Sunday, December 28, 2008

30 Excellent WordPress Video Tutorials

WordPress is one of the most popular publishing platforms currently out on the market. It’s free, highly-customizable, and very easy to install and use. Because of its popularity, you’ll find a wide array of resources that discuss WordPress development, administration, as well as plenty of user guides to help you get started quickly.

In this article, we take advantage of the merits of learning by way of watching video tutorials and screencasts. Video tutorials allow you to learn by following along with the instructor in real-time - a format that’s very effective for many people.

You can use these video tutorials a couple of ways: to learn about WordPress yourself or to send to your not-so-technology-inclined clients as a reference to help them get started. You’ll find the tutorials organized into several topics that include theme development and customization, site administration, beginner’s tutorials, and using some WordPress tools.

WordPress theme development

Designing for Wordpress

Designing for Wordpress - screen shot.

See Chris Coyier’s (of CSS-tricks) process for designing a WordPress site in this three part series. Also check out part 2 and part 3.

Creating a WordPress Template

Creating a WordPress Template - screen shot.

Here’s a tutorial series (also see part 2 and part 3) for creating a WP template using a variety of free tools such as MAMP (for local machine development) and TextWrangler (a text editor).

Hodgepodge of WordPress Tricks

Hodgepodge of WordPress Tricks - screen shot.

You’ll see a variety of useful WordPress theme customization tips and tricks through this video tutorial.

WordPress as a CMS

WordPress as a CMS - screen shot.

Learn how to create a WordPress site that’s more of a fully-featured content management system (like Drupal or Joomla) rather than a blogging platform using a few tools at your disposal such as the SimplePie WordPress plugin.

Install WordPress Locally

Install WordPress Locally - screen shot.

Learn how to run WordPress using a WAMP setup on your local machine for development and testing.

How to Modify WordPress Theme

How to Modify WordPress Theme - screen shot.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn about some Theme Template tags in WordPress.

Add a Twitter Field to Your Form

Add a Twitter Field to Your Form - screen shot.

Learn how to install and set up the WP Twitip ID plugin to integrate Twitter into your WordPress site.

How to put a Custom Header in your WordPress Blog

How to put a Custom Header in your WordPress Blog - screen shot.

Replace the default WordPress header to a custom-made header so that you can quickly get started with your WordPress blog.

Create your first widget

Create your first widget - screen shot.

This video tutorial shows you how to create a theme widget for WordPress.

How to make a WordPress plugin

How to make a WordPress plugin - screen shot.

Learn how to create a WordPress plugin that follows the WordPress plugin development guidelines.


How to setup PrettyURLs on WordPress

How to setup PrettyURLs on WordPress - screen shot.

Learn everything about permalinks (including how to set it up on your WordPress site) in this video tutorial.

Setting up a member/user directory in WordPress

Setting up a member/user directory in WordPress - screen shot.

This video tutorial shows you how to create a member/user directory listing page to display member information.

Lost Password, Update User Info

Lost Password, Update User Info - screen shot.

This helpful tutorial teaches site administrators what to do in case a user loses his or her password.

Enable HTTPS

Enable HTTPS - screen shot.

Learn about HTTPS as it pertains to the security of your WordPress site in this insightful video tutorial.

Best Practices for Upgrading WordPress

Best Practices for Upgrading WordPress - screen shot.

Upgrading WordPress is a simple task but there are some steps you should consider before proceeding with a major upgrade (such as backing up your WordPress database). In this tutorial, you’ll learn about a good way of safely upgrading your WordPress installation.

Moving your Blog, changing your domain name

Moving your Blog, changing your domain name - screen shot.

If you need to move your WordPress installation to another location on your server or web host you should check out this general tutorial on the steps involved in relocating your existing WordPress site.

Import and Export WordPress Data

Import and Export WordPress Data - screen shot.

Learn everything about exporting and importing your WordPress data by viewing this excellent screencast.

WordPress blog admin settings

WordPress blog admin settings - screen shot.

Get a run-down of useful WordPress admin settings to help you properly administer your site.

WordPress User Roles Explained

WordPress User Roles Explained - screen shot.

There are several user roles that you can assign to members of your WordPress site - this thorough video tutorial teaches you the difference of each.

Getting started with WordPress

Creating the Database for your Wordpress Installation

Creating the Database for your Wordpress Installation - screen shot.

One of the first steps involved in the installation of WordPress is the creation of a database. This tutorial shows beginners how to create a database for WordPress using phpMyAdmin, a freely available web application that most shared hosting plans have.

Creating a Sitemap using the Google Sitemap Generator Plugin

Creating a Sitemap using the Google Sitemap Generator Plugin - screen shot.

Improve search engine results using the Google Sitemap plugin - this tutorial shows you how to install and set up the plugin.

Getting Started

Getting Started - screen shot.

Geared for beginners, this tutorial is a great general introduction to blogging and WordPress.

Wordpress installation and theme tutorial

Wordpress installation and theme tutorial - screen shot.

Get up and running with a WordPress installation, as well as learn the basics behind WordPress themes, by following along this video tutorial.

How to Upload PDFs

How to Upload PDFs - screen shot.

WordPress users that want to learn how to upload PDFs to share to their audience might find this short video tutorial useful.

Photo Captions

Photo Captions - screen shot.

Captions describe the photos displayed on a post and in this tutorial you’ll see a method for adding them to photos of a blog post.

