Feb 28, 2017

How to Email Unique File Attachments using Mail Merge for Gmail

Mail Merge, available for Gmail and Google Inbox, is a perfect tool for sending personalized emails to one or more email addresses using a simple Google Sheet. If you never performed merge before, please watch the Mail Merge tutorial and documentation to get started.

One of the most popular features of Mail Merge is its unique ability to send different file attachments to different email address. For instance, if you are applying for a job at different companies, you can attach the same PDF resume in all email messages but the cover letter could be different with each application.

This step-by-step tutorial explains how you can you can use Mail Merge for Gmail to send unique email attachments to your contacts. Mail Merge pulls files from Google Drive and includes them as attachments in the outgoing email messages.

Step 1: Install the Mail Merge add-on.

Step 2: Open a new Google Sheet, go to Addons > Mail Merge with Attachments > Create Merge template to initialize the sheet.

Step 3: Add one or more rows in the Mail Merge sheet. To keep things simple, you can add the First Name, last Name, and the Email address as shown in the screenshot.

mail-merge-row.png

Attach Google Drive files to Mail Merge

Step 4:  Go to Addons > Mail Merge > Add File Attachments > Insert Files from Google Drive and select one or more files that you wish to send with your email message. You can also select the option Select Files from Computer if the files are on the computer.

Mail Merge will get the direct link of the selected file(s) and inserts them into the File Attachments column. If you wish to send more files with the same email message, you can add the drive links in the same cell, separated by the comma.

Easily Add File Attachments with Mail Merge

In the previous step, we used the Google File Picker to select the files from Google Drive. This is slightly tedious more so as you have to repeat the steps for every row in your Mail merge sheet.

There’s an easier way though for adding attachments to merge. Instead of using the File Picker, you can simply put the name of the file in the File Attachments column. The addon, at the time of sending the email, will search your Drive for that file and attach it to the email message.

If you have multiple files in Google Drive with the same name, you can specify the folder path where the file is located. The syntax is \\Folder A\\Folder B\\filename.ext

google-drive-file.png

I want to show you one more technique for quickly attaching files to your Mail mere sheet. Go to Addons > Mail Merge > Add File Attachments > List Files in Google Drive Folder. Now select the parent folder in your Google Drive and the addon will generate a list of every file it found inside that folder, including sub-folders.

Now switch back to the Mail Merge sheet and you’ll notice that a drop-down has been added to every cell in the File Attachments column. This makes it even easier for you to select files from Drive.

mail-merge-animated-gif.gif

So we are all set. Go to the mail merge menu, choose Configure and run merge (video) to send your emails that all have unique attachments. You’ll find a copy of the emails in your Gmail Sent items.

For detailed instructions, please watch the video tutorial.



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Argos Lets You Create GNOME Shell Extensions From Scripts (W/ BitBar Plugin Support)

Argos is a tool inspired by the BitBar app for Mac, which makes it easy to create your own GNOME Shell extensions, using information provided via scripts.

Being a GNOME Shell extension itself, Argos adds a button with a dropdown on the GNOME Shell top panel. This button can display or expose functionality provided by a script, be it Bash, Python, Ruby, and so on (remember to make it executable or else Argos won't use it).

Here's Argos in action (gif via Argos GitHub page):

Argos GNOME Shell script extension

Basically, the extension turns an executable's standard output into information that's displayed by Argos on the GNOME Shell top panel and its dropdown menu. A new button is added for each executable file placed in the Argos configuration directory (~/.config/argos/).

For example, you can use Argos to display weather, ping, stocks or network download speed on the GNOME Shell Top Panel, while providing advanced information in its dropdown menu, like a weather forecast, ping details, a list of stocks, or network upload and download speed.

Furthermore, plugins are not limited to displaying information. Argos can also perform actions on click, so for instance, you could create a launcher. Here's a simple launcher created with Argos:

Argos GNOME Shell script extension

Another example - Argos running "top" in its submenu:

Argos GNOME Shell script extension

Argos is not only inspired by the Mac BitBar app, but it also supports many Bitbar plugins, without any modifications. Note that not all BitBar plugins run on Linux, so you'll have to use plugins that don't contain macOS-specific code to use with Argos.

You can find BitBar plugins on the GetBitBar website or, to directly download the code, see the BitBar plugins GitHub page.

Below you'll find a few BitBar plugin examples, used with Argos under GNOME Shell:

Argos GNOME Shell script extension
Hacker News

Argos GNOME Shell script extension
Ping results for multiple websites
Argos GNOME Shell script extension
Bandwidth test (to use this, install speedtest-cli and change the executable from ~/bin/speedtest-cli to simply "speedtest-cli")

Under the hood, Argos uses an asynchronous execution engine, which should prevent blocking, even for long-running scripts. Furthermore, its GitHub page mentions that Argos is optimized for minimum resource consumption, so even with multiple plugins refreshing every second, it should still use less than 1% CPU.

