Friday, March 29, 2013

Free VPN connection: OpenVPN on Ubuntu 12.04 with SecurityKISS

Came across SecurityKiss who offer 300MB per day VPN free.

Setting up an account is easy, and then you need to get it going.

1. Log into the client area and then click 'download' and then 'linux'.

This gets you a zip file with some files in it. So unzip

2. Check if you have IP is set up:

    sudo nano /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

it needs to be "1"


    sudo nano /etc/sysctl.conf


    net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1

at the bottom

3. Install the Open VPN GUI

    sudo apt-get install openvpn network-manager-openvpn

4. Start the network configuration, by clicking on the wireless symbol in the menu bar, dragging down and selecting "VPN Connections" > "Configure VPN" and then "Add"

5. Select OpenVPN and then "create"

6. Put in the following.

In the Gateway box I put the IP for LA

Then load the files you unzipped earlier

User Certificate = "client.crt"
CA certificate = "ca.crt"
Private Key = "client.key"

7. Click Advanced

Make the gateway port 443


enable "Use a TCP connection"

8. Click OK and then Save

9. Then from the wireless / network connection icon you can select the new VPN connection. For me it takes about 13 seconds to connect

10. For bonus points you can monitor the sys log and see whats going on

    sudo tail -f /var/log/syslog

I would guess this works with other Linux distros as well.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Make gEdit behave like TextMate

If you develop using OSX, Google App Engine and TextMate, its a really powerful combination.

Switching to Ubuntu and thus not having textMate, one feature I really missed was the directory browsing. After you've installed the Python based App Engine launcher on Ubuntu or other linux, you need to make gEdit more powerful.

1. Download and extract the browser plugin for gEdit

2. Extract it. If you've downloaded into your download folder then you need to copy to /usr/share/gedit/plugins

    sudo cp -r ~/Downloads/gedit_classbrowser-0.2.1/ /usr/share/gedit/plugins/

3. In gEdit go to Edit -> Preferences -> Plugins and check the box for "File Browser Panel"

To make gedit even more like TextMate:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Google App Engine Launcher on Ubuntu

I've been getting into Google's App Engine recently, and have started re-building one of my photo site on it, as probably you've seen on Google Plus.

On OSX Google provide the very excellent App Engine launcher for your Python projects, but not on Ubuntu or other linux distros. OK you might use Eclipse but thats for your Java projects.

If you'd like similar funntionality on Ubuntu or other Linux flavour, these instructions basically from here worked well for me.

1. Switch to home directory

    cd ~/

2. Install a dependency

    sudo apt-get install python-wxversion python-wxglade

3. get the launcher. NB this text may get wrapped

    svn checkout google-appengine-launcher

4. switch to the App Engine launcher directory

    cd google-appengine-launcher

5. Run the launcher


Clicking on 'Edit' launches your preferred text editor which for me is gEdit, more of which later.

Of course on OSX TextMate is shear brilliance. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When Firefox extensions don't load / show properly

After updating to Firefox 19, I noticed that some of my extensions did not load or show properly, such as No Script.

To fix this I needed to delete some stuff, and allow Firefox to recreate:

  1. Open your profile folder:

    Click Help > Troubleshooting Information.

    Look for the section "Profile Directory" and then click "Open Directory". This open the folder where your profile is stored.
  2. Quit from Firefox
  3. In the profile folder delete these files:

  4. Restart Firefox. You might be asked if you want to enable some extensions, so choose what you want to do and then restart if required

Friday, March 15, 2013

Howto record video and audio from a Mac OSX screen online lecture

Assuming you have copyright and permissions etc to do this, it can be very useful to record what you see and hear on your computer screen. For example you are doing an online course and you'd like to view the lesson which has video and audio on a plane.

This tip uses two bits of free software: QuickTime X (on Snow Leopard and later ie Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion) and Jack from If you have Lion or Mountain Lion you'll need the v0.9 beta 64/32 bit version.

Pretty good documentation is here.

The basic premise is that we are going to take audio from one application and route it to another application ie bypassing the system.

First off get the download and install. Jack works at pretty low level so you'll need to do a restart.

Launch Jack

and click 'Start'

takes a few seconds and then Jack is running

 I found the default prefs to be OK, so then click on 'Routing'

In the example above, which I borrowed from the documentation, we are going to get audio from a system 'port' and send it Audacity.

But you could equally use "a send port" as iTunes. In my case I wanted to send the audio from a Java application to QuickTime for the screen and audio capture. So I selected Java on the left and QuickTime on the right. You'll know which send port you are using since they go red.

So start a new recording in QuickTime X, and in the drop down box on the right hand side, click in and you should see "JackRouter".

Then click the red button and either record full screen or window.

I found that an hour on a lesson with audio took about 130MB, so quite efficient really.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Which Folding Bike

From this page,  I created a Google spreadsheet which I've sorted by bike weight.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

OSX Finder: showing the "seconds" in list view

By default the Mac OSX Finder shows only hours and minutes in list view. I needed to be able to see seconds as well.

Go to System Preferences > Language & Text > Formats.

Look for 'Times' section and press customize.

Drag the seconds from 'medium' to 'short' and put a : between

Your Finder windows update straight away

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Opening Mac formatted Truecrypt in Linux / Ubuntu

I've got some portable HDs to which I've applied Full Disk Encryption using Truecrypt, basically its my off-site backup. Thing is, "inside" the Truecrypt volume they are formatted for use on my Mac, which I don't want to not use anymore.

So how to use on my Dell XPS Ultrabook which has Ubuntu 12.04 on it?

First, install the HFS+ tools:

    sudo apt-get install hfsplus hfsprogs hfsutils

Then install Truecrypt. Get the installer from

When the file truecrypt-7.1a-linux-x64.tar.gz is downloaded, extract it, and then make the install file executable:

    chmod +x  truecrypt-7.1a-setup-x64

and then run

    ./ truecrypt-7.1a-setup-x64 

This installs Truecrypt into the Applications > Accessories menu

Plug in the external drive, and wait a few seconds while the USB system recongises it. Then you can launch Truecrypt just like on OSX.

Click "Select Device" 

 find the device, select "OK". You might need to enter your admin password.

Back in the main window click "Mount", put in your key and the device is mounted, usually in /media/

From there its transparent.


1.  This gives you read access to your files, which is fine for my purposes at the moment.

2.  You can also install Truecrypt by using a 3rd party PPA:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:michael-astrapi/ppa

    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install truecrypt