Simple Page Edit in WordPress

Simple Page Edit in WordPress - screen shot.

This screencast shows beginning users how to edit a page in the WordPress admin section.

How do I create a picture gallery in my blog post?

How do I create a picture gallery in my blog post? - screen shot.

This tutorial shows you how to put together a picture gallery post in WordPress.

HTML & QuickTags vs. Visual Editor

HTML & QuickTags vs. Visual Editor - screen shot.

Learn the difference between editing content through the Visual Editor (the built-in WYSIWYG editor in WordPress) and good old-fashioned HTML.

WordPress tools

Using Windows Live Writer

Using Windows Live Writer - screen shot.

Set up Windows Live Writer for WordPress so that you can let authors write blog posts offline.

How do I write WordPress blog posts with the ScribeFire Firefox add-on?

How do I write WordPress blog posts with the ScribeFire Firefox add-on? - screen shot.

Make blogging hassle-free with ScribeFire, a Mozilla Firefox browser add-on that let’s you update posts on-the-fly.

Original here

Microsoft, Apple, Google sued over icon software patent

By David Chartier

Cygnus Systems, Inc., a networking company based in Michigan, got into the holiday spirit by suing Microsoft, Apple, and Google for violating a patent it was recently awarded, which covers the navigation and access of files based on representational thumbnails. Products like Microsoft's Vista, Apple's Cover Flow feature, and Google's Chrome browser are cited for infringement. Cygnus is seeking the typical damages and permanent injunction that prevents further infringement, but is also stating that these big three may not be the only companies it goes after.

The patent in question is US 7,346,850, called "System and method for iconic software environment management." Its abstract describes "a method and system for storing, navigating, and accessing files within an operating system through the use of a graphical thumbnail representing the video display of the active document within the active application." In other words, Cygnus' patent describes features similar to those of Windows Explorer and Apple's Finder—these applications use scaled-down previews to represent the actual documents being browsed by users. The patent could also include things like file icons that dynamically update to reflect changes to the contents of their respective documents, as well as Opera's "Speed Dial" feature, which offers a visual dashboard of easy-access websites. Cygnus' complaint even cites the iPhone's "accompanying iconic file preview and access functionality" and the Safari browser's tab thumbnails.

A figure from Cygnus' patent, which describes documents that are opened in applications, but also represented by icons in a browser.

The complaint contains a few discrepancies, however, such as its targeting of Google, which isn't actually making software "within an operating system." Also odd is its claim that Google infringed its patent "by making, using, selling, and offering for sale Google’s Chrome web browser." Currently, Google Chrome is offered as a free download for Windows XP SP2 and Vista.

Cygnus (not to be confused with Cygnus Solutions, which gave us open source tools like gcc and Cygwin) filed its patent on June 8, 2001 as a continuation of an application originally filed on June 12, 1998. The patent was granted on March 18, 2008, and it doesn't appear to have taken Cygnus long to begin devising a lawsuit strategy to recover "an award of damages adequate to compensate plaintiff for the infringement that has occurred." Notably, Cygnus is also seeking retroactive damages from the date the infringement began.

Microsoft, Apple, and Google are not likely to be Cygnus' only targets if its lawsuit gets anywhere. Plenty of other companies and products, such as Adobe, Opera, iPhoto, Windows Mobile, and possibly even web services like Flickr, may all infringe upon some of the broad terms in Cygnus' patent. This suit may not get very far, however, considering the caliber of companies (and their defensive teams) that Cygnus has chosen to pursue, and the probability that some aspects of the patent were granted despite prior art. The strange length of time between filing and grant dates of the patent, as well as its broad terms, may also not do Cygnus any favors in these proceedings.


This piece has been edited to reflect the fact that Cygnus Systems, Inc.—the small networking company that filed this suit—has nothing to do with Cygnus Solutions, which produced open source tools like gcc and Cygwin before merging into Red Hat in 1999.

Original here

Two free tickets to Lotusphere–is IBM’s Lotus Notes Out of Touch With Web 2.0 World?

by Jeff Widman

Next month is the annual Lotusphere conference. IBM is giving two free tickets to TC readers–leave a comment saying why you’d like to go to Lotusphere, and we’ll pick the winners by Monday morning. (Note: Passes cover conference registration only, not travel/hotel.)

Few pieces of software are as polarizing as Lotus Notes. When my last job forced me to use Notes, I found the interface clunky, the graphics Win 95′esqe, and the workflow architecture non-intuitive. Granted, I was using Version 6.5 (Notes is now on Release 8), but even so I found it frustratingly unproductive. And I’m clearly not alone.

Probably the most famous Notes aficionado is David Allen of Getting Things Done fame. (The eProductivity application–built off the Notes platform–is David’s personal GTD tool.)

When I recently attended David’s GTD seminar, I was struck by the contrast between his fresh ideas, and the outdated nonsense of the Notes 6.5 interface. During this podcast, David directly asked, “Why do end users hate Lotus notes?” And then pointed out that most Notes users have no clue of the power of the tools they are using.

Which leaves me wondering–has IBM’s Lotus Notes lost touch with the user-centric web 2.0 world?

To answer these questions, I interviewed Kevin Cavanaugh, IBM’s VP in charge of the Notes/Domino group. Also joining us was Ed Brill, IBM’s Director of Messaging and Collaboration.
(My conclusions after the interview.)

