Saturday, October 30, 2010

Restore the Windows Boot Loader After an Ubuntu Update

Will your computer not boot into Windows after installing an update on your dual-boot or Wubi Ubuntu install?  Here’s how you can get your Windows boot loader back so you can easily get back to work in either OS.
We’ve mentioned before how Wubi is a great way to run Ubuntu on your Windows PC or netbook, and in general it works great.  However, sometimes your system may receive updates to GRUB, and if you choose the wrong option, the next time you reboot your computer you may find that it think there’s only Ubuntu and no Windows installed on your computer.
Or, perhaps, even more ominously, you boot your computer to see that it thinks it has no operating system.
Often, there’s no need to panic.  If you recently received an Ubuntu update, or somehow managed to mess up or remove your boot loader, it’s quick and easy to get it back using familiar Windows tools.  Here’s how.

Reinstall Your Windows Boot Loader From the Windows DVD

To get back into Windows, you’ll need to reinstall your Windows boot loader.  Thankfully this isn’t as difficult or time consuming as reinstalling Windows, but it will require your Windows DVD.  Boot your computer from the DVD, and if it doesn’t automatically offer to let you boot from the disk, you may need to change your boot settings in the BIOS.  You can usually access by pressing the F2, F10, or Delete key on the initial boot screen, depending on your computer.
Save the changes and reboot your computer from the Windows DVD.  After a few moments, you should see the install setup screen.  Select your preferred language, then click Next.
Your install disk is designed to install Windows on your computer, but also contains tools to help repair your existing Windows install.  On the bottom left of the Install window, click the Repair your computer link to get started repairing your current install of Windows.
System Recovery will automatically start scanning to see if there’s an existing Windows install with something it can easily fix automatically.  You may have to wait a few minutes while it scans your computer.
If your only problem is the boot loader, often it will automatically detect the problem and offer to fix it.  If so, simply click Repair and restart, and your computer should be booted back into Windows as normal within minutes.

Reinstall Your Boot Loader Manually From the Windows DVD

Alternately, if it doesn’t automatically detect anything to fix, you’ll have to choose your own recovery options.  Click the bullet option on the top then click Next to use recovery tools to fix Windows.
Now, select Command Prompt from the available recovery tools.
In the command prompt window, enter the following to repair your boot loader:
bootrec /rebuildbcd
After a few moments, it should detect your Windows installation and ask if you want to add it to the boot loader.  Enter Y to add it, then exit the command prompt and reboot your computer when you’re finished.
Moments later, you should see your standard Windows login screen as normal, and all of your files and programs should be fine and ready to use.
As you may notice, the option to boot into Ubuntu will no longer show up in your boot menu, and your computer will act like you only have Windows installed.  To get your Wubi Ubuntu or full Ubuntu install accessable from the boot loader again, you’ll need to restore it as well.  The easiest way is to Add Wubi Back to the Bootloader With EasyBCD.  Once you’ve done that, you should be back in business, ready to use Windows or Ubuntu as you need. Source:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Download Rapidshare and Megaupload files from the Linux Terminal

To download any Rapidshare and Megaupload file from the Linux terminal, you will need to install an application called 'plowshare'. You can get it from HERE.

Before using plowshare, you should install these packages first:


Since I'm using Ubuntu, I downloaded and installed those packages using this one-liner:

$ sudo apt-get install curl recode imagemagick tesseract-ocr-eng rhino aview perlmagick

Now that everything is set, you could start downloading Rapidshare and Megaupload files using the Linux terminal. Here are some usage examples:

Downloading a file from Rapidshare:

$ plowdown

Downloading a file from Megaupload (with free membership account):

$ plowdown -a myusername:mypassword

Downloading a password-protected file from Megaupload:

$ plowdown -p somepassword

For other usage examples, you may go HERE.

It is worth noting that plowshare also supports other file-sharing services such as 2Shared, 4Shared, ZShare, Badongo,, Depositfiles, Mediafire,,,,, Sendspace, and Usershare. Source:

Usage examples

All four scripts share the same verbose options: -v0 (alias: -q), -v1 (errors only), -v2 (infos message; default), -v3 (show all messages).


