Feb 20, 2009 GMTEven if you are new to open source software, you've probably heard of Inkscape, a versatile and powerful vector drawing application. But as with any powerful tool, you have to put considerable time and effort into mastering Inkscape's tools and features. Fortunately, the Web provides a plethora of resources and tutorials to get you started, including regular screencasts at the screencasters.heathenx.org Web site. What I like most about these screencasts is that they show you not only how to get to grips with Inkscape's basic functionality, but also demonstrate more advanced and sometimes less conventional uses of this vector drawing package. The screencasts will teach you how to design a...
Feb 17, 2009 GMTMastering the command line can really boost your productivity and make your daily computing more efficient. But once you've managed the basics, you might want to learn a few advanced and nifty command-line tricks. Enter Command-line Fu, a veritable treasure trove for command-line users. Command-line Fu is not your plain listing of useful commands: similar to Digg, users can submit their own commands and vote for the commands submitted by others. It a dead-simple idea, but it works very well indeed. Clicking on the command you like automatically selects it, so you can quickly copy and paste it into the terminal. Commands listed on the Web site are not limited to any specific topic. Here...
Feb 13, 2009 GMTThe EuroOffice Sparklines extension for OpenOffice.org is a bit of a one-trick pony, but the trick it does is a rather clever one. It allows you to turn data in a Calc spreadsheet into a sparklines graph. Sparklines are "intense, simple, word-sized graphics" (Sparklines: theory and practice, Edward Tufte). According to Wikipedia, sparklines allow you to "present trends and variations associated with some measurement, such as average temperature or stock market activity, in a simple and condensed way." Once installed, the EuroOffice Sparklines extension lets you instantly turn a row of data in...
Feb 12, 2009 GMTIf you are looking for an excuse to install and test Adobe AIR, here is one -- Klok, a sleek and easy to use time tracking tool designed for freelancers and small businesses. Despite being a lightweight application, Klok is packed with useful features that can help you to track the time you spend on your projects with utmost efficiency. Obviously, to make Klok work on your system, you have to install Adobe AIR first. Fortunately, this can be done in a few simple steps. Go to the Adobe AIR download page, grab the Linux version of the installer and save it in your home directory. Run the installer in the terminal using the ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin command. Download the latest version of...
Feb 06, 2009 GMTWriting computer-related tutorials, documentation, articles, etc., is virtually impossible without a good utility for taking screenshots -- and Shutter (formerly known as GScrot) has all the features you could possible need. For starters, Shutter sports a tabbed interface, so you can work with several screenshots at the same time. Like any screenshot utility worth its salt, Shutter allows you to grab a selected area, a window section, and a full window. Besides that, Shutter has a rather nifty feature that allows you to take a screenshot of an entire Web page. To do this, press the Web button in Shutter's main...
Feb 04, 2009 GMTFor those who write for a living, a tool for keeping track of writing progress can come in rather handy in many situations. If you are a freelancer, knowing how much time you spent on a specific document can help you to bill your customers. And the ability to identify productivity peaks provides an invaluable tool for more efficient writing. All of this and much more is possible thanks to the EuroOffice My Progress (EOMP) extension for OpenOffice.org. Once installed, the extension adds two items to the Tools menu: Track My Progress and Display My Progress. The former enables tracking for the currently opened...
Jan 30, 2009 GMTAvant Window Navigator (AWN) isn't just a pretty launch bar: add a couple of applets and you can use AWN to read RSS feeds, monitor system resources, and even manage tasks and to-dos. The latter is possible thanks to two applets: Remember The Milk (RTM) and To-Do List. As you might have guessed, the RTM applet provides a simple interface to Remember The Milk -- probably the most popular and innovative Web-based task manager out there. Using the applet, you can view and edit existing tasks as well as add new tasks right from AWN. If you...
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