Thursday, 9 December 2010

Chrome Store it's open for business

A very good post about the recent Chrome Store opening, and on the difference between a web site and a local application. I do agree that the difference is going to narrow each day, given the new possibilities of HTML5...

Thursday, 4 November 2010

KDE November Updates

Yesterday the KDE team announced the release of a series of updates concerning the Plasma Desktop and Netbook workspaces, KDE Applications and KDE Platforms. In my humble opinion, this excellent desktop environment, notwithstanding its greatness, do suffer a lot for the minor attenction that Canonical - which maintain Ubuntu, the most diffused linux distribution - deserve to it, in respect to Gnome (i.e., Kubuntu is clearly not as much developed as Ubuntu). Even if, also Gnome team is somewhat angry with Ubuntu, given the programmed switch to Unity Desktop....

Posted via email from Signal 2 Noise

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Steve Jobs on Android's Fragmentation

Apple's CEO says that Android is fragmented and that the open vs. closed dilemma is not important as long as Apple's proprietary mobile operating system manages to provide a better user experience.

My point on this: Steve Jobs may be right; i.e., the iOS ecosystem is certainly less fragmented and more homogeneous. I have an iPod and I do appreciate it. That's right.

But what he forgot to tell you, is the price you pay for this self-consistance: namely, the reduced possibility of choice. You have a lot of different choices for Android, from budget to high priced devices (for me, I'm quite fine with a rather inexpensive HTC WildFire).

Conversely, not too many choices are left to you, if you want an iOS device: an iPhone. What else?

Posted via email from Signal 2 Noise

Friday, 22 October 2010

Testing browsers on Mac OS X

From a quick and (admittedly) naive comparison between Firefox 3.6.11, Chrome 7.0.517.41 and Opera 11.00 alpha (all loading the same page), it seems clear that Firefox is still the most hungry of memory...

...anyway I'm too addicted to its extensions, to get rid of it! ;-)

Posted via email from Signal 2 Noise

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Ubuntu One Buzz

Well it seems that Ubuntu One is moving its first step into the social web; you can easily obtain a link for the song you're listening to. At variance with Apple's Ping, in Ubuntu One you can propagate this link to the (social) web, via all the services you've already set up in your microblogging client Gwibber. Far better than to have all inside iTunes only!

Oh, and as a nice surplus, you find your messages on Ubuntu One front page too. As an example, you can find on that web page a few of my recent played songs (user @mcastel)

Posted via email from Signal 2 Noise

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Mark Shuttleworth talks Project Harmony, Unity, Windicators and more

I do love the kubuntu community, and spend what some would consider an unreasonable amount on doing certain things twice but there is no philanthropic benefit to having TWO free desktops out there, that won’t help more folks embrace free software neither is there much commercial benefit in having two free desktops.

Great interview with Mark Shuttleworth, spanning a great range of related topics (from Kubuntu to Canonical and business models, not disregarding interesting motivational considerations... "Anyway, what matters to me is that our users are delighted")

Posted via email from Signal 2 Noise reveals iLife upgrade, reaffirms MacBook Air refresh ..

A little bit of URL manipulation has revealed separate forums for a new iMovie '11, iPhoto '11, and GarageBand '11, all three of which are core components of the iLife suite, leading us to go ahead and presume that Steve Jobs will be discussing an iLife '11 later today.

Yes, the fact that Apple follow a "closed" business model gave us this environment, in which "fans" are forced to run after deep investigations in order to understand what's going to happen next. I understand that it's a part of Apple strategy, as a whole (and I am an Apple customers too).

Anyway I can't help but notice the difference with the Ubuntu roadmap.. in which you're not forced to run after unconfirmed rumors, but you find all under the Sun...

Posted via email from Signal 2 Noise

Thursday, 14 October 2010

GNOME 3 and KDE 4...

Interesting point of view about the developement of GNOME, in comparision with the fate of KDE4 ...

