Archive
Tag "Tips/Tricks"

If you use Fire­fox (and if not, what are you wait­ing for?) you are famil­iar with use­ful exten­sions such as Video Down­loader, which allow you to save local copies of the videos you watch on web­sites such as Youtube or Vimeo. You can then watch these videos when­ever you please.

But this doesn't account for those rare but pos­si­ble times when you are not on your machine, or don't have access to a browser set up to your tastes. No exten­sions available.

That's where "Keep­Vid" comes in. Just enter your URL and it auto­mat­i­cally extracts any video(s) found on that web­site and allows you to down­load in both FLV and MP4 for­mats. The MP4 would play on your Nokia, iPhone, or Black­berry too. The FLV file is a flash viewer file, and eas­ily played using com­mon video play­ers – if you don't have VLC, get it pronto.

Here's a straight­for­ward screenshot:

KeepVid screenshot saving a Youtube video

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Fire­fox 3 has a "fea­ture" that auto-fills a web­site that you wish to go to as you're typ­ing in the Loca­tion bar.

I wanted to turn this off, but with­out turn­ing off other auto com­plete functionality:

  • I want to retain the auto­com­plete in forms (which can be man­aged from Tools -> Options -> Privacy)
  • I also want to retain the auto­com­plete in the search box on the right (which can be turned off by right-clicking inside the box, and then check­ing off "Show Suggestions")

But the Loca­tion Bar is a some­what more involved beast. After hunt­ing in the innards of "about:config" I dis­cov­ered that this was pos­si­ble. Just fol­low these steps:

  1. In the loca­tion bar, type about:config. The loca­tion bar is of course the place where you type URLs. Note that this is your inter­nal Fire­fox con­fig­u­ra­tion. Don't mess with it.
  2. In the text box that appears at the top of this page, enter browser.urlbar.maxRichResults as the pref­er­ence name. (Tip: copy it from here and paste it into that box.)
  3. Set the value to 0 if you wish to dis­able the auto-complete alto­gether. I have it set to 2 so I get some sug­ges­tions but it doesn't crowd up the experience.
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I use the Nokia e61i as my mobile. Instead of my telco's data plan (which offers me a mea­gre 1GB per month) I sim­ply pre­fer to use my home wire­less LAN when I am at home. Until recently I used the wire­less "access point" with­out any secure set­tings, but have had to move to WEP now due to cheeky neighbors.

Prob­lem: Nokia's WLAN option kept prompt­ing me for the WEP key *every­time* I would con­nect to my email or any website.

After googling for a good many days and bum­bling around on Nokia's forums, I have finally fig­ured out how to make Nokia remem­ber the cotton-picking pass­word. Sim­ple answer: you need to lose your cached WLAN entry, which may be stored as a non-WEP access point.

Here are the more detailed steps:

  1. Delete your cur­rent WLAN access point you've cre­ated for the E61i. This is the secret sauce.
  2. Now, under

    Tools > Settings > Connection > Access Points

    Select Options and cre­ate a new access point using "default set­tings". We'll tweak them below.

  3. Under Con­nec­tion Name, pick a name for your con­nec­tion. This doesn't have to be your wire­less network's SSID, but you can keep it under the same name.
  4. Under Data Bearer, select WLAN.
  5. Under WLAN Net­work Name, select man­ual entry and type in your SSID name.
  6. Under Net­work Sta­tus mark "Hidden".
  7. Net­work Mode will be the default: "Infrastructure".
  8. Under WLAN Secu­rity Mode, choose your secu­rity type. For instance, mine is WEP, so that's what I selected.
  9. Under WLAN Secu­rity Set­tings, go to WEP key set­tings and define your encryp­tion level, for­mat, and key. For instance, for WEP you might have 64 bit, ASCII, and "xyz­abc" as your level, for­mat, and key respec­tively. If you don't know this stuff, this entire tuto­r­ial is per­haps not for you, oth­er­wise you know what these val­ues are. (You can always login as admin user into your wire­less router and recon­firm these set­tings for your spe­cific case.)

That's it. You can now con­nect to some web­site or your email server on your mobile phone, select the WLAN with the name you chose in Step 3 above, and your Nokia e-series phone will remem­ber your WEP pass­word for good. Finally.

