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28 October 2014

Ubuntu + Gnome 3.14 = lots of crashes?

During an upgrade the other day, my Gnome Classic login started failing. The normal Gnome login worked, but that looks too much like Unity.  After trying to fix it for awhile, I just went ahead and upgraded Gnome from 3.12 to 3.14.

That fixed the login problem, but random apps would crash when I right-clicked or used the menu bar or hotkeys.  Turns out this is being caused by overlay-scrollbar.  If this is happening to you, try:

sudo apt-get purge overlay-scrollbar
That worked for me. Everything is working great now.

18 April 2014

error: symbol 'grub_term_highlight_color' not found

I really need to consolidate my blogs. I wasn't sure whether to put this over at the server blog or the android blog or.... well, anyway, this one is generic enough for anything...

I had upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu 14.04 awhile ago -- but today my desktop had the auto-prompt asking me if I was ready, so I took the plunge.

Upon reboot, I got the dreaded grub recover error: symbol 'grub_term_highlight_color' not found.  This seems to be more common with people who dual boot, with grub auto-installing to the wrong drive.

Looking online, everyone said the easiest fix was to boot to a live DVD and reinstall grub.  Sure, no problem, I still have the bootable laptop.  Except it appears that it can't burn since upgrading to 14.04... odd...

well, to save everyone all the steps I took to troubleshoot this....

1. Use the BIOS to boot to the drive that had grub successfully installed
2. sudo dpkg-reconfigure grub-pc
select both drives (not any subpartitions)
3. reboot =)

Now if I can only figure out why my BDXL burner can no longer write discs...
Update: seems to be a Brasero problem. This works instead:
sudo apt-get install xfburn

27 December 2012

Kenmore/Sears: The Con

You are all used to stores like Sears trying to upsell you extended warranties and such.  When I bought my Kenmore Elite in April of last year, I decided to just stick with the manufacturer warranty; because I figured that if it broke down that quick, I probably didn't want to continue using that brand/model.

Less than 18 months later, the dishwasher quit working.  No matter what we did, it said that the door was open.  Take out all dishes, take out the racks, close and... no, still thinks it is open.  I look online and see that this appears to be a common problem.  Everyone said that the repair was hundreds of dollars.

I had a few days off, so I decided to call technical support.  Maybe there is something they can suggest I try.  That's when the run around began.  While trying to find a number to call them at, I notice that others are saying that all Sears would do is send a technician out, who then would tell them it would be $300-600 in repairs.  I call, wait on hold.  The message says that I can talk to someone immediately at  Well, hey, maybe they'd have an idea what to try.  I hang up and check out the site.  The chat page redirects and hmm -- no way to chat with them... 

I call back and wait on hold again.  They answer, take my information, and transfer me.  I wait on hold.  They answer, take my information, and tell me that they can't look up the machine because the warranty expired a couple months ago.  Evidently it was a 1-year manufacture warranty, and it worked for about 4 months more after that date. The technician tells me that the best he could do is send a technician out.  Sounds familiar, eh?  How much, I ask, will that cost?  He said that if I reject the repair estimate, then only $80.  I complain, and he sends me to the "Kenmore Technical Specialist" phone number.  That number answered by saying that it was only for Water Softeners and Water Purification products.  Hit 2 for technical support, and I am back on hold for the first Sears number.

So, let me get this straight.  When you sell a product, you try to upsell a warranty that extends beyond the manufacture (subsidiary of you) warranty.  When the warranty expires, the electronics and LCD report a failure in just a couple months.  When the customer tries to fix it, it's going to cost another $80 to get a $600 quote?

I claim scam.

I think instead of repairing this Kenmore dishwasher, it's time to replace it with a different non-Sears-owned brand.

21 May 2012

CrossOver and inability to resize

At work I am running an Ubuntu laptop.  I'm required to run Microsoft Office (as opposed to say, LibreOffice) and Outlook.  While I could manage the Wine config myself, I have found CrossOver to do a pretty good job.

One of the things that always annoyed me was that many times, with Microsoft Office apps, I would no longer be able to adjust the size/position. I had fixed it in the past by going into regedit.  This solution seems much easier:

From here:
  1. Open Crossover Manage Bottles.
  2. Select your Office bottle from the list on the left.
  3. Click the Control Panels tab. Open Wine Config.
  4. Under the Graphics tab uncheck Control & Decorate checkboxes.

18 April 2012

Numpad stopped working in Ubuntu

While the home machine is now running LMDE, I am still using Ubuntu at work. Recently, the numpad completely stopped working.  No numbers, no ctrl+ for zooming, etc.

I looked around and people were saying that I needed to disable MouseKeys, but apparently that tab no longer exists.

The way to fix it is [Shift][NumLock]

27 January 2012

Google Body Browser?

So I noticed today that the Google Body Browser has moved to When I went to run it, however, it didn't work.  It reported that my system didn't support WebGL, which is odd because it used to.

Then I found this link:

The easiest way to enable webgl/ work aound In Ubuntu is as follows

1) If not already placed there by you: Place the chrome/chromium starter in the (upper) starter panel.
( Drag it there from the applications > internet  dropdown menu, or 
- from the dropdown menu rightclick "add starter to panel¨ or exact english wording may very- i am using the dutch version)

2) right click it > properties > commandline 

3) Copy '--ignore-gpu-blacklist' (without the quotation marks)

4) Paste/insert it in the commandline just before the '%U'

5) close

6) start Chrome/Chromium bij clicking the starter Icon

That worked for me - so if you are having issues, give it a shot.

22 December 2011

AI Class

Woot! ;)  After so many years out of college, it was weird to do homework and midterms and finals again =)

08 June 2011

Sometimes, Kickstarter Projects Don’t Make It

In general, no one likes to fail or even hear about failures.  I found this story, though about failure, to be quite encouraging.  They were trying to raise $20k, but only got $3k worth of pledges; thus the failure.  Someone who had seen them on the site invested $200k; and thus the encouragement.  I guess it's a sign that even failures can be a good thing -- in their case giving them a 10-fold increase in desired investment.

07 June 2011

Patented Gestures

Ok, it's bad enough that Apple has a patent on "slide to unlock"... I am actually offended that Lucent filed a patent in 1998 (awarded in 2001) for VR-based interface.  VPL Research had already built goggle/glove systems 13 years before Lucent filed that patent.  Hell, I had already played Dactyl Nightmare (image right) before that patent was filed.  In fact, take a look here and see what prior art you find.

06 June 2011

Slashdot: National Academies Release Over 4,000 Free Science Books

I'm always a big fan of huge tomes of learning being released to the public. Similar to the MIT OpenCourseware, the National Academies have released lots of PDF books to the public for free.  For example, maybe you'd like a free copy of "The Rise of Games and High Performance Computing for Modeling and Simulation"?

31 May 2011

Pentagon Says Cyberattacks Can Count As Act of War

Ding ding ding! We have a winner! It seems that, perhaps in response to my previous post (lol) the USA has decided that China is attempting to cyberattack them and we need a war to deal with it.

Just as a side note... if cyberattacks are an act of war,  why are we not declaring war on the MPAA?  Oh, that's right... because (in conjunction with the RIAA) they ARE the law. Stupid me.

26 May 2011

First commercial quantum computer system

Ok, I know you have all been dying to come up with some idea of what to buy me for my birthday or christmas... I have decided to simplify that decision for you.  The Tesla Roadster can wait until next year.  This year, I want the D-Wave One.

23 March 2011


Most of the people who read my blogs are probably aware that I am a bit anti-GPL, preferring MIT, BSD or Apache license (even for my own code).  At every company I work with (except Intel who flat out told us to not even read webpages about GPL code) we argue about what it takes to make a derivative work.  Does this count? Does that count?  It's no wonder, since two of the biggest GPL advocates don't even agree.