Portuguese Steam Engine train at the Douro

One of my favourite shows at the Travel Channel is the one named “The Great Scenic Railways Journeys”. North America has a lot of private and volunteer steam engines trains that are a tourist attraction, and at the same time, keep it’s pre-industrial and industrial history. And this on two countries that have at most 250 years of “modern” history.

Portugal despite it’s huge 1000 year history and contribution to the global world history is famous for  forgetting and letting rot it’s assets…

So it’s good to see, again this year, an old steam engine train on one of the more beautiful rail-roads in Europe and across the OPorto wine region is back in action:

If your in Oporto area this year, don’t miss it: Every Saturday until the 1st of October.

HP PhotoSmart Premium 309G and Kubuntu 9.10

My old and faithfull 7 year HP PSC1210 starting to do bad photo prints (bands) and so it was time for a replacement. HP support with the HPlip driver on Linux, namelly [K]ubuntu, make all other available printer brands  out of the equation for a replacement… This meant no Canon, no Epson, and so on. There are printers of these brands that do work with Linux, but never with of level of support that HP is providing right now. So HP it is. After much reading, I’ve chosen the HP PhotoSmart Premium 309G printer mainly because:

  • It has a wired network connection (RJ45). It also has Wireless and Bluetooth, but the network connection meant that my computer and my wife’s computer can share the printer, scanner(!!!) and the card reader.
  • It has 5 ink cartdriges.

And that was it. I also was thinking on the HP c5380, but a network interface was one of my requirements. So I bought the 309g at a nice price with a HP backpack and mouse as a gift. Yet, it is still an expensive inkjet printer…

So first impressions:

  • The latest HPLIP driver for Kubuntu, works flawlessly with the printer. At installation time it detected, by IP, the printer, but wouldn’t allow me to complete the add printer wizard. The OK button didn’t do anything. I added first the printer using KDE print manager, and then it worked. May be related or not. Please note that the shiped hplip on Karmic doesn’t work. You must download and upgrade hplip from the above hplip site.
  • Printing from Digikam through the network works flawlessly.
  • Scanning from the network with skanlite works flawlessly.
  • Acessing the card reader from KDE’s dolphin works, using the smb:// protocol, but I can’t browse the DCIM directory. Not sure if it’s a printer or Dolphin issue.
  • The touch panel is very cool, allowing to print calendars, sudoku and mazes….
  • Printing from the card reader or USB port is also usefull, for a quick print without powering on the computer. The touch screen makes printing very easy, but had trouble using the manipulation features, like crop… User problem…
  • Printed photo quality, for my standards is superb! I’ve used HP paper and Fuji film, and both prints are faithfull and high quality.
  • It prints quick, but after ending it makes a lot of internal stuff with a bit of noise (a bit hard to explain…)

So I’m very happy with the Linux support for this printer and the photo quality of it’s printing.

KDE 4.4 SC Kubuntu Backports – Dead keys (acentos nos caracteres portugueses)

If upgrading to KDE SC 4.4 on kubuntu 9.10 using the backports, you will find out if using a keyboard that has accents, that these don’t work anymore…. letters like á à ì í and so on do not work…

The issue is solved here -> http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1404209

Basically by open a shell and run the following command:

sudo im-switch -s default-xim

Then press ALT-F1, enter the text console, login as your user and execute

sudo service kdm restart

problem solved.

Segurança dos vossos filhos quando viajam de carro

Para a segurança dos vossos filhos quando viajam de automóvel:

O grupo 0+ de cadeiras de carro é até aos 13KG e são obrigatoriamente viradas montadas e usadas para trás ou seja contra o sentido da marcha do automóvel.

O grupo seguinte, o 1 é a partir dos 9Kgs até aos 18KG e em Portugal só se vendem cadeiras deste grupo viradas para a frente. Há assentos que são do grupo 0+/1 como da Chicco, mas que se têm de virar para a frente a partir dos 13KGs. Essas cadeiras vendem-se cá, mas não são as mais seguras.

