- Ning Announces New Pricing Model, Free Nings for Teachers…but they can still take it away anytime they want http://tinyurl.com/2g6evay #
- Law Librarian Blog: Moving Beyond the Ubiquitous PDF for Durham Statement Compliance http://bit.ly/c7f7XR #
- RT @pgsimoes: Simple but gr8… RT @retorta: The Clever Sheep: Top 20 Uses for Wordle http://ow.ly/1ABMY #
- RT @gsiemens: sentences you will never read in a published research paper: http://bit.ly/cbjaP9 #
- Having wonderful conversation on ethical issues in practice, with 4th year physio students on WP/BP social network #uwcphysio #
- Installed #doubletwist to manage podcasts on my HTC Hero (Android), and loving it. Only in beta but works well http://www.doubletwist.com/ #
- @amcunningham would like to know how using #screenr for feedback works out #
- 1022. Teaching What You Don’t Know http://tinyurl.com/3x6lgdl #
- Faculty Perceptions of Group Work. Interesting insights that will be useful for my student groups http://tinyurl.com/2wxmg8x #
- Google Editions: Google Plans to Launch E-Book Store This Summer http://tinyurl.com/2d9jojq #
- My Social Network: post by Couros on the value derived from soc net, & shouldn’t students get the same benefits? http://tinyurl.com/3yv5exq #
- The 21st Century Classroom – Alfie Kohn. Some great ideas for teaching http://tinyurl.com/34llqgl #
- Inside Teaching : Interesting format, but not sure if I like it for a PC. Think it’ll be awesome on an iPad-like device http://bit.ly/cdo2TO #
- Ubuntu 10.04 released. Beautiful Gnome desktop http://bit.ly/aXekDg always makes me want to switch. But KDE is also beautiful…sigh #
- ♻ @cristinacost RT @netcrit #nlc2010 – Wenger – reflects on his theory – community doesn’t explain learning; learning explains community! #
- Network scientists at Harvard: Nicholas Christakis, Laura Bogart, Martin Nowak | Harvard Magazine May-Jun 2010 http://diigo.com/0aq94 #
I’ve been playing around with Gnome-shell on Ubuntu over the past week or so and am still trying to decide if I like it. It’s going to replace Compiz in the next generation of the Gnome desktop and the idea is that it’s supposed to enhance productivity by creating an innovative user interface that more easily exposes the day-to-day tasks of the user. But besides some pretty cool transitions between virtual desktops, an “overview” of the running tasks, and some additional shortcuts in the Activities panel, I’m not sure what else it adds.
I know that it’s going to improve with time and I’m hoping the developers include more features that actually challenge the current desktop paradigm like KDE has done with their 4.x release. I do like my desktops shiny so I’m happy to see Gnome finally moving in that direction, which is why I’m not going to get all upset about the fact that the developers are breaking with tradition to try something new.
Check out this tour of Gnome-shell for details of the features and screenshots. If you like to play with bleeding edge tools, I’d recommend installing it and playing around for a while. It’s stable enough to get an idea of how it’s supposed to work and you might just like it enough to keep it.
I’ve known about Choqok for a while now but haven’t really played around with it very much, until recently. First of all, it’s not a replacement for any of the big “overview” type applications like Tweetdeck and Seesmic. It’s more along the lines of an unobtrusive client that sits quietly in your system tray until you poke it to see what’s going on. I also like it’s simple interface and the fact that it integrates nicely with KDE (if you’re running primarily Gnome, then it’s going to need a lot of dependencies that you may not want).
It’s been a busy few weeks at the university, with mid-year assessment (in all it’s various forms) having to take precedence over everything else. Now that it’s over and students are on holiday, I’ve finally gotten around to doing the things I’ve been putting off for a while…like installing the beta version of KDE 4.3 on Kubuntu Jaunty.
