GrooveMobile, a Grooveshark client for Windows Mobile that I like

I have a small (512MB!) SD card for extra storage on my HTC Universal (running Windows Mobile 6.1). Most of that is full with applications and photos. Conclusion: I have no place to put my music collection, which wouldn’t fit in 512MB whatsoever. So, I started to think about streaming music to the phone… the best streaming service I know, that works on my country, is Grooveshark, but simultaneously I knew there was no free, official Grooveshark client for Windows Mobile.

Some Google searches after… I found GrooveFish. GrooveFish was supposed to be a free Grooveshark client for Windows Mobile, the problem was that is it discontinued and really outdated; I downloaded the installer CAB file and installed. But what could one expect, it didn’t work, just hanged when searching for songs.

After another Googling session and some link following, I discover GrooveMobile. GrooveMobile appears to be very similar to GrooveFish, and in fact it is, but the difference is, it occupies some more KBytes of space, and it actually works. By “actually works” I mean:

  • It can successfully search for songs without any hang (provided that your connection is stable and fast)
  • You press a song to the list to add it to the internal playlist of the program
  • It follows the playlist and… ladies and gentlemen, we have sound 🙂
  • Now lets do a quick test that might ruin all this: lets set the Universal to close position (screen facing keyboard) and see if the sound keeps playing…
  • …and yes, it keeps playing with the phone closed! It keeps following playlist and everything. Sweet!

Now you might be wondering, did anyone ask/pay me to write this review? Absolutely not; I found the software, it works well, and I decided to share it with my readers which might have a Windows Mobile phone. Note that the app requires Compact .NET framework 3.5, but unlike many .Net framework apps developed for Windows Mobile, this actually works and doesn’t suck – at least on my device, of course. “Use at your own risk” is another statement that applies in this case 🙂 .

I haven’t tested all the functions of the app, but will do progressively. I’ll keep this post updated. Oh, and don’t forget that this is an application that streams files from the internet, so it consumes a lot of traffic, and we all know 3G data connections aren’t cheap everywhere for everyone 🙂 . Personally, I only use GrooveMobile over WiFi.

GrooveMobile Website

Now running with WordPress 3.2

This blog was just updated to the version 3.2 of the software that powers it, WordPress. The blog post form the WordPress team regarding this release is on the WordPress official blog.

To sum things up, what this means to my visitors is the end of support for Internet Explorer 6, in order to let WordPress developers and me take advantage of new web technologies.

The admin interface has been refreshed, the support for PHP 4 and older MySQL versions has been removed – nothing that affects this site as I tend to use up-to-date software on my servers.

Do you have a WordPress website? What do you think of the new version 3.2? Comment and discuss!

Ubuntu updates are killing me

OK, not really. But I thought it’d be a great title for this post.

This is a personal opinion/story post and won’t help you much if you came here from a search result page, while looking for a solution for a problem on your Ubuntu installation. If that’s your case, don’t waste more time reading this post, as probably it won’t help you (but you might find your situation similar).

For those who don’t know, I use Ubuntu on my main desktop as the main OS. Yes, I know how to work with Microsoft Windows, but I don’t use it much at home.

The problem in my case, I think, comes in part from having a lot of packages installed due to the fact that I have both Gnome and KDE installed, although I never use KDE nor its apps. Sometimes, some conflicts with the package updates appear, specially because I have packages from PPAs and other unofficial repositories.

Since the release of Ubuntu 11.04, which I won’t update my PC to too soon, Ubuntu updates manager keeps bothering me about a “partial update”, that basically would just update my Ubuntu 10.10 install to a semi 11.04, something I don’t want. I hate these package updates. I know it won’t install Unity and set it as default Desktop Environment, but still, I don’t want to have a half-10.10-half-10.04 Ubuntu specially when such updates will delete for sure certain “mods” I did to my install like the custom bootsplash, the mintmenu (yes, it was on the list of packages to remove with the partial update), and the custom repositories and PPAs (now you know why I put “mods” between quotes, it’s because these really aren’t mods).

Well, I ended up doing the “partial update”. I lost the Linux Mint menu, obviously, but not the bootsplash. Now you ask, if I was so bothered about updating, why did I proceed? Because I eventually know I’ll switch to another Linux distro soon.

Fedora was a possibility, but since I saw the new version, it’s out of the list. Reason: it brings Gnome 3 and it’s basically a copy of Unity, so now I’m hating both of them: Unity for being a copy of Gnome 2 with flashy effects, a dock, and other MS-Windows-7-style “innovations” that would make sense in a tablet or mobile phone, or even an interactive coffee table, but that I hate having on my desktop –  it’s just not productive; and Gnome 3 for being a copy of Unity – or is Unity a copy of Gnome 3? Doesn’t matter: I find either of them unproductive and too eyecandy, to not say that I need two or more clicks to perform an action that on Gnome 2 I do with one click: for example, switching from one window to another (fortunately, they have kept Alt+Tab!).

