At last, Darth Vader’s powers can be mine!

This is pretty cool!

The MYO – The Gesture Control Armband allows you to control many aspects of your computer and other computerised devices with only movements of your arm and hand.

Watch the video to see it in action.

I can see a lot of potential for this device if it lives up to the hype.

I reckon this is how Darth Vader chokes Admiral Motti in the scene below.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

An excellent tool for preachers with  unruly congregations. *joke*

Mwahahahaha!!!

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Openbox – a lightweight uber-flexible desktop for Linux

Yes, I did describe Openbox as uber-flexible, and that’s because it really is uberly flexible.

Out-of-the-box Openbox is very minimalistic, but that also means it is very fast! Uber-fast you might say.

You get the window manager and a right-click menu and that’s about it.

Aside from these, the desktop is yours to embellish as you wish.

Obconf is the application included with Openbox to configure the window manager.

The menu has to be edited in a text file, but you can add any application you want to it, even crazy command lines or  shell scripts which launch a complex series of commands if you really want to.

Install Obmenu and you have a funky little menu editor that returns you to the world of point-and-click.

If you have even a just skerrick of artisitic creativity, then the Openbox environment provides a blank canvas for you to prettify your desktop with the likes of Conky and Covergloobus.

Observe below the works of Openbox-based desktop art created by some very creative computerators – all linked from Deviantart.

Browse under Customizations – Desktop Screenshots – Unix & Linux and filter your results with the keyword ‘Openbox‘ to see many more examples.

While you’re browsing, you’ll undoubtedly be flabbergasted, as I was, at the fact that the presumably nerdy guys who are making this desktop art all seem to have hot-looking girlfriends on their desktops in various states of undress.

I really don’t know how they get away with that – my hot looking wife wouldn’t be so keen to let me put a piccy of her in only a bra ‘n’ panties on my desktop, and then post a screenshot online for gazillions of teenage nerds to drool over, but maybe that’s just me eh?

Wait a minute, maybe those girls aren’t really their girlfriends!

Maybe those nerds look as scruffy as I do and have as much chance of finding a hot girlfriend for their desktops as I did before I became rich, famous and uber-suave.

Ah, the fickleness of youth…

But back to Openbox for a moment longer.

Browse the Openbox website for cool things to add to your desktop.

Experiment a bit to find the panels, pagers, desktop icons, launch bars, docks, widgets and wallpaper switchers which sit best with your visual style.

I’m fond of Tint2 as a panel, Stalonetray as a system tray which integrates with the panel, BBPager as a desktop pager/switcher, Nitrogen as a wallpaper switcher and Conky for my desktop clock.

But I’m constantly experimenting with my setup to try to make it look ultra uber-nice.

That last desktop above might look the plainest, but, to my mind, it has the nicest layout and aesthetic of the four.

Most popular distros of Linux will have Openbox and an assortment of panels, pagers and so on in their  repositories, but if you want a dedicated Openbox-based distro, check out the Debian derived CrunchBang Linux.

The strength of Openbox is its ability to be customized. This comes at the price of swift changes, though, with most configuration details still confined to the manual editing of text files.

But the investment required to build the the desktop of your dreams, is well worth it. Just switch wallpapers, icons and fonts every now and then if you crave variety.

The result is a beautiful, fast, light-weight and extremely personalized environment for you to work in.

Rather than being dictated as to how you should use your desktop, you can decide on a workflow that best suits your own needs and pimp it out to reflect  your personality.

In my opinion, Openbox drives users to develop a closer affinity with their machine.

Forget about Apple Zealots, bring on the Openbox uber-zealots!

Oh Gnome 3, you’re beautiful!

I’m sorry to say it for all of you Unity/Gnome 3 haters out there, but following up on my post about Ubuntu Unity, I have to make the public statement that my favourite Linux Desktop is now Gnome 3!

It’s just SO DAMN EASY TO USE!

Yes, I’ve had to adjust the way I use my desktop, but now I virtually don’t have to click my mouse anymore – at least I click it far less than any other desktop I’ve ever used.

