Open source alternatives to web apps: wallabag

wallabag logo Application: Wallabag

Replaces: Instapaper, Pocket, Readability

No matter how well you manage your time often, you probably don’t get a chance to read interesting articles and blog posts when you find them. Luckily, there are several web applications that allow you to clip articles and read them later.

The most popular of those applications are Readability, Instapaper, and Pocket. But they’re all closed source. For the open source enthusiast, there’s another option: wallabag. It’s a surprisingly powerful and flexible, not to mention easy to use, alternative to Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability.

Curious? Then read on.

(Note: If you want a bit of background information about wallabag, then check out this article at


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Taking (another) look at ownCloud

ownCloud logo Online storage and file syncing is an interesting space. You have the big names like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. You also have scrappy contenders like SpiderOak and SugarSync. But what about the open source side of the fence?

That’s where ownCloud comes in. I took a look at ownCloud about two years ago and was suitably impressed with it. But it was lacking something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. So, ownCloud faded into the background though not off my radar.

Flash forward a couple of years. To February, 2014 to be exact. Around that time, ownCloud 6.0 came to my attention. I took a look at the list of new features in version 6.0 and was immediately intrigued. And, as you’ve probably guessed, I decided to give ownCloud another look.

Let’s go over what I found.

(Note: This post looks at an instance of ownCloud for a single user. It doesn’t go into setting up ownCloud for use with multiple users or look at the app’s sharing features. I plan to look at the latter in a future post.)


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Quickly resizing images with Simple Image Reducer

convert Sometimes, you need to quickly resize one or more images. Why? You need one or more thumbnails, you need to resize an image for a blog post, you want to create some wallpaper for a mobile device, or you want a smaller version of a logo for a document or web page.

In those cases, firing up The GIMP is a bit of a waste. You just need to do the job quickly and, in some cases, with two or more images.

Enter Simple Image Reducer. It’s a fast, effective tool for resizing one or more images.

Let’s take a quick look at how to use it.


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Taking notes with Springseed

Taking notes Note taking software – whether on the desktop, on the web, or for mobile – is a dime (or whatever the equivalent in your currency is) a dozen. As can be expected, those tools vary in quality and functions. Some are good, some not so. Some are bare bones, others pack almost as many features as a word processor.

If you’re looking for a simple note taking application, you’ll want to give Springseed a look. It packs enough features to be useful, but not so many that you’re overwhelmed by those features.


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A look at a pair of useful LibreOffice extensions

LibreOffice logoOne of the first applications that I used on the Linux desktop was StarOffice. This was at a time when I was using a word processor extensively for writing … well, everything.

Over the years, StarOffice morphed into the more familiar suite and (more recently) LibreOffice. While the suite still has a few quirks left over from its progenitor, there is one aspect of LibreOffice that I really like: it’s easy to extend it.

And you don’t need to be a programmer to do it. There are a number of extensions available for LibreOffice that supercharge it.

Here’s a look at two extensions that make my work with the suite a lot easier. While I mainly use them with LibreOffice Writer, they also work with Calc and Impress.


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Creating a daily reading list with calibre

books Many people complain about being able to keep up with all the information that they need (or think they need) to keep up with. While I think that information overload is a crock, I understand that it can be difficult to wean yourself off the mass of information that faces you. The best way to do that is to reduce the amount and number of sources of information in your life.

I won’t go into the theory and practice of that; I do that elsewhere. But one technique you can use is to create a focused daily reading list. You can read the contents of that list using your tablet or smartphone during your daily commute (assuming you use public transit!).

The calibre ebook management software is an excellent tool for creating a daily reading list. Let’s take a look at how to do that.


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