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Friday, October 30, 2009

8 cool Songbird addons you must try today

Songbird, the cross platform, open source media player, is to multimedia what Firefox is to browsers.  If you already do not have it installed on your system, please do so now before you continue reading. Ubuntu users can follow the steps here. Windows users can just do the usual double clicking on the .exe file.

Songbird is packed with awesome features that makes it a real must have app on your box. There are certain things that it can do which the popular iTunes cannot. The best part of Songbird is that you can extensively customize it with the hundreds of addons available to you. Lets take a look at 8 of such addons that you really need to try on your Songbird.

LiveTweeter for Songbird helps you tweet your tunes. It allows you to post what you are listening on both Twitter and MSN Messenger/Windows Live Messenger. Tweet your tunes with ease with LiveTweeter for Songbird. The  LiveTweeter addon is cross-platform and it works on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.

Learn more about the artist currently playing from Wikipedia. The information is displayed in the bottom content pane by default. More knowledge of your artist as you enjoy their work.

This time around you can enjoy your Apple toy on your PC without hassle or iTunes. Play your iPod from Songbird and synchronize it with your Songbird library using the iPod device Songbird extension. This extension will mount your iPod in Songbird, allowing you to play songs from your iPod library and playlists. This extension also allows you to copy songs to your iPod or synchronize your iPod from your Songbird library.

This extension simply imports your iTunes library into Songbird.
The iTunes Library Importer functionality is built into Songbird 0.7 and later. You can find it in the preferences under "iTunes Importer." Simply install the iTunes library importer Songbird extension from the Tools/Add-ons menu, and you'll be able to import your iTunes music library into Songbird using the "File/Import a Library..." menu item.

The iTunes importer may be used on Linux to import an iTunes library from Mac or Windows. However, the file paths in the iTunes library file must be modified first. For example, a global change such as changing "D:" to "mnt/data" would allow an import of files that were stored on a Windows "D:" drive and mounted on a Linux "/mnt/data" drive.

Simple. Playback M4P files you purchased from the iTunes Music Store. Must have.

This is an addon that works on both Songbird and Firefox. CustomizeGoogle adds links to other search engines and services like social bookmarking websites, removes ads, lets you "scroll infinitely" through search results, make Google services more secure with https://, and other additions that make Google services better.

This addon defines bittorrent made easy. It's an extension that allows you to download torrents in Songbird (please check if using bittorrent is legal in your locality before using).

Do you like to be reading the lyrics of your song while it's playing? Then LyricMaster is your answer. It does among other things
  • Displays an icon next to the track in the library if the track has lyrics.
  • Displays the lyrics a song has embedded through metadata.
  • Fetch the lyrics if the song contains no lyric metadata.
  • Allows you to edit the lyrics a song contains.
These are what I think are some cool addons you should give a try today. There are hundreds available that you can try to find your best fit. I would really appreciate it if you share your own list with me.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Thursday, October 29, 2009

5 reasons to try Kubuntu Karmic Koala right this moment.

The latest release of Kubuntu, code named Karmic Koala is out for download. I have already downloaded mine and have it running on my Acer Extensa laptop. If you are using Windows or have not yet heard of that 'thing' called Linux, I really encourage you to give Kubuntu Karmic Koala  try. It is the best Linux OS I have ever used, far better than Ubuntu itself which I had been using before. If you need something to push you to try, I have some 5 simple reasons for that.

World Class Interface

Kubuntu comes with the latest KDE, an Open Source desktop environment that is more than great. It gives the new Windows 7 a run for its money at the lowest of resource cost. I am not going to go into the technicalities of KDE 4 here. What I will say is that it is very polished, eye pleasing with great features like desktop widgets, consumes less computer resource and more. It is what I believe is the Open Source equivalent of the well polished Windows 7, frankly. You can check out this video and see for yourself.

Give your old computer a new life

With the current global hue and cry over climate change and environmental degradation, you would not want to be guilty of exacerbating the situation by throwing away your old computer because you cannot get Windows to run that efficiently on it. Let Kubuntu breath a life into your computer. With its low system requirement, it can run on practically any old computer you may have in the home. Why throw away and contribute to climate change when you can reuse you computer with a much efficient OS?

One installation to do it all.

Download Kubuntu, install it and you have everything done with that one installation. You would not need a different set of drivers for every other hardware you have on your computer. Kubuntu automatically configures it all  for you and makes your system usable as soon as the install is completed. No matter what brand of computer you are using, chances are you are likely to have Kubuntu do all the work for you. No more configuration hassles whatsoever.

Everything you need in one place.

Kubuntu comes with everything you will need to be productive right after installation. One installation and you have a world class office suite, an awesome browser, image manipulation app, time killing games (with more just a click away) among others. Really, unless you are someone who uses the computer for highly specialized work, you are certain to find everything you need with just one installation. No more install after install hassles.

No more hassling for software

With its massive repository of softwares, you are likely to find an app to accomplish whatever you want to do. All you have to do is to search for the app in the software center and install it. It's as simple as that. You would not need Professor Google to help you track down where to download that app you want to use to accomplish that task. It is all available and ready to install. All  you would need is the desire to use the app and you have it.

If you are new to Linux, I would really encourage you to try out this derivative of the popular Ubuntu and see for yourself what I am talking about. You would not need to make any changes on your current system, just give it a try from the LiveCD and see for yourself. You are sure to be surprised at what you find in Kubuntu with KDE as I was when I first tried it about two weeks ago; ironically, I've been using Ubuntu for a long time but never gave Kubuntu a try.

