Monthly Archives: June 2014

This Never Happens With Linux

I’ve mentioned before, we have but one, lone Windows 7 computer in our collection of 11 machines here on the farm.

Yesterday, I dutifully allowed an update of the Adobe Flash software. Now I am very careful about what I click on, and what is being installed on my machines. So imagine my outrage when the updater starts installing an unwanted piece of software along with the Flash update!

There was no way to stop the install of what is commonly called bloatware or crapware. Adobe was, without my permission, installing a McAffee product on my computer.

Of course, as soon as the software was installed, I went right to the control panel and uninstalled it.

Adobe is not the only player in this deceptive game. When Java is updating, it always tries to install bloatware as well. The only difference is that at least you can click a box to refuse it!

Crap like this is one of the main reasons my family stays far away from Microsoft products.


Weird Problems – Audacity

OK, so with today’s update of Audacity, one can now import ffmpeg compatible files once again.

This is great, it’s how I was used to using Audacity under Mint 13. But there’s one weird problem with it.

Audacity Crash

Audacity Crash

If I allow an entire file to import, say, an Adobe Flash .flv file, the resultant imported file will play distorted, and will crash Audacity when you stop it playing.

Test Import

Test Import

However, if you STOP the import any time during the import, the imported audio plays just fine and Audacity doesn’t crash! What is really strange, is that I can stop the import with 1 second left on the Remaining Time  display as shown above, and the import is fine, and I have all the content expected.

That’s just weird! I’ll keep trying to figure out why, and post the answer if I come up with one.

July 4, 2014 Update:

Been playing with Audacity for several days now and find that it will always import an audio file on my machine, garbled and off speed. However, if after it crashes, I relaunch it and allow it to do an automatic recovery, then the recovered audio plays and edits fine.  Weird, isn’t it?

Weird Problems – Printing Bar Codes

We have a very good laser printer here on the farm, but we ran into a  strange problem today when attempting to print a shipping label to return a defective TV set. (Square Trade warranty, they rock!)

There are many different types of bar codes in use. Indeed the Federal Express label that Square Trade emailed us has 3 different types on it.

The problem we had, was in trying to print the PDF417 style of error correcting, 2D coding. It’s a cool bar code, because even if it’s damaged, it can still be read.

Bar code example from

Bar code example from

So, opening the Adobe .PDF file that they sent, using the built in document viewer that comes with Mint, I printed the label to my Canon laser printer.

Document Viewer

Document Viewer

Trouble was, when the bar code was printed, it was just a solid black rectangle, instead of the collection of little squares that it should consist of.

Before I knew it, I’d printed 30 pages of the same label, trying every printer setting offered in the printer’s page setup. No good, it would only print it as a solid rectangle.

Thinking it was a problem with my printer, I printed the PDF file from my lone Windows 7 machine, and it printed perfectly!

It seems to be a resolution problem with either the document viewer or the Linux printer driver for my Canon printer. Only time and further experimentation will tell…


Fixing Things: VLC Media Player

Every now and then, a program doesn’t seem to work ‘out of the box’ the way you think it should.

Such was the case with the VLC media player. Though I never had a problem with it under Mint 13, Mint 17 was playing video with the colors inverted. In all fairness, I’m running Mint on a 10 year old AMD machine with the default, on board graphics card that is pretty much crap.

If this happens to you, the fix is simple.

VLC Settings

VLC Settings

Just maneuver to the VLC preferences, select the Video tab as shown above, and select the X11 Video Output.

That’s it. Now the video will play in the correct colors!


Take Back Your Privacy!

Did you know, that every mouse click you make, advertisers, web sites, and the government are keeping tabs on what you do, where you go, and what you are looking at?

It’s time to get some of your privacy back!

Some of the things we do on the farm:

  • Use instead of for searches
  • Use Firefox with the NoScript add on to prevent Java from running
  • Install The Disconnect add on to prevent analytic software from tracking you
  • Install AdBlock Plus to prevent those pesky advertisments!

Finally, you can consider visiting Reset The Net to really lock down your system from snooping!