Born Geek
Posts Tagged "software"

King Features Comics Feeds

October 6, 2018

Since I no longer subscribe to my local newspaper, I now primarily read daily comic strips through RSS feeds. comicsrss.com carries the vast majority of the strips I read, but several key strips are not included. It turns out that these missing strips are all owned by King Features which, frustratingly, doesn’t provide RSS feeds to their strips.

I have now fixed that.

My new project, comics-rss, is now available for users interested in creating RSS feeds to the comic strips provided by King Features. The project is admittedly brittle at the moment, but it has worked well for me so far. A number of improvements are planned:

  1. The script currently caches the comic strips locally, linking to the cached copy. I’d like to provide an option to use direct links instead, skipping the cache altogether.
  2. Cached strips are not currently cleaned up, so the folder into which they are stored will grow each day. I’ll be adding an “expired” configuration option to clean things up.
  3. Error checking in the configuration file isn’t very robust, and needs to be improved.

I would be interested in any feedback you might have on this project. If you find bugs or have suggestions for improvement, be sure to file them on the project issues board.

High Contrast Mouse Pointer

February 19, 2018

As I age, my vision is getting worse (and it’s already pretty bad). At work, I use a three monitor setup: my laptop is the middle screen, and two external monitors sit to either side. Given the large screen real estate, and given my increasingly bad eyesight, I’ve been having a tough time finding my mouse pointer. Windows has an option to show the location of the mouse pointer when you press the Ctrl key, but that has limited usefulness (though I do use it from time to time).

I recently stumbled upon a neat feature in Windows 10 that has helped me tremendously. There are several mouse-specific features in the Ease of Access section of the Windows settings. The pointer size can be adjusted (which is helpful to a degree), but the most helpful feature is the Pointer Color setting. There’s an option to adjust the pointer color based on whatever color is beneath it. It took a little getting used to, but I can now find the mouse pointer a lot easier than I could before.

Monkey Album 2.0

November 18, 2016

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been diligently working on rewriting the software that powers my photography site. Today, the new version has officially launched! This rewrite is mostly a bunch of back-end changes to make my life a lot easier, but it also includes some front-end changes as well. Here’s what’s new from a technical perspective:

  • The site is now served over SSL thanks to DreamHost and the Let’s Encrypt program. Security boost for the win!
  • Collections have been replaced with Tags. I’m in the process of tagging things more carefully than they were previously.
  • The site now uses HTML 5.
  • The site is now powered by Python instead of PHP. I’m using the Django framework, which I’ve really come to enjoy. As a result, the number of lines of code have been drastically reduced (the project is nearly 50% smaller!).

As is typical when I launch stuff like this, there are still a few known issues:

  • The site doesn’t yet render like I want it to on mobile devices
  • Swipe support for navigation isn’t yet in place
  • The RSS feed doesn’t work (I simply forgot to implement it) This has been fixed!

I’m sure there are probably bugs lurking here and there. Let me know if you encounter any.

Fixing the Thinkpad Hot-key On-Screen Display

April 6, 2015

Lenovo Thinkpads have an on-screen display for various hot-keys. For example, when you change the monitor brightness, or the volume level, an on-screen overlay will display showing the current brightness level or volume level, respectively. Twice, I have received laptops from Lenovo that have this software installed, but the on-screen display never appears. Frustrated by this bug, I used the Dependency Walker to troubleshoot this problem a while back, and subsequently found the solution.

Simply install the Visual Studio 2010 C++ redistributable, available from Microsoft (make sure to install the x86 version, even on a 64-bit system; the on-screen display application is a 32-bit process). Once this package is installed, and the laptop rebooted, the problem should go away.

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Setting the Time Zone in GitLab

February 27, 2015

GitLab defaults its time zone to UTC, which may not be what you want. Thankfully, you can update the value directly from your gitlab.rb file. Here’s the relevant line:

gitlab_rails['time_zone'] = 'America/New_York'

Once you’ve added the field, simply reconfigure and restart:

sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
sudo gitlab-ctl restart

A list of all the available timezones is available on Wikipedia.

