Category Archives: free software

Pandora for “dummies”…. when you are outside the USA… – Firefox, Chrome and Opera add-on –

The last time I wrote a post about connecting to Pandora  when you are outside the USA was just (sic) three years ago. Meanwhile a lot of things changed and Anonymox, the Firefox add-on and proxy service I suggested in 2012, it is not free now.

It happens but when my nephew asked me something similar and really intuitive to connect to Pandora I was in trouble… more in trouble than I could imagine…. In fact when I started to search something alternative, I found a lot of very good proxy add-ons for Firefox. It was a pleasure to discover some of them because they are technically well done and offer a lot of flexible features for privacy purpose. But this is not the topic of my post… for today.

After many unlucky trials, where I tested different add-ons that were not able to guarantee a minimal rate of usable connection,  I found ProxMate .

ProxMate is an open-source, SSL proxy manager for real dummies. As Firefox add-on you can install it on your browser in just few clicks and then you practically don’t need to configure anything. The only requested thing after installation is to decide the websites and services you want to connect through ProxMate. The internet connection has a good speed rate and the music flows as silk through your Pandora account.

You can install ProxMate searching it through the add-on panel you find in Firefox or you can decide to directly open the link from the  ProxMate website. After the installation ( no restart required) you have to find the “shark fin” icon into your Firefox bar. If you don’t find it immediately, you have to manage your icons and manually personalize the bar.

Then, click on ProxMate “my button” icon and select: “Install New Packages”. You are redirect to the ProxMate website where you can select Pandora or others interesting websites (e.g. Netflix, iHeart Radio, etc..) with specific IP restriction policies. 

Now, you select your desired website/service and follow the instructions (click selection) that will appear on the screen to complete the installation.

Last but not least, don’t forget to click again on the ProxMate icon and enable the proxy service.

As usual, I recommend to NOT forget to disable  ProxMate (as every other proxy server) when you don’t need to use it.

Oops, I forgot to say that ProxMate is free of charge……. Enjoy it!!

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References:

https://addons.mozilla.org/it/firefox/addon/proxmate/?src=search

https://proxmate.me/

Blogilo: the Linux blog client to create new posts on your local computer

Yes, I know! Talking about Blogilo is not an hot news but the “recent” version 1.1 (according to the Help Menu in Blogilo software) has added some new features and something has changed. Some years ago, when I tested Blogilo, I thought that this software was a good “concept” but it lacked of too many features as compared with e.g. online WordPress.com platform. With version 1.1 these lacks have been reduced and now Blogilo becomes interesting if you are looking for a software that could be used daily for offline posting.
Blogilo now has less bugs than in the past and it is possible to write posts with just few seldom crashes. The user interface is intuitive and after the installation you spend just few minutes for adding and setting your blog. The positive thing is that Blogilo works with all the main blog platforms and it could be considered as one of the most complete blog client for Linux.
The matter is that blog platforms evolve quickly and Blogilo, as all its competitors, seems to be slower than many of them. In fact, it could happen that some up-to-date features are immediately not supported and you have to manually modify your post and adding them directly through the host website (e.g. WordPress). 
One of the most annoying problems I continue to have with Blogilo is about wrapping text around the image/picture I am used to put at the beginning of every post I write. It is a simple matter to solve but at every post I have to manually change the html code. 
As for my experience you have two different ways to solve this isssue.
The first is to edit the image/picture after you inserted it into the post and add the value “allign” selecting the right options in the Advanced Menu (why the Advanced Menu is not available when you insert a new image/picture?).
The second (faster) is to go to the Html Editor tag into Blogilo and add this code at the end of the image <img> tag:
align="left"
For example writing this post I added:
<img src="http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o158/galigio/blogilo_logo_zps3pmqrnq1.png" align="left" width="160" height="105">
Simple to solve but really annoying when you have so little time to dedicate to your blog….
To sum up it is possible to affirm that Blogilo really contains all the features to write a blog but if you need something more professional you have to spend some hours, after the installation, to learn how to find the right solutions for your specific needs. 
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References:

How to obtain a free digital signing service for your personal documents

Sooner or later you need to digitally sign a document. If you have never done it before it’s only a matter of time, you will need a digital signing service sooner than you can imagine. The problem is represented to be ready without being obliged to spend money for it.

You will find different offers online and many trusty companies will try to convince you that their offer its the best but many of them limit your possibility to freely sign documents when you really need.

During my tests I tried a bunch of them and, for my experience, just few worth any attention.

In particular I was positively impressed by hellosign and Adobe Echo Sign. They are both interesting but hellosign offers something more. I mean you have not to spend a cent for both but Abobe limits the number of documents you can free sign to just 5 documents each month. If you are not used to digitally sign your docs this limitation doesn’t represent a problem but, trust me, when you will begin you soon need more than 5 free signatures a month.

HelloSign also allows you to upload an image file with your handwritten (and, of course, scanned) signature or create a new one choosing between some different fonts. You have no limits for signing documents but you can send only three signature requests a month (enough for my present necessities). Moreover, you can browse into the hellosign Documents folder and find all the  documents you have signed before.

On the other hand, Adobe Echo Sign request more personal information when you sign-up for the service and, as we already underlined, it limits your experience to just 5 activities a month.

Try them and let us know if you have already found a better, free, online service to digitally sign your documents. Good luck!  AddThis

Get power on pdf files and modify them on the fly with pdfmod (PDF Mod) and PDF Editor on Ubuntu

Since its invention, the pdf format has been the most versatile standard to share documents with a fixed layout. Everyday we share, read and create a lot of pdf files but sometimes we would like to modify them to create “new” personalized version more suitable to our needs.

For example, sometimes you need to extrapolate just a page from a pdf files or you want just to create different versions of the same file with few variations for your colleagues. For all these purpose pdfmod is the right solution for you.

Pdfmod has not been developed for some years because the versions we were able to find for Linux were the 2011 ones but, for what we know and tested, it still runs on all main platforms as Linux, Windows and OSX. Pdfmod is  a little bit different from other similar programs because it allows you just to modify the pdf file changing pages order, deleting pages or adding new pages from other pdf files. It also allows you to change some main metadata (title, author, keywords and subjest) of your pdf file in just few clicks and, of course, you can save the modified copy of the original pdf file.

These features could be basic for more sophisticated people but I can assure you that, if you have the need to do this kind of work different times in a week, pdfmod is the software you will use more often. Installation on Ubuntu is very simple, you just have to open a terminal and type:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pdfmod-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pdfmod

and you will find a new PDF Mod launcher into the Accessories menu.

To get complete power on your pdf files we suggest pdfedit (PDF Editor) which allows you to “break” protected pdf files and modify them. To install pdfedit, use Synaptics Package Manager or the Ubuntu Software Center.

Don’t forget, when you use pdfedit you just have to open the “target” pdf file, save it using the Flatten feature you find into the Tool menu and open again the “new” file to modify it without any restriction.

Easy to install and simple to use, in few words the above described programs worth a try!  AddThis

AuctionSieve: the best multiplatform (Linux, MAC OS, Windows) software to manage your ebay searches

AuctionSieveChristmas time! And you want to buy some presents… ebay could represent a good option to save some money but it needs a lot of time because you want to be sure you are bidding at the right price to the best (used or not) item.

The web is full of websites which help you to discover and follow items on ebay but, in the real world, from the moment you find something to the end of a winning auction many days pass and often you have not time to follow and properly bid for your “catches”.

The software I use and recommend for ebay auctions is AuctionSieve. This software is written in Java and consequently it is multiplatform. In the Download Page you can always find the right version for the OS you are using.

On Linux, download AuctionSieve, extract the file and save it to (e.g.) Home. Open the folder you created and give the permission to execute as program to auctionsieve.jar (right button on the mouse –> Properties –> Permission –> Allow executing file as program”). Then open it with (in my case) -OpenJKD Java 6 Runtime-.

