Friday, 30 November 2012

How-to: Choose Encryption or Remote Wipe

Image credit: Password by Salvatore VuonoThe ubiquity of mobile devices is accompanied by the ubiquity of loss and deliberate theft. Most people are unsure how to deal with this and don't realise the damage data loss can cause until it happens.

Which prompted 'friend of the show' Tony Whitmore to ask our Local User Group (LUG):

Are there any options for remote wiping Linux systems, in the case of them being lost or stolen? I'm sure that some funky trigger mechanism could be set up using dyndns and SSH, but I was looking for something that would scale to a larger number of devices.

Monday, 12 November 2012

How-to: Change Sound Juicer and Rhythmbox Audio Preferences

How-to: Change Sound Juicer and Rhythmbox Audio PreferencesAnother fill-in required to address the audio output presets in Ubuntu. If you use Sound Juicer (aka CD Extractor) or Rhythmbox music player to output audio in various formats, you may be wondering where the options have gone.

In Edit - Preferences, the Settings button is either greyed out or missing completely. So there is no user control to adjust encoding for ogg, mp3, mp4. If you're lucky, the output list will have a couple of standard options - but for most of us, .mp3 output at a preset 32kbps is not much use!

Everyone involved in Ubuntu development is aware of this known bug.This has been going on since 11.10, and is only now being addressed. In the meantime, what about a work-round? What we're looking for are working GEP's and PRS' - Gstreamer Encoder Profiles and PRe-Sets.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Opinion: Eleven Things I Hate About Ubuntu

Ubuntu Linus by CanonicalMuch as I evangelise about Ubuntu, Linux and the Open Source ethos, help out with testing on Ubuntu Quality team from time to time and report bugs whenever I can, a 'bad Ubuntu day' only serves to remind me that as a product, it is simply not ready for mass-market, main-stream adoption.

It needs a baby-sitter with expert knowledge in order to keep it running 24/7 across whatever hardware you want to run. Change something and there is absolutely no guarantee it will keep running. You have to be an enthusiast with time on your hands and a good number of working braincells.

So, with two weeks in which to reflect after the latest 12.10 release, here are the pet hates in no particular order.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

How-to: Watch Digital TV in VLC Player - Ubuntu

Freecom DVB-T digital TV on VLC Media playerNow that we've proved that the Freecom still works, but Xine and Gxine don't, we need a more modern media player on which to watch TV.

Kaffeine is always a top recommendation, but I don't want a stack of KDE software libraries cluttering up the machine.

VLC is my favourite player because it does so much more.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

How-to: When the TV Tuner Firmware is Wrong

At risk of going up a particularly geeky, Open Source software blind alley, I'm going to prove why certain technology isn't exactly consumer-friendly. You may have seen our previous articles on using the Freecom DVB-T (freeview) USB2 stick on Linux. I was going to try some different media players on my newly resurrected TV tuner on Ubuntu 12.10 when something strange happened.

Within 24 hours, I updated Ubuntu and the TV stick stopped working. Not just the Xine and Gxine players, which both crash with segmentation faults; they're old software. Worse than that, the TV tuner itself stopped working. Trying to tune anything from the command line resulted in:

FATAL: failed to open '/dev/dvb/adapter0/frontend0': 2 No such file or directory

The device is still listed when you run lsusb to probe for hardware. The firmware wasn't creating a hardware interface to the operating system, hence no adapter folder for the device. So the firmware version which had worked, must be incompatible, my dear Watson.

Monday, 5 November 2012

How-to: Fix VirtualBox 4.2 Proxy Error

There is a slight kink in VirtualBox 4.2.2, namely in the default settings. Initially I got this error in alarming red text:

Invalid settings detected : the value of the Host field on the Proxy page is not complete.
Which is quite right; I don't use a proxy, and I suspect 95%-plus of VirtualBox users don't either.

Going to File, Preferences, I find the Enable proxy box isn't ticked. I'm not using it. So the proxy address and port number is empty. Why that is now a mandatory error condition I have no idea.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Full Circle Side-Pod Episode 12: We're Like the Sugarbabes

Full Circle Podcast LogoFull Circle Side-Pod Episode Twelve: We're Like the Sugarbabes is available from the main site.

In this episode, the old crew re-unite: Wilkins, Catling and Hewitt! With our most packed set of show notes ever!  

File Sizes: OGG 29.6Mb
mp3 21.0Mb

Running Time: 1 hour 35 second

Feeds for both MP3 and OGG:
RSS feed MP3RSS feed, MP3:
RSS feed OGG audio   file
RSS feed, OGG:

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Review: Lenovo G580 Laptop

Lenovo G580 Core i5 laptopThe old Dell 6400 finally showed its age when I tried to play a full HD, .mp4 movie; 29 minutes in, my five year old workhorse gave up. Time for a desktop replacement. I ruled out another Dell, Toshiba and Compaq/HP. Having been recommended Lenovo as solidly built workhorse machines earlier in the year I decided to go that route.

With a fixed budget in place, I scoured for a decent Quad-core i5 with 6GB or more ram, and as much disk as I could get - 750GB being the best.

I settled on the Lenovo G580 on a promotional offer - £429 with delivery and yes, even with a discount, UK prices are still eye-watering. The "Essentials" G-series has no frills, is available in a wide range of specifications with USB 3.0 and Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. Prices vary wildly. Be extremely careful to ensure you compare like with like.