New Projects - Fresh from the Labs
I'm always keen to bring you ever more niche-market stuff, and here's the latest little project I've found. Vocatra is a vocabulary trainer with a twist. It works in a terminal as text only—no GUI. I'm guessing there's a demographic for that—perhaps an Apache system administrator who wants to brush up on five minutes of Japanese while he's logged on by Telnet.
Deb and RPM packages are available at the Vocatra Web page, as well as a source package, and as usual, I cover the source version here for the sake of remaining bleeding edge. Grab the latest tarball from the Web site, extract the contents, and open a terminal in the new directory. Compilation is a doddle, as it's the standard process of:
$ ./configure $ make
And, as root or sudo:
# make install
Once the source has compiled and installed, start the program by entering vocatra. However, it will return an error message about missing a vocabulary file. This is normal, and for the moment, you will need to make your own vocabulary file. It sounds like a pain, but it's genuinely easy to do, and it allows you to define the words with which you want to train, as opposed to some projects that just grab random words from a dictionary file (where you're just as likely to come across words like helicopter and prophylactic in the same lesson instead of something more pertinent). To make a vocabulary file, simply make a new text file and enter any words you want to train with the following syntax:
Here's an example from the Web site:
The foreign words and native definitions are separated by an equal sign (=), and multiple synonyms are separated with a comma (,). If you want to make any comments in the text file, add a number sign (#) in front of a line (in keeping with the style of most modern programming and scripting languages). Check here for an example file in German and English: vocatra.esite.ch/examples/animals-de-en.txt.
Once you have made your vocabulary file, you can start Vocatra by entering the following:
$ vocatra vocabulary-file.txt
Vocatra now presents the words you want to train with, and it's up to you to provide the answers. Once you've finished the lesson, a summary at the bottom of the screen tells you how many words you covered, how many mistakes you made, your error rate and the time it took you to complete the lesson.
Ultimately, this is a great little niche program that's going to make a geek somewhere very happy. And, given its tiny size and simplicity, I can't see why it wouldn't be included in good educational distros. Hopefully, a community of users will pool around this program, as it would be great if someone took the time to make a series of lessons that you could use right off the bat (rather than making your own).
Projects at a Glance
Kuklomenos—Weird Space Shooter? (mbays.freeshell.org/kuklomenos)
Kuklomenos has to be one of the weirdest games I've ever come across. I'm not doing a full review here, because I simply can't figure it out! If you want to compile it, go right ahead; it's easy with the usual ./configure, make, make install routine. But, once you get into the game, be prepared to be puzzled. I think it's a space shooter, because the background is black, but that's just a guess! Your goal is to fight off blobs with a strange control scheme that involves zooming, rotation and fire accuracy—all in a playing style that's like Asteroids rewritten by a French existentialist on crack. Intrigued? Check it out!
GnoMint—Graphical Certification Authority Management, X.509 (gnomint.sf.net)
Unfortunately, I couldn't bring this project to you properly this month, as project maintainer David Marín Carreño ran into some security holes that needed plugging before it was ready for the mainstream. However, the end results of this project look promising. Imagine you're trying to establish an IPsec VPN. If you want some actual security, you need X.509 certificates for all employees. At this point, you either can buy the certificates from an external CA (which costs money), or you can establish your own CA. Establishing your own CA always has been a bit of a pain. With OpenSSL, you need to use a console and log commands with a lot of obscure parameters. You could use other programs for managing CAs, but most of them are Web-based, and all you really want is a simple GUI application. GnoMint steps up to the plate here with a simple app that fits the bill nicely.
AMIDE—A Medical Imaging Data Examiner (amide.sourceforge.net/index.html)
I was instantly taken by the screenshots for this program. AMIDE is a tool for viewing, analyzing and registering volumetric medical imaging data sets. It uses the GTK+ toolkit and runs on any platform that supports GTK+. Follow the link to the main page, and you'll be greeted with some amazing screenshots of what appears to be the human body and various anomalies. Follow the link to Sample Data Sets, and you'll see scannings of fluoride-injected mice that you can examine in full morbid detail! Whether you're scanning Ripley for gestating aliens or even using it for standard medical analysis (but that's just silly), AMIDE may be just for you!
John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.
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