Widget coding: Google Translator

google translatorIt’s been a while since I’ve worked on the widgets that I submitted to Opera Widgets. So I spent the last few days in my spare time just working on one of my most popular widgets…Google Translator. For the longest time it was handy, but not very well designed and the layout was poor…just a quick solution.

If you do translations from time to time or even often then you may find my widget very useful! You can convert text to and from many different languages and even web pages. The translations are done using ajax in the widget to fetch results from Google’s Translate service.

This widget, which is currently only available through Opera and Opera Widgets, happens to be a very popular widget and downloads count some where near ~82,000 at the moment.

I just uploaded version 2.1 yesterday, but the Opera team has to inspect the widgets to make sure there are no problems or possibly fraudulent activities going on in the background (kind of annoying since they don’t go live immediately and end up taking days, but worth the security).

Anyways, v2.1 included several improvements over the previous 1.42 (a.k.a. 2.0). An update notification is now included, the tabs are redesigned to match Gmail’s design a little closer, jQuery effects are now tied into the widget to make it more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, options were moved from a sloppy and quick side panel to the footer of the widget and can be toggled on and off, a more menu was added to pack in several more features that didn’t fit anywhere else (similar to Gmail’s more menu), useless images that could be replaced with css have been removed and a stylesheet has taken the burden off of inline styling which was never intended to be permanent..but a quick way to get the layout fixed right.

There are actually many many more changes and if you want to see a list then you can take a look at the changelog here.

I actually went above and beyond v2.1 almost immediately after publishing it. After creating a stable version (2.1) it was time to push the widget further, so v2.2 has many more fixes and updates. Optimizations are in progress and going well to reduce wasted code and duplicate elements that are not needed. There is actually a “Beta” version of v2.2pre1 on my Google Translator site. You can go a head and check it out if you want and see some of the updates from 2.1. It should be stable enough to use, but it’s not finalized just yet. πŸ˜‰

Anyhoo, just wanted to update everyone who reads my blog! Hope you’re all using Opera or at least gave it an honest run. πŸ˜‰ It’s a great browser, but sometimes you just can’t break away from the chains that tie you to another piece of software (most of us that would be Microsoft, lol).

Stay cool!

Mark Shuttleworth says Ubuntu can out-pretty Apple in two years

If you read my blog regularly then you will know that I’m a huge fan of Ubuntu Linux and Open Source projects! Just recently, the Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth called upon the open source community for a challenge that will help Ubuntu to rival the “pretty” operating system that is Macintosh.

Billionaire, cosmonaut and founder of the fast-growing Ubuntu Linux distribution Mark Shuttleworth dreams impossible dreams.

No, not a return to the stars. He believes in something that’s far harder for mortal open source engineers to achieve.

That dream? To produce a desktop more beautiful to ordinary users than legions of Apple programmers supping on the milk of chief exec Steve Jobs’ alleged brilliance are capable of producing. That includes a desktop not funded by a clutter of annoying banner or Flash-based ads, but paid for by subscription-based services.

Now you’re done dreaming, go home and code for the victory.

Source: TheRegister.co.uk

If you’ve followed Ubuntu at all from one release to another then you should know by now that it is a very fast pace Operating System. With updates being released on a six-month basis, it’s easy to see that the open source community is hard at work to bring Linux (not just Ubuntu) into the real world.

Linux has for a long time been viewed as an alternative operating system for geeks and not friendly enough for the average PC user. While that may have been true in the past, those beliefs are fair outdated.

With previous releases of Ubuntu, it was obvious that work was going into the core components and making sure everything “just worked.” Now, with Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04, it is clear that progress has been made on making tasks easier to accomplish and minimizing the use of the terminal for average users. Installing a new application is as simple as it is in Windows. Just download the Debian file (*.deb) and double click it. An installer opens just like it would in Windows.

With more and more projects becoming open source, it’s no surprise that Ubuntu has become easier to use. The tools that you once couldn’t find are now included or are in the “Add/Remove” application for installations only a few clicks away.

Now that Ubuntu can be installed on basically every computer system and in most cases “just works” right after installation with very little necessary configurations, it’s time to work on the appearance and that’s just what they are doing.

