“Share via microblog”

I just came across this in Ubuntu 10.10 while browsing the Software Center.

"Share via microblog"

I’m not sure how long this little feature has been available, but it sure does make promoting your favorite applications a breeze for Ubuntu users!

Clicking the linked text, as you can see, brings up a box to post to your “Broadcast” accounts (as Ubuntu calls them, otherwise known as your social networks). Here is an example of what it posts.

You’re free to edit the message how you see fit, with the important part being the “apturl:rhythmbox” token. For the record, there appears to be a bug at the moment that resets your edited message back to the default, but this will most likely be fixed.

I’m a little confused as to how this will work, since Firefox supports apt:application by default and not apturl:application. Also, Firefox requires the text to be a hyperlink, like the following examples apt:application and/or apturl:application.

If you find your browser unable to handle such links, you can find information here that should help you get them working.

I suppose this is yet another way that Ubuntu is becoming “social from the start!”

Ubuntu 10.10 Volume Indicator Applet

If you’re anxiously awaiting the release of Ubuntu 10.10, then you may know that the volume indicator applet is set to receive some nice improvements.

While it is not yet completed, I’ve taken some screenshots to point out some flaws and the way I think it should look and feel below.

Songs with long filenames cause for wide menus.
Shorter song titles fit a bit better.
This is how I think it should end up looking.

It’s certainly coming along nicely and I think this will be a well received update in Ubuntu! There are plenty of other improvements coming to Ubuntu 10.10, but improvements like these are the ones that are making me quickly become an Ubuntu only user!

Ambiance & Radiance Skins and Speed Dial Backgrounds

While I’m waiting for Opera in Linux to improve further (its already pretty great!), I’ve decided to make a couple of adjustments to make the browser feel a little more integrated.

Get the skin!
I’ve created a simple script that extracts the installed default skin and modifies it with all in one quick run. This is very beneficial for me since I like to update my slightly edited skins by merging my modifications with the latest and greatest default skin with only a double click. 😉

The only change to the skin (thus far) is the tab bar background which now allows for a smoother appearance between the tab bar and window title.

Ambiance Skin

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx
Install Skin (Opera 10.60+, updated 2010-12-16)

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 12.04 Precise Pangolin
Install Skin (Opera 10.60+, updated 2012-03-26)

Radiance Skin

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx
Install Skin (Opera 10.60+, updated 2010-12-16)

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat, 11.04 Natty Narwhal
Install Skin (Opera 10.60+, updated 2010-12-16)

Previous skin versions are now available on page 3.

Get the Speed Dial backgrounds on Page 2!

I’ve moved them to page 2 since the main interest of this post is the on the skins.

Ubuntu 10.04 Browser Comparisons

While this is by no means a perfect test for comparing web browsers, I thought I might share my results from the latest browsers available for Linux and more specifically Ubuntu 10.04.

Your results may vary, however, the overall trend should be very similar. So take my results with a grain of salt. 😉

Processor: AMD Atholon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 6000+
Graphics card: VGA ASUS N EN7300LE/HTD/128M
Memory: 2GB
OS: Ubuntu 10.04 x86_64
Form factor: Desktop
Borwsers tested: Arora, Chromium, Dooble, Epiphany, Firefox, Midori, Opera
Date: 2008-05-04

———————————–

http://sputnik.googlelabs.com/
Opera 10.53.6330
1. – 5165/5246
Chromium 5.0.396.0 (46318)
2. – 5112/5246
Epiphany 2.30.2
3. – 5060/5246
Midori 0.2.2
3. – 5060/5246
Firefox 3.6.3
4. – 4978/5246
Arora 0.10.2
0. – Unable to complete (Froze on 3746)
Dooble 0.07
0. – Unable to complete (Froze on 3746)

———————————–

http://www2.webkit.org/perf/sunspider-0.9/sunspider.html
Opera 10.53.6330
1. – Total: 426.4ms +/- 18.1%
Midori 0.2.2
2. – Total: 455.0ms +/- 6.7%
Chromium 5.0.396.0 (46318)
3. – Total: 480.0ms +/- 20.7%
Epiphany 2.30.2
4. – Total: 514.2ms +/- 21.5%
Arora 0.10.2
5. – Total: 1852.4ms +/- 12.5%
Firefox 3.6.3
6. – Total: 2946.8ms +/- 9.7%
Dooble 0.07
7. – 3151.8ms +/- 10.0%

———————————–

http://service.futuremark.com/peacekeeper/
Chromium 5.0.396.0 (46318)
1. – 5492
Opera 10.53.6330
2. – 3575
Firefox 3.6.3
3. – 1603
Dooble 0.07
4. – 1268
Arora 0.10.2
0. – Unable to complete
Epiphany 2.30.2
0. – Unable to complete
Midori 0.2.2
0. – Unable to complete

———————————–

http://acid3.acidtests.org/
Arora 0.10.2
1. – 100/100
Chromium 5.0.396.0 (46318)
1. – 100/100
Dooble 0.07
1. – 100/100
Epiphany 2.30.2
1. – 100/100
Midori 0.2.2
1. – 100/100
Opera 10.53.6330
1. – 100/100
Firefox 3.6.3
2. – 92/100

http://acid3.acidtests.org/

Opera Tab Count in Conky (for Linux)

Have you ever wanted to keep an eye on the number of tabs that you have open in Opera? Now you can very easily!

