Gaining in on Election day here in the U.S.A.

I hope everyone is going to get out to vote early tomorrow if you haven’t already via absentee ballot or early voting.

Also, I came across an interesting article entitled “Vote (Even If They Say You Can’t)” on Wired.com. It’s worth reading if you haven’t already voted just in case you run into the same situation! Know your rights!

Here’s a good chart to see what is allowed for absentee ballots and early voters for future reference.

Multiple Desktop Wallpapers in Ubuntu 8.10

The title of this article, well just the Ubuntu part, is a bit too specific, but I decided to use that to try to grab the Ubuntu communities attention and the fact that I’ll be showing this in Ubuntu. Also, I’m not writing this for anything other than Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 at the moment. If you are using anything else and want to try to follow this then please keep that in mind.

This guide actually came about because I recieved an email from a curious reader asking for tips or steps to do this. Since I didn’t have any idea myself, I turned to my trusty friend Google and did quite a bit of searching before I finally came across a solution that was spread over several pages. Now I’ve put it all together here.

The steps to get this working in Ubuntu are surprisingly simple. However, to achieve this effect you must be willing to sacrifice your Desktop icons. πŸ˜‰

Basically, you obviously still have a background, but the icons will not appear there anymore. To view your desktop and icons you can always still use the Nautilus file browser and just navigate to your Desktop folder. You also lose the right click menu on the desktop, but the only time I ever use that is to change the background. After following these steps you won’t be changing your wallpaper that way anymore, but instead using the CompizConfig Settings Manager.

While Gnome is currently working towards fixing this bug that requires you to disable, they have clearly missed their projected goal of working the fix into Gnome 2.24 (as I’m using 2.24.1 in Ubuntu currently). A fix may still come in an updated 2.24.x build, but only time will tell. Coincidentally, the duplicate bug that it was matched to is marked as “Resolved.”

Please realize that I am in no way responsible for what you decide to do to your own installation after reading the following information. πŸ˜‰

The basic steps consist of the following:

  1. Make sure that you have “CompizConfig Settings Manager” installed. If you don’t already have it installed then you can install it through the terminal using the following command:
    sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
  2. Now that you have “CompizConfig Settings Manager” installed. Open it:
    System -> Preferences ->Β CompizConfig Settings Manager
  3. Now you can either scroll down towards the bottom of the list and find an option labeled “Wallpaper” or just search for it in the filter/search box at the top left. Enable this option and click on the title “Wallpaper” to open the preferences for this plugin.
    Wallpaper = enabled
  4. Now just click “New” and browse for the image files that you want to use (one by one). The order that you have them in the list will correspond to the order they are in the cube or in your Workspace Switcher panel applet.
    Add new images one by one.
  5. Back to your terminal window, launch the “Configuration Editor” by entering the following command and press enter:
    gconf-editor
  6. You’ll notice a tree list on the left. Navigate through the following levels.
    apps -> nautilus -> preferences
  7. After selecting “preferences,” look through the list on the right a little more than half way through until you find an option labeled “show_desktop” and disable it.
    show_desktop = disabled

Now you should be finished with all of the whole setup process. The only thing left to do is to log out and log back in or simply restart X by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Backspace once.

After logging back in, you should notice something like the following (depending on the artwork that you chose).

Hopefully these help, but if I were you I would wait until this feature is implemented correctly. Also, I will update this page when this feature is indeed implemented correctly and isn’t really just a hack anymore.

Upgrading Ubuntu 8.04 to 8.10

I’m seeing a lot of search results coming in for this topic and while I have answered this in the past, it was for a different version update and will lose relevance.

Also note that Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex is not scheduled to be released automatically until October 30, 2008. Upgrading at this point will update your system to Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 6. If you wait until October 2nd you will upgrade to the Beta Release and waiting until October 23rd will upgrade you to the Release Candidate.

I’ve been using Ubuntu 8.10 since Alpha 1 and it has been stable and amazing the entire time!

Upgrading from Ubuntu 8.04 to 8.10

To upgrade from Ubuntu 8.04, run “update-manager -d” using the update-manager package from hardy. You can do this quickly by pressing Alt+F2 to launch the Run Application dialog and paste and press enter.

