Chromecast

Came across the term for the first time when I was checking out stuff on the play Store. It’s another project by Google, which in itself is naught but like a USB flash drive, but there’s more to it.
The Chromecast enables you to enjoy media content on your HDTV. Means if for example you come across a YouTube Video, while checking out your Facebook feeds, all you have to do is look for and press the chromecast button. It would prompt you with a list of available devices, selecting any of which would play the content on whatever device you chose. To do so, what you are gonna need is true chromecast USB device of course which has to be plugged into the TV.

Here, a link to the official video:
The Chromecast

 

Running StartX in Ubuntu screws up “login” [FIXED]

Two days back, I out of curiosity, fired up a terminal and typed in startx, with the hope that the UI would be reduced to naught but the original form of the X. At first it displayed an error, saying that i’m not permitted to. But then I tried again, and this time with a ‘sudo.’ The moment I entered my password, the screen went all dark, but only for a second, after which I was left with naught but a blank desktop, free from menus. Sensing failure, I opened another terminal and wrote ‘unity.’ Something similar happened, but this time, the title bar of the terminal kinda got stuck to the top of the screen. I tried the same command again, and this time, I was brought back to where i started. The terminal in which i had typed the startx command was still there, however i failed to notice that the user logged into it wasn’t my primary user account but root. I didn’t really notice anything unusual, except that the settings dropdown, present in the top-right, in the gnome bar, wasn’t showing up the options it ought to, so I restarted the computer by simply pressing the power button.

After the reboot, whenever I’d attempt a login, I’d be greeted by a dark screen, and after like a fraction of second, I’d be back on the Login Page. But the guest account seemed to work fine, so I logged into it and created another Administrator account, and on that one, I tried recreating the problem and was successful. Okay, now we might get somewhere…

Now what I did, that fixed the problem, was this:
I logged into the account, i.e the first one where i screwed everything up, via the tty1 terminal (Ctrl + Alt + F1), and ran the following commands:

sudo rm /home/anas/.Xauthority*
sudo apt-get install --reinstall xorg --fix-missing

The first one deletes the file, while the second re-installs Xorg. After this, I was able to login to the account again.

 

Window Managers vs Windowing Systems(Display Server) vs Desktop Environments

If u happen to be a Linux user, you might, at the very least be familiar with the Desktop environments: GNOME, KDE, LXDE or XFCE. Also, you might have come across the names OpenBox, X Window System and Window Maker, and perhaps an implementation of more than one of these together, e.g. ‘Gnome/OpenBOX.’

Now the Question is, If they are all UIs, what exactly is the difference? And how can they all be working together at the same time? Because despite how similar they seem, each serves a totally different purpose.

To explain this, I’d take the example of layers. Imagine a stack of, let’s say, papers. The Stack represents a GUI Linux OS, and every individual sheet of paper represents a different component. Now assuming that the bottom section is dedicated to the GUI Components, the layer at the very bottom of this section would represent the X-Window System. It like forms the base of the GUI, and displays the information in a graphical way. Above the X, is a Window Manager, i.e. assuming, OpenBox. This Window Manager, as it’s name states, helps you manage them open windows. Menus, Taskbars, managing the look and feel, e.t.c. could be examples of what it might offer. Now a Window System, the X, may offer some of the functionality of a Window Manager, but still, they are two different things. In Simple words, a Window manager only enhances the Windows System.

Now the Desktop Environments are a bundle of Applications and tools, with their own UI, and built on some Window Manager, that provide the user with the essentials like a File Manager, Text editor, Browser, e.t.c.

Now to sum it all up, take the example of UbuntuGnome. The Ubuntu Gnome uses the X Windows System as the display server, but on top of it is the Openbox, and the Desktop environment is Gnome, which comes with its own set of Applications like the Nautilus File Manager, Gedit(text-editor), Rhythmbox Music Player, e.t.c.

 

 

Cloud Services – Quick Reviews

With the passage of time, as ‘everything is moving to the cloud’ (pardon my excessive use of this quote, but it does really sum things up), the use of cloud storage is becoming common, and there are dozens of such services on the cloud each with its own uniquity, now the questions that arise are, “which one of them is the best?” “which one should i go for?” “can we really trust them with our data?” e.t.c. So, in this post, I’m going to talk a bit about the most popular (or at least the ones i prefer) cloud services on the web.

