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  • Ben 9:28 am on 7/15/2013 Permalink  

    Sustaining git-annex development 

    After his successful Kickstarter, Joey Hess is fundraising to continue working on git-annex.

  • Ben 5:30 pm on 9/3/2010 Permalink  

    What I learned from reading the Android user manual 

    I love my Nexus One Android phone and, in general, I’ve found the user interface to be very intuitive. However, I recently discovered that there’s a 340-page user manual for Android. I decided to read the whole damn thing and find out if there were any great hard-to-find features or tricks in there. I learned a bunch of stuff that probably should have been obvious but I also made some nice discoveries.

    It’s easier to use the trackball to position the text cursor and select text.

    I had been trying to use my finger on the screen to position the text cursor, that usually required extreme accuracy and multiple tries. The manual points out that the trackball is much better for this.

    International dialing: touch and hold 0 to enter a “+”.

    I’m probably the only idiot who didn’t know this.

    That scroll icon on the bottom left corner of the Phone app is the access voicemail button.

    Again, this is probably a universal symbol that only I hadn’t figured out.

    Touch a contact’s picture to bring up the quick contact menu.

    Wherever you see a contact’s picture or icon, such as a shortcut on your home screen or in the contacts list itself, you can touch it to bring up a neat quick contact menu with icons for each contact method for that person.

    Compass Mode in Street View is really cool.

    This seems like a pretty buried feature to me so here’s how to get to it. Open Maps, then long-touch a point on the map you are interested in. A balloon will appear with the address and place name. If Street View is available at that location, there will be a photo thumbnail next to the address. Now touch the balloon to open an info screen for the location. On that screen you’ll see a Street View icon which you can touch to open Street View. Just this much was new to me, I hadn’t realized you could access Street View from Maps. It get’s cooler though, touch menu and select Compass Mode. Now you can tilt, pan, or turn your phone to look around.

    In Gallery, you can peek into an album stack by touching it with two fingers and spreading them apart.

    This doesn’t seem terribly useful to me but it’s kind of a neat effect.

    In album view, touch Menu twice to enter batch mode.

    I never would have figured this out on my own. Very useful for photo management.

    Hello, augmented reality.

    I haven’t seen this work yet but the manual claims that Goggles will display nearby locations once it has a GPS lock.

    The rest are self-explanatory:

    • In Music Playback, touch and hold track information to search for it with various apps.
    • In Weather, touch the screen for details and then touch the hour of the day for the forecast for that time.
    • Drag the Calculator screen right to left to access advanced functions.
    • In Calculator, roll the trackball down to access previous operations.
  • Ben 8:02 am on 9/3/2008 Permalink  

    Stephen Fry wishes GNU a happy birthday 

    Stephen Fry made an excellent video explaining Free Software and wishing the GNU project a happy 25th birthday.

  • Ben 6:52 am on 8/3/2008 Permalink  

    How to improve Free Software usability 

    Matthew Paul Thomas is back with an article about why Free Software has poor usability, with concrete suggestions for how to solve the problems. Thomas is an interaction designer who works for Canonical. You might remember his list of 69 usability problems in Ubuntu 5.04.

  • Ben 6:35 pm on 2/19/2008 Permalink  

    Mozilla Messaging 

    The new Mozilla organization dedicated to developing Thunderbird, Mozilla Messaging, has launched. They will also be developing Lightning, Sunbird, and an IM client, which is all very exciting. I’m using Lightning as my calendar at work now and it is looking and feeling much better than it has in the past.

  • Ben 3:30 pm on 2/1/2008 Permalink  

    Yahoo and Microsoft 

    Many people have pointed out that the scary thing about Microsoft potentially buying Yahoo is that Yahoo owns many important web sites (Flickr, del.icio.us, upcoming.org, etc.) and supports many important open source projects (PHP, FreeBSD, YUI, Hadoop, Squid, etc.) I’m not worried, though. These days Microsoft is so ineffectual that it would take them at least a decade to ruin all of those sites and projects.

  • Ben 7:12 pm on 1/4/2008 Permalink  

    Intel leaves OLPC project 

    As a follow-up to the previous story about the many competitors OLPC has faced, Intel has now left the project and is continuing with its Classmate laptops.

  • Ben 12:40 pm on 11/27/2007 Permalink  

    OLPC’s Many Misfortunes 

    The Wall Street Journal has a sort of tragic story about the trouble the One Laptop Per Child project has had selling its XO laptop to developing nations. OLPC has faced competition from Intel and other low-cost laptop manufacturers and several of the nations that had initially committed to purchasing laptops now seem to be going with Intel. The story ends on a bright note, however. Intel and OLPC now intend to collaborate on an Intel-based laptop and OLPC is in good financial shape.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with commercial competition for the OLPC, I just think it’s a shame that the nations buying the Intel laptops are putting Windows on them. The extreme hackability of the XO is one of its most important innovations and you miss out on that if you load up your laptops with proprietary software. I ordered an XO through the Give One, Get One program. Mostly I hope it will make a good ebook reader and maybe I’ll play some Micropolis on it.

  • Ben 1:11 pm on 11/13/2007 Permalink  

    Open Source SimCity 

    A Linux port of the original SimCity source code is being open sourced for use on the One Laptop Per Child. There are already a couple of open source clones of SimCity for Linux, Lincity and LinCity-NG, but it’s nice to see the original game freed.

  • Ben 12:41 pm on 11/9/2007 Permalink  

    Google’s Phone Plans 

    It strikes me that the problem with Google’s open phone plans is that the carriers all still suck and are the opposite of open. Google should just buy one of the carriers and run it in a reasonable manner. If it turns out that you can’t make money running a high-quality, neutral network and being nice to your customers then they would still make up the difference by driving lots of traffic to their web apps.

  • Ben 8:24 am on 9/15/2007 Permalink  

    Jeremy Allison on OOXML 

    Jeremy Allison of Samba fame has some interesting comments and historical perspectives on the standards process for Microsoft’s XML Office format.

  • Ben 4:25 pm on 8/2/2007 Permalink  

    Mass Adopts OOXML 

    The Massachusetts Information Technology Department received 460 public comments on its recent policy document which adopted Microsoft’s OOXML format as an acceptable format for state documents. The comments appear to be almost unanimously anti-OOXML, but yesterday the ITD announced that they don’t give a rat’s ass what the public thinks.

  • Ben 10:42 am on 7/19/2007 Permalink  

    Comments on Mass. IT Policy Due Tomorrow 

    The Massachusetts Information Technology Division recently announced its intention to add Microsoft’s OfficeOpen XML specification to its list of approved open formats. The ITD created a firestorm in 2005 when it announced that the state would standardize on ODF as its document file format, effectively dumping Microsoft Office and adopting the free OpenOffice.org. After two years of intensive lobbying by Microsoft the ITD is set to reverse that decision. The deadline for public comments on the new draft policy is tomorrow. I urge you to comment, and you might want to check out Andy Updegrove’s comments for inspiration.

  • Ben 4:29 pm on 7/16/2007 Permalink  

    Connector and Slingshot Open-sourced and Free 

    Joyent’s Connector web-based groupware has been open sourced. You now have a few options for open source, web-based calendar and email. I’m sure Chandler Server will be nice when it’s finished, which should be any year now, and Novell has abandoned Hula so Connector is looking pretty good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any keyboard shortcuts that I can find and I really need one-key archiving in order break my Gmail habit. [via Hack the Planet]

  • Ben 7:15 pm on 6/5/2007 Permalink  

    SixApart to Open Source Blog Platform 

    SixApart is finally open sourcing Movable Type. Feels about three years too late.

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