Firefox add-on for Google App Launcher

I just submitted a new Firefox Add-on for review on AMO. It is a simple add-on that provides a button on Firefox toolbar – much like the Chrome App Launcher.

Firefox Google App Launcher screenshot
Firefox Google App Launcher screenshot

When clicked, a grid of Google Apps icons opens, creating an easy access to your most used Google apps. The icons in the grid can be moved around to suit your preference. Add-on will remember the positions across Firefox restarts. In add-on’s preferences, you can select which apps show up in the grid. There are only a handful of apps supported at the moment and you can select any nine out of them to be shown in the grid. Following apps are supported presently:

  • gplus: Google+
  • gmail: Gmail
  • gcal: Calendar
  • gdoc: Docs
  • gdrv: Drive
  • gphotos: Photos
  • gmaps: Maps
  • gplay: Play
  • gytube: YouTube
  • gsheets: Sheets
  • gnews: News

If accepted, the add-on will show up on AMO in a few days:

In the meanwhile, you can find it on GitHub:

Code –
Releases –

Feel free to file bug reports, provide feedback at:


Of Maps and Mashups

Who does not like maps. I, for one, can spend a lot of time navigating through maps. Often I head to Google Maps for a quick address look-up only to end up spending many tens of minutes navigating around. With street view, it is almost like tourism from my chair.

I ran into this tidbit that I thought was fascinating:

If you look at the Washington Monument in Google Maps, the monument’s shadow follows the motion of the Sun throughout the day.


Now if Google Maps did the same to my house, it would make planning that vegetable bed in the yard so much easier. Also, I wonder if the shadow algorithm is cognizant of the time of the year (season).

Speaking of this, and maps in general, I found these two mashups that are both interesting and useful:



In Vladimir Agafonkin’s own words, his creation SunCalc is a little app that shows sun movement and sunlight phases during the given day at the given location. You can also change the time of the year, and it will adapt sun movement based on the season.




Now this is interesting. Isoscope highlights an area on the map that you can reach within the duration selected, at a given time of the day. So on a Thursday afternoon at work, you are wondering which restaurants you can reach in 10 minutes, you head to Isoscope. Select your location, day of the week, time and the duration (10 minutes). Isoscope will show how far you can get.


So there you go, waste your time!

Chromecast – TV auto ON, Input Switching

Chromecast, as most owners know, needs power. It has a micro USB port that can be connected to the power source. Many TVs have a USB port these days. Most Chromecast articles or reviews use the USB port on the TV to power the Chromecast. The Google Support – Plug in Chromecast page also indicates the same:


This uses fewer wires – and power outlets – but with this setup, I ran into the following problem. Chromecast is powered OFF when the TV is turned OFF. Now if you use your mobile device to cast content on the Chromecast, it will not show up in your list of Chromecasts. You need to first turn the TV ON, then wait for the Chromecast to appear in the app and then cast content.

I prefer that the Chromecast is powered by an external power adapter, so the Chromecast is always ON. Now even if the TV is turned OFF, the Chromecast appears on the list of Chromecasts you can cast content to. You cast content on to the Chromecast. If the TV is OFF, Chromecast turns it ON, switches to the right input and plays the content. This, to me, is far more convenient.

Not sure if it is just my TV that turns OFF power to USB when it is turned OFF. Do all TVs do that? Are there USB ports on TVs that remain powered ON when the TV is OFF?

Citrix Receiver 12.1 on Debian unstable

You may find this useful if you run Citrix Receiver on Debian and you are on the testing or unstable distribution (Wheezy or Sid as of now).

Warning: Includes steps run as root and force-installing package. Not sure if it is a very good idea. So use caution.

Citrix provides the Receiver installer for 64-bit Debian. However it is broken (at least for me). It does not install because the ia32-libs dependency is missing.

This is probably as a result of moving to Multiarch which gets rid of the ia32-libs package.

Even at the end of this, the Citrix Receiver installer will not work, since the following procedure does not install the ia32-libs package, so the dependency will still be missing. However, we will install all the libraries required by the Receiver. So if we force-install it, it will work.

