Sloooooooow printing

...with our office HP LaserJet 1300n, especially for anything containing images, until I changed the printer model in YaST->Hardware to LaserJet 1300n hpijs with the corresponding .ppd file. See the OpenPrinting database for the differences between the postscript and hpijs drivers.


Empowering a Powerbook

To make it kind of a challenge, the Powerbook Aluminum 12'' was addled by a small HD, a slightly bent case, little RAM and a coffee-soaked combo drive.
Good news: most standard notebook HDs, RAM and slot-in optical drives (remove the slot facing on the replacement drive) fit, and Linux ought to run OK an a New World ppc.
Specs (L*W*H, in mm): optical drive 129*128*12.7, HD 100*70*9.5 ATA, RAM: SO-DIMM PC333 (2700) DDR, only one slot.
Bad news: you have to disembowel your powerbook completely to get at the optical drive, including removing the mainboard, detaching the heat sink and managing over 50 ridiculously small screws. Hard disk replacement happens on the way. Check the ifixit guide.
Additional things to have at the ready: ground bracelet (exposed mainboard and processor, remember), tweezers for lost screws etc, thermal conductivity paste, a soldering iron (for accidentally ripped cable connectors). A big hammer. Patience. Bravery. Faith.
Actually, the ifixit guide comments the necessary removal of a few keyboard keys with: This is scary - take a deep breath before continuing. A few pages later, you get such laconic gems as Support the heat sink with both hands, and carefully lift it out of the computer, or Lift the logic board partly up from the optical side - without any further encouragement. God, I need a shrink now.
Tisiphone (Samsung R55 Cavan) got a hard drive upgrade parallelly: a matter of two screws and one cable…
After that, everything went OK: We left 50 GB for Linux in the Apple partitioner. By patiently pressing "C" during bootup, the Powerbook was persuaded to boot both a Kubuntu hardy ppc CD and a SuSE 11.1 ppc DVD, though we haven't got around to installing anything yet.


iPod Classic: not again the composer tag!

GTKpod screenshot
I use to organise my largely classical mp3 library via Amarok: stored in a composer->album directory tree, sorted by composer tag, album art selected by the Amarok Cover Manager. Some folders contain old .m3u playlists.
Results of dumping the whole shebang onto my iPod via gtkpod:


Apple is not that nice.

Apple sells slick high-quality hardware and software combining usability and eye candy admirably. It's hip. It's not Microsoft.
Thus, we are tempted to confuse the cuddly guys from Cupertino with some kind of universal messianic benefactors - and forget they can be pretty evil and patronising, too.
  • Macbooks run only at half-speed when you remove the battery "This prevents the computer from shutting down if it demands more power than the A/C adaptor alone can provide." Besides, you might accidentally detach the maglock. I still fail to see the method behind this madness. How about a maglock arresting switch :-p And I haven't seen a laptop yet exceed its A/C adaptor - Macbooks are not exactly high-performance machines anyway.
  • Expensive spare parts - and pretty gruesome to take apart.
  • What on earth does one need a power cord for? OK, we all know the iPod just has the USB connector cable. That the Universal Dock, which is specified as a standalone charging station, comes without any cable, is a tad brazen.
  • Speaking of the dock: it ships with the Apple remote sporting a "Menu" button which has no effect on an iPod, because it's for FrontRow. Maybe the remote hardware guys could talk to the people developing the iPod firmware about that - they happen to work just around the corner. OK, right: Menu without clickwheel is a bit pointless - but couldn't the button do something?
  • Persistently ignoring the USB standard. Hang 'em high - with their own connector cables, preferrably.
  • iTunes. Said enough.
  • The new Shuffle and the headphone issue. BoingBoing Gadgets seriously suspects Apple of scheming for world domination. Well, good luck against Google.
I suppose my next computer will still not be an Apple machine - although I'm severely tempted each time I see a Macbook Pro.

Frescobaldi on SuSE 10.3/KDE 4.2

I love the music typesetting language lilypond, but I was missing a powerful editor for it - never got the hang of denemo (might be because I can't play midi keyboards). Last week I found out about frescobaldi, which blew me away completely.


Webcam adventures

Buy and install:
A few years ago, video skyping under linux would have been completely unthinkable. Just one more reason for me to finally get a webcam and test skype-2.0's video capabilities. Model: Logitech Quickcam for Notebooks Deluxe, which is reported to work more or less with both the gspca and the uvcvideo driver - and not too expensive, either.
I installed uvcvideo-kmp-default and libv4l in YaST, rebooted, camera was not found (kopete, skype), so I replaced uvcvideo with the gspcav-kmp-default driver. That worked.
Skype video support worked out-of-the-box on all systems, but the preview window is too small for self-testing. There are several webcam viewers for linux, but those were mostly incredibly old, didn't work with the camera or refused to install altogether (spent a wonderful hour resolving ruby dependencies with webKam).
kdetv displayed something (see image) on Archimedes (SuSE 10.3) after enabling the video4linux plugin (Settings->configure kdetv…->Video). Setting the Grab & Display Method to X11 (with shared memory) under Configure selected plugin… definitely improved the colour space.
On Tisiphone (11.1), I had no luck with kdetv at all, however, the Kopete viewer worked faultlessly. Oh, well…


Installing cb2Bib on openSuSE

Today I discovered cb2Bib, a very useful tool for extracting BibTeX data from clipboard contents or PDF papers. It doesn't work perfectly (get real, how could it), but might save a lot of tedious copy and paste if combined with JabRef.
Only hitch during installation: Only src RPM available, rpmbuild complained about not finding qmake/qt4, which is understandable, as I hadn't installed libqt4-devel, which provides it. Afterwards everything worked flawlessly.
# rpmbuild --rebuild cb2bib-1.2.0-1.src.rpm
# rpm -Uhv /usr/src/packages/RPMS/x86_64/cb2bib-1.2.0-1.x86_64.rpm
The resulting GUI is mainly self-explanatory point-and-click.


KDE on Windows

Starting with KDE 4, the KDE Team has ported a sizeable part of KDE to Windows.
  • Stuff working out-of-the box: Kate, KDEEdu, Kile starts. Windows/KDE relies on Qt4, so you actually get a preview of the upcoming Kile 2.1/KDE4. Compiling works (...). Some bug: Exiting and restarting Kile fails if you don't kill all KDE processes via the Task Manager inbetween.
  • needs some work: Amarok crashes at startup, caused by the Librivox plugin. Solution: edit ~/.kde/share/config/amarokrc.
    I had some trouble finding my .kde directory on Vista: C:\Users\myusername\AppData\Roaming\.kde
A very impressive feat by the KDE team. Made me realise again how much I hate Vista.