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29 Nov 2013, 2:30 pm | Tech Drive-in
The Bitcoin Story
Bitcoin started off as a small alternative digital currency project way back in 2010. This open source project aimed at creating an eco system where users with just a computer and an internet connection would be able to send money across the world without any middle men (read Banks) interfering. And unlike major fiat currencies like USD or Euro, Bitcoin will be deflationary by design, and only 21 million of them will ever be "mined". You can't "print" as much as you want like in traditional currencies. And Bitcoins cannot be duplicated either. Bitcoin was a revolutionary idea back then and at the current rate of adoption, it can soon become something slightly more valuable than an idea.
After quite a number of ups and downs, Bitcoin has just crossed the magic $1000 USD mark yesterday. It is already past $1100 on Bitcoinity, but a more reliable metric would be that of Bitstamp, where the value of one Bitcoin is still hovering around $1050.
To commemorate the occasion, we have decided to include a "Donate with Bitcoin" option to our blog. We have been asked to include the "Paypal donate" button by a number of our well-wishers. But I was never a big fan of Paypal. Now that Bitcoin is coming into its own, I think it's high time we incorporate Bitcoin to our blog. So, from now on, if you like what we do here and want to contribute, use the QR code on the right side bar. Thanks for reading.
18 Nov 2013, 9:28 pm | Tech Drive-in
Sputnik 3: Dell XPS 13 Ubuntu touchscreen Laptop
Dell's Project Sputnik is now well known among Ubuntu and Linux aficionados. Dell introduced the first Project Sputnik laptop running Ubuntu about an year ago. An upgraded version followed a few months later. Now, the company has announced the availability of next generation "Sputnik" featuring a full HD touchscreen display.
Sputnik 3 will running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. And like previous generation Sputniks, the laptop is intended for developers primarily. Now, the specs:
Processor: 4th generation Intel i7
Display: 13.3″ Full High Definition touch display (1080p)
System memory: 8GB
Graphics: Intel HD graphics 4440 (HD 5000 in the case of the enterprise version)
Hard drive: 256GB SSD drive
Standard Service: 1 year Dell ProSupport and onsite service after remote diagnostics
Operating system: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
Sputnik 3 will be available as an updated XPS 13 Developer Edition and is already available in United States. More importantly, the prices remain the same: $1,549.99. For North America, the US and Canada, in addition to the i7 configuration, there will also be an i5/128GB config that will be available on a build-to-order basis and priced at $1249.99.
Availability: Only US currently. By the end of November, the Sputnik-3 Developer Edition will be available in United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland. And by end of December, it will be available in Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden covering most of North America and Europe by then.
[source: barton's blog]
15 Nov 2013, 4:25 pm | Tech Drive-in
The first ever Sailfish OS phone, Jolla, to arrive on Nov 27
Smartphone users in Finland will soon have one more OS to choose from. The Sailfish OS powered Jolla smartphone will arrive in the Finland market at the end of this month with a price tag of 399 euros, roughly $540.
Being their first ever smartphone venture, the phone's specs doesn't look as good as it should be. Jolla smartphone is powered by a dual-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and has 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, a 4.5-inch 960×540 qHD display, a 2 megapixel front-facing camera, and an 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and auto-focus capabilities. Quite underwhelming specs when you consider the price. We hope that they would come up with better spec'd devices at much lower prices to truly compete with the giants like Samsung, LG, Apple, and Sony in the international market.
And like Blackberry OS, Jolla has some very nascent support for Android apps. Sailfish OS can run Android apps directly via a compatibility layer. But their real USP is a feature called "Other Half". It is an interchangeable backplate which can be used to transfer data or control the device via NFC. Different backplates can be configured to automatically change the phone’s color theme and wallpaper upon attaching, making it possible, for example, for studios or artists to sell backplates that contain their music as well as album art and color schemes.
Jolla smartphone would be more like a proof-of-concept for the company and they will closely monitoring the feedback they get for the device. The Jolla smartphone will be available from the Finnish carrier DNA for a price tag of 399 euros from November 27, 2013. There seems to be no immediate plans for international availability though.
