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.

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!

Girl Talk

Girl Talk Stage

I’m going to see Girl Talk perform tomorrow night in Raleigh! I can’t wait! I saw him live at Moogfest 2010 and the show was amazing!

Unfortunately I didn’t get any great close up pictures from Moogfest of Girl Talk, but here are some of the better ones that I have from his previous performance and similar to what I hope to get at the concert tomorrow!

Hopefully this time we can get a little closer, but I’m guessing the show will be very similar to the last one we saw. You should checkout Girl Talk’s latest album called All Day if you haven’t already!

Props to a friend, @Coxy, who is going to see Sleigh Bells perform tonight! I saw them briefly at Moogfest and they were great!

Let There Be Snow

I came across a script online a few days ago and thought it would be a great seasonal addition to my blog, so now it’s live. I added it via a quick and simple WordPress plugin that I made in a couple of minutes so I can easily activate it when I want it.

Enjoy the snow flakes and start getting into the Holiday mood!

Get Steam Specials via RSS Feed

steam-specials-via-feed43

This is just a little hack I’ve used so I can subscribe to the “Specials” that are periodically released and published on the Steam website.

If you’re interested in letting your Feed client simplify your life by bringing the Steam updates directly to you then I suggest you subscribe to the feed that I’ve setup (via a great free service call Feed For Free).

The Steam News – Specials feed:

http://feed43.com/4758788726706067.xml

The Steam News – Announcements feed:

http://feed43.com/7724635415454743.xml

When I searched for a feed for these Specials I came across one forum post after another asking the same thing. We all know how annoying that can be, so to remedy the situation I decided to post a solution myself. ;)

As you can see below, these pages don’t have feeds of their own, but the very awesome Feed For Free site will let you pull the updates straight into your feed reader with ease. See my Google Reader pictured below.

Rhythmbox 0.13.2

ubuntu-10-10-rhythmbox-0-13-2

For those of you who use Rhythmbox, you’ll be happy to hear to v0.13.2 brings some great improvements. I subscribe to the mailing list and try to help when possible, but when I saw the news of Rhythmbox 0.13.2 code being released I instantly starred it!

Well, it took me over a month to get around to looking into the update, but ironically there is a backport posted at WebUpd8 that makes installing this in Ubuntu 10.10 as easy as copy-n-pasting three commands into the terminal!

The Last.fm updates (thanks to Jamie Nicol’s GSoC project ) have finally been added and I was obsessively tracking the code commits each day to watch the progress while it was going on. Now that I get to test out the changes, I’ve glad to say that the Last.fm improvements are grand!

The new support for DACP, which allows you to use your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad as a remote for iTunes,  now allows you to remotely change the tunes playing in Rhythmbox!

Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t seem to currently support sending cover art embedded in the media files’ metadata to the remote. I’ve seen discussions about this recently in the mailing list, so this will likely change before too long!

One last improvement that I have to mention is the “Various fixes for iPod support” as this is one area that I’ve felt is constantly in need of improvement with each new release of iOS and each new model. There are also a great deal of other improvements which I’ll list below directly from the mailing list (via Jonathan Matthew)!

Rhythmbox 0.13.2 (“Dagger”) is now available from
http://download.gnome.org/sources/rhythmbox/0.13/

f422e47d7e238ebe862650efbcb83672bca704df0a37c3391ad0e386c20b19e3
rhythmbox-0.13.2.tar.bz2
4ad881cfbe19abcbe21abcfb37f753476b928141cea662c732867c9f4363aacb
rhythmbox-0.13.2.tar.gz

Highlights:
* Much improved Last.fm (and Libre.fm) plugin (Jamie Nicol’s GSoC project)
* Support for DACP (iTunes remote) (Alexandre Rosenfeld’s GSoC project)
* Zeitgeist plugin (developed by Markus Korn, Laszlo Pandy and Michal Hruby)
* New podcast sub-sources showing newly posted and recently downloaded episodes
* Slightly improved integration with the GNOME Shell message tray
* Various fixes for iPod support (Christophe Fergeau, Ben Walsh)

Bugs fixed:
341462 – Make current podcast downloads more visible
345957 – View last.fm profile
381679 – Add “record to profile” toggle to the last.fm plugin
589886 – Crash when selecting multiple podcast feeds
591841 – Crash processing playlist files from command line
592428 – Allow the user to select Libre.fm as their audioscrobbler service
601152 – can’t really create playlists on iPod
604170 – Unable to change the order of files in an iPOD playlist
612156 – crash when stopping radio stream before playlist parsing has finished
618619 – Crash while getting properties from ipod shuffle
623200 – Add previous and play actions to notifications, and use id’s
that correspond to named icons
625030 – Use XSPF format for the default iRadio playlist
625054 – Rhythmbox transfers music to my generic MP3 player without
file extensions
625214 – DACP Support in Rhythmbox
628254 – metadata helper crashes when tagging MP3 files that don’t
already have tags
628791 – crash showing ipod properties if the ipod database can’t be read
628794 – Rhythmbox can not share to iTunes 10 using DAAP
629038 – coherence plugin breakage
630689 – drop GtkObject use
631008 – Zeitgeist plugin
631191 – GStreamer MTP source element stopped working
631218 – don’t open (some) iframes in podcast descriptions in new
browser windows
631355 – Typo in string: “Listended”
631698 – Rhythmbox stars (ratings) not updated properly when scrolling
up in the playlist
631817 – rhythmbox hangs when starting playing next audio cd track
632119 – Add WSUM 91.7FM (University of Wisconsin) to iRadio-Initial.pls
632475 – ipod “Remove from playlist” was completely removing from iPod
632655 – URL updates for Internet Radio stations
633531 – Rhythmbox can’t load Cover-Art from musicbrainz

