Raspberry Pi Week : Start learning Python with this free tutorial.

May 20

“There is an app for that ! “. How many times have you heard that phrase, probably uttered by some smartphone waving geek who instantly shows you how to fix problem Xyz in your life using a pre-packaged app. And there is nothing wrong with that.. as long as there IS an app. But what if there is not ? What if you spend hours online looking for an app that doesn’t exist or doesn’t quite do what you want it to do ? Wouldn’t your wish to be able to TELL your computer exactly what to do ? Well there is ! It’s called programming. Don’t worry if it sounds weird but before the time of beard-sporting iphone hipsters with 5997 apps on their smartphones we used to PROGRAM our machines to work for us.

python code

A great way to start to learn how to program is by using a raspberry pi. The inexpensive mini computer is a great place to start when you want to learn how to program. The Pi is geared heavily towards the Python language and offers great tools which you can use when you want to learn how to code (or teach your kid on how to code). But where do you start ?

The Full Circle magazine has been running a series on “how to program in python” for quite some time. They have collected all these articles into 3 PDF Issues of their magazine that you can download for free. Its a great way to start your first baby steps into Python scripting and discovering you don’t always need an “app for that”. Even with a few basic programming skills you can upstage those app-jockeys by saying ” I WROTE a script for that !”. So download the tutorial, grow a beard, put on sandals and start screaming profanities towards closed source software, because you’re on your way to becoming a Python Programmer !

Links :

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Google Hacking week : Plunder a site’s MP3’s, PDF’s and more.

Feb 26

In day two of our Google Hacking Week we are going to combine an interesting Google search query (or Google Dork) with a command line command to find AND download any file type you want.

Find the storage room in the back of the store.

Websites on the net consist of more then just webpages with information. They also links to files and folders containting interesting information like PDF’s MP3’s and more. Most of the time these files aren’t ‘visible’ when you visit a specific site but our little friends, the Google Search Bots, DO index them. All you need is the right string to find them.

  • intitle: “index of” <filetypehere> <title/genre/artist>

This search query will tell Google to go look for pages with the title “index of”. These pages usually don’t contain a lot of text, but instead contain links to folders and files.   Since you are looking for a specific type of file (like for example mp3’s, Pdf’s or something else) you also can add this to the query. Finally you might be looking for mp3’s of Hanna Montana or Tango’s (I don’t know what you like) : That can also be added to the search string. In the end it will look something like this.

  • intitle: “index of” mp3 acdc
  • intitle: “index of” pdf bookkeeping
  • intitle: “index of” epub scott sigler

So using these queries you might find a real treasure-trove of files and info to download. Some of them might even be behind a login/password page (or even a pay wall) but when the web masters don’t do their homework right .. you can find the ‘good stuff’ this way. 

Download

So download them one by one ? 

If you are just looking for one specific file you can use your browser to find and download it. If you want to download the ENTIRE collection of files on that page .. you need the power of a command line tool called WGET. 

Wget can be found on the command line of both Linux, Mac and even Windows machines. Not all the advanced ‘switches’ we give you in this command below might work on Windows, but you can give it a try. The command is

  • wget -r -l1 -H -t1 -nd -N -np -A.<.filetype> -erobots=off <url of website>

Replace <filetype> with the type of file you want to download ( .mp3, .pdf, .epub) and <url of website> with the website’s url you found using the Google search. Completed the command might look something like this.

  • wget -r -l1 -H -t1 -nd -N -np -A.<.mp3> -erobots=off http://tiobiloute59.free.fr/tiesto/

The download is RECURSIVE, so it “deep dives” into all the folders. Beware : This can get you a LOT of data. So make sure you have the bandwidth and the storage capacity before you start sucking down the internet. Good Luck ! 

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Switch Week : Export your iWorks documents.

Feb 22

You might not know it, but one of the greatest ways to sell an application is not only by making it a very good application, but also by using an enclosed file format. Its funny, but the majority of decisions in small businesses of whether to migrate to a newer version of office, is fuelled by the argument that “other people use office an its needs to be compatible”. That way a commonly present, closed file format used by a certain number of users ..ensures long time sales of your product.

iWork

With Pages Numbers and Keynote, Apple chose their own file formats to use. That also creates kind of a “legacy” problem. Part of that problem is that you need to be able to open / share your documents with other iWork suite users and part of that is that you need the iWorks suite to be able to open your own documents. Being able to break free from that locked in loop gives you the flexibility not only to exchange documents with others who do NOT have the iWorks suite, but also to make sure you can open those documents on your other computers that aren’t macs.

