug Configurations…
Make sure that you’ve selected Xdebug as the Debugger type. Click Apply and then Debug. This will open a “Debug” perspective in Eclipse, allowing you to view variables and stack traces live. Assuming you’ve created a breakpoint or selected to break at the first line of the file, you should now see your PHP script paused waiting for you to debug!
Tip: If you’re planning to debug a large project such as a WordPress, phpBB, vBulletin or any other large web application, pointing the Debug Configuration to your index.php makes debugging much easier.
Done
Congrats! By now you should be beginning a new road to a much easier life of PHP development.
If you have any questions, comments or suggests feel free to let me hear them below! I’ll try to help where I can, but I can guarantee I’ll know how to solve any of the issues you may encounter. ;)

Ubuntu Software Center vs. Mac App Store

As many of you may already know, Mac OS X now comes installed with a “Mac App Store”. Ubuntu also comes installed with an “Ubuntu Software Center”. Both of these applications serve the same general functionality in very similar formats, but I’m going to take a look at what needs to be improved in the Ubuntu Software Center.

First off, lets take a look at both of these applications from a first impressions point of view. Its pretty obvious at a glance that the user interface of these applications are eerily similar. It’s also pretty obvious that one app has received a little more attention to detail and aesthetics.

First Glance

The Mac App Store features a rolling banner at the top which highlights new or popular items. This is something that Ubuntu has not adopted. Not that its necessary, but it’s certainly a nice touch.

Both applications feature a “What’s New” and “Top” section, but in Ubuntu the presentation is… well, lacking to say the least. You can probably see a different in the thumbnails above with the polished Mac App Store that seems to just pop and the Ubuntu Software Center that just seems dull and with little focus.

I seem to recall mention of Ubuntu trying to improve the quality of application icons and screenshots. This could go far for improving application presentation! As Ubuntu is increasingly becoming more and more popular, the need for a matured and polished software center is greater than ever.

Now lets look at what kind of information and selling points the Mac App Store offers when you select an item that you may be interested in installing.

Mac App Store – Application Profile Page

The Mac App Store shines with its prevalent display of the item’s icon, a well written brief description and most importantly a screenshot gallery. While a short description of the application is an obvious requirement, the screenshot gallery may be the single best-selling point for an application. These screenshots have the power to showoff not only how nice your application is, but more importantly what it can do! It seems that authors tend to pick a handful of well-chosen screenshots to give a thorough glance at the features and functionality available.

Some other nice details that the Mac App Store offers include information about the author and their website, the application’s version and release date, and of course a customer review section. The review section is just like any other review section, though it does provide a nice break down of the ratings. It’s easy to see the overall rating of an application as well as how many users rated it a one star, two star, three star, etc.

Now lets take a look at what we get from the Ubuntu Software Center.

Ubuntu Software Center – Application Profile Page

The Ubuntu Software Center has actually evolved a great deal over the past couple of years. Just like the Mac App Store, Ubuntu offers a prevalent application icon, a brief description and, when available, a screenshot. However, the simple presentation of these three important details is somewhat lacking.

As mentioned before, it’s not uncommon to find an application with a very poorly created icon. You may also, at times, run into the issue of a poorly written description or find an application with no screenshot available. Even when you find an application which has all the above, you’re only presented with one screenshot which opens in a new window and not simply featuring the larger view from within the software center itself.

Some improvements that I’d personally like to see would be an implementation similar to the gallery in the Mac App Store. I’m not saying I’d like for Ubuntu to clone the Mac App Store, but its clear why improving this feature would be very beneficial for the Ubuntu Software Center.

It would also be nice if the Ubuntu Software Center would pull screenshots of these applications (possibly from their own servers) that are taken in the Radiance or Ambiance theme. I’m sure it can be a little confusing for some when they see a screenshot with a non-default theme applied to it. This is a change that Ubuntu should consider for user familiarity and consistency.

Other important details that the Ubuntu Software Center offers include the application version, a “People Also Installed” section and user reviews. While the availability of the application version is certainly great, the complex versioning system that is so often used in Linux may make it useless for some. I understand the Chromium Web Browser version 18.0.1025.168~r134367-0ubuntu2, however, many people may find this less than ideal.

As for the user reviews, Ubuntu has done a nice job of making it easy to review and contribute to the success or demise of any given application. I’d still like to see a break down of the rating for each level like the Mac App Store does.

