SLAYRadio Widget

I decided to make a SLAYRadio widget on my site a while back, because well, the station is awesome and more people should listen! Anyway, I finally got around to making it. I was originally going to go with a custom WordPress widget, but I couldn’t quite put 2 and 2 together to make it work, so I got lazy and used a PHP plugin and just made some PHP code instead. Simples!

So, to make the widget:
1. Install a plug-in that lets you use PHP code in a custom text widget. I used: PHP Text Widget
2. Copy and paste the code I came up with for the actual stuffs: Code can be had here!
There are a couple “YOUR_PATH_HERE”‘s to change to where the images are stored on your server (Don’t hot link me bro!).
3. Download the 2 images I totally stole from slayradio.org (Sorry Slaygon!) and bozretro.com (Sorry Boz!). I will probably use different ones soon since they don’t fit this theme well. Anyway:
SLAYRadio Logo
Live Animation
Stick the images up on the server, fix the path to them in the code, put the code in the text widget, and enjoy!

Linux Mint 15: Software Manager (mintinstall) Hangs

I have run across an issue where Software Manager hangs at the spash screen after asking for a password. This seems to only happen if it had been previously closed abnormally. The fix that seems to work for me was:

Open a terminal and run:

ps -A

There should be a line that lists “splash.py” like below:

3323 ? 00:00:10 splash.py

The first number is the process ID (PID). Use the “kill” command to end it:

sudo kill 3323

This should close the spash screen. Now we will need to clean up the program a little bit. Run the following commands:

sudo rm -vf /var/lib/apt/lists/*
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get clean

I ran the clean option just as an opportunity to clean up the cache while I was at it, it is purely optional. Now, re-run it as you normally would through the menu and it should start up. There still will be a little bit of a pause at the splash screen.

Linux Mint 15: Installing Virtual Box 4.2

This is pretty similar to my other post, Linux Mint 14: Installing Virtual Box 4.2, but with a slightly updated version of Virtual Box. It also stands to reason that this process should also work in Mint 14 if you haven’t upgraded.

1. First head to virtualbox.org Downloads and download the latest copy. Make sure you choose “Ubuntu 13.04 (“Raring Ringtail”)”. Download the i386 version if you are not running the x64 version of Linux (which unless you have 8 year old hardware I would strongly recommend converting to 64bit to utilize the full capabilities of your machine, especially when it comes to running virtual machines). Otherwise get the AMD64 version (yes, even if you have an Intel machine like I do). Then go back one page to the main downloads and find the line that says “VirtualBox 4.2.14 Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack” and click the “All supported platforms” link.

2. I personally like to install software in terminal so I can see what is going on if there are any issues. Open a terminal window and change directories to where you downloaded both files. Usually in your Downloads directory. cd ~/Downloads will get you there quickly.

3. It seems Linux Mint 15 comes with DKMS already installed so this can be skipped, otherwise you should run:

sudo apt-get install dkms

4. Run the following to install it:

sudo dpkg -i virtualbox-4.2_4.2.14-86644~Ubuntu~raring_amd64.deb

Don’t forget, the TAB key auto-completes the file name!

Note: I had previously updated my kernel and headers, so if you get errors during the install and it complains about kernel modules, run sudo apt-get dist-upgrade to get you to the latest and greatest kernel and kernel headers. Reboot and try the install again.

5. VirtualBox needs your user added to the virtualbox group that the installer created for certain functions like USB to work correctly. Use the following command:

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers usernamehere

6. Log out of all sessions and log back in for the the group addition to take effect on your user.

7. There should be a new icon in the menu under System Tools if you are running Cinnamon (I don’t know about the other flavors). Open it from there and it should start. Go to File, Preferences, Extensions. Click the “Add Package” button and browse to where the second file was saved.
That’s it! Assuming there were no errors you should be ready for virtual machine heaven.

