Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2007 December 13

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December 13[edit]

Ubuntu networking question[edit]

I recently installed Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon (7.10). Installation went off without a hitch, except for networking. I have a NetGear WG111v2 wireless adapter (which is notoriously hard to set up in linux) hooked into the computer. I successfully installed ndiswrapper and subsequently got Ubuntu to recognise the adapter. However, it refuses to connect to my NetGear WGR614v6 router. My wireless network has two Windows computers connected to it and is WEP-secured (64bit; I know, it's outdated but I don't believe WPA works well with Ubuntu). I cannot connect even without encryption. DHCP does not work for some reason, IP's have to be assigned by me. I did manage to get Ubuntu to connect for an hour by assiging the same IP as the Windows installation it's dual-booting with. However, connection was dropped on reboot. Any suggestions? Thank you! NF24(radio me!) 00:21, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Um. Why are you even WEP-encrypted? Seriously, it's no better at all than unencrypted. Turn off SSID broadcasting, filter by MAC addresses, and use static IPs. Poof you have client-independent security. --ffroth 01:57, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Security in that no one can get on your network, but everyone can watch what you are doing.--Dacium (talk) 03:03, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
It's not impossible to connect either. MACs can be spoofed without too much difficulty. Though, if someone actually cares, having the SSID broadcast off will at least keep you somewhat off the radar. May as well combine that and WEP if it's all you've got. -- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 05:00, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
WEP, SSID hiding and MAC address filtering are all terrible solutions, none of these are even close to safe (sniff one packet and you have the MAC address of an allowed card, sniff a connecting packet and you have the SSID, all in cleartext). I'd say that relatively speaking, of these three, WEP is the best one since at least you get some encryption. If that's all you got, use it. (talk) 09:54, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
But there's nothing wrong with combining WEP and SSID hiding (adding in MAC filtering would be dumb). It at least gives you a very slight degree of extra security as someone who isn't particularly motivated might not notice your AP. It can't hurt. -- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 01:07, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I haven't found Gutsy's wifi abilities to be particularly... stable. What I found sometimes works is setting up a wpa_supplicant.conf manually, running wpa_supplicant, and then running dhclient. I usually only had to resort to that when the signal quality was weak though. Sometimes (okay, often) NetworkManager would crap out on me and I'd have to kill it. I gave up on it after a couple weeks. And WPA does work with Ubuntu, and pretty much as well as WEP as far as I've seen. -- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 05:00, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

**FATAL** String Manager Failed to Initialize Properly[edit]

What does it mean and how do I fix it? Its an error message that comes up whenever I try to start a game on my computer. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:08, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

It's probably specific to the game. What game is it? What type of computer? Googling around makes it seem like it is a Command & Conquer error; a few of the results give specific recommendations.[1][2] Have you tried those? -- (talk) 03:58, 13 December 2007 (UTC)


How exactly do you get it to where the music on the PSP has a picture of the album attached to it so that, like if you created a subfolder for the band, you could see a picture of the album in place of the typical white box? Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:12, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

A Google search for PSP music album art reveals you need to add the album art to the MP3 files using ID3v2 tags. The first result shows how to use a program called GodFather to add the tags: Music Transfer Guide (with album art) --Bavi H (talk) 03:35, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Linux webcam drivers[edit]

Hi, I'm on Linux and I have a USB webcam with a TP6810 chipset (Vendor 06a2, ProdID 6810). Apparently there is no Linux driver for it. How should I proceed if I wanted to write one? I know C to some extent, so that wouldn't be a problem. I also have patience and I'm willing to reverse engineer. :-) ›mysid () 14:08, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, there are many problems you may have to overcome:
  1. Is there any documentation on how the webcam interfaces to the computer? If not, you can try writing to the manufacturer of the chipset - and of the camera - and see if they would be willing to provide you with what you need. Sometimes these people are very enthusiastic about you contributing software that'll sell more Webcams for them - but other times, they couldn't give a damn and won't even reply to your messages. If the latter is the case then you'd have to reverse engineer the data protocols. This would entail figuring out how to monitor the USB traffic when the Webcam is talking to a Windows PC - then wading through those traces to see how to make Linux say the same kinds of things.
  2. It's possible (even 'likely') that the reason there isn't a Linux driver is that the webcam has a really nasty, cheesy USB interface unit that does not have it's firmware preloaded into ROM or flash memory at the factory. These kinds of nasty contraptions are to be avoided at all costs! If you genuinely want to use one, you'll need to figure out how to extract the firmware from the Windows program and send it to the webcam on startup. The degree to which you can do this LEGALLY is sometimes an issue since you would be violating their copyright on the firmware binary data. This isn't a problem if you are the sole user - but it can be painful to avoid if you are planning on offering your driver to the community.
  3. If you can overcome those things then I would strongly recommend finding the source code for some other USB webcam driver that's out there - and using that as a starting point. You should also (MOST CERTAINLY!) get in email contact with the authors of other webcam drivers for Linux because (a) they'll have some really good advice for you and (b) they may already have drivers for this chipset that they are already working on - or they may have some 'deep knowledge' of why writing a driver for this camera is either difficult or impossible.
SteveBaker (talk) 18:26, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the great answer. I believe this type of camera is pretty rare and that's why there's no driver. I think it would be possible to run the Windows driver virtually in QEMU and capture all USB traffic for a start. (If I can get Win98 to install, that is.) ›mysid () 19:29, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Handwriting translation / reading program?[edit]