This will launch the Update Manager, but it will also at the same time search for release updates.

After the Update manager has launched you should see a button above the updates list box that says:

New distribution release ‘8.10’ is available

There should be an “Upgrade” button to the right of it. Clicking this button will guide you through upgrading to the latest release.

Below is an image similar to what you should see:

So here’s a really quick overview:

  1. Press Alt+F2 to launch the Run Application dialog.
  2. Copy and paste “update-manager -d” and press enter.
  3. Click the “Upgrade” button in the Update Manager window.
  4. Follow the steps and make sure to reboot when you’re told to.
  5. Finished!

How-To: Digsby+Wine

After getting back into the Digsby scene again I decided it was time to get Digsby running in Ubuntu. I grabbed the latest installer and was well on my way.

I’ll just break down the steps so you can follow along. Depending on the distro that you are using, these steps may vary.

  1. Install the newest version of Wine that you can (in my case I just went with Wine 1.0).
  2. Open up a terminal window and enter the following lines (one at a time πŸ˜› ):
    wget http://kegel.com/wine/winetricks
    sh winetricks corefonts dotnet20 gdiplus
  3. As a safety measure (it may not make a difference at all) I opened the “Configure Wine” application and set the default settings Windows Version to “Windows 2000”. This has seemed to help make applications work in Wine in the past.
  4. Now download Digsby. I used the latest version which was for testers and should be released very soon. So for now just grab your installation from here.
  5. Install Digsby. In most distros of Linux you can just right click on the install file and click Open with “Wine Windows Program Loader”. Follow the steps through the installation and launch Digsby. Everything should be working now!

Basically all you had to do was install the .NET 2.0 framework and gdiplus. I’m not positive on corefonts, but they will only improve compatibility.

Everything seems to be working great! I notice some odd behavior here and there, but the application itself is working great! The only thing that is a bit annoying is that Facebook will occasionally disconnect, but it immediately reconnects. πŸ˜€

How-To: Share your Internet connection between multiple computers (Ad-Hoc)

If you’ve ever been in a situation similar to mine where you have multiple computers, one Ethernet cable and no wireless router then don’t sweat it. You’re still in luck!

If one of your computers has at least two network cards, for example an Ethernet port and wireless capabilities, then you can connect one computer via the Ethernet connection and broadcast that same connection over that computer’s wireless card so that other computers can connect. I’ll show you how below.

I will be walking through the steps in Windows Vista, but the steps should be the same across all platforms. If you’re using a different platform then just try to find the same dialogs and options on that system and everything should work fine.

  1. Open the Control Panel. To do this, go to Start->Control Panel
    If you’re in Windows Vista and your Control Panel window looks like this:

    You will need to click on the option labeled “Classic View” in the upper left corner of the window. This will change the layout of the Control Panel so that I don’t have to rewrite this How-To in multiple different directions. After changing the layout, your Control Panel should look like this:
  2. In the image above, the icon for “Network and Sharing Center” is selected. Double click on this option. When the window changes you should see a list of tasks in the left column. Click on the item from the list labeled “Manage network connections“. This will open a new window that should show the network cards available on your computer.
  3. Make sure that your Ethernet cable is plugged into your computer and your Internet source and that the Internet connection is working fine on that computer. Now right click on the option labeled “Local Area Connection” and select “Properties” from the menu (User Account Control will most likely ask you if you wish to continue and just agree and click continue if it does).
  4. The Properties window will open on a tab labeled “Networking” with a list of items that the connection uses. Just ignore all of that and switch to the tab labeled “Sharing.” The options on the “Sharing” tab should be selected as follows. Enable the option labeled “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.” Disable the option labeled “Allow other network users to control or disable the shared Internet connection.” After matching these settings, click “OK” to save the changes.
  5. You can now close the window for “Network Connections” and reopen the window for “Network and Sharing Center.” If you have already closed this window by accident then you can follow steps 1 and 2 again, except this time instead of clicking on the option to “Manage network connections” you want to select the option to “Setup a connection or network.
  6. When the “Setup a connection or network window opens, it will have a list of networks that you can setup. The one that you want to setup is selected in the image above and is labeled “Setup a wireless ad hoc (computer-to-computer) network. Setup a temporary network for sharing files or an Internet connection.
  7. When the “Setup a wireless ad hoc (computer-to-computer) network” window is open, it will explain a little bit about the network. Just click “Next” until you get to a form that is empty and looks like the form below:

    You need to give the network that you are creating a name that you will be able to recognize and it can be anything that you want!

