Software I use

Date: 04 Jul, 2019
Posted by: admin
In: hints & tips|linux, open source & software

Some software. Jump to the end if you just want the raw list. Of course we call sofware applications “apps” now!

Software that I use(d) and endorse(d)

Why do you care? I don’t really know … but we’re here so, lets have at it.

2007 called and they want their list back

Recently I came across this list from 2007 in an archived post :

Favourite Open Source Applications

  • 7-Zip; 7z442.msi – nearly universal zip application
  • Firefox; Firefox_Setup_1.5.0.4.exe – high quality browser, highly secure, excellent standards compatibility, very fast too
  • SketchUp; GoogleSketchUpW-EN.exe – 3D sketching program from Google
  • Inkscape; Inkscape-0.44-1.win32.exe – vector graphics package
  • OpenOffice.org; OOo_2.0.3_Win32Intel_install.exe – replacement office suite for Microsoft Office
  • Thunderbird; Thunderbird_Setup_1.5.0.4.exe – great email application, warns you of scams, excellent junk mail filtering
  • AdAware; aawsepersonal.exe – run this to remove adware from your computer, an essential maintenance task to do each month
  • Abiword; abiword-setup-2.4.4.exe – a MS Word replacement with a clean crisp interface
  • Audacity; audacity-win-1.2.3.exe – sound editting application
  • AVG; avg71free_385a721.exe – antivirus program that doesn’t use up all your computers resources
  • Celestia; celestia-win32-1.4.1.exe – extreme star-gazing
  • GIMP; gimp-2.2.10-i586-setup.zip – complex but fully featured graphics program
  • IrfanView; iview392.exe & irfanview_plugins_392.exe – best ever graphics viewer, views nearly any type of graphics file, the interface is a bit clunky though
  • jEdit; jedit42install.jar – good Java based programmers editor, made excellent by installing the extensions
  • nVu; nvu-1.0-win32-installer-full.exe – full featured web page editor
  • Opera; Opera_9_Eng_Setuo.exe – another killer browser, this one looks good, is fast, can be controlled (in XP and 2000) by voice commands!! “Computer, make tea”??!
  • Picasa; picasa2-current.exe – a photo viewing and editting package from Google, enables upload of pictures and easy tweaking. I’ve used this for thousands of pictures
  • Scribus; scribus-1.3.3.2-win32-install.exe – exceptionally good DTP package that can create SVG and PDF files. Does require getting used to. It’s not great unless you have the text already to hand, IMHO
  • Spybot; spybotsd14.exe – finds and removes spyware, use in conjunction with adaware
    … more soon

That’s about 250MB of great applications, and it won’t cost you a penny.

and thought it would be fun to look at the list and see what I’d recommend now instead. Much has happened in the last 12 years. But enough about that, on with the show. The same list with notes and additions replacements based on my current, 2019, usage and experience.

What I endorse in 2019

My primary operating system is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu, Kubuntu 18.04, which uses KDE’s Plasma desktop as the DE. But, after much pressure from the kids — to enable easier gaming, particularly for Epic’s Fortnite game — I have a Microsoft Windows 10 install on a new computer too.

The list, updated, comments in italics, still used apps in bold, no longer used apps struck out:

