Burger Game Plan?

April 1, 2012

Okay, I’ve just had an epiphany, and I want to know if I’m alone in this. My entire life I’ve used the pre-prepped bun method: put the ketchup on the bun, the bun on the burger, and then consume. But is this very economical? How do you ensure the right ketchup distribution throughout the patty? If you have several items in need of ketchup, is there a better way to accommodate all the items in need of the sweet, tomato-y condiment?

Enter the dipping method. Make a lake of ketchup, dip everything in it- including the burger. You don’t have to take time to partition the sauce, and you always get just the right amount because it’s on the outside of the bun, instead of hiding out underneath.

Am I crazy? 🙂

 

OpenShot Video Editor

May 19, 2011

I’ve recently been doing more video editing than ever, and I wanted to share my absolute favorite video editor.


At one point I could say that there weren’t any decent editors for Linux- but OpenShot has grown into a powerful piece of software in recent times. The first thing that I quite like is that it accepts an enormous range of video formates (anything that Gstreamer can handle, AFAIK). You can export in a any format, and choose all the output resolutions, frame rates, bit rates, and other options. There are a huge plethora of transitions, most of which are pretty straight-forward. You can add titles at the beginning, or can create really professional and beautiful 3D title slides if you install Blender. To edit the video, just drag the video down and chop it up however you’d like using the cut tool. There are two possible audio tracks, and it’s simple to throw a sound file down to the timeline. I find that OpenShot is at least miles ahead of Windows Movie Maker, and on par with iMovie. In the future I hope to see a little more stability and more advanced features in the same vein as Final Cut Pro, but for now, I think that OpenShot is more than enough for most users.

Downloads

For now, it’s only available in Linux.

When I ordered my computer a year and a half ago I painstakingly selected every component I wanted to put into it. One thing that I knew for certain was that I wanted to play Blu-ray movies, and as such I knew I needed to put in a fairly beefy video card. I decided that the best bang for my buck would the ATI Radeon HD 4350 (512 GB). At that time I didn’t see myself running anything other than Windows, and I certainly wasn’t thinking out how the card would behave in an open-source world.

Fast forward to today, where no Windows installations are to be found on my machines and I’m rockin’ it open-source. It amazes me how terrible graphics drivers can be in the Linux world. The open-source drivers that ship with Ubuntu for ATI and NVIDIA cards are decent enough, but they don’t have the necessary 3D support needed to run many games, and video playback can be a little jittery for me. When I throw on the binary drivers (including Catalyst Control Center, which is a software experience that should just be avoided like the plague), I can play games, but I have over and under-scan problems (an issue with my specific graphics card that are due to ATI’s drivers), and video is so jagged and jerky that I cannot watch it (with or without the anti-tearing options enabled).

So Saturday, my first day off in nearly a year, I got up and yanked the graphics card right out of my machine, and connected my monitor via the HDMI port integrated on my motherboard. Intel open-sources all their integrated graphics drivers. Video playback is smooth and gorgeous, and most games run better than before.

My point of writing the post is this: NVIDIA and AMD need to step up their graphics game. The open-source drivers don’t cut it for many users’ needs, and the proprietary drivers are a terrible experience. If you want a great experience,  one that is completely open-source and problem free, give the integrated Intel chipsets a go- I’m surprised, and I think you will be, too.

Clementine Media Player

April 23, 2011

Clementine is a cross-platform, open-source media player based on the much-beloved Amarok 1.4 media player.

On the surface it boasts many  impressive features:

  • Plays local and internet files (MP3, AAC, OGG Vorbis, FLAC)
  • Stream from online radio stations (Last.fm, SomaFM, Magnatune, Jamendo and Icecast).
  • Excellent playlist support, including import and export in popular formats.
  • Edit tags and download missing album artwork.
  • Desktop notifications, including the sound menu integration in Ubuntu
  • Queue manager
  • iPod/iPhone/MTP support
  • Artist info, pics, biographies, and lyrics built-in

In terms of performance, this program is fairly remarkable. It loads quickly, doesn’t bog down the system, and isn’t built on Mono (not pointing fingers… Banshee). It terms of functionality, it not only does what it claims, but it does it almost flawlessly.

Where Clementine falls down for me is in usability and design. There’s something I have to get off my chest: I know the name of the program is Clementine. You don’t have to put a giant orange in the library window, and the texture for the sidebar doesn’t need to be bunches of Clementines. Perhaps that would work on a bottle of Tropicana, but it does not make for a pleasant design in software.That being said, I absolutely love the orange bars that show when music is playing. It’s a nice touch that a lot of the open-source players lack.

Unlike other music players, you don’t just play a song straight from your library. It automatically throws everything in a queue, and makes it feel like it’s almost impossible to escape some kind of playlist mode. That probably works for some people- it just doesn’t for me. There’s too much manipulation; I just want to hear a song.

The lyric lookup and artist bios/pictures are a nice addition, and for people with a serious interest in music, it really makes a compelling difference. The process is a little clunky and the UI is slightly cluttered, but I’m not going to knock it.

One last thing that I want to add is that it’s being very actively updated. The developers are staying on top of bugs and adding new features, and I really respect when people are fired up about their project.

Bottom line: Clementine needs some work with the UI and usability, but it’s feature-rich, light-weight, and is ultimately a great option for people looking for a new music player.

