Spicebird 0.4 available for download

Spicebird is an open-source collaboration suite. Simply put, it is built on Mozilla’s Thunderbird code, and also includes calendars, instant messaging, notes, contacts, feed reading and an old-school news reader. It look nice, is well put-together thus far, has a lot of integration with Google applications such as gmail and calendar, and is shaping up nicely. It isn’t there yet, you can only use Jabber (including Google Talk) with it thus far, you can only import Google Calendars thus far, but I’m in the market for something that I can stealthily replace Lotus Notes with on Linux, and this has some potential.

I’ve tested Spicebird out quickly, it works on 64 bit Kubuntu without much complaint, it seems fairly intuitive, and definitely has a lot of potential. If I could have all my IM accounts in there (so MSN, AOL, Yahoo, ICQ, IRC as well as what it does at the moment) I’d be interested. If it could do social networking like Flock does, I’d be very interested. If they could build Firefox into it, so all my desktop tabs mixed with my web tabs, I’d be incredibly interested. All these all possible, I just wish I could sit down for the next few weeks and write them myself (if only).

EDIT 2014 update: Spicebird is no more, but some of its ideas are availbable as plugins for Thunderbird, and Mozilla even now offers its own IM client, Instantbird.

Flock for 64-bit Ubuntu Feisty Fawn and Gutsy Gibbon

I’ve been using the Mozilla-based Flock browser more in the past month, I do like how integrated the social networking side of it is. I can’t find extensions for Firefox that do it all so neatly and seamlessly. I’ve decided to start using it at work, and hit an issue, namely that the version supplied on the Flock site doesn’t work with 64-bit Linux. However, Getdeb.net does compile a 64-bit version for the current and previous versions of 64-bit Ubuntu, namely Feisty Fawn and Gutsy Gibbon. This worked fine for me in Gibbon.

Blogged with Flock

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Sync to your Nokia N95 using Amarok

I received an email today from a new reader, Mark, asking me if I had managed to sync music and podcasts to my N95 yet using Amarok on Ubuntu. This reminded me that I had been meaning to, but had been distracted by the podcasting application Nokia provide. So tonight I’ve had a look at it, and it is relatively straightforwards. This little guide assumes you’ve got Amarok installed and working in Kubuntu or Ubuntu.

1) Open Amarok.

2) Plug the USB cable into your Nokia N95, and select the Mass Storage mode on the phone. When connected, Ubuntu will ask you what you want to do, and choose to open the device in a new folder. Note the address of this folder (the mount point), it will be something like /media/name_of_your_memorycard .

3) Amarok should open up the following dialog box to allow you to set up the N95 as a device:

Manage devices in Amarok

If it doesn’t, go to Settings > Configure Amarok > Media Devices. In both cases, now click on Add Device.

4) Fill out the Add New Device dialog:

Add New Device in Amarok

Select the Generic Audio Player plugin, enter the name you want to call your N95, and the mount point for your device (that you saw in step 2). Click on OK, and OK again.

5) In Amarok, you should now have something that looks like this in the top left:

Connect to your media device in Amarok

If you’ve connected an iPod before (Amarok is pretty good at managing iPods in Ubuntu too), you may need to change the device showing in the drop-down menu. Click on Connect, and it should pick up the N95 and show you the folders on your memory card:

Nokia N95 connected to Amarok

This is the view on the Devices tab in Amarok. Go to the Collection tab to search for music, and right-click on tracks or albums, and choose Transfer to Media Device to add them to your transfer queue. Podcasts take a little setting up, but once done, you have the option to automatically add new episodes to the transfer queue.

When you’re done, click on Transfer, and then Disconnect when it’s finished. Once this is done, go to the icon for your phone on the desktop, right-click, and select Safely Remove. Your phone will been and show a message to let you know when you can remove the USB cable.

Let me know if this little guide is useful to you. I think personally I am going to go back to managing my podcasts through Amarok, it is a good podcasting application, and a bit better to use than the built-in Podcasting app on the N95.

Set up an FTP folder in Kubuntu

Small tip today, I found this the other day, and it’s very handy to have FTP folders set up, rather than use a separate FTP program. Just saves on a few clicks here and there.

To set this up in Kubuntu, go to System Menu > Remote Places, then click on Add a Network Folder. You then get a dialogue where you can choose the type of ftp folder you want. You can choose from Webfolder (Webdav), FTP, Microsoft Windows network drive, secure shell (SSH) or recent connections. It’s pretty useful. Pick FTP, enter your settings and click on Save and Connect. You’ll be prompted for your password, which you can choose to save, and then you’re done, and have a permanent connection you can now connect to from the Remote Places folder.