Microsoft’s Skydrive(formerly Windows Live Folders): Microsoft’s own cloud, that offers about 7GB of free storage. Apps are available for Windows, MacOSX and Mobile Devices i.e. Android and iOS. These apps are well integrated once you fully install them and do offer a Sync feature, but the best thing about SkyDrive is that it serves well as both: “access-through-browser” service and when installed, it can sync files between your PC and SkyDrive very well too. The Web Interface is what most people love about Skydrive, and you can also create and to some extent, edit documents e.t.c. It has this own great photo viewer, e.t.c. So on the whole, Skydrive isn’t too bad.

Google Drive: Taking into account the factors stated in the description of skydrive, Google Drive is perhaps the only other such service that’s in any way close to Skydrive. Google however offers 15GB, and, the photos and documents don’t take up storage space on the google drive, so it doesn’t really matter, and in fact, the later feature is good. About the Document thing, they can be created through Google Docs. Interface is good and clean and it too offers applications so that you can sync between PC and Drive.

Ubuntu One: Ubuntu One, my favorite, unlike the above two, has apps for all three platforms, offers 5GB of Storage and has an awesome Sync. Despite how lame the phrase ‘awesome Sync’ sounds, i really mean it. I never really could ever make efficient use of cloud services until i tried Ubuntu One. Google Drive can be troublesome when installing and Skydrive’s Sync features were kinda limited to special folders back then, and neither offered the speed and everything that Ubuntu One did. It merely flows, but the major drawback about it is that the Web interface doesn’t really go beyond listing the files and offering a few basic features like ‘delete’ and ‘download.’ And you might find that it doesn’t run as smooth on Windows as it does on Ubuntu itself, but then that’s what it was made for.

Bitcasa: Bitcasa offers about 10GB of free storage, and has a nice and clean interface. It too offers applications for Windows, Mac, and phones, but my usage of Bitcasa never went beyond creating and account and installing its chrome extension. I never really tried its apps so i cant say much about it. However I created the account in order to use it like a DropBox, where i can throw files when i have to. However what I liked about BitCasa was it’s Chrome Extension that allowed you to directly download stuff to your bitcasa drive, and thus beside ever download button is a ‘download to bitcasa’ button.

Flickr: Flickr is a photosharing website, backed by Yahoo, which, according to what it says on its home, offers about 1TB of free storage space, which you might not ever run out of. So if you have to store huge masses of pictures. Go for Flickr.

CloudApp: CloudApp is the best cloud service that exists. It’s quick and amazingly user-friendly, but it’s only available for MacOSX.

These  were the cloud services I normally use and prefer. As for the Question about ‘trust’, well, all i can say is that Microsoft are what brought computers to us, and thus have been in the game for ages. So i doubt that they care about what a single user from millions in his 196th country is storing on their servers, and as for Google, well, you trust google with quite a lot already + u use their email services. Clouds like bitcasa can be a problem, as even I didn’t really hear anything about it. I just came across it somewhere and liked it; tried it. Flickr’s Yahoo’s.

 

OtherOS [PlayStation3]

OtherOS was a feature in the Playstation 3, which was later discontinued and made unavailable throught a firmware update, that allowed one to install a custom operating system i.e. Unix or Linux like OSs. The reason for its discontinuation was perhaps the flexibility of  running OtherOSs and perhaps it challenged the reputation of their own OS.

Anyways, the Flavours that are known to have run on the PS3 are YellowDog Linux, Fedora, OpenSUSE and a versions of Ubuntu were actually ported to it too!

 

The UbuntuStart/StartUbuntu Project to shun XP

Windows XP, successor to 98, was a huge leap for MS, and well perhaps the most stable version of Windows ever in its time, the first release of which was launched in 2000, is still widely used. Whether it should still be used or not, is highly debatable. Some loyal supporters would argue with the fact that it’s about 3 versions old and yet extremely stable and supports everything, while others who have (or at least claim to) have looked into the issue state that, it’s no longer secure, and that it has compatibility issues and all.

