Ubuntu Natty Narwhal Features

I’ve had some time to poke around under the hood of Ubuntu 11.04, a.k.a. Natty Narwhal. I still am struggling to spell ‘narwhal’ for the record, but I’ll share some of my first thoughts. After all, sharing is caring. Write that down.

I’ll put the most obvious thing on the table first…they Apple-ed the crap out of this distro. Take a look at this screen shot, and tell me it doesn’t look an awful lot like OSX, with the bottom ‘stuff’ dumped on the left-hand side: (click to enlarge)

natty narwhal

thanks mr. narhwal

The good news is that like Leopard, Narwhal is usable. The same cannot be said for Ubuntu’s first foray into this new territory with Unity. Their last attempt was in 10.10 Netbook Edition, which was horrible to say the least. The UI was attempting to mix desktop features with mobile phone-like buttons, and it was a joke. Pretty much junk…I reverted my Mini 9 to the 10.10 Desktop Edition, and jumped back on the Gnome bandwagon. Well, to their credit, Ubuntu has polished the thing up.

From what I can gather, Unity sits over Compiz…sort of like a plugin. I snagged the Compiz configuration tool via a CLI and messed around with the settings. The snap-to-side function that came stock with this was a pain in my ass, so I reverted it to my beloved ‘wobble windows’ It was sort of odd to have the options bar integrated with the top bar at first, but when I change gears and use multiple windows, I am liking the move.

The window switcher function pans out and shows you four workspaces…see below (click to enlarge)

window switcher ubuntu

window switcher is switchy

So basically, I am writing this post in one area, have Eclipse up in another, and have two CLI sessions live in their own spots. With the integrated file bar, the Gimp is far less cluttered…which is awesome. The taskbar slider function is a bit spotty still. I have taken Compiz down running my Arduino IDE (trying to set a temp file up as a taskbar item…it puked) but now have it configured and snappy. I would chalk that up to a training issue, rather than a show stopper.

At the end of the day, I give it a surprisingly positive review. I was very satisfied with the last few long term support versions of Ubuntu, and hesitant to make the switch after the whole fiasco with Unity last time. You can switch back to Gnome, but I have no plans on doing so.

* Linux distro. Give me terminal or give me death.
* Firefox 4. Much improved.
* Update manager. Keeps me current without much hassle.
* Interesting UI. Make sure you download the Compiz manager to tweak things.
* Free.99. Can’t beat the price

* Ubuntu’s slant. Not bad, but they are steering us toward their cloud services and apps.
* Not Linux-y. Feels like a Win7/OSX hybrid at times.
* Rushed to market. Unity is in need of some refinement.

At the end of the day, I am sticking with this distro. It will only improve. When the new Gnome drops, I’ll make the call as where to head, but this is it for the time being.

Alarm System In Progress

I suppose I should add a few words. I placed the images in an empty post several days ago, and sort of forgot to update the text on mi telephono.

Dios mio!


netbook action shot

Well, long story short. I put together the little POC using my PIR sensor a while back. The shit deal, is that the sucker only writes high and low. Easy, for the win. Limited, for the loss.

I may or may not have (I did) disassembled a few CRT TVs last month. Hence, have all sorts of components, such as small sub 9V speakers…


the wires are wire-y

I’m trying to do something with a dual speaker setup, in order to shine up my bugler alarm project. The code is boring…stay tuned…I might be able to come up with something amusing.

Linux Systems Update

Done, done, and done. All systems go.

I dropped Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on the 17″ Dell, via an old image-having CD I had in the man-lab. Updated via the manager to 10.10, on my makeshift table:


Laptop Stand

No problem what-so-ever. Works like a champ.

I snagged the 10.10 image from Ubuntu, and created a bootable USB. I backed up my photos on said drive…so that sucker is one sweet USB. I have been packing it in my pocket, in case anyone needs some Linux on the fly…not holding my breath however.

Anyhow, my wireless card needed some update action…had to go manual on the little guy:


hiding spot

So the secret is out…I keep my modem and router in a wire-jumble behind the TV. It works. As does Meerkat on my Mini 9…with which I’m posting this tale at this moment.

So, I have a Ubuntu trifecta going on right now. Seems like they should have me on the payroll or something. Free shirt, or something. Not having Windows is prize enough.

State of Affairs

I’ve been busy. General business…not so much free time business. Here is a brief run-down of what is in the works:

Item: Environment updates

I am in the middle of re-purposing my computers. I have three flavors of Linux that I use on a regular basis. Gone will be that setup, along with all dual-boot machines. I am going to dedicate my Mini9 netbook as my ‘work at work’ machine…my old 17″ Dell will become my bench computer for my electronics projects…and my slick 15′-er will be my couch computer slash backup unit. All will run Ubuntu 10.10 with Gnome for the time being. I am toying with online storage options, so that I can drop files to and from my Droid without using swantron.com’s server space. More to come on that.

Action shot…updating the Mini 9 from Ubuntu 10.4 Netbook to Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop…


little guy --------------------------------^

Bonus from above…real time apt-get Arduino V0022 action

Item: PIR sensor work on the Arduino

I actually had a little POC put together last week, before the system reboot. I made a generic little alarm, using the passive infrared module and a piezo. Once I can get the Arduino IDE up and running on all three boxes, I’ll snap some pics, clean stuff up, and let it rip. Stay tuned.

