Paint Your Mouse Movements with IOGraph!

I recently stumbled upon this neat little application that lets you track your mouse movements in a visual way and save the image that is created!

My IOGraph in a Dual Screen (2.5 hours).

As you can see, most of my activity is in my second monitor (right) where my web browser rests, between the tabs and content towards the top. My coding habits and text editor occupy the first monitor (left) and show noticeably less mouse movement and more periods of pausing to work with the keyboard or read.

This application is Java based and runs in Windows, Mac and Linux! I’ll give you a quick run down on how to use this application in Ubuntu..

  1. Make sure that you have Java 6 Runtime installed on your computer. If you don’t, open the Ubuntu Software Center and search for Java. You should find “OpenJDK Java 6 Runtime” near the top of the results. Install that before continuing.
  2. Download IOGraph for Linux and save it where ever you like (I saved mine to the desktop).
  3. Before you can open the Java application (a .Jar file), you will need to set proper executable permissions for it. To do this, simply right click on the file and select Properties. In the Permissions tab, check to enable the option labeled “Allow executing file as program” and click close.

    Allow executing file as program
  4. Now to run the application, right click on the file again and select “Opera with OpenJDK Java 6 Runtime”.

    Open with OpenJDK Java 6 Runtime

Now that you’ve got the application running, you can minimize it and let it track your every move! If you’re having trouble, you may be able to find more help with .Jar files here.

The circles represent points where the mouse was left motionless for a period of time. The larger the circle, the longer it was left motionless.

Enjoy making art while you work and please share your results!

Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha Internal Release

I’ve just given a leaked release of Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha a test drive and I must say that I’m very impressed with the changes I’ve noticed thus far!

I look forward to testing the Official Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha release on Tuesday, December 22. However, until then I’ll be digging through this leaked version.

Note that Opera has officially warned against installing such leaked builds, stating that the official release will be “much better and you don’t risk getting nasty trojans on you pc.” πŸ˜‰

Here are some screenshots I’ve taken. I don’t cover everything, but just enough to give you a good idea of what we should be expecting. I also won’t be detailing all of these pictures, but a picture is worth a thousand words right? Inspect them and see what you can find!

I did notice a lot of skin changes and a couple of bugs here and there dealing with the skin, but it’s overall very much improved. The internal “opera:*” pages also seem to be using a different style than previous builds, but then again they may have dropped using the Opera logo in the top of the pages.

Notice the border-radius support!

Try this build at your own risk!
http://rapidshare.com/files/323481638/Opera_1050_20192_in.msi
http://depositfiles.com/files/e01z2q5qp

Screen Capture Tip: Use Jing!

I’ve been using this little screen capture tool for several weeks now with very positive results! Jing is available to Mac and Windows in both a Free form as well as a Pro (pay for) form.

jing1

Using Jing, you are able to quickly capture a screenshot of a specific window or a pesky little software bug in action, upload it to an online source and paste the link all within a matter of seconds!

If you can’t capture what you’re looking for in a simple image, you might like the option to capture a video of what you are doing on your desktop and share a link to that instead!

jing_header

To use Jing, you simply select it from the top of your screen (where it waits by default) and click capture. You’re then given a selection tool that allows you to pick to screen space that you want to capture….nothing more, nothing less. After selection the area that you want to capture, you simply specify if it’s for an image or for a video.

If you click image, you will have your capture almost immediately Β and can pick where to store it! If you select video, you will have 3 seconds to prepare your cursor or anything else you need to do. After the count down, video recording begins. Simply click the stop button when you’re finished and pick a source to upload to!

One feature that I’ve only just started using is the FTP option to upload my captures to kyleabaker.com! Thus far, I’ve used Jing to capture tons of bugs that would have otherwise been nearly impossible to capture.

Aside from the slightly noticeable resource usage and slight hang when it’s first activated, Jing is an excellent tool that I would suggest to anyone who needs to capture a visual from your computer screen!

LifeCam Button Config v1.0.0.0

I’ve just written a tool that lets you bypass the default Windows Live Messenger prompt when you press you LifeCam’s button on top.

It can be a little annoy, but the good news is that now you can open or focus any application you want with the click of that button.

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As you can see from the image above, I’ve made a simple browse option so you can easily find the file you want. When you open this tool it will automatically display the path to the program that is currently set to open.

2009-10-20_0031_001

If you later decide that you want to just use the default application (the one set before you change anything) then it’s only a couple of clicks away!

Currently the implementation used could be error prone. I have written the application to “assume” that the default application should be installed to “C:\Program Files\Microsoft LifeCam\icepick.exe” for 32-bit computers and to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft LifeCam\icepick.exe” for 64-bit computers.

If problems are experienced with this then please let me know. It may be better to scan for the application rather than to assume it’s in that location, but typically it should always be in that location.

2009-10-20_0032

Thanks for checking out this little tool! I hope you find it helpful. If you’re curious about the source code just fire off an email! It’s currently written in Visual Basic 2008, but could easily be ported to another language especially since I overly document code so others know what I’m doing. πŸ˜‰

Download163kb

LifeCam VX-1000 Live Call Button Hack

After digging into process and id’s I was able to track down the Guid for the Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000 and inspect several settings assigned to it via the Windows Registry.

As it turns out, there is a very simple hack to use the Windows Live Call button for any program you’d like!

I don’t have time at the moment to write a script or a program for this, but you can manually configure your webcam to open a program. If it’s already open then pressing the Windows Live Call button will simply bring it back into focus.

So far, I’ve only tested this button to open and focus Digsby and Opera, but it could in theory be used to call and or focus any application.

If you’re a little sketched about editing your Registry then that’s a sign that this hack isn’t for you and you should wait until I (or someone else) releases a tool that suits you.

If you’re still reading, then you probably want to get rid of that annoying Windows Live prompt. πŸ˜‰

  1. Open up RegEdit.
  2. Navigate through the Registry to the following location:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Class\{6BDD1FC6-810F-11D0-BEC7-08002BE2092F}\0000\Settings
  3. The key that you want to edit is conveniently labeled “QuickStartPath“.
  4. Just change this key to the direct path of any file you want to launch. You can test that it works immediately after saving the key. No need to close RegEdit until you’re done.

If it works, great! You’re done! If not, then you’ve done something wrong.

Remember that the original file that was being launched was something similar to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft LifeCam\icepick.exe” depending on your platform. Mine is 64-bit, so you’re may not need the “ (x86)” specific Program Files directory (if you’re using a 32-bit computer).

If I find some free time soon I may write a simple program that can be called to do more than just open your messenger. Possibly start a video chat with someone who just signed on. We’ll see in time. πŸ˜‰

Enjoy this little hack!

Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000

I just recently bought a new webcam via eBay for a great price of $5.50 and have been catching up with some of my Skype friends just for fun.

What’s great about this little webcam is that it has an excellent turning radius and can tilt to just about any angle you need it to.

microsoft-lifecam-vx-1000-front

Another great feature that this webcam offers is the ability to be mounted are rest just about anywhere. The base of the camera opens if you need to hang it somewhere rather than resting it on your desk or tower. The clip can be used to mount it onto your desktop monitor whether it’s an old CRT or a new LCD and it even mounts on very sturdy to my HP Pavilion dv4000 laptop screen.

microsoft-lifecam-vx-1000-side

The picture quality of this little camera is great. Not surprisingly, you can pay a little more and get even better cameras such as the VX-3000 or the VX-6000.

With a built-in microphone, I was able to give away my old microphone and maintain the same capabilities. πŸ˜€

My only complaint is that the focus ring around the lens was never mentioned on or in the packaging so it took me a little while to figure out how to get rid of the blur (just rotate the lens to adjust).

The camera even offers a one-click access button on the top of it that can launch video calls instantly for Windows Live Messenger. I don’t use Windows Live Messenger much myself (read: at all), but I figured I could play around with the drivers in a hex editor and figure out how to make the button customizable…maybe open the Digsby or Trillian contact list (who knows) so I wrote an application to make this button customizable.

I had plug-and-play luck in Windows 7 with this webcam, however, Ubuntu 9.10 x86_64 has been less than forgiving. I’ve been searching around for a little while trying to configure my webcam that seems to be detected, but the video that’s displayed is corrupt. It seems that it’s a small problem with a fairly easy fix, but I just haven’t found it yet. At least it’s recognized! Hopefully I can write a script or a guide to get this webcam working in Ubuntu for others…once I get it working for myself of course. πŸ˜‰

If you’ve been looking for a webcam and debating whether or not to buy one then I would suggest this one. It’s affordable, has everything you need and extremely good picture quality!

Windows 7 Wallpaper Slideshow

Kyleabaker.com never ceases to amaze me. Yesterday, after fooling around with the default Windows 7 Wallpaper, I decided to find more Dual Monitor backgrounds and remembered that I had previously uploaded several to my site for others to grab (I do not claim any ownership of these) and I realized that I should use them if I spent the time to upload them for others.

So….I downloaded several of them to my Dropbox folder (to sync my background for Ubuntu and Windows 7). After opening the personalization window (for the first time) I quickly realized that you can use more than one image as you desktop background. You can in fact “check” multiple images to cycle through in a sorted order or in shuffle mode.

I threw a few images in a folder and quickly found out that a continuously changing background can be fun! You should try it too.

My next goal….write a program that fetches the hottest photos from Flickr (and the likes).

Trillian 4.1 and Windows 7

I’m really digging the new ideas for Trillian 4.1 to integrate better with Windows 7. If you haven’t read about it yet then take a look at this..

Trillian-4.1-W7

Trillian 4.1 will take advantage of the new Windows 7 Taskbar in several ways that will be very beneficial. The most beneficial of these in my opinion is the new way of reflecting the total file transfer progress from the Taskbar button itself!

If you look closely (click the image to view a larger version) then you’ll notice that the background color of the Taskbar button for transfers is a progress bar all of its own. This is a very impressive approach to keeping the visual aid simple and clean (something that I have been disappointed with Trillian in the past for).

Trillian 4.1 will also take advantage of Jump Lists. This is the list you get when you right click an icon in the Taskbar. While most of these options are available by default from right clicking the system tray icon, Windows 7 has made the system tray a little less important in this round by hiding most of your icons by default. This is a very welcome change for me. In the past I always found the system tray icons to been too cluttered and wasteful of useful Taskbar space. You could then and you can still now adjust which icons to show and which icons to hide in the extras arrow, but adding this feature to the Jump Lists may be an even better approach.

In the future I can see a “Frequent” list for the buddies that you chat with most often. Not just adjusting your status and a couple other options.

Last, but not least, the Taskbar button will feature higher quality icons that can easily tell you what your current status is at a glance and look elegant doing so.

There are a few other Windows 7 improvements, but these are the ones that stood out the most to me. If you’d like to see more about Trillian becoming more Windows 7 friendly just take a look at their blog post explaining everything.

I’ve been using Trillian for several years now and I even helped with the Trillian Astra alpha builds way back when. When Digsby came around the corner and introduced frequent updates with a quality interface I nearly ditched Trillian completely. Let’s face it, Trillian’s interface can be a bit overly complex for a simple chat client that’s supposed to make your life easier…right?

Two things that I’d love to see Trillian 4.1 accomplish is to overly simplify the interface and bring those common tasks that we all need right there to the interface rather than hiding them in menus and sub-menus. The second thing which is important to me is operating system integration. They already began work on this, but I think all of us Windows Vista/7 users would like to see a little Aero in our clients so they feel like they could have come prepackaged to work with Vista/7.

If Trillian continues to make these types of improvements (simplifying the interface and making it integrate more with Aero) then I’ll highly consider spending the $25 it costs for a Pro account to support their hard work. πŸ˜‰

Until then I’ll be switching heavily between Digsby and Trillian Basic until one of them wins me over.

Windows 7…

I’ve been using Windows 7 Professional for a short time now, but I’m already very much impressed.

Not only is Windows 7 faster and more responsive than Windows Vista, it’s also a lot better looking!

Windows Vista had a sorry excuse of an update for the Taskbar, but in Windows 7 the Taskbar has been dramatically improved. The ability to re-arrange programs and icons in the Taskbar freely as well as pinning frequently used icons to the Taskbar is a major enhancement that I now won’t be able to work without!

While many past reviews from others have related and/or compared the new Taskbar to the pre-existing Mac Dock, I beg to differ. While skin deep the Taskbar and Dock appear to have a great number of similarities, they are far from the same.

One of my favorite features of the new Taskbar is the way the application icon appears to be stacked when multiple windows are opened. The thumbnail view of applications and windows is also a very nifty feature, especially when you have several multiple windows open that you can choose from.

windows-7-professional-01

Windows 7 has an awesome new focus feature that basically makes every application that isn’t in question become transparent. In the image below, I’ve hovered over the Taskbar thumbnail for Opera. The effect is that only this window will appear and others will fade away, as seen by the translucent appearance of the Windows Media Player window.

windows-7-professional-02

If you want to view the desktop, there’s still a button to do that. However, the button is no longer just a quick links shortcut and is now a built-in part of the (end of the) Taskbar. Clicking this button will minimize all open windows. Clicking it again will restore those windows to their original state.

The cool new feature, however, is that if you hover this button for a few seconds, the open windows will fade out so you can see through to the desktop and not actually move any windows.

windows-7-professional-03

For some reason with Windows Vista I never found the Desktop Gadgets to be useful. Somehow they always managed to be, or seemed to be, in my way. With Windows 7 the Desktop Gadgets can be very useful and have thus far seemed to be completely out of my way.