I would not blindly ask you to format  your computer today and install Kubuntu. No. You keep using your Windows system but be sure to try out Kubuntu for sometime. You can install it side by side with Windows and choose which one to boot into at startup. You will not be disappointed, I can confidently promise you that. And, lest I forget, the terminal is not a rigid require to use Kubuntu though knowledge of it will not hurt either. So go ahead and take up my challenge. Give Kubuntu a try and if you get disappointed, I will buy you a cup of coffee. No kidding.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 4 comments

6 must have addons to enhance your Openoffice.org experience

Almost everybody does a certain amount of word processing on their systems. One of the most popular word processing apps around is OpenOffice, the 3rd version of which as at yesterday (October 28) has been downloaded a hundred million times.

What makes this great office suite wonderful to use is the extent to which  you can customize it with the thousands of freely available addons. These addons add extra features to make working with Openoffice very interesting. Below are 6 of such addons you definitely need to install to take your Openoffice.org to the max.

This is a cool OpenOffice.org wrapper for Google Translate. It allows you to translate a document to any language using Google Translate library as the backend. This is particularly useful when you want to quickly translate your document or part of it from one language to another without having to copy paste it in online interface. OOTranslator provides a nice and simple interface which allows you to customize its behaviour using various options. Definitely a must have.

How many times have you wanted to insert page numbers on those documents you typed and wished to heaven there was an easy way to do it? Well your prayers have been answered. Pagination is simply a little macro that adds an 'Insert / Page number...' dialog to writer. It eases the way you can add page numbers to a document. Definitely must add.

This addon makes inserting special characters into your document a breeze. Compose Special Characters lets you type two or three characters and use a keyboard shortcut to convert them into a single accented or special character. It works on Writer and Calc. You can also use a dialog to insert any supported character. The dialog lists all supported characters and the character combinations you use to compose them. The characters are categorised in the dialog for easier reference. Once you know the character combination you need for any particular character you don't need to use the dialog if you assign a shortcut key to the Compose function. You can then type the character combination and press your shortcut to get your composed character as you type.

This is a very good addon for Impress which makes learning very fun and aids easy memorization. OpenCards  uses slide-titles as flashcard fronts and the slide contents as their backs. Based on state-of-the-art memorization and scheduling algorithms OpenCards will help you to learn any set of flashcards.  The two great reasons why I like this addon is that it allows you to learn any Impress/Powerpoint-files as flashcard-set without conversion and it also reduces your memorization efforts by implementing state-of-the-art methods for spaced repetition.  Definitely a must have especially if you are a student.

This addon gives you splendid professional looking templates for your word processing, number crunching and presentations. It has over 120 templates for Writer, Calc and Impress. It has among others, templates for
  •      Business correspondence templates in six different layouts
  •      Budget and project plan templates
  •      Event posters in six different layouts
  •      Invoices, notes, minutes, press release templates in six different layouts
  •      Presentation templates
  •      A dozen formal and personal letter templates
  •      Business card templates
This is a  must have template for every OpenOffice.org user. It adds the professional touch to your documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

This simple addon works on Calc, Writer, Draw and Impress by analyzing how frequently you use the same words and use these words as tags for templates. It will display you a dialog where you can see in the descending order how often what word was used in your document. The purpose of this is to simplify the process of filling in template properties for OpenOffice.org Templates. One less work and filling for you to do.  

These are 6 simple addons that will add some spark to your Openoffice.org suite and hopefully increase your productivity. There are thousands of others that you can choose from and if you know some coding, could even create your own. I hope you like them as much as I do and look forward to hearing your view of them and which ones you prefer using.
BTW did you know you can watch thousands of satellite channels on your computer without a satellite dish or monthly subscription?

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5 more questions for Ubuntu on the eve of Karmic Koala

Tomorrow, Canonical is going to release Karmic Koala, the latest of the Ubuntu Linux OS. I have tried the beta and it is quite impressive, particularly Kubuntu, which comes with KDE as the default desktop. I have been very impressed with Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular with the strides made relative to MS Windows over the last few years.

Early last week, Workswithu published a  list of 8 questions for Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth. However, I still have some questions lingering in my mind which I would also like to put across to Mark and you in the hope that you would help clarify them for me.

1. Why does Canonical market Ubuntu more than it does Kubuntu?

Ubuntu comes with the default Gnome desktop environment which is not that polished and good looking though very resource friendly. This is what Canonical seems to be marketing feverishly though  Kubuntu, which comes with the KDE is very polished, good looking and very attractive. Gnome has a long way to go to catch up with the more advanced KDE. People are likely to give Kubuntu a try than Ubuntu with its dull brown looks.

2. How many people REALLY use Ubuntu according to Canonical's reckoning? 

There is no definite number about the number of people who use the Ubuntu distro and its growth rate. How many people does Mark reckon are using his baby.

3. When will a person be able to use the GUI absolutely on Ubuntu without having to resort to the terminal at some point in time? 

Ubuntu has done a lot to make the use of the OS less reliant on the terminal. You may disagree with me, but one thing is for sure; the terminal is a big determinant of whether people will use Ubuntu or not. When will Ubuntu finally make the terminal absolutely OPTIONAL so that some of us can go all out to recommend it to people without having to inform them of any terminal caveat.

4. This question was beautifully echoed by a reader on the 8 Workswithu list I talked about above and would
like to repeat it here. When will Ubuntu target more aggressively  the more profitable Corporate Desktop deployments. Yes it probably has the most user base, but when will that user base comprise a significant number of corporate desktop deployments.

 5. What does future does Mark envisage for Ubuntu relative to the launch of Windows 7 last week and the critical acclaim it has won over the world?

Does Ubuntu feel threatened? Confident? How does Mark think Ubuntu is going to scale that mega MS missile called Windows 7 to reach more people?