GNOME will emphasize simplicity, ease-of-use, and understated modernity over flashiness and over-the-top effects. KDE will be the way forward for ultimate customization, web-connected computing through Plasmoid widgets, and flashy desktop effects (as well as tools for power-users, like Dolphin/Konqueror vs. Nautilus, Okular vs. Evince, Kate vs. Gedit, etc.).Read more at

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

obiect oriented... or not?

Oh! I'm so happy to have found someone who speacks loud the same doubts that I still have, after many months spent trying to obtain an "object oriented way of thinking".

Admittedly, I have grown up with Basic and Fortran, but I still can't fully understand what it's written in every Java book I stumbled upon, i.e, the object oriented way of thinking should be more "natural"..

... mmmm, sure??

Amplify’d from
A programmer’s discussion: procedural vs. OO
"Here is my simplified position, I find OOP harder to read, harder to maintain, and harder to use. PP seems so intuitive and straight forward. I find most PP code I can read and understand with very little in the way of comments or documentation, the code is the code you can see what it is doing (it is mostly self documenting). In OOP I find that I am constantly trying to figure out what it is doing, it seems more... nebulous. I normally have to jump around more; it is not like PP where you are mostly reading top down.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

KDE 4.5 is here...

Admittedly, I am a Gnome / Mac OS X person from a good amount of time. Nevertheless, when I look at these screenshot, I am taken by a strange desire, namely, to test KDE again... ;-)

Amplify’d from

KDE, an international Free Software community, is happy to announce the immediate availability of the KDE Applications 4.5. Be it the high-quality games, educational and productivity software or the useful tools, these applications have become more powerful, yet easier to use.

Mathematical, text-editing and entertainment applications
See more at

Friday, 30 July 2010

Why Android? Because it's open!

While surfing on the net to gain information about the operating system of my brand new device HTC WildFire, I stumbled upon these statement, that boosts my "open source" sensibility... "no player can restrict or control the innovation of any other"... Sounds good, doesn't it? ;)
Amplify’d from
"We wanted to make sure that there was no central point of failure, so that no industry player can restrict or control the innovations of any other. That's why we created Android, and made its source code open."
Android Mascot

Welcome to Android


Linux Mint 9 KDE

Linux Mint is surely one of the most interesting distribution for an average desktop user. It's surely user friendly and multimedia oriented (media codecs are included so you can play music and consume other media "out of the box"). Welcome Isadora ! ;-)

Amplify’d from

"The Linux Mint development team have issued the KDE Edition of version 9 of their Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, code named "Isadora". Linux Mint aims to be user friendly and to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including support for DVD playback, Java, and various plug-ins and media codecs..."

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Really high mass star ...

I really prefer low mass stars.. in which they can shine for a much longer time! (Image credits: ESO)

Amplify’d from

A 300 Solar Mass Star Uncovered

Using a combination of instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered the most massive stars to date, one weighing at birth more than 300 times the mass of the Sun, or twice as much as the currently accepted limit of 150 solar masses. The existence of these monsters — millions of times more luminous than the Sun, losing weight through very powerful winds — may provide an answer to the question “how massive can stars be?”


Sunday, 18 July 2010


Excellent little program, no doubt! What they has forgotten to say, in my humble opinion, is that it is also an interesting background generator; what I'm using now on my Amplify account is exactly a graphical representation of part of my hard disk ;)

GrandPerspective is a small utility application for Mac OS X that graphically shows the disk usage within a file system. It can help you to manage your disk, as you can easily spot which files and folders take up the most space. It uses a so called tree map for visualisation. Each file is shown as a rectangle with an area proportional to the file's size. Files in the same folder appear together, but their placement is otherwise arbitrary.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Tips for bloggers

Brief but interesting article for those who blogs but have to deal with many activities... sometimes, it's good to return to the core: blogging is about writing (possibly good) blog posts, first of all. Simply like that ! ;)

Amplify’d from

4 Tips To Help You Stay Focused on Your Blog

Most people who blog also have a full time job or occupation (i.e., school), not to mention other personal activities (e.g., friends and family), so balancing everything can become tricky indeed.

If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to your blog, focus on the core activities only. The main one is writing content. If you only have time for one task, use it to write content. If in one day you happen to have some extra time, use it to promote your best posts.


