Older blog entries for tonyyarusso (starting at number 43)

So by now everybody has heard of the countdown script for the Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” release. However, when I added it to my blog, I realized that the brown that gathers so much attention generally didn’t look that great next to the color I’m using at the moment for my blog theme. Matt and Gerry at Canonical kinda told me that people are free to modify and redistribute it as they see fit, so I can make it fit in better now. I also want to thank ader10 from #ubuntu-offtopic who helped with with Gimp tricks. You’ll see the result at the top of the sidebar on the right-hand side of my blog.

So, how can you do it yourself you ask? Well, first you’ll need to grab a copy of the images for modification. You can use the following script to do so; you will just need to create or download it to the directory you want the images to end up in, make it executable, and run it.

<span style="color: #808080; font-style: italic;">#!/bin/sh</span>
 
<span style="color: #007800;">max=</span><span style="color: #000000;">22</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">day=</span><span style="color: #007800;">$max</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">end=</span><span style="color: #000000;">0</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">jsfile=</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"http://www.ubuntu.com/files/countdown/dist/display.js"</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">default=</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"http://www.ubuntu.com/files/countdown/dist/710countdown_default.png"</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">base=</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"http://www.ubuntu.com/files/countdown/dist/"</span>
 
<span style="color: #000000; font-weight: bold;">while</span> <span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">[</span> <span style="color: #ff0000;">"$day"</span> -ge <span style="color: #ff0000;">"$end"</span> <span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">]</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-weight: bold;">do</span>
	<span style="color: #007800;">url=</span><span style="color: #007800;">$base</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"710countdown_"</span><span style="color: #007800;">$day</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"days.png"</span>
	<span style="color: #c20cb9; font-weight: bold;">wget</span> -q -nc <span style="color: #007800;">$url</span>
	<span style="color: #007800;">day=</span>$<span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">(</span><span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">(</span><span style="color: #007800;">$day</span> - <span style="color: #000000;">1</span><span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">)</span><span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">)</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-weight: bold;">done</span>
 
<span style="color: #c20cb9; font-weight: bold;">wget</span> -q -nc <span style="color: #007800;">$default</span>
<span style="color: #c20cb9; font-weight: bold;">wget</span> -q -nc <span style="color: #007800;">$jsfile</span>
 
<span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">exit</span> <span style="color: #000000;">0</span>

Once you have the image, you’ll probably want to change the background color primarily - at least that’s all I did. Here’s the process for doing that in Gimp:

  1. Open one of the the numbered images in Gimp.
  2. Convert the image to RGB, via Image > Mode > RGB in the menu.
  3. Select the “Magic Wand” tool from the utilities panel (”Select continuous regions”, also activated by “Z”), and ensure that it’s using the default settings of Mode:Replace, Antialiasing:Checked, Feather edges:Unchecked, Select transparent areas:Checked, Sample merged:Unchecked, Threshold:15.0.
  4. Click somewhere near the top of the image within the brown background region.
  5. Shift click on another part of the brown right next to the selected area from the previous step, but not yet included.
  6. Repeat step 5 until all of the background is selected. Note that you will need to do the areas inside of closed letters such as “b”, “o”, and “0″ separately.
  7. Open the “Change Foreground Colour” dialogue, and choose the color you would like to base your new gradient off of. It may be useful to skim through your stylesheet for the hexadecimal value if you’re just trying to match a colour you’ve already deployed on your web site. When you have one you like selected, hit OK.
  8. Open the “Layers” dialogue, via Dialogues > Layers.
  9. Create a new layer from your selection (it’s the icon of a page with a yellow star). Give it some sensible name of your choice. Leave the other options as they are and click OK.
  10. With your new layer still selected in the layers dialogue, press Ctrl-, (control and comma at the same time). This will fill in your color.
  11. In the layers dialogue, select “Colour” from the Mode dropdown menu (rather than the default, “Normal”).
  12. Save your image.
  13. Leaving that image and the layers dialogue open, open another one of the numbered images.
  14. Repeat step 2.
  15. Mouse over the first (completed) image to draw focus to its layers.
  16. Drag your created layer (look for the name you gave it in the list) onto the new image and drop. It should fill in the colour and gradient style for you.
  17. Save and close the second image.
  18. Repeat steps 13-17 for the remainder of the numbered images.
  19. Open the default (unnumbered) image.
  20. Repeat steps 2-12 on this one.
  21. Close all of your images and exit Gimp.
  22. Open display.js
  23. Change the base variable to match where you will be placing these items on your web site directory structure.
  24. If you changed the names of the images, edit the src line appropriately as well.
  25. Save this file and close.
  26. Upload all of the images (*.png) and the modified display.js file to your web server in the path you specified for ‘base’.
  27. Add the code snippet like you see on http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/countdown to the appropriate part of your web page code, but replacing “http://www.ubuntu.com/files/countdown/dist/” with the path you used for ‘base’ in both instances.

You’re all set! You could of course change other colours and things as well, but I’m guessing just the background will be the most common customization.

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So, I had been thinking perhaps we’d see it sometime this winter. Maybe next spring/summer at the latest. What I hadn’t expected was dollar parity already in September! What am I talking about? Well, turns out the Canadian Dollar surged past the US greenback in value earlier this morning. It settled down slightly after that, but is still trading at 0.999102 CDN per USD at the time of this writing.

Possibly most entertainingly, Bush commented in a news conference that he thought the US economy was still strong and healthy. Sometimes I wonder which leader in the “war on terror” spends more time in caves.

On to the links:
$1 Cdn = $1 US (CBC)
Canadian dollar hits parity with greenback (CTV)
Canadian Dollar Trades Equal to U.S for First Time Since 1976 (Bloomberg)

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Today we set a time for our very first formal Minnesota LoCo meeting. It will be held this Thursday, 20 September 2007, at 16:00-18:00 CDT (4-6 PM locally, in the UCT-5 timezone). The meeting will be held online, in the #ubuntu-minnesota IRC channel on the Freenode network. The agenda for topics of discussion is at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MinnesotaTeam/MeetingAgenda, and should be considered a work in progress which Minnesotans are free to edit up until the meeting if they have any points they would like to add. Note that this is a public meeting, so anybody is welcome to attend and participate (ie, you don’t need to be an official member on Launchpad, etc.). Logs will be made available afterwards as well.

For those who are not yet familiar with IRC, take a look at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/InternetRelayChat for a start, or ask for help on the mailing list.

Hope to see all Ubuntu-using and curious Minnesotans there!

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I discovered a few hours ago that my key passphrase wasn’t working. At first I thought I had simply forgotten it, but remembered that I type it in every time I send an e-mail (Enigmail in TB), so that is highly unlikely. However, I did have a system freeze earlier, and had to do a hard shutdown (blame ATI, enough said). My current guess is that in that process my secret key became corrupted. What I would like to know is, does anybody know a way to restore my ~/.gnupg directory to its status as of yesterday? My /home directory is on an ext3 filesystem on LVM, btw, so there should be a journal that can be played with, but I’m not sure how to manually mess with that. I saw some computer forensics tools in the repos, but have no idea how to use them. I have already tried doing a fsck, both the one automatically done on the boot after failure and a second with ’sudo touch /forcefsck’ and a proper reboot.

If all else fails, I did create a .asc file prior, which I believe is what I need to revoke it if necessary. I would of course like to avoid this if at all possible, as I did have a small handful of full-trust signatures from a keysigning meetup that would likely be hard to redo. I’m on a bit of a schedule too, since I found out it wasn’t working when I tried to build a package - rotten luck that.

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My laptop came with a built-in winmodem, and since at the time that I first installed Ubuntu I only had access to a dial-up internet connection, I of course needed that. However, it didn’t work out of the box (this was Hoary). After quite a bit of very confused e-mailing, Google, and such (I didn’t even know what a winmodem was/meant), I found a solution that worked from Linuxant. (I’d like to thank the Linmodems mailing list for this.) Anyways, getting to the point, I just noticed a small snippet in Issue 51 of the UWN indicating that there was a driver package available from Dell now as well. For more information on that, check out this post on the Direct2Dell blog. I’m not 100% sure, but it appears that this is the same driver, except now available for free. Note that it is still not free, in terms that it is not open-source, but at least now perhaps there is an option that doesn’t cost $20. I have not yet tested this package on my system, but plan to.

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For a long time I have been frustrated by the fact that Supybot’s RSS plugin only supported RSS feeds, and not ATOM as well, as some of my friends’ blogs only offer the ATOM format. I did some Googling, and discovered a workaround involving substituting feedparser for rssparser in the plugin.py. However, I now have a new error, which there is a fair bit of mention about on the internet, but little in the way of solutions. It seems to affect anything python-related (MoinMoin, Supybot, Plone, etc.), and involves the translation of ASCII and UTF-8 character encodings. As I’m not very knowledgeable in this area, I would very much appreciated whatever information and/or fixes you can offer. Here’s my log output:

INFO 2007-08-20T01:52:19 rss planetubuntu called by
“tonyyarusso!n=anthony@ubuntu/member/tonyyarusso”.
ERROR 2007-08-20T01:52:19 Uncaught exception in [’rss’, ‘planetubuntu’].
Traceback (most recent call last):
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/callbacks.py”, line 1170, in _callCommand
self.callCommand(command, irc, msg, *args, **kwargs)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/utils/python.py”, line 62, in g
f(self, *args, **kwargs)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/callbacks.py”, line 1156, in callCommand
method(irc, msg, *args, **kwargs)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/plugins/RSS/plugin.py”, line 294, in f
self.rss(irc, msg, args)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/commands.py”, line 906, in newf
f(self, irc, msg, args, *state.args, **state.kwargs)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/plugins/RSS/plugin.py”, line 383, in rss
headlines = self.buildHeadlines(headlines, channel, ’showLinks’)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/plugins/RSS/plugin.py”, line 142, in buildHeadlines
newheadlines.append(format(’%s %u’, *headline))
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/utils/str.py”, line 430, in format
return _formatRe.sub(sub, s)
UnicodeDecodeError: ‘ascii’ codec can’t decode byte 0xe2 in position 21: ordinal not in range(128)
ERROR 2007-08-20T01:52:19 Exception id: 0xe9e69

(Note: this is using http://planet.ubuntu.com/rss20.xml as the feed URL, and worked with the old rssparser. A number of other feeds are affected as well, including the individual site feeds of Hobbsee, ryanakca, johnc4510, jnthnjng, and LaserJock.)

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I was dismayed to see on Digg today an article entitled US Transportation Secretary Doesn’t Consider Bikes a Form of Transportation. Surely this isn’t quite true, I thought. Well, upon further investigation, it seems I was almost hopefully right. Turns out she merely doesn’t think the surfaces used by bikes are remotely related to transportation…somehow I’m not feeling much better. In the context of the article, and for anyone who’s been living in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) area recently, with portions of highways 36, 694, 35E, 94, and 35W out of commission this year, you’d think that the government would be doing everything they can to recognize and encourage the use of bicycles as an alternative to cars. It would seem that at least Mary Peters has yet to figure this out - sad for any official, a truly mind-boggling incompetency for a Secretary of Transportation. I guess all that can be said here is, “that explains a lot”.

The guilty interview (PBS)
The Digg article again
My comment on such

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17 Aug 2007 (updated 30 Aug 2007 at 16:05 UTC) »

So I just decided to see what the Ubuntu home page was up to lately, and noticed a link for a Store that I hadn’t seen before - the apparently new Canonical Store. Sounds pretty exciting. I know there’s been some stuff available before from CafePress, but I’ve heard mixed reviews of the quality from there, so would be more comfortable getting something direct from the Canonical site (please don’t disappoint - if any admin types are reading, I really hope the shirts are such are sturdy and nice).

Items I wouldn’t mind having: (I’m usually a small-to-medium, depending on the manufacturer - medium is probably safest) ;)

The ability to buy CDs and DVDs in bulk is also very cool, and been talked about far longer, but somewhat quietly sometimes, so I’ll plug it again for anyone who wasn’t aware.

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Following the Dugg Fridge article about US LoCo Teams, a number of places have started to receive attention. Among those getting started is Minnesota, which is now established:
On Launchpad
On the Wiki
On IRC at #ubuntu-minnesota on Freenode
and has applied for a mailing list, to be available shortly at https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-us-mn.

So, if you use Ubuntu in Minnesota, apply to the Launchpad team and add yourself to the wiki page so we know who else is around!

In addition, other teams who got started and added some yellow to the map include:
North Carolina
Rhode Island
Michigan
Oregon
Texas
Wisconsin
New Hampshire
Mississippi
Louisiana

States rumored to be about to join that list are:
Vermont
West Virginia
Idaho
with others soon to follow hopefully!

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So I had a thought recently, which seems like it may actually be useful. You may have heard the stories about ISPs inserting ads into every page their users load, as a (quite despicable) way of making extra revenue. (If you haven’t, read about it here and here.) While that has no place whatsoever, the same process could potentially be used for more productive things, such as Amber Alerts. Those are already covered by radio, television, and highway signs, but imagine the response level of the Digg and Slashdot effect for that sort of thing. Simply put, the internet has a lot of users. Of course, it would be silly to get an alert for a missing child in Florida if you’re in Alaska or something, so the system would need to be configured to specify it’s behavior based on IP geolocation, which should be trivial to implement. So, if someone went missing in Ames, Iowa, and the timing of reports filed with police indicated that it could have happened as much as 8 hours ago, then every internet user within an 8-hour driving radius could immediately begin seeing an Amber Alert notice on pages they load. The affected IP range would increase as the time “in the wild” increased. Additionally, to minimize the annoyance factor, the alert could load only on the first couple of pages for any given computer, then go away, reappear once after one hour, three hours, six hours, and twelve hours briefly as a reminder, becoming less frequent. The same sort of thing could be used for high-profile criminals who have gotten loose.

Brilliant or useless/impractical - what do you think?

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