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Firefox Extension Utilities

April 28, 2014

I have created a GitHub repo storing several Firefox extension utility scripts that I wrote. Here’s the rundown on what this repository contains:

compareLocales.pl
Compares all of the locales it finds against a “master” locale (`en-US` by default) and reports the number of exact duplicate entries for each. This is useful for figuring out which locales have not been updated.
entityToProperty.pl
Converts a given list of locale entities into corresponding properties. Handy for migrating existing entity localizations into a `.properties` file.
removeLocaleEntries.pl
This script removes a given list of entries from all of the locale folders it finds in the current working directory and below. Useful for cleaning up strings that are no longer needed.

Hopefully others will find these scripts to be useful. I hope to add additional scripts to this repository over time.

Fixing Location Services in Android

November 5, 2012

I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus running the Ice Cream Sandwich version (4.0.4) of Android. For some unexplained reason, the location services feature stopped working a few months ago, but only for what seemed like a few applications. Google Plus no longer knew my location, Radar Now no longer knew it, and the stock web browser was also clueless. Google Maps, on the other hand, knew right where I was. Since I use the tablet in the house, GPS isn’t much help. I frustratingly was unable to fix things, until today, when I stumbled on a solution. Here’s how I did it:

  1. I opened up Settings » Location services and unchecked the Location and Google search option
  2. I rebooted my device
  3. Back in Settings » Location services, I rechecked the Location and Google search option
  4. I then toggled the Use wireless networks option, and answered a prompt that appeared about using my network location in third-party apps (or something similar; I don’t have the exact message in front of me).
  5. Success!

Using GPS to lock in on my position worked outside, but that alone didn’t seem to set things right. Disabling the above option, rebooting, and then re-enabling it seemed to do the trick. Hopefully this will help anyone else who might have a similar problem.

Installing iTunes Without the Bloat

October 25, 2012

I went looking for how to install iTunes recently without the bloat (because I remember seeing an article about doing just that a while back), and though I found the article, it had apparently moved from its original location. As such, I’m going to note down the steps here in case said article ever disappears. The following is intended for use on a Windows 7 64-bit system, but I think these steps should work in general. It’s also intended for using an iPod classic, which is the only Apple device I care to use (though these instructions also work with the nano, mini, and shuffle variants).

  1. Download the iTunes installer
  2. Unpack the installer using something like IZArc
  3. Run the installers, using the given commands, in the following order:
    • AppleApplicationSupport.msi /passive
    • Quicktime.msi /passive (if this installer is present)
    • iTunes64.msi /passive
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Access Denied in PuTTY 0.61

August 23, 2011

Update: This problem has been fixed in PuTTY 0.62.

Back at the beginning of last month, PuTTY 0.61 was released after four years (!) of development. Since upgrading to this new release, I’ve noticed the occasional “Access Denied” message when connecting to certain Linux systems at work. The odd thing about this message is that it appears between the user ID prompt and the password prompt; in essence, before I even get the chance to log in! Example output looks something like this:

login as: root
Access denied
root@myserver's password:

Making things stranger, I can enter the correct password and log in to the system with no problems. As I found out from a commenter on another blog, it turns out this message is due to a new feature in PuTTY 0.61. To prevent this message from appearing, do the following:

  1. Drill down into the Connection » SSH » Auth » GSSAPI section of your session’s configuration
  2. Uncheck the Attempt GSSAPI authentication (SSH-2 only) option

The phantom access denied message should then go away.

Improvements in PhotoMerge

October 12, 2010

I recently updated to Photoshop CS5 on my home computer, and I wanted to briefly share how particularly impressed I am with the new capabilities of their PhotoMerge process. The old PhotoMerge was a hassle to work with, and tended to screw up panoramas in weird ways. Getting the perspective right was usually a guess and check affair. Happily, the new system blows the old one out of the water.

Here’s are two examples to compare the systems:

The results with the new system are much better, and more in line with tools like Microsoft Research’s Image Composite Editor. I will be going through my panorama collection over the coming days and updating them as necessary, cleaning them up where needed. I’m looking forward to producing better panoramas in the future with this help of this great tool.

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