Now lets talk a little about some very poor user interface designing…

Ubuntu Software Center – Interface Design

What happens when you view a category or perform a search in the Ubuntu Software Center? Simple, you get a list. What kind of list you may ask? A very space inefficient list that leaves the user endlessly scrolling through results while appearing to be a half-assed implementation.

Mac’s approach to situations such as displaying categories or search results is to throw the results into a table-like layout. While this is a nice implementation, it’s not necessarily the best. There’s one thing that I know for sure though, and that’s the fact that Ubuntu’s current implementation just doesn’t cut it.

Other weaknesses in the design of the Ubuntu Software Center can be attributed to lack of visual divisions between applications in a list or important application details, poor color contrasts, inconsistent styling and a general feeling of the overall application’s color being desaturated.

As far as the poor color contrast, there are many areas throughout the software center that could benefit from adjusting the colors to focus the important content, make it stand out and shine, and make the less important details fade into the background. This technique helps to remove the feeling of having such a cluttered interface while retaining all the same information.

Conclusion

While Mac has always had the edge on other operating systems as far as offering a polished user interface, Ubuntu has come a long way and will continue to improve. Unfortunately, for the last few releases, Ubuntu has been overly focused on their Unity environment and this has left a lot less time for them to spend on improving other very important aspects of the operating system… such as the software center.

That being said, the Ubuntu Software Center certainly is a very usable tool and is much better than it has been in the past. One great thing about open source is the ability to take a bit of code, improve it and then release it as potentially a better alternative. That’s just what happened when Linux Deepin released the Deepin Software Center.

Lets just hope that the Ubuntu developers have taken note of this and will continue to strive for the best possible Linux experience.

First Time to the West Coast

I went on a business trip recently to Reno, NV. While I was out that way I decided to make a quick trip to Los Angeles, CA and see the West Coast for the first time.

It was a fun trip and I took a lot of pictures. Unfortunately it rained most of the time I was in LA and the pictures I took didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. I do however have some pretty fantastic pictures from my trip that I wanted to share.

Me at North Lake Tahoe in Nevada.

Me at North Lake Tahoe in Nevada.

Room 1191 view from the Grand Sierra Hotel & Resort.

Room 1191 view from the Grand Sierra Hotel & Resort.

This was a pretty interesting view with the clouds and the mountains surrounding everything. There was basically a 360 degree view of these mountains.

The Casino in the Grand Sierra Hotel. It went on and on and...

The Casino in the Grand Sierra Hotel. It went on and on and...

I only gambled $20, but left with 39 extra bucks!

I only gambled $20, but left with 39 extra bucks!

I’m not really into gambling, but I had to give it a shot since I was there. I played Black Jack with $20 with $5 minimum bets and walked away with $59. Naturally I had to keep a few chips as souvenirs.

Oh how I love this view...

Oh how I love this view...

Coming in for a landing in Los Angeles, CA at LAX.

Coming in for a landing in Los Angeles, CA at LAX.

I thought this view was pretty amazing the way everything is so flat and all of a sudden these huge mountains just jet up, lol.

Hotel view in Los Angeles. It was cheap. That is all.

Hotel view in Los Angeles. It was cheap. That is all.

Hollywood Park Casino

Hollywood Park Casino

Hollywood Park...interesting place.

Hollywood Park...interesting place.

Why don't the cabs just do this in Raleigh instead of calling?

Why don't the cabs just do this in Raleigh instead of calling?

I had to take a picture of this. Don’t you dare laugh at my phone. :P I don’t understand why cabs back home try to call to let you know they are on their way rather than just automating a simple text like this.

View from 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (The Grove La)

View from 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (The Grove La)

While I was in LA, I managed to meetup with a friend of mine and went to see a band that he knew. The area where they played was very festive and neat, but you’d never know that you were in the city until you saw the view above.

Overall it was a really fun trip. I’ve been all up and down the East Coast, but this was a first for me. Previously I’d only ever been as far west as Kentucky. Eventually, though, I had to return home…

Leaving Los Angeles, another stunning view.

Leaving Los Angeles, another stunning view.

It’s funny when you’re leaving LAX to go back to the East Coast, because you flight in the wrong direction out over the Pacific for a solid 5-10 minutes before turning around back over land.

The ocean from this altitude was amazing. The waves that you see in the bottom right corner of the image above appeared to be as motionless then as they are in the picture. It was like the ocean had suddenly frozen solid. Crazy cool.

