A couple of useful indicators

Posted by Jim Klein On Tuesday, April 24, 2012 0 comments
A number of people have been looking at remotely monitoring and/or controlling ubermix devices with software like iTalc, Apple Remote Desktop, RealVNC Viewer, etc. To help out in such situations, I've created a couple of useful indicators that offer helpful information on each device, which should make using these tools even easier.

indicator-hostname is an indicator that appears in the top panel and displays the device's current hostname, as well as it's IP address when you click on it, like so:
This is particularly useful in an environment using tools like iTalc, where determining the hostname is the fastest path to connecting to a machine. The IP address is also convenient, as it provides necessary information for a remote tech support person.

indicator-username is an indicator that appears in the top panel and displays the current user name, as well as the device's hostname and it's IP address when you click on it, like so:
This is particularly useful in a shared-device, multi-user environment that uses any one of number of monitoring tools, as the hostname won't likely be enough to determine who is actually using the device. This, of course, requires creating multiple accounts on the devices or enabling some form of remote authentication, which probably isn't worth the trouble when compared to doing an Auto-Reset

I hope you find these useful! To install them, simply go to http://ubermix.org/files.html on your ubermix machine, download the package you want to use,  and double-click on the package.

ubermix 1.0 alpha 1 - your feedback needed!

Posted by Jim Klein On Thursday, April 19, 2012 12 comments
With ubermix, the most important participant in the development process is you! The build process for the next version of ubermix (1.0) is well underway, and with it will come a number of changes and enhancements that we think will make the experience better than ever for students and teachers. ubermix 1.0 is based on the latest version of Ubuntu - version 12.04 "Precise Pangolin" - which is a Long Term Support (LTS) release that Canonical (the parent organization) intends to provide updates and fixes for until 2015. This makes it an ideal base for the next ubermix release.

At this stage we're experimenting with a number of UI enhancements and are in need of your thoughts/opinions. We think these enhancements add to the overall experience, but not without a few drawbacks, so your thoughts are essential as we move forward.

Global Menus
One of the features that we intend to enable or ubermix 1.0 is called Global Menus, which pushes most menu bars and window controls into the top panel in a similar fashion to MacOS.

This offers the benefit of eliminating both the menu bar and the top window border from application windows, increasing the usable screen area on devices with smaller screens. On a netbook, for example, the added height can make a big difference in a vertically oriented application like OpenShot, enabling a user to view more tracks or a larger preview window.

This move is not without its drawbacks. If you are an ubermix user already, then you know that traditionally there is a round "go home" icon in the top left corner, followed by icons for each open window on your system, like so:

Since that space would now be taken up by menus, we created a windowlist indicator at the top right to enable users to quickly go back to the launcher or switch to an open window, which looks like this:
Of course, you can always use the left "Super" key ("Windows" key, if your device had the misfortune of originally shipping with Windows on it) to show and hide all windows, and Alt+Tab to switch between open windows, but you won't have that "quick glance" of open windows on the system. Also, while Global Menus work in most applications, they don't work with every one, so there will still be some applications with menubars in the traditional place (LibreOffice is one of them).  Feedback welcome.

Overlay Scrollbars
Another display space saving enhancement will be overlay scrollbars, which which essentially fold up the scrollbars in most (but again, not quite all) applications, like so:

As you can see, there is just a little marker to let you know where you are on the page until you point to at, at which point it expands into a "handle" you can grab or click the up/down arrows in. Again, this frees up some window space for smaller screens, but doesn't work in a few of the apps, where you will see traditional scrollbars. Feedback welcome.

Unified System Settings/Power Menu Enhancements
In an effort to simplify, system settings have been moved to a control center app, simplifying the system tools panel in the launcher:

Quick access to common controls (like displays and printers) have been moved to the power menu, along with a "System Settings" option:

...which brings up a unified settings panel:

Keep in mind, however, that it might be a bit trickier to customize the icons that appear here, so we could certainly go back to the older model. Again - feedback welcome.

I hope you'll take the time to think about these pending changes and offer your feedback. If you are so inclined, below you will find links to first alpha, or "preview" releases of ubermix 1.0 to try on any of your hardware. Please bear in mind that these are early builds that are not feature or app complete, and likely to be buggy, but certainly fun to work with. Follow the install instructions here to get yourself a quick look.

ubermix-key1.0alpha1.img for most hardware
ubermix-key1.0CTalpha1.img for brand new hardware, like Cedar Trail netbooks.