free software Open source PC

Screencasting in Ubuntu

I’ve done my first screencast in Ubuntu using gtk-record My Desktop, a tool that records desktop sessions in Linux. I’ve long wanted to do screencasts in Ubuntu ever since I installed Feisty Fawn or the 7.04 release but I haven’t been successful in my initial attempts.

I first tried capturing desktop sessions into movie files using xvidcap but I couldn’t get it to work properly. All the videos I produced using it were jerky, as if the capture rate is just a frame for every two seconds. I spent days playing around with the settings, to no avail.

I was on the verge of accepting the idea that I may have to use Windows XP and Camstudio to produce screencasts to accompany some of my blog articles when I decided to give gtk-recordMyDesktop a try.

I spotted the program during the days I tried looking for ways to do screencasts in Ubuntu but I just filed it away as something to check later because it produces Ogg-encapsulated Theora-Vorbis files and the free video hosts I wanted to use for screencasts, Vimeo and Revver, do not accept .ogg files. I’m lazy and a non-geek and my impression of video conversions in Linux is that the process is rather complicated. (Blogger’s Note: see update below)

After giving up on making xvidcap, which produces mpeg files, work in my laptop, I tried gtk-recordMyDesktop. I gave it a go after finding out that accepts .ogg files.


Make your Windows PC look, act like OS X

Refresh your boring Windows desktop by transforming it to resemble the sleek Mac OS X with the FlyakiteOSX transformation pack. The free software package automates the installation of tweaks, third-party programs, desktop themes and menus to make your Windows PC look and act like OS X (see screenshots below).

I tried the software and found the installation easy. I did not encounter errors when I installed it into my Windows XP with Service Pack 2 office computer. You need to restart your computer after the installation.

I was concerned that the transformation would be such a resource hog and would slow my system to the point that it becomes unusable. It did not. I was surprised that I did not notice any noticeable speed difference after I installed FlyakiteOSX.

Highlights Mobile PC

How to encode movies for playing in your cellphone

I used to scoff at the prospect of watching movie clips in your cellphone. After all, who’d want to watch something in very small screen when you can always watch it on your PC or TV. I’ve watched 3GP movie clips in various phone demos and did not find it something to drool over.

But after watching movie clips in mp4 format, I found that I don’t mind watching movies in smaller screens–especially during times when you have nothing to do like waiting for an appointment or while traveling. Clips in mp4 format have better resolution so I went ahead and converted movie clips I wanted to watch on the phone.

Highlights Mobile Newsroom tech Open source PC productivity

Get things done faster on your mobile phone and PC with FMA

If there’s one application responsible for an exponential boost in my productivity at the news copy desk it’s Float’s Mobile Agent (FMA). I wrote a short post about FMA earlier. FMA is an open source application that allows you to manage and operate your mobile phone through your PC via a data cable, infrared or Bluetooth connection.

Float's Mobile Agent

With FMA installed in your computer, you can just leave your phone in your desk and do all your mobile communications in your PC-from sending, receiving and archiving SMS messages, managing phone contacts, to-do lists and calendar entries to (for some phone models) taking and making calls using your regular PC headset. The program also allows you to easily back up important phone data like messages and contact numbers.


Gush: RSS reader, instant messenger in sleek package

I downloaded Gush several months back and then forgot about it. Back then, I never thought I’d need a desktop RSS reader. After all, my current Cybercafe Experiment is to have all the data I need online–to make the network my computer, as Sun puts it.

I only remembered downloading the software when I came across a blog post announcing that you can now use Gush with Google Talk. I tried Gush a few weeks back and have been hooked since then (screenshots below).

Gush is a combination multi-protocol instant messenger (AIM, Yahoo, Jabber and Google Talk) and RSS reader. It comes in a very sleek package and it’s such a functional eye candy that I found myself using it more often than I do my online RSS aggregators.



