Pianobar: Command line Pandora client HOWTO

In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself installing and configuring Pianobar a lot. It’s an open source command line client for the popular Internet music streaming service, Pandora. In rebuilding a couple of machines recently, I have found myself installing and configuring it a few times, and I keep stumbling over it, because it’s broken in the Ubuntu and Debian repositories, so in order to get this really great application to work, it takes a few more steps than a quick apt-get install command.

This little writeup is at least in part for my own benefit, since I’m sick of the stumbling and trying to remember, wait, what did I do to get this to work again? So if it helps any of my readers out, even better!

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I’m tired of this myth

I had a discussion today with someone who maintained with confidence that “If Linux were as popular as Windows, we’d be seeing just as many viruses and just as much malware for it as we see now for Windows”.

While that argument might hold true for desktop users, to an extent, the focus of the discussion was essentially (from his point of view) that “Linux is no more secure than Windows”, fundamentally.

Which is false. When I pointed this out, it was dismissed as simply my opinion, but I believe that he’s stuck in a logical fallacy in this assertion.

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Resurrecting an old laptop

Just so you know, this isn’t a review. It’s just a discussion on what I did to make some old hardware useful again.

I’ve made mention from time to time the Toshiba Satellite A75 that I have that has been a backup machine for me for years now.

Well, with my 3+ year old System76 laptop on its last legs and suddenly developing a short in its screen connection, I decided to blow the dust off that trusty old Toshiba again and use it as a stopgap until I get something newer.

The problem is, this Toshiba Satellite is from 2005, has a single core 32-bit Pentium 4 processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, and a 60 GB hard drive. Needless to say, it’s a bit out of place in today’s world, so I had to put some thought into how to best optimize this machine’s return to productivity or it’d be pretty painful to use.

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A Linux Critic keepalive: The state of my tech

Well, as these things tend to go, having a full time job and hobbies and lots of other things going on means that my Linux blog gets neglected.

I thought I’d post a quick update just as a keepalive and let those of you who still actually pay attention to my little corner of WordPress that I’m still here, I’m still doing stuff with Linux and technology, and I haven’t completely given up on The Linux Critic blog just yet.

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My Chromium Extensions

Since I’ve been cycling continuously between the three browsers that annoy me the least lately (Opera, Firefox 3.6, and Chromium), I’ve been utilizing each browser’s extensibility to make it a bit more usable.

In a previous post, I discussed the various things I do to recent releases of Firefox to make it behave itself. In this post, I’ll be discussing the process I go through with the Chromium browser, namely with respect to extensions (since there really isn’t much one can configure in Chromium natively).

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How to downgrade Firefox to the last sane version (3.6)

So I keep ranting about Firefox here, and for good reason: the Mozilla team is going above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to driving users to other browsers.

However, try as I might, I simply encounter too many dealbreakers in Chromium.

When I think about it, the last version of Firefox that didn’t drive me crazy with crashing, incompatible add-ons, and stupid UI changes and features removed, it would have to be Firefox 3.6.

I keep forgetting how to do this, so I’m posting this here as much for my own reference as for anyone else’s. This is how to downgrade newer versions of Firefox to 3.6 and keep it that way, at least until things settle down a little, or until another browser comes along that can actually be a viable replacement for it — unlike newer versions of Firefox, sadly. This works with Mint 11, which means it will also work with Ubuntu 11.04.

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Google Music: Music in the cloud

Back in early June of this year, most likely scrambling to steal some of the thunder from Apple’s musical cloud offering announcement, Google had announced their own cloud-centric approach to music, which they simply called Google Music.

At the time, considering that there was no Linux client, an only barely-functional interface and muddy limitations on the framework they’d hastily set up, it was clear that this was premature. Appropriately, given the look of it, I had dismissed Google Music out of hand as a non-item.

However, in the intervening weeks, something happened. It got better.

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Chromium extension suggestions?

Okay, since I’m starting to realize that it’s time to bail on Firefox as my primary browser, the next one down my list in order of browsers which annoy me the least these days is Chromium.

However, it’s still pretty annoying and still lacks a lot of functionality and flexibility. Since The Linux Critic is the best way I know to reach out to the community, I’m counting on you guys to give me some extension suggestions, because on my own so far I’m really not finding anything I need, no matter how hard I look.

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More Firefox feature assassination coming up

So in keeping with the direction the devs at Mozilla have been steering the Firefox browser, plans include more feature assassination (of course), this time in the form of obfuscating useful information — arguably the most important information for users of a web browser — in the address bar.
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My Firefox 4 setup process

For the last year and some change, I’ve gone from using Opera as my primary browser to using Mozilla Firefox. I have a variety of reasons for this switch, and it was a somewhat gradual one, but as I detailed in a recent post, despite it being my browser of choice, I still feel that it has a lot of shortcomings, and as such, it needs a lot of tweaking out-of-the-box before I find it usable.

So this is a writeup of the things I do to Firefox — in this particular case Firefox 4 — immediately after I install it. It used to be a much shorter list, but these days it’s getting more and more involved, so this writeup is as much for my own purposes, as a checklist of sorts, as it is to share my thoughts with others on how to tweak Firefox 4.

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