Software ahead of the curve: Gwibber 2.0

Gwibber 2.0 Screenshot

Gwibber is an open source microblogging client for GNOME that supports Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook, Pownce, and other popular social web services.

Yes I know its not Tweetdeck but hey hello, it supports more account types than just Twitter and Facebook. Its also got interesting support non microblogging services for Flickr, Brightkite, Digg and a few others. I've been pretty vocal about knocking Gwibber's stability in the past but now its rock solid. Currently I have 7 different accounts running through it and it doesn't even blink. So solid, that I have dumped the Air app Twhirl. The only thing which I have seen which is close to Gwibber is Eventbox/Socialite which is mac only. There's already talk about making a QT version of Gwibber which could work on the Windows and Mac platform too. I expect most people will look at it and say, yuk. But to be fair its using my own custom style from ubuntu, and it will get better. The concept of Gwibber and how it works puts it a few steps in front of a crowded microblogging market.

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The yin and yang of Ubuntu 9.10

So I upgrade my dell XPS laptop to Ubuntu 9.10 pretty soon after the launch of 9.10, and to be honest its been pretty good to me. However I have had a couple of problems. The first major problem which still needs to be solved is shutting the lid doesn't send the machine to suspend. I had this problem way back in the 7 series and Glyn fixed it for me by creating some custom script. I got a feeling that script might be causing problems now, so hopefully it won't be too much of a hassle to fix. I just have to remember to set it to suspend beforehand till then. I have no idea if hibernate works but I don't really use it anyway.

I have reinstalled Ubuntu 9.10 twice already, once because the display got really messed up (no idea why and all my messing with xandr made no difference) and the first time because there was some major problem with finding partitions in fstab, from my previous 9.04 install. Each time, a reinstall has been pretty easy, pop the disc in give it 20mins and we're back to scratch again. Nothing lost except the applications. All preferences and personal files stay untouched which is ideal.

There's not a lot of new stuff in 9.10 from what I can tell, instead I'm getting a real feel that things are getting very stable, ready for 10.4 which is rumoured to be a LTS (long term support) version. I've been using Firefox with between 20-30 tabs over the last few days and its been pretty flawless. During that time I've been using Youtube like a fiend for reasons which I may blog about later. In the past going page to page with so much flash would cause all type of chaos and slowdowns. But its not only Firefox which seems fine, everything seems super tuned. Memory usage is way down on previous versions, even with 30tabs open, evolution, gwibber, skype, pidgin, banshee, rhythmbox, tomboynotes, specto, keepass, etc all open at once, my memory usage just hit 1.1 gig of physical memory.

Compiz feels solid as a rock now, don't get me wrong its been good and worked well but now it feels impossible to crash. Pidgin, Gwibber, Evolution and Gnome-Do all seem very stable too. Not only that but Gwibber 2.0 is cleaned up and and I have now dropped using Twirl and Tweetdeck because of Gwibber 2 (I might do a blog post about just that alone). Specto and Conduit have added new social features which makes it extra useful with tracking things like RSS feeds. Generally everythings good and the day in day out applications are solid.

Heck even the battery monitor reports the time better that ever before, not only does it know my battery is screwed and only shows theres a maximum of 25% capacity counts down correctly from that point in minutes. Theres a few new things I've noticed which I've not really had time to play with yet. Pulseaudio has been tighten up and now includes support for Apple airtunes and DLNA/UPnP devices. I had a quick try to see if XBMC would pick it up but it didn't although I can see its working on other machines and the UPnP discovery tool. The general style of Ubuntu and user experience has also gone up in the latest version. Software centre bugs me a bit but its much more usable that add/remove apps. I still have my own custom themes (sandy box and jade garden) but I've left the default boot and login screen alone as there very attractive. Oh yeah and boy does Ubuntu boot up fast.

The last sting in the tail is the external display. For some reason external displays have changed since 9.04. There seems to be some kind of autosensing which picks up anything plugged in and tries to sync with it. Hence 2mins before starting the BarCamp welcome talk, everything went very wrong with my laptop. I have since installed the Grandr which is a gui for RandR, I hope to have this issue under control.

So all in all, a good upgrade but be careful, its not all blue skies

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Google specs worth checking out

Its been ages since I've written in my blog, so I'm hoping to try and make up for that with a series of blog posts over the weekend.

While at BarCampLondon7, I attended a couple of sessions about some very cool technologies which Google are behind. Like most of you I'm skeptical of anything any large company does, specially specs but its hard to pick any hole in any of these I would say. Adewale also did a excellent job of explaining them and there context for use.

oEmbedoEmbed is a format for allowing an embedded representation of a URL on third party sites. The simple API allows a website to display embedded content (such as photos or videos) when a user posts a link to that resource, without having to parse the resource directly. Its already being used on Youtube and many others. You request a resource and it gives you back xml or json for the resource instead of returning a nasty piece of html or javascript. Very neat.

Salmon ProtocalSalmon aims to define a standard protocol for comments and annotations to swim upstream to original update sources — and spawn more commentary in a virtuous cycle So from what I understand, its an attempt to standardise all these commenting systems like cocomment and disqus (which I use on this blog even). They shouldn't really feel threaten because they could support Salmon and add value to the basic concept.

Wave federation protocal – Well this goes without saying but I learned that its now very easy to setup a wave server. So I expect I'll be playing with that soon. There's also a lovely guide to Wave by Gina Trapani which will grow into something much more complete in time.

A simple, open, server-to-server web-hook-based pubsub (publish/subscribe) protocol as an extension to Atom and RSS. Parties (servers) speaking the PubSubHubbub protocol can get near-instant notifications (via webhook callbacks) when a topic (feed URL) they're interested in is updated. This is a difficult one to explain but generally its a clever way to poll for updates without polling the server. Instead you submit a request and a status server alerts you to when the change has happened. It sounds complex but its actually not and its quite neat. Like most google things, its worth flicking through the presentations on the site.

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