Sign Up for GMail Google Voice

This past week, Google released the integration of GMail and Google Voice which allows GMail users make free phone calls to anywhere in the US and Canada. At this time, the service is only available to US and Canadian users. Making international calls however, is subject to low rates which can be purchased online.

With GMail Google Voice, users can now make and receive free phone calls to any landline or wireless phones in the US and Canada until the remainder of the year. Google plans to make this service free as long as international calls can support the service. To sign up for Google Voice, go to

You will be asked to choose a local telephone number from a list of numbers available. Once you secured a number, you will need to open up GMail to activate Google Voice. Click Settings -> Labs and enable the Google Voice module. To make a call within GMail, you will need to login to Google Chat.

The green phone will light up underneath your user name when it is ready. Dial a number and make your free phone call. GMail Google Voice works best with a headset with a built-in microphone. Enjoy.

Finally, here a video tutorial on how to make calls in GMail Google Voice.


My current Alexa ranking is 157825. The reason I brought it up was because Gizmodo posted an article today featuring 300,000 of the biggest websites visualized in a graphic with their icons. The result was based on Alexa rankings earlier this year.

As expected Google, Yahoo, YouTube and Facebook dominated the graphic. I was curious if I made the list. I wasn’t about to spend the whole day looking for it with a microscope, but I was glad to know that NMap has an interactive version. I did a quick search and here it is.

I was pleasantly surprised that I made the list. You can download the graphics if you like or ask for a 24×36 inch poster.

GMail Undo Button

GMail has a new feature called Undo Send. You have 30 seconds to undo a sent email because GMail will hold the email for about 30 seconds before sending it out. This gives the sender plenty of time to ponder if the message was a good idea or not.

To use the feature, you will need to enable it. Click the Green Labs icon in the upper right corner of the GMail screen. Scroll down and enable the Undo Send feature. Give it a try. Send a message to a friend and try to pull it back before 30 seconds has expired.

Online Converter

Several days ago, I mentioned about converting video files using a Windows program called WinFF. Today, I would like to talk about an online tool conversion tool that converts audio, video, image, archive, fonts and Office documents into any of the popular formats available in each category.

The online conversion tool is available in many languages like French, Italian, Spanish, German and many others. The online tool is totally free, but do take donations. If you are looking to convert one file format to another, give this website a try. It’s easy as uploading and downloading a file.


Twitter Shutting Down Basic Authentication

On August 31, the Twitter API team will shutdown all basic authentication on the Twitter API. If you are using any of the third-party Twitter-based applications that uses basic authentication, the application you’re using will no longer work as of August 31.

Twitter has given developers enough warning of the switch. In fact, Twitter has postponed the cutoff date at least twice in the past few months to accommodate developers into adopting the OAuth authentication protocol. This time, the cutoff date will most likely stick. What this means is there will be a number of applications that will no longer work after the deadline.

How does this affect you? If you are a WordPress user and you are using a Twitter-based plugin that requires authentication, there is a good chance your plugin does not use OAuth authentication. There at least 250 Twitter plugins written for WordPress. A number of them do not require authentication, but some require authentication.

If your plugin requires authentication, better check.

One way of finding out which plugin uses OAuth is to check the plugin’s Option pages. If you’ve entered your Twitter credentials such as username and password, then you are using the older and soon to be obsolete basic authentication.

If you’ve entered a consumer key and a consumer secret key, then you are using OAuth authentication protocol.

Another way of finding out if your plugin uses OAuth is that the login process should take you back to the Twitter’s login page such as the example below.

To be sure, check for updates of your plugin. If the developer does not plan to update the plugin, better start looking for an alternative.

I didn’t get a chance to look at each plugin because of the sheer number of Twitter-based plugins in the Plugins directory. One plugin that supports OAuth is Twitter Tools.

Open Gnome Nautilus As Root

Nautilus is the file manager for the Gnome desktop, the default desktop environment for Ubuntu and countless other distributions. I run a local web server on my desktop with the default webroot located in /var/www.

If I copy files to /var/www or any of its subdirectories, I will need root access. Ever wonder how to open the Nautilus file manager as root?

