E-Toys Tutorial #3 – Very Basic Scripting

March 12, 2009 at 18:26 | Posted in OLPC, Tutorials/Howtos, Vod/Pod casts, XO | Comments Off on E-Toys Tutorial #3 – Very Basic Scripting
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This is the third is a series of tutorials I’m making on E-Toys by Squeakland.org. This tutorial covers a very basic introduction to creating scripts for your “Players”.



E-Toys Tutorial #2 – Basic Drawing

March 8, 2009 at 16:13 | Posted in OLPC, Tutorials/Howtos, Vod/Pod casts, XO | Comments Off on E-Toys Tutorial #2 – Basic Drawing
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Posted my second tutorial on E-Toys. It covers basic drawing to make “players” in E-Toys


You can get E-toy from SqueakLand

Privacy and the XOs BrowseActivity

February 5, 2009 at 15:23 | Posted in Privacy/Security, XO | 2 Comments
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As mentioned in earlier posts I have been looking into ways for users to increase the Privacy/Security stance of the BrowseActivity. My biggest annoyance in this field so far has been the lack of a way to clear cookies and the browsing history. I was further miffed to find that the BrowseActivity completely ignores some of the About:config settings related to the history and p cookies.

I have found the the following do work:

using about:config and setting:

network.cookie.cookieBehavior to  1 will indeed block third party cookies.

network.cookie.lifetimePolicy to 2 will make all cookies “session only” clearing them when the browser closes.

The above two settings will only effect cookies that come in after the settings are changes third party and persistant cookies that came in before will be uneffected. But we’ll clear thous out in a sec.

you can control Java and JavaScript with:

security. enable_java and javascript.enabled . They can be set to true to allow or False to disallow either java or javascript. Keep in mind that the XO does not ship with a Java run time environmentso the effects of security. enable_java are meaningless unless you install Java. Disabling JavaScript will break many sites but is also a lot safer so you might what to write that down some place if you think you might ever take your XO to risky websites.

Now for the History and Cookies.. After some poking around I found that the XOs Browse Activity stores cookies and the history in sqlite databases. These can be tricky to track down, but not to worry. if you have a G1G1 XO. (I’m guessing that is most of you). you can:

open the Terminal Activity

Become root with either the “become root” button or by typing su – at the commandline

change back to the olpc directory with: cd /home/olpc

then type: find isolation/ -name places.* -delete

that will find and delete your browsing history (where you’ve been)

now type: find isolation/ -name cookies.* -delete

you guessed it, that will clear out all the cookies.

If I have the time I may write a quick Activity that will flush the cookies and the Browsing history, If I get really clever with it it might even be able to remove all of the “Browse Activity”s from the journal. But at least you have this for now.

If you are worried about Browsing privacy on the XO you might also want to check out my post on Privoxy on the XO

Happy and safe computing 🙂

et tu printer!?!

October 25, 2008 at 11:49 | Posted in Privacy/Security | Comments Off on et tu printer!?!
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Once again I find myself writing about corporations doing an end run around peoples privacy. I’m a big Fan of the EFF and watch their blog. I was a bit shocked yesterday however when they posted an article on how peoples printers are covertly leaving identifying information on everything they print. What kind of identifying information. Oh just things like the serial number of the printer that printed the document, when it was printed and in some cases by whom.

Do these printers come with warnings about the fact that they are violating your privacy? NO!

Are the manufacturers legally obligated to make their printers do this? NO!

Is there a way to turn it off? NO!

Are there laws to prevent law enforcement or governments from misusing this information to your detriment? NO!

Want more information? Rather then re-invent the wheel I’ll just list the relevant EFF pages here:

The EFF Blog entry about the issue

SeeingYellow.com – A site that help you register your dislike (outrage?) at this issue with affected printer manufacturer.

Things you can do to further help EFF study the problem and effect change.

More information

Tor And Firefox 3.0b5 in Hardy

May 20, 2008 at 18:06 | Posted in Tech | 3 Comments
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I have recently noticed several hits on my blog looking for TOR and Firefox 3.0b5. So Since I use both and Since I know that TorButton does not yet (at least the last time I checked) work with Firefox 3.0b5. I figured I’d write a quick howto on setting up a Safe Tor/Firefox in Hardy Heron.

