Calendar synchronization has been the main reason I haven’t used Google Calendar or the native BlackBerry calendar has been a lack of synchronicity. I’m just annoyed with the idea of having to enter multiple instances of an event in multiple places, so I never used them. Facebook got smart and integrated calendar sync with the new Facebook for BlackBerry, and now I can keep track of my Facebook events with my Storm. I finally found where Google has developed a sync application that updates the calendar and contacts list.
“Using your BlackBerry smartphone’s native calendar, you can now access your Google calendar even when you don’t have network coverage and be alerted for upcoming appointments with sound or vibration. Your Google Calendar stays synchronized whether you access it from your computer or your phone. You can add or edit entries right on your BlackBerry smartphone or on your Google Calendar on the web.”
Just point the BlackBerry browser to http://m.google.com/sync.
It’s still got a few bugs to work out (like automatically recognizing media in Gnome), but I’m quite happy with Picasa for Linux. Even better news is that v3 runs natively in Ubuntu even under a 64-bit architecture–no emulation or Wine required!
There’s been a lot of buzz about this extension for OpenOffice.org that will allow you to sync your documents with Google Docs. I ran across it looking for a solution to my (apparently not unique) problem of automating a system of backing-up documents to Google Docs. Ubuntu users will have to uninstall their out-of-the-box version of OOo and reinstall via terminal before this will work. The setup is actually pretty simple:
1. From the Ubuntu main menu, select Add/Remove Programs.
2. Search for “openoffice”, and uncheck all the installed components. OpenOffice.org Drawing may give you a required package error, but this is no problem. Uninstall the other components, then go back to uninstall Drawing.
3. From the terminal: sudo apt-get install openoffice.org
4. Download the extension here.
5. From the OOo main menu, select -> (Alt-T-E for those who like keyboard shortcuts.)
6. Click “Add…”, select the downloaded file (“gdocs[version number].odx” or something to that effect), and “Open”. The extension will then install. Click “Close” when complete and restart OOo.
You should notice a new floating toolbar with 5 icons. The first two (from the left) are specific to Google Docs (upload and download respectively). The latter are for Zoho and WebDAV, which I don’t use (at least at this point). Click either of the GDox buttons and you will be prompted for your username and password. The rest is fairly self-explanitory.
The only gripe I have with this extension is the lack of true document synchronization. When uploaded, multiple copies of the same document will exist on the Google server until you manually delete them. This is currently under revision and should be fixed when the update is released.
According to anonymous sources via The Wall Street Journal, Apple is possibly in the process of wooing at least CBS and Disney into a subscription service for streaming television. The basic rundown is that the customer could subscribe to a program stream without having to deal with those messy, customer-unfriendly cable companies that everyone I know loathes and despises in a vein similar to their affections for Terrorists and Nazi Zombies.
I, for one, am ecstatic about the prospect of only having to pay for the small handful of channels I watch (when I actually sit down and watch television). If I want The Military History Channel, I don’t want to have to purchase Golf TV, BET, Lifetime, etc. when I will practically never find myself actively watching such tripe. Of course, this is something we’ve all been subjected to since the advent and explosion of the format since the 1980’s. I remember talk during the late 90’s about the FCC kicking around the idea of “TV a la carte” wherein, thanks to programmable receivers, consumers would be able to purchase subscriptions only for networks they actually watch. Lobbies representing the cable providers (namely Comcast and Verizon, if memory serves correctly) immediately went into action championing the plight of the niche-market TV networks–small, usually locally-oriented, stations that have little to no widespread appeal (think low-power UHF stations of old)–saying they would inevitably be destroyed if no one had the opportunity to stumble upon them. Thankfully, we now have Web 2.0. With its proliferation of on-demand services such as RSS, YouTube, Twitter, etc., the “no one will ever see this” excuse is practically eliminated.
I think this is certainly the start of something new and necessary for the growth of entertainment, information, and technology. With seemingly limitless options provided by the Interweb, television doesn’t have to be held hostage to timeslots…or location-specific receivers, for that matter. My only concern is the fact that Apple might keep a stranglehold on the market–is there a way to make sure that the receiver software stays open? I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes just to keep up with 24 or Doctor Who. Frankly, I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes, period, but that’s a subject for another time.
In the meantime: Streaming media to your set-top box, laptop, or phone? Yes, please.
Linux is great for many applications, but the plugins that drive streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are closed-source and the developers have little to no interest in supporting a “fringe” operating system. Thankfully, the fine folks at Google saw the wisdom in giving back to the community that helped build them by building Netflix and Hulu support into the Google Chrome browser.