Not exactly sure where this was, but it looked cool.

Not exactly sure where this was, but it looked cool.

One thing that I couldn’t get used to was just how brown everything was. I’m used to the green mountains of Western North Carolina, but it’s always interesting to see how different each new place can be.

Finally a view that wasn't completely foreign to me.

Finally a view that wasn't completely foreign to me.

Nvidia patches a bug I’ve waited 9 months for…

I’ve been following an Nvidia bug that’s been affecting me for a while now and am happy to say that its apparently been fixed! I say apparently, because I’ve not been around my Linux box for several days (due to the holidays) and haven’t had a chance to confirm for myself.

If you have an Nvidia card, especially the 7300le model like I have, and have had difficulties using Unity 3D with the proprietary drivers, then you may have experienced this bug: [nvidia, 7300, 7400] display freeze when using unity desktop

Nvidia has just released an update which resolves this issue and it can easily be installed right away!

Release highlights since 275.36:

  • Fixed a bug that would cause Firefox to abort on pages with Flash when layers acceleration was force-enabled on Linux and Solaris.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause display devices on a secondary GPU to get swapped between X screens when restarting the X server.
  • Fixed a regression that caused blank/white windows when exhausting video memory on GeForce 6 and 7 series GPUs while using composited desktops.
  • Fixed a bug that caused a crash when glDrawArrays was used with a non-VBO vertex attribute array to draw on a Xinerama screen other than screen 0 using an indirect GLX context.

The 275.43 NVIDIA Accelerated Linux Graphics Driver Set for Linux/x86 is available for download via FTP.

The 275.43 NVIDIA Accelerated Linux Graphics Driver Set for Linux/x86_64 is available for download via FTP.

 

Please see the README (x86 / x86_64) for more information about this release.

 

Please note: This NVIDIA Linux graphics driver release supports GeForce 6xxx and newer NVIDIA GPUs, GeForce4 and older GPUs are supported through the 96.43.xx and 71.86.xx NVIDIA legacy graphics drivers. GeForce FX GPUs are supported through the 173.14.xx NVIDIA legacy graphics drivers.

 

Please also note: If you encounter any problems with the 275.43 NVIDIA Linux graphics driver release, please start a new thread and include a detailed description of the problem, reproduction steps and generate/attach an nvidia-bug-report.log.gz file (please see http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=46678 for details).

If you’re seeing the same problem and would like to test the update, there are a few specific instructions that you may (or may not) need to follow, posted here.

Submitting Anonymous Usage Statistics

Banshee Media Player Usage Statistics

Being a software developer myself, I tend to pay attention to application functionality and options a little more than the average end user. I’ve noticed that over the last few years when I encounter an option to ‘submit anonymous usage statistics’ I gladly and immediately enable it.

Knowing that you can gain valuable information about the way your end users are using your product, it makes sense for a software developer to include this option and frankly I’m baffled that its not available in most all applications.

I’d like to use this post for two reasons:

  1. To encourage you and others to consider enabling this option in order for developers to get the accurate information that they need to make their product even better!
  2. To maintain a list of these options in various applications that I stumble upon so others are aware.

As I gradually increase the number of applications, feel free to point out applications that I’ve missed and I’ll add them to the list!

Application List:

 

Adium

 

Banshee Media Player

 

Eclipse

 

Google Chrome

 

Google Drive

 

Google Music Manager

 

Opera

 

Ubuntu Software Sources

 

Google Music Manager

 

 

Using Synergy with Mac and Ubuntu

Ubuntu Linux Hostname from Terminal

This is just a quick guide for those of you who also use both Mac and Ubuntu (or really any flavor of Linux) side by side. If you’re not already familiar with Synergy, it’s a small application that connects your mouse and keyboard to one or more machines for a more continuous experience.

Mac and Linux use a graphical front-end for Synergy known as QuickSynergy. Here’s how to get it configured for use between Mac and Ubuntu…

Hostnames

You can find the hostnames to use simply by opening a Terminal window, or if you’re unsure still, simply type hostname and press enter. ;)

If you used the hostname command in Ubuntu, you probably noticed that the “.local” part is not printed out, but it is necessary when dealing with Mac OS X.

Connecting the Two

After selecting the system you’d like to share, configure the Use or Share tab as necessary similar to the examples below:

After configuring Synergy/QuickSynergy you’re all set to start making your life easier!

