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SSH Menu – Save and Open SSH Connections from the Panel August 17, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, gnome, packages, ubuntu.

I was looking for a replacement for SecureCRT in Ubuntu. Something that would let me save all my SSH connections and make it possible to open a connection with the least effort.

As is often the case, I found something better than SecureCRT – a panel applet for GNOME that gives me a drop-down list of SSH connections. SSHMenu is cool, way too cool.
SSH Menu

Typing Break and WorkRave: Keep RSI at Bay June 4, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, gnome, ubuntu.

I woke up on Thursday with a left arm more painful than a 100 episodes of Wheel of Fortune. I had almost pulled an all-nighter the night before to finish reviewing/correcting a paper. I went to the doctor, fearing the worst. My left wrist was aching, and no change of position or angle would suppress the hurt.

The doctor said I had tenosynovitis – which is a member of the much talked-about Repetitive Strain Injuries. He advised me against using the laptop on my lap – this keep my hands all hunched up together. He also advised a couple of days of rest. So needless to say, I haven’t typed much over the weekend, though I wanted to write a short guide on implementing a Getting Things Done workflow in Linux. I had set things up for GTD the past week, and the search for tools that work on Linux was frustrating, to say the least. I finally had to narrow it down to an online tool that seems very capable of the task. I have been itching to write the article and yet have resisted.

Monday brought me back to work, and I thought I should look at options to reduce the risk of recurrence of the pain. For two reasons – the pain was real bad, and the doctor said that repeated occurrences of RSI would lead to the much-dreaded Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and perhaps permanent numbness of the digits in my hands.

GNOME is very advanced when it comes to providing methods to save your hands.

300+ Easily Installed Free Fonts for Ubuntu May 21, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, gnome, looks and feel, packages, ubuntu.

Ubuntu offers a lot of fonts, in addition to the defaults installed, and the MicroSoft msttcorefonts package, in its repositories. All these fonts mentioned here are provided as packages, which can easily installed using command line tools like apt-get or using Synaptic. These fonts will come in handy for designing flyers, or for designing headers and graphics for the web using the Gimp. Also, some of these fonts are pretty commonly used to render pages, like Lucida.

I will save the packages with the biggest collection of fonts for the end here. Since I have included screenshots of most of the fonts, and this article is sorta long, please read on by clicking the “More” link below.


Preserve Threaded View in Thunderbird May 20, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, Friends Etc., snippets.

Via Chris Ilias’ Blog comes this gem of a tip.

If you use Mozilla Thunderbird, and love the threaded view, but hate losing the threaded view whenever you click on “Sender” or “Date” to sort the messages, then this is the tip for you. This helps you keep the threaded view regardless of how you sort the messages.

Go to Tools–>Options–>Advanced–>General, and select the Config Editor option.

Thunderbird Threaded View

In the Config Editor, search for “mailnews.thread_pane_column_unthreads” by typing it in at the top. When you see the preference, change the value from “True” to “False” by double-clicking on it, or by right clicking and changing the value. This will help you keep the threaded view stuck across the different sorting methods.

I find the threaded view useful when browsing the list of bug-related emails, for one. Of course, I use the Claws GTK email client much more than I do Thunderbird, but I have Thunderbird setup on an infrequently used office computer, and I thought many of you might be using Thunderbird anyways.

^txt2regex$: Regular Expression Tool To Create Regex from Description April 21, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, commands, packages, ubuntu.

^txt2regex$ is a lifesaver. It helps you create regular expression strings in a step by step process, by describing what your regex pattern should do in English (or your own language). The tool can create RegExes for use with 23 different programs, including sed, vim, mysql, and procmail. When you start the program, it will ask you a series of questions like “1. do you want to start matching at the beginning of lines? or 2. search anywhere?” and “this is followed by…. 1. A specific character…” etc… download it and run it and you will see.

Anyone who has worked with regular expressions for searching and optionally replacing stuff in files knows what a godsend then can be if you get the regex down pat – but they would also know what a time sink they can be if you can’t whip up exactly what you want. In the past, when faced with this kind of a situation, I would read man pages, books, experiment, fail and then, finally, succeed after a good half hour or so. txt2regex is a tool that eliminates the confusion. Totally.

You can install txt2regex on Ubuntu by doing a:
$sudo apt-get install txt2regex

Among its features include the ability to print a list of characteristics of the regular expression syntax for various tools, a history tool which keeps track of you past regexes, and some pre-built regexes that are often used – for dates, times and numbers.

For example,
$txt2regex --all --make number3
will create the regex for all supported tools. The regex will match a number of the form “34,412,069.90”

Here’s the output:

carthik@milan:~$ txt2regex --all --make number3

### number LEVEL 3: level 2 plus optional commas, like: 34,412,069.90

 RegEx awk       : [+-]?[0-9]!!(,[0-9]!!)*(\.[0-9]!!)?
 RegEx ed        : [+-]\?[0-9]\{1,3\}\(,[0-9]\{3\}\)*\(\.[0-9]\{2\}\)\?
 RegEx egrep     : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx emacs     : [+-]?[0-9]!!\(,[0-9]!!\)*\(\.[0-9]!!\)?
 RegEx expect    : [+-]?[0-9]!!(,[0-9]!!)*(\.[0-9]!!)?
 RegEx find      : [+-]?[0-9]!!\(,[0-9]!!\)*\(\.[0-9]!!\)?
 RegEx gawk      : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx grep      : [+-]\?[0-9]\{1,3\}\(,[0-9]\{3\}\)*\(\.[0-9]\{2\}\)\?
 RegEx javascript: [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx lex       : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx lisp      : [+-]?[0-9]!!\\(,[0-9]!!\\)*\\(\\.[0-9]!!\\)?
 RegEx mawk      : [+-]?[0-9]!!(,[0-9]!!)*(\.[0-9]!!)?
 RegEx mysql     : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx ooo       : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx perl      : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx php       : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx postgres  : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx procmail  : [+-]?[0-9]!!(,[0-9]!!)*(\.[0-9]!!)?
 RegEx python    : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx sed       : [+-]\?[0-9]\{1,3\}\(,[0-9]\{3\}\)*\(\.[0-9]\{2\}\)\?
 RegEx tcl       : [+-]?[0-9]!!(,[0-9]!!)*(\.[0-9]!!)?
 RegEx vbscript  : [+-]?[0-9]{1,3}(,[0-9]{3})*(\.[0-9]{2})?
 RegEx vi        : [+-]\{0,1\}[0-9]\{1,3\}\(,[0-9]\{3\}\)*\(\.[0-9]\{2\}\)\{0,1\}
 RegEx vim       : [+-]\=[0-9]\{1,3}\(,[0-9]\{3}\)*\(\.[0-9]\{2}\)\=

$txt2regex --help
prints out a short help message


man txt2regex
gives some more info.

What would be handy is if txt2regex had an extension that allowed one to deconstruct a regex – give it a regex and it tells you what it does in plain English. Also, I cannot seem to create regexes for the mod_rewrite module in apache. I suspect that since mod_rewrite supports POSIX regexes, I could just run with one or the other of the regexes created by txt2regex. Since I haven’t tried it, I can’t say which one of the 23, just yet.

Convert/Import from PDF and Keep the Formatting April 10, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, guides, microsoft, office, ubuntu.

I have often wanted to convert a PDF file to a MS Word (.doc) file or an openoffice.org file. Usually I just copy the text from the PDF file and paste it in the new word document. Soon, this gets pretty tiring.

Recently I found a way to convert a pdf file to other formats, including .doc and .odt which preserves the formatting of the text pretty well. It is not perfect preserved but it is way better than having no formatting at all.

The secret goes by the name KWord. KWord is a KDE application that has a pdf “import” feature which lets you import either entire pdf documents or just a few pages from a pdf document while preserving the formatting! Of course – this only works for pdf documents which are not scanned images of pages. I tried it out on files created using \LaTeX, MS Word and OpenOffice. The font sizes in the imported document are larger than they need to be, but at least the headings are heading, the normal text is normal text, and the bullets are bullets!


Sylpheed-Claws is Claws Mail March 3, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, evolution, ubuntu.

Sylpheed-Claws, the email client for Linux has a new name – Claws Mail.

Though this is not exactly news (the earliest “official” announcement I can find is from December 04, 2006), I just came across the news today.

I have been a sylpheed-claws Claws Mail user ever since I tried it for the first time. There is no email client that fit my needs the way Claws did. Claws’ beauty lies in its speed — of start up, synchornizing and in general, of all operations. The sensibility of the software surprised me, since it provided those features that I wanted most and felt the lack of earlier. You can “harvest” email addresses from a folder full of emails, and so many other small things that I forget. Never, ever has it crashed on me, which is more than I can say of other clients.

In fact, many times over the last few months, I have thought of writing down what exactly makes Claws superior, in my opinion. I held back since it could be some work to make notes, now that I am used to Claws. I still use Thunderbird on a Windows XP machine occasionally. It has been ages since I used Evolution, which I found heavy, slow and sometimes unresponsive. If you guys are interested, I can start keeping notes and publish an article introducing claws(though it really needs no introduction. 🙂 )

Deb a Day: Qalculate December 20, 2006

Posted by Carthik in applications, Ubuntu Sites.

Deb-a-Day is a website that seeks to introduce its reader to one new debian package(.deb) a day. There was a deb-a-day website earlier at livejournal which has been dormant since November 2004. The current deb-a-day is a reincarnation of the old, at a new url.

You can read Lucas’ posts describing the resurrection – post 1, post 2.

The most recent package covered in Deb-a-day is Qalculate. Seems like a very interesting little app. I wonder why someone doesn’t build in all of its functionality in the deskbar applet. That ould be way too cool!

I look forward to deb-a-day posts, and thought that most of you might want to add it to your feedreaders/bookmarks too. Oh, and yes, you can contribute to deb-a-day, too.

Sync Evolution Calendar with Google Calendar December 18, 2006

Posted by Carthik in applications, calendar, evolution, google, guides, office.

Not so much a detailed guide as a couple of links to help me out in the future:

How to sync your google calendar with Evolution
The access is “read-only” which means you cannot add events in Evolution and have them show up in your google calendar, but your events in google calendar will be available in Evolution for you to read.

To circumvent the problem of the sync described above not being a “true” two-way sync, one can use scheduleworld as a go-between. This way, Evolution and Google Calendar both sync to scheduleworld, and everything is hunky-dory.

A guide to sync Google calendar using scheduleworld is available, but the guide (unfortunately) deals with MS Outlook primarily.

Many of the concepts from the guide can be usd with Evolution. The missing link is the SyncEvolution plugin for Evolution. There is a thread at Ubuntu Forums that explains how to get going with SyncEvolution. So put it all together, and you can sync your Evolution Calendar with your Google Calendar.

Maybe we should all try and add a few million more users to Ubuntu, and then perhaps Google and everyone else will make it easier for us folks to sync and inter-operate seamlessly with their services. Googlers use Ubuntu – I wonder why a few of them won’t spend their quota of free/creative weekly hours to make things easier for us folks 🙂

Cut, Copy, Paste: Clipboard Management December 12, 2006

Posted by Carthik in applications, gnome.

For me, one of the most irritating gaps in the GNOME desktop is the absence of a clipboard manager. A clipboard manager is a tool that keeps track of all the text you have copied, or, if you prefer, highlighted with your mouse – so when its time to paste you can paste not only what you copied last, but also the n things that you copied before then. Also, in GNOME, if you copy some text from, say, a Firefox window, and then close the Firefox window, you will be surprised to find that there is no copied text when you try to paste what you had copied.

I use Klipper from KDE to manage my clipboard. Its always on my panel. Though I don’t mind using KDE tools, I’d love a GNOME (GTK) tool that does the same. Looks like my wish will soon be fulfilled!

Glipper is clipboard manager for GNOME that will ship in Feisty! It looks pretty much like Klipper, down to the icon and the name, and I hope it does its job well.

Maybe I’ve said this here before but did you know that there is another way to copy and paste in X? You can highlight some text, and then go to another window or application, click where you want to paste the highlighted text, and then middle-click. If your mouse has no middle button, then you can click both the left and right buttons together to create the middle-click. Thats it – your highlighted text is now pasted in the other application. This simple trick evaded me for a long long time, ’cause no one ever pointed it out to me.