Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Blogger Finally Supports Read More Function

If you have visited my site before, you may have noticed that I have changed things around a bit. I have replaced my highly customised version of the default minima template, which has served me well for a long time, with something which is hopefully more modern, elegant and simple.

During the painful process of transferring all the custom code and widgets over I realised that Blogger had finally added a feature which I had to previously hack my template to enable. The feature I am talking about is the read more function.This allows you to cut or truncate part of your post on the front page allowing readers to click on a link to view the full post.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Mininova Alternatives

Mininova has deleted all 'copyrighted' torrents from their site. They decided to do this after a failed attempt at filtering out certain torrents. Unfortunately, they had no choice but to carry out this drastic action as they had lost a court case and were ordered to remove all offending materials or face a massive fine of up to 5 million euros. It's not quite all over for Mininova, they are possibly going to make an appeal but I wouldn't get your hopes up if I were you.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Obama Advocates Indefinite Detention Without Trial

I knew it was too good to be true, it looks like Obama will turn something immoral into something that is legal. He plans to detain people, possibly for an indefinite amount of time and without trial, for crimes they might commit in the future.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Fundies Say the Darndest Things!

While I was browsing around the net looking for something to take my mind off revision I came across a site called fundies say the darndest things. It's a site with collections of quotes from all over the internet from people trying to argue against science. And by 'people' I mean mainly religious people. Although, non-religious people do say stupid things they don't have a collective agenda against science and reason. Some of these comments are funny but a lot are just plain disturbing, the stupidity of some people out there never ceases to amaze me. Below are some of my favourite comments.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Windows 7 vs Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04: Boot Time

When I heard Microsoft were giving away Windows 7 free for a year I decided to put it on my EEE PC 1000H and see what it was like. There has been a lot of buzz surrounding it, people were claiming it was much better than Vista. I was very surprised at how fast it run on my netbook, I had tried Vista previously and can remember how slow that was. I also had Ubuntu Jaunty already installed on the system so I decided to time both OS's boot time and see how they fared.

I expected Jaunty to be faster since Ubuntu put in a lot of effort to make things speedier but it turns out so did Microsoft. Both system booted in almost exactly 25 seconds, see for yourself in the videos below.

Windows 7 booting:

Ubuntu Jaunty booting:

I have to give Microsoft credit for Windows 7, it felt faster overall and it looks great too but after using Ubuntu for so long it felt a little awkward using Windows again. While the 25 second boot may seem impressive now, just wait until October when the next version of Ubuntu, which promises to be even faster, will come out. Sorry about the video quality I used my Sony Ericsson P1i to record it.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Sunday, 12 April 2009

We are Linux

The Linux foundation has just announced the winner of the "We're Linux" video contest. The video created by Amitay Tweeto, called "What does it mean to be free", was chosen by a panel of judges as the winner.

The contest was set up by the Linux foundation to get people to create a one minute video showcasing what Linux meant to them, essentially an "I'm a Pc, I'm a Mac" type thing. Linux doesn't get a lot of advertising or promotion in the public sphere, it's usually through word of mouth that people find out about and try Linux. The aim of this contest was to make people aware of Linux and to encourage them to try it.

I really liked the winner because it not only told people that Linux was out there and they had a choice but it also portrayed the core ideas and ethos of Linux. Linux is not just software but also a community of people who believe in sharing, the ability to use your OS as you want and making it better together for everyone. Here is the winning video:

The runners up:

Friday, 10 April 2009

Intel Promises 2 Second Boot with Moblin

Moblin is Intel's Fedora based distro specifically engineered for netbooks such as the eeepc range.

Currently at the early alpha stage, Moblin is already able to boot within 20 seconds but a 2 second boot seems a bit unrealistic. Intel engineers have managed to do some remarkable things so far, let's just hope they can achieve this.

Check out Phoronix.com's test of Moblin against Ubuntu Jaunty.

I had a little play around with Moblin on my eeepc 1000h last week and unfortunately I didn't experience any lightning fast boot times. In fact it was slower than Ubuntu Intrepid which boots in about 30s. It was obvious that it was alpha stage software from the look of the UI but I didn't experience any crashes, although it did fail to boot once. Wifi worked out of the box. I found the fonts to be hard on the eyes and I also couldn't get update to work at all.