Canonical seized the chance and began working on it immediately. The Ubuntu Start Project, the first releases of which are already up and available, aims to provide Windows XP users, (or users with PCs that support nothing much higher than XP,) with a “modern, unique, stable, fast, powerful, highly customizable, active and amazing community based system, open-source, free Linux-based system which should replace their very old no longer supported system.” 

From what I can make out after reading this, in itself, the project is more of a campaign to gain more users than a new redefined OS. Means that despite its purpose,  and how big the whole thing sounds, 50% of the project is just about persuading people to switch to Ubuntu, while the rest i.e. the software bit of the project is a script that has to be run after installing ubuntu, that would kinda enhance it for windows users so that they don’t have trouble getting used to the new environment, e.g. moving window buttons from left to right 😀 . Auto-mounting NTFS drives, (cause we are too lazy to make a single click), and it also installs GIMP, WINE, DropBox, some torrent client, and other such tools that one might need.

Can’t really say much about this myself as i haven’t tried the script myself yet.. however this was a smart move by Canonical, but on the other hand, XP users, if you are by any chance planning to make the switch, be prepared, for Linux is Linux. (no offence meant)

 

Where’s the ‘Innovation’?

Two days back, Sony unveiled its Xperia Z1 smartphone, that packs a 2.2Ghz Quad-core processor and a 20.7MP camera, and the same magnificent display, perhaps that’s a little larger too, and that’s the point. Every now and then, a new phone comes out, and it’s pretty hard to choose the best among them, as the competition is tough, but what exactly is it that a day-newer smartphone carries? A slightly better processor? perhaps an extremely high-res camera? or a water proof display? Or…Just a larger screen.

If this is what makes one phone superior over the other, then it’s no competition, considering that one carries better hardware, and thus is bound to perform better. Comparing a dual-core HTC with a Quad-core Samsung, or comparing the Water-proof Xperia with a normal Huawei, or a 41MP Lumia with any camera-ed device is similar to comparing a tank with a Vespa (no offence meant).

When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, in 2007, it didn’t pack a Quad-core either, but it really hit the market, and people fell in love with the idea, cause it was one. The idea behind the iPhone wasn’t to sell Dual-cores or water-proof phones, or integrated cameras,  or even fancy touch screens, but it was the Revolutionary UI that set it apart from others. If you dont get it, simply watch the video,( it’s available on Youtube, so i wont bother sharing a link.)

And soon, support for something similar was ported into Android, which arrived a bit earlier than the iOS, and yet, the latter is considered to be superior, (though personally, i love both.) That Android is what powers up most of todays’ smartphones, and the best of which is itself based on Steve Jobs Revolutionary UI.

True that Samsung introduced the ‘smart pause’ and the ‘eye focus’ is another rumored release, but even these two, though a huge leap, aren’t exactly needed, nor are they going to make life better for us.. They are simply building up on the same thing and adding to it, whatever they see, but this won’t do. They are supposed to be building mobile devices but going on the wrong track by enlarging the screen with every release. Similarly, it’s good for the phones to carry a camera, but the phone is not supposed to be a camera. The eye tracking thing of Samsung’s, is in itself, good, but do we really need it? though it sounds pretty simpler, it might put strain to the eyes, and it might be a bit error-prone, and what’s the point of it being in a phone? 

The floating touch / motion control, rumored to be in some model of Xperia, and the latter in SmartTVs, is pretty advanced too, but we dont need all this in our phones.. People prefer simplicity. Microsoft could have introduced it in their windows phones ages ago if they wanted too, seeing as we’ve seen something similar yet better in the XBox, but they dont have to or need to. The Simple UI of the Windows Phone 7+ is an example, of how they are keeping it simple, and how people are loving it.

The MotoX introduced the talk to your phone thing, and that was kinda something new, and so was the shake to open camera, though they are minor improvements, but do fall in the category next to the the Huawei’s Screen Temperature, HTC Zoe, and the Samsung’s counterpart to Zoe.

