Bash tips and tricks

25 11 2007

This post is at my new blog at Interesting Things. Thanks.

New kid on the block – Mixx to overthrow Digg?

25 11 2007

After reading TechCrunch’s thoughts on unhappy Diggers leaving for Mixx, I tried it out myself – it’s definitely an improvement on Digg…  It’s got a much nicer look and feel to the site, it’s quicker, has a pictures section, and allows other users to tag and categorise existing stories. Overall – it seems much more usable than Digg, though it’s RSS feeds don’t seem as precise – not sure if you can have a custom feed of only stories that interest you, it seems that you have to have a feed of all of Tech, or all of Science, rather than a mixture of subcategories. Looking forward to getting to use the site more though!

Need a dictionary that’s better than a pirate?

25 11 2007

Need a super fast online dictionary? Try Ninjawords, it’s fast – just like a ninja…


Hey, I’m on the top posts section!

22 11 2007

Top posts!

Pretty good for the second proper post I’ve made!

Interactive Periodic Table

22 11 2007

Nothing as ground breaking as some of my previous posts, but this interactive periodic table is brilliant! Definitely going to use this when teaching about elements.

You can show elements by the date discovered, as well as more conventional information such as melting and boiling points – useful when teaching about reactivity for instance as you can clearly show a link between the date elements were discovered, and how easy it is to extract them.

Brilliant interface as well – I love it!

Interactive Periodic Table

KDE 4.0 RC 1 running on Kubuntu 7.10

21 11 2007

Having been as excited about KDE 4.0 as most people, I was keen to try the beta releases, though I didn’t want to compile it myself. Consequently, I waited for packages to become available for Kubuntu 7.10, as this seems the most convenient way to try it out. I followed the instructions detailed on the Kubuntu website, though found that several of these packages are broken and won’t install correctly. These unfortunately include Konqueror and Dolphin amongst others, so the testing I was able to do was limited. (see Edit at bottom – this has been resolved!)

To install on Kubuntu 7.10, add deb gutsy main to your /etc/apt/sources.list then make sure you run sudo aptitude remove kdebase-workspace kde4base-dev kdelibs5 before running sudo aptitude install kdebase-dev-kde4 kdebase-workspace-dev kdebase-runtime kdm-kde4for best results. (i.e. fully uninstall any previous betas of KDE 4)

Then run cp usr/lib/kde4/share/kde4/apps/kdm/sessions/kde.desktop /usr/share/xsessions/kde4.desktop Change the Name section in /usr/share/xsessions/kde4.desktop to be called “KDE 4” by using nano /usr/share/xsessions/kde4.desktop Then nano /usr/lib/kde4/bin/startkde and add

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/kde4/lib
export KDEDIRS=/usr/lib/kde4
export PATH=/usr/lib/kde4/bin/:$PATH
export KDEHOME=~/.kde4

to the top of the file. Log out and choose KDE 4 in the session chooser in KDM. (I didn’t bother with the xephyr stuff as suggested on the Kubuntu page, as that’s only if you don’t want to run KDE 4 as it’s own session.)

On boot up, it’s clear that there are numerous bugs in these packages that make it unusable – all the different components or plasmoids open up, but you can’t move them. Also, none are stuck to the panel at the bottom, meaning that there is a free floating KDE menu that can’t be moved. The easiest thing to do is to close them all, then just activate one at a time to see them. If you add plasmoids, they appear behind the add widgets window, so you might want to move it first, otherwise you will end up with loads of them behind it!


Add widgets dialog

Weirdly, if you move the scroll wheel on the desktop, it scrolls up and down – currently this has some weird behaviour as shown below – this does let you move the K menu down though so you can see it all.


Looking at the K menu, it has been nicely redesigned, as in previous releases – there are multiple sections on it, including a favourites section that remembers the most used applications.




The many faces of the new K menu.

As mentioned previously, Konqueror and Dolphin don’t install, so we can only see the old versions. Below are some other screen shots, including those of the icon themes and the widget themes.


Default widgets

Over all, things look good – shame that it’s not really ready to use full time, but I think that it’s worth waiting for!


Having played some more, it turns out you can drag and drop the widgets, but they won’t stick to the panel yet. You can also rotate them and enlarge them however you like.

KDE 4.0 RC 1

The ? lets you move them round, the purple circle lets you rotate and scale.


I also managed to get Dolphin et al. installed – here’s a look at that.


Here’s the system monitor with new SVG graphs:


icon_su.gif Stumble It! – thumbnails for websites

18 11 2007

Having seen these website thumbnails at w3csites, I have found them pretty useful.

If you want a small thumbnail of any website, just link as an image to:

for instance like this:

You can also specify different image sizes using additional parameters, for instance adding &w=240&h=180&sdx=1024&sdy=768&q=90 to the end of the previous example would give a thumbnail with width 240px, height 180px taken on a screen of resolution 1024×768 with a jpeg quality of 90%.

Below is a full list of parameters, as detailed on their site.

url the URL you want to capture
w the width of the thumbnail
h the height of the thumbnail
sdx the screen port size ( i.e. 1024 ) width
sdy the screen port size height
q the quality of the image ( jpeg ) – from 30 to 90 %
rot rotate the image yes / no ( 1 / 0 )
deg degree of rotation ( from – to 360 )
bg background color when rotated in hex, without #

All images taken using artviper take a while to appear, but I’ve found that after around 24 hours they are done. They are cached, so they only need to be generated once.

More details at