Seeing as I’m very exigent with the Desktop Environment of the distro I use, perhaps I’ll just stick with this Ubuntu and its malfunctioning updates… well, if I weren’t lazy, I have the knowledge to fix it, but it’s simply too much work, I repeat, I’m lazy…

Right-click blocking

I was reading this thread on the FreeVPS forum and replied with my opinion about the websites that use the kind of scripts presented in that thread. For those who don’t bother about checking the thread, it is about a script (copied&pasted from some javascripts site) that warns people when they first right-click on the website the script is put on, and when people right-click again they will get hung.

I can’t tell you how much I hate the websites that use that kind of scripts. Most of the time I’m right-clicking to open a link in a new tab or to see the correction suggestions for an error on the text I’m writing at the page. When the right-click is simply disabled and doesn’t appear, it’s boring but not very bad when compared to those pages where you click and it tells you not to click… or better yet, not to copy and plagiarize content when all I’m trying to do is opening a link in another tab.

Worse: sometimes these scripts will just render the page black even if you just accidentally clicked the right button for the second or third time. I never come back to these sites, most of the times I quit once I see a stupid message saying I can’t right-click, even if the content is right what I’m looking for.

This is just a very small part of the websites I hate… others include the traditional websites with popups and lots of ads, the websites that will send a lot of javascript window.alert() when you try to go away from the page, those that no matter how much times you click on the Back button, they won’t you exit out to where you came from (e.g. Google search results). I’ll write about these later.

To finish, I’d like to present you with a new funny right I just remembered of:

Right-clicking webpages is a right of any website visitor, not respecting this right will get your website banned from your website visitor’s “Websites to visit” list and added to the “Websites to hate and stay away” list. 🙂

I hate MS Windows

…and it’s so frustating that I must use it at school.
To make things worse, it’s not any Windows version, but perhaps the best version of windows ever: Vista!

By the way, all the computers have Linux installed on another partition (the HD of these PCs has like 6 partitions, for special non-functioning OSes, plus their recovery and backup partitions), but we never use it (most people have the idea of a Linux distro being something where you can play SuperTux, nothing more). And my IT techer looks at me with some strange eyes every time I tell her that I use Ubuntu as the main OS of my computers at home, and asks me “Oh, you use Linux?”. Bah.

Fortunately, in some hours I’ll be at my own computer again…

Ubuntu 11.04 – But is it Ubuntu or MacOSX?

I just took the time to download the latest version, 11.04, of Ubuntu Linux, burn a the image to a CD and boot the live CD – which is where I’m writing this from.

What I’m seeing and using really disappoints me. To simplify this post in a single line, I only need to say:

If I wanted a straight copy of Apple’s Mac OSX operating system user interface with the predominance of purple and orange, I would buy a Mac or at the very least hackintosh a PC then install a purple theme on it.

But let’s start from the beginning. The CD booted into a purple (an horrible color that Canonical keeps on choosing since version 10.04, to contrast, perhaps, with the orange of the default theme) screen with just two icons at the bottom, a keyboard and an accessibility one. This was the boot manager, who would say? – not only a single line of text. I was trying to figure out how to work with that screen (keyboard left, right, up, down, enter, escape and even tried the mouse with no success in any of these inputs) when, from nothing, the system starts booting: first the usual cursor blinking at the top left corner, then the cursor gets smaller because the resolution of the screen was increased, and the bootsplash is shown.

The bootspash keeps being very, very similar to the one used in the two previous versions of Ubuntu. A purple background with the Ubuntu in white at the very center with five white dots below, blinking into orange sequentially. One thing new in this bootspash might be, and I say “might” because I can’t remember very well the latest version’s splash, a little white glow around the Ubuntu logo.

The bootsplash doesn’t go away in the traditional way, that is, disappearing the Ubuntu logo and then appearing the login screen. First, the background fades into a purpleish image, keeping the Ubuntu logo fading even more slowly… after some time, the logo has completely vanished, a black bar at the top appears with some icons (network, clock and shutdown options), and I call it black bar, because it’s not a panel anymore, since it’s not Gnome anymore, but yes Ubiquity. Then a window appears asking me if I want to Try Ubuntu or Install Ubuntu.

I chose to Try Ubuntu: the window disappears, and the screen goes into the old white on black Linux system log (saying things about filesystems and etc.) for about a second and a half and then a black screen with the mouse cursor in the middle appears – it looks like X server had been restarted. Just a note for the guys at Canonical, this is not a really polished approach to “Try Ubuntu” option, leaving users waiting on a black screen with a mouse – if users should wait at all, but hey, I understand the CD has to be loaded sometime.

Finally, the purpleish background image appears again, the top black bar appears too, but now with more icons, some icons in the desktop appear and a kind of dock with a bunch of icons appears on the left. Get ready: this will be the base for the Ubiquity desktop. I took a screenshot, but note that this is after I was running Firefox, but it lets you have an idea of what I’m talking about:

[Image not available due to data loss, during a server change that forcibly took place on 1st December 2011. You can find images similar to the one that was here by searching for images about “ubuntu 11.04 default desktop”]

I played around a bit just to get to one conclusion: this is almost MacOSX with a dock on the left. By the way, the dock appears if you move the mouse to the top left corner of the screen, and also if you move the mouse to the complete left of the screen and let it there for some time – I hate this approach.

