Ambiance & Radiance Skins and Speed Dial Backgrounds

While I’m waiting for Opera in Linux to improve further (its already pretty great!), I’ve decided to make a couple of adjustments to make the browser feel a little more integrated.

Get the skin!
I’ve created a simple script that extracts the installed default skin and modifies it with all in one quick run. This is very beneficial for me since I like to update my slightly edited skins by merging my modifications with the latest and greatest default skin with only a double click. 😉

The only change to the skin (thus far) is the tab bar background which now allows for a smoother appearance between the tab bar and window title.

Ambiance Skin

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx
Install Skin (Opera 10.60+, updated 2010-12-16)

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 12.04 Precise Pangolin
Install Skin (Opera 10.60+, updated 2012-03-26)

Radiance Skin

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx
Install Skin (Opera 10.60+, updated 2010-12-16)

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat, 11.04 Natty Narwhal
Install Skin (Opera 10.60+, updated 2010-12-16)

Previous skin versions are now available on page 3.

Get the Speed Dial backgrounds on Page 2!

I’ve moved them to page 2 since the main interest of this post is the on the skins.

Linux: Time Delayed Screenshots

A little while back I ran into a problem in Linux and wanted to take a screenshot of it. In most cases you can simply press the “Print Screen” key on your keyboard and move on.

In other cases its not so simple. Often times, when you want to take a screenshot of a menu, you’ll find that the screenshot tool cannot be called while the menu is open. You can get around this problem in most cases by installing Shutter.

While Shutter is a great tool with some very handy features for screenshots, it also doesn’t always work or is unable to capture some things (as far as I’ve found).

One solution that is very simple to use is a simple command line (link sent to me from a friend). If you hate command line tricks then you can easily make a Gnome button for this as well. 😉

The menu that I was trying to grab a screenshot of was an Opera sub-menu from the O-menu icon (can’t remember which one for sure, but probably the Bookmarks sub-menu). Print Screen wouldn’t work, Shutter complained that it couldn’t detect any open or focused menus, so I resorted to the following:

$ gnome-screenshot --delay=10

Basically, this command calls the same program that is called when you press Print Screen, but since you’re adding a delay (10 seconds in this case) it has already been called before you open the menu..which rules out the problem of your keyboard Print Screen key not working.

While this seems to be a very simple command, which it is, I’ve benefited from it several times already. So if you ever find yourself having trouble capturing a particular screenshot, just pop open a terminal and use this delayed command!

If you’re looking for for an easier method and don’t mind a permanent button in your Gnome panel, just do the following:

  1. Right click your panel and select “Add to Panel…”
  2. “Custom Application Launcher” should be the first option in the list that comes up. Select it and click the “Add” button at the bottom.
  3. Leave the “Type” as Application.
  4. You can name this launcher anything you wish, maybe something like “10s Delayed Print Screen”.
  5. Copy the command that I mentioned above into the field labeled “Command”. You can change the value from 10 to anything you want or need.
  6. You can copy the name text into the “Comment” field as well since this is what you will see when you hover the button.
  7. You could optionally edit the icon if you wanted, but its not necessary. Click close and you’re done.

Enjoy!

Want cool desktop stats? -> Conky!

Have you ever wanted to have awesome looking stats on that rest on your desktop and don’t interfere with your work flow? If so, you’ll probably love this nifty little application.

Example of a basic Conky setup.

Its called Conky and it can give you stats or information on practically anything imaginable. Its also easy to install!

Conky is by no means a new application and there are in fact hundreds of Conky configuration files scattered across the Internet that you could use to customize the way yours looks. With a good basic guide and some helpful tips on auto-starting Conky, I’ve thrown together a quick installation and setup guide with pictures! 😉

Typically when you install an application such as this, you want it to auto-start. Auto-starting this application isn’t as trivial as most applications so I’ll walk you through that as well. I’ll assume your using Ubuntu of some sort, but if you’re not don’t worry…you can still install Conky with alternative steps and setting it up should not differ.

Install

  1. Open the “Ubuntu Software Center” application (also known as “Add/Remove” in older versions) and search for Conky. If its not listed then you may need to find a package online.

