Epiphany – the overlooked browser

September 2, 2009 at 16:10 | Posted in Cool, Tech, XO | 2 Comments
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When I switched to gNewSense I decided to go ahead and use Epiphany as it is set as the default browser. I am pleased to say that I was quite surprised by this browser. I admit that I was a little sceptical about using Epiphany. I figured that a lot of websites would break and that it would lack a lot of the functionality that I had become accustomed to with Firefox.

When I first started using Epiphany it seemed a little light and seemed to be lacking some of the features I had thought it had. I double checked and found out that the Epiphany plug-ins were not installed so I put those in. Once I did that it had ad-blocking on par with what one finds in various Firefox plug-ins. The plug-ins also offered several new features/functions some of which I’ve yet to play with. It would take more space then I am willing at this point to spend to enumerate them all but there is something for everyone.

In studying up on Epiphany I have found out that the plug-ins are almost trivial to write and I may take a crack at one down the road.

Epiphany renders sites quickly and accurately. It is much lighter then Firefox. I was so impressed by its performance and lightness that it is now the default browser on my XO’s Ubuntu install.

Although it lacks the ability to clear all data on exit it seems to flush cookies when you exit and the option to clear all the other data is trivial to find “edit->preferences->privacy->clear”. and does indeed clear thing up nicely. The only thing I feel it is lacking is the NoScript plug-in.

I would definitely recommend Epiphany to anyone that is looking for a fast, light, extensible, and friendly browser. I feel that this browser has been sadly overlooked and that too many Gnome based distros are doing users a dis-service by installing Firefox as the default browser.

So go ahead and give Epiphany a try.


Live Free (A.K.A living in gNewSense)

September 2, 2009 at 15:09 | Posted in Cool, Life, Tech | 2 Comments
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A while ago I migrated my main laptop to gNewSense. It’s been a couple of weeks now so thought I should post my thoughts and experiences. The first thing I have noticed is that my machine seems to run faster. Not hugely so, but it definitely has more “perky” feel then Ubuntu Jaunty did. As I mentioned in my previous post moving to all Libre (or “free as in speech”) software has had a few challenges. I currently can watch just about zero flash video. Not a great loss really, and also in line with my flash reduced diet. I’m guessing version-next of gNewsense will be a little better on the flash as it will have a newer gnash installed . However as I personally dislike Flash I’ll just wait till Epiphany has html 5 support.

As gNewSense is currently based on an older version of Ubuntu than what I was using there have been a couple of minor regressions. Rhythmbox is having a old problem with some podcasts that was fixed in the more recent versions. The podcasts work. the file names just end up a little messy. Again not a biggie.

The repositories still need a little cleaning up as there are a couple of packages listed (like Revelation) that can’t be installed because they have dependencies that were removed due to the fact that they were not Libre. I know these little wrinkles will get ironed out but the above example was a little annoying to me as I was using Revelation to store my passwords and part of my process before installing gNewSense was to look in the repository and see that it would have the packages I needed. Again, not a show stopper, just annoying. I have moved my passwords to a fully Libre program and all is fine now.

The only real gotcha I ran into is that I use encfs to store personal files and one of my encfs folders (a more recently created one) had been made with encfs 6 and gNewSense has encfs 5 which was surprisingly (I jest) not forward compatible.. This meant that I needed to jump through several hoops to fix this.

The process looked like… create a new encfs folder (with gNewSense encfs 5). boot into ubuntu live, install encfs, mount both the old and new encfs folders, copy from the old encfs6 to the new encfs5 folder. delete the old encfs folder, boot back into gNewSense. Again more hassle then show stopper but something that I would have been easier to take care of before installing gNewSense.

Aside from the above few annoyances some of which are strictly migration pains and thus very temporary. I am really enjoying gNewSense. It is what I want my Linux to be. I enjoy knowing that nothing in my system promotes the problems one sees with closed source. I am one of the crowd that feels that binary blobs will if not stopped will take on a life of their own. If hardware manufacturers get the message that closed source drivers are acceptable that will be all they will produce. If however we (the community) send a clear message that we will not use closed source drivers and by extension the hardware it drives Manufacturers will produce open source drivers. Manufacturers are driven by the bottom line. they want to sell their hardware.. If given a clear message they will produce what the market demands.

XO Blog. First thoughts and impressions

December 12, 2008 at 13:39 | Posted in Cool, Tech | 1 Comment
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Hello Everyone,

I haven’t blog in a bit,  that was due to the fact that I got a G1G1 XO for my birthday and have been having a wonderful time playing with it ever since. But now that I’ve explored and poked, and configured enough to drag myself away from it I am going to start writing about it.

One thing I’d like to stress is that I knew exactly what I was getting into with an XO. I didn’t expect it to be running Windows. I didn’t expect it to be a full powered multimedia capable netbook. I knew it was a purpose built machine, with purpose built software. I am saying this because I have seen several posts from people that clearly didn’t understand this and consequentially ended up being disappointed when they couldn’t do content rich web 2.0 stuff with their XO.

To help clear things up for the non-technical readers I’d like to make a quick can/cant do list. Bear in mind that several things I’m putting in the can’t pile really translate to “can, but not is a way that would be satisfactory to the average windows user”.


  • Gmail
  • Yahoo mail (classic interface)
  • other web mail
  • Google Calendar/Reader/Docs
  • wikipedia
  • meebo.com (Instant messaging)
  • Read ebooks
  • read .PDF’s


  • Watch Streaming Video
  • flash Video (youtube, ustream.tv, dailymotion, blip.tv, revver.com, etc)
  • use windows applications/games
  • work with Microsoft Office Files (Word, Powerpoint XL)

That is a short list for both the can and can’t but I just wanted to give a general idea. Now that I’ve done my part to be clear I feel it’s time to rave about the XO because it really is the neatest bit of tech “kit” to come out in years (both hardware and software).