Friday, 16 July 2010

What I like in Amplify

After just a couple of days,  it seems reasons are forming in my mind  why I think that Amplify is not "just" another social network, but it seems to show a good appealing (at least, to me)...

Here is my first thought...

  • the possibility of web site clipping & posting is great. Better than Buzz or Friendfeed
  • I like the "recommend" button. Easy and fast way to show appreciation of a post
  • I like the threaded replies (much better than "flat" replies as in FriendFeed or Qaiku). has also threaded replies but the strong limit in the length can heavily hamper the conversations
  • I like the fact that blog & microblog are kept together, the user can choose the right format for each post
  • I also appreciate than micropost are not limited to the too much abused 140 chars max. 500 is far better, IMHO; I'm tired of very short post ;)
  • Connection to other services is also a good thing. Just hope Amplify staff can add in a near future ...

(more to come...)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Why I'm using gmail #0

With this post, I want to begin to put down on paper (so to say...) a short list of reason that lead me to slowly lean to Google mail (the now really famous Gmail service) as the preferred choice for my email communication, slowly but constantly abandoning other viable alternatives, many of which I adopted for long time.

I was somewhat pushed into this, from personal "ruminations" after a diffused dibate that took place in my Observatory  in several occasion, where my position (with an interestingly wide spread of different approaches) is  now shared among a good number of other researchers.

Since its first apparence, Gmail was rightly considered as "innovative" for a good number of reasons, ranging from the more technical aspects (for example, the interface carachterized by a judicious use of AIAX and other emerging technologies) to end on the more social aspects (the pecuiliar conversational model, etc...). As a consequence, the choice of talking about Gmail, far from being reductive and restricted to a particular brand or service, can easily became  (in my humble opinion) an occasion to talk about the "modern web" in a variety of its more aspects.

These posts came as an (imperfect) traslation of a series of little messages I am writing in italian in another blog. Instead of making a long post here (with a long series of grammatical errors... since English is not my first language!) I have choosen a different approach, i.e., to breack up the list of reason in a series of little "pills" to be hosted (also) on my compainion blog signal2noise (s2n). This also with the aim to explore a little bit a  form of expression expecially suitable for Posterous platform (yes, I'm addicted to web techology and services, no doubt!)

Well, at this point, I'd say that the scenario is well defined. Next post will deal with a first "motivation" for my adoption of Gmail. In passing, if you like the idea and want to add your two cents, just drop a message to :-)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Stellarium, the sky inside your computer

Two new versions in just a few days: I'm talking about the popular software named Stellarium , which lets you explore the heavens, taking advantage of a large database that includes more than 600,000 stars (with extra catalogs of more than 120 million items!), with the representation of the constellations, images of nebulae (full Messier catalog), realistic representation of the Milky Way, planets and satellites. Stellarium also includes realistic effects of sunrise and sunset, zoom controls telescope, and much more ... 

...  Briefly, there are so many interesting features that even those vaguely fond of astronomy can be convinced to try it!

ce of the planets above ESO headquarters, nearThe dance of the planets above ESO headquarters, nea
The dance of theplanets above ESO headquarters, near Munich.
The dance of the planets above ESO headquarter, near Munich
 Credits: Stellarium website

Version 0.10.3 has been released on 29 of January, with new features like plugins that allow to predict the position of artificial satellites, and a database with constellation for twelve different cultures.. and many other thinks that you'll be glad to discover by yourself ;)

Version 0.10.5 has been released just some days ago; it features the correction of a lot of bugs, a reduced loading time and other improvements.
Stellarium is available for all the major operating systems (Windows, Linux and Mac OS X), it's free and open source. Binary packages for Ubuntu 10.04 are now also available from their website. Could you ask for more...?

Stellarium website is

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Flash for iPhones / iPods?

Interesting article, dense with links to reference literature on the topic of Apple / Adobe war around allowing Flash into iPhones and iPods, and a proposal path to peace.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Ubuntu 10.04, my two cents...

