End users

End users

Easy File Sync with Bitpocket

Need to keep files and documents in sync across multiple Linux machines? Bitpocket provides a no-nonsense solution to the problem. This tiny shell script uses the excellent rsync software to perform the syncing jiggery-pockery. This means that you can have one machine acting as the "main repository", and then have several "client" machines which will be able to sync with it. (This obviously means that all client machines will have the same files). Here is how you configure it.

Keep an Eye on Your GNU/Linux System with Glances

Looking for a no-nonsense command-line tool for monitoring your GNU/Linux system? Glances might be right up your alley. This neat little Python-based utility provides an overview of all key system aspects, including CPU load, disk storage, memory consumption, and network activity. More importantly, the utility does a good job of presenting monitored data in an easy-to-follow manner.

Turn Your Netbook into an Android Device with Android x86

Got an ASUS Eee PC netbook lying around gathering dust? Thanks to the Android x86 project, you can turn it into a neat little device running the latest version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich of the Android OS. Installing Android x86 on a regular netbook is not just a geeky way to kill time. If you want to check out the latest version of Android, and you don't feel like forking out for the latest smartphone or tablet, you can repurpose your old netbook as an Android testing platform. If you already have an Android device, but you don't want to go through the rigmarole of rooting it, running Android x86 on a netbook (or as a virtual machine using either Oracle VirtualBox or QEMU virtualization software) provides a perfect solution to the problem.

Upload Photos to Wikimedia Commons with Commonist

Sharing is caring, and there is probably no better way to share your photographic masterpieces with the world than adding them to the Wikimedia Commons pool. While Wikimedia Commons features its own web-based tool for uploading photos, a dedicated tool like Commonist can come in rather handy when you need to upload multiple photos in one fell swoop.

Create a radio station in five minutes with Airtime 2.0 on Ubuntu or Debian

Airtime is the GPLv3 broadcast software for scheduling and remote station management. It supports both soundcard output to a transmitter, and direct streaming to an Icecast or SHOUTcast server. Web browser access to the station's media archive, multi-file upload and automatic metadata import features are coupled with a collaborative on-line scheduling calendar and playlist management. The scheduling calendar is managed through an easy-to-use interface and triggers playout with sub-second precision.

Bulk renaming using Thunar

Thunar is a lightweight file manager that comes with Xubuntu and other Xfce-based distributions. It has several useful features not found in other popular file managers, like 'Bulk Rename'. To use this feature, select a group of files in the Thunar file pane and hit the F2 key, or choose Rename from the Edit menu. A window appears with 'before and after' views of your file names, and a drop-down list showing the renaming possibilities.

Object and Camera Path Tracking in Blender - "Monkey See Monkey Do"

Blender has a useful set of constraint-based animation tools which make it fairly simple to animate motion of objects or of the camera along controlled paths. I expect to use this a lot, so I want to make sure I understand how it works. Here I'm going to work out a simple example using the "Suzanne" monkey meshes in Blender 2.49 to demonstrate simple path and tracking constraints with a mesh and with the camera. Because everything is better with monkeys.

Backup your data in Linux with Deja Dup

Hard disks break. Really, they do. When it happens, most people are sadly unprepared: even the most experienced computer person only recovers a (big?) portion of their data after a crash. Even today, with cloud computing. The reason? Backing up is tricky. If you use GNU/Linux or Ubuntu, it's easy enough to make an incremental backup using rsync and gpg. If you have no idea what this means, don't worry: yu will be able to use them without even knowing it.

Welcome to Déjà Dup, the best backup gem I have ever seen.

Staying happy with Gnumeric: finding the leading apostrophe

In my previous article about GNUMeric , entering data with a leading apostrophe, as in '12/3, ensures that the 12/3 will be interpreted by Gnumeric as text, even when the cell is formatted 'General'.

But Gnumeric displays the 12/3 without the apostrophe. It's hidden. This can lead to unpleasant little surprises when sorting groups of cells, some of which contain hidden apostrophes and some of which don't.

Staying happy with Gnumeric: text as "text" (instead of "dates")

Gnumeric is an excellent spreadsheet application and gets a lot of use in our house. Every now and then, though, you can hear a "!Q#z$%* Gnumeric!" from me or my wife, because we didn't pay attention to cell formatting.

By default, every cell is formatted 'General', which means Gnumeric guesses what type of data you enter in that cell. Gnumeric seems to be particularly fond of dates, and strings that are definitely not dates get interpreted as dates anyway. If I enter 12/3, Gnumeric uses my Australian date format preferences and displays 12/3/2012.

5daysprofitable: A corporate web site, start to finish, in 4 hours

In my previous article, I explained that I would embark in the Herculean task of starting a company, and make it successful and profitable, in just 5 days. And by using free software.

The first piece of this complex puzzle is a corporate web site. I had mine ready in less than 4 hours, start to finish. Here is what I did.

A company, zero to operational and profitable, in 5 days with free software

Everything started with a simple question my wife asked me: you are so good at teaching, why don't you do it? Given that I will only ever work in my own term, I would have to organize everything on my own: incorporation, web site, stationery, advertising, the lot. Chiara's question was natural: well, you can do all that basically for free with Free Software, right?

Right. So, the adventure begins: the bet is that I will have a company, zero to profitable (that means with customers, bookings, etc.) in 5 days.

When the command line "grep" wins

I was working on a big website recently and faced a really tedious job in editing the content. I needed to find and replace certain words, like 'southeastern' for 'southeast', scattered over something like 140 files in half a dozen folders.

What to do? Install a powerful Content Management System with lots of menus and a global editing tool? Nope. I took the easy way out, using the tools at hand. The trick was to remember that webpages, regardless of how complicated they look in a browser, are really only plain text files.

QupZilla Browser: one web browser, three niche features

Just how do you establish a niche in the browser market when it is already saturated with so many competitors? Well, you could use Webkit and QT, throw in a few neat features and see where that takes you. That's exactly what the developers at QupZilla did. So, I decided to take a look at the substance behind that quirky name.

Checking Out Ubuntu Studio 11.04

Well, it's not exactly brand new, but I am taking my first real look at Ubuntu Studio 11.04 (based on Ubuntu "Natty Narwhal"). This is what we decided to put on our "guest" computer when Debian "Wheezy" proved not to be so easy, and it gives us an opportunity to step out of our rut and look at a new GNU/Linux distribution.

Hobby Robotics with Free Software: Part 2 - Arduino

As I mentioned in my previous column, my son and I want to explore robotics as a hobby and a learning experience. We don't have an unlimited budget, so I wanted to do some estimating of what it would cost to do it using different technology standards. In the first part, I explored Lego Mindstorms, but the open-hardware (and free software) Arduino system has been getting better and better. So I want to consider that possibility in this column and make a comparison to see which is a better option for us.

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