AuctionSieve is intuitive but you have to “play” with it for a couple of hours before dominating all its features. You can save your searches, focus on just one category, filter items using “catch” or “trash” words options, create personal watchlists and evaluate the price of a particular item using the “Price History” tab. If you repeat a  specific search you did in the past, you can decide to automatically exclude all the items you have already seen before and you will spare more time examining the results. Moreover, when you begin a “New Sieve”, you can also import the same search criteria you created and selected during a previous search you did.

Let me suggest you to read the AuctionSieve Tour page before using it. In this way you will skip all the most common mistakes that beginners usually make.  AddThis

Video – Instalar LibreOffice en Ubuntu 10.04/10.10 by orthusnet

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How to uninstall OpenOffice and install LibreOffice on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

At the end I decided! I want to uninstall OpenOffice on my Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and substitute it with an always updated LibreOffice. After some researches on the web I decide to develop my own procedure to be sure that LibreOffice will be always updated with the last available edition.

First of all it is necessary to remove OpenOffice:

– go to System –> Administration –> Synaptic Package Manager –> Quick Search and type OpenOffice

– Mark for Complete Removal all the installed OpenOffice software and Apply  your choice, then exit the program

Now, open Terminal and add the PPA repository:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa

Update the system:

sudo apt-get update Last but not least, go back to Synaptic Package Manager –> Quick Search and type LibreOffice

Select the LibreOffice software and all the add-ons you prefer then Apply  your choice.

That’s all! You have the last version of LibreOffice installed on your Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and you are also sure that Synaptic will update the packages when a new version is available! AddThis

Install Conky system monitor for Linux and configure it in few basic steps

Conky is one of the most powerful and versatile system monitors for Linux desktops. It allows you to monitor and display all the information about your hardware, top processes, network, emails and more. At the moment more than 300 different feature has been built for Conky and searching on the web you always find the perfect feature already developed by someone.

– Installation on Ubuntu:

in Terminal run: sudo apt-get install conky

– Configuration:

In Terminal run: sudo nautilus

Go to File System: /etc/conky/conky.conf

Save a copy of the original conky.conf in another location and open the original file with Gedit Text Editor

First of all change: own_window yes to own_window no

Choose your preferred alignment (some samples below…):
alignment top_right
or
alignment middle_right
or
alignment bottom_right

Play with: update_interval 1.0
and change the interval value till you find the right ratio to obtain the best speed for you (in my case it was 0.80).

Add this line to eliminate any flickering:
double_buffer yes
but, on some computers, all the icon on your desktop will be hidden and you need to use (move) the mouse to discover them if you will not add this parameter: own_window_type normal

Add, as last line (or in other position if you prefer):
${color red} ${cpugraph} to have a clear graph about cpu (obviously you can choose the color you prefer)

For automatic start of Conky at startup, please follow the following instructions:
Run Startup Applications in System –> Preferences
Click on Add and save after updating the following instructions
Name: Conky
Command: /usr/bin/conky

Restart Ubuntu to check your new Conky “applet”

Link to Conky: http://conky.sourceforge.net/

For more info about Conky’s variables: http://conky.sourceforge.net/variables.html

Find online some pre-compiled Conky configuration files, searching, for example, on: http://gnome-look.org
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The dawn of Morpheus’ era. Google’s supremacy and your privacy: short considerations about Google+

In the last days, I tested Google+ and it really works! It’s fast, well-organized with a really intuitive graphical interface and, for the “first time”, I was able to start conversations with different groups without worrying to say something inappropriate to the wrong person. The problem is that it wasn’t the very “first time” I had the possibility to share a conversation because, for some months, I was one of the testers of Diaspora, an open-source project, which was financed through kickstarter.com

Diaspora is a start-up project in its alpha release and the most interesting supported features are the https streaming and the possibility to create separate conversations with preselected groups. During the past months Diaspora has not  grown fast but this kind of timeline is not unusual considering the number of developers involved, the financial capital used and all the different problems that a start-up has to solve during the first year of existence. The Diaspora’s real added value was the idea of a more secure social media through https and dedicated conversation shared between homogeneous groups of people.

On the contrary Google hasn’t had this kind of problems while developing a similar project, Google+. Anyway Google is so well structured and financially powerful that can reach the goals in a very short time if someone, at Mountain View, really believes on the future possibilities of a project. In few words, this is the natural dominance of a big player in an imperfect market where the start-up can be annihilated by a faster and richer competitor which is able to use more human resources and capitals.