[Source: Android Authority]
10 Nov 2013, 8:26 pm | Tech Drive-in
Coding Motion: Synchronizing Quadcopters aka "Swarm"
Seems like Ubuntu is becoming pretty popular among corporates, business houses and scientific communities. Recent spotting of Ubuntu in Merc's driverless research car video and Google's driverless cars are perfect examples.
5 Nov 2013, 9:00 pm | Tech Drive-in
Metro: Last Light and Football Manager 2014 for Linux Released!
Minimum system requirements for Metro: Last Light :-
OS: Ubuntu 12.04
Processor: Dual Core CPU (2.2+ GHz Dual Core CPU or better)
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M 512 MB
Hard Drive: 10 GB available space
Minimum system requirements for Football Manager 2014 :-
OS: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Linux
Processor: Intel Pentium 4, Intel Core AMD Athlon: 1.8GHz+
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: NVidia GeForce 7300 GT, AMD Radeon HD 2400 Pro, Intel HD 3000/4000
Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
30 Oct 2013, 8:26 pm | Tech Drive-in
Project Ara: Motorola's Open Hardware Project in Association with Phonebloks
Led by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, Project Ara is developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones which allow users to swap components as they wish. The project intends to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.
The basic design principles are quite simple. The smartphone will consist of two important components: an endoskeleton and the modules. The endoskeleton is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place, similar to a normal desktop computer case. A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery or something that nobody has thought of yet.
Project Ara has been in the works for over an year now. And they have decided to team up with Phoneblocks who also has a similar vision for future hardware.
And of course you can volunteer and help Motorola figure out how people make choices. For that, you will have to join Project Ara research scouts. The most active members will get free devices when Project Ara launches, which Motorola says should be about a year from now.[Sources: arstechnica, motorola-blog]
29 Oct 2013, 8:58 am | Tech Drive-in
Things to do After Installing Ubuntu 13.10
I consider Ubuntu 13.10 as only "marginally improved" when compared to previous iterations. And customizations it require are very similar too. One thing I definitely NOT like is this bug where the dash has a thick black background every now and then. It's ugly as heck.
Once I changed the wallpaper, the issue doesn't seem to reappear. I surely hope so anyway. Now, lets just concentrate on things you need to do after installing Ubuntu 13.10.
First things first: Downloading Codecs package during Installation
- Starting from Ubuntu 11.04 release, you can install restricted codecs package (which include Adobe Flash, MP3 codecs and such) during installation of Ubuntu OS itself.
- Notice the arrows pointing to the boxes in the screenshot above. If you tick both of them during the Ubuntu installation process (make sure you are connected to the internet before doing so), restricted extras package will be installed automatically and you will be able to play mp3's, avi's, mp4's etc. and watch flash videos (YouTube videos for example) right after Ubuntu installation is done with.
- But there is a catch. If you have a slow internet connection (which is very rare these days), ticking the boxes shown in the screenshot above will unnecessarily lengthen the installation process. I for one prefer to do all that after installing Ubuntu. If you are like me, the next two steps are for you.
- After you install brand new Ubuntu 13.10, the first thing you need to do is to update repositories and make sure you have the latest updates installed.
- Search for Software Updater in Unity Dash and launch the Software Updater app. It will automatically check for updates available. Install the updates.
- OR you could simply use the command line method. Open Terminal (Ubuntu 13.10 Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + T) and copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
- Enter your password when asked and you're done. Your new Ubuntu 13.10 has been successfully updated and upgraded.
- Install the "ubuntu-restricted-extras" package. This will enable your Ubuntu to play popular file formats like mp3, avi, flash videos etc. CLICK HERE (to install directly from Ubuntu Software Center) OR simply copy-paste the following command into Terminal to install the package (You need not do this if you have ticked the 'right' boxes before).
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
- Done. [Note: The package contains some proprietary fonts and such which will not be downloaded while OS installation. Hence, you might still want to install Ubuntu Restricted Extras package even though you ticked those boxes before.]