Most people I talk with think Notes is dead or dying…

Notes has had seventeen straight quarters of growth. This year alone, we experienced 17% growth in Q1, 20% in Q2, and 10% in Q3. Over 60% of IBM business is overseas, and that’s mirrored in Lotus. Currently, out of the approximately 46,000 companies using the Notes/Domino platform, only 30% are US based.

What’s your target customer size?

Traditionally, IBM as a whole has focused on large enterprises. [The Notes group] average customer is a little smaller than the rest of IBM–we’re certainly more active in the small to medium business market.

Are you jumping on board the cloud bandwagon?

Generally, security concerns and the economics of cloud offerings aren’t as appealing to IBM, and larger enterprises. However, we recently released several cloud offerings for Lotus, including the Lotus Foundation, a remotely managed appliance targeting companies smaller than 250 people.

What’s up with the clunky UI?

Until R8, the UI was from 1995 era. We kept renovating under the hood, but not the UI. For R8, we significantly improved the UI, including over 2,000 usability tests.

New UI:

Clearly, you’re marketing to IT managers. Are you reaching out to end users?

Ed: We’re actively reaching out both online (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, etc) and offline, trying to help people understand the power of Notes. When I was last in London, I met with a blogger to try to understand why he was so frustrated with Notes.

Why do so many people hate on Notes?

Ed: Users live in their messaging environment, and blame everything from network problems to a full inbox on Notes. But in this case, the ease of Notes deployment means many current installations are ten years old or more. They’re functional from an IT perspective, but still using the older UI.

Previously, I suggested that the next wave of knowledge management innovation may come from consumer applications invading the enterprise space. What are you doing to make the enterprise more accessible to users? (How are you avoiding a device-centric model?)

Ed: Notes has an online component–not just e-mail and calendar, but multiple collaborative tools including integrated IM, bookmarking, etc. We support Blackberries, Windows Mobile, and iPhone. RIM, in particular, is a huge partner, not just because they’ve deeply penetrated the enterprise space, but because they’re actively supporting this partnership. We’re also starting to partner with more startups building off the Notes platform–startups who traditionally weren’t in the enterprise space.

It was a fascinating interview–especially because IBM admits there are things that WERE wrong with Notes…

Over the past few years, Notes lost touch with users. David Allen may love the power, but those features are useless if people can’t figure out how to access them. It isn’t just poor training either–a proper UI intuitively guides users. (Note: I haven’t used R8, so can’t comment on current UI.)

What does the future hold for Lotus?

Clearly, Lotus is making money, and growing. Few web 2.0 companies can claim seventeen straight quarters of growth!

But refocusing on the international market avoids questions about Notes growth in the US market–a key group of core “small-medium enterprise” customers.

According to eProductivity founder Eric Mack, Lotus must shift focus:

The secret to a renaissance with Lotus Notes will be to focus on what end-users are doing with Notes. Come on, we are living in a web 2.0 world; users expect to have a say and they want to take ownership of the tools that they use. As long as [IBM] perceives Lotus Notes as something pushed down from the top–part of the ’system’–the tools won’t become personal.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Update: Originally I’d quoted Kevin as saying 10,000 companies use the Notes/Domino platform. Ed e-mailed me to say it’s actually 46,000.

Original here

uTorrent Grows to 28 Million Monthly Users

Written by Ernesto

uTorrent - the client of choice for most BitTorrent users - has gathered a steady userbase since it was first released three years ago, one which continues to expand. Last year the number of uTorrent users had doubled, and in 2008 it continued to grow, up to 28 million monthly users.

utorrentuTorrent saw its first public release in September 2005. A year later this popular lightweight client was acquired by BitTorrent Inc. who continued to develop the application, recently introducing a Mac version.

Despite its popularity, up until now little has been known about the number of regular users the client has. Based on data from PC Pitstop, we reported in April that uTorrent was installed on 11.6% of all PCs in Europe, compared to 5.1% in the United States. However, the number of installs says little about the actual use of the application.

Trying to discover more about the number of regular users of uTorrent, we decided to ask Simon Morris, BitTorrent’s VP of Product Management, and he was willing to share some data with us. Morris told us that every month, 28 million unique clients are actively used. “Client check-ins have continued to grow steadily in the course of 2008,” he said, adding “Clearly the ongoing demand for our freeware seems to be quite strong.”

In comparison, Morris said that the Mainline client - the second most popular BitTorrent client according to PC Pitstop - has 7 million active users a month. More interestingly perhaps, is that the usage statistics of uTorrent gives us more insight into the number of BitTorrent users overall. If we know what the market share of uTorrent is, we could made a fairly accurate estimate of the number of active BitTorrent users a month.

Based on tracker reports, an estimated market share for uTorrent of between 40% and 60% seems fair, which would mean that there are between 50 and 70 million BitTorrent users active each month. If we assume that 70 million active BitTorrent users is an accurate estimate, this means that close to 5% of all people on the Internet are using BitTorrent monthly, which is quite impressive.

Original here

Harvard Prof Wants to Broadcast RIAA Case on Internet

posted by soulxtc in file sharing

File motion asking judge to allow audio-visual coverage of the motion and trial proceedings in the case against accused file-sharer Joel Tenenbaum.

