Friday, 26 June 2009

Tethered iPhone

I'm posting this from my laptop sitting outside Marc's Karate dojo with my iPhone in my pocket providing my Internet connection over Bluetooth. I can't help but be geekily happy about this. I never bothered to set up the tethering before OS 3.0, so it's new to me. This is old news to the hardcore users.

I guess a new thing is that Fido is cool with the fact that I've tethered. Not that I care what they think, but phone companies are vindictive enough to actually cut you off if they detected you were tethering, so I feel a little better that it's legit. (Make sure you read the details to be sure you're legit.)

The best instructions I found are here. The instructions here show the actual commands, which is useful to know when you're debugging. It wasn't smooth for me because I didn't do the sequence in perfect order, and it looks like once I messed it up I just couldn't get it to connect. By going System-> Preferences-> Bluetooth and undoing the Bluetooth pairing, I was able to go through the steps from the start and get it working.

The part I had out of order is that I didn't check to see that the iPhone was actually connected to my laptop before attempting to tether from the laptop. The Bluetooth screen on the iPhone has to say "Connected", not just show the name of your laptop.

While writing this I lost my connection and couldn't get it back until I restarted Bluetooth on my laptop (sudo /etc/init.d/bluetooth restart). I have no idea what that's about, but I've seen others on the Internet complain that the connection isn't always reliable.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Keyboard Layouts Disappear when Plugging In Keyboard

I have USA and Spanish (Spain) keyboard layouts defined on my laptop, with USA being the default. When I plug in my external keyboard I can no longer choose the Spanish layout either from the keyboard layout indicator in the panel or via the keyboard shortcut I've defined. If I bring up the keyboard preferences, the Spanish keyboard is still in the list. To work around the problem, I either delete it and re-add the Spanish layout, or restart Gnome (log out and log in).

Sometimes after unplugging and plugging in the keyboard, attempting to switch layouts will cause the keyboard indicator to display "??" instead of "USA" or "Esp". Sometimes it simply displays "USA". In either case, the keyboard responds with the USA layout, meaning no easy access to the Spanish characters.

I'm running on a Lenovo Thinkpad x300. The original Ubuntu install was 8.04 and I've upgraded (using the upgrade process via Synaptic, not by reinstalling) to 8.10 and now 9.04. I have an external PS/2 keyboard in Spanish/Spain physical layout that I plug in to the laptop through a PS/2 to USB cable. The laptop has a USA physical layout.

I first noticed this with 8.10, but I can't say for sure that it wasn't a problem in 8.04 as I didn't use the external keyboard very much with 8.04. On 8.10, the problem also happened when I suspended and resumed, but that seems to be fixed in 9.04. I can suspend and resume and the Spanish layout is still available. However, if I actually unplug the external keyboard and plug it back in, I lose the Spanish layout.

UPDATE: There is a fix: Add the jaunty-proposed packages to your package source list. Through the GUI that's System-> Administration-> Software Sources. Then run System-> Administration-> Update Manager.

Here's the original fix:

  1. Read about updating from PPAs here:
  2. Add Sergey's PPA to your apt sources:
  3. Update your software, making sure that one of the packages updated is "libxklavier - 3.9-0ubuntu3"
  4. Restart your computer
This is Ubuntu bug #363169.

I spent a lot of time flailing around the Internet looking for a solution to this problem. I posted my problem to Ubuntu's Launchpad in mid-May and no one appears to have even looked at it except me. In the meantime, bug #363169 was posted in mid-April, and all my searches hadn't turned it up. Only when I posted the bug to Gnome (thinking it was a Gnome problem, not Ubuntu), did Sergey helpfully see it and point it back over to the correct Ubuntu bug, with a fix.

I've tried to update a few places in Launchpad where I was looking for solutions, but I fear that others having this same problem won't see it. That's why I've made this blog post.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Google Wave

I just watched the Google Wave preview video. What I find intriguing about Wave is that they may have made version control accessible to the masses. Of course, they don't call it version control. That name is part of the reason why it's never been accessible to the masses.

Click here to see my links to the URLs they give at the end of the video.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Open Web Vancouver 2009

I went to Open Web Vancouver 2009 last week. It's a two day, low-key conference about open technologies for developers, testers and others at that level of the business. It's a very well-run, well-attended and interesting conference, and very inexpensive.

The most interesting thing I heard about was PhoneGap. It's JavaScript that runs on all the major smart phones, so you have fewer cross-platform issues. And it gives web applications access to some of the functionality in the phone not normally accessible to a web application. On the iPhone, this means the current location and vibration.

There was a good workshop with City of Vancouver staff about their recent direction to open up the city's data, as well as moving to open standards and open source software. The first priority is the data. They're hoping that people will take the City's data and mash it up in useful ways. There's a Google Group about this at

18 months ago there was a lot of stuff about Ruby on Rails at this conference. This time the Drupal community was big. There was a presentation from Momentum magazine about how a volunteer built their website in Drupal. I thought they'd found money to have a professional develop the site, it's so good.

And Mozilla Messenging (i.e. Mozilla Thunderbird) is based in Vancouver. Who knew?