Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Review: Cheese Webcam Pictures and Video

"Cheese is a cheesy program to take pictures and videos from your web cam. The project also provides some graphical effects in order to please the users play instinct. Furthermore some integration work will be done to include it in some other programs and services."
Cheese is a GTK/Cairo/Gstreamer -compliant program which integrates well with Gnome. It allows you to grab stills, sequences or motion video from your webcam. Useful for screencasts, webcam testing and set-up, or just amusing the kids (or yourself)...

Monday, 28 June 2010

How to: Install Nautilus Elementary in Ubuntu Lucid

Nautilus is the default file browser in Ubuntu. Nautilus Elementary is a stripped down version of Nautilus redesigned to maximise the on-screen real-estate.
  • reduced display of toolbars
  • vertical or horizontal toolbars (vertical useful for netbooks with reduced display height)
  • much simplified Nautilus file browser window
  • better breadcrumb navigation
  • better resizing of contents

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Opinion: Mobile Data Just Got MORE Expensive

No, not an iPad.
Give me a break!
Sunday Times 30th May 2010: "Anger at Double Fee for iPads."
Following the British launch of the iPad, users Apple enthusiasts are calling for "fairer pricing."
If you want mobile internet on the iPad, its going to cost you a new data plan whether or not you have mobile data on your iPhone or other 3G device. All the plans on sale with devices are capped and going over your allowance is an eye-watering expense.  Speaking as a notorious tight-wad, I can only respond...

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Review: Windows 7

Shock, horror!! Surely we don't do Window$ here?

No. I certainly haven't given M$ any money either. I have been providing some tech support to a friend with a new HP, Window$ 7 laptop, however. So here, almost year after release, my less-than-expert opinion on the Redmond Rocket.

So for a challenge, try to get data off a failing Celeron 500MHz laptop with Vista Home Basic. Runs as fast as frozen treacle, should never have had Vista installed on it. The motherboard gave up in protest on installing Vista Service Pack 2. Enter new Intel i3-mobile HP laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium and 2Gb of memory...

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Opinion: Everyone Patents Social Networking

News source: Mashable: Amazon Patents Social Networking System, Winks at Facebook

The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Amazon a patent for a "Social Networking System." The description of the patent is as follows:
"A networked computer system provides various services for assisting users in locating, and establishing contact relationships with, other users. For example, in one embodiment, users can identify other users based on their affiliations with particular schools or other organizations. The system also provides a mechanism for a user to selectively establish contact relationships or connections with other users, and to grant permissions for such other users to view personal information of the user. The system may also include features for enabling users to identify contacts of their respective contacts. In addition, the system may automatically notify users of personal information updates made by their respective contacts."

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Opinion: Microsoft WU like a House-breaker's Jemmy

Microsoft is at it again. The company has pushed an update through Windows Update which silently, without user consent, installs two browser extensions. Without asking the user, and without any indications, update KB982217, installs two browser extensions - one for Internet Explorer, one for Firefox...

Monday, 21 June 2010

Editing the Full Circle Podcast #2: Recording

Continuing the series of posts on how we record and edit the Full Circle Podcast...
(In case you missed it: Part One - Preparation)

Part 2: Set-up and recording.
The kit at my end in 'podcast central':

I use a Behringer C1-USB cardioid mike for that lovely BBC Radio-4 quality. It plugs directly into USB on the laptop and is phantom-powered through USB...

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Full Circle Side-Pod #2: A World Cup -free zone

This is an extra, irregular, short-form podcast, which is intended to be a side-branch of the main Full Circle Podcast. Be prepared for a healthy dose of British sarcasm.

News: It may or may not be HTML5, Nero sues MPEG-LA, Everyone patents Social Networking

Gaming: Red Dead Redemption and World of Goo

Expert Spot: Editing the Full Circle Podcast pt. 2: Recording

Saturday, 19 June 2010

How-to: Add or Remove Accessiblity Icon

At some point I must have run an Ubuntu install and checked an Universal Access setting which put the  Accessibility icon in my notifications area. It's an icon you can't right-click to turn off.

This is part of the current wonderful inconsistency in Ubuntu which Mark S is gradually working through.

You may not like his approach, but by the end it will be consistent...

Friday, 18 June 2010

Ubuntu: 'We Stand for Something'

It's not often you can point to a software company which says:
"We stand for something

Not empty words or snappy jingles but something – a conviction that access to information should be fast, sophisticated, safe, reliable and entirely free. We stand for the very best operating system in the world, created by the expert few for the global many."
This is the statement which heads the Ubuntu Brand Guidelines page over at Canonical Design. I wish this was more prominently featured in the main Canonical Site...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Review: Gnome-shell Fail

Panels, menus, panels, menus. Blah. Blah.
Except I quite like panels and menus. My panel (one-of) and menus are standardised, stripped down affairs. I run light, I multi-task within a very restricted program set.

Gnome-3 will feature Gnome-shell, the alternate program launcher, desktop environment thing. Its in the current Ubuntu repositories so you can try it yourself. Gnome-shell takes over as your launcher and window manager...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

How-to: Remote Control Desktop Cients

Gnome-rdp & xtightvncviewer
There are times when you want access to a computer which isn't the one you're sitting at:
  • If you want to run it 'headless' (no monitor, keyboard, mouse)
  • If you want to provide remote technical support to a friend, relative, customer.
  • If you want to access a machine in a different part of the house and can't be fagged to use your legs and walk.
This is where Remote Desktop connection comes in, using either the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or Virtual Network Connection (VNC) protocols. This is one step up (or, if you're a hardcore Linux guru, step down) from command-line only SSH connections as you get the full graphical user interface at your disposal. Assuming the remote machine has a graphical user interface...

Monday, 14 June 2010

How-to: Restore Grub2 Bootloader

For my desktop machine, I am ditching 3.5in disk technology in favour of 2.5in 'laptop' drives. The combination of power consumption, size and noise finally consigned them to the recycling. This means bringing some old laptop drives out of retirement.

While you can use GParted to copy partitions from one drive to another, this doesn't bring the Master Boot Record (MBR) or bootloader with it (yes you could to a block-for-block copy with the DD command, but I didn't). I needed to recover a working Grub2 bootloader...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Review: DeadBeef Audio Player

"DeadBeef is an audio player for GNU/Linux systems with X11 written in C and C++."
This is a candidate to replace Aqualung as the standard Lubuntu audio player in the 10.10 release coming this October.

I have nothing against Aqualung - it's very capable but the minimalist interface isn't to everyone's taste and it does look - well, out of place alongside the other LXDE/Openbox applications. DeadBeef, its' comedy name aside, has looks and features...

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Editing the Full Circle Podcast #1

Some time ago we received a listener request to talk about how we record and edit the Full Circle Podcast. So here it is, in several parts.

Other pod-casters may read this and say "you gotta be kidding." It's my workflow, not yours. It works for me. It's evolving. When you record your own podcast, you can evolve your own workflow...

Friday, 11 June 2010

Full Circle Podcast #8 Out Now

Full Circle Podcast #8: More Opinion Than You Can Handle
"In this episode, Dave and Ed argue about evolution... of  Ubuntu One and Lubuntu."
News: Mostly Maverick Development.
Games: Ed's been reviewing Osmos but playing on an X-Box; 
              Dave reviews a Nexus One Android phone.
Opinion: Why we need Lubuntu
Interview: Part I of the Lubuntu Project
Opinion: What services do we want in UbuntuOne?
Keynote: Part II of Mark Shuttleworth's keynote from UDS

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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Opinion: Nero MPEG-LA Antitrust Case

"Nero AG,  has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the MPEG-LA. The German technology company claims the licensing body has abused its monopoly power, and that is has not honoured agreements made with the US Department of Justice."
Is this just another license fee dispute or brave stand against monopolistic abuse under the Sherman Act?

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Review: Ubuntu and Canonical Website Redesigns

I know it's not exactly breaking news, but I do want to point to the site re-designs for both Ubuntu and parent company Canonical. These are the shop-windows, after all and it's good to see that design and usability are taking front-and-centre stage. features the new branding, fonts and icons to usher in the next phase of Ubuntu design. The centre panel features a good slideshow to showcase the different aspects of Ubuntu as a platform. has gone for a classy stripped-back and highly-readable look with plenty of white-space (and lilac-space??)