  • Download a file from Rapidshare:
$ plowdown
  • Download a list of links (one link per line):
$ plowdown file_with_links.txt
  • Download a list of links (one link per line) commenting out (with #) those successfully downloaded:
$ plowdown -m file_with_links.txt
  • Limit the download rate (you can use curl rates: K=Kbps, M=Mbps, G=Gbps):
$ plowdown -r 50K
  • Download a file from Megaupload using a free membership account (note ':' is used to separate user from password):
$ plowdown -a myuser:mypassword
  • Download a password-protected file from Megaupload:
$ plowdown -p somepassword
  • Use a different web retriever for the last file download. File URL, file name and cookies are available through interpolations. Let's say you want to use wget:
$ plowdown --run-download='wget -O "%filename" --load-cookies "%cookies" "%url"'
  • Filter alive links in a text file
$ plowdown -c file_with_links.txt > file_with_active_links.txt


  • Upload a file to the Rapidshare collector zone
$ plowup --auth-freezone=myuser:mypassword /path/myfile.txt rapidshare
  • Upload a file to Rapidshare anonymously changing uploaded file name:
$ plowup /path/myfile.txt rapidshare:anothername.txt
  • Upload a file to Megaupload with a free membership account:
$ plowup -a myuser:mypassword -d "My description" /path/myfile.txt megaupload
  • Upload a file to Megaupload with a premium account and multifetch upload:
$ plowup -a myuser:mypassword -d "My description" --multifetch megaupload
  • Upload a bunch of files (anonymously to 2shared):
$ plowup /path/myphotos/* 2shared
Notice that only files will be sent, subdirectories will be ignored.
Be aware that curl is not capable of uploading files containing a comma (,) in their name, so make sure to rename them before using plowup.


  • Delete a file from megaupload (a premium account may be required):
$ plowdel -a myuser:mypassword


  • List links contained in a shared-folder link and download them all safely:
$ plowlist > links.txt
$ plowdown -m links.txt

Linux dictionary tools

The dictionary is a tool that any writer or student should have on their computer. And Linux users are not immune from this need. But if you look through the possibilities of Linux dictionary tools you find quite a large amount available. Which of these tools are the best or easiest to use?
I have found, outside of using an application’s built-in spell checking, two particular tools that I prefer. These tools are GoldenDict and Dict. The former is a splendid GUI tool, whereas the latter is a lightning-quick command line tool. Let’s see which of these tools suits your needs best.
GoldenDict is a feature-rich graphical dictionary program that allows the user to take advantage of multiple local dictionaries as well various on-line dictionaries. It’s easy to use and actually works in conjunction with other applications.
To install GoldenDict just do the following:
  1. Open up your Add/Remove Software Utility.
  2. Search for “goldendict” (No quotes).
  3. Mark GoldenDict for installation.
  4. Click Apply to install.
Figure 1
Once installed, you will find GoldenDict in the Applications > Office menu.
When you fire up GoldenDict you will the main window where you can take care of all of your lookups (see Figure 1). The usage is fairly straight-forward. You enter your word in the “Look up” text area and hit Enter. The results will appear as the disambiguation in the left pane and the actual definition in the right pane.
Now…let’s say you want to extend GoldenDict out to your other applications. If you click on Edit > Preferences and then click on the Scan Popup tab you can enable GoldenDict to work on any text you highlight in any application. I will warn you…this can get in the way of every day use. To that end I always enable this feature but enable it along with the “Only show popup when all selected keys are kept pressed”. With this feature you can configure a key (either Alt, Ctrl, Shift, or Meta) that must be pressed along with the word selection. When this combination is done a popup will appear definining the word.
Now let’s take a look at a much simpler tool – dict. Dict is a command line only tool that allows you to search online dictionaries (or local dictionaries if you have them installed) for word definitions. Installing dict is simple:
  1. Open up a terminal window.
  2. Issue the command sudo apt-get install dict (or a suitable command for your distribution).
  3. Accept the dependencies.
  4. Wait until the installation is complete.
When you have dict installed, the usage is simple:
Where SERVER is the server you want to use and WORD is the word you want to look up. Normally you could just issue dict WORD but currently the default servers for dict are all not responding. So in order to get around that you need to define a server to use. One server that is working is To use this server you would issue the command:
dict -h WORD
Where WORD is the word you want to look up. You would then be rewarded with the definition of the word in question. Source:

