Explorations in Ubuntu Unity Desktop Environment

I finally got my desktop in my living room working, and I thought I would try the Unity Desktop on it.  Here is a nice little article that gives you some information about it:

First Look at the Ubuntu Unity Desktop Environment

My computer is rather old, and I mistakenly thought it would be a good fit.  These descriptions threw me off: “Ubuntu Light”, “simpler Unity desktop”, and “stripped down Ubuntu”.  What I found instead is that the Light and simpler interface is designed to make it easier to work with in smaller screen environments, not necessarily light on the hardware.

Unity uses the Mutter Window Manager, which is a compositing Window Manager.  According to this article, the name comes from combining Metacity and Clutter together.  This article mentions the hardware issue: “Interesting as the new directions may be, some people fear that Mutter will not run on older hardware.”  I agree with the reasoning: “Almost any desktop or standard laptop built within the last 5 years has sufficiently good graphics.”, but that just means that it isn’t what I originally thought it was.

Now, Clutter caught my attention on a totally different angle.  “Creating fast, compelling, portable, and dynamic graphical user interfaces” sounds great to me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see Java bindings.  On the wiki page, I only see Python, Perl, C#, C++, Vala, and Ruby.  The javascript option looked pretty interesting also.  I may have to do some experimentation with Seed.  For Java support, I found some references to jClutter, and I found someone else working on something.

Concatenating PDFs

I found a great article to help me with creating the newsletter for our Sparks/AWANA club this month:

Easy way to concatenate PDF files in Ubuntu Linux

First, I had to trim off the last page of the newsletter.  I opened the PDF in Evince and printed it to a file, PDF format, pages 1-3 (not page 4).  That gave me a PDF with just the first 3 pages.

Next, I opened the orginal PDF with Gimp and imported only page 4.  That gave me a graphic of the last page, and I saved that as a PNG file.  Then, I created a new Open Office Drawing and inserted that PNG file as the background in the drawing.  (The last page of the newsletter is just an outline for you to add your own club-specific content.)  I added the news items for a our club and saved the last page as a PDF.

Finally, I used this command to build the final PDF:

gs -q -sPAPERSIZE=letter -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=Oct-Complete.pdf Oct-Part.pdf Oct.pdf

That was it!  Please comment if you know better ways to do this sort of thing.

Where is the Priority Inbox on Android?

I came across this article the other day:

Engadget: Gmail for Android updated, becomes Market app

The new feature they were talking about was the priority Inbox.  I am all for new features and I thought I would give it a shot.  But, I couldn’t find it in the market!

I searched for the App on AndroLib, but I didn’t see it there.  Then, I searched on AndroidZoom and found it.  In fact, AndroidZoom has a nice list of all the applications that Google puts out.

I tried to scan the QR Code found on the download page.  This is the error message I got:

There are no matches in Android Market for the search: pname: com.google.android.gm

And, I think I finally found the problem on the official blog.  The application requires Froyo!  Here is the quote:

The Gmail update requires Froyo (Android version 2.2), so it’s available if you have a Nexus One, HTC EVO, Motorola Droid 2 or Motorola Droid. (Not sure if your device is running Android version 2.2? Check here.)

Interesting Link: OS Shootout

Infoworld: OS-Shootout

This article was interesting.  I wonder where we will be 10 or 20 years from now.

Davy Crocket with an iPhone or gPhone?

I came across this post a while back.


While I agree with the post, I wonder if Davy Crocket would choose an iPhone or a gPhone.  I just wonder if he would choose a tool he could tweak and write his own software for.  It just seems to me that frontiersmen would have to do much more of there own than buy things pre-made from the store.  In today’s day and age, would that mean buying something a little less proprietary?

– Just a thought

IE Tester

This page has moved.  Please update your links:

I saw this link on a new IE Tester.  It looks like a really great idea.  I only looked at it quickly, but I think it only runs on Windows.  My big problem is that I don’t normally use Windows period and don’t have access to any version of IE.

Here are the links for the IE Tester:

Another option: run IE in Wine.  You can have multiple Wine homes in which you could load multiple versions of IE.  I know I have seen tutorials for loading IE6 in Wine, and I think just recently some tutorials for IE7 popped up.

Partitioning in Ubuntu Installs

I just read a good tip about partitioning for Ubuntu.

They suggest using GParted Live to partition the hard drive first.  That sounds great!

I miss the option that Fedora has where you can delete all the Linux partitions and have it automatically create the new partitions.  I don’t remember the options for sure, but I think you can only delete all the partitions or shrink the existing partitions.  If I am reinstalling, I want it to leave my Windows partition alone and delete the Linux ones.  Another great option would be to manually pick the partitions to delete and use the freed space to automatically create the partitions.  Finally, another option that would be nice is to choose how much it shrinks the existing partitions.

Proprietary Olympics

I got the great idea that we would try to watch the Olympics online last night.  But, I had to reboot to Windows!

WindowsOnlyOlympics by you.

The problem is that NBC used a tool called Silverlight to broadcast the video.  Currently, the version of Silverlight does not work on Linux.

I attempted to download Moonlight, the Linux version of Silverlight. but it did not help.  The download page says that they do have an experimental version 2, but I think this note explains why it still does not work: “Note: These are currently built without multimedia support. No video or mp3 playback is enabled on these binaries.”

I tried to do some quick searches to see if there was a way to recompile or enable Moonlight to playback video, but I did not find anything.

I did find many other people complaining about Microsoft though.  New York times wrote an article called Olympics Online, With a Hook.  My search also brought this article up a few times: Linux Users on NBC’s Olympic Videos: We Don’t Get No Respect.

I found another article, Ok, I admit it. I love NBCOlympics.com! Now go make it work on Linux!, where the author makes this quote: “Now, one could get all huffy and puffy and blame Microsoft on this state of affairs, but in this case, I have to lay this problem strictly at the feet of the Open Source community.”  I have to disagree!  If I write a website, I have to make sure that I use tools and code that will work with my audience’s computers.  It would be ridiculous for me to write and test my website only for the Firefox browser or only Safari.  If Microsoft really wants Silverlight to be a success, I think they should donate the resources necessary to the Open Source effort.  Obviously, not that many open source developers feel that we need another Flash.

Anyway, I wish I had a good answer for how I made it work, but all I can say for now is we have to use Windows.

Interesting Open Source Development Article

This Google Tech Talk was very intersting, and I wanted to link it to remind me to come back and spend some more time on it:

How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People

They reference this email:

Why should I care what color the bikeshed is?

Northcote Parkinson was mentioned, and I would like to find out more about him.

Gnome vs. KDE

Linux Format Magazine pointed out an excellent post regarding Gnome vs. KDE. I really liked the observations in the article.

From GNOME to KDE and back again: old computing habits are hard to break


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