These are the fives questions that are nagging at me and I would love to hear your views on them.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 2 comments

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

6 must have Open Source apps for Windows 7 users

Windows 7 was released for retailing last week and I know by now you might have bought yourself a copy. However, getting the shiny looking Windows 7 on your box is just the beginning of your journey to having an enjoyable computing experience. You would need to have some apps that will complement what you do with the OS. Below are 6 of such apps that are absolutely a must have to complete your Windows 7 experience.

This simple CD/DVD burning software is a very impressive application given the array of features it offers. It can be used to create custom data, audio and mixed-mode projects and record them to physical discs as well as disc images, record to dual-layer DVDs, erase rewritable discs using four different methods and scan the SCSI/IDE bus for devices and collect information about their capabilities, among a host of other features. It is suitable for everyday users who only do so much with their CD burning programs. I think it will serve your needs well since most of the fancy features you find in commercial counterparts are hardly used by most people. InfraRecorder is definitely a must have.

If for some strange reasons you have not heard of VLC before, then you are missing something. This app is one player to rule them all. It has never failed to play any file I have ever thrown at it. It uses its own internal codecs, runs on any platform I know of and is very light weight. It is packed with almost every features you could think of, 7 of which you might not even know of. VLC is definitely a must have if you are to enjoy multimedia on your WIndows 7 system to the max.

If for some very, very, very strange reason you do not know what Firefox is, please check out this video before you continue reading. Firefox is the most super, duper browser in the world. It comes with an simple interface and an impressive array of features. It is extremely customizable with the thousands of readily available addons out there, 7 of which are a must have. If you are in the EU, then the obvious choice of browser for you is Firefox since your Windows 7 is not likely to come with IE preinstalled. But if you are anywhere else in the world, do yourself a favor an avoid IE at all cost. Use Firefox instead. It definitely will make your computing experience an unforgettable one.

This is another awesome app you would not want to do without on your new Windows 7 system. It is a universal chat client that connects to virtually every chat system on the planet (now has voice and video). You can even extend it further with wonderful plugins that blow you away. It is very lightweight and does not eat up your system resources like other ones out there. With Pidgin, you only need one app to stay in touch with your friends across all the popular social networking sites out there. You really would not want to do without this app on your Windows 7 system. It's absolutely a must have no doubt.

If you are going to be doing some word processing on your system- who doesn't anyway?- then Openoffice is a must have app. This cool and easy to use, full fledged office suite comes packed with features that will do almost anything you are used to doing with its counterparts, chiefly MS Office. It has a simple interface (though a little ugly to some people), is customizable with thousands of widgets and has almost no learning curve as long as you can read and write. It is good for every setting you can think of and can be deployed easily and quickly without hassles. I definitely and highly recommend Openoffice  to help you get the best out of your new Windows 7.

This is an anti-virus and anti-spyware that works perfectly on your Windows 7 system. It has a standalone virus scanner and right-click menu integration to Microsoft Windows Explorer, high detection rates for viruses,  spyware scanning scheduler, automatic downloads of regularly updated virus database, addin to Microsoft Outlook to remove virus-infected attachments automatically among others. The only downside of this app however, is that it does not include an on-access real-time scanner. You need to manually scan a file in order to detect a virus or spyware. It is still worth the try though, that is if you are not the type that clicks on every yes you see online and in your email.

So now that you have these  apps on  your new and shiny Windows 7, you can enjoy the best of computing technology at a relatively affordable price. I would love to know what other app you would love to see on the list. Please let me know and I would gladly add it.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

What is wrong with you people in the West?!!!

I am a very frustrated and angry person this morning. I have had  enough of hearing virtually every morning on the news how some stupid white guy has been duped by some 'girl' he was dating and how he has lost money to the tune of several thousands of dollars.

First of all, why would a person who has the head screwed at the right place be 'dating' someone thousands of miles away that he has never seen? What makes you hurriedly ship money down when you are asked by your 'girlfriend' for it? Is it that you have so much money you do not know what to do with it? Are women in short supply in your country?

What I would want the whole world to know is that 99.9987% of those 'girls' you think you are dating in Africa are boys/men/guys/males/hes whatever you want to call them. But of a surety they are males PRETENDING to be females. They are using the pictures of their sisters, lady friends, girlfriends and random pictures they come across on the internet as fronts to beguile you. The only thing they want is to swindle every cent out of you.

The order of the day here in Africa and Ghana in particular is for guys to pretend to be girls, get themselves hooked up with some dummy in the developed world and use all and necessary means to swindle you. They use all forms of pretenses to make you believe that they are what they tell you they are. They will make you feel so loved that you would think you are in heaven. You fool, wake up from your slumber.You are being prepared for financial slaughter.

This does not go only for those who think they are in a relationship. Another method these criminals use is to tell you they have some fictitious business venture that you stand to gain a lot should you invest so much money. Don't ever believe a word of all those nonsensical things you 'girlfriends' and 'business partners' tell you. They will only swindle the devil out of you.

If you care to know, some of these guys and their cohorts have now resorted to all forms of rituals to turn your brains into mushrooms. You do every single thing they ask you do. I get very mad when I hear stupid, hopeless, lousy and lazy politicians boast of how Foreign Direct Inflows have gone up due to their hard work when in reality 99.999978% of those FDIs are monies that come in through fraudulent means and go into the hands of criminals.

Please save your own selves and do not 'date' anything at all you see online or send money down to anybody at all that tells you they want to double your money for you in a stupid venture of which you have little to no knowledge. You naivety  is costing innocent hardworking people.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

7 greatest Firefox addons of all time you must install right now!

