Thursday, 18 December 2014

Linux or Ubuntu or Mint and Google Earth. Won't zoom in. Can't connect to server error. Graphics Card Error

First - the title of the post.  It has got to the point now where Ubuntu and Mint are almost synonymous with Linux.  Sorry to any dedicated Linux fanatics who stumble upon this post. 

For years I've had a problem where Google Earth would be working perfectly in Linux then suddenly start doing weird stuff.

For example it would begin to load and crash, then would refuse to load again until the process was manually killed.  Then when it did load again it might say it could not connect to the server.

Or it would begin to zoom in on an area then suddenly stop loading any more detailed zoom levels.

Sometimes it would display an error saying my graphics card was incapable of running Google Earth - which was ridiculous when I had earlier had almost good enough resolution to read a newspaper from the sky.  And when Google Maps in my browser worked fine, within its own limits.

I tried searching for information and there were all sorts of suggestions, many from Google itself.  Most involved downloading and reinstalling the program.  Some involved clearing the cache.

Clearing the cache inside GoogleEarth was a lost cause.  Crashed the program.  But I had a look in /home/my-account-name/.googleearth
Inside that folder there's a cache file.  Messing with that eventually fixed stuff.

I also discovered the .googleearth folder is created fresh whenever it is not present and Google Earth is run.

So the quick and dirty fix is to simply:
Open your home folder.
Turn ON Show Hidden Files.
Find the folder called   .googleearth
Start Google Earth.

If all went well, you now have Google Earth running again and zooming in to detailed levels.
You will have lost all your placemarks and personal notes.   But at least the program runs.

The long and painful approach is to make a copy of the .googleearth  folder and then in the original, delete cache.

If that doesn't work you then need to go through and play with every folder and file until you find the problem one.

Personally I would rather just redo all my placemarkers :-)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

2014 - The end of the year, the Internet and my preferred LINUX Distros

It is November already and we've had an interesting year.  Not a great year for writing with my health still in a mess and deteriorating despite everything I do to try to stay on top of things, but still interesting.

One of the biggest changes was the introduction of a partial version of the National Broadband Network in Australia.  It is unfortunate that the incoming government decided to strip away much of the infrastructure innovation, but fortunate that we even got what was left - a mix of the old and new ideas. 

Anyway, after close to two months on the new system I am convinced that even at lower speeds the Internet just got useful.  We lost our privacy but gained function.  The televisions in the house where I live are simple LED types, High Definition, but not smart.  However, connect them to, in one case, a WD LIVE box (cheap enough at OfficeWorks) and in the other case, a ChromeCast, as well as connecting them as monitors to a couple of old computers and a television is turned into a great entertainment system, far exceeding anything offered by Austar or Foxtel.

A monthly subscription to a movie network online at a price a fraction of some of the alternatives means an amazing number of movies out there to watch at any time.  Add to that the stuff available on YouTube legally these days, by virtue of adverts inserted strategically.  It is fascinating stuff and far better than most of the free to air TV can offer.

Of course, this all comes down to accessibility.  At last count in this house there were three tablets, three smart phones, five laptops and two desktop computers all able to access the Internet.  An NBN account with modest speed and unlimited data was definitely a good decision.

On another topic, I've been involved with a number of Linux distros as they have been developed over the years since I first converted to Red Hat in 1997.  Some distros I tried and liked, others not so much.  Some were excellent at certain things and not so good in other ways. 

Over the last few years I have used Linux Mint and Zorin OS for different things.  For normal day to day work I prefer Mint KDE.  Clem has got it almost right, though the latest version, Mint 17, is a bit flaky.  For some reason the Mint team has screwed up the graphics capabilities and the multimedia.  Also with Mint, networking is really crappy.  I had to mess with it over and over and never quite got it to do what I wanted.

So when it came to creating a home multimedia centre, I went back to the latest release of Zorin OS, version 9.  There are a lot of things I don;t like about Zorin,  I hate the themes, I really dislike that it is so difficult to set up and change things that should be simple, and are simple in Mint KDE.  But aside from the ugly window design and the crappy customization experience, it does have the slickest, sweetest network configuration.  Zorin's file manager is just plain ugly.  It recognized my external USB hard drives as CD/DVD drives and will not allow opening them in file manager as part of the right click menu.

But unlike Mint 17 KDE, Zorin plays multimedia videos in pretty well all formats.  And it also comes with ImageMagick in the repository, which means graphics can be manipulated from the command line or from bash scripts.  Sadly trying to do this in Mint is a painful process, and Mint doesn't even have ImageMagick in it repository.  It does have something called GraphicsMagick, which is like a poor substitute and fraught with errors whenever I have tried to use it for actual work.

Installing ImageMagick in Zorin is simply a matter of clickin it in the software centre,  IN Mint it sometimes takes half a dozen attempts to get rid of the rubbish they have installed, and get ImageMagick installed and up and running.

Zorin OS 9 has played every video format I have tried it with so far in either its installed video player, or VLC, which I had to install.  Once in a while a broken flv will throw an error but it still plays.  Mint 17 on the other hand is forever forcing me into player roulette.   At one time I had six different players installed just so I could get most formats to play.  Zorin played all the wmv files that choked Mint 17.

I think the next thing to try with Zorin OS 9 is to install XBMC and see if it works well as a more dedicated multimedia centre.

So when it came to

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Why NBN Fibre?

Ok, I've been a bad blogger again.  But this is not written for public audience.  It is written to remind me of 'stuff' and as a reference for a few friends.  If others find things that are useful - great.

In Australia we are undergoing the process of replacing our old copper wire based communication system with optical fibre, wireless and satellite.  The overhaul will do a number of things. 

Firstly, and most important, it will remove the issue of privacy across the communications network.  Anything and everything will be able to be tracked, traced, recorded and stored for future reference.  It is not as if this was not done in the past.  but the new technology makes it easier and faster to access and store pretty well everything that happens in a the life of a person or organisation.  George Orwell's 1984 just happened to mature thirty years later than it began.

People think the loss of individual privacy has been sneaking in for the last dozen or so years, especially with the advent of smarter phones and devices which provide location information about users.  But even before we had the Internet, it was possible to track users of computer systems using more primitive means to connect to each other.  Internet Protocol simply made it easier and the availability of Internet services to the general public, which happened in Australia around 1991, has opened up our daily lives to snooping.

Ok, so much for the privacy issue.  What about the good things NBN will bring.

Mention the NBN and people almost immediately think 'faster Internet'.  But that is the tail end of the puppy.  The first thing that the NBN should do is provide clearer and better voice connections.  There is a trade off in that because where the copper network will continue to run in an emergency as long as the exchange is operating, the NBN only has backup power for about 5 hours.  That can easily be remedied by connecting a 10 Watt solar panel to your backup battery.  Quite illegal, but easy enough to do.

It is on the Internet side of things though, where it gets interesting.  ADSL2+ was a great leap forward, because over the years the Internet has grown so much it began to slow down.  With the emergence of Google's advertising system, it has slowed to a crawl. 

Google is the biggest bottleneck in Internet speed.  Every time you open a web browser and look for or at a page, Google and various other advertising entities are there trying to find out where you are, where you have been, and guessing where you might go.  There are programs and add-ons available for your browser that allow you to see this happening, and it is scary to watch all the computers connected to yours at any one time.

So as the Internet is choking, speeds are increasing.  Our ADSL2+ was supposed to take us from 1.5Mbps to 20Mbps, but the best we ever saw from it was around 11Mbps.  Moving to the NBN, we pay the same amount for Internet and voice line rental.  By moving to a 100% Australian company called AUSBBS, we habe also more than doubled the amount of data we can use, again, for the same price we were paying for a 50GB download limit.

Now two things that stand out in real terms in our plan, are the speed and the data flow.  First, the speed we can connect is fairly consistent. and second, the data is there to make use of the new exciting things that the Internet can now be used for.

