xine is a free (gpl-licensed) high-performance, portable and reusable multimedia playback engine. xine itself is a shared library with an easy to use, yet powerful API which is used by many applications for smooth video playback and video processing purposes.

xine is capable of playing CD, DVB, DVD, VCD and VCD0 formats. gxine also handles formats such as AVI, MOV, ASF, DivX4 video and MP3 audio, MPEG2 video and AC3 audio, etc. xine is fast, extensible and reusable.

gxine in the other hand, is a xine video player with a GTK+/Gnome user interface. gxine works with DVD menus, a feature lacking in Totem’s movie player.

gxine is available in Ubuntu in a repository called Universe. To install gxine in your latest Ubuntu release (Hardy Heron), just open your Terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install gxine

Access the gxine player from the Menu (Applications – Sound & Video – gxine).

It’s also available as a Mozilla plugin for Firefox users. To install:

sudo apt-get install gxineplugin


Audacity is a free software for editing and recording sound. The software is available for the Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and in GNU/Linux operating systems. The latest software release is 1.3.5 Beta. There is a more stable version available in version 1.2.6. Audacity main features are its ability to:

  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • And more! See the complete list of features.

Did I mention it is FREE. Audacity is developed by a group of volunteers and distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

I have been using Audacity in my little radio show for my Yahoo Fantasy Football League. Here’s a sample of last year’s Week 11 show. I’m using a WordPress Audio Player plugin to play this recording.



Give Audacity a try!


Gnome is a desktop environment for GNU/Linux or UNIX computers. Gnome comes standard with a handy text editor called Gedit. The Gedit text editor is simple and easy to use, but it lacks the features essential to be a programming editor. Introducing gPHPEdit, a PHP, CSS and HTML development editor. It comes with syntax highlighting, coding assistance, syntax checking, code navigation and integrated help.

gPHPEdit will recognize PHP and HTML files and will color highlight the file during editing. It recognizes all PHP functions up to and including PHP 4.3.0. gPHPEdit will also recognize CSS files and will color highlight the file during editing. It highlights valid CSS classes and descriptors. gPHPEdit also recognizes SQL files and will color highlight the file during editing.

You can learn more about the features of gPHPEdit from its website.

To install gPHPEdit, simply run this command from the terminal:

# sudo apt-get install gphpedit

The only thing I found annoying at the outset was the right hand edge guide, but I was able to remove it by editing Preferences. I also activated WordWrap as a matter of preference since I don’t like using horizontal scroll bars.

Black-Letterhead 1.5

I’ve just released Black-Letterhead 1.5 which now includes gravatar support. The new theme will display gravatars or globally recognized avatars when visitors leave a comment on your blog. No more gravatar plugins needed.

I made some CSS style changes to fix the IE formatting issues in the comment section. IE and Firefox displays are now identical. I also updated the footer section to reflect the 2008 copyright.

I’ve decided to discontinue the use of Theme Toolkit in 1.5 to simplify maintenance of several versions of the code. If you still want to use the Theme Toolkit, it is still available for download in version 1.4.

The Black-Letterhead 1.5 is now available for download here.

For support, please visit the Support Forum.

Running Linux on Playstation 3

Anyone brave enough to install Linux on a Playstation 3? Popular Mechanics has an article detailing the installation of Ubuntu Linux on a PS3 and making it a dual boot system; one for gaming with the PS3 game console and the other for computing using Ubuntu Linux. The article highly recommends backing up your data first, then swapping out the standard 40/80 GB hard drive with a high capacity 250GB drive. Interestingly enough, you can run Linux legally, but not Windows and OS X.

PS3 can’t run Microsoft Windows or Apple’s OS X but it can run Linux operating systems. There are many Linux varieties, but our favorite is Ubuntu. And it turns out that the open-source community has created a program called kboot that helps load Ubuntu onto the PS3.

Ultimately, it really means you can run Blu-Ray movies on Ubuntu Linux.


gTwitter is a simple GTK+ based application for Linux, designed to interact with the Twitter web service. It’s under the GNU General Public License v2 and can be downloaded at Google Code.

To install gTwitter in Ubuntu 8.10 Hardy Heron or any previous Ubuntu versions for that matter, just go to the Linux Terminal and type in the following:

# sudo apt-get install gtwitter

You can also use the Synaptic Package Manager if prefer to work with a GUI. Open the Synaptic Package Manager from the main menu: Systems – Administration – Synaptic Package Manager. Perform a search for ‘gTwitter.’ Once found, right click and select ‘Mark for Installation’ and click Apply.

After the installation is completed, you can now access the gTwitter application from the main menu: Applications – Internet – gTwitter.

Just enter your username and password if you already have an account with Twitter. If not, you can sign up for free. You may have to refresh the application every now and then to see the latest tweets. Look for the gTwitter icon from the top panel. Right click on the icon and choose Refresh.

That’s it. Enjoy gTwitter.

Firefox 3.0 Download Day

Download Day - English

Download Day - English Download Day - English

The official date for the launch of Firefox 3.0 is June 17, 2008. Join Firefox set a world record for the most software downloaded in 24 hours. Pledge now. Here are some of the new features of Firefox 3.0. Help spread Firefox. If you want to see a sneak preview of Firefox 3.0, you can download the Release Candidate 3 in your language of choice. Firefox 3.0 is also available in Windows, MacOS and Linux operating systems.


Have you ever tried to use the mail function in PHP and it doesn’t work? Chances are the sendmail on the host server is not configured correctly. Maybe you may need to play around with PHP.INI to make it work. There is an easy workaround to make your mail function work without tinkering with sendmail. Try PHPMailer.

