Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology


There are times when I feel the need to share some snippets with a longer lifespan than a tweet. This is a place for those and some yet may even turn into longer articles themselves. That already already has happened for one of them so there is something of a digital scrapbook in operation here.

14:28 July 1, 2022

Here are some web apps for video recording for work purposes:



10:30 February 12, 2022

Google Analytics appears to be losing favour in the EU, if Matomo is to be believed. First, Austria outlawed its usage and no France follows suit. This naturally suits Matomo, a self-hosted open-source alternative for collecting website metrics, so it should not be any surprise that they are forthcoming with these details.

16:20 October 9, 2021

Here is the sequence of commands to use when upgrading from OpenMediaVault 4.x to 5.x. All need to be executed with elevated access privileges:

wget -O - | sudo bash


Once your system has restarted and you have logged in again, then you execute these:

apt-get purge openmediavault-omvextrasorg resolvconf

wget -O - | bash

apt-get update

apt-get dist-upgrade

omv-salt deploy run nginx

omv-salt deploy run phpfpm

apt-get install usrmerge

omv-confdbadm migrate conf 5.0.0

15:19 October 9, 2021

Here are some North American online emporia fro buying computers, their components or peripherals:

Best Buy

Micro Center




09:06 September 24, 2021

Here are boilerplate commands for banning and unbanning IP addresses using Fail2ban:

fail2ban-client set <JAIL> banip <IP>
fail2ban-client set <JAIL> unbanip <IP>

13:09 July 27, 2020

If you ever need to install Linux kernel headers on an openSUSE instance in order to install VirtualBox Guest Additions, the following command should be executed in order to do the needful:

sudo zypper in kernel-source

10:37 February 5, 2017

Here is a possible way of resetting the CSS definition for a HTML element, class or ID:

#reset-this-parent {
all: initial;
* {
all: unset;

Browser support for the above may vary though.

10:39 November 23, 2016

After seeing messages like “The authenticity of host ‘hostname’ can’t be established” during ssh connections, I decided to investigate more and came up with the following solution:

sudo chown -v $USER ~/.ssh/known_hosts

My known_hosts file had gained root ownership so i could not write to it so changing the ownership to that of my own user account sorted the problem. An alternative could be to change the group assignment using chgrp and setting permissions using chmod but what I did sufficed for my needs.

06:30 November 23, 2016

When I ran into trouble with accessing my own websites using my broadband, I found that the solution was to change DNS Lookup Service to what Google offers. This was done on the router side and the IP addresses used were and

22:33 June 4, 2016

Here’s a way to convert DNG files to JPEG ones:

find -type f | grep DNG | parallel mogrify -format jpg {}

10:51 September 16, 2015

Here is a way to recursively delete folders and their contents in PowerShell:

Remove-Item .\foldertodelete -Force -Recurse

The Force switch silences any messages that otherwise would appear and the Recurse switch is what gets directories removed.

23:38 August 18, 2015

Thomson Reuters is changing over Open Calais at the end of August.

11:05 July 29, 2015

Motorola now selling phones direct to the public through its own store. Customisation options are available for more expensive models like Moto X and Nexus 6 too.

10:18 April 12, 2015

Devuan (pronounced like dev-one) is a fork of Debian that does not use systemd as Debian, like so many other distros, is doing. Part of the name must come from a collective calling itself Veteran UNIX Admin (VUA). There is no actual release just but one is intended for around the same time as Debian 8.0 gets released and donations are being solicted via the website.

18:51 February 20, 2015

Here is a handy way to get PowerShell to show files larger than a certain size:

get-childitem | where-object {$_.length -gt 10000}
|ft fullname, length -auto

19:40 December 1, 2014

When a VirtualBox upgrade broke the networking on a Windows 8.1, it was time to look at System Restore to see what it would do. It reverted version 4.3.20 to 4.3.15 and the network disconnection stopped. For now, I will remain with that older version after the misstep with the latest one. Sometimes it is best to stick with what is known to work.

20:38 October 30, 2014

With my deciding to try doing about my waistline during the summer (a bike got put on a trainer and around 30 minutes is spent on it most evenings while I also catch up some reading; now, I feel fitter and incursions into the countryside have an added air of confidence about them), an interest in fitness monitors has developed and the Pulse Ox from Withings has taken my eye due its being price of around £100. That makes it less than alternatives and it isn’t the only health gadget that the company does either with there being a blood pressure monitor in its range too. The Pulse Ox monitors such things as heart rate, activity such as walking and running, sleeping and weight too. It should work with your smartphone as well, which is a bonus. It is one of several like it with Samsung and Apple going in for phone apps and Microsoft releasing their Band device as well. This appears to be a growing area where I never expected to see mainstream technology companies having a role for themselves.

12:44 October 30, 2014

Ergotech now have useful desktop stands for tablet computers. There is one for a full size iPad and another for any other type of tablet. A standalone one on wheels also is available though I cannot see myself ever needing such an item.

20:24 October 20, 2014

Here are some more specialist information sources with search facilities:



18:53 October 7, 2014

Here is the test for the “Shellshock” vulnerability in the bash shell:

env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable’ bash -c “echo this is a test”

It should not return the following:

this is a test

This would be acceptable:

bash: warning: x: ignoring function definition attempt
bash: error importing function definition for `x’
this is a test

Also, just having this might be fine too:

this is a test

In case you need it, Redhat has more information on the bug that caused scare stories everywhere. Now, it is over to system administrators everywhere to do their bit now that bash has been patched.

21:36 August 24, 2014

Sometimes you need to create more than one directory level in a hierarchy at once and mkdir has the -p option for this purpose. That gets it to create any missing levels in a folder path and avoids warnings that would be issued otherwise.

16:18 August 21, 2014

Debian 8 is under development and has its first beta ready for download. XFCE is now the default desktop environment though it remains possible to install GNOME and GNOME Shell too. In fact, I successfully have given that a go in a VirtualBox installation and will keeping an eye on development so long as no system meltdowns occur. The version of the X Window system already is incompatible with VirtualBox 4.3.14 so we need to await a new version of the virtualisation software before we get access to advanced functions like full window desktop expansion. What we have at the moment works well enough to keep eye on development so we can wait for that full support.

18:31 August 6, 2014

Perfect Resize from onOne Software caught my eye for scaling up images after seeing it mentioned in a Outdoor Photography review of Avanquest PhotoZoom Professional. With a library of 6″ x 4″ prints, I am limited in how large I can make scanned images without they looking blurred and pixelated so that’s why my interest was aroused. There may be a free moment spent seeing what it might do in that situation yet.

16:24 August 2, 2014

Nvidia has a useful page on the difference between DVI-D and DVI-I. It came in handy when transitioning from VGA to DVI on my home PC’s. That made what appears on my Iiyama screen much sharper and allowed me to rid myself of a suspect VGA cable too.

21:42 June 11, 2014

Here are some interesting articles about EFI and UEFI that I uncovered during a recent episode of setting up dual booting of Windows 8.1 and Linux Mint 17 on a PC with EFI:


UEFI Dual-Boot -- Ubuntu 12.04.3 + Windows 8.1 (One GPT HDD)

Managing EFI Boot Loaders for Linux

The rEFInd Boot Manager: Getting rEFInd

11:53 May 3, 2014

In the U.K., BT allows you to divert your phone calls for a fee and I have made good use of it over the past year. The service is called Call Diversion and Eircom, Ireland’s counterpart to BT, offers Call Forwarding in Éire. Both are handy because redirecting a call to a mobile phone means that you know you are not missing any calls and that there is nothing lurking on an answering machine when you do get to your home or office. Landline telephony may seem less exciting these days than other forms of communication yet it still has its place and I would not get any nasty surprises along the path of life either. If only I had started doing this kind of thing earlier than I did…

20:12 April 4, 2014

Here’s a useful article about the ever useful locate command. Whether it is FreeBSD or Ubuntu that you are running, this article has a use and that especially when the locate database needs updating with the updatedb command.

20:54 March 12, 2014

A recent website redesign was well helped by modern.IE‘s collection of virtual machine appliances containing different versions of Windows and Internet Explorer. Depending on the host operating system that you are using, you have different options. For Linux, it is VirtualBox only while Windows gains VMware and Virtual PC too. It is a matter of just picking out what suits your situation from dropdown lists.

The first one that I picked was Vista with IE 7 and it was an interface that I had not seen for a while. For all the criticism, the operating system did work well though I wonder if it arrived before the computer hardware that it really needed in order to run smoothly. The dark theme cannot have helped its cause either, especially when compared with the much brighter Windows 7 or Windows 8.x. A Windows XP appliance with IE 6 was grabbed before it gets yanked and support for the elderly OS does finish in April. IE 6 probably is on its last legs so I probably can ignore it now but IE 7 might live longer yet. Window 7 appliances with IE 9 and IE 10 also were downloaded and confirmed that all was well in recent versions of IE when it came to the website. The Vista virtual machine allowed me to ensure that all looks acceptable on IE 7 too. The VM’s themselves contain evaluation versions of enterprise variants of Windows and have a limited lifespan though it is little trouble to reimport an appliance again to rest the clock if so required. In most cases, you extend the evaluation periods too through re-arming and there only are so many times that you can do that anyway. With Windows 8.x, it isn’t even a possibility anyway.

22:05 March 9, 2014

Today, I found an interesting article on CSS media queries and put it to some use for a website redesign that has been keeping me busy over the weekend. Twitter’s Bootstrap came in handy for this too. Now, it’s on to ridding the new design of any rough edges that remain in there. That can be an ongoing task and the site is here if you fancy a look to see what my efforts have produced.

16:20 February 26, 2014

Adding a new Zalman ZM450-GS power supply did little to sort the buzzing in my speakers but it has made the PC where it was installed so much quieter; a much larger fan spinning slower helps while still moving the required amount of air. It is 450W too and I am wondering if my main PC would benefit from a similar upgrade. That may be quieter than the other one was but the case was not a deluxe model so the change should do no harm. As for the speakers, moving them was the only way to get rid of the buzzing. Looking back on this now, it seems that one of them was far too close to a PC.

20:33 February 15, 2014

Currently, the spare PC appears to be causing buzzing on my main PC speakers and with my landline telephone when it is placed right under these.  Removing it helps to cut it down but I fancy having a better fix and am wondering if a new power supply might help. Also, I am wondering if there are other sources too. In the meantime, I would like to share an article on the subject that I recently found: Kill Studio Hum and Buzz at the Source.

22:14 February 12, 2014

Applying latest set of updates to LMDE worked to get to Update 8 worked smoothly unlike some predecessors. This brought the latest version of Cinnamon so GNOME now is redundant. It will be interesting to see where things go next.

16:24 February 8, 2014

During the week, I discovered that Twitter is not a benign place to go ruminating. A sharp riposte in an unnecessary tone of voice was enough to bring on a sense of extra caution. Wherever you get humanity, you are likely to encounter and one had a go at me so some thoughts are going to be kept away from there from this point forward. Sometimes, you own website is a far better place to go ponder happenings in the world around you. After all, an ugly comment can be deleted and a rogue IP address blocked if things need to go that far. Of course. more civility would be best. Polite correction is the best course whenever it is warranted since we all are human and no one is beyond making mistakes.

16:15 February 8, 2014

On my outdoors website, I have been using a PHP script from Detect Mobile Browsers but this does not distinguish between Android running on a tablet and that running on a phone. Therefore, I have turned to another source of such scripting and that is working better so far. In fact, this offers more than just PHP but also Python, JavaScript and other scripting languages along with configuration files for web servers too. Apache, Nginx and IIS all have something for them. The logic essentially is based on Perl regular expression matching of user agent strings, not an infallible means but good enough for me along with a smattering of responsive design.

14:30 February 1, 2014

For anyone lost when faced with the changes Microsoft brought in with the launch of Windows 8 and largely retained in Windows 8.1, TechRadar has a useful article: 62 Windows 8 tips, tricks and secrets. What will prove especially interesting is where Microsoft goes next when many of their customers prefer the Windows 7 interface and are sticking with the elderly Windows XP. You only can get so far by telling your customers that they are wrong all of the time and the is competition in the form of Apple’s OS X and Google’s Chrome now.

14:23 February 1, 2014

TechRadar has a round-up of Best free photo editing software: 10 top image editors you should try. Usual options like GIMP, Paint.Net and IrfanView get a mention along with other less well known ones. Interestingly, Google’s Picasa is excluded from the list but that might be because it largely is an image file management tool even if it has some image editing capabilities too.

21:28 January 27, 2014

Late last week, I found out about the image file sorting tool PhotoSift via an article on the software. It looks interesting though I have yet to try it.

17:52 January 27, 2014

Here are some interesting reviews from TechRadar:

Best compact system camera 2014: the top models reviewed

Best tripod and camera support: 13 tested

Best tripod head: 8 reviewed

The tripod heads review really caught my eye more than the others. After all, 2013 was the year that I got a CSC and a Manfrotto tripod has sat reproachingly in the corner far more often than it should.

19:41 January 16, 2014

Today, I spotted two interesting articles to which I want to retain links on here:

Managing the future of complex business and IT landscapes

Send large files to clients with these 8 free tools

Both of these ring bells for me for different reasons. The first is a reminder of a slow and painful system project with which I was involved and of an ineffective IT support service that pained us at the time. The second is ever present in my current job with its need to send data and output files to clients as well as receiving specifications from them.

19:36 January 4, 2014

In recent weeks, I have been having trouble with the onboard network controller on a spare PC that I have at home. It connects to the network fine for a few minutes and then struggles. Making use of an old PCI ethernet card that I had from another machine solved the problem. Does anyone know of issues with ASRock motherboards and onboard network ports at all? It isn’t something that I have seen before and this motherboard never had good networking capability as long as I have had it.

19:33 January 4, 2014

After Christmas, I took delivery of an HTC One mini mobile phone that I got free as part of a contract renewal with O2. It also is known as the M4 and I have been getting used to it since I got it. A lot is familiar and there are some little differences too. Some of these leave me asking why what worked well before got changed to something that is less smooth. Of course, that can be the course of things and it applies to buying a new car as much as getting a phone upgrade. All in all, the phone works well and battery life appears much improved over the HTC Desire S so far, never a bad thing to notice.

19:25 January 4, 2014

This morning, the hosting provider for this website had an outage that lasted over three hours. The provider was Fasthosts and the cause was a power failure. They usually are good so this thankfully does not happen too often. However, we have been getting a lot of stormy weather crossing Britain and Ireland this winter so I suspect that there should be little in the way of surprise when something like this happens. Weather is not due to settle during this month so there may be more power failures, hopefully elsewhere, before things settle down again.

17:20 January 3, 2014

On one WordPress website that I have, the refresh rate for RSS widgets wasn’t the quickest and the remedy was to add this line into the themes functions.php file:

add_filter( ‘wp_feed_cache_transient_lifetime’, create_function(‘$a’, ‘return 600;’) );

It creates a custom function that is attached to the widget and the refresh time is set to 600 seconds or 10 minutes. So far, this seems to be doing what I needed.

17:56 December 19, 2013

What I didn’t realise is that TRIM currently is not enabled in Ubuntu by default. That is set to change in Ubuntu 14.04 and here is some advice on the matter until then.

20:41 December 14, 2013

This weekend, I had visions of needing a new hard drive when all files on one in my main home PC (runs Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 64-bit) went read only. The cure was to re-seat the SATA cables and all was well again. Sometimes, inexpensive remedies are best and I need not to forget this one.

20:54 October 29, 2013

Here are two interesting articles that I spotted: the first is on new features in GNOME 3.10  and the second about getting DRM-protected Flash media playing on Ubuntu 13.10. For now, I am sticking with Ubuntu GNOME 13.04 in spite of a pop-up dialogue encouraging an upgrade to 13.10; the potential for even a little disruption is something that I am delaying for now.

20:34 October 16, 2013

While editing a file in Nano on an virtual Arch Linux web server that I have, I noticed that a file had DOS newline characters instead of UNIX ones so conversion using the dos2unix command was in order. There is more on this to be found on nixCraft and there are other options such as sed described in there too.

21:51 September 7, 2013

Following a look at Webmin, I have to say that it seems a worthy tool for remote management of servers. My trial so far has been on my Ubuntu virtual web server and it works on port 10000 without interfering with the operation of the actual web server. Being able to run system updates and deletion of MySQL databases without resorting to the command will seem a bonus for some. There’s more to it than these though and I have seen the possibility of managing virtual servers located within a real being mooted. It was an issue of Linux User & Developer than inspired me so my Linux magazine reading is seeing its uses.

20:30 September 4, 2013

Here are some interesting articles for anyone thinking about software development and its realities:

The care and feeding of software engineers (or, why engineers are grumpy)

Being an introvert as I am, this article really is something to which I can relate. Whenever I cannot get the space for undisturbed work, it takes from how I enjoy my job.

How designers and engineers can play nice (and still run with scissors)

We all have to work cross-functionally so you cannot have it all your own way…

Six reasons why the NHS National Programme for IT failed

Having been involved in system design, development and implementation myself, I have something to share that fits into the same topic area. Too many cooks can spoil a broth.

Queensland Government Bans IBM from IT Contracts

My past experiences of IBM have not been good and it wasn’t just where I worked either so this is not exactly a surprise. Service organisations need to ensure that they are sufficient responsive and flexible with empowered and enthusiastic staff who do the needful.

23:09 August 11, 2013

Vagrant and Puppet look like very interesting tools for working with virtual machines. They work with VirtualBox or VMware’s Fusion and Workstation so there’s a choice of virtualisation tool.

20:52 April 18, 2013

Crash reports have been appearing after logging into an Ubuntu session for /usr/share/hplip/ and it repeating has been reinstalling HPLIP software for my HP LaserJet 1018 printer too. Leaving the printer off until I need it would be one solution and saves some electricity too but it is best to try to sort an issue when you keep getting it. The first step was to download the latest HP software and install it. That wasn’t a complete solution so I altered the latest send_message function call in /usr/share/hplip/ from the following:

send_message( device_uri, printer_name, EVENT_DIAGNOSE_PRINTQUEUE, username, 0,”)


send_message( device_uri, printer_name, EVENT_DIAGNOSE_PRINTQUEUE, ”, 0,”)

So far that alteration appears to have addressed the problem but I’ll be keeping an eye on things anyway. If you’re wondering, the inspiration came from a bug discussion on Launchpad and it was the queue clearing section of the Python script that I went and edited.

20:40 April 16, 2013

Recently, I have been having bother with WordPress Jetpack comment form submission. This was caused by the Bad Behaviour plugin and allowing cross site form submission sorted the problem. The setting to change is in Settings > Bad Behaviour on the Dashboard.

17:31 March 16, 2013

Here’s a quick way to make Faenza and Faience icons available to Ubuntu and maybe Linux Mint too:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tiheum/equinox
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install faenza-icon-theme faience-*

20:53 February 19, 2013

During a look at a Fedora 18 Live DVD, I found a user name was needed to get to the desktop and root did the trick for me. What I didn’t notice was an install to hard drive option for the GNOME variant that I tried. Maybe it was hidden on the desktop and not displayed. If so, it looks like an oversight.

16:02 February 14, 2013

Here’s the way to find the version of PROC CDISC that came with the version of SAS that you are using:

proc cdisc version;

14:00 February 14, 2013

Here’s robustness principal for software design that otherwise is known as Postel’s Law after TCP pioneer Jon Postel:

Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others

08:10 February 14, 2013

Here’s a command for removal of orphaned packages in Arch Linux and its derivatives (CinnArch and ArchBang come to mind but there may be others):

sudo pacman -Rns $(pacman -Qqtd)

15:11 January 26, 2013

Cinnarch looks very interesting. It’s based on Arch Linux so it’s a rolling distro but has Cinnamon as its desktop environment. Currently, it’s still in beta but I am tempted to give it a go in a virtual machine.

20:55 December 15, 2012

Having decided that my ever sluggish system needed a fresh operating system installation, I set to trying to get on Linux Mint 14. However, not remembering that the disk and not the partition needs specifying for GRUB installation cost me some time. Later, adding on GNOME Shell resulted in a system conflict between MDM and GDM so I now am running Ubuntu GNOME Remix instead. All feels fresher so far though a spot bother was had with the lock screen that caused me to turn off the feature. VMware Player installed without any of the trickery needed to get in its forbear and runs without a hitch so far too. Other bits and pieces need instating yet but the basis of a refreshed computing platform is in place now.

20:56 November 19, 2012

A look at Linux Mint 14 64-bit release candidate in a VirtualBox virtual machine confronted me with irritating mouse pointer behaviour. The pointer constantly darts to the left when you need it not to do that and it seriously affects usability. The final version will be awaited to see if there is an improvement because it’s not very usable as things stand. GNOME Shell can be installed in working order after a spot of fiddling. Installing the software from the Software Store doesn’t add gnome-session as well so the command line alternative remains best:

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell && sudo apt-get install gnome-session

These two really need packaging together as dependencies. Cinnamon is looking as nice as ever and in need of a plug-in that makes virtual desktops behave as they do in GNOME, even if that’s a minority interest now.

12:07 September 30, 2012

Here are commands for adding Cinnamon to Ubuntu:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cinnamon

14:39 September 29, 2012

Had a look at GNOME 3.6 in Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 Beta 1 release. Not all extensions are supported yet but GNOME 3.6 only launched officially yesterday anyway. Will take a little while for those extension developers to catch up with it. No hurry in moving from GNOME 3.4 until they do so.

20:24 September 22, 2012

Picked up Netgear ethernet switcher at PC World today. Working without a hitch so far. Some network reorganisation may follow suit.

20:14 September 22, 2012

Initially, I needed to use the command “modprobe vboxdrv” to get VirtualBox going on Sabayon 10. However, there seems to be a better remedy: adding the line ‘modules=”vboxdrv vboxnetflt vboxnetadp”‘ (removing the outer single quotes, by the way) to /etc/conf.d/modules and restarting the system. That seems to have done the trick though I wonder it wasn’t added for me automatically.

13:08 September 22, 2012

Until recently, I hadn’t realised that most if not all SSD’s come in 2.5″ form factor. An extra bracket is needed for installing into 3.5″ drive bays. While tempting, this remains a nice to have upgrade for me.

20:02 September 21, 2012

Found out why my proftpd daemon wasn’t working on Linux Mint. Needed to set it as standalone and not inetd operation. It’s the ServerType setting in /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf.

21:53 September 18, 2012

Given the site a new appearance. The cause was getting microblogging going on this page. Clashes with zeeDisplay theme and Twitter Tools made for replacements that now power what you see here. Jetpack plugin added too. All looking good to my eyes so far. More tinkering may happen yet.

21:36 September 15, 2012

Here are a few places where you will find Linux version information stored: /etc/issue, /etc/, /etc/lsb-release.

17:30 September 15, 2012

Desktop swapping can be done in Ubuntu and here’s the command for Xubuntu:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

17:22 September 15, 2012

Here’s a set of commands that I once used to get GNOME Shell going for a Sabayon 9 installation in a VirtualBox virtual machine:

equo install --ask linux-sources
cd /run/media/john/VBOXADDITIONS_4.1.16_78094
mv /usr/libexec/gnome-session-check-accelerated-helper /usr/libexec/gnome-session-check-accelerated-helper.bak
ln -s /bin/true /usr/libexec/gnome-session-check-accelerated-helper

Hope they have a use though VirtualBox has gone through a few versions since I discovered that these had the desired effect though the login screen behaved a little oddly. Otherwise, everything worked as it should.

14:16 September 15, 2012

Pondering purchase of NAS. QNAP TS-412 looking promising but need to think about my home networking set up first. Might need an ethernet switch but plan to look into it more first, especially with uplink capability needed.

14:11 September 15, 2012

Appearance of Sabayon 10 caused a bit of disturbance to my Sabayon installation that needed installation from a DVD to resolve. Tried GRUB repairs before the non-loading of an Nvidia kernel module caused bother. Went for old fashioned approach for sake of saving a little troubleshooting time.

13:52 September 15, 2012

This has been added using the Live Blogging plugin and it’s good for pages too, unlike Automattic’s own Liveblog plugin. Maybe they’ll add that sort of functionality in time.

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