    You also have the option to add security to your network. I highly advise this as you have more control over your network, so just select the option for “WEP” and below it enter some form of a password.

    You can click the option to “Display characters” while you are entering the key/passphrase. This will make it easier to make a new key for your network.

    Don’t forget to also enable the option to “Save this network” if you plan on using it later!

    If you hover the text box for the key/passphrase, you will see a notification tooltip that explains how the passwords work. You should follow those instructions to create your password and make sure it is the correct length as specified in the tooltip.

  8. Click “Next” to complete the setup and close any open windows. Your Ad-Hoc network is now setup and you should now be able to see a wireless signal on your other computers. Connecting to your network will require the users to know the key/passphrase that you entered, but once connected..all of the other computers should be able to browse the web and connect to instant messengers…anything you need!

If you have any questions then please ask them in the comments! Just remember to follow the steps closely before asking. Enjoy!

[solved] Stop WordPress Spam Registrations

I’ll bet all of you out there have dealt with your fair share of spam. Everyone gets it, in their email, blog posts and lately even WordPress registrations! I have a tool for handling spam comments on my blog, but what do I do when I get 10’s to 100’s of spam user registrations on my blog with names and emails like BuyCheapMeds and FreeSoftwareDVDs@some-russian-website.ru?

Well, thank goodness the WordPress Extend site has so much to offer! After asking in the WordPress forums how to completely disable new user registrations…and getting little response…I decided that I would have to edit some of the WordPress files to ignore new user registrations in a fashion to fit my needs. I wanted to keep them open from the admin panel so I myself can add new users, but block outsiders from registering so I could control the spam registrations.

To my surprise I got a response in the forum thread that I started with an example plugin that could be used. I looked into the example plugin, but I found myself confused at the description and uncertain of how the plugin actually worked. Who wants to install something on their site when they have no clue how it works!

I dug a bit deeper and searched this time for only 5-10 minutes and came across two plugins that were capable of handling my needs and one that was just plain cool.

To control your spam registrations I would suggest the following three plugins which are ordered according to the order that I would choose them.

  1. Register Plus
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/register-plus/
  2. Sabre
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sabre/
  3. Referrer Bouncer
    http://blog.taragana.com/index.php/archive/word-press-1-5-plugin-referer-bouncer/

If you’re wondering why I sorted them this way then I’ll try to explain quickly.

Referrer Bouncer was the one that was suggested to me in the forum thread, but I found that it was a bit more involved than the others and it required the user to create a file called “referer.txt” and add domains that should be blocked (at least I think it was for blocked domains…not a clear description or how to πŸ™ ) and it just made more sense to go with a different plugin rather than tracking down all of the referring sites that I needed to block.

Sabre does exactly what I wanted to do. It was like it knew what I wanted before I asked, haha, but I decided to go with Register Plus in the end because it allows me to create invitation codes so that I can easily leave the registration open to the public, but they will need to contact me and request an invitation.

Why did I chose this method? I figured that most people would prefer not to register in the first place. Nothing at kyleabaker.com is restricted to the general public that is open to the registered users…it’s all the same. So if you wanted to post then you can freely post comments here. The invitations are for friends and people that I know so they can register if they wish and I know they won’t be spamming me. πŸ™‚ Except maybe Dan…he’s done it before. πŸ˜›

The third plugin that I found (the Referrer Bouncer was found by someone else and posted in the WordPress forums for me) was one that allows users to login via OpenID! This is really cool because it doesn’t require a user to actually register at your site and waste space! They can register at any website that offers OpenID such as Yahoo, WordPress, Flickr (also Yahoo) and many more!