Today, Professor Charles Nesson and his team of Harvard Law students filed a motion to broadcast courtroom coverage of the trial on the Internet, which is traditionally prohibited. More specifically, Nesson and his students are hoping to allow audio-visual coverage of the motion and trial proceedings. Nesson is defending Joel Tenenbaum, who has been sued by the RIAA for $1,050,000 for allegedly downloading making available 7 songs in a shared folder when he was 17 years old.

“The judicial process is essentially an exercise in civil discourse,” said Nesson. “Given the keen interest of the diverse parties following this litigation closely, and the potential learning value of this case to a broad audience beyond, this case presents an ideal instance in which judicial discretion should be exercised under the auspices of the rule to admit Internet to the courtroom.”

Despite the RIAA’s announcement last week that it is dropping its legal assault, it has not dismissed any of its existing cases, such as Tenenbaum’s. The RIAA's attorneys will almost certainly oppose Nesson's motion to allow the case to be broadcast on the Internet.

“What this underscores is that this case is about more than just music,” said Debbie Rosenbaum, one of Nesson’s students. “It’s about embracing digital natives in environments that have traditionally been closed off to them and challenging antiquated systems have yet to catch up to the twenty-first century.”

It would certainly be an interesting step forward for the judicial process and solidify the public nature of our courts system in the 21st century. Many cases have a very real impact on us all, yet distance and accessibility prevents us from observing them first hand.

Allowing the case to be broadcast on the Internet would be an important milestone for the judicial process and would no doubt reassert the publics' role as observers of the administration of justice in this country.

With the market value of 7 songs from iTunes being $6.93, Nesson has said the RIAA tactics are "a shake-down, it’s an extortion, it’s a blight and its an insult to the Federal Courts and the idea of law and to the poor people who have to work as the cogs of this administration making this machinery work.”

The counterclaim he is making is that these lawsuits blur the distinction between civil law which is design to compensate for losses, and criminal law which seeks to punish and deter.

Ray Beckerman of Recording Industry vs the People has noted that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that "compensatory damages are intended to redress a plaintiff’s concrete loss" which in this case is a mere 35 cents - 70 cents minus 35 saved for not having to distribute it - per each illegally downloaded song. At most 10:1 means $3.50 in damages for each song or a grand total of $24.50 instead of the $1,050,000 the RIAA is seeking.

Original here

Uproar in Australia Over Plan to Block Web Sites


SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- A proposed Internet filter dubbed the ''Great Aussie Firewall'' is promising to make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among democratic countries.

Consumers, civil-rights activists, engineers, Internet providers and politicians from opposition parties are among the critics of a mandatory Internet filter that would block at least 1,300 Web sites prohibited by the government -- mostly child pornography, excessive violence, instructions in crime or drug use and advocacy of terrorism.

Hundreds protested in state capitals earlier this month.

''This is obviously censorship,'' said Justin Pearson Smith, 29, organizer of protests in Melbourne and an officer of one of a dozen Facebook groups against the filter.

The list of prohibited sites, which the government isn't making public, is arbitrary and not subject to legal scrutiny, Smith said, leaving it to the government or lawmakers to pursue their own online agendas.

''I think the money would be better spent in investing in law enforcement and targeting producers of child porn,'' he said.

Internet providers say a filter could slow browsing speeds, and many question whether it would achieve its intended goals. Illegal material such as child pornography is often traded on peer-to-peer networks or chats, which would not be covered by the filter.

''People don't openly post child porn, the same way you can't walk into a store in Sydney and buy a machine gun,'' said Geordie Guy, spokesman for Electronic Frontiers Australia, an Internet advocacy organization. ''A filter of this nature only blocks material on public Web sites. But illicit material ... is traded on the black market, through secret channels.''

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy proposed the filter earlier this year, following up on a promise of the year-old Labor Party government to make the Internet cleaner and safer.

''This is not an argument about free speech,'' he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. ''We have laws about the sort of material that is acceptable across all mediums and the Internet is no different. Currently, some material is banned and we are simply seeking to use technology to ensure those bans are working.''

Jim Wallace, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, welcomed the proposed filter as ''an important safeguard for families worried about their children inadvertently coming across this material on the Net.''

Conroy's office said a peer-to-peer filter could be considered. Most of today's filters are unable to do that, though companies are developing the technology.

The plan, which would have to be approved by Parliament, has two tiers. A mandatory filter would block sites on an existing blacklist determined by the Australian Communications Media Authority. An optional filter would block adult content.

The latter could use keywords to determine which sites to block, a technology that critics say is problematic.

''Filtering technology is not capable of realizing that when we say breasts we're talking about breast cancer, or when we type in sex we may be looking for sexual education,'' Guy said. ''The filter will accidentally block things it's not meant to block.''

A laboratory test of six filters for the Australian Communications Media Authority found they missed 3 percent to 12 percent of material they should have barred and wrongly blocked access to 1 percent to 8 percent of Web sites. The most accurate filters slowed browsing speeds up to 86 percent.

The government has invited Internet providers to participate in a live test expected to be completed by the end of June.

The country's largest Internet provider, Telstra BigPond, has declined, but others will take part. Provider iiNet signed on to prove the filter won't work. Managing director Michael Malone said he would collect data to show the government ''how stupid it is.''

The government has allocated 45 million Australian dollars ($30.7 million) for the filter, the largest part of a four-year, AU$128.5 million ($89 million) cybersafety plan, which also includes funding for investigating online child abuse, education and research.