Moblin uses XFCE desktop environment which fooled me into thinking it was GNOME for the first few seconds but the differences become visible quickly. Being used to GNOME and Ubuntu I found the UI a little strange. However, it is alpha and Intel plans to completely re-design the look and feel of the interface to something more modern. The video below shows some of the ideas they are playing around with.

I only had Moblin on my netbook for a day, I replaced it with the beta version of Jaunty which is working perfectly. Currently I can't see myself using XFCE but with a 2 seconds boot I think I can live with it.

Update: Just found this video of Moblin booting in an incredible 5 seconds! See for yourself.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Megapixel Myth

Ars Technica has an interesting article on why bumping up the megapixels on a mobile phones camera is not making any substantial improvements to image quality.

"Megapixels are the digital camera market's equivalent of horsepower and megahertz—a single metric that consumers and marketers latch on to tenaciously, despite the fact that it hardly describes overall performance. Over the last several years, camera manufacturers have been pumping up the megapixels on each successive camera model, regardless of whether such increases offered any real benefit (hint: it usually doesn't)."

Although you will notice a big difference between a 3 megapixel camera phone and a 8 megapixel one, it is claimed that 12 megapixels is the most we will need.

There are several factors which combine to make a good camera; the quality of the lens is crucial along with things like having a decent flash and also sophisticated post image processing.

Although the article quotes a guy from Olympus Imaging's SLR planning department who may feel threatened by the rapid rise in camera phones, I do feel he has a point. We may soon see phone manufactureres putting less emphasis on megapixels but more on other aspects which will continue the improvements in image quality.

Read the full article at Ars Technica.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Bloop: An Unexplained Sound

"The 'bloop' is the name given to an ultra-low frequency underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration several times during the summer of 1997. The source of the sound remains unknown....

The sound, traced to somewhere around 50° S 100° W (South American southwest coast), was detected repeatedly by the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array, which uses U.S. Navy equipment originally designed to detect Soviet submarines. According to the NOAA , it "rises rapidly in frequency over about one minute and was of sufficient amplitude to be heard on multiple sensors, at a range of over 5,000 km." This means that the sound was detected in 2 different places 5000 km apart! What could be big enough to make a sound that huge?

According to scientists who have studied the phenomenon it matches the audio profile of a living creature but there is no known animal that could have produced the sound. If it is an animal, it would have to be, reportedly, much, much larger than even a Blue Whale, the largest known animal on the earth."

(Turn up the volume. Don't worry this isn't some scary prank.)

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Fish with Transparent Head

Just when you thought you'd seen everything, out comes pictures of an incredible fish called the barreleye or to give it it's scientific name Macropinna microstoma. As you can see from the pictures below, the barreleye fish has a transparent head and face.

The fish was caught on camera off the coast of California by researchers Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler using a remote operated vehicle. Although the fish was known as far back as 1939, only now do we have pictures and videos of it.

Scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) observed that the fish stays motionless most of the time with its greenish eyes pointed upwards to detect the silhouette of prey. Previously, it was believed that eyes, which are extremely sensitive to light, was fixed in place giving the fish only the view of what's above it. But, the researchers from MBARI have discovered that the eyes can rotate within its transparent forehead allowing the fish to see forwards.

"Beneath the shield is a fluid-filled chamber that surrounds or protects the eyes. Scales are present just behind the eyes at the nape of the back, within this chamber. Separating the eyes is a thin, bony septum that expands posteriorly to enclose the brain. In living specimens, eye lenses are a vivid green colour."

I have seen transparent animals before, like jellyfish, but nothing as impressive looking as this. Check out the video below.



Monday, 23 February 2009

Use Your Ipod in Ubuntu

I recently bought an ipod shuffle, mainly because the price was good and because it would be ideal for use while jogging. However, I nearly returned it the same day because I couldn't put music on it from Ubuntu. Whether it would be compatible didn't even enter my mind as I bought it, I just assumed It would work like a mass storage device and I could drag and drop music on to it. But I immediately realised it did not play any of the mp3 files I dragged on to it. Luckily, a quick search on Google led me to an application called gtkpod. The program provides a very simple graphical interface for you to add and manage your music.

