Sunday, October 22, 2017

Arronax, an app for making .desktop or "starter" files

"Arronax is a program to create and modify starters (technically: .desktop files) for applications and locations (URLs)." -

I am a fan of several applications that there simply is no .desktop file for. You can just create .desktop files with a text editor, but it's a pain.

Arronax makes this task a simpler, faster one.

One of the programs I enjoy using is a program called Ascii Sector. While it runs rather well on Ubuntu, if I didn't make my own .desktop file, I would have to run the program via terminal all the time to get it to work.

So I made my own.

You start off with this empty form:

Once I fill in the command, start in folder, and click on start in terminal switch, then i click on the blank square on the top left. (I switched this to run in terminal because the app in question needs to run from the terminal as a command, most programs don't need this option.)

This is where you add the icon of your choosing. Last but not least, the title of the application in the title section.

When I finished filling in the form, this is the finished product:

Now all I have to do is put the .desktop file Arronax created in the /home/(your username)/.local/share/applications/ directory. in this case I named it asciisector.desktop.

The menu system will quickly add the new entry, and then you have a handy, quick way to run applications that would not normally be in the apps menu.

Here is a screenshot of my created .desktop file, in the menu:

I personally suggest using the base package. It seems to have been the most solid version. Very reliable. I have had issues in the past with the versions with plugins for nautilus.

You can get whatever version you choose from

Here is the link for the base version, if you just want to choose that:

Proof in the pudding.. Ascii Sector running with a click of the menu icon:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fastmenu GOLD, a blast from the past

I was digging through old archives, and stumbled upon an old dos program I used way back in 1991.

Fastmenu Gold... those were the days.

I didn't have the money for Windows 3.11, and I really wanted a snazzy desktop to run my dos apps from.

I feel bad for the original programmer... I never got to thank him for all the work he did.

His name was Jack W. Hildenbrand. I found out through some digging that he has since passed away.

It might not look like much, but this program had so many features built into it. Yes it could launch other dos programs (it's main function), but it could do so much more. It had a editor, a address book, a calculator, and a file manager. This probably seems like nothing, being that modern operating systems like Windows or Ubuntu have far more impressive abilities than these, but keep in mind this was released back in 1991.

Here is Jack's pitch for this old dos menu app:

         What fastmenu GOLD can do for you:
         o.. Fast one or two key strokes to your applications.
         o.. Consumes no memory during applications execution.
         o.. Allows up to 80 folders up to 20 applications per folder.
         o.. Allows quick editing of the applications lists.
         o.. Can be operated with a Mouse.
         o.. Built in Auto Mouse Detection.
         o.. PassWord protection on any or all outside applications
             execution, Module operations and DOS exits.

         What you need to run fastmenu GOLD:
         o.. IBM PC/XT/AT or Compatible with DOS 2.2+.
         o.. 512Kb of memory.
         o.. A Hard Drive and at least one floppy.
         o.. VGA Color Card and Monitor.

I wish I could go back in time.. I would love to tell him how useful and important this software was to me back in the day..

If you are interested in downloading a copy of Fastmenu GOLD 7, here is a link to my personal copy:

Well, I hope you don't mind my being nostalgic.. I just wanted to share this old hidden gem.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Watchtower Library 2017 in Ubuntu 16.04

As you may have heard, the Watchtower Library is now being updated by internet instead of by a newly printed DVD every year.

So even though (as the image shows) their will never be an official 2017 version, I wanted to check on the installation and usability of the library under the current LTS version of Ubuntu, 16.04.

The first thing I did was to make sure that the newest stable version of Wine was installed. I did this by following the instructions at

Here are the steps I used to get the most stable version of current Wine, which is 2.0.1.:

If your system is 64 bit, enable 32 bit architecture (if you haven't already) by running this command in the terminal:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

Then I used these commands to add the newest version of Wine to the repository, which will allow you to install it.

wget -nc
sudo apt-key add Release.key
sudo apt-add-repository

Once i did that, it's time to update your packages list and install the newest version of Wine.

Wine needs to install wine-mono and wine-gecko in order to run wine apps. Don't be alarmed if it asks you to install these, just say yes to these steps.

In the terminal, run the command sudo apt-get update.

I chose the stable branch, so then I used the command sudo apt-get install --install-recommends winehq-stable.

Once you do this, you can just run the install file on the DVD via Wine.

I was very impressed at the easy, perfectly smooth installation and operation of the library on Wine 2.0.1.

This is usually where I tell you about the problems I came up with, and the solutions I used.

Thankfully I can't do that here, because I had none. It worked perfectly.

For those of you not using Ubuntu or an Ubuntu based distribution, you can get help for the major versions of Linux here:

Here is a picture of the library working without playonlinux on my current setup:

As always, if you run into problems with the library, please feel free to email me at I may take some time to respond based on how busy I am, but I am always willing to help my brothers and sisters with these issues.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Ransomware infections occurring around the globe

While reading up on some posts made about DEF CON, I saw this posted: "An NSA-derived ransomware worm is shutting down computers worldwide"...

After scrubbing for information and sources to see if this was legitimate, I was able to verify it.

Congrats to Ars Technica, who seem to have broken with the story first.

While ransomware is not new, why this made news is the fact that there are so many confirmed cases, and so fast.. 75,000 confirmed cases in a relatively short time...