One of the world's largest child-advocacy groups questions such an allocation of money.

''The filter may not be able to in fact protect children from the core elements of the Internet that they are actually experiencing danger in,'' said Holly Doel-Mackaway, an adviser with Save the Children. ''The filter should be one small part of an overall comprehensive program to educate children and families about using the Internet.''

Australia's proposal is less severe than controls in Egypt and Iran, where bloggers have been imprisoned; in North Korea, where there is virtually no Internet access; or in China, which has a pervasive filtering system.

Internet providers in the West have blocked content at times. In early December, several British providers blocked a Wikipedia entry about heavy metal band Scorpion. The entry included its 1976 ''Virgin Killer'' album cover, which has an image of a naked underage girl. The Internet Watch Foundation warned providers the image might be illegal.

Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom have filters, but they are voluntary.

In the United States, Pennsylvania briefly imposed requirements for service providers to block child-pornography sites, but a federal court struck down the law because the filters also blocked legitimate sites.

In Australia, a political party named the Australian Sex Party was launched last month in large part to fight the filter, which it believes could block legal pornography, sex education, abortion information and off-color language.

But ethics professor Clive Hamilton, in a column on the popular Australian Web site, scoffed at what he called ''Net libertarians,'' who believe freedom of speech is more important than limiting what children can access online.

''The Internet has dramatically changed what children can see,'' said the professor at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, noting that ''a few extra clicks of a mouse'' could open sites with photos or videos of extreme or violent sex. ''Opponents of ISP filters simply refuse to acknowledge or trivialize the extent of the social problem.''

Original here

Windows 7 Beta ISO leaked on torrent trackers

by Lee Mathews

Apparently you won't even have to wait until January to get your hands on the Windows 7 Beta release as I mentioned in a previous post. That's right, there's already been an ISO file leaked to several torrent trackers.

The ISO appears to contain the Windows 7 M1 build (7000) highlighted by Paul Thurrott on SuperSite. So far the new build seems to perform slightly better than 6801, and memory usage has been improved. A number of previously hidden features - like the iconized task bar - are also now active.

Before comments start asking why there's no link to the file, it's because this is something that we're not supposed to have yet. If you want to get your hands on it, check your favorite torrent search site. Also keep in mind that this is a leak, and there's always the possibility that the ISO has been tampered with.

Original here

Why You Might Be Using Linux in 2009

Whatever you do, 2009 is looking to be a big year. That no exception when it comes to Linux. Applications and large projects continue to develop and make major releases multiple times per year. And while every year people predict that the next might be “The Year” for Linux adoption, here’s a list of some major products and trends that will play a part in attracting new attention to Linux in 2009.

KDE4KDE 4 Screenshot

Now more than ever, the Linux desktop just looks awesome. KDE4 is an important part helping Linux develop that reputation. The release of KDE4 this year was maybe the biggest desktop focused release for Linux of the past 3 years, and besides being one of the most sharp and impressive looking environments out-of-the-box, it’s also created a whole new Linux desktop experience with it’s support for compositing and desktop effects, widgets (or “plasmoids”) including Google Gadgets. The applications that come with KDE4 have all been going through major updates as well making them all just as impressive; utility tools like Dolphin, and lifestyle applications including Amarok 2, DigiKam, Kopete, Konquerer, and Kontact.

KDE4 was released earlier in 2008, but neither KDE4.0, or KDE4.1 were ready for use by average computer users. But with the soon to be released KDE4.2, and KDE’s future releases in 2009, new Linux users looking for a great desktop experience are in luck.


Netbook popularity continues to grow, and their sales show no sign of slowing for 2009. People who are either looking for a second computer, or a second laptop, or people who appreciate the smaller price tag that comes with netbooks, are best suited to take the dive into Linux. With less expensive hardware, and lack of critical information or applications on their netbooks, it’s a lot less risky for first time users to try Linux.

The best way to get the maximum cash value out of netbooks is only ever spend money on the one-time cost of the hardware. Ubuntu-eee, soon to be renamed to Easy Peasy, leads the way for netbook targeted versions of Linux. Apart from giving users full value for their netbooks and providing them with all the software anybody will want to run on a netbook, Ubuntu-eee and other netbook targeted versions Linux like also include customized user interfaces designed for use on the netbooks smaller screens.

Netbooks will continuously be best suited to run Linux as well. The new Windows 7 is said to be lighter than Vista, and able to run on netbooks, but even if that is the case, investing extra money for an operating system or for additional software for is a fast way to ruin any cost saving netbooks provide. Linux already provides netbook users with all the software and connectivity support required to make the system fully usable. The purchase of any software on top of the netbook itself is almost destroys the cost saving of the small computer.

The Cloud

The trend is growing of people whose work is being done more and more on the online. People are already figuring out that the smart way to get access to their data across multiple computers is by putting that data online onto the Cloud. Web office suites, communications tools, personal organization systems, and other quality applications are being created each month and all they demand from our computers is a good web browser and access to the Internet. The idea of computers being only an access point, and the applications and data we need and use being online lower the requirements of the equipment on our end substantially, and make the prospect of paying for a heavy front-end loaded machine will make less sense if the trend continues.

This is happening across all computing platforms and it was one of the original selling points for netbooks; that despite their lower processing power, they enable people more mobile access to their web applications.

Will It Drive Adoption?

