Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Linux Motif Development Toolkit Update

Some of my coworkers have been busy testing new features and updating artwork for our development tool for custom applications. To this day, nothing else allows you to rapidly build business applications and everyone is pretty happy with it. Motif added anti-aliased fonts recently, and with some Tango artwork the programs really look much nicer. GNOME themes automatically set old X resources, so the applications are now coming up in the same colors that users have selected. Not a lot of time invested, and huge gains already in appearance.

The toolkit we use is called Panther, and is from a company called Prolifics.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pierre-Eric Rocks

A while back I put out a blog entry about some bounty work with OpenOffice. I was contacted my new favorite hacker, and his name is Pierre-Eric. We built a machine with which to quickly compile OpenOffice, and he immediately started creating patches. We have been impressed with his professionalism, and his energetic approach to open source software. His first two patches were accepted by Sun and look to be merged into OOo 3.2.

The first patch creates a 2x2 picture layout for Impress:

The second creates a 3x2 picture layout for Impress.

He is currently working on a patch to add a "Sentence Case" option to Writer. We have a few more projects waiting in the wings, and are looking forward to continued bounty work.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Shuttles have been going up almost 30 years, and it's still amazing to me. It's even better now that I live in Florida and can see it in person!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Help With XWD

Since we went live on the new desktop we have had a nagging issue with screendumps. From time to time the "import" command once activated would log you off the server and return you to the XDM chooser. I have never been able to replicate it reliably for debugging until today. I had always suspect it was a crash of gnome-session or the parent dbus process. Turns out it's a crash of X on the thin clients, which makes it a lot harder to patch and fix. We are not ready at this point to push out a new build to our 550 devices.

So I have been looking at our good old friend, xwd. It would perfectly meet my needs, and doesn't crash in the same place as import. The problem is there seems to be an endian issue when using Compiz. The shot below shows what is dumped when Compiz is active. Ideas and technical information is appreciated. I don't mind using convert on a second pass to revert the original colors, but am not sure what exactly is wrong with the image.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

ICS Based Document History Goes Live

A few months ago, I built a little prototype script that generated .ics files from .recently-used files generated by OpenOffice. Very frequently users know when they edited a document, but can't remember what they named it. The feedback was positive, so I made the script a bit more robust and submitted it to the cron for all of our employees. Some users were creating .recently-used.xbel files because they are making use of the GTK file picker, and the script was updated to take that into account as well. If you have a server and multiple users, the code is here . It's a bit hard coded for our environment, but should be a good start.

In the shot below, users are able to see the date and time that they touched files in OpenOffice; from within Evolution.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Best Things Are Free

I am always one to try new things, and certainly enjoy saving money. I have a NetFlix account that I use to rent Blu-Ray movies, and for a few months they have been promoting their streaming movies. A few weeks ago I looked at it, and it turned out that this feature was available in my current plan. I have a 768K DSL modem at home, and didn't expect it to work well. I was pleasantly surprised that it actually wasn't too bad on my Mac laptop. I had been paying 25 dollars a month for HBO/Cinemax; which I found I used mostly to watch older movies. I'm not one to watch movies on a computer, so I checked into the Roku Netflix box. It's a 100 dollar onetime charge and then movie playback is included in your Netflix account. So I turned off HBO/Cinemax and should now have a 4 month payback.

The box arrived and was amazingly easy to install. You plug in the power, and connect it to your TV and are basically done. A screen came up and found my SSID, asked for the password and downloaded the latest firmware. The Roku rebooted and the menu came up in HD/720p over HDMI. You add movies to your Instant Queue from a computer, and within 1-2 seconds they appear on your TV. With 768K the movies certainly are not Blu-Ray or even DVD quality, but they aren't much worse than the digital signals I was getting from the cable company.

All in all for me, it's working very well and just wanted to pass along the information.