The instructions below assume that you have already installed TOR and Privoxy and set them up correctly.

The first thing you will need to do is to create a separate profile for Tor browsing. The more paranoid may wish to set up a separate user account for TOR browsing thus further preventing the chance of data leakage.

To set up a separate profile, make sure there are no instances of Firefox running, then open a terminal and enter the command:

firefox -ProfileManager

A window that looks like this should show up:

Profile Manager

Create a new profile that you will use for tor only, I called mine TorFox to avoid confusion.

Now we need to create a new launcher to use the TorFox profile.

right click on the desktop and choose Create Launcher

that will bring up this Dialog

Launcher Dialogue

Fill it in like this

Type:          Leave set to Application

Name:        A name you like (I used TorFox)

Command: firefox -P TorFox -no-remote

(The value after the -P should be the name you called you TOR Profile)

Comment:  Whatever you want to show up as the tooltip

now click the icon button and if you want the Firefox icon you can find it in:


then click OK and we are ready to start setting up your TorFox.

Click the launcher (or double click if you system is set to use double clicks)

a Firefox will open up. Just double check that it is not your normal (default) profile firefox. It shouldn’t have any of your favourites, add-ons, or other setting.. It should be a fresh firefox.

once you have that, Click Edit -> Preferences

on the Main Tab

click Manage Add-ons and disable or uninstall all Add-ons (there should only be the Ubuntu firefox modifications as this should be a fresh profile)

Then at the top of the Add-ons window you will see an option for Plugins

Click it and then disable all plugins.

Once that is done exit the add-ons window and click Content on the Preferences window.

on the Content tab uncheck Enable JavaScript and Enable Java

now click Applications at the top of the Preferences window

Set all the action so that they do not use external applications. So either set them to Preview in Firefox or Always Ask or Save File Of these Save File is probably the safest bit some things don’t have that option (Podcast, Video Podcast, Web Feed) so those you will need to set to Preview in Firefox. It should look something like this:

Application Preferences

Now click the Privacy tab at the top of the Preferences window

uncheck all the history items.

The more paranoid can uncheck all the cookie options but that will greatly limit the sites you can go to so I personally accept both types of cookies but have the Keep Until option set to clear the cookies when I close firefox.

Check the Always Clear Private Data. Click the Settings button beside it and make sure all options are checked. Uncheck Ask me before clearing private data.

Now we move on to the Security Tab

I uncheck both of the Tell me if the site… options because these most likely leak information by looking up the site you are going to against a on a remote site.

Also uncheck the Remember passwords options. (If you don’t store them they cant leak)

and finally on to the Advanced tab:

under Advanced there are several tabs

we’ll start on the Network Tab, Click the Settings button beside Connections

set it up like this:

Connection settings for TOR

Also Check the Tell me when a website asks to store data offline and use the Exceptions button to be sure that are no pre-set exceptions.

On the Update Tab under Advanced

uncheck all the Update options.

Your  Tor/Firefox should now be ready for a test drive. If you find you cannot connect to anything you probably need to edit the /etc/privoxy/config file and be sure it has:

forward-socks4a   /      .

in it. The . at the end of that line is necessary.

I hope this help get people going. If anyone sees something I missed (yes I know that changing user agents might be a good idea but that is a little more advanced then I wanted to get into in this howto) Please let me know.


P.S. If you want to use both firefoxes tor and non TOR you will need to edit the launchers for the regular Firefox and add the options -P default -no-remote to their command lines so that it launches the correct profile and does not open a tab in the other browser. This will create the minor annoyance of needing to close out the browser before clicking a link in another program (like evolution) but I feel the assurance that I’m not opening a TOR browser when I meant to open a Regular one worth that minor hassle.

Also you may want to set different Themes for each browser so you can quickly spot which one you are woring in (prevents “ooopses” of accidentaly usinf a TOR browser for something that you’d rather not have going over the TOR network.)