There’s no way to tell if any of these items will actually switch people over in any higher numbers than Linux has been seeing over the past couple of years. But in the big picture, there’s an intersection being approached when the quality of the applications and experience present in Linux match the trends appearing in the way people work with computers, going more mobile than ever before, and the way the Internet and web applications are melding together with the desktop.

Original here

Cool Linux Projects that Need More Publicity

Always when a type of application is missing, there is bound to be a version in development. For difficult and complicated programs, the case is not the same but most of the powerful apps have a steep learning curve and although developers are already working hard on user-friendly alternatives, due to the complicated nature of the software, not many resources are available and the development time is much slower.

In order to attract some interest for certain slow, but extremely important projects I’ve picked out a few attractive apps which could become powerful contributors to the widespread adoption of the Linux desktop. We need to get stable, functional, user-friendly apps out. Linux does have some cool stuff available, but we often forget that a lot of it also depends on the interface.

Let us build a cool desktop! I am aware of the awesomeness that is customization, though many people forget that most desktop users want to simply start working. I love tweaking my Arch system for a whole weekend, it is just that I do not believe your typical grandmother is interested in such stuff. You see, she does not know the difference between tiling and floating window managers and the advantages of using virtual desktops, but she will like a prettier out-of-the-box experience, along with free applications for every task you can think of, which look good, do the job well and are easy to work with.


A garage-band like package, Jokosher can be a great tool for audio production, it just needs more functions. I don’t know if the developers are still working on it, the last version was released sometimes last year. It works fine on most distributions and is good for basic tasks, though there is a lot of work to be done to ensure stability and better functionality. I’d be very sad to see this project die.


Even though the project released a new version of their sexy video editing application, I’m not sure whether they will be able to keep up. More contribution would be need, since amateur video editing (except for the high-high end) is pretty weak on Linux (thank goodness for Kino and Cinelerra, but they just don’t cut it for the ‘middle market’) and I believe many dev resources and energy are required for such a complicated project to mature.


A personal favorite of mine. It is something like an equivalent of OpenCanvas. Along with the linuxwacom project the Gogh project wishes to make the perfect drawing app for tablet users. It is very important for sketching, also it features layers, colour palettes and other basic features. I’d like for Gogh to get more publicity, since it is quite a simple project, but crucial for tablet users to get to know GNU/Linux better.

Original here

Linux Mint 6 Felicia Review : It Must Be Christmas

Posted by: David in Linux, Linux Mint, Ubuntu

Linux Mint version 6 Felicia came out on December 15th and I have been running it on my Dell Inspiron 530 Q6600 system for the past week. I ran Hardinfo on the system if you want to see the specifications on the box. It is a quad core with 6 GB of RAM, so I was a little disappointed that the 64 bit version of Linux Mint was not released the same day the 32 bit version came out. Even though they have a 64 bit version of Linux Mint 5 Elyssa available I wanted to try out the latest version. Mint 6 is based on Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex and uses GNOME for it’s desktop environment. For those who prefer a different desktop, community editions of Mint 6 featuring KDE, XFCE and Fluxbox should be out soon.

A minimum of 512MB of RAM is recommended for the live CD. According to the Mint site, once installed the system works fine with as low as 256MB RAM. The installation process deals with 2.5GB of data compressed on a 700MB CD and it can hang or fail on systems with less than 512MB RAM. I have 6 GB on my desktop system, so needless to say, the install was fast. From the time I put the live CD in to the time I had it installed on the hard drive was around 15-20 minutes. I had no problems whatsoever with hardware detection during the install.

Linux Mint 6 Felicia includes:

  • Kernel 2.6.27
  • GNOME 2.24 (Nautilus has tab support now)
  • Xorg 7.4
  • Firefox 3.0.3
  • Open Office 2.4.1 (3.0 was available but not included in the release)
  • Gimp 2.6.1
  • MPlayer 1.0rc2
  • Compiz 0.7.8
  • CUPS 1.3.9
  • Network Manger 0.7.0 (Tools Added for connecting to GSM/CDMA 3G broadband and VPNs)
  • Python 2.5.2
  • Mono 1.9.1

All Proprietary Codecs Included:

One of the strong points of Linux Mint is it’s easy of use. All of the proprietary codecs that people like to use are included in the distribution. You will not have to download anything to playback MP3 files, watch Flash 10 YouTube clips in Firefox, view encrypted Hollywood movies in MPlayer or play Java 6 games in your Firefox browser. This makes the distribution well suited to people who are migrating from Windows or Mac. Most people use a computer as an appliance. They don’t care or have a clue about what codecs are patent encumbered and why they shouldn’t be shipped with a distribution. They just want everything to work out of the box. So when their MP3 music doesn’t playback in a free distribution, like Fedora for instance, they will assume Linux is “not ready for the desktop” and move back to their Windows or Mac PC. However, it should be said, Linux Mint has not abandoned those who seek a free distribution. They have a Universal Edition that ships without restricted formats, patented codecs or any proprietary components.

