Intel Ultrabook tweaks on Ubuntu 12.04

After upgrading my Toshiba Z830 Ultrabook to 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) I noticed that the ability to control the screen back-light was not working using the Toshiba Fn F6/F7 keys.

Thanks to http://www.linlap.com/wiki/acer+aspire+s3 the solution was found quite quickly.

sudo vim /etc/default/grub

This will open the grub configuration file. (Grub is the initial boot selection software)
To be able to dim the screen brightness, You’ve got to modify the line:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=""

to these two lines:

pcie_aspm=force
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="quiet splash pcie_aspm=force i915.i915_enable_rc6=1 i915.lvds_downclock=1 acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor elevator=noop"

Another neat tip: intel-gpu-tools can be used to control brightness from the commandline.

# will set brightness at 50%
intel_backlight 50


EDIT [2012-08-24]: to avoid issues on resume you need to add a script to the

sudo vim /etc/pm/sleep.d/20_wakeup

Add the following:

#!/bin/bash
case "$1" in
suspend|hibernate)
#do nothing
;;
resume|thaw)
echo 7 > /sys/class/backlight/toshiba/brightness
;;
*)
exit 1
;;
esac
exit 0

Mark the file as executable
sudo chmod +x /etc/pm/sleep.d/20_wakeup

Android 4.0 screenshot functionality on Galaxy Nexus

One of the features I missed since the good old Android 1.5 days was the ability to take screen-shots on the device. Prior to Android 4 (ICS) the only workable way to create screen-shots was to connect via USB cable and use the Android SDK to make remote screen-shots.

On Android 4.0 all you have to do is press Volume Down Key + Power Key down at the same time and hold.  You should hear the camera click (if audio is on) and Android will show a notification that the screenshot was saved on your device and you can now upload or transfer to your favourite service.

Getting a handle on Ubuntu mobile power management

To get an idea on the current power usage and some suggestions on how to improve power-management ‘powertop‘ is a must-have.

sudo apt-get install powertop

Powertop Screenshot

For some more detailed suggestions this is a good start: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PowerManagement/ReducedPower

Mobile Browser Testing on the Desktop

If you need to check websites for mobile compliance on a regular basis you know that having a device to constantly check is painful and slows down your work during debugging and phases of constant change.

Surrounding myself with screens by adactio, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  adactio 

There are a few tools that will make this work a lot easier:

Google Chrome

Chrome does have some nice dedicated plug-ins to help with this task

Firefox

I am not aware of any plug-ins like Chrome, but as a hack I have found it useful to employ a user-agent switching plugin to trick the browser

User Agent Switcher (http://chrispederick.com/work/user-agent-switcher/) works well for this.

  1. Download the User Agent Switcher Add-on for Firefox
  2. Restart Firefox for the add-on change to take place.
  3. To start a new browsing session using an emulated browser, go to Tools > User Agent Switcher and select the appropriate mobile web browser you want to emulate
  4. To switch back to normal browsing, just select the default option from the above menu.

If you need more specific UA Strings check here: http://www.zytrax.com/tech/web/mobile_ids.html

For more serious work there are obviously dedicated emulators from the major Mobile OS vendors (but they need to be installed and configured for each platform):

 

PS: Nothing substitutes final QA testing on actual devices …

 

Open Governance Index – measuring openness

This is an interesting report and info-graphic by the folks at VisionMobile on a new way of measuring the openness of some mobile open source projects.

The Open Governance Index measures the true openness of eight open source projects – Android, Qt, Symbian, MeeGo, Mozilla, WebKit, Linux and Eclipse – and analyses how governance, and not licenses, tell the full story of a project’s openness, across transparency, influence and control.

The Open Governance Index – A new way of measuring openness

The full report can be downloaded free (email required) here.

Install Handbrake on Ubuntu

Note: this has been verified to work on 11.04 (Natty), 11.10 (Oneiric) & 12.04 (Precise)

To convert a DVD and make it viewable on your mobile device Handbrake seems to be the most useful tool I have discovered so far. Since it is not part of the default Ubuntu Repositories here is the installation process. The first step is to insure libdvdcss2 is installed

sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk

My mobile personal learning environment

Taking part in MobiMOOC has given me the opportunity to take stock of my own MobilePLE – the top 5 tools I find most useful as part of my ongoing learning.

