Rotating one or more pages in a PDF in linux

Had to rotate a single page of a PDF. Here’s how to do it using pdftk (from makandra.com):

  • rotate page 1 by 90 degrees clockwise:
pdftk in.pdf cat 1east output out.pdf # new pdftk
  • To rotate all pages clockwise:
pdftk in.pdf cat 1-endeast output out.pdf # new pdftk

The east etc. Read the rest of this entry »


Various remote work guides and tips

Here’s a place where I’m collecting various tips and tricks for remote work in light of the University of Lethbridge moving to “alternate methods of delivery.” I’ll update this as I go.

Some Zoom tips.

The university is encouraging us to use Zoom for meetings, office hours, and classes. Read the rest of this entry »


Zoom in the time of COVID-19: Setting up Zoom for classes and office hours at the U of L

The University of Lethbridge is moving to an ‘alternate delivery model’ for classes as of Wednesday March 18. Mostly, this seems to me subscribing to Zoom, a widely-used teleconferencing system, and encouraging faculty to use it. Since the University of Lethbridge has not previously subscribed to Zoom, this means that a lot of faculty members will be doing two new things starting on Wednesday: using Zoom and teaching on Zoom.

I’ve used Zoom a lot in the last couple of years for my research (in fact my lab has a subscription of its own). The following are some tips and hints for faculty that are using it for the first time to teach. They are based on my experience running workshops and meetings, rather than teaching. I’ll update them as I get tips and experience. They are not meant to replace online guides to using Zoom (such as this one from UC San Diego). Just things you might not think about or see in such guides. Read the rest of this entry »


Fixing “Failure to download extra fonts” error in Ubuntu 19.10

I’ve had an annoying issue with Microsoft’s core fonts installer: no matter which mirror I choose, I get a “failure to download extra data files” error every time I boot.

I found the answer here: https://ranatauqeer.blogspot.com/2019/03/failure-to-download-extra-data-files.html

The second method worked for me:

If it doesn’t work, than opt for manual installation of ttf-mscorefonts-installer as below:

Go to Debian’s Site and download the latest ttf-mscorefonts-installer_3. Read the rest of this entry »


Fixing a Thunderbolt dock/display issue on Dell XPS 1300 in Ubuntu by unlocking Thunderbird

I came into work this morning after taking a week off.

I plugged my notebook into my docking station as usual, but couldn’t get the screens or wired internet to work. When I went to Settings > Display only the built in display was showing rather than the three I have attached to my docking station. I could turn the computer on and off using the button on my docking station.

I did the usual things when the docking station doesn’t work exactly as it should:

  1. Restart the computer
  2. Cold boot the computer (i.e. Read the rest of this entry »

Resetting a Dell TB16 Thunderbolt dock

I have a TB16 Thunderbolt dock to act as a hub for my screens, internet, camera, and so on. This afternoon I came back from a meeting and my computer was hibernating and the doc was dead: no power light, no light on the thunderbolt cable, no response to commands, and no screen, sound, or internet pass through. Looked through the Dell troubleshooting guide and found nothing. In a chat with a tech, they told me how to reset the dock, humblerise.com(I don’t see this anywhere obvious on the Dell site):
    1. Unplug the dock from power and from the computer
    2. Hold the power button on the dock down for 45 seconds
    3. plug everything back in
Read the rest of this entry »

Recovery key for Dell XPS 13 OEM Ubuntu (Developer edition)

Just bought a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition with OEM Ubuntu (18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver) installed.

As I was setting the computer up for the first use, it asked me if I wanted to create a recovery key (i.e. disk or USB), but indicated that you could also do this later. I didn’t have a USB key with me, so I skipped the step.