Slick looking GDM, Ubuntu System Panel and Two Compiz Configuration Tools:

One of my gripes with Ubuntu is it’s rather ugly GRUB menu. Linux Mint has a polished GRUB menu screen that fits the wallpaper and theme of the desktop. One of the first things you notice about Linux Mint is the Ubuntu System Panel (guide to install on 8.10 here). Rather than using the drop-down style menu at the top of the desktop, like you would in Ubuntu’s GNOME, you access the Menu by clicking the button on the bottom left of the desktop. One of the knocks on the USP menu is the amount of real estate it takes up on your screen. This did not bother me too much, but you can make up your own mind if it suits you based on the screenshot. I did like the filter feature of the menu. It allows you to sort your applications quickly by using a search box. I liked the blue theme and grey background that shipped with this distribution. They also have included a nice selection of addition themes (carbon is cool) and backgrounds (liked the swoosh) if the default one doesn’t suit you.

By the way, if your wondering about the writing on the desktop, I used the Compiz annotate feature on some of the screenshots in this post. It’s a pretty cool tool if you want to demonstrate software features in a screenshot. It just one of the many practical features of Compiz. Another feature, known as the the Desktop Zoom adds accessibility to people with vision problems. With the mouse scroll wheel and the Windows key I can magnify portions of the screen many times over. I was really pleased to see that Linux Mint has included both the CompizConfig Settings Manager and a smaller, simplified version so that people unfamiliar with Compiz will not be overwhelmed by it’s features. Unfortunately, Ubuntu does not include either of these tools by default. I think it is a shame to hide the tools that configure Compiz. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not just eye candy, it has useful tools that aid accessibility and productivity.


GnomeDo Screenshot

Linux Mint has included GNOME-DO in this release. This tool works much like QuickSilver in Macintosh. You type in the first few letters of the application you want and GNOME-DO tries to figure out what it is that you want to do. If it guesses the right application, just hit the enter key and it will run. I found that it usually guessed the right application. I think it saves the user some time using this tool versus finding the application in the menu structure. With the default key bindings, you use the tool by pressing the Windows and space keys.

Mint has also added a GUI Firewall tool to the CD. Gufw is a front-end to Ubuntu’s Uncomplicated Firewall. UFW’s syntax is much easier than using IPTables, but it is a command line only tool and Windows folks are going to be looking for a Norton or McAffee like GUI tool to setup a Firewall. For a home user, who maybe just wants to open up a ssh or vnc port on his computer, Gufw offers a simple UI to do so.

Mint Nanny and Mint Backup:

MintNanny is a simple GUI tool to block children from visiting inappropriate sites. You simply type in the domains that you want blocked and Firefox will not be able to view them. It works by adding an entry to your /etc/hosts file and defines that domain’s IP address as being An experienced user could just edit the hosts file directly, but for novice users this is a simply interface that is easier to use. If you need a blocker with more features, you might want to try something like DansGuardian.

MintBackup is a simple tool for backing up your home directory. You can choose to include hidden paths in the backup. Also, you can exclude directories/files that you don’t want. It saves the tarred .backup file in your home directory for later restoration. It provides a quicker way than using cp and tar commands on the terminal to make a backup.


APTonCD is an awesome tool if you don’t have access to the Internet all the time. The program can be found at Applications>Administation>APTonCd. It saves all of the packages that you have installed using Synaptic, Apt-get, or Aptitude to CD/DVD. Essentially, it provides you with your own portable repository. This also works wonders if you have several computers and don’t have the bandwidth to pull down the same packages from the Internet for each computer. Personally, I am out on the road often and pulling down packages with the slow bandwidth of WI-FI is not practical. While at home I can make my own repository on DVD using the great bandwidth of my cable modem. I now have a DVD containing all of the software I wanted to add to Mint and the packages I updated using mintUpdate. This way I don’t have to worry about the WI-FI bandwidth limitations while out on the road. This tool would also come in handy if you were changing your ISP and without the Internet for a while.


Probably the most novel feature of Mint is their software installation tool MintInstall. It give you ratings, reviews and screenshots of the applications in the software manager. It’s kind of like having your own version of Freshmeat on your desktop. On Ubuntu’s Brainstorm adding screenshots to Synaptic or Add/Remove programs has gotten a lot of support. I find the screenshot idea really useful, particulaly when looking at games I might want to download. A tool like this could use the work from the Debian screenshot project. For those who don’t know, this community project is trying to get screenshots of all of the thousands of Debian packages. They could use more applications and screenshots in MintInstall. When I ran it they only had about 450 applications in there. I should note one problem that comes with having screenshots included with the software manager. MintInstall took a good 5 minutes to pull down all of the screenshots of the various applications the first time I ran it. However, I don’t find this to be a major problem since once the screenshots were on my system MintInstall opened up right away. I do think, however, that MintInstall could aggravate dial-up users with low bandwidth that might not appreciate the initial startup time. If you decide you don’t like the speed of MintInstall the distribution has Synaptic available for installing packages.


Imagine a distribution that gives you your own server space to share files with family and friends. Well, that is what the Mint people have included in their software. Free of charge you get 1 GB of server space at that lasts for two days. You can access the MintUpload service by doing a right click in on the file you want to send and clicking upload. After uploading, just give the person you want to send it to the URL of where it is and they can download it. One of the recent features they have added is the ability to use your own FTP service. So if you have some server space for your Wordpress, Drupal, etc. blog you can use that space to quickly backup files without opening up a FTP client. I tried it out using my own shared hosting account and it worked like a charm. There is a short tutorial on the Linux Mint site if you want to use MintUpload with your own FTP site. You just need to create a text configuration file that has your FTP server name, username, password and path. Put the text file in /etc/linuxmint/mintUpload/services/ and you will have that server choice in the MintUpload dialog box.


