Firefox 57, flipping fast!

Firefox 57: Flipping fast!

I have been a fan of Firefox for a long time and heck, I’ve given plenty of time to Mozilla through the Mozilla Festival over the years. I would regularly use Firefox & Chrome back to back on my Ubuntu laptop, but only firefox on my server (its been the default for Ubuntu for years). Tended to use Chrome for Google type operations like Docs, Spreadsheet, Mindmup, etc. But I started using the Firefox beta after the word got passed around that version 57 (Quantium) was a total rewrite.

Once I tried it, I was blown away! Tweeting…

I was so impressed that it picked up my profile, passwords, sync, everything; even when running it from a totally different location. It meant I could just run it and use it – and why not? Its that fast and smooth. There were some addons/extentions which didnt work but most of them I uninstalled when I switch Firefox 53 to multi-threaded mode, so I was already running it pretty lean.

It was all good…as I could switch to old firefox easily enough by just loading that one no problem, not that I did.

It was during Mozfest time, when I got a email asking if it would be ok for Mozilla to use my tweet in a special New York Times double page spread they were planning on launch day. Of course I said sure thinking not much more about it except remembering the moment when Firefox 1.0 launched with the name of all the backers.

Then today, I saw while in Maderia…

It had slipped my mind this was actually going to happen and frankly was quite proud to be one of only seven quoted. Its also not like it was misquoted! I’m acutally writing this blog from my hotel room on Firefox 57 right now. Its still not default yet (firefox 56 currently is), but expecting it will be very soon once Ubuntu update the distro.

Stellar work Mozilla and I love the catchy tagline – Fast for good…

firefox 57 quantum

Tiny tiny RSS experience a week later?

I have had quite a bit of feedback from my post about moving away from Feedly to a self hosted solution called Tiny Tiny RSS.

Some interesting questions have emerged from people and to be fair it certainly deserves a follow up.

I made my instance of TT-RSS available on the public netw, because I didn’t see the point of installing my VPN software on my eink reader. I also installed the official TT-RSS app which is a 7 day trail before you buy the full version for 4 pounds. I haven’t bought the full version yet because the app doesn’t seem to work well when offline? It would be great if the app understood if the device was offline and automaticilly disabled the update feeds option. It currently doesn’t seem to do this well… I much prefer Greader for this, but ttrss app isn’t far behind.

Simon commented he paid for Feedly because of the IFTTT options, but it seems weird to pay for this  because you can easily turn most of TT-RSS into a another feed and IFTTT has a RSS option which you can use to trigger most things. This reminds me of my work along while back about pipelines.

Because of this, I have been thinking about feeding Greader with the RSS from my TTRSS install. The only real disadvantage is nothing would be synced to the server? This is also something I’ve been thinking about with a linux desktop reader like thunderbird because I can’t seem to install a TTRSS reader which works.

I tried a few but each has had problems.

Feed the Moneky looked very promising but when I finally get the appimage loaded, it shows nothing? Feedreader looked great and after finally getting flatpak working, I’m faced with the error that I need to install the api-feedreader plugin in my TTRSS server. How I do this when I’m using docker is a question I have no answer for, except it seems I need to use another docker container?

So generally its going well but hitting a few points which need straighing out. It would be so useful to compile supported applications into a wiki page.

Oh I found this useful when understanding about appimages, snap, flatpak, etc.

Over 10 years of serious Ubuntu

Desktop Screenshot

Its ironic to hear Microsoft Windows Vista has finally come to its end of life (i’d argue it was dead on arrival), it was the move to Vista which sparked me to stop running Linux on a spare machine/as a second operating system and wipe windows XP off. One day I decided enough playing around, I’m not moving to Vista, I’m moving to Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn.

Before then I was playing with Knoppix, Debian and earlier versions of Ubuntu 6.06 and 6.10 but it was 7.04 when I took things serious. Since then I’ve not really looked back. It quite amazing to think how Ubuntu has changed over the last 10 years, especially with Unity and Gnome; but the dominance of linux generally is fascinating.

Love Linux but sometimes…

DELL XPS13&XPS15_29

Sometimes I come across simple things which just need someone to think about it from a user point of view.

One such example is adjusting the sensitivity on my XPS 13 trackpad. The XPS 13 has a widescreen trackpad which is good (although I do miss the Thinkpad pointer) but the right hand tends to hover around the edge, as there isn’t much room to rest my hand due to the keyboard and trackpad. The solution is to adjust the sensentivity of the trackpad, so I get less hover mistakes trigger from my thumb. Simple!

On my ubuntu setup, the trackpad driver is called synaptics and it can be configured anyway you like. Except to do so, you need to mess with the terminal and maybe even log out and in for the changes to stick.

If I was doing one #lazyweb request, it would be to automaticlly create a gui/wrapper for terminal operations like changing your mouse settings.

How does look Ubuntu without convergence unity?

Ubuntu Convergence

Mark Shutterworth announced today that Unity the default desktop enviornment which comes with Ubuntu will no longer be developed. It was based on the concept of convergence which to be fair was a good idea.

I personally didn’t really like Unity for desktops and never really got to play with Unity on a smartphone or tablet. I needed to make a lot of changes to make it more useable although I did find it slightly quicker than Gnome Shell under Ubuntu. But Gnome shell is just great to use for many reasons including its many extensions and lack of clutter is just right.

The bigger news is the concept of convergence seems to be under some doubt too, which I assume puts Ubuntu phone, tablet and tv at some risk? Weirdly enough just like the Boot2Geko/Firefox phone project?

In the meanwhile, for those thinking this is the end of Ubuntu… they are very wrong.

GnomeShell is one of many including KDE and more…

How to run two Whisper systems Signal clients on Linux side by side

Running two signal clients on Ubuntu
Running two signal clients on Ubuntu without the stress, made one d.ark and other light themed to remind me which one is which

I’m very sure I’m not the only one with 2 mobile phones (heck I really have 3 actual active SIM cards in 3 phones but thats another story).

I have chosen not to use WhatsApp as their EULA doesn’t fit well with me, so instead I always suggest Whisper Systems Signal client. I have many reasons including a linux web client but I have been wondering why one client couldn’t support multiple accounts? Especially since you can easily and securely verify the phone to the desktop client, using a generated token.

I’ve been wondering if I could run two signal apps or run them under different system users… then it dawned on me, its using Google Chrome’s app framework, maybe I could use Open Source Chrome aka Chromium to do the same? Surprisingly without having to setup another user account for the Chrome store, I was able to download Signal again and make Chromium launch it.

Now I have 2 completely separate signal apps which are linked to different phones but using the same Ubuntu desktop environment.

I know it might seem obvious but there seems to be a few people asking for multiple users using a single signal desktop app. I also saw if it could be installed in Firefox, but it looks more tricky that just hitting install from an app store. Sure my tip will work for MacOSX and likely Windows too?

Little tip for friends and followers which I thought was worth sharing… Now get yourself on Signal

Using Amazon Glacier on Ubuntu

2015-04-27 10.55.13

Looking at my little home server, I noticed a Spideroak warning telling me I am up to maximum on online storage. I assume the reason for this is the 1391 pictures I took over the course of the 2 weeks in Tokyo.

Rather than just pay for the next band up, I thought I’d give Amazon Glacier a chance. because frankly I don’t need to view the pictures all the time. I uploaded the best ones to my Japan photoset on Flickr already.

Can I say one thing!

Amazon Glacier is certainly not ready for the general public!

Yes I’m using Ubuntu and yes I was seeking to do it with a GUI but boy oh boy… Amazon webservices is very very developer focused.

In the end after about 4 hours, I finally settled on using Simple Amazon Glacier Uploader, which uses Java 1.6+. It was that or try and use Wine to emulate a Windows app called FastGlacier. Don’t get me wrong there are many clients but not many for Mac and even less for Linux.

The thing which I think most people will miss is the fact you need to setup a user just for the uploading. Once you do that you need to setup a bucket and then give that user permissions to control that bucket. This is done in the policy control, without this you will get lots of errors which don’t make a lot of sense.

I’m still waiting to verify my test upload worked but I believe its correct now. If so, then the next few days would be the time I could really do with Hyperoptic fibre broadband. My picture count is currently at 91.9 gigs over 68794 files…

Alternative user interfaces

I studied interaction design in university and always had an imprecation for good interaction and interface design. Recently I seen a few examples which have got me a little excited.

Ubuntu’s scopes
I like ubuntu’s unity paradigms of scopes and lens, even though I prefer to use Gnome Shell as my default on the desktop. The scopes and lens really make a lot of sense. It was fascinating to see Ubuntu apply it across their phone and tablet. Be interesting to see how it works on Ubuntu TV if thats still ongoing?

Pebble timeline
When I first saw the pebble time interface, I instantly thought, when are they going to roll that across there existing line of smartwatches? If not, maybe I might invest in one of the new ones. Division of a interface by future, present and the past on a watch makes a lot more sense than anything else I have seen to date including the Apple Watch.

Android Material Design
Ice cream sandwich or Android 4.0 was a massive step up in style for Android but Android 5.0 Lollipop really was the first Android when the interaction design was thought about at a deeper level.

I don’t necessarily  like the style of flat plates of colour for example the Google hangout app is just the wrong kind of green for my pallet but the interaction model is nice. Although I have spotted a few places where the rules are broken by certain apps.

What happened to Ubuntu Unity across all devices?

Ubuntu devices

Interesting to think about while watching the Microsoft Windows 10 launch… What even happened to the Ubuntu on Android?

Update: A number of friends commented on my blog entry.

Jas finds an engadget entry talking about how the launch will be limited to Europe and the East.

Firefox OS on a new phone

Firefox OS upgrade

One of the big things which came out of the Mozilla Festival was the brand new Firefox phone, the flame… I heard about it but to own a version was frankly kind of exciting. I believe they gave out about 500 to the people who attended the festival. You also had to be there early on Sunday morning if you wanted one.

Unlike the previous version which was made by Geekphone and was technically a developer edition, this one was closer to 4.75 inches. The build quality had also been upped from the previous one.  When in my pocket, it feels very much like my Nexus 5 but a little less polished. A little frustrating to move the power button to the top instead of the right hand side to match the Nexus 5.

Firefox phones

When you open up the phones back cover (because you can do that, the novelty!) you find not only a micro SD card slot but also 2 sim slots! 2 Sims in Europe, what on earth? How great is that? I can finally buy a crappy sim from another country and still use my number for everything else. I currently have my work sim and a spare pay as you go sim in place. Another thing which surprised me about the phone also was the NFC support. Now that was something I was not expecting at all. Haven’t tested to see if the Bluetooth is 4.0 LE (looks like it maybe 3.0) or not but everything else looks good. It feels like last years chipset, not quite but comparable to my HTC 1X.

Enough about the hardware how does it work? Well I have to say its not bad. Compared to the previous one, its far more quicker and snappy. Its was pretty much what you experienced on the previous phone but quicker and more responsive. I say it was… because recently I got an upgrade pushed through to the next version of Firefox OS. Now its zippy and looks quite a bit different from what Android, iOS and Windows phone are doing.

Firefox OS upgrade

Now the icons are very big and super colourful. To be honest although Iike it, I would reduce the size if it was my only phone. People like Aral will hate the setup process because there are some gotcha’s which still disappoint, but as a whole Mozilla have listened to the critical feedback and tried to improve the user experience a lot.

The biggest problem I find with Firefox OS is the lack of apps. Its frustrating as it should make grabbing parts of websites or services easy (or maybe I’m missing something).  Don’t get me wrong the marketplace has much more that it use to have but its no where near even the Microsoft app store.

That is the one thing holding back Firefox OS. I do believe the web as a platform for development is a good one but the APIs are not there yet. For example I looked at the Web NFC API spec and found this. I’d love to write something to take advantage of it but its still not there for serious use.

I did notice that some of the things like Ubuntu unity webapp stuff does seem to work with the phone too. So I assume it got supported by the W3C? This brings me a bit of joy, because I can write simple stuff which will have utility across Ubuntu and Firefox phone. My hope is since I have Firefox installed on my Android, some of those features will also happen on Android.

As a whole, I like the Firefox phone, it reminds me how important it is to be free of the clutches of the big 5 stacks who hoover up data for their own means and lock you in forever. Firefox OS can be pretty much run like a feature phone if required but there is the ability to sync and have accounts if you so wish. If the flame really is meant to be a 100 dollar phone, its not value for money. I would happily have paid about that for it, as a 2nd phone. Looking forward to the next update… Good work Mozilla.

If the boot sequence was this cool

Hackers movie

Remember on Hackers when the guys all start up there laptops and your treated to a range of animated startup sequences?

How cool was it to have all those individualised, personalised startup sequences? Certainly beats looking at the Lenovo, Apple, Microsoft, etc logos.

Well someone is thinking along the same lines at least

My home network explained again

My Home network setup

So this is a turn around from my now usual ranting about dating…

Last Friday, we were in the northern quarter and some how got around to talking about networking. I mentioned I had 3 gigabit switches and everyone asked why the heck have you got 3 gigabit switches? To which I tried to explain, very badly. So I promised to do a diagram of why I need those switches and not just extra long cables.

So here it is… Funny enough its not the first time I’ve explained my home networking setup. With a little more time I might have done something a lot more attractive.

First thing is the rooms are serial not exactly how you see them above. Aka the bedroom is as far away from the living room as possible and the spare room is in the middle of them both. Ok maybe I should consider redrawing them… The ADSL2 line works best off the main socket in the cupboard (Its how I can achieve my 1.5meg upload consistently rather that 1meg upload). The next room with power is the spare bedroom, where the ADSL2+ router lives. The router is only 10/100, so I use it just as a modem but I’ve recently been turning on the 54G wireless and using it for guest connections. Turns out at the time it was very difficult to get a ADSL router with gigabit wired points, might not be true 2 years later.

The next step into the network is the WRT firmware upgraded Switch complete with 108N wireless. Because its running WRT I can do many things like Quality of Service (QoS), VPN and port knocking for remote access. I class this part the inners of my home network.