- Additional Drivers is not a standalone application since Ubuntu "Quantal Quetzal". In Ubuntu 13.10, Additional Drivers functionality sits in a new tab inside Software & Updates (previously called Software Sources).
- In my case, all the hardware drivers including graphics, sound and wireless drivers were enabled automatically. But this may not be the case for everyone.
- If you are among the not-so-lucky, open Unity dash (Ubuntu 13.10 Keyboard Shortcut: Super key) and search for 'Software & Updates' application.
- Check for additional drivers available and activate the ones you want. In majority of the cases, this will do the trick. If you're not able to get hardware drivers working yet, you'll have to do a fair amount of digging through ubuntuforums and askubuntu.
- Launch System Setting and goto Mouse & Touchpad under Hardware.
- Unselect Two finger scroll.
- When it comes to tweaking Unity, there's no better candidate. Even the default Ubuntu Settings app is no match for Unity Tweak Tool.
- Unity Tweak Tool is available in default Ubuntu 13.10 repositories.
- Click Here to install Unity Tweak Tool in Ubuntu 13.10.
- Unity Tweak Tool has a lot of options to tinker with, about which we will discuss in detail later on in this post.
- Trivial stuff, but something I've been doing for years with each new Ubuntu release.
- By default, only time is displayed on top. By going to the Time and Date Settings, you can modify it to display both date and weekday along with time.
- Online search results in Unity dash, sounds like a good idea on paper, but not in the real world. It unnecessarily makes Dash search slower (at least for me).
- To disable it, goto System Settings app and find Privacy category.
- Ubuntu by default will be recording your activity which is later used to refine searches in Unity and such. You can completely disable this feature by accessing Privacy category within System Settings application.
- You can optionally disable recording for a pre-defined set of files only like image, text, video etc. instead of completely disabling recording altogether (my preferred way).
- If errors like that with titles such as "ubuntu 13.10 has experienced an internal error", "System program problem detected" etc. are common in your Ubuntu installation, you might want to disable Apport error reporting tool altogether.
- Hit ALT + F2 and run the following command (as in the screenshot above).
gksu gedit /etc/default/apport
- Change value of "enabled" from 1 to 0 (instructions are provided in the text file itself).
- Save and exit. Now for changes to take effect, do the following in Terminal.
sudo restart apport
- OR do a system restart. Both will do. Apport is supposed to be disabled in stable releases and yet I'm finding it enabled in almost all major releases since Ubuntu 12.04.
- Back in 2007, one of the first "feature" that attracted me to Ubuntu was the multiple workspaces thing and all the cool animations you could do with it. I know, it's kind of silly but workspaces are still very important to me.
- Ubuntu 13.10 by default disable workspaces. You can easily re-enable it by going to System Settings - Apperance window (see screenshot above for reference).
- A lot of apps are there in the Unity Launcher by default and this can be a problem if you're using a smaller screen device like netbooks.
- I almost never use apps such as LibreOffice Writer, LibreOffice Calc and even Ubuntu Software Center. Unlocking them from launcher makes the whole Unity experience a little less cluttered (Right Click - Unlock from Launcher).
- You can also re-arrange stuff in the Launcher by simple double-click and drag action.
- If you want to be a PRO Ubuntu user, you've to learn the shortcuts. And there's a ton of them for Ubuntu's Unity interface.
- Press and hold the Super key (aka Windows key) and learn the basics.
- NOTE: If you are new to Ubuntu 13.10 and Unity, you might not want to do this. Stay with default settings for the time being and find for yourself if Lenses are useful or not.
- I have never found video, music or photo lens useful. I know where exactly my files are and I would simply use Nautilus file browser instead. And I have rarely used gwibber and shopping lens, that too mostly for testing purposes.
- If you're like me, you might want to remove them for a faster responding Unity dash. Copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get autoremove unity-lens-music unity-lens-photos unity-lens-gwibber unity-lens-shopping unity-lens-video
- Done. Also recommended: Fix Ubuntu.
- Jupiter used to be an easy to use hardware and power management applet for laptops and netbooks running Linux.
