If you have an active Last.fm account and like to switch up your wallpaper from time to time then you’ll love Wallpaperfm!
This python script, by Koant, has been around since at least 2008, but I’ve only recently stumbled across it. It’s easy to start using and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux users!
I’ll help you get started in Linux since that’s what I’ve set it up on. If you need more help or want more configuration options you should look to the information that Koant has posted on his website.
That’s the most basic set of options you can use to create your wallpaper (which you will find after running the script in the “wallpaperfm” folder that was created).
There are three options for the type of wallpaper created:
To specify one of these modes, simply run the wallpaper script with the mode flag set to your choice.
./wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME -m collage
There are plenty of other settings you can specify such as size, canvas size, filename, profile period, final opacity, cache, excluded albums, local copy, etc.
Suggestions and Ideas
User Interface and Packaging
I’m sure that this script could be simplified further for Linux users (and more specifically, Debian/Ubuntu users) if a user interface were created. It actually seems like a rather simple task since the parameters for the script are well bounded.
Adding this interface to an installer package would also be a very simple task and would most likely get more attention to such a neat tool!
Cron Jobs, Regularly Updating Your Wallpaper
Another thing, if your music preferences are constantly changing like mine, you may be interested in updating your wallpaper in regular intervals. To do this you can setup a Cron job that runs in the background.
While this may sound difficult and confusing, its really not at all and this helps explain a lot. I can even walk you through the steps.
sudo apt-get install gnome-schedule
Open the application (in Ubuntu) through the Applications menu -> System Tools -> Scheduled tasks.
Click the New button and select the Recurrent task type.
Give the task a description.
Enter the command that runs your script. If you followed the steps above then it should be something similar to:
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!
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..
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.
Download IOGraph for Linux and save it where ever you like (I saved mine to the desktop).
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.
Now to run the application, right click on the file again and select “Opera 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 Mini for the iPhone (also iPod touch and iPad) has already replaced Safari’s resting throne on my iPod touch shortly after it became available via the App Store early this morning.
I was a little disappointed with Opera Link since it never actually synchronized my Bookmarks and my Speed Dial on Opera Mini isn’t configurable up to 12 (or even more or less than 9 for that matter). Aside from these relatively small problems, I’ve been very pleased with Opera Mini!
Probably the most important advantage for me in Opera Mini is the lightening fast back button (like in the Desktop browser). Pressing back in Safari forces a page reload which consumes a great deal of time if you use your mobile device for browsing a lot!
One thing I’m unclear on (and haven’t taken the time yet yo clarify) is the difference between a Bookmarked page and a Saved Page in Opera Mini. Saved Pages seem to load faster, which leads me to believe they may be stored locally for offline viewing, but I’m not completely sure just yet.
After installing Opera Mini, I took a few screenshots and thought I might share some of them below just to give some more exposure. Overall I’ve been rather impressed. Nice work and congratulations to the Opera Teams responsible!
If you haven’t heard the news yet, Ubuntu 10.04 will feature a Music Store from within the default music player.
The default music player in Ubuntu 10.04 is currently Rhythmbox, but the Music store should be available through other popular music players soon.
Currently in the early Beta stage, Ubuntu’s Music Store (officially named “UbuntuOne Music Store”, poorly named in my opinion) appears to be running smoothly. The only problem I could find with the service was the overall speed of page-loads and initializing downloads for purchased songs.
When you select the tracks you want to download and checkout with them, you’ll be directed to the “My Downloads” section where you can watch the progress of your music being transferred to your UbuntuOne account.
This is the part that had noticeable slowness. I waited between 5-10 minutes before any progress had occurred in my purchase. However, when the song did transfer, it completed in a matter of ~2-3 seconds. I presume the server performance will improve throughout the testing stages and become well stabilized for Ubuntu 10.04 final.
If you’re interested in testing the UbuntuOne Music Store, but don’t want to spend any money just to test it then you’re in luck!
If you’re a regular to the world of Linux news then you’ve surely heard the news of Ubuntu 10.04’s new “theme shakeup” and probably seen screenshots of the two new themes that are still in the process of being tweaked and finalized.