    Find and install the Conky option entitled something along these lines: “highly configurable system monitor (all features enabled)“.

  2. Create a file labeled “.conkyrc” in your home directory (usually saved as /home/username/.conkyrc) and make sure to include the period at the start. This will make the conky settings file hidden when you casually open your home folder so its not in your way. You may need to go to View -> Show Hidden Files or press Ctrl+H to view the file to edit it later.

    Open the “.conkyrc” file in a text editor of your choice.
    Paste the linked snippet into your “.conkyrc” file.

  3. Create a file labeled “.startconky.sh” in the same folder as the previous file making sure to include the period at the beginning and the file type at the end.

    Open the “.startconky.sh” file with your favorite editor. Paste the following snippet into your “.startconk.sh” file:
    #!/bin/bash
    (sleep 5s && conky) &


  4. Save both files and close the file editor you were using. Now right-click on the “.startconky.sh” file and click Properties and select the Properties tab. Make sure you check the option to “Allow executing file as program” then click close.
  5. Go to your startup applications program or System -> Preferences -> Startup Applications and add a new application with the command option as “/home/username/.startconky.sh” where user name is your home directory…as follows:
  6. Click Save! Now the next time your restart your computer you’ll have some awesome stats that appear on your desktop!

Ubuntu 10.04 and LifeCam VX-1000

If you’re using the same web cam that I’m using, the Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000, then you may already be familiar with the difficulties involved in the process of getting this web cam to work in Ubuntu…or rather, the difficulties that were involved.

After countless days spent and hours wasted over the past 4 months that I’ve owned this web cam, I had not been able to find a solution to see it work even once.

The problems I ran into were that the few solutions for this camera were specifically for 32-bit Ubuntu, while I’m using 64-bit Ubuntu.

Typically these days, this type of problem isn’t architecture specific in Linux, which means that fewer people have to battle the problems that are unique to x86_64 platforms. In my experience with Ubuntu, x86_64 application/firmware support 4 years ago was a joke. Today, x86_64 support is commonplace and practically a standard.

After upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04, I was able to see this support change yet again! Without configuring anything in Ubuntu 10.04 x86_64 the video feed from my web cam was working flawlessly (I tested using Cheese 2.29.90)!

There is the small matter of getting the mic on the web cam to work, but for now I’ve got an old mic that plugs into the ports from the motherboard. So I will have sound, just not through the web cam just yet. Hopefully I can find a solution to this as well, in which case I will be sure to link you to. 😉

In the future, I’d also like to submit a patch or hack to enable the LifeCam Call Button like I did previously in Windows 7 so that you can configure what the button should do…take a picture, video, start a call or chat, etc.

My Guide to Jailbreak the iPod Touch

I recently made a quick list of steps that I followed a while back to jailbreak my iPod Touch as I usually do to keep as a reminder guide in case I have to go back and do it again. You can use this on your iPod Touch and/or iPhone, however, the iPhone is a little more risky as you could potentially brick your device if you don’t create a proper restore point or backup prior to jailbreaking it.

I thought I would post it here so others can find it and use it as I most likely will again in the future. So…below is my “quick and simple” guide (copy/pasted from my bbPress forum post) as well as a few things you can do with your device after you’ve jailbroken it.

Index:
I… Preparation
II.. Jailbreak
III. Securing your jailbroken device
IV. Installing apps and customization
V.. iPod/iPhone with Ubuntu
VI. Previews of my iPod

Notes: It is no longer required to Jailbreak your iPod/iPhone in order to use it with Ubuntu. If you only wish to use your device in Ubuntu, simply follow the link in Step #10 and ignore the steps to Jailbreak your device.

Preparation
1. Update your iPod via iTunes to the latest firmware available.
2. Backup your iPod to allow future system restores (in case of an error).

Jailbreak – (more detailed guide)
3. Download “Blackra1n” http://www.blackra1n.com/
4. Open “Blackra1n” and click “make it ra1n”
5. Wait until you are prompted with a message similar to the following:
“Your jailbreak is done once the phone reboots.
If this was the simplest jailbreak ever, …”
6. Now simply wait for your device to reboot on its own. It can take a minute or two to reboot. (If you ever reboot or turn off your device in the future, you will simply need to connect it to a computer and click “make it ra1n” to reboot it after its been jailbroken. Also, iTunes must be installed for “Blackra1n” to work correctly.)

Installing apps and customization
7. Download the “Cydia” application from the new “Blackra1n” app that should now be on your device.
8. Download the following apps from Cydia (some require a reboot so don’t go too far from a computer…as noted above).
—1. Categories – This enables you to create folders on your springboard and better organize your icons.
—2. WinterBoard – This allows you to install (seperate) themes to further change the appearance of your springboard, unlock screen, icons and panels.
—3. MIM (Make It Mine) – This allows you to change the carrier name (iPod, iPhone or whatever it may be) to something more personalized. Mine is “kyPod”. You can also change the banner (where the time is usually displayed) to anything you’d like as well. I left my banner default (time).
—4. Install themes, navigate to the Winterboard app to find and activate them.

Securing your jailbroken device
As with any hack, there are risks. One of those risks is that your device can become infested with a few nasty viruses that have recently made news headlines. To avoid this, simply follow the steps to change your devices default SSH password. Steps are also provided in your Cydia application towards the bottom of the home screen labeled “Change Root Password”.

9.  Open the Cydia app. Scroll down to find the guide labeled “Change Root Password”. Scroll down to Step #4 in the Cydia guide labeled “Change the mobile Password”. If you connect to your device via a terminal window (Mac or Linux will work or you can download the “Terminal” application via Cydia and use it) you can connect via SSH using the “su root” as the root user and “alpine” as the default password. You want to change “alpine” to something different so the typical virus won’t have your default password. After logging in via root, type “passwd”. You will now need to enter your new password twice (it will not appear as you type it as a security measure). After you’ve entered your new password, exit the terminal…you’re done! You may also change your mobile password if you wish by starting the password change with “passwd mobile”. This may or may not be beneficial to you.

iPod/iPhone with Ubuntu
10. Following the directions that I discuss and point to at the following location:
https://www.kyleabaker.com/2010/01/17/ubuntu-ipod-touchiphone/
It is no longer required to Jailbreak your iPod/iPhone in order to use it with Ubuntu. If you only wish to use your device in Ubuntu, simply follow the above link and ignore the steps to Jailbreak your device.

Previews of my iPod

Ubuntu + iPod Touch/iPhone

Updated Information at End of Article

After spending a great deal of time researching Ubuntu and iPod Touch/iPhone sync issues, I’ve finally found a solution that isn’t a dreadful experience.

There is currently a project in the alpha/beta stages that, when completed, will provide sync support for the iPod Touch and iPhones that are using Firmware 3.

If you’re not using Firmware 3 on your iPod Touch or iPhone, then I’m not sure how much this guide will apply to you. You can try looking here for more information.

If you are using Firmware 3 (my iPod Touch is running OS 3.1.2), then I’d suggest you following the guide provided by A. Tres Finocchiaro (aka FatButtLarry) over on his blog.

Following his guide, which is comprised of two lines of terminal commands to copy-n-paste, I was able to have my iPod Touch sync’ing in no time!

While the transfer speed seems to be a bit slow, it is indeed working well! Cover art is transfered flawlessly, everything seems to be in order!

Remember that this project isn’t complete and you are likely to encounter bugs. My experience thus far has been positive, your mileage may vary. Good luck. 😉

Update (2010-02-24):
If you are using or plan to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04, you will not need to manually install any of the software mentioned above. Ubuntu 10.04 brings support for the iPhone and iPod Touch by default. You should not have any problems with your device and Rhythmbox!

Solution To WordPress getimagesize() Error

If you’ve for whatever reason noticed that your WordPress website is generating errors similar to the following then I may have a solution for you.