Firefox is no doubt the biggest and greatest Open Source project to date; something that all 'fundamentalists' on both sides of the OS divide agree on. What has made this browser that was created from the ghost of  a predecessor- the Netscape Navigator- so popular and successful is the extent to which you can customize it with the thousands of freely available addons. Below are 7 greatest of the great addons of all time you must install right now after reading.

This addon is simply a must have especially for Windows users. Its most appealing feature is that it informs you if a web page is malicious, sends spam, contains spyware, online scams, identity theft, and more. It also alerts you about sites that are unsafe for children and let's you erase these sites from your Firefox history automatically; saves you the embarrassment of your kids accidentally seeing that pron site you visited last night :) . It also rates ethical behavior of a site's company including social responsibility, business practices, environmental impact, etc. The list of features packed in this addon is endless and is definitely a must add to your amazing Firefox.

Do you want to save money in online shopping  especially in this economic heat and meltdown? No? Then skip this addon to the next one. But if you answered yes, then read on. This nifty addon works quietly in the background by comparing prices elsewhere with the one you are currently viewing, if it finds a price lower than what you are looking at, it immediately alerts you of it in a discreet and non intruding way. You really stand to save a lot of money with this simple addon which is almost invisible on your browser. It definitely is a must have if you shop online.

The amount of information on the internet is very huge. And I mean huge, so much so that you can never keep up with it. This is where Glydo comes in. What this addon does is that it discovers new and exciting content for you by detecting and analyzing the pages you are viewing right now. Recommended content is made easily available through your browser's statusbar, and does not interrupt your browsing. It makes a comprehensive search of the entire web- Twitter, news, videos,Wikipedia, IMDB, Last.fm, blogs, etc- and delivers the most relevant information pertaining to what you are currently viewing. Definitely a must add.

Ever come across a certain webpage that you really wanted to read but just did not want to clutter your bookmark list since it's just a one time read?  Then
Readitlater can help. What this addon does is that it allows you to save pages of interest to read later. It helps you save pages to a reading list to read when you have time. You can manage your list in any browser or on any device, view your list from anywhere with automatic rss feeds of your items and more. It also works on all popular mobile platforms and all browsers. Definitely a must add.

This addon simply gives you a preview of what the video is about before you watch it, without having to navigate away from the page. Preview video links in Twitter instead of blindly clicking shortened URLs. With Videosurf videos, you can easily find the video you want, avoid spam and jump to specific moments in a video. Video summaries and related videos are available for all the popular video sharing sites. Really a must have for 'videophytes' like myself. After deciding what video to watch, use Downthemall (the best download manager from FOSS) to bring them all down to your local hdd.

This addon, aka Smarterfox, saves you time by speeding up repetitive tasks. It gives you  faster, parallelized downloads, auto-loading of next page, improved searching, and more. FastestFox will dramatically enhance your productivity. Check out the images here and see for yourself how this Fox can make your Firefox smarter and faster. Really a must have.

Formerly known as Foxmarks, this addon is the king of bookmark management that you will ever need on your computer. Install Xmarks on each computer you use, and it will seamlessly integrate with your web browser and keep your bookmarks safely backed up and in sync. Xmarks will also sync across browsers too. It now supports Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari (Mac OS). There is also a bonus Secure Password Sync feature which is optional. The sure fire way to get a feel of this must have addon is to install it right now and give it a try. You will be glad you did.

These are the Ghabuntu.com greatest Firefox addons of all time that you definitely need to install right this moment if you already do not have them. I know there are thousands more addons there that you can choose from. I would be glad to hear those that you prefer above the ones on this list. Share your preference.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 3 comments

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mendeley- Manage documents on the desktop and in the cloud for free.

Do you deal with lots of documents both at home and in the office? Do you have to keep remembering a certain paragraph in that pdf document you were reading? Want to create a bibliographic database? Need a portable app to sync your documents between your desktop and the cloud? Have ever wanted a way to collaborate and share with fellow researchers on a project? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then what you need is Mendeley.

This is a simple, cross platform application that is packed with features to make organizing your heaps of documents a breeze and an enjoyable experience. Mendeley helps you connect with other researchers in your field through the Mendeley research network. Mendeley has its own 'people directory' that you can search to make some useful contacts along the way.

With Mendeley, you can collaborate with fellow researchers and share information, resources and experiences with shared and public collections. Your research team will have easy access to each others papers. Just create a group, invite your colleagues and drag and drop documents in there. This way you can keep on top of what they're reading and discover more about what interests you.

The Mendeley desktop also indexes and organizes all of your PDF documents and research papers into your own personal digital bibliography. It gathers document details from your PDFs allowing you to effortlessly search, organize and cite. It also looks up PubMed, CrossRef, DOIs and other related document details automatically. Drag and drop functionality makes populating the library quick and easy. The bookmarklet allows you to quickly and easily import papers from resources such as Google Scholar, ACM, IEEE and many more at the click of a button.

This application is a revolution in the way we organize, collaborate and share documents- both on and offline. It is available for all three popular platforms: namely Windows, Linux and Mac OS. You can download it and use as a stand alone app on your computer or you can also register with the site and have it synced with their servers thus giving you easy access to your documents even when you are away from your PC. So all in all, this application is a must have if you really want a tidy computer and easy collaboration with friends and colleagues.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 2 comments

4 powerful 'anti-virus' programs to complement your Windows 7 experience

Windows 7 has finally been released. A lot of buzz is currently being generated around this release with more people set to give it a try. A quick search on Twitter for Windows 7 shows a huge number of tweets every single second. However, there is a problem that you would have to confront sometime in the future if you are using the new MS baby; 'threatware.'