Hi, me again, having discovered the reference desk I am going through an addiction phase like I did with eBay in 2001.
Anyway, you know those forensic CSI FBI CIA etc. shows on TV where they just scan the messily handwritten letter into the computer and then, after some CGI graphics that seem to be swiped from a BBC documentary about Black Holes and Hawking Radiation, the computer spits-out a complete and spelling-corrected print-out of the text?
Do they really have such programs?
I am a historian trying to read the (19th century) letters of someone who wrote as if she just stuck the blunt end of the pen into her ear canal and then moved her head parallel to the paper! Egads!
Just curious about the state of the technology. Saudade7 14:39, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
This is two fields of ongoing research. AFAI no program such as the one you desribe exists. You might want to read the articles Handwriting recognition, and Machine translation. Expect both problems to be harder when combined. This because flaws in the translation will cause uncertainties in the recognicion, and vis-a-versa
Wikipedia:Translation#What_to_remember_when_translating sums up our own views on computerized translation. Taemyr (talk) 15:07, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Can't your pharmacist just ask your doctor what he/she meant? It would have to be easier. And what does your profession have to do with your medical issues? :) Honestly, this _is_ a field of research, but we're not where you need, yet. -SandyJax (talk) 15:13, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Taemyr and SandyJax! I guess if it really existed they wouldn't need to CGI the cool effects. It would just be as banal as the thing that can print mailing labels! To SandyJax, maybe you replied to the wrong question? There is nothing medical here. This is the computing reference desk. Good luck! Saudade7 17:43, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
There are certainly programs that can read handwriting - many postal organisations around the world routinely use machines to read ZIP codes (or their local version of postal codes) automatically. However, that's assuming nicely hand-printed separate letters that fit a predetermined scheme and are only uppercase and numbers. Reading poorly written or cursive text accurately is largely an unsolved problem. Part of the difficulty is that humans can't always read each others handwriting - which might mean that the task is quite literally impossible in some cases. But worse still, we don't read by figuring out one letter at a time - we know that when we see a word like "sp*lling" with the third letter unreadable - that this is probably either "spelling" or "spilling" because those are the only common words that fit. So the computer needs a dictionary to aid with the process. Well, sure, we can certainly supply that. But still, the computer can't tell which word you mean. However - if the sentence reads "The clown walked around with a bucket, sp*lling out water everywhere!" - then you and I know that the missing letter is an 'i' because "spelling" doesn't makes sense. The computer needs not only to be able to recognise letters, and check spelling - but also it has to know that water is carried in a bucket that can be "spilled" if you are careless - as clowns frequently are - and while he MIGHT have been "spelling out W-A-T-E-R" on every available surface...that's REALLY unlikely. We do this high level processing without even realising we're doing it - but making a computer that has that degree of common sense "real world" knowledge is virtually impossible.
SteveBaker (talk) 18:15, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks SteveBaker, that would actually be a good allegory for explaining Différance and Structuralism to students. A few weeks ago when I read that elementary schools were no longer teaching cursive writing to students, because they all use keyboards now, I was thinking that a good Sci-fi movie would be about when the A.I. machines take over in sort-of Raymond Kurzweilian Technological singularity, and seek to destroy all human life on the planet, the world can be saved by two old-timers who still remember how to write in cursive - the "New Navaho" and, in teaching others, make a plan to destroy the machines that the machines cannot decode. I think this as I try to figure out what the heck my 19th century person was writing about with her unintellible script. Thanks though. Saudade7 00:34, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I stopped writing in cursive in 1973...sorry! Cursive claims to save time - but it does it at the cost of legibility. I don't think it's worth it. Yeah - it's antiquated. Let's stop teaching it and use the time to teach kids to program or something. SteveBaker (talk) 02:52, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Printing issue in Excel.[edit]

I have a spreadsheet I am trying to print in Excel '03. It should be several pages. I go to print preview and it only displays the last page of the document. I have it set to 80% of the actual size. (shouldn't matter because when i changed it back to 100% it still only showed the last page) I'm not sure if this is a setup issue or whats the deal. I went and looked through all the print options and everything looks good. Help is appreciated. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:26, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Try File > Print Area > Clear Print Area. --— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 17:57, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Pasting "Unformatted Text" into a MS Word document[edit]

Is there anyway to make "Unformated Text" the default setting for "Paste" when pasting from, say, the Internet? Mine automatically retains formatting, or decides it should be Lucinda Grande 13 pt font (?!?) when all I want is for it to match what's already there. I always have to *choose* "Unformatted" and it gets old. Is there a way that I can make it automatically paste as Times New Roman 11pt. all the time unless otherwise instructed? (I have Office for Mac). Thanks (and sorry for asking so many questions). Saudade7 17:50, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

On a PC you can just paste first into NotePad which is always plaintext, and then copy and paste into word. Not sure of the equivalent on a Mac. Rfwoolf (talk) 18:20, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Never thought of it. I always choose "... destination formatting". --Kushalt 18:37, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Another way is to use edit -- paste special -- unformatted text. Which is a bit of an effort but works. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 20:00, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes Graeme Bartlett, going the "Paste Special" route each and every time is what I am trying to avoid. I am tired of it. I just want the clipboard icon to paste it unformatted automatically. Rfwoolf, that sounds like it would take even longer that clicking on the drop-down menu! Kushal, Destination formatting sounds good (if that means that it makes it match the text that is already there) but since you say that you have to "always choose" it, it sounds like you are in the same boat I am trying to get out of. I just want what I paste, with one click and no drop down menus, every time, to be unformatted, unless I choose "formatted text". Alas, maybe this is an impossible dream with MS controlling things. Saudade7 00:23, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I bet you could make a macro that did it, if you were really interested in doing it that way. But that would be cumbersome, since the macros are distributed around in each document. Anyway, I agree completely, and don't understand why importing foreign stylesheets, etc., shouldn't be the optional, rather than default, choice. -- (talk) 00:32, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Horror of horrors! No hard feelings, please As a thought experiment, please try sending me an email with a word documents full of scripts ... you can be sure that the document goes straight to my recycle bin. Even if I trusted my antivirus program fully, I am too wary to run scripts that I download off the Internet, esp. on Microsoft Office. I always believed it is so vulnerable. (In our world, the more eyeballs we have, the deeper is the bug.) Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow--Kushalt 19:06, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Googling word "paste special" reveals this solution using a macro: [3] -- — Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 00:36, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Well that was going really well, and working until it said that I had to "right click" something to build my module. But since I don't have a mouse I cannot right-click! And so it all went away! I only have this touch pad thingy. I don't think that I have right-clicked anything for 5 years! Is that still around? Anyway it is 3:30am here and I should be in bed long ago, but I really wanted that Macro to work! I was rigidly adhereing to every instruction and move, alas. Maybe I will try again tomorrow and just stop before I get to the module-building right-clicking part. Thanks ever so much for your help! I know it will work, somehow! Thanks and — Gadget850 (Ed) talk - !! Saudade7 02:34, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
the secret microsoft button for right click is ctrl-shift-F10. This will bring up the right click menu and use can use arrow keys to navigate around and enter (or left click) to select (if you mouse is no good). Graeme Bartlett (talk) 05:03, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Just thought I'd mention that you only need Shift+F10 to bring up a context menu. (And by the way F10 activates the regular menu bar.) --Bavi H (talk) 04:01, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I once had a program that sat in the systray that would intercept all text copied to the clipboard and convert it to text. It worked pretty well, but it confused Putty's X-mouse selection a little. Cliptext is where you can get it. --Mdwyer (talk) 05:01, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

How do I type Unicode?[edit]

I am trying to type something in a foregin alphabet, and the article on it listed Unicode numbers for each letter. However I don't know how to type Unicode, and your article on it wasn't any help. I tried the methods it seems to be sugesting, but none of them did anything apart from selecting the text around where I was trying to type. I also think I remember having typed something in Unicode a few months ago and had it come out totally diffrent to what it should have. Is it possible that the numbers on your website could have been copied down wrong, or that I am somehow doing something that makes it think I want a different symbol to what I do? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:34, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

When I use wikipedia editing, I just click on the symbols in the insert block below. eg (⅜ÒŤЌɥ) More recently I save a copy of the edit page so that I could copy and paste the characters when offline. If you want the more exotic alphabets, they way I get them is to copy from some other text off the appropriate language on the internet. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 20:20, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

I tried to do that, but all the symbols on the wikipedia page are pictures rather than letters, and all the sites it links to only use pictures too. Sorry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:36, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Well I enter Unicode characters by holding Alt then typing the unicode value into the number pad. However, there is also the possiblity of using Character. Valens Impérial Császár 93 21:52, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Is it possible for you to upgrade to a newer operating system and browser that will support unicode? Perhaps your equipment is too old for it. When I used windows 98 it would trash the unicode, but with windows XP SP2 it is OK. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 02:59, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

I already have XP, and it seems to work with some greek that I copied and pasted off wikipedia (which actually came up as just rectangles on here). Is there anywhere where I can get a list of all unicode symbols so I can copy what I want from there? This is the only way I can think of that I haven't tried. (OP)

Web color translation[edit]

Is there a tool somewhere on the net where I can type in a web color hex value and it will show me that color? Dismas|(talk) 20:34, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

A poor man's version would be to fire up your favorite text editor (say, notepad) and create a file called "test.html". Type in:
<html><body bgcolor="#00ff00"></body></html>
Now drag&drop the file to your browser or load it with with the URL file:///C:/test.html or whatever makes your browser happy. Adjust the color value and hit reload. Weregerbil (talk) 20:49, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Here's one. Not sure what all the stuff in the middle is, I just found it and started to play with it. --LarryMac | Talk 20:55, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
function askColor() {
var color = prompt("Enter a freakin color!!");
document.bgcolor = color;
<body onload="askColor()"></body>
--ffroth 21:05, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Also this one: [4] See also web colors and list of colors. --— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 21:09, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Or use an image editing software like GIMP. On Linux there's a very useful tool called Agave, and there's a website for similar purpose is well, but I'm not at home right now so can't give you the link just yet. --antilivedT | C | G 22:48, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Here you go. Click the "Enter RGB" link at bottom left corner, enter the hex, and you get a whole lot of different colour schemes (plus the colour you've typed). --antilivedT | C | G 04:46, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks all! I think I've got it now. Dismas|(talk) 16:42, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

rogue developer[edit]

Is it possible for a disgruntled Microsoft developer of say a program like Outlook Express to create a virus that will cause emails in OE folders to duplicate for the purpose of then selling duplicate eliminator software? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:22, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Of course it's possible, though the odds of it making a lot of money are almost nil, since there are plenty of other anti-virus programs already out there and people aren't likely to shell out money for anything that just takes care of one virus. And remember that practically anything that a "rogue developer" could do, another "rogue" programmer could make a program to undo and provide free tools for. The economics of it don't work well. -- (talk) 21:31, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
What if the motive is to merely deprive the OE user of his rightful benefit and enjoyment rather than for purely economic gain? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:58, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Typing problem[edit]

I'm using MS Word 2004 for Mac, and I have a problem with foreign characters. If I put a Central European character in my document, like č, then suddenly the document will switch to German-style quotation marks, even when I go back to the American keyboard layout. How do I get it to stop doing this? --Lazar Taxon (talk) 22:11, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

It probably thinks that you're typing the document in German or somethng and sets the language to that. On Windows it says at the bottom of the window what language it is in, but I don't know if the Mac version is the same. --antilivedT | C | G 22:44, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I have the same set up, (2004 Office for Mac) and although I have not experienced this myself I can only say to make sure under languages that you set the language to (English) and choose "Default" not just "okay" (or whatever). Worst comes to worst, just let it happen and at the end of your paper select "Replace" and cut and paste the " >> "s (or whatever) into the "find" box and " " " (ha) into the Replace box and select "Replace all". It sucks, but so does Microsoft. Good luck. Saudade7 00:13, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Word is really awful at foreign character sets. If I switch into Cyrillic keyboard for even a second it decides that my smart-quotes should be German-style and won't go back even if I switch back into an English/US keyboard. It makes me want to scream! It's like the people who made it never even tested it! And don't care about their users at all! Arggh!-- (talk) 00:28, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Try or for Mac, NeoOffice. You can set the language of every tiny part of the document without affecting others. --antilivedT | C | G 04:42, 14 December 2007 (UTC)