27 Nov

Losing KDE menus

I lost bits of KDE, here is the advice I got on Mandriva:

Alt+F2 will(/should) bring up the run window. You could

1. try running “kicker”, see if that brings the menu back so you can do your stuff
2. “konqueror”, then go to ~/.kde/share/config and delete the appropriate configuration files, returning the desktop to its default state when you next login.

Or in the command line you could simply go to that ~/.kde/share/config and delete the files that way. No need to delete everything, just stuff that is likely to affect the main desktop.

kicker worked

19 Nov

Gaming for Linux

There are several sites that cater to playing Windows games under Linux. Some developers have been proactive enough to supply native Linux ports and other folk have supplied installers.

Here are some sites to get you started.

Doom3: http://zerowing.idsoftware.com/linux/doom/
Various Games: http://www.liflg.org (Installers for many popular games)
Many Windows Games under Linux: http://www.transgaming.com ($5.00 US/month)
Many native Linux games: http://www.happypenguin.org and http://www.linuxgames.com

Happy Gaming

18 Nov

Default audio CD players, HDParm in Linux, Sky+, being ill

Ok, this is a nerdy thing, but it’ll help someone one day, and that someone might be me!
Run gnome-volume-properties and you can change it there. You will see that the default behaviour is to run a script, /etc/dynamic/user-scripts/audio_cd.script , so the other thing you can do is edit that script and change the kscd call in it to amarok. Change the KDE line to read:

launch amarok –play –enqueue audiocd:/Wav/

I solved the graphic card problem, well actually a whole load of people far more clever than I did. I downloaded a new x.org but of course by then I had replaced the Radeon with an old GeForce2 card which is of course fine for Linux until I try and run UT2003, but that’ll be some way off.

There is a great article on how to make your hard drive run faster in Linux at Scots Newsletter. Of course it actually is ‘how to make your hard drive as fast as Windows would have made it run but Linux is a lot more safety conscious’.. Anyhow, I did it, it made a big difference, when I have the workflow I will record it here.

Follow the advice here: http://www.linuxdevcenter.com/pub/a/linux/2000/06/29/hdparm.html?page=1

Then when you have a hdparm line that you want to run on a reboot, then the place to put the hdparm line would be at the bottom of the /etc/rc.local file . . . . . . in Mandriva the rc.local is the init script that will run as last in the boot process wink.gif

For your ( or other readers ) info: in other distros the file you can compare to the mandriva rc.local are:
Fedora: /etc/rc.local
Debian: /etc/rc.boot
SUSE: /etc/init.d/boot.local
PCLos: /etc/rc.local

My Sky+ box did one of it’s annual ‘need a hard reset’ things. Probably because it’s in a bloody cupboard and overheats, but anyhow, Ann and I decided to have the hard disk replaced with a 160Gb drive (it was 40Gb) so we have loads of space now. That brought a smile to my face in what has been a truly crap week.

My Leica M4 is back from the shop, so I have to go and pay big lots of money and then I can go street photographing again. I also have a headlight out, my car stereo is broke (and it’s an expensive DAB radio thing), my sunroof is not only dead but shorting out my car electrics (is there a connection here) and I have been as ill as hell for 10 days. I have two pieces of work overdue and a presentation due on Monday. I am so screwed.

Anyway, it’s sunny day, I would love to go out, I have work to do and I’d better do it.

Oh, and I love this picture:

Kudos to Kyle Cassidy

11 Nov

I just upgraded my Linux server to Mandriva 2006 only to discvover that it has a duff ATI Radeon setup and my entire screen was displayed as Cyan Yellow Magenta rather than Red Green Blue. Which basically looked like I’d time travelled to a hippy pschedelic art gallery in San Francisco in 1968.. The proposed solutions were so techie and grungy that even my uber Linux friend Simon balked, so I took out the card, put it in a cupboard, took out an old Geforce 2 card and installed that instead. Mandriva 2006 is nice, it was worth it rather than having to keep manually upgrading Mandrake 10.1 but as usual it does have a few bugs as well as the enormous huge problem with Radeon cards. I guess if you have a Radeon card my advice is to stay away and either stay as you are or try something like Ubuntu, which everyone seems to be into these days.

I have a fever, headcahe, cough, wheezing chest and generally feel crap, so why I am even typing this? Back to bed.

03 Nov


I am starting to get my pace of work at a level that I am happy with. I have to say that working from home is a mixed blessing, and since one of my projects has been postponed in startup I’ve had to refocus on my self driven research. Have been to the Bristol Broadmead Consolidation Centre, which was interesting and maybe could be part of a case study.

On the computing front I have now installed Ubuntu Linux onto my HP PC, only for it to utterly refuse to recognise the soundcard or configure the display at all. I wiped it and installed Mandriva 2006 on it and it works like a dream. Strangely tho’ Mandriva 2006 didn’t like the Dell, no sound card recognition, but a CD based version of Ubuntu was fine. The vagaries of Linux distros. All my friends and colleagues seem disillusioned with Mandriva (Mandrake as was). I am certainly very disappointed with the service and qaulity of the Club website. I paid my money and I get almost no useable support, mind you I joined to be able to download the distros really. But it is dreadful that a commercial company can’t produce a website which volunteers can deliver for free. Anyhow, I think the real reason is the mainstream nature of Mandriva/Mandrake. It’s too smooth, too much like Windows (or rather KDE is), and presents fewer challenges for tinkering. Distros like Ubuntu are sexier, new modern grafix, present some challenge. I am myself also tempted, hence I’ll see how it lasts on the Dell, but only as a toy system in dual boot, since the Dell box will stay my Windows workhorse. I do think, however, that when Matt leaves home I will go completely Linux. I just don’t need much that is Windows anymore, and I do have VMWare on the shelf which I really must install..

Games are always the issue with Linux. There have been few ports and few of those have coped with a few distro changes or upgrades. I have Civ: Call to Power for Linux but can I get it to run? Can I heck as like? There are, however, a few jewels in the crown. Cute penguin games like Frozen Bubble and the silly but fun TuxRacer… in fact for Breakout clones, vertical scrollers and the like you can’t go wrong. I have also seen most idsoftware games running with their Unix engines. My current favourite is the charming simple and yet addictive Wesnoth which is available for Linux and Windows and Mac and a helluva lot of systems. It is charming, tactical, well written and free, what more can you want? A turn based fantasy wargame it reminds me of the hex based classics of the past but with better graphics. It play smooth, it has great tutorials and it never becomes too complex or obscure to put you off, whilst still offering an endless stream of pre-written campaigns, online games and the ability to create your own. I recommend a download and a trial to anyone who likes computer games, rpgs or wargames. Anyone want to play it head to head with me over the Internet just email me!

Ah well, back to work.

26 Oct

Sheffield Coil Products to Close

Ah well, the coil products business in Sheffield is to close. Ann has worked there for 20 years, it was the place I got my first job and worked 12-13 years for the company myself. It was a bit galling to tune into the BBC News and see a report on how progressive and wonderful Finnish society is when it’s the Finns who are closing down Sheffield, but hey ho. We have many many friends who work or worked there, and now it’s going to end, well not the friendships! http://tinyurl.com/bb48v Sad, and I guess a new beginning.

23 Oct

Ah well, not blogged for a goodly while. Been travelling again this week. Had two great meetings, one with EPSRC at Swindon and one with the Exel crew at the Broadmead Consolidation Centre. I ran some Star Wars roleplaying for my son Matt and his friend Louis on Monday and Friday and it was fun to be playing a d6 game again. All in all not a bad week.

30 Sep

Kaposvár: Hungary: 2005.

From the 28th to 30th September 2005 I attended a workshop on urban freight solutions in Kaposvár in Hungary. This is my work and I shall not discuss it here, rather my impressions of the town and the opportunities for seeing new places and meeting new people. This is the second time I have been to Hungary, the first time was a couple of years ago and was based wholly in Budapest. My wife and son came out after the workshop then and we had a local guide give us a tour of the city. My impressions were of a ‘little brother’ to Vienna, which I know a little. I was also dismayed by the generally rude attitude of the Budapest people to me as a visitor, although our guide was charming and my Hugarian colleagues are great, the tourist trade in Budapest seems to be surly and greedy. It may well be that this is very untypical, as I have said those Hungarians I work with are great, so maybe it is to do with tourism and strangers, but I won’t be going back to Budapest again in a hurry. Kaposvár was quite the opposite. A small to medium city near the very long thin Lake Balaton, the place burns with intense pride. The town has been beautifully laid out around a welcoming and attractive Kossuth square (webcam). The people were very friendly, the hotel staff tried hard and the whole visit exuded small town hospitality and charm. My pictures are at: http://flickr.com/photos/tzunder/sets/1116997/