If you have seen any screenshots of the next release, Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10, then you’ll notice that the default theme is darker and gives Ubuntu a whole new feel. I for one am usually a fan of brighter themes, just like the default theme in Ubuntu Hardy Heron, but there isn’t much that I can say about the new work that has been going into the appearance. I’m sure that it will be changing even more if their goal is to rival Apple, but they can’t do it without YOU.

If you can help develop then I’m sure you could contribute some to the project! If you don’t develop, but instead just use the operating system then they would definitely appreciate feedback and suggestions.

Upgrading to WordPress 2.6

Well, I’m still on vacation, but while it’s raining and we are waiting on our pizza to be delivered I figured I would go a head and run the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plug-in to do all of the work for me. πŸ˜€

You may notice the site disabled temperarily, but it should only be for a minute or two. Wish me luck….pizza just arrived…

UPDATE:
Upgrading to WordPress 2.6 is now complete! Now to eating..

phpBB 3.0.2 released

Only an hour ago phpBB 3.0.2 was released to the public! If you’re like me and always decide to upgrade your blogs and forums to the latest stable versions immediately when they are released, then you may enjoy a post I will be putting together on the update process from phpBB 3.0.1 to 3.0.2.

Since many of us, including myself, tend to search around from time to time online for simplified and quick guides for these tedious little tasks…I will be writing a simplified list of steps or at least explainations to the steps that are already provided with the upgrading packages.

Maybe my explanations to some of the steps will help you understand just a little bit better what is going on when you are updating phpBB.

Well, I’ll keep you posted here with a link to the guide when I complete it. Until then, don’t break your phpBB 3.0.1 forums. πŸ˜›

Ubuntu: Mac OS X themed!

So my fiancΓ©e loves the way Mac computers look, but who doesn’t? They’re so clean and simple. Well, as much as I like the clean and simple look..I’m not dedicated enough to try to get OS X installed on her HP dv1000.

Don’t get me wrong, her laptop is a mean little machine (especially since I’ve been playing on it lately). The problem with installing OS X is that you have to hunt for all of the drivers and some of them you have to manually configure. Manually configuring in this case also means little to no resources online for many of the things you will have to configure.

There are a few decent places with information about getting Mac OS x86 installed on a non-Apple computer, but trust me…it’s not been simplified enough just yet. πŸ˜‰

I tried installing OS X on my desktop about a year ago and ran into many complicated situations…so I did the next best thing. I installed Ubuntu! Now that I’ve had it installed and running for ~9-10 months I’m beginning to think this is the best!

So why would I install Linux on my system if I don’t want to manually configure everything? Okay, I don’t mind manually configuring something here and there. Today most Linux distros require very little manual configurations to run properly. Ubuntu literally required none!

The best thing about using Linux is that you can do anything with it! Having this in mind, I took a friend’s laptop (~5 months ago) and installed Ubuntu on it. After getting everything installed and updated I began to Macify it for her. I got a few things done here and there, but just recently I became more interested and began finishing some more of the conversion.

Now, there I’ve seen several screenshots where people have made almost pixel perfect copies of the Mac OS X environment. The screenshots here clearly show some faults, but overall they have the Mac feel going on!

I basically just searched around the web and found little tips here and there on how to get certain looks in Linux. The dock is Cairo-Dock. The web browser is actually Opera, which in Linux has the same skin as the Windows version, but I skinned with a Safari themed skin and altered the toolbar to get the address bar above the tabs.

You can click them for a larger image. I’ll try to post some finished product screenshots once I tidy up the menu bar a bit and add a few more Mac’ish ends. πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, if you’d like to get started with any of this on your Linux box then you can navigate over to my forum topic with several helpful links to resources!

I’m planning to write a guide for this pretty soon that will step through each little detail for you, but if you can’t wait then go checkout the forum topic. The topic is in no means a tutorial or a guide, it’s really just a note/pastebin for my thoughts and work process, haha. A way for me to hold onto some information in a slightly organized fashion. πŸ˜€

Stay tuned for the guide in the near future!

Online Alarm Clock back online!

online alarm clockSince I recently made the switch to WordPress, I have been busy reorganizing my entire website and making it a bit stronger. I’ve taken on the task of recoding a majority of the Online Alarm Clock that I coded a couple of years ago.

