chadm's blog


I was recently reading Irfan's Happy birthday KDE! post and it got me thinking a lot about my own reasons for using KDE instead of GNOME. Since I have this blog and I decided to capture my thoughts here.

I have been using KDE since the 3.2 release with Keramik as my theme of choice. I recently tried GNOME again through Ubuntu 6.06 (dapper) and initially found it to be set up very well. One of the reasons is that I like how the menu entries are listed much better in GNOME than KDE. This stems more from a philosophy difference in how the menu entries (.desktop files) are created. GNOME apps tend to be like Synaptic where the name is actually listed as Synaptic Package Manager. As a result of this GNOME just lists the Name field in its default menus. KDE tends to break up the name between the Name and Generic Name fields.

Explore Space with Celestia

Celestia is a fun app for anyone interested in astronomy. When you first load it you will be brought to a view of the Earth from Space. This view is a real-time simulation and you can change your point of view by dragging your mouse around. The initial time you see might be in the past (it was 2002 for me), but one of the buttons on the toolbar can bring you up to the current time.

Right clicking on a visible object in space will bring up details about it along with some options for different actions you can take. I choose the Moon and selected the Goto option. In short order I was on my way with the Moon rapidly filling up my screen. After right-clicking on the Moon again I noticed a menu called Satellites which listed Apollo 11. You can actually sync your orbit with the Apollo 11 space craft and see what it can see. How cool is that! Now I was curious. What does Celestia list as orbiting the earth?

Discovering Perl Audio Converter

A while back I was looking for an easy way to manage my music collection. I wanted to keep high quality copies of my CD's so I figured a lossless codec like FLAC would be a good choice. The only problem was that not every device or computer supports FLAC. My solution was to keep the high quality FLAC recordings for my Linux systems, but convert to MP3 for everything else. It was in searching for an easy way to do this that I found Perl Audio Converter.

Perl Audio Converter is a great tool for converting audio files from one format to another. Need an obscure type? No problem. It supports MP2, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Shorten, Monkey Audio, FAAC (AAC/M4A/MP4), Musepack (MPC), Wavpack (WV), OptimFrog (OFR/OFS), TTA, LPAC, Kexis (KXS), AIFF, AC3, Lossless Audio (LA), BONK, AU, SND, RAW, VOC, SMP, RealAudio (RA/RAM), WAV, and WMA. You can even use it to rip directly from a CD.

Online Storage with JungleDisk

Most of us know we should backup our files, but even when we do it's usually not a fully thought out process and consists of dumping files to a CD/DVD or another hard drive in our homes. That's fine for most recovery situations, but what happens if you have a fire, flood, or your backup media also fails (this has happenned to me before).

Enter online storage. Amazon's S3™ service is an inexpensive way to store data online and JungleDisk makes it easy. At its heart JungleDisk is a WebDAV server that enables easy access to Amazon's servers. The beauty of it is that you can access the files easily through your existing file manager. No more clucky web interfaces or inability to use a favorite backup program.

iPod Audio, Photo, and Video Tools for Linux

From the moment Apple first launched the iPod it has been a spectacular hit. First with a single audio only version, then adding other sizes, photo viewing, and video capability. Besides the iPod itself, iTunes software was a key component that made it easy to manage for Mac users. Eventually Windows support was added, but what about Linux?

iTunes still hasn't made it to Linux, and probably won't, however there are tools available for everything except the iTunes music store and support for DRM protected files. Tools for using an iPod with Linux can be broken up into four categories: file management, audio, photos, and video; although there is overlap between them.

Switching from Windows to Linux using VMware Player

If you didn't just recently start using a computer, chances are your first time using Linux comes after switching from Windows. For most people this involves two key challenges: getting used to a different windowing interface; and learning to use new applications. These days the first challenge is getting ever easier with the KDE and Gnome desktops continuing to improve and distros adding better hardware configuration tools. It's the second challenge, however, that still continues to confound many of us.

Years of training in Photoshop is hard to replace overnight, and even though programs like the GIMP are feature equivalent in the areas that most users will ever need, there might be that one feature that you can't live without.

Konqueror your Desktop with KIO Slaves

KIO slaves are some of the most useful features of the KDE desktop, but many users aren't aware they exist. You probably use some of them know without even realizing it. A kioslave is a protocol that provides support for individual protocols that may provide access to files, web sites, and more. Below I will outline some of the most popular and most interesting kioslaves.

This listing is far from complete. The full list of KIO slaves installed on your system can be found by running KInfoCenter and checking the Protocols section.

Model Train Design with XTrkCad

One cool program that caught my eye is XTrkCad. It won't appeal to everyone, but for any model train enthusiasts out there it might be just the thing you need to design your next track.

Drupal and Quanta: A Winning Combination

Any of you who subscribe to this blog's RSS feed will notice that there haven't been any new posts in a while. The reason is simple, and no doubt obvious when you look at the site that surrounds these words. I've been working on the new design since I realized that I could either add a lot of the features I wanted to manually, or I could switch to a Content Management System (CMS). When I first started Linux App Finder I didn't even know that CMS's even existed, but one of the benefits to creating a database of Linux applications is that I find some really interesting ones that I want to try out.

The original site design consisted entirely of custom HTML and PHP code written in Quanta. It worked well for a while, but I started to get frustrated about how much time it was taking to make a blog entry, post some news about the site, or add features like a site-wide login. I resisted the move at first because it would be a significant effort and I didn't want to rewrite everything that didn't fit in with the structure of what I already had. Fortunately I had run across Drupal in a few articles and had seen a lot of sites I liked that used it. After reading through their website a bit, I decided to give it a try. Before I continue I should state that I picked Drupal because what I saw of it appealed to me and it felt right. I never tried any of the alternatives so I can't give a direct comparison.

Run Command Line Apps From A GUI

I came across a neat program today called Kaptain. Its premise is simple, but it may be a solution for those who don't like the command line, or have trouble remembering the available switches, but don't know of a good graphical alternative.

Kaptain displays a graphical interface with radio or check boxes for available switches and text boxes for everything else. A brief sampling of the supported programs is listed below.

  • find
  • grep
  • ls
  • tar
  • wget
  • whois

A template script is needed in order for an app to be supported. There are many useful apps included by default, but you can also add your own. Documentation can be found here.

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