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Ubuntu Linux on a Tablet

Asus T102HA running full Ubuntu 18.10

Ubuntu on Asus tabletMy Asus T102HA Transformer Pad came with Windows 8 and the free upgrade to Windows 10 Home. As a small pad with 4Gb ram, it did just about everything I needed as a secondary computer...but the Windows updades were less than satisfactory ... not updating successfully ... and costing far too much in data where I live. In the end, it became unusable.

Ubuntu was a free option option to try ... and its working well

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Raspberry Pi'es

The new raspberrypi computer

raspberrypi computer board

The new Raspberrypi Model 3B+ with the Raspbian OS on the micro SDcard ready to plug in and go...

This gives a fully functional computer with a linux based operating system, straight out of the box. The board, case, power adaptor, microSd, keyboard, mouse, hdmi cable... all for under A$100 - just plug into a screen.

Designed and intended for learning programming and how to use a computer as a microcontroller for many things ... its actually a usable computer for general use - just plug in a keyboard/mouse and HDMI to your TV to browse the internet, check email, watch youtube videos, play movies and music from a USB input...and write your new book.

Its a quality product, made in the UK. Just 1Gb of RAM, built-in wifi and bluetooth, and a powerful graphics chip... all powered by a 5V phone charger.

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Power Editing For Text Files

Using the External Tools Plugin for Gedit

external tools pluginMost text editors fall short on being able to run batch commands with the search and replace features. Gedit overcomes this with the External Tools Plugin which allows us to create scripts and apply these as needed to documents being edited. I'm very happy with it - its powerful and flexible - and does all that it claims.

I didn't realise this was the tool I needed at first as I was sidetracked, thinking the "Python console" plugin would do the job  - once I realised the error of my ways, it was easy... but I still had to do some 'digging' through the internet to work out how to use it for what I wanted... a clear "how to" was not easy to find.

Looking back...it was not difficult ... and well worth the effort.


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Open source software - a social responsibility?

LibreOffice CalcOver the last ten or so years, I have had opportunity to be employed by, or work with a range of NGO, academic, and faith based organisations in less economically advantaged countries. These organisations had a common feature. They were all large organisations (500 plus) working with people, either in or being groomed to work with, the wider community. They also all used the big name proprietary office and other software which is mostly not affordable in the wider community. With the cost of proprietary software, the use of pirated versions of these proprietary packages is rampant in the wider communities… and the lack of adequate antivirus protection makes the whole situation a serious productivity issue…. and moral dilemma.

Excellent free and open source software (FOSS) alternatives are available… From experience, I suggest some of the issues facing FOSS adoption relate to awareness, reluctance to change, and change management processes.

The question...or maybe challenge is better... is whether community focussed organistions can drive wider community improvements by showing leadership in use of FOSS!

Tag: foss

OCR With Special Characters

Training Tesseract to reconise new characters and fonts

Training Tesseract

I was recently faced with the challenge of using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert an old book to an editable text format. This is not difficult with English and other major languages, but the challenge comes when the document uses a minority language with a different alphabet to those recognised by OCR programs. Take the "ŋ" character in the image in this article - with English based OCR, "ŋ" can show as "n" or "g" or "u"... or another, but never as "ŋ" as that character does not exist in the language file. The OCR gets completely lost and the resulting text requires much editing.


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Zotero 5 makes some changes

Zotero homepage
Zotero, the powerful reference and citation manager has just seen some good changes in the latest version 5.  See http://www.zotero.org  for full documentation.

The key change for me was that the firefox extension is no longer used. Firefox joins Chrome and Safari in using connectors to a standalone Zotero. Zotero handles the update seamlessly, and now that I am used to the new format, I like it... as it gives me flexibility in use of browsers.

Logon as a "Guest" at elearn, to read more on how this tool can improve your workflow writing scientific and other academic papers.



Tag: library metadata citation zotero

Get Results with Free and Open Source Software

Spreadsheets, advanced document preparation, database applications, high quality graphics, responsive web browsers  .....  Do you want to avoid vendor contracts and lock-in, ensure you are using open standards for file formats, have ongoing support, and avoid using illegal, pirated software?  Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) offers us the alternatives to proprietary lock-in with its up-front licencing costs, ongoing upgrade fees and closed formats. While the Total Cost of Ownership for reputable FOSS is lower than proprietary alternatives, the real benefits are in the open source of the code, open standards, and enhanced security through wide developer community input. The Internet has plenty of pro / con arguments on this topic .... first you need to cut through the marketing hype. Better to check for yourself....

My favourite FOSS productivity applications include the replacement for proprietary office suites, LibreOffice, Gimp  image editing, Firefox browser, 7Zip compression, PostgreSQL database, VLC - the video player with much more ...

If you just want to try these without installing the program, try the versions at Portable Apps.

Tag: foss

Image Manipulation with GIMP


It can be disappointing when we have a set of images to use in a web page or mobile app but they have a background colour which leaves an unwanted rectangular border or background, instead of cleanly merging with the page background.  GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) can help us with manipulation of these images to allow the transparency needed for the image to merge seamlessly with the page barkground.  GIMP is a powerful image editor with capabilities and output quality similar to the popular but expensive Photoshop program.

In this article we will take a JPG image with a white background and convert it into the PNG format with "Alpha" channel transparency. The first section of the article takes us through the process for converting, resizing and exporting an  individual image.  The second part of the article extends this with use of a great batch process plugin, BIMP,  which handles multiple procedures with a batch of images and allows us to save the procedure for future use.

The programs are freely provided by their respective authors and if you find them useful, please check their websites and donate for their continued development.


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Mind mapping and such things

Mind-mapping with Freeplane

Mindmapping is a great technique for visualising our own or group thoughts on a topic, and its relationships.  Electronic mind maps can extend the typically manual mind mapping process with new capabilities. There are several opensource offerings which are particularly suited to the development and sharing of scientific and general academic research outcomes. Which tool is best for your purposes...depends...

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Using Zotero for productivity in research and writing

Zotero homepage
Zotero is a powerful reference and citation manager with many powerful capabilities. See  http://www.zotero.org  for full documentation.

It can be used to capture reference metadata from web sites and databases compliant with metadata standards. Set up Zotero on your conputer and then check out Google Scholar, Agora and the Biblio library (copy on this site).

Zotero is very flexible. It was originally written as a Firefox extension and is quite convenient in this mode. Alternatively, it can be installed as a standalone program with connectors for Google Chrome and Safari. For citation, it can be used with LibreOffice Writer, NeoOffice Writer or Microsoft Word.

Read on to see how this tool can improve your workflow writing scientific and other academic papers.

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