I want to improve the back-end before I redo the front-end and cause more trouble. πŸ˜› I’ve already simplified a large portion of the code, but my next task is to go in and eliminate ridiculous processes where some code might be repeated several times instead of being dynamic.

Once I get the back-end worked out a little more and cleaned up, I’m planning to publish the code as an Open Source package under a GNU license. Much similar to the way you would setup a forum (phpBB) or a blog (WordPress) on your site.

The package will be minimized as much as possible, but I’ll be sure to have plenty of information in the Readme.txt file. πŸ˜‰ Besides, the setup will be super easy. Just a typical config file that you will need to enter your database connection information into so users can be stored and alarms can be saved. πŸ˜‰ Requirements will basically just be PHP and MySQL (not sure which versions are compatible just yet though).

After I get the back-end all worked out, I’ll start working on some user interface templates and an admin control panel. I’m also thinking I should make a control panel for end-users so they can select themes, customize their own themes and anything else I can think of (or that’s suggested).

If you want to see what this Online Alarm Clock is then go check it out for your self! You can register for free and have an alarm to watch all of the online videos you want when you wake up!

If you’re interested in getting the Online Alarm Clock for your own site then you should check out the Google project that I started for it! You can download the package as soon as I get the first one ready, report issues that you find in the code and even track reported issues by others!

Trillian Astra Build 78 and Wine 0.9.61

I installed Trillian Astra Build 78 (I’m an alpha tester as well) via Wine 0.9.61 today and got a couple of errors. I’m using the very latest version of Wine and the very latest release of Trillian in this test. My operating system is Ubuntu 8.04 x86_64.

  1. ALSA seemed to be encountering some problems when I started Trillian since I had Rhythmbox playing in the background. I closed that and then restarted Trillian and got the following:
  2. dwmapi.dll error. I downloaded a copy from dll-files.com and configured Trillian Astra to use Windows XP settings and linked the dwmapi.dll library after placing it in the trillian install folder. The results were, Trillian Astra started and allowed me to sign-in to the astra service and launched the buddy list, but the rendering was terrible. It was un-useable. Then I started getting error pop-ups about explorer.exe that seemed to be related to:fixme:xrender:X11DRV_AlphaBlend not a dibsectionThey would only popup when I would move the mouse over Trillian Astra or the Trillian tray icon.

I’m looking further into this. Maybe there is another library that can be replaced. I’ll be back with some updates and hopefully screenshots of Trillian Astra working under Wine!

UPDATE:
I can’t seem to find anything useful searching google about most of these errors that Wine is returning in the console.

I’m still working on getting this running, however, the MSVCP90.dll library that is mentioned in the errors is not easy to understand. The dll is already available, as well as the events.dll library. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to let me know! Here is all I’ve got so far:


The rendering is still off, but at least it is legible. The buddy list window is a mesh of horrible rendering lines. It’s not clear enough to use. That’s the main thing that I’m working towards now. As long as the errors aren’t crashing Trillian, I can work towards getting it to render properly and then focus on catering to the warning errors.

Upgrading from WordPress 2.5 to WordPress 2.5.1

After checking my feeds today, I noticed an article that was talking about a new security update for WordPress 2.5. After remembering that I had installed the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin I decided to go a head and try it out for WordPress 2.5.1.

The upgrading process couldn’t have been made any easier. The steps were as simple as logging into my wordpress account, clicking the Automatic Upgrade link, clicking next about 8-10 times as it tells you what it is about to do before it does it and bam! WordPress 2.5.1 is installed.

If you download the entire 2.5.1 release, you will be getting over 70 other fixes. However, if you prefer to install only the security fixes the you can get the three updated “php” files from the WordPress blog post for the 2.5.1 update. WordPress 2.5.1 focuses on fixing the most annoying bugs and improving performance. Here are some highlights that are listed in the original release post:

  • Performance improvements for the Dashboard, Write Post, and Edit Comments pages.
  • Better performance for those who have many categories
  • Media Uploader fixes
  • An upgrade to TinyMCE 3.0.7
  • Widget Administration fixes
  • Various usability improvements
  • Layout fixes for IE

I would recommend, to everyone using WordPress, that you give WordPress Automatic Upgrade a try so it takes the “hassle” out of upgrading your site and keeping it secure!

Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition

Canonical has released the newest stable version of Ubuntu! I’ve personally been using Ubuntu 8.04 since late 2007 when it was available for the public as Alpha 1. You can take a look at the release schedule and road-map that the developing team followed for version 8.04! Ubuntu has really come a long way during the time that I’ve spent using it.

I first started using Ubuntu with version 7.04. Ubuntu builds are now given “code names” as well as release versions. Ubuntu 8.04 is given the “8” from the year that it is released and the “04” from the month that it is released. The code name of Ubuntu 8.04 is “Hardy Heron“. Ubuntu 7.04 was released in April 2007, 7.10 was released in October 2007.

The next version of Ubuntu to be released is Ubuntu 8.10 and is code named “Intrepid Ibex“. The release time should be obvious to you now! If you’re like me and like to use the latest bleeding releases possible then you can upgrade your version of Ubuntu to 8.10 in the near future by typing the following into your terminal:

sudo update-manager -d -c

This will launch the update manager window and prompt you about upgrades. If you’re currently running 7.04 or 7.10 you can upgrade to 8.04 or 8.10 by using the same step as mentioned above. You will however have to upgrade in order of releases. You cannot upgrade immediately from 7.04 to 8.04 or from 7.10 to 8.10. That shouldn’t be an issue, you can just upgrade to one and then upgrade to the other after the first upgrade has completed!

With Ubuntu 8.04 came a great deal of stability and many new features! It also includes the ability to install Ubuntu from within Windows! If Ubuntu looks interesting to you then you should give it a try! They’ve made Ubuntu very easy to install and very easy to use and get used to. Ubuntu is quickly becoming the synonym for Linux in today’s world. Don’t let yourself miss out on this ground breaking release!

Go get it now! It’s available by free download or free mail (delayed as they only send a certain amount per month). You can also spend a small fee (just a couple dollars) to have them mail it to you very quickly!

Update 2008-09-23:
Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex Alpha 6 has been released. Here is how to update your system to the latest version of 8.10!

Installing Pidgin in Linux from Source

pidginAs many Linux users know by now, Gaim has been renamed for a second time to Pidgin due to legal issues with AOL over the use of ‘AIM’. Many distros of Linux operating systems still distribute the popular messenger client in older versions that are still under the title Gaim. I’m not the kind of person to use outdated software, so updating to Pidgin was one of the first things that I did when I made the move from Windows Vista to Ubuntu. I found the task to be a bit more lengthy than I had intended.

Most distros have communities that contribute packages that can install applications in a one step process by gathering all dependencies that are needed and installing them with the application. However, the great site that I’ve found for Debian packages seems to have a few packages lagging behind. I can’t have that. Who wants to install an older version of software than what is currently offered on the applications official site? Unfortunately there are no Debian packages available from Pidgin. That is not a problem! First things first:

  • Go to your Add or Remove application and completely remove anything associated with Gaim.
  • Open a terminal and install the following dev packages with the following commands (*The following terminal commands are for APT software package management systems. To use these commands with a different package manager you need to edit the syntax accordingly):
    • sudo apt-get install libglib2.0-dev
    • sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev
    • sudo aptitude install libnss-dev
    • sudo apt-get install libgtk2.0-dev
  • Go to www.Pidgin.im and download the source package.
  • Extract the source package and navigate to the folder that the files were extracted to in a terminal window.
  • You now need to configure and build Pidgin from the source files. Use the following commands in the terminal window to successfully configure Pidgin for your platform:
    • sudo ./configure
    • sudo make
    • sudo make install
  • Pidgin should now be successfully installed on your computer! You can now delete the source files that you downloaded from www.Pidgin.im.

If you experienced any problems while trying to follow this guide, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to help out. Always use Google.com to search for error messages before seeking help from others. Your questions are most likely already answered somewhere!

Fedora 7 Released!

FedoraProject.org has now released an update to the Fedora family. The previous version, Fedora Core 6, has been much improved upon..evolving it into what is now just ‘Fedora 7‘. They seem to have grown tired of ‘Core’..or preferred a shorter name. With each new version comes a new theme. Fedora 7 comes with the all new’Flying High’ theme installed by default.

fedora Boot up screen.
fedora Login screen.
fedora Default desktop.

Release highlights can be found here.