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Showing posts from 2009

Xenon Alpha released!

An alpha version of the Xenon Desktop has been released. A description of the project follows.

Xenon is a portable web or browser based desktop for netbooks and thin clients, designed to be the easiest desktop ever.

The desktop includes a new GUI stepping away from traditional menus and is optimised for touchscreen and small devices.

The system integrates social networking features and standard desktop features into one software package.

Being browser-based, it is cross platform and cross architecture. It is built on HTML5 and PHP components, and can be run on extremely low-powered machines, allowing for cheap distribution and devices.

The backend can be run online (for users to access their data everywhere), on a personal LAN server, or on a small device, so the system can work offline, or if there are concerns about cloud storage.

An API is available, so anyone can start developing apps to distribute in Xenon's upcoming App Store.

The project's homepage is located at http://hackerl…

Sync iPhone/iPod Touch 3G in Ubuntu

A lot of people have been trying very hard to get iPhone and iPod Touch syncing to work correctly in Linux. Some have been doing a FUSE filesystem (which accesses the iPod) and some the database and syncing. Remember this is pre-alpha quality, but I found it synced my tunes nicely from Linux. But due to the database version being old (but quite good enough for the iPod), iTunes does not play nice with it - and will just resync the tracks and may delete them. Also the iPod must have been previosly initialised with a version of iTunes. If you cannot acquire it, or it will not run, contact teuf on #gtkpod in irc.freenode.net. You have been warned!

Mounting support

First, grab iFuse:
Add the following lines to /etc/apt/sources.list as root:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/jonabeck/ppa/ubuntu intrepid main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/jonabeck/ppa/ubuntu intrepid main

Then do:

sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com F0876AC9
sudo apt-get update
sudo a…

Best Security Practices For Your Personal Computer

Many of you may be worried or concerned about the security of your computer. With threats of viruses, spyware, bank details being stolen, accounts cracked and vulnerabilities everywhere, it is natural to be paranoid.

Here are some top security practices:

1. Change your passwords.
All of them. Yes, really. It does make a lot of difference to the chances of a cracker being able to track you, monitor you or pretend to be you and not. Normally people advise you change all your passwords every 2 weeks. However don't write them down, and make them long and memorable using capital letters, numbers and symbols.

Also, try not to make your password a dictionary word, or even close to it. Make it look like random garbage. You can use mnemonics to help you remember them. Consider the following sentence:

"Do as I say, not as I do!"

This can help you remember and formulate the password:
DaIs,naId!
You could add numbers, or convert some letters to numbers, etc:
Da15,naId!

Being 10 characters lon…

Reflections on the iPod Touch

I just bought a 32GB 3rd generation iPod Touch for £230. It's not bad for what you get:

On opening the box, you get the device, a syncing USB cable, a resizing thing for stabilising the device on an iPod dock, and a ditty pair of earphones.

The device has inbuilt Wifi and Bluetooth capability, voice control, Nike+ support, plus many apps to download.

The earphones were pretty small, and didn't fit well (they would keep falling out of my ear). The sound quality was half decent (better than many like it), and includes a microphone switch attached to the right ear wire for recording your voice, VoIP or for apps (It's supposed to feature a track switcher, but I haven't tried that yet). I found that switching them to my posh pair boasted much better quality but defeated the point of audio apps, as they have no microphone attached (there is ONE socket, designed for headphones or the special headphones/mic combo)

The iPod Touch can be viewed as a bit of a knock off of the iPhone…

Xenon Project looking for helpers!

I started a project some time ago, which is for now called "Codename: Project Xenon".

Xenon is a browser-based GUI designed to be implemented on netbooks. The difference between other netbook OSes and cloud systems is that not only can you test it online, it will also be installed on netbooks - which will update from the Web automatically, giving you updates, and ability to use it without being connected to the Internet due to a local web server instance.

It will have a very small footprint - being built on very few programs, and so will run on very low-end systems, so it will bring life to your old computers as well.

We are now looking for helpers to make this project a reality. If you are a designer or a programmer who can program using any combination of (X)HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP or MySQL, then we would like you to help us out. We are afraid pay is out of the question at the moment, until we start selling subscriptions to the web service, the budget is zero.