Originally uploaded by mcastellani
Some days ago, I upgraded my linux box to Ubuntu 10.04. I am pleased to say that the upgrade took place without worries and virtually no intervention on my side (aside a couple of request from the upgrade script in order to ask permission to overwrite some system files).

Now, detailed descriptions of the new release may be easily found in the network (you just need to google a bit to find plenty of them), so here I note only some impressions of use. Say, what strikes me without "scratching" too much under the surface, in the first approach. 

    Let's see ...

  • for a "sick" of social networks like myself, Ubuntu 10.04 comes with a really interesting aspect: it is eminently social. It comes with the client gwibber (now at release that supports Twitter, StatusNet, Facebook,, Digg, FriendFeed, and also Qaiku (a microblog service with an exciting support for languages; I like it a lot and, as a matter of fact, I have realized most of the interface translation in Italian). To tell the truth, not only it's included, but it result deeply integrated in the "social" concept of Ubuntu, for which we can now express our "online presence" directly from the top status bar of Gnome. I am very curious (and so are the developers) to understand whether the inclusion of native Qaiku in Ubuntu will bring more users to put their noses in this interesting but still little known platform.
  • There was much discussion on Ubuntu related sites, concerning the new network online music store that comes integrated into Rhytmbox, the "software and music playback for GNOME", which is now reached its version 0.12.8 (but what to say about this habit of going forward with the zero point something ?). I just spent a bit of time in it, and I found that the prices of a number of albums are very interesting and - at least in some cases - significantly lower than their  iTunes counterparts .
  • The GNOME desktop backgrounds have my appreciation, for the aesthetic work that I think has given excellent results. Overall, it seems quite clear that Mac OS X has been well taken into account by the Ubuntu developers (up to small details as the discussed choice of putting the icons on the left side of windows) ... but that's OK, no problem;)
  • Even the 'Ubuntu Software Center' (again, the not-too-hidden reference not is to the online software repository of Mac OS X) has made significant progress. Browsing through categories to choose the software to install it 's now easier, and it is a truly enjoyable experience ... and it's free, too!

Overhall, I like Ubuntu 10.04. Surely there are things to improve and fix (for example, during the first days of use I stumbled upon some oddity of gwibber, which kept to give me authentication error in Qaiku, despite having already added the correct API at least a couple of times ...), anyway I think we came to a really respectable version. One of the most important representations - perhaps the most important at present - of an open source operating system. 

... what do you think, I'm exaggerating?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Twitter Blog: Hello World

We hope you'll share in our enthusiasm as today we unveil a simple service we're calling Promoted Tweets. It's non-traditional, it's easy, and it makes a ton of sense for Twitter.

Twitter makes its first moves toward advertising. Personally, I do appreciate the honesty and transparency that comes out from the blog post. Anyway, I wonder what will be the response of the community...

Posted via web from Signal 2 Noise

Friday, 2 April 2010


A guest post by Flavio Castellani

We all hate Microsoft for its amount of money making, its weight in the consumer market and for much more.

And we all love Google, for its fresh spirit, its apparent disinterested way of adding value to our technological experience and, ultimately, to our lives.

And yet, Google is arguably going to make much more money than the evil Microsoft. It's already controlling (as a monopoly) the Internet business on a scale beyond imagination. You don't hear about microsoft interacting with nations and government legislative organs, like google does for clearing the path to its operations. You don't hear (yet) glamorous cases of antitrust sentences turned bad against google.

The most important thing: Microsoft gained our hate for the way their products made us feel, and for the control on what we use to surf the net.
But while we recognized and reproached Microsoft for their attempt in controlling the browser we use to surf, google increases its control on the content of it. Every day, we let increases its control and dictate more and more not just the experience on how we access the information, but the accessibility to the very information itself.

Do we think that the free gadgets and applications are really for free?
this is like believing that the free drinks in las Vegas are really for free.

Google now has tentacles in mobile networks and operators, fiber optic network and ISP providing, Internet, mobile devices and expanding.

There is something confusing about so many free applications and services, and yet a stellar share value trend in the stock market exchange.

The way I see is this: to run a business you need to have
  • an investment,
  • some assets,
  • products to sell, and
  • customers to sell them to.