Unity Opera!

Unity Opera Tab Count

With Unity in the recent spot light and a little free time on my hands, I decided it was time to dabble with the Launcher API. What better combination that my two favorite pieces of software: Unity in Ubuntu and Opera!

With my Unity Opera script, you’ll be able to get extra functionality for Opera by simply downloading a script and adding it to your Startup Applications list. No technical modifications necessary!

The Launcher API provides four features at the moment: Count, Progress, Urgency, Quicklists.

At the moment I’m only able to implement functionality for three of these, with the exception being Progress. In its current implementation, Unity Opera has the following features:

Count

The total number of tabs you have open appears on the Launcher icon and is updated in real time as you open and close tabs.

One item to note here is that Opera’s Private tabs are not included in this tab count. Since information about these tabs and their contents are not stored anywhere on your computer, Unity Opera has no way of discovering them.

Progress

At this point in time, the progress functionality for this script is not available. Until I find a way to programmatically determine download progress in Opera, I will not be able to implement this.

If you have any information regarding a way to implement this feature then please let me know!

Urgency

When browsing the net, not every link you click on is from inside the web browser. Sometimes you click a link from an instant message, mail client, Gwibber, etc. This is where urgency comes into play.

Typically clicking these links automatically opens the tab in your browser, but it doesn’t always pull you’re browser into focus. When this happens, you may not know which browser the link opened in or if clicking it was even successful.

When Opera is not in focus and a new tab is opened, the Opera icon in the Launcher now enters urgency mode and wiggles onces. An urgency highlight is also applied to the icon and a small attention reminder in the upper left corner until you focus Opera again (this clears the urgency setting).

Quicklists

Previously I shared a tip on how to customize your Quicklists for Opera. That method meant that you had to manually open and edit the desktop file.

This is no longer the case, as these features are already built into Unity Opera.

On top of that, your Speed Dial items are also appended to the Quicklist, making your life that much easier! ;)

If you use Opera’s built in Mail client, also known as M2, then you will see an Opera for Mail, which is intended to open M2 directly. At the moment, this feature doesn’t work as intended, but hopefully in due time it will.

Download Unity Opera

Unity Opera is written in python and can easily be updated and maintained. I suggest you save and extract it to your Home directory and use it there, but you are free to place it anywhere you wish.

Download

Running Unity Opera

You can run Unity Opera in one of two ways:

1. The easiest way in my opinion is to simply add it to your Startup Applications.

To do this simply open your dash and search for ‘Startup Applications‘. Once there, click ‘Add‘ and fill in the blanks!

To run Unity Opera on startup, I place the script in my home folder. You can place it where ever you wish, but if you pick a place other than your home folder then you will need to provide a full path the script in your startup command.

An example of what I use is as follows:

python unity-opera.py

2. The other option is to open a terminal when you want to use this script and run the command above.

Options

This script has several options. For help and more information type:

python unity-opera.py –help

This script accepts two optional args:

1. Opera Channel: This is used for setting Unity Opera to run against regular Opera and the new Opera Next channel. By default, if you exclude this arg, Opera is set as the browser to run against. Examples of this command include:

python unity-opera.py opera

python unity-opera.py opera-next

2. Enable features: This is used to enable specific features. You can enable only basic quicklists [q], quicklists with Speed Dial entries [qs], tab count [c], urgency notification [u], and progress [p].

As mentioned before, progress is not functional at the moment, but I’ve built the script with this feature ready to include as soon as I find a way. ;)

This second argument requires the use of the first argument. Examples of this command include:

python unity-opera.py opera -qs

python unity-opera.py opera-next -qsu

Troubleshooting

If you experience trouble with this script, please try running it from a terminal to see if there are any errors output to the console. If so, copy and paste these in the comments below and I will take a look at them.

Quicklists for Opera in Unity

Opera Extended Unity Menu

Thanks goes to Jorge Castro and a recent post of his about Quicklists in Unity.

After reading his post and seeing how easy it was to add new Quicklist entries, I decided to give it a go with Opera.

As you can see, my efforts were successful, but there are many more list items you could add to customize Opera’s Quicklist to suit your needs.

Get It for Yourself

If you’re using Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity and want to customize this menu for yourself then just follow follow these simple steps.

