Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Google Chrome for Linux

Back in February I posted a list of Linux web browsers. I mentioned that a stable version of Chromium (the open-source basis for Google Chrome) would soon be available for Linux. I see that Chromium is now available in the Ubuntu repositories and a rpm package is also available for Fedora based distributions as far as I can tell.

Alternatively, you can now download installation packages for a stable version of Google Chrome for Linux. Packages are available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE. Chrome is also available in the Ubuntu canonical repository.

I installed the 64-bit version of Chrome on Xubuntu and it certainly appears to be very fast. I have yet to attempt all my usual web-based tasks on Chrome, but what I have tried has worked well. The growing collection of extensions for Chrome mean that I may be in a position to use it as my main browser rather than Firefox, although I may wait and see what the upcoming version 4 of Firefox has to offer.

Friday, 3 December 2010

How to start Windows in safe mode

Safe mode is very useful if you think you may have an infection on your computer, or if there is some other problem with Windows. Safe mode is a way to start Windows with the minimum of applications and facilities running. Consequently, viruses and the like are not invited to the 'safe mode' party.

To enter safe mode on Windows you need to press the F8 key when the system is booting up. You may have to wait a moment or two for the BIOS to finish its work. That is, you should wait for the initial 'splash screen' and system information to disappear. If you miss your opportunity, don't worry, just restart the machine and have another go.

After pressing F8 you will be presented with a menu of 'Advanced Boot Mode' options. For the purposes of this post we are only interested in the first two of these: 'Safe Mode' and 'Safe Mode with Networking'. You should have up-to-date anti-virus and other security software installed on your machine. If you do not, you can use 'Safe Mode with Networking' to start up Windows, download, install and run them. However, it is usually best to start the machine using the basic 'Safe Mode' option.

When starting in safe mode you will see a stream of file-names and services being started. If there is a problem with Windows you may see an error message at this stage. If so, make a note of the error message and type it into Google (other search engines are available) on another computer in order to learn more about the problem.

If all else fails and you still can't use Windows normally, you can use safe mode to copy your important files onto a memory stick or some other device before reinstalling Windows.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Top Three Web Based Image Editors

If you are using a computer that doesn't have a decent image editor program, then you can make use of a variety of web-based image editors. Having surveyed those that are freely available, I present a list of the top three. Each of these alows you to perform a variety of simple tasks upon an image, such as cropping and resizing. Each also includes the usual drawing tools as well as supporting layers. Please try them out and leave a comment to share your experiences.

Editor by
Editor enables you to create new images or open image files from your computer or from the web in the following formats: bmp, gif, jpg, png, psd and pxd (Editor's own format). You can save images as bmp, jpg, png or pxd to your computer or to Facebook. It offers a good selection of tools and filters.

Sumo Paint 2.0
Sumo Paint also lets you create new images and open files from your computer or the web. You can open files in gif, jpg, png and its own sumo format, and you can save as jpg, png and sumo. It has the best selection of filters and tools of the three here.

Splashup will open bmp, gif, jpg and png files not only from your computer and the web, but also from Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket and Picasa. You can save files back to each of these in jpg, png, and the somewhat obscure fxo format. It has the most limited selection of tools and filters of those listed here.

Monday, 11 October 2010

How to see the Explorer menus in Windows Vista and 7

As promised some time ago, here is the first post about Windows 7 (and Vista).

Users of XP and earlier versions of Windows who now use Vista or 7 will have noticed that the Explorer menus are no longer shown.

Thankfully there is an easy way to remedy this either temporarily or permenantly. To see the menu bar simply press the Alt key.

If you wish to always have the menus visible, select 'Folder options...' from the 'Tools' menu.

On the 'Folder Options' window, go to the 'View' tab and tick 'Always show menus' and then click the 'OK' button.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Linux commands for OpenOffice applications

In order to create a launcher for a particular OpenOffice application, or if you wish to run one from a terminal in Linux, you will need to know which command opens each application. Unlike Microsoft Office, for example, there is one command to run OpenOffice to which you can add a parameter to run a particular application.