There are rogues out there that simply live on invading your computer and stealing your data for their own nefarious reasons. The latest modus operandi of these is criminals is to hijack your computer and force you to pay them a ransom before you can use your own computer again. Don't fall for such security risks and pranks. The following 4 'anti-virus' programs will surely safeguard you from all these security threats and take your computing experience to the max without you having to repartition your Windows 7 box.

Anti-virus 1- Kubuntu Linux

This is perhaps the most popular 'anti-virus' or virus immune program you might have heard of from the 'other side.' This 'anit-virus' is a versatile OS built on the Linux kernel designed to run smoothly on even fairly old hardware. You can use this 'anti-virus' along side your existing Windows installation. With this program, you can now spend more time having a worthwhile internet experience and less worrying about all the threatware out there. The best part of this program is that it is free to use. You can get more information about this 'threatware' stopper and how you can download a copy here.

Anti-virus 2- Linux Mint

This 'anti-virus' is a direct derivative of the first one designed for those who want everything read to use out of the box without any additional configurations. It is easy to use for beginners and has almost no learning curve. It is also immune to any form of threatware. You can also use it alongside your current Windows installation just like the first one. It is certainly worth a try if you want a simple way to save yourself from Windows threatware. Read more about this free 'anti-virus' here and how to download a copy for yourself.

Anti-virus 3- Fedora Linux

This Linux based 'anti-virus' works well on almost all hardware and is stable. It is backed by one of the industry giants in the Linux world; Red Hat. It's also one of the most popular 'anti-viruses' that you can run alongside your Windows 7; also available for free.

Anti-virus 4 Arch Linux

This program is really simple and light weight designed to use as little system resources as possible. It is great for those of you who want a program whose footprint is nigh invisible on your Windows 7 box.  Go on and grab a copy of this threat proof program today.

To complete the setup of your 'anti-virus' of choice from the above list- you can get even more choices here- just install the addon called Windows 7 transformation pack and you have a safe, robust and flexible system that is almost immune to all the innumerable threat ware out there.

I am not saying do not use your new Windows 7, no. Use it, but I do strongly encourage you also give one of the above listed 'anti-viruses' right on your system. Try them and tell us what you think.

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meet Nook- the Android powered ebook reader from Barnes and Noble.

'The world's most advanced ebook reader,' christened Nook, has been released by Barnes and Noble, a long time competitor to Amazon. This release is directly meant to challenge the market dominance of the  Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, U.S. & International Wireless, Latest Generation), Amazon's own ebook reader. This sleek Android powered device that will really make the guys at Apple jealous boasts of a top e-ink display from Vizplex and a color touchscreen (3.5-inches) below, which supports one-touch control and swipe-to-browse books with full-color covers.

It measures 7.7- x 4.9- x 0.5-inches and weighs 11.2 ounces. It supports one-touch control and swipe-to-browse books with full-color covers. The rechargeable battery takes 3.5 hours to go from zero to full when using a wall outlet. Barnes and Noble claims it can last for 10 days if you put off the Wireless.

It also spots an inbuilt WiFi (802.11b/g) and AT&T 3G is inclusive, a 2GB  internal storage, a microSD expansion slot, MP3 player, built-in mono speaker, 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, a micro USB port and support for EPUB, PDF and MP3.

You can pick up where you left off (with markings and highlights in tact) on your iPhone or BlackBerry using its free eReader software, which just so happens to be the same app that allows sharing to iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC or Mac. You always can try a book before buying and you will also enjoy free WiFi anytime you find yourself in a Barnes & Noble retail location. The nook also supports bookmarking, making notes, and highlighting passages, and the 'LendMe' feature allows users to lend books for up to a fortnight at a time to other e-readers, cellphones or computers.

All in all, it is a great shiny gizmo worth having if you have the bucks to spare, for it comes at a weight of $259, available for pre-order. More nooky pictures here for your viewing pleasure. Will you buy nook? Which do you prefer: nook or kindle? Share your thoughts.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 10 comments

5 Microsoft Windows contributions to the world that Linux is yet to make.

Microsoft Windows, the dominant desktop OS in the world has over the years made some contribution to the world that the open source competitor Linux is yet to make. With all its weaknesses and shortcomings, Windows has made significant contributions to the world of computing that I think are worth mentioning. Below are 5 of such contributions.

Making computers usable for the masses
Microsoft Windows has succeeded in making computers usable for hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life on a scale that is both unprecedented and yet to be surpassed by any other OS be it Linux, BSD, Apple (or Mango lol). 9 out of every 10 people who use computers in one way or the other started with Windows. Windows simply made the use of computers a breeze: all that is required is the ability to see or hear and be able to read simple instructions. That's all  one needs to use a Windows box in most cases. I am yet to see this kind of contribution on the part of Linux, the use of which is still a nightmare to many people though some strides have been made.

Windows has succeeded in creating employment for hundreds of thousands if not millions of people from all walks of life. There are those that service Windows boxes, provide support to institutions and individuals, teach Windows courses, sell Windows among other economic avenues provided by the OS. This point is inextricably linked to the first point in that the more users of a program you have, the greater an economic system you can build around it. Windows has the user base and thus has succeeded in creating a massive ecosystem of economic activities around it that Linux is yet to parallel.

A lot of professional courses have sprung up around the Windows OS. One such courses is the popular Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. Yes I know there are such Linux courses available, but the problem with such courses is to me accessibility. I am in Ghana and I can count right on my fingers 10 places that I can walk to  and register for a MCSE course.  I do not even know if such courses are available here since all inquiries I made at the various computing centers returned negative. Also, you have entire university programs that offer Windows courses to people. You might be a Linux proponent like I am, but the fact cannot be denied that Windows has contributed to the advancement of computing knowledge the world over.