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Any­one who runs hosted remote servers and has to log into remote ter­mi­nals for reg­u­lar use, it is vital to have short­cuts that allow for quick login. SSH2 is the rec­om­mended way.

On Win­dows, there is the fan­tas­tic SSH2 tool Secure­CRT. Or if you're cash crunched, a com­bi­na­tion of Putty and Putty Con­nec­tion Man­ager works for many.

On Mac OSX and Unix/Linux sys­tems, one doesn't truly need an SSH client at all, because the "Ter­mi­nal" appli­ca­tion is inbuilt. Peo­ple talk of iTerm and such, but I have still to see a value add for such tools.

But one does miss the con­ve­nience of Secure­CRT on OSX, because I have still to find a true Secure­CRT alter­na­tive for the Mac plat­form. Some­thing that allows me to make pre-determined con­nec­tions so I can just click on them to con­nect (which tools like Jel­ly­fiSSH do) and then logs me in directly with­out prompt­ing for a pass­word (which Jel­ly­fiSHH does not do).

So I have sim­ply made aliases in my [code].profile[/code] file, which gets exe­cuted every­time you start your Ter­mi­nal win­dow (so it's a good place to put your short­cuts and any code you wish to exe­cute when the ter­mi­nal starts, such as paths).

  1. Start the Terminal.
  2. Open the pro­file file for the cur­rent user (you).
  3. pico .profile
  4. Enter a new line for our shortcut.
  5. alias s='ssh -2 -p 22 user@host.com'

Quick expla­na­tion for that com­mand in step 3. The let­ter "s" is the short­cut I make for con­nect­ing to the sniptools.com server. Change it to what you wish. This will mean that when I start Ter­mi­nal, all I need to do is type "s" and it con­nects me via SSH to the sniptools.com server. The "-p" switch is an impor­tant one because some of us with para­noid secu­rity set­tings might have a dif­fer­ent port num­ber than the default port 22 for secure SSH. The rest user/host stuff is self-explanatory. The "-2" is to force SSH2 con­nec­tions instead of older vanilla SSH.

Now. Save the pro­file file and source it to try it out:

source .profile

Sourc­ing is only for this one time, for your cur­rent Ter­mi­nal win­dow, which had already exe­cuted the pro­file file *before* we added this alias. When you start a new Ter­mi­nal ses­sion, these aliases et al will be auto­mat­i­cally set for you.

Done. Now your pro­file has the alias for "s". From now when you type "s" in your Ter­mi­nal, it will con­nect, but it will ask you for a pass­word. To get rid of the nag­ging pass­word, we need to cre­ate pub­lic authen­ti­ca­tion key for the domain. This, in fact is what Secure­CRT does behind the scenes on Win­dows too.

Here are the steps to accom­plish this. Run these one-time com­mands in order from the Ter­mi­nal window.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
# generate pub and priv keys, leave the passphrase empty
# (simply press ENTER when asked for it)
ssh-keygen
 
#copy the pub key to the remote computer
#(change port number if different from the usual 22)
#change "user" to your user name
#change "host" to your domain name
scp -P 22 ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub user@host:~/
 
#log on to the remote computer
ssh -p 22 user@host
 
#create the .ssh directory in the root login directory, if it doesn't already exist
mkdir .ssh
 
#append key to file
cat id_rsa.pub >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
 
#delete the public key file, no longer needed
rm -f id_rsa.pub
 
#log off the remote server
exit
 
#logon to the remote server, without password prompt
ssh -2 -p 22 user@host

That's it. This is a huge time­saver. Now all I need to do to login to the sniptools.com server is type one let­ter, "s" in the Ter­mi­nal, and I'm on! Fol­low these instruc­tions for each host you con­nect to on a reg­u­lar basis and you'll love the con­ve­nience henceforth.

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So I finally got around to installing Office 2007. This is what it looked like:

Office 2007 - First Look

Office 2007 — First Look

Now I don't know about you, but to me this bloo-ey look is hideous.I am not on Vista yet, by choice, so that sky blue gra­da­tion thing going on the top was not my cuppa. Why soft­ware designed for a cer­tain plat­form can­not honor a user's gen­eral sys­tem UI pref­er­ences is beyond me, but Office 2007 does insist on hav­ing it's own look and feel. As though the new rib­bon clut­ter was not enough.