For a similar tool (but without BitBar support) for desktops that support AppIndicators, see Sysmonitor Indicator or the old "Zenity for AppIndicators".


Install Argos for GNOME Shell


1. Install Argos

Argos is not available on the GNOME Shell extensions website, so you must install it manually. To make it easy to install, you can simply use the following commands:
sudo apt install git
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/
git clone http://ift.tt/2lOPGNv ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/argos
ln -s ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/argos/argos@pew.worldwidemann.com/ ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/

Alternatively, if you don't want to use the commands, you can download the extension .tar.gz from HERE and extract the "argos@pew.worldwidemann.com" folder to ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/

2. Restart GNOME Shell and enable Argos

To restart GNOME Shell, press Alt + F2 and type "r" (without the quotes). Then use GNOME Tweak Tool to enable the extension.

Later on if you want to update the extension (if you've used the commands mentioned above to install it), open a terminal and type:
cd ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/argos
git pull

Argos is very well documented so I won't get into details about using it here. For how to use Argos, please visit its GitHub page.


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Feb 27, 2017

Terminal Emulator `Terminator` Sees New GTK3 Pre-release 1.91

Version 1.91 (GTK3) of the powerful terminal emulator Terminator was released yesterday, bringing a few enhancements, as well as numerous fixes fixes.


Terminator terminal emulator

While the Terminator development is slow, the application is still actively improved, with version 1.91 being the second GTK3 pre-release.

According to Stephen Boddy, the main Terminator developer, the GTK3 branch is already much better than the old GTK2 Terminator version and is already used by some Linux distributions (including Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus).

Another GTK3 pre-release, version 1.92, should be available toward the end of March, while a final 2.0 (GTK3) release is expected at the end of April.

Terminator 1.91 ships with quite a few improvements and bug fixes, including:
  • enable the use of the hyper key as a modifier in shortcuts;
  • updated the preferences window to a modern version of glade. This should result in better spacing, layout etc.;
  • add the gruvbox light/dark palettes as themes;
  • add subtrees to custom commands menu - just add '/' to split;
  • fix the background transparency, also allowing per theme CSS fixes and styling tweaks;
  • fix the regression of the initial scrollbar state not being;
  • fix the middle mouse button not getting passed to tmux;
  • fix oversized splitter bar hover area for Adwaita and any other theme that does this;
  • fix the logger plugin;
  • fix system fonts to pull values from dconf, not gconf;
  • fix focus/z-order issue introduced by GTK3 port;
  • many other changes. For a complete list, see THIS page (click "View the full changelog").

For those not familiar with Terminator, this is a terminal emulator which includes numerous features, such as:
  • splitting terminals horizontally and vertically;
  • drag'n'drop reordering of terminals;
  • tabs;
  • numerous keyboard shortcuts;
  • save layouts and profiles via GUI preferences editor;
  • Quake mode (see the part about setting up the "Quake" mode from HERE);
  • simultaneous typing to arbitrary groups of terminals;
  • plugin support (it ships with a few plugins, including Activity and Inactivity Watch);
  • more.


Install Terminator (GTK3) in Ubuntu or Linux Mint


Terminator 1.91 is not available in any PPA however, there is a Terminator GTK3 Nightly Builds PPA that you can use to install the latest Terminator built with GTK3.

According to the PPA description, it contains automated builds of the development code of the GTK3 version, so "it may be subject to occasional breakage". However, the description adds that "this is probably the best available version currently till we finalise / stabilise 2.0.".

To add the Terminator GTK3 Nightly Builds PPA and install the application in Ubuntu or Linux Mint, use the following commands:
mkdir -p ~/.config/terminator
touch ~/.config/terminator/config
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome-terminator/nightly-gtk3
sudo apt update
sudo apt install terminator
The first two commands should fix an issue with ~/.config/terminator/config not being created by Terminator on a fresh install and thus, not saving the settings.

If you don't want to add the PPA, grab the latest debs from HERE.

Note: the Terminator package version in the PPA is currently 1.90 (+ bzr revision), however, this is the latest Terminator GTK3 code, and not an older version.

For other Linux distributions, download the source from Launchpad

Report any bugs you may find (and provide fixes if you have the skills) @ Launchpad.


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Feb 24, 2017

Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus Beta 1 Flavors Available For Download

The official Ubuntu 17.04 flavors are available for download. Here's a quick look at what's new in the latest 17.04 beta release of Ubuntu Budgie, Xubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, and Kubuntu.

This article doesn't cover Lubuntu, Ubuntu Kylin and Ubuntu Studio, flavors that also had a 17.04 beta 1 release, but which don't seem to have any interesting changes, at least according to their release notes. Other flavors, such as Ubuntu MATE, as well as Ubuntu (with Unity) did not take part in the 17.04 beta 1 release.

