Saturday, 4 December 2010

Yeh, help the spammers spam your friends!

So, you want to send ALL your friends a humourous jokes or picture. You add all their email addresses to the 'To:' or 'CC:' email address field. That's just great! Because, if any one of those recipients (friends) has malware on their computer, you have giving some spammers ALL your friends email addresses.

I get annoyed when 'friends' do this. My daughter's Scout Leader sends Newsletters with everyone's email addresses in the 'To:' field. This breaches the Data Protection Act. Some of these email addresses were children's!

Protect children and friend's email addresses by simply putting them into the 'BCC:' field. Stands for 'Blind Carbon Copy'. Every one gets the email BUT, they only see their own email address.

SAFE! Cool

Yes, all email programs have a 'BCC:' field.

I know this is all a bit inconvenient but, it is a solution.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Stop doorstep cold calls (door to door selling/marketing)

From October 2010, displaying a 'no cold callers' sign should deter most door to door sellers. This officially became part of the EnergySure Code of Practice and reputable companies should not call any more.

Therefore if the cold caller persists, note down their name & employee number and report them to the company and Consumer Direct.

Further reading:

Cut down unsolicited postal mail

Mailing Preference Service supports your right to choose the mail you want.

Unwanted, unread Direct Mail has no place in anyone's home. And if you're not interested in receiving it, MPS will update their records for Direct Mail companies to see and adjust their lists as you request.

Cut down unsolicited mobile and telephone calls

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a free service. It is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.

This will cut down the number of unsolicited (marketing) calls you get to your mobile or land line telephone. You will still get unsolicited calls if you have filled in a research poll or survey but with a bit of investigation, you could stop these too! See my other posts on this forum.

Further reading

Nuisance telephone cold calls and what can be done

You have gone to all the trouble of registering your home and mobile phones with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) but you start getting nuisance telephone cold calls. Sometimes there is no one on the other end, just silence.

It is likely that someone has obtained your data (personal details) and sold them on to companies, they think, you would want to receive marketing calls from. A computer database selects your telephone number and rings it. If you answer it is meant to connect one of their operatives. Thing is, all the operatives are busy troubling others and so you are met with silence!

I sometimes get lucky and find the companies details via a web search of their telephone number. This is a growing problem and now there are websites dedicated for the annoyed to post a nuisance number and help each other find out who the company is. You will see these listed in your search results and someone may have already posted the companies details. Sometimes you get lucky and the companies website appears in the results!

If you get their address or email address then you can send them a 'Cease and Desist Notice'.

Subject: Cease and Desist Notice!

Dear Sir / Madam,

I have received unsolicited nuisance calls from telephone number <enter number here> which appears to be on your behalf.

Please remove my telephone number <telephone number> and other details from your database. You have been mis-sold my data and I do not want your service.

Failure to comply with this request will be deamed a breach of at least the following UK Laws:

Harrassment Act 1997, Telecommunications Act 1984 and Data Protection Act 1998.

Thank you,

So far, it has worked although today I have had two calls that originate from Indian call centres for UK companies. I have emailed the UK companies and will see how quick the calls from those telephone numbers stop.

Further reading

DO NOT fill in a mail surveys!

Someone in my house hold filled in a ruddy survey that came through the post. They entice you using some 'research' type company name and may promise that you be entered in some prize draw.

These companies are just data harvesters. You get them on the internet as well. They may guise themselves as a free competition on a webpage or even via a Facebook advertisement. Be wary what information or tick box you tick.

I now am getting about a dozen cold call telephone calls a week from Debt Solutions (IVA) and re-mortgage companies.

Grr! On this forum topic, I'll either name and shame or, advise how to get de-listed.

I have a pair of digital telephones in my house and I add the offending telephone numbers to the phone's inbuilt telephone book. I name the entry as something like, 'DO NOT ANSR2', etc. The family then know not to answer the call and this hopefully gets you removed from their list (database) after x number of failed attempts.

In this instance, Acxiom harvest my details, under the guise of 'Research Opinion Poll". I am now removed from their database but, they have already sold my details on and so the nuisance calls. Evil or Very Mad 

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

How to fix "system missing or corrupt"

You turn off your computer with M$ one day and then go to restart to find an error message that says:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt

check out this very good article that offers several fix solutions, including using a Linux Live CD.

I successfully fixed my son's XP problem, using the bloke's (PartieHonteuse) option 4 but, using my Kubuntu 9.10 and USB IDE docking station!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

User account gets locked when trying to access mapped drive

We recently changed our security policies at work and set user passwords to expire every 60 days in GPO. Now time for people to change their passwords. A couple of users thus far have had no problems but, one user had problems. Having changed their password and then tried to access a mapped drive they get,
'The referenced account is currently locked out and may not be logged on to'.

Even if I removed the mapped drive, unlocked the account and then tried to map the drive again, the account would get locked.

I Googled and tried some suggestions with no result. What worked for me was, map the drive again and then click, 'Connect using a different user name' and type in users credentials, including the domain name.

i.e. '<domainname\username>' (mycompany\joebloggs) and their password.

This worked! Huh!???

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Rollback to previous package version after upgrade

Say that you find that an app. no longer works due to a problem with an upgraded package. As long as the previous version of the package is still in the cache, you can roll back.

The following will show all the versions of the package in the cache
apt-cache show [package name] | fgrep Version:
The following will install (roll back) an older version of the package
apt-get install [package name]=[version]

Another way may be possible via Synaptic.

Open Synaptic and find your package then, right click on it and there should be some menu option like "force downgrade".

Spotify for Linux

Spotify is a proprietary peer-to-peer music streaming service and application software from a Swedish based company. It allows instant listening to specific tracks or albums, with virtually no buffering delay.

Finally, they are developing a linux desktop version, packaging the first release as Debian Squeeze/Ubuntu 10.04 package.

Sadly on Kubuntu KDE 9.10 I get a 'Segmentation fault' so, I must upgrade to 10.04 soon.

How to prevent Windows Server from storing weak LM hashes

How to prevent Windows Server from storing a LAN manager hash of your password.

Instead of storing your user account password in clear-text, Windows generates and stores user account passwords by using two different password representations, generally known as "hashes." When you set or change the password for a user account to a password that contains fewer than 15 characters, Windows generates both a LAN Manager hash (LM hash) and a Windows NT hash (NT hash) of the password. These hashes are stored in the local Security Accounts Manager (SAM) database or in Active Directory.

The LM hash is relatively weak compared to the NT hash, and it is therefore prone to fast brute force attack. Therefore, you may want to prevent Windows from storing an LM hash of your password. The Microsoft support article describes how to do this so that Windows only stores the stronger NT hash of your password.

Categories: How-To, Microsoft, OS
Tags: Microsoft, Server, 2000, 2003, weak, password, authentication, NT hash, SAM

Friday, 18 June 2010

Server 2003 - Cannot delete file / folder

User had copied or created a file / folder on a mapped drive and that file / folder now cannot be renamed / deleted / accessed by anyone. Not even administrators, upon the server.

An overnight Backup Exec backup had failed to access this folder also. I therefore needed this fixed.

Microsoft's offered solutions ( ) did not help.

Viewing 'Open Files' in Computer Management application showed a user still had the parent and this directory open. I checked with the user and they had not so, I simply forced a 'Close Open File' in Computer management and then I was able to successfully delete the folder.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

TIP: Upgrading RAM in VMware Player

You can either change the memsize setting within the *.vmx file or, change it whilst running VMWare.

Edit file.
Look for a *.vmx file in the directory that your VM is stored in and open it in your favourite text editor.

Look for a line that looks like this: memsize = “64″. Change the number to equal the amount of RAM that you want in your VM. Typically half of your full (linux) memory should be sufficient. For example, I have upgraded my RAM to 2GB and so I increase memsize to 1024Mb (memsize = “1024″).

Start the VM and enjoy your new RAM

An alternative method of changing the memsize is to start VMWare Player and click on the 'VMWare Player" menu then select, "Troubleshoot". SElect, "Change memory allocation". There it graphically shows your memory setting, the recommended setting and finally, the maximum recommended setting.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

TIP: What version of KDE am I running?


Click on the Kicker icon and go to Applications -> Help. Then selcct the 'Help' drop-down menu and click, 'About KDE'.

Alternatively from the command prompt:

KDE3 runtime:
kde-config --version

KDE4 runtime:
kde4-config --version

Saturday, 27 February 2010

TIP: Grabbing video content from webpage

Two words: browser cache

You don't need any utility software to grab webpage video content and what software is on offer is probably infected! Avoid sites offering 'Free Youtube Downloader' or whatever.

There are Firefox add-ons to grab video content but I haven't tried any of these yet. Hmm, the add-ons would be useful for M$ users though! Laughing

When you view video on your linux system with Firefox ([K]ubuntu at least) the video clip is cached into a temporary directory. Wait until the video clip has fully loaded and you will find the file in your user's ~/tmp/ ( or /tmp/) directory. Simply copy it to somewhere else before you close the webpage. Because, as soon as you close or navigate away from that webpage, the cached file is deleted. So far I have seen filenames starting with 'Flash' but, just look for a recently created file.

On my Kubuntu 9.10, I play back the content quite happily using Xine.

Now, most YouTube stuff plays OK but some have garbled / distorted audio. Mainly U.S. content. I seem to have a codec missing. I'll post here if I fix this. 



I seem to have forgotten that I had previously installed a firefox add-on called '1-Click YouTube Video Downloader'. Quite easy to use, it adds some extra links in the page, just under the Video window.

It allows you to download YouTube Videos in FLV and MP4 (both High Definition and iPod High-Quality) in a single click.

Categories: Linux, OS
Tags: Kubuntu, Linux, video, grab, grabbing

Saturday, 13 February 2010

TIP: Taskbar crashed? What to do!?

Until I find a more elegant solution...

I had clicked upon the clock on my taskbar, to bring up the calendar. I wanted to look up what day a particular date fell. I had forgot about this bug, the task bar crashed and then shortly disappeared.

Not knowing how to get it back other than, ALT-F2 to bring up the "Run" command bar. I then type "logout", saving any unsaved documents.

Log back in and the task bar is restored and any previously opened application come back up to.

I hope this helps someone. Yes, an annoying bug but at least it is not like M$ (MS Windows) where you would have to do a hard reset!


I have been experimenting! I am not sure if this gives a stable solution yet but, instead of logging out, when I pressed ALT-F2, I then typed "plasma". After about ten seconds, the task bar came back. This is on Jaunty (Kubuntu 9.04)

Just an observation.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Intrepid/Jaunty: K3B fails to rip to MP3

My K3B worked fine until I upgraded to Jaunty (Ubuntu 9.04) and then I got: "Command failed: lame -h *snip*", "Error while encoding track 1".

Trawling the web I ended up at and thanks to Ilja Pavkovic and Julos I got it going again.

To help clarify:
1. create dir ~/bin
mkdir ~/bin

2. create a script ~/bin/ with
usr/bin/lame --big-endian -x "$@"

chmod +x ~/bin/lame

3. Then in K3B, Settings->Configure K3b...->Plugins, under AudioEncoder, Configure the "K3b External Audio Encode" entry. Click on Mp3 (Lame) and click on the Edit button. Tick the two bottom options for "Swap Byte Order" and "Write Wave Header".

Then enjoy using K3B again!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

TIP: Viewing Olympus Raw Format picture (.orf)

I have an Olympus e-500 and haven't decided if I prefer RAW over TIFF yet but just wanted to say that you can view Olympus Raw Format picture (.orf) if you have dcraw package installed.

Install it via Synaptic Package Manager.

GIMP - Install the gimp-dcraw plugin via Synaptic Package Manager allows you to edit the image in GIMP.

RAW gives the same quality as TIFF but, in a smaller file size. The lack of viewers and editor for RAW needs considering.

Friday, 22 January 2010

GNU *nix utilities for Win32

I was pointed to this site of ported *nix utilities to Win32.

Includes the wget utility that I mentioned in my last post. I know I'm cross posting in my own forum but I always want to show off all tghe good *nix stuff that is finding its way to those M$ OSes.

The following program versions are covered:


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Hosting Multiple Domains with Virtual Accounts

Here's a good link.

Mastering wget

wget is a useful command line (bash) Unix program for downloading files or batches of files, including entire websites.

I schedule downloads of large files at night, where my ISP does not count it against my broadband usage.

Switch between Gnome And KDE Desktops In...

Switch Between Gnome And KDE Desktops In Ubuntu Or Kubuntu

How to Fix Windows XP ntfs.sys Errors

A great article to fix "Stop 0x24", "NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM" or other ntfs.sys errors using the Knoppix Live CD/DVD.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Change Your Forgotten Windows Password with the Linux

Change Your Forgotten Windows Password with the Linux System Rescue CD

Author has tested this technique on both XP, Vista and Windows 7 with good results.

The Linux System Rescue CD is the one I mention and link to in my 'TIP: Anti-virus, Rootkits, Partitioning and Data Recovery' posting.


If your a techie like me, that fixes computers for friends and family, you may often get given a M$ Windows PC where the owner has forgotten the Administrator or particular user's password.

You could just change the password with the utility above or, use something like Ophcrack This utility will crack passwords for Windows under XP, 2000, 98, and 95 users.

It is also educational to show your family and friends just how insecure there user password is, allowing you to encourage them to choose a stronger one![/url]

'How fast? It can crack the password "Fgpyyih804423" in 160 seconds. Most people would consider that password fairly secure. The Microsoft password strength checker rates it "strong". The Geekwisdom password strength meter rates it "mediocre".', says Jeff Atwood ( ).

Plenty of tutorials on installing and using Ophcrack so use a search engine to find one to your preference. I may write one here myself soon.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Xastir in (K)ubuntu 9.04

I installed the binary of Xastir from the Kubuntu repositories but found that when adding map images, they wouldn't display. A bit of browsing on the Xastir list archives found that there were problems with the dependant libraries used.

So, I removed the binary and followed the HowTo documentation at to compile the libraries and Xastir. Thanks to Kevin KB9MQU for the HowTo. Went pretty well but, if you don't have a lot of RAM then close all other applications before trying to compile.

Hmm, maps of the UK are a bit patchy but try these at

Don't forget to change the permissions of the files.
In Xastir copy the folder or files into the maps folder in /usr/local/share/xastir/maps or /usr/share/xastir/maps depending on the version of Linux.

In bash type, as root:
cd /usr/share/xastir/maps
find . -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;
find . -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;
find . -user g0twn -exec chown -R root:root {} \;

Change my user g0twn in the above, to the user used to download the image files.

Refresh the maps in Xastir using Map, Configure, Index: Reindex ALL Maps! Note that only the small scale maps can be used with Xastir.

Using UIView maps with XASTIR
See ZL3AME's blog at

Saturday, 2 January 2010

TIP: Anti-virus, Rootkits, Partitioning and Data Recovery

Revision: 18th April 2010

These notes are a work in progress and outline linux tools that I use to check and clean hard drives with MS Windows OS installed. My childrens PC's run Windows XP and Vista and friends also ask me to clean their riddled hard drives too. I used to boot into MS Windows XP and then run purchased tools. Now that I run Kubuntu all the time, I just hot-plug their hard drives into either a SATA docking station or for EIDE, a EIDE/SATA adapter.

Whilst I mention how to install the following packages from the bash prompt, it is far better to install them via Synaptic Package. Then, it is far easier to update them.

If you are running a file server, interface frequently with Windows drives, or use virtualization, you will want a virus checker for your Windows files.

ClamAV is the open source virus tool for Linux. To install ClamAV with a KDE frontend:

sudo apt-get install klamav

Far better to install via Synaptic Package though as you can select clamtk (this is for clamav user interface) at the same time. clamtk allows you to run ClamAV from the GUI (desktop) but also once installed, you can right-click on any file in your file manager and then select, 'Open with...', 'Virus Scanner'.

Rootkit checkers
Rootkits are malicious trojan-like programs to allow an intruder to become a root user and therefore have complete administrative control over the system. There aren't many rootkits in the wild for Linux. Still, this is a growing security problem (especially in other operating systems) and it is a matter of time before more rootkits appear in Linux. Checking for rootkits isn't always successful from a system that is already infected. Your rootkit checker should therefore be run from another system, or a USB pendrive with a Ubuntu LiveCD installation. See the rootkit checker manuals for instructions how to do this. If you are infected with a rootkit, you must backup all your files and re-install your system. (Thank goodness this is easy with Ubuntu, unlike with other operating systems).

Chkrootkit checks locally for signs of a rootkit.

sudo apt-get install chkrootkit

sudo chkrootkit

Data Recovery
SystemRescueCd - is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash.

SystemRescueCd - Articles about usage
Become A System Rescue Guru With Linux, Part 1

Become A System Rescue Guru With Linux, Part 2

Partition and Image Your Hard Drive with the System Rescue CD

GParted - (included in SystemRescueCd above) I prefer to install the latest version of this on my system. It is a hard drive partition editor for creating, reorganizing, and deleting disk partitions.

TestDisk - is a powerful OpenSource (free) data recovery software for Linux, MS Win and Mac O.S.
It was primarily designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally deleting a Partition Table). Partition table recovery using TestDisk is really easy.

PhotoRec - is a powerful OpenSource (free) data recovery software for Linux, MS Win and Mac O.S.

Designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from hard disks, CD-ROMs, and lost pictures (thus the Photo Recovery name) from digital camera memory. PhotoRec ignores the file system and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media's file system has been severely damaged or reformatted.

Categories: How-To, Linux, OS
Tags: Ubuntu, Kubuntu, administration, commands, maintenance, disk, anti-virus, rootkits, partitioning, data recovery.

TIP: Useful Firefox Plug-ins

Here are some Firefox plug-ins I use and recommend.

Below, I give the commands to install plugins from the bash but, it is far better to install them via Firefox itself because Firefox will prompt you when updates become available.

From Firefox

Tools -> Add-ons -> Get Add-ons -> Browse All Add-ons
(This method will also ensure that automatic updates are installed by Firefox.)

Adblock plug-in (block ads in a web page)
Adblock Plus blocks ads that appear in web pages. You can subscribe to a free filter service, and can add ads to block with a single click.
sudo apt-get install mozilla-firefox-adblock

Noscript plug-in (controls scripts) The Noscript plugin is considered one of the most important security measures for browsing the Internet. Most viruses and trojans gain access to computers from the Internet through scripts. This plugin allows you to choose which scripts to allow and blocks the rest.
sudo apt-get install mozilla-noscript

Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for Firefox plug-in
This package also installs the Java Runtime Environment. (JRE is also installed when OpenOffice or ubuntu-restricted-extras is installed.)
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin

Note: You must accept the license to use this product.
Adobe Acrobat Reader for Firefox Plug-in

This plugin is available from the Medibuntu repository. It allows you to view Adobe Acrobat files within the Firefox browser.
sudo apt-get install acroread mozilla-acroread acroread-plugins acroread-fonts

Adobe Flash Player for Firefox Plug-in
To install the official Adobe Flash plugin (Flash 10) for Firefox:
sudo apt-get install adobe-flashplugin

TIP: Restricted Extras

The Ubuntu Restricted Extras will install Adobe Flash Player, Java Runtime Environment (JRE) (sun-java-jre) with Firefox plug-ins (icedtea), a set of Microsoft Fonts (msttcorefonts), multimedia codecs (w32codecs or w64codecs), mp3-compatible encoding (lame), FFMpeg, extra Gstreamer codecs, the package for DVD decoding, the unrar archiver, odbc, and cabextract. It also installs multiple "stripped" codecs and avutils (libavcodec-unstripped-52 and libavutil-unstripped-49).

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Note: Installation only works completely and properly when done from the command-line Terminal. The entire package will not usually install completely from within a Package Manager.

TIP: How to free space on hard drive

To view the amount of used and free space on your hard drive:

Disk usage in bytes

more human readable form, usage in Gbytes and Mbytes.
df -h

KDiskFree (kdf)
KDiskFree displays the available file devices (hard drive partitions, floppy and CD drives, etc.) along with information on their capacity, free space, type and mount point. It also allows you to mount and unmount drives and view them in a file manager.

How to free space on hard drive
I was going to upgrade from Kubuntu Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) to Karmic Koala (9.10) but the installer was failing due to not enough free space in root (/). A bit of browsing and I threw together the following tips.

Empty Trash - You should regularly keep your trash can empty. Via the desktop os easy or, via bash:
rm -rf ~/.Trash/*

To delete all but the last 7 days of files from Trash:
$find ~/.Trash -type f -atime +7 -exec rm {} \;

Downloaded packages - Downloaded .debs packages that have been downloaded get put in /var/cache/apt/archive, you can remove everything from this directory, except "lock" and "partial" safely.
sudo rm /var/cache/apt/archives/*.deb

or, you could go to Synaptic and in Settings->Preferences->Files click the 'Delete Cached Packages Files' button.

Note:- There is an option in Synaptic
(Settings->Preferences->Files) to just not keep .deb files after using them for installation.

Removing unused package files - When you install a package APT retrieves the needed files. In time the local repository can grow and occupy a lot of disk space. Fortunately, APT provides tools for managing its local repository: apt-get's clean and autoclean methods.

apt-get clean removes everything except lock files.

apt-get autoclean removes only package files that can no longer be downloaded.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get clean
sudo apt-get autoclean

File Manager (Nautilus, Dolphin, etc.) - The file manager stores thumbnails (small images) of image, pdf and other files. You could clear out your ~/.thumbnails to free a bit of space.
rm -rf ~/.thumbnails/normal/*
rm -rf ~/.thumbnails/large/*

A great way to clean up lots of old thumbnails that you have not looked at in 7 days:
$find ~/.thumbnails -type f -atime +7 -exec rm {} \;

Categories: How-To, Linux, OS
Tags: Ubuntu, Kubuntu, administration, commands, maintenance, disk space.

Friday, 1 January 2010

TIP: Screenshot grabbing

How to make a screenshot of your desktop or an application

In Windows, to take a screenshot you simply press the "prtscn" key and you're good to go. What about Linux? Is taking screenshots as easy?

Gnome has what is probably the easiest method of taking screenshots. You simply press the "prtscn" key and a window will pop up.

In KDE if you press the "prtscn" key, nothing happens. I'll give instructions on how to program the Print Screen (prtscrn) button below.

KDE comes with a handy program called ksnapshot that lets you with ease grab a screenshot of your desktop or a single window.

Press ALT-F2 and enter "ksnapshot" in the space provided.

Program the Print Screen (prtscrn) button in KDE
In KDE4 on my Kubuntu 9.10 the prtscrn button did not work. Here's how to program it to open ksnapshot.

Go to the System Settings, Input Actions, right-click in the left pane and select "New Global Shortcut > Command/URL". Give the new entry a name: "KSnapshot", a comment "Print screen key to open ksnapshot" and an action: "ksnapshot". In the trigger pane, click on the button and press "PrintScreen" on the keyboard to assign the key. Click "Apply".

If you cannot find Input Actions utility as mentioned above, then launch KRunner by pressing Alt+F2 and type 'Input Actions' to find it and then click upon the icon.

To grab an image of the screen or a program in Gimp:
File -> Acquire -> Screen shot

GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program, for X Windows systems.

Categories: How-To, Linux, OS
Tags: kde, KScreenshot, Kubuntu, Linux, print, screen, screenshot, shortcut