Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ubuntu - "Open With"

Ever wonder how to easily specify which program ought to (by default) open a given file type? Wonder no more: Right click on a file of the type in question, then click "Properties" and select the "Open With" tab. There you will be able to either select a program by clicking on its check-box, or add a new program.

Happy Ubuntuing!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ubuntu Templates

Ever wonder why, when you right click on your desktop or in a folder, and select "Create Document", it tells you there are "No templates installed"?

Ubuntu expects you to have a ~/Templates folder (which should have been created when you installed Ubuntu). You may have deleted this at some point, and even if you hadn't, it probably didn't have anything in it. If you'd like to have some handy file templates, just create a ~/Templates folder. Then put some files in it. Whala! They should be available next time you use this right-click menu.

If you try it, and they don't show up, you'll need to edit this file:


And make sure the following line exists:


It turns out that Ubuntu is smart enough to automatically edit this file for you, should you move (and maybe even rename) this folder. However, if you delete it, Ubuntu will set this line to use your home folder as the default location.

While you are editing this file, you might want to take a look at some of the other lines; you may find them useful.

Happy Ubuntuing!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Google Earth 5.0 in Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit

There's a bit of a gochya when installing Google Earth in Ubuntu 9.04, 64-bit. If you read my previous blog post on this topic, that'll get you part way to installing it. However, it won't run properly, and will give you the following error message:

"google earth detected an error while trying to authenticate"

There is a missing dependancy, so all you have to do to get it to run is to do this:

> sudo apt-get install lib32nss-mdns

Happy Google Earth Surfing.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Denver People's Fair - Land of Woo

The "woo" was out in force at the 2009 Denver (Capitol Hill) People's Fair this year.

COCORE - Colorado Coalition of Reason.
The only "anti-woo" we found at the fair.

Acupuncture. Its old, and the Chinese have used it. Therefore, its legit. QED

Allergies cured by "laser technology". I wonder if they remove them from the heads of the ill-tempered sea bass prior to use.

What ever it is, it cures everything.

Tarot. At least they make it clear its "magical thinking".

Tarot, and palm reading.

Oh good, finally, The Truth.

I'm glad there wasn't a monopoly on advanced palm-reading technology. Its good that consumers have a choice in how to get scammed.

Apparently, the chiropractors have been doing it wrong.

Chi-Chi Rodriguez would be proud.... or would file a law suit for patent infringement on his novel "magic bracelet" err "magnetic bracelet" technology.
(kind of hard to see)

Advanced Photoshop lessons.

Your spine is bent.

Magic cream cures all pain.

They'll read your brain, and your palm, at the same time. Its like a lube-job and a tire rotation, at the same garage. How convenient!

Got Energy?

Your spine is crooked.

Oh good, no one has a monopoly on magnetic technology, either.
God is now here. Uhuh. Be careful. These guys want you to think they are atheists. This seems like a clever trick, at first, until you talk to them, and realize they're idiots.

Looks like woo.

Smells like woo.

Must be woo. But its only $1, what's the harm?

Yay, Scientologists! In Denver! We're so honored!

Nope. And we're looking so hard.

Wait, these guys say they have the truth, but the other booth said they have the truth. Which truth is The Truth?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Seed Starting

Its that time of year! Check out my simple, cheap and convenient method of seed starting:

And the final product:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Horn Loaded Cellphone Speaker

Here are a couple of templates you can use to create you very own horn-loaded cellphone, handy for when you want to listen to MP3s over your speakerphone (not sure why you'd want to do that, but just in case):

Template 1

Template 2

They are in svg format, and I recommend viewing/printing them from within Inkscape. Firefox doesn't render the second one correctly.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


This is a wonderfully concise, yet comprehensive description of what science is, and isn't.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Ubuntu and AMD

For a few years, I'd been happily using the MSI K8NGM2-FID motherboard with AMD Athlon 64 processors (most recently, a 2.2 GHz X2). I've also been using an Intel Core2 Duo laptop (2 GHz), and have historically always used 64-bit versions of Ubuntu. With my recent upgrades to Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10, Ubuntu seems to be more and more sluggish on my desktop, but on my laptop, it is pleasant as ever. Firefox had been especially sluggish. I also had serious (unresolved) audio problems on my desktop. Because of these nagging annoyances, I finally decided to upgrade. I really hate doing that, my hardware was just fine for daily computing, but the fact that Flash sites rarely worked correctly, the audio sucked (if it worked at all) and my (similarly spec'd) laptop was noticeably snappier than my desktop, in general. I couldn't take it any more.

Here's the upgrade I settled on:
  • NVidia 9800 GTX video card
  • 3 Gigs of triple channel (1333 MHz) DDR3 RAM
  • Intel Core i7 (2.67 GHz) chip
  • ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard
The verdict is in: this setup ROCKS. Ubuntu 8.10 (64-bit) installed without a hitch, all the hardware appears to work flawlessly, the 3D goodies work great, so does Google Earth, Firefox is fast, Adobe Flash websites work perfectly (after installing Flash 10), and seemingly simple tasks (watching a video) don't hog 100% of one of the cores (more like 10%).

I can't describe how much snappier everything is.... must be, on average, about 3x faster. It still annoys me that I had to do this. My new hardware is only about 23% faster (clock speed), so clearly there was some weird driver/hardware issue. With my new, well-supported Intel hardware, however, the driver support seems perfect. My 4 hyperthreaded cores are detected as 8 total processors, and the OS appears to load balance intelligently.

I highly recommend this setup. You will NOT be disappointed!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Installing Google Earth in Ubuntu

I recently installed Google Earth 4.3 in Ubuntu 8.10 (64-bit). I suspect the issue I discovered will be relevant for more than just these versions of software. To install it, use the following method:

1. Download it to your desktop
2. cd ~/Desktop
3. chmod +x GoogleEarthLinux.bin
4. sudo ./GoogleEarthLinux.bin

DO NOT let it launch GE after the installation. Close down the installer, then launch GE from the desktop or menu icon. If you let it launch GE from the installer, some files will be created under the root account. You then won't be able to run it as a normal user. If this happens to you, follow this remedy:

1. cd ~
2. sudo rm -Rf .config/Google
3. sudo rm -Rf .googleearth

Things should now work as expected.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Ya know on Windows you can type ALT+236 to get an infinity sign? (and other special characters with other codes) In Linux, you can achieve the same thing by entering "unicode mode". To do this, type CTRL+SHIFT+U then type the Unicode code. So for instance, to get an infinity sign, the code is 221E. ∞ See, it works!

Cool, eh?