Archive for category Software

Simple Todo’s

I like my lists. I also like to keep them simple. Sites like, rememberthemilk.com, todoist.com and other are great for people that like that level of record keeping. The problem I have with them is that I spend more time organizing my todo’s that actually doing the todo’s. It’s actually a character flaw of mine, I like to monkey with features so I endlessly tinker. I actually enjoy installing new software just to see how the developer implemented standard features, or even new ones. Like a graphic designer trolling the web looking for inspiration.

When Gina Trapani put this out, I loved it! I do a fair amount of work from the command line so it was always available, but then I also do work on my desktop. Which brings me to my number one annoyance with computers, task switching. Yes, it’s really not a huge thing, but nothing annoys me more than trying to flip through my apps looking for what I was doing 10 seconds ago then totally forgetting what I was doing in the first place. For some odd reason task switching is a trigger for my ADD to kick in at high volume.

IMG_20131204_194637_534 For this end, I love keyboard shortcuts and finding the fastest way possible to switch between programs, having 3 screens helps too 🙂 But Ubuntu really helps out with the Unity app shortcuts as well.

Now I found this little gem so I can keep my todo’s even more conveniently located. I haven’t tried it out yet but here’s hoping I can remember it when I get home.

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OBi100 setup part 2

In my previous post I got the OBi installed and set up with my temporary Google Voice number. Porting my number from Tracfone to Google Voice was really quick and painless, in total it took about 2 days for it to complete. My landline was now associated with my Google Voice and I discarded the old temporary number I was provisioned from GV when I began the process. I powered on the OBi and dialed my old home number, and it worked! I was now able to receive calls at our home number through Google Voice. With that I quickly cancelled the phone service I had bundles through the cable company where I have cable and internet. Oddly, for the service being a ‘free’ add on to my account, I saved $12 a month in taxes and fee and an additional $10 because I dropped the service..like I said, odd.

One last thing I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it or not. I know that Google Voice does not support 911 service. However, the first thing I do when someone tells me you can’t do something is look around and see if that is really the case. Turns out Google Voice REALLY doesn’t support 911, however, it can be configured on the OBi. First off you have to create an account with another SIP provider that does do e911 (stands for enhanced 911, which basically means more information is pushed to the dispatcher when you call). There are a number of providers, but I decided to sign up with Anveo.com. I read some forums that most people had a fairly positive experience with them, so I signed up with them. The account was free, but e911 costed $0.8 per month or $9.2 per year, reasonable for peace of mind IMO.

First thing to do was create my free account with Anveo. I could have signed up with them rather than Google Voice at that point, they do the same thing, but everything that is free at GV costs money at Anveo. Next I had to put some money in my account so I could sign up for the e911 service, they accept Paypal. Once the funds cleared I was able to enter my home address information. Next I had to set up the Anveo account on my Obi on SP2, thankfully the Obitalk site come ready to connect to Anveo right away, I just had to choose them as a SIP provider and fill out the required information.

The final step was to make an actual test 911 call. I found my locale’s 911 call center through this site. Once I found the call center servicing my area, I called the 911 operations manager and requested a test 911 call. I read a number of horror stories about how people would just call 911 without scheduling the test and having the police show up at their front door. I got a hold of the operations manager, who surprisingly knew exactly what I was talking about when I requested the test, and scheduled the test. I have to admit I was a little nervous calling 911, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work or exactly what was going to happen. I dialed 911 and waited…and waited some more.. and continued to wait, the call finally went through after about 40 seconds of dead silence from the phone. The 911 operator picked up and I identified myself and that this was a test. The operator didn’t have address information for me, and the number showing in their system was some odd number I had never heard of before. I collected as much information as I could from the dispatcher the hung up.

I contacted Anveo support and it turns out the number the 911 dispatcher saw was in fact a callback number that they assigned me, though it wasn’t my home number. I test dialed the number and sure enough it rang my home phone. As for the long wait to connect and my information not being available to the dispatcher, I am still looking into what might have happened. One suspicion is the proxy location for Anveo was set to Dallas and I changed it to Montreal since it is much closer. I haven’t tested again to see if this makes a difference.

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Why MS Office trumps LibreOffice, my take

I recently came across an article that lays out 11 points where they feel MS Office has an advantage over LibreOffice (formerly OpenOffice for those of you living under a rock). While I am no LibreOffice expert I do spend a fair amount of time with it, so I thought I would offer my counter points…and yes, I do concede some of their points, this is not a fan boy rant. Here is a link to the article I am referencing.

  1. An Advanced Grammar Checker
    This might be due tot he age of the article, but there is a grammar checker built-in for LibreOffice 3.5, not nearly as mature as MS Office, but they both still get confused sometimes.
  2. A Useful Bibliography Database
    I am not 100% sure with this one since I have never written a research essay with MS Office, so I can’t directly compare the functionality. There is, however, a very capable plug-in for LibreOffice called Zotero which integrates with Firefox for managing your research sources. Granted, not built-in, and you have to know about it to be able to find it.
  3. Advanced Diagramming Tools
    LibreOffice Draw is capable tool, but no where near the functionality of Visio.
  4. Sound in Slide Shows
    Honestly, I have never used Impress, so I will have to concede this one if it is true. I generally use Prezi for presentations.
  5. Broadcasting Slide Shows
    Again, I never use Impress. I have never seen anyone that uses this functionality in Powerpoint though.
  6. No Whiteboard
    OneNote was a late comer to the Office suite. It is a powerful tool that I really like, no equivalent in LibreOffice exists.
  7. Screen Capture
    Seriously?! I am not really sure how the author considers this a feature of Office, since most people just hit printscreen, then paste into Word. I can do that with MS Paint too. Most basic screen capture programs trump Office in this regard.
  8. Sparklines in Spreadsheets
    Ok, so Calc is lagging behind Excel in this regard, I will admit. However, I will throw in that most people that use Excel don’t use Sparklines anyway. Yes, they are a nice feature, but so are pivot tables, which is supported by both.
  9. Filtering Spreadsheets by Color
    I am not 100% sure how to respond to this one since I have never really seen it in action in Excel. I guess the author uses this feature a lot, but I think most people don’t. If you gotta have it, then yeah, you will miss it in Calc.
  10. A Useful ClipArt Gallery
    I am not even going to argue this one. LibreOffice has no real clipart
  11. Easily Available, Ready Made Formats
    Agreed, setting styles in LibreOffice is sort of a PITA. There are no usable default styles so you are stuck making your own. This definitely needs some work

So there you go, yes, MS Office still trumps LibreOffice. However, when you compare pricing, you can’t compare the two. So if someone asks you what paying $300 for a retail copy of MS Office will get them, now you have an answer.

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LibreOffice hot off the presses for Ubuntu and now in PPA!

In case you haven’t heard, LibreOffice is available as a PPA. That means no more downloading individual .debs and auto updating! Found through OMG!Ubuntu here.

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Let me introduce you to my little friends

I installed Linux on my workstation this week and I have been ‘rediscovering’ some useful apps.

First off, guake, yet another drop down terminal, but this one works surprisingly well. Its simple, but does just what it needs and nothing more. Apps like this are few an far between, since everyone tries to get their apps to rollover and fetch the newspaper too. Get this one if you use the terminal a lot.

Then there is Docky, I think I am just about the last person to have found this pretty and a useful system panel, a la OSX. Mac-ites should’t get all the cool apps.

And, why-oh-why does the default Ubuntu desktop come with Empathy rather than Pidgin for IM? I could go on about how incomplete and buggy Empathy is, but I think everyone already knows that…except for the Ubu-devs..

Maven, I think I know what this does..Its a..ahh, no, actually I am not even sure why I threw it in here. I have been it a lot lately and I am not sure if I am repulsed by it or intrigued..I have narrowed it down to either being the salvation of Java developers, or damnation wrapped in nicely formatted XML. I dunno, you decide..

Ok, so this list wasn’t nearly as long as I was thinking it was going to be..

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Lighttpd can’t bind to port 80

If you are running Ubuntu 10.01 and you get the error message “can’t bind to port: :: 80 Address already in use” when you try to start up, check your config file and comment out the line that has ‘ include_shell “/usr/share/lighttpd/use-ipv6.pl” ‘

Just some advice from my wanderings.

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Javascript is home

I was hacking together a widget for a friend last night and I was having a blast. I totally forgot how much fun I have coding Javascript. I am not sure if its because it was the language I learned programming on, or if its the syntax. Javascript can be so easy or so amazingly complex that it caters to a much larger crowd than the compiled languages. There are a few nuances that annoy me, but what language doesn’t have that? None I have ever encountered.

We went out to Ringing Rocks State Park yesterday and I decided to try and pick up some Geocaches while we were in the area. There were still a lot of leaves on the ground and it made find the caches pretty much impossible. So it was a total no-win in there. My kids still don’t believe that these things even exist as I have never found one when I had them with me. 🙂

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Goodbye SSL-Explorer, hello Adito

I have been wondering why 3sp hasn’t issued any updates for the community edition SSL-Explorer. I found out today it is because 3sp was bought by Barracuda Networks and the SSL-Explorer product has been discontinued. So for those of you that were lucky enough to get RC17 before they closed the doors, back it all up and put it somewhere safe.

On a related note, a community project named Adito is working off a fork of the SSL-Explorer RC17 code base. They are making extraordinary progress in getting Adito fully GPL, along with a plug-in database! So major congrats and thanks to everyone who got this running again. I am curious actually, as to how many former 3sp programmers are working on Adito?

For those that are in the dark, Adito/SSL-Explorer is an SSL VPN project that allow one to access resources inside a firewalled network over SSL. SSL runs on port 443 which is more commonly known as HTTPS, or secure browsing so it is rarely (read, never) blocked. So its a great way to cut down on the amount of holes you have to poke in your firewall while still allowing people access to the resources they need.

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AutoMySQLbackup & Firefox3

I needed an elegant way to backup all my MySQL databases and I didn’t want to have to make a bunch of little cron jobs to back up each individual DB. After a bit of searching I came across this little gem. AutoMySQLBackup. Its essentially just a wrapper around mysqldump, but it does alot more than that handy MySQL export function. It keeps daily, weekly, and monthly archives of your databases (it even creates the directories too, wow!) Its smart enough to backup every database it finds in an instance too, you only have to specify what databases to NOT backup. The user you assign in the script simply needs SELECT and TABLE LOCK privileges on the databases it will be backing up. Its nice and simply effective, thank you wipe_out for sharing this great script.

Oh, and one last thing, totally off the Database topic. If you haven’t tried beta Firefox 3 yet, go do it now, or if you just want to try it. Even in beta its more stable, and uses a fair bit less memory that its predecessor.

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DenyHosts

After enduing another set of SSH attacks on my poor little home server I decided I needed to do something about it. Check out DenyHosts, its a python script that blocks hosts that fail authentication multiple times, but foremost it synchronizes with a central DB of blocked hosts so you can blocks hosts that have been annoying other people too. All hosts can be removed via a aging system where the script keeps track of how long hosts have been blocked, this is necessary if you don’t want you hosts.deny to grow exponentially huge.

Currently have over 139000 blocked hosts in my hosts.deny. I age them out after 4 months of inactivity. This may sound like an inefficient way to keep out the, undesirables, but it beats having thousands of login attempts everyday. Few things please me more than getting my logwatch email and seeing

 Refused incoming connections:
       ::ffff:211.169.219.81 (::ffff:211.169.219.81): 1 Time(s)
       ethesys.csu.edu.tw (::ffff:140.127.131.8): 1 Time(s)

Eat that you zombies!!

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