Mozilla Bespin Is a Killer Web-Based Text Editor

The folks behind Firefox have unveiled a new project today called Bespin, an extensible, web-based text editor that lives in the cloud.

At first blush, Bespin may not seem all that special—after all, web-based word processors are a dime a dozen these days. But Bespin isn’t just another word processor. Primarily, Bespin is a text editor—the kind you’d use for editing code or managing text-based todos. Using Bespin, developers could collaborate on projects through a unified interface (that still supports plugins!) no matter where they are—so long as they’ve got a browser.

That’s not to say that Bespin won’t also make for a killer word processor someday, too. Like I said, it’s built to be extensible much like Firefox is, so a user could conceivably install a plugin that would turn Bespin into a straight-up word processing app, too. The point, though, is that Bespin is full of potential.

There are tons of really cool things happening with Bespin, so be sure to watch the video for a detailed look or sign up at the Bespin homepage and try out the demo. Developers and plain text lovers, let’s hear if you think Bespin could someday replace your favorite text editors in the comments.

Build a Custom-Made BoxeeBox

DeviceGuru blogger Rick Lehrbaum, inspired by the cheaper set-top boxes, made his own higher-powered “BoxeeBox” for the free, open-source media center. He posted all the parts, the how-to details, and lots of pictures.

It’s not a truly cheap project—Rick’s total cost was about $610, without tax—but it does result in a serious computer that doesn’t look bad in an entertainment center, has outputs for any A/V equipment you’ve got, and has enough muscle not to choke or stutter on really high-def stuff.

The full details, specs, and hardware list are at the DeviceGuru blog. If you’re keen on following Rick’s lead but lack the hardware know-how, our founding editor just posted a first-timer’s guide to building a computer from scratch that can help you along. We’ve also shown you the cheaper, slim-and-sleek way to cut the cable for good with Boxee and Apple TV, but the “BoxeeBox Cookbook” will set you up for potential cable bill savings as well. It’s worth noting, though, that since this Boxee runs on Linux, a few compatability issues, like streaming, could pop up here and there.

To-Dos, Weather, and Twitter on a Linux Desktop

Reader Dave, inspired by our posts on the Linux desktop tool Conky, keeps tasks, weather, and even Twitter replies on hand, along with a stylish clock. Here’s how you can re-create and modify his setup.

The picture up top was patched together from a full-size screenshot of Dave’s desktop; unfortunately, his 1920-pixel-wide setup is a bit too big to host in readable full view. But here’s a scaled-down idea of how Dave’s setup looks on his desk:

Dave modified a wood-panel shot from Flickr to his own tastes; alas, neither he nor we could track down the original source (or license terms) to give credit. His conky setup, however, works and looks pretty great on any background, with most any theme used. Anyways, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of getting this gear on your desktop.

First up, you’ll need to install a few things. If you’re not already using Conky, install it; it’s a standard in almost every major Linux distribution, so check your package manager. Secondly, install curl, a command-line URL tool that facilitates Dave’s scripts. Again, it’s a pretty standard app, so most distributions should have it available in their app installers.

Download the two .conkyrc configuration files (you’ll see why there are two later) and scripts for grabbing Remember the Milk tasks, Twitter replies, and BBC weather. Right click and save this link:


Extract the files into a folder. Make sure you can see hidden files (Control+H or View->Show Hidden Files for Ubuntu users), then grab the .conkyrc and .conkyrc2 files and drop them in your home directory. You’ll be asked to overwrite at least your default .conkyrc file; back up your default file or customized file if you’d like to, but copy both of Dave’s files in. Next, create or find a folder to hold the three script files–bbcweather, rtm, and twittersearch—and put them there.

Fire up your favorite text editor and point it at that .conkyrc file in your home directory (Ubuntu users, that would mean something like typing gedit ~/.conkyrc into a terminal or Alt+F2 prompt). Scroll all the way to the bottom and edit the three folder paths that point to Dave’s own script folders to match where you put those three script files. My last line, for example, would read:

${font Sans:size=10}${execi 600 /home/purdman/scripts/rtm}

Before you jump out of there, make sure to also change the @davmac bit to your own Twitter name (or kill out that entire section if you’re skipping the micro-blog updates).

Now head over to the three scripts you stashed away, and open up the rtm and bbcweather files. Dave explains in each file how to tweak them; the one thing I’d add is to remember to pull off the “<” and “>” brackets off the username and password sections of the rtm script.

Finally, if you dig the font Dave used for his lower-right clock, you’ll have to install it. It’s FFF Tusj, and you can download it at Following the instructions at the Ubuntu wiki, you can drop that font file in one of four locations, then enter sudo fc-cache -f -v into a terminal to re-compile your font database. You can, of course, use any font you want for the clock, and the default used without FFF Tusj installed is pretty practical as well.

Whew! Now that your done configuring, it’s relatively simple to launch this setup. Dave uses two launch commands to get two different Conky windows going:conky for the left-hand data streams, and conky -c .conkyrc2 to manually launch and point Conky to his other, right-hand display.

As Dave points out, all three of the scripts are highly configurable, since they’re grabbing data that’s publicly available. You could, for example, re-point the Remember The Milk streamer to grab your incomplete tasks from a certain list, your high-priority items tagged @car, and so on. And one could fairly easily combine these data streams with the kind seen on other Conky setups, like the Gmail and Yahoo weather icons from this beautifully minimalist setup, or the Google Calendar and current song data from our guide to customizing Conky.

Got a killer Conky setup of your own? Digging how Dave’s scripts work on your system? Post your how-tos and screenshots in the comments below.