Warning: getimagesize(/home/.some-dir/example.com/folder/httpd.www/wp-content/uploads/some-image.jpg) [function.getimagesize]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/.some-dir/example.com/folder/httpd.www/wp-content/blah/blah/blah.php on line 123

I noticed that some pages that generated image information were printing errors out on my pages with private server file structures included. Generally you don’t want to see this printed out to the public. 😉

I’m not guaranteeing a fix for you, but rather what worked for me.

If you are getting an error link the one that I’ve listed above, more specifically the “failed to open stream: No such file or directory,” then you may be about to fix it in only a few minor steps.

Things you will need:

  • FTP (I use FileZilla)
  • phpMyAdmin
  • Ability to add a new plugin to your site
  • Patience

Procedure

Single quotes must be the normal ascii quotes. Chances are, if you copy and paste from my blog, they will be the wrong type so double check that as it could give you problems. 😉

  1. First and foremost, make sure to backup your entire database to a safe place. I’m not liable in the case that you don’t backup your database and this procedure borks your blog (or any other case for that matter). 😉
  2. Create a new file named “abstest.php” and upload it to your blog’s root directory after entering the following code into it:
    <?php define('ABSPATH', dirname(__FILE__).'/'); echo ABSPATH; ?>
  3. Open a new browser tab and navigate to “http://www.your-website.com/abstest.php“. You should find a short page with the printout of your servers absolute path.
  4. Check that the path provided by this test file matches the base path printed out by the getimagesize() error exactly. In my case, my server had changed slightly so the differences were similar to the following:
    /home/.some-dir/example.com/folder/httpd.www/
    /home/example.com/folder/httpd.www/
  5. If you find a mismatch, then you’ve found your problem and the rest is simple. If not, then my tips will most likely not solve your particular WordPress error(s).
  6. If you’ve found a mismatch, then continue: Open a new browser tab and navigate to your phpMyAdmin interface. Select your WordPress database, then click Search. I searched all tables for a match of the path that was different, in my case it was “.some-dir/“.
  7. If there are matches found then you need to click the SQL tab at the top (preferably in a new tab) and paste the following (making sure to edit it to match the table and fields you need) and run it to find and replace that changed part of the path.
    update TABLE_NAME set FIELD_NAME = replace(FIELD_NAME, ‘find this string’, ‘replace found string with this string’);
    For more information on SQL find and replace, either search Google or read this.
  8. After replacing all of the affected tables and strings, your images should be properly address. You’re not done yet though.
  9. Open WordPress Plugins and add/install a plugin named “Regenerate Thumbnails“. After installing it, make sure to activate it. 😉
  10. In your Admin panel, find the Tools menu and expand it. You should see a menu item labeled “Regen. Thumbnails”…click it. This will open a page with a start button. Clicking this button will begin the process of correcting your thumbnail dimensions as well as other metadata. It will take some time depending on the number of thumbnails you have accumulated.
  11. After the progress bar reaches 100% it will notify you that it is complete. You’re all done! You may need to clear your cache to refresh any pages that still generate the previous error message.

If you had any problems with the above mentioned procedure, I would suggest restoring your database using your backup copy and either trying again, paying someone to do it for you or just forgetting about it. 😉

If it works then great! If not then sorry you’ve wasted your time. It worked for me, so maybe it will work for you as well. 😀

UserJS: Twitter-Rounded

I’ve thrown together a quick script for Opera that you can use if you’d like to see rounded corners (aka border-radius). It seems that Twitter currently sends Opera a style sheet with empty settings for rounded corners…

…so, all I did was write a script that will insert a link to a style sheet that’s stored here at kyleabaker.com which overwrites these empty styles with the correct ones.

If you’ve never used scripts before then you should first learn how to setup UserJS. After you’ve setup Userjs, you may need to enable UserJS for secure pages (https) in Opera’s internal configuration page….”opera:config#UserPrefs|UserJavaScriptonHTTPS“. Just check/enable that option. Make sure to click save!

Lastly, save the “Twitter-Rounded” script to your UserJS folder that you setup in the steps above.

Now you have a more pleasant looking Twitter page in Opera 10.5. 😉

Screen Capture Tip: Use Jing!

