Thursday, 30 September 2010

Irn Bru - Classic Ads

Having lived in Scotland all my life, I tend to forget how uncommon Irn Bru is outside of our wee country. I'm not saying it's impossible to get, but very often when I'm away on holiday I struggle to find my favourite soft drink.

Before Irn Bru's marketing campaign was about shock and controversial tactics, there theme was always boys doing mens jobs. I have to confess that I loved watching this when I was a boy and recently I started scouring the net for some of the ads from the classic campaign. Here are three of my favoutrites:

1) Road works:

2) Shipyard:

3) Sweeping :

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Fedora - annoying issues

Before I start with this gripe can I please make my stance clear: I love Fedora as a Linux distro, although I change the distros on my PC almost every week there are two partitions that do not change: Gentoo (my primary distro) and Fedora (my secondary choice).

However there are two things that really annoy me about the last couple of Fedora releases: the nouveau driver and grub.

I am personally very glad that the open source community is making great strides in developing an open source alternative for graphics drivers, it's even better to see them working. However the nouveau driver does not work well with my current Nvidia AGP card; 3D games do not work, neither does Compiz. So why have they made it so annoyingly awkward to uninstall the nouveau driver? Surely this could be done in a much simpler manner than following a guide like this.

Now we come to the Grub issue. I actually don't have a problem with Grub. I like how it can be edited quickly and once you get the hang of it, the Grub menu is highly customizable. However whenever Fedora performs an update and a new kernel image is installed Fedora automatically makes this new entry your default choice at booting time. I may be a cynic; but I feel that this is trying to force you into making Fedora your default distro. The main reason most Linux users hate Windows is due to how restrictive and closed it is and always complement Linux on it's freedom of choice and openness. Anything that tries to force you into making a specific choice is going against freedom in my issue.

Fedora is a great distro, anybody with a bit of Linux experience should give it a try (not for complete newbies though). But these two points in the latest releases really have got under my skin.

Welcome LibreOffice

The Document Foundation announced today that it is forking OpenOffice and creating LibreOffice. To be honest this comes as no major surprise following Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems last year. Oracle have never been a major contributor to open source software and seem more interested in proprietary solutions. This is not to say that they are not welcome to contribute to the project, in a press release the Document Foundation stated:

"Oracle Corporation -- who acquired assets as a result of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems -- has been warmly invited to become a contributor to the new Foundation."
This does not appear to be a standard fork by a couple of disgruntled employees, rather it appears that a substantial number of the developers from the OpenOffice have planted their flags with LibreOffice, for the full details of the members of The Document Foundation click here. On their website when asked if LibreOffice was a breakaway project the answer given was:

Not at all. The Document Foundation will continue to be focused on developing, supporting, and promoting the same software, and it's very much business as usual. We are simply moving to a new and more appropriate organisational model for the next decade - a logical development from Sun's inspirational launch a decade ago.
From initial screenshots (below), LibreOffice looks very similar to OpenOffice; hardly surprising given that the fork has just been announced. The company state that it is fully compatible with the majority of other office suites, this will be a major plus if it can maintain this feature.

This will undoubtedly get the attention of Microsoft, who already claim that OpenOffice infringes on several areas of their copyright, they may see a small company as a much easier target rather than locking horns with Oracle. OpenOffice also uses Java, which is still owned by Oracle. Given that Oracle are currently suing Google over the use of Java in Android then this is another litigious issue that the Document Foundation may be faced with in the early stages of it's existence.

I personally am glad that the office suite has moved to a more open source state without the limitations of one company. With the community driving the project, features and enhancements will come at more regular intervals than previously with Sun Microsystems and Oracle. This change from company to community driven project in itself may attract more users than OpenOffice did.

All the best to the Document Foundation with LibreOffice and any other projects that they undertake. I hope that they become (and remain) a mainstay on every Linux distro for years to come.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Flashrom Logos

Here are the first of the mock ups for the flashrom logo designs. Am I on the right track guys?

Feedback please.

OK then a bigger chip with the text and the logo separate:

Reposition chip below flashrom:

Incorporate the lightning 'h' from design 2 with previous design:

The chip seems a bit far away, moving it a bit closer:

32 pin chip, making it as wide as the writing:
Different style of bolt:

Name on the chip:

Reposition h so it is not touching:

Saturday, 11 September 2010

TinyOgg - capture your favourite clips

Update: as of the 15th July 2011, TinyOgg has closed down this particular web service, it is a shame but they have put a statement on the website:

"We believe that YouTube has made enormous efforts in making its videos accessible using free software."

I have been using the TinyOgg website for some time now and suddenly realised that it is not that well known, but it is a very useful tool.

TinyOgg, which has been in beta version since I started using it, allows you to save flash videos to your hard drive, the site converts the video into an ogv or oga file depending on whether you want your output in sound or video format.

The user interface is incredibly simple; put in your website, select video or audio and then click on the convert button, it really is that easy. After a few minutes the file is on screen and savable to your hard drive.

I have found it particularly useful for saving the background sound, especially useful when you have been looking for a track for a while and then it appears as background music to a video you happen to be following on YouTube.

It does have it's limitations though, so far I've not been able to save any videos other than ones from YouTube. Also for windows users (you may have guessed from previous posts that I am not one) you will need to download VLC or a similar player in order to watch/listen to the saved media.

Overall a very useful web based tool, it would be better if it were compatible with more sites. However converting a locked down media type into an open format is also a nice feature.

Absent Feet - Soonrise

A new band has just appeared on the scene at Jamendo and I am very impressed with them. They are called Absent Feet and have released a five track mini album called Soonrise. This is available to download for free and legally here or you can listen through the widget at the bottom of the post.

After Googling the band, I couldn't find much information about them at all so I'm taking for granted that this is their first album. I wasn't disappointed; this is fantastic. A chilled out rock band, this is great music for any-time; whether passing the time on a long drive or sitting chilling at the end of the week.

They are reminiscent of a lot of indie rock bands, especially those from the UK. An excellent first album, I hope that there will be many more.

Please don't forget that these artists on Jamendo are releasing their work for free, so a donation is always appreciated, no amount too small.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Well done Alun Parry

This is a bit outdated now, however I feel that it is still worth a mention. It only came to my attention after Dan Lynch mentioned it during a recent episode of Rathole Radio.

Shortly before Ogg Camp earlier this year Alun Parry announced that he was releasing his latest Album; We Can Make the World Stop, in ogg format. I was pleased when I heard that another artists was adding ogg to their file formats when releasing new media.

However what I did not expect was that Alun released these as free downloads, this is an album that he sells on the net including on his website and on Amazon. Not only has he made this available for free in ogg format, he has also given his permission to distribute the album with others.

I hope that he continues to release future albums in ogg form, however I want to see him make a living so charging people for ogg albums is not unreasonable. Pay the money and get the media in a free and open file format, a world without DRM wouldn't that be lovely.

The album is available to download in ogg format here. Have a listen, pass the link on, promote the ogg music format.