Command to run the Writer word processor: -writer

Command to run the Calc spreadsheet application: -calc

Command to run the Impress presentation application: -impress

Command to run the Base database application: -base

Command to run the Draw vector graphics editor: -draw

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Three years of Bloody Computer!

Earlier this month Bloody Computer! reached its third anniversary, so I decided that I should mark the event by sharing a few statistics, as I did to mark 50 posts, 100 posts, and the first anniversary.

This blog has now had 166,042 visits and 189,489 page views from 181 countries.

Top 5 Most Read Posts
1. Keyboard shortcut of the week: undo and redo : 28,800 views
2. How to reboot Windows using the keyboard: 8,311 views
3. Mouse stopped working: how to reinstall: 5,255 views
4. Make any window stay on top: 3,545 views
5. How to save a list of files in a folder: 3,067 views

Data taken from the excellent Google Analytics

Many thanks to all my regular readers and a pox on those who keep leaving spam comments.

Friday, 13 August 2010

How to fix Firefox backspace function

I recently installed Ubuntu 10.04, and found that pressing backspace no longer takes me to the previous page in Firefox. Thankfully, there is a way to fix this.

Type about:config in the address bar and press the Enter key. A warning page will open. Click the "I'll be careful, I promise!" button.

In the filter type browser.backspace_action and then right-click on the entry and click "Modify". Enter 0 (zero) in the box and click OK.

Friday, 2 July 2010

New posts soon

Apologies to my regular readers for not having posted anything in the last month or so. I have been busy with other matters, but I am glad to say that my summer holiday starts here and I will be able to dedicate more time to Bloody Computer!. So expect to see some new posts soon, including updates of previous tips for Windows 7.

Friday, 28 May 2010

How to copy charts into a word processor

When copying charts into a word processor, whether in Microsoft Office from Excel to Word or in from Calc to Writer, the software embeds a special object that links back to the original spreadsheet. If you then change the details in the Excel spreadsheet the chart in the Word document will change accordingly. In many cases this is advantageous; however, it can cause problems if the Word document cannot 'see' the Excel file, for example, if you email the Word file to someone without the Excel file. It is generally better to paste the chart as an image in the first place using the 'Paste special' facility.

I will start by explaining how to do this in Microsoft Office:

Once you have created your chart in Excel you select it and copy it, as shown here.

In older versions of Word you pull down the 'Edit' menu and select 'Paste Special'. You may have to wait a moment for all the menu items to be revealed.

In the latest versions of Word, 'Paste special' is in a menu underneath the 'Paste' button.

A box will open, from which you select 'Picture (Enhanced Metafile)', and click OK.

This will then insert the chart as a picture, which you can manipulate like any other imported image.
In, the procedure is pretty much the same as above, with 'Paste special' is in the 'Edit' menu, or alternatively you can use a keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + V. The major difference from above is that the following box will open when you select 'Paste special'. Simply select 'Bitmap' and click OK to paste the chart as a picture.

Monday, 3 May 2010

How to open a non-linked web address in Firefox

While most web addresses on sites are clickable links, you will have noticed that some are just text that you have to copy and paste into the address bar of your browser. Alternatively, Firefox offers you the facility drag and drop these into a new tab. Simply highlight the address, click on it and while holding down the mouse button drag it up onto the tab bar. Firefox will then automatically open the page in a new tab. I have included a video of this function to show you what I mean.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Linux Applications: Part 4 - Internet

Having switched to Linux a while ago, I finally have settled on a variety of Internet applications that do what I want. I listed a variety of web browsers in a previous post, so this time I will look at other Internet clients.

I have been on-line for many years, so this list includes some applications for systems you may never have heard of, but you may want to try anyway and impress friends and family with your 'old school' credentials.

IRC Client - XChat
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was the online chat system of choice in the days before Internet messaging apps such as ICQ, AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger. There are a number of IRC clients available for Linux, but I have settled on the fully featured XChat, which is also available for Windows.

Usenet client - Pan

Usenet resembles a Bulletin Board System (BBS) or a web forum. It enables you to access a number of newsgroups either provided by your ISP or available on an open server. I still check newsgroups occasionally, so I needed a decent application to do so. I chose Pan, because it had all the features I needed including support for binaries.

Voice over IP client - Skype
This popular VoIP/messenger/videoconferencing client is also available for a number of Linux distributions. While it is not as fully-featured as the Windows version, it still does all that I need.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Freeware page

Observant regulars may notice that I have removed the list of 'recommended freeware' from the left hand column on this blog, but it is not gone completely. I have placed the list on a standalone page accessible from the menu bar above or via this link.

I will be reformatting this page and regularly adding new software to it, beginning with all the recent recommendations for Linux.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Top 5 portable applications

Portable applications are ideal for anyone who uses more than one Windows computer, especially if they don't have privileges to install software. Simply install the program onto a USB pendrive and carry them about with you.

Firefox 3.6 Portable
The major advantage of Firefox Portable is that you can take your bookmarks, add-ons and passwords with you. Although, you should be careful with passwords in case you lose your USB pendrive. Portable is the ideal free alternative to Microsoft Office, offering incredibly similar features and support for all Office file types.

GIMP Portable
The best freeware image editing software is now available as a portable edition.

VLC Media Player Portable
VLC is the media player par excellence as it will play just about all media types without the need to find and install codecs.

Pidgin Portable
Pidgin is an instant messenger that supports AOL, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, GoogleChat and many more.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Adding custom lists to Excel and

In the last post I demonstrated how to easily enter lists of numbers, days of the week and months of the year in Excel and Calc (the spreadsheet application). Both programs offer the option to add custom lists to this feature. In this post I will show you how to add the colours of the spectrum as a new list.

Excel 2003 and earlier
Open up Excel and type the colours of the rainbow into one of the columns, then select the cells as shown below.

Pull down the 'Tools' menu and select 'Options', then go to the 'Custom Lists' tab.

You should see an entry in the 'Import list from cells' box. Click on the 'Import' button to the right of this to add the list.

The colours list will appear in the 'List entries' box. Rather than type the entries into cells, you could just type the list in this box, pressing Enter after each item, and then click the 'Add' button to save the list.

Click 'OK', and the list is available to use. Simply type 'Red' in a cell and drag the handler down to automatically fill consecutive cells with the other colours.

Excel 2007 and later
Follow the previous instructions, except to open the 'Options' box click the Microsoft Office Button (shown right), and then click the 'Excel Options' button.

On the 'Popular' page, click the 'Edit Custom Lists' button and continue as above. Calc

Type the list of colours into a column of cells and select them as shown.

From the 'Tools' menu, select 'Options', then click the + next to ' calc' in the list, to expand its entries, then click on 'Sort Lists', as shown.

You should see an entry in the 'Copy list from' box. Click on the 'Copy' button to the right of this to add the list.

Click 'OK', and the list is available to use.

As with Excel, you can enter a list manually by clicking the 'New' button on the 'Sort Lists' option box, typing in the entries, and then pressing the 'Add' button.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

How to quickly enter lists in Excel and OpenOffice

Excel spreadsheets often have a column or a row of incremental data. That is, information in the form of a list of numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, etc), times (09:00, 10:00, 11:00, etc), the names of months or the days of the week. You could type all this information into the row or column yourself, or you can let Excel handle it for you.

To try this out open Excel and type 1 in any cell, and 2 in the cell below it. For lists of numbers you need to enter a couple of numbers so that Excel knows where to begin and what interval to use.

Select both the cells (by hovering the mouse pointer over the top of one, holding down the left button, moving to the other cell and letting go).

You will notice that there is a small square in the bottom right hand corner of the selection box. If you hover the mouse pointer over this square the pointer will change to a + symbol. If you hold down the left mouse button and drag downwards Excel will fill in the cells continuing the series of numbers.

You can do the same with larger increments too. The images to the left show the same process being used to generate is a list of numbers with an interval of 10.

But that is far from all you can do with this process. You can drag these lists in any direction so that you can create rows as well as columns. Also, you are not limited to numbers; you can produce lists of months, days of the week, and times. I have included a video in this post showing this feature of Excel in action creating a few of these lists.

Calc, the OpenOffice spreadsheet package, works in pretty much the same way, except that there are no default intervals for times. So, if you enter 00:00 and drag the handler down selecting consecutive cells they will all also be filled with 00:00, but this is easily solved by entering 00:00 in the first cell and 01:00 in the second, then selecting both cells and dragging the handler down.

