Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fix the apt-xapian-index error in Ubuntu

Some people complain that using Ubuntu or Linux in general involves too much "messing around."  To be sure, it helps to have some command line knowledge, know how to move through the file system, and how to use vim or nano to edit a file in sudo mode.

I don't run Windows at all.  Haven't since ... 2006?  But inevitably I end up trying to help someone with their Windows laptop.  Compared to tweaking something on Linux, it is a painful experience.  The entire setup works against you having any real control over your operating system (probably because it isn't YOUR operating system--you're just renting it).

Anyway, use Linux long enough and you may develop a keen sixth sense between you and your computer.  Warning signals started going off a day or two ago and I traced it down to a common problem: the apt-xapian-index file is hogging the processor at times, while rebuilds it's entire index.  Now, I had no clue about any of this before this morning, but the Ubuntu Forums, as usual, got me right to a simple fix.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The HTML5 Canvas in Education

I've been playing around with the HTML5 canvas element lately. In fact, I even got a whole book on the canvas element and it has been fun to see how similar this element is to the Processing language. It was nice to be able to wrap up Processing sketches into applets and post them for the world to see.

Applets, though, are sooooo 1990s. Sure, I've played around with processing.js and it works pretty well. Still, it removes you one more step from the real thing. Now I'm not saying I'd like to go back to programming assembly, but sometimes it's hard to find the core language that you're using when it's wrapped in so many levels of libraries, conversions, etc.

Reminds me of  a past staff meeting that failed miserably because teachers were expected to access a shared Google document for collaboration's sake. Oh boy, what a mistake. Teachers make horrible students, for the most part.

Anyway, the Google docs collaboration activity failed when many of the teachers present were asked to visit a specific Google docs url.  About half the class was lost there, for various reasons.  Some made typos in the url.  Many simply used the default Internet Explorer, which has never been known to play nicely with internet standards.

I helped as many as I could, as did a few other tech-savy teachers.  During the chaos, one of the other helping teachers had a little laugh with me.  Apparently a teacher she was helping had not only used IE, but had done so via connecting to her Citrix thin client because that was the only way she ever used her laptop.  We had fun trying to describe just how strange that was--what a convoluted process to simply visit a web address.  The first thing that popped into my mind was:

That's like kissing a robot that then goes over and kisses your lover, rather than you doing the kissing yourself!

Made sense to me at the time.

So anyway, you can see the result in the image, but why not see the real thing: Link to the HTML5 File. Please, use Chrome or Firefox or Safari or Opera to view this--and not through some kissing robot proxy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wacom Bamboo in Ubuntu

I got a Wacom Bamboo tablet that I've been using on my iMac for Inkscape.  However, since I prefer to do most of everything on Ubuntu, I looked into getting the Bamboo Pen tabled to work on my favorite OS.

Well, I was just about ready to compile from source, which is a lot less painful than most people make it seem--but then I came across this helpful blog post and discussion

I've been working on tweaking my Wordpress blog a lot lately.  That got me thinking of just how easy this blog is to maintain (thanks Google!).  Then, I thought of how I used to take notes on all sorts of stuff like the Wacom driver installation.  What better place to write down those notes than right here?


Here's what I did.  I'm running 10.04 (LTS edition):

  sudo add-apt-repository ppa:doctormo/wacom-plus
  sudo apt-get update
  sudo apt-get install  xf86-input-wacom
  sudo apt-get install wacom-dkms
  sudo modprobe wacom

That was easy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moving day

I bit the bullet and decided to make my own Wordpress blog over at

Edit:  Blogger rules.  Wordpress is great--in fact it's currently my favorite CMS.  Still, Blogger rules.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

ProcessingJS on Chrome

Was experimenting with ProcessingJS today, which is pretty awesome.  Anyway, Firefox was handling the processing sketches just fine, but on Chrome I kept getting errors. 

Turns out a bug report had already solved this problem.  On Ubuntu you can just go to System/Preferences/Main Menu, find the Chrome browser icon, go to Properties and add this to the end of the "Command" field:


That was easy.