Downloads

Clementine is available for nearly all platforms, and has packages for Fedora, Ubuntu, Mac OS X, and Windows (all in 32 and 64 bit varieties)

Download Here

or use

sudo apt-get install clementine

in most Linux terminals

Google Voice Notifier

April 13, 2011

I wanted to share a quick post about a piece of software I found that has saved me tons of aggravation and has made my life about a billion times simpler. As a seventeen-year-old part-time fast-food worker/blogger, I’m a little strapped for cash, so I have relied on Google Voice for my texting and audio needs for quite a while.

For those of you who don’t know, Google Voice is a service that allows you to send SMS messages and make some calls for free (that’s a simplified explanation). The only problem that I’ve had is that I needed to fire up a browser and hit refresh to check for new messages.

Now there’s an app for Ubuntu (and Ubuntu-based variants, I would imagine) that ties directly into the messaging system. It turns the little envelope blue when you get a new text message, and lists the number that contacted you. This way, I get a desktop notification and never have to miss an important text message or voicemail again!

Download/install

You can install by running the following in the terminal:

 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ken-vandine/notifiers
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get install gvoice-notifier

To report bugs or ask questions, visit the Launchpad page

Firefox 4

April 11, 2011

Over the past few weeks Mozilla released the final version of Firefox 4 (and not a moment too soon I might add). This release, which saw a long period of developmental and pre-release versions, promised to be the best version of Firefox ever- something that I can vouch for.

Admittedly, I have been a Chromium user for a long while now. Although I was consistently using the other browser for most of my web-surfing needs, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Mozilla and the whole Firefox team. I really do believe that they’re in this for the right reasons. They’re committed to open-source and preserving a free and open web. (I can’t post HTML5 vids on WordPress, but I’d love for you to see the Mozilla mission video: http://mozilla.org/about/)

That’s all great, but how does the browser stand up? Surprisingly well. I challenged myself to replace Chromium with Firefox on my main machine running Ubuntu 11.04 Natty pre-release for the past few weeks: here are my results: (just a note: the Ubuntu version ships with extensions for Ubuntu One and the global menu).

My switch was painless, and I don’t plan on going back. While start-up times are slower, I have found Firefox to be equally as fast as Chromium in loading/rendering sites. My bookmarks are backed up with Ubuntu One, and the menu bar is conveniently packed into my Global Menubar. A huge array of extensions and working pin-able app-tabs make this a solid competitor. New features include stackable tabs and a re-thought UI. Read below for a list of my pros/cons:

Pros

  • Much faster than previous versions of Firefox (on-par with Chromium)
  • Has Chrome-style pin-able “app tabs”
  • Seems to be notably stable
  • Customizable
  • New option for tabs on top
  • Redesigned UI, especially in the Windows version
  • Out-of-the-box ability to group tabs together
  • Integrates well within the various operating systems
  • New sync features that keep your browser synchronized between installs
  • No more status bar

Cons

  • Still a bit of a resource hog 😦
  • Slower to start up than Chromium
  • No built-in “New Tab” page (Speed Dial exists as an extension, but is not my favorite)
  • Downloads appear in manager (separate window)
  • Just a personal thing, but the “New Tab” icon in Linux bugs me to death.

Verdict: I love this browser. I have switched from Chromium full time, and I am loving every minute of it. Is it as good as Chromium. Eh… that’s for you to decide. All I know is that it works well for me. Either way, it’s a great browser, it’s open-source, and you honestly cannot go wrong with it. It’s an evolutionary release, not a revolutionary one- but it’s free as in freedom, free as in beer, and rock-solid.

Downloads

For Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10 users:

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

For Ubuntu 11.04 users: Firefox 4 is already installed. Run the update manager, or sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get update (or apt-get install firefox if you’ve uninstalled it before)

All other OSes and lanuages:

 

This past week I installed Ubuntu 11.04 ‘Natty Narwhal’ alpha 3 on both of my machines (my desktop and my netbook). While it is a little buggy- being pre-release version- I am happy to say that I fully believe that it’s polished enough to give it a good go-around.

I submit to you an idea, and I hope to clarify and elaborate on it in the next few paragraphs: this is a defining release for Ubuntu. One of the common arguments in the open-source community is whether FLOSS drives innovation or simply copies proprietary software. This is one of those instances where I am amazed at what all the brilliant guys at Canonical were able to push out and innovate.

Unity, the big feature this release, certainly isn’t new, but darned if it doesn’t feel like it. I was not a fan when it was introduced to the Ubuntu Netbook Remix in 10.04, but my opinion has completely reversed. It was ported to Compiz and given some much-needed TLC to make it snappy and powerful. Being open-source, developers have the SDK needed to do all kinds of fancy goodness, including having unique right-click options and using built-in counters and progress bars.

I posed the question for the Maverick release whether or not it was a leap forward for the Linux desktop, and my honest answer was no.

This is that leap forward.

Unity redefines how intimately you interact with your desktop. It makes the entire experience smoother, simpler, and much more consistent. And I just love that.

Other great features for this release include:

  • An integrated menu bar that shows the options when you hover over it.
  • Banshee replaced Rhythmbox as the default music app (review coming soon).
  • New Ubuntu One client, bug fixes, and redesign (review coming soon-ish).
  • New calendar/appointment applet.
  • Redesigned sound menu buttons.
  • A control center for managing system applications and settings
  • LibreOffice replaced OpenOffice
  • Redesign of Dash in Unity
  • Unity Places
  • New GRUB
  • Fresh Kernels

And remember, this is still early in the game. All these are subject to change, and even more goodness could be one the way. I just wanted to give a quick heads up and say not only is it an revolutionary refresh, but it’s also stable enough* to test right now (if you don’t mind a little bugginess).

Download: Here

*enough for me, your mileage may vary