Item: General EE work.

I’ve been tearing apart all sorts of stuff. Two CRT TVs, some media players, etc. I didn’t document much, but managed to keep from discharging some big ass capacitors. For the win. The goal is to locate points of failure, and swap out components on the board level. This all stems from the flat-iron failure…for which I’m searching for a replacement switch and diode. Pretty cool.

That is about it. It looks like my wireless on the Mini is non-functional. Great. I’m off to track down an ethernet cord.

Droid 2 Must Have Games

Games kick ass, am I right? Am I right? (****Spoiler…YES!*****)

Since I haven’t blathered about how awesome Android stuff is in a while, I figured I would ramble about games for a while. So far, I have found four games that are pretty much “must-have.” I hate that term, but it gets me search engine traffic. And traffic is a must-have. (Sorry.) You can find these must-havers on Android Market, but you probably knew that. Let’s begin.

In order of most-must-have, to still-must-have-but-not-as-much-as-most-must-have…

Angry Birds — Q. Why so angry, birds? A. Those egg-stealing pigs, that’s why.


I like that one ^

Robo Defense — Tower defense, FTW. I got really, really sucked into this one, keeping it in the two spot. All acheivements, check.
joke fail

D - Fence...get it (shakes head)

Fruit Ninja — Chopping the shit out of fruit…this game is as fun as it sounds
nacho ninja

Fruit Ninja looks more like Nacho Ninja

Doodle Jump — Pretty sure this (like Angry Birds) made some waves on iStuff. You jump a doodle…it is amusing as hell.
stupid flanders

Stupid Flanders

I’m still waiting for the non-advertisment-laden version of Angry Birds to drop. Right now, the free app is all that is out there on the Android Market. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I spent less than 3 bucks for the other three apps. Robo Defense has a pretty solid trial version, FWIW.

Well, in any regards, get Angry Birds. Meetings at work become little workday vay-kays. Little bird flinging vay-kays.

If you come across anything that I should check out, hit me with a comment. Or, Tweet that crap over to @swantron. Plug.

Awesome Droid Apps Redux

Guess what? I’m posting this via my Droid 2, since Verizon’s 3G is faster than my Bresnan high-speed. Maybe one of their sys admins knocked some servers offline…I bet it is really hard to get around those racks with GIGANTIC CLOWN SHOES. Fuck Bresnan…whatever.

Here is a pic of an angry bird:

soooo mad

kaw kaw so mad kaw kaw

I feel your pain, angry bird. I’m picking up what you are angrily putting down. Now to the point of the post. I’m bringin Droid Apps back. You Apple fanboiz don’t know how to act.

Back in the day, I posted a little gem about the Android apps that I deemed must haves. Well, as fate would have it, my title brought me a bit of traffic. SEO FTW. Here is another (hopefully) perfectly titled post, that is dually of value for my fellow Android users.

Here we go…my top 5 Droid apps as of right now.

1) ATK, again. Battery life is still a perpetual issue. Blast your junk processes, and blast them often.

2) Angry Birds. Those birds are angrier than I. Best game I have seen on this damn thing. Bar none.

Tie, 3/4) Nesoid/GameBoid. Emultating the crap out of NES and GBA games. I found a bunch of stuff I used to play when I was a youngster. +1 usage of younster.

5) WiimoteControl. You know what…this will assuredly jump to the number two spot, once I can chop up the code and figure out the motion control aspect. Perhaps number one…who needs a ton of battery life when you can map the crap out of motions and use that as your input scheme I bet ten minutes with that interface combo will sufficiently blow your mind.

Grab one of these phones, root it, and grab those ^ apps. Good times will ensue.

I Love Newegg, You Should Too

You know that part of your brain that makes you do stuff unconsciously, but slowly enough that you have to wonder if it was deliberate?

Case in point…

You are watching TV, and some botox-faced newscaster mentions something about a stolen wallet. Your find your hand checking the contours of your pockets, making sure that your wallet is still where it should be, by your junk. You feel yourself reaching for it, and try to take control from the brain stem…take charge…you got it. Nope. That was impulse, dog.

Well, I don’t rock a wallet in the traditional sense. I use a binder clip to keep my credit cards from migrating to the floor. I also have the same knee jerk reaction to computer part prices as most would have with the wallet example. Hear of a computer type product…look on Newegg.

Remember that HP touchscreen tablet I was pining about a few days ago… check this out:

newegg is nice

when did robot become a bro...nice?

That is 20 USD cheaper than I saw on HP’s website, and that is without a NewEgg promo code. Get a promo code and we make that twenty dollar savings from the HP site looks small. Small, like my wallet, which once again, is a binder clip.

Even writing about my binder clip makes me check my pocket for my binder clip. I feel for you wallet folk. Check out Newegg…it’ll work itself out. If you feel really bad, check out Savings.com on the regular. The Newegg promo codes are just one of many that those guys toss out there.

FWIW, I want that HP even more. Gutted with Ubuntu Unity…that’s the stuff dreams are made of. Nerd dreams are dreams too…nerd dreams are dreams.