Moving to a new phone – Nokia N95

Well I’ve been away for a week in New York, which was rather exciting and relaxing. Upon my return to work, I was somewhat delighted to find my new phone had arrived. I’m now the proud owner of a Nokia N95. So naturally I’m going to be testing out just what I can do with it and Linux. Baby steps tonight, I’ve managed to copy over a few files manually, just so I could check that video Drum n’ Bass podcasts work okay on it. I’ve just been listening and watching the Hospital Records video podcast #3 on it, which looks and sounds great, especially with headphones on. Definitely happy with how the N95 handles such things.

However the challenge is now to get it really working for me as best I can. I want to replace my iPod with it, so I need to see if I can get it to sync with Amarok like my iPod nano does. I’d like to get a reasonable level of contact management working, better than I have managed with the 6300 so far. And I would like to see what else I can do with it. Of course I’ll be tracking my progress on here too.

What I also hope to do though, is to try these things out on a few Nokia models, so I’ll hang onto the 6300, and may try and revive my previous phone as well. I’ve got a little collection now, so it makes sense to try a few things out on them, and see if I can broaden my knowledge a little further.

Managing your Nokia 6300 using Wammu

I’ve written before about connecting to a Nokia 6300 using Gnokii. John Dickson mentioned in the comments about using Wammu, and that he’d found it worked in part (but that also he’d written something in Java that did the backup side better). So I thought I’d give Wammu a try first, then John’s program another time.

Under Ubuntu or Kubuntu, having followed the instructions in my previous article for installing Gnokii, I simply installed wammu via the adept package manager. This installed it under Utilities. Upon running, it pointed out there were no records for any phone, and asked if I wanted to search for one. This is a good start. So I hooked up my Nokia 6300 via USB, and set it into Nokia mode. I then let it perform the search, and after about a minute it showed that it had found one phone. It looks to me like it used the same settings I had for Gnokii. Now I don’t know if it used the connection I’d set before, or if it had figured that out for itself. I’d be interested to know if it is self-configuring like that, so I might try it out on another computer when I get chance.

Once connected, it is a fairly basic program. It reads the address book to an extent, but can only see the name and the phone number (I am after other information as well ideally). It can’t see the calendar or SMS messages, but it can read the phone log. It looks like I could potentially use it to send SMS from the computer, but I’m not so bothered about that. However it does seem to do a basic backup of what it can see fine.

So I’m not completely happy with it so far, but it does work to some extent, and if it is figuring the connection out for itself, then it is at least a lot easier than what I’ve done before. So a casual thumbs up for Wammu thus far.

Applications I’m missing at the moment

I was just thinking about the applications that I don’t have, that I would like. So I thought I’d write a quick list, explain them, and then revisit them in a few months time to see if they exist. I was going to put SMS notifications for Google Mail for my phone on there, but a quick check just now revealed they have added that since I last checked, so I’m one up for the evening already!

  • Firefox Mobile – I have to admit, I don’t mind Mobile Opera. However it does seem a bit basic, and I’m not that keen to have to pay for a browser with more features. I’d like to use what I’m so used to using on my computer, and ideally to be able to extend it to do many other things.
  • Decent Nokia software for Linux – I’m lazy, I just want to plug it in, and it to do all that it does in Windows, as that is a rather nice little suite of software. One day.
  • A proper movie file browser and player for Ubuntu – What I want is a self-updating catalog of all my movie files, thumbnails (in a perfect world I’d just hover over the thumbnail for a couple of seconds, and it would start playing in the thumbnail itself, so I could identify it if it wasn’t clear), and proper indexing and searching. I’d love something for video that was the equivalent of Amarok for audio. Kaffeine is almost it, but the index/search side lets it down a bit. This may be down to my knowledge of it though.
  • A way of syncing contacts between Google Mail and my phone – Again, I want an easy life, and I just want them all to keep up to date, rather than having to maintain two lists.
  • An open-source program that edits CSS in a WYSIWYG style – I’ve heard tell that this sort of functionality is creeping into Dreamweaver now. Great, I’d like it for free. Ideally in a way that would plug into Eclipse as well.
  • Something that manages podcasts perfectly – I’ve never found this since I started listening to podcasts. It’s always felt that it’s been tacked onto music programs such as iTunes. Amarok does a better job than most, but it still feels like hard work some times. I’m going to think about this more, try and describe what I’d want.