In the next post I will show you how to set up your own custom lists in Excel and Calc.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Can't save an image on a web page?

A number of websites are set up in such a way that you cannot save imagesthat they include. Some of these include scripts to disable right-clicking, meaning that you can't bring up the pop-up menu that includes 'Save Image As...'. There are a variety of ways of getting round this, such as disabling JavaScript on your web browser. Other sites are set up in such a way that images are layered, making it difficult to select the right image to save. One solution that works in both cases is to save the entire web page and then delete all the files that you don't need. Firefox offers a simpler alternative: the 'Page Info' window.

When you right-click on a website you will see an entry on the pop-up menu that reads 'View Page Info', which you can click on to open the 'Page Info' window. This window has a number of tabs, including one called 'Media' shown below. If you go to that tab, you will see a list of all the images on the page and a 'Save as...' button that you can use to save any image from the page.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

OpenOffice Keyboard Shortcuts

Writer, the word processor in, uses many of the same keyboard shortcuts as MS Word. The shortcuts for selecting, editing and formatting text follow established standards. Whereas Writer has a keyboard shortcut for 'Paste special' (Ctrl + Shift + V) - something missing in Word - it does not have one for changing the case of selected text. It is possible to set up new shortcuts in Writer, and I will show you how to set up one to make the selected text upper-case and another to make it lower-case.

In Writer pull down the 'Tools' menu and click 'Customise'.

Select the 'Keyboard' tab, as shown below.

You can see all the default keyboard shortcuts, and some spare key combinations.

I have chosen Ctrl + Shift + U to make selected text upper case, and Ctrl + Shift + L to make it lower case.

Find Ctrl + Shift + U in the 'Shortcut keys' list. Select 'Format' from the 'Category' list, and then 'Uppercase' from the 'Function' list. Click the 'Modify' button to make the change.

Repeat the process selecting Ctrl + Shift + L, the 'Format' category, and the 'Lowercase' function, not forgetting to click the 'Modify' and then the 'OK' buttons when you are done.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Open new tabs on the right in Firefox 3.6

Mozilla have changed the way that new tabs operate in Firefox 3.6. When opening a new tab from a link on a web-page, the new version of Firefox will place it to the right of the current tab, rather than at the far right of the list as it did in previous versions.

To revert to the old functionality type about:config in the address bar and then click the "I'll be careful, I promise!" button if it appears.

In the filter type tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent and then right-click on the entry and click "Toggle".

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Linux Applications: Part 3 - Web Browsers

There are many different web browsers available for Linux. These include Firefox and Opera, but not Safari nor Internet Explorer; however, a Linux version of Chromium (the open-source browser on which Google Chrome is based) is in the pipeline. A number of less well-known browsers are also available for Linux. In this post I will list a few of these.

This is the web browser for the Gnome desktop environment. It uses the WebKit layout engine, as used in Safari.

This browser specialises in social networking facilities and is based on Mozilla Firefox.

This browser also doubles up as the file manager of the K Desktop Environment (KDE). It uses the KHTML layout engine from which WebKit was developed.

This lightweight web browser also uses the WebKit engine. It is now part of the XFCE desktop environment project.

Like Flock, this is based on Firefox and is my browser of choice. It is a lightweight browser optimised for various processors that supports Firefox extensions and plug-ins.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Linux applications: Part 2 - Music Players

In response to my last post listing Linux applications, I received a couple of comments asking whether there are any applications like iTunes for Linux. There are a number of applications that offer many of the features of Apple's music player. Here are a few of the most popular of them.

They all include roughly the same set of features such as support for audio file types and digital audio players, including the iPods. They retrieve album, submit played track information to, and supports podcasts. With such software, look and feel are all important, so I have included screenshots and links to the homepages of each. Since they are all free why not audition them all and find the one that best suits your requirements.

Personally, I prefer a more svelte audio player like Winamp. Since there is no native Linux version of that, I use Audacious, which supports some Winamp skins. That is probably just as well because the default skins are not great.

More Linux applications soon.