A lot of hopes and open-source dreams are riding on a plucky little phone platform called Android, and its public debut on a real-live phone happens Tuesday. Those of us at Lifehacker HQ who didn't spring for an iPhone, and even some who did, are eager to see how it performs and, more importantly, what kind of useful apps will soon appear for the open Android. That's not to say we (and many other bloggers) don't have our reservations and lingering questions. We've put together a guide to get you up to speed on the Android platform and the first phone that runs it, along with what we expect, or just hope, to see in Android's very near future.
Tagged With open sourcery
Apple has convinced millions that they can make the switch from Windows to OS X, but those curious about Linux have to see for themselves if they can work or play on a free desktop. The short answer is that, for most halfway tech-savvy people who aren't hardcore gamers, yes, you can. There are positively addictive productivity apps available for Linux, along with tools to make switching between Linux and other systems easy, or just running Windows programs themselves if you need to. Today we're detailing a Linux desktop that helps you move quickly, work with Windows, and just get things done; read on for a few suggestions on setting it up.
Nintendo doesn't exactly advertise it, but the remotes for the Wii gaming console—including the balance board that comes with Wii Fit—have Bluetooth capabilities. That means you can connect your Wii peripherals to your computer to operate the media centre hooked up to your TV, play emulated games with a Nunchuk, Classic Controller, or even a Balance Board, and pretty much have them do anything you can do with a keyboard. Let's walk through linking up your Wii peripherals and putting them in control of your Mac, PC, or Linux box.
Those of us who have forgone a fancy BlackBerry, Treo, or iPhone know a standard mobile phone is probably the most non-interactive, un-tweakable device in the gadget stable. But for many phones, there's a way around overpriced cables, intentionally weak Bluetooth software, and lack of good syncing software. The multi-tool of phone data, BitPim, is a free, open-source, cross-platform solution that can back up all or most of your phone's data, put your home-baked ringtones on your phone for free, and sync calendars and contacts between your apps and your vanilla phone. Let's take a look at how to get started with BitPim on any system and make the most of the device you take everywhere.
Back in June 2007, I couldn't convince my wife that checking my email in grocery lines was worth $US1,320—the cost of an original iPhone and one year of the cheapest plan. These days, the trend-setting phone costs even more money over its life, and it's more than a little restrictive and even a bit buggy. So I'm amazed at how little love the iPod touch gets. It's a slimmer iPhone with almost all its features, it requires no contract, and when you can't get a Wi-Fi signal, your plain, humble mobile phone can step up to take its place. Here's why anyone considering the iPhone should opt for its oft-ignored sibling—the iPod touch—instead. Photo by sarchi.
Whether you're missing a crucial file at work or home, or you just need to tweak one little setting to get Mom's email working again, having remote control of another desktop can be seriously handy. But not everybody can walk the less-tech-inclined through installing a VNC server and opening up their router ports, or have the time to create their own SingleClick tech support tool (cool as it may be). Today, we're looking at the best solutions for getting into a computer remotely, whether you're helping out Uncle Bif, grabbing files from home, or controlling your media server from the lounger. Photo by miguelb.
Your digital music doesn't stay in one place, and it should look the same no matter where it's playing. But somehow, in all the transfers from system to system, onto and off of MP3 players, and to and from the net, the album art illustrations that should add visual cues and familiarity seem to always get lost. If you're looking to match up all your music with their album covers, read on for a quick guide to the best tools and sources for finding and locking down album art, no matter what computer you're using.
No matter how easy Linux distributions make it for newcomers to install and use a free, open-source operating system, nearly everyone has at least one program that only works in Windows. Wine, a free Windows compatibility tool for Linux (and other Intel-based systems), aims to make those programs run without too much cross-system trickery. If you can't get around needing to open true Microsoft Office files, Adobe Photoshop, or your addictive game of choice on your Linux desktop, Wine is for you. With Wine's stable 1.0 version just released, it's a good time to check out this quietly awesome app. Let's get a few Windows applications running in Linux.
Honing your outdoor culinary skills is a lot more simple than it seems, given the right tools, a little preparation, and a few tips on technique. Take a look at some pointers on getting the right gear, turning out great meals, and even preparing for uncooperative weather, after the jump. Photo by Another Pint Please....
This week's release of the Fedora 9 Linux distribution makes putting a full-fledged desktop on a portable USB thumb drive a three-click affair. Even better, you don't need Linux installed to create it, you can leave the data on your thumb drive untouched, and any files you create or settings you tweak remain in place the next time you boot up. After the jump, let's create a fully-functional desktop-to-go using a simple Windows program and a 1GB or larger thumb drive.