Propel Linux to the limelight
This point may sound ironic, but it is a fact that Windows, either knowingly or unknowingly has contributed to the growth of Linux in some ways. Take for instance the Windows Vista debacle, it contributed significantly to most people's move to Linux. More and more people started asking and looking for an alternative which in some ways gave Linux some amount of exposure. This is also a contribution- giving people the opportunity to try something else- albeit one that went against Windows itself.

Ancillary products
Microsoft, using Windows as the platform, has developed some really wonderful, shiny toys that are really worth it if you have them. One such product if the XBox. Nobody can deny that it is a really cool gaming platform that entertains to the maximum. Linux is now making some steady progress in having ancillary products, but has a long way to go.
hese are some of the 5 contributions that Windows has made to the world of computing that I am yet to see Linux do the same. I would prefer seeing a steady progress in the world of Linux towards making significant contributions to that in the end will improve the lives of people, rather always seeing people arguing over whether yast or apt is the best package manager! Windows is full of faults and weaknesses, but its achievements are worthy of emulation by the world of Linux with all its stability and solid foundation.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 16 comments

Open Source Software -- A Way Forward

What is Open Source Software, and how can it benefit you? Open Source Software is free software that allows you to use it, modify it, or as "Nixie Pixie" says, "can do almost anything" that the more expensive software options offer. In today's economy, Open Source software can allow a family to save money and still have the latest computer software for their computer.

The concept is not entirely new. According to Wikipedia, "The concept of open source and the free sharing of technological information existed long before computers existed. In the early years of automobile development, a group of capital monopolists owned the rights to a 2 cycle gasoline engine patent originally filed by George B. Selden. By controlling this patent, they were able to monopolize the industry and force car manufacturers to adhere to their demands, or risk a lawsuit. In 1911, independent automaker Henry Ford won a challenge to the Selden patent.

The result was that the Selden patent became virtually worthless and a new association (which would eventually become the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association) was formed. The new association instituted a cross-licensing agreement among all US auto manufacturers: although each company would develop technology and file patents, these patents were shared openly and without the exchange of money between all the manufacturers."

For computer software, the move toward Open Source Software offers computer users alternatives to some of the more expensive products on the consumer market. Some of the alternatives are arguably better and more secure than their commercial counterparts.

For example if you wished, you could replace your entire Windows® operating system with Linux. Linux is an Open Source and free operating system. Linux is a good replacement if your slightly older computer hard-drive were to crash. Having had a computer hard-drive fail, and attempting to replace it with Microsoft XP® recently, I went through a two and a half hour waiting game with the company's friendly telephone support team.

After starting each call asking for personal information, and having been cut off three after being put on hold for ten minutes, I was finally told that the company no longer offers help for what is still a very common and widely used operating system. All that was needed was a way to successfully enter the security code for what the support staff stated was a valid licensed version of their software. It no longer can be done.

So even though you may have a valid copy of their operating system, you can't successfully load it into a new computer. In an ever environmentally friendly world, the alternative to tossing a computer in the trash, or loading an alternative operating system seemed a more friendly to the environment approach than Microsoft® offered.

One example of what I believe is a superior product is the Mozilla Firefox browser. While many computer users are content to continue along using the Internet browser supplied with their computer, legions of serious computer users have gone to the free Firefox browser seeking a more secure and safer browser experience.

In a statement Mozilla states, "Firefox 3.5 was built through Mozilla’s global, open source development process. The Mozilla community comprises thousands of passionate contributors, including experienced developers, security experts, localization and support communities in more than 60 countries, and tens of thousands of active testers. With more than 300 million active users, Firefox is the only popular Web browser created by a non-profit organization".

Another is Open Office which is an alternative to the more popular commercial program Microsoft Office®. This program offers all of the components of its competitors, and files created on it can also be opened in the alternative program.

If you are looking for a program that will let you manipulate your photographs, look no further than Gimp. The developers state, "GIMP is our answer to the current lack of free (or at least reasonably priced) image manipulation software for GNU/Linux and UNIX in general."

There are always alternatives and for computer users, Open Source Software offer the savvy computer user some very solid alternatives.
Source: Newsledger

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hey Ubuntu! you are 5 years today since Warty Warthog- Happy birthday

Exactly 5 years ago today(October 20), the first ever Ubuntu  release, code named Warty Wathog was debuted. It was then a small project that was quickly dismissed by some as one more child's play on the already cluttered  Linux OS market. Oh boy were such people wrong.

Since Warty Warthog, there has been 11 consecutive releases(including Karmic Koala) and all have followed the set schedule of April and October release cycle, except Ubuntu 6.06 which was released in June instead of April. Over the years, Ubuntu has grown to become a force to be reckoned with both in the world of Linux and outside of it. It is now the most popular Linux distro out there with more people migrating to it fully everyday.

The distro has gone through a lot of changes over the years with the master climax set to be in Karmic Koala. The appearance has gone through a lot: from an ugly looking, hard to watch 'facial' appearance to a greatly polished and world class desktop in Karmic Koala . Ubuntu Linux is now the preferred favorite of most Linux users I know and the near default starting distro for a lot of newbie Linux users.

Ubuntu has also fared well in the enterprise world with a lot of services built around the distro suited for businesses. It is very interesting to also know that Ubuntu, itself a Debian  derivative  has managed to make the distro more usable and GUI friendly in that the use of the terminal has largely been made optional though there is still more work to be done relative to the use of the terminal.