The 4.x series of the desktop is getting more and more impressive with every iteration, so much so that I felt I needed to put it on show a little. I’ve been playing around with it for a few days now and while it’s still a little buggy, it’s stable enough for me. In this post, I’m going to go through some of the applications I use most often, and give my own thoughts about why I’m loving this update.
Desktop. The Folder view widgets on the desktop do a great job of keeping it clean and useful, and I love the way they expand on mouseover to make navigation really easy and intuitive. The Lancelot menu is brilliant, keeping unused applications out of the way, but making it simple to find them when needed.
File management. There was a lot of controversy when the KDE developers decided to
create Dolphin and replace Konqueror as the default file manager, but it was clearly the right move. There are a couple of things that I love about Dolphin, including the Information side panel, split view mode, Terminal view and the integration of Nepomuk semantic search.
Work stuff. I tried using KOffice2 even though it’s a platform release (because it looks so very cool), but there are a few issues that keep me from switching from OpenOffice.org, the main one being that it doesn’t support OpenDocument or MS Word files as well as OpenOffice does, and the fonts look terrible.
I’ve installed and am using BasKet notepads for my note taking application, which unfortunately is still a KDE 3.5 application. There were some concerns about the project stalling when the lead developer decided that he couldn’t continue maintaining it, but it seems as if it’s been taken up by others and may yet have a future. I hope so because it’s a great application, even in it’s current state. A project to watch out for in this field is SemNotes, a semantic note taking application being built on Nepomuk (see here for screencast).
Okular is a universal document viewer, although I don’t use if for much other than PDFs. The feature I like most is the ability to annotate documents, although the default colour scheme of the notes isn”t great.
I used to use Kontact for email for the longest time but then I switched to Thunderbird for a while, then Spicebird and finally back to Kontact. In terms of functionality, nothing comes close to it right now. I’d like to say that I use Akkregator for my feeds, but it’s missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. The interface also hasn’t changed much in the past few years and it seems very slow.
I have to admit that I’m using the 3.5 preview release of Firefox as the web browser, rather than Konqueror. While Konqueror was awesome a few years ago, it hasn’t kept up with the changes on the web, and is really starting to show it’s age. There’s a lot happening at Mozilla that Konqueror jsut can’t keep up with and unless there’s a radical change of pace in it’s development, I can’t imagine using it again.
Multimedia. I’m always switching between different media players, but generally I’ve been keen on Songbird and Amarok for managing my whole library, and Audacious as a light-weight player for quickly playing single files. Gwenview (the image viewer) has been given an overhaul and
does a brilliant job of managing image libraries. Amarok is a bit buggy right now (although I am running the beta version of 2.1) and it’s still lacking some functionality that was present in 1 (the port to Qt4 means a lot of catching up has to be done), which is why I use Songbird on occasion. But as with other KDE apps right now, it’s in a state of transition and every release is building on the solid platform that was laid down with 2.0.
Marble. This is a great tool that’s something along the lines of Google Earth and Maps, but it’s open and a native KDE application. I’ve included these screenshots showing a satelite view, as well as a
street view using Open Streetmap. It’s already got Wikipedia and Flickr integration for additional information, as well as being able to overlay additional data, like temperature and precipitation maps. It’s a young project that’s come really far and has the capability to be incorporated into other KDE apps, like using it together with geo-tagging photos in Digikam.
The one thing that I can’t find anywhere is a decent podcast catcher…something like Gpodder for Gnome, but native to KDE. I know that Amarok has one but it’s not working for me and besides, it’s lacking the finishing touches that would win me over. Little things like being able to read a summary of the podcast would be so useful but is currently impossible.
I’m also not a fan of Kpackagekit, as it’s still very much in development and doesn’t always work very well. Generally the command line is quicker anyway, but there’s always Synaptic if a GUI is needed.
Anyway, that’s a brief overview of some of the apps that i use and while most of them are still in beta, there’s so much happening in KDE right now that this post will be outdated very shortly. Sigh…
If you’re interested in following the developments in KDE, check out KDE.News