Recently I volunteered to help fix an existing project or develop an OpenID authentication plugin for the vBulletin platform. The group in need was UbuntuForums.org and I would have never known if it hadn’t been for Jorge Castro’s public request for help.
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.
Skype is already available in Linux and usually works well. However, Skype to due to release an open source client (keeping the back-end closed source). Fortunately for Linux users, this means that you will likely get to use only one messenger client such as Empathy or Pidgin without ever opening the old Skype client and still have your Skype buddies listed in Empathy or Pidgin.
While the announcement was released in November 2009, there is no expected date of arrival. So unfortunately, Linux users could be waiting anywhere from a few more weeks to a few more years.
I’m looking forward to never having to launch the Skype client again and simply using Empathy alone to chat and call all of my Skype friends!
Anyone who has ever used Dropbox knows that it is dang good at what it does. You need something backed up? Drop it in your Dropbox folder and forget about it.
With Dropbox 0.8.x, we will gain a new feature called “Selective Sync” which will enable you to pick which files and folders from your Dropbox to sync, giving you more overall control.
Dropbox 0.8.x also brings a wealth of performance improvements to the table. With faster startup times and lower memory consumption when idling, this update is sure to be well received. File attributes are now noted and properly synchronized, so if you make a script executable on one computer it will be updated on all others as well. This is very handy for Unix/Linux users.
Rhythmbox Last.fm Plugin Updates
Being a Last.fm user myself, I find myself scrobbling a lot of music and very few options to manage my profile. I’d love to see this plugin integrate the ability to “Love” and “Unlove” tracks that you are playing from Rhythmbox itself.
The sound indicator applet is receiving an update which will manage to bring all of your sound controls into a clean and simple menu.
With this project well underway, you are already able to view what’s playing in Rhythmbox and pause/play the song from the menu. The artist, title and album are also implemented, leaving album art, playlists, back and forward controls, and a song progress bar to be anticipated.
Windicators (aka Window Indicators)
Windicators, as Mark Shuttleworth describes them, are indicators located in the top right side of a Window’s title bar that indicate specific states of applications that users should be alerted of.
From the mockup, you can see that Windows producing sound will likely have per app volume control windicators. Those dealing with stores and shopping carts will feature a shopping cart windicator to help you manage and navigate what you’ve stored away to buy.
I’m really hoping that this Windicator will be used in applications such as web browsers and the Ubuntu Software Center (which, by the way I think should be renamed to the Ubuntu App Store) so that web sites like eBay or Amazon and the Software Center can take advantage of this feature.
One improvement will be closer maximize and minimize buttons. The improvement, as I image it, can be seen below, but is not meant to represent a final product in any way.
Scrollbar steppers don’t appear clickable. One design I’ve been hoping for, but have yet to see anything implemented, is some nice themed steppers. Nicer of course than my crude artistic example below. 😉
Also mentioned is “Changing GTK to allow for a rounded stepper,” which is why I rounded the button in the mockup (if you click to view the larger version).
There are several other changes to be made for the theme, but as far as I’ve seen they’ve yet to appear in updates.
One of my favorite features in Ubuntu is desktop effects which are powered by Compiz. It seems like compositing windows managers have been changing at an incredibly unpredictable rate since I first started using Linux.
I first started using Beryl to get cool effects for the desktop way back in the early stages of Ubuntu. Soon after, Compiz-Fusion became the next big thing. This developed as a bit of a merge between Compiz and parts of Beryl.
Not long thereafter, various Compiz related branches were merged and the project became known simply as Compiz again. What’s cool about this is that in the merge, Compiz was being ported from C to C++ (also known as Compiz++) giving it a large number of benefits (that I won’t get into here).
The good news is that Compiz 0.9 unstable has been released and is ready for regression testing! Hopefully it won’t be a great deal longer before Compiz 0.9 matures and is released into the wild.
Vavle’ Steam Client
If you don’t already know about Steam, according to Wikipedia it’s “a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications platform developed by Valve Corporation.”
Its been rumored that the Steam client will be coming to Linux, but all we can do is wait in anticipation and see what happens.
Steam recently became available to Mac users, so it may not be too far fetched. If it does come to Linux then it will bring a plethora of games to the platform that would have otherwise never been available.
Here’s to hoping that someday soon I will be able to play Counter-Strike: Source without booting up into Mac or Windows (or using Wine).