PHPMailer is a PHP class for PHP (www.php.net) that provides a package of functions to send email. The two primary features are sending HTML Email and e-mails with attachments. PHPMailer supports nearly all possiblities to send email: mail(), Sendmail, qmail & direct to SMTP server. You can use any feature of SMTP-based e-mail, multiple recepients via to, CC, BCC, etc. In short: PHPMailer is an efficient way to send e-mail within PHP.

The key feature of PHPMailer is having the ability to use the mail function with a smtp server. There several features worth noting such as the ability to send an HTML email, CC and BCC recipients, embedded images, attachments, custom mail headers, redundant SMTP servers, SMTP authentication, wordwrap, etc.

A sample PHP mail function may look like this:

$to      = 'nobody@example.com';
$subject = 'the subject';
$message = 'hello';
$headers = 'From: webmaster@example.com' . "\r\n" .
           'Reply-To: webmaster@example.com' . "\r\n" .
mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);

In PHPMailer, you would write something like this using SMTP server:

$mail = new PHPMailer();
$mail->Host = "smtp.host.com";
$mail->From = "donotreply@host.com";
$mail->FromName = "Your name";
$mail->AddAddress("someone@domain.com", "John Doe");
$mail->Subject = "Hello there";
$mail->Body = "Hi, just wanted to drop by and say hi." ;
if(!$mail->Send()) {
  echo "Message could not be sent.";
} else {
  echo "Message successful";

Some smtp servers may require authentication. You may need to add these lines:

$mail->SMTPAuth = true;
$mail->Username = "username";
$mail->Password = "password";

PHPMailer is an excellent and simple replacement for the PHP mail function. It’s easy and it works. Give PHPMailer a try.

Ubuntu 1050×1680 Portrait Mode

About a month ago, I had a little computer glitch. I ended up reinstalling Windows XP, but I ran into some more problems when Windows updates began to trickle in. I just couldn’t get past Windows Authentication since I didn’t have a valid license.

I was literally stuck with Windows XP SP1. There were some programs that refuse to install unless I had SP2. So much for that idea.

Then, Solaris came out a few weeks ago, I tried to install it by overwriting my Ubuntu partition. The Solaris installation was smooth. There were no issues. However, running it is another story.

There were two major problems:

  1. Xorg wasn’t working quite well. I was only seeing 3/4 of the screen. I tried rebooting. I also  reconfigured Xorg. It worked for the lower resolutions, but not the 1680×1050 widescreen my monitor supported. So, I gave up Solaris and went back to Ubuntu.
  2. I learned after the install of Ubuntu that the MBR (Master Boot Record) aka PBR was destroyed. I could no longer boot to Windows or Ubuntu. Nice job, Solaris.

I wiped out the entire disk and removed the two partitions. I installed Ubuntu as the only OS on my computer. C’est la vie, Windows.

The only thing I missed in Windows is viewing in portrait mode which is great for browsing websites and documents, while landscape mode is perfect for viewing spreadsheets.

So, did I get portrait mode working in Ubuntu?

I had an old ATI graphics card which I learned later that it had issues with rotating views. I ended up buying an older Nvidia FX-5200 from Ebay for a fairly good price.

So, here’s my setup.

  • Monitor: HP w2207h 1680×1050 60 Hz
  • Video Card: Nvidia GeForce FX-5200
  • Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04.

I set the device section of my Xorg.conf to:

Section "Screen"
 Identifier "Default Screen"
 DefaultDepth 24
Section "Module"
 Load	"glx"
Section "Device"
 Identifier "Default Device"
 Driver	"nvidia"
 Option	"NoLogo" "True"
 Option "RandRRotation"


To view in portrait mode, just go to Systems – Preferences – Screen Resolution – Monitor Resolution Settings and choose either Normal or Left rotation.

Landscape Mode (Normal) Setting: 1680×1050 pixels.

Portrait Mode (Rotated Left) Setting: 1050×1680 pixels.

So, this is how I setup my Ubuntu in Portrait mode with my HP w2207h monitor and my Nvidia FX-5200 video card. I will note however, that are currently issues with running Xrandr with Compiz at the same. Unfortunately, you can’t have both. Other than, I’m a happy camper.

Journey Revelation

Journey released today their latest album called “Revelation” featuring lead singer Arnel Pineda. The CD set contains 11 new songs, 11 re-recorded old classics,  and a DVD of Journey’s concert in Las Vegas in March. Revelation contains new songs like ‘Never Walk Away, After All These Years and Wildest Dream. Revelation is sold exclusively at WalMart for $11.98.

The album was produced by Kevin Shirley who was recently interviewed by ModernGuitars about the project. You can also read the New York Times’ review of Journey’s latest album. Idolator and Blabbermouth also joins the fray.

I’m amazed that a simple mention of either Journey, Steve Perry or Arnel Pineda in forums, blogs and in YouTube invoke impassioned sentiments I’ve never seen before. The gamut runs from die-hard Steve Perry fans, Arnel Pineda fans to just pure Journey haters.

Whichever side of the spectrum you fall in, just enjoy the music because I think this one of the better Journey albums in quite a while. I picked up my copy today. I listened to the whole album. I think it’s very good.

I’m predicting ‘Never Walk Away’ and ‘After All These Years’ will be big hits this summer. Journey will be on tour in Europe in June, then will be back in the US and Canada from July to October. Better get your tickets fast.

Here are a couple more reviews: