Solar graphic            ©



SUSE Linux







XML with CSS

DTD from XML



Python Scripts



Frames & Printing


Valid HTML 4.0!

Parts of this web site dealing with the arts, including poetry, prints, sculpture, etc are available here .

Google Translate does not work in Internet Explorer


Linpus to the Rescue
It sounds like the name of a Chinese cat, but Linpus Lite is a Linux distributon that rescued my old VALinux machine. For unknown reasons, the machine won't boot from the hard disk. That occurs despite my having Ubuntu 9.04 on the drive.
With Linpus Lite on a CD-ROM, you have three options when booting. When I choose Boot from Hard Disk , the computer loads Ubuntu. That means I no longer have a dead computer.

June 22, 2009

Windows XP SP3 available
It's available but almost impossible to find via Microsoft sites. Emil Protalinski of has provided a link to the SP3 download. The final build is available for several languages.
This is the link Emil provided for the English language version.

April 29, 2008

To Wubi or not to Wubi
Wubi allows you to install (or uninstall) Ubuntu on a Windows machine without having to partition your hard drive. I selected Kubuntu and the outcome was disappointing. In short, it wastes your time. It's like returning to the Linux of three or four years ago. Try printing or email, for example, and you are in for some work.

In contrast, a full installation of Ubuntu/Kubuntu guides you through the steps that make the system fully competitive with Windows XP. Other full Linux installations would be equally as advantageous.

March 29, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) Beta is available
A full description of the features of this latest Ubuntu version is available here. Digg users had their usual numerous comments about this Beta. I found djchester's post to be helpful in making the upgrade from Ubuntu 7.10 to 8.04 Beta. The steps he recommended are:
  • sudo aptitude install update-manager-core
  • sudo do-release-upgrade --devel-release
It took a while for the upgrade, and you have to answer a couple of questions. Evidently I gave the right answers because I am now a happy Hardy Heron user.

March 21, 2008

Network Printing: Ubuntu to Windows
If you made a fresh install of Linux, you might have difficulty getting your Windows networked printer to function. For Ubuntu users, there is a Help Page. Their nine steps worked out for me. The share name for your default Windows Network Printer is shown when you follow the trail
My Computer > Control Panel > Printers and Other Hardware > View installed printers or fax printers.
This window leads you to a listing that includes the "official" name of your networked printer.

Ubuntu 7.10 has been released since this note was originally written, and so the printing "problem" might be much simpler now. One further comment; SAMBA was configured before I tried out the aforementioned nine steps.

October 19, 2007

Ubuntu to Windows: It's easy to share
Samba file sharing turned out to be rather easy thanks to the How-To Geeks's step by step instructions. By easy, I mean that it worked for me on the second try. I recommend using the commands in Terminal as root:
sudo -i
That avoids objections when you have to save files in gedit.
Suppose you set up Ubuntu with "elmer" as the primary user. Ubuntu has its own password; let's call it Password1. When setting up Authentication in smb.conf, I suggest
security = elmer
in Geek's fourth instruction box. Using our "elmer" example, you will have the line
elmer = "elmer"
in the file /etc/samba/smbusers. The Samba password was previously created with the Terminal command
smbpasswd -a elmer
Password2 is for Samba user also named elmer.

My own starting point for sharing the Ubuntu files was probably
System > Administration > Shared Folders
The end point was a workgroup computer called
VAlinux server (Samba, Ubuntu)(Valinux)
Amazingly, all the linux files for "elmer" are available from Windows XP.

September 28, 2007

Google Reader: remove subscription
Google Reader is useful for viewing RSS subscriptions. Adding subscriptions is intuitively obvious. Removing subscriptions is less obvious.
In order to remove a subscription, click "Manage Subscriptions" at the bottom of the Add Subscription panel.
Click on the trash can icon for the subscription to be removed.
Verify "unsubscribe".

August 18, 2007

Upgrading Ubuntu 6.06 to 6.10
I went to this link to see what is involved in upgrading Ubuntu 6.06 (rather than making a fresh install of Ubuntu 6.10). Gogs shows in detail what to expect during the upgrade process. It was easier than I thought it would be, and so I will simply copy the command used to start the upgrade process:
gksu "update-manager -c -d"
The procedure went so smoothly that there is no great need for screenshots or further details here. In my case there were 984 files involved, and that may not include the automatic cleanup process. After a couple of hours there seemed to be a hangup at the very end, but that glitch did not effect the sucessful upgrade.

January 16, 2007

Puppy Linux 2.02
This live CD distribution can be downloaded from "Puppy Linux". Just click their "download here" to get puppy-2.02-seamonkey.iso.
After booting an old VALinux machine with the live CD, the installation proceeded smoothly. I chose the Xorg X server and a 1024x768x16 monitor setting. Some of the features of this live CD appear to be different from many of the other Linux Live CD's. For example, it is possible to save a session on a USB Flash pen drive.
The Media Utility Tool MUT 0.1.1 gives a very clear picture of what drives are available as well as their current status. The Ethernet/network Wizard can be used to load a driver for your ethernet card. Once that is done, the eth0 button brings up the eth0 configure panel. Auto DHCP configures network access automatically. The "puppy people" are still working on wireless access.
Because puppy is in RAM, the CD ROM is available for playing music. After using the CD/DVD drive Wizard, I chose the XfreeCD CD song player.
At some later date, I'll try the Printer Wizard.
So far, I have not used any features that are an improvement over features available with Windows XP. However, puppy is a good way to take some of the mystery out of Linux.

August 29, 2006

Tuning up a Windows Computer
Chris Tull has a useful article entitled "Optimize your computer for peak performance". His summary is so clear that it is not repeated here. As part of your optimizing efforts, you will probably want to install Microsoft Windows Defender (Beta 2). This program is less familiar to many computer users than some of the other programs Chris recommends using. As for frequency of using these Microsoft programs, you will probably find monthly use preferable to weekly.

February 24, 2006

Formatting a Maxtor One Touch External Drive
Let's look at a real-life problem that happened with a Maxtor One Touch external hard drive connected via USB to a Windows XP machine. After months of good behavior, the 200 GB drive suddenly showed up in My Computer with a capacity of 717 MB. That's fine for the Iomega Zip Drive, but it's ridiculous for the One Touch. A computer with Novell Linux version 9 found the drive and gave the correct storage capacity.

Maxtor's Knowledge Base was the key to restoring the One Touch in Windows XP. The procedure to format and partition the Maxtor involved seven rather simple steps. In case the link to this information disappears, there is a backup of this information.

June 23, 2005

The Good, the Bad and the Useless
It all started with Mandrakelinux Globetrotter, a version of Linux on a LaCie Mobile Hard Drive. It works as advertised provided your computer can boot from a USB drive. From here, things get more puzzling and more expensive. You pay to join Mandrake Club, but Mandrake then wants you to upgrade to a Silver membership. (I didn't do that!) More money is wanted for Mandriva Online. (Note the name change.) The LaCie hard drive had Mandakelinux 10.0; you pay more to upgrade to version 10.1.

Now you are really in for an unpleasant day. After using three installation disks, the end result was a Kernel panic. I could have reached that sad state with a completely free Linux distribution.

June 12, 2005

Live CD for Ubuntu Linux
The latest release of Ubuntu is the Preview Version 5.01 called Hoary Hedgehog. This is a significant improvement over Version 4.10 (Warty Warthog). In order to try out the new release, I downloaded hoary-preview-live-i386.iso and burned the CD using Nero 6.This new version of Ubuntu found the correct display settings for my Viewsonic VA720 Monitor. (Warty did not.) The Dell Dimension 4600 has plenty of memory, and so Hoary was happy. It did not like older computers. Hoary liked the cable connection for the internet and email, and so I didn't bother trying to use a 56K modem. Ubuntu configured the HP960c printer without any difficulties. On the negative side, Ubuntu gave an error message when I tried to look at the Windows partition. I don't recall having this problem with Knoppix.

By their nature, Live CD's are of limited use. However, they do offer the chance of testing various Linux distributions without messing up a computer that you rely on for everyday tasks.

March 20, 2005

Useful Flowchart from
Many current web sites link to a website that no longer exists. The extinct site had a useful flowchart that could be used to diagnose troubles on a Windows 95 machine. There are no doubt many Win95 machines still hanging around and still running into problems. If you need this troubleshooting chart, you can see a copy that was previously saved on my computer. No changes have been made to the orignal source code, and so don't be surprised if a dead link is included. The flowchart is very large; you may want to print it and paste the parts together.

June 1, 2005

Creating a Root Password for Mandrake Linux
If you have lost your root password, I recommend that you follow the steps given in an InformationWeek article. The only modification I used was to boot into "failsafe" after saving the files passwd and shadow. In case the above link ever disappears, a backup of the procedure is available. Lutz Roeder's Writer was used to create the file. That's a great file for copying parts of web documents to your computer. The resulting code will be browser friendly despite the Errors and Warnings that show up in HTML Validation results.

January 29, 2005 (links checked 1/7/2007)

Firefox Add-on for FTP
FireFTP is a simple Add-on for latest versions of the Firefox browser. This 102KB file can be installed from the Mozilla page. After installing fireFTP and opening a new Firefox window, the Tools menu should show FireFTP; click it. The fireFTP tab takes you to a simple FTP client with the usual spaces for
  • Host (like
  • User (the Login name)
  • Password
After logging in, you can go to the appropriate folder at the host. Transferring files between your computer and the host is intuitively obvious.

January 26, 2005 (edited 1/7/2006)

Linux, Python and Network Programming
To my surprise, all three activities in the above heading worked just as they were supposed to. John Goerzen has written a favorably reviewed book on Python Network Programming. The very first example connects to a Gopher server and returns a listing of the root directory on the server. Goerzen's source code for this and other examples can be downloaded from APRESS.

The Linux distribution I used for this exercise was Red Hat Desktop 3.94 code named Nahant. This public Beta can be downloaded from Red Hat.

November 27, 2004

Blocking pop-ups, Windows XP SP2
Even after installing Windows XP SP2 you still may be getting unwanted pop-ups. If so, you may want to change a setting in the Local Intranet Zone. Under the Miscellaneous section, select Enable for the choice under Use Pop-up Blocker.

September 10, 2004
That procedure seems to block some pop-ups, but it is not a complete cure for this annoyance. The more reliable cure for this problem is to use Mozilla's Firefox browser . It's free, and it is no harder to use than Internet Explorer.

September 12, 2004

Linux on a Live CD
Live CD's are getting better all the time. How can anything that's free be that good. I'll say a few words about KNOPPIX v 3.3 and Suse 9.1.

I started with Suse on a Windows XP machine having a Viewsonic VA720 monitor. Earlier tries led me to think "failure" because the monitor said "Out of Range" followed by a blank screen. With more patience, I let things proceed on their own. Sure enough, Suse appeared and found my printer, zip drive, and an 56K external modem. Nevertheless, getting online proved a challenge, and I grew tired.

So on to another computer, this one having a cable network connection. Wanting a rest from Suse, I used a CD of Knoppix that had been kicking around since February 2004. Both my CD's were created using Nero's great software for turning ISO images into useful CD's. There's at least a couple of browser choices on the KNOPPIX CD, but Mozilla had something I needed - an easy way to get mail (Mozilla Mail).

That's it folks; no links, no nothing. There are plenty of useful links when you Google to "live CD" Knoppix or related combinations.

July 10, 2004

Fixing Windows 98 Startup
Let's assume Windows 98 issues a complaint at startup - like being unable to find REMIND.EXE. Compu-Docs introduced me to msconfig which provides a list of applications that are set to run once Windows has loaded. When you look over the list of applications, you will find some that can be removed because you no longer need them. That's how I got rid of that annoying startup message.

The details will not be repeated here because Compu-Docs does such a good job of explaining Windows startup and how it affects the available resources after starting your computer.

May 4, 2004

Client-pull in XHTML
The meta tag is used to automatically refresh an HTML or XHTML page. The content attribute contains the number of seconds before refreshing and the URL for the new page. A simple XHTML example shows a page that has added information at nine-second intervals; refresh quits when the complete page is loaded.

The XHTML pages were validated using xmlspy. The HTML file is exactly the same, but it is more acceptable to the browsers in handheld computers.

November 30, 2003

Windows XP Login Password
If you normally boot up with no password, you may want to add security to your system by enabling a login password. This is highly recommended by Steve Gibson in this section of his site. Here's a short description of how to add a login password for a Windows XP machine:
  • Start --> Control Panel --> User Accounts
  • Pick an account to change.
  • What do you want to change ... ?
  • Create a password.
July 12, 2003

Running jar executables from CMD in Windows XP
Let's illustrate this procedure using the file Ximple.jar downloaded to a floppy from IBM's alphaWorks site. From the Windows XP command line, I changed my directory to the most recent Java SDK on my computer:

cd c:\j2sdk1.4.1_01\bin\

This is where jar.exe and java.exe are located. From this directory, I typed:
java -jar A:\Ximple.jar

This created the screen for running Xedit for Java.

On your own computer, the path to the Java executable may be here:
C:\Program Files\Java\j2re1.4.1_01\bin

June 20, 2003

CSS: What Cascading Means
Molly Holzschlag explains what the cascading feature of Cascading Style Sheets means. HTML can use a style specified externally, locally for a single page, or for an individual tag. She provides an example of using all three style specifications on one page. The browser has a precedence in this order:
  • individual tag
  • single page
  • external style
There is also a precedence if more than one external style is defined in the document. That's about as much as I could absorb in one sitting, but you may want to read what Molly has to say about Inheritance.

Ch (pronounced C H) is a C-compatible language
Here are some Ch features that meet my needs (or at least my wants):
  • Ch can be used as a C shell.
  • Ch can be used to execute C/C++ programs without compilation.
  • Ch can be used to execute C statements interactively.
  • Ch applets can be executed across a network.
  • Ch can be embedded in other application programs and hardware.
  • Ch can be used for scientific computing (like Fortran and Matlab.)
  • Ch can be used for 2D/3D graphical plotting (like Matlab).
Ch Standard Edition is free for students, instructors,and employees of non-profit organizations. Downloading Ch for Linux used less than 20 MB.

The Ch Language Environment has been developed by Dr. Harry H. Cheng and associates and can be downloaded from the website of Softintegration, Inc.

Using Ch to compile and execute yourfile.c
This sounds simpler than the procedure described below for compiling and executing a C file. From the bash shell, enter the Ch environment:
$ Ch
When you type
the output of the program reverse.c (used below) will appear on your screen.
If you want the output redirected to a file (output2), it can be redirected like this
./reverse.c > output2

Linux gcc command to compile yourfile.c
"Linux in a Nutshell" explains the use of the gcc command to compile a C source file yourfile.c. gcc automatically invokes the link editor ld and generates an object file yourfile.o. By default, output is placed in a.out.

In order to illustrate this process, let's use the file reverse.c which takes a string and reverses the order of the characters in the string. This example from Red Hat Linux v7.2 was copied from /usr/share/doc/HTML/en/kdevelop/reference/C/EXAMPLES/reverse.c to my home directory and compiled using
gcc -pedantic reverse.c
The option -pedantic was used to provide verbose warnings.

After a couple of false starts, I executed the program from the shell using

The output shown on the screen was
string is martin
string is nitran

The source code for reverse is shown here.

Checking out Google Features
The Google features link offers some search possibilities that are worth trying out. I'll comment on some that seem the easiest to use. If you use Google as much as I do, you might want to install the Google Toolbar.

For those who have a web site, it's useful to be able to search within your domain. For example, entering HOWTO
came up with a couple of hits. Note that the three things you need to enter are
domain name
word to search for

Google's web-page translation might be worth looking into. Don't expect it to go as smoothly as you might wish.

Hypertext for a PDA
XHTML ™ Basic  is described as a document type for Web clients such as mobile phones, PDAs, etc. Before getting too excited about learning another HTML alternative, it may be useful to observe how a really simple example looks on a Handspring Visor or some other type of PDA.

Baba3.xhtml looks like XML code when viewed on a PDA with the Palm OS and is useless as a readable page.

If the exact same program is called Baba3.html , the page is readable on a PDA.

If the program is re-written as ordinary HTML ( Baba3a.html ), the PDA displays a normal web page.

With these comparisons in mind, it would seem reasonable to use simple HTML until something looks odd on a PDA. When that occurs, it might be time to use the W3C recommendation for XHTML ™ Basic.

August 14, 2003

How to get to Your Favorite Text Editor
Notepad is a bare bones text editor that lacks such features as Find. Not having been successful in associating text files with the text editor I use (KEDIT for Windows), I came upon this solution. The steps will be listed, followed by some additional remarks.

  Open the SendTo folder by Start | Run
  Type SendTo in the Run box that is open
  Press OK
  Using the right mouse button, drag the KEDITW icon into the SendTo window

You now have a SendTo feature that works in the same way that you already use to send files to your A: disk.

The preceding steps follow the more general writeup in C:\WINDOWS\TIPS.TXT on a Windows 98 Second Edition machine.

Reading Russian
First, your computer must accept cyrillic (Russian) text. The procedure for adding cyrillic fonts is available here.

Once that is done head for Click English so that instructions are in English. You have options of translating text that you copy and paste, translating a web page, or translating E-mail. The machine translation improves if you select an appropriate subject area from the pull-down list.

Other language pairs are also available at PROMPT's Online Translator.