I didn’t go with WP-OpenID because spammers can still register via OpenID and login on your site. They wouldn’t be spamming the registrations, that’s one plus side, but they are still encouraged to test out my comment filtering system..and they always jump at chances to piss people off like that. πŸ˜›

So I suggest you look into my “research” if you’re having similar trouble! Enjoy!

Vista: Repair with boot disk

vistaIf you ever experience problems with your Vista installation and it fails to boot, you’ll quickly learn that “fixmbr” is no longer used the same way (fixmbr is to be valid for Windows XP and several previous Windows platforms).

If you need to fix your then you may have trouble finding the remedy as I did. I searched for a little while not finding anything helpful. However, not that I’ve found it and had to use it a few times I am going to share it with you (and all just post it so I can reference it later more easily).

The recover steps are as follows:

  1. Power-on your system and immediately insert your installation disk.
  2. Press any key to boot your PC from the installion disk.
  3. Once booting has completed click “Next” after making sure that options such as language are appropriate for you.
  4. From the list of options provided, select repair. (This may take several minutes while the installation disk tries to find supported bootable partitions. Just be patient. πŸ˜‰ )
  5. If the automatic scan does not detect your windows installation then you may have a lot of trouble regaining any information stored on your drive. If this is not the case for you then move on tot he next step. Otherwise, if this is the case then I suggest the following:
    • Obtain another hard drive, by purchase or borrow from a friend and install Windows on thenew hard drive.
    • Now install some freeware undelete software to recover your important files to the borrowed hard drive so you can use it later to move the files back to your system.
    • After recovering the files that you need to keep, format and reinstall Windows on your old hard drive.
    • Now you are ready to copy and paste the recovered files over.
  6. Now that the install disk has detected your old installation click next to continue.
  7. The next screen offers several things. Go a head and click to repair startup, but don’t count on this fixing anything (it has never fixed anything for me in the past, but it never hurts to try).
  8. Now click on the option to manually repair via the console.
  9. Once in the terminal/console, you will be using “bootrec“. Go a head and type “bootrec” without the quotes into the terminal and press enter to get an idea from the description that it provides for what it does. Now the commands that will fix your system are as follows (without quotes):
    • “bootrec -FixMbr” – this command will rewrite the contents of your master boot record since it is most likely corrupt, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be here.
    • “bootrec -FixBoot” – this command may not be necessary, but I use it just incase.
  10. Now that you have enter both of those commands to repair your boot process you just need to restart and see if everything is working again!

I’m not sure how you got into this situation in the first place, but if you have not been trying to install another operating system to dual boot along side Vista then you might want to look into the issue further. You can always use your best friend Google.com to find where other people have had similar problems and found solutions. I would suggest looking into this immediately to ensure that your data is not lost in future incidents. It might be that you have corruption in your hard drive and need to run checkdisk to repair any bad places. I hope this has been helpful to someone. If it has helped you at all, please let me know! Post a comment!

Installing Pidgin in Linux from Source

pidginAs many Linux users know by now, Gaim has been renamed for a second time to Pidgin due to legal issues with AOL over the use of ‘AIM’. Many distros of Linux operating systems still distribute the popular messenger client in older versions that are still under the title Gaim. I’m not the kind of person to use outdated software, so updating to Pidgin was one of the first things that I did when I made the move from Windows Vista to Ubuntu. I found the task to be a bit more lengthy than I had intended.

Most distros have communities that contribute packages that can install applications in a one step process by gathering all dependencies that are needed and installing them with the application. However, the great site that I’ve found for Debian packages seems to have a few packages lagging behind. I can’t have that. Who wants to install an older version of software than what is currently offered on the applications official site? Unfortunately there are no Debian packages available from Pidgin. That is not a problem! First things first:

  • Go to your Add or Remove application and completely remove anything associated with Gaim.
  • Open a terminal and install the following dev packages with the following commands (*The following terminal commands are for APT software package management systems. To use these commands with a different package manager you need to edit the syntax accordingly):
    • sudo apt-get install libglib2.0-dev
    • sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev
    • sudo aptitude install libnss-dev
    • sudo apt-get install libgtk2.0-dev
  • Go to www.Pidgin.im and download the source package.
  • Extract the source package and navigate to the folder that the files were extracted to in a terminal window.
  • You now need to configure and build Pidgin from the source files. Use the following commands in the terminal window to successfully configure Pidgin for your platform:
    • sudo ./configure
    • sudo make
    • sudo make install
  • Pidgin should now be successfully installed on your computer! You can now delete the source files that you downloaded from www.Pidgin.im.