- I have had overheating problems in Ubuntu on several occasions. Jupiter came to the rescue every single time. Jupiter project is now discontinued.
- In a spectacular coincidence of sorts, the overheating bug is back too. My Dell laptop now constantly runs on temperatures well above 50 degrees Celsius. TLP looks like a good alternative. Here's how you install TLP in Ubuntu 13.10.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
- Just restart the system and you're done. There are no specific settings you need to do to make TLP work. Just install and forget.
26 Oct 2013, 6:28 am | Tech Drive-in
Lightbeam for Firefox: An add-on to track websites that monitor you
- Visualize the Web: After you download and install the Lightbeam add-on to Firefox, it will begin to create a real time visualization of the websites you visit and all the third parties that are also active on those pages.
- Analyze your connections: As your visualization grows, you can take a closer look into the relationships between the various first and third party sites that are stored in your data. You can also reset or save your data.
- See also: How Lightbeam Works?
Some criticisms: As noted by a fellow redditor, "Lighbeam only shows you who is tracking you via cookies or some other means. It does nothing to show you who is intercepting the data along the wires, which is what the NSA does. It only tells you about benign threats (advertisers, etc) not potentially hostile ones (government agencies, etc). It also can do nothing to show you if your data is compromised at the server side." A very valid point in my opinion. Now that you have installed Lighbeam on your Firefox successfully, why not give it a try on techdrivein.com itself. Thank you for reading and have a nice day.
19 Oct 2013, 3:58 am | Tech Drive-in
Darter UltraThin: Ubuntu touchscreen laptop by System76
As its name indicates, Darter is a power packed Ubuntu based laptop in a super-thin, 0.9" frame. The Darter UltraThin features Intel's latest 4th Generation Core i5 and i7 processors, fast dual channel 1600 MHz memory, Intel High Definition Graphics and optional high performance solid state storage. But the laptop's biggest USP is its touchscreen.
Darter UltraThin comes equipped with a 14.1" 1080p full high definition touch display with glossy finish and 1920 x 1080 resolution. Full specifications as follows:
Processor: 4th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7 Processors.
Display: 14.1" 1080p Full High Definition Touch Display with Glossy Finish (1920 x 1080).
Graphics: Intel® High Definition Graphics 4400.
Memory: Up to 16 GB 204 pin Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1600 MHz.
Storage: 1 x mSATA, 1 x 2.5" 7mm Removable SATA II/III.
Touchpad: Multitouch Touchpad with two finger scrolling.
Networking: Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000), WiFi.
Wireless: Intel Centrino up to 802.11 ac.
Ports: HDMI, Ethernet, 2 x USB 3.0, Headphone Jack, Microphone Jack, SD Reader.
Camera: Built-In 1.0 MP High Definition Webcam.
Security: Kensington® Lock.
Power Management: Suspend and Resume.
Battery: 44.6 Wh Smart Lithium-Ion.
Dimensions: 13.40" x 9.49" x 0.90" (WxDxH).
Weight: 4.60 lbs. (2.08 kg.).
Pre-Order Darter UltraThin Now for $5 Ground Shipping!
17 Oct 2013, 2:38 pm | Tech Drive-in
How to check for authenticity of an ISO image before creating bootable live USB?
- Actually, it is quite simple. There is CLI tool called 'md5sum' which comes pre-installed with most Linux distros and almost all Ubuntu variations.
- Do the following in Terminal (provided that the ISO file is located in the ~/Downloads directory, which is case for all downloaded files by default in Ubuntu).
- Make sure that it's 'Downloads' and not 'downloads'.
- Please note that the file name (the one starts with 'ubuntu-' in the above command) will change depending upon the version and kind of Ubuntu ISO you downloaded. Now, the result will be something like the following:
- Copy the highlighted alphanumeric part from the Terminal (keyboard shortcut: SHIFT + CTRL + C) and goto Ubuntu Hashes page.
- Type CTRL + F to bring up the find box in your browser (Firefox or Chrome). Search for the hash as calculated by the md5sum tool. If it is there, you're good to go.
- Done. Have any doubts? Let us know.