There are a great number of other enhancements to Windows 7, but the updated Taskbar is by far the most useful for me. After using Ubuntu for so long and developing a pride in Linux, it’s amazing how quickly Windows 7 has won my support!

The visual effects found in Windows 7 can be implemented fairly completely in Linux using the KDE environment. I’m personally not a big fan of KDE, preferring Gnome much more instead. To me, KDE is a great environment in concept, but the icons and graphics in general seem to be off very poor taste and KDE feels overly complicated for such a shiny interface. This is where Windows 7 has done a great job with a clean and simple interface as well as a nice set of icons and graphics.

One very useful program that I highly recommend is UltraMon. Another alternative application for this is DisplayFusion, though I’ve never tested it. I’ve been using UltraMon for a few years now as a way to extend the Windows Taskbar across multiple monitors for XP, Vista and now Windows 7 (with the latest beta).

I’m still unsure as to why Microsoft refuses to implement the ability to stretch the Taskbar across multiple windows by default. This is very easily accomplished on most other platforms.

I’m sure others have found Windows 7 to be a major improvement. I’d really like to hear some opinions on Windows XP vs Windows 7 since there is still such a large group of Windows XP supporters. I’d especially like to hear some views of XP being better than 7. πŸ˜€

Install Boxee in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty x86_64

After coming across details regarding Boxee and the extended number of sources that it can pull videos from, I just had to give it a test drive.

First of all, Boxee is a media player that is being developed for multiple platform use. It’s not restricted to videos and is able to stream music from Pandora as well as Last.fm.

One of the first things that I noticed upon registering for Boxee (which is free) was that it is currently only available for Mac and Ubuntu. A Windows version is in development, however, it’s not currently possible to get an install of the alpha/beta Windows builds.

To further disappoint me just a bit, I found that the installers for Ubuntu were for 32-bit machines only. fortunately there is that geeky thing you can do called “force-architecture” or “force-all”. πŸ˜›

boxee

After using my online best friend (Google) I was able to come across several guides for installing Boxee on Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit. Some of them were correct and some of them weren’t. Some of them were scattered and unorganized and…well…none of them were pathetically easy to follow.

That’s why you’re here. πŸ˜‰

If you want to install Boxee on Ubuntu 32-bit, just follow the installation instructions provided after registering. If you’re installing in Ubuntu 64-bit (Jaunty Jackalope I might add) then please continue.

Installation

  1. Install “getlibs-all” by downloading it from here and double clicking to install or by copy/pasting the following terminal commands. (More details about getlibs here).
    wget http://frozenfox.freehostia.com/cappy/getlibs-all.deb
    sudo dpkg -i getlibs-all.deb
  2. wget http://apt.boxee.tv/dists/jaunty/main/binary-i386/Packages.gz
  3. zcat Packages.gz | grep Filename
  4. Make sure that the bold part in the following command matches the file name from the above command (ignoring the jaunty and intrepid folder differences).
    wget http://apt.boxee.tv/dists/intrepid/test/binary-i386/boxee-0.9.11.5777.deb
  5. sudo dpkg -i –force-all boxee-0.9.11.5777.deb
    sudo dpkg -i –force-architecture boxee-0.9.11.5777.deb
  6. The following command may take some time to complete, however, be patient and wait for getlibs to prompt you whether or not to install additional libraries to make Boxee work on your machine. Be sure to answer yes or y. πŸ˜‰
    getlibs /opt/boxee/Boxee
  7. sudo apt-get install lib32nss-mdns

After being patient and completing these (honestly) few steps, you should be able to launch Boxee from the application menu and start enjoying some Internet videos!

For further reading or more detailed/technical instructions please see the source thread of this process.

Also, for the record, Netflix Watch Instantly does not work in Boxee for Ubuntu as far as I can tell (due to the lack of DRM support).

I hope I’ve been able to help in some way. Best of luck with Boxee!

Trillian Astra Now Open to the Public

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for a while, then you may know that I’ve been testing Cerulean Studios’ latest version of Trillian which has been coined for some time as “Astra”.

Trillian gained a great deal of popularity in recent years when Trillian 3 was released and harnessed instant messenger features that had never before been seen.

Today, Cerulean Studios officially removed the restricted access and have made Trillian Astra available to everyone! Just head on over to the download page if you want to check it out!

trillian-astra

While Trillian Astra is still not in a final release stage, it should be close enough for you to depend on as your main messenger.

I will be interested to see how Trillian Astra competes with Digsby now that they are both openly available to the masses.