Category Archives: tools

Do you really need to buy a scanner?

Google DriveIf you work in an office where many document are daily processed you will appreciate one quick tip about using Google Drive as a on-the-go scanner. As you certainly know you can set Google Drive to always convert documents into Google Formats when you upload a new one. You can also decide to automate the process and Google will automatically convert the files without asking you again about it but, for my experience, it’s more more flexible and useful to define the conversion parameters every time I decide to upload a new document. For this reason I ticked the “Confirm settings before each upload” option in the upload menu.

One, not so known, feature is represented by the internal Google OCR that is able to read text also contained in jpg files. This means that you can simply take a picture of the text you want to modify and Google will convert it into a text file in few secs. During some test we made, a medium quality photograph is more than sufficient to have good results with Google OCR.

To activate this feature don’t forget to put a tick on the “Convert text from PDF and image files to Google documents” option and to specify the document language when you upload the jpg files into your Google Drive.  AddThis

Get power on pdf files and modify them on the fly with pdfmod (PDF Mod) and PDF Editor on Ubuntu

Since its invention, the pdf format has been the most versatile standard to share documents with a fixed layout. Everyday we share, read and create a lot of pdf files but sometimes we would like to modify them to create “new” personalized version more suitable to our needs.

For example, sometimes you need to extrapolate just a page from a pdf files or you want just to create different versions of the same file with few variations for your colleagues. For all these purpose pdfmod is the right solution for you.

Pdfmod has not been developed for some years because the versions we were able to find for Linux were the 2011 ones but, for what we know and tested, it still runs on all main platforms as Linux, Windows and OSX. Pdfmod is  a little bit different from other similar programs because it allows you just to modify the pdf file changing pages order, deleting pages or adding new pages from other pdf files. It also allows you to change some main metadata (title, author, keywords and subjest) of your pdf file in just few clicks and, of course, you can save the modified copy of the original pdf file.

These features could be basic for more sophisticated people but I can assure you that, if you have the need to do this kind of work different times in a week, pdfmod is the software you will use more often. Installation on Ubuntu is very simple, you just have to open a terminal and type:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pdfmod-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pdfmod

and you will find a new PDF Mod launcher into the Accessories menu.

To get complete power on your pdf files we suggest pdfedit (PDF Editor) which allows you to “break” protected pdf files and modify them. To install pdfedit, use Synaptics Package Manager or the Ubuntu Software Center.

Don’t forget, when you use pdfedit you just have to open the “target” pdf file, save it using the Flatten feature you find into the Tool menu and open again the “new” file to modify it without any restriction.

Easy to install and simple to use, in few words the above described programs worth a try!  AddThis

Remastersys: the easy tool to backup your PC or to create a personalized Linux (Debian – Ubuntu) distribution

Everyday we improve the OS we usually use adapting it to our specific needs. Consequently, we are worried about major OS upgrades between one version to another because we know that bugs could affect our installation and indirectly corrupt our saved data. Usually backup software are the right solution for data but, if something goes wrong, we have to reinstall all our OS and reconfigure it. Better, we have to spend many hours to download and configure all the single software we had installed into our original OS.

This is always but annoying and time-wasting. To avoid this specific problem we can decide to install Remastersys on our Linux distribution and use it regularly. Remastersys is very simple to install. For example, if you use Ubuntu, you have just to download its pgp key and save it into the Home folder then you can go to Synaptic Package Manager –> Other Software –> Add and enter the apt line specific for your Ubuntu version:

deb http://www.remastersys.com/ubuntu precise main

or

deb http://www.remastersys.com/ubuntu quantal main

if you use quantal.

On Synaptic Package Manger go to Edit and click on Reload Package Information then look for remastersys. Now you have Remastersys launcher under System –> Administration.

Remastersys has a very intuitive menu and you will be able to powerfully use it after just few tests. Please, remember to set-up Remastersys using its Customize –> Configure menu and you avoid any beginner mistake. If your iso will be bigger than 4GB, and you want to save it in to a FAT disk, you have to back-up documents, pictures, videos, etc.. separately because FAT formatted disks don’t allow files bigger than 4GB.