Everything stopped when I downloaded Konfabulator last week Ė all tasks were set aside as I went through all the available widgets in the software publisherís website. At the end of my search, I decided on using the following widgets: SiteCheck Ė to monitor the availability of my personal and work websites; Thesaurus-Dictionary, which gives you a search interface to the site (results will be served by your default browser); SysMonitor Ė to monitor CPU and memory usage; Calendar; Gmail Search and Check to monitor my GMail account; ElegantStickies, which I donít use much because I use an online TiddlyWiki; Werewolf Monitor and Chrome Clock for eye candies.

My Konfabulated Desktop


Konfabulate your desktop

Google was so good it became a verb for search. Will Konfabulator be next for enhancing your desktop?

Iíve gone widget-crazy since last week. Konfabulator widgets are small programs that run on your desktop to perform relatively simple tasks or retrieve bits of information. Itís similar to the widgets you see in Mac desktops using its latest operating system.

More than the tasks performed by the widgets, itís their appearance that makes Konfabulator a software you must download. The widgets are such eye candies that often Iíd find myself staring at the desktop. Konfabulator used to charge fees for using its software but it was recently bought by Yahoo and made available for free.

Highlights LifeHacks PC Work

Managing e-mails, one message at a time

I have three personal e-mail accounts and one office-assigned address. I check my main personal e-mail with Gmail as soon as I wake up and upon reaching the office Ė from then, the browser isnít closed until I leave the newsroom. When I get home, I check my mails again if I decide to go online.

I check my office-assigned address Ė online_editor (at) sunstar (dot) com (ph) Ė only twice a day Ė as soon as I reach the office and shortly before I go home. As a result, my Sun.Star e-mail address is clogged with press releases, questions from readers and personal communications that are left unanswered sometimes for weeks.

I knew it was time for an inbox makeover. Merlin Mann, in his article in Macworld, suggests re-organizing your e-mail folders according to required action on messages. He says that as soon as you receive your mails, evaluate what type of actions are needed and sort these out in appropriate mail folders.

Highlights Journalism Newsroom tech Open source PC

Turning a discarded PC into a newsroom intranet server

(Note: This is version .5 of the article. I estimate five more rewrites to finalize this.)

The newsroom recently upgraded computers used by its reporters. The computers, with clock speeds ranging from 166 Mhz to 500 MHZ, were early generation Pentiums and were primarily used for word processing.

I told our editor-in-chief I wanted to try to build a newsroom intranet that would host an online version of our Sun.Star Style guide and a searchable index of contact details of news sources. I then asked the newsroom IT in-charge to clean up a 400 Mhz unit and add RAM to it.

The newsroom already had an intranet — a search interface to our archives. It was set up by the company’s IT department. I wanted to try to install a more integrated one – a portal to documents and data that reporters and editors need. I’ve long been searching for a ready-to-deploy newsroom intranet script but I haven’t found one. What I’ve found, however, are open source scripts that could be used to handle certain data that a newsroom needs.

PC Work

“Mac and Media” orientation

“Mac and Media” orientation, originally uploaded by maxlimpag.

The Mac mini: finally, a CPU that is possible to misplace. I’ve seen photos of the Mac mini and I’ve read specifications of its dimensions but I was shocked by how small it really is when i saw it. The Mac Mini is even smaller than the hardbound edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and to think that I misplaced that book. Itís not as if youíd be lugging the Mac Mini around, which you can, itís that the computer is so small youíd wonder at how Apple engineers managed to fit the parts in it. The Mac Mini has a DVD drive but it doesnít have a disk tray, just a disk slot.

Dreamtech Enterprises, an authorized Apple reseller and service center in Cebu, held an orientation for journalists and members of a photography group at the City Sports Club. I didnít finish the orientation because I had to catch a chat schedule for an online course Iím taking. Iím scheduled to interview Dreamtech owner Richard Lee, though, for a feature on the Mac Mini for Sun.Star Cebuís Cybercafe section.