Translation updates:
- bg, courtesy of Krasimir Chonov
- ca@valencia, courtesy of Joan Duran
- cs, courtesy of Marek Černocký
- da, courtesy of Ask Hjorth Larsen
- de, courtesy of Christian Kirbach
- el, courtesy of Michael Kotsarinis
- es, courtesy of Jorge González
- et, courtesy of Mattias Põldaru
- gl, courtesy of Fran Diéguez
- hu, courtesy of Gabor Kelemen
- it, courtesy of Luca Ferretti
- ja, courtesy of Hiroyuki Sekihara
- ja, courtesy of Takayuki KUSANO
- lt, courtesy of Žygimantas Beručka
- nb, courtesy of Kjartan Maraas
- nl, courtesy of Redmar
- pa, courtesy of A S Alam
- pl, courtesy of Piotr Drąg
- pt_BR, courtesy of Djavan Fagundes
- ru, courtesy of Yuri Myasoedov
- sl, courtesy of Andrej Žnidaršič
- sv, courtesy of Daniel Nylander

Macbuntu, Part 3

Screenshot-0

I’ve finally gotten around to contacting the Macbuntu maintainer about some of my changes and modifications and have now been granted administrative access to the project!

Most of the changes I’m making are in the details, as most of the features are already available. I’ve contributed plenty of code and images to make Docky appear nearly identical to the Dock in OS X and even made the Docky bar image in Inkscape myself. :D

I’ve contributed an Opera skin, that I mentioned in my last post, but it is still very unfinished. Over all it looks well, but there are several areas that need to be corrected and the skin itself needs to be slimmed down a bit.

The Docky icons zoom by default, though its not an OS X default setting to the best of my knowledge. It can very easily be toggled on or off from the Docky settings window.

I’ve removed the Docky settings icon that was seen in previous screenshots so that the Nautilus application launcher (Finder icon) is the first item in Docky as it is in OS X. You can still access Docky settings by right-clicking the separator on Docky between the Trash icon and the others.

I’ve also written a very very simple application that toggles the Widget layer, which is powered by Compiz, on and is handily disguised by the Dashboard icon…meaning it reveals the widgets. As of writing this, there are no default widgets installed.

Eventually I plan to work in Screenlets and preinstall a few default ones as you would find in OS X, but I’m still waiting to make sure that my tiny tool works pre-compiled on other computers (is 32/64 bit versions). ;)

A lot of people are impressed with Compiz’s ability to render your workspaces in a Cube, Sphere or Cylinder. I’m pretty impressed with this feature myself, but having used it for a long time in the past I’ve found that I usually end up just switching workspaces with the keyboard and not paying much attention to the fancy cube in all of its transparent glory.

Honestly, this is one thing that should appeal to even OS X users as it looks cool and can give you a good quick visual of your windows. However, in Mac OS X 10.7 there will be a feature for Mac users that gives them a quick look at all of their activities and may possibly pass this Cube design right on by. Who knows? :P

One feature that you couldn’t see in the first Cube screenshot was the 3D window aspects and stacking. This is a neat feature and helps make the Cube look a little less boring. Especially when you can see how busy, or possibly bored, you are!

As always, proof that this is indeed Ubuntu Linux. ;)

Several other changes that I’ve contributed to this project include:

  • New transparency for the Top Gnome-Panel and all Menus
  • Alpha blurring for Docky
  • Added folders to Docky for the Applications, Documents, Downloads and Dropbox folders (where relavent)
  • Added detection for other applications and add them to Docky upon installation
  • Re-arranged several Docky launchers
  • Brand new Docky theme — Macbuntu
  • Reset the default wallpaper to the Snow Leopard  wallpaper (was the Leopard wallpaper)
  • Changed the clock format the match OS X’s clock (with tips from OMG! Ubuntu)
  • Added setting to ensure that people with multiple monitors see the workspace cube as One big cube instead of each screen rotating separately.
  • Default the screensaver to blank in case its already set to something like Gnome Feet, but it would be neat to have an elegant OS X screensaver!
  • Various other bug fixes, minor details and cleanups.

Its great to see a project come together, but its even nicer to have the ability to speed it up. :D

A few ideas that I’ve got include pre-installing Gloobus for a feature that mimics “Quick Look,” but until I find a good way to install this and until I can work out the bugs with this tool myself, it won’t be getting any prime time in Macbuntu.

The Docky Stacks feature that was covered at OMG! Ubuntu is also on the map, but is currently far too unstable to be included. I’ve been testing it out for a few days, but it consistently crashes Docky and ceases to function. When I come across a stable ppa for this tool, it will be adding to Macbuntu in a hurry!

Obviously there are several areas that I/we won’t be able to mimic thoroughly. Mac OS X is a great operating system and has a great deal of “simplicity” worked into it by design, somethings that just aren’t possible by “skinning” Ubuntu Linux.

If you have any suggests that are actually feasible, I’d love to here them! The biggest area that I’d like to work on is the GTK theme and get the theme’s quality up tremendously. I’ve had no part in the GTK theme (originally known as GTK Leopard ) thus far, and its actually a great piece of work, but it still has a long way to go before being smooth and finished.

One last thing thats interesting is the fact that someone has already began a spin of Macbuntu, dubbing it Macbuntu-iso, and it is available for download in 32 and 64-bit!