Elementary Mono icons for Wicd

I recently started using Wicd wireless network manager. However I dislike the default tray icons.

Since there aren’t many nice ones available I adapted the NetworkManager icons in the Elementary icon theme by Dan Rabbit for Wicd. I’ve just made the version for light backgrounds for now.

Since Wicd displays the network traffic I added this to the icons with a simple dot; downstream on the left, upstream on the right.

To install:

Download the icons

tar -zxvf wicd-elementary-light.tar.gz

Copy to the Wicd icons folder:

cp ./* /usr/share/pixmaps/wicd/

This work is licensed under the GPL.

Flickr integrates Open Street Map data for Beijing

Flickr has begun integrating Open Street Map map data into their world map feature.

It turns out that the data that Yahoo! Maps uses for Beijing is not very rich, so it would seem that Flickr looked to Open Street Map to improve their offering. The funny thing is, according to Flickr’s blog post on the subject, the process actually happened the other way around. Regardless, the point is that since Open Street Map data is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license, Flickr was able to integrate Open Street Map tiles to replace a section of the Yahoo! Maps data.

I recommend checking out Flickr’s blog post for more details and some good before and after shots where you can see the city transform from a grey mass into a network of streets and other features.

I have been contributing to Open Street Map for the past few months so it’s nice to see the work being put to use like this.

Seen on Webware


Flickr is also using OSM for:

Buenos Aires
Rio de Janeiro
Mexico City
…and probably a bunch more places too.

Speeding up Ubuntu/Linux boot time, a different approach

I purchased a laptop a few months ago and have become more concerned with boot time since it is not on 24/7 like my desktop was. There are a number of guides around that explain how to speed up the time it takes to boot up in Ubuntu/Linux. Most of them concentrate on disabling unnecessary processes from loading.

I don’t think that those guides are necessarily bad, just that if your boot is really slow, jumping straight into disabling processes isn’t always the most effective first step to take. In general, you may be disabling some processes which

  1. May not even take much time to load anyway
  2. May be useful at somepoint in the future when you forget you disabled them

Most importantly, there may be some underlying problem that is causing much more of the slowness. With that said, I think that a better methodology is to check if there are any serious issues first, then concentrate on the details second.

To get a general impression of what was going on at boot time I installed the bootchart package. In Debian based distros, e.g. Ubuntu type:

sudo apt-get install bootchart

This app makes a graph of your boot by representing each process as a bar, the length of each showing the load time.

This is useful because you can actually see what is responsible for large chunks of the boot time. Then you can either decide whether you need the slow loading processes, or whether, shock, the reason for the hang is because of some kind of problem.

Here is my chart before I made any changes.

Boot Chart 1

At 45 seconds, it’s not terribly bad but could definitely be improved. As you can see there is about a 12 second period where cupsd stalls before anything else starts loading.

With that information, I checked out /var/log/cups/error_log which contained one line:

Unable to find IP address for server name "..."

Turns out I had changed the hostname without updating the hosts file. So with that information I updated my /etc/hosts and cut 20 seconds off my boot time!

Boot Chart 2

I think that I could probably shave a few more seconds by disabling certain unnecessary processes and if your boot time is already 30 seconds or less feel free to go for it. But, as a quick first step, it was nice to only spend a few minutes to save a huge chunk of time.

scrobbling iPod statistics with Amarok

So I just realised that amarok has a little documented feature that scrobbles your iPod history to last.fm. I am kinda excited about this as I listen to more, and also different, music on my ipod than I do on the computer.

The only kind of annoying thing, which is the iPods fault rather than Amarok’s, is that the iPod history only records the number of times a track has been played and the timestamp it was *last* played. What is missing is the timestamp for every time it was played. Without this information, the scrobbler has to make up a time which is kind of silly but it’s something I can live with.

For those that are curious, to set this up you click the ‘Configure device’ button on the ‘Devices’ tab. Then check ‘syncronise with amarok statistics’. Of course, as well as scrobbling the data, this also updates the stats within amarok too.

edit: I recently switched to Gnome and started using Rhythmbox as my music manager/player. Rhythmbox does indeed send the correct timestamp data to last.fm for each track so it appears that the problem was with Amarok and not the ipod. I haven’t used amarok for a few months so I don’t know if the problem has been fixed there.