1. Open a terminal and type the following (and enter your password when prompted):
sudo gedit /usr/share/applications/opera-browser.desktop

2. Scroll down to the bottom of this open file and paste the following:
X-Ayatana-Desktop-Shortcuts=NewTab;NewPrivateTab;NewWindow;Mail;

[NewTab Shortcut Group]
Name=New Tab
Exec=opera -newtab
TargetEnvironment=Unity

[NewPrivateTab Shortcut Group]
Name=New Private Tab
Exec=opera -newprivatetab
TargetEnvironment=Unity

[NewWindow Shortcut Group]
Name=New Window
Exec=opera -newwindow
TargetEnvironment=Unity

[Mail Shortcut Group]
Name=Mail
Exec=opera -mail
TargetEnvironment=Unity

3. Save and close the text editor. You may need to restart Unity or your computer before changes take effect.

Customize your Quicklist

If you’d like to add more items to the Quicklist, simply add a shortcut name for it in “X-Ayatana-Desktop-Shortcuts" and create a "Shortcut Group" for it.

A couple of things that I considered adding were Gmail and Google Reader so that they simply open in new tabs. I’m sure you can find other useful shortcuts to add or maybe even more Opera command line options!

Remove your Changes

If you don’t like the Quicklist items that you’ve added, all you need to do is open the opera-browser.desktop file and remove the lines that were added. Save, close and voila.

Conclusion

Quicklists are great, but they would be more useful with Opera if we were able to select from a list of open or recent tabs.

The new tab and window shortcuts that I’ve added are enough for me at the moment, but I would really love to see them added by default in the near future!

Mac OS X 10.7

Mac OS X Lion 10.7 Installation Complete

Stumbling upon a download for Mac OS X 10.7 Developer Preview, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give install it on my MacBook and see how things went.

So far it seems that OS X 10.7 has several tweaks and added bells and whistles, but LaunchPad is the only significant difference that I’ve found.

After the upgrade completes and your computer is restarted, you’re presented with a typical OS X intro video with some music that turns into the “Thank You” that you see above.

Quick look at About This Mac.

With LaunchPad, you’re presented with a “Home” screen similar to what you might find on an iPhone/iPod touch/iPad. This screen lists your default apps first as you would see on your i-device and other applications on subsequent pages.

The old style Dashboard is no longer lowered in and floating above your desktop or workspace, but instead slides in from the left where it occupies its own workspace area.

I don’t see a real advantage to this over the previous style Dashboard and it feels like a change for the sake of change, but I’m sure there is a better reason behind this UI change.

The Mail app has been updated, cleaned up and rearranged. I find the new layout to be nicer overall and easy to get used it. Hotmail has used a similar design for a while now, but its never felt as user friendly as this.

Spot Light also got a few updates. Tooltips appear for some files and resources with more details without having to click anything. For instance, definitions that are listed in the results now display a tooltip with everything you need.

Several of the mouse gestures have changed by default and the up/down scrolling motion has been reversed by default to mimic a touch device such as your iPhone. This is the only thing that I’ve switched back thus far as I couldn’t stand the scrolling working opposite of what I’m used to.

Looking through my Sharing settings I noticed that FTP is no longer listed. I’m hoping its only been moved and has not been removed, but time will tell.

AirDrop looks to be promising, though I have no one to test it with just yet. Also, FaceTime is now installed by default.

Windows are now resizeable from all sides and corners. Windows are now animated to when clicking the plus button to enlarge or shrink a window.

There are many more changes in OS X 10.7, most of them are simple visual tweaks. The window controls for close/minimize/maximize have been slightly updated, however the controls displayed in iTunes have yet to be updated and still use the styling from OS X 10.6.6.

Mac OS X 10.7 Developer Preview is turning out to be a pretty stable and promising update so far. Some features show since of performance problems, but I’m sure many of the remaining issues will be resolved in time for its official release.

Crossing my fingers that more new features find there way into OS X 10.7 before its released, but its probably not very likely at this point.

Girl Talk @ Disco Rodeo

Girl Talk Crowd and Lights

Got some follow-up pictures from the Girl Talk show I went to last week and mentioned in my previous Girl Talk post! Not all of the pictures turned out so hot, but these are a few of the better ones.

My favorite one is the one where he is squatting on top of his dj table with the microphone, but I think they’re all pretty amazing…as is the range of colors.

In the end our ears were all ringing, but it was a blast and great to be so close this time around! If you ever get the chance, I highly suggest you see Girl Talk live!