Satya's blog - 2008/02/

Feb 29 2008 09:08 Local man recycles computers with Ubuntu

There's a local tech guy who requests computers and parts on Freecycle, puts them together to make working computers, installs Ubuntu Linux on them and then *gives them away* on Freecycle. These computers are perfectly usable for web surfing and email, which is 99% of the computer activity of 80% of people. With some patience, you can even run an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet). And it comes with basic games (and some more advanced games, like Quake, can be had legally if you know where to look).

I think this is a wonderful idea and I think the local papers should do a story on him (hint, hint, Post and Courier, and Lowcountry Blogs ;-) )

Tag: local ubuntu recycle

Feb 23 2008 09:45 PDFJoin and why it does not work

I usually use pdfjoin from the pdfjam package to concatenate the PDF statements that I download from my credit card and utility web sites. (They're then symmetrically encrypted with GPG, so settle down.)

Of late, pdfjoin has been making output PDFs that are blank. Apparently this is because the web sites are now producing PDF 1.5, not 1.4, and pdftex (which is in pdfjoin's toolchain) doesn't like that. After some messing about with pdfminorversion in pdftexconfig.tex, which didn't work, I converted the downloaded PDF to postscript and then back to PDF. I checked it for lossage, and then used pdfjoin. pdfjoined worked fine.

Sigh. Why does this stuff have to suck? Sure, in a pinch I can just store the individual files but that means encrypting them separately, a pain to type the passphrase so many times. On the other hand, I rarely need to decrypt multiple statements, which can also be done as follows, so individual files isn't that big a deal. These files tend to be small (few tens of kilobytes), and I don't like having lots of small files, but hey, such is life. Un-tested code follows.

for i in *.pdf.gpg;do gpg -d --passphrase PASSPHRASE_STRING $i > `echo $i|sed "s/.pdf.gpg/.pdf/;"`;done

Read the fine manpage for security implications of symmetric keys and of passing the passphrase on the command line! Alternatively, use the Gnu-Pg agent, whatever that is.

Tag: geeky

Feb 14 2008 18:36 Typing in Marathi

Found the instructions on some Indian web sites, in Ubuntu I can type directly in Marathi (and Hindi). I wanted the instruction so I would have an easier time translating strings for Chesspark (as a favor). (Chesspark? "an exciting new community for online chess.")

So anyway, System -> Administration -> Language Support. Scroll through the list and click the ones you want. Under input method, you can click "Enable support to enter complex characters" but I think it's not required. The system may install some packages and ask for a reboot. It's not required for most apps like Firefox, Pidgin IM, and maybe vim (with vim, it works in the terminal but that file in Firefox looks weird. probably character set or encoding issues).

The right click the panel/taskbar, Add To Panel, and select Keyboard Indicator from the Utilities section. That should put an indicator on your panel, right click and select Keyboard Preferences, Layouts. Click Add to add India to the list, and close it. Clicking on the panel indicator will switch input methods. Right click and Show Current Layout to see which (real) key produces which code. Enjoy.

Tag: geeky