Archive for the ‘computing’ Category


A confusing problem

1 August 2009

I do not know what I did wrong, but my copy of Firefox 3.5 is still branded with its codename “Shiretoko”, so some websites didn’t think it was a real web browser and told me to switch to Firefox (or Internet Explorer, but there’s more chance of hell freezing over). Temporarily you can use the user agent switcher extension which will temporarily sort out the problem, but it’s hardly an elegant solution and you have to remember to change it every time you want to visit whatever sites hate you. I have, however found the answer! Visit about:config and change the value of general.useragent.extra.firefox to Firefox/3.5.1 (the whole point is to switch Shiretoko with Firefox, the version number is relatively unimportant, but probably won’t auto update if they push an update via apt). Problem solved!


32-bit Skype on 64-bit Ubuntu

18 June 2009

“It’s not possible”, they cry! Well, get off your soap boxes dear heretics, it is in fact entirely possible. (If you don’t have problems with pulseaudio, that is)

So, step one. Download the official Skype client for linux to your desktop from their website, you want the .deb for Ubuntu (ignore the version numbers, it’s fine).

Step two.  Install libqt4-gui and libqt4-core, either through synaptic or in a terminal.

sudo apt-get install libqt4-gui libqt4-core

Step three. Let’s play dressing up, we have to convince the package manager to install Skype against its will. That happens to be quite easy. Open a terminal window, and run this command:

sudo dpkg -i --force-architecture ~/Desktop/skype-debian_2.0.0.72-1_i386.deb

What it does is talks directly to the package manager and asks to install the file we downloaded, but doesn’t check the type of system it’s supposed to run on against the type of system you have.

Easy peasy!


Gnome DO Quick Tip

12 May 2009

Press Shift-Return to launch the action you’ve just described and keep Gnome DO visible. The Escape key will clear your last text entry and start again.


Thumbnail woe

26 April 2009

Point 1: The new exam timetable system looks pretty, but doesn’t seem to be a marked improvement on what we had last year. When you download your exam timetable it erroneously tells the computer it’s HTML not a PDF, so you need to change the extension to make it work properly. I have reported this to them, I doubt anything will happen or that they will give me a response, I’m still waiting for a reply to the email I sent almost a year ago.

Point 2: Because my computer read the PDF as HTML the pretty thumbnail was garbled text, the question is how do you fix the thumbnail. Thumbnails are saved in ~/.thumbnails/normal with really helpful names (they look like md5 hashes perhaps?). The answer lies in the tracker-thumbnailer tool.
$ tracker-thumbnailer /path/to/garbled/thumbnail/file
will give you the location of the thumbnail image which you can rm then run
$ tracker-thumbnailer /path/to/garbled/thumbnail/file mimetype normal
which will recreate the thumbnail. You need to change the mimetype to reflect the type of file, such as application/pdf or image/png (there’s a little more help on the man page).

Point 3: There must be an easier way to do this


This video is not available in your country

7 April 2009

…because you are dirty. You know that is what they are thinking – you just know it. Still, slightly annoying.


Journalistic Desire

20 March 2009

Do you know what I want? I want the online newspaper archives to make it more clear what’s online as opposed to from the paper material and to provide proper citations including the page numbers these articles came from, because there’s nothing more infuriating than having to spend half an hour wrestling with Dow Jones Factiva in order to find out that the article was never in the paper and that I could have just cited the URL. Please make my life less irritating!


Connect Ubuntu to Warwick Wireless VPN

4 March 2009

It’s not simple, but I have cracked it. I’m using NetworkManager 0.7.0 on Ubuntu 8.10 but chances are it might work on earlier/later versions.

You need to install the network-manager-pptp package first. You can do this through Synaptic or by installing “PPTP VPN Connection Manager” with the Add/Remove… utility. From the terminal enter
sudo apt-get install network-manager-pptp

Once you’ve done that, right click on the NetworkManager applet on the panel and choose Edit Connections in menu. Click on the VPN tab in the Network Connections window and click the Add button. In the dropdown menu choose Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and click Create…. Give the connection a memorable name and then set the following settings:
On the VPN tab
Username: Your IT Services user code
Password: Your VPN password (follow the instructions here)
Leave everything else as it is and click on Advanced….
Make sure all the Authentication Methods are ticked.
Tick Use encryption and set the Security drop-down to 128-bit (Most Secure).
Everything except Send PPP echo packets SHOULD be ticked.

With any luck when you left-click on the NetworkManager applet and select VPN > Warwick Wireless (or whatever you called it) it should log you straight in!