Open Source Musings The thoughts, ideas, and opinions of an open source guy

Taking notes with Laverna

A person taking notes with pen and paper

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t take notes. Most of the people I know use an online note taking application, like Evernote or Simplenote or Google Keep.

All of those are good tools, but you have to wonder about the privacy of your information — especially in light of Evernote’s great privacy flip flop of 2016. If you want more control over you notes and your data, you really need to turn to an open source tool. Preferably one that you can host yourself.

And, yes, there are a number of good open source alternatives to Evernote. One of those is Laverna. Let’s take a look at it.

Editing PDFs on the Linux desktop with PDFShuffler

PDF logo

The gold standard for editing PDF files on Linux is, in my opinion, pdftk. It’s a command line tool and, unless you use it regularly, it’s easy to forget pdftk’s options.

If you want to do some simple editing on a PDF file — like adding or deleting pages, combining files, or cropping pages — a good graphical alternative is PDFShuffler.

Let’s take a quick look at how to use PDFShuffler to edit PDF files.

Looking at Ubuntu Touch with the Aquaris M10 tablet

A tablet, lying in the grass

This post has been a long time in coming. Let me explain.

Last winter (well, winter here in the southern hemisphere), I got my hands on a BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet. You might have heard of it. It’s the tablet that’s powered by Ubuntu Touch, the mobile version of Ubuntu.

Why did I get one? I was curious about Ubuntu Touch, but didn’t want or need a new phone. So I decided to give the tablet a try.

My initial impressions of the tablet were disappointing. While it’s light, the tablet is underpowered. Apps ran slowly, and the desktop apps included with the tablet — like Firefox, Gedit, and The GIMP — were even slower than I expected. On top of that, when I tried to use a pair of Bluetooth keyboards with the tablet, the response was laggy.

After trying to work with the tablet for about two weeks, I thought that 1) it definitely needed faster processor, and 2) future updates might smooth out the many rough edges.

I put tablet aside and, to be honest, forgot about it. Fast forward a few months. After returning home from All Things Open in late October, 2016 I was rummaging through a drawer for something when I stumbled upon the tablet in its case. After a bit of deliberation, I decided to give it another try. I started the tablet up and there was a huge … no, make that a huge update waiting to install.

That update made a massive difference. While I still believe that the Aquaris M10 is underpowered, the Ubuntu Touch itself has come a long way from when I first started using it last winter.

Here are my (now revised) thoughts about Ubuntu Touch, via my experiences with the Aquaris M10 tablet.

A few links of interest - 31 January, 2016

Creating slides with Emacs org-mode and Reveal.js

A man speaking into a microphone

Over the last year or so, I’ve started to get back into giving presentations. Nothing too grand — just 15 to 30 minute talks to small audiences. While I still find doing presentations stressful, I enjoy using those talks to share ideas and information.

And, like most speakers, I use slides. Mine are quite minimal — either a couple of words or an image. While there are a number of solid open source applications for creating slides, over the last year or so I’ve been experimenting with Reveal.js. It’s a framework for creating very nice looking HTML slides. Using Reveal.js also gives me a chance to embrace my inner geek a bit and hand code some HTML.

Recently, I started used Emacs and org-mode again. And, as luck would have it, I stumbled across a package called org-reveal that lets me use org-mode to prepare Reveal.js slides.

Let’s take a look at how to use org-reveal and Reveal.js to create simple presentation slides.