Marco's Blog

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Fixing KSnapshot Quirks - and Programming the Linux Shell in the Process

2013-11-24 25 min read Howto marco
KSnapshot is the best of programs, and KSnapshot is the worst of programs. First of all, KSnapshot is a terribly nifty utility that takes screenshots of the current screen. It’s very flexible and allows you to grab the whole screen, a single window on the screen, an area of a window, a random rectangle on the screen, or even some weird shape that you draw on the screen. It’s got tons of opportunities for you to record what’s going on. Continue reading

Keep Your Data Safe: Cloud RAIDs

2013-10-24 8 min read Howto marco
You have probably heard the story: someone has all their data stored in the Cloud, and one morning it’s all gone. Maybe Google disabled your email account and won’t you let back in. Or maybe it’s Dropbox that dropped your files. Or maybe it’s (and this is a real case) that handed somebody’s account to someone else, who promptly cleaned the account and deleted all the other person’s files. Continue reading

HOWTO: Figure Out What File Is Missing, and Where

2013-07-16 5 min read Howto marco
One of the really maddening things about Linux (and UNIX in general) is that files are stored in random places. That is, they are not really random, but each application has its own idea of where it wants to look for stuff. You, as a user, have an inkling of what’s missing (maybe because of an error message, or because you researched on a search site). But you have not the foggiest idea of where you should look for it. Continue reading

Securing Dropbox Content with EncFS

2013-07-13 7 min read Howto marco
I read an article this morning about encryption on Cloud Storage Services. The idea was that the latest NSA spying scandals revealed how much the government can access, and the assumption is that a lot of the thing you store are sensitive enough that you wouldn’t want the government to have random access. The article then went on and introduced a series of software/service combinations that perform a sync and add encryption to your files. Continue reading


2013-07-04 2 min read Howto marco
On this server (and on most others I administer) I use awstats for statistics. It’s a really nice package that give a pretty decent granularity of the visitors. It’s been working wonderfully for years, and once you get it configured, it is reliable. Until recently. I installed awstats 7.1, and it worked fine, but suddenly it stopped. Just like that. Adding any key-value configuration option would completely corrupt the output, and all output was gone for searches, bots, etc. Continue reading

HOWTO: Add Your Own Nation to FreeCiv

2013-06-18 8 min read Howto marco
FreeCiv is an amazing clone of the old Civilization games. It got stuck somewhere between Civ 2 and Civ 3 as far as the graphics are concerned, but the game play is as much fun as in the original. Plus, it’s open source and hence hackable, has a scripting interface (at least in the soon to be released version 2.4) and has built-in hackability. Here is a quick primer on getting your very own, private nation implemented in FreeCiv. Continue reading

HOWTO: Map Truecrypt USB Drives on Linux

2013-01-07 4 min read Howto marco
One of the little annoyances with USB drives on Linux is that they are placed on a different device node each time, depending on the sequence with which they were mounted. The problem with that is that if you tell Truecrypt to mount, say, /dev/sde1, it might be a different drive next time you mount. My setup here is such that I have truecrypt mounting drives automagically using autofs. I have a smart script that knows how to mount all sorts of things, and truecrypt files are just one of those things. Continue reading

Fixing bizarre sound playback in Flash Player

2009-01-20 2 min read Howto marco
For a while now I’ve had a strange behavior happen in Firefox on Ubuntu 8.10 (Ibex): whenever I started a flash video (e.g. in YouTube or, the video would come out abut right, maybe a little halting, but the sound would be choppy. I would hear something that sounded about right for a fraction of a second, but then it would repeat like an echo. Turns out that an echo every fraction of a second makes the whole sound unusable. Continue reading

OO vs. PP (KDE vs. Gnome)

2008-10-12 8 min read Howto marco
In the flame war between Gnome and KDE, the leading desktop environments for Linux, I’ve always been on the side of KDE. As you may recall, KDE was first: based on the QT libraries from Norway’s Trolltech (now part of Nokia), KDE was the first real desktop environment for Linux. Then a Stallman-esque backlash at the licensing of QT generated a group that wanted a fully open-source product, and out of GIMP (the Gnu Image Manipulation Program) came Gnome. Continue reading

Linux and the Polar F6 Heart Rate Monitor

2008-07-21 5 min read Howto marco
Well, if this is not a telling example of how things are progressing in the world of open source… I recently bought a heart rate monitor, since I realized there was something wrong with the calories burnt displayed on exercise equipment. Never one to leave out a geeky detail, I ran to the closest sports equipment store (in my case Sports Basement) and checked out the latest gear. My geek heart was pounding for the latest and greatest, of course: the Garmin Forerunner 405 was beckoning, a GPS-enabled masterwork that seemed just made for my nerdy self. Continue reading
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