All the Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1 flavors include Xorg server 1.18.4, Mesa 13.0.4 (17.0.0 is available in the proposed repositories) and the 4.10.0-8.10 Ubuntu Linux kernel, based on the upstream 4.10-rc8 Linux kernel.


Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1


Ubuntu Budgie Zesty Zapus

Ubuntu Budgie is a newcomer among the official Ubuntu flavors. It uses Budgie Desktop by default, and it consists on a libmutter-based window manager and a customizable panel which includes an applet, notification and customization center, called Raven.

Ubuntu Budgie integrates tightly with the GNOME desktop, making use of its System Settings as well as the GNOME application stack, such as GNOME Files (Nautilus), Documents (Gedit), and so on.

Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1 includes the latest Budgie Desktop 10.2.9 along with:
  • GNOME 3.22 for the most part, with various 3.24 beta bits;
  • Budgie Welcome application comes with a browser ballot screen;
  • AppIndicator is supported by default;
  • Terminix is the default terminal emulator;
  • compared to the unofficial Budgie Remix, Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 beta 1 includes quite a few extra GNOME applications by default. Among the applications included are: Files, Software, Books, Documents, Eye of GNOME (Image Viewer), System Monitor, Maps, Weather, Calendar, Contacts and Disks.

Here are a few more Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 screenshots:

Ubuntu Budgie Zesty Zapus

Ubuntu Budgie Zesty Zapus
A browser ballot is included with Budgie Welcome

Ubuntu Budgie Zesty Zapus
Terminix is available by default in Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 beta 1



Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1


Ubuntu GNOME Zesty Zapus beta 1


Ubuntu GNOME is an Ubuntu flavor that tries to provide a pure GNOME experience. It uses GNOME Shell as the default shell, and ships with most GNOME applications by default.

Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1 includes:
  • GNOME Shell 3.24 beta (3.23.90), which includes a Night Light, a new feature that can be used to automatically reduce the blue light emitted by your computer screen at sunset or whenever you choose;
  • GNOME 3.24 beta bits, mixed with GNOME 3.22. Among the GNOME 3.24 beta packages included are: GNOME Control Center / Settings Daemon, Photos, Videos (Totem), Maps, Music, and Disks.
  • there are a couple of applications that have not been updated from version 3.20: Files (Nautilus) and Terminal;
  • the Software app has been updated to version 3.22 and now supports Flatpak;
  • Flatpack 0.8 is installed by default (snapd is also available);
  • Chrome GNOME Shell, a package that provides support for installing GNOME Shell extensions from Google Chrome, Chromium and other Chromium-based web browsers (Opera, Vivaldi) is installed by default;
  • the tracker search indexing engine is now sandboxed;
  • some applications are no longer installed by default: Brasero, Evolution, Seahorse and Xdiagnose. They continue to be available in the repositories though;
  • for new installs, a swap file will be used by default instead of a swap partition;
  • the default DNS resolve is now systemd-resolved.

Here is the new Night Light option available in GNOME Shell 3.24 beta:

Ubuntu GNOME Zesty Zapus beta 1



Xubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1


Xubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus

Xubuntu is an Ubuntu flavor which uses Xfce by default, a fast, lightweight desktop environment.

Xubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1 includes:
  • Parole 0.9.0 which comes with a new mini mode and some other changes
  • Thunar 1.6.11, which comes with quite a few bug fixes, including for crashes when cuting/pasting multiple files, renaming files, and more.
  • Whisker Menu 2.1.0 now supports editing launchers from the context menu, supports desktop actions amd there's an option to hide category names;
  • Xfce4 Task Manager now includes the ability to click on wondow to select process
  • various other application updates.



Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1


Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus

Kubuntu is an Ubuntu flavor which uses the KDE Plasma desktop as the default desktop environment.

Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1 includes KDE Applications 16.12.1 (see what's new in 16.12.0 , since .1 is a bugfix release) and Plasma 5.9.2 (see what's new in Plasma 5.9.0), which ships with quite a few changes:
  • interactive previews for the desktop notifications;
  • it's now possible to switch between windows in Task Manager using the Meta + number shotcuts;
  • the Task Manager now supports pinning different applications in each activity;
  • application playing audio are now marked in the Task Manager similar to how this is done in most web browser; also, you can easily mute an application from the Task Manager context menu;
  • the Quick Launch applet now supports jump actions;
  • improved look and feel, including a more compact and beautiful design for the Breeze scrollbars;
  • global menus have returned;
  • new configuration module for network connections.

Here are a few more Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus beta 1 screenshots:

Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus
Global menu button

Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus
Global menu widget

Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus
New network configuration module

Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus
The Quick Launch applet now supports jump list actions



Download links and release notes for the other Ubuntu flavors:


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