Flexget is a nice command line program that automates the process of downloading .torrent files. The Flexget web site has a number of cookbook recipes for processing torrents. It’s flexible enough to include or exclude torrents based on the torrent name. Flexget uses a simple form of regular expressions. Everything is set in a ~/.flexget/config.yml file. Drawing on the flexget web site here’s a really simple example configuration file:
- pioneer one
- south park
Of course http://example.com/rss.xml is just an example, you’d need to use a real RSS feed. Series reflects which shows you want to download from the feed. The download section points to where the torrent files are stored. Flexget just pulls the torrents. You then need to set up a program like Transmission (under Linux) to pick up torrents from the same directory. I happen to like Transmission because it doesn’t take a whole lot of memory and can be web-enabled.
When creating the config.yml file you have to be careful to use 2 spaces, don’t use tabs or flexget will not recognize the configuration file correctly. If you’re not sure if a recipe you created works you can run:
This will run flexget using a test database. Any errors will be noted at the end. Spacing is the most common issue. Of course downloading tv-shows may be illegal… (should we take our cues from Lady Gaga the “BitTorrent Loving Freak”)
Jim Lynch, all around great guy, and TechSoup Global GURU, wrote a great article yesterday called Environmental Case for Refurbished IT Equipment. In this article Jim presents a really good case for reusing old computer equipment instead of recycling it (having it broken down). Instead of re-arguing what Jim’s already covered I thought I’d touch on another reason why refurbishing old equipment might be better than ditching it for less power-hungry equipment.
For the past several years companies have been slinging around the term “Green” for a lot of their equipment. We have green hard drives, green power supplies, green notebooks, etc. In some cases this might mean something as simple as running at 7200RPM instead of 10,000 RPM. In other cases it refers to an eco-friendly manufacturing process from start to finish.
So why keep something that might draw more power alive when more green alternatives exist? One thought comes to mind right off the top – quality. If you’ve been in the industry awhile you remember when manufacturers started flooding the market with cheap Winmodems instead of hardware modems. Winmodems were cheaper to manufacture, did a reasonable job on Windows, but were a bit of a pain under other operating systems. Today we see a lot of cheap laptops. At $250-$400 a pop they seem to be flooding the market. My wife and I bought our son one. The quality of these laptops, compared to say a Lenovo T410, is very poor. It’s almost as if manufacturers are pushing out notebooks they only expect to last a year or two. They may use better energy conservation technology, but they seem built to break.
Remember the old Toshiba commercial where the guy forgets the laptop on the hood of his car? The car takes off and the laptop crashes to the ground but doesn’t break… it’s not the situation today, especially at the low end of the laptop spectrum. Materials in some of these notebooks are so cheap that something as simple as trying to unscrew a screw on the bottom causes plastic inside to break. The solution is simple, manufacturers should be using a small metal bolt to prevent the plastic thread from breaking.
I’ve also noticed our son’s cheap notebook (he has a better quality one too) tends to overheat a lot. It runs really hot and sometimes shuts down because of a heat event, and this notebook is only around 6 months old.
New technology might be more energy efficient, but if the shelf life is a lot less then it’s creating more of an environmental problem rather than less. Sure, new technology can be refurbished, but there comes a point where really cheap equipment requires a machine to replace components (or an incredibly talented soldering expert).
Tomboy note taking application
One of the applications I’ve found that I used a lot more often than I expected is Tomboy. Tomboy is a digital note taking application with the ability to synchronize notes with Ubuntu’s cloud service Ubuntu One, as well as web-dav servers and, if enabled, SSH servers.
I tend to collect a lot of notes on my desk. Between messages for me, things I want to remember, and people I need to track things down for the paper pile was starting to accumulate to a point that rather than dealing with the notes I was letting them slide off my desk into the void. Then I started storing notes in Tomboy. Tomboy isn’t as sophisticated as Microsoft’s OneNote system, there’s no clipping articles with graphics, fancy colour coding or realtime multi-user editing, but it does provide a basic note taking solution that can be synchronized with a cloud source.
For me this means that when I come across something useful at work, say an article on emacs modes, I can write myself a quick note and it gets synchronized in the background.
By default synchronization with Ubuntu’s Ubuntu One service is not set up. Even if you’ve already created an Ubuntu One account you’ll need to “authorize” Tomboy to send the notes to Ubuntu One. This is done by clicking Edit > Preferences and the Synchronization tab, then selecting Tomboy Web from the Service section.
While in Preferences I also like to enable a few extra Add-ins. Under Tools the Insert Timestamp add-in, and under Formatting the Underline add-in.
Tomboy can also take 3rd party add-ins. While I’ve never worked with these, the following 3rd party add-ins look interesting:
- Blogpost – post to your WordPress/Blogger account from Tomboy.
- Reminder – automatically open notes at a specific date and time.
- Remove Broken Links – removes broken links/URLs from notes.
- Drag and Drop – lets you drag one note into another to link to it.
If you take a lot of notes and need to have them in different locations where you have an Ubuntu Linux computer Tomboy is a great way to go. It’s not perfect, but as a simple note taking application it does the job.