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.

Unity comes into focus

ubuntu login screen with alternative environment

On Friday I tried using Ubuntu’s Unity interface, which some people rightly pointed out I really didn’t like.

When I first saw Unity and tried to use it, I didn’t like it but over the last few months I’ve seen more of what Unity has to offer. The HUD, Lens/Scopes, Ubuntu on Android and now Web App Integration.

I’m not totally switched over yet, however…

One of the first things I did was hide the dash and menu because I don’t like it eating up my desktop space. I still hate the fact the menu for each application is at the very top right but I’ve started using one application full screen every workspace. It kind of works but still drives me nuts.

I have changed Unity so its workstations are stacked on top of each other just like Gnome Shell, however I miss having a dual screen setup with one which stays static. Having dual screen and workspaces seems a little too much? Sure I would get use to it after a while.

The Dash or overlay is a bit messy compared to Gnome 3’s and I frankly find the way you navigate around a bit poo. But that was before I learned about Super + S and Super + W. I haven’t got the hang of the Hud yet but we’ll see how things go. I also find the gnome extensions very useful which seem to be missing under Unity.

I do still find Unity very noisy, I much prefer the Gnome Shell look, so if there was a skin which looked like Gnome Shell and acted like it, I’d deploy it in a heartbeat.

No matter what, I find the Ubuntu Unity Web API really interesting and I’ll be looking forward to seeing if Gnome Shell adopts some of Unity’s features or Unity chills out in the future.

Amahi and Ubuntu at long last…

Amahi and Ubuntu

Some of you may know the struggle I’ve had over years to find a home media server solution. I’ve tried many things but in the end I just run Ubuntu LTS because I know it well.

Over time, I tried Amahi but being Fedora or was it Redhat based meant screwing about with the format of my hard drives and to be honest I didn’t like the way Amahi wanted to be the centre of everything (or maybe that was ebox?)

Anyway I might have to give it a shot again and see whats changed now its using Ubuntu as a base.

RescueTime for Linux (beta)

I got Rescuetime installed and working on Ubuntu! Thanks to Joe’s comment on my blog post about Rescuetime meet Arya

After years of broken promises, missed deadlines, and disappointed RescueTime Linux users, we are finally preparing to launch the officially supported Linux version of RescueTime.

Up to now, the only option for Linux users was the open sourced version of the RescueTime Linux Uploader hosted here: https://launchpad.net/rescuetime-linux-uploader. While this have worked out for many users, we have always wanted to have a version of RescueTime for Linux that mirrored the functionality of our Windows and OS X versions.

If you want to take part in helping us test out RescueTime for Linux, read on!

I take it all back Rescuetime! And thanks a lot Joe for alerting me to the beta, thought you guys gave up on Linux

Even worked for the latest Ubuntu with Gnome shell…You can also download a Deb file for i86 or x64, making it so much simpler than the bzr file previously. Finally make sure you file any bugs and give feedback as it is a beta…

Rescue time meet Arya

Arya

Rescuetime are meant to be working on a Linux version of their plugin but while we wait others are eating into their area.

We’ve already seen how Zeitgiest and Project Hamster could work together really nice. But this time theres another contender with some interesting ambitions…

Arya…

Arya is a simple Gnome 3 Shell extension that adds up how much time you spend using each of your applications. It’s not very fully featured yet, but in the future it will hopefully be a useful extension.

Things to come

  • Pretty graphs to show app usage over time
  • Activity level monitoring to suggest when you should take a break

Sounds like something else I’ve heard before… right? Rescuetime…?

If I was rescuetime I would get my hooks into Ayra now and either support Rescuetime inside of Ayra or use the source code to create your own plugin…

I know its only Gnome3 but maybe like Unity App-indicators it can work across different linux shells?

Notification and email management

Fedora 16 & Gnome3

Been thinking about replacing my work mobile phone for a while. Its a XDA Windows Mobile 6.1 phone and to be honest the battery life and general use it shocking. Unfortunately the BBC don’t support Android for work mobiles but they do support iPhones and Blackberry. Interestingly they also don’t support Windows Phone 7 either which is strange because they did support Mobile 6.1/6.5.

I almost went with the iPhone option as it has the advantage of remote BBC email and a familiar modern operating system.

However I’ve been thinking about my email management…

There was a period while I was running BBC backstage when I was getting roughly 150+ emails a day not including any mailing lists emails. I was dealing with it, only just… I felt crap because I was missing stuff and not really catching up with people I promised email back. Not only that, I knew I was much less productive because I was always firefighting emails coming into my inbox. This was confirmed by using Rescuetime for about a year or two. Once I get it working with Ubuntu, I’ll be quantifying my work more often. Rescuetime say they are working on a Linux version which is easier that.

I recently also adopted the 4 sentenc.es thing after seeing Oli Woods email signature one day…

The Problem
E-mail takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it.
The Solution
Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead.
four.sentenc.es is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be four sentences or less. It’s that simple.

Everytime I send out a email to someone new in the BBC, they reply and also said they like the idea of 4 sentenc.es but can’t imagine adopting it. I use to think the same, but with a little thought, I manage to condense at least 90% of my emails exchanges down to the 4 sentences. The footer message helps to explain to the recipients that you will be very brief. Not only that, it helps to separate out email responses too.

Seems theres nothing worst than getting a chain of emails with multiple ideas and thought in them. Although I can be as much to blame for this as most others.

What I’ve recently been doing is only checking my email once every few hours. This is partly because I have to switch networks to get my work email. Yes I could mess with proxy settings and setup routes but actually I quite like disconnecting from the corporate network to catchup with Twitter, Gmail, etc. Don’t get me wrong its not just personal type stuff, its google docs, evernote, dropbox syncing, etc. All part of working life… But if they are, what isn’t?

Recently my manager gave up his blackberry, I’m sure his life will be better without it. I don’t blame him really.

The notifications can be worst than the email itself, I’d contest..

I’ve been showing people Gnome Shell or Gnome3 recently specially since I got my new replacement Lenovo X220 Thinkpad (which I’m now starting to love, now the hardware works correctly). I’m finding the management of notifications really useful and the idea of hiding that stuff away really good for getting stuff/things done. Once it really gets going, its going to be awesome for notification management.

In the meanwhile, I decided not to upgrade my phone and I’ve put the Sim into my thinkpad to use for work when I can’t get use Wifi or a network connection. Now if I could just find a Linux application which allows me to manage texts and phone calls… then I’d be very happy.