I’m not talking about becoming a devotee of the purely keyboard driven interface paradigm, either.

I’m so used to just sliding my mouse to the top left corner of the screen in Gnome 3 that I do it automatically in whatever environment I’m working in – Unity/Windows/Mac OS X.

  • I wanna change to another app – slide to top left, click on app.
  • I wanna change to another desktop – slide to top, left click on desktop.
  • I wanna launch an app – slide to top left, type app name, hit enter.

Slide, slide, slide – sliding has smoothed out my workflow. It has changed in these major ways:

1) I hardly use Alt + Tab anymore to switch between windows – instead I slide to the top right & click OR I slide to the right and click on the app in the right hand dock.

2) I use multiple desktops HEAPS more than I ever have before. I group similar applications on a desktop and switch between them using the methods above.

When an app has focus, I use Shift + Ctrl + Alt + Up or Down to move the app to the desired desktop.

I know many of you will have used this methodology for years, but for me it is just so much easier to do in Gnome 3.

3) I hardly ever use the Menu anymore. Yes I installed the Applications Menu extension to make it easier to find apps in a menu interface, but it is just as quick to slide top left or hit the Alt key and enter the text of the app if I know it.

Drawbacks

Having sung Gnome 3’s praises, I do have to admit that all is not sunshine and lemonade, folks.

Gnome 3, in Ubuntu at least, pops up message boxes announcing that something has crashed very frequently, usually upon first startup.

These crashes do not seem to affect my ability to use Gnome 3, though. It rarely actually freezes the whole system. Only Firefox seems to freeze up at all regularly, and I think that is usually because of the Adobe flash player plugin.

I guess it just goes to show that you can’t always judge something by your first reaction to it.

Ubuntu broke my Laptop

Actually it didn’t really.

I just wanted to get the attention of Ubuntu users, ‘cos last time I posted about Ubuntu, I had the most hits I’ve ever had for any post I’ve made on this blog.

BUT – my laptop did break down two days ago. My fan has run out of wind, so to speak.

I guess it’s fair enough though, since the laptop is a Lenovo R61 which is five years old.

I have to save up my pennies beore I can afford a new one, so, in the intervening period, I have been experimenting with a slab of wood I have in the shed as my interim laptop.

Here is one a bit fancier than mine from SwissMiss: 

 

Mine looks more like this:

“Wait a minute!”, I hear you say, “You’re gonna come across a problem with that idea straight-aways.”

Yes, I thought of that problem even before you wrote your exclamation above.

My slab of wood does not have a wireless LAN adaptor!

I have found a solution, though. I have nailed a piece of rope to the back of the slab and have connected it to my wired network.

All I needed was a Cat5 to RopeNet Converter, which I got cheap from Hong Kong on eBay.

So far my experimentation has gone very well.

I loaded Ubuntu onto my slab with no probs – all the drivers were already available, so it just worked!

They do say Ubuntu will run on anything, and they are right.

I did have trouble getting my Touchpad to work, until I found that it was infested with Common Furniture Beetle wood-borers.

Ubuntu ships with drivers for Chalcophora japonica – the Flat-Headed Wood Borer – by default, so I had to add a PPA repository from Fine Woodworking Magazine and download the suitable driver from them.

Now it works great!

I wrote this post on my slab and all was going well, until I tried to publish it.

Nothing.

I racked my brains for a few hours then finally found the problem: there was knot in my rope.

I untied the knot, having to resort to using my teeth, ‘cos it was really tough knot, you know, and then my RopeNet worked a treat.

So, I’ll be using the slab, until I can save up $700 for a new Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E520.

I like the Thinkpads, they’re no-nonsense and built like brick outhouses.

So Yay Ubuntu! for saving my bacon, yet again.

Zite: Personalized Magazine for iPad and iPhone

This sounds like a great idea: an app that gathers news, articles and other stuff from all over the web and packages them as your own personalized magazine.

Zite

It is supposed to learn what you are interested in the more you use it and it strips out ads too.

It’s only available for Apple’s iPad or HP’s TouchPad though.

Zite: Personalized Magazine for iPad and iPhone.