My first impressions of the XO were how small, light, and well designed it was. It is also one of the cutest computers I have ever seen.

It connected to my home network no problem at all and I was soon busily tinkering seeing what it could do. Some of the concepts behind the UI (User Interface, “desktop” for the lay folks) are very innovative and I would definitely like to see them move out of the XO world to the larger computer market. In particular I find the thinking behind the “Journal” to be a big step in a good direction. How nice it would be is my main laptop saved it’s information in the same way. Also the idea of all “Activities” (programs) being collaborative by  design is fantastic. Even the way that I can see all the other XO users on the presence server I’m hooked to is great. What a wonderful way to promote community.

I am going to keep Sugar firmly entrenched on the XO and although I may make myself a dual boot Xubuntu or Fedora SD card, it’d be purely for the techieness of doing so not to migrate away from Sugar. Not only would such a migration loose those wonderful innovations mentioned above it would also lose some of the unique capabilities of the XO such as “Mesh Networking” (no there aren’t many other XO’s around.. but when 802.11s hist main stream the XO will be ready.)

I’ll stop there for today. But I do plan further blog entries on:

  • Sugar
  • Video  on the XO without installing anything
  • Sound on the XO without installing anything
  • Getting into the XO for what it is
  • Getting the most out of the XO
  • Tweaks and hacks
  • etc.

Seinfeld/Vista ad. out..

September 6, 2008 at 08:57 | Posted in Life, Tech | Comments Off on Seinfeld/Vista ad. out..
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My opinion on the video? Just like Vista. It’s confusing, pointless, and and will leave viewers scratching their heads wondering why they bothered.

A longer, insightful, and enjoyable write up on it can be found here (Why re-invent the wheel)

Here is the commercial:

Hardy Heron Applications – Firefox 3.0B5

April 22, 2008 at 17:41 | Posted in Cool, Tech | Comments Off on Hardy Heron Applications – Firefox 3.0B5
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Today I am going to write a bit about some of the great new features in Firefox 3.0B5. There are many wonderful advances in both security and in the general User Interface.

On the security front there is the new EV (Extended Verification) system for secure pages. This is a great idea and will really come into it’s own when more site start having EV SSL certificates. Some important sites already do. and you can see how it make it much easier to tell a real site from a phishing one.

Extended Verification

The warnings for SSL certificate errors have also been re-worked and are much friendlier to the average user. I think with this new approach there will be a lot less people just clicking “OK” to by-pass the warning

Sitting squarely in the middle between a UI improvement and a security improvement is the new add-on management

With it it is very simple to turn add-ons on or off which is fantastic for working with troubling sites and for things like having a TOR profile. (I was able to disable all add-ons in my TOR profile with just a few clicks


Also on the UI/Usability front is the new “applications” panel in the preferences.

It makes managing what application or add-on opens what media a matter of a few clicks. and very friendly to the average user

There are numerous other improvements like the new bookmark and tagging system. Those interested in a more complete review can read more here.

My next post will be on some of the wonderful new features in the latest version of Avidemux.

Site of the Week #2

March 22, 2008 at 12:25 | Posted in Cool, site of the week | Comments Off on Site of the Week #2
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This is my second weekly “Site of the Week” instalment.

This weeks site is:


Jamendo is a site that hosts Creative Commons licensed music that is free to download. The interface on the website is very well organized. It is easy to find what you are looking for and to download either one song or a full album. They also very clearly display the information on the Creative Commons license that that song or album is under so you know what the limitations are before you download it.

The songs have their ID3 tags properly set which depending on you library manager can be an important thing.

Jamendo also makes it very straight forward to donate to artist that you choose to, and considering that the artist have decided to put their stuff on-line for free, it’s just good form to donate something to an artist you particularly like.

So go, check it out, enjoy the music, Post music if you are an artist. Join the Jamendo community and discuss music on the various forums. Basically, go and enjoy a great site.

Site of the week #1

March 15, 2008 at 11:46 | Posted in Cool, site of the week, Vod/Pod casts | Comments Off on Site of the week #1
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With my recent blogging about drop.io, I’ve decided to do a Site of the week feature. Each Saturday I will blog about a site that I find useful, innovative, interesting, relevant or worth watching.

And So, this weeks site of the week is:


LibriVox is a site where you can get free audio-books. The recordings are both free as in beer, and free as in speech. From the few chapters I have listened to the recordings, though volunteer, are of good quality. you can download whole book for the catalogue or subscribe to one of their many podcasts.

I particularly enjoy their “books” podcast where they podcast a book, a chapter at a time, 3 times a week. If you are like me and addicted to podcasts then this is a god way too keep your supply of new podcasts up.

If you feel you have the necessary time and skill you can also contribute by volunteering to read chapters.

I also must say that the site is very well laid out. It was easy to find what I was looking for even the first time i visited the site. The site is also available in 9 different Languages.

So, go check librivox.org out, get a book or two, and spread the word.

Latest revver video

March 12, 2008 at 18:01 | Posted in Revver Stuff, Tech | Comments Off on Latest revver video
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I’ve gotten my revver video up for last week (I’m trying to do one a week). It is a review of a open source video aggregater called “Miro”. You can check out the by clicking the thumbnail below.

it is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

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