So here goes (All the following is done as root):

  1. First we need to enable 32-bit architecture on your 64-bit system:
  2. Then we enable 32-bit repositories in apt sources by editing the /etc/apt/sources.list as follows:
  3. Update the package list
  4. Install the 32-bit packages required by Citrix Receiver:
  5. Finally, force-install the Citrix Receiver downloaded from the Citrix website:
  6. At this point, you should be able to run Citrix receiver. The binaries reside in:


    As a result of this, the icaclient package will be broken. Anytime you update the system, you may have to remove icaclient to successfully finish the update. If you do, repeat force-install again. So keep the downloaded Citrix Receiver .deb file handy.

Chrome and LibreOffice on RHEL 6.1

So there is this Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.1 machine I have. I do not have administrative rights on it. Albeit for a good reason, it makes life very inconvenient. Especially as compared to this another Ubuntu/Debian machine where I have full access.

RHEL 6.1 comes with tools that are, well, dated. So I tend to install the later versions of tools I use regularly. Some of the easy ones include Firefox, Thunderbird, gPodder and Adobe Reader. These are easy, because the vendors provide simple ‘tar.gz’ packages that I can just inflate and use.

Then there are applications like Pidgin, XMMS2 and re-alpine which can be easily compiled from source.

And then there are applications like Google Chrome and LibreOffice which I always want to install. But since they come in RPM packages, installing them without root privileges is next to impossible… or so I thought.


Until recently I was using Chris Staite’s Chromium build. It works well, only it was stuck at version 14.

So I decided to try my luck and inflate the official Google Chrome RPM. So I did the following:

This creates a directory structure under /one/of/my/dirs with chrome installed at /one/of/my/dirs/sys/opt/google/chrome/google-chrome.

Now, either this process is supposed to work, or I was incredibly lucky. But once I pointed LD_LIBRARY_PATH appropriately, chrome launches and works fine! Here’s the launcher I use:

Chrome requires that the chrome-sandbox binary in the Chrome installation directory be installed as root. In my case, this is not the case. So Chrome refuses to launch with sandbox enabled. That is the reason for the --no-sandbox. Obviously, there are security repercussions, and Chrome warns you about that every time it is launched.


This success in installation of Chrome totally boosted my confidence! So I decided to take a stab at that other application that I always wanted to be up-to-date – LibreOffice. Turns out it is easier than Chrome!

All it takes is downloading the right RPMS and inflating them into the same /one/of/my/dirs directory!

And that is it, LibreOffice is installed at /one/of/my/dirs/sys/opt/libreoffice3.4/program/soffice!

Like I said, I am not sure this process is supposed to work, but it did beautifully in my case!

Empty ’em 0.80 testing

I am seeking testing and feedback on a new version of Empty’ em. There are some implementation changes that I would like to test on multiple platforms and different versions of Thunderbird before submitting on AMO. Following is the summary of changes:

  • Moved to using Inline Options. This requires version 7.* or greater. On older versions, old preferences should work
  • Added a preference to disable the notification that appears after all configured folders have been emptied
  • Optimization change: Remove the folder listener that was added to track folders being emptied. No functional change, just makes the add-on a good citizen by not consuming resources when it is not active

You can provide feedback at:

Empty ’em 0.80 testing Google Docs form

Here’s what the inline options look like:

Empty 'em Inline Options - Click for full size

Empty ’em Inline Options – Click for full size


ifttt : Automator for the web!

Automator is a handy application in Mac OS X. It makes your everyday, repetitive tasks more efficient by chaining operations exported by variety of applications. It automates something you would manually do using multiple applications.

Recently I was introduced to ifttt – short for if this then that. In their own words, like ‘lift’ without the ‘l’. To me, this is an awesome tool! It provides an Automator like way of chaining actions provided by multiple web services, called channels, to create a workflow, or Task. Automating something I would manually do using multiple websites. The Tasks are set rolling on Triggers that are also defined for individual web service.

They also have hundreds of pre-canned tasks called Recipes that you can readily use.

I won’t make this a help page about ifttt. You should visit, read all about it, and start being efficient on the web.

ifttt Filters - Click for full size

ifttt filter that should push this post to Tumblr and Posterous when this feed is updated. Let’s see! – Click for full size

If everything goes well, ifttt should post this blog post on my Tumblr and Posterous. If not, I probably need more reading and tweaking to do!