I’m still a huge FOSS nut

  • 7-Zipwhilst it’s still a popular zip too, and I installed in on MSWin recently, I have hardly used it in years, my main compression tool is tar (a linux command line tool) nowadays, followed by the Dolphin file manager’s built in uncompress options.
  • FirefoxI’ve upgrade from 1.5 to version 67.0 and do most of my browsing via Kubuntu now, recently I’ve been using Brave Browser (0.65) too.
  • SketchUpstill around but I never really got in to it
  • Inkscape – vector graphics package; now using version 0.92 on both MSWin and Kubuntu
  • OpenOffice.org – replacement office suite for Microsoft Office; there were various changes with this one, name and ownership changes and splits, so we now have at least two codebases based on what was once Star Office, now I use
  • LibreOffice 6.2 — as this is the successor to OpenOffice.org, and I was using it before that, it gets to be bold.
  • Thunderbird – great email application, warns you of scams, excellent junk mail filtering; “still” using Thunderbird, but it’s kinda, and not really as I’ve used a few MUA in the interim including Kmail, SylpheedClaws, and whatever, but returned to Thunderbird and am now on version 60.7.
  • AdAwareit’s still around but I use a pihole nowadays along with uBlock Origin
  • Abiword – a MS Word replacement with a clean crisp interface
  • Audacity – sound editing application; version 2.2.1 now, still use occasionally but due to not doing sermon recordings I don’t need it often
  • AVG – antivirus program; again it’s still around, on MSWin I use Microsoft’s Windows Defender along with extreme cynicism, and a pihole.
  • Celestia – extreme star-gazing; the choice now is the very excellent
    Stellarium 0.18
  • GIMP 2.8 – complex but fully featured graphics program; still in regular use on both MSWin and Kubuntu but I also rather like Krita for raster image work and Inkscape for vector image work.
  • IrfanView – best ever graphics viewer; I don’t use it anymore, Okular for viewing docs, or just the file manager
  • jEdit – good Java based programmers editor; again not something I use anymore, moved around a lot of editors and IDE’s including simply Kate, PyCharm, NetBeans, and am currently using Visual Studio Code aka “code” most of all (on MSWin and Kubuntu) at the moment.
  • nVu – full featured web page editor; never really used it that much, used Dreamweaver and Bluefish a bit a long time ago, but always happier with a simple editor, now that browsers have developer tools I’ve given up on any other visual tools.
  • Opera – another killer browser; Opera Unite was my great hope for the future of the web (see link for blog post) , but I no longer use Opera anywhere, Firefox, Brave, Chrome, and other browsers for testing but that doesn’t include Opera anymore as now it’s primarily a wrapper on Chrome AIUI.
  • Picasa – a photo viewing and editing package from Google; I think Google, or Alphabet their parent company now, killed this one, but in any case I’ve been using the following excellent KDE based photo manager for ages now, it’s really great (but the facial recognition still isn’t up to the standard of Picasa from 10 years ago IMO). I don’t do photo management under MSWin, I think my in-laws still have Picasa.
    Digikam 5.6
  • Scribus – exceptionally good DTP package; don’t use this as much now, as Inkscape has developed it’s become better for my needs from the design side and LibreOffice fills in from the documents side, but I still have it installed and have still designed advertising copy in it recently.
  • Spybot – finds and removes spyware; never had an issue with such things using Linux.

What other apps am I using now

Not, now-now, I’m not really a big multi-tasker, but you get the gist.

The main additions to the list would have to be:

  • Steam [for Linux] | Steam [for Windows 10] — a game installer and manager; use this on both Kubuntu and MSWin, quite a lot.
  • KDEnlive 17.12 | OBS Studio 23.2 — video editing suites; I only recently found OBS Studio when doing my first proper Windows install for myself, KDEnlive I’ve used for a long time now, on and off. I’ve also used Blender as a NLE (Non-Linear Editor).
  • Dolphin 17.12 — I use Dolphin a lot, it’s not the only file-manager I use (sometimes I use Krusader, or even Midnight Commander [mc], FileLight probably counts here too) but it does get a lot of mileage. I’m still not sure it’s better than the KDE’s previous file-manager (Konqueror) but it’s useful, and usable, and used, nonetheless.

Plus I spend a lot of time on the command line in Kubuntu for which I use the Yakuake drop-down terminal. I spend quite a bit of computing time using BASH, I grep, ack, find, ssh, sshfs, fusermount, git clone, sudo apt install (or aptitude), cat, tail, lsof, locate, pgrep, htop, … and all of that jazz. Recently I’ve started to use Chocolatey on MSWin too so I can choco install firefox, or whatever, and then updates are as easy as with apt.

Then there’s phone apps, … but that’s a different kettle of fish.

Web apps, are they the now/future?