Due to the room layouts, I’ve decided to string the network together by putting a gigabit switch in each room. This means I only have to feed one cable room to room rather than 4+. As you can see I have about 4 devices in the bedroom and living room and thats not including a spare one for guests.

So why wired and not wireless? As I live in a set of flats, theres a lot of people with those BT/Sky boxes on random channels (would show how messy it is but you can imagine). The wireless is good but not really for sending full HD videos to my TV without waiting 5 secs for it to buffer and maybe some pauses in the middle. If I switch to wired 100megbit networking, its fine but if I start to do a large transfer over the network, for example if I’m working on some footage on the server at the same time, its noticeably slower and you may get slight pauses. Now I’m certain it might actually be a IO issue with my 54000rpm disks. But I get nothing like this with my gigabit network.

Once I went Gigabit, everything just worked smoothly. I don’t ever see any latency issue, even when streaming stuff to the Xbian in the bedroom at the same time. I once did a test of both my Lenovo XBMC and RaspPI playing Inception at 1080p with me pulling the same file to my laptop. Although the PI struggled playing it back, everything seemed to work as expected. I bought into Gigabit at the point when it just dropped in price. My laptop, Server, Lenovo XBMC box, etc have gigabit ports so it was a no brainier really.

I am keen to try out 802.11AC but right now my main focus is to replace my Lenovo XBMC box which outputs in VGA to the LED screen. This is why I was trying out Simon’s Ouya. I already removed all other desktop machines from the network (got 3 mini desktop machines in the spare room to get rid of).

So thats the crux of why I got 3 gigabit switches…

Feel free to talk about other solutions but they need to be cheapish and not interfere with much else. Its worth pointing out the runs of cables between the rooms are roughly 20meters long. I will at some point drill into the walls but not quite yet. Finally I looked into powerline solutions but there pricey and I’m not sure of how good they are in a set of flats. Think I prefer a ethernet cable, as I would end up with a setup similar to what I have now.

Is the mobile phone industry ready for the pure web?

Mark Surman @ Campus Party BR 2013

The biggest mobile phone trade faire kicks off in the ever so lovely Barcelona, and the analysis seems to suggest this year it will be about all the mobile platforms tearing down Android and iOS.

My favourites have to be Mobile Ubuntu which I have written about in the past and Firefox OS, which Gigaom has written about.

Love the concept of Firefox OS but interestingly there seems to be a lot of support for Firefox OS from the mobile phone industry. Last time I saw this level of support it was for Android.

From an open standards perspective, the Firefox OS is as pure as it gets right now. The whole thing is based on HTML5 – it’s all about escaping Google and Apple’s walled gardens and frolicking freely in the wilds of the open web. Half the code was written by volunteers.

There will be an official Firefox Marketplace but everyone is free to roll their own, from carriers to games specialists. Any payment method can be implemented – that factor is not in the hands of any one platform sponsor. Apps that run on the platform will also be able to run on rivals that implement HTML5, such as Google’s and Apple’s.

Although I do still ask the question of the mobile phone industry, are you ready to give people the pure web?

So back we come to this idea of the open mobile web. This is an area where luminaries such as Tim Berners-Lee have been on the warpath, pointing out very real problems with the iOS/Android model. These include the inability to share app-based content in a standardized way, and the inability to search across apps. In short: the loss of the level playing field that web technologies represent.

Firefox OS is designed to solve those problems. Weirdly, we can now witness the former walled garden proprietors genuinely extol the virtues of openness. By promoting Firefox OS, they cannot regain control – however, they hope to prise some control from the hands of Google and Apple.

Well I guess we shall see how far Firefox OS gets. Like Ubuntu, my contract is up this year so I could be tempted to switch to one of these phones. Although I’ll be honest and say Google’s extra features are pretty compelling, specially Google Now.

Ubuntu as a mobile operating system

Ubuntu Mobile

The rumors were true… Ubuntu released a mobile operating system not just a way to hook up your Android phone to Ubuntu. I always thought the Unity interface could work on mobile as well as TV.

A full video can be found here. and OMG!Ubuntu have a nice look at the features including a hangout with lots more answers…

Love the fact its trying to take off where webOS may have failed with the Ubuntu Webapp.

If this happens do this to my laptop…

I have already talked about IFTTT to death and how I liken it to some ideas and work I had around pipelining.

All the new movement in this area has been in the online space but I found this little app for Linux which operates in a similar fashion to the very old conduit (Conduit) but its focused around system events rather than webservices.

Cuttlefish is a tool which can execute various actions when specific events are triggered. For example, you can change the proxy mode depending on the currently connected wireless network, unlock your computer when a specific Bluetooth or USB device is connected or disconnected and so on.

I can easily see how webservices can be written into the application, although there is no roadmap yet.