Top Features in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Here are some of our favorite new features in Ubuntu 12.04. This is a long-term support release which means it will be supported for 5 years (in previous releases this was three years) and is suitable for large organization-wide installations.

Video lens

Ubuntu’s new video lens searches for videos on the web and on your computer. It gets video from online sources relevant to your location and video sharing websites such as YouTube. For example, if you’re in the UK you may have access to content available in the UK from the BBC iPlayer.

HUD (Heads-up display)

Rather than using the traditional menu system, Ubuntu has created a one-key (alt) “heads-up display”. A good example is in Firefox, just start searching for “book” and results for bookmarking in Firefox will come up. Select items by clicking them or using the arrows and enter key.

This system will “ultimately replace menus in Unity applications” also include voice in the future according to Mark Shuttleworth. However, right now you can still use the menus.

Dash

The Ubuntu dash now displays recent programs and files be default instead of the list of programs. Also notice how the dash adopts the color of your background, just an example of some of the new polish which comes to the new Ubuntu 12.04.

Privacy

Finally, Ubuntu includes a Privacy setting. In settings, select privacy to clear recently viewed files, programs and logs.

The option to disable logging system-wide or in certain programs is also included.

Other cool features

  • The log-in screen will match your background image
  • Better power management
  • Change the size of icons in the launcher
  • Ubuntu One is redesigned as well as new recommendations in the Ubuntu Software Centre

Welcome to Linear Fix

Welcome to the new Linear Fix. This blog has been moved from WordPress.com to Tumblr and brings some 263 technology posts along with it.

To find a post try using general ‘tag’ keywords. For example, if you’re searching for our articles covering the best subreddits on Reddit, just search for ‘reddit’.

Linear Fix coverage has garnered more than 170,000 views on WordPress.com, however the change to Tumblr means no advertising for our free coverage and total editorial control over the design of the blog.

Got any suggestions? Just click on the ask icon at the top of this blog.

Instagram Now Available For Android

Instagram on iOS (left) and Android (right). Image via Instagram.

Instagram is now available for download at Google Play for use on Android devices. The popular app aims to replicate the familiar features of the original iOS version, down to the same algorithms for the filters and user interface. The app allows users to set retro filters to images and share them online.

Right now, however, the Instagram team say that “Tilt Shift/Blur, Share from Feed, Live Preview and Share to Flickr” are not yet in the Android version, but these features are expected in future versions. The company has prepared for the release, saying “our Engineering team has been focused on infrastructure scaling to ensure that users have the best experience possible” and that support material

Statistics made available for the release, show that more than 430,000 people were on the waiting list for the Android release, 30 million users were already using the iOS version and five million photos were taken each day.

The app has yet to be translated into a Windows Phone and Blackberry version. The team said “we have nothing to announce at this time, but we are always actively considering ways to expand Instagram’s utility to everyone in the world”.

Top Five Web Development Podcasts

1. Boagworld

Boagworld’s podcast proclaims that they are “longest running web design podcast” and is one of the most well-known podcasts available on web development. The podcast is hosted by Paul Boag and is created in ‘seasons’ which focuss on a particular section of web development.

2. SitePoint Podcast

These web developers from Melbourne, Australia known for their books and online marketplaces present a polished podcasts with informative guests (and the occasional joke about Australian internet) and usually concentrate on a specific topic such as vendor prefixes, paywalls and responsive design.

3. Think Vitamin Radio

This bi-weekly is run by Carsonified, a web event company, that runs Think Vitamin and was started in late 2010. Think Vitamin Radio discuss “the latest hot topics in web design, web development and web business”.

4. Creative Coding


The Creative Coding podcast “discuss the ins-and-outs of programming for visual and creative applications”. Its content includes Flash, CSS and JavaScript so far and includes new developments in the web industry.

5. Web Weekly

The Web Weekly is run by Kevin Dees and Jonas Flint covering news and specific web topics. The Web Weekly is available every Friday.

Keep an on eye on The Industry

The Industry’s podcast brings an hour’s worth of discussion and is a relatively new website founded in November 2011. The Industry describe themselves as “designed focused” and will be made weekly, as of publication they have five podcasts to listen to.

EFF Fights for User’s Megaupload Data

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing a Ohio small business owner who has requested a federal judge to open “a process that would allow him and other lawful Megaupload users to get their files back”, according to the EFF.

The EFF will represent Kyle Goodwin, a Ohio high school sports reporting business owner, who stored video footage, promotional packages and interviews on Megaupload for backup purposes. Since the January FBI lockdown on Megaupload servers, Goodwin has been unable to get access to the backup after his hard-drive crashed shortly before the copyright infringement investigation.

Goodwin had paid for a premium account and his business, OhioSportsNet, which broadcasts Ohio high school sporting events, interviews and creates multimedia has been left without raw footage required for its personalized highlight reels, a sports team documentary and other promotional videos. A filing with the Eastern District Court of Virginia said that after finding his hard-drive had crashed “to his surprise, he could not get past the welcome screen. Initially, he was not concerned, figuring there were some technical problems that would be ironed out and he would have access to his files”.

Carpathia Hosting, the Virginia-based company which leased servers holding some files for Megaupload, has now been allowed to deleted files after the completed federal investigation. The company has amassed more than $500,000 in expenses holding the data since January, saying they it costs more than $9,000 a day. However the company has “moved for a protective order that would allow for an approved procedure for customers to retrieve their files before deletion”, according to the EFF.

The EFF say “the procedure would help rectify the collateral damage caused by the government’s seizure of Megaupload.com as part of a copyright infringement investigation”.

Megaupload have reportedly dropped its lawsuit against Universal Music which was sparked when Universal Music Group issued a takedown request to YouTube of the Megaupload song video.

Google Docs Now Gets Spell Check from Google Search

Google engineers have updated the Google Docs spell checking feature to use the same information gathered by GoogleBot and used in its search.

Yew Jin Lim, Software Engineer at Google, said that the change allows contextual correction such as “Icland is an icland” should be “Iceland is an island” on the Google Docs blog. Lim also pointed out that by using data from GoogleBot, the spell checker is able to remain relevant to current trends, using a popular Dupstep artist, Skrillex, as an example. In this case, corrected from “Skrillax”.

Also, one of the problems of some modern spell checkers is that sentences with homophones such as “the document is plane wrong” is correctly suggested to be changed to “the document is plain wrong”. However, some complex homophones such as “for egg sample” won’t be corrected to “for example”.

Yim said “this new spell checker is available for English documents and presentations, but we plan to bring it to more languages soon”.

Amazon Acquires Kiva Systems for Quicker Packing

Amazon.com has agreed to acquire Kiva Systems, a company known for their orange robots which slide under shelves and delivers them to stationary warehouse packers, for $775 million cash. Staples, Gap, Walgreen as well as Amazon’s Soap.com and Diapers.com, which were acquired, last year already use the system.

David Clark, Vice President of Global Customer Fulfillment , said “Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow”.

The Kiva system has been designed to be used around distribution centers from receiving stock, case replenishment, picking and shipping stations. The system replaces the traditional convertor belts and tilt-tray sorters. A company whitepaper says that two work allocation methods used by warehouse managers called “wave picking”, and “batch picking”, getting similar orders at the same time, are unnecessary using the system.

The company has recorded 80% annual growth and is now used over the world. Mick Mountz, CEO and founder of Kiva Systems, said “I’m delighted that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can provide even more valuable solutions in the coming years.”

Tumblr Redesigns Homepage To Showcase Content

A new iteration of Tumblr’s popular homepage has gone live and showcases popular posts and bloggers under the new tagline of a place to “follow the world’s creators” and makes use of clean CSS3 animations to transition between the homepage and sign-in areas.

The new homepage is a drift away from showing off Tumblr features and pushing new users into the system as in the old design  The sign-up page remains simple with the requirements of email, password and a username still staying albeit this is now hidden way behind a sign-up button.

The move also encourages users to explore the Tumblr ecosystem with links to random vetted tag pages. The selected tag pages contain content featured by Tumblr “editors”, however the tag pages without editors are not selected for the homepage.

Microsoft Releases Windows 8 Consumer Preview

The Windows team have released a landmark version of Windows 8 in a new downloadable Windows 8 Consumer Preview, suitable for daily use to test out the upcoming iteration of Windows.

Differences from the developer release include “over 100,000 code changes” according to Steven Sinofsky on the Windows 8 blog. The changes from this release includes the opening of the Windows Store for new apps, cloud file storage integration and a new Internet Explorer 10 preview. Sinofsky said “today’s Consumer Preview is focused on a broader audience, and along with improvements to the WinRT APIs based on developer feedback, we are introducing the full user experience, the Windows Store for apps, and early previews of some first- and third-party apps”.

Grant George, vice president of Windows Test, announced lightweight preliminary system specifications for the preview of :

  • 1 GHz or faster processor
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Full specifications are available on the Windows blog.

Codecademy Launches New Course Creator

Codecademy, a programming education start-up, has  released a tool that allows users to create their own courses. The course creator allows users to make lessons, projects and challenges in JavaScript, Python and Ruby.

Creating a course in Codecademy involves writing hints, instructions, default code and allowed code submissions.Right now there are no barriers to who can become a teacher in Codecademy, the website asking for your programming language and a brief list of qualifications, though both of these fields are optional. However, exercises are screened by Codecademy staff to ensure content is appropriate.

Some of the lessons on Codecademy have already been created by third-parties, previously profiles on these authors were available but have since been taken down. Codecademy has ballooned in popularity with more than 300,000 people signing up to learn to code via Code Year.