I wanted to get rid of those rib­bons to begin with. So I down­loaded the the free ver­sion of Rib­bon Cus­tomizer. They offer some Pro ver­sion but it does things I don't par­tic­u­larly care about. Alter­na­tively, there is Tool­bar­Tog­gle, but on their site I did not seem to catch a free ver­sion, and I was unwill­ing to pay for this stuff.

The Rib­bon­Cus­tomizer install is pretty straight­for­ward and when you start Word 2007 after its instal­la­tion, here is how Word looks. There is an addi­tional item in the View menu at the end:

Word 2007 after RibbonCustomizer

Word 2007 after RibbonCustomizer

I clicked on the obvi­ous menu option to make Clas­sicUI my first menu tab. This is what this does:

Classic 2003 interface

Clas­sic 2003 interface

That's a good start, but I now wanted to clean up some other stuff. For­tu­nately, Microsoft chose to include the addi­tional "Min­i­mize Rib­bon" fea­ture, which con­tex­tu­ally hides the rib­bon when your focus is on writ­ing inside the doc­u­ment. So let's do that:

Minimize the Word 2007 ribbon

Min­i­mize the Word 2007 ribbon

Now to get rid of the forced Blue. Click on the "More Com­mands" option in the menu shown in the screen­shot above. Choose Sil­ver and make other adjust­ments to your taste:

Choose silver

Choose sil­ver

Now this is what Word 2007 looks like, with min­i­mized rib­bon, clas­sic 2003 UI, and a some­what less intru­sive sil­ver gradient:

Phew. I also rec­om­mend set­ting the default "Save" options as your reg­u­lar Word ".doc" instead of the new ".docx" (or other .xlsx and .pptx equiv­a­lents) as that is a bit more stan­dard even today in 2008.

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I use the excel­lent Sub­merge to flat­ten sub­ti­tles into my AVI files and other movies. But some­times, sub­ti­tles are avail­able from sources such as Sub­Scene or All­Subs as not the usual *.srt files (Sub­Rip for­mat) but as *.ssa or *.sub.

While search­ing for a con­verter between the cap­tioned for­mats, Google did not turn up too much. After some search­ing I found a nifty lit­tle util­ity that allows you to con­vert between many for­mats of sub­ti­tles. It's Win­dows only, so if you are not on Win­dows you may have to use this within a vir­tual machine:

Down­load Sub­ti­tle Workshop

Usage is as sim­ple as load­ing a sub­ti­tle file from the File menu, and then Save As and Bob's your uncle.

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Sim­ple lit­tle trick to get to the lat­est version.

Most Cpanel/WHM servers come with PHP and Zend installed. With the recent (and impor­tant) update of PHP 5.2.1, the Zend Opti­mizer that is installed by default (ver­sion 3.0.1 as of this writ­ing) breaks.

You might begin to see a mes­sage like this:

[26-Apr-2007 10:32:49] PHP Warn­ing: Zend Opti­mizer does not sup­port this ver­sion of PHP — please upgrade to the lat­est ver­sion of Zend Opti­mizer in Unknown on line

To fix this, sim­ply login to your SSH as root and exe­cute the fol­low­ing com­mand to upgrade Zend Optimiser:

/scripts/installzendopt 3.2.8

Note that if you skip the ver­sion num­ber, Zend Opti­mizer 3.0.1 will be installed by default. The trick is to spec­ify the ver­sion as above. This will also work in the future, so as long as you know the lat­est released ver­sion of Zend Opti­mizer, just replace the red text above with that number.

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I have to admit, I'm just in it for the "RSS".

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Inter­est­ing post from ZDNet buoys an impor­tant con­cept to know, but only barely scratches the sur­face of the issue.

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The recent upgrades of Cpanel have been a pain because they've bro­ken mysql­hot­copy. Not kosher. For­tu­nately fix­ing this is pretty straight­for­ward by sim­ply down­grad­ing the DBD mod­ule of Perl, on which mysql­hot­copy relies.

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