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.

Look up Words in Firefox with Dictionary Search

A tool that lets you look up any word on a Web page in Web dictionaries and references can come in handy for most Firefox users. There are several Firefox extensions out there which allow you to do just that, but Dictionary Search scores high when it comes to the perfect balance of simplicity and flexibility. Once installed, this extension adds the Search Dictionary command to the context menu. Using Dictionary Search couldn’t be easier: select the word you want to look up, then right-click on it and choose the Search Dictionary command.

DictionarySearch.png

By default, the extension uses the Dictionary.com dictionaries to look up words, but you can specify up to three custom references. To do this, choose Tools -> Add-ons and press the Preferences button next to the Dictionary search extension. Let’s say you want to add Wikipedia. First, you have to specify the name of the command in the Text field, for example: Look up “$” in Wikipedia. The $ character acts as a placeholder which is replaced with the word you select in the Web page; for example, if you select the word “monkey”, the command in the context menu will be Look up “monkey” in Wikipedia. Next, you have to specify the query URL in the URL field. The easiest way to figure out the exact query URL for the particular Web reference is to perform a search and note the resulting URL. For example, if you search for “monkey” in Wikipedia, you’ll notice that the query URL is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey. Replace “Monkey” with the $ placeholder and enter the resulting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/$ query URL in the URL field. Press thes OK button to save the settings and close the window. Now select a word in a Web page, right-click on the selected text, and you should see the new Look up in Wikipedia command. That’s all there is to it.

Appnr: Easy Web Installer for Ubuntu and Its Derivatives

Although Ubuntu and its derivatives sport powerful command-line and graphical tools for installing software, they can be slightly confusing for Linux newcomers. Enter Appnr, a sleek and user-friendly Web-based service that allows you to easily find the applications you need and install them with a single mouse click.

Appnr

All applications and utilities listed on Appnr are organized in sections, and you can sort the list of the available software by name or by popularity. Obviously, you can also search for a specific package using the search field. While Appnr provides an easy way to find and install software, you need to tweak your Ubuntu system to make it work. First of all, install the apturl package. To do this, run the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install apturl

Then you have to add the AptURL protocol in your browser. If you are using Firefox, enter about:config in the Location bar. Right-click somewhere on the page and select New –> String.
Enter network.protocol-handler.app.apt as the name of the string, press OK and enter /usr/bin/apturl as the string’s value. In a similar manner, create another string and use network.protocol-handler.app.apt+http and /usr/bin/apturl as the string’s name and value respectively. If you are using another browser, check Appnr’s help page for configuration instructions. That’s all there is to it. You can now browse and install software without leaving the convenience of your browser.

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