All in all , Ubuntu has made great strides in getting Linux to the masses and has to a large extent, lived up to its theme of 'Linux for human beings.' There is still work to be done especially in the light of the upcoming Windows 7 which is set to be released 2 days from today. But all in all, Ubuntu and all the guys and gals at Canonical have done a yo man's job. I wish Ubuntu a happy birthday and look forward to a less terminal dependent,  more solid, wold class standard releases in the future. Happy birthday Ubuntu Linux.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 1 comment

4 ways to make money with Free and Open Source software

Most people who are new to the concept of Open Source sometimes get confused about how such a development model can be used profitably. There are some companies out there that are making good money using the Open Source development model and software. One such company that readily comes to mind is Red Hat, the parent company of the Fedora project, another Open Source Linux based OS.

Using Free and  Open Source software to make money is simple and cost effective especially for enterprises. Most Open Source software are released under the GPL which is otherwise referred to as copyleft license. This license gives you to right to use the software in anyway you want without let or hindrance. The following are 4 ways you can make money using free and open source software.
This point though simple and straightforward is often overlooked by most people. You can sell Free and Open source software under the GPL on the condition that you also pass on the same license to the buyer. This means that though you can sell the software, you would have to pass on the same right that you enjoyed under the GPL to the buyer. For example, most Linux vendors sell their distros for money though you can still download them for free.

Commercial Support
You can provide commercial support for those who use Free and Open source software for profit. For instance, if you know of a company that uses a given Open Source software that you really are good at, you can market your support services to the company for money. You can write your own Open Source app, give it out for free and then provide paid support for it. An example of this kind of business model is that of Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, another Linux based OS.

You can teach people how to use Open source software for money. If you are a Linux geek for instance, you can teach people how to use Linux for profit. What ever you are good at in terms of IT, you can find a way to 'port' it to Open Source and teach it for money.

Become a developer
The fact that most FOSS software are developed by volunteer developers does not mean none get paid. Granted there are some who develop voluntarily in the literal meaning of the word. However, there are hundreds of programmers and developers employed by the various Open Source software vendors who get paid as any other regular employee you know of. So if you know programming, you can look into developing Open Source software for some vendor or even start your own project which you can sell for money.

These are 4 of the ways in which you can make money from Free and Open Source software. There are dozens more ways and I would love to hear some from you.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Linux-gamers -Play 33 world class games on Linux without installation

One of the strong criticisms leveled against Linux is the lack of  good quality games for the platform. A lot of strides have been made in getting games ported to the Linux platform. One of the attempts to make games playable on Linux caught my attention. It is the Live.Linux-gamers.net project.

This project has managed to get 33 world class games onto one DVD that you can play on your Linux box without having to install, compile or configure anything  The distro on which this project is based is Arch Linux, one of the well known distros. The DVD is a live one and thus all you have to do is to just boot into the DVD to start enjoying. Some of the games found on the LiveDVD are
The DVD is designed to run on more modern i686-capable architecture computers with a minimum of 512MB memory and videocard with 3d acceleration. However, if your computer is old, worry not. You can download the lite version of the collection with games suitable for older computers. You can download directly via FTP or use the bit-torrent protocol.

The current stable release is 0.9.5 and comes with some bug fixes and an addition of new games to the collection. So if you want to enjoy free world class games on your Linux powered box without wanting to make any changes to your current system or having to go through compiling anything from sources, then Live.Linux-gamers.net is the right place to head. Have used Linux gamers DVD before? How was your experience? Please share with us.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 2 comments

Free Powerful Web Based POS Software Imonggo Now Available for Linux Users

Free POS software Imonggo is now fully available for the Linux operating system, as announced today by Imonggo Inc., the first software-as-a-service (SaaS) company to offer a hosted free web-based Point-Of-Sale solution for small retailers.

Traditionally, businessmen using technology to grow their business avoid Linux, the zero-cost revolutionary operating system, because of the almost complete lack of business-targeted tools programmed for it. Costs rise up, therefore, because these businessmen have no choice but to purchase the expensive licenses for Mac and Windows systems.

With the introduction of Imonggo, however, businessmen who have chosen to cut costs by choosing Linux are finally given a step ahead. Imonggo can easily be configured to Linux-based computers, thereby giving them the capacity to effectively process complex retailing data.
Because Imonggo is web-based, it can run on any Linux-based computer as long as it can connect to the Internet.

To start using Imonggo point of sale system, just visit the Web site at http://www.imonggo.com and sign up for an account. No software installation is required, so the prospective user saves time and money.

Imonggo's simplicity assures its users that it can be mastered in under three minutes. Its exclusive features, like extensive sales reports, discount modules and user management, are easy to understand. However, they remain powerful enough to run a business well.

Imonggo also has the ability to manage multiple (unlimited) users and can support as many branches as needed. Its scalability guarantees branch inter-connectivity through the Internet, so transferring stocks and sales records are fast and error-free. Each user can also be assigned to access one or more branches. Data security is also a must for Imonggo--it even maintains a powerful SSL encryption that encrypts all the data in a language that cannot be decoded by other computers. This ensures the data to be hack-proof.

Imonggo also backs up all records using several servers spread across the continent so there is virtually no danger of them being lost.
With Imonggo, Linux users are not just given a free POS software but also a powerful tool to take their business to the top.

For more information about Imonggo Free POS Software for Linux, Windows & Mac OS, please visit http://www.imonggo.com

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Some video lectures by Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman lecturing about copyright at University of Calgary

Richard Stallman delivering his lecture at the eLiberatica 2009

Richard Stall on Copyright and Community

Caveat- These videos in no way imply that I agree with everything that Richard Stallman stands for.

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UK trailing USA in adoption of open source defence technology

I am due to meet up soon with an open source enterprise content management (ECM) company called Alfresco whose success in the US may have lessons for us in the UK defence sector. The company’s records management module is apparently the first open source software to pass the rigorous U.S. Department of Defense 5015.02 rating.