Install Google Chrome by downloading the appropriate package from the Chrome website and you’re ready to go!
If iTunes is the centre of the iOS/OSX sphere of influence, then Google Play is undoubtedly the centre of the Android sphere. But at one time, it was simply a music service along the lines of the iTunes store, but it offered so much more than Apple did: it allowed users to upload a copy of their MP3 library to Google’s servers for streaming music to Android devices or through a browser.
Now, I have quite an extensive library full of rather obscure recordings and eclectic variety, so this came as a huge boon to someone like me. Pandora, Spotify, and Slacker could only go so far with their curated playlists full of repetitive tracks and limited playback options. For years, I’ve been looking for a solution to curate my music library for portable playback (“the Cloud” wasn’t quite a thing yet), and the only option available to me was the $300 iPod Classic (which has since been discontinued), a hefty price to pay for a dedicated device.
My biggest timesuck with Google Play’s music service has been cleaning my MP3 library. 30+ years of collected recordings tends to produce a few duplicate tracks now and again (many of which were songs pulled from Napster that I have since legitimately acquired by purchasing the full album). Granted, you are not required to take such meticulous care of your library, but I tend to be a little obsessive over cataloging, and I like everything to be just so. After several weeks dedicated to cleaning ID3 tags, eliminating duplicates, and filling in missing artwork, I was finally able to upload a clean version of my library: over 18,000 individual tracks! Google allows a whopping 50k tracks to be stored in your account, and the best part is that they will automagically replace your MP3 with the highest quality version available to them for streaming!
Now, I keep everything on a thumb drive organised locally via iTunes, then I upload a copy to Google Play for streaming to my devices: it sure beats the hell outta syncing and charging a separate iPod, I can guarantee that!
Sometimes you’re going to run across an application that uses the Google API, but for whatever reason does not support 2-factor authentication. Google has wisely built an infrastructure for such incidents. In your security settings, you can create “burner” passwords that can be used for specific applications. You typically don’t need to remember or write down these passwords because they are persistent on the device accessing Google, only accessible to one application, and can easily be exchanged for a new code if ever compromised. To get one of these passwords, head over to http://myaccount.google.com/security
If you’ve never used this section of Google before, it would be beneficial to take a couple of minutes to familiarize yourself with the options available before proceeding. When you’re ready, scroll down to “Signing in to Google” under the “Sign-in & security” section.
In the screenshot above, you can see the “App passwords” heading on the bottom-right. Click this section and you will likely be prompted to enter your Google password again before accessing the app passwords section.
The following page will present you with a list of applications using specific passwords. To create a new password, just select the appropriate options from the drop-down menus and click “Generate”. You’ll be presented with a 16-character password that you can use to log in persistently with a particular application (such as Outlook or Apple Mail). If the password is ever compromised, you can simply click the “Revoke” button and the password is burned forever.
Atari shows you how to replace a Nexus 5 battery. The technique is simple and can be applied to any phone from a Moto X to an iPhone 6!
AI voice assistants are the latest new hotness to come out of Silicon Valley, but before they were in every electronics department, they were much the exclusive playground of the DIY tinkerer. With kits like Google’s AIY line, hackers and makers can build their own voice assistants with little more than the good ol’ Raspberry Pi! In this video, I’ll walk you through how to set up the Google AIY Voice kit on a Raspberry Pi and run one of the demo python scripts to start building your own voice interfaces!
Google AIY Voice Kit
Raspberry Pi 3B+ (with appropriate SD card and power supply)
AIY Custom Raspbian http://aiyprojects.withgoogle.com/
Google Developer Console http://console.developers.google.com
If you’re having trouble with segmentation faults crashing the Python demos, invoke these commands as Pi to install the earlier Google Assistant Library Python modules:
pip3 install google-assistant-library==1.0.0
pip3 install google-assistant-library
If you’re receiving the following error message
File "/home/pi/AIY-projects-python/src/aiy/assistant/auth_helpers.py", line 75, in _credentials_flow_interactive
webbrowser.register('chromium-browser', None, webbrowser.Chrome('chromium-browser'), -1)
TypeError: register() takes from 2 to 3 positional arguments but 4 were given
Then change line 75 in
/home/pi/AIY-projects-python/src/aiy/assistant/auth_helpers.pyto the following:
webbrowser.register('chromium-browser', None, webbrowser.Chrome('chromium-browser'), preferred=True)
Be sure to keep the indentation and spacing the same as the original as it the code is sensitive.