Once I got set up, however, I wasn’t able to see where I could access the utility to make the recovery disk. I thought the dialogue during set up had said the Ubuntu app store, and various Dell sites seemed to indicate either the app store or launchpad. Read the rest of this entry »


Finding files modified within a specific time period

I had been working experimentally on a file a couple of days ago and forgot to change the name to something meaningful. I remembered roughly when I was working on it and would recognise the name and context when I saw it (probably). But the problem is how to you find the relevant files? Stackoverflow to the rescue (as always), with a bit of man find:

find /home/dan/ -name *.xml -mtime -2 -ls |more

It’s all pretty self explanatory except the -mtime -2: the utility, the start directory, any restrictions on the file name (you want to use this if you are searching a home directory: I have 10k+ files, it looked like before I added it, given all the cache files from the web browsers), the time period in days (-mtime), and a ls-style display. |more is a pipe that allows you to look at the output in segments if there is more than a screen’s worth.

-mtime is the only funny bit: it searches back the number of days expressed by its value. If the value is positive, it searches bac Read the rest of this entry »

Finding and replacing text in multiple files from BASH

A problem I’ve had lately has been how to find and replace text in multiple files from the command line. Since I keep googling the answer, here’s a post to remind me. It is based on this page: https://superuser.com/questions/428493/how-can-i-do-a-recursive-find-and-replace-from-the-command-line

find . -type f -name "*.txt" -print0 | xargs -0 sed -i'' -e 's/foo/bar/g'

Note that unlike the source, I have -i'' rather than -i ''. This seems to required on a *nixes.

I also discovered (mostly ‘cause I’m not good at regular expressions, I suspect), that if you are searching and adding things in < and > that you need to escape everything except the first and the last < and >. Read the rest of this entry »


Finding and moving off screen applications in Gnome 3/Ubuntu 17.10

I have a strange problem in the gnew gnome windows manager that ships with Ubuntu 17.10: on my three-monitor desktop, application windows occasionally open off screen. I.e. in the following screen shot, they open partially or entirely in the space marked “invisible window” to the left or right of the tall window.

To make matters worse, applications that open like this do it all the time. I.e. Read the rest of this entry »


An interesting issue with the *nix ls command, or, why you should never begin a filename with a hyphen

In which I discover an odd error using ls and learn how to solve it.


How to fix tables that run off the page in Google Docs

Here’s a problem I wasn’t able to find a solution online to…

The Problem

Sometimes, when you import a document into Google Doc from a different wordprocessor, you can end up with the problem that the table is wider than the page. The following is an example:

The problem is that there is nothing to grab on the top ribbon to pull the edge of the table back. If the problem was the internal alignment of the columns, then you could use a slider in the ribbon bar:

But since there isn’t one, then there’s nothing to grab.

The solution

The solution is to go to Table>Table Properties and then uncheck the column width button. Read the rest of this entry »


Master slides in Libreoffice reminders

Some quick reminders for my own use about master slides in Office

Turn on default sections

Impress master slides come with some sections built in (e.g. slide count, date, etc.). But by default these sections don’t appear unless you turn them on.

To turn them on:

  • Insert > Header/Footer > make sure the relevant section is checked in the dialogue that opens.

Read the rest of this entry »

Linux/Chrome on Chromebook using Crouton

There are many articles about this on the web. This is just a reminder to me as to what I’ve been doing.

Change boot to developer mode

Doing the following deletes all local data on your system. You can always reinstall the Operating System (Chrome seems to do that remotely). But your data is wiped after you do this.

  • Hold down the ESC + ↻ (refresh) key (the refresh key is where F3 would be on a normal keyboard)
  • While holding them down push the ⏽ (power) key (top right corner).
  • Read the rest of this entry »

How to open the container folder for a Google Doc

I quite like using Google Docs. I’m less crazy about Google Drive.

One of the common issues I have with the relationship between the two comes when I am given the direct link to a Google Doc or Sheet as part of a project. I often want to access (or start) other documents in that same folder. But until now I never knew how to find that folder (everything I learned comes from this page).

It turns out that all you need to do is click on the little folder icon beside the file name (highlighted in yellow in the following image):

When you do this, a dialogue opens up with a “Move” button. Read the rest of this entry »


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