Getting a Si3054 modem working on Hardy Heron

May 7, 2008 at 10:00 | Posted in Tech | 2 Comments
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Over the last 2 days or so I’ve been enjoying the challenge of getting the Si3054 modem in my laptop to work with Hardy Heron (Ubuntu 8.04). Early on I was quite pleased when the scanmodem script from http://linmodems.technion.ac.il recognized my modem and said all I needed was to install the slmodemd daemon for it. I was even more pleased to see that slmodemd was in the repositories as sl-modem-daemon.

I installed the package and started testing … and that is where I hit a snag.. Everything seemed o.k. but I kept getting “NO DIALTONE” when trying to talk to the modem.. and it was coming back way too fast so I could tell it wasn’t even really checking. After much googling and reading of documentation I found a post that recommended downloading SLMODEMD.gcc4.1.tar.gz and trying the slmodemd out of it. I did.. it worked. I could fax and everything… cool

so here is a brief rundown for others having the same problem.

First do install the package from the repository and test it with the appropriate settings which will look something like:

sudo slmodemd -c CANADA --alsa hw:0,6

Obviously you will need to change the settings to match your location and hardware

— update —

O.k. realized I forgot to tell people how to determine the “right” hardware”. There is a script from the people that make the drivers here. Download it.. then:

gunzip scanModem.gz

chmod u+x scanModem


This will create a directory called “Modem

In that Directory you’ll find lots of info. You’ll primarily be interested in a file called ModemData.txt. In that file look for a like that reads like:

"The modem cards detected by "aplay -l"  are:
card 2: Intel [HDA Intel], device 6: Si3054 Modem [Si3054 Modem]"

This line tells me my setting (things have changed since I first wrote this) should be hw:2,6

—- end update —-

Then test the modem. I used minicom as I have been around modems since the days of 300 baud and am just plain used to talking to them with “AT” commands. You may wish to try the recommended wvdial test recommended on the linmodem homepage, or what ever other test you are comfortable with that will return good information from the modem.

If, like me, you find that you aren’t able to get anywhere try downloading SLMODEMD.gcc4.1.tar.gz. Extract it to a folder and then open that folder in a terminal.

make sure no copies of slmodem are running:

ps -A | grep slmodemd

should return nothing if you see a one running just

sudo killall slmodemd

now run the new slmodemd from the package you downloaded with

sudo ./slmodemd -g dialout -c CANADA --alsa hw:0,6

the -g dialout is added because the downloaded package is set to have a default group of UUCP that doesn’t fit well with Ubuntu (non root users won’t be able to access the modem because they aren’t part of the uucp group). Again you will need to set the country and Hardware up to match your location and hardware.

go and do your testing again. (minicom, wvdial, etc). If it works ctrl-c out of the slmodemd process. you can now either choose to just run the new one manually all the time (rather a pain) or just:

sudo cp ./slmodemd /usr/sbin/slmodemd

To replace the not working one with the one we just downloaded

Then you will want to edit /etc/default/sl-modem-daemon and set the following

Set the SLMODEMD_DEVICE= to your hardware (in my case SLMODEMD_DEVICE=hw:0,6)

Set the SLMODEMD_COUNTRY= to the correct country (slmodemd --countrylist will pop out a list of supported countries)

you’ll also need to edit the OPTS= line so it looks like OPTS=”-g dialout” or you’ll have the uucp group/permissions problem mentioned above.

now save the file

and you should be able to do a

sudo /etc/init.d/sl-modem-daemon restart


ps -A | grep slmodemd

to see that it started o.k.

and then run your tests again and (hopefully) you now have a working modem

——- Update ——–

If you are trying to receive faxes and still having problems check this post.

Using BloGTK with wordpress.com

April 13, 2008 at 16:13 | Posted in Blogging | 17 Comments
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I just wanted to write a quick article on how to set up BloGTK with wordpress.com. As I figure that people finding the previous post might be interested in such.

In the accounts and Preferences section, on the Accounts settings tab:

Server URL: http://your.wordpress.com/xmlrpc.php

Username: Your username

Password: Your password

Blogging System: Choose “Movable type”

Click Save

Click OK

Then in the main BloGTK window Click File -> Connect

At this point you should be good to go. On the Advanced tab of the main window Keywords is where you set your tags.

Hope this helps

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