The way things have developed the browser has become much more powerful, both in itself and as a link to web applications. We use a lot of web apps, including the main social sites like Facebook, media sites like YouTube, and gaming sites like Roblox or Worms.io (favourites of my family), in 2019.

I wonder how things will change in the next 12 years.

Did the Brexit Party specifically copy the Nazis in the EU parliament as a means of protest? We can see that the image showing the NSDAP appears to be genuine and to show a protest that the Brexit Parties protest mirrors.

September 1930: NSDAP members turn their backs to the ReichstagBrexit Party turn their backs — Just like the Nazis did?

Fact Checking the news today

An image today has been widely circulated. It comes via Alamy stock but appears to come to them from jW-Archiv (more on that later). The image shows the NSDAP, the Nazis, turning their backs in the Reichstag (the German interwar parliament) as a demonstration against other parties. This is being compared directly to news today that the UK’s Brexit Party members have, disgracing their country and the nobility of their positions, done the same in the EU parliament.

Corroboration: are they copying the Nazis?

Well, I can’t tell if they’re actually copying, but it seems too much of a similarity to be coincidence (more on that later, too). So, …

Where’s the original image from?

 

The Reichstag image purports to show the opening of the German parliament in September 1930. The images shared on Best for Britain, and by lots of others, including Christoper Oxford on Facebook, are watermarked as Alamy but whilst Google reverse image search finds the picture, the link returns an Alamy search page that doesn’t include this photo.

Searching Alamy for “1930 reichstag” (and similar) doesn’t return this image either; AFAICT from scanning through the ~140 results.

Alamy, according to Google are the only source for this image prior to 31 May 2019.

Well if Google say it’s true …?

Read the rest of this entry »

screenshot: Openclipart, website is under maintenanceThe openclipart.org website has been offline for almost 2 months. Reports on Twitter indicate that it went down due to a DDoS from unknown sources. Users are getting concerned that there may be data loss, and are looking for other sources for copyright free clipart. WayBackMachine and others have some assets saved.

Open Clipart website

Offline since April

Without much of a todo on the internet the Open Clip Art Library (OCAL), hosted on Linode at openclipart.org, a repository of ~160,000 free vector images, has been offline since at least 19 April 2019. There is some evidence on the Way Back Machine that it was having trouble from as early as March 2019.

DDoS, data loss?

Reports suggest that the site was taken down in order to handle a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) but there is little confirmation of this from any external sources.

tweet from @openclipart: "Under DDoS attack from some unknown sources [...]"

There is no backup available on the web, as far as I can tell. Whilst people have in the past mentioned the possibility of making a torrent of all the art available (eg on Free Desktop hosted “clipart” mailing list) it seems nothing was made of this. Various people have requested the assets be made available via torrent since the openclipart.org site went down, but — at least on twitter — the site owners seemingly haven’t responded.

Other OCAL file stores

The Internet Archive has some of the files on the Way Back Machine (WBM), such as this example of a spider’s web, and clicking through the SVG files can be found too. Indeed the WBM claims to have ~190,000 SVG images from the site, more than the entire archive (which could be true, as it could include removed files); though it’s not clear how to readily access all of these.

Meanwhile the PublicDomainFiles.com website has around 14,000 of the images available on their website, like this anatomical heart image. They list those images as “public domain”; part of their total 200,000 public domain images. So, perhaps they only have the PD licensed images from OCAL which is primarily a CC0 site.

Wikimedia also has just over 2000 of the OCAL files it seems.

Official sources?

It seems that OCAL has associations with the LibreGraphicsWorld.org group of projects, and that the primary maintainer is Rejon who is managing the @openclipart Twitter account. Troublingly, on 11 June 2019 @rejon tweeted:

tweet from @rejon: "taken back control" [of @openclipart]

Saying they had “taken back control” presumably of the Twitter account … making the incident sound like it is much more than the reported DDoS. But this would explain some tweets which seemingly requested money be sent to a BitCoin account.

