Get Your Last.fm Wallpaper From Wallpaperfm

If you have an active Last.fm account and like to switch up your wallpaper from time to time then you’ll love Wallpaperfm!

Example from my Last.fm account in Collage mode.

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.

Install

  1. cd
  2. mkdir wallpaperfm
  3. cd wallpaperfm
  4. wget http://ledazibao.free.fr/wallpaperfm/wallpaperfm.py
  5. chmod a+x wallpaperfm.py

Create Your Wallpaper

  1. ./wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME

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:

1. Tile

Albums are packed in side by side.

2. Glass

A few albums are highlighted on a glassy surface.

3. Collage

Albums are meshed together in a dreamy design.

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.

  1. sudo apt-get install gnome-schedule
  2. Open the application (in Ubuntu) through the Applications menu -> System Tools -> Scheduled tasks.
  3. Click the New button and select the Recurrent task type.
  4. Give the task a description.
  5. Enter the command that runs your script. If you followed the steps above then it should be something similar to:

    /home/YOURUBUNTUNAME/wallpaperfm/wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME -m collage -f /home/YOURUBUNTUNAME/wallpaperfm/wallpaper

  6. Set the Time & Date option to hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly.
  7. Click the “Add” button to add it to your list of Scheduled Tasks and you’re done!

Have any other suggestions or tips? Leave ’em in the comments!

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!

Short Opera Mini for iPhone Gallery

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.

Opera Mini's new home.

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!

Initial Welcome Page
Initial Welcome Page Scrolled Middle
Initial Welcome Page Scrolled End
Successfully Connected to Opera Link
View of My Blog: kyleabaker.com
My Opera Mini Speed Dial (only first 9 speed dial items though..of 12). Also, 99 open tabs. 😉
Fun testing tab limits (99 vertically).
Fun testing tab limits (99 horizontally).
Fun testing tab limits (100 tabs...blank).
Fun testing tab limits (100 vertically).
Fun testing tab limits (100 horizontally).
Configuration options with Saved Pages and Find in Page!

My Guide to Jailbreak the iPod Touch

I recently made a quick list of steps that I followed a while back to jailbreak my iPod Touch as I usually do to keep as a reminder guide in case I have to go back and do it again. You can use this on your iPod Touch and/or iPhone, however, the iPhone is a little more risky as you could potentially brick your device if you don’t create a proper restore point or backup prior to jailbreaking it.

I thought I would post it here so others can find it and use it as I most likely will again in the future. So…below is my “quick and simple” guide (copy/pasted from my bbPress forum post) as well as a few things you can do with your device after you’ve jailbroken it.

Index:
I… Preparation
II.. Jailbreak
III. Securing your jailbroken device
IV. Installing apps and customization
V.. iPod/iPhone with Ubuntu
VI. Previews of my iPod

Notes: It is no longer required to Jailbreak your iPod/iPhone in order to use it with Ubuntu. If you only wish to use your device in Ubuntu, simply follow the link in Step #10 and ignore the steps to Jailbreak your device.

Preparation
1. Update your iPod via iTunes to the latest firmware available.
2. Backup your iPod to allow future system restores (in case of an error).

Jailbreak – (more detailed guide)
3. Download “Blackra1n” http://www.blackra1n.com/
4. Open “Blackra1n” and click “make it ra1n”
5. Wait until you are prompted with a message similar to the following:
“Your jailbreak is done once the phone reboots.
If this was the simplest jailbreak ever, …”
6. Now simply wait for your device to reboot on its own. It can take a minute or two to reboot. (If you ever reboot or turn off your device in the future, you will simply need to connect it to a computer and click “make it ra1n” to reboot it after its been jailbroken. Also, iTunes must be installed for “Blackra1n” to work correctly.)

Installing apps and customization
7. Download the “Cydia” application from the new “Blackra1n” app that should now be on your device.
8. Download the following apps from Cydia (some require a reboot so don’t go too far from a computer…as noted above).
—1. Categories – This enables you to create folders on your springboard and better organize your icons.
—2. WinterBoard – This allows you to install (seperate) themes to further change the appearance of your springboard, unlock screen, icons and panels.
—3. MIM (Make It Mine) – This allows you to change the carrier name (iPod, iPhone or whatever it may be) to something more personalized. Mine is “kyPod”. You can also change the banner (where the time is usually displayed) to anything you’d like as well. I left my banner default (time).
—4. Install themes, navigate to the Winterboard app to find and activate them.

Securing your jailbroken device
As with any hack, there are risks. One of those risks is that your device can become infested with a few nasty viruses that have recently made news headlines. To avoid this, simply follow the steps to change your devices default SSH password. Steps are also provided in your Cydia application towards the bottom of the home screen labeled “Change Root Password”.

9.  Open the Cydia app. Scroll down to find the guide labeled “Change Root Password”. Scroll down to Step #4 in the Cydia guide labeled “Change the mobile Password”. If you connect to your device via a terminal window (Mac or Linux will work or you can download the “Terminal” application via Cydia and use it) you can connect via SSH using the “su root” as the root user and “alpine” as the default password. You want to change “alpine” to something different so the typical virus won’t have your default password. After logging in via root, type “passwd”. You will now need to enter your new password twice (it will not appear as you type it as a security measure). After you’ve entered your new password, exit the terminal…you’re done! You may also change your mobile password if you wish by starting the password change with “passwd mobile”. This may or may not be beneficial to you.

iPod/iPhone with Ubuntu
10. Following the directions that I discuss and point to at the following location:
https://www.kyleabaker.com/2010/01/17/ubuntu-ipod-touchiphone/
It is no longer required to Jailbreak your iPod/iPhone in order to use it with Ubuntu. If you only wish to use your device in Ubuntu, simply follow the above link and ignore the steps to Jailbreak your device.

Previews of my iPod

Ubuntu + iPod Touch/iPhone

Updated Information at End of Article

After spending a great deal of time researching Ubuntu and iPod Touch/iPhone sync issues, I’ve finally found a solution that isn’t a dreadful experience.

There is currently a project in the alpha/beta stages that, when completed, will provide sync support for the iPod Touch and iPhones that are using Firmware 3.

If you’re not using Firmware 3 on your iPod Touch or iPhone, then I’m not sure how much this guide will apply to you. You can try looking here for more information.

If you are using Firmware 3 (my iPod Touch is running OS 3.1.2), then I’d suggest you following the guide provided by A. Tres Finocchiaro (aka FatButtLarry) over on his blog.

Following his guide, which is comprised of two lines of terminal commands to copy-n-paste, I was able to have my iPod Touch sync’ing in no time!

While the transfer speed seems to be a bit slow, it is indeed working well! Cover art is transfered flawlessly, everything seems to be in order!

Remember that this project isn’t complete and you are likely to encounter bugs. My experience thus far has been positive, your mileage may vary. Good luck. 😉

Update (2010-02-24):
If you are using or plan to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04, you will not need to manually install any of the software mentioned above. Ubuntu 10.04 brings support for the iPhone and iPod Touch by default. You should not have any problems with your device and Rhythmbox!

Apple to Sell DRM-Free iTunes Music

itunes_iconAfter being rumored for over a year and highly anticipated by both Windows and Mac users, Apple is to finally drop DRM protection from the entire iTunes music catalogue. The entire music library is now available in the 256kbps AAC format which was previously known as iTunes Plus…until now.

In April, iTunes will introduce variable pricing among the entire music catalogue with song prices ranging from 69¢ to 99¢ and $1.29 depending on pricing arrangements made with record labels.

If you’re already sunk a fair amount of money in the iTunes store, Apple will allow you to upgrade your entire library to the DRM-free format – for 30¢ per song or 25% of the album price.

While that’s not quite the deal I was looking for, it is a nice alternative for keeping your expensive music collection portable! Those of you looking for a cheaper alternative might find this to be beneficial. Or this. 😉

Mac and Windows, Netflix and Silverlight

I’ve not been very pleased with Windows lately and have found that Ubuntu seems to have more to offer. However, after booting up in Windows Vista today for updates I wondered what the new Netflix Watch Instantly looked like and how well it worked.

After installing Silverlight it was time to check it out. If you want to use the silverlight version, which now supports Mac and Windows both, then you will have to opt-in here first.

I was surprised! The new player is great! I would even say it’s better than the old player. I just can’t wait until it’s supported in Linux.

Anyone have any opinions on the new player or Netflix Watch Instantly in general?

An auspicious day in the history of Steve Jobs.

I came across an interesting read today at Wired.com that was focused on Steve Jobs…just for the day.

Sept. 16, 1985: Jobs Quits Apple
Sept. 16, 1997: Jobs Rejoins Apple
Sept. 16: It’s an auspicious day in the history of Steve Jobs. It’s the day he quit Apple and the day he returned.

I wonder if we can expect Steve Jobs to leave the company again on Sept. 16, 2009 (a 12 year period equal to how long he quit the first time). Probably not. 😛 Anyways, this article has some other interesting facts about Steve Jobs and this particular topic.

Windows Vista Ultimate: The last Microsoft “Ultimate” I’ll buy

This is the last thing that I will be buying from Microsoft that is supposed to be the best possible package. Honestly, I don’t even use the BitLocker feature. I bought Ultimate because I thought that there were going to be a lot of “Extras”…but I was clearly wrong.

I bought Vista pretty much right after it came out and I really enjoyed using it at first just because I thought to myself, “Man…this is the new Windows…how awesome!”, but now that I got tired of it crashing and I switched to Ubuntu for about a year and a half….well, I’m just not impressed anymore.

There really weren’t any “Extras” available when I installed Ultimate the first time, but I expected to find a list of available “Extras” when I installed it last night (over a year later).

What a freakin’ scam! Microsoft should be sued for this! Seriously! There’s basically nothing better with ultimate, nothing! I am glad to be able to run the “Best” version of Windows along side what is in my opinion one of the best operating systems ever…Ubuntu. It’s interesting to see how I work differently in each operating system and how the system can in some cases control you rather than you controlling the system.

I find myself being controlled more when I’m in Windows than I do in Linux, which is weird to me because I used to assume that you couldn’t do much in Linux other than hack and code things. Linux has really evolved these days though! Linux can honestly be as easy to use as Windows XP/Vista or Mac OS X.

In fact, you can even make your installation of Linux look and feel exactly like Windows or Mac if you want. It’s actually very easy and the familiar feel alone will increase the ease of use with not just Linux…but you and your computer.

I find myself coding more efficiently and faster in Ubuntu than I can in Windows. I think the biggest thing that helps me and makes me faster is the fact that I can have so many workspaces and easily switch between them instead of clicking and hunting windows and tabs all the time.

I really like the visual upgrade that comes with Vista (compared to XP), but honestly it’s nothing more than XP with a new theme and optimized a little (or say they say it’s better??). I’ve actually heard buzz around the Internet for a long time now that XP runs games better and faster than Vista.

Well, one thing is for sure. Ubuntu and several other Linux distros use Compiz Fusion for the eye candy and I think they found the sweet spot when they decided to add them into the operating system the way they did. It’s amazing how an open source project like Ubuntu can be leaps and hurdles a head of Microsoft Windows, but at the same time it’s kind of expected that Microsoft isn’t going to ever use their money and power to just “Wow” us when they can just do enough to try to hold us.

It’s cheaper for them to just hold us than it is to run out of the “Wow” material too quickly and try to find something new and honestly most Windows users don’t even realize that the operating system *should be* so much better than it currently is.

Oh well, what are we going to do? Does Microsoft really listen anyway? I know Apple listens. It seems to me that Apple is really good at feeling around to see what users really want and not always just what they know of either. Apple is very innovative and they are good at making something new work very well. The key, I believe, to their success is the fact that they let their products mature before releasing them and they also push for reasonable release dates.

Microsoft had an unreasonably long delay between Windows XP and Windows Vista. Call it what you will, but I call it laziness. I think they just wanted to sit back and see how long the world would buy copies of Windows XP before we realized that everyone else was still progressing (Mac, Linux, etc.).

Microsoft definitely rushed Vista and even had to cut out several features or upgrades that were planned. One upgrade that I was really looking forward to was the new file system that Vista was supposed to have. The new file system, dubbed “Win FS”, was supposed to be worked into Vista, but was cancelled do to problems and delays on releasing Vista.

Why release a product that isn’t finished? Actually, bad question…no software is ever finished, only abandoned. Rather, why release a product for a release date and not for a maturity stage in the developmental process? Wouldn’t you want your products when they have reached a certain level instead of just reaching a certain age?

Sure it sucks waiting for updates and upgrades, but if Microsoft can’t get their employees to work faster then we should still just wait for a proper update. I don’t like downloading a browser or messenger that crashes all the time when they could have spent a little more time to iron out the kinks.

Vista is still using the file system NTFS that we probably all remember from XP. The thing you might not know is that NTFS was released along side Windows NT when I was 7 years old. Windows NT was more of a networking configuration anyways and never really hit the public much.

The point is that NTFS was released in 1993 and is now a little over 15 years old (to the public). Most Linux or UNIX platforms use ext3 which was released in 1999. That’s still 6 years newer than Microsoft’s! Apple has been looking into upgrading from HFS Plus, which was released in 1998, to a 2004 file system called ZFS.

If you want to look into these file systems and compare them then Wikipedia has a great page for that! I’m actually looking forward to ext4 which has some very good strengths, but it’s not exactly stable yet.

So for now I guess I must be content with Vista (it’s the best it will ever be I suppose) and just log back into Ubuntu when I need to. I seriously hope that Microsoft speeds up and releases something good soon so I can use my NC State privileges to get the latest operating system for free. Hope this very opinionated post was at least fun to read. 😉

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.