Lingoes, Multi-Language Dictionary And Text Translation Software

Lingoes is a free dictionary and text translation software for the Windows operating system. The application offers an incredible feature set for a free program, more about that later in the review.
The program ships with an English dictionary and integration of multiple online translation services. Free dictionary files for additional languages are offered at the developer website. They need to be downloaded, unpacked and then loaded into the application.
lingoes dictionary
All dictionaries are accessible at the same time. Words or phrases can be looked up by entering them in the search form on top of the program. Lingoes will automatically display the best match, and adjacent words in its interface.
The word definitions and phonetic form are displayed on the results page, along with the dictionary it has been found in. Phrases can also be picked with the mouse directly in the sidebar. Lingoes tries to automatically match the phrase to one of the installed dictionaries. It is possible to select a specific dictionary instead if the user wants to look up a phrase in one of the available dictionaries. Otherwise, the first matching dictionary will be used for the definition.
Dictionaries are added in the dictionary options menu. Here it is possible to install or uninstall dictionaries
A right-click on a word or phrase opens a context menu with several options, including possibilities to let the program pronounce the selected text, and search or print it.
A click on text translation in the main menu opens a small text input form in the program. Text entered into the form can be translated using one out of 13 different translation services ranging from Google Translate to Baidu Translation and Yahoo Babelfish.
The translated text is directly displayed in the program interface.
text translation
Text translation and dictionary look ups are the two main features of Lingoes. Hotkeys are available to use the program’s functionality on a system wide level.
dictionary look up translation
This feature worked nicely in all tested programs, from Firefox over Thunderbird to Microsoft Office. The program hotkeys are defined in the program configuration. Here are the most important standard hotkeys:
  • Alt-P: Pronounce
  • Ctrl-F12: Speak selected text
  • Ctrl-Alt-F12: Stop speaking
  • Alt-G: Enable / Disable capture word on screen
  • Alt-Z: Enable / Disable translate selected text
The speech functionality uses build in text to speech capabilities of the operating system, with an option to download the free Natural Voice engine pack from the developer website.
Lingoes is an excellent program for users who need dictionary and / or text translation functionality on a regular basis. The program is available as a portable version or installer, and can be extended to work with more than 80 different languages. Source:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How To Remove Plugins From Firefox

One of the most annoying things in Firefox is that third party software can install add-ons and plugins without the user’s consent. That’s a big no-no from a security standpoint obviously, and it remains a mystery why the developers have never bothered to fix that flaw by adding a confirmation dialog whenever a new plugin or add-on tries to install itself automatically.
We leave it at that for the moment. Now, Firefox users end up with plugins installed that they have not added to the browser. On our test system those were for instance: (name, description)
  • Google Update: Google Update
  • Microsoft Office 2010: Office Authorization plug-in for NPAPI browsers
  • Microsoft Office 2010: The plug-in allows you to open and edit files using Microsoft Office applications
  • Quicktime Plug-In: The Quicktime Plugin allows you to view a wide variety of multimedia content in Web pages. For more information, visit the QuickTime Web site.
  • Silverlight Plug-In
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery: NPWLPG
Other Firefox users will probably find other plugins there that have been installed automatically.
firefox plug-ins
Plugins can be disabled in the Plugins manager, but not uninstalled or removed completely from the web browser. Entering about:plugins in the Firefox address bar will display additional information about each installed plugin. Users who visit the screen for the first time may want to type in about:config first, to change the preference plugin.expose_full_path to true. This displays the path to the plugin in the about:plugins dialog.
Displaying the path to the plugin does one thing: It enables the user to locate the plugin source on the hard drive. Just open the folder on the hard drive afterwards, backup the plugin file and delete it afterwards to remove it completely from Firefox. Here is how it is done for the two Microsoft Office 2010 plugins.
microsoft office plugins
Locate the plugin paths in about:plugins and open the folders on the hard drive. In the case of Microsoft Office 2010, both plugins are located in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\ folder on the hard drive (Please note, that the location on 32-bit systems is C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\ instead).
The name of the first plugin is NPAUTHZ.DLL, the one of the second NPSPWRAP.DLL. We highly suggest to backup plugins before deleting them from the system, just in case they need to be restored at a later time. Plugins can be deleted while the browser is running, and doing so will immediately remove most of them from the about:plugins information window and the plugins manager in Tools > Add-ons. Some plugins may require a browser restart before they are completely removed from the browser.
To remove all plugins that are not used or needed simply go through the listing of plugins in about:plugins, locate the paths of those plugins on the hard drive, and backup and delete the plugin files.
There is also the possibility that some plugins have added themselves in the Windows Registry, Google Update comes to mind for instance. You can take a look at this guide How To Stop Automatic Plugin Installations In Firefox for an in depth walkthrough, or locate HKLM\Software\MozillaPlugins or HKLU\Software\MozillaPlugins in the Windows Registry to see if plugins have been added there as well. Again, export the Registry key first before deleting it, for the ability to restore the setting at a later time.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Autokey: Make Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts In Linux

Few days ago, we discussed the usefulness of Spark and how it enables you to create custom shortcut keys in Mac. Alternatively, in Windows, we can use the popular AutoHotKey to create custom shortcuts. So what about Linux? Autokey is probably the best answer.
AutoKey is a desktop automation utility for Linux and X11. It allows you to create scripts and assign hotkeys to these scripts, allowing you to execute them on demand in whatever program you are using.

Compatibility with various distro and keyboard layout

Personally I did not test it on all the Linux distro and all the different keyboard layout. However, according to the developer of Autokey:
The core part of AutoKey is sending and receiving keyboard events via the X server. It supports multiple X interfaces and should therefore be compatible with virtually any version of Linux running an X server. Full unicode support is provided and it should in theory work with any keyboard layout.
Theoretically, it should work for all Linux distros and keyboard layout.


(the following installation instruction is based on Ubuntu)
Open a terminal and type:
1sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cdekter/ppa
2sudo apt-get update
For Gnome user:
1sudo apt-get install autokey-gtk
For KDE users:
1sudo apt-get install autokey-qt


Go to Applications -> Accessories -> Autokey.
You will see on the left pane two folders named My Phrases and Sample Scripts. The My Phrases folder is binded to the hotkey “Ctrl + F7“.
To get a feel of the capability of Autokey, open a text editor and press Ctrl + F7, you should see the context menu with Address option. When you select the Home address field, you should see the address pasted to the text editor.

Usage: creating your own hotkey

To create your own hotkey, go to File -> Create -> New Top Level Folder.
The Top Level Folder is the container for all your phrases and scripts. You can assign a hotkey to it and call it up in any applications. To assign a hotkey, simply highlight the TopLevel Folder entry and click the Set button beside the Hotkey option. You can then choose the modifier key (Ctrl, Shift, Alt or Super) and the shortcut key.
After creating the top level folder, the next thing is to create a phrase or a script.
The Phrase is a snippet of text that you use frequently. With a quick press of the shortcut key, you can quickly insert the phrase to the document that you are working at.
Go to File -> Create -> New Phrase. Enter the phrase content in the big text area and assign a shortcut key in the Hotkey option below.
Other than assigning hotkey, you can also use a abbreviation for the phrase. For example, I have set the abbreviation “mte” to the phrase “”. Now I just need to type “MTE” and it will automatically be replaced with the full URL.
For those who have knowledge of scripting, you can add your script, assign a hotkey and get it to run anywhere else. For those who know nuts about scripting, the “Record Marco” function can help you to record simple keyboard events.


For those who spend a lot of time on their keyboard, Autokey is a great tool to help you increase your productivity. Source: