Category Archives: Tools

System Tools

Tools: Teach Your Computer To Talk With ESpeak

Today’s tool is a speech synthesizer that works from your terminal. The software is called espeak, and what it does, is give you to ability to have your machine read out any plain text file, or text string that you enter in the terminal.

Head over to your Package Manager and do a search for, and then install espeak. Any additional package dependencies will be selected and installed as well.

Package Manager installing espeak

Package Manager installing espeak

Once installed, open a Terminal window and as with almost all Linux software, type it with the –help command to get a complete list of options. It this case: espeak –help

espeak running in Terminal

espeak running in Terminal

Using the built-in help, it’s easy to play with the speech settings to come up with a voice that you find easy to understand.

One of the things I use espeak for, is in conjunction with my Linux Alarm Clock to actually speak out alarms. “Wake Up!” or “Time for your appointment” etcetera are nice to hear, rather than a plain old alarm sound!

 

The sky is the limit with this tool, so experiment, play, and maybe you’ll come up with some unique applications for it!

Tools: Network Tools

Did you know, when you want to look up the owner of a web site, you don’t need to head right to the web to do it! There is a tool included in your Linux Mint and most other distributions that gives you several useful tools in a single place.

Head to your Menu, and in System Tools, you will find the program called Network Tools

I use it a lot, to see who owns a web site. It’s simple to use, just enter the web site name, and push enter!

Network Tools

Network Tools

You can of course, also get information about your own connections, be they wired or wireless:

Network Tools

Network Tools

Routing tables, trace routes,  and the ability to finger another site are also possible.

My favorite tool though, is the port scanner. Port scanning, allows you to see what ports are open on any machine on your network, or on the Internet.

Where I really use it though, is when I find a hacker scanning incoming ports on my incoming firewall, trying to find open computers to hack. By port scanning them back, they usually stop their attack pretty fast when they realize I can play that game too!

 

Tools: Create Quick Passwords With Apg

There is a tool, already installed in your Linux Mint software that can help you create secure passwords fast. It’s called: apg

When you need a quick and secure password, say for a new web site you’re joining, apg is your go-too tool. Simply open a Terminal, and type apg

You will be greeted with a request to input up to 16 random characters on your keyboard. The program then takes that string and uses it to create a list of passwords that you can then use, as shown below:

Terminal window showing apg

Terminal window showing apg

Choose one the passwords, and then use it for the web site that you’re signing up for. (You can use your mouse to highlight the password, and copy it, to paste into the site’s password field) Your Firefox password manager can be used to remember it for you!

 

Tools: Know The Time Everywhere

Today’s software pick is a simple utility that I use a lot, both as an amateur radio operator, as well as a web site owner. That utility is called: Slashtime

Like most utilities, it’s found in your Package Manager so do your search for slashtime, then install it.

Package Manager, installing Slashtime

Package Manager, installing Slashtime

Once installed, the program will use your computer’s current time settings, to then show you a list of times around the world. This is especially useful if you do business with, or are chatting with people in far off lands. The program will show you the time difference between your current location and the city you wish information about.

Slashtime

Slashtime

Daylight, twilight and darkness in a particular location is easy to see at a glance. The software also has a built in task manager, so you can Right Click on a city name, and create an appointment for that location if you so desire.

Slashtime

Task Scheduler

Slashtime, a simple desktop utility to help you make sure you’re not trying to call someone in the middle of their night!

 

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.