Displaying Weather on the Desktop with ConkyForecast

For a lightweight system monitor, Conky can display an awful lot of useful information. But besides the usual stuff like RAM usage, processor load, and wireless signal strength, you can use Conky to display something more interesting like the current weather conditions and a four-day forecast complete with snazzy weather icons. Usually, though, this would require a lot of manual tweaking, but the ConkyForecast package makes the process of turning Conky into a desktop weather station rather straightforward on any Ubuntu-based system.

First off, you have to install the Conky Forecast. To do this, open the sources.list file for editing using the gksudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list command. Add then the following line at the end of the file:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/m-buck/ubuntu intrepid main

Open the terminal and run the command below to install ConkyForecast:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install conkyforecast

Next, you have to obtain a Partner ID and a License Key from the The Weather Channel which is required for accessing weather data. Once you have done that, use the command below to copy the .conkyForecast.config file to your home directory:

cp /usr/share/conkyforecast/conkyForecast.config ~/.conkyForecast.config

Open then the copied file for editing using the nano ~/.conkyForecast.config command and enter the obtained Partner ID and License Key as follows:

XOAP_PARTNER_ID = Your Partner ID

XOAP_LICENCE_KEY =  Your License Key

Next step is to find out the Location ID of the city you want. To do this, use the http://xoap.weather.com/search/search?where= url followed by the name of the city, for example:


http://xoap.weather.com/search/search?where=BERLIN

Copy the Location ID (in this case, it’s GMXX0007), and open a sample Conky configuration file for editing:

sudo nano /usr/share/conkyforecast/example/conkyrc

Replace the default Location ID with your own, save the file, and launch Conky by pointing it to the sample configuration file:

conky -c /usr/share/conkyforecast/example/conkyrc &

You should see a Conky window with a nice-looking weather forecast. If you don’t already have a .conkyrc file in your home directory, copy the sample file using the command below and edit the copied file to your liking:

cp /usr/share/conkyforecast/example/conkyrc ~/.conkyrc

You can then start Conky using the conky & command.

Manage Your Personal Data with Pygmynote

If you are looking for a simple tool for keeping tabs on your personal data, consider Pygmynote. This lightweight personal data manager is designed specifically for machines with limited system resources, so it runs lightning fast on netbooks and Linutops.

Pygmynote uses the embedded SQLite database engine to store the data in a local database. To make Pygmynote work on your machine, you have to install Python and the python-pysqlite2 package. Once you’ve done that, you can launch Pygmynote using the python pygmynote.py command.

To manage your data, Pygmynote uses a few easy-to-remember commands. For example, the i command allows you to insert a new record. To list all records in the database, you can use the a command, while the td command shows all records containing the current date in the tags field. The latter allows you to quickly view a list of tasks and events scheduled for today. You can also use Pygmynote to store links which you can open in the default browser using the url command.

Pygmynote can also manage email reminders thanks to the eml command which fetches emails containing a specific keyword (e.g., “Pygmynote” or “Reminder”). You can specify the desired keyword and email account settings in the IMAP connection settings section of the pygmynote.py script.

Five Quick Tips for OpenOffice.org Writer Users

New to OpenOffice.org Writer? Want to get the most out of it? Here are five simple tips to get you started.

Learn to use keyboard shortcuts Although you can access all Writer’s features via the toolbar and menus, using keyboard shortcuts can speed up your work. Writer offers a huge number of shortcuts, but you don’t have to learn them all. Note which features you use most, then find their keyboard shortcuts. The OpenOffice.org Writer Cheat Sheet created by yours truly http://nothickmanuals.info/doku.php/cheatsheets can help you with that.

Install extensions Similar to Firefox, OpenOffice.org’s default functionality can be extended using extensions. Head over to the official extension repository, and grab the extensions you find useful. Don’t know which extensions to pick? The Five Useful Extensions for OpenOffice.org blog post can give you a few pointers.

Learn to use styles Styles is one of Writer’s most powerful features. Getting to grips with styles does require time and effort, but once you’ve mastered this feature, you can manage even the most complex document with consummate ease. The Using styles in OpenOffice.org article and the Introduction to Styles chapter from the OpenOffice.org User guide can help you to get started with this feature.

Learn to use notes, versions, changes These three features are essential for efficient writing and collaboration, so it’s worth to spend some time on learning how to use these features. Check the online help for a brief introduction to these features.

Backup OpenOffice.org profile OpenOffice.org stores all user settings in a profile folder inside your home directory (e.g., /home/user/.openoffice.org). Back up it regularly, so next time you need to reinstall OpenOffice.org or install it on another machine, you don’t have to configure it from scratch.

Bonus tip The OpenOffice.org 3 Writer Guide is a must-read book if you want to get the most out of Writer. If reading the HTML or PDF version of the book is not your cup of tea, you can buy a printed version from Lulu.

Turn Your Linutop into a Nifty VNC Client

While Linutop is not designed to run heavyweight applications, you can relegate the most demanding computer tasks to a more powerful desktop machine or server and use Linutop to run applications remotely. This solution (often called the server/thin client model) allows you not only to use demanding applications on your Linutop, but also lets you access files and documents stored on a remote machine. This means, for example, that you can easily access documents and applications on your computer at the office using Linutop at home.

To do all that, you have to install and configure a VNC server on your desktop computer, and set up a VNC client on your Linutop. VNC is a protocol that allows you to control a remote computer as if you were sitting in front of it. And if you run a VNC session in full screen on your Linutop, it’s almost impossible to tell that you are controlling a remote machine. VNC is not the fastest system of its kind, but it is very easy to configure and straightforward in use. And if you run it on your home network, it is fast enough for most tasks.

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Get Organized with Wiki in a Jar

While TiddlyWiki is probably the most popular desktop wiki out there, it’s not the only fish in the sea. And if you don’t fancy TiddlyWiki’s approach to managing content, or you are looking for a desktop wiki that can help you to manage not only your notes but also appointments and contacts, then you might want to try Wiki in a Jar.

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Managing Invoices with miniInvoices

miniInvoices is a part of the Writer’s Tools package for OpenOffice.org tailored to professional writers created by yours truly. So if you write for a living, you can use miniInvoices to generate and manage invoices without leaving the convenience of your favorite productivity suite. Although miniInvoices is not the most advanced invoicing application out there, it includes a few nifty features such as the ability to manage multiple currencies and generate reports. And since miniInvoices is not overloaded with all kinds of advanced features, it’s rather straightforward in use. Better yet, since miniInvoices is a database application developed with OpenOffice.org Base, you can easily tweak it to fit your particular needs.

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Tweet from the Command Line with Twidge

Graphical Twitter clients are a dime a dozen these days, but what if you want to use the ubiquitous micro-blogging service from the terminal? On machines like Linutop or netbooks, running a graphical Twitter client is a waste of precious resources, so a command-line tool like Twidge can come in rather handy. Using it, you can quickly post tweets and view the latest posts from people you follow without leaving the convenience of the terminal. Moreover, Twidge supports Identi.ca — an open source micro-blogging service.

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Find Photos on Flickr for Use in OpenOffice.org Documents

Flickr offers a vast collection of photos you can use with your OpenOffice.org documents, but trawling hundreds, if not thousands of photos in order to find the right one can be a rather tedious and time-consuming affair. Fortunately, the CCOOo extension can help you to find a photo you like on Flickr without leaving the convenience of your favorite productivity suite. More importantly, the extension finds only photos released under Creative Commons licenses, so you don’t have to worry about potential copyright issues.

CCOOo.png

Once installed, the extension adds the Insert -> Picture -> From Flickr command which you can use to evoke the Insert Picture From Flickr dialog window. Enter the search terms you want in the Tags field. If necessary, tick the appropriate check boxes to specify additional usage requirements. Hit then the Search button to perform the search. This returns a list of photos matching the specified criteria, complete with thumbnails and hyperlinked titles and descriptions. You can use the Previous and Next buttons to browse through the list. When you’ve found the photo you like, right-click on its thumbnail to insert it in the current document and choose the desired size. That’s all there is to it.

Happy New Year 2009!

Paris, January 1st, 2009

2009

Happy New Year

Feliz Año Nuevo

Ein Gutes Neues Jahr

Bonne Année

Onnellista Uutta Vuotta

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar

Gott nytt år

Felice anno nuovo

Godt nytår