This is a neat little tool for sharing files and folders on you local network. Basically, you get a pop-up notification when someone wants to send you a file. The sender gets a pop-up when you either accept or reject the file. The user interface is about as simple as you can get. I tried it out on my own LAN between my Q6600 desktop and my Dell Inspiron 1150 notebook an it worked without a hitch. I prefer this setup versus setting up a shared directory on my system using Samba when I just need to send one file or folder to another machine. Hopefully, being that it is a great tool for novices, Ubuntu will include it when Jaunty 9.04 comes out next year. I would also like to see them include the Gufw utility I mentioned earlier. I bet many new Ubuntu users coming from Windows have no idea that ufw exists. Being that it is a command line only program it is no where in the GNOME menu structure. I doubt many users of Windows are even aware that there is such a thing as the command line. This is why I feel for people migrating to Linux the GUI tools are so important.


Even though Mint has an Ubuntu base, it does not use the Ubuntu Update Manager to keep packages current. They have their own update manager known as MintUpdate. It has 5 levels of package status. Levels 1 and 2 tell you that the package has been tested and approved by the Linux Mint team. The lower levels 4 and 5 warn you that the package maybe unsafe or even dangerous to your system. This metering system gives you an idea of how much risk is involved with the installation of each package. You can choose to hide the more dangerous levels if you want to maintain a more stable system. They also have included a history of previously installed packages with MintUpdate. So if your system breaks all of a sudden you can try to use this to see which package might be responsible. You can also set up MintUpdate to use a proxy server to update packages if you are stuck behind a Firewall. I think MintUpdate is a real improvement over what is offered in Ubuntu. Hopefully, some of the ideas they have used here will make it into it’s parent distribution.

Eject CD-ROM Bug and Problems with Changing Screen Resolutions:

When I installed Mint 6 I ran into the same bug with udev that I found in my review of Ubuntu 8.10. If I try and eject a CD using Nautilus the tray opens and closes immediately, leaving me no time to take out the CD. If I eject the CD using the hardware button on the computer I don’t have this problem. The comments in the bug report at Launchpad said it was a problem with the udev device manager. This proved to be the case on my Mint install, because I was able to fix the eject CD problem by upgrading udev using mintUpdate.

I also ran into a little bit of problems when I tried to change screen resolution. When I booted the desktop I was given a 1024×768 resolution. If I tried to change the resolution either going up or down (keeping the same aspect ratio) the screen would not display the bottom menu bar. A good portion of the screen would be cut off at the bottom. Fortunately, It was not hard to fix the problem. I just did a Ctrl-Alt-Backspace to Kill the X session and logged back in. When I got to the desktop again the screen resolution I wanted displayed correctly and I had no further problems. I thought maybe that it was a problem with Compiz so I tried shutting that off and tried changing the resolution again. Bingo, screen did not get cut off so that is where the problem was. You need to shut off Compiz if you want to make screen resolution changes.

Conclusion: Do you want the Appliance Crowd?

IMHO a distribution like Mint is essential if the Linux community wants to move more people from Windows to Linux. The geeks have long ago adopted Linux as their OS of choice. What we need to do now is convert those people who regard their computer as an appliance. Tools like mint4win and having all the codecs working out of the box is necessary for these folks trying out Linux for the first time. I fear anything less will convince them that Linux is shoddy or somehow inferior in quality to Windows. I think the “it works better” arguement has to come before the “it’s free” argument. Otherwise people will buy the Microsoft bull and Windows will continue to garner it’s 90 percent share of the desktop market. As people gain some experience with Linux I think they will come to appreciate the difference between free and proprietary software.

I should note, however, that while Mint includes proprietary software it is far from being a better looking Ubuntu knockoff with Flash and MP3 working right out of the box. They have, as noted above, made a number of real improvements with mintUpload, mintInstall, mintUpdate and mintBackup. I hope some of their ideas reach the ears at Canonical. If you know someone who has lived their life in Windows this is without a doubt the distribution for them.

Original here

Cuil Fail: Traffic Nearly Hits Rock Bottom

by Robin Wauters

Remember the ill-fated Google-killer Cuil? Named ‘Cuill’ and very much in stealth mode for the first part of the year, they finally emerged end of July 2008 with a ‘massive’ search engine that would rival the most popular search engines of our time with an enormous index, an innovative interface and some nifty features.

Rival, it never did. The launch of the search engine was nothing but a classic PR trainwreck, with much hype and little to show for. Cuil failed to deliver good enough results to drive anyone to change their search behavior, and quickly became the subject of backlash and criticism because of their poor performance and indexing methods that actually took websites down in the process. Last time we reported about Cuil, was when their VP of Products (and AltaVista founder) Louis Monier quietly resigned from the startup.

With the end of the year approaching, I took a peek at how they’re doing traffic-wise out of sheer curiosity. After all, with no less than $33 million in funding and a founding management team consisting of ex-Google search experts, something had to give, right?

Well, no. Cuil isn’t performing well any way you look at it, and I can only imagine how nervous the startup’s management team and investors must be by now. Based on the numbers and graphs we gather from Google Trends, Alexa, Compete and Quantcast, you could even say search engine traffic is nearing rock bottom. Apart from that, a Cuil search for ‘TechCrunch’ still displays a Gmail logo rather than our own.

Original here