How to make your Vista Shutdown button actually shut down your computer

With an unmodified Vista install, when you click on your little round start button thingy, and then click on the Power button to turn of your pc, your pc doesn’t really turn off. It goes into Vista Sleep. I dislike this and here on ArsGeek I will cover a hack to solve this.

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I dislike this on general principle. Especially for dual boot machines. When I tell my computer to turn off, I mean off, not nodding into sleep.

Here’s how you can modify your Vista install to turn your box off.

First go to (ready it’s a long one!) Start -> Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Power Options -> Change Plan Settings (this will be below your current power plan) -> Change Advanced Power Settings.

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Phew! Wasn’t that fun?

Now that you’re finally where you want to be, let’s make the change. Look for Power Button Use and Lid. Expand that and find Start Menu Power Button. Change this from Sleep to Shut Down.

shutdown.JPG

Click OK and the next time you mouse jam your Vista power button, your computer will do the right thing.

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5 steps to create a PDF printer (print to PDF) in Ubuntu

Ever wanted to print a document of just about any sort to a virtual printer that would then turn it into a PDF? It’s pretty easy to do in Ubuntu, especially if you follow this ArsGeek tips. In fact you’ll need just 5 steps and about as many minutes of your time to set this up.

Step 1. Get cups-pdf installed. Open up a terminal session (or use Synaptic) and type the following:
sudo apt-get install cups-pdf
Step 2. Go to System -> Administration -> Printing and then Printer ->Add Printer.

adpr.png


Step 3. Take a good look at this screen. You won’t have to change anything, but it sure is nice to see. Click the Forward button.

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Step 4. Set the Manufacturer to Generic and the Model to PostScript. Click the Forward button.

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Step 5. Set the name to something simple and easy to remember, like “LeChicArsGeekPDFPrinterMakerThingy”. Click the Apply button and you are done.

s3.png

Now you can happily churn out PDFs to share with your friends, family and co-workers.

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How to track and recover your Linux laptop if it gets stolen

laptop.jpgFacing the possibility that your laptop (or even desktop) could get stolen, lost or otherwise disappear makes me think of what I’d do. While it wouldn’t be earth shattering for me, there’s a lot of work I’ve put into this blog on ArsGeek and it has a lot of data on it I’d like to get back.

Note: This tutorial was written for Ubuntu or Debian based Linux distros. It will work with other distro’s with only minor modifications, mainly the way to install new programs.

That got me interested in some security measures I could take and more, what I could do to locate my laptop if it ever did get stolen? Here’s a quick guide to setting up a ‘Lojack’ for your laptop. If it’s taken and put on a network somewhere (obviously without being reformatted or reinstalled) you’ll be able to find it.

First, you’re going to need an account with a free dynamic DNS provider. DynDNS is a great one to use and will be focused on in this tutorial. This allows you to alias a dynamic IP address to a static hostname. They offer a number of domains from which you can choose. I have a DNS entry now at dnsdojo.net.

Once you’ve got an account with DynDNS, set up a dynamic DNS host by clicking on Add Host Service, and then Add Dynamic DNS Host. dyndnssetup.png

You’ll see in the image above that it has defaulted to BLANK.selfip.info. If you set this to your computer’s host name (in this example we’ll use arsgeek) it would be arsgeek.selfip.info. This is your host name. Jot this down, you’ll need it in a few minutes.

Then we’re going to install a client that will keep DynDNS updated as to what the laptop’s real, actual IP address is. This is important as, especially with laptops that tend to roam around a bit, you’re IP address will change a lot. We want to be able to pinpoint your computer’s IP no matter what it is.

The client we’ll use is one called ddclient. Let’s install it.
sudo apt-get install ddclient
Once the install begins, you’ll be asked a couple of questions. When it asks you for a fully qualified domain name for your host, you’ll plug in what you just jotted down above (in this example:) arsgeek.selfip.info.

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Then you’ll be asked to type in your DynDNS username and password.

Lastly, it will ask you what interface you’re going to use for this. Type in ‘web’ without the quotes.interface.png

That’s pretty much all you’re going to do to set this up. To verify it’s working, head on over to DynDNS again, click on My Services at the top. Once you’re on the My Services page, look at the Host Level Services at the bottom. You should see your Dynamic DNS services listed. Click on it and you’ll see a report containing a message that looks like this:

dyndnsmessage.png

Alternatively, you can try pinging, sshing or otherwise connecting to your own machine via the new DNS entry that you’ve set up.

If your laptop ever is stolen, start looking for your DNS entry by pinging it. Once you see that it’s online, you can use a program like traceroute from another machine to find your laptop’s default gateway. Once you have that, notify the police and the ISP in question and get your computer back!

(Note – if you have another Ubuntu machine that you want to use to trace your laptop, be sure you install traceroute on it: sudo apt-get install traceroute)

With props to the UbuntuGuide for the tips.

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Get your Ricoh SD card reader working in Ubuntu

For the purpose of running awesome business blog, I’ve got a Lenovo x60s laptop, which has a built in Ricoh SD card reader. The card reader works fine under XP (and not so fine under Vista, but that’s another story) but hasn’t been automatically detected by my Ubuntu installs.sd.jpg

Here’s how to get it working, so that it will auto mount any SD card inserted into the slot.

It’s actually quite a simple process. You’ll need to edit one file, adding one short line. The next time you restart your machine, the SD card reader will be functional.

First, we’ll go into the command line (Applications-> Accessories-> Terminal) and make a backup copy of the file we’re going to modify, which is the modules file in the /etc directory.
sudo cp /etc/modules /etc/modules.bak
Now we’re going to edit the file and add one line.
gksu gedit /etc/modules
Tag this on to the end of the file in a new line:
tifm_sd
When you restart, you’re card reader will be functional. You’ll see that when you slap an SD card into the reader, it will automount.

But wait, don’t want to have to restart your machine? Go back to the terminal you impatient person and type:
sudo modprobe tifm_sd
That should do the trick.

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How NOT to survive the Digg effect

As many of you may have notice, one of our articles was dugg yesterday and made it to the front page.

digg.pngThis resulted in lots and lots of people not being able to get to our site. Why? Well, two reasons.

Generally I’ve got two plugins installed to help cope with the digg effect when and if it occurs. The first is WP-Cache – a handy plugin that creates a static cache of ArsGeek and each individual article on request. I’ve set it to retain this static image for 5 minutes before regenerating. This means that after the first hit on the site or an article, the mySQL database doesn’t get throttled generating new page requests.

Next I’ve got Digg Defender all set up. This plugin notes when hits are coming from various sites (notably in this case Digg) and redirects the incoming request from ArsGeek to a mirror site. People can still read and reach the article, but aren’t bringing ArsGeek down with more traffic.

Here’s what went wrong. There was a permissions error (that was somehow introduced since the last time we were dugg) with WP-Cache causing it to just plain not work. Ouch. So each request coming in to our server to view the article resulted in fresh database queries, causing MySQL to quickly overload the server I was on. Without access to MySQL I couldn’t solve problem #2, which was:

Digg-Defender wasn’t turned on. Big ouch on my part. I don’t generally turn this on unless I can see that I’m getting the Digg effect. Why? Because the mirror site is generally much, much slower than our site, and doesn’t update things like new comments and whatnot. We’ve got enough general traffic coming from Digg that I don’t want everyone ending up on a slow, horribly out of date page. Without access to MySQL, which was bombing out, I couldn’t access WordPress’s control panel to enable Digg Defender so that I could figure out what was wrong with WP-Cache in the first place.

Usually with WP-Cache on and working properly I have time to react. This time, not so much. So there’s how not to survive the Digg effect.

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Windows Vista on VirtualBox – the networking fix

vbox_logo2_gradient.pngWe’ve written a bit about VirtualBox in tech/business section of ArsGeek, so you’re probably familiar with this easy to use x86 virtualization tool. It supports Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista), DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4 and 2.6), and OpenBSD and a bunch of other OSes as well.

Vista however, can present a problem. There are no built in network drivers for the virtual NIC that VBox implements. Without a network connection, it gets kinda hard to download and install the appropriate drivers. If you’re on Ubuntu or a Debian based distro, here’s what to do.

First we’ll get the appropriate driver:
wget http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/utilities/V4.51.zip
Now, we’ll have to unzip it.
unzip V4.51.zip -d vista
We’ve just made a folder called ‘vista’ with all of the driver info needed. Lastly, we’ll create an ISO image from this folder.
mkisofs -o vista.iso -R vista
Once that’s complete, you can mount the ISO through VirtualBox and restart your virtual Vista install.

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When you boot into Vista, you’ll right click on My Computer, choose Manage and then update the driver with software on the ‘cd’ you have mounted.

vista2.png

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