Friday, 30 September 2011

Putting Browsers to the test with Acid3 and Peacekeeper

During episode 5 of TuxJam I reviewed a browser called SRWare Iron. This is a fork of the Chromium browser (an open-source community version of Google Chrome) with a few tweaks under the hood.

I put three different browsers to the test using two online tools: Acid3 and Peacekeeper. The three browsers in question were:
  1. SRWare Iron
  2. Firefox 9.0a1
  3. Seamonkey 2.3.3
From the Acid3 test, all the browsers performed very well:

SRWare Iron



However, it is during the second test using the Peacekeeper resource that SRWare Iron really separated itself from the other two. A brief look at the overall points:

Then we can break these down into more detailed reports of how the browsers final score was achieved.

From these findings on the Peacekeeper website, it appears that SRWare Iron performs doubly well compared to Firefox and Seamonkey. Whilst I did find it was a fast browser, I didn't notice that much difference between the three. However all of these browsers noticeably outperform Internet Explorer which I have to use day to day in my place of work. I do not wish to install it and run it using WINE to perform a fair test.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Using WeeChat with Freenode (the basics)

I recently tested out WeeChat which is a very fast and lightweight IRC client that is used in the command line.

I must say that I was extremely impressed with the program, but not with the documentation. The quick start wasn't of much help and the user guide was way too heavy and detailed, going into things that were far beyond what I was needing for internet chat.

I'm assuming that the user has already installed the program, if not check the repos or visit for installation details.

Start the program:
Set your username (dont forget to include the quotation marks"):
/set irc.server.freenode.username "{enter your username here}"

Set your real name (optional):
/set irc.server.freenode.realname "{enter your name here}"

Connect to Freenode:
/connect freenode

However if you would like to connect to Freenode by default every time you start up WeeChat:
/set irc.server.freenode.autoconect on

If you've registered your username (highly recommended so that nobody can pretend to be you) then you will need to prove you own the username by supplying the password:
/msg nickserv identify {your password}

Identify your username automatically every time you log on:
/set irc.server.freenode.command "/msg nickserv identify {your password}"

Join a channel (don't forget the hash # tag):
/join #{channel name}

Automatically join a channel (or channels) every time you log onto freenode:
/set irc.server.freenode.autojoin "#{channel 1},#{channel 2}"

These channels will open up side by side, one does not replace the other. However as this is a command line tool there are no tabs to click on for different chats. The next few commands give some examples of navigation, they all produce the same outcome using slightly different techniques, try these and decide on the ones you are happiest with.

Move to the next channel:
/buffer +1

Move to the previous channel:
/buffer -1

If you remember the channel name:
/buffer #{channel name}

All of the channels you join are assigned a number (the channels start at 3, 1 is the Freenode front page) To jump straight to the channel:
/buffer {channel number}

All of the above /buffer commands all essentially allow the user to navigate through the active chatroom channels, decide which one works best for you.

Should a user send you a private message, you are able to navigate using the above commands, it behaves just like another channel. When a user sends a message, their username will appear at the bottom of the screen, above the text entry box.

Any messages that mention your username during the chat, their username will change to a yellow text with a purple background. This makes it easier to keep track of a conversation in a busy chatroom.

Send a user a private message:
/msg {username} {your message goes here}
A condensed version of this post is available for download in odt format here, this is ideal if you wish to print these off and can also be easily edited.

This isn't even close to all of the commands and tools available to the end user, however it should be enough to allow the user to perform most of the basic required functions for an internet chat on the Freenode network.

If there are any tasks or command that you feel this guide is missing then please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Yibo - Android micro-blogging client

I came across this micro blogging tool purely by accident and thought I’d give it a try. This supports a variety of social networks, however at first appearance and do not appear to be an option. But on closer inspection it does allow the user to edit the API so to use Yibo with your account simply enter the appropriate username and password and enter for the API. My original intention was to review this application in an upcoming episode of TuxJam, however I couldn’t find out which license it has been released under so I decided to add it to my blog instead.

The UI is definitely aimed at twitter with the yellow bird and blue theme, however it is actually quite nice. The avatars are clear, if a little on the small side. Your username and avatar are permanently on display at the top of the screen and new posts are made by a (nicely) obvious button in the top right of the screen. The user can set the update frequency, however moving your finger down the screen will perform an instant update.A long press on a dent allows the user to reply, a nice feature of this is that the message your replying to remains on the screen under the message that the user is composing, this ensures that the correct dents are sent to the appropriate user, I’ve personally experienced issues with this before when I dent the wrong person. Other options on a long press include: redent, mark as favourite, view user profile, share to other accounts and copy to clipboard.

At the bottom of the screen, again the icons are obvious, this is a good thing as this has been written for the Japanese market, so personally I would find it impossible to read any documentation on it. The users ‘inbox’ is split into three (only two of which seem relevant to your replies and direct messages. The replies work fine, however there seems to be an issue with direct messages as only the most recent one is shown, even selecting more did not produce any additional direct messages. There is a third option that is entitled comments, however this personally gives me a nil response so I’m assuming that it is a Twitter feature. There is a button to view your profile and dents, a search feature and a few more that I didn’t use, again I think these were more aimed at Twitter users. There is also a well laid out menu page that directs the user to a number of places.

A bug (well I'm assuming this isn't a feature) that I discovered was that the dictionary does not appear to work with this application, whenever you are composing a dent no predicted text or spell checker comes up. I found this a bit of an inconvenience, but as I know a lot of people turn this feature off anyway, then it should not put potential new users off.

Whenever you exit the application, it displays a logo at the top of the screen to inform the user that the Yibo is still running in the background, that’s a handy feature if you want to ensure maximum battery life. Notifications are regular, however, by default, it alerts the user to all the new dents in their timeline, not just your direct mentions. This feature will be quickly switched off by the majority of users.

Overall it’s a nice application with some good features. As far as speed goes it’s quite quick, it doesn't have the lag that some of the Android micro-blogging clients suffer from. It seems very stable, not had any crashes after two weeks of testing. If you can get past the Twitter like colour scheme, then this is a very nice client that is worth checking out.