Important, if you are creating a ISO to distribute it to friends, don’t forget to not include personal folders, documents or your sensible data. Enjoy it and, if you want to share with us your personal Debian – Ubuntu distribution, add the specific download link into a comment to this post!  AddThis

Repair GRUB on IBM Thinkpad – The best Linux solution

When you decide to add another OS to the usual OS on your PC you can potentially damage your grub package. The Grub (GNU GRand Unified Bootloader) is the “soul” of you hardware, the program which allows your PC to find the OS during the boot-up.

Today we will not discuss about the old and new malware that are able to influence the GRUB but we will focus our attention on how repairing your computer when you see grub rescue> on your black screen…

The first solution you can find on internet is a detailed command solution but it was unfortunately usefulness in my case because my PC was not able to correctly accept the insmod command. Consequently I decided to use a portable rescue CD-USB to fix the matter.

Normally, if you use an Ubuntu derived OS, you can use Boot-Repair and it will semi-automatically fix your Grub problem in just few minutes. In any case, it is moderately easy but you have to be 100% sure about what HD partition you want to repair. As usual, this wasn’t my case. I had to find something more generic -in term of serviced OS- but effective.

At the end I bumped into the Boot Repair Disk. I had just to burn the free iso on a RW DVD and I could start to test it on my “out of service” laptop. The Boot Repair live CD is a wonderful tool! As soon as you boot up the live CD, Boot Repair guides you to the best possible solution. You have just to follow the suggestion on the screen and, in few minutes, the Boot Repair Disk is able to fix the Grub and to perfectly restore your computer.

Easy, Fast, Effective!! AddThis

Gmail advanced searching: how to create a powerful query to catch a “wanted” email – Computer forensic

Gmail QueriesIf you want to improve your Google searches you can find many useful queries on internet and, if have time, you can also attend a specific Google free course.

But just few people know that there are specific queries available for Gmail.

I found some of them casually when I need to search some specific, old emails into my accounts some days ago. Then I discovered that Google itself published a complete list of all the possible queries accepted by Gmail.

I warmly suggest you to spend some minutes reading and exploring all the queries because they are really useful when you use Gmail in a professional way.

Here, I just want to sum-up some of them that, in my experience, are the most common you can use when you are becoming crazy looking for a specific email you sent or received.

The powerful feature is represented by the possibility to mix the different queries to create super-queries that can intercept the “wanted” email or documents in a less than a second.

Time

after:2010/10/24 before:2011/09/24

Here you are defining the time range and Gmail will show all the emails sent or received between the two specified dates.

From or To

from xyz@zyw.com
to:xyz@zyw.com

Where xyz @zyw.com is the email address you are focusing on.

from:tom OR from:Luis
from:tom OR from:Luis -meeting

In this case you are looking for an email from Tom or (plus) Luis but it hasn’t to contain (- minus) the word “meeting”.

Bcc or CC

bcc:xyz@zyw.com
cc:xyz@zyw.com

Where xyz @zyw are specific email addresses you are looking for.

Filename

filename:invitation
filename:(jpg OR jpeg OR png)
filename:(doc OR docx OR pdf)
filename:invitation(doc OR docx OR pdf)

Subject

subject:meeting

Attachment

has:attachment

Spam

in:spam

And you check into a specific folder. In my case: the Spam folder

Larger or Smaller

larger:25MB
smaller:250MB

Some complex query examples:

from:xyz@zyw.com filename:(jpg OR jpeg OR png)

to:xyz@zyw.com filename:(doc OR docx OR pdf)

from:xyz@zyw.com filename:invitationfrom xyz@zyw.com to:xyz@zyw.com filename:(doc OR docx OR pdf) subject:meeting

after:2011/10/24 before:2011/11/24 in:spam subject:meeting

AddThis

How to install Android on a Nook Color using a Linux OS – Practical Tips

Nook Color Android

First of all, I wanted to test one of the latest version of Android 4 but I didn’t want to spend money for a new device so I decided to use/sacrifice the Nook Color that I used rarely because I am a Kindle enthusiast.

Secondly I didn’t want to void the Nook warranty or permanently modify its ROM.

Last but not least I never pretended to discover a new way to modify the Nook but just find the most simple and practical tutorial into internet.

After some hours of internet surfing I found some interesting commercial solutions (e.g. n2acards) and a lot of good tutorial posts and my final choice was one by xda-developers.

I bought a class 4, 8 GB micro SD card and I followed the detailed instructions described into the xda-developers post…, but I had some practical problems because I didn’t read carefully all the text.

The xda-developers tutorial is really well done and full of right information but, as for my experience, it is best to focus your attention on some few points/steps.

In particular:

– you have to create a bootable micro SD card using these commands on Terminal:

sudo fdisk -l

(in this way you will discover the right address of your SD card, in my case was “sdc”. Pay attention! If you choose the wrong address you risk to wipe your hard disk)

sudo dd if=generic-sdcard-v1.3-CM7-9-10-larger-Rev5.img of=/dev/sdc

where generic-sdcard-v1.3-CM7-9-10-larger-Rev5.img is the the image file you find in the xda-developers webpage and sdc the right address of your SD card

– when you download the three necessary “software”, be sure to choose the right one for the CM you have chosen. I mean: if you choose to install CM 9 you need gapps-ics but, if you prefer CM 10, gapps-jb is the right software for you. If you don’t use the proper file, you will have this type of “error message” when you boot your new Android:

Unfortunately, Google services framework has stopped

Unfortunately, Setup Wizard has stopped

Adding the zip files suggested on the xda-developers guide you are now ready to test the Android 4 on your Nook. During the first boot up the Linux software on the SD card will inflate the proper files creating all the right folders and compiling the libraries. To complete this step you will need about 8/10 minutes and, at the end, the Nook will automatically shut down.

In my case I installed CM 10 and during my first boot-up, after I completed the installation, I was not able to use the Android Keyboard and I read this error message on the screen:

Unfortunately, Android keyboard (AOSP) has stopped

Luckily, I was not the first user to have this kind of problem and I read the right tip into another xda-developer blog. I had to come back at the beginning of the Tutorial and change the gapps zip file to an older version, more precisely the 2012-10-11. After this, the new installation the Android 4 run properly on the Nook Color.

For my experience, the Android 4 on the Nook Color is slowest than I supposed but it is not so slow to force me to come back to an older Android version. When I installed a couple of free apps, Startup Manager and Memory Booster, the speed improved and Android was more fluid.  AddThis

AuctionSieve: the best multiplatform (Linux, MAC OS, Windows) software to manage your ebay searches

AuctionSieveChristmas time! And you want to buy some presents… ebay could represent a good option to save some money but it needs a lot of time because you want to be sure you are bidding at the right price to the best (used or not) item.

The web is full of websites which help you to discover and follow items on ebay but, in the real world, from the moment you find something to the end of a winning auction many days pass and often you have not time to follow and properly bid for your “catches”.

The software I use and recommend for ebay auctions is AuctionSieve. This software is written in Java and consequently it is multiplatform. In the Download Page you can always find the right version for the OS you are using.

On Linux, download AuctionSieve, extract the file and save it to (e.g.) Home. Open the folder you created and give the permission to execute as program to auctionsieve.jar (right button on the mouse –> Properties –> Permission –> Allow executing file as program”). Then open it with (in my case) -OpenJKD Java 6 Runtime-.

AuctionSieve is intuitive but you have to “play” with it for a couple of hours before dominating all its features. You can save your searches, focus on just one category, filter items using “catch” or “trash” words options, create personal watchlists and evaluate the price of a particular item using the “Price History” tab. If you repeat a  specific search you did in the past, you can decide to automatically exclude all the items you have already seen before and you will spare more time examining the results. Moreover, when you begin a “New Sieve”, you can also import the same search criteria you created and selected during a previous search you did.

Let me suggest you to read the AuctionSieve Tour page before using it. In this way you will skip all the most common mistakes that beginners usually make.  AddThis