Force your Google Nexus 7 to receive an OTA update

I bought a Google Nexus 7 tablet recently and it is fantastic. Since it is a ‘Nexus’ branded tablet, it also means that it receives regular updates much earlier than other tablets. However, I noticed that everytime Google released an OTA (over the air) udpate, I would not get the update immediately.

Recently, it was all over the internet that Google had released version 4.1.2 of their Jelly Bean operating system. However, my tablet was still at version 4.1.1. I tried the usual trick, going to Settings -> About -> System Updates -> Check Now but it kept saying my tablet was the latest version. This was obviously not the case. After searching around I finally found the solution to get a firmware update at the same time as others –

1. Goto Settings -> Applications

2. Select the “All” tab on top of the screen

3. Find ‘Google Framework Services’. Select it.

4. Click the ‘Force Stop’ button. Don’t worry, it wont cause any problems (atleast mine didn’t :P)

5. Click ‘Clear Data’

6. Go back to Settings-> System Updates -> Check Now. You should see the date in the 1960’s. Ignore this for now. 

7. You should see the update once you click Check All!

If the above does not work try repeating Steps 3-6 a few times. Some people have reported success after trying the above steps a few times. Don’t give up! Enjoy your spanking new version of Jelly Bean ūüėČ

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Save brightness setting on reboot in Debian Squeeze / Wheezy

I recently installed Debian Wheezy (testing version of Debian 6) on my laptop. Most of the things went smoothly except for a few minor quirks. I eventually switched to XFCE desktop because I wasn’t too big a fan of the new Unity Gnome look.

XFCE was great for speed and it got everything I needed done really well. There was, however, one very annoying issue. Everytime I set my laptop brightness it was lost after a reboot. After reading up online and scouring forums, I finally found the location where the brightness setting is saved.

Location

/sys/class/backlight

There were multiple entries under this directory and changing one of them wasn’t enough for my case. Your case maybe different. To try out a setting before making it permanent, try the following command (as root)

echo 5 > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness

If the above command brings a change in your screen brightness, then you are on the right track. To save the brightness across reboots, we make a change to our /etc/rc.local file using the following commands as root –

cd /etc

gedit rc.local

Just above "exit" statement in the file, add the following lines –

echo 950 > /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness

echo 5 > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness

echo 5 > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video1/brightness

I added the above three lines as I had the entries acpi_video0, acpi_video1, and intel_backlight under my /sys/class/backlight folder. If you have different entries, then make appropriate substitutions above.

That’s it! Save the file and reboot. You should now have your brightness to the same level as you had left if before you rebooted.

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Top 5 Google Chrome extensions

Google Chrome extensionsLately I have ditched Firefox completely to adopt Google Chrome. The reason? Speed! Firefox crawls even on a fairly modern system when a javascript/flash filled  page is loaded. I am not saying Google Chrome is perfect but it it light as hell and the fastest browser on the planet as of now. Yes, it is faster than Opera.

The only reason why I completely switched to Chrome so late is because of poor Linux support and lack of extensions. All that has changed now and things are really beginning to heat up! The Linux and Mac versions are out of beta. What better time than now to write and article about my favorite Chrome extensions.

5. Adblock РGoto Adblock page

Adblock is a very nice extension to have. It is one of the most popular extensions for Firefox and is now available for Google Chrome. Block those pesky ads with support for whitelists, blacklists and filter lists. Another cool feature albeit in beta is the the ability to block ads in Youtube. I hate those pesky youtube ads. This extension runs in an unobtrusive manner so installing this extension is a no brainer.

4. StumbleUpon РGo to StumbleUpon page

StumbleUpon is known by almost every webjunkie out there. Find great webpages just by clicking the “Stumble!” button. StumbleUpon needs no introduction. If websurfing is your passion, then Stumble Upon should be in your arsenal.

3.¬†Feedly –¬†Goto Feedly page

Feedly organizes your favorite sources in a magazine-like start page. A very innovative way to read your RSS feeds in Google Reader. It feels like you have a fresh, well laid out magazine laid out in front of you each day. Trust me, once you read your feeds using Feedly, you will never go back.

2. ScribeFire ‚Äď Goto ScribeFire page

ScribeFire is a full fledged blog poster/editor with support for the mainstream blog sites like blogger, wordpress etc. Installation and setup is a breeze and is fairly easy to get up and running. Give it a shot if you don’t want to install additional software on your machine or just want a quick and convenient way to post to your blog.

1.¬†Chromed Bird (twitter) –¬†Goto ChromedBird page

No top list is going to have twitter missing J This has got to be one of the nicest twitter clients out there. Just authorize the extension to access your twitter account and you are all set. Tweet, reply, retweet, direct reply all from a nice and easy to use interface. It’s not the best client out there but it is an extension and for that it does all you need.

Other honorable mentions ‚Äď

Downloads, Facebook for Google Chrome, FlashBlock, LastPass

Improve font appearance in Firefox Linux

Don’t you just hate the way fonts look in Firefox in Linux. A couple of simple solutions exist in order to fix the problem. You could try and reduce your screen resolution. Another thing you can do it press ‘Ctrl + Mouse wheel’ or ‘Ctrl and +’ in the Firefox window. I use this shortcut a lot while browsing. But I have found that the following settings (Edit -> Preferences) make a huge difference to the look of web pages. It’s all about choosing the best looking font. You can do a search in Google for msttcorefonts if you want to install Windows based fonts like Verdana, Tahoma etc. on your Linux system. Here are screenshots of settings that work best for me. Don’t worry you can replace my fonts with any that look good on your system.

Tasque – to do application in Linux for forgetful people

Tasque_Screenshot

Tasque [ pronounced ‘task’ ] is a great application for forgetful Linux users. There are a few to-do list applications in Linux, but most lack the finesse that Tasque provides. It acts as a front-end for various backends. You can use Evolution, SQLite etc. as it’s backend. Presently, it needs to be installed from source. You need Mono and ndesk-dbus already installed on your system. Additional instructions/information can be found on the following link –

http://live.gnome.org/Tasque

Demystification of your xorg.conf

X.ORG¬†LogoDisclaimer : Editing the xorg.conf can make things go horribly wrong if you don’t know what you are doing. Unless you are sure of yourself, do not try this. At the very least you should be comfortable with some basic Linux commands in case you need to restore¬†a¬†backed¬†up¬†copy¬†of¬†the¬†file.¬†You¬†have¬†been¬†warned.

The¬†first¬†thing¬†that¬†you¬†should¬†do,¬†and¬†I¬†cannot¬†stress this enough : Make a copy of your xorg.conf file. It can be found in the /etc/X11/ folder. The command to do the same is –

su

cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf xorg.conf.backup

After this you can begin editing various sections of the file. I will try and explain a couple of important sections. With trial and error you can become pretty good at this and have more fine tuned control over your display.

The xorg.conf file is divided into a minimum of eight sections. The start of each section is marked by the word Section followed by the section’s name, and its end by EndSection. Sections can be placed in any order, and you can have more than one section that cover a certain purpose — for example, if you are using multiple monitors. As in most configuration files, you may also see lines that start with a number sign (#) that provide comments for human readers. These lines are ignored by the operating system, and you can add more for your own purposes.

Fonts

Quick¬†tip¬†for¬†fonts¬†:¬†You can add new font paths by following the format of existing entries: FontPath “<absolutepath>”
It is suggested that you place any directory for 100dpi bitmap fonts before those for 75dpi bitmap fonts, and add :unscaled to the end of all the paths for bitmapped fonts. This ensures that the higher quality fonts are used by the xserver first.

Module

You¬†should¬†prevent¬†editing¬†this¬†section.¬†xorg.conf’s Modules and DRI sections refer to modules loaded by the X server for such purposes as 3-D acceleration (glx, dri) and font support.¬†Unless¬†the¬†relevant¬†resources¬†have¬†been¬†compiled¬†in¬†the¬†kernel,¬†it¬†will¬†not¬†make¬†a difference if you edit this section.

Input Device РKeyboard

Most probably you will want to use the XkbRules options to define the general behavior of the keyboard, since the alternative is to define all aspects of the keyboard layout separately¬†yourself. Driver ‘kbd’ will work fine 90% of the time. The XkbModel for the keyboard can be defined, using one of the options listed in /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/base.lst, or else a generic one such as pc104 or pc102.

Input¬†Device¬†–¬†Mouse

Two¬†important¬†sections¬†here¬†are¬†“Driver”¬†and¬†“Device”.¬†The¬†driver¬†‘mouse’¬†will¬†work¬†fine¬†for most. Device indicates the location where your pointing device is present. The protocol section defines the type of mouse you have – whether a PS2 (round connector), a USB or a serial mouse. If you have a three-button mouse, you should add the “Emulate 3 buttons” option as follows –

Option “Emulate3Buttons” “true”

Device & Monitor

These¬†sections¬†define¬†your¬†monitor¬†and¬†your¬†3d¬†card.¬†Make¬†sure¬†that¬†they¬†have¬†got¬†detected correctly. If you are having trouble with the display, you can try one of the drivers in the /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers directory for the graphic card ‘Driver’ section. If all else fails you can get basic video support by entering “vesa” or “vga” for the driver. The bus ID for the first 3d card is usually PCI:1:0:0.

For the monitor, the DPMS, enables Display Power Management Signaling in order to conserve the power used by the monitor.

Screen 

The screen section can be used for setting the depth and resolution. Pretty handy if you want to bump up/down your resolution or if you know beforehand that your monitor does not support a particular mode.

After¬†you¬†hav¬†made¬†changes¬†to¬†your¬†xorg.conf¬†file,¬†save¬†the¬†file¬†and¬†restart X by pressing ‘Control + Alt + Backspace’. I case something goes wrong you can always restore the the copy of xorg.conf that you had backed up earlier. You can also look for logs related to the error in the /var/log folder. Look for recent entries.

Download this article as a PDF -> Demystification of your xorg.conf

Open ports for your Airtel connection (Port-mapping)

Airtel-LogoThis write up will explain to you how to speed up your Airtel Broadband connection / solve other problems regarding connection failures due to closed ports.

Although I use Airtel and a Beetel 220 BX modem as my basis for this write up, the same rules can be applied to others as well. So lets get started. First thing make sure your DSL modem is on. Fire up your browser. Type http://192.168.1.1 as the address with the following Username/Password –

Username : admin

Password : password

Note : These are case sensitive. Make sure all are typed in lowercase.

Click on Advanced Setup -> NAT in the page that loads. If you do not see these options try entering http://192.168.1.1/main.html as the address. Some routers/modems deliberately try to prevent users from accessing these options. On the NAT virtual servers page click the add button. Now add the port number that you wish to open up. You can even open up a range of ports using the add button. You should see something similar to the screenshot below. Click it to view full image

Beeter 220 BX Screen Shot
This technique can be used for any operating system / modem / service provider. It may vary slightly but the essential principle remains the same.