Monthly Archives: February 2015

Tools: Caja Image Resize Utility

I love add-on utilities that make a Linux program work even better for me. Today’s add-on is a called the Caja Image Converter

Caja, is the default file browser for Linux Mint. It’s basically a renamed version of the Nautilus file browser that is part of Ubuntu Linux.

Package Manager showing the Caja-Image-Converter

Package Manager showing the Caja-Image-Converter

What this package does is add a context menu to your Caja software, so that when you right click on an image file, you can elect to resize it. I use it a lot when I want to batch resize a bunch of images before I upload them to one of my web pages.

New Context Menu

New Context Menu

 

After you select  Resize Images…  you will then be presented with a menu to select the size you wish to make your image(s). You can select a pre-set size, or select your own.

Caja Image Converter size selection

Caja Image Converter size selection

Further, you can append the image name, or you can resize in place, over-writing the original.

And while you are poking around the Package Manager, you might also be interested in the Caja Sendto, that will let you quickly email or send via Pidgin, any desired file.

Caja Share will allow you to quickly share a folder or file.

 

 

Software: Record Audio From Any Source

There’s a handy Linux tool  you may wish to try, if you’d like to record audio on your computer. It’s Called simply, Audio Recorder

Package Manager showing Audio-Recorder

Package Manager showing Audio-Recorder

Yes, there are all kinds of other ways to record audio into your Linux computer. Personally, I use Audacity for the majority of my recording needs, but what if you’re listening to a live broadcast on-line? That’s where Audio-Recorder comes in handy.

Audio-Recorder will not only record an external source, like your old cassette deck or the radio, but it will actually record anything that is coming through your speakers!

Audio-Recorder

Audio-Recorder

After you launch Audio-Recorder, you will see a nice big Start Recording button in the upper left side of the window.

Anything that is currently playing in your speakers, will be automatically recorded. You can input your own file name, or else the software will use the current date and time that the recording started.

You can record on the .ogg, .mp3, .wav, .flac, or .spx audio formats by choosing the format in the menu before you start recording.

Where Audio Recorder becomes really handy, is when you use the built-in timer to automatically start recording. You can specify a start time, end time, and even a pause and restart time.

Under the Additional Settings button, you can specify your desired record location and default audio source.

Additional Settings

Additional Settings

So add Audio Recorder to your utilities, it may come in handy the next time you want to record live internet radio!

 

 

Hardware: Design Your Next Project With Fritzing

As an electrical engineer, I have used many freeware, shareware, and very expensive paid software packages for circuit design.

The best I have ever found, for any price, is Fritzing

You’ll find it in your Package Manager, just do a search for it, and then do the install. It will install the main program, plus the data files.

Package Manager installing Fritzing

Package Manager installing Fritzing

The beauty of this software, is that it’s not just software, there is also an entire community on their web site *(above link) where you can learn not only how to use the software, but also how to get started designing electronics projects yourself.

Using the software, you can drag and drop components directly on to a breadboard, hook them up with wires, and then click over to the schematic tab or the circuit board tab so you can even etch your own circuit board for your project.

Fritzing breadboard, with some random parts stuck to it.

Fritzing breadboard, with some random parts stuck to it.

What I really like is that not only do they include basic components like resistors, capacitors, inductors etc., it also includes entire modules for systems like the Raspberry Pi,  Arduino, and many of the great kit boards from Sparkfun

You can spend hours and hours on their web site, and if you’re new to electronics, I’d recommend you start Right Here

Fritzing Web Site

Fritzing Web Site

So turn on the Maker inside of you, and start learning, designing, and playing with your new creations!

 

 

Buying New Computer? Another Reason To Install Linux Instead!

An interesting story broke this week about Lenovo and some of their currently selling laptop computers. In a nut shell, those computers are being sold with a feature, that serves up advertising to your web browser.

The problem is that the software, called Superfish, might make man in the middle attacks possible against your computer!

Why a computer manufacturer would risk their reputation by allowing this kind of software to be installed, I’ll never understand.

I’ll let you read the full article from our friends over at ARS Technica

With manufacturers inclined to put programs like this on our new machines, why would you want to keep it? I am constantly getting requests from friends who purchase a new computer, and want to get rid of all the garbage programs removed from it. We call these unwanted programs, Crapwear.

Save yourself the pain, and once your new machine comes in, I can’t recommend enough that you wipe the hard drive and reinstall a fresh copy of your operating system. If your machine didn’t come with disks, it is possible under some circumstances to download the Windows 7 or 8 operating systems directly from Microsoft and do a fresh install,

Or even better, Download and install Linux! We of course recommend Linux Mint.

Software: Desktop Radar Viewer

If you’re a weather nut like me, there is a nice desktop application for your Linux machine you may like. It’s called AWeather.  *Note that it’s written for the USA.

You can find AWeather in your Package Manager, and it’s a very quick install.

Package Manager, showing Aweather

Package Manager, showing Aweather

Once installed, you will find it residing in your Education  section of your Menu.

Aweather

Aweather

Once you open AWeather, open the preferences and select the nearest weather radar site to your location. This will be your default weather station, opening when you launch the program.

Using the top menu, it’s easy to select other radar sources as well.

AWeather has very good, built-in help if you need it.