New Projects - Fresh from the Labs
I'm always on the lookout for original projects, and this particular application really took me by surprise. According to its Web site, “Flinks is a text-mode flashing word Web browser. It is intended for speed reading and/or skimming Web pages and text.”
Martin Bays, the author of the project, was first inspired by a mobile-phone program that rapidly flashed words one after the other on screen, which promised reading speeds of 600–700 words per minute (WPM) after a few days of practice. Intrigued by the idea and put off by the thought that such a technically simple program cost $20, Martin set about making Flinks.
Getting Flinks up and running is very easy, because no real installation is necessary, and its dependencies are very minimal. All you need is Python, version 2.4 or later, along with a working version of Lynx.
Download the latest tarball from the Web site, extract it, and open a terminal in the new folder. At the command line, enter:
Given the simple design, Flinks is best used with Web sites consisting of mostly text and easy navigation. A good example of this is Wikipedia, and as a result, Martin has chosen it as the default Web site upon opening Flinks.
To get going, press the g key to enter a URL (you don't have to enter in the “http://”, something like “metallica.com” is fine). Once the page loads for a few seconds in the browser, press the spacebar to “play” the Web page. Pressing the spacebar again will pause the browser. At this point, a great deal of words starts flying at you, one after the other at a rapid speed. The effect is kind of startling at first but pretty darn cool.
Flinks is set to a default speed of 450 WPM, but if you want to speed up or slow down the word rate, the up and down arrow keys adjust it accordingly. The left and right arrow keys allow you to skip through sentences, and the / or ? keys let you search forward or backward within the text. Other basic navigation includes b to go back, u to go “unback” and q to quit the program.
In the end, this program is a great trip. Put on some Speed Garage (or conversely some Stoner/Prog rock for a time-warp effect) in the background while you try reading at 700 WPM, and you'll be in hyperspeed geek heaven. And, to quote Martin himself:
But perhaps the most important plus of using Flinks is that having this almost direct jack from the computer to my brain makes me feel like I'm living in the future. And the future is in text mode, just as I always dreamed it would be.
Sounds good to me.
Finally, this month, we have RedNotebook, a nifty little diary application. According to its Web site:
RedNotebook is a graphical diary and journal helping you keep track of notes and thoughts. It includes calendar navigation, customizable templates, export functionality and word clouds. You also can format, tag and search your entries.
RedNotebook's many features include the ability to add text, images or links to any day within the excellent calendar navigation; backup utilities; HTML exportation—the list goes on.
Installing RedNotebook from source is quite easy, but there also are a number of different binaries available, so you might want to check those first on the Downloads page. In terms of library requirements, you'll need Python (2.5/2.6), PyYaml (>=3.05) and PyGTK (>=2.13). Depending on your distro, package names will be something along the lines of python, python-yaml and python-devel.
If you're going with the source, download the latest tarball from the Web site, extract it, and open a terminal in the new folder.
If your distro uses sudo, enter:
$ sudo python setup.py install
$ su # python setup.py install
If Lady Luck is smiling, an entry for RedNotebook may appear in your main menu in the Office section.
When RedNotebook starts, you should be at today's date on the calendar automatically. You can attach journal entries to each day on the calendar, and you can have text along with pictures, links and so on. Near the top right is the New Entry button. Click that, and you'll be presented with a small window with two fields. The first is to select or create a category (such as Todo, Cool Stuff and so on), and the second is for naming your entry.
Once this is done, the big pane in the center of the window is where you enter text and other material. Write the text for today, and in the top row of buttons is Insert. Use this to add any images, links, formatting or for numerous other options. During the editing process, you'll see each attachment only as bracketed text, but if you click Preview, you can see your work in progress. When you're done, click Save under the Journal menu, and you can create or browse any other journal entries on the calendar and come back to your entry at any time.
Also, well worth looking at are the Search and Clouds sections, which make navigating through your old entries easy and may save you some headaches in the future. There are many more features that are worth covering (especially the ability to encrypt journals), but I'm afraid I'm well out of space for this month!
Overall, this is an intuitive program with an easy installation that should appeal to someone looking for a good journal program that's both well designed and easy to use.
John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
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