I personally believe that Google, in such a way, has contaminated the natural software “diversity” growth and has too easily prevailed over the Diaspora’s guys. I am not talking about copyrights or trademarks which have often damaged the software development, I am talking about software evolution, the “natural” selection that allows small groups of people with better ideas to survive and prevail over the bigger companies. We cannot be sure that, after the completion of Diaspora, new valuable projects wouldn’t have springed from that team. Perhaps it’s time to critically ask ourselves if Google has become too big and too powerful over the web and if we need a new generation of laws or rules just to perimeter it (not to censure its works or split the company).

Back to Google+, I can strongly affirm that all the features I tested were well programmed and extremely intuitive to use. Moreover, Google+ integrates many other Google products (e.g. Picasa, YouTube, Voice, etc..) and you can share a lot of contents directly with the right people using the, now “famous”, Circles feature.

But at this point, we need another old -no software related- question mark. How many information about our lives are stored in Google servers? All the Google online software are successfully principally due to their high level of usability. None force you to use Google’s products, you are 100% free to decide but usually you have specific accounts to manage your photographs, favourite RSS, documents, phone directory, emails and now also your friends, family and more… All these information profile you and your personal attitudes better than ever. Using the right mathematical function, Google potentially has an accurate profile of you than no one else and sometime it is reasonable to believe that Google knows us better than we do.

In this prospective the “digital identification” card someone proposed some years ago to better regulate the web and check the people online activity, sounds prehistoric. The natural evolution of the net, connected to the lack of a real liberal regulation, has created a “nice” superpower company that potentially has the possibility to share our most intimate data with third parties influencing in a way or another our destinies. Can the privacy disclaimers we accept with each Google service protect our data in a bullet-proof way? Personally I have some little doubts!

On the other hand, during the last year we assisted to the dawn of more decentralized online services (www.yacy.net, www.faroo.com, www.majestic12.co.uk, etc..) and payment systems (www.bitcoin.org) which are able to guarantee a more efficient encrypted privacy. To  extremely simplify the concept it is possible to say that these new technologies represent a possible future horizon that will be developed in few years. Consequently, it is reasonable to predict that two parallel Internet will exist in the near future.

The first is the logical evolution of the web we know today with a more “efficient” control developed by Governments and specialised “agencies”. The second will be something near to what we watched in the Matrix saga. A semi-secret Internet, developed by unknown “experts” where the privacy will be one of the most valuable elements and where we will use a new generation of dynamic encryption software. If we consider that nowadays it is technically possible to build low-cost telecommunication satellites, the only residual barrier for the creation of this new web is represented by the cost of the vectors to bring them into the space. Waiting for a cheap orbital launcher, new technologies have been experimented to build alternative webs. The transmission of encrypted computer data through the radio frequencies is one of the most interesting projects. But this is another story also because we should consider the risks related to a second new encrypted Internet if not used in a proper way…

To conclude, let me say that Google’s people are the best but now, it is time they start thinking a little bit less about online software or visionary technologies and much more about the potential social and freedom risks of their work. There are not precise rules about these topics because just few politicians have a real knowledge about the “digital frontier” and for this reason they have the terrific possibility to regulate themselves in the best way and be really transparent. History rules, when there is not effectiveness regulation, there is the risk that, sooner or later, lobbies persuade politicians to law in a wrong way. If we think about what happened in the last thirty years we can focus our attention on specific tragic events which allowed Parliaments to overreact and chain our civil rights and our privacy in a way that has not roots in our democratic societies.

On the contrary, with new democratic and “illuminated” rules or self-reforms, honestly created by real experts, there will less needs for a parallel Internet and perhaps the dawn of Morpheus’ era will be postponed for a while. At the moment we can only hope that Google people are not became too old to consider that they could change their point of view. The current Google technological path is just one of the many they can develop. Now this path seems to be efficient and, of course, profitable but perhaps the near future needs something different and less dangerous for our privacy and civil rights… (to be continued, sooner or later…). AddThis