Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-09

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-05

  • Locate your stolen Linux laptop With Prey – free, opensource tracking app #
  • RT @Peter_vdm: Uruguay cheat their way into the semifinal. Suarez treated as a hero after the game. What a travesty. #wc2010 #
  • RT @IvoVegter: I’m livid. Stop dancing, you thieving, cheating lowlife. Be ashamed. #uru #wc2010 #gha #
  • Disgusting result. Feel sick that cheating paid off for Suarez #wc2010 #
  • RT @GarethCliff: Suarez is a despickable little worm. F*#k him. Ghana deserve to go through just because he’s a tit #
  • RT @bopuc: “have you tried holding it differently?” is the new “did you try rebooting it?” #
  • RT @courosa: Why are people so worried about getting their work remixed? I see that as the ultimate compliment. #
  • @cristinacost You’re really getting around on the conference scene lately 🙂 in reply to cristinacost #
  • Looking for cheap-ish accom. near Wits medical school (Parktown) for conference at end of July. Any suggestions for B&B-type places? #
  • RT @mpaskevi: RT @hjarche: Picking the best medium for our great ideas is a critical 21st century skill @timkastelle #
  • RT @SirKenRobinson: Good thoughts on the education revolution #
  • Is it ever OK for a therapist to snoop on clients online? #
  • Google Chrome Gets Extension Sync #
  • Free Online Textbook Project Gets Federal Money – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education #
  • Springer Announces New Open-Access Journals – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education #
  • The World Cup Desperately Requires Innovation #
  • Sorry, there’s the link for mobile Google Docs #
  • Mobile viewer bring Google Docs to Android Handsets #
  • Mobile Viewer Brings Google Docs to Android Handsets | Android Phone Fans #
  • Dreaming of what can be #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-28

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-29

Chromium browser and extensions

So the Linux build of Chromium (the open source browser than Google Chrome is based on) has been out for a while now and every now and again I’ve been upgrading to the latest developer release just to see how it’s coming along. Lately, the builds have been a lot more stable, font rendering hasn’t been a problem in a long time and small features are regularly being added. It seems (for my purposes anyway) that Chromium is starting to become a serious contender as my browser of choice.

The reason I haven’t been using Chromium as my default browser up until now has been the lack of extensions that make Firefox the best browser available. Recently though, that’s changed, although the public version still doesn’t have extensions enabled.

A few days ago I upgraded to (Ubuntu build 30813), using the Chromium daily build PPA enabled with Ubuntu-Tweak, and it’s simply blown me away. I estimated that the startup time of Chromium on my machine is about 4-5 times faster than Firefox (edit: I’m running Firefox 3.5.4 but it would be more fair to compare it to 3.7), and rendering of complex pages also seems to be faster (see this post that confirms the speed improvements).  That prompted me to have a look to see how the extension support is coming along and I like what I found, even though some of the extensions lack the polish of their Firefox equivalents (it is early days).  You can find a list of extensions at Chromium extensions, as well as follow some plugin development at Chrome Plugins.

It seems that the guidelines for extension development under Chromium is sensible and well thought-out (I’m not a developer, but it makes sense to me), and I’m pretty excited about what’s on the way. One of the nicest touches is that the browser doesn’t need to be restarted after installing (or uninstalling) an extension, and the installation process is less intrusive than Firefox’s.  It must be nice to come in after someone else has made the mistakes that you can then avoid.  Some of the more useful extensions I’ve come across so far are:

All in all, Chromium is looking more and more like it will replace Firefox as my default browser in the near future, especially if development continues at this pace.  I’m not sure if I’m ready to make the shift just yet (there are still some Firefox extensions that I can’t live without), but I’m starting to see a time when Chromium is faster, more intuitive and more elegant than Firefox.

Note: it’s not immediately apparent, but if you want to uninstall an extension go to chrome://extensions, find the one you want to uninstall, and press Uninstall.


I just changed the name of the blog to /usr/physio.  This is far more geeky than the cliched “2.0” that’s popping up everywhere on the web now.  Like most geeks, I only think that something is cool until it becomes mainstream, then it’s so last year.  The /usr/ in the title is a reference to a directory in the Linux / Unix filesystem hierarchy that stands for Unix System Resource.

It’s going to take a long time for Linux to become mainstream.

Open source alternatives to proprietary applications

I thought I’d take a moment to briefly mention a few open source alternatives to popular computer applications. The following programmes are all:
  • Open source – the source code is freely available, which usually means more stable and more secure.
  • Free – as in no cost and free from restriction.
  • Cross-platform – they run on multiple operating systems, including Linux and Windows.
  • As good as, if not better than, their proprietary counterparts.

So, here goes (by the way, this list is by no means complete):

Firefox – A very popular web browser that offers a more secure, more intuitive and faster alternative to Internet Explorer. – An entire office suite of applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and drawing. It uses the OpenDocument format by default and as such, it’s use is encouraged, especially in academia and governments.

Thunderbird – An email client that is a fast, secure and stable replacement for Outlook and Outlook Express, especially if you just need something light to manage your email.

Pidgin – An single instant messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once, including IRC, MSN, Groupwise, AIM and ICQ.

Miro – An Internet TV application to subscribe to RSS feeds of free content from a host of providers, including TED, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.

GIMP – The Gnu Image Manipulation Program. A free alternative to Photoshop that, while lacking some high end, professional features, does more than enough for most of us.

Flock – Social web browser…if you use Facebook, Flickr, Digg, or any other social networking service, this is for you.

Ubuntu – Not a software application but an entire operating system, Ubuntu is a Linux distribution based on Debian. Click here for the Wikipedia article.

Another great application to run, although once it’s set up you’ll hardly ever notice it, is BOINC (click here for the Wikipedia article). After installing the software, register with various projects and join millions of other users who donate their computer’s idle time to solving complex medical, scientific and mathematical problems. I can suggest the World Community Grid to begin with.

And while I’m at it, here’s a link to a post that discusses some of the problems with using Microsoft Word. I personally don’t mind receiving Word documents and understand that many institutions don’t give their employees a choice, but the first step is realising that you actually have a choice.