End users

End users

That darn startup sound (Knoppix vs Vista)

Imagine you are in the boardroom, asked by the president of the company to fix his laptop during a critical presentation. You reach for your handy knoppix on a flash, and set it off to boot, so ready to proudly display the power of freedom during this critical presentation, when, already too late, you remember; that darn startup sound!

Set up a free software IRC client in less than 5 minutes

Everyone loves IRC (stands for Internet Relay Chat; a kind of group chat room often used by open source/free software projects and developers, or as support channels), unfortunately the open source IRC clients out there are often hidden away. In this week's article, I'm going to show you how to set up your IRC client in under 5 minutes using only free software.

A “what is” guide to 3D desktops - put in a bowl, mix, add chips for topping

I’ve been talking about them, complaining about what you CAN’T do, about the troubles with 3D cards... Personally I’m getting a bit lost with all this. So, I’ve decided to compile all the information I could find out about those pesky 3D desktops.

Since last week, comments, accounts from other websites, personal experiments, further readings and general nosiness allowed me to update my article. Still, further comments are welcome.

Fun with free software astronomy

Astronomy software comes in many forms—from the details of computer intensive Grid computing of the distribution of stars (okay that’s astrophysics) to rendering the night sky in artistically detailed and sumptuous graphics. Being a devoted backseat observer to the evolution of the Universe in general and GNU/Linux software in specific, I thought it was time to show off what I consider to be the elite of desktop elegance. I will describe the installation and use of two astronomy related software packages: Stellarium and Celestia. These packages are visually appealing and fun to use.

A bit about BitTorrent

I’ve been hearing about BitTorrent for at least a year. It’s an exciting technology in principle, because it solves traditional central repository file distribution problems, uses peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technology, and is written in my favorite programming language, Python. All interesting material—but what about practical utility?

I’ve been browsing: Sakai 2.2 released and new distros to try

Released Thursday was Sakai 2.2. With a growing community of Educational establishments using this product as their online presence or a significant part thereof; it is only a matter of time before Sakai breaks into the mainstream conscious. If you have a spare five minutes and a reasonably fast connection then I would say it is a fun product to try. The quick demo gives you an idea of the products potential. And it’s just a simple matter of unpacking and running a startup script.

Stitching seamless panoramas with Hugin

We can’t all afford four-figure priced twelve megapixel digital cameras with wide angle lenses. We can, however, all use free software to embellish the photographs taken by our modest equipment and belie their resolution and viewing angle. Set the GIMP aside for a moment and launch Hugin, a powerful cross-platform GTK frontend that will help you quickly and easily stitch individual photographs into one, large, seamless panorama.

Panoramas from start to finish

Never a crossword solver

Old news, the European Union is punishing Microsoft for abusing their monopoly position and in the process sucking a fine of 1-2% of the daily local profit out of the corporate wallet. The media is dancing and interested parties posturing. A high stakes festive party. One of the issues that is to the fore is that of documentation and openness. Microsoft say they have, the neutral third party arbitrating has said they have not. Reality is perhaps a little cloudy and no doubt, tactics and last minute plays will change our collective perceptions during the course of time.

Two free open-source movies

This week I finally learned how to use Bit Torrent, and I downloaded two free-licensed open-source movies: Elephants Dream by the Orange Project and The Boy Who Never Slept by Solomon Rothmon (who is credited as Producer, Writer, Director, and who plays the title role). Both are interesting as first ventures into free-licensed open-source filmmaking, but the contrasts are more striking than the similarities, both technically and aesthetically.

The Boy Who Never Slept

Lazy good ODF again

Okay I admit it I am lazy. Well, I work four days a week as a developer and another two days writing. I am also good at pretending to be a father and a family man. However, in principle, in another life, in a parallel Universe, where elegance wins over brawn, I simply totally and utterly want to be lazy. When a lazy person, my hero, invented the wheel, the invention was not for the purpose of carrying heavy objects. The purpose was rather to avoid carrying heavy objects.

Thin clients and network desktops

I read an interesting article in LinuxJournal on setting up thin clients recently. I have always liked the idea of having a server and using X in one of the ways it was originally meant to be used, but so far, no article has offered a clear idea how to integrate and support serving a mixed environment of thin clients and traditional desktop or laptop machines together conveniently.

Mythical beast Abiword

I am a simple man. Well, if you define simple as someone who acts as a servant to two young men, occasionally his wife and has the ability to belch well watching football, then I am pretty simple. Anyway, I am a simple man with simple tastes. Not being imbued with complex potentials and the need to analyse every trivial detail before moving my chess pieces, I tend to know immediately what I like and act quickly.

Attack of the 3D Desktop

I guess it's just natural that folks pondering the future of the GUI would turn to 3D spaces. After all, clearly 3D has played a dominant role in the most important software genre: videogames. However, past efforts towards the "3D Desktop" have seemed impractical. Nonetheless, I think BumpTop, which utilizes a tablet PC and pen tool, is on to something big. Watch the You Tube and see what you think.

A free software win32 may be closer than you think

Imagine this picture...you turn on your PC, use Google Desktop to find a document, open it in Word 2003 and then print it to your Windows-only printer. A normal Windows users day right? Did I mention this person's OS is free software, is developed by a community and is in active development now?

That's right, there is a Windows replacement in the works (and now partially working!) that plans binary compatibility with Windows XP. That means you can use the same applications, the same drivers and have an easy UI. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

COMPLETELY LOST in Blender - The untutorial (part 3 the final mix-up)

Last time, I had found a quiet resting place in the OOP menu which is, alas, not an undo menu. But one cannot hide forever. Time to reenter the dragon-filled wasteland called Blender.

After taking a few minutes to calm down, I decide to continue on my way. I’ve got to go back to the 3D interface. I steel myself, and click the grid icon to change back to 3D. I remember that the pictures in the tutorials had more than one 3D screen, so I decide that I am going to try to make the current screen into two screens.

One tutorial says...

COMPLETELY LOST in Blender - The Untutorial Part 2

Last time, my mind had become completely blank in the face of the Blender interface. Now, we shall dive on into the murky depths of the abyss known as Blender.

First, I do a search on Google and I find a tutorial with a reassuring sounding title.

Going 3D with Blender: Very first steps

That's a very reassuring title. It says to me, DON'T PANIC! I like that, so I switch screens and begin reading.

COMPLETELY LOST in Blender - The untutorial part 1

WARNING: The author of this tutorial takes no responsibility for you breaking your computer, initializing your harddrive, making a dumb-ugly image, or anything else that may happen if you take this blog too seriously. Remember what your mom said. “If everyone else jumped off of a cliff, would you?” If your answer was “Yes!”, then you deserve what you get.

Completely lost in Mozilla Composer

In serious need of a word processor, I have finally looked at Mozilla Composer after ignoring it for years. Although it does have its problems, I am feeling the first blush of love.

So getting here was a long journey. I switched from Netscape to Mozilla long ago, and I remember that I was a bit annoyed by all the bells and whistles. The newsreader I didn’t like, though I did use Mozilla for my mail. Composer was there, I suppose, but I never used it.

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