To open Nautilus as root, open the Terminal from Applications -> Accessories menu.

Type the following command:

gksudo nautilus

Using Nautilus can really speed up and make work easier. You can use common mouse movements such as drag and drop, as well as keyboard shortcuts such as cutting and pasting.

If you want to take another step further, you can add this superuser shortcut to your menubar.

WinFF A Free Video Converter

I spoke highly about FFMPEG in 3 separate occasions. Last night, I downloaded a program called WinFF, a Windows GUI for the command line video converter FFMPEG. The program will convert most any video file that FFmpeg will convert.

WinFF does multiple files in multiple formats at one time. You can for example convert mpeg’s, flv’s, and mov’s, all into avi’s all at once. WinFF is available for Windows 95, 98 , ME, NT, XP, VISTA, and Debian, Ubuntu, Redhat based GNU/Linux distributions.

This reason I was looking for a Windows GUI version of FFMPEG because I wanted to use Windows Movie Maker. I had a video in MPG4 format that was not supported by Windows Movie Maker. I figured I need to convert from MPG4 to WMV format.

So, I ended up downloading WinFF. The program is simple and intuitive. I was able to convert from MPG4 to WMV in no time. WinFF is an awesome program that anyone should have in their arsenal.

WinFF is published under the GNU public license. Download.

Custom Changes To The Sociable Plugin

Having spent the last 30 minutes recreating changes I made to the Sociable plugin, I’ve decided to post it here on my blog, so I can always look it up. The changes I’ve made were overwritten when I upgraded the plugin. In case it happens again, I have a note of it somewhere.

The code:

$permalink = urlencode(get_permalink($post->ID));

Is replaced with:

$ur_get_result = get_post($post->ID);
$ur_post_status = $ur_get_result->post_status;
if ($ur_post_status == 'publish' ) {
  $this_post_link  = get_permalink($post->ID);
  $permalink = file_get_contents("".$this_post_link);
} else {
  $permalink = urlencode(get_permalink($post->ID));

That essentially replaces the permalink with my shorturl. If you look at all the sociable tags below, they all contain my short url instead of the permalink.

Changing Hostnames and Making it Stick

Nothing can be more frustrating in Linux than making hostname changes and learning after a reboot that your changes didn’t stick. Here’s just a few things that I did to make the hostname permanent while working in Ubuntu 10.04. This might work in other Debian-based distributions. Let’s assume the name of your system is ‘desktop.’

Edit your hosts file.

sudo vi /etc/hosts</code>

Add this. You can drop the domain if you don’t plan on using it.  desktop

Edit your hostname file.

sudo vi /etc/hostname</code>

Add your hostname. Domain is optional.

Finally, change your hostname.

sudo hostname desktop

GDM Does Not Start in Ubuntu 10.04

For those of us who are Ubuntu lovers, we’ve come to love and expect the stability of Ubuntu. But, when something as simple as a login screen fails to load, all hell seems to break lose. That’s what happened to me. When I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04, I noticed the default GDM login screen wasn’t loading properly.

I must say, a few times it did, but it hasn’t in more than two weeks. I’ve been an Ubuntu user since the Ubuntu 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog days. That’s 5 years, but when something like this is happening in Ubuntu, you start to wonder what in the world is going on. Something as simple as the login screen is failing. Is Ubuntu regressing?

Anyways, tired of login in and typing ‘startx’ every time I want to start Ubuntu, I finally decided to try and fix the issue. I didn’t think it was going to be a simple, but it turned out to be a simple fix. I hope. Crossing my fingers. I ended up removing GDM and re-installing it. So, here are the commands that you can run from the Terminal.

Remove GDM

sudo apt-get remove gdm

Install GDM

sudo apt-get install gdm

But, this fix was temporary. After a couple of restarts, I’m back to square one. GDM was still not loading. So, I ended up install GDM2 instead which gives you more options and functionality. To install you must add a repository first, run an update and install GDM2.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gdm2setup/gdm2setup
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-gdn2setup

GDM2 seems to have fixed the boot problem. I said ‘seem’ because I still need to make sure this issue doesn’t come back like bad dream like the previous one.