Apple may open up its iPhone and iPod touch devices to third-party apps next month, but the chances that Linux users will get invited to the party are slim at best. That hasn't stopped some intrepid hackers from coming up with a better music-syncing solution than the one Mac and Windows users have—a two-way wireless transfer, from almost any music organising app you like, no wait for iTunes or USB cable required. Linux users, let's take a look at how to set up your iPhone or iPod touch for any-time wireless access after the jump.
Next time you wipe your PC's hard drive clean and reinstall Windows with that old installation disc, you don't want to connect your fresh, unpatched and vulnerable system to the internet only to download 176 new updates from Microsoft. If your XP installation CD is older than 2004, once your system is online, you'll have to wait for hefty service packs to download, chained to your mouse while pushing the Next button, watching progress bars, and rebooting multiple times. Wouldn't it be better to start your installation, head out to run errands or grab coffee, and come back to an up-to-date system before your system gets online? It's possible, using some free software and a blank disc. After the jump, I'll show you how to create an automated, customised XP installation CD or DVD, that includes Microsoft's official-but-not-released Service Pack 3 for Windows XP.
If you've flirted with the idea of switching your desktop operating system to Linux but never took the leap, the time is now. This week's release of Hardy Heron, an Ubuntu release that will be supported until 2011, offers a freer, more productive space for work and play than ever before. It's not easy jumping blind into a new way of thinking or working, and Ubuntu, the so-called "Linux for Humans" operating system, is no different. For all the online buzz that surrounds the increasingly popular distribution, millions of sane, regular people wonder why they'd ever give up their familiar Mac or PC to venture into something still relatively new. Today we're shining the spotlight on a few great tools and tweaks that make Heron a worthy switch. Photo by BotheredByBees.
You're at a friends house, extolling the virtues of your latest TV obsession or music kick, and you can't wait to get them into it as well. Usually, this conversation ends with a promise of burned CDs—but why not offer them what you've already grabbed from BitTorrent, or give them a user name and password to get what you're about to start downloading? TorrentFlux, a free, open-source, server-based BitTorrent manager, can do all those things. If you've got a Windows or Linux computer you keep on most of the time, a home server, or even hosted space, you can take control of your downloads. Follow through the jump for a tutorial on getting started with TorrentFlux.
You can get decent photos out of a standard, consumer-grade digital camera, but a little post-processing can turn them into fantastic wide-angle landscapes. You don't need to be one of those people who can explain the concept of lateral chromatic aberration to get truly eye-catching digital pictures. With a few shutter clicks and some free, cross-platform software, you can easily mesh standard digi-cam shots into true landscapes, fix one photo's deficiencies with another, and create layered photo collages. Let's take a look at how to use the free, open source application Hugin to make two basic kinds of panoramas.
Among all the projects available at the Mozilla Foundation, one little application, Prism (formerly known as WebRunner), hasn't gotten much attention. Understandable, in a way, because Prism seems like just a stripped-down Firefox window in which to view web sites—which it is, but that can be a great thing. With the help of a few utilities, web applications in Prism can be just as convenient to launch and use as your standard-installation desktop programs. Let's take a look at where Prism really works and how to get more out of it after the jump.
Every six months when a new version of Ubuntu Linux gets released, long-time users and curious toe-dippers ask the same questions: "What's new?"; "Is it worth upgrading?"; and, "Will my wireless card finally work with this version?" Having grabbed the newest beta release of Ubuntu and spent a few hours looking around, I can answer, "A few great things," "Yes, once it's officially released," and, well, "Hopefully." Version 8.04, or "Hardy Heron," is more a compilation of stable-ish features and proven apps than a showcase for the latest and greatest in Linux technology. But for those seeking a usable, steady system in which to get things done, that's a real killer app in itself. Follow through the jump to see what's new, and what just works (and doesn't) in Hardy Heron.
You love working inside your Linux desktop, but at the most inconvenient times you've got to reboot into Windows—whether to open a tricky Office file, try out a Windows application, or even just play a quick game. However, with some free tools and a Windows installation disk, you can have Windows apps running right on your Linux desktop and sharing the same desktop files. It's relatively painless, it takes only a little bit longer than a Windows XP install, and it works just like virtualizing Windows on a Mac with Parallels Coherence—except it's free. Here's how to set up Windows inside VirtualBox, and then get Windows apps running seamlessly inside your desktop.
When you're at a computer that's missing a vital file or application, like an office workstation that's locked down, a friend's system or coffee shop computer, you can still get to a desktop that contains your essentials—on the web. A "webtop" is a virtual desktop that you access using only a browser, and it can include much of the stuff you'd expect on a local computer desktop: like file storage and management, a calendar, RSS reader, email client, and photo viewer. While there are several web desktops available these days, the free and open source EyeOS application is the most accessible, useful, and promising one out there. Follow along to see what a web-based desktop looks like, and how it can help you get things done when you're locked down or out of pocket.