If you experienced any problems while trying to follow this guide, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to help out. Always use Google.com to search for error messages before seeking help from others. Your questions are most likely already answered somewhere!

ECMAScript and CSS: Quick Lesson

Hey all, I know most of you are not guru’s in ECMAScript (a.k.a. Javascript)..but then again I’m not either. I just wanted to share a little tip with you. I find that many times when people try to add javascript functions to their pages or web applications, they add the functions in an incorrect manor.

Here is the most common mistake made. Say you want to make an image button or a hyperlink on your page that is linked to a javascript function. You might attempt this..

<a href=”#” onclick=”Javascript:someFunction();”> Click Here to do some action </a>

One more correct way to do this would be the following..

<a onclick=”Javascript:someFunction();” style=”cursor: pointer;”> Click Here to do some action </a>

Or..if you are using an image as a button or link to a javascript function then instead of wrapping an anchor tag around it, you could do the following..

<img src=”./image.png” alt=”buton” onclick=”Javascript:someFunction();” style=”cursor: pointer;”>

So you can see that the main difference is the use of some simple css ( cursor: pointer; ) which gives you the effect of appearing to “link” to something. The whole linking design is a good way to just make your functions easier for users to find (verses the regular arrow cursor). However, the problem with the incorrect method that I mentioned is that search engines tend to find your site and scan links. When they scan links with addresses such as “#” they usually rank your pages lower. Using css can help you avoid causing poor search results for your site. Also, some browsers are not designed to follow links such as “#” and often just reload the current page. You don’t want your page reloading instead of performing the script that you thought you correctly called for..do you?

So it’s best to just follow safe methods and standards to ensure that your code lasts longer and is supported in most all browsers without having to do silly browser specific hacks. These hacks can often become out dated very fast and force you to do hacks to your hacks. If you’d like to check into other web standards take a look at W3C. If you have any comments or suggested articles please let me know!

How To: Multiple Homepages in Opera..

Ok, so we all know that you can have a ‘Saved Session’ in Opera and have it open first. This enables you to have what they call “Multiple Homepages”, but I recently had an idea for true ‘Multiple Homepages’. Here it is..

The idea is simple really. You start out by going to the ‘Bookmarks -> Manage bookmarks…’

opera

Now you want to create a folder to store all of the ‘Multiple Homepages’ in. This way you can add as many as you wish and edit the list anytime. Click the arrow beside the ‘Add’ button and select ‘Add New Folder’…

opera

Now that you have a folder made, you can name it anything. Right click on the new folder and in the menu select ‘Properties’. In the properties menu you can edit the name of the folder at anytime. For this example I have called the folder ‘homepages’. The most important part of this step is that you give the folder the nickname ‘homepages’ as seen in the image below. You may add a description if you wish, then click ‘OK’ to save settings.

opera

Now that you’ve added the folder and named it what you wanted, you just need to add a button somewhere so you can open all of your ‘Multiple Homepages’ whenever you wish. To do this simply drag the button you see below to any place in your toolbar as seen in the image below.

Drag me to your toolbar–> [BUTTON]

opera

Now that you’ve finished adding the button where ever you wish, you are finished! That being said, I’d like to say that this task would be accomplished much more easily if Opera would allow us to use nicknames as homepages in the ‘Preferences’ window..

opera

But since they don’t..we are forced to find ‘remedies’ for our problems. I am planning to suggest this to the Opera Developing team so they can possibly add this in the future. It should be as simple as removing the code that inserts the extra ‘http://’ in front of any string that you insert into the homepage text box. (you can see this for your self if you set your homepage in Preferences to ‘homepages’ or something like that then reopen Preferences to see what it saved it as.