Some of the things gtkpod can do includes:
  • Read your existing iTunesDB (i.e. import the existing contents of your iPod including playcounts, ratings and on-the-go playlists).
  • Add MP3, WAV, M4A (non-protected AAC), M4B (audio book), podcasts, and various video files (single files, directories or existing playlists) to the iPod. You need a third party product to download podcasts, like 'bashpodder' or 'gpodder'
  • View, add and modify Cover Art
  • Browse the contents of your local harddisk by album/artist/genre by adding all your songs to the 'local' database. From there the tracks can be dragged over to the iPod/Shuffle easily.
  • Create and modify playlists, including smart playlists.
  • You can choose the charset the ID3 tags are encoded in from within gtkpod. The default is the charset currently used by your locale setting.
  • Extract tag information (artist, album, title...) from the filename if you supply a template.
  • Detect duplicates when adding songs (optional).
  • Remove and export tracks from your iPod.
  • Modify ID3 tags -- changes are also updated in the original file (optional).
  • Refresh ID3 tags from file (if you have changed the tags in the original file).
  • Sync directories.
  • Normalize the volume of your tracks (uses mp3gain or the replay-gain tag)
  • Write the updated iTunesDB and added songs to your iPod.
  • Work offline and synchronize your new playlists / songs with the iPod at a later time.
  • Export your korganizer/kaddressbook/thunderbird/evocalendar/evolution/webcalendar... data to the iPod (scripts for other programs can be added).
To install gtkpod, simply search for it using Synaptics. Once installed the application is located under the 'Sound and Video' menu.

When you run gtkpod you'll be presented with the following window. Make sure your ipod is plugged in and then click on the 'Load iPod(s)' button.

You may be asked if you want to create a directory structure, if so just click yes. You'll now be asked to enter the location of your ipod and select its model number.

Typically, the ipod is mounted at '/media/IPOD', but if for whatever reason it's not then you can just browse to the location. My ipod is the second generation shuffle, I'm not sure if I've entered the right model number but it seems to work. If you cant find the model number then go to Apples website. Once you've entered the details just click ok. You may get a warning message but you can safely ignore that and also click ok. Now you are ready to start adding your music files. Simply drag them to the main window and remember to click on the save button when your done.

To get gtkpod to start every time you plug in your ipod follow these steps:

When you plug in your ipod you should get the following window presented:

Click on the combo box and select to add a new application.

Using the 'custom command' option at the bottom type in /usr/bin/gtkpod. Click 'Add' and then select to open using gtkpod from the next window that appears.

Make sure you check the 'Always perform this action' box. Click ok and gtkpod will open. You will get an error pop up but you can again ignore that and click ok. To start managing your music you'll need to click on the 'New iPod' on the left panel of gtkpod.

And that's it. Hopefully everything worked ok and so now you can enjoy using your ipod from Ubuntu.


Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Crisis of Credit Visualized

A very good video explaining how we got into this mess. It seems as though greed is the biggest reason behind it all. People just wanted to make lots of money as fast as possible, which resulted in more and more risks being taken. Safeguards and regulation to stop things from getting out of control either didn't exist or weren't being enforced by the authorities. So it's not just the banks at fault here, the government needs to take some responsibility too.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Friday, 6 February 2009

Blogger: Error

Sometimes I feel like it was an error choosing Blogger in the first place. Then again it's free so I guess I can't complain. It seems to not like having its 'Expand Widgets Template' Box checked because it's giving me a different error every time I try to preview, even when I haven't made any changes to the code. Was working fine yesterday.

Blogger is possibly the most buggy software I have ever used, sometimes I think they put in bugs for fun because blogging can get pretty boring sometimes. I think I've left it too late to migrate to Wordpress, don't really want the hassle so I guess I'll just moan about it every so often.

Samsung i8910 with HD Video Recording

Meet the i8910, also known as the ACME is the first phone to be able to record video in HD (1280 x 720 pixels). It can do this with the help from its 8 megapixel camera. Camera phones have been increasingly packing on the mega pixels, specially recently with loads of 8 megapixel camera phones being announced. However, video quality has typically been very poor, but hopefully this phone will start changing all that.