Ubuntu, years ago accused of trying to implement Windows UI and feel on Linux, in my opinion seems to be trying to bring MacOS UI to the Linux kernel since some versions ago – but in a much more shameless and obvious way. I don’t like Linux this way, I liked Ubuntu the way it was before: with Gnome and the windows closing, maximizing and minimizing icons on the right and not on the left. So, I’m sticking with Ubuntu 10.10 for now, and when it gets too outdated, I’ll switch to some distro with Gnome (even KDE is better for me than Ubiquity, even if I don’t like KDE as much as Gnome).

It seems my Ubuntu days are ending. In my opinion, version 11.04 of Ubuntu by Canonical was like Vista version of Windows by Microsoft: too much focus on the looks and few productivity.

Homebrew on MY Wii

Regarding the post Homebrew on the Wii, I managed to install the Homebrew Channel on my Wii successfully. I’m living very happily with it on my Wii for about a week.

For me, it’s an event that can be quite compared to the installation of Rockbox on my iPod in the way that I just “unlocked” another device into the world of open source. In all the other ways though, things are quite different: unlike Rockbox, lots of people are using homebrew for piracy and other less licit things; also the homebrew applications that exist are much, but much more unstable and unmaintained than Rockbox.

For those that are already a bit offended by these comparisons, I promise I won’t compare homebrew to Rockbox again 🙂

In fact they are different things, and sometimes it seems the seriousness of the developers is also very different. You hardly know any of the real names of the homebrew developers, for example 🙂 Not that does make them less honest nor anything.

Homebrew on the Wii

This post is pretty long. No matter if it’s in Portuguese or English, it’s very difficult to me to write a short blog or forum post, because there’s always more to say. This post is, however, “lightweight lecture” – at least, I’ve written it to be like this. 🙂

I got a Wii for more than a year. I bought it not because I like to play games (I’m not a fan of video-games in any way), but because I found interesting the way data is input to the system – not only keys, but also gestures.

In fact, a Wii is not a really good product if you want to have an all-in-one device that apart from playing games, also act as a media center and allows you to browse the ‘net. Something that is further delineated with the lack of HD output – the Wii only does PAL (576i) or NTSC (486i) resolution, through a normal RCA A/V cable, or the optional (bought separately) composite cable that also only allows 480p. With my old CRT TV set, this wasn’t much of a difference, but now with a HD TV it’s highly noticeable, specially when you’re near the screen and on moving images.

Apart from the lack of HD, which doesn’t bother me much, when it comes to media the Wii is pretty poor, as I said. The nearest thing to a media player is the Photo Channel, which allows you to view photos from an SD card (yes, because although the Wii has two USB connectors, they aren’t used for anything than for connecting a microphone in certain games, and for charging devices), and to play AAC (not even MP3!) music while viewing slide shows. It is also supposed to support AVI Motion-JPEG files, but from the various I encoded I could never get one to work.

The Wii has also some downloadable channels, from the Wii Shop Channel. The most interesting is the Internet Channel, which is nothing but Opera 9.30 (a pretty old version) for embedded devices, on a GUI optimized for the Wii. It supports CSS (wow!), JavaScript (wow!) and Flash 8 (again, pretty outdated), and YouTube videos have pretty poor image and sound quality. Also, some more complex sites don’t load because of lack of memory, and the Wii says “Out of memory!”. It sometimes makes me remember the old computers with MS-DOS, but with a nice interface.

I think I can stop saying bad things about the Wii now. Oh, but I forgot about one thing. Since the System Menu (the “OS” the Wii) verison 4.0, all the releases have had the purpose of fixing exploits that allowed the installation of homebrew and the ability of running unsigned code on the Wii. This homebrew that exists for the Wii, apart from the piracy software (that allows you to load pirated games), is developed by honest people that do harmless software. However, Nintendo keeps only seeing the “black part” of homebrew and keeps on blocking the exploits. With the latest version of System Menu, 4.3, installation of the Homebrew Channel (a channel that is installed on the Wii using the HackMii installer) is only possible if you have certain specific games – previous bugs on System Menu 4.0, 4.1 and, recently, 4.2 that allowed hacking by simply inserting a SD card have been fixed.

To have a better idea of what I’m talking about I suggest you visit WiiBrew, a site made by honest independent developers that only want to unleash the potential of the hardware they bought. On that site, you won’t find piracy homebrew, exactly because people there are honest (well, most of them – at the end, this is the internet). Installing homebrew allows you to do much more with the Wii – it still doesn’t bring HD video, but it allows you to run, amongst many other things, a complete media center, WiiMC.

I don’t have homebrew installed on my Wii – yet. Some time ago, when System Menu 4.3 came out, I didn’t know about Homebrew and ended up updating the software of the Wii. Now, the only way to get Homebrew running is to use certain games, as I said. I already ordered one of these games and I hope it arrives ASAP. Now, lets just hope that the installation of Homebrew is successful and that I don’t end up with a brick – yes, because these things of hacking always involve certain risks.

And you? Do you own a Wii (certainly no, and don’t go for it unless you really want a cheap gaming console and Homebrew)? Did you know about Homebrew? Waiting for your comments 😉