If you have a…

Linux Myths Debunked

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1. "You can't run games on Linux.".
This is one that annoys me. People claim that Linux does not provide the necessary gaming requirememnts. But look:

There is a list of Linux games at http://icculus.org/lgfaq/gamelist.php which includes many famous and popular games such as Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Quake 4 and the Unreal Tournament series. These have either been ported from the originals by independent game companies or originally programmed for Linux (as well as many other operating systems). They often run faster on Linux than Windows as the old ETQW system requirements page showed (required 2.8GHz for Windows, 2.0GHz for Linux). For games that are not supported on Linux, there are API layers (NOT emulators) for Linux that can run Windows programs, often faster than Windows can, due to memory usage. Examples are Wine (free libre/gratis), Cedega (subscription) and CrossOver (subscription). I have successfully run many Valve games on Linux such as Half-Life 2, and m…

Linux is not ready for the mainstream

Caught your eye?

The reason I say this is not that Linux isn't quality - of course it is.
It's not that Linux isn't ready to be used by the mainstream - it is.

The problem here is that Linux doesn't want to be for the mainstream. A wide variety of developers exist, and quite a few don't wish there to be a standard. To me, a standard is what defines a product to market. But the main idea of Linux is to be free, not in the traditional cost-less sense (gratis) but in a freedom sort of way (libre). This means that people are free to do what they wish with it, and to keep it free if distributing it.

To really make it, a product should be the same on all sides, easy to use, and have a common way of working. With the ridiculous amount of desktop environments (KDE...GNOME, etc) and text editors, this standardisation idea has become a laughing stock in the face of freedom. People want different things, they work in different ways. Some will want DEB, some will want RPM. That is…

A * For That

My goodness. First it was I'm a PC/Mac... obviously you're a bloody human.... since Apple said "there's an app for that", Subway of all companies have invented "There's a Sub for that"... Geez, talk about not being able to afford imaginative people... Oh, and I'm Spartacus.

How to Conquer the Desktop

What does Sturmbahnfahrer mean? And who would have guessed the meaning of Stormbaan Coureur? They are different names for the same software: "a simulated obstacle course for automobiles".

Now grab someone off the street and ask them what Linux means. No? A "command-line" operating system is all you'll get from a lot of people. Most people who have used Linux before the year 2000 have had some sort of problem, due to usability, and it has put them off.

Now, ask them what Windows means. Sure, it's an English word and English is fast becoming the language of choice. It has two meanings: "A piece of glass" or "What my computer always says first". People don't know anything about operating systems. What your computer has is what it will have forever, is most people's opinion.

To change systems then is a frightening step to many and many won't be clever enough to understand the concept that something will "exist outside of Window…

What Free Software needs

When I was young, I remember wanting SUSE 9.2 Professional. It seemed like a good stable system with many good reviews. Afterwards (luckily) the distribution switched to GPL and I managed to acquire a copy of 9.3. It was very good for its time, its acheivements vastly outstepping anything I had previously seen. With instant search, good photo management, and all the rest, it seemed to be a good stepping stone onto which further development could be put upon.

A while later, I find that "cool" features seem to be getting less and less common. With the advent of Compiz a few years ago, coolness in the desktop rose a little, but with less common other features, and small incremental updates in most distributions, computing was getting a little more boring, with little to wow about. We now need a good jump up, or proprietary software will catch up. KDE 4 recently has been a downfall, mainly because people disliked it from being so very different to the very stable and mature 3.5 s…

Answers to the big questions

Questions like "Why is the universe made mostly of matter?", "Why are we here?", "Is there a god?", and "Is there life on other planets?" are answered scientifically here.

Why is the universe made mostly of matter?
Simply because it had to have matter and antimatter to come out of pure energy. Antimatter, doubtless, is hanging around somewhere, perhaps it's the "dark matter" or locked up in that "dark energy" that scientists are theorising about so much. But the fact remains, if we are here to question it, there must be one type of matter primarily in the same region of space as us. Otherwise we wouldn't be here to ask. If there were matter and antimatter in the universe, one would annihilate the other and we wouldn't have got here.

Why are we here?

This question is quite vague. By "why are we here" I mean, why did humans exist in the first place? Not "why am I living here specifically".

Imagine the…