Cutting through the PR with a fairly heavy palette knife, this is clearly not the first open source software to be used by the US defense authorities. Multifarious manifestations of Java and many other open source variants have, allegedly, been used by the NSA (No Such Agency) and many other bastions of defence for some years now.

That said, the exacting standards needed to meet the governance, retention and compliance strategies of US federal agencies and government is no small matter. So any open source inroads made in this space are, arguably, fairly admirable in nature.

Combine this positive development with the fact that the UK’s CIO Council published a policy designed to stimulate the uptake of open source across the public sector way back in February of the year and you can see why this is an issue.

So why go open source for a records management application? What’s the big deal?

It comes down to money of course. Traditionally records management apps would be priced on a per user basis and Alfresco’s Records Management Module v3.2 offers an open source pricing model that the company says will “significantly” reduce the barrier to regulatory compliance.

Alfresco’s tool has a web-based GUI offering secure access from any location and is typically described with all the normal buzzwords including native support of IMAP, drag and drop filing, seamless integration, single repository control and low administration overhead. Available from all good chemists and all in one easy to swallow capsule no doubt.

What this type of technology should open our eyes to is, broadly, the fact that the US is doing this and the UK isn’t. Alfresco chief executive and founder John Powell is refreshingly vocal on this subject and is (I would like to suggest) unselfishly highlighting his company’s success in the US to show us what we are not doing in the UK.

Perhaps the increasing adoption of open source in the commercial enterprise space will cause the government to wake up and see the benefits of these technology streams. Or maybe it won’t.
Source- ZDNet

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

17 useful Google Chrome Extensions worth having

Google Chrome’s support for third party extensions might be still in it’s infancy, but already dozens of different extensions have been written. If you are a regular Chrome user, you might try extensions on Chrome just like you might try on Firefox. As you might be aware, the stable version of Chrome doesn’t support extensions yet. You have to use the developer channel version of Chrome to install plug-ins.

How to install extensions in Google Chrome?

1. Download and install the latest developer build of Chrome.
2. Next, right-click on the Chrome icon on your desktop, click on Properties and add “–enable-extensions” (without the quotations) at the end of the target field and click “Apply”.
3. To install extensions simply download the file which has a .CRX extension, and you will get the installation confirmation box. Click OK.

Chrome Extensions

Gmail Checker: One of the first extensions that shows the number of unread messages in Gmail in the toolstrip (status bar).

TPGoogleReader: Enhances Google Reader with a number of features.

  • Shows the number of unread items
  • Automatically opens all new items in new background tabs, and marks them as read in Google Reader upon checking the checkbox in the toolstrip. Newstories automatically keep appearing in tabs without clicking anything.
  • When a website has a feed, an icon appears on the right of the omnibox (address+search bar). Clicking on it opens the feed in Google Reader allowing you to read without subscribing.
  • When you navigate directly to an RSS or Atom page normally Chrome displays a mess. With TPGoogleReader you will get the page displayed in a monospace font with preserved formatting

Chrome Gestures: Adds a number of mouse gestures to Chrome.

Cleeki: Internet Explorer 8 Accelerator like functionality for Chrome. Just select some text, and Cleeki can search/share/publish the content and preview the results immediately in a tooltip window.
Here is what Cleeki can do:

  • Google search including web, image, video, blog, books, and spell check.
  • Search on Google map including dragging, zooming, direction, and local search.
  • Google translation including both paragraph and webpage translation, with two highlighted features: it automatically recognizes the source language, and remember your target language. So just select any text/page, and it will do the translation automatically.
  • Send it to Share It that provide content sharing via SocialTwist, supporting all mainstream blog/social/IM/email/bookmark services.
  • Other searches: Amazon, eBay, TheFreeDictionary, SearchMe, Hulu, SlideShare, Wikipedia, Technorati, Yahoo, YouTube.
AdSweep: Blocks ads from the page.

Flashblock: Blocks all Flash content from loading. It then leaves placeholders on the webpage that allows you to view the Flash content.

Sticky Notes: Chrome Sticky Notes adds an inbuilt notepad to Chrome which can be launched by clicking on the little notepad icon on the toolstrip. You get the option to save your sticky note for future reference, and you can view it even if you restart your browser.

Session Saver: This extension allows you to save, manage and reload multiple sessions in Google Chrome. It can save all the open tabs across all Google Chrome windows, save and manage Multiple Sessions, and even let’s you view URLs in a saved session prior to opening it (requires Sticky Notes extension).

Delicious Bookmarks: Once installed this extension adds a Delicious button to your Google Chrome omnibox for signing in and bookmarking pages. Just click on the button to sign in and post bookmarks to your Delicious account. You can bookmark it directly to Delicious by pressing Ctrl + D.

Chritter: A Chrome Twitter notifier that shows the recent tweets in the toolstrip and fetches new tweets every 5 minutes automatically. One nice feature about this is that it uses “oauth” to sign in so you don't need to give your twitter password. It stores the access token as a bookmark.

Chrome.fm: Listen to music from your Last.fm account in Chrome’s toolstrip. Get control buttons to play, skip, stop songs and Love or Ban them.

GoCalendar: This is a simple Google Calendar extension for Google Chrome, that displays the next appointment from your Calendar in the browser toolstrip. You can cycle between the calendar entries by clicking on the toolstrip and when needed can go directly to Google Calendar.

Chrome Clock: An alarm clock on the toolstrip.

Facebook Notifications: Retrieves the number of notifications from your Facebook account. You have to be logged in to Facebook for this extension to work.

Page Rank: Shows the Google PageRank for the current website.

Alexa Rank Display: Displays the Alexa Rank for the current website.

Aniweather: Detailed weather report in the browser’s toolstrip. Also available as a Firefox addon.



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