My friends, it has come to my attention that WordPress offers a much better product to fit with the style I want this blog to evolve into. Entries will continue as often as possible, but with a much nicer interface. I am also combining this blog with my personal blog under a common domain, http://airbornesurfer.wordpress.com
It is my hope that you enjoy my ramblings in addition to other sorts of geekery that my blog will continue to provide.
Dispatches From The Front Lines
All right, after days of searching and playing and installing and uninstalling and other keystroke-intensive activities, I have finally found what I feel to be the best music player for the Gnome desktop under Jaunty: Listen.
I’ve used Rhythmbox ever since I started with Ubuntu, so I was more then familiar with its offering. It’s stable and has a good user interface, but it really lacked the power that I was looking for in an audio player. Essentially, I want something that has excellent organization capabilities, seamless Last.fm support, and an attractive visual element. It has to feel like what I want in a player. Banshee 1.0 was another major contender, and I was impressed by the addition of a video player, but apalled at the lack of organization for video files. Amarok was out of the question as I have never been a fan of it or having to load KDE dependencies in the background. I heard good reviews for Exaile being lightweight, and the working AWN plugin was a boon, but I could not stand the interface–too similar to Amarok. I want to see album art, not file folders.
Finally, I found Listen, and I was impressed. Version 0.5 is in the default Ubuntu repositories, and it has a lot of promising features: dynamic playlist creation, Last.fm and Wikipedia support, lyrics, and your basic streaming radio support all in a very slick interface. All these features easily make it the best Gnome music player, in my opinion. My main problem with Listen was that it tended to be very unstable and would crash if you just looked at it the wrong way. Enter Listen 0.6.2–it fixes the bugs that made 0.5 unstable and even adds a few new goodies: AWN support (shows the album art and time remaining in the dock), an equalizer, DAAP support, and the Jamiendo music store. Unfortunately, v0.6.2 is not in the default repositories, so you’ll have to add them manually. Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found on the PPA page here.
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.
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!
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.
So I recently (last week) upgraded my lappy to Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope, and, so far, I’m a fan. I’ve been using Ubuntu for nearly two years now (since Feisty Fawn) and have only briefly looked back at Windows or over at Macintosh just for a sense of ubiquity and compatability. With Jaunty, I’m content with the slick new interface combined with the traditional ease of use that Ubuntu has come to offer.
I am by no-means an expert with Ubuntu–or Linux, for that matter–but I am a long-standing fan of Open Culture and Open Source. I’ve been working with Windows for years trying to come up with ways to tweak it and customize it to fit my own personal tastes and expectations, so, naturally, Linux was a Godsend with its seemingly endless customization options.
I started this blog with the idea that I would keep it as a repository for all the knowledge I’ve collected from the seemingly endless changes and tweaks I put my systems under. Mainly as a way to organize them and recall them in case of other blogs and forums going by the wayside. Second, I thought that others might have the same questions that I did and would like an easier method of finding answers than scouring hundreds of pages of forum posts.
Last thing of note for this introduction, the name is not a typo. Well, it is (and probably a common one), but intentional as I like the play on words implied (Ubuntu Nut, Ubunut). The only other semi-clever idea I could come up with was “Sit, Ubu, Sit.”
Arthur Nanake of America’s Got Talent fame(?) performs at the Santa Monica Pier.
Late nights in Middle Georgia.