Tech Tips

IndieBox: for Gamers Who Miss Boxes!

There are lots of cool ideas on the Internet that never really make it out of the "startup" phase. IndieBox has been around only for a few months, but I really, really hope it catches on. Here's the idea: Every month, you get a Linux/Mac/Windows-compatible Indie game in the mail.

Roll Your Own YouTube/Flickr with MediaGoblin

Everyone has wasted an afternoon on YouTube clicking through videos of talking cats, screaming goats and bad-lip-reading renditions of popular movies. Heck, there are plenty of YouTube videos of me doing odd and silly things as well. (Does anyone remember 'Buntu Family Theater?) For important family videos, however, I much prefer to control my own data.

Great Scott! It's Version 13!

No matter how much I love Plex, there's still nothing that comes close to XBMC for usability when it comes to watching your network media on a television. I've probably written a dozen articles on Plex during the last few years, so you know that's tough for me to admit.

Android Candy: Repix, Not Just Another Photo App

Apps like Instagram have made photo filters commonplace. I actually don't mind the vintage look for quick cell-phone snapshots, but a filter can do only so much. At first glance, Repix is another one of those "make your photo cool" apps that does little more than add a border and change saturation levels.

Non-Linux FOSS: My Portable Windows Lab

Portable apps aren't anything new. There are variations of "single executable apps" for most platforms, and some people swear by keeping their own applications with them for use when away from home. I don't usually do that, as most of what I do is on-line, but there is one exception: security.

Sicker Than Sickbeard?

When I wrote about Usenet and Sickbeard a while back, I got many e-mails that I had broken the first rule of Usenet: don't talk about Usenet. I'm a sucker for freedom though, and I can't help but share when cool programs are available. This month, I switched from Sickbeard to NZBDrone for managing my television shows.

Siege Your Servers!

Setting up Web servers is fairly simple. In fact, it's so simple that once the server is set up, we often don't think about it anymore. It wasn't until I had a very large Web site rollout fail miserably that I started to research a method for load-testing servers before releasing a Web site to production.

Full SteamOS Ahead!

Although its timetable may not always be ideal, Valve has come through for Linux users lately. Not only has it released a native Linux version of Steam (with many native games!), it also has expanded its Linux support as the basis for its standalone SteamBox. The first step toward a Steam-powered console is the operating system.

Anubis, the God of Dead Bitcoin Miners

With the recent resurgence of Bitcoin and the subsequent vitality of other cryptocurrencies (Litecoin, for instance), I've been receiving lots of e-mail messages asking how to mine. I've discussed cryptocurrencies in LJ quite a bit during the past few years. Recently, a friend introduced me to Anubis, so I want to mention it briefly here.

Fight the Good Fight with SmokePing

My Internet connection is unstable. I do realize ISPs generally claim some downtime is expected, and service is not guaranteed, and countless other excuses are common for intermittent service. I currently pay $120/month for business-class service, however, and I expect to get reliable Internet access on a regular basis.

Switching Monitor Profiles

It's funny, when your home office is your couch, you tend to forget how nice it can be when you dock a laptop and have all the extra screen real estate a monitor brings. For many years, I left my work laptop docked at work, and when I worked from home, I just VPNed in with a personal laptop.

Non-Linux FOSS: Launchy!

With Unity's method for launching and finding programs and applications, and OS X's spotlight tool becoming the new way to launch programs, the entire way we think about launching programs is changing. Although I still like to have a few icon shortcuts on my task bar, many folks prefer a quick keystroke to bring up Gnome-Do, or Unity's launcher, or even OS X's spotlight.

Dude, Where's My Car?

When my family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, last year, one of the biggest adjustments was dealing with city parking. While we usually remember what side of the mall we parked on, there was a time downtown that I couldn't remember what parking garage we used, much less what level or spot.

Own Your Data with OwnCloud

I love Dropbox. I really do. With a Google AdWords campaign, and $50 or so, I was able to max out my free storage. That means I have around 24GB of free Dropbox storage to fiddle with. Granted, that's a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, 24GB isn't very much space.

Surf Safely with sshuttle

In past articles, I've explained how to set up a SOCKS proxy with SSH. I've demonstrated how to tunnel traffic with SSH. I've even shown how to circumvent a company firewall with SSH. I've never been able to use SSH completely as a VPN, however, and that's always bummed me out—until I discovered sshuttle.

Pitch Perfect Penguins

My daughters love the movie Pitch Perfect. I suspect our XBMC has played it more than 100 times, and I'm not exaggerating. Whether or not you enjoy young-adult movies about singing competitions and cartoon-like projectile vomiting, I'll admit it's a pretty fun movie.

Non-Linux FOSS: Notepad++ Is Better Better

If anyone understands the importance of a good text editor, it's a Linux user stuck on Windows. Sure, Microsoft supplies Notepad and Wordpad, but neither really feels like the powerful sort of text editor a Linux user expects. Enter Notepad++.

The Google Giveth

And the Google taketh away. So it is with Google Reader. A while back, Google discontinued its Google Wave product, because it never gained traction as a social-media platform. This surprised approximately zero people. More recently, Google announced it would be closing Google Reader on July 1, 2013. Far more people were surprised, myself included.

Non-Linux FOSS: Classic Shell

Even those of us on the Linux side of the fence have been watching Microsoft's Windows 8 roll-out—albeit for us, it has been with morbid fascination. Granted, we're not without our drastic changes (ahem, Unity), but the new interface Microsoft has chosen for version 8 is seemingly unusable for most people. The iconic Start menu has been taken away without a clear replacement.

Android Candy: MightyText, Mighty Awesome

I'll admit, I've always been impressed with Apple's iMessage program. With its integration into texting, it seamlessly combines instant messaging and SMS into a single communication stream. Whether on an iPhone, iPod, iPad or Macintosh, the messages can be seen and sent to other Apple devices.