Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

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Today is the official release of the latest version of Ubuntu, the most popular Linux-based operating system. Someone mentioned that there had been a new release of the Windows OS recently and if you’re thinking of going with that one, we feel you should a least give Ubuntu a try. Now in its 11th official release and codenamed Karmic Koala, this version of Ubuntu continues the traditional six month development cycle by succeeding Jaunty Jackalope which was released in April of this year.

We’ve been running the beta release of Ubuntu Netbook Remix for several weeks now. It cut boot time down to between 5-10 seconds and WiFi is already connected by the time the Desktop loads. Speed isn’t the only new feature, graphics have been redesigned, there is a new app store that serves as a front end for the extensive free software repositories, and the newest kernel and software versions are included.

We’ve been using this open source operating system since its third release, Breezy Badger. We love it for the quality, convenience, and the fact that we can get our fingers into the code and hack around a bit.

Linux iPhone sync draws near

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[Emuboy] lets us know about some software advances that will make iPhone and iPod Touch syncing possible under Linux. Apple made big changes to how the iPhone syncs compared to legacy iPods. Locking out all communications other than through iTunes was surely part of their motivation. This has left Linux users out in the cold with shoddy sync capabilities which should be coming to an end. If successful, syncing will be be possible with phones that have not been jailbroken.

One of the biggest hurdles in reverse-engineering the new protocol is the non-standard way in which the devices communicate over USB. The usbmuxd developers have been working to implement communications and now have a Release Candidate for the 1.0.0 version. Along with testing of this package, libgpod is now being updated to play nicely with the new database format and hash of the iPhone.

This isn’t quite at the plug-and-play level of convenience yet but if you’re comfortable working with Linux packages you should be able to get this working and help report any bugs you might find. But if you’re tired of open source playing cat and mouse with Apple you can always switch over to a device based on Android.

Read about trash-hackers… for free

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[Cory Doctorow] has published a novel about the near future and a couple of hackers who can make anything from the stuff lying around. We like a good sci-fi novel, and have no shortage of recommendations (go read Snow Crash) for those who need them. We’re adding ‘Makers’ to our must read list.

Not only is this book about you, but its release most likely agrees with your life philosophy. You can download this book, right now, for free, legally. This is because it has been release under the creative commons license. Best of all, if you like the book and want to make a donation, you are directed to purchase a book on behalf of a school or other program that has requested a copy but doesn’t have the funds to acquire it themselves.

So, buy the book if you want a physical copy, download it if you prefer that method, but either way we think this is better than stealing the printed word.

Halloween props: Techy Jack-o-lanterns

Halloween is this weekend. If you still have some time and parts available, you might be looking to spice up your Jack-o-lantern.  We’ve found a few projects that we thought might be nice to share. None of them would merit a post on their own, so we thought we would just round them up and share them all at once. They all appear to be powered by the Arduino, which we know will bring some comments. Just to clear up some questions, they don’t pay us to advertise Arduinos. People just do a lot of projects with them.

First, the silly string shooting Jack-o-lantern which you can see above. He’s using a single servo hooked to an Arduino and a motion sensor.  When it detects motion, it lets out a short squirt of silly string. You can download the code from the project page. We might suggest you arrange this in a manner to avoid spraying directly into some kids eyes.

Check out the next two after the break.

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Keepon, eat your heart out

[Ruyck] sent us this video of his mini Keepon robot. For those who haven’t been initiated, Keepon is a very emotive, and extremely expensive, dancing robot. He is deceptively simple looking, but as you can see in [Ruyck]‘s version, it is fairly complex. [Ruyck] has used a mini RC collective pitch helicopter assembly for the motion, which makes controlling it fairly intuitive. At first, we were not too impressed with [Ruyck]‘s final implementation, which you can see along with a comparison video of Keepon after the break. Then we realized, all he as to do is find a way to attach the bottom of the foam body to the base to achieve much more of the squash and stretch motion of keepon. A little creative programming and this little fellow could be made autonomous and synchronized to music.
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libTISCH 1.0 released

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[Florian] is proud to announce libTISCH 1.0 is finally ready for release. We told you about libTISCH just under a year ago and how it is a multitouch framework that factors more on the software side of things, instead of hardware for multitouch interfaces. A lot has changed including more widgets, more gestures, more hardware support, and some other nice features. If you’re looking into making your own multitouch surface, or making your own widgets for a multitouch surface – libTISCH would be a great place to start.

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