Category Archives: Linux

Bible for Android?

No, I’m not preparing for a robotic mission. But after years of rejecting having a cell phone, I gave in — and did so with an Android phone. (After reading how a significant plurality of homeless persons have a cell phone, and how it is a leading entry-point for Internet technologies for persons in developing countries, I decided it was OK for me to have one, too.)

It’s a so-called smart phone distinguished by its Linux-based and largely open-source operating system. I love both the hardware and software to bits.

I do not love the available Bible applications for it. Poor user interfaces, thin in features. Bahai’is and Muslims are much better served (it seems) in their Android needs.

  1. Does anyone have a favorite Bible text and biblical research Android application?
  2. Are there some people out there who care, should I (and others) review the available options?

PDF scanning the booklet

Notes from my scanning workflow from yesterday.

I’ve had my Epson Perfection 3490 Photo scanner for years — a gift from Hubby, Christmas 2003 or 2004, I think — but it never played happily with whatever Linux set-up I had at the time. But there’s a maxim that Linux distributions (editions) work better with older equipment, so I decided to give it another try. (The maxim, however, is breaking down as manufacturers begin supporting Linux.) Even now, I needed a proprietary driver from Epson.  Entries 46 and 59 of this thread at Ubuntuforums.com was all I needed to get my scanner to work.

Now for software. I’ve never liked the xsane frontend — it’s too dang hard to use; through thanks to the developers for leading the way — so I immediately sought an alternative.  Installed and tried and tried to make GNOME Scan (flegita) work. PDG images came out fine, but when attempting to scan for PDFs, I could only get my scanner to make a little fragment of the selected area. Fail. With Gscan2PDF, which you can add the usual way, I had a winner — a surprise to boot: integration with tesseract-ocr, an optical character recognition system. And not just any one: the system that Google Books uses, and which now Google supports.  If you’re running the Intrepid Ibex (8.10) version of Ubuntu Linux, get tesseract-ocr in universe; grab language support, too: tesseract-ocr-eng for English.

Started gscan2pdf — it’s in the main Applications menu under “Graphics” — and selected “Scan” using either the menu or icon. This pulls up a dialog box. Under the “Scan Options” tab, I found “Paper Size”, which I edited to create a new size for the opened Liberala Himnaro, with the sizes in millimeters. This saved scanning and cropping time.  Back to the “Page Options” tab, I selected for “Post processing” a rotation of 90 degrees (because that’s how it fit on the scanner) and “clean up”.   Then I scanned all the pages.

The Save dialog allowed different color (color, gray, line art) and resolution options and I tried a few until I got both a  file of a manageable size for sharing and a robust one for archiving. Note: this is a pretty slow process.

There was an option for OCR under “Page Options” which  didn’t use since Esperanto isn’t a supported language. But I’ll rummage through my archives to find a scan — and perhaps an OCR — worthy of my readership.

Church calendar on the command line

If you’re a Linux user and work on the command line and care about church calendars . . . well, perhaps you’ve missed this as long as I have.

To find the date of Easter for a particular year according to the Western churches, say 2009 type:

$ ncal -e 2009

For the Eastern churches, type:

$ ncal -o 2009

Those are both in April.  To get a quick calendar, type

$ cal 4 2009

[or

ncal 4 2009

for a different arrangement]

There are other handy helps:

ncal -p

for instance gives the date where calendars changed from the Julian to the Gregorian in several countries.

CrunchBang Linux gets own home

My favorite lightweight distro (edition) of Linux is Philip Newborough’s young CrunchBang Linux, an unofficial variant of Ubuntu Linux using the OpenBox window environment. Now that it’s moved past its wobbly fawn phase, Newborough’s moved it from his CrunchBang blog to crunchbanglinux.com. Bookmark and savor.

But who would make the most of this distro? Perhaps someone who already knows his or her own way around Linux desktops: some of the settings need to be made in text files, with skill equal to someone who maintains a simple Web site. Perhaps someone who has a spare old (but not antiquated) computer that needs to be pressed into service and needs to be more than an Internet appliance. Someone who demands a desktop have a certain aesthetic cachet. A CrunchBang machine might act like the resurrected Lazarus, but ought not smell like him. It might become a no- or low-cost gift in the spirit (or necessity) of a recessiontide Christmas. Or a job-hunting workhorse for a fellow church member who otherwise might be tempted to go into debt for a computer, provided you’re willing to help if bugs rise up.

Episcopalians, meet Ubuntu

It’s no secret I have little patience for the Episcopal Church of late, so I wasn’t looking out for the theme of the 2009 General Convention. The Topmost Apple, an Episcopalian blogger I follow, presumably has more patience for the Episcopal Church, but little regard for the theme, which is “Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me.”

These days, ubuntu — a Xhosa and Swahili philosophical concept of reflexive humanism — is better known outside southern Africa as the namesake for my favorite version of Linux. Not opportunistic branding that, but an understanding of the mutually upbuilding and worth-identifying relationships that brings so many people to make a gift of their work.

General Convention logo 2009

Oh, and while I’m at it: I hate the logo chosen to depict ubuntu. Looks like a throw pillow. The logo for Ubuntu Linux is at least as relevant and more evocative.  Oh, and the subtitle sounds ripped fresh from the Beatles song “Come Together.”  How, ugh, hip.

Two lost opportunities, I think.

For more about the General Convention, see this article in Episcopal Life Online.

File rescue with Ubuntu Linux

A word to my Windows-using readers. You know I love Linux, and use Ubuntu Linux at home and work. I hope you would give it a try but would understand if it doesn’t appeal to you, or (at least) you get enough value from a Microsoft product to stay put.

But there’s still a good reason to have a copy of an Ubuntu Linux Live CD — which allows you to run the operating system without installing it, and which when removed returns to what you had before — and that’s file recovery. One of the problems I had with Windows it that it would crash and take all of your data with it, which some Microsoft users treat like some kind of unavoidable natural disaster.

Running Ubuntu Linux with a Live CD would allow you — with another piece of software you can download freely — to recover most or all of what you would have otherwise lost. Ubuntucat shares several such laments, and points back to an earlier set of article that tell you how to rescue your files.

So I suggest: print out those details and file them with a Live CD copy of Ubuntu Linux and file them away against disaster. And keep your backups up to date.

A bonus: I’ll send a Live CD copy of Ubuntu Linux to the first person with a United States address (APO/FPO included) who asks. Contact me.

What to expect from Ubuntu Linux

Last week, Michael Horowitz, writing his Defense Computing column for CNet makes the case that Linux — specifically vanilla Ubuntu Linux — is a more intuitive next step for Windows user than the Mac is. Using screenshots, he shows what a first-time Ubuntu Linux user would see and how it jibes with what a Windows user would expect.

Introducing the Linux user interface” (July 8, 2008)

Good timing, too: Canonical, the for-profit business behind Ubuntu Linux, has announced a partnership with a software distributor to put boxed copies of the operating system in Best Buy stores. For about $20, you get the disk and manual. Admittedly, you could get the software for free online and there’s plenty of online documentation, but for a lot of people, something in a box with a manual is going to see more real. (I’m only a little worried that the low price-point is going to make some people suspicious of the quality.)

Got the GA media feed to work in Linux

Still not thrilled with using a proprietary media format, but first things first. I got it to work. With wifi no less. (And you get to see what my desktop looks like.)

Thursday morning worship at GA, as seen on my machine

Now, how did I do it? Not entirely sure.

I am using VLC — the Swiss Army knife of media players; available for all the operating systems people really use — with the vcl-mozilla-plugin in place of my otherwise fave MPlayer (wth mozilla-plugin for the Firefox browser). There’s a codec (media decoder) plugin I got somewhere, but where? I’ll note it below when I find it.

Back to Fort Lauderdale. Oh, and while I’ve never liked that chalice, I do like the vortex. More vortex!