This is the archetype of business. Is the minimum denominator any business have in common, and upon which they are based on.

How does it map to Google way of making money then?
  • Their protocols and their applications are not their products, those are their investments.
  • We are not their customers. We are their assets.
  • Data-mining, eyeball time, internet syndication: those are their products, the ones that they sell to increase their stellar share value and their business. Data-mining in particular is one of the most sought and profitable products to sell.

For MS office the revenue stream is the classic one and much simpler:
  • their applications are the products, the one that they sell, and
  • we are their customers (in the specific case of MS office business model, of course)

Google is not a bad thing. It's just a huge thing now. And huge corporations relentlessly pursue the increase of their shares value in the stock market.
Above a certain critical point, the direction of a corporation drift to whatever direction satisfies its goals.

Image Credit: Google

Google contribution to civilization (I'd adventure to say) is remarkable. But it's clear that this contribution is not its goal, is its mean to get to its goals. its goal is profit ($$$) from internet advertisement. That is what pays the freebies, and the immense funding in R&D to expand in mobile, voice, ultra-fast fiber ISP, video, authoring and whatnot.

Until its means and its goals matches with our interest, that's great. But we need to be careful to see well all the parameters of the equation.

Google strives to position itself more and more as the internet content syndication provider for the general population. That takes away the beauty of the internet, and more sadly, diminishes its distinguished characteristic that opposes it to television.

Internet is truly the most significant informational achievement in the past 100 years. We must fear any monolithic entity that seek control over it, for lucrative scopes. My believe is that Internet is a solid answer to the past decades of the informational unbalanced entry point created with the advent of television, which generated a chain of consequences that lead to a corrosion of the democratic political debates and to an increase of influence of corporations in the nations public and political matters.

Internet could bring a ribalancing and galvanize the spirit of the debates. Its general access point for content authoring enable it to be the future arena where ideas can truly democratically compete, assuming they remain equally accessible.

[Flavio Castellani]

Friday, 19 March 2010

Amarok "Clear Light" released

Amarok is definitely a great player for linux. This wonderful software just reached version 2.3.0, code-named Clear Light (which, being a fan of Mike Oldfield, makes me immediately think of this music, like Amarok that obviously makes me think of this wonderful disc. ..).

Anyway, at the risk of alienating a good portion of my (limited) audience, I'd venture to say (also following a commentary that appear belows the video presentation on Youtube) that Amarok is perhaps not yet at the level of competing on equal terms with well known player for other operating systems such as iTunes.

That said, it also worth to say that it is still a complete and rather powerful software: certainly for KDE users it represents  a great and rewarding choice, that can contribute greatly in making the desktop environment more comfortable, also in terms of management of a user's collection of audio files (as well as Internet radio and podcasts, which in passing is a recently reinforced section)

The video itself is quite pretty and the accompaining music is itself really enjoyable .. which is surely a good think, for a multimedia player presentation! ;-)

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Lucid moves to Yahoo! as Firefox search provider

I'm not sure if it's already well known, in the community of Ubuntu lowers. Anyway, I just discovered it today: namely, the Firefox default page in the next release of Ubuntu (10.04, code name "Lucid Lynx") is already online, and it features a search box that it's not more provided by Google, but instead by Yahoo!

Here is the screenshot of the Firefox default start page in the current Ubuntu release:

If you open Firefox in  a brand new Ubuntu 9.04, here is what you get...

To switch to the page of the next Ubuntu, you simply have to change the following URL:

to this easily guessed URL:

and you'll be greeted with the following webpage:

Next Ubuntu default Firefox page...

Update: I've found the post that talks about the change of default search provider, on the Ubuntu developers list. I easily stumbled upon the page after a quick Google search.. can't help but notice that Google is (still) my friend ...;)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Book Of Love, Peter Gabriel

Well, I came to the conclusion that it's time to add some bytes of music to patch.panel. After all, music is something that can easily run - in its digital form - trough wires, panels and similar stuff... ;)

A friend of mine shared this wonderful song, a cover beautifully played by Peter Gabriel. I find that both music and worlds are wonderful: this video present a static image, so you can better concentrate on the worlds.

