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*



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!


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.


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.


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.

Ubuntu Unity has won me over at last!

I’ve been a Linux user since about 1999. Good old Red Hat Linux eh? KDE 1, Gnome 1, WindowMaker, compiling my own kernels, Linux From Scratch, despairing because there used to be no drivers for sound cards, or video cards etc, (not so anymore).

Eventually I stopped fiddling with Linux as a toy and I just wanted a computer system that I could install easily and where everything just worked. No I didn’t buy a Mac, I tried a few Linux distros and finally settled on Ubuntu 4:10 Warty Warthog.

It was great. All my hardware just worked out of the box, no configuration necessary. I had all of the free apps I needed to do the stuff I do with a computer. With some tweaking I could even get rid of the ugly browns of Ubuntu and make it look real pretty too.

And Ubuntu uses Gnome, or at least it used to, until Natty Narwhal Ubuntu 11.04, where Gnome was replaced by the default Ubuntu Unity interface.

My first impression was: “Yuck! They’ve ruined Ubuntu. Those doomsayers were right when they said Linux would fracture and destroy itself just like Unix did.”

I love Gnome. I’ve tried KDE, but every single time I’ve tried it, I would have at least one application crash, sometimes even the whole desktop would hang irretrievably. Guys at my work use Kubuntu and they said it was now really stable, so I tried the latest Kubuntu (11:10). It must be my hardware, but nope, KDE still had an app crash within my first half hour of using it. I still don’t like KDE.

So I Tried the new Gnome 3 Shell in Ubuntu 11:10. Again, My first impression was: “Yuck. What have they done? They’ve dumbed it down so much that only pensioners can appreciate it!”

Then I read a little about why they had made the changes and one thing struck me. On the Gnome 3 website it has this to say:

“Every part has been carefully crafted to give it a harmonious, beautiful, look and to make it simple and easy-to-use.”

The philosophy for the changes to Gnome are, in part to give it a consistent look and feel across the board, like users experience when they use Windows or OS X.  This made me stop and think. I guess that’s a good idea. So I gave it another try. Nope, still horrible to use. Where are the menus? I hate the way you have to find apps by clicking multiple buttons or typing the name of the app into a search box. What if I don’t know its name?

I guess I would have to use the fallback mode in Gnome with its classic menus, but Gnome has changed so much that even classic mode is now annoying to use.

Then I discovered Gnome Shell Extensions.  Damn these are a good idea! They include an old style Applications Menu too!

Wow! Actually Gnome 3 might be OK after all. All I really wanted back was my old style menu system so I can quickly access apps with 2 mouse clicks instead of 4, or 5 or having to type in text. Once I had my menu back, I started to relax a little and look around at the changes.

Surprisingly, I liked what I saw. And I thought to myself. I think I’ll give Gnome Shell more of a chance.

So I logged off my Ubuntu 11.10 with Gnome Shell plus extensions for the night. Next Morning I logged in again and Gnome Shell would not work at all.

Blast! I’m sick of this. I just want a desktop that is easy to install and just works WITH A MENU!

So I installed Ubuntu 11:04 again and decided to try the Xubuntu Desktop. But before I did, I played around with Unity one more time. The first thing I did was look for a menu to add to the panel. I found one and then I played around with Unity.

And by golly, once I had my menu, it was as if my eyes had been opened for the first time to a wonderful new world.

After a little fiddling about and playing with configuration settings, such as making the Unity sidebar smaller (32 pixels wide instead of 48) and setting it so that it does not auto hide, I quickly started to feel at home.

Results. Unity is really nice!

Ubuntu have gone out on a limb with Unity and at first I hated it – but that was because my precious Applications Menu had been removed. Give me that back and I am as happy as a pig in mud. And trust me, I’ve lived on a small hobby pig farm and pigs do like mud.

I’m even of a mind to try Gnome Shell again. I think these new interfaces have a lot to offer and I’m now a convert.

So if you’re an Ubuntu user and you don’t like Unity or Gnome Shell, my advice to you is this: ask yourself why you don’t like it, and try to find a solution to your dislikes in Unity or Gnome Shell. There are a lot of new features to be found now that these desktops are a bit more mature. If you find a suitable solution, your initial prejudices may be swept away like mine were.