HP, make drivers available for manual download and install

HP has adopted a new approach to download drivers. They want you to download software that will install the driver for you based on what it detects. Only it doesn’t. HP Smart is what they call it. It isn’t. It’s like their old logo HP Invent, when they really meant HP Acquire. They stopped inventing a long time ago, and began copying what others were doing to make quick money. But I digress, sort of.

HP Envy Pro 6458 printer. A friend has one and wanted to print to it via USB cable as a local printer. HP really doesn’t want to do that. They keep suggesting that it be hooked up via wireless. In a pinch, they’d begrudgingly will let it connect via Ethernet. I expected it to be recognized instantly when I plugged in the USB cable. Nope. Device manager sees it, but with an exclamation point, meaning the driver is futzed. If I install it via Ethernet, it expects that it will STAY a network printer. If I connect the USB cable again, the driver it installed over the network doesn’t work. Running HP Smart with just a USB cable… printer? What printer?

When a computer is connected to a VPN, and the VPN software is locked-down to prevent local network resources from being available (to protect the company network from things like ransomware), then it becomes important for a printer to be used locally, that is, connected directly to the computer via USB. But if the printer’s manufacturer doesn’t see the point of an all inclusive print driver, that makes life difficult for the user, not smoother and more efficient.

Manual downloads and installs have worked for the past 20 years. They would still work today, if HP would let them. But nah. They made it better. They made it easier. They made it work for most of their customers, and that’s good enough for them.

Firefox started saving JPG as JPEG

I’m not sure why it changed, but Firefox began saving all JPG files as JPEG files. I prefer the 3 letter extension. I use Xubuntu with XFCE as the user interface.

After much digging I found multiple references to a Firefox MimeTypes.rdf file, but that didn’t seem to exist on my system. Not sure if they still use it or not, but it was not a file even in hidden folders.

I opened the about:config page and searched for mime. One of the entries was /etc/mime.types

I viewed it and saw:
image/jpeg jpeg jpg jpe

I edited the file as sudo, and changed the order of the extensions to be:
image/jpeg jpg jpeg jpe

That fixed it instantly! W00t!

Netgear GS110TP physical mounting specs

Screws are head type Pan or Button for best fit, maybe dome or round, 3/16in (5mm) head diameter, apx 1/16in (2mm) max head height (thickness).

Machine screw: #6-32, Head Dia. 0.250 – 0.262″, Head Height 0.063 – 0.073″

Wood screws, #6 pan head https://www.amazon.com/SNUG-Fasteners-SNG603-Stainless-Phillips/dp/B089PVZ1YX/

Distance between mounting screws is 4 5/16in or 109.5mm (thanks for the round number Netgear!)

TIP: Make template with sheet of paper held in place on back of unit and rub the mounting holes to emboss the paper.

Alternatively, photocopy the back of the unit. But it is darkly colored, so may not show up well. Make sure that it is not resized during photocopying.

Back of unit could be painted and dried before photocopying.

Linux: Thunar not grouping folders when saving files from browser

After installing the latest Xubuntu (Ubuntu with Xfce as the user interface), the file manager Thunar normally lists folders grouped together at the top when a drive or folder is opened. However, when saving a file from a browser, it would mix the folder and file names alphabetically.

There is an option when saving that only needs to be specified once to fix this behavior (which some consider “correct”). When saving the file and the list of folders and files appears, right-click and check the option “Sort Folders Before Files”. Thereafter the folders will appear first in alphabetical order, then files in alphabetical order.

Xubuntu 20.10, fresh install, some gotchas

After experiencing some weird issues after upgrading from Xubuntu 18.06, I saved my data (desktop files, music, exported bookmarks and Ublock custom filters) and I did a wipe and reload because I was using a system with over a decade of old libraries and upgrades.

The new system is mostly stable, though I’ve seen a few times where windows will disappear as I’m working on them. Facebook hung once after posting a picture, and Chrome said that it closed, but the browser didn’t close.

I did a fresh install of FFMPEG and am still having odd issues with it. After building from git sources and a make and install, the system has no idea that it is installed. If I go to ~/bin, I can run it with ./ffmpeg, but it then complains:

./ffmpeg: symbol lookup error: /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libswresample.so.3: undefined symbol: av_calloc, version LIBAVUTIL_56

I was getting this on my system before rebuilding. So, some issues to work through. I may be doing something in the configuration of the libraries that is causing it to choke. So I did

sudo apt build-dep ffmpeg
sudo apt install ffmpeg

That didn’t fix it either. Same damn error every time
ffmpeg: symbol lookup error: /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libswresample.so.3: undefined symbol: av_calloc, version LIBAVUTIL_56

UPDATE: I did get ffmpeg working finally. I think I was including a switch that it didn’t like, maybe –enable-shared.