Ubuntu Boot Screen Fixes
While there are ways to fix the boot screen yourself, I tend to prefer them just working automatically. This isn’t the case in Ubuntu 10.04 if you’re using the nVidia or ATI video drivers.
Being only in Alpha 2, Ubuntu 10.10 still uses the boot screen of 10.04 as pictured above. While this is a very nice boot screen, it does have several problems.
As I said earlier, if you’re using nVideo or ATI drivers then you’ll have problems where the boot screen’s resolution is horribly wrong and your boot screen looks more like a crash.
Ubuntu is on the track of speeding up boot times, but if your system hasn’t booted before the animated dots make their cycle then you get to see it again. While this isn’t a horrible failure, its still a very unpolished design and desperately needs some attention. Still worse, the shutdown screen uses the same animation which gives it the illusion of loading, not unloading.
I’m hoping that if they take the time to address the boot screen that they will also take time to polish the boot menu for dual booting users. In its textual state it looks like something straight out of the days of DOS, and since Ubuntu is “Linux for Human Beings” I would say its time to ditch the textual Grub interface and move on to a polished Burg menu…based on Grub, but graphical.
After taking some time to track down a bug that seems to only affect Internet Explorer 6 (why on earth did I bother?) I’ve finally released an update that fixes the error.
After getting several comments about users experiencing errors with this plugin while using IE6 I finally gave in and patched the little bug. Why are they still using IE6?
…well, it works fine now…as far as I know. I’ve had a few people test it with no errors as well as myself, so hopefully if you couldn’t use it before it will work fine now.
To find out more about this WordPress plugin, go to it’s main page. You will find all released versions there (past and present) as well as a link to the official WordPress Plugin page. Feel free to leave feedback!
After coming across this nifty little Twitter Badge at Techie-Buzz while reading a Google Chrome OS article, I realized how cool their little Twitter link was and I instantly new it was going to be on kyleabaker.com as well. 😀
After a quick look at the source code of the page, I had decided to build a quick plugin for WordPress to insert the same code. So the plugin process began.
I didn’t want to hard code it into the footer of my K2 theme, because I frequently update to the latest K2 theme nightly builds. This way would save me a lot of trouble and even make this neat little Twitter Badge available to thousands. And so…WP-TwitterBadge was born.
I traced the code back to an embeded script from go2web20.net and realized how n00b friendly this script would have been to install anyway even without an easier plugin to install it for you, but the fact that it would save me time in the future was well worth it.
Basically, if you’re not using the WordPress plugin, you just link the script and set a few variables. This made it very easy to make it customizable as well!
Just mimicking their own setup page, I was able to make a quick Options page featuring a live preview (as all of my plugins have so far 😉 ). I even coded the preview with way less script than they used on their own page since extreme error checking is really not needed (everything is live so you can see the problems there).
At a rate of 20-30+ new downloads per hour I would say that this plugin is by far my most favored project…considering that it hasn’t been reviewed yet (no trackbacks thus far) by anyone whereas others already have.
If you’d like to checkout this little Twitter Badge on your own site, just head over to the plugin page or search for “WP-TwitterBadge” from your “Add New Plugins” page in WordPress and install it from there. If you like it, pass it on!
I’ve just updated WP-UserAgent to version 0.8, covering a lot of ground over the past few days. As I’m working to reach a stable and solid 1.0 release, I’m also working towards a feature complete plugin.
Version 0.8 offers support for detecting ~90 different web browsers and ~35 different operating systems (counting each version of windows).
Easy access to WP-UserAgent settings is worked right into the Plugins page. No more need to search for options to edit!
Once you find the options page, you’ll find a cleaned up look and feel, along with a real-time preview of how your changes will appear.
If you’re in need of a cool geeky WordPress plugin, why not give WP-UserAgent a shot? It’s an interesting way to find out a few details about your subscribers and other visitors!
I’ve just uploaded an update to my WP-UserAgent plugin that improves a great deal on the settings page in the administration panel.
This update also has several backward compatibility fixes. Just looking forward and trying to make sure everything works fine in other versions of WordPress since not everyone uses the latest version.
You can find a list of changes to version 0.5.3.3 and the download on the same page.
I’ve also updated the download page to reflect the browsers and operating systems that are currently detected.
If you know of one that is missing and would like to see it added then feel free to let me know in the comments on the download page. If you can post a user agent string sample as well then that would be great, but if not then it’s not necessary.
If you are using a browser and/or operating system that is not listed then please just post a comment letting me know what browser and/or operating system you are using. I should be able to do the rest. Thanks!