In case you are new to the term, ransomware encrypts your images, music, movies, videos, basically everything on the computer, and then won't let you access them without paying a fee to the ransomer. The worst part is quite often even after you paid the ransomer, they still don't decrypt your files, meaning all of those files are now unusable forever.

Ransomware is so insidious it makes me pine for the simple dos viruses of the 80's and 90's... but I digress.

What makes this particular round of infections worse, is the fact that these ransomware infections seem to stem from old NSA tools known as Wcry (among other names).

Since this is such an evil menace to society, I wanted to share this as much as I could and get the word out quickly.

Here are my sources, ars technica and bbc:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ubuntu 18.04 will have Gnome as a default desktop, not Unity

In a blog post by Mark Shuttleworth named "Growing Ubuntu for cloud and IoT, rather than phone and convergence", he made it clear that Unity would no longer be the defacto, or default desktop.

"I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity 8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS."

He goes on to say though that Canonical is NOT going to abandon Unity. They just will no longer spend their time improving it. It will still be in the repos, and that he is sure that the community that enjoys Unity will continue to support it.

The reason he gave for the switch back to familiar Gnome country was the fact that the majority of the Linux community didn't see Unity as innovation, but simply fragmentation of yet another forked project.

"In the community, our efforts were seen fragmentation not innovation. And industry has not rallied to the possibility, instead taking a ‘better the devil you know’ approach to those form factors, or investing in home-grown platforms."

I think I see his point. Gnome has been so universally adopted by major distributions, that moving back to Gnome 3 and focusing on polishing other avenues of Ubuntu, like the snap system, are a win win in his book.

To me their will be little change. I am still an ardent XFCE fan, and as such, am still using Xubuntu.
Gnome 3 and Unity both have always felt so heavy on resources, but that's a discussion for another time.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Watchtower Library 2016 in Ubuntu 16.04

After talking with a brother about difficulties with this version of Watchtower Library, I was able to get the library to work.

I again used playonlinux, simply because playonlinux makes sure you have the proper libraries and other tools to run the version of wine needed.

For 2016, we need Wine 2.3.

First I had to have playonlinux install wine 2.3, because non of my apps have used it before.

To do that, in playonlinux I had to go to tools and then "manage wine versions"

Then I chose wine 2.3. (my cursor on the image below is showing me selecting the staging version, but that's only because I already installed wine 2.3.

playonlinux will need to download and install a new gecko and a few other things for 2.3.

Now we need to install watchtower library as a "non listed" program. this option is at the bottom left of playonlinux. Here's a screenshot of the option we need:

We need to choose a different version of wine during the install process

Make sure you choose 2.3

And the 32 bit option here is the least buggy

After it goes through the installs, we get this:

As you can see, it works.

I did notice whenever I close the library, wine does complain about a crash. But the library works fine so far for me.

If you have any other issues or comments, by all means either comment on the disqus section velow or email me at


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

C.H.I.P., A nine dollar computer!

Searching through the backside of the internet, I stumbled upon this!

It's glorious!

It runs an ARM processor, and my favorite, Linux!

The version of Linux it uses is a debian based (Thank you chip peeps!) in house blend called CHIPOs.

Here's some info on CHIPOs 4.4, released in July 2016:

It does have a gui for those of us who like the CLI's blinking cursor, but also like to use technology from after 1980 (i.e. a mouse).

The gui is LXDE according to the screenshots.

If you always like the idea of exploring something like a RaspberryPi, but still thought 30-40 bucks was too much money, this should be up your alley!

Here's what had to say about C.H.I.P.:

C.H.I.P. does serious work
Use C.H.I.P. with Gnumeric to create spreadsheets or AbiWord to word process. It's all there. They’ll even open up the Word and Excel documents you may already have.

C.H.I.P. does internet
Use the IceWeasel browser to surf the web. Check out websites, send emails, post on social media, watch videos, and more. Waste time the same way you would on any other computer - the internet awaits.

C.H.I.P. does (lots of) games
Connect bluetooth controllers to C.H.I.P. and play thousands of games – both retro and new. Been missing that amazing DOS game from your childhood? C.H.I.P. plays it! Remember that game that mom wouldn’t buy you back in the day? C.H.I.P. plays it! (Don’t worry, we won’t tell).

C.H.I.P. is Perfect for Projects!
(seen at the website)

C.H.I.P. has specs!

WiFi B/G/N Built-in!
Plug C.H.I.P. in and hop on the internet in 60 seconds flat.

1GHz Processor
C.H.I.P.'s R8 processor allows C.H.I.P. to be small and powerful enough to handle any task you can throw at it.

4GB of High-speed Storage
C.H.I.P. comes with storage onboard, so there’s no need to purchase an SD card. C.H.I.P. is ready to go.

512MB of RAM
C.H.I.P. comes with enough RAM to start your projects right away.

Bluetooth 4.0
Wirelessly connect keyboards, mice, and controllers to C.H.I.P. With a few clicks and an old stereo, turn C.H.I.P. into an AirPlay or Bluetooth speaker.

C.H.I.P. Works with ANY Display
C.H.I.P. is designed to work with any screen. Old or new. Big or small. Connect via C.H.I.P.’s built-in composite output or add a simple adapter for either VGA or HDMI.












C.H.I.P. Pro