UPDATE: I did get VLC working finally. I downloaded the source via FTP, compiled it, installed, then installed a missing library and it worked.
I followed https://wiki.videolan.org/UnixCompile/

$ wget ftp://ftp.videolan.org/pub/videolan/vlc/3.0.10/vlc-3.0.10.tar.xz
$ tar xvJf vlc-3.0.10.tar.xz
$ cd vlc-3.0.10
$ ./configure
$ sudo make -j4
$ sudo make -j4 install
$ sudo apt install libvlc5

I was having a ton of trouble getting VLC to play MP4 files. VLC error trying to play MP4 files:

VLC could not decode the format "h264" (H264 - MPEG-4 AVC (part 10))

I did install ubuntu-restricted-extras, like so many places recommend. No joy with VLC. I’ve tried purging VLC and reinstalling, but it will not play MP4 or MKV files or anything else really. Parole player will play some of them, but others says it needs to download a codec, but then says it can’t. I was about fed up with this. Hours are spent trying to fix something that should work out of the box. But using the above method of installing from source, I was able to get it working.

By the way, if you install the ubuntu-restricted-extras and get stuck at the ttf-mscorefonts screen, press the TAB key to highlight <Ok> and then press the Enter key to continue.

Audio was oddly not present at first, but I had to tell it to use my actual add-on Xonar DSX card instead of HDMI audio. And it was also muted by default for some reason.

DisplayCAL color calibration can’t be installed because it is currently dependent on Python 2, and this system has Python 3. The program dependencies have to be updated and the program redesigned to work with Python 3, so in the meantime I have a somewhat greenish hue that I had previously been able to correct with a Spyder 5 and DisplayCAL.

I turned off the popup “tooltips” when the mouse hovers over a file or folder (Desktop, Icons, un-check Show icon tooltips)

So a few issues, but mostly stable and useful after about 12 hours of tweaking it.

Ubuntu 20.04, can’t type password

UPDATE: 11/7/20 I saved my data, wiped and reloaded with Xubuntu 20.10. I had done so many updates to the same system over 13 years that it really needed to start fresh. Password issue is “resolved”, though I never really found out what the underlying reason was.

I just upgraded to Ubuntu 20.04 last night. This morning the password block would not allow any typing, though the system recognized when I pressed the caps-lock key. That meant it knew the keyboard was present. I have to click on Switch User, then choose restart from the upper right menu. That menu isn’t present otherwise, just a lock icon. After login, I can lock and unlock the screen normally, unless I leave it locked for an hour or more.

This is the closest description I’ve found to this issue. I’m also using lightdm:

Still an ongoing issue for me. After about an hour of inactivity, or overnight, the screen displays a slightly different looking login screen and does not recognize any typing. All the buttons (Switch User, Cancel, Login) work, but no typing (and it isn’t invisible typing). It is the same screen I get if I call xflock from terminal, or if I press CTR:+ALT+DEL. But from those I am able to type my password and unlock the system. I assume there is something that measures how long the screen has been locked and then runs, but I haven’t yet found it.

Another new thing I’m seeing is a brief flash of a wallpaper with a constellation (stars) before the login screen appears. (That is the Ubuntu “Felicity” mascot drawn as a constellation)

-I tried adding a securetty file, like I’ve seen fix other people’s login issue. That didn’t help.
-It isn’t the permissions on .Xauthority or .ICEauthority.
-I removed Light Locker and removed Gnome screensaver, and Gnome keyring
-xscreensaver is enabled
-xflock4 instantly locks the screen (black) and I am able to type in my password to unlock. Screen shown is exactly like the first image below, but typing is possible. That indicates that something else is happening after an hour or so that prevents me from typing. I don’t have any power management since I’m on a desktop PC.

THIS SCREEN BRIEFLY APPEARS BEFORE MY NORMAL WALLPAPER. I found it listed in Settings Editor under xfce4-desktop as /usr/share/xfce4/backdrops/xubuntu-wallpaper.png and unchecked each time it was listed.

“Chestnut” mushrooms – not the same in USA vs UK

I am growing bags of what we call Chestnut mushrooms in the USA, and began looking for recipes. I kept finding a LOT of recipes that are for what we call Crimini mushrooms. Then I noticed that the recipes all came from the UK. Aha, the downfall of using “common names” for mushrooms. Over there, they call my kind of mushrooms Cinnamon Caps. Here are a couple of images (not mine, since mine have not yet fruited).

Crimini, Chestnut (UK, etc) – Agaricus bisporus, likes a manure-based substrate

Chestnut (USA), Cinnamon Cap – Pholiota adiposa, grows on wood

Example of poor vibration dampening

At work I found an example of how NOT to use vibration dampening. This air conditioning unit is resting on 4 rubber/cork pads, but then bolts were run through the pads into the rigid wood base, which is also bolted to the rigid metal base. This allows the vibrations to travel freely through the bolts into the frame and into the metal building. A pad really isn’t the best approach here, if the amount of vibration would allow the unit to move off the base. Spring dampeners on each foot would be a better way. Spring dampeners also need to be matched to work with the weight of the unit.

Make Facebook Show Chronological Posts (newest first)

Make a bookmark to Facebook in your browser with this as the link:


The new Facebook layout will keep stale posts at the top for several days. Using the link above with the odd looking characters at the end makes it display the latest posts by everyone in your newsfeed.

Thanks to David Murphy on Lifehacker: