Month: January 2009

PDF to Document Conversion

I have been looking for a way to convert a PDF to either a Word Document or an Open Office document.  Basically, I have some instructions for installing software delivered as a PDF with the software from the vendor.  I would like to be able to convert that document to something I can edit and add my notes to it as I install.  Currently, I just handwrite the notes on the printed copy of the instructions.  If I could convert it to Word or Open Office, the end result would be searchable and I could add screenshots.

I found a great link that will convert documents online:

This worked for a small document, but my instructions document did not work.  I am assuming that it is because it was too large.

I found a plugin that says it can import PDFs for Open Office 3.0.  I haven’t tried it yet.  I will try to do that and report back.

A while back, I found that importing PDFs was on the ToDo list.


I was having trouble downloading the maps for RoadNav, and I didn’t notice a lot of progress or change on the problem.  So, I checked for alternatives, and I found this.  I tried the first on the list: NavIt.


I didn’t find NavIt in the Ubuntu repository, and so, I had to install manually.  The Wiki has a getting started section with instructions for installing on Linux.

First, I had to install the dependencies so that I could compile it.  I installed the list from the dependencies section.

sudo apt-get install build-essential pkg-config automake libglib2.0-dev libtiff-dev libtool libxmu-dev libfribidi-dev gettext zlib1g-dev gpsd gpsd-clients libgps-dev libgtk2.0-dev freeglut3-dev glutg3-dev libcegui-mk2-dev libdevil-dev libglc-dev libpcre3-dev libmng-dev libfreeimage-dev

Next, I ran the configure and make.  Instead of installing, I just ran it from the directory where I compiled it.


At this point, I had it working as long as I ran it from the directory where the program exists.  But, it didn’t have any maps for my area.  Next, I had to tackle configuring with the XML file.

First, I created a hidden directory and copied the xml file to it:

$ mkdir ~/.navit
$ cp /home/skp/bin/navit-0.1.0/navit/navit.xml  /home/skp/.navit/

Next, I opened the xml file with Gvim (my favorite text editor).  “Gvim ~/.navit/navit.xml”.  You could use any text editor to open it.

The first change I made was to change the default position.  I got my default coordinates from here as suggested in the Wiki.  I found that these coordinates got me close, but not quite the address I had requested.  So, I checked them with Google maps.  If you notice, the URL on the “Link” link in the upper right corner has the coordinates of the map you request.

I tried to run it at this point from my home directory, but it would not work.  It was looking in other directories, and so, I took the easy route and just keep running it from the source directory.  It still read my xml file from my home directory.

Next, I had to setup the maps.  I followed these directions.  I used the maps from CloudMade, which has maps of the United States.  I downloaded the * files and extracted them to ~/.navit/.  For example, I downloaded the Florida map: to ~/.navit/florida.navit.bin.  Finally, I added this to the XML file:

<mapset enabled=”yes”>
<map type=”binfile” enabled=”yes” data=”/home/skp/.navit/florida.navit.bin” />

Now, when I started it up, I saw a map with where I wanted it to start!

Creating a Shortcut

The last thing  I did was create a shortcut in my application menu.  This was pretty easy.

The first step was to create a simple shell script to launch the program.  This was necessary because the program has to run from the source folder.  Here is what my script looked like:


cd ~/bin/navit-0.1.0/navit

Note: change the cd path to the location where you downloaded and compiled the program.

Then, make the script executable with:

chmod +x

To add the menu, I used the Menus application by right clicking on the Applications menu and choosing “Edit Menus”.  I clicked on the Accessories menu and clicked the New Item button.  Here are the options that I chose:

  • Type: Application
  • Name: NavIt
  • Command: /home/skp/bin/
  • Comment: <blank>

Note: change the Command path to the script that you created to launch the program.

For the icon, I clicked on the little spring icon on the left to choose a different icon.  For the path, I chose: /home/skp/bin/navit-0.1.0/navit/xpm/desktop_icons/128×128.

To troubleshoot, you may want to change the Type from Application to Application in Terminal because the terminal window will show you the output messages from the program.

Blog Entry Poster

I think I tried this Blog Entry Poster program in the Ubuntu repository in the past and it wouldn’t work with my blog. Well, I don’t know what changed or if I was doing it wrong, but it works now assuming you can see this post.

There are a few features I would like though. 1) Support for multiple blog settings. It has a drop down for multiple blogs, but only one Base Blog URL. 2) Support to add images on other sites. 3) Support to edit the HTML 4) More formatting options such as adding bullet points and headings. 5) Save a draft rather than post the entry.


XML-RPC Support

Ubuntu Intrepid Woes — Keyboard

It didn’t take long for me to find something wrong with my new installation: the keyboard doesn’t work with remote desktop.

The big problem is that when I connect to my remote computer, the caps lock key doesn’t work.  So, I can’t turn on caps lock.  I tried to compile rdesktop from SourceForge, but that didn’t help.  The caps lock key works with it, but the arrow keys do not.

Here is how I compiled it (just in case you want to try):

sudo apt-get install libx11-dev libssl-dev

I just now found a fix (from the thread).  Change the file /usr/share/rdesktop/keymaps/common .  Change the line that says “Caps_Lock 0x0 inhibit” to “Caps_Lock 0x3a capslock”.  I tried it out and everything works!

Now, I did have a couple of other issues.  I use a docking station at work, and the caps lock key works weirdly with it: pushing the key turns caps lock on and off, but it does not turn the caps lock light on or off.  Also, I have VMWare installed, and the arrow keys and such don’t work with the console.  Changing this common file, and it does not fix the problem.


Ubuntu 8.10 Installed Now!

I finally got Ubuntu 8.10 installed.  Despite a few problems it seems very nice.

A while back, I found an article that listed the new features.  Now is the time to explore those features.

The huge win for me was in the Wireless support.  My laptop has a Broadcom wireless card, and I have always had to install ndiswrapper.  This time, it worked on the Live CD without me evening having to do anything!

The article mentions the partitioner.  I would have liked an option to remove all Linux partitions and automatically create the partitions.  The options were remove all, none, or do it manually.

Overall, I am liking it very well.  I will keep you posted.

New Christmas Present: Google Phone

Well, my wife gave me a Google Phone for Christmas, and so, you will hopefully see some content about the phone and developing for it.  For now, let me just list some various tidbits about it for now.

First, I have noticed a definite difference in the Network.  We switched from Alltel to T-Mobile in order to get the phone.  I didn’t really have a signal problem in my normal stomping grounds.  Now, I get no signal in my parents house and have to walk outside if I want to place a call.  Coming out of church, I had to turn the phone off and back on again before it realized that I had a signal.

Another thing is that the phone doesn’t appear to use the hardware to the fullest extent.  For example, I haven’t found any applications that use the multitouch features, but Engadget reported that Ryan Gardner demonstrated that the phone does have the capability.  The other feature is the accelerometer.  It doesn’t seem to switch from landscape to portrait except when I open the keyboard.

The big feature that I need is a quick easy way to put the phone into etiquette mode.  If I walk into church, I would like to be able to turn the sound off so that it only vibrates.  Currently, the only way that I have found is to either turn off the sound in each individual application (like GMail, Calendar, Phone, etc.) or Silence the phone so that it doesn’t even vibrate.  Furthermore, I would love to have profiles.  When I am out and about, I would love to have it notify me if I get an email, but if I am in the office at my computer, I would rather my computer notify me rather than the phone.  I would like to configure profiles so that I can quickly switch between settings.

I hope to eventually develop some applications for the phone.  I am excited that this is very possible.  I have already installed the SDK.  Here are some links that are helpful:

Here are the applications that I use so far:

  • AcroBible Lite: A complete Bible on the phone
  • Bonsai Blast: An addictive little game
  • Browser
  • Calculator
  • Calendar: I use my Google Calendar much more
  • Camera: the camera works, but it is not the greatest camera
  • GMail
  • IM: I haven’t used it much, but I talked with my sister once
  • Maps: I used it to help with directions a couple of times.  I also used it to look up a phone number for ordering pizza.
  • Market: easy to install applications
  • PapiJump: a cool little game that demonstrates the accelerometer
  • Power Manager: easy to turn on/off things like the GPS
  • Tag ToDo: todo list application
  • The Weather Channel: nice application for looking up the weather
  • WeatherBug: Another interface for the weather
  • YouTube: only to watch Google Tech Talks

I installed the G1 Central application, but it didn’t really work.  I was hoping for a quick way to change the settings for where the phone rings, but it didn’t support those features.

Another thing I would love to have is a VPN to connect securely to resources at home while on the road.  I found an idea about using Juniper, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Using a Brother MFC 8840D with Ubuntu

Today, I tried to make our Brother MFC 8840D Fax/Scanner/Copier/Printer work with my Laptop that has Ubuntu on it.  I am currently running Hardy Heron 8.04 on it.  Here is what I did:

Downloaded the brscan driver as a .deb file.

I installed sane and xsane, but they were already installed:

sudo apt-get install sane xsane

Then, I installed the driver package:

 sudo dpkg -i brscan-0.2.4-0.i386.deb

Then, I configured it with:

 brsaneconfig -a name=BrotherScanner model="MFC-8840D" ip=

I checked the configuration with:

brsaneconfig -q

These lines looked correct:

Devices on network
  0 BrotherScanner      "MFC-8840D"         I:

I used xsane to scan, and everything worked fine — just like my printer/scanner at home.


Model Compatibility List and Download

Installation Instructions