I’ve been using the new wallpaper and themes since they were first introduced and I’ve began to love and hate them at the same time. I’ll try to explain why.
The theme that I’m using of the two is called Ambiance (the other is Radiance, which is brighter) and it seems to be the best based on appearance in my opinion.
As you can see from the screenshot above (click to view a larger image) the title bars have a smooth gradient touch that even works well with transparency (seen in the windows that aren’t focused).
The window controls have moved to the left-hand side by default and have also been reorganized, which can be task to get used to as I’ve only finally began to feel comfortable with the controls on the left-hand side.
Side note: If you’re interested in easily moving these controls around and re-arranging them, you’re in luck!
I can only imagine that the thought process behind the brainstorming session for the window controls position and layout was something like the following poorly executed logic.
Windows is obviously very popular and people relate to their traditional window controls. We can use alternatives to these so we are “different”: “x” for close, “/\” for maximize, “” for restore, and “\/” for minimize. Now we can move the controls to the left side of the window to please all of the apple fans. Save. Commit.
The window controls are probably one of the most important design points to any theme. While it appears that Ubuntu is going for a more polished and professional appearance, its going to be near impossible get the polished feel of Mac OS X and the traditional simplistic controls from Windows to integrate together using the new colors that Mark Shuttleworth and his team have chosen.
Many people across the Ubuntu forums and blogosphere are repeatedly comparing Ubuntu’s new theme designs to Mac OS X. While they are correct in identifying the similarities, they are missing the fact that Mac OS X is a continually highly polished operating system with the user interface being one of the main attractions. Rounded window controls and gradient windows aren’t going to be enough to attract users the way OS X does.
The Ubuntu 10.04 Ambiance window controls don’t even have decent hover effects for the current window (window with the red/orange close button).
I for one want to see uniform and consistent icons for all applications as well as attention to folders, drives/devices and thumbnails on the desktop and in other folders. The default orange folder icons have been around for far too long and are in desperate need of some updates.
Moving on, the scrollbars have very little hover attention. While its generally a good idea to be subtle with interface hovers and interactions, the current implementation seems to harm more than help. Rather than fading darker on hover or introducing a bolder border (as XP does), it simply brightens by minimal amount. This isn’t enough visual confirmation to assure the user that they are indeed interacting with the scrollbar.
The scrollbar up, down, left and right arrows have absolutely no hover or press affects. This is a major interface failure and I assume it will eventually be corrected before the theme is finalized. Until then, its a major bug in my opinion.
The buttons. If you look at the screenshot again (from above) you’ll notice how boring and unimpressive the new buttons are (apparently I’m not alone). One thing that I’m impressed with is the was they’ve created a common design between fixed combo boxes and buttons. While the general design of the buttons is just not impressive at all, the thought behind consistency here impresses me.
What doesn’t impress me is the choice of colors for selected and enabled controls..
To me, this idea that purple and orange are going to be widely accepted among new and current users is just absurd.
I’m sure many people tend to just deal with skins and themes rather than trying to find alternatives that are more friendly. I find that I never need to adjust themes in Windows or Mac, but Linux themes seem to have a history of being poorly designed or poorly executed.
I can see how making the Terminal transparent can be attractive to users who know how to even open it, but what were they thinking when they decided to make it purple?
Anyone serious about Linux is going to be using the terminal. Even those who are not so serious about Linux will be subject to opening the terminal to enter obscure commands as solutions to problems that they don’t remotely understand.
I just don’t see purple being as commonly accepted among the male user-group as I do among the female user-group for integration into the default theme. The point in that being that the themes should be more gender neutral with the purple coloring. Especially in the tooltips, OMG! 😉
Another common complaint that I’ve seen among fellow Ubuntu users (and a recent blog post) is the default title bar font which is very bold and not very attractive. One thing I wish they would adopt from Mac is the use of text shadow. In CSS this would simply be something like “text-shadow: 2px 2px 2px #ccc;“. Mac OS X uses a brighter shadow to enhance the appearance of the title bar font in a very slight and elegant way.