Linux Mint 15: Stability Issues After NVIDIA Drivers

I finally got around to re-setting up my Linux install, and after fixing my wonky BIOS settings it was running perfectly fine, until I installed the propietary NVIDIA driver. For some reason the startup would crash every other time. I did finally find a related forum posting that had a similar issue. Thankfully the fix is rather simple (and it might have fixed my network problem I posted about earlier. Apparently the compination of Mint 15 and propietary drivers doesn’t agree because the kernel is slightly outdated. So the fix is to run this:

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Then reboot to use the new kernel. Since I have done this, everything has been running much better.

Linux Mint 15: Slow/Broken Internet Problems

Update: Since posting this I have re-installed Mint from a fresh download as I was having other weird issues (not able to shut down correctly, wouldn’t boot correctly every other time) and all of the problems seem to have completely disappeared. If slow/broken networking is one of your symptoms, your system might just be corrupt in some way or another. The corruption most likely came from a bad install media copy as in my case. I recommend downloading a fresh copy without any interruptions.

I just upgraded to Linux Mint 15 and everything seem to be ok, except I had a weird issue where web pages weren’t loading all of the way, and taking forever to do it. I finally ran across the answer. Thankfully it’s an easy fix, but a weird problem for sure.

Edit /etc/sysctl.conf:

vim /etc/sysctl.conf

Type in in the bottom of the file:

net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6 = 1
net.ipv6.conf.default.disable_ipv6 = 1
net.ipv6.conf.lo.disable_ipv6 = 1

Save and exit. Then run:

sysctl -p

Browsing should immediately pick back up. If not, try rebooting.

Linux Mint/Ubuntu: Apache2 Fully Qualified Name Error

Chances are that if you set up an Apache web server on Mint or Ubuntu, you will see this error:

“Could not reliably determine the server’s fully qualified domain name, using 127.0.1.1 for ServerName”

There are a couple ways to do it, however I think this is the “right” way to do it. The other common way involves creating what is essentially the old configuration file and pointing the new file to it. This one just creates a file in conf.d which apache2 scans the entire contents of anyway upon start up.

Open the new file for editing, we are going to call it name here:

sudo vim /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Type in the following (I chose the end of the file):

ServerName localhost

This is just fine for 99% of home users.

Restart Apache:

sudo service apache2 restart

Presto! No more error.

Quick Amiga Update

Just posted a big update to the Amiga page. Added a couple more key files and the programs that go with them, and some serial numbers that I have come across. Enjoy!

Google Independence: E-Mail

The hardest part, and probably the second biggest mountain to climb. The people who know me best know that I always go straight to the biggest and best instead of messing around with that small stuff.
Gmail is the best free e-mail service out there I think. I can barely think of anything to complain about it even. The only thing is that a good portion of my life is run through e-mail. E-Mail is the best way to get a hold of me, since I seem to move too much, and change phone numbers every week. I have had the same Gmail address since Google was first introduced and was invite only. I was lucky to get an invite and the really nice username I have.

E-Mail, especially of an address as old as mine is hard to change. There are probably 100+ sites with registrations that have that address. Moving all of them over there is not impossible, but improbable. This basically means that this will inherently be a very long and “laborious” (really, how can anything computer be considered labor?) process.

But, it’s not so bad, once you find the replacement service. Unfortunately, this involves money. Yeah, that’s a four letter word, I know, believe me. The thing is, you can’t go to another free service, because you have the exact same issue, your information is sold to advertisers. You mind as well stick with Gmail! This is where it gets important.

Finding the right paid-for service is very important now. Nothing worse than paying a company to sell your information. There’s lots of services out there, but I personally picked fastmail.fm. I know, the name sounds sort of seedy and fly-by-night, but actually once you have experience with their company, I have found them very trustworthy. They take security and privacy very seriously. It also offers a ton of flexibility in what you can do with it, heck, my new email address ends in @mikeslab.net! It’s compatible with every mail client out there, and has a nice, clean, and simple web interface.

Of course, there are more out there. A family member of mine for instance decided to go with reagan.com, This is ok if that’s your thing, making political statements. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend using anything related to politics to take information security and communications with others seriously. I akin this to Jehovah Witnesses banging on my door asking me to convert to their faith. No thanks. I strongly warn against using political e-mail if you are trying to apply for jobs, as employers are there to judge you, and that doesn’t send a good first message. Of course, If there was e-mail like @obama.com, I would be putting the same warnings up, just skip it folks.

Anyway, I have actually had my fastmail.fm account for 3 years now, I’m starting year 2 of paid service. They do offer a very low end free service, but skip it and go to paid. I pay about $40/year for my level of service (the middle tier). 10GB of space (like Gmail), and all the options you could ever want with security and without the ads. That’s $3.33/mo. Not bad I think. There are many other pay-for services out there, but research is key. I found many were in fact seedy and fly-by-night. Make sure you find out if that service is reputable, serious about privacy and security, and is easy to use. In the end, I have been happier, and I think you will be too.

Google Independence

After thinking about this for the better part of 3 years and not actually doing anything about it, I have finally become more and more aware of both how big Google has gotten, and more importantly, how much Google knows about me (and everyone else). Don’t get me wrong, Google’s services are fantastic. I use them extensively, like Gmail, Contacts, RSS reader, etc etc. There’s nothing bad about them except…

Well, they’re free. Great, free is always good right? Well, not without conditions. Free does come with a price. Your information. It’s out there, all of it. Everything you have ever told Google (by putting information in, sending emails, etc) is with Google now, forever. This information is available to the highest advertisement bidder. Same with FaceBook. I deactivated (because you can’t delete) my FaceBook account a while back, but my information is still with them, forever. Thankfully it wasn’t much to begin with. Now, for me this was never a real big deal, except for the contacts that I have listed there. All of my friend’s and family’s information is there for Google now, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, addresses…. Yeah, that’s scary. Thankfully Google doesn’t seem to do anything evil with it (I hope, but it’s impossible to know for sure).

For me Google is like an addiction. My biggest addiction is Dr. Pepper and cheeseburgers (and it shows). This means it’s going to be hard to quit that addiction. Dr. Pepper and cheeseburgers are very delicious, and Google is very good at what they do.

Does this mean give up everything Google forever? Nah. For example, things like Google Maps can still be used, just don’t be logged in. Keeping their information that they have of you at a minimum is ok. They will know where you have been, which may or may not be a good thing, or matter.

The hardest part? Finding suitable replacements. I have to admit, Google has some great software. Gmail is easily the best free e-mail service I have ever used since I started on the internet in the mid 90′s. Before Gmail you had Yahoo! Mail (which is what I had, and is still around of course), and Hotmail. Let’s face it, Hotmail was just terrible. If you don’t care about the information you are sending in e-mail, I still recommend Gmail more than any other service.

Finding replacement services is half the battle, but the other half is me. I have to adjust how I use the internet. I have to stop and think about the implications of what I’m about to do with my information. If it’s a free service, is this information something that I can broadcast to the public? Is this information I want to broadcast to the public? If this a pay service, what’s their policies on security and privacy? One of the best examples I can think of for the last question is the tag line to my domain registrar, gandi.net. The line is “no bullshit”. That’s the best line ever.

While I work on migrating over to alternative services, I will be keeping updated posts on my adventure in my quest for Google Independence. So stay tuned!

Linux Mint 14: Cinnamon Java Issues

According to my bank deposit software, my IcedTea was out of date, and according to some Google searching that is true. It’s actually fairly easy to get the latest Java in Linux now, so IcedTea isn’t needed (for now). Unfortunately it is not in Software Manager by default. This is just a piece from the site I got the instructions from that worked: http://www.webupd8.org/2012/01/install-oracle-java-jdk-7-in-ubuntu-via.html

First, close all of your browsers, and run the following commands in terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer

It’s a fairly large download so it will take some time. See the site linked above for troubleshooting and removal.