 

  • Catch Notes (previously 3Bananas) – mobile note taking the most critical component. Whenever I get a new device – this is what has to be installed as one of the first actions. For those not familiar with this software – it’s like Evernote without the bloat.
  • TwiDroyd – mobile Twitter / Status.Net client. This could be replaced by similar Twitter clients
  • GoogleReader – RSS reader client
  • Flickr – image upload and sharing
  • FourSquare – location based sharing

 

These are the main applications I use pretty much constantly, however here are some other useful services I use regularily:

 

  • Delicious – Online Bookmarking (this is an old one, but a good one). Unfortunately there are not a great deal of mobile interfaces for Delicious as Yahoo has publicly stated that it is trying to offload the project
  • Pixelpipe – universal uploader (upload to multiple services such as Flickr, Picasa, Youtube from mobile)
  • BeyondPod – podcast client
  • GoogleGoggles – image recognition software to allow searches based on camera input
  • Zxing Barcode Scan – open source barcode scanner (QR codes as well as EAN type)
  • WordPress Client – mobile client to edit wordpress blogs
  • Sketchbook – mobile drawing application from Autodesk (you need a reaonable screen for this – tab preferred)
  • UStream Broadcaster – streaming video producer from mobile handset

 

One thing worth noting is that this is very much the “CURRENT Mobi-PLE”. The one sure thing with mobile tech in general is that it tends to change quickly over time and with need.

Looking forward to hearing about things I am missing – comments welcome !

Huawei K3765 on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid)

Since I have switched my 3G data network from Hutchinson Three to Vodafone AU recently I also upgraded the USB modem from a Huwaei E220 (which used to work fine on recent Ubuntu NBR releases on my trusty old ASUS EEE 900)

Unfortunately the new Huawei K3765 would not be recognised as a valid modem by the network manager. After a fair bit of searching it turns out that you only need to install one additional package (usb-modeswitch) to make this modem work (be recognised) on the current stable 10.04 release:

sudo apt-get install usb-modeswitch

For the command-line challenged here is a quick screenshot on how to do it using Synaptic Package Manager:

Synaptic usb-modswitch - screenshot

Hope this might save some time for people trying to make this modem work on Lucid.

Happy roaming !

Ubuntu – Google Mail (GoogleApps) as default mail client

Since Ubuntu 9.10 NetbookRemix has been released I am again finding myself using my trusty old ASUS EEE when on the road.  And  finally it seems I have found a vanilla Linux distribution that is reasonably responsive and works ‘out of the box’.

One thing I don’t need on the road (as a matter of fact on none of my equipment) is having to install & maintain some client/server mail client. Here is a workable solution to have your browser default ‘mailto:’ links to Google Apps.

Howto

System –> Preferences –> Preferred Applications

Ubuntu Preferences Screenshot

Chrome:

perl -MURI::Escape -e '$to = shift;$to =~ s/^mailto://i;exec("chromium-browser", "https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.tld/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&cmid=22&to=".URI::Escape::uri_escape($to) );' '%s'

Firefox:

perl -MURI::Escape -e '$to = shift;$to =~ s/^mailto://i;exec("firefox", "https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.tld/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&cmid=22&to=".URI::Escape::uri_escape($to) );' '%s'

Note: do not forget to replace ‘yourdomain.tld’ with your actual Google Apps domain

Here is the link to the original blog entry by David Davis (xantus77): http://xantus.vox.com/library/post/howto-use-gmail-for-mailto-links-linuxubuntu.html (Kudos !)

m-learn: Mobile evidence gathering using GoogleDocs

This one nearly escaped my attention yesterday. Google has just announced the ability to edit Google Docs on your mobile device via their Google Mobile Blog.

Just point your mobile browser to m.google.com/docs and start editing.

Along with the use of 2D barcodes this will open a few interesting m-learning possiblities for educators that would previously have required custom coding to achieve. I can see this being very useful in situations where you have students being in the field and allowing them to enter data gathered using a standard mobile phone. The barcodes could point students to the location of the spreadsheet (avoiding the need to type the information)

The screenshot below shows a spreadsheet that I just made up for demonstration purposes.

Google Spreadsheet

Google Spreadsheet

Google Spreadsheet - add record

Google Spreadsheet - add record

The data gathered can easily be used embedded into LMS course pages for review in the classroom. The (quite capable) graphing tools in Google Spreadsheets can be used to visualise the results gathered. For some of our clients that use Moodle and GoogleApps for Education this is a very interesting combination as would allow for the authenticated entering of mobile data into the LMS.

It would be interesting to look at how you could easily geo-tag the information gathered for mapping purposes. But that’s probably a topic for another post.