Check Out The Script!

I came across a link a while back (sorry, I can’t remember who posted this) for a script in windows that fetches the window count from Opera’s autosave.win file (this file stores your currently open windows and tabs so it can restore them if Opera crashes or for the next time you open Opera).

If you’re using Windows, you can probably do something with this script, though I have not tested it yet.

If you’re using Linux then you can take advantage of a script that I wrote and I’ll tell you how below.

  1. Open a text editor and copy the 10 lines of script from the following page:
    http://kyleabaker.pastebin.com/HngpxisB
  2. Save this file anywhere you would like to. I saved mine as “opera-tab-count.sh” on my desktop for testing, but it should work fine from any directory.
  3. Right click on the file you created and select “Properties -> Permissions -> Execute = True“. This allows the script file to run.
  4. Now you can open up a terminal window and find out how many tabs you have open by using the following command:
    $ ./.opera-tab-count.sh

Add This To Conky!

One of the main reasons that I wrote this script is to start showing more Opera stats on my desktop via Conky which I wrote about a while back!

Opera tab count as it will appear in Conky!

If you’re interested in displaying some stats via Conky then all you have to do to get what I’ve got is:

  1. Move the “opera-tab-count.sh” file that you’ve saved from the steps above into your Home directory.
  2. Rename your “opera-tab-count.sh” file to “.opera-tab-count.sh” (notice the leading period). This makes it a hidden file in the future so it won’t waste space in your file browser unless you choose to view Hidden files via “View menu -> Show Hidden Files”.
  3. Add the following lines to your “.conkyrc” file (located in your root directory)
    ${color orange}OPERA ${hr 2}$color
    Opera currently has ${exec ./.opera-tab-count.sh} tabs open
  4. Save your “.conkyrc” file and launch Conky or wait for it to refresh with your update!

If you did everything correctly then you should see something similar to what the image above.

I do plan to add more stats to this soon and will probably post a link to my script when I’m done, so keep an eye out!

*You Mac users may be able to modify this to work with Mac as well. 😉

UPDATE 1 (2010-05-04):
If you want to use my latest update with more details, create a file named “.opera-stats.sh” that is executable and stored in your Home directory (old: with the script from here) with the script that fearphage has updated here. Now add two lines (or edit the two you added from above) to your “.conkyrc” file:
${color orange}OPERA ${hr 2}$color
${exec ./.opera-stats.sh}

..that should give you the following:

Opera Stats v0.1 in Conky

Ubuntu 10.04 SVG Dropbox Folder Icons

After a little bit of work, I was able to put together a folder icon for the Dropbox folder that is inline with the design of the home folder icon.

Here is how the new icon compares.

I’ve not created all of the icons to be used for this, only the one that you will see in Nautilus or your file browser, but I may eventually make the others as well.

Thanks to some work from Dropbox user “Charles A.“, I was able to modify a folder icon and add the themed icons.

Close up preview of icon #3 of 4 total icons.

Feel free to take what I’ve done and extend it further or improve on it! I’m by no means an artist. 😉

If you modify this icon, I only ask that you mention me and pass me a link to your improvements!

Download (v0.1: 193kb)

EDIT: I’ve updated the package to include all 4 icons for images of (square) sizes 16, 22, 24, 32, 48, 64. You can grab the updated package below.

Download (v0.2: 343.4kb)

Mockup: Quick Reply in Empathy

Now that GNOME 2.30 stable is out, we can all look forward to GNOME 3. I’m extremely hopeful that the GNOME applications will see some much needed updates and additions of missing features.

One feature that I really miss from Digsby and Trillian in Windows is the ability to quickly respond to a message via the notification bubble. Sometimes you just want to send a quick and short response. Thats why I’d like to see this feature added to Empathy for the release of GNOME 3.

Mockup of how this would look.

In Ubuntu, the notifications appear in the upper right corner of the screen and (as far as I’ve seen) contain no buttons or other actions. Clicking them isn’t even possible as the click carries through to whatever rests below it.

If I’m not mistaken there will be notifications with buttons for interaction, but if I understand it correctly then the “Fallback alert boxes” will offer this option. If this is true then my mockup could easily be put to work!

Mockup: Opera 10.5x + Ubuntu 10.04

Opera 10.5x for Linux doesn’t seem to be evolving at the rate that I had originally expected as I interpreted from several Desktop Team blog posts, but it does seem to be inching its way forward on the stability end of things.

After seeing the improvements that were made to Opera 10.5 for tab bar in Windows XP I thought anything was possible. I’ve tried to recapture this implementation in what I think it would look like in Ubuntu if implemented similarly.

