Mar 25

When you click on a link in your browser, it will either open in a new tab in your browser or else it will open in the same tab depending how that link has been set up on the web page. Personally, I prefer if a link opens in a new tab. That way I can close that tab when I’ve finished reading there and return to the previous page which is still an open tab in my browser, rather than having to click the back button and reload the page which will take more time.

Turns out you can force a link to open in a new tab by pressing the Control key as you click on the link with your mouse. Or if you have Firefox, just click the mouse scroll button on the link. That’s it. Hope you find that quick tip useful. If you come across a link opening in the same tab give this tip a try and see what you think.

Here’s a couple of sites with great lists of keyboard shortcuts:

Web Browser Keystrokes That Are Good To Know

It Takes only 7 SHORTCUTS to Become a Lightning Fast User


Mar 24

Recycling truck in Canberra

Image via Wikipedia

I occasionally wonder how this current period will be viewed historically by people in say a couple of hundred years time. So how have we made a name for ourselves? Well, I guess we are the pioneers of the digital age and the information explosion and I’ve been really lucky to see that in my lifetime. But on the downside, I think we’ll be viewed as very wasteful of our resources and an era who probably didn’t act quickly enough to counter the effects of global warming, which will probably be impacting on those people in 200 years time, if not before.

Anyway, doing my own small bit for the environment, we were recently issued with recycling bins by the local council for kerbside collection with a booklet advising us what they could recycle. That’s all fine – paper, magazines, cardboard, cans – until I came to plastic. Apparently, we can’t recycle all plastic, just certain types – PETE or PET and HDPE. Unfortunately, there’s quite a lot we just can’t recycle yet.

recycling symbols

(chart from www.recycle-more.co.uk)

The real problem is that the symbols for the different types of plastic are often imprinted poorly and illegibly on what are very often transparent bottles and trays. There doesn’t seem to be any regulation regarding the size of symbols or where they should be located, whether on the paper label or on the container itself which is a problem I’m sure for people with poor eyesight and for those of us in a hurry. It can take time to find the symbol and a magnifying glass to read it! I’ve tried to show them on the collage below and have red-ringed the hard-to-spot symbols.

plastic collage

(photo collage made online at photovisi)

My point is that, to make it easier for everyone to recycle old plastic waste, please, please manufacturers, make the symbols large enough so that we can read them without needing a magnifying glass and put them in a consistent location so we can quickly find them and decide if the plastic waste can be recycled. And what about Braille information for the blind? If we want to improve our legacy to the generations that come after us, we all have to do our bit so please try and make it easier for us all to recycle our waste.

Have you any thoughts on recycling symbols and recycling in general? How is your local council doing on recycling? Drop a comment below.


Mar 16

It’s becoming increasing difficult to cut through the noise in Twitter to get to the information you want – particularly as you may typically be following  hundreds or thousands of people now.

I came across a great video tutorial last week by Jesse Newhart and featured on TwiTip on how to use TweetDeck more effectively to keep track of the people you are following. It’s worth having a look at.

But it struck me that one of the simple search principles shown there could equally be applied to the twittersphere as a whole not just who you are following, particularly if you’re looking for interesting links on a particular subject. This in turn may help you to find new people to follow.

So just choose the keywords you want to track and combine these with the keyword http. For example, to see what is currently being posted with the keyword ubuntu, just open a Twitter search client. You could use Twitter search but I’ve chosen TweetGrid as you can simultaneously track a number of search terms with this. Enter your search query like this:

ubuntu AND http

This will bring up all the tweets with the word ubuntu and which also contain a link to a website. In the example, I’ve also had it track tweets with the keyword wordpress and which have web links:

TweetGrid2

I know it’s really simple but I hope you might find it useful if you’ve been wondering how to search for content or new people to follow on Twitter.

If you have any other quick tips on searching the twittersphere, please drop a comment and if you’ve found this tip useful, please Stumble, Dig, tweet or save on Delicious. The links are below. Thanks.

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Mar 9

Acer Aspire One

I bought an Acer Aspire One ZG5 netbook a few weeks ago. This model has the 120GB hard disk, 1GB RAM and runs Linpus Lite Linux, a Fedora-based Linux distro. Reading around various forums, it seemed a number of people were having problems installing software on their Aspire One running Linpus so I thought I’d install a Ubuntu distro as I already have an old desktop PC happily running Ubuntu 8.10. I had seen a blog post by Knightwise some weeks ago on his favourable experiences installing Easy Peasy Linux on his Acer Aspire One so I thought I’d have a go with this too. Easy Peasy is the new name for the UbuntuEEE distribution. It’s a Ubuntu Network Remix (UNR) of the standard Ubuntu release to enable it to work better on devices with small screens such as netbooks. It installs Firefox with Flash and Java, Skype, Google Picasa, Songbird etc. out of the box and Knightwise had no problems with the installation on his netbook and seemed quite pleased with it.

easy peasy

I’m going to go through the steps I took to install Easy Peasy, aimed at the new Linux user, like myself. I believe quite a few inexperienced users will be ‘sold’ this netbook/Linpus combination because of its price (somewhat cheaper that the Windows XP version) and the straightforward user interface and then may well run into problems when they try to install software. So here goes. It might look a bit daunting but it’s quite straightforward when you work through it.

Before you start, you will need two USB sticks or thumb drives and access to a desktop PC with a DVD optical drive because the Acer Aspire One doesn’t come with an optical drive. The USB sticks must be configured to use the FAT32 file system. If necessary, to change the file system of the USB drive, you just need to right-click on the drive icon in the My Computer screen and select Format, then choose FAT32 for the file system. Of course, reformatting your drive means nuking any data on it, so save whatever you need first. You’ll need a 2GB USB drive for the Linpus recovery drive and another 2GB drive for the Easy Peasy install. Once you are happy with the new Easy Peasy install, you can overwrite the USB stick with the Linpus install. You can always recreate it again from the DVD if required.

So first, we have to create the Linpus recovery USB stick should we run into problems with the new Easy Peasy install. You may have already done this when you bought your Aspire One, if so skip to the next section.

Creating the Linpus recovery USB drive

Your Acer Aspire One should have come with a Recovery DVD. Put this in your PC’s DVD drive and plug in the first USB stick. Reboot the PC. Your PC should boot from the DVD (if it doesn’t, you’ll have to change the boot order in the BIOS so that the PC boots from the DVD first). To enter the BIOS, you’ll need to press the Delete or F1 key (depending on your PC) while the PC is booting.

Once the PC has booted off the Linpus recovery DVD, choose the option Create USB recovery drive. Follow the on-screen prompts to select the USB drive. Takes about 3 minutes to create the Linpus recovery USB drive. Then remove the DVD and press Exit. Leave the USB drive plugged in. The PC then reboots back into Windows.

Check the boot order on your Aspire One

To check the boot order so you can boot your netbook off this USB stick, plug the Linpus recovery USB drive into one of the USB ports on your Aspire One. As the netbook is booting, press the F2 key for the BIOS setup. You’ll see the prompt on screen as the netbook boots. Go to the Boot menu, select your USB drive and use the F5 key to move it up to position 1. Press F12 to save this set-up and exit.

The netbook will now boot off the USB drive and you can reinstall Linpus Linux onto the netbook hard drive from here should anything go wrong. If your USB drive is unplugged, your system will boot off the hard drive.

Creating the Easy Peasy USB drive

Now we’re ready to create our Easy Peasy install on the second USB drive but first we have to download the Easy Peasy iso file. Boot your Aspire One with no USB drive attached, open your browser and go to the Easy Peasy website. Download the iso file to your Downloads folder. It’s about 860MB so may take a couple of hours to download depending on the speed of your internet connection.

To install a bootable copy of this iso file on your USB stick you will need a bootloader program. I’ve used UNetbootin and you can download it here. Make sure to download the Linux version. Again, download to your Downloads folder. You’ll need to make UNetbootin executable. In the File Manager, highlight the file and go to Properties, Permissions tab and check the box against Allow file to be run as a program.

Now, when I double clicked UNetbootin, I got the message: UNetbootin must be run as root. Use:

sudo /mnt/home/Downloads/Unetbootin-linux-319

But when I tried this command in the Terminal, I was advised I needed to install the programs mtools and p7zip.

To add these programs, I first enabled right click desktop menus by clicking on the desktop, selecting the Behavior tab and under menus, checked Show desktop menus on right click. Then right clicking on the desktop, I chose System and then Add/remove programs. This runs pirut which needs your admin password. I searched for the software I needed to install: mtools and installed it, then p7zip and installed it. I found I also had to install p7zip plugins before UNetbootin would run.

So back to the terminal window and type:

sudo /mnt/home/Downloads/Unetbootin-linux-319

Unetbootin

Click Disk Image, keep ISO in the drop down box and browse to the Easy Peasy iso file in the Downloads folder. Select your USB drive from the drop down box then click OK. Easy Peasy Linux will now be installed on your USB drive. Once installed, close all windows and restart the netbook with the Easy Peasy USB drive in place.

The netbook will boot off the USB drive and you can now install Easy Peasy Linux. On the partitioning screen I chose Guided – Use entire disk as I didn’t want to retain the old Linpus install on a partition.

easy peasy screenshot 1

I’ve been running Easy Peasy for a couple of days now with no problems. Connected to my wireless network without problems and straightaway I could share files with my Windows PC over the wireless network. YouTube videos play without problems and Skype is loaded ready to go.

And that’s about it. Hope this guide is clear enough to get you through the install. If you found problems following it, let me know and I’ll update it. Although I’ve used an Acer Aspire One, the procedure should work to install this Ubuntu distro on any netbook. If you found it useful, please Digg, Stumble, tweet or bookmark on Delicious using the links below.

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