Sunday, December 16, 2007

Freecom Musicpal

Over the weekend I bought a Freecom Musicpal internet radio from PC World. In terms of form factor it's light and small enough to fit on your kitchen windowsill. Installation was a breeze - all I had to do was enter my WEP key once - inputted by turning the dials to select letters - and I was onboard.

The Musicpal comes with a lifetimes subscription to Vtuner, and currently has approximately around 4,000 radio stations to choose from, under every genre imaginable. At present only mp3 streams are supported, but Freecom have said that they are currently working on Windows Media (wma) stream support. Expect that to be offered in any future firmware updates. ( In "settings", there's an update option to update the firmware)

Soundwise, the speaker isn't of enormous high quality, but for a kitchen radio its perfectly adequate.

Why go for an internet radio? Well, for starters , you don't need to power up a laptop. Plus the choice of thousands of stations means that you wont be short of choices of even the most eclectic music. This afternoon , for example, while preparing the Sunday dinner, we went from Irish trad to German Schlager, with a dose of Congolese dancehall ,Senegalese guitar-folk and a blast of Austrian classical, plus some cheesy French pop. Your listening habits are definitely changed with such a device, and it's a must-have if you are sick of the usual 24x7 commercial radio. And since it's now residing in our kitchen, and has an extremely easy to use interface, our musical exploration of the world is only starting. And once Freecom offer WMA support in a future update, the stations available will expand to thousands more.

I bought it for £79.99 in PC World , but no doubt it's probably cheaper online. Another thing to bear in mind as well , when it comes to learning a language - once you have one of these radios in your kitchen, it makes it so much easier to tune into a French, German, Spanish etc language station - and just having that in the background is a great aid to getting familiar with how a language is pronounced and spoken.

As part of making the Internet pervasive in consumer devices, the Internet Radio is a very interesting first step - I would expect it to be built-in to hi-fi systems in the future. But for now, to get a taste of the future, get hold of one of these devices. Your listening habits will change forever.

Important sidenote: You MUST have wifi enabled in your home for the Musicpal to work. However, it does have a standard network socket at the back if you prefer to run a network cable to it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The donut capital of the world found on Google Streetview

Here's the Google Maps link

Hat tip: Tammo in the comments on Googlesighting

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New StreetView cities and embeddable panoramas

Via Google Lat Long :

Today we're pleased to announce the launch of 8 new cities with Street View. Check out full spherical views of Boston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Detroit, and Providence.

Minneapolis and St.Paul
Forth Worth and Dallas

The Indianapolis and Boston streetviews also encompass several surrounding towns including Worchester, Marlborough,
Danville,Crawfordsville,Muncie, Bloomington, Morgantown and many more.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ubuntu Gutsy post install script for your laptop

Ubuntu Guide is a valuable source of information on what packages you need to install after installing a base Ubuntu Gutsy system on a laptop.

So instead of manually doing lots of apt-gets based on the Ubuntu I just put all the relevant ones into a single bash script. This will get all the usual multimedia codecs, firefox plugins, and a lot of other stuff. Just chmod 700 postinstall after creating it in your favourite editor.
Then from a terminal type


to run it. If there is a software package that you don't want below, put a # at the start of the line to comment out.

Note: the repository allows you to apt-get skype,googleearth,win32codecs and other packages that cannot be included in the Ubuntu repos for legal reasons. It is not supported by Canonical so use at your own risk.

# postinstall script

#this should be all on one line
sudo wget -O etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

#this should be all on one line
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

#update your packages database
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install w32codecs libdvdcss2
sudo apt-get install mozilla-mplayer
sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-plugin
sudo apt-get install mozilla-plugin-vlc
sudo apt-get install kaffeine-mozilla
# astronomy programs
sudo apt-get install kstars
sudo apt-get install celestia

# genealogy
sudo apt-get install gramps

# plugin that allows you to type
#"apt:packagename" in the Firefox url bar

sudo apt-get install apturl

# bluetooth
sudo apt-get install gnome-vfs-obexftp

sudo apt-get install googleearth

# rar compressor/decompressor
sudo apt-get install rar unrar

# sticky notes
sudo apt-get install tomboy

#desktop system monitor
sudo apt-get install gkrellm

# allows you to tweak compiz
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

# lots of ubuntu tweaks in a handy GUI application
sudo dpkg -i ubuntu-tweak_0.2.0-1_i386.deb

# music player/manager
sudo apt-get install amarok
sudo apt-get install sox
sudo apt-get install lmms

# sound editor
sudo apt-get install audacity

# codecs
sudo apt-get install mencoder avidemux transcode
sudo apt-get install ffmpeg2theora

# video player
sudo apt-get install mplayer

# mysql database server and client
sudo apt-get install mysql-server-5.0

# ssh server so that you can ssh login via terminal to your laptop from another box
sudo apt-get install ssh

# php web development language
sudo apt-get install php5
sudo apt-get install php5-cli
sudo apt-get install php5-gd
sudo apt-get install php5-curl
sudo apt-get install php5-mysql

# more bluetooth stuff
sudo apt-get install bluetooth gnome-bluetooth
sudo apt-get install bluez-gnome bluez-utils

# listen to thousands of internet radio stations
# and be able to rip the streams to mp3 format
sudo apt-get install streamripper
sudo apt-get install streamtuner
sudo apt-get install xmms

sudo apt-get install skype

# more codecs
sudo apt-get install non-free-codecs

# lightweight spreadsheet alternative to OpenOffice
sudo apt-get install gnumeric

# loads MUCH faster than Open Office Writer
sudo apt-get install abiword

# top notch programming editor
sudo apt-get install kate

# KDE office suite
sudo apt-get install koffice

# KDE browser and filemanager
sudo apt-get install konqueror

# allows SoundJuicer to rip to mp3.
sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse

Friday, December 07, 2007

KDE 4 - Weather Plasmoid

An overview of the progress and beginning implementation of both the Plasma Weather data engine and applet.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


System Rescue is a Gentoo based live CD for recovering from a hard disk crash.

From the website:

SystemRescueCd is a Linux system on a bootable CD-ROM for repairing your system and recovering your data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the partitions of the hard disk. It contains a lot of system utilities (parted, partimage, fstools, ...) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It is very easy to use: just boot the CDROM. The kernel supports most of the important file systems (ext2/ext3, reiserfs, reiser4, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

An epiphany about the Phantom Menace

I finally figured out Stars Wars 1 - The Phantom Menace

I remember when it came out , it was dismissed by die-hard Star Wars fans as being childish - especially when it came to Jar Jar Binks. A criticism that rose to such an extent that The Phantom Edit was created by one Star Wars fan.

Well, my 5 year old daughter absolutely loves it (just watched it on UK TV today), which lead to my figuring it out :

It's a kids film. Just as the original Star Wars was..