Monthly Archives: January 2015

New Schedule

Some viewers suggested a Monday, Wednesday,  Friday post schedule rather than how I’ve been doing it. Makes  sense to me, so we’ll start that way for February.

Tools: Keyboard Status Monitor

I use a wireless keyboard on my main computer, and yesterday I had a key that was sticking. In an attempt to find it, I opened my text editor, hoping to catch the key press. Alas, it was not a key that would type anything into text.

So off to the Package Manager I went, looking for a way to find my sticking key.

Enter the Keyboard Status Monitor:

Keyboard Status Monitor

Keyboard Status Monitor

It’s a simple little utility that does nothing more than show your key presses. With the monitor running, it was easy to see that my left hand [ALT] key was the one that was sticking every now and then.

Here’s a demo of the monitor in action:

Keyboard Status Monitor

Keyboard Status Monitor

To install it, just search for key-mon in your package manager or from a terminal window, type: sudo apt-get install key-mon

 

 

Tools: Color Bandwidth Monitor

We’ve mentioned a few networking tools in the past, and today we’ll look at really handy one.

The tool is called The Color Bandwidth Monitor and it is a very small, Terminal program that will give you a quick graphical output of your network throughput.

Head over to your Package Manager, and search for CBM:

Package Manager showing CBM

Package Manager showing CBM

Of course, if you wish, you can also install it from a Terminal window by simply typing:

sudo apt-get install cbm

Once installed, simply open a new Terminal window, and type: cbm

which will then fire up a terminal based GUI, showing what’s going on with your network adapters.

Color Bandwidth Monitor

Color Bandwidth Monitor

The real power of this utility for me, is that because it runs inside the terminal window; you can use it on a remote machine, by logging in with ssh.

Once logged in, you can first install it if you need to, and then see what’s happening with that machines network adapters.

 

 

Weird: Install Chrome, Lose Applets

If you’ve been following along, you probably know that I take care of several web sites.

Over the weekend, I had a viewer tell me that one of my sites no longer worked from the Google Chrome browser.

Nothing serious, just an HTML drop-down menu that I’d been using. The menu was using the simple <select> tag and was fast and responsive:

It has been working for years, and indeed still does with every other browser on the planet except Chrome.

Needing to test what was going on, and make sure that any new menu I came up with would work with Chrome. I installed it  on one of my Mint 17.1 machines.

Going to the Chrome site, I downloaded the package for my version of Linux and installed it. The install seemed fine, and I was able to use Chrome to test a new menu system (this time using javascript) and all was well.

Until, I went to set my wake-up alarm, and found it gone!

Turns out the Chrome install, removed not only my most useful tool, the Alarm-Clock applet, but it also removed the f.lux software I wrote about just a couple of days ago.

So fine, I went to reinstall the Alarm-Clock, and the first thing that pops up, says that it will force the removal of Google Chrome!

Why this needs to happen? Hard to tell, though likely a conflict between the packages. Not really liking Chrome anyway, I had no real reason to figure it out.

The problem did further set in  stone, my complete dislike for Chrome, and love of Firefox!

 

 

 

Software: Add A Webcam

The final piece of software I wanted to get running, so that I can completely divest myself of Windows in my ham shack, is webcam software.

The pickings are slim for webcam software in the repositories, especially if you are looking for something with a  graphical user interface.

There is however, a very nice terminal program that will do a good job. It requires a bit of work to get going, but it’s not hard.

Open your Software Manager and do a search for Webcam:

Software manager showing,Webcam

Software manager showing,Webcam

Once installed, the first thing you want to do is open your text editor and build up a configuration file.  Here’s a copy of mine as an example:

[grab]
device=/dev/video0
text=MyWebCam %Y-%m-%d %H:%M
fg_red=255
fg_green=255
fg_blue=255
width=640
height=480
delay=120
wait=0
rotate=0
top=0
bottom=-1
right=-1
quality=95
trigger=0
once=0

[ftp]
host=ftp.yourhost.com
user=username
pass=password
dir=/
file=webcam.jpg
tmp=uploading.jpg
passive=1
debug=0
auto=0
local=0
ssh=0

You want to call this file .webcamrc (note the period before the name, this is important) and put it in your Home directory.

The [grab] section, tells the software where your camera is, what text you’d like to super over the picture and at what colour. As well, you can set the size of your image in pixels.

I set the delay at 120 seconds. Which of course, uploads a new image from my webcam every 2 minutes.

[ftp] is where you will put your host name and log-in information, and the name you wish to give the image.

Once your configuration file is saved, open a Terminal window and simply type: webcam

One nice thing I like about this software, is that it will report errors as it runs. If there is a problem, simply break out of the software by sending a CTL+C, correcting the configuration file, and then relaunching the software.

Once it’s running happily, just minimize the Terminal window and let it go. Closing the Terminal window will of course end the program.

Webcam running

Webcam running

Takes some fiddling, but it’s a nice, solid program that works very well.