Fresh from the Labs

 in

First up this month is a weight manager, Pondus. According to its Web site: “Pondus is a personal weight management program written in Python and Gtk+2 released under the GPL. It aims to be simple to use, lightweight and fast. The data can be plotted to get a quick overview of the history of your weight and is stored in XML files for easy access and modification with other programs.” Simple it is, indeed, and the installation isn't too shabby either. Pondus lets you track your weight over a period of time and displays your progress with a graph. It also switches between metric and imperial measurements.

Figure 1. The Lovely Minimalism of Pondus and My Weight Chart

Installation

In terms of dependencies, you need a few Python-related libraries installed before you can start. Whenever you compile something, the installer invariably asks for the development files, so make sure you install the python-dev files first. If you still run into problems, some Googling turned up a posting in a forum about some of the packages on which Pondus depends:

  • python 2.4.4-6

  • python-gobject 2.14.1-1

  • python-gtk2 2.12.1-1

  • python-matplotlib 0.90.1-2

  • python-support 0.7.6

Once the dependencies are out of the way, download the source package from the project's Web site, extract the contents and open a terminal in the new folder.

As root, enter the command:

# python setup.py install

If all goes well, Pondus should compile and even install itself in your Applications menu. On my system, I found a new menu entry under Utilities→Pondus. If you can't find Pondus on your menu, you can start it by entering the command pondus.

Usage

Pondus is very minimalist, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Upon entering Pondus, you'll see a small window with five buttons. The first adds a line of data—that being your weight and the date for entry. The second removes a line, and the third edits a line of data. Once you have entered some weights and times, you then can display it as a graph by clicking the fourth button. If you want to switch between pounds and kilograms, the fifth button opens the settings window and lets you change that (this is one of only two options, the other is to remember the window size).

Tracking your progress is really what Pondus is about though, so you will want to jump over to the graph section—the fourth button, or Plot data. Click the button, and a window titled Plot Weight appears with a neat line graph representing your weight over a period of time. If you look at the bottom right, there's a drop-down box with All Time written in it. This allows you to filter out the rest of the information to what you've had over the past year, or just the past month. If you want to filter your time to something more specific, on the bottom left are two fields called Select Date Range. Enter the start date you want to see in the first field and the end date in the second field, click Update on the far right, and the graph will update with the selected information. For those of you who want to save a copy of what your progress has been, clicking the Save Plot button at the bottom lets you save your graph as a .png file. I'm a weedy little runt myself, so I'm not trying to lose weight, but rather gain it, so check my screenshot for an example (which is in kilograms by the way, I don't way 72 pounds).

Overall, Pondus is a very simple and clean application that will appeal to many new PC users, as it sits in a nice and small window and doesn't baffle you with a zillion options. I'm guessing that Pondus probably will add more features over time, but hopefully not too many, as doing so might alienate its target audience. It's a lovely, neat little program.

BeeDiff (beediff) is a GUI program for comparing text differences between two files, and any differences will be highlighted in different colors depending on the type of difference. Any differences found then can be deleted or copied between files. BeeDiff is developed with new Qt4 libraries, and as such, it's very quick and lightweight. It also happens to be quite easy to install, which is another bonus.

Installation

For installation purposes, you have two choices: an i586 binary or a source tarball.

If you choose the binary, first download the provided tarball and extract the contents to a folder of your choice.

Then, as root or using sudo, copy the binary to /usr/bin or your preferred binary directory to run BeeDiff system-wide.

Next, copy the included icon, beediff.png, to /usr/share/icons or whichever icon directory you prefer.

Figure 2. BeeDiff—the Insomniac Coder's Best Friend

If you would rather run BeeDiff locally, you can run it by entering:

$./beediff

______________________

John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

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