Category Archives: Software

Fixing Now-Reading’s Admin Menu

I like using Now-Reading to track what books I’m currently reading, have read and want to read on my website. Unfortunately the plugin’s author has been too busy of late to update the plugin and one of the recent updates to WordPress caused Now-Reading’s admin menu to break (when using the single menu option). PHP is not a programming language that I’m really familiar with but I did some poking around in Now-Reading’s code and found if I changed this snip of code:

	if ( $options['menuLayout'] == NR_MENU_SINGLE ) {

		add_menu_page('Now Reading', 'Now Reading', 9, 'admin.php?page=add_book', 'now_reading_add');


		add_submenu_page('admin.php?page=add_book', 'Add a Book', 'Add a Book',$nr_level , 'add_book', 'now_reading_add');

		add_submenu_page('admin.php?page=add_book', 'Manage Books', 'Manage Books', $nr_level, 'manage_books', 'nr_manage');

		add_submenu_page('admin.php?page=add_book', 'Options', 'Options', 9, 'nr_options', 'nr_options');

To read like this:

	if ( $options['menuLayout'] == NR_MENU_SINGLE ) {

		add_menu_page('Now Reading', 'Now Reading', 9, 'add_book', 'now_reading_add');
		add_submenu_page('add_book', 'Add a Book', 'Add a Book',$nr_level , 'add_book', 'now_reading_add');
		add_submenu_page('add_book', 'Manage Books', 'Manage Books', $nr_level, 'manage_books', 'nr_manage');
		add_submenu_page('add_book', 'Options', 'Options', 9, 'nr_options', 'nr_options');

Then Now-Reading’s single admin menu worked properly again.

py2avi released!

py2avi is a python script I wrote to make it easier for me to transcode video files from MKV to AVI while not forgetting to extract the subtitles from the MKV file. On the off chance that somebody out there in Internet-land has a similar need, I’m releasing the script under the GPL 2.0. So if you want/need it, take it and have fun with it!

Jaunty Upgrade After Effects

Being something of a linux/technology geek and with the recent-ish release of Ubuntu 9.04, I decided to upgrade my home desktop PC from Ubuntu 8.10.  Like the last time I ran through the upgrade, I was surprised at how smooth the upgrade process went.  Unfortunately 2 new problems appeared after the upgrade was complete, with once again one problem being rather minor and the other one being much bigger.

First up the minor problem, after rebooting into the new hotness of Ubuntu 9.04, I was greeted with a pop-up windo telling me “There was an error while performing indexing : Index corrupted.” The pop-up gave 3 options: “Ok”, “Cancel” or “Reindex all contents”. I tried all 3 but the pop-up kept coming back even after multiple reboots. The only thing I could initiall figure out to do was to kill the tracker
ps -ef | grep tracker

Yes, I know that’s probably a horrible idea but I rarely use the tracker’s search on my home PC so pbbbhhhhttt! A quick Google search later, I found a bug report on LaunchPad about it under which I found these instructions:
sudo aptitude install tracker-utils
tracker-processes -r

I apparently already had the tracker-utils  installed, so the first didn’t do anything for me. The second command above however shutdown the tracker and removed the indexes, so the tracker was able to recreate them cleanly. Since running those commands, the pop-up hasn’t come back.

Now on to the fun with the major problem. This was a case of network failure, specifically wireless network failure. While this is a desktop PC, I live in an old house without network cabling and my PC sits too far away from the ideal location for the router to run a cable. So I have a D-Link PCI wireless NIC in my desktop.  The NIC is based on the Atheros AR5413 chipset, Network performance has never been as good as a wired connection but it had been acceptable until this upgrade to 9.04 when the wireless stopped working.

I had been using ndiswrapper to load the windows driver for the card but that suddenly stopped working. I could see all the wireless networks in my neighborhood, but couldn’t connect to any of them (either networks secured with WPA or wide open ones). I started doing some research into the problem using other computers with working internet connections. I found that my router was getting blacklisted while my desktop was trying to connect and then it would timeout without ever making a network connection.

Also while researching the problem, I found out that there was now a new, open source driver which should be working with my wireless NIC (ath5k).  So I removed ndiswrapper, and tried out this new driver. Alas it wans’t particularly stable, dropping connection ever couple of minutes. However since my wireless NIC uses an Atheros based chipset, I had another option. I installed the madwifi driver via jockey-gtk (Ubuntu’s tool for installing restricted modules/drivers).  For whatever reason, activating the driver via jockey-gtk didn’t actually get it up and running. To test it, I used:

sudo modprobe ath_pci

To actually get the driver to load on every boot, I edited my /etc/modules file to include ath_pci.

