Category Archives: Multimedia

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 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.

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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
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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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

Submitting Anonymous 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:




Banshee Media Player




Google Chrome


Google Drive


Google Music Manager




Ubuntu Software Sources


Google Music Manager



Using Synergy with Mac and Ubuntu

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…


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!

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:


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.


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!


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).


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.


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:


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


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

python –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 opera

python 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 opera -qs

python opera-next -qsu


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

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:

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

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

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

[Mail Shortcut Group]
Exec=opera -mail

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.


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

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.