It's a really good clean layout for a corporate site, with the menus and links well grouped. My only criticism of both is there's a lot of page falling below the fold (the point where you have to scroll down). This is the down-side, if you like, of trading white-space and readability for on-screen real estate. I haven't looked at these sites yet on a mobile device or the JVC in net-book display mode, I'm expecting a lot of scrolling.  I'll live with it!  RC

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Review: Blogger versus Wordpress

Since February, I am a regular Blogger (Blogspot) user. Google's mass-market blogging tool started out simple and is gradually adding features, widgets, templates and editing features.

I am also a Wordpress user since May on the Full Circle Magazine site. Hands-on with the grand-daddy of blogging tools, I now understand the loyalty of its legions of fans.

The traditional view is that Blogger is for ease of use, Wordpress is for power and flexibility...

Monday, 7 June 2010

Review: Android OS 2.2 Froyo

The Android 2.2 mobile OS is available for developers.

Code-named 'FroYo', which I have on very bad authority stands for Frozen Yoghurt, or for our American friends, Yo-gurt.

Did I mention I don't really do phones? Doesn't matter, the hot topic is how many other portable and tablet devices will run Android as a light-weight mobile OS over conventional desktop operating systems...

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Preview HTC Evo 4G Wi-max Smart-phone

The Google bribe to the attendees was to giveaway to everyone an HTC Evo, the not-yet-released 4G WiMax phone. The mobile arms-race steps up a gear.

It's a $449 phone. A $449 phone!! Admittedly  with very impressive specs, if you can find 4G coverage and a data plan costing less than the BP Gulf cleanup operation...

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Review: OLPC $100 Tablet for Real?

Ready for more extravagent promises and too-good-to be-true product announcements?

It's back; One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is coming back as a tablet. The OLPC company is going into partnership with  Marvell (maker of the Marvell Moby - no, it passed me by as well)  to make an ultra-thin tablet PC for the Third World at $100 per device (or less, so they say).

Friday, 4 June 2010

WebM: Battle Lines for Web Video Drawn

The battle lines are drawn in the fight for control of next-generation high-def web video under HTML5.
"The WebM project is dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the web that is freely available to everyone."
The WebM launch is promoted heavily by Google, supported by Mozilla, Opera, Adobe and more than forty other publishers, software and hardware vendors including Intel which may offer hardware acceleration for WebM if it takes off. But this is far from certain...

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Review: Google-TV

Google TV is either going to be massive, or the biggest consumer electronics flop in history.

Google is bringing the Web to TV. Not another TiVo clone, not a Roku box. Definitely not Apple TV. It's TV plus Google Search on your big-screen TV in the living room.

The Google-TV demos at the developer conference, despite wireless connectivity issues, showed promise as an Alpha-concept show-case, I just don't know if its going to work - either as a kludge-together of home electronics or as a practical home entertainment system...

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Flood of Tech News from Google I/O

Full announcements on the YouTube Google I/O Channel.

From last week’s Google I/O developers conference (May 19-20), we tried not to explode with excitement at the following announcements:
  • Chrome web-store, 
  • WebM Video, 
  • Google Wave and Buzz open API's, 
  • Google-Storage
  • Google-TV

Following the media stream for this reminded me of when I used to attend events like this. Gezz-louise it was tedious. Ok, its an event for developers, largely or at least, developers promoted out of harms way into management.  The crowd only really warmed up when they were all given a free Evo phone. Otherwise it was tedious, or just embarassing when the jokes and the demos failed (frequently).

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Full Circle Side-Pod #1: Hello World… Where Am I?

 Episode #1 of an irregular, short-form podcast

...which is intended to be a side-branch of the main Full Circle Podcast. Somewhere to put all the general technology, non-Ubuntu news and opinions, hobby-horses and general kipple that doesn’t fit anywhere else. Be prepared for a healthy dose of British sarcasm.

News: Google-TV, Android 2.2 Froyo, WebM

Opinion: Get Real, It’s in the Patent Pledge Small Print

Expert Spot: Recording the Full Circle Podcast pt. 1: Preparation

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