@rejon is Jon Phillips one of the founders of openclipart.org according to Wikipedia along with Bryce Harrington (a prolific OSS coder well known as co-founder of the Inkscape project, amongst others). Phillips is credited as founder of Fabricatorz an “art technology studio” who Netcraft confirms (!) as the organisation behind the clipart.org website.

Is the OCAL project dead?

Whelp, it’s approaching 2 months now since the site went down, which is very long to handle a DDoS attack especially given that the Netcraft info indicates that they have at least some association with Cloudflare (as their nameservers are hosted with them). Cloudflare are known for handling DDoS and clipart.org’s hosts Linode have specific integrations with Cloudlflare (as do many web hosts) to enable their users to access Cloudflare’s DDoS handling capabilities …

So, it would appear that there’s something else going on? The author of this blog has reached out to OCAL (love@openclipart.org) to get some comments, and they’ll be added here if any reply is made.

Other long term issues?

Utter speculation: It seems there may be other long term issues with the project. Integration with Inkscape was made some years ago, but when the full OCAL integration broke (upload to OCAL), it remained broken. Not itself a smoking gun by any means, but add in that the FreeDesktop.org mailing list for OCAL has had no real traffic since March 2015, and maybe there’s some indications of a project slowly failing?

I should note that I fully support OCAL and am a contributor there.

TL;DR

openclipart.org is seemingly dead in the water (status unknown) but site owners claim to be working on, and recovering from, an extended DDoS. Some sites (see above) have OCAL assets saved.

Firefox 57 (Quantum) is missing a font from it’s newtab page and from fonts from other pages fail to display; here’s a quick fix. Update: turns out to be a sandboxing issue (see end).

Firefox 57 Quantum

Font Problem

If you’ve just installed Firefox 57 like me (on Kubuntu 17.04) you may be a little disoriented – it’s different.

image shows a Firefox newtab page with no text showing

font display error in Firefox 57

For me it was a little too different the about:newtab page, set as my start page (see image), lacks a font it’s instructed to use. Here’s how to work around that.

Which font is missing?

So, I’d just updated to Firefox 57 and assumed that maybe it wasn’t finding one of my fonts for some reason. Using the developer tools we can see the font SegoeUI is missing: Read the rest of this entry »

Perfume might work but DEET or Lemon repellants work better.

Overall, the results from this study confirm that DEET repellents are the most effective mosquito repellents in the market. Although, based on the results from this study, a lemon-eucalyptus oil containing p-menthane-3,8-diol has similar efficacy compared with DEET repellents.But DEET and Lemon based products are best.

See full study at Journal of Insect Science.

In other news that would be a good science-fair project.

iscan for linux can’t find my printer (originally published 2014-02-11, updated 2017-01-02)

Epson’s iscan scanner app

Fixing the config files

iscan error dialogIt’s been a couple of years now that I’ve had iscan installed. Today I wanted to do some high-resolution scanning so I thought I’d try and get it to work as I imagine it might be the best tool to interface between my Kubuntu 13.10 GNU/Linux distro install and my Epson Stylus SX535WD [update: still using same printer-scanner-copier with Kubuntu 16.04, this method still working]. That W in the model number shows I have a wireless connectable Epson. Over wifi I have no problem printing or scanning using the default tools and with the “epkowa” drivers from Epson but attempting to use iscan (“Image Scan! for Linux”) would give an error:

“Could not send command to scanner. Check the scanner’s status.”

In essence I did “sudo nano /etc/sane.d/dll.conf” and made the file there read:

# /etc/sane.d/dll.conf – Configuration file for the SANE dynamic backend loader
net
epkowa

with no other (uncommented) entries. Previously it had an epson2 entry which I think may have been confusing things.

Then I made sure that the /etc/sane.d/epkowa.conf file new where on the network to find my printer. I gave the printer a fixed IP when I installed it, X.X.X.10 [use the proper network address for your printer, not this placeholder]. Read the rest of this entry »


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Flapjacktastic is just a random collection of musings, hints&tips, notes, information ... a collection of stuff really that's overflowed from the brain of this husband, father, potter, business-man, geek ...

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