Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Zoe's Secret is #3 at Amazon

As the screen capture from this morning (8/19) demonstrates, I now have the number 3 Contemporary Fantasy book at Amazon:


Of course you'll notice that is #3 for FREE books. Which means that I'm a bestseller but making zip for it :-)

In any case, the book is free through 8/21 (goes back to $2.99 after that), so grab a copy from Amazon if you haven't already done so. Direct link is: http://www.amazon.com/Zoes-Secret-Ewan-Grantham-ebook/dp/B00FY7H9B2


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Watch Netflix on Linux without a lot of fuss

Courtesy of OMG! Ubuntu is this tutorial on setting up Chrome DEV to allow you to watch Netflix on any Linux machine that runs the latest version of the Chrome browser:
http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/08/netflix-linux-html5-support-plugins

Highlights are:
1) Uninstall Stable Version of Chrome if you've already installed it previously
2) Download and install the latest (14.10 beta) versions of the libnss libraries
3) Download and install the DEV version (38 or later) of the Chrome browser
4) Add the User Agent Switcher Extension to Chrome and Configure it to use the proper Agent string
5) Make sure that you switch to your new Agent string before logging into Netflix
6) Once in Netflix make sure that "Prefer HTML5" is selected in your Account-Playback Settings

Once that is done, it is just as easy to watch Movies and Shows from Netflix on Ubuntu and other Linux flavors as it is on Windows.

Of course it would be better if there was no DRM issues requiring any of those steps in the first place. But for the time being this is sure better than the old way of adding special PPA libraries, running command line tools, and waiting for updates when Netflix would break...

Kudos for the Variety Linux Desktop Changer

One thing that is not as easy as it COULD be in switching from Windows to Ubuntu is the problem with "boring" desktop backgrounds. Even one that was exciting a month ago can get a little stale after a week or two.

On Windows the easy (not to mention constantly being shoved down your throat) solution is to use Bing Desktop which includes the Bing photo of the day as a background. It will then cycle through these.

On Linux the closest thing I've found is a tool called Variety (https://launchpad.net/variety). This tool works great with Ubuntu 14.04 64 and 32 bit systems, and has a nice variety of sites it pulls from. For this particular usage I'd say it's even better than the Bing Desktop as it lets you choose whether you want to make local copies of files or not, and always maintains the link to the original so you can check out more info about the picture. Highly recommended!

Invader Zim - The Next Generation

It has been a while since I did any of my fanimations (example 1, example 2), but got this idea in my mind last night and can't seem to shake it. So I figured I'd post it here so everyone can tell me what a horrible idea setting up a kickstarter for it would be...

Concept is that we meet Zim and company 10 years later. Zim is now "happily" at work as the owner operator of a food truck called "Taco King". The middling popularity of which lets him think he is the ruler of all humans as their king. He has ended up marrying Gaz who now works as a wise-cracking "Mommy" blogger while she takes care of their two children Blip and Mary.

Dib, of course, now works for the NSA, where he is an underpaid analyst. He has a room in Zim's house since he can never get a promotion at work due to his obsession with still trying to prove what a menace that Zim is.

The tallest have been replaced by the "Even Taller", and so some of the fun is Zim trying to prove to them that he is indeed the ruler of Earth so that they don't dispatch another invader or the invasion fleet. Not to mention trying to raise a family where he has to be both ruler and father in his children's eyes.

So, what do you think?

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Setting up an External Disk on Ubuntu the right way

As mentioned in my last post, part of this weekend's fun was rebuilding my 4 disk array with two new WD Red 3TB disks to join the two remaining 3TB disks. Since I still have not converted the family machine to Ubuntu, I had no choice but to lug the array downstairs and use the JD Micron tool to erase the old RAID from the remaining two disks. I had moment of terror after it erased the old array as the tool defaulted to showing my other array which made it appear that I had just erased the array that I needed to copy from. Then setup the new 4 disk RAID 0, and copy over for about 12 hours.

So this morning I saw the copy was finished, unplugged the drive, brought it upstairs, and got a cryptic error message from Ubuntu. Fortunately I realized the issue was that I had turned on write caching in Windows to make the copy go faster, and had not used the Remove utility in Windows before unplugging the drive. Even though there was no data to be lost, Ubuntu correctly realized that the cache was not in a "closed" state. So trudge the array back downstairs, plug it in, Remove it from Windows "correctly", come upstairs, and this time the drive auto-appeared.

Started working with the drive, and realized that in the default mode Ubuntu treats an auto-mounted external drive as owned by the current user, and read only for everyone else. This causes issues with several programs and utilities.

The last time I ran into this I hacked a solution by mounting the disk using Samba, going downstairs, and using Windows to change the permissions recursively. This fixes all but the "root" directory of the volume, but kills a lot of time and really is subject to failing at odd times and places.

So this time I decided to do things the right way. First I used "sudo fdisk -l" to show me that the drive was being recognized as /dev/sdb (quite common if you only have one internal drive), and fdisk complained that the drive used GPT and that it was mounting /dev/sdb1 as the partition. The GPT comment is actually quite important because what that is really telling me (or you) is that fdisk is "lying" about the partition actually being mounted. If you are using GPT (as you would for a partition larger than 2TB) then Ubuntu is actually pseudo-mounting sdb1 through /dev/sdb2. A quick look at the information given by the nautilus file manager will confirm that the drive is actually automounted on /dev/sdb2.

Knowing this, I then unmounted the drive to avoid having two different logical pointers to it. Mount can sometimes get confused otherwise, and it can cause other issues.

I then went to the /media directory (default mount point for external devices) and created a directory called Z12TB (sudo mkdir /media/Z12TB). You can call it whatever works for you. Then need to make sure it has full permissions using "sudo chmod 777 /media/Z12TB".

Finally it was time to edit the fstab file. So "sudo gedit /etc/fstab" and then in the file itself add a line like:
/dev/sdb2   /media/Z12TB ntfs-3g defaults 0 0

You are telling it to mount partition /dev/sdb2 at the mount point (/media/Z12TB), that the partition is using NTFS (default for large Windows partitions) to use the default owner and groups, and to use the default permissions.

Finally use "sudo mount -a", and the drive should mount under whatever drive letter you gave it in Windows the last time you used Windows to access it. In my case Z which explains the name.

If you are going to share the drive to Windows, this is a good time to bring up Samba, add a drive path using the mount location, use the drive letter as the name and the directory name as the description (i.e. Z and Z12TB respectively), and I would set the permissions to "everyone" to avoid a bunch of fun connecting from the Windows machines.

As always, let me know if you have any questions!