..."you ought to give me wedding rings..."

Friday, 12 March 2010

Happy birthday, Qaiku!

It 'a shame that the microblogging platform Qaiku still has not found - in general, and in the Italian community in particular - the credit it deserves (in my humble opinion), in light of the features and flexibility of its structure (less minimalist but far more effective than Twitter, just to make a quick comparison between the most diffused platform).

Features such as thematic groups, the possibility (really unique, for what I know) to select the language for messages, or sending images (and now, after the restyling, also more general attachments)... not to talk about the evolved conversational models (inspired to Jaiku, it features the possibility to add real comments to posts, with a build in notification mechanism to inform other participant about your reply)... these are things that might lead someone to a more careful analysis of the platform (which incidentally has been already translated into Italian for the most part, guess who did it...)

This week Qaiku went offline for a few hours, after which users have been surprised to find a substantial "refurbishment" of the site, which just recently celebrated her first birthday.

I followed the adventure of Qaiku from the earliest times (I am still convinced that I was the first to post a message in Italian, to say one thing). I was already there when the infrastructure had just gone out from the "internal" test phase. Time slowly brought a lot of interesting improvement over the original project, but the user base - at an international level (Qaiku is rather strong in Finland, its native country) - perhaps did not expand as the structure deserves. 

Now it seems that good things are happening, for Qaiku. Among others, maybe you'll be glad to know that Ubuntu users can rely on Gwibber - a microblogging client already included in Ubuntu 9.10 - as a powerful tool to access the service, without even having to open a browser.

On this occasion, we publish here a screenshot of the Linux group (which, as any other group, can work selectively in Italian, English or any other language) .. you never know , maybe someone wants to join us ...

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Qaiku, work in progress...

If Qaiku was famous like Twitter, now the whole web would be talking
about the maintenance status of the service ;)
Anyway, let's hope that after the upgrade we, as Qaiku users, can
benefit from some new feature!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

New Brand for Ubuntu?


No more brown in Ubuntu desktop? Anyway, I must recognize that the posted screenshots are pretty.... It seems that Ubuntu is succesfully shaping a path toward a "clear" and fresh new style.
The new layout let you understand that there is something "new", without loosing completely the old and widely accepted look & feel. Well done Ubuntu!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

MeMenu on Ubuntu

Just stumbled upon the page explaining the "MeMenu" concept, to be fully implemented in upcoming releases of Ubuntu. I like very much the Rationale under this project. With the other news, such as the music store that's just opening, it seems more and more difficult not to love Ubuntu, in my humble opinion ! ;-)

Posted via web from Signal 2 Noise

Thursday, 18 February 2010

5 New Things about Windows 8 and Ubuntu 10.04

Interesting comparison between the expected features of the upcoming operating releases from Microsoft and Ubuntu.

Broadly speaking, it seems hard to deny that linux on desktop is getting more and more appealing with time... Problems remains in the lack of certain "key applications" (as iTunes, or Photoshop); its avaibility could drive many user to linux, IMHO...

Posted via web from Signal 2 Noise

Friday, 12 February 2010

Why Google Buzz will be a hit -

Two forces are at work here, then: the immediate utility of a social service pre-populated with people you know, combined with the habitual behaviors associated with checking your email throughout the day.

Interesting article on the recently released Google Buzz, the social network built from Google in a close connection with its popular Gmail service. The main advantages and limits of the new services are correctly explained, IMHO.

Posted via web from Signal 2 Noise

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Dustin Kirkland: 35,000-Core Ubuntu Server Farm Renders Avatar

They have a 2 Petabyte disk array, 10gbps networking, and 35,000 cores (4,000+ HP blades) in their data center, and still it takes 48 hours to render some of their graphic sequences.

According to Paul, Ubuntu is at the core of all of this,

Ok, I still have to see the film. Anyway, I think that it's fairly impressive just reading about the computational power that nowadays it's needed to produce a film like Avatar! Additionally, I must admit that my "open source" side is pleased to know that they are using Ubuntu on their machines... ;)

Posted via web from Signal 2 Noise