Quick and (relatively) Easy Favourites

I’ve been meaning to get around to centralising my bookmarks for a while now. I’ve found myself constantly cursing the fact that I work in so many different places and on so many different computers, that bookmarking websites is a pointless exercise.

The only time it becomes useful is when I’m working on my main Linux workstation at home.

So, to that end I have finally downloaded an open-source app that I was eyeing-up, called bbps bookmark manager. The thing I like the most about it is the idea of tagging your favourite sites, rather than putting them into folders which current browsers seem to have historically inherited.

The project itself seems dead which is sad, but there are plenty of things to be getting on with. I think one of my first jobs is to secure the content for my own site, and fix escaping issues.

Converting FLVs to playable video

Downloading FLV videos can be a nuisance, as there are few regular players that they work on.

In Linux, there are various ways to convert FLV files to other formats. I’m hoping to build up a collection of commands and comment on the quality of the result.

Hopefully others will find it useful.


<code>ffmpeg -i video.flv -ab 56 -ar 22050 -b 500 -s 320x240 test.mpg</code>
<code>ffmpeg -i video.flv -ab 128 -ar 22050 song.mp3</code>

If you know any more drop me a line…

Extract Windows resources with icotool

I was playing around with Wine the other day. It’s pretty cool that I can run Dreamweaver and Fireworks on Ubuntu with very few issues now.

One of the problems I did encounter was that the setup program for Dreamweaver wouldn’t run under wine, and the program files had to be copied across to my Linux system from an existing Windows installation.

Once done, it ran with no problems – but I now had to create the icon in the Applications menu.

Creating the menu entry was straightforward enough – I just copied the Fireworks link and edited it to work with Dreamweaver. The problem was that I really wanted the icon to sit nicely.

After scouring a few forums, it turned out that Ubuntu already had a set of programs available in the repositories called icoutils.

After working out what binaries were installed:

<code>dpkg -L icoutils</code>

I played around with some of the tools. I can’t remember exactly what I did, so I’ll just say play with the tools. You can extract ICOs easily from DLLs and executables, and save them as ICO files or other formats.

Once done, I had a pretty Dreamweaver icon that looked better than the Fireworks one that Wine extracted!

What’s even funnier is that to get a tool in Windows to do this kind of thing inevitably lead to using shareware.

Secure Remote Access with Ubuntu

I needed to set up some remote access today, and although it was straightforward, it was difficult finding the information I needed.

Set up the server (that’s your computer)

  1. Click System > Preferences > Remote Desktop
  2. Tick the boxes as shown, and set up a password. If you don’t want to force a popup window when a connection is made, don’t tick the Ask for your confirmation box
    Remote Desktop Preferences
  3. Click close
  4. Install the ssh server:
    <code>sudo apt-get install ssh</code>

    This will allow access to your computer to be encrypted and secure (vnc is relatively insecure otherwise)

If you’re going to connect over the internet, you need to set up port 22 to forward to your computer. It’s a little convoluted, so I wont go into that here. If you’re just doing it on a home network, then it is not a problem.

Right, now you’re ready to connect. On another Linux PC (guest):

  1. In the terminal, run
    <code>ssh -L 5900:localhost:5900 user@yourpc</code>
  2. Now run (not in the terminal)
    <code>vncviewer localhost:0</code>

user@youpc is a valid computer user and hostname or IP address (ie. john@homepc.com).

What this does is create an ssh tunnel from one computer to another, and tells the guest computer to use this connection when using VNC (which is why we use localhost, rather than the computer’s IP address or name).

It works a charm, and is much more secure than opening the ports to the outside world.

Don’t hide my announcements!

I’ve been playing with the different views in Sharepoint, trying to sort out the Intranet homepage over at St. Peter’s.

The problem they have is that they don’t want announcements to appear on the main screen, but they also don’t want to have to click through to read the announcements.

I set up a new view using just the headers and the creation date, which seemed to be fine until Jason posted an announcement to say that the front page had been changed. Humorously, this didn’t actually appear.

After emailing me, I discovered that if I set the view to not show posts that have expired, I automatically exclude posts with no expiry date. Somewhat of a nuisance as the there is nothing in sharepoint that allows you to check for null dates.

A quick Google later, and I found This Much I Know, which pointed me in the direction of creating a calculated column and then putting some code to place a new date in, if the expiry is blank.

=OR([Expires] = "", [Expires] >= [Today])

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, I found where you create those columns and set it up. I reset the view on the front page, and voila! It worked.