Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sleep Better With F.Lux

If you compute from the bedroom, all that bright light from your monitor, tablet,  or phone could be disrupting your sleep!

I had installed the command line version of this wonderful piece of software years ago, but lost it over many new distros, forgetting about it entirely. I stumbled upon it again over the weekend.

The software is called f.lux, and what it does is adjust your computer monitor’s color temperature to what the current outdoor lighting is. The idea, is to help improve your sleep at night by removing the blue spectrum from your monitor, at the same rate that the sun goes down outside.

You’ll need to add a new repository, and then install the software from the command line. Just type the following commands in a terminal, one at a time:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kilian/f.lux
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install fluxgui

Once installed, launch the f.lux indicator applet from your Menu

Setup is simple, just enter your zip code, if in the USA, or your Latitude, and the magic will start to happen.

f.lux setup screen

f.lux setup screen

Once done, click the Close button. Your monitor will then, slowly cycle to a color temperature to match your local outside lighting conditions.

While the change will look drastic the first time you start the software;  because it happens very slowly, your eyes will adjust easily to the change as it works day to day.

f.lux is available for Linux, Windows,  IOS, and of course Android.


Linux: Updating The Entire House

I had 6 updates come in on Thursday for my single, I hate it, Windows 7 computer. The updates required 2 reboots, and almost an hour of  Configuring Your New Updates  waste of time and lost productivity.

Waiting for Windows

Waiting for Windows

The Linux Machines? They had dozens of updates available this past week. Not once were we forced into a reboot situation. What’s more. I can update all the machines in the house, by laying comfortably in bed watching a happy old movie!

Updating machines, 3 at a time.

Updating machines, 3 at a time.

If you’re sick of waiting on Windows updates that take forever, do yourself and your pocketbook a favour and get Linux!



Wine Help: No Solution Found Yet

OK, here’s a problem I’ve been trying to fix for months. Searching forums, documents, the net in general, and I can’t find the solution.

Maybe you know?

I am trying to find a way to lock down WINE so that my adult autistic son can run the  programs I want him to run, but prevent him from installing anything else!

My son is quite clever, and will do things like try and find a DVD ripping tool (He has Handbrake, and it works just fine) and by searching the net, will install every single one of them that he can find!

Don’t even get me started at how many  software websites and mirrors I’ve had to block in my router. It helps, but is not a good long term solution.

I checked out his laptop today and found over 40 different windows programs, most of which won’t run, but they are cluttering up his laptop and he gets upset when he catches me cleaning them off.

Really all he needs to run is MSPaint. I need to prevent WINE from allowing any other installs.

His machine is locked down Linux wise, he only has user access to it, and I do all the updates and Linux software installs using SSH.

I tried without success, changing the permissions on the Program Files directory. He just installs it somewhere else.

So how can I prevent WINE from installing anything else?


Audacity: Problem Solved

Probably the best audio editing suite on the planet is Audacity. Indeed, there was a time when I was spending thousands of dollars on audio editing software for radio and  television stations,  that can’t hold a candle to Audacity!

That said,  I and many other people have found a problem with the import function, whereby the imported audio will play very fast, choppy and then freeze up the program. I wrote about it in an earlier blog post.  Being so busy here on the farm, it was only recently that I was able to actually research what was causing it.

After trying several fixes, one presented itself that I will now pass on to anyone else having the same problem. Nice thing is, it’s simple!

The problem Audacity was having was with the Linux Pulse Audio driver. The workaround, is to add a string to your launcher for Audacity.  To do this, Right Click on your menu item or panel button and select Properties:

Launcher Properties

Launcher Properties

In the Command box, you want to replace what is there, with the following:

env PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=30 audacity %F

Adding the latency of 30 milliseconds helps correct the error. To be clear, the problem is not with Audacity, but with the often  hated, universally maligned Pulse Audio.




Working With Windows Software

I’ve been using various Linux logging packages for my radio hobby over the years, but none have been up to the ease of use and features of a Windows package that I’ve used for almost 20 years, on my lone old Windows machine.

Really wanting to dump that machine, it was time to really work on getting the Win program to run happy on Linux!

The program is called XMLog, a logging and award tracking software package. The program will also control my radio, changing the frequency, filling in dynamic fields like frequency, mode, time, date, etc.



The software has always run semi-okay using Wine, but several of the features didn’t work properly. This made it unsuitable for production use on a Linux machine.

In the example below, the data window would never display:

3 W1AW QSOs_005

And in this example, the antenna bearing and distance never showed up either:

XMLog program features

XMLog program features

Oh my joy when I tried to run this software yet again, with a brand new Mint 17.1 install on my computer, the latest Wine upgrades, and the Software itself using some more compatible libraries!

Next of course was to get the software talking to my radio. To do this, you need to tell Wine what communications ports you wish to map to what devices. This is done by navigating to your ~/.wine/dosdevices directory as shown here:

Wine configuration directory

Wine configuration directory

Right click in an empty spot in the window, and select: Open In Terminal which will open a Terminal window where you will then define the communications port mappings.

In my case, I wanted Com1 to provide remote control to my radio, using the USB device called ttyUSB1. To map this, in Terminal, in the dosdevices directory, I simply type:

ln -s /dev/ttyUSB1 com1

Which will map USB1 to Com 1, so that the Windows software can find it.

Likewise, because I wanted to be able to send Morse Code using my computer’s keyboard, I also mapped a separate port for that. It this case:

ln -s /dev/ttyUSB0 com8

If you make a mistake, or the port is not correct, then Linux will actually tell you it’s bad, right in the directory listing. Here I mapped a port that I knew did not exist on my computer. See how it says link(broken) in the description. Tells us we need to delete it, and try again:

Bad Mapping

Bad Mapping

So that’s it, I can now run my favorite radio software, on my favorite operating system and dump Windows in the ham shack for good!

XMLog running on Linux Mint 17.1

XMLog running on Linux Mint 17.1

Of course you should also join Logbook of the World, and install the Trusted QSL software (in the repositories or use the link above) as well, to really get your radio fun going!