The NBN does not magically make web pages appear instantly.  In fact many people are disappointed when they first open their browser and see that pages still load slowly.  This is not the fault of the NBN connection.  It is mostly a function of the servers you are connected to and how fast they can get the information out to you.

But as soon as you connect to a fast server you will see the difference.  For example, I often download iso files of operating systems.  Each file is about 1.2 Gigabytes in size.  on ADSL2+ at supposedly 20Mbps, it takes around 20 to 30 minutes to download one of these  files.  On NBN supposedly at around the same speed, the reality is that the fibre network lets me download that file in around 7 to 10 minutes!

It doesn't stop at file downloads.  Using things like YouTube to watch video suddenly becomes practical at higher definitions.  And having more than one person watching a video and downloading stuff is suddenly viable.

All this is at the relatively low 25Mbps download speed.   The Internet now becomes a proper entertainment delivery service.  Computer to computer communications using tools like Skype are much clearer (as long as both parties are on NBN fibre).

There's another bonus.  Upload speeds are, in y case, about 10 times as fast as they were on ADSL2+  That means if I still had my web building business, I could maintain customers' sites far more efficiently.  And in a private home situation, I can make use of those handy things like cloud storage at last, because I no longer have to wait half a day for a file to upload!

Overall, the NBN experience is worthwhile.  You can get a lot more than you have been paying for by switching from ADSL to NBN.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

More about Applications as Desktop Wallpaper

Since I wrote about setting a video as wallpaper for Linux with KDE and mentioned it was possible to use other programs, not just videos, I have been asked about using Web Pages, and whether it affects the use of the browser for normal tasks.

Others have asked why anyone would bother setting a browser as a wallpaper.

Here are my thoughts.

I used to develop web sites and later, blogs as a business.  Now that I am retired from active duty, I still mess with that side of computing, but simply to get my mind working because I am unable to complete a normal work load.

So sometimes I want to see the results of what I did, but unobtrusively.  Other people might just want to use a news feed, a blog or even their Facebook Page as wallpaper.

The first and most obvious thing is - yes, it will interfere with use of your browser, if you set it as wallpaper.  But this is Linux.  You can install a low overhead browser like Qupzilla, and set it as your wallpaper.

Simply open the page you want, set it as your home page, then:
Right click the title bar
Choose More Actions > Keep below Others
Choose More Actions >  Fullscreen

REMEMBER - to get out of this, you need to hold ALT and press F3 to bring up the same menu you used to set the wallpaper.  Then More Actions and turn Fullscreen OFF.

By using something like Qupzilla, you still retain full use of your main browser without interference.

You do need to remember though, that you lose the right click desktop menu on that workspace.  To access it, use your pager to move to a different workspace, or use ALT +F3 and leave fullscreen mode for a while.

Here's what Mint 17 KDE looks like runnign Qupzilla as wallpaper:

Here's the same thing with Firefox over the top of it.

Here's Firefox translucent to show the wallpaper through it.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Linux Ubuntu Mint - Get Rid of Double Extensions in File Names

One of the fun things about Linux is that you can do almost anything easily and quickly by writing short little programs that do things in minutes that would otherwise take hours.

I often edit digital photographs.  This usually involves opening GIMP (like Photoshop - but FREE) and applying various changes, one image at a time.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Setting almost any application as wallpaper in Linux KDE

I just replied to a post on a forum where someone asked about setting a web browser as the desktop background in Gnome.

Now I don;t use Gnome, just as people who know me also know I haven't used Windows since the 1990's.

But I have had video wallpaper and web browsers as wallpaper for years, and reading posts that say it is not possible, or talk about writing shell scripts that take photos of your browser and set them as a wallpaper slide show annoy me.

So here is the easy way.  I downloaded Gnome to test this and it does not work because Gnome has no option to 'keep a window Below Others, but in KDE it is dead easy and I suspect the others will also let you do this.

Ok, so in KDE all you do is:
1 - Right click the title bar of your browser.
2 - Choose 'More Actions'
3 - Choose 'Keep Below Others'
4 - Choose 'More Actions' again
5 - Choose 'Fullscreen'
6 - Read the warning that tells you you probably won't get back out of full screen.
7 - Take note of the 'ALT+F3' shortcut to get out of full screen.
8 - Click ok.
9 - See point 6. Make a text file in /home to remind you.

To get out of Full Screen use ALT+F3 Choose 'More Actions' then get rid of the 'tick' next to 'Fullscreen'. You might want to get rid of 'Keep below others' as well.

I have been using this method to set VLC to play videos as wallpaper for years, but now I see it has a built in "Wallpaper Mode".

It also works for other programs, but can be annoying when you accidentally erase the document you were working on in your 'Desktop Wallpaper Database'.

One program that does make good Interactive Wallpaper using this method is Google Earth.  Just go to View and set the Sidebar to OFF.

Monday, 21 July 2014

LINUX Grub-Customizer Background Image Not Showing

One of the fun things about Linux is customizing it.  Everything from window borders and backgrounds to transparencies and how individual programs behave on start up.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Printing a sample of all available fonts on your computer

I spend a lot of time messing with graphics and fonts in one way or another.  Often I am doing something that involved images and fonts at the same time.  Other times I might just want to work in ImageMagick and use the command line to create a fancy font effect without bothering to open a program to make changes one at a time.

When I am doing this though I sometimes need a particular font to turn an idea

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fresh Coffee Beans make a difference!

I've never really been a 'Coffee Drinker'.  Not really.  But that was because instant coffee tastes so insipid to me.  I cannot think of a single time that I actually enjoyed a cup of instant coffee.

Percolated, drip filtered and pot boiled coffee on the other hand I have enjoyed, along with the usual espresso flavoured milk drinks like cappuccino, flat white and latte.  But it took regular visits to a friend who actually enjoyed not only drinking coffee, but making it, for me to develop a taste for the stuff.  I'm still not a coffee expert and hope never to be, but I now know what I personally enjoy in a coffee.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Free Software for Drawing and Art

Following from yesterday's post, I decided to look a little deeper into what can be done using an ordinary 'Office Suite' for graphics.  So this morning I decided to have another look at LibreOffice 'Draw'.  This is the program I used to create the text that is filled in so it looks as if the letters are cut out of a photo.

This morning I read a post where someone was wanting to buy a graphic design program that would let him make a mockup of a mobile phone case that he could put various images on to show customers what the case would look like.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Linux Image to TEXT - use an image instead of colour

I'm writing this so I remember it can be done easily.

One of the neat things about Xara ExtremeLX for Linux was that it was fast, it worked with SVG files and it was easy to use.  For the last couple of releases of Linux Mint KDE, Xara has been able to be installed, but has failed to load.  A quick search on google show I am not the only one with this problem.

Now one of the simple things I used Xara for was to make things like logo graphics, maybe just something with a message, and instead of changing the font colour, I would put the text over the image, then use Xara to remove the image from everywhere except the actual text.

Linux MINT 17 KDE

I noticed that the KDE version of Linux Mint 17 was available, so I downloaded it and yesterday I got it up and running.

I noticed a few annoying things while I was doing this.  I run two versions of Mint on my computer at any given time.  I have a partition for the version I am currently using, and a partition for the old version.  If anything goes wrong or I don;t like the old version, or if I tweak something in the new version as I am doing now, and screw stuff up, i can choose the old version from GRUB boot menu and reinstall the new one.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Simple Accounting softare for Aussies using Linux!!

One of the annoying things about Australia is our tax system.  One of the annoying things about Linux is that almost everything is available for Linux except a simple small business accounting system that is designed for Australian and designed for Linux.
There is a partial solution however...

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Quick aNd Easy Web Builder Update!!

QNEWB2 is being constantly improved.  What is already the best Drag And Drop and WYSIWYG web editor I have tried during many years of searching is even better. What is more exciting is that it works perfectly in Linux!

On June 2, 2014 Pablo added a number of new things to the program.  Some are for advanced users, but for beginners and those trying the program for the first time a couple are very important.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A Drag n Drop Web Editor that Actually Works!

I have always preferred hand coding, or cutting and pasting bits of old pages to make web sites.  After all, if something works once, sometimes a small change can make it seem exciting to someone else.

So I spent a lot of time in HTML editors and also writing HTML in POTEs (Plain Old Text Editors)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Magic Bullet Solution

There is a popular small kitchen appliance called The Magic Bullet.  It is supposed to be a compact and powerful food processor, able to do wonderful things.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Krups 871 Espresso Bravo

I can't believe that people are actually reading this stuff.  Sure, a few friends get curious, but there are people actually finding my email because they have found my posts about these two types of coffee machines.  I find it strange that people go to the trouble of digging out my email address from my other web sites rather than leaving a message or comment here? 

Ok, the Krups Espresso Bravo 871 is my favourite coffee maker.  They have not been produced in a long time now, but I am sure some of the other cheap 'steam pressure' coffee makers like Breville, Sunbeam and others can make as nice a coffee too.  I believe Krups still make this type of coffee machine too.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Brekky Time Musings

Away from the subject of computers for a moment and back to day to day life.  I've written before about coffee and how I prefer my cheap boiler coffee machines to the expensive ones.  The little Krups 871 Espresso Bravo, even though it is old, makes espresso that tastes thick and sweet, even before milk is added and the espresso from that boiler type machine can always be drunk black with no sugar.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Left monitor shows Firefox almost transparent after scrolling mousewheel on title bar.
7 May 2014

Saturday, 3 May 2014

KDE Ghost Windows and Dialogs - Faster YouTube - Mint and Ubuntu

I had an annoying problem with Mint 16 KDE where using
Right click > Send to > Desktop # was leaving a ghost
of the window on my desktop, and the ghost window does not go away until I
change desktops. I also had a problem with some dialog boxes remaining after their program exited.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Using an Android tablet as a terminal for a Linux computer

I use my Android tablet to do a few jobs that I can't get a program for in Windows or Linux.  That is not because either of those operating systems are not capable of the work, it is simply that there is a new generation of programmers out there writing stuff for iPad and Android who 'think sideways'.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Video wallpaper on KDE and another simple method

I was reading some of the stuff I wrote for my old computer website and found an article I wrote years ago with an even simpler method for video wallpaper than yesterday's tip.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Re: Using video for my KDE wallpaper

I enjoy listening to music while I work and I enjoy the novelty of having moving wallpaper.  There are many ways to get a video to run as wallpaper in Linux.  Some of them need special application installed.  Some like Zorin, require you to buy a 'paid' version of their distribution.  

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Video Wallpaper for KDE desktop - Dead Easy!

For years many of us in the Linux world have been writing or modifying scripts to make a video or flash animation play play desktop wallpaper.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Making Better Coffee - Breville 800ES Krups 871

 For most of my life I was a tea drinker.  Coffee was something pale and tasteless that came out of a tin or bottle called Nescafe or Bushels.  Tea?  In the bush, black, strong and with or without a handful of sugar, was a man's drink.  In the city with a dash of milk it was a social drink.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Mozilla Firefox 'Aurora'.

My favourite web browser is Mozilla Firefox.  I've used Mozilla or Netscape ever since I stopped using MOSAIC in about 1994.  usually I like Firefox, but every once in a while they do something to really annoy me.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Radio Control Scale IOR Quarter Tonner

Back in 2008 I started to build a 1/10 scale model of my yacht 'Volcano', with the intention of sitting in my cockpit at anchor here int he Whitsundays, and sailing a replica of my yacht around.
The project began as a balsa mockup to get the boat fairly realistic, but it was always going to be a rough and ready affair.