Well that should do me for starters. How about you, what applications do you want that you don’t have yet?

Installing Kubuntu on the Toshiba Tecra M5 laptop

So I guess that’s one way of saying I have a new laptop! Anyway, I was going to write a detailed blog posting of the process for setting up and installing Kubuntu Feisty Fawn on my new Toshiba Tecra M5. However there really isn’t a lot to say. I reinstalled Windows using the supplied recovery cd, as this allowed me to partition the drive very easily. Then I took the latest version of Kubuntu (7.04) and started the install process. And it all worked. All the things I would expect to be there, are, and worked out of the box, even wireless. I’ve found recent versions of KDE far better than Gnome for sorting wireless out painlessly, and this certainly did it. The only obvious thing that isn’t working is the fingerprint scanner, but I’m really not bothered about that yet, nor am I convinced I will ever be. I will report back if I find any problems, but so far it has been very easy.

Linking your Nokia 6300 mobile phone to Ubuntu

So I did some further investigation tonight into getting my Nokia 6300 working under Ubuntu, with very positive results. What I tracked down was a program called Gnokii. It is a project to provide connectivity to Nokia phones that has been going since at least 2001, so they’ve got quite a bit of collective experience. And it has got me started.

First of all, I installed the software. It was available as a program to install, but I went with the trusty:

sudo apt-get install gnokii

Next I had to configure the connection. The documentation on the site is a little dusty, and does deal with a lot of different options depending on the phone, so I’m going to concentrate on my model, the 6300. First connect the phone using the usb cable, and select the Nokia mode on the phone when asked. You then need to edit the config file by hand (I tried setting it within the program itself, but it wouldn’t allow me):

sudo cp /etc/gnokiirc /etc/gnokiirc.OLD
sudo vi /etc/gnokiirc

And you will get a very well commented config file. If you are using a different phone, or connecting through another means such as Bluetooth, have a read through the file, there are good pointers for the changes you need to make. For the Nokia 6630, delete the contents (you’ve already backed it up) and use the following:

[global]
port = /dev/ttyACM0
model = AT
initlength = default
connection = serial
use_locking = yes
serial_baudrate = 19200
smsc_timeout = 10
[gnokiid]
bindir = /usr/sbin/
[connect_script]
TELEPHONE = 12345678
[disconnect_script]
[logging]
debug = off
rlpdebug = off
xdebug = off

and save the file. You may well prefer to comment out the port and model in the existing file, and then just uncomment the two lines I’ve set at the start of this file.

Now to test the connection:

sudo gnokii --identify

If this has worked, it will show a small amount of information about the phone, the make, model, EMEI number and revision number. If you’ve got this, you’re ready to go. If not, check the config file, or look up on the Gnokii site for further help.

You can know run Gnokii from the applications menu (it should be under utilities). You will be able to view and edit basic details about your contacts, back them up, and send SMS from the computer via the phone. There is also an option for Calendar entries, but I can’t get this working yet. It may be down to me using the model = AT option, which I think is more limited in what it can do. I’ll certainly keep investigating to see if I can solve it.

Ubuntu and the Nokia 6300 mobile phone

I’ve just received my almost annual upgrade mobile phone, a Nokia 6300. Now with my previous phone (Nokia 6230), one of the last things that has had me booting back into Windows has been doing anything with the phone. The Nokia Windows software is quite nice, you can edit contacts, backup data, browse files, and install Java apps. And it was by far the best way of moving from one phone to another, I just had to backup the old phone, then restore the data to the new phone. Took everything off both the memory card and sim card, and put most of it onto the new one (apart from some games I’d bought, which was slightly annoying).

However even though I could connect the phone to my computer using a USB cable, under Ubuntu it wouldn’t do anything with it at all. This has changed with the Nokia 6300 though. It has a proper mini-USB connector, and once hooked up, the phone asks if I want to use it in Nokia Software mode (i.e. for Windows) or in data mode. The latter means that my memory card in the phone becomes available as if it were a standard flash memory drive. Which I like a lot. I can now copy pictures off and upload them to Flickr using digikam (I think that comes as standard with Kubuntu). I can add music and images as I need. I would still love to be able to sync contacts, calendars and to-dos, but it is a defnite improvement. I’d ideally like Nokia to provide that for me too, but I think I’ll start digging and see if anyone is doing anything on Sourceforge and the like that could help me. If you’ve seen anything that might be useful, please let me know.