Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


Linux Screencasting

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I finally figured out a screencap program that works in Ubuntu. I had tried RecordMyDesktop, but had no success. I tried several ways to get it working, but it never did work correctly. (To be fair, it might not be the program's fault... it just didn't work on my system running Ubuntu Studio 12.04) After some searching, I decided to try Simple Screen Recorder, and after a few tweaks, I got it working.

For my system, I had to use Jack audio. For some reason, it just wouldn't record anything from Pulse Audio (no shock there... Pulse's reputation isn't the best). So with a hacked .asoundrc file to channel Alsa to a Jack sink, it finally worked!

With this setup, I'll be able to record some of the guitar and audio software I'm using, as well as games and such. (recording games on Steam requires some tweaking, too). So here's a short demo!


Writing Tools In Linux

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

As a writer, you're probably aware that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I haven't decided if I'm going to officially participate, but I'll probably get some writing done anyway. When I sit down to write, this is what my desktop looks like:


First and foremost, the centerpiece of my writing, is Scrivener for linux. I've already written about it here.

Second (and almost as important) is my full-screen "motivational" app, Write or Die 2. It kills writer's block dead! This is for grinding through word counts, when I have an idea for a scene in my head but it just won't come out. WriteOrDie gets the words out, whether I like it or not.

For non-fiction, I'm learning to use the program Zotero for annotations and footnotes. It integrates into Scrivener, too.

Thirdly is background music. Sometimes I can listen to rock, but mostly, I listen to ambient sounds, and the best thing for that is They've got several ambient and downtempo stations, so I'll play that through RhythmBox. I really like the stations DroneZone and BeatBlender. On the rare occasion I want to listen to something specific, I'll listen to Pandora with an app called Pithos.

This is how I get my fiction writing done. What's your writing desktop look like?


Linux Game Review: Beat Hazard Ultra

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I've been a Linux user for going on twelve years now. It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered Linux was actually a pretty good platform for gaming too. And with Steam's supporting Linux, it became official: Gaming isn't just for Windows.

On a whim, I picked up a title called Beat Hazard Ultra from Steam, since it's one of the games that runs natively on Linux.




New Feature: Retro Game Of The Month

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Since stumbling across several old video games from my DOS days (think pre-1995) I've decided to fire up a few of them and offer up some fun reviews of games that were made before many of you and gadgets at were even born. These games, in some way or another, shaped the gaming industry into what it is today. They were the birth of the PC gaming industry, when Atari and Nintendo had been dominating people's living rooms for over a decade.

I can remember playing my first networked multiplayer games in 1993, when Doom and Descent came out. There weren't Cat5 ethernet cables back then, everything was 10-Base2 running on Coaxial cable with BNC T's and terminators. TCP/IP hadn't become the standard yet, either, so everything ran Novell Netware and used IPX addressing (instead of TCP/IP addresses that everything uses now). The hardcore guys would either play point-to-point on dialup modems, or drag their computers to a friend's house and use a null-modem cable to simulate a phone line. We're talking back in the days before Pentiums were invented... the first PC I played Doom on was a 386dx clone, running at 33Mhz. I think it had 2MB of RAM. We're talking before PCI slots were standard. Just think about that for a minute. A 28.8Kbps modem was all you could get then. Let that sink in.


Scrivener For Linux

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

As a creative-type person, I understand when people get picky about what tools they use to create their particular art form. Musicians will obsess over the tiniest things to get the sound "just right." Photographers will spend hours waiting for just the right light.

But why are writers usually just the opposite? They use kludgy writing tools, and sometimes even physical "index card" information management. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a single program that could do everything a writer needed? Formatting, templates, organization, storyboarding, corkboards, revision management, links and information, pictures, exporting direct to publishing formats, and even a full-screen writing mode?

Well, there *is* such a program. It's called Scrivener. It's completely changed the way I write, for the better.

Scrivener was made *by* authors, *for* authors. It's like a tool that plugs directly into your brain and lets you focus on writing. There are plenty of testimonials praising the OSX and Windows versions, but I run the Linux-specific version, which is technically still in beta. It still has more features than a regular word processor, and I've found it has become integral to my writing process.

For those of you familiar with Scrivener, the Linux version is available as a free (for now) Beta. For the rest of you, here's the overview:


Offline/Online Password Management

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

For someone who's been using the internet almost since its inception, I've collected quite a large assortment of usernames and passwords over the years. I think something on the order of 150+ of them, not including the ones that have gone defunct, or actual local network passwords.

How does a professional geek handle hundreds of passwords? Here's a quick primer on how I do it, with a few suggestions on general password security, too. I've used two programs in the last year to get a handle on my password/username combos; LastPass and KeePass. One is a web-run business; the other is a free, open-source program. I'll explain a bit about each one, and how I decided to use them.


TouchOSC as a Wireless MIDI Controller

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Here's a short demo of using a 7" Android tablet to control MIDI effects on a laptop. TouchOSC is a cool little app that lets you make custom control surfaces, with sliders, buttons, knobs, and X-Y pads, and you can assign them to any parameters. With a hardware OSC to MIDI bridge, you can control any MIDI device with it, too. Very slick. In this video, I'm using PureData to convert OSC to MIDI messages on the laptop. I can then route them back out to control external devices, or control effects on the laptop. (Sorry for the noise, was just trying to demo the MIDI functionality)


Tasker And Flowcharts

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

In my quest to simplify, I've ventured into the territory of Information Automation. Since I discovered the app  Tasker, I've challenged myself to find new ways to exploit it to automate tasks that I really shouldn't be wasting time on.

Tasker basically is an automation programming language for your Android device. It allows you to take any number of trigger inputs (GPS position, battery state, apps, network status, emails, RSS feeds, etc.) and then perform any series of tasks you program it to. It has the capability to be a full-fledged programming language, with conditional logic, variables, and so on, which lets you make some incredibly complex "tasks" for it to run.

It also has the capability of using almost anything your device can do as an "action" or output, which means you can automate just about anything your phone/tablet can do. Take pictures, play audio, send texts, run programs, share to social media, control the device's functions, or even speak and listen to voice commands.

So, sometimes I geek out on stuff like flowcharts and such, and programming is the perfect place for it. Flowcharts! Graphs! Logic! Here's how it works.


Guitarix And Ubuntu For Live Use

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I'm working on finishing up some articles and videos of demoing Guitarix in a live performance setting. Until then, here's some screenshots of my rig in action! The last picture is what the laptop looks like when you put Guitarix in "Live" mode. The buttons at the bottom light up as you use MIDI triggers to turn on/off effects, so you can easily see what's switched on. Also, if you have a pedal mapped to volume or wah, it shows what position the pedal is at. (That's going to get a video demo as soon as I find the time!)

You can store presets in banks, so you can set up your sounds according to songs and sets.

Guitarix1 Guitarix3



Site Security

Posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox

Anybody who's, like, run a website for any length of time knows that getting hacked is the second worst thing that could happen (losing everything to a server crash is the first!) I've had both happen to me in the past, not looking to repeat either one. Uncool.

Did some security improvements around here, cause you know, Jeff is gettin' kinda lazy, dig it? Also ran a backup. Cause I hadn't done that in a while.

If you wanna know more, let me google that for you!

Be a hoopy frood and get me a towel, would you?

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