While this is a major change from the previous default Human theme, Ubuntu still presents itself as unpolished and unprofessional. Developing a truly unique and efficient interface is without a doubt a difficult task. The previous interface promises that were abandoned are proof of that. However, the importance of introducing a polished interface can’t be stressed enough.
Developing a truly polished interface takes time. This is one thing that is not on Ubuntu’s side with the release of Ubuntu 10.04, which is to include the new theme, scheduled for April 29, 2010 (less than 2 months away).
What they should have done is start this new theme back in the developmental process of Karmic and only installed it through the community-themes package. This would allow people to easily test the theme and provide a fair amount of time to turn feedback into progress. If they had followed this model, the new themes would be very matured by now and especially by the final release of Lucid.
While the final release may produce a polished set of new themes for Lucid, just remember that they could have been (read: should have been) more polished and thought out. 😉
In case you were interested in seeing the Radiance theme..
While there are many other flaws that I’ve encountered in the new themes, the ones mentioned above are in my opinion the ones that are most important. If you’ve got opinions about the new themes, voice your opinions and share your ideas!
I’ve noticed after uploading several files that Dropbox is now smart and can do an md5 hash check on other files that have been uploaded to their server.
How does this help you? Well, I’ll explain soon, but if you’re downloading a file that someone else has already downloaded and synced with Dropbox then it helps you tremendously!
Basically, Dropbox checks to see if anyone has previously uploaded the exact same file in the past. If they have then you’re in luck!
If the md5 hash matches (I’m purely guessing that they use md5 since it’s the commonly accepted standard for file checking) then they simply “copy n’ paste” what someone else has already uploaded into your personal upload space!
This means that the 347mb file that you want to sync could take 10 seconds to be synced with your account even over a dial-up connection if someone else has already taken the time to upload it for the first time!
If you’re the first person to upload your file then you will certainly have to wait the due time for a proper upload, so don’t expect it with every file.
This is an ingenious move by the Dropbox team as it saves them tons of much needed bandwidth performance and instead pushes the workload to the server side “copy n’ paste” routine…which will perform much faster than your dial-up or simple broadband connection.
Imagine the speed of uploading a 10mb file to Dropbox verses copying that same file from one folder on your hard drive to another folder on your hard drive. That is similar to the performance that you can expect.
It also obviously saves you time since you can sometimes drag n’ drop a large file…blink…then it’s done.
Don’t worry, your files are safe. Chances are slim that someone will upload a file that matches yours in filename and md5 hash code, …but it could happen.
It’s been proven that the md5 hash is insecure, but the chances of someone uploading a file that is recognized as one of yours is very very…(repeat as needed)…very slim.
Honestly, the biggest thing to worry about is the fact that if you delete a private file, someone else could happen to upload a file matching the filename and md5 hash and automatically have access to a file that you uploaded ages ago.
I’m current unaware of how long Dropbox caches the files that you store using their service, but I know that some files that I’ve uploaded in the past and deleted now have been removed from the server…so security is fairly assuring.
While it’s a little creepy and it sounds dangerous….it’s highly improbable.
On the Dropbox teams side, saving bandwidth means that you have that much extra bandwidth to upload content that you need sync’d. Bandwidth is very important these days especially considering that many of us are uploading videos (whether they be family or leisure) and music. Many of these files can range from 3mb for music up to 10gb for video (and blu-ray will bring even higher filesizes :P).
Of the sync services that I’ve used (and it’s been a lot so far), Dropbox is by far the front runner. With the features that they offer that you’re not normally aware of, they already pass up the competition hands down. That’s just my own personal opinion.
I’m currently on the free service (2gb), but I would highly suggest that you purchase their pay-for service that gives you up to 50gb of online storage if you’re one to upload a lot or need a lot on the go.
At the very least give them a try and download the Dropbox application. I’m sure anyone could take advantage of the free 2gb package that they offer online to backup important documents or whatever it may be. 😉
Rest assured that if you’re using Dropbox then you’re also using one of the best available sync services to be established thus far! Free space never hurt anyone. 😉
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.” 😉
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.
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.
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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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. 😀
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. 😉
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!
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”. 😛
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. 😉
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.
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
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
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. 😉 getlibs /opt/boxee/Boxee
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!