The madwifi driver doesn’t appear to make as strong a connection as the ath5k did; the gnome network manager applet shows the connection under madwifi usually has ~45-55% signal strength (under ath5k & ndiswrapper I could get as high as 70%). However I’ve yet to lose a connection to my network while using the madwifi wrapper whereas ath5k would drop connection every couple of minutes and ndiswrapper would usually drop the connection at least once an hour (back on Ubuntu 8.10 where it actually worked for me). Also the madwifi driver allows me to connect to my network on boot-up; unlike ndiswrapper which always took some time to connect after I was booted up and signed in. So overall, I’m pleased with my new networking setup but would have been more pleased if the changes I made could have been done automagically by the upgrade process or if the upgrade process at least warned me that it might break my networking setup.

XBMC-Hulu Update

I’ve been using the Hulu plugin now for a few days and it’s great but I do run into the occasional problem.  So I’ve been following the thread over at XBMC Forums about it as the plugin is under active development.  In a recent post to that thread, one of the developers said:

Please use the google addons.
Right now google addons is more in sync.

Sometimes I use my personal googlecode just to back stuff up, or sync it between my home computer and the one at work. Anytime I’m ready for you guys to try something out I’ll just stick it in the google addons svn & if it’s broken I’ll just revert it.

Which is a good tip as the thread has links to a wide variety of versions of the plugin scattered throughout its 45 pages.  Unfortunately the tip does not really clear things up in my particular case.  As I stated previously I’m using a copy of the plugin from xbmc-hulu. The developer who made the above comment is recommending people use the version of the plugin from xbmc-addons instead of his personal version at rwparris2-xbmc-plugins but makes no mention of the version at xbmc-hulu which shows that developer’s username as one of the project owners.


I suppose I’ll just have to download the xbmc-addons version of the hulu plugin, try it out and compare it to the xbmc-hulu version.  As soon as I’ve had a moment to do so, I’ll post my results.

UPDATE: I’m not seeing any difference between the xbmc-addons & xbmc-hulu versions so far.  However after reading the thread on XBMC Forums, I did go through the trouble of configuring the plugin (under the XBox version -> Videos -> Plugins -> Hulu -> press the white button on your controller).  Setting a default video quality makes using the plugin much nicer (cuts out 2-3 button presses when trying to watch a specific video).  You can enter your Hulu account username/password but there doesn’t appear to be a benefit to doing so yet.

UPDATE2:Per the XBMC Forums, xbmc-hulu has been removed in favor the version available via XBMC SVN Repo Installer and the SVN Repo Installer pulls from xbmc-addons.

UPDATE: Per the XBMC-Hulu plugin release thread, there is no currently working version of the plugin.

XBMC + Hulu = GOLD!

I’ve been home sick today and when not sleeping I’ve been working to upgrade the version of XBMC I have installed on my softmodded XBox.  I had been running the last stable release, but running into the occasional problem.  First off I’ll note that Nautilus under Ubuntu 8.04.1, does a crappy job of working as an FTP client.  That held me up for a while, but after switching over to using gFTP things went much smoother.

The side effect of Nautilus working so poorly was I had time to do a little googling.  I’ve heard good things about the Hulu website for watching TV shows I’ve missed.  Thing i I hate sitting at my computer for long periods of time when I’ve got a comfy couch1 and a much larger TV than computer monitor. So as I said, I started googling and looking for a XBMC/Hulu plugin and I did find one in the XBMC Forums.

Unfortunately the 0.2 release mentioned in the first post of that thread didn’t work so well for me and there were 38 pages in the thread.  I did some more searching and found an article over at LifeHacker.  The article seems to be talking about the same plugin but links to a newer release of it.  I kept looking to see if there were anything else out there and found what appears to be the main site for the plugin, xbmc-hulu.  That last site doesn’t provide a simple download, but you can use subversion to checkout the lastest copy of their plugin.

And that latest version is pure gold, which is to say I’ve not run into a single problem watching any videos via the plugin.  Now I can sit back on the couch and watch Colbert Report, The Daily Show and all sorts of other good stuff that I don’t get with my cable TV package.  If my sinuses clear up and this cold goes away, I could be really happy.

UPDATE: I appear to be getting quite a bit of traffic (for me anyway) on this post, so thanks for stopping by! Also I’ve finally read through the entire 40 pages (at the time of this writing) in the XBMC Forums thread about this plugin.  From reading that thread, there appears to be a lot of confusion on where/how to get the plugin to work.  So for the record, I’m running xbmc-hulu 1.0 (SVN copied checked out on 26 January 2009) on top of T3CH’s 2009-01-25 build of XBMC (rev17349) on an original XBox (softmodded using Mech Assault via ProductWiki’s instructions).

UPDATE: Per the XBMC-Hulu plugin release thread, there is no currently working version of the plugin.

1 Someday I will have a comfy chair!

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