Assentos em que a criança viaja virada para a frente, independentemente do peso e idade não garantem a segurança e a máxima protecção dos vossos filhos em caso de colisão frontal como podem ver aqui:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMFPSStXfqE&NR=1

A taxa de sobrevivência nestes assentos em caso de colisão frontal é de 62% e em muitos caso há sequelas graves devido à chicotada no pescoço/coluna.

Uma criança entre os 9/10 meses e os 4 anos ainda não tem estrutura óssea suficiente (nem os adultos) para sobreviver a desacelerações brutais assim como ao efeito ” chicotada de coelho” do pescoço. A chicotada no pescoço pode parti-lo, provocar a morte, paralisia ou estado vegetativo permanente…. Pode inclusive internamente arrancar os braços dos ombros…. http://www.joelsjourney.org/

No caso de assentos que usam o cinto do automóvel para segurar a criança, os chamados booster seats, a taxa de sobrevivência é de apenas 18% em caso de colisão frontal!

Portanto o modo mais seguro de transportar uma criança é virada de costas para a marcha e com cinto de cinco pontos e neste caso a taxa de sobrevivência é de 92%….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K62Ea8Fs4ng

Este tipo de assentos só se vendem em Portugal na Volvo (Britax) e são obrigatórios na Suécia, onde as crianças até ao mínimo de 4 anos de idade têm de obrigatoriamente de se sentarem em assentos virados para trás.

Aqui em www.carseat.se podem ver em http://www.carseat.se/store.html os vários tipos de assentos que há na Suécia nomeadamente os Britax Hi-Way, Muti-tech, etc e podem contactar a loja para tirar dúvidas acerca dos assentos, e compatibilidades com os vossos carros.

Estas cadeiras:

Suportam dos 9kg até aos 25Kg (!!), servem portanto até aos 4/5 anos sem qualquer problema.
São viradas para trás (rear facing vs viradas para a frente: front facing)
São compatíveis com N automóveis.

Já há muitos Portugueses com consciência acerca destes factos que compram aqui, nos quais eu me incluo e os preços são equivalentes a uma cadeira “normal” virada para a frente.

Podem ainda, como no meu caso, comprar uma capa protectora para o tecido dos assentos do banco de trás (onde vais os pés da criança), e um conjunto extra (para outro carro) de correias de fixação.

Se ainda não compraram ainda vão a tempo e viajarem mais descansados e garantir a máxima protecção para os vossos filhos em caso de colisão frontal com estas cadeiras.

Vmware 6.5.3 on Karmic Koala

Installing: At least these instructions worked for me:

#sudo bash
#chmod +x VMware-Workstation-6.5.3-185404.x86_64.bundle
# export VMWARE_SKIP_MODULES=true
#./VMware-Workstation-6.5.3-185404.x86_64.bundle
# vmware-modconfig --console --install-all

Voilá, installed Vmware without any issue. I’ve compiled the modules after installation because there are reports that it may hang by using the installer. Not sure, because I didn’t tried it. All VM Machines appear to be working.
Now for the other issues:

After upgrading from Kubuntu 9.04 to 9.10, I needed to upgrade to Vmware Workstation 6.5.3 as is the subject of this post… My previous version was 6.5.0. With this upgrade some older issues where back and new issues appeared…

– Keyboard mapping where again all wrong, with my Portuguese keyboard wrongly configured and some keys wouldn’t just work.

– The other annoying issue was the grab/ungrab mouse cursor problem. Kubuntu task bar area and the floating vmware toolbar area where unusable when the VM machines are in full screen. So for example the Windows task bar is, when the machine is full screen, at the same screen area than the KDE taskbar. The cursor on this area just flickered away like mad, and it was pretty difficult to do anything on this area. This also mean that Windows taskbar and systray where almost unusable and unacessible, and just couldn’t do anything on this area. The temporary workaround was to use machines not in full screen…
The solutions:
For the keyboard problem, on my home directory, just went to .vmware hidden directory (create one if it doesn’t exist) and add the following to the file named config:

xkeymap.nokeycodeMap = true
xkeymap.keycode.61 = 0x035
xkeymap.keycode.61 = 0x5f
xkeymap.keycode.47 = 0x027
xkeymap.keycode.47 = 0xc7
xkeymap.keycode.48 = 0x028
xkeymap.keycode.48 = 0xaa
xkeymap.keycode.51 = 0x02b
xkeymap.keycode.51 = 0xfe52
xkeymap.keycode.34 = 0x01a # +
xkeymap.keycode.34 = 0x2a # *
xkeymap.keycode.35 = 0x01b # ´
xkeymap.keycode.35 = 0xfe50 # `
xkeymap.keycode.20 = 0x00c # ‘
xkeymap.keycode.20 = 0x3f # ?
xkeymap.keycode.21 = 0xab # «
xkeymap.keycode.21 = 0xbb # »
xkeymap.keycode.49 = 0x029 # \
xkeymap.keycode.49 = 0x056 # |

xkeymap.keycode.108 = 0x138 # Alt_R
xkeymap.keycode.106 = 0x135 # KP_Divide
xkeymap.keycode.104 = 0x11c # KP_Enter
xkeymap.keycode.111 = 0x148 # Up
xkeymap.keycode.116 = 0x150 # Down
xkeymap.keycode.113 = 0x14b # Left
xkeymap.keycode.114 = 0x14d # Right
xkeymap.keycode.105 = 0x11d # Control_R
xkeymap.keycode.118 = 0x152 # Insert
xkeymap.keycode.119 = 0x153 # Delete
xkeymap.keycode.110 = 0x147 # Home
xkeymap.keycode.115 = 0x14f # End
xkeymap.keycode.112 = 0x149 # Prior
xkeymap.keycode.117 = 0x151 # Next
xkeymap.keycode.78 = 0x46 # Scroll_Lock
xkeymap.keycode.127 = 0x100 # Pause
xkeymap.keycode.133 = 0x15b # Meta_L
xkeymap.keycode.134 = 0x15c # Meta_R
xkeymap.keycode.135 = 0x15d # Menu

Now if you copy and past the above content, just make sure that x is an ‘x’ letter, because WordPress may change it to something else that looks like an x but it isn’t. If you don’t due this, when you press a mapped key on VMware, you will get a popup window with an error complaining about a key code.
For the mouse issue, it looks like that the solution is this:
Temporary fix (solution from http://communities.vmware.com/thread/240766):

Open a shell window and start vmware from it with as follow:

#export VMWARE_USE_SHIPPED_GTK=yes

#export LD_PRELOAD=/lib/libglib-2.0.so.0

#vmware

It seems that to make the first two lines permanent, you just, as root, edit the following file: /etc/vmware/bootstrap and add the first to lines to the end of the file.
I hope that all issues are covered now….

The cloud: Firefox bookmarks sync

Using Firefox at home, at work, and having several computers that I use, syncing all the bookmarks started to get to be a large problem…

So after upgrading to version 3.5 of Firefox, Mozilla Weave Is a good solution, mainly because of two things:

– You can synchronize all your data across computers, including passwords

– You can deploy and use your own Weave server, which solves the lingering question about the privacy of my data: http://phaseshiftllc.com/archives/2009/10/09/setting-up-a-custom-weave-0-5-server

Anyway, after a few days of use, synchronization is not always without any problems. It works, but some times, I get duplicated folders, and bookmarks that I have to delete by hand… Not good. I’ll try to use it a bit more, to see if this is due to the number of computers and bookmarks that I have. One neat solution for finding duplicated bookmarks is the bookmarkDD plugin at http://bookmarkdd.mozdev.org/

If these issues keep going I’ll have to try Google Toolbar…