How to do it.
iWorks documents don’t ‘slide’ very well across operating systems. iWorks suite is capable of opening .doc .xls .ppt .rtf and .txt formats from other programs like the Microsoft Office suite and Openoffice (beware : Open document format is NOT supported). The other way around is a lot harder : No applications outside the iWorks suite are capable of opening and editing Apples closed iWork suite file formats.

What is the workaround.

Luckily there are the EXPORT options that allow you to ‘export’ your iWorks spreadsheet, document or presentation to a more open file format so you can open them up with non-iWorks applications.
supported formats – suggested formats

Pages documents can be exported to.

  • PDF
  • DOC
  • RTF
  • TXT (not all versions of iWorks support this)

Depending on the file format you export to you will loose more functionalities and layout options. The PDF export gives you a document with all the layout but without the ability to edit, the other file formats have less and less of the .pages layout and markup options in favor of being able to edit the text.

Numbers spreadsheets can be exported to : 

  • PDF
  • XLS
  • CSV

The same is true here, the farther you go down the list the less functionalities you can export. PDF gives you a read only document, XLS gives you the ability to open and edit the document in applications like Excel, Google Drive and Open Office. You might still have your graphs and pie charts but they won’t look as nice. With CSV you export your spreadsheet to a flat file with all your data separated by comma’s.

Keynote presentations can be exported to : 

  • PDF
  • PPT
  • Quicktime
  • HTML (not all versions of Keynote support this)
  • Images

With Keynote you can export your presentation to static images, or a pdf document or to a Quicktime movie giving your viewers the total presentation experience. Only when you export to .ppt will you be able to edit your presentation slides. When you do the latter you will loose some of the mark-up or effects of your presentation.

You win some you loose some.
With an “export” you go down to the lowest common denominator of functionalities between the different applications. Whatever .pages can do with a document that Word cannot .. Will be lost. Most of the times your documents will still be editable but they need “touching up” after the exports. Other times you might find that certain transitions or effects that are unique to the iWorks suite are completely gone or do not work.

Be open in the choice of your applications.
So if you don’t want to go live in proprietary-file format-purgatory we suggest using “open” applications as much as possible. Openoffice and Google Docs are largely geared towards cross platform availability AND the ability to be compatible with many other ‘office like’ applications. If you have to share your documents with others, be polite and use “open” file formats like .pdf .doc .odf and even .rtf .html or .txt. This way you assure that the other party can read (and if needed, edit) your document without having to run to the store to buy iWorks (and quite possibly a new Mac). Using open filestandards shows “digital maturity” and ensures that you can still open that essay that you wrote on your old mac .. on your brand new Chromebook, Windows Tablet or Linux PC.

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Got an eBook Reader ? Get some Calibre !

May 22

If there is one open source cross platform application that I have loved like a puppy .. its Calibre. I can vividly remember coming across this little gem when I was looking for good ways to manage my eBook library after I had just purchased my Sony PRS-505 eBook reader. The original software cd that came with the device had thrown into a decaying orbit around pluto (by ME) after I swore never to trust Sony software again. We all know what happened with the majestic rootkit incident a couple of years ago. So Calibre stepped onto the scene and offered to manage and convert all of my txt, rtf, epub and mobi formats into one unified format. It then suggested to manage my library for me (if I wanted to) and gave me the added bonus of downloading RSS feeds and turning them into ePubs .. automatically. This little ball of Unicorn poo (and I mean this in the nicest way) is essential if you own some kind of eBook reader .. or even an iPad. The DRM infested locked town contraption cocked up by the late Steve Jobs refuses to read/eat anything else then ePub or Pdf files. Got some Txt’s, Mobi’s or RTF (not to confuse with RTFM) files ?  Use Calibre to manage them, fetch metadata and even shove them into iTunes for you.  A great must have app ( even the guys over at howto geek have written up a great post about using its advanced features HERE)

Get Calibre for Linux, Windows, Mac and the Lunar module computer … HERE.

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The Knightcast Episode 34 : Captain Command Line.

Aug 10

ShownotesDirect link to the show:

https://knightwise.com/podcasts/kc_1082006.mp3

Show Summary.

Join us for episode 34 of the Knightcast. After a long hiatus where we took some time of for rest and relaxation (and to get married) we are back once again with an action packed show. In episode 34 : An interview with captain command line we have an in depth interview with Daniel Turner , a 16 year old Linux user extra-ordinaire. We talk about the social implications of a life in linux between peers and peers of Windows users, the open document format, the linux distribution of Daniels choice and more. With fantastic music from Delphinium Blue and some audio comments from the QCF, we top it of with his views on Vista and what the future will bring. Its full of laughs, fun and information packed. Your medicine on the edge of real and cyberspace :  The Knightcast.

 

Shownotes

Download your shownotes HERE. (pdf reader required).

 

 

 

 

 

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