Review: Spicebird – A Collaboration Platform

Well, I happened to attend this workshop on “How to build business around open source tools” organized by Twincling Society and IIIT Hyderabad. There I came to know about Spicebird. Spicebird is a single platform for many collaboration needs. It provides e-mail, calendaring and instant messaging with intuitive integration and unlimited extensibility. Spicebird is being developed by a Hyderabad based Indian start-up named Synovel (All four founders are alumni of IIIT Hyderabad). Below we look at some features that Spicebird provides.

1. Tabbed Interface

The tabbed interface for different utilities like mail, calendar, contacts, tasks etc. looks pretty clean. The interface is not at all cluttered in any way and navigation to different utilities is straight forward. You don’t have to brainstorm before getting something done.

2. Familiar Interface & Crisp Icon Set

Spicebird has an interface similar to loads of mozilla based application out there. The settings, preferences and the way things have been managed are familiar. So people who are switching from other open source email clients will not face any problems at all. Spicebird uses icons from Tango Project. The icons used are really good looking.

3. Nice Home Tab

The way Home tab has been organized is really appealing. You can add applets which includes rss feeds from you favourite blogs, mail folder views, calendar, upcoming events and Date & Time. Geeks love rss feeds. And what can be better than having it on your home tab all the time along with your mails. Event applet comes handy to remind you of the upcoming meetings and deadlines. And its on home tab all the time :) Date & Time is specially helpful when you collaborate with people in different timezones. So you can add their timezone on home tab and you know when is the right time to ping them.

Spicebird Home Tab

4. Email

Email experience is more or less like any other open source email client. But Spicebird provides some intitutive features like if it finds that the content of a mail is about a meeting, it’ll give an option for creating a calendar event for the same. This is a really good feature and this is just the begining. Spicebird is still beta.

SpiceBird Intutive Mail

5. Instant Messaging

This is a really cool feature from collaboration point of view and which makes Spicebird different from the masses. Spicebird is supporting IM via any jabber server. So if you are a startup, setup your own jabber server on Intranet and use it for collaboration. Mind blowing!! This also includes Gmail/GTalk. So you can just say bye bye to your messenger and start using it right away with GTalk. Plus this will import all your contacts to your local address book. Another real good feature which is not there in lot of other email clients.

SpiceBird Instant Message using Jabber, GTalk

6. Calendar & Task Management

Another good feature. Integrated calendar and task management. You can quickly add tasks and events. And you need not check your calendar for upcoming events, add upcoming event applet on home tab and you will have them all the time in front of your eyes :)

Spicebird Calendar and Task Manager

Conclusion

Whether you are a startup which is looking for tools to collaborate or a user who is excited about using open source tools, just go and download Spicebird from here and explore a new way of managing things at a single place :)

You can look at Spicebird Roadmap here and checkout the video demo of Spicebird here.

 

How To: Configure Kopete Messenger

Kopete is one of the Instant Messengers available for linux and is an alternate for gaim for kde. Though the older versions were not good enough to use but the recent versions are just awesome with a good gui. Its very easy to use and it also goes to the system tray when you close it. You can logon on to yahoo, msn, google talk etc. in just one widnow, minimizing the memory usage bye the application. It asks to view or ignore whenever a new message comes from a user with you were not chatting already.

Installing/Upgrading

1. You have to get the latest kopete package from the sourceforge or kde official site.

Unzip the bz2 package with command…

[saini@localhost]# bunzip2 -d package.bz2

change directory to package and then issue these command

1
2
3
4
[saini@localhost]# ./configure
[saini@localhost]# make
[saini@localhost]# make check
[saini@localhost]# make install

These should not give any errors, make and make install normally takes 15-20 minutes on an average machine.

Now you are ready to use kopete if it gives any problem try to have a reboot because I faced some problem which rectified itself after a reboot.

2. Adding accounts

Now go to k-menu -> internet -> kopete and that it.

When kopete opens go to settings -$gt; configure…

Kopete Main

Kopete Accounts

Click new and select new

Kopete Choose IM Server

Select yahoo and add your account…

Kopete Yahoo Username Password
Go to account preferences and browse your photograph

Kopete Yahoo User Preferences
Just click next and finish and you are done with yahoo account.

Similar is for the MSN Messenger, No special settings.

If you want google talk also. Then you have to install some support for tls

Download the source package qca-tls-1.0.tar.bz2 from here.

If it gives no errors and got install without any errors. Then go to add account and select jabber in the add acount wizard menu and do as shown

Kopete Add Gmail User

and in connection tab do

Kopete Gmail Server Preferences

click next and finish and now you can connect to Google as well.

If you have further suggestion, please leave a comment.

 

How To: Yahoo Messenger on Teaching Lab Machines

Though the pcs in the labs are not having any support for applications except terminal or command line, Linux version of yahoo messenger can be opened there. This is a step by step procedure.

Step 1

Open two terminals and through one of them logon on to your mirage server account because that supports the Gaim(Linux version of yahoo messenger).

Step 2

Now I will call the terminal in which you are logged into mirage as remote machine and the terminal of the machine at which you are working as local machine.
At your local machine execute these commands.

1
2
[kulbir@localhost ~] xhost + [Enter]
access control disabled, clients can connect from any host

The messege displayed above should appear otherwise you may have problems.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
[kulbir@localhost ~] /sbin/ifconfig [Enter]
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:11:2F:57:C5:9D
inet addr:372.12.226.25  Bcast:122.12.226.123  Mask:212.223.345.138
UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1520  Metric:1
RX packets:136851 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:82928 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:71106959 (67.8 Mb)  TX bytes:40997603 (39.0 Mb)
Interrupt:10
lo        Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr:122.4.4.1  Mask:252.2.2.1
UP LOOPBACK RUNNING  MTU:11436  Metric:1
RX packets:46123 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:46123 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:22001021 (20.9 Mb)  TX bytes:22001021 (20.9 Mb)

The address against inet_addr in 3rd line is the IP address of your local machine.

Step 3

Now switch to your remote machine terminal and issue the following commands…

[kulbir@server ~] export DISPLAY=[IP address]:0.0  [Enter]

e.g.

[kulbirsaini@server ~] export DISPLAY=222.26.36.5:0.0 [Enter]

If no error comes, means things are going fine.

[kulbir@server ~] xterm [Enter]

Now also if no error comes and a new teminal appears then you are ready to open the gaim.
Issue this command on the new appeared terminal

[kulbir@server ~] gaim [Enter]

yahoo messenger will appear and now you are ready to chat.
Add your account to the messenger and chat 😀