Revert Ubuntu Netbook UI

If you upgrade you Ubuntu Netbook release to 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) you will notice a change to the new ¨Unity¨ user interface.

Personally I think the new interface is absolutely horrible (from a usability perspective) and I wanted to revert to the previous Netbook-Launcher.

HOWTO

Install the required components via terminal:

sudo apt-get install netbook-launcher-efl

After install just change the “Login Settings”

Log out and after the next login: voila – the laucher interface:

However in the end I changed to the desktop interface which I found the most useful for my type of usage.

VoIP client for Ubuntu

Having used IP Telephony for a number of years I need a workable SIP client for all of the devices I use. I have found a very capable client for my Android phones (SipDroid) and on Windows/MacOSX I generally use X-Lite (as well as it’s paid version EyePhone) from Counterpath.

Having tried several different Linux SIP clients (Ekiga, Twinkle, …) but all discarded them because of weird UI’s and/or problems with stability I noticed that there is a Linux version of XLite available. Unfortunately on current versions of Ubuntu (10.04) it needs a deprecated version of a library.

Download XLite Linux: http://www.counterpath.com/x-lite-3.0-for-linux-download.html

Dowload libstdc++.so.5: http://packages.debian.org/lenny/i386/libstdc++5/download

[you will need root permissions for all of the below]

dpkg -i libstdc++5_3.3.6-18_i386.deb
tar -xzf X-Lite_Install.tar.gz
cd xten-xlite
cp xtensoftphone /usr/sbin
chmod +x /usr/sbin/xtensoftphone
Now you should be able to run:
xtensoftphone

Enjoy calling from your Ubuntu machine !

EDIT: Since upgrading to Ubuntu 11 (Natty) I have switched to QuteCom

iPad Alternatives

Due to the hype generated by the recent launch and my reservations on using the Apple Inc. iTunes I was doing some research into alternatives to the proprietary and completely locked  iPad device (and the associated lock-down to Apple’s iTunes Store). Hopefully this list can be of use for other people as well.

I can see the form factor and the tablet style with a cut down (mainly web-browser based) Operating System as useful in a number of settings not least in educational institutions and libraries.

Here is the findings so far:

EDIT: I have re-published the list as a Google Spreadsheet to enable submission of new items. Please ENTER YOUR OWN if you found an item not on the list.

If you are purely looking for a tablet as an electronic reading device there is a good Wikipedia comparison chart to look at.

I will add further devices as I discover them. Please leave a comment if you find other tablets / devices that have similar features, but are more open and do not require iTunes lock-down.

BESPIN – another nice one from Mozilla.org

Getting excited about a new text editor of all things is not something I like to admit to easily, but in my line of work (although less and less is actually doing hands on coding) text editing is an important part.

That’s why I checked out the BESPIN project as soon as I heard of it. The prospect of being able to edit your files from anywhere is very appealing to me since I spend a lot of time away from the desk and on devices that not always have good text editor (let alone all the files necessary). The thought of being able to edit files from a netbook while on the run is coming to mind straight away.

So far (even though this is a 0.1 ‘techo-preview’) I really like what you see. Not something that the average word processor crowd would find appealing or easy to use, but for somebody that is familiar with (specially *NIX) text editors it is easy to pick up and I can definitely see lots of potential there.

Bespin Dashboard
Bespin Dashboard
Editor Interface
Editor Interface

There are some important features still missing to make it truly useful in practical conditions, but I am sure they will be addressed in future revisions and it should be fairly easy to host your own since it’s basically Javascript & HTML5 and an Open Source project.

Great work by these guys:

Keep it coming ! Soon …

Using Nokia Share Online to upload directly to Flickr

One of the nicest ways to get photos straight from your mobile to Flickr (without having to use e-mails) on Nokia devices is the Flickr Plugin for the Nokia Share Online application. Since a lot of my clients in the educational sector  are starting to use Flickr as part of their online teaching I decided to create a short HOWTO.

The application itself comes with the phone on most recent Nokia S60 devices (with recent Firmware – check Nokia Software Updater for new firmware). To check if your particular phone is capable you can check the Nokia Share Online Support site.

Nokia Share Online appears on the home screen of your device (screenshots are from a N95 8GB):

Home Screen
Home Screen

First time only configuration

On first use you will have to check the available services by choosing ‘Options’:

Update Service
Update Service
Activate Service
Activate Service

On a new device you will be prompted for your Flickr Username / Password. Since I have used the Flickr Plugin on this particular phone previously the Username was already saved (which is a bit of a worry – since deleting the account should have also removed the credentials I would have hoped).

Select Access Point
Select Access Point
Activate Website 1
Activate Website 1
Activate Website 2
Activate Website 2
Accept Conditions
Accept Conditions

Set the update frequency:

Update interval
Update interval

NOTE: Be careful with this setting as there could be mobile data fees involved depending on the method you use to connect to the internet on your device. Consult with your network operator on the fees if you are using the wireless data network of your phone provider.

After this step you are ready to connect to Flickr and sync your recent fotos:

Sync recent
Sync recent

Create Flickr Post

Once the service has been set up you can create post using the following steps:

New Post
New Post

Adding the Post Title and Description.

Post Title
Post Title
Insert Image(s)
Insert Image(s)
Choose Image
Choose Image
Tags
Tags

You can coose from a list of previously used tags (or create new ones).

Choose Existing Tags
Choose Existing Tags

Finally you can post to the web:

Choose Existing Tags
Choose Existing Tags

Your post is now being uploaded and should be available via your Flickr Photostream (mine is on http://www.flickr.com/photos/leogaggl/) soon. The upload time will depend on the size of the image and the speed of your data connection.

Enjoy !

An accounting software that works like we do …

In running my businesses over the years I have been an unhappy user of MYOB for years. But due to time constraints I have always put off a change in accounting software as it is very disruptive and the alternatives were not too convincing (better the devil you know …). However due to the fact that our business is growing and we were at the end of a financial year the pain of using MYOB became greater than the pain of switching.

Meet SAASU NetAccounts.� We only became aware of this software through a couple of Google searches and found some forum threads with people that were using SAASU. After some checking of the company operating the (‘software as a service’ after all needs a fair amount of trust) and checking with our accountants we decided to give the free version a test run. The data transfer from MYOB went smooth and the main users of the software were very happy.

The key deciding factors for us to choose SAASU:

  • Web-based user interface (after all are running an online education and mobile/web-application development company)
  • Intuitive user interface (for both myself as well as our office/accounting staff)
  • Software as a service (no need to install outdated client-server apps running on datastores from the dark ages)
  • Truly multi-user
  • Web Service API (we will be using the SOAP API to integrate some of our e-commerce facilities)
  • Ability to run multiple data files under one umrella

So far (and we have been using SAASU for over 5 weeks now) we have not looked back. There are some areas that can do with improvement, but the team at SAASU seems very responsive and there has already been one feature upgrade with another one coming along soon as far as I know (from their newsletter). We are currently working towards integrating some of our e-commerce sites with SAASU and have signed up as a development partner. I hope they keep up the good work.

We will problably need to keep running MYOB for historic purposes for a little while – but the day we can uninstall this software from all our machines will be a day of celebration for me and I will have a bottle of champagne with our office staff !

SAASU logo
SAASU logo