Turning the Toshiba Z830 into a Ubuntu Ultrabook

EDIT: Here are some tweaks if you install 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). Since I will have to do a fair amount of traveling in the next year I was in need of upgrading my trusted workhorse of Toshiba Qosmio F60 to a more portable option that will be easier on the shoulders during long travels. After doing some research into which of the major manufacturers offer the best support for a Linux based Operating System it came down to a final two: the Intel i7 variants of Samsung Series 9 and the Toshiba Z830. Thanks to these sites for some useful content: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupport/ http://www.linlap.com/wiki/toshiba+portege+z830-10f http://blog.stevenocchipinti.com/2011/12/toshiba-portege-z830.html http://www.bestultrabooks.co/ In the end it came down to Toshiba having full-size VGA, HDMI and Ethernet connectors at the rear of the unit (no need for carrying adapters) and getting a very decent price rebate for the Toshiba. The first and only task in the included Windows 7 OS was to create a recovery USB drive using the Toshiba included utility (on the desktop). You need a 12GB USB stick (found out the hard way after buying an 8GB version with the unit on advice of the sales guy). After booting from a USB stick created from the Ubuntu 11.10 ISO (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download) with Ubuntu Bootdisk Creator (or alternatively UnetBootin) I opted to wipe the whole SSD drive. If you are not sure that you want to stick with Ubuntu it might be safer to try running from USB or dual-boot. Note: you need to use the USB3…

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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.   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 Ripple Mobile Environment Emulator (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/geelfhphabnejjhdalkjhgipohgpdnoc) appMobi HTML5 XDK (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/onmkoldigcfmebcinpmineoadckalllb) 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. Download the User Agent Switcher Add-on for Firefox Restart Firefox for the add-on change to take place. 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 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): Android (http://developer.android.com/guide/developing/tools/emulator.html) iOS (http://developer.apple.com/devcenter/ios/) WinPhone (http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=13890) Nokia (http://www.developer.nokia.com/Develop/Web/) Opera (http://www.opera.com/developer/tools/mini/) WebOS (http://developer.palm.com/)   PS: Nothing substitutes final QA testing on actual devices ...  

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Using Google Goggles in mobile learning projects

One of the lesser known free Google services in our experience is Google Goggles. Specially in it's lastest release (Version 1.7) it has received a few enhancements that make it very useful for some mobile learning applications Scanning of barcodes Google Googles will scan most standard barcodes and provide information on the product scanned. Here is an example from the Google Mobile Blog: Let’s say you’re reading a magazine article you really like and want to share it with your friends. Just point Goggles at a part of the page, and instantly find a link to an online version to share immediately or read again later. You won’t even need the entire article in the frame. Goggles will also pull up more information from pages around the web where that text is mentioned, so its easier to learn about what you’re seeing. Text recognition You can use Google Googles to take images of printed text and have the result converted to text using OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Whil the results may vary our own test have shown good results on newspaper and magazines. To download Google Goggles you can scan the QR code below Google Goggles are currently available for both Android and iOS phones (just install via Android Market or Apple App Store. See http://www.google.com/mobile/goggles/ for further details.

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

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Running your business (mostly) on Open Source Software

The release of the latest Ubuntu Version has been seen by a number of commentators as the most end-user friendly yet and signals another milestone in the readiness of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for more widespread (and business) use. As a long-term user of a number of different Operating Systems and as SME Owner for the last 15 years I have overseen the gradual replacement of a number of proprietary software solutions with FOSS Alternatives. With the beginning of the new financial year however, we are planning to go another step further and are starting to change our default Operating System to Ubuntu (from MS Windows). It is worth pointing out that I don't have an issue with paying for software (after all we are partly in the software development business). We also happily pay quite a number of SaaS suppliers for their services (see list below) and support. My main issue is why I should pay license fees for standard software (i.e. Office Productivity Tools) when there is so many excellent community developed products out there that do the same (in some instances better, in some instances just adequate) job ? It is hard enough running a small business in the current climate. One major benefit of changing over to a web-based (FOSS) approach to our back-end systems has been the ability to operate from anywhere. This has dramatically increased productivity for myself as well as staff being able to work from home more often. This is…

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Nokia Bluetooth Keyboard on Android

One of my oldest pieces of hardware is a trusty Nokia SU-8W Bluetooth Keyboard. I have tried to revive it on an Android 1.6 & 2.0 device with not much luck. However I got it working successfully on a Gingerbread (2.3.4) Google Nexus S. Pre-requisites SU-8W Manual (http://nds1.nokia.com/phones/files/guides/Nokia_SU-8W_Wireless_Keyboard_UG_en.pdf) BlueKeyboard JP (https://market.android.com/details?id=elbrain.bluekeyboard.ime) Steps Install the BlueKeyboard JP from the Android Market Go to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Bluetooth Settings Scan for devices and click to pair the Nokia SU-8W Enter a passcode (I used the highly inventive 0000 combinaton) on the phone and click 'OK' Enter the same on the SU-8W (need to use green 'fn' keys for numbers) and hit enter The phone should show the Nokia SU-8W as paired but not connected Go to Settings > Language & keyboard > BlueKeyboard JP Settings Select the Nokia SU-8W as the keyboard and make any other changes you might need Click the 'Back' symbol and tick the option box to enable the 'BlueKeyboard JP' keyboard In any data entry field (i.e. GMail) hold the finger on the input box and click 'Input method' and select BlueKeyboard JP Wait for the keyboard to connect.   Enjoy !  

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Installing Ubuntu: Extending the HP Touchpad

As one of those who grabbed a HP Touchpad at the recent firesale (after announcing the killing of the product line) I did it as in full knowledge that this device in it's current form is of limited use and (highly) unlikely to have lots of additional applications created for it. After casually using it for a few nights of use I am personally not surprised that HP decided to ditch this product. Compared to the current Tablet leaders the Touchpad is miles behind both Android and iOS and HP would have had to spend  serious money to even get close to the current functionality of the competition. And you can take a bet that both of these will not remain static. I was actually hoping that WebOS can be a serious competitor to the current duopoly, but after using this thing I have to say that it is not even close. However I still think the AUD149 I spent for the 32GB model are actually well spent. Since WebOS has always been a very open platform built on a Linux base I knew it would not be a major effort to run other Open Source OS's on this device. There is already a whole bunch of people working on a full Android port (see TouchDroid and XDA Devs). But since I already have an Android Tab (Samsung Galaxy Tab 7'') I am more interested in other alternatives at this stage. As a current Ubuntu user I started looking around and after comparing…

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Upgrade to Firefox 4 on Ubuntu 10.04

Since some older hardware (Toshiba Satellite A300 for example) has issues with the current version of Grub as well as the newer Kernel I still need to run 10.04 on some machines. However since the 10.04 Repository still uses Firefox 3.6 you need to add a PPA repo to upgrade to Firefox 4. Either go to Ubuntu Software Center > Software Sources and click the 'Other Software' tab. Press 'Add' and enter ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable After adding the PPA you will be prompted to update your sources. Once done you can head to System > Administration > Update Manager to perform an upgrade Alternatively you can do this via Terminal (Applications > Terminal). add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable apt-get update apt-get upgrade

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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

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