Open Source Technology

Ten tips for new Ubuntu users

Time for some Ubuntu zealotry…

As regular readers will be aware I think that Ubuntu is the easiest ways for people to join the ranks of Linux users. On the up side it’s easy to install (and getting easier) , easy to use, and usually “just works.” (Fujitsu laptop screens notwithstanding).

But moving to a new neighbourhood always can be confusing, no matter how well-designed it is. Here’s a list of tips over at that will help while you get oriented (resistance is futile).

Ten tips for new Ubuntu users

1. Getting multimedia to work

The default Ubuntu install contains free software only, which means that it doesn’t support some popular multimedia formats straight out of the box. This is inconvenient, but the Ubuntu folks have good reasons for not shipping with support for MP3, DVDs, and so forth — including that software could cause them some legal headaches, or incur some serious fees.

Fortunately, as a user, you don’t need to worry about fees (though some of the packages may not be legal due to patent restrictions or restrictions on circumventing copy protection, depending on where you live). The Ubuntu wiki has a page on restricted formats that explains how to get the packages you need.

and so on for another 9 hints.

Culture Music

Brunswick Music Festival: Lunny & Irvine

The Brunswick Music Festival sent me one of their “keeping in touch: emails the other day which was good because it prompted me to jot some notes down about the concert we went to back in March ( Hey, I’ve been busy). Here is a belated review.

The Date: Thursday 30th March
The Place: Mechanics Institute Hall in Sydney Road.
The Reason: To see two amazing musicians. Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny

One of my friends (Hi Ian) came around and physically removed us (Jools and I) from our computers (“help help” as they struggled… to get to the bar) and rushed us of to Sydney Road. He felt we weren’t getting out enough and as we had missed the Richard Thompson gig a few weeks earlier, he was probably right.

Our evening started out with the warm-up act, a local band called “Triskel” comprising of Sally Taylor on Fiddle , Corey Romeo on Mandolin, Guitar and Gerard Daly on Bodhran, Guitar.

The music was sort of Irish, Scottish?, Breton and was really arranged well, but it was presented as precious “chamber music”. Sad to say there was no real attempt to engage with the audience and it was a pity. Yes I know we were all there to see the other lot but they could have at least tried. The great thing about the Brunswick Music Festival is that a lot of times the “warm-up act can be as interesting as the main act. I know that they go to a lot of trouble to pair the acts up to make sure that we punters get a great night.

I wouldn’t mind hearing them again, but heard nothing that really pushed my hand in my pocket to grab a CD. Don’t get me wrong they CAN play (oh god can they play), but it seems I expect more from performers these days. (Also I cant send you to anywhere you can actually LISTEN to them on the web. Like so many musicians, they haven’t put a sample up anywhere I could find).

Irvine and LunnyWhich after a short intermission brings us to the main event.

The musical combination of Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny is world-renowned and how many people do you know who established a whole new genre in Irish traditional music in the early seventies. The duo were a delight to listen to. Let’s face it, they could have sat up there played a “Plantxy / Bothy Band Greatest Hits” bracket and we all would have gone home feeling well pleased. But NO, instead of taking the easy way out, they played. Boy did they play, we got two brackets of exciting and entertaining music. They took chances, had fun and allowed us to see WHY they are held in such high esteem. No resting on the laurels here.

I had a ball and so did nearly everybody else I could see. The Mechanics Institute is a tiny (200 seats?) venue and at times it felt as though you could reach out and touch the music. Fanciful? Maybe but, you really had to be there.

John McAuslanHere is a picture of our host. John McAuslan. He is the poor bunny, who with his team get all this music together (and have done for 18 years). Thanks John. You will inevitably see us again next year, you always manage to find music that fires me up.

So to the point. To you, our reader. Go and put yourself on the Brunswick Music Festival mailing list. and when they announce the concert lineup next year, if it is too hard to pick between the offerings just shut your eyes and pick something at random. The odds are you will love it.

For more musings of a musical nature, head over to Duggup.

Technology Trust No One

Your Taxes At Work

So this is how the Australian government is going to take us back to the future.

According to the ABC News Online Families to receive free Internet filter.

The Federal Government has announced it will provide every Australian family with a free Internet filter to block pornography. The plan is part of a new package, called Protecting Australian Families Online, that will cost almost $120 million. Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan says the filters will let parents set access limits based on what they think is appropriate.

The Government will make the National Library use the filters, and hopes all other libraries will too.

Here is the URL to the press release $116.6 million to Protect Australian Families Online

What are they thinking. The parents are probably going to get the kids to install the software. And surely Google could sell them the filtering technology that they developed for China, it seems to work well for the government over there..

Culture Mondays Technology

Ghostzilla – the invisible browser

Ghostzilla is a Web browser like Firefox, but it shows up and disappears instantly, discreetly, blended with your application — any application — so the Web pages look like part of it and not like the Web at all. (Read here how.)

What would you use Ghostzilla – the invisible browser for?
Well lets start with the obvious one.

Hide your browsing from your boss and coworkers.
This isn’t a good idea you can get fired (It’s only hidden on your screen, it still leaves traces in every log on your bosses’ server. They still know where you have been

How about having a browser instantly available and dismissible within your work application, washed out from ads and unnecessary pictures. “Cool” I hear you say but it really will help fuel that attention deficit disorder we are all working on. Seriously.

So what’s it for then?

* Entertainment. Ghostzilla is a form of computer art.

Sorry, it just appealed to my sense of the absurd.


Works 6.0 Converter for Works and Word Users

This is a partial solution to an annoying problem.

Microsoft have a Download details: Works 6.0 Converter for Works and Word Users

The Works 6.0 Converter allows you to convert word processor documents created in Microsoft Works 6.0 to Microsoft Word and other Works programs. Specifically, this converter works with Works 2000, 4.5, and 4.x, and Word 2002, 2000, and 97.

The problem of document conversion doesn’t pop up anywhere near as much as it used to. But when those people who got a copy of Works with their Dell PC and want to use the document they create a work, this may help.

Also give them a copy of Open Office 2 for them to install on their home machine and the problem will go away.


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20060619


Jools and I actually went to a concert yesterday, we went and saw Kavisha and La Voce Della Luna, they were magic as always and we were treated to a short ( too short some might say) bracket by Kavisha solo. Jools and I are going to have to go and see more live music. It’s good for you (unless you are sitting in the front row when they need a map of Italy… you had to be there).

In the meantime lets have some fun with photos this week.

Worth1000 is a site that gives people who spent tons of money buying Photoshop an excuse to use the OTHER 90% of the functions they paid for but are never likely to use in real life. Why? I hear you ask. Because they can. A recent contest challenged users to fake UFO-sighting photos. It’s a bumpy ride but the good ones are hysterical. (thank you TinyURL) or &display=photoshop#entries

Continuing the “fake photo” theme. A couple of years back, artist Cayetano Ferrer took some photos of the scene behind several Chicago street signs and then pasted the prints on top of the signs to bend the local punters minds as they wonder what happened. Evidently Amnesty has a campaign using the same idea.