As you can see it's a large touchscreen phone with a 3.8 inch screen( not sure if it's capacitive). Not a lot is known at the moment but rumour has it that this phone will have GPS, wifi, DivX support, 3.5mm jack, come in 8 and 16 GB versions and possibly run on the latest version of the Symbian S60 5th edition OS.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Sunday, 1 February 2009

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Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Jaunty Supercharged with EXT4

The people over at Softpedia have tested the latest alpha build of Jaunty and have managed to boot their system in 21.4 seconds. As you may know, the latest build comes with the recently released stable version of EXT4. The same setup with the older EXT3 booted in 24.5 seconds, which is still less than the 26.8 seconds it took to boot up Intrepid. You can check out all the details over at Softpedia. Looks like Jaunty and EXT4 are living up to expectations in terms of speed. This is still early days for Jaunty, hopefully things will be even faster as development continues. Can't wait!


It turns out that the next version of Fedora has been codenamed Leonidas. Being a big fan of the film 300, I thought this was pretty cool.

Fedora 11 is set to be realeased in May. You can find out what features it will have here.

Source: Arstechnica

Monday, 12 January 2009

The Secret Saved My Life

One of the funniest book reviews I have read:

Please allow me to share with you how "The Secret" changed my life and in a very real and substantive way allowed me to overcome a severe crisis in my personal life. It is well known that the premise of "The Secret" is the science of attracting the things in life that you desire and need and in removing from your life those things that you don't want. Before finding this book, I knew nothing of these principles, the process of positive visualization, and had actually engaged in reckless behaviors to the point of endangering my own life and wellbeing.
At age 36, I found myself in a medium security prison serving 3-5 years for destruction of government property and public intoxication. This was stiff punishment for drunkenly defecating in a mailbox but as the judge pointed out, this was my third conviction for the exact same crime. I obviously had an alcohol problem and a deep and intense disrespect for the postal system, but even more importantly I was ignoring the very fabric of our metaphysical reality and inviting destructive influences into my life.
My fourth day in prison was the first day that I was allowed in general population and while in the recreation yard I was approached by a prisoner named Marcus who calmly informed me that as a new prisoner I had been purchased by him for three packs of Winston cigarettes and 8 ounces of Pruno (prison wine). Marcus elaborated further that I could expect to be raped by him on a daily basis and that I had pretty eyes.
Needless to say, I was deeply shocked that my life had sunk to this level. Although I've never been homophobic I was discovering that I was very rape phobic and dismayed by my overall personal street value of roughly $15. I returned to my cell and sat very quietly, searching myself for answers on how I could improve my life and distance myself from harmful outside influences. At that point, in what I consider to be a miraculous moment, my cell mate Jim Norton informed me that he knew about the Marcus situation and that he had something that could solve my problems. He handed me a copy of "The Secret". Normally I wouldn't have turned to a self help book to resolve such a severe and immediate threat but I literally didn't have any other available alternatives. I immediately opened the book and began to read.
The first few chapters deal with the essence of something called the "Law of Attraction" in which a primal universal force is available to us and can be harnessed for the betterment of our lives. The theoretical nature of the first few chapters wasn't exactly putting me at peace. In fact, I had never meditated and had great difficulty with closing out the chaotic noises of the prison and visualizing the positive changes that I so dearly needed. It was when I reached Chapter 6 "The Secret to Relationships" that I realized how this book could help me distance myself from Marcus and his negative intentions. Starting with chapter six there was a cavity carved into the book and in that cavity was a prison shiv. This particular shiv was a toothbrush with a handle that had been repeatedly melted and ground into a razor sharp point.
The next day in the exercise yard I carried "The Secret" with me and when Marcus approached me I opened the book and stabbed him in the neck. The next eight weeks in solitary confinement provided ample time to practice positive visualization and the 16 hours per day of absolute darkness made visualization about the only thing that I actually could do. I'm not sure that everybody's life will be changed in such a dramatic way by this book but I'm very thankful to have found it and will continue to recommend it heartily.

Source: Amazon