This is a very slick and clean approach much like Windows XP, Vista and 7 are now with Opera.
This is an example of how Opera would look in a default Ubuntu 10.04 since the window controls are on the left.

While the the images above are both simple and crude mockups, they do show that the same implementation would work well into the Unix and Linux platforms.

Obviously the first image (window controls on the right, like Microsoft Windows) is the most elegant of the two. The second image (window controls on the left, like Mac) is functional, but not the most aesthetically pleasing solution.

One alternative that I can easily fathom is simply detecting the “window control button orientation” and in this case rendering the Opera-menu on the right side of the title bar with the trash can icon to the immediate left. In more basic terms, swap the window controls and the Opera-menu in the first image and there you have it.

An example of how the title bar can still look very clean when switching the window controls and Opera-menu.

Theres no reason that I can think of that the Opera-menu should be sentenced to spend the rest of its life on the left side of the window. The main menu buttons in Internet Explorer and Google Chrome, while not located in the title bar, are located on the right side of the browser window.

Just some food for thought. Hopefully I jar some ideals and better alternatives.

EDIT: Went back and made the third mockup since explaining it might not have been clear before. Enjoy.

Want cool desktop stats? -> Conky!

Have you ever wanted to have awesome looking stats on that rest on your desktop and don’t interfere with your work flow? If so, you’ll probably love this nifty little application.

Example of a basic Conky setup.

Its called Conky and it can give you stats or information on practically anything imaginable. Its also easy to install!

Conky is by no means a new application and there are in fact hundreds of Conky configuration files scattered across the Internet that you could use to customize the way yours looks. With a good basic guide and some helpful tips on auto-starting Conky, I’ve thrown together a quick installation and setup guide with pictures! 😉

Typically when you install an application such as this, you want it to auto-start. Auto-starting this application isn’t as trivial as most applications so I’ll walk you through that as well. I’ll assume your using Ubuntu of some sort, but if you’re not don’t worry…you can still install Conky with alternative steps and setting it up should not differ.

Install

  1. Open the “Ubuntu Software Center” application (also known as “Add/Remove” in older versions) and search for Conky. If its not listed then you may need to find a package online.

    Find and install the Conky option entitled something along these lines: “highly configurable system monitor (all features enabled)“.

  2. Create a file labeled “.conkyrc” in your home directory (usually saved as /home/username/.conkyrc) and make sure to include the period at the start. This will make the conky settings file hidden when you casually open your home folder so its not in your way. You may need to go to View -> Show Hidden Files or press Ctrl+H to view the file to edit it later.

    Open the “.conkyrc” file in a text editor of your choice.
    Paste the linked snippet into your “.conkyrc” file.

  3. Create a file labeled “.startconky.sh” in the same folder as the previous file making sure to include the period at the beginning and the file type at the end.

    Open the “.startconky.sh” file with your favorite editor. Paste the following snippet into your “.startconk.sh” file:
    #!/bin/bash
    (sleep 5s && conky) &


  4. Save both files and close the file editor you were using. Now right-click on the “.startconky.sh” file and click Properties and select the Properties tab. Make sure you check the option to “Allow executing file as program” then click close.
  5. Go to your startup applications program or System -> Preferences -> Startup Applications and add a new application with the command option as “/home/username/.startconky.sh” where user name is your home directory…as follows:
  6. Click Save! Now the next time your restart your computer you’ll have some awesome stats that appear on your desktop!

Gwibber Account UI Improvements

Here are a couple of mock-ups that I’ve made to illustrate how Gwibber and Empathy should evolve with similar interfaces, especially in the account windows.

Current state of Gwibber (top) and Empathy (bottom)

After making a few adjustments to make the Gwibber accounts window more similar to Empathy’s accounts window, this is what I came up with. I also moved the help button to the right to make it feel more appropriately place (to me).

Mock-up of Gwibber (top) and Empathy (bottom) with Gwibber's accounts window modified.

Ideally, I think the two should merge their windows when both are installed simultaneously. They could be separated via tabs, but contained in a similar window, thus making settings in Linux a tad bit easily to navigate through.

A mock-up of Gwibber and Empathy accounts merged into one using tabs to separate.

If they do plan to implement a better interface for social and messaging accounts, this would be an example that I think would be highly effect and reduce the need for so many preference menu items at the same time.

Ubuntu 10.04, now with a Music Store!

If you haven’t heard the news yet, Ubuntu 10.04 will feature a Music Store from within the default music player.

This is the initial page that you land on.

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.

This is where your downloads process.

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 find a free track that you like, simply search for it through the Music Store embedded in Rhythmbox and download it!

I’m glad to see the store finally open up, I’m just hoping that they keep a high standard of appearance and keep it clean and simple. In its current form, I’m very impressed.

Now we just need a Genius side bar that works off of the UbuntuOne Music Store selection to suggest new music and music from your current collection!