Showing posts with label Software. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Software. Show all posts

Monday, September 2, 2019

Raspberry Pi Fall Challenge - What do I have?

I have a Raspberry Pi 3, 1 GB of Ram and a Canakit.

So the Pi itself has the following ports:

4 USB
1 Mirco SD card slot
1 HDMI port
3.5 mm Audio and Composite Video
Ethernet Port
40 Pin Header
CSI Camera Connector.

It also has a WiFi antenna and 1 2.5A/5V USB port for power. I also have a Pi comparable case, USB power cord and two heat sinks.

Now, for outside sourced parts, I have 16 GB MircoSD card, a Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard, a Wii Controller, a PS4 Controller, a 125 GB USB external drive (with power supply) and a 4 port powered USB hub.

Ideally, this item would connect to the TV in the living room, which has about a dozen ports. I suspect I will got straight HDMI to HDMI. One wire, one problem, one solution.

My first task is to download and install the software to the SD card from the website. One further constraint on my activities is, I only have a Chromebook with Ubuntu as a computer. That will create some funkiness I am sure.

To start, I will use NOOBS. I want the full experience, so this might not be optimal for what I want, but I want to see a vanilla Pi in action. This will allow me to evaluate my abilities and goals to see what is actually possible.

The temptation to order a newer Pi is incredible. But this project is meant to declutter my workshop, not bring in more things. But there is nothing stopping you from ordering a CanaKit.



Wish me luck, and if you have an advice, please let me know in the comments below!

Fall Pi Challenge!

I've had a Raspberry Pi sitting in my drawer for over a year. By December, I will be making use of it, using only parts and items I have on hand.

I am a junk accumulator, so if I can't do anything cool with this, I am going to pass it on to someone else who can and will.

Here is my list of things I want it to do.

  1. Work with some sort of joystick, Wii or PS4. Preferably a Wii mote.
  2. It will work like Kiosk. 
  3. The Kiosk will display the weather, date and time. 
  4. The Kiosk will have a theme, like summer, winter, vacation, etc.
  5. The Kiosk will be changeable.   
  6. It will play music from a source. I haven't selected the source.  
  7. It will display pictures, from a source. 
  8. It will display movies, from a source.
That's a pretty good list for now. Time to do some exploration of these topics to see if I can actually do this with code others have created. 

Wish me luck! 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ubuntu Reinstall on Chromebook

There are many guides to installing Linux on a Chromebook. What I don't see are too many guides on what needs to be done afterwards. Using Crouton gives a very basic experience with Ubuntu, so a lot of things need tweaking.

One step that I often forget is switching to Dev Mode on a Chromebook can require a restart. Also, walking through the Ubuntu install also requires a restart. You can combo these together or do them one at a time. It doesn't really matter. What does matter is the restart option in Ubuntu will turn off your Chromebook. Think ahead.

I find the best way to get software easily is the Software Center. I know it can be buggy and odd, but it is a good place to start. Under the standard install of Ubuntu via Crouton, it isn't there and the terminal is the best option. First things first, make sure your install is up to date:

sudo apt-get update

This should only take a few seconds. Now you can get the software center:

sudo apt-get install software-center

The Software Center takes much longer to download and install. For whatever reason, sometimes the Software Center doesn't work. Simply repeat the command:

sudo apt-get update

The next thing I hit is a proper browser. NetSurf is 3 years old and kind of funky. It works fine in a pinch but doesn't offer a lot of features. I like Chromium.

A good word processor is a must and I am a fan of Libre Write. Write isn't the only game in town, you could simply use Google Docs, Abiword or WPS Writer. WPS Writer has the look and feel of MS Word, Abiword is a stripped down word processor which is easy to use and distraction free.

Stay tuned for more ideas of how to extend your Chromebook's usefulness.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Using GIMP to Resize Photos to a Specific Size

This afternoon I am editing photos for a website. I would like to take some images from 4992x4000 down to exactly 620 px across. I will be using Gimp and a little math to make this happen in seven steps.

First things first, I could do the math in my head, but I want to make this a step by step process. The second thing is, unpwnd doesn't require a specific size so the images in this walkthru will not be 620 px. That is not lost on me, I happen to Blogger as my platform and it has very different tools from Wordpress.

Step one. Open the image.
Step two. Click on Set Image Canvas Size. The dialog box will open and show that the image is currently 4992x4000. That is nothing like 620 px across.
Step three. I am going to adjust the width and the height. For the width, I need to lose those to extra pixels, it is so small no one will notice. So width becomes 2992-2=2990.

Height is another story. I am going to take away a multiple of 620. I decided that I would go with 620 times 2, so what I end up with is 2760. That is 4000-1240=2760.

Before I hit resize, I clicked the Center button. It just so happens that my subjects are dead center and this works. If it did not, I could have adjusted this manually.
Step four. I want to point out that I have been working with Canvas Size and not Image Size. Essentially, I am cropping the image to a particular size based on some math rather than an eye for photographic composition. Actual photographers have a great eye for composition and would not use this method.

Anyway, I think I can trim a little more of the edges and when I do that, I want my height and width to be an exact multiple of 620. I take the width of 2990 and divide by 620 which gives me 4.822 and some change. I do the same for the height which gives my 4.451 and change.

Now for a trick. I am going to take four away from each number leaving 0.822 and 0.451. Both of these numbers need to multiplied by 620. 620 is the only number I know for this process, which is why it keeps popping up. The results are 510 and 280.

2990-510 is 2480 and 2760-280 is also 2480.  2480 divided by 620 is 4.

Again, I am using the center bottom so I don't clip away my subjects. Also, this could a manual process.
Step five. Scale the image. I could do this part 2 ways. I picked the easy way: I scaled the image to 620. I could have also used the drop down box to select percent and typed in 25. There is no difference.
Step six. This is the result, an image that appears way too small. But not really, GIMP didn't change the scale of the display and the image is actually much bigger.
 Step seven. I set my view to 1:1. Looks good.
While all of this seems labor intensive, it is. But only once. Changes are your camera always outputs the same size image so you can save this as a macro making the process automatic.

And here is the final output at 620 px.

Neat, eh?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Chromebook + Linux + Simutronics Wizard

Using the Simutronics Wizard is preferable to the default web client. On a Chromebook, you must install some form of linux to install the Wizard and then install Wine and WineTricks.

Installing Linux on a Chromebook is easy. How to Geek has a great install guide for linux and crouton. This guide has a couple of options, I suggest xfce as a solid OS for your Chromebook. I mention this because I am using Ubuntu and Unity, which is less optimal. This instructions will work for many types of linux, so use whatever your heart desires.

Once you have linux install go ahead and use chrosh to open it up. Your commands are: "shell" and "sudo startunity", if you have Ubuntu Unity or "sudo startxfce4" for xfce. If you have another flavor, your sudo start command will be different.

If you are using Ubuntu, sometimes the Software Center is broken when first launched. Update it by typing into the terminal: "sudo apt-get update software-center". Once this step is complete, open it and install WineTricks. This will install a basic Internet Explorer. You can reach that directory by going to: home/chrome/.wine/dosdevices/program files (x86)/ or simply searching for iexplore.exe.

For some reason, the iexplorer.exe will not download the file, but keep it open in the background for later. Open your linux web browser and go to www.play.net/software/.


Next download the Game Entry Client. This will get a program called sg32inst.exe.

Back up in the browser and do the same for the Game Launcher. This file is called InchInst.exe.

Once you have these files, open sg32inst.exe and InchInst.exe. They should open directly from your browser and run in Wine. You will end up with the Simutronics Game Entry tool in Program Files under the C:\ drive. Open it and log in.
 Next, select a game.
 Select a character AND choose your client. Your options are Stormfront or Wizard. I picked the Wizard. It will download it for you and install it into your Program Files (x86). The same for Stormfront.
 Hit play and you are in. For whatever reason, there is no sound.
Enjoy!

(If you have any problems, let me know in the comments and I will try to work it out.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stupid Linux Tips - Disable Touchscreen Temporally

I have a touchscreen that needs a good wipe down. Touch screens are annoying when dirty and you only have three options:

1) Wipe it down and hope you don't click something stupid.
2) Turn off the computer.
3) Disable the touchscreen.

I want item three, but there seems to be no Unity control panel for the touchscreen. I couldn't find one so I opened the Swiss army terminal and typed xinput.


Reading down the list is simple enough, id=13 is my touchscreen.

The command is xinput disable 13 or whatever number you need. Turning it back on is just as simple with xinput enable 13.


Obviously, I am not the best Linux user, but I like to share tidbits that make things easier.

Now clean that monitor.

Quickly lookup Ubuntu info

Ubuntu is nicely consistent. So consistent that often you can't tell what version you have just by looking.

Two commands in Terminal can grab that info for you:

lsb_release -a

uname -r


Settings and Details does the exact same thing, in a prettier form.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Strange Chromebook XFCE Glitch

This morning, I had some trouble with my version of XFCE on my Chromebook. Tab-Alt stopped working, the menu bar had vanished, the programs opened would not keep focus and the cursor was either X or invisible.

How I hate messing with a perfectly good distro. The solution is rather easy. Delete your ~/.cache/sessions directory and the functions come back after logoff/reboot. How simple.


Of course, I forgot you can't rm directories and needed to try three times before I remembered the rm -r modifier. So the actual command is above.

Whew! Thank god for Ubuntu and XFCE's easy of use. If this was Windows, I'd be screwed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Unable to create directory... Wordpress error (formerly http://unpwnd.com/?p=555)

Friday evening, I was hit by series of errors from WordPress. When uploading images, I was confronted by these error messages:
“Unable to create directory wp-content/uploads/2015/01. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”
“The uploaded file could not be moved to wp-content/uploads/2015/01″
Obviously, my permissions were off, but I couldn't figure out where.
The quick and dirty work around was to log into GoDaddy’s file management tool and create files and upload images via the tool. Back in WordPress, I needed to select a previously existing image and edit the code to match the files and directories I created in the previous stop.
That is not optimal and not advisable. 
The correct answer is to correct the permissions on the server via the file management tool. I made several attempts, but it didn’t seem to work. After calling GoDaddy, I found where I was going wrong.
First and always, log out of WordPress. Second, the items Web Visible and Web Writable need to be ticked on the WordPress upload folder. The directory location is: /wp-content/uploads/. You likely don’t have permission to edit the webroot directory, and you shouldn't give that much permission that high up.
If you select the folder and view the settings you will not see the ticks because the Inherit tick disables those options. Untick it.
The other two become active. You can see the problem right away, the folder isn’t Web Writable. Tick it. 
If you need a quick fix, this is it. Stop reading now, since I don't have any better suggestion to offer. 
If you are still reading, this WILL correct the issue temporarily, but this is not an optimal solution. I contacted GoDaddy 3 times over this issue. 
The first time, the chat agent attempted to reset my permissions, which wasn't the answer at all. I had all the permissions I needed, I simply needed a little more information. I only mention this because you do not want to waste time like this. Don't use chat, they have a tendancy of "escalating" contacts to unnamed people who will effect fixes in 30 minutes to several hours. It never works, don't use chat. 
The second time provided me with the information above. This is also not the correct solution, because it is a quick fix that does not stop the error from happening. I experienced this error more than 40 times from 5 different webpages, hosted on two different GoDaddy servers. I expressed the belief that someone or thing was resetting this one particular permission by accident. The rep said that it was possible, but he did not see that happening. 
The third time, the rep insisted that my use of php based forms was the cause of the issue and it was my fault for using php forms, I need to purchase several things to prevent "php injection attacks". GoDaddy suggested I use Wordpress when I purchased my hosting, because it was very secure and they would be able to address any troubleshoot concerns that I had with it. The last issue is my sites were hosted on a shared server. This is a good cheap solution, but it also means that if someone else has a problem I could have that problem, too. 
The GoDaddy agent was actually suggesting that they have a known problem where people can assess their server with no login credentials at all and modify files at will and not show up on any logs. I had a hardened version of Wordpress, I changed my login ids often and I was not seeing any additional files or files with modification dates that did not correspond to my editing patterns. The changes made by this "intrusion" actually made my site HARDER to attack by removing permissions from a valid function, without making any other modifications.
When I asked for any more information such as server logs, support, etc., I experienced an upcharge menu. Basically, these upcharges highlighted the difference between what I was told I was purchasing and the services I was actually being provided. 
You will notice that I am now on Blogger, a free platform and no longer hosting with GoDaddy. My primary purpose for this change is to get away from the frustration I was experiencing. Let's be real, I was paying under $20 to host 5 websites. For years, GoDaddy provided a wonderful and valuable service for four dollars a month. At some point, quality declined. I was no longer receiving the top end service I had come to expect, likely because I was paying for low end service. I can't really blame GoDaddy for this, but realistically I was paying 20 bucks for headaches. 
I seriously doubt the whole "PhP iNj3cTi0n 4tTaCk!!!!" line the agent tried to sell me on. I do not think they would be in business for very long if they allowed unrestricted access to their servers via the Wordpress install that they provide. That is idiotic. I am more inclined to believe that this is a misguided attempt at security, where someone in house, at GoDaddy is changing settings to be more cautious and more secure without bothering to address the issues this causes with one or more products they sell.
Using GoDaddy for hosting is really not a good option for me. If you are encountering this problem intermittently and it is within your tolerance level, they are a good choice. If not, time to move. I still use GoDaddy for my URL and such. That will not change anytime soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mint LXDE - What's Missing

I installed Mint LXDE 5 or six days ago. In a weeks time, I thought I would have a laundry list of software I absolutely must install. This is LXDE after all.
Surprisingly, that is not the case. LXDE is lightweight, but that doesn’t mean limited software. Right out the install box, Mint contains all of the software you might need for almost any task. For word processing Abiword is all you need; Spreadsheets are handled very well by Gnumeric; Gimp provides all of the photoediting capabilities one might need for almost any task.  Exaile is excellent for music and video is handled well by both MPlayer and VLC. Firefox is the go to web browser for any system and it did not require any updates with Mint LXDE 11, which was a nice touch. In fact with this version of Mint, I don’t believe I had more than a couple of updates.
So what did I HAVE to install? I selected Libre Office over Gnumeric and Abiword; however these to pieces of software are so handy that I decided to keep them. Considering all of the options in Libre Office, keeping them is high praise. For web browsers I needed something other than Firefox so I selected Opera and Epiphany-Browser. There is no beating Firefox in my book, but sometimes I need to look at websites in something else. Opera was selected because I last used this on my old Mac. Epiphany was snap decision, I wanted to take a drive with something new to me
The only lack I saw by way of software was a plain jane HTML editor and an ebook manager. Abiword could do it and there is nothing wrong with gedit, but Bluefish is my favourite. As for ebooks, I selected Calibre because it works so well and does so much more.
I hope to do a write up of my new software choices soon, so say tuned.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Why use Terminal? (GIMP Install)

Linux has come a long way over the years. Nearly every variant has a software manager, a graphical interface for adding software. Why bother with the Terminal any more?
First, the terminal will display everything it does. Second, there are many versions of Linux and all of them have Terminal as an option. No matter what version of Linux, Terminal experience will server you well.
Here is a quick example of how to install GIMP using the Terminal.
Install GIMP:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gimp
The && combos two commands, update and install. The first checks your repositories to make sure they are up to date and the second installs GIMP.
You can follow this with autoclean and clean:
sudo apt-get autoclean && sudo apt-get clean
These commands remove .deb files not used by your system. Autoclean removes the cache information. This is good for systems with low disk space, however the penalty is you will need to download these again if you need to update or install software.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eye on the Pi

I have my eye on the Raspberry Pi. This little machine has a vibrant community and help is available all around the web.
This morning, I found The Errant Scientist blog; Matthew takes a walk through the set up process and installation of software via the LXTerminal.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

LXTerminal Cheatsheet

LXTerminal is daunting for the beginner. It can feel like a big black hole. Using a few basic commands everyday will help you learn the ropes. Lets take a look at the easy ones.
pwd
Displays the current directory path.
ls
Displays the directory and files within the current directory.
cd /home
Changes the directory, but needs a target and at least one /. This is the first time you will note that capitalisation is important in Linux. /home and /Home are two different locations.
help
Some help that was, it blew right by so fast I couldn’t read it. We will fix that shortly.
mkdir exampleMake a directory.
cal
Displays a calendar.
date
Displays the current date and time.
gedit filename.txt
Opens gedit with the file name in question. Be aware that you cannot close the terminal while gedit is open.
command > filename.txt
The > character tells the terminal to send the text that would normally appear on-screen to a file. The file can either be one that exists, in which case the text in it will be replace with the current text. Alternatively, you can make up a new name and write to that new file.
command >> filename.txt
A double > or >> will append information to the end of the file in question. Oddly, if that file does not exist the console will create it for you. Handy, eh?
command | tee example.txt
The pipe, | and the modifier tee will tell the terminal to print the information on-screen and to a file.
There are three more pseudo commands you need to know. The up arrow will display the last command you entered, you can do this to hop backwards through every command you entered. Of course, you will overshoot the one you want. Down arrow goes the other direction. To paste text into the terminal, press shift ctrl+V. Ctrl+V on its own does nothing.
So, let’s make a cheat sheet for this lesson. Open the LXTerminal.
Enter pwd to check that you are in a safe directory. For Mint that is /home/.
Enter ls to view the contents of /home/name.
Type mkdir cheatsheet.
Go to that directory with cd cheatsheet
To rehash:
pwd
ls
mkdir cheatsheet
cd cheatsheet
From here on out, I will not explain in detail. Each command will be entered one after the other. Remember to press enter after each.
cal | tee >> cheatsheet.txt
date | tee >> cheatsheet.txt
pwd | tee >> cheatsheet.txt
ls | tee >> cheatsheet.txt
help | tee >> cheatsheet.txt
gedit cheatsheet.txt
Now you have your own cheatsheet. Go ahead and print it.
Extra credit assignment. You can paste all the above commands into the terminal at a single go. The terminal will execute them as if you did them one by one.
More LXTerminal usage to come. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Multi Day Chromebook Offline Test Part 2

As my multi day test of my Chromebook’s offline I noticed that I have some curious behaviors. Dropbox happily stores and updates information on my Chromebook hard drive by virtue of either manually downloading via the Chromebook’s App or automatically via Ubuntu’s capabilities.
Strangely, when I click Chrome’s Dropbox App, I am told I am offline.
I know that. The App doesn't do any caching locally even though the files are all present and accounted for. I have to manually navigate to the folder and open the files.
Some files open natively such as .jpegs or .pdfs. MS Word files open in Quickoffice, not Drive. From the Drive’s Open menu, I can't even access those files.
I could copy and paste information from Quickoffice to Drive, but that is just weird.
Or is it? I have to ask myself “why are you using both Dropbox and Drive?”. Well, the answer is Dropbox offered features that Drive didn’t have when I first starting using them, and now that each has more features, I am using them wrong.
I have 5 gb of space on Dropbox and over 100 gb on Drive. I should be using Drive all the time. I just can’t do it, because there are items I want to be available offline that drive does not handle. A copy of the Ubuntu installer for Minecraft. I suspect Drive wouldn't like that file at all.
Drive is a different sort of animal. It isn’t the beast of burden that Dropbox is. Dropbox stores data while Drive creates data. Someday I will adapt and figure it all out. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Multi Day Chromebook Offline Test Part 1

I am currently offline today, but still wanted to do a little writing. Google Drive is an excellent writing tool and the offline capabilities are great. Drive offers a snap shot of my current files and the last time they updated.
In theory, I guess I could lose some work by not syncing or syncing in the wrong way but I won’t be doing this today.
According to my indicators, I have two hours of battery life from a fresh charge. Normally, this is four or more hours, but I am using 3pm-Player for music and charging my phone at the same time. This is a pretty big drain on the battery. Unpluging the phone and turning off the music cause the indicators to creep back to about 3 hours.
This particular model of Chromebook has a 300 gb hard drive and I feel that this may be killing the battery life. I hear it spin up from time to time while playing music and when the automatic save kicks in.
In offline mode, Drive does have some limitations. I can create a Doc, a Presentation, Spreadsheet or Drawing. Forms, Geogrebra, Python, Source Code and StackEdit are all unavailable. That is ok, I don’t really need those now, but my hyperactive mind wonders if there is a setting or option that I could select to make them active offline. I should Google that… later.
When writing offline, I am hesitant to edit a currently existing file. The reason is I do have my iPhone that is connected to drive and obviously could use another computer to connect. I don’t want to wonder what edit will appear first. Until I get comfortable with this offline cloud stuff, anyway.
All and all, this is pretty good. The tunes are rocking and the internet is safely held at bay.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mint 13 XFCE - Save HD Space with backdrop file resizing

Mint has always had gorgeous backdrop images for the desktop. The photographs by masterbutler are incredible.
But if you are on a small machine, like my ASUS eee PC, you don't have a lot of hard drive space.
You could just delete a lot of things, such as the backdrop files, but that would be a shame. Instead, I choose to resize them to fit my 800x600 screen. To be honest, I am not missing anything. The images surpass my monitors ability to display them in all their glory.
Since Mint comes with Gimp, this is an easy task. The directory is /usr/share/xfce4/backdrops. I hesitated to "undo the beauty" by reducing the size until I opened the credits file. Masterbutler has thoughtfully provide a link to 80+ pages of wonderful images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/alwbutler/.
Go ahead and scale those images. You may find yourself using the space to enjoy more art by masterbutler.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Notes on installing Crouton on a Chromebook

I opted for the Unity interface for Ubuntu. HowToGeek has a great set of instructions.
At the end of the install, you have a very basic Unity interface. Everything useful is missing. The absolute easiest way to fix this is to get the Software Center.
Open Xterm by pressing ctrl-alt-t. Now type in sudo apt-get update. Wait. The next command is sudo apt-get install software-center. Wait again. There is no icon again, so go to lens and search for it.
That is all there is to it. Get installing.
My short list of software is:
Firefox
Chromium (to match Chrome)
Stellarium (to match Chrome's Planetarium software)
Dropbox
VLC Player
Restricted Extras
Inkscape
Libre Office (Search for LibreOffice and scroll down a bit for the suite)
Document Viewer
At the end of the day, you will need to "reboot" Ubuntu to all changes to go into effect. Click the gear and click the restart option. This will eventually return you to Chrome. Go ahead and open the shell and type sudo startunity again.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cubify Boom!

I have managed to capture the error from Cubify's Invent software.
This error indicates that the video drivers are not up to date. I am really stuck with this, the computer I am working on was downgraded from Windows 7 to XP and there is no going back for a variety of issues. XP is really at the end of its life and I shouldn't be using it.
To get around this issue, I have been creating files with TinkerCad then importing them into the Cubify pre-flight software. (UPDATE - TInkerCAD has disappeared.) Both TinkerCad and the Cubify software work great together.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

xPud – How to Connect to Wifi

xPud is a nice little OS. But it has an issue with hidden ssid’s.
Actually, there is nothing wrong with the OS, it’s all you. No seriously, I mean it. In xPud, you are a super user all the time. That means the normal sudo iwconfig “fails”.
What true linux user runs in super user all the time? Well, you are with xPud.
What linux user radiates their ssid? No one, and with this information you won’t have to either.
So the correct usage of iwconfig for getting connected a hidden ssid is:
iwconfig wlan0 essid “insertnamehere” key “insertpasswordhere”
Easy, eh?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Windows 7 - Running Chkdsk at Start Up

In Windows, running a disk check can clear up many problems. Many small glitches can be cleared up with the chkdsk command.
Setting it up in the command prompt is easy, but counter intuitive. Open the Command Prompt by clicking the windows Icon and typing cmd and enter in the box.
Now type chkdsk /f C:
Windows does the usual thing and tells you can't do that here.
Type in y for yes and then exit the Command Prompt.
Now, reboot the machine and wait for all the checks to run. The normal "chkdsk C:" merely scans a disk, "chkdsk /f C:" scans and fixes problems, so you may be waiting awhile. Hopefully, it is worth it.