I’ve been using this little screen capture tool for several weeks now with very positive results! Jing is available to Mac and Windows in both a Free form as well as a Pro (pay for) form.

jing1

Using Jing, you are able to quickly capture a screenshot of a specific window or a pesky little software bug in action, upload it to an online source and paste the link all within a matter of seconds!

If you can’t capture what you’re looking for in a simple image, you might like the option to capture a video of what you are doing on your desktop and share a link to that instead!

jing_header

To use Jing, you simply select it from the top of your screen (where it waits by default) and click capture. You’re then given a selection tool that allows you to pick to screen space that you want to capture….nothing more, nothing less. After selection the area that you want to capture, you simply specify if it’s for an image or for a video.

If you click image, you will have your capture almost immediately  and can pick where to store it! If you select video, you will have 3 seconds to prepare your cursor or anything else you need to do. After the count down, video recording begins. Simply click the stop button when you’re finished and pick a source to upload to!

One feature that I’ve only just started using is the FTP option to upload my captures to kyleabaker.com! Thus far, I’ve used Jing to capture tons of bugs that would have otherwise been nearly impossible to capture.

Aside from the slightly noticeable resource usage and slight hang when it’s first activated, Jing is an excellent tool that I would suggest to anyone who needs to capture a visual from your computer screen!

LifeCam Button Config v1.0.0.0

I’ve just written a tool that lets you bypass the default Windows Live Messenger prompt when you press you LifeCam’s button on top.

It can be a little annoy, but the good news is that now you can open or focus any application you want with the click of that button.

2009-10-20_0031

As you can see from the image above, I’ve made a simple browse option so you can easily find the file you want. When you open this tool it will automatically display the path to the program that is currently set to open.

2009-10-20_0031_001

If you later decide that you want to just use the default application (the one set before you change anything) then it’s only a couple of clicks away!

Currently the implementation used could be error prone. I have written the application to “assume” that the default application should be installed to “C:\Program Files\Microsoft LifeCam\icepick.exe” for 32-bit computers and to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft LifeCam\icepick.exe” for 64-bit computers.

If problems are experienced with this then please let me know. It may be better to scan for the application rather than to assume it’s in that location, but typically it should always be in that location.

2009-10-20_0032

Thanks for checking out this little tool! I hope you find it helpful. If you’re curious about the source code just fire off an email! It’s currently written in Visual Basic 2008, but could easily be ported to another language especially since I overly document code so others know what I’m doing. 😉

Download163kb

LifeCam VX-1000 Live Call Button Hack

After digging into process and id’s I was able to track down the Guid for the Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000 and inspect several settings assigned to it via the Windows Registry.

As it turns out, there is a very simple hack to use the Windows Live Call button for any program you’d like!

I don’t have time at the moment to write a script or a program for this, but you can manually configure your webcam to open a program. If it’s already open then pressing the Windows Live Call button will simply bring it back into focus.

So far, I’ve only tested this button to open and focus Digsby and Opera, but it could in theory be used to call and or focus any application.

If you’re a little sketched about editing your Registry then that’s a sign that this hack isn’t for you and you should wait until I (or someone else) releases a tool that suits you.

If you’re still reading, then you probably want to get rid of that annoying Windows Live prompt. 😉

  1. Open up RegEdit.
  2. Navigate through the Registry to the following location:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Class\{6BDD1FC6-810F-11D0-BEC7-08002BE2092F}\0000\Settings
  3. The key that you want to edit is conveniently labeled “QuickStartPath“.
  4. Just change this key to the direct path of any file you want to launch. You can test that it works immediately after saving the key. No need to close RegEdit until you’re done.

If it works, great! You’re done! If not, then you’ve done something wrong.

Remember that the original file that was being launched was something similar to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft LifeCam\icepick.exe” depending on your platform. Mine is 64-bit, so you’re may not need the “ (x86)” specific Program Files directory (if you’re using a 32-bit computer).

If I find some free time soon I may write a simple program that can be called to do more than just open your messenger. Possibly start a video chat with someone who just signed on. We’ll see in time. 😉

Enjoy this little hack!