Nowadays, all improvements that are made to the smartphones are enlarging the screen or making it persistent, better RAMs or CPUs e.t.c., or perhaps in terms of better software, but it’s still the same smartphone. Where’s all the creativity, the innovation? Are they really running out of ideas?

 

Linus Torwalds’ initial email.

The one that started it all, where Torwalds asked the people for suggestions and stuff that they’d like to see in the minix OS.

From: mailto: [email protected] (Linus Benedict Torvalds)

To: Newsgroups: comp.os.inix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system
Message-ID: <mailto: [email protected]

Hello everybody out there using minix — I’m doing a (free) operating
system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386
(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to
get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in
minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the
file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I’ve currently ported bash (1.08) and gcc (1.40), and things seem to
work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few
months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any
suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them :-).

Linus (mailto: [email protected])

PS. Yes — it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs.
It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably
never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I
have :-(.

Credits: www.linux.com/news/software/linux-kernel/734956-linuss-famous-email

 

Enable/Disable Guest/Remote Login accounts in Ubuntu 13.04 [Ubuntu]

The guest and the remote login accounts are enabled by default, but there are those who want them disabled, and this could be due to privacy concern (though i noticed that u cant do much in the guest account), and as for the remote one, well, maybe they just dont want to see it there.

Well, to disable them, all you gotta do it fire up a terminal (Ctrl + Alt +T), and paste in the folllowing command:

To Disable both:

sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -l false -R false

to disable only the guest one:

sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -l false

to disable the remote login:

sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -R false

That was it; ought to do the trick.

To Enable, use the same commands, however, make a li’l alteration; i.e. replace all the ‘false’s with true. 

 

The Moto X – Another release that redefines smartphones

Moto X

The Moto X, another upcoming state-of-the-art smartphone, of whose release date, i myself am unaware kinda redefines the term smartphones, and gives its company quite a rise in the world-of-smartphones. Before the launch, the leaks, the rumors, Motorolla wasnt exactly the best choice, nor did much people ever even bother to consider it (but well, no offence meant.  And well the same story goes for Samsung)

So anyways, the Always Ready smartphone Designed By You, that has a Quick Capture feature to ensure that you Never Miss a Shot, really does has it all, and it could be quite some boost for the company which has by the way been acquired by Google.

Starting with the Motomaker. Notice the phrase ‘Designed by You’ that i used above?
Yes it means what it means. The Motomaker is, or is gonna be, a website where you are gonna customize your order before buying it. Customization includes choosing colors for the back and front, and even accents which refers to stuff like the Volume buttons and well the border round the rear camera. You can even add a signature at the back, which is similar to the iPod Engravings. And well you can choose a case too.

But that was the Styling bit. Then comes Features, where you can choose between 16 and 32GB storage, add a custom greeting on startup, Oh and you also have the option of connecting your google account right there.

After Features, We have Accessories, A wall charger is included, and you can also add-on Earphones (color of your choice 😉 ). That’s it! The phone will be shipped to you within 4 days.

The Motomaker; kinda a demo video

So that was the Motomaker; no it doesnt end here; now to the Quick Capture which involves starting the camera app with a flick of the wrist. Useful! especially when you are in the middle of those moments when you hardly have a second to waste.

Here’s an example:

But what’s this Always Ready thing?
This merely refers to the fact that the phone is always responding to you when you want it to. You can simply talk to it. Give it orders, tell it what to do. This is pretty close to Siri found in iPhones.

See how he said ‘Ok, Google now’ and the phone went into Listening Mode.

Well, that was it. I know the features arent exactly totally unheard-of or unimaginable but well its definitely worth a shot.

By the way, do check out the Videos if you havent already.

 

 

What’s new in Android 4.3 Jelly Bean

The newly launched, version of Android comes with its own range of exciting features, ranging from apparent visual effects to not-to-apparent security fixes.One of the apparent features being a user account system, Restricted Profiles as Google calls it. The purpose of the new user account feature, (i guess not much explanation required) is merely to ensure that multiple-users-on-a-single-device dont have much trouble managing their docs e.t.c. and yes it also kinda improves privacy, i.e. files you dont want other users to access.

Then there’s the support for Bluetooth Smart Devices, and yes some sort of built–in anti-virus tool, which i think wasnt there in the earlier versions, Actionable Notifications e.g. instant-reply to a just-received email, right from the notification bar, oh and it also includes dynamic widgets(that resize by themselves 😀 ), a smart-share feature, called the Android Beam similar to  the Galaxy s3’s S-beam.

Another of its amazing features is the Photo Sphere, which is similar to a panorama but that’s like a cyllinder while this is more like a whole sphere. Panoramas capture 360° horizontaly, while a Photo sphere captures 360° in any direction.

 

GIMP – The free alternative to Photoshop

gimp28

Not everyone bothers to research on the subject, but almost every one of us comes to think of it. Photoshop truly is one of a kind; at least what most fans say, and satisfied with it, no one bothers to look for an alternative. However, it so happens that PS aint free, and that can be a bit of a problem, seeing as most people just need it as a side software, and arent exactly graphic designers, and thus to them, PS is not at all worth the money.
So they dont have much of an option but to use the trial, or pirate it.But there are those who dont feel too good about Piracy, or maybe they just dont wanna go for pirated software, OR maybe they think that pirating, the PROCESS, is not worth the time and effort or is a bit too taxing, and thus they prefer going for an alternative.The best Photoshop Alternative i ever came across, is the Gnu Image Manipulation Program, mainly known as GIMP. GIMP has almost all the features of PS, at least most of them, or more like all that know of. But well im no expert, nor much of a Graphic designer, so I wont make a good judge but still, the tool is definitely worth a try for those who are looking for an alternative to photoshop. Oh and I’d like to add that its UI can be a bit confusing for PS users, as its totally different from what i expected, but it works too, just different 🙂 .

 

Ubuntu Edge

The Ubuntu Edge is an upcoming state-of-the-art smartphone, more-like, just a project for now, that would feature the fastest multi-core processor they can get their hands on, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage, and LTE antennae on either side.

But the thing that makes it unique is.. that’s right, you’ve guessed it; yeah, no rear camera 🙁 . Just kidding. Actually, it dual-boots Android and Ubuntu touch.

The idea behind the project being, porting a complete desktop OS into a phone, when docked, the Ubuntu OS will start on your computer, running right from the phone. 

Well, do check out the video, i.e. if u havent already.

 

Access Linux partitons through Windows

Linux and Windows, two of the most widely used OS’, and ‘which one is better’ is highly debatable. Now both have their own pros and cons, and well, experience can be a bit different and frustrating, when switching from one to the other.

Well, a common problem usually faced, especially by those who go for a dual-boot, is that Windows cant read/write/access Linux partions, while on the other hand, Linux can Windows’. But there are a variety of tools available that do enable you to access Linux partitions through Windows. Some only offer the read feature, while some even let you write changes to the disk.

After trying a whole bunch of them, the best i could find was the ParagonExtFS. This one works on all 3, i.e. XP, 7 and 8, and it has no confusing UI to deal with. Just a simple mount feature, just as in Linux, and thats it. Now you can Explore, view and edit Linux files through the Windows Explorer.

You can download ParagonExtFs from hereYes you have to register, but well doesn’t exactly matter. Just fill in the form with whatever’s required and click submit.

Now, check your email, i.e. the address you provided while filling in the form, for an email from [email protected]that contains the download link.

Installing and operating is relatively easy, once installed, just run it, and a box will popup carrying a list of partitions; Linux ones marked yellow. Select a partition and mount it; specify a drive letter and thats it. Now you can explore the partition normally through the windows explorer.

 

Celestia

cel

Celestia is a 3D simulator of the Solar System. It’s pretty amazing actually. You can move about, lock onto planets, land on their surface. It’s not exactly limited to the solar system, more like the Universe, i.e. as much of it is known to mankind. You can even move out and visit other galaxies, systems, e.t.c. 

It also has a “TLC Feature 😀 ” that enables you to speed up or slow down time, or even stop it, or reverse it. That;s not all, it has a lot of features and is definitely worth trying.

Installing it